"If he played like a lot of other centers in this league, I could understand why people get on him," West said. "But he's still a great player and a wonderful presence. Look at those little passes he made, reading the right guy at the right moment."
So, West was asked tongue-in-cheek, do the Lakers still plan to protect Abdul-Jabbar in the upcoming expansion draft?
"No," he said equally deadpan, "we're going to cut him at the end of the season."
The Mavericks, who lost Aguirre for three minutes at the top of the fourth quarter when the forward jammed a couple of fingers on his left hand, still were within 8, 104-96, at the four-minute mark. But Johnson then tossed a junior skyhook over his buddy Aguirre, and shortly thereafter, Byron Scott--who had opened the game with a three-pointer--delivered another to make it 109-96 with 2:21 to go.