You would think a 35-point win against the second best team in the West would be reason to celebrate (especially with how the Lakers have been playing recently) but instead Lakers' fans must hold their breath until Monday. The Lakers beat the Mavericks 131-96 but Pau Gasol left midway through the first quarter with a hamstring injury. The good news is that it's the right hamstring and not the left hamstring that kept him out of the first 11 games of the season. Gasol will have an ultrasound Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
Aside from Gasol going down though, this was exactly what the Lakers needed. They got their first win by double-digits in their last seven games and also won the first quarter for the first time during that same stretch.
The Mavs had a couple things working against them. One, they were playing the second of back-to-back road games having played in Sacramento on Saturday. And two, they were without Center Erick Dampier due to swelling in his knee.
Dallas looked sluggish and had no answer for the Lakers' size. Andrew Bynum finished a perfect eight for eight for 19 points and Gasol was three for three before he got injured. Odom also bullied the smaller Mavs to the tune of 15 points and 15 rebounds. The Mavs had no answer for Bynum who easily shot over Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries.
The Lakers took advantage of the Mavs' malaise. The bench was particularly aggressive and forced turnovers that led to easy buckets. By the end of the game it evened out but at one point the Lakers were up 13-0 in fastbreak points. On offense they made the extra pass that led to open shots. The Lakers hit 15 of 24 three-pointers and had 33 assists.
The bench of the Mavericks has been one of the reasons they have the second best record in the West but last night it was the Lakers' bench that was impressive. It's not that the Mavs' bench played poorly because they did score 52 points, well above their season average of 38, but the Lakers' bench scored 64 including 10 of 15 from three-point range. Jordan Farmar hit six of eight three-pointers and tied a career-high with 24 points and Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic added 11 each.
The best part might have been that they didn't have to rely on Kobe to save them. Bryant played just 32 minutes, his lowest total since a blowout win against the Nets at the end of November. He sat the entire fourth quarter as well as pretty much the rest of the Lakers' starters. Lamar Odom played about three minutes and the fourth and the bench took care of the rest.Notes: This was the largest margin of victory the Lakers have ever had over the Mavericks and was also a season-high in points.
Vujacic hit three of six three-pointers. It's the first time all season he's hit three in a game.
Ron Artest has been cleared to participate fully in practice and could be available Tuesday vs. his former team the Rockets.
Kobe Bryant tied Patrick Ewing for 15th all-time in scoring. He could have surpassed him but gave up a lay-up to high-flying Shannon Brown.