Leading by seven with under a minute to go, it seemed the Los Angeles Lakers would walk out of Dallas with an easy win over the Mavericks. Easy, at least by comparison when considering the back-and-forth nature of the game. But then the free-throw troubles popped up as just about everyone struggled from the charity stripe in crunch time, giving the Mavericks an opening.
Two Matt Barnes misses led to a Jason Terry three and the lead was suddenly four. Kobe Bryant followed with two misses of his own, leading to a Dirk Nowitzki tip-in. Suddenly the seven-point lead was two with just under 30 seconds to go.
Derek Fisher found himself trapped on the sideline on the Lakers' next possession, only to find a wide-open Pau Gasol in the lane. Gasol went up and took a forearm shiver to the neck from Brendan Haywood, though the foul was surprisingly not ruled a flagrant. And, again, the misses came as both of Gasol's free throws were off the mark.
Barnes, however, was able to stop the bleeding, gathering the rebound and sinking both of his attempts from the line, stopping a streak of six-straight misses. Dallas' next two possessions were empty, Fisher added another free throw to seal it, and the Lakers escaped with a 96-91 win.
Nowitzki finished with a game-high 25 points in a losing effort. Gasol led the way for the Lakers with 24 points. Kobe Bryant was off for most of the night, scoring 15 points on just 4-of-15 shooting.