Lakers v. Mavericks: Shaq Comes Home To A 20-Point Win

Phillip Barnett —  April 3, 2013

The Lakers were able to come away with a huge 20-point victory against the Dallas Mavericks on a night that largely belonged to ex-Laker Shaquille O’Neal. The 101-81 was a performance that brought about nostalgia, frustration due to the rare glimpse at this team’s potential, and smiles to the faces of Lakers fans and legends everywhere.

Before getting into the game, it must be mentioned that it was great to see Shaq’s jersey retirement. Kobe’s video, Phil’s speech, Jeanie’s speech, Shaq’s speech, and Shaq’s jersey being unveiled with the Superman theme song being played in the background — all really cool and fun to catch. I did notice that Shaq is the first Laker to have his jersey retired with the new design, essentially ushering in a new generation of Lakers greats. Seeing Shaq’s jersey hanging up there with the likes of other Laker big men like Kareem and Wilt is a testament to how great and consistent this franchise has been throughout not only the course of my lifetime, but the lifetime of my father and will likely continue through the lifetimes of our children. While Dr. Buss is no longer with us, Shaq’s jersey, and those that were already hanging, will be a everlasting reminder of what he was able to accomplish as an owner and the standard that this organization will strive to live up to — and now, Shaq is forever immortalized as a part of that Forum Blue and Golden Standard.

Of course, there was also a basketball game played. It was a game that many felt was a must-win for this Lakers team if they still wanted to consider themselves in the hunt for the 8th spot out West. Not only did the Lakers win, we got and idea of how good this team could have been, and probably should have been all season. Here are a few observations from tonight’s game:

  • Kobe Bryant played a brilliant basketball game. He set the tone for the game early, looking to attack the rim and looking for his teammates. He picked his spots, found open teammates, and saw a couple of jump shots fall early that got him into a good rhythm. While some of the other guys weren’t knocking down the open looks he got for them (Steve Blake, Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison all missed open looks after kickouts or swing passes from Kobe in the first quarter), Kobe continued to look for them throughout the game. Kobe finished the first quarter with one assist, and finished the game with 11. He also recorded 11 rebounds and 23 points. Kobe needed 18 shots to get his 23 points, but there were very little qualms with his shot selection. A few of his misses came at the end of the shot clock, and a couple of them were just Kobe being Kobe, but for the most part, he was on top of his game offensively. And even with a triple double, the most impressive part of Kobe’s game was the work he put in defensively. It was one of the rare nights over the last three or so years where he was keyed in both on and off the ball — and the defense as a whole looked a whole lot better because of it. Kobe wasn’t caught sinking into the paint looking to play free safety while loosing his man for open looks on the perimeter. Instead, he played helpside from two passes away, and rotated over to his man when the ball was being swung back to his side. He had a the huge block on Brandon Wright who was looking to dunk and picked off a few passes. All in all, this was one of the best games for Kobe this season, and he nearly played every second. It was hard not to expect a huge night from Bean on Shaq’s night, and he definitely delivered.
  • The starting front court of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol both showed up big for the Lakers tonight as well. The two combined for 38 points and 22 rebounds. Howard finished with a solid 24 and 12 line — and in Shaq-like fashion — he hit his free throws when they counted. When the game was still in doubt with just over three minutes left to play in the 4th, the Mavs went to the Hack-a-Howard strategy and Howard made them pay, going 6-8 from the line during that stretch and helped the Lakers extend their lead instead of watching it crumble like similar situations this season. Pau was phenomenal defensively. The Spaniard was assigned the tough task of defending Dirk Nowitzki, and essentially did a great job on him. Along with Earl Clark, they were able to crowd Dirk for the most part and not allow him to get off quick shots on the catch. Clark struggled a bit with staying on his feet during those Dirk pump fakes, but Pau did a fantastic job staying home and forcing either a pass to a lesser scoring threat or forcing a tough jump shot over a 7-footer’s arms. Dirk finished with 11 points (!) and needed 13 shots (!) to get those 11 points. Dirk hit a couple of tough jumpers, but there are nothing but good things to say about how Pau and Clark defended the German and his glorious beard.
  • Speaking of Clark, it was nice to see him have a big game after three consecutive nights without recording a point. With about three minutes left to play in the 3rd quarter, OJ Mayo drained a three pointer to cut the Lakers lead to five after it had been pushed to 16 only four minutes before. After a D’Antoni timeout, Kobe missed a 3-pointer and Clark grabbed the offensive rebound and scored. 7-point lead. On the next possession, Clark drilled a 3-pointer. 10-point lead. On the next possession, Earl Clark dropped a dime to Jodie Meeks. 12-point lead. In a three-minute stretch to end the third quarter, Clark scored five points, grabbed two rebounds, recorded an assist and a block. More importantly, he gave the Lakers the momentum back going into the fourth quarter. I can’t emphasize how much his energy was needed on a night that the Lakers were playing short-handed and with guys playing heavy minutes. It was nice to see him have a great game, he needed it more than anyone else. His 17 points12 rebounds and five blocks are all highs for him in the last 20 games.

It was a great night of basketball on a historic occasion. The Lakers were able to keep pace with the Jazz and distance themselves a bit from the Mavericks. While the playoff race is far from over with seven games left — five against teams that are playoff bound — tonight was a huge win and something that can be built upon. Once again, congratulations to Shaq. We were spoiled for the eight years he was a Laker, we’ll never see another quite like him.

Phillip Barnett

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24 responses to Lakers v. Mavericks: Shaq Comes Home To A 20-Point Win

  1. big diesel-kazam…ty! go lakers!!!

  2. I think a lot of teams are playing some good basketball this year. Especially in the west, teams like the Lakers, Jazz, Mavericks and Portland are all legit teams… though only one will make the playoffs.

    Even Houston and GSW are looking good.

    Good win, and again we have a little hope.

  3. I truly enjoyed watching this game. The Lakers were focused & stepped up their game against an important foe on a night that had a number of possible distractions associated with the halftime events. Kobe, D-12, Gasol, Clark, & Blake all played very well. They actually functioned like a playoff team. Sweet!

    Loved the retiring of Shaq’s #34. No question his jersey belongs in the rafters. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply clueless. In my book he ranks as the #5 Laker all-time.

    Other observations: Jeanie looked great, Phil must really be a Zen Master. While the new design Laker jerseys look great on the players, Shaq’s retired jersey looked a bit plain next to Magic’s. I, for one, will not be surprised if Phil Jackson is offered the Clipper job after they flame out in the post-season. Shaq mentioned Phil taking the Shaq & Kobe Lakers to the “next level” after Del Harris wasn’t able to lead them to a title. And Phil did the same for the Jordan/Pippen Bulls when Doug Collins fell short. The big question? Will he accept the job and go for #12? I think he will. Jimmy Buss, you blew it.

  4. “We were spoiled for the eight years he was a Laker, we’ll never see another quite like him.” Truer words were never spoken.

    Shaq had more natural talent than Kobe. Shaq played a position that naturally called for dominance. In the annals of the NBA, only Wilt and Lebron are in the class with Shaq in physical dominance at their position – Bill Russell used guile and athletic ability on defense in a way no other player has, and changed the concept of defense in the process.

    Shaq worked at his craft, but preferred to party and entertain, and his statement about being injured on company time so he would heal on company time was a true approximation of how he approached the game – as a game. This was the fundamental issue between he and Kobe and this was why we Laker fans are so conflicted about a great NBA player, who could have made so much more of his talent.

  5. When Shaq was in his prime, it was either you double team him or forget it. No center in today’s game even comes close to Shaq’s dominance including Dwight.

  6. I always say that Dwight is the best center in the NBA because the huge drop of quality traditional centers. In my opinion he is at a Kevin Willis skill level, back in the day he was a very good center but he could not hold a candle to Kareem, Hakeen, the Admiral, Shaq and Ewing, Dwight would be killed going against any of those guys on their prime,but im glad we have him and hopefully he stays.

  7. Best thing i notice this last couple of games, its the growing sinergy between Pau and Dwight. They are playing better off each othet and this was that most of us envisioned when they put this team togheter. Im always been convinced that the Lakers way to sucess is on the superiority of our bigs, there is not a single team in this era of jump shooting teams that is nowhere close to equal how potentialy lethal this front line can be. Lets see the next couple of games and make the playoffs first, but in the playoffs it can be tough for any team to handle both our bigs at the same time, i hope Pau D last night dont stay as a one game thing. We won that game because of vino virtuosity and our bigs dominance and that include Clark.

  8. Nice post Craig, on the spot analysis –
    though I´d add that despite the fact that many feel Shaq could´ve made more of his talent, it was what it was; the likes of Kobe´s über determination & never-say-die attitude come but once in a generation, if that – I never tire of giving thanks to the RoundBallHeavens that these living legends wore (wear) our beloved Purple & Gold.
    Awesone W last night, hope we can keep it up and get on a serious roll from here on out!

  9. Anyone know why they put the FRONT of the jersey as opposed to the BACK? Was there a statement for this decision or is it a mistake?

  10. They actually functioned like a playoff team.
    ______

    True indeed BSC, but unfortunately, it was against a non-playoff team. Our next 2 games (Grizzlies & Co-Tenants) will be more telling.

  11. Today I am a Nugeget fan, today only.

  12. 1) Great game, it was nice to watch them close out a game in good fashion. Earl Clark was the savior of the night with that sequence of plays mentioned above.

    2) Shaq’s ceremony was sweet, if a bit amateurish–the curtain revealing the jersey took foreverrrrr to finish dropping, and the Superman theme faded out awkwardly to…not sure, perhaps another part of the Superman theme, which then went on too long.

    3) Anyone that thinks Phil Jackson is coaching in the NBA ever again hasn’t paid attention to how he walks.

  13. Can’t believe the guys over on 710 espn LA are dissecting Kobe’ s video tribute to Shaq last night, suggesting that he could’ve said more or could have come out and said something at halftime in his uniform. SMH.

  14. tonyt
    If you are expecting anything other than immediate titillation to get immediate ratings from ESPN – well you should just forget it.

    You get very little thoughtful comment from the ‘talking heads’. Far better to spend your time doing something else while you listen to them. They are pretty plastic entertainment and not much more.

  15. Surreal moment if halftime last night: Lakers fans chanting, “We want Phil. We want Phil..”

  16. Not every player is Kobe, always working to get the most out of their talent. Even Kobe gets criticized for not using his tremendous skill, will and talent to get the most out of his team. So, as far as I’m concerned, Shaq is and was the man he had to be to accomplish all that he did on the basketball court. He got the most out of his ability, as part of our ability is our personality. It’s fluky injuries or bad coaching that sets people up to never live up to their ability. Clearly Shaq worked at his game. He knew his ability and used it at the highest levels. His combination of quickness, feel, size and power… I haven’t seen it from any other player. I’m not going to say he was better then this great center or not as good as this other great center. He was unique, he was dominant, he was amazing to watch. Having seen him play live in his prime was just shocking. We are spoiled as Lakers fans, for sure.

  17. I was excited at the beginning of Shaq’s ceremony; nothing like a highlight video tribute to remind all of his power, size, quickness and speed. He was a wrecking ball who bullied his way through the opposition. But then when Shaq began to give shout-outs to the Hollywood crowd and finished without mentioning a single teammate, I was left cold by his immaturity and megalomania. Too bad he never grew up.

  18. All the jerseys in the rafters have the name and number on the front of the jersey if you look. Shaqs is just more obvious because of the whale-tail collar. It is not a mistake. It’s old school.

  19. Shaq: He was the closest thing to Wilt since Wilt, just like Kobe is the closest thing to Michael since Michael.
    Phil: There is no truth to the rumor that I started the “We want Phil” chant at Staples, during the ceremony. It is however nice to know there are a few other unreasonable, shortsighted, stuck in the past, people like me in the world : )
    Spoiled Laker Fans: Yes we are. And some of us are entitled : ) That is not going to ever change. Newcomers like Dwight and MD certainly knew what they were getting into before they got here. Hopefully for Dwight, that ceremony demonstrated the payoff that occurs if you handle the spot light well. I am hoping for a similar ceremony for him yeas from now.

  20. Not to pick an argument, but saying Shaq had more natural talent than Kobe? When I think of innate basketball talent I think of running, jumping and the ability to shoot and handle the ball. Shaq’s major talent is that he was huge and had an uncommon amount of agility for someone that size. Kobe, has combined his God-given talents with an unparalleled work ethic career to carve out a better career than Shaq, IMO.

  21. @bryan S

    He thanked his teammates during inside the nba show. Fish, Horry and Kobe were mentioned. Also there were videos of them.

  22. Shaq was nothing like Wilt.

    those of us who saw Wilt play know the difference.

    Shaq was awesome, but he wasn’t Wilt. Shaq was all power, but had great touch and agility.
    Wilt was power, skill and agility. he had every possible basketball shot. he had unbelievable athleticism. even after the 69-70 season wrecked his knee forever, he was a top scorer and defender. he even blocked the in-his-prime KAJ skyhook more than once in his twilight years. he lead the league in rebounding the year he retired. Wilt never had teams like Shaq had when he was in his prime, except once when he won a title. Wilt was never a fat, out of shape comedian the entire time he played.

    it’s also unbelievable that so-called fans can’t cheer the team for doing a good job for the first time in a while last night. add to that the criticism of Kobe’s Shaq speech and i’m completely disgusted by the lack of thought and knowledge and heart of the fans of the greatest team in sports.

    i loved Shaq when he played for the Lakers.
    i hated Shaq when he left to play for other teams and lost respect when he made his famous toe declaration.
    i was happy for Shaq when he got his number retired. of course he deserved it.

  23. Kenny T so true. Shaq was dominant but not even close to more talented. Being talented means making free throwns, making inside and outside shots, dribbling and passing on the run. Kobe is top ten all time in talent, Shaq was not top 10 on his team. He was bigger and stronger then everyone else, period. No comparison and Kobe added new pieces to his game. Shaq never improved on any part of his. Hence the same FT percentage from year one to his final year.

  24. I’m just curious, of those of you who think Shaq was all power and agility, if you have ever tried a drop step. How about shaking one way only to spin the other for a hook shot? How about the footwork that goes into sealing your player and then spinning to receive an ally-oop? What about an up and under move? How about combining any number of post moves to then get your feet set so you can go up with power? Footwork is not just a gift. You work hard at it. A bank shot from 8 feet out, after a sequence of post moves, with two or 3 200+ pound men smacking at you the whole way is not something you just pop out of the womb with. Timing and footwork go into blocking shots. I’m sorry, but pointing to the one real weakness in Shaq’s game to prove that he did not improve is simply reductive to the point of meaninglessness. Just look at the game Shaq was playing when he first got into the league and then what he was doing in his prime. His ability to finish with either hand, from all angles of the basket, and to pass out to team mates in rhythm, he just wasn’t doing that as consistently in Orlando as he did in his prime. Not to mention that when games were put away and it was time to be a showman, Shaq could bust out the full court handles, cross-over, look away assist to a streaking teammate. Shaq was much more then an ungodly amount of strength, size and agility. He brought it most every night and his luggage full of moves in the post were refined to the highest degree.