The Lakers didn't count on Brandan Wright scoring 23 points on 10-for-10 shooting in only 28 minutes of play, eventually falling to the Dallas Mavericks, 107-95, on Friday night at Staples Center.
Dirk Nowitzki scoring 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting isn't outrageous, given he's earned both regular season and NBA Finals MVP awards.
Instead, it was Wright who helped the Lakers gain a game in the lottery standings, with the Utah Jazz (24-52) defeating the New Orleans Pelicans (32-44). The Lakers (25-51) still visit the Jazz on April 14, with a chance to hit the NBA lottery with 25 wins apiece -- assuming both teams lose every other contest as the season winds down.
Friday might have been Steve Nash's final game of the season, and possibly career if the Lakers choose to wait and stretch his contract out this summer. The team got 18 solid minutes from their 40-year-old point guard, who scored four points and had seven assists.
Jodie Meeks led the Lakers with 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Nick Young added 14 points off the bench before leaving to get a sprained right ankle re-taped.
The Lakers were competitive through three quarters but the Mavericks pulled ahead quickly in the fourth.
Shawn Marion added 15 points, Samuel Dalembert finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Jose Calderon chipped in 11 points.
Monta Ellis had a quiet night individually, scoring only eight points on 3-of-13 shooting, but he led the Mavericks with nine assists.
The Lakers got a double-double from Jordan Hill (14 points with 10 rebounds). Kent Bazemore scored 13 while Kendall Marshall dished eight assists and had nine points.
Dallas shot 47.8% from the field but only 5 of 21 (23.8%) from three-point range, perhaps a bit tired after defeating the Clippers at Staples Center the night before.
The Lakers played without Pau Gasol (vertigo), Kobe Bryant (knee), Xavier Henry (knee), Jordan Farmar (groin) and Chris Kaman (calf).
As a team, the Lakers shot 42.2% from the field and 25% (7 of 28) from behind the arc. The Lakers took 24 free throws, making 18, compared to Dallas' 15. The Mavericks made all but one, though.
The Lakers visit the Clippers (54-23) on Sunday at Staples Center. The Mavericks (46-31) will travel to Sacramento to play the Kings (27-49), also on Sunday.
Mavericks 82, Lakers 78 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers have had trouble stopping Dirk Nowitzki, who has scored 25 points in 25 minutes to lead all scorers.
Dallas didn't have much luck slowing the Lakers' Jodie Meeks, who has scored 23 points in 31 minutes.
While the Lakers were able to push ahead by as many as three points, the Mavericks closed strong to finish the third quarter up by four.
Jordan Hill has contributed 13 points for the Lakers while teammate Nick Young added 11 off the bench. The Lakers have shot 44.6% from the field while making 11 turnovers.
The Mavericks are shooting 47.2% and have 14 miscues.
Samuel Dalembert collected a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds for Dallas.
Lakers 54, Mavericks 52 (halftime)
The Lakers finished the first half against the Mavericks with their biggest lead of the game -- two points.
After Dallas' early double-digit advantage, the score was tied six times with the lead switching hands seven times.
Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 16 minutes. Shawn Marion contributed 11 points for the Mavericks, while Brandan Wright scored 10 off the bench.
The Lakers were led by Jodie Meeks with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Jordan Hill added 10 points for the Lakers, who shot 48.8% from the field.
Dallas shot 45.8% but turned the ball over 10 times. The Lakers had seven miscues.
Mavericks 27, Lakers 23 (end of first quarter)
The Mavericks opened up an early 10-point lead over the Lakers while shooting 46.2% from the field in the first quarter.
The Lakers overcome their slow start, shooting only 36.4%, to whittle the deficit to just four points after 12 minutes of play.
Jodie Meeks led all scorers with 11 points. The Lakers made 4 of 8 from three-point range while Dallas missed five of its six long-range tries.
Dirk Nowitzki scored eight points to lead the Mavericks. Shawn Marion contributed six.
The Lakers (25-50) host the Dallas Mavericks (45-31) on Friday night at Staples Center.
Dallas came to town Thursday, defeating the Clippers, 113-107.
Steve Nash (ankle, back) is expected to play but Pau Gasol (vertigo), Chris Kaman (calf), Kobe Bryant (knee), Xavier Henry (knee, wrist) and Jordan Farmar (groin) are out.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks