Saturday , Dec , 25 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Feeling the Heat: Shaq earns bragging rights in return to LA

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Eddie Jones and Dwyane Wade each scored
four points in overtime to lift the Miami Heat past the Los Angeles Lakers,
104-102, in the much-anticipated Christmas Day showdown at Staples Center.

The game marked the return of Shaquille O’Neal to Los Angeles, where he played
against Kobe Bryant for the first time. O’Neal spent eight seasons with the
Lakers and captured three NBA championships alongside Bryant.

However, despite that success, the two players were unable to establish a
long-lasting relationship and O’Neal was eventually traded to the Heat in
exchange for Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, Caron Butler and a first-round draft
pick. Butler missed the game due to a one-game suspension for punching New
Orleans guard Dan Dickau on Wednesday.

O’Neal fouled out with 2:15 left in the fourth quarter, finishing with 24
points and 11 rebounds. Wade collected 29 points and 10 assists for the Heat,
who tied a franchise record with their 11th straight win.

“My team came out and played well,” O’Neal said. “That’s all we wanted to do
was come in here and win. It was a fun game. Merry Christmas.”

Jones netted 18 points and pulled down seven boards. Damon Jones and Udonis
Haslem each had 11 points for Miami. Haslem also snared 11 rebounds.

Bryant poured in a season-high 42 points and also handed out six assists for
the Lakers, who fell to 1-3 on their current six-game homestand. Odom
contributed 24 points and 11 boards, while Chris Mihm chipped in 11 points and
14 rebounds for Los Angeles.

The Heat opened the extra session with a 6-2 spurt, highlighted by four points
from Eddie Jones, to grab a 100-96 lead.

After Odom nailed a three-pointer to cut the deficit to one, Christian
Laettner made a pair of free throws for Miami and Wade followed with a floater
in the lane to stretch the Heat advantage to 104-99 with 2:08 left.

Odom again drilled a three-pointer to pull Los Angeles within two with 1:11
remaining.

Eddie Jones then missed a shot and the Lakers got the ball back. However,
Chucky Atkins was whistled for an offensive foul with 27.4 seconds left and
Miami took possession.

The Lakers elected not to foul and the Heat were eventually called for a 24-
second violation, leaving 3.4 seconds on the clock.

Bryant received the inbounds pass and misfired on a three-point shot at the
buzzer.

Jumaine Jones’ three-pointer early in the fourth quarter staked Los Angeles to
an 80-73 advantage. Miami then used a 7-0 run, keyed by Damon Jones’ three-
pointer, to even the contest with 8:45 remaining.

The Lakers were able to restore a five-point lead on two separate occasions,
but the Heat came back and tied the contest each time. Wade’s two free throws
with 3:22 left made it 89-89.

Bryant then sank a pair of foul shots, before a dunk by O’Neal again knotted
things up. On the next possession for Los Angeles, Bryant was able to pick up
the sixth foul on O’Neal when he drove to the basket. Bryant then hit both
attempts from the line to give the Lakers a 93-91 edge with 2:15 remaining.

After Wade made a driving layup to tie it, Laettner made 1-of-2 foul shots to
put Miami ahead 94-93 with 1:42 left.

Odom was then fouled 12 seconds later and also went 1-of-2 from the stripe to
even the contest.

Neither team could score over the final 1 1/2 minutes and the contest went to
overtime. On the final possession of regulation, Wade missed a pair of jumpers
for Miami.

The Lakers took control early, scoring 17 of the first 26 points of the game.
Bryant drained three shots from beyond the arc and totaled 11 points during
the surge.

Later in the period, Jumaine Jones’ jumper gave Los Angeles a 27-20 lead, but
Miami countered with an 8-0 run, capped by back-to-back three-pointers from
Eddie Jones and Damon Jones, to move in front by a point.

The Heat led 32-31 after 12 minutes. Bryant had 15 points in the opening
stanza, hitting four three-pointers in the first quarter for the first time in
his career.

In the second quarter, another three-pointer by Eddie Jones put Miami ahead
43-40. The Lakers then went on a 13-2 burst, culminated by Odom’s basket, to
grab a 53-45 advantage with 1:47 remaining in the period.

The Heat responded with a late charge and Laettner’s runner in the lane at the
buzzer pulled Miami within 56-54 at the intermission.

Los Angeles was again able to increase its advantage to eight points in the
third quarter. Atkins’ three-pointer with 5:39 left in the period put the
Lakers in front 71-63.

Miami again rallied and tied the contest at 73-73 on a layup by Michael Doleac
with two minutes remaining in the stanza. Los Angeles then received
consecutive baskets from Bryant and held a four-point advantage after 36
minutes.

LAL MIA