This was the biggest comeback in Kobe Bryant and Shaq O’Neal careers. They erased 30 points deficit against Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash in 2002. Kobe was great in the 4th quarter, when he scored his 21 of 27 pts.
“It shows we still have the heart of a champion,” Bryant said.
The comeback was the biggest in franchise history. The Lakers had erased a 25-point deficit to beat Chicago on April 3, 1979. They fell just short of the greatest comeback in NBA history, Utah’s rally from a 34-point halftime deficit against Denver on Nov. 27, 1996.
“It’s nice to have a team believe that they have the ability to overcome insurmountable odds, and it certainly looked insurmountable,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
On the other side was the collapse by the Mavericks, who appeared to have swung the balance of power in the Western Conference in their favor until allowing 44 points in the final period.
When Michael Finley’s open 20-footer from the left wing clanged off the rim, the Mavs were saddled with their 24th straight loss in Tinseltown since Dec. 12, 1990.
“We choked, just flat-out choked,” Dallas guard Nick Van Exel said. “They played like the world champs and we played scared, we played tentative and we just choked.”
“We probably need to go through this experience as a team,” Mavs coach Don Nelson said. “It’s going to be good for us. But it hurts like hell right now.”
Shaquille O’Neal had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers (8-13), who climbed out of the Pacific Division cellar, percentage points ahead of the crosstown Clippers and Golden State.
“Tonight, for the first time in a long time, we showed that championship attitude,” guard Brian Shaw said.
“Confidence is not our problem. Our problem is complacency,” O’Neal said. “It’s not going to be easy … we just have to fight.”