Sports / BasketballBryant shines to spoil ONeals Phoenix debut(Agencies)Updated: 2008-02-22 09:12NEW YORK: The Los Angeles Lakers ground out a 130-124 victory over Phoenix on Wednesday, Kobe Bryant leading the visitors with 41 points to ensure former teammate Shaquille ONeals first game for the Suns ended in defeat.Phoenix Suns Shaquille ONeal, right, and Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant stand next to one another in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008, in Phoenix. The Lakers defeated the Suns 130-124. [Agencies] Pau Gasol added 29 points and Lamar Odom scored 22 for the Lakers, who moved into a tie for first place with Phoenix in the Pacific Division following their sixth straight victory.ONeal played for the Lakers from 1996-2004 and teamed up with Bryant to win three NBA championships. He was acquired by the Suns in a deal from the Miami Heat last week, where he won a fourth championship two seasons ago.He scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 29 minutes in his first game in a month as he continues to battle back from injury.”Im in better shape than I thought I was,” ONeal told reportersThe Lakers controlled the game most of the night, leading 65-57 at the half, but the Suns battled back to tie the game in the third quarter and got to within a point on two other occasions before Los Angeles finally pulled ahead for good.Bryant said he enjoyed competing against his former teammate.”It felt like a playoff-type environment,” Bryant said.”It was fun to be a part of.”Amare Stoudemire had 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Suns, while Steve Nash had 26 points and eight assists and Leandro Barbosa added 17 points.The New Orleans Hornets eased to a 104-93 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in another game involving a big-name debut, Chris Paul helping the hosts spoil Jason Kidds return to his first team with 31 points, 11 assists and nine steals.Acquired from the New Jersey Nets this week, Kidd struggled to jell with his new teammates, picking up eight points, six rebounds and five assists in a loss that saw Dallas fall three games behind the first-place Hornets in the Southeast Division.The All-Star guard also committed six turnovers in his first game for Dallas since he left the team 11 years ago, three seasons after he was selected by the Mavericks in the 1994 draft.With chants of “MVP!” echoing through the crowd, Paul upstaged Kidd with an electrifying performance on offense and defense to help the Hornets reel off their fifth straight win.Paul was 11-of-20 from the floor and made all seven of his free throws, with his nine steals a career-high.LeBron James posted his second consecutive triple-double as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Indiana Pacers 106-97.James had 31 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season and 16th of his career.Top Sports News
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