Lakers Get Hot; Shaq, Kobe Cool

Times Staff Writer

Detente, followed by a game, followed by a Laker victory.

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal buried some past feelings, salting away one of the league's longest-running feuds, and then the Lakers took care of the Miami Heat, 100-92, Monday night at Staples Center.

It took some scrambling after a 19-point lead was sliced to three, but the Lakers improved to 1-3 against the Heat since the O'Neal trade and avoided losing four consecutive games to the Heat for the first time.

Bryant scored 37 points and Lamar Odom had 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Dwyane Wade had 34 points and O'Neal had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, playing the final game of a seven-game trip.

Odom's 14-foot fadeaway from the right side helped put the game away with 19.2 seconds left, but the larger-than-strife story was the thawing of tensions between O'Neal and Bryant, who barely acknowledged each other in both games last season and completely ignored one another on Christmas Day in Miami.

On Monday, O'Neal approached Bryant and stuck out his hand while Bryant was stretching. O'Neal congratulated Bryant on the news that he and his wife were expecting their second daughter, Bryant said.

A few minutes later, they shook hands again and embraced briefly after the pregame captains' meeting. They repeated the ritual before tipoff.

"I think it's good for the city of Los Angeles," Bryant said. "I think it's good for the NBA as a whole, I think it's especially good for our youth and, this being MLK Day, it's good for all the African-American youths out there who idolize us and look up to us to see that as being mature and putting everything behind us.

"It made me feel good because we've been through so many wars together. It feels good to kind of be able to enjoy the sweetness of it and now to be able to just move on, for the organization to move on, the city to move on and focus on building this team and wishing him all the best with his team down there in South Beach."

O'Neal felt the need to act after a recent conversation with a former Boston Celtic legend.

"I had orders from the great Bill Russell," O'Neal said. "He was telling me how rivalries should be. I asked him if he ever disliked anybody he played against and he said never. He said I should shake Kobe Bryant's hand, let bygones be bygones and bury the hatchet. We spoke about something more important than basketball."

The crowd, which cheered the gestures, wasn't as appreciative when O'Neal was introduced and then scored his first basket, with more boos than cheers drifting through Staples Center.

The reaction was noticeably more negative than when O'Neal stopped by Staples last month to take in a Laker game against Charlotte. That night, there were only cheers when O'Neal was shown on the scoreboard.

"I was surprised," Laker Coach Phil Jackson said. "I can hear the cheers too, but there were some boos. I think it was kind of retribution for what happened in Miami over Christmas. I think the Miami fans were so vocal over Kobe."

Just when one rivalry appeared to dissolve, another might have been uncorked.

Andrew Bynum was playing his first game against O'Neal since annoying the Heat center last June by inviting comparisons to him with one grand exception -- he made his free throws. O'Neal responded at the time by calling Bynum a "juvenile delinquent" because he had not earned a college degree.

O'Neal got the best of Bynum shortly after the Laker rookie checked into Monday's game, bowling him over while dunking a rebound. But Bynum answered, faking right in the post, spinning around O'Neal and dunking with 55.9 seconds left in the second quarter.

Bynum celebrated on the way down court and threw an elbow into O'Neal's side as the Heat center moved toward the key to get position. O'Neal answered with a forceful shove to Bynum's upper chest. Both players were assessed technical fouls.

Bryant, of all people, played peacemaker, guiding O'Neal away from Bynum.

"When [Jackson] put me in, I knew it was a heart check," Bynum said. "I think I just passed the test. I came down, I didn't quit, I didn't, like, roll over and play dead. ... I think he was just seeing what I was made of."



Victory at last

The Lakers defeated the Miami Heat for the first time since Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Heat before the start of the 2004-05 season. A look at the four Laker-Heat meetings:

*--* Dec. 25, 2004 (at Staples Center) PTS FG% FT% 3-PT 3-PT% REB TO STL BLK AST Miami 104 44.4 68.0 7-14 50.0 54 7 9 5 20 Lakers 102 43.9 84.2 14-36 38.9 53 15 3 2 21


*--* March 17, 2005 (at American Airlines Arena) PTS FG% FT% 3-PT 3-PT% REB TO STL BLK AST Lakers 89 37.9 76.5 10-24 41.7 27 15 10 2 19 Miami 102 47.5 72.4 5-19 26.3 56 11 10 6 18


*--* Dec. 25, 2005 (at American Airlines Arena) PTS FG% FT% 3-PT 3-PT% REB TO STL BLK AST Lakers 92 38.8 74.2 3-21 14.3 56 18 5 9 20 Miami 97 45.0 66.7 3-12 25.0 59 17 6 7 17


*--* Jan. 16, 2006 (at Staples Center) PTS FG% FT% 3-PT 3-PT% REB TO STL BLK AST Lakers 100 46.6 87.1 5-15 33.3 40 8 1 2 24 Miami 92 27.8 63.3 5-18 27.8 44 7 1 5 22


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