Kobe, Shaq Make Up; Lakers Edge Heat
L.A. Lakers 100, Miami 92
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 16 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant's pregame kindness disappeared once the Los Angeles Lakers actually started playing the Miami Heat.
After burying the hatchet with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant scored 37 points - 12 in the fourth quarter - to lead the Lakers to a 100-92 triumph over the Heat.
Before the game, O'Neal clasped hands with Bryant, who was stretching on the ground. Just before tipoff, the duo hugged at midcourt, with Bryant warmly putting his left hand on the back of O'Neal's head.
"I think it's great. You know, just putting the past behind us, just move on," Bryant said at halftime. "We had three great years together. I think it was important for the fans to see. It was good for us to be able to put this behind us and move on."
O'Neal acknowledged that he wanted to end their hostilities, especially on Martin Luther King Day.
"I had orders from the great Bill Russell," O'Neal said. "Me and him were talking in Seattle the other day and he was telling me how rivalries should be. I asked him if he ever disliked anybody he played against, and he told me no, never, and he told me I should shake Kobe Bryant's hand and let bygones be bygones and bury the hatchet. Russell is a basketball god, especially at my position.
"Today, when I spoke to (Bryant), we spoke about something that was more important then basketball. He's having a little daughter, so I told him and his wife congratulations upon the baby. Today is a day of peace."
Los Angeles led by as many as 19 points early in the third quarter and saw Miami pull within three points twice down the stretch. But the Heat could get no closer.
After Miami guard Dwyane Wade split a pair of free throws to make it 96-92 with 42 seconds left, Lakers forward Lamar Odom made a difficult turnaround jumper with 19 seconds to play that effectively ended it.
Odom collected 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who snapped the Heat's four-game winning streak.
"He had an incredible game," Bryant said of Odom. "Believe it or not, he can do this on a consistent basis and the challenge he gets is judging how to pick the defense we are going to have to penetrate."
Wade scored 34 points to pace the Heat but injured his left ankle on a drive to the hoop with 1:16 left in the third quarter and played with a limp the rest of the game. O'Neal added 18 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which was ending a seven-game road trip.
In an intense sequence late in the first half, O'Neal soared over Andrew Bynum for a follow dunk, but the Lakers' rookie countered by faking to the middle of the lane and spinning for a dunk at the other end.
Pumped up, Bynum ran back on defense and gave O'Neal a little bump with his right arm, but the Heat center responded with a hard, swinging forearm to the torso, and both players were given technicals.
"He's such a quiet kid. That was the most emotion we've seen out of him all year," Bryant said. "I think he was waiting for this moment to go in and compete against Shaquille. I had the same thing when I first came into the league (in 1996) and competed against Michael (Jordan)."