Although it is happening a few years too late for them to benefit as teammates, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant have both matured, writes J.A. Adande.

Updated: November 21, 2008, 12:31 PM ET
By J.A. Adande | ESPN.com
PHOENIX -- The irony, of course, is that if Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal had reached this stage sooner they wouldn't have had so many problems and they would have raised another championship banner or two in Staples Center together. You no longer hear O'Neal barking about the need to feed the big dog anymore, and Bryant is perfectly willing to do less if it helps the team do more. Thursday night, the new-look Kobe prevailed over the new-look, older Shaq, as the Lakers outclassed the Suns in their own building, 105-92. Bryant wasn't even on the court when the Lakers took control of the game by scoring the first six points of the second quarter to go ahead by eight. Yeah, Bryant made his mark, with a team-high 24 points, but the star of this game was the Lakers' depth, the variety of assets that is unmatched in the league.


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