Dirk Nowitzki hit two go-ahead free throws with 19.5 seconds left, giving the Dallas Mavericks a comeback 96-94 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series at Staples Center. The Lakers held a 60-44 lead early in the third quarter, courtesy of a 21-2 run that spanned the second and third quarters. Nowtizki scored 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 36 points, and missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have given the Lakers the win. Pau Gasol had 15 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists, but he and Kobe struggled mightily on the Lakers' final possessions. The Lakers held the ball with the lead with 20 seconds left, but Bryant threw the ball away to Jason Terry. On the ensuing possession, Gasol had to guard Nowitzki 30 feet from the basket, outside Gasol's comfort zone, and Gasol was too aggressive, committing a foul on the inbound play.
On the Lakers' next possession, Gasol and Bynum ran a handoff play, but Bryant tripped on Jason Kidd's feet and fell down. No foul was called (rightfully so, it seems), and the Lakers turned the ball over. One free throw from Kidd gave the Mavericks the final margin. Game 2 is Wednesday night at Staples Center.
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