The Lakers survived that must-win game. On to the next one.

On the night they honored Shaquille O'Neal by retiring his jersey, the Lakers clung to their playoff hopes with a determined 101-81 win over the surging Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at Staples Center.

The battle for survival in the Western Conference now moves into its final seven games.

It was hardly an epic struggle, but it might have been a surprising one considering the Lakers were going in without Steve Nash or Metta World Peace against a team that had won 11 of its past 14 games.

But with Kobe Bryant playing all but 55 seconds and coach Mike D'Antoni shortening his bench to seven players, the Lakers found a way to slow down Dallas.

Bryant's triple-double of 23 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds was capped by his skyhook in the final minute. Dwight Howard had 24 points and 12 rebounds, Pau Gasol had 12 of his 14 points after halftime and Earl Clark re-emerged with 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.

"We're desperate and the players know it," D'Antoni said, "and we came out with a lot of energy."

It was no accident Bryant was cruising toward a 48-minute night with Nash not due back until Friday from a hamstring strain.

"We talked about it," D'Antoni said. "The timeouts are so long because of (TV) and a 20-minute halftime, so he just felt great and he goes `Why come out?' He wanted to play the whole game."