Mark Aguirre scored 39 points, including a critical turnaround jumper with 38 seconds remaining, carrying the Mavericks to a 120-118 victory today over the Los Angeles Lakers that tied their NBA Western Conference semifinal playoff series at two games each.

The fifth game of the best-of-seven series between the upstart Mavericks and the defending NBA champion Lakers, seeking to become the first team to successfully defend the title since the Boston Celtics in 1969, will be played Tuesday at the Los Angeles Forum.

Aguirre, who had 21 points in an explosive first quarter, hit his 15-footer to give Dallas a 120-116 lead, but the Lakers' Byron Scott sank two free throws with 30 seconds to go to set the stage for last-second dramatics.

The Mavericks let the 24-second clock expire without getting off a shot, and the Lakers got the ball with six seconds left.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who set an NBA playoff record by appearing in his 173rd game, missed his patented sky hook from 10 feet away at the buzzer as the Mavericks secured their second straight victory over the Lakers.

"You saw everything the Lakers had out there," said Mavericks Coach Dick Motta. "They didn't hang anything back. They shot more than 50 percent, they hustled up and down the court and they really hustled on defense. When we get Mark and Rolando shooting in tandem like they did today, we can be dangerous."

Said Lakers Coach Pat Riley: "Dallas had one of the best perimeter shooting games I've ever seen. We just have to get after it on Tuesday and make some adjustments out on the perimeter. It really spreads your defense out when they are dropping baskets from 22 feet."

Abdul-Jabbar scored 33 points to lead the Lakers, and Magic Johnson had 29 and Scott 22.

Rolando Blackman, who had nine straight points midway through the fourth quarter, had 28 points for Dallas and Sam Perkins had 23.

The Mavericks led, 98-87, after three quarters as Bill Wennington hit his first three-point shot of the season at the buzzer.

The Lakers then started to get the ball to Abdul-Jabbar down low and he scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Maurice Lucas tipped in a shot with 1:04 to go to make it 118-116. Aguirre, who had only made two points previously in the fourth quarter, then hit the turnaround jumper that proved to be the game-winner.

The Mavericks led the Lakers, 67-58, at halftime thanks to Aguirre, who hit 10 of 13 shots from the field for 21 points in the first period.

Dallas scored 12 straight points late in the first quarter for a 10-point lead over the Lakers, and the Mavericks took a 45-33 lead at the end of the period after shooting 74 percent from the field.

The 45 points tied an NBA playoff record held by the Lakers, who scored 45 against Phoenix last year.

The Mavericks also set team playoff marks for assists with 14 in the first quarter and 20 in the first half. The previous records were 10 and 17 against Seattle in 1984.

Aguirre's 21 points were two short of the NBA playoff record of 23 by Gus Williams of Washington and Bernard King of New York in 1984. Nuggets 114, Rockets 111: In Denver, Alex English scored six points in overtime, and Lafayette Lever and T.R. Dunn hit key free throws down the stretch, rallying Denver, which tied the Western Conference series with Houston at 2-2.

Game 5 is set for Tuesday night in Houston.

"I think sometimes people don't realize how good this team can be," English said, "but today we showed everyone."

The Nuggets trailed, 104-99, with 44 seconds left in regulation, but reserve guard Elston Turner made a three-point basket and then slipped along the baseline for a reverse layup with 11 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

Houston -- getting solid play in the fourth quarter and in overtime from point guard Robert Reid, who scored 11 of his team's final 13 points -- took a four-point lead in the extra session on Reid's baseline jumper.

A free throw by Reid with 1:31 left put the Rockets up by 111-108, but Houston didn't score again against a sticky Denver defense.

English, who finished with 28 points, hit two free throws with 1:19 remaining and Lever added two more with 1:02 left, giving Denver its first lead since early in the third quarter. Houston's Ralph Sampson scored 28 points.