Just like old times ... That's what today's game felt like. It felt like the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks were two heavyweight fighters slugging it out over 12 rounds. Trading shots. A fierce left hook from one team, followed by a body blow combination from the other. Back and forth, back and forth, until finally, if only because you can fight 18 rounds or play more than 48 minutes, one team is declared victorious while the other still stands, ready to fight on.

Considering that both the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks would be on the outside looking in if the NBA playoffs were to start tomorrow, you could hardly call any contest between them a heavyweight bout. But that didn't stop the two teams from throwing down an absolute slugfest in a vastly entertaining 4th quarter which was filled with copycat syndrome. Every time the Lakers made a shot, the Mavs had an answer. Every time Dallas missed, the Lakers gave the ball back on a turnover. The quarter started with a four point Laker lead, and ended with a four point Laker lead, and the final frame was spent entirely within those limits.

In the end, as he has done so many times to this particular team, Kobe Bryant was too much for Dallas to take. Mamba was masterful throughout, but left his finest work until the 4th quarter; 5-5 shooting, 3-4 from the FT line (he did have two turnovers though). He re-entered the game with 9 minutes left and the Lakers down two, and proceeded to hit three ridiculous jump shots on the next three possessions ... all of which were matched by Dallas shots as well. Then, Dallas went cold, failing to score any points over nearly four minutes as the Lakers nosed in front and survived the final onslaught.