The Dallas Mavericks were ahead of the curve. They were beating the Lakers before it became fashionable.
It happened again, 92-90, Dallas' 10th consecutive victory against the Lakers and the NBA's longest active streak against them.
Dirk Nowitzki wasn't quite himself Tuesday until he was, taking almost the full 48 minutes before making an impact. His 14-foot pull-up from the right side broke a 90-90 tie with 2.1 seconds left.
It was vintage old-timer versus newbie, Nowitzki killing the clock with the ball in his hands before scoring against Julius Randle.
Randle then missed a three-pointer as time expired, downgrading an otherwise decent game for him — 16 points and 11 rebounds. His increased confidence in his outside touch didn't seem to matter to Randle.
"I'll trade every one of those for that last-second shot," he said. "I'm extremely upset, man."
If Randle was mad after the game, Lou Williams was fuming before it ended. He made a short floater to apparently break a tie but was called for an offensive foul after elbowing J.J. Barea on a drive with 13.5 seconds left. He was not happy about it, cursing at referees.
On top of another home loss, fans who paid to see two of the NBA's top career scorers at Staples Center missed out on Kobe Bryant.
He sat out because of a sore shoulder and missed his last chance to face Nowitzki. The teams do not play again this season.
"We've have had a lot of battles, I'm sure we'll have some more," Bryant said. "We'll have a beer or two and play against each other one on one."
Nowitzki took only five points into the fourth quarter and made the shot that counted to finish with 13.
"He's a Hall of Famer. That's what this guy has done for a number of years," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said.
Nowitzki, 37, is sixth on the league's career scoring list, three spots and 4,208 points behind Bryant.
Bryant, also 37, couldn't recover from a nagging injury in time to suit up.
"I got up in the morning … the shoulder was like, I couldn't even move the thing," Bryant said. "I lay down in bed sometimes and it just aches."
There was a definite pecking-order scene when Bryant left the locker room after the game started and saw all the seats taken on the Lakers' bench.
He created one, though, after gesturing to Larry Nance Jr., who then plopped down on the court next to the bench.
Tough being a rookie, no?
"I heard a huge cheer, Kobe coming onto the court. All of a sudden I hear, 'Nance, Nance, get up,'" said Nance, who was scoreless in 23 minutes after missing four games because of a sore knee. "I've already seen the video everywhere [online], so thank you for that guys. If there's anybody that deserves and has earned the ability to do that, it's him."
Rookie D'Angelo Russell had 12 points and was not in the game for crunch time for the Lakers (9-38). There was a reason.
"I saw the last couple of minutes when he was in that he was really trying to take over the game, and that's not him yet," Scott said.