12:20 PM PT -- Shaq has taken a step back from criticizing his nemesis ... telling him to "dig deep," and if he does what he's supposed to, the Lakers will win a title.
Diesel told the Dan Patrick Show he wishes Dwight well and was referring to a different "Dwite" when he clearly took a jab at Howard in a tweet on Wednesday.
Dwight Howard is breaking his silence on Shaq's most recent barbs ... firing back at the big man's criticism by saying, "It's irrelevant to what I'm trying to do."
The Big Diesel has taken a couple shots at the newest Lakers center the past few days ... he shaded Howard to TMZ Sports on Monday and purposely misspelled his name in a tweet Wednesday. It's a beef that's more than 10 years old.
Howard finally responded in an Instagram Live post late Wednesday ... saying, "It's okay, I'm not here to talk about Shaq. What he said, what he did. It's irrelevant to what I'm trying to do."
"So, don't talk to me about what anybody else said about me. My focus is on one thing."
The two NBA superstars have had a history of going at each other's necks ... it all seemed to start in 2007 in an All-Star Game dance battle -- and continued with a feud over the "Superman" nickname.
Seems Shaq's all kinds of down for keeping the beef alive. As for Dwight, pretty clear the dude just wants to move on and focus on basketball.