This Day in Laker History: December 5th

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Now with basketball back in action, Laker Nation has decided to continue to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise.

DECEMBER 5, 2001
DALLAS MAVERICKS 94 – LA LAKERS 98
SHAQ’S 46 POINTS DOMINANT AS LAKERS OVERCOME HACK-A-SHAQ MAVERICKS

Former Dallas Mavericks head coach, inventor of the Hack-a-Shaq defense, forced the Lakers into beating the Mavericks with their star center Shaquille O’Neal and no one else. Disrupting the flow of the offense by intentionally fouling O’Neal, O’Neal’s 53% career free-throw shooting would supposedly give the Mavericks more scoring opportunities, more time on the clock, and less of Phil Jackson’s Triangle offense.

This strategy seems like it would work on paper, and if O’Neal only made a handful of his normal shots during the course of the game, the Mavericks would have a good chance of escaping Staples Center with a win. When O’Neal would shoot 10-for-22 from the line, Hack-a-Shaq seemed destined for success. Of course, Hack-a-Shaq didn’t take into account the possibility of O’Neal shooting 18-for-23 from the field, or the fact that 15 of those shots would be either lay-ups or dunks.

O’Neal’s 46 points against the Mavericks would be his most in two seasons, and O’Neal and Kobe Bryant would be the only two Lakers to score in double digits, with the Mavericks having stars Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Michael Finley and Adrian Griffin combine for 80 of their team’s 94 points. In a game that would come down to four free throws from Laker forward Rick Fox in the final 20 seconds, Bryant would score the final two points on a breakaway 360 dunk at the buzzer to secure the 98-94 win. The Lakers would move to 16-1, their ninth straight win and their best start in franchise history.

Quote of the Night: “My teammates were looking for me. I told them to bring it to me tonight and they did. I’m kind of upset with myself for missing free throws that I should not have missed. I missed some shots I usually don’t miss. I should have had 60. But I am upset with myself.” – Laker center Shaquille O’Neal after his 46-point performance in a 98-94 win over the Dallas Mavericks. - From the LA Times, Dec. 6, 2001

James Cypert is a news and feature writer for LakerNation.com. When he's not perfecting his ill-advised Kareem-style sky-hook, you can find him on Laker Nation or follow him on Twitter.
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