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Bryant outscores Nowitzki as Lakers top Mavs

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm •  Published: February 24, 2013
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DALLAS (AP) — Kobe Bryant was just a little better than Dirk Nowitzki in a spirited game befitting Western Conference leaders — not teams battling for ninth place.

Bryant had 38 points to win a scoring duel with Nowitzki, and Steve Nash helped beat his former team by getting 20 points for the first time with the Los Angeles Lakers in a 103-99 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

Nowitzki finished with a season-high 30 in a game that had a playoff feel from the start, even though both teams still have plenty of ground to make up to even qualify for the postseason. They trail eighth-place Houston by several games, but they are the franchises that have the last three NBA titles won by teams from the West.

Bryant and Nowitzki had 16 points apiece in the first half and were still even at 24 after the third quarter before Bryant scored 14 in the fourth, including seven in the last 3 minutes. They were a combined 8 of 9 from 3-point range and hit 24 shots and 12 free throws between them.

"It's fun," said Bryant, who also had 12 rebounds and seven assists. "He's one of my all-time favorites. He's a throwback type of player. He doesn't mind the physicality. He made some incredible plays down the stretch."

Bryant, who went past the 31,000-point mark, was playing in Mark Cuban's building two days after the outspoken Dallas owner suggested in a radio interview that the Lakers might have to consider dumping the five-time NBA champion through the amnesty clause.

The Lakers responded by calling the comment inappropriate, and Cuban defended himself before the game.

"Amnesty THAT," Bryant tweeted after the game.

"I'm sure if he wants to amnesty Dirk, that's something we'll be willing to entertain," Bryant told reporters.

The Mavericks were so frustrated trying to guard Bryant, O.J. Mayo got called for a foul and a technical when he jumped around wildly after the whistle blew on a drive to the basket by Bryant. Nash made the technical shot, and Bryant hit his pair of free throws for a 94-90 lead.

"He's been the best player in my decade," said Nowitzki, who also had his season high with 13 rebounds after missing the first 27 games following knee surgery. "I've been in the NBA a long time and he's the one player I love to watch. It was a big game on the national TV stage. It was a fun one. We just came up a little bit short."

Nowitzki was called for a technical earlier in the fourth quarter after a display similar to Mayo's when he missed a shot during a physical sequence with Metta World Peace.

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