Shaquille O'Neal still can't make free throws, and the Dallas Mavericks still can't beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
O'Neal had 27 points and 10 rebounds as the Lakers defeated the Mavericks for the 18th consecutive time, 123-101 Tuesday night.
"My job is to step up and hit (free throws)," O'Neal said. "If I do, I'm going to start averaging 37, 47, 57. I'm the nastiest big man in the league. Right now I'm upset at my play because because I know I'm better than this. I'm going to start getting ticked off and start stepping up and making" free throws.
O'Neal was angry that the Mavericks fouled him on purpose at the end of the first half. Dallas coach Don Nelson used the same strategy in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles.
"They play a frustrating style, all that fouling Shaq," said Lakers guard Ron Harper. "That's not basketball. Late in the game, maybe. But not before the half, that's ugly basketball."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Nelson's Hack-a-Shaq strategy had no effect on his team, although O'Neal showed his displeasure when he glared at Nelson after a thunderous dunk in the fourth quarter.
"We weren't open to it at critical times," Jackson said. "So basically I can't comment on it because it wasn't effective tonight."
The Lakers took a 54-49 halftime lead, but the Mavericks' strategy of fouling O'Neal whenever he touched the ball in the closing stages of the first half kept Dallas close. O'Neal missed nine of 10 first-half free throws, including six straight over the final 1:33.
The Lakers broke the game open with a 14-0 run midway through the third quarter to win for the fourth time in their five games.
Los Angeles was in front 58-54 when Derek Fisher triggered the decisive run with a three-point play.
Rice made a 3-pointer and later hit a jumper to complete the run, pushing the Los Angeles lead to 72-54 with 6:06 left in the third quarter.
O'Neal added two baskets during the third-quarter spurt, which gave the Lakers an 88-71 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Nelson said his team still doesn't believe it can beat the Lakers.
"I think they tried, but I don't think we really believe in ourselves yet," Nelson said. "For whatever reason, I don't think enough of us really think we can beat them."
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