Lakers win as Kobe finally beats Shaq
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant scored 37 points and finally
beat Shaquille O’Neal for the first time since the infamous trade, as the
Lakers spoiled Pat Riley’s return to Los Angeles with a 100-92 victory over
the Miami Heat.
O’Neal, who was dealt from the Lakers to the Heat during the summer of 2004,
had beaten Bryant’s team in the previous three meetings, including a 97-92
contest on Christmas Day in Miami.
However, on Martin Luther King Day it was Bryant who stepped up big, shooting
13-of-24 from the field and making all nine of his free throws. The Lakers
built a 19-point lead, only to see Miami whittle that to three points in the
closing minutes before holding on.
“It’s my job to pick us up when we are down,” Bryant said. “I had to sharpen
Lamar Odom nearly had a triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine
assists for the Lakers, who have won six of their last seven games. Devean
George added 17 points and had a key offensive rebound in the final minute.
Dwyane Wade scored 34 points and dished out seven assists for the Heat, who
had a four-game winning streak broken. O’Neal ended with 18 points and 10
boards and had some heated moments with 18-year-old rookie center Andrew Bynum
of the Lakers.
“His will is unbelievable,” Wade said of Bryant. “I was all over him, but he
made the shots. He’s a great player. He led his team to victory. You have to
tip your hat to him.”
Riley was coaching in his first game in Los Angeles since he took over the
coaching reins of the Heat in place of Stan Van Gundy, who resigned in early
December. Riley led the Lakers to five NBA titles in the 1980s.
“It was a frantic finish,” Riley said. “We were very passive in the first half
and they were sharp. We had the opportunity to come back, but we just couldn’t
get it done.”
A Wade layup had the Heat within 92-89, but Bryant countered with a jumper
with 1:35 left. Another bucket by Wade with 1:13 left had Miami within 94-91.
Bryant missed a jumper at the other end, but George grabbed the offensive
rebound, was fouled by Udonis Haslem, and converted two free throws with 49.6
Wade made 1-of-2 at the foul line with 42.5 seconds remaining, but Odom sealed
Miami’s fate by draining a fadeaway jumper from the right side with 19.2
seconds to go. Wade then missed a three-pointer.
The Lakers led 26-20 after one quarter and extended that margin to 57-42 at
the half. Bryant’s three-pointer bounced off the rim and backboard before
falling through the net to end the second quarter.
It was late in that second that O’Neal jammed over Bynum, only to have the
rookie make a move on the ensuing possession around Shaq and jam it on him.
Bynum then tried to get position on Shaq at the other end, but Shaq threw an
elbow and both players were whistled for technicals.
Wade hurt his ankle driving to the basket late in the third, but stayed in the
game with the Heat behind 77-68 going into the fourth.
LA’s Brian Cook was ejected for swinging his arm, dejected at a call, midway
through the third quarter…Haslem had 13 points and 12 boards, while James
Posey scored 11 for Miami…Chris Mihm had 10 points before fouling out for