Leave it to Dennis Rodman to lighten the mood for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rodman found a new way to get a technical foul he blew a kiss at the opposing bench and the Lakers stayed unbeaten with him in the lineup, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 96-93 Monday night.
Rodman had 17 rebounds and Shaquille O'Neal had 25 points and nine rebounds as the Lakers beat Dallas for the 15th straight time.
"It's good to have him back," O'Neal said of Rodman. "His job is to rebound and that's what he did tonight."
Los Angeles broke even at 3-3 on its road trip and is now 11-0 with Rodman in the lineup.
"This was our fourth game in five nights and we're tired," O'Neal said.
Rodman, playing in his second game after leaving the team for four games because of personal reasons, got his strange technical in the third period.
After making a foul shot, he blew a kiss at the Mavericks bench.
Referee Ken Mauer hit Rodman with a technical foul and Hubert Davis made the free throw.
Lakers coach Kurt Rambis was incredulous.
"How can he get a technical just for blowing a kiss?" Rambis asked the official.
Rodman didn't want to talk about it after the game, turning away all interview requests as he dressed in a room away from the media.
Rambis wanted to talk about Rodman's contribution.
"Dennis brings up our level of intensity," Rambis said. "He's just an awesome player on the inside. He opens up the floor for the rest of the team. He's a very intelligent player. This was a long, hard trip for us. We feel fortunate we were 3-3."
O'Neal scored eight points in the third period as Los Angeles built an 85-73 lead. He was 7-for-12 from the free throw line as Dallas forwards and centers fouled him 22 times.
Kobe Bryant scored 21 points, Glen Rice added 17 points an Travis Knight 12 for the Lakers.
"We tried to make Shaq earn his points and the free throw line and he did a good job," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "We were close to pulling off the upset."
Center Chris Anstey said the Dallas strategy was a good one.
"It just backfired on us," Anstey said. "Free throws are usually his weakness, but he made them tonight. "
Michael Finley paced Dallas with 23 points and Hubert Davis had 16. Former Lakers forward A.C. Green added 13 and Erick Strickland 12.
Green scored 13 points, including 11 in the first period, to give Dallas a 47-44 halftime lead.
Notes: Dallas last defeated the Lakers 130-111 in April 1995 in Reunion Arena. ... Los Angeles leads the all-time series 66-16. ... Rambis is 12-3 since he replaced Del Harris. ... O'Neal had his travel bag stolen at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. He was was wearing a Mavericks sweatshirt given to him by Shawn Bradley after the game.
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