Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki scored a game-high 27 points and guard Vince Carter racked up 19 points off the bench. Guard Monta Ellis heated up late to score 16 and center DeJuan Blair (15 points and eight rebounds) made his presence felt in the starting lineup.
"You look over at their bench and see so many of their guys missing and they only had nine guys. I think we played down to them and they were ready to play," Carter said. "I don't think we were ready to play, and once they hit us in the mouth first, we were able to fight back and really play Mavs basketball."
"We have to get this team healthy," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We have to get some guys back and some bodies back. I mean these guys are playing hard. They're giving a lot and hanging in there, not to get their heads down and keep battling."
The schedule isn't going to let up for the Lakers. The trip to DALLAS began a stretch of 10 of 11 games on the road.
"I actually looked for us to play a lot better from start to finish, but it just didn't go that way," DALLAS coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was a struggling night, but the important thing is to get a win when you struggle. We were able to do that.
"We had some different lineups in there without (guard Shawn) Marion, obviously. Now you're looking at some things we haven't seen much of with two bigs in there at the same time, things like that. The important thing is to find a way and we did. Now we've got to get on the plane and play a 6 p.m. game tomorrow."
Nowitzki made 12 of 20 shots from the field, grabbed seven boards and had four assists in 31 minutes. He scored 10 points in the third quarter as the Mavericks opened a double-digit lead for the first time.
DALLAS led throughout the fourth quarter, but the Lakers made a surge. A 3-pointer from guard Jodie Meeks got Los Angeles within four points with eight minutes left. The Mavericks responded with a 12-3 run, with 10 points coming from Ellis, to create separation.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol cooled off after a fast start to score 15 and snag 13 rebounds. Recent NBA Development League call-up guard Kendall Marshall had 18 points and six assists in his third start. Meeks finished with 24 points and guard Wesley Johnson had 17 points.
"You stay positive," he said. "It would be different if you they weren't trying. We just don't have enough horses right now. We need to get better, do things better, and our margin of error is very small.
"When you have 20 turnovers, it was right there. You can't give them 25 points off of layups and think that we're good enough to overcome that. You just can't do it."
NOTES: Lakers players see it as a good sign that F Pau Gasol was not a traded, at least for now. "If they get rid of Pau, it's basically saying (the season is) over," Los Angeles F Nick Young said. The Lakers had discussed a deal involving Gasol with Cleveland for C Andrew Bynum, a former Laker who was dealt to Chicago instead. ... DALLAS F Shawn Marion started Tuesday's game despite injuring his ankle Sunday and not practicing Monday. ... Lakers G Kendall Marshall, signed Dec. 20, had 32 assists in his first two starts with L.A. "It's a classic example of a guy people overlooked because they had never seen him in the right system," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's in the right system now. (Mike D'Antoni's) system is perfect for how he plays."