Lakers 101 - Mavericks 81 (final)
The Lakers won their most important game of the regular season (at least until the next one), defeating the Dallas Mavericks, 101-81, on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant notched a triple-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He also had four steals and two blocked shots, playing the first 47 minutes of the game without a rest.
Dwight Howard scored 24 points with 12 rebounds. Pau Gasol also tallied a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and was four assists shy of the triple-double.
Earl Clark was a force off the bench for the Lakers, scoring 17 points with 12 rebounds and five blocks.
The Mavericks shot 42% from the field and were led by Chris Kaman's 14 points. Dirk Nowitzki scored 11 on 4-of-13 shooting.
The Lakers out-rebounded Dallas by 20 (57-37) including a 19-8 advantage on the offensive glass.
With the victory, the Lakers improve to 39-36, clinching the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Mavericks who dipped to 36-38 on the season.
The Lakers are tied in the standings with the Utah Jazz, who are currently eighth in the Western Conference by way of owning the tie-breaker over the Lakers.
Lakers 72 - Mavericks 61 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers' lead briefly dipped below double-digits after allowing an 11-0 that saw Dallas close within five.
Earl Clark responded. He scored five straight points and assisted on an Antawn Jamison basket. The Lakers reeled off nine unanswered points to reestablish a big lead over the Mavs.
Kobe Bryant and Clark led the way with 17 points apiece. Bryant also had nine assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Dwight Howard had a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards as the Lakers shot 43.1% from the field.
The Mavericks were led by Chris Kaman's 14 points. Dirk Nowitzki had 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Dallas hit 45% from the field but took only four free throws (making two).
The Lakers hit 10-of-16 shots from the line (62.5%). They also had a 40-29 rebounding advantage.
Lakers 55 - Mavericks 40 (halftime)
Kobe Bryant played every minute of the first half, scoring a game-high 15 points with seven assists and five rebounds as the Lakers took a 15-point lead into the break.
Earl Clark was a force off the bench, scoring 12 points with eight boards in just over 16 minutes as the Lakers shot 52.5% from the field.
Dirk Nowitzki scored just five points on two-of-five shooting. Dallas shot 43.9% from the field and were led by Chris Kaman's 10 points.
The Lakers will retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey at halftime.
Lakers 24 - Mavericks 21 (end of first quarter)
Mavericks rookie Jae Crowder hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to bring Dallas within three after a quarter at Staples Center against the Lakers.
Just two minutes earlier the Lakers had pulled ahead by eight, led by seven points apiece from Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. The Lakers shot 43.5% from the field as a team and turned the ball over just twice.
The Mavericks were led by Chris Kaman's six points, and collectively shot 37.5% from the field.
With Steve Nash sitting out with a strained hamstring, Steve Blake got the start. The Lakers also had Jodie Meeks with the starters with Metta World Peace recovering from knee surgery.
The Lakers (38-36) host the Dallas Mavericks (36-37) on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Dallas is trying to climb into the top eight in the Western Conference. Both the Lakers and Mavericks need the win to gain on, or keep pace with, the Utah Jazz.
Steve Nash will not play due to a strained hamstring.
Shaquille O'Neal's No. 34 jersey will be retired at halftime.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Mavericks.
Brian Shaw glad Lakers retiring Shaquille O'Neal's number
Watch Shaquille O'Neal visit 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' on Monday night
Mike D'Antoni calls Steve Nash 'doubtful' for Mavericks on Tuesday
Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.