Final / OT
12:00 PM ET, December 25, 2004
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The brick wall came tumbling down Saturday.
But that didn't stop the Miami Heat from beating the Los Angeles Lakers in Shaq vs. Kobe I.
With Shaquille O'Neal watching from the bench after fouling out late in the fourth quarter, Dwyane Wade and Eddie Jones scored four points each in overtime and the Heat beat the Lakers 104-102 to extend their winning streak to 11 games, equaling a franchise record.
O'Neal had an explanation for his early exit.
"No layups, no dunks," he said.
"Basically everybody, especially him," O'Neal replied.
O'Neal was referring to Kobe Bryant -- a former teammate he has refused to identify by name for quite some time now.
The Heat (22-7) survived despite a season-high 42 points by Bryant. But the Lakers' star was held scoreless in overtime, missing three shots including a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"I had a pretty good look, but I didn't get the balance I would have liked on the shot," Bryant said.
"I knew that it wasn't going to go in," O'Neal said. "It's called Shaq O'Neal fate."
O'Neal fouled out after getting 24 points and 11 rebounds in his first game against the Lakers since being traded to the Heat last summer.
"I felt I let my teammates down a little bit," he said. "My teammates told me they had my back. I wasn't worried at all."
O'Neal tied the game by dunking off a missed shot with three minutes left, but picked up his sixth foul 45 seconds later when Bryant drove toward the basket.
"I kind of forgot I had five," O'Neal said.
Bryant drew O'Neal's fifth foul in similar fashion with 4:04 to play.
When asked last Monday what would happen if Bryant drove the lane, O'Neal replied: "When you've got a Corvette that runs into a brick wall, you know what's going to happen."
"I didn't even realize he had five fouls," Bryant said. "I just attacked and went straight to the basket. He collapsed and I took it right to him."
Bryant said he knew the game would be cleanly played.
"I expected him to just come out here and play," he said. "I knew there was a lot of talk about the brick wall, and all that. But I think that was kind of just to hype the game."
Wade, who had 29 points and 10 assists, scored with 2:06 remaining to give the Heat a 104-99 lead. The Lakers drew within two points when Lamar Odom made his second 3-pointer of overtime with 1:11 to play.
But neither team scored after that. The Lakers got the ball one final time with 3.4 seconds to play, but Bryant couldn't come through.
A pregame tribute to O'Neal was shown on the videoboard before he was introduced to a standing ovation that lasted about 40 seconds. Bryant stood in front of the Lakers' bench and clapped throughout.
O'Neal said he didn't watch the video.
"I didn't want to go back into flashback mode," he explained.
O'Neal and Bryant acknowledged each other briefly before the opening tipoff.
"I think it was great before the game that the fans paid their respects for all that he's done for the organization," Bryant said.
O'Neal and Bryant were teammates for eight chaotic seasons with the Lakers. Despite their obvious disdain for each other, nearly unbearable at times, the Lakers won three championships and reached the NBA Finals a fourth time during their last five years together.
O'Neal demanded a trade three days after the Lakers were beaten by the Detroit Pistons in the Finals last June. Phil Jackson was told the same day his services as coach were no longer desired.
Bryant, meanwhile signed a seven-year, $136.4 million contract to stay. With Jackson and O'Neal out of the picture, the Lakers immediately became Kobe's team.
Once the game began, there were few indications Bryant and O'Neal had a past, much less such an acrimonious one.
"I'm over it -- it's old news to me," O'Neal said when asked if he still had a problem with Bryant. "I think (the media) keeps it going more than me and him. I just wanted to come in and help my team win."
Said Bryant: "Hopefully, this is all behind us now. Everybody's gotten the first game out of their system, and now we can just move on and talk about basketball."
Jones, another former Laker, had 18 points and seven rebounds. Udonis Haslem had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Miami.
Odom scored all eight Los Angeles points in overtime and equaled a season high with 24. Odom, who came to the Lakers in the O'Neal trade, also had 11 rebounds.
With the game tied at 94, Wade missed two shots in the last 30 seconds of the fourth quarter, sending the game into overtime and drawing a grimace from O'Neal in front of the Miami bench.
A basket by Bryant and a 3-pointer by Atkins put the Lakers on top 71-63, matching the largest lead of the game. The Heat went on a 10-2 run to tie it before Bryant made two spectacular shots to finish the third quarter, putting Los Angeles ahead 77-73.
Bryant challenged O'Neal on the first two Los Angeles possessions. O'Neal blocked Bryant's shot the first time; Bryant made a pull-up jumper the second.
Bryant made his first three 3-point shots, giving him 11 points and the Lakers a 17-9 lead less than 3½ minutes in. Los Angeles was 5-of-5 from 3-point range at that stage.
O'Neal was relatively quiet until making two thunderous dunks, giving the Heat a 40-37 lead. The Lakers led 56-54 at halftime.
The Lakers have played at home on Christmas every year since Staples Center opened in 1999. ... The Heat haven't lost since Dec. 4, when they were beaten at Denver. They go for their 12th straight win Monday at home against Atlanta. ... Jumaine Jones started in place of Butler and scored nine points. ... The Lakers are 0-3 this season when Bryant has scored 40 or more points.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||40-90 (.444)||36-82 (.439)|
|3PM-3PA||7-14 (.500)||14-36 (.389)|
|FTM-FTA||17-25 (.680)||16-19 (.842)|
|Fast Break Points||8||10|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (3/0)||24 (2/0)|