2011 NBA Playoffs: Mavs Rally Past Lakers

Kobe BryantThe Dallas Mavericks did everything the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to do late in the match to steal a 96-94 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals at the Staples Center on Monday.

Dirk Nowitzki hit two pressure-packed free throws with 19.5 seconds to give the Mavs a 95-94 lead. Expected to rise above the pressure, the defending champions Lakers inexplicably floundered in their final possessions, allowing the Mavs to win the first postseason meeting between the teams since the 1988 Western Conference finals. Kobe Bryant fell down as he tried to get the ball from Gasol with 5 seconds left in the game, then Jason Kidd hit one of two from the line for the final count. Bryant had a chance to win the game for the Lakers, but his trey at the buzzer was way off.

Dallas trailed by double digits early in the third quarter before Nowitzki, who finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds, led a 20-6 run that allowed the visiting Mavs to trail by just seven, 78-71, entering the final period. The Mavericks then limited the Lakers to 16 points in the fourth quarter while scoring 25 of their own to send the Lakers to their second-straight Game 1 loss in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.