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Kobe and Shaq set for Xmas matchup

2006-07-28 16:17

  Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal both look in top form as they get set for their Christmas meeting.

  Speaking of rivalries, Andrew Bogut will always remember his first National Basketball Association matchup against Tim Duncan.

  Bryant scored a career-high 62 points in just three quarters - including a franchise-record 30 in the third - to lead the Los Angeles Lakers over the Dallas Mavericks 112-90 on Tuesday night.

  The 27-year-old Bryant, who brought a 31.3-point average into the game, shot 18-of-31, including 4-of-10 from 3-point range, and made 22 of 25 foul shots while playing only 33 minutes.

  “It's a great feeling, to do it here at Staples Center in front of our fans - kind of an early Christmas present to them,” Bryant said.

  O'Neal had an even shorter night, playing 24 minutes and scoring 28 points in Miami's 111-92 rout of Atlanta in Pat Riley's first home game since returning to the bench.

  The added rest will no doubt benefit the superstars and former feuding teammates, who meet on Sunday when the Heat host the Lakers in the second game of the Christmas doubleheader.

  Milwaukee needed Bogut on the floor until the final buzzer to knock off the San Antonio Spurs.

  The No. 1 pick in this year's draft took an inbounds pass and made a short jumper as time expired to give the Bucks a 109-107 overtime victory over the Spurs. “I've never had a buzzer-beating game-winner, but to do it in the NBA against the world champions is a great feeling,” Bogut said. “The guy I've always looked up to is Tim Duncan. So, to do this against his team is a great feeling for me.”

  In other NBA games, it was: Cavaliers 110, Jazz 85; Pistons 93, Trail Blazers 89; Nets 99, Clippers 85; Bobcats 105, Bulls 92; and Suns 111, SuperSonics 83.

  Duncan had a season-high 34 points on 15-of-28 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds, but he fouled out with 22 seconds left in overtime in Milwaukee and had to watch Bogut's biggest NBA moment from the bench.

  Bogut also scored the tying basket on a follow-on shot with 14 seconds left in overtime and finished with 19 points. He added nine rebounds - seven offensive - and two blocked shots, plus delivered an early statement by driving past Duncan for a dunk to open the scoring.

  “He did a great job on the offensive glass, made some big baskets for them and showed some great touch right around the basket,” Duncan said.

  As usual, O'Neal relied more on power than touch.

  Rounding back into form after missing most of the season with a sprained ankle, Shaq hit his first eight shots - six dunks and two layups in the opening half - in making Riley's first game back on the home bench an easy one.

  “It's my job to make him look good,” O'Neal said. “He's a very good looking man, so it's my job to keep him looking good.”

  Gary Payton and Gerald Fitch each added 15 points, Dwyane Wade shook off an early injury to score 14 and Antoine Walker had 13 for Miami, which is 4-1 under Riley.

  In Los Angeles, no other Lakers players were in double figures - not that it mattered.

  Bryant matched his previous career high of 56 points by making two free throws with 1:02 left in the third quarter. He went on to score six more points in the period, capping his amazing night by making a long 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds left.

  He fell nine points shy of Elgin Baylor's franchise record of 71 points with the first 60-point game by a Lakers player since - who else? - O'Neal, against the Clippers on March 6, 2000.

  In Cleveland, LeBron James scored 25 points and took an early seat on the bench after Cleveland's flurry of 3-pointers in the third quarter. Damon Jones made four 3s in a stretch of 3:17 in the third as the Cavs won their third straight.

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