- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- It was a night to remember in Lakers history Tuesday as Shaquille O'Neal had his No. 34 jersey retired, but the current team had to make sure its playoff hopes didn't become history with a gutsy 101-81 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Here's a quick look:
How it happened: The Lakers jumped out to a 16-point lead with Kobe Bryant leading the way, getting off to a tremendous start with seven points, three rebounds, one assist and one block in the first quarter (and also tallying several approval-seeking glances to Phil Jackson, it seemed, who was sitting next to Jeanie Buss in the second row). Things got a little hairy in the fourth quarter (that wasn't meant to be a Dallas beard joke, but it works) as L.A.'s lead was cut to eight, but the Lakers surged late to take it by 20.
What it means: The Lakers are 2-0 on their quest to finish off the season 9-0 and they may have quieted the Mavericks for good, as they now lead them by 2 1/2 games with seven left to play. Now they just have to catch the Utah Jazz, who owns the tiebreaker over the Lakers despite the teams having the same record.
Hits: Before the game, O'Neal challenged Dwight Howard to consistently average 28 points and 10 rebounds. Howard came close with 24 and 12.
Earl Clark was everywhere with 17 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high five rebounds.
L.A. held the Mavs to just 81 total points on 42 percent shooting.
Misses: After tying a season low with just seven turnovers against Sacramento on Saturday, the Lakers had 18 turnovers against Dallas leading to 16 points.
Stat of the game: Bryant racked up his second triple-double of the season with 23 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds.
What's next: The Lakers have the day off Wednesday before getting back at it Thursday when they hope Steve Nash's strained right hip and hamstring will be healthy enough for him to ramp up to return to the lineup Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
5dAmin Elhassan and Baxter Holmes