Lakers don’t wilt in Heat’s presence
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita The only conflict on the night came between O’Neal and Bynum, the past and present of Lakers centers colliding just before halftime. O’Neal finished with 18 points but Bryant’s brilliance won out again in the end. With Bryant on the bench to start the fourth quarter, the Lakers faltered as center Chris Mihm had a shot blocked and committed a three-second violation. They also had a shot-clock violation and saw their lead sliced to 79-75 as Gary Payton drove the lane for a layup with 9:22 remaining. What happened next was almost predictable. Lakers coach Phil Jackson called timeout and checked Bryant back into the game, guarded by Payton, his teammate for one stormy season in Los Angeles. Bryant buried two long jumpers over Payton midway through the fourth, then nearly tossed in a miracle shot as he collided with O’Neal cutting backdoor. Bryant settled for two free throws and a Lakers lead restored to 84-77. Photo GalleryLakers vs Heat There was closure for Kobe Bryant, starting with a hand offered by Shaquille O’Neal before tipoff Monday night, as well as an introduction for rookie center Andrew Bynum, who most definitely did not back down from O’Neal. There also was a 100-92 victory for the Lakers, their first over the Miami Heat in the four games since the O’Neal trade, with Bryant scoring 12 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, when his team had to have them. The good feelings lasted all night, except as the Lakers gave back nearly all of a 19-point third-quarter lead. But after not even acknowledging Bryant on Christmas Day, O’Neal did so three times before the game started Monday. “We’ve been though so many wars together and it feels good to kind of be able to enjoy the sweetness of it,” Bryant said, “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.” Said O’Neal: “I had orders from the great Bill Russell. 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.” Bryant connected on a 20-footer with 1:35 left, Devean George pulled down a big offensive rebound and sank two free throws in the final minute and forward Lamar Odom hit a shot with 19.2 seconds left. “Kobe had a really nice game,” Jackson said. “He played well and seemed in control.” It was yet another nail-biting victory for the Lakers, who have won six of seven games since Bryant returned from suspension. The Lakers (21-17) also had lost all three games to the Heat since the O’Neal trade before Monday. The best fireworks came between O’Neal and Bynum, the 18-year-old Jackson talked about playing against O’Neal from the first game of summer league. Bynum didn’t get the chance on Christmas Day, but did Monday night. It might be all anyone remembers from the game. O’Neal toppled Bynum on a follow-up dunk only to have Bynum take a pass from Bryant and spin past him in the post at the other end for a dunk. With the crowd going crazy, Bynum pushed O’Neal setting up for defense and O’Neal retaliated in full. He grabbed Bynum and clocked him in the head with an elbow, leading to a double technical foul and both players having to be separated. “Shaq used him for a pogo-stick down there on the play previous to that and he kind of collapsed on the floor,” Jackson said. “But he came back with a lot of energy and got a dunk on him. He’ll remember that one for a long time.” LAKERS NOTES: After everything he has gone through in returning from open heart surgery, Ronny Turiaf said he wouldn’t be opposed to heading to the NBA Development League, as Jackson suggested this weekend. But Turiaf also hopes to prove Jackson wrong, that he doesn’t need a trip to the Fort Worth (Texas) Flyers as part of his comeback. The 23-year-old forward is expected to officially sign with the Lakers today, according to his agent, Bouna Ndiaye. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!