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LAKERS FYI

Target is too easy for Mark Cuban

The Mavericks' owner takes playful shots at Phil Jackson, whom he urged not to retire two years ago.

April 02, 2013|By Ben Bolch and Eric Pincus

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Mark Cuban couldn't resist the urge to take aim with two of his favorite Lakers targets back at Staples Center on Tuesday.

The Dallas Mavericks owner was complimentary of Shaquille O'Neal on the night the former Lakers center's jersey was retired, but he gleefully zinged former coach Phil Jackson.

"I have great respect for Phil too, Jeanie's husband as he'll now be known," Cuban said, referencing Jeanie Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president and governor who votes on issues at owners' meetings. "Someone's got to be the first housewife of the Lakers."

Jackson, who became engaged to Buss in January, spoke during O'Neal's halftime ceremony.

"Like Shaq, they're both part of what makes the NBA unique," Cuban said. "There's not a lot of personalities that really define themselves — not just by their accomplishments on the court but by their wit and intelligence off the court."

Cuban said he even urged Jackson to remain in the NBA after the Mavericks defeated the Lakers in the 2011 playoffs.

"When the Mavs beat them that series," Cuban said, "I walked up [to Jackson] and said, 'You're great for the NBA. Please don't retire.' "

Not adding up

Steve Nash didn't play against the Mavericks, so statistically the Lakers had a better chance to win.

The team that has struggled all season amid inconsistency and a slew of injuries to its core four has actually been worse when Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Nash have all played.

The Lakers are 8-14 when all four stars have participated, hardly the dominance expected from a collection of Hall of Famers in waiting.

"So we're lucky to have somebody hurt, is that what you're saying?" Coach Mike D'Antoni quipped.

Nash missed the Lakers' game against Dallas because of hip and hamstring issues that had forced him to leave the previous two games prematurely. Nash said he was "super optimistic" he could play Friday when the Lakers play host to Memphis.

Adding Nash and Howard was supposed to make the Lakers the NBA's latest super team, but they've more closely resembled a magnificent bust.

The Lakers are 5-10 when their four best players have all started together and 3-4 when Gasol has come off the bench.

Part of the problem has been a lack of continuity. The four played together for the season's first two games, then didn't take the floor as a unit again until Nash returned from a broken leg Dec. 22.

Injuries to Howard and Gasol have also broken up the foursome. Their longest stretch of consecutive games played together was eight.

"It takes time. It just doesn't happen overnight," Howard said. "We've been hit with a lot of adversity this year and we're trying to overcome it. We can't focus on the negatives, the games that we've lost together. We have to think about all the positive things we can do when we're all healthy."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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