While the Los Angeles Lakers retired Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey at halftime, Kobe Bryant stayed in the locker room.
Kobe meant no offense to Shaq, his longtime teammate and former rival. He’s just busy doing everything and playing nearly every minute to keep the Lakers in the playoff race.
Bryant had 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 19th career triple-double, and the Lakers beat the Dallas Mavericks 101-81 Tuesday night in a key game for the two teams struggling to get into the Western Conference postseason picture.
With former coach Phil Jackson in attendance for O’Neal’s honours, Bryant put on a virtuoso performance while playing more than 47 minutes. Bryant has rested for just 79 seconds in the past two games, but he’s keeping the Lakers afloat during the latest round of injuries and setbacks in their roller-coaster season.
‘’I wish I could (have seen it), but this is a huge game for us,’’ Bryant said of the ceremony for O’Neal, his teammate on three championship teams. ‘’I had to stay back here and get ready for the second half. We talked when I came in at halftime. We stopped and chopped it up for a couple of minutes.’’
O’Neal liked what he saw from his courtside seat next to his mother. With the win, Los Angeles moved back into an eighth-place tie in the West with the Utah Jazz (39-36), who hold the tiebreaker edge on the Lakers.