Kobe-Shaq feud 2004 Christmas

It’s a tradition like no other in the NBA, the holiday season is upon us and the stars shine brighter than the lights hanging from a Christmas Tree. The NBA has been showcasing basketball games on Christmas Day since 1947 and boy we have seen some amazing games while unwrapping presents with friends and family. The games mean a little more on Christmas, with the entire world watching the matchups get a bit more intense, the defense tightens up, the offense is ran to a T and when it comes to taking the last shots you know who is taking it. What a Gift.

One of the most memorable Christmas day games comes from 2004. Earlier in the 2004-2005 season, the magnificent and ever so controversial dynamic duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal went their separate ways, Coach Phil Jackson parted from Los Angeles, and it seemed as the magnitude of the Association has shifted. How would the Lakers fare with just Kobe? Would the Miami Heat be a real contender with Wade, Shaq, and Alonzo? When would these two heavyweight champion level superstars face off? Of course, the NBA did the right thing and made sure Los Angeles and Miami squared off in Staples Center on the biggest stage of the regular season, Christmas Day.

Drama. Suspense. Hype. Oh the Hype, When the NBA released its schedule, and the coveted Christmas Day game was pitted for Heat-Lakers, Shaq could not help himself to laydown a few comments that would create buzz around the league, when asked about taking on Kobe and the Lakers and if Kobe drives down the lane against him, he had the a typical Shaq-like response, “He’s a Corvette, I’m a Brick Wall.” During the season the Heat started off 21-7 and O’Neal also couldn’t help himself about bringing up the 2nd year up and coming star, Dwyane Wade, stating that “Wade is younger and is just as lethal talking about Kobe Bryant, and it’s my job is to make him lethal-er.” While Shaq was creating a buzz and building up the excitement of this matchup, the Star of Los Angeles, Kobe took a much more different approach to this game. Bryant was on the record saying that if he could do things different, he would have made adjustments with Shaq and even Phil. KB stated that “I can’t sit up here and say I’m not at fault at all for anything that took place… I mean if I could go back and do something differently, I would.” Now If Kobe Bryant admits he wrong, he must have done something crazy right? But Bryant also mentioned that it is out of his control and he had to look past it. Both players at the end of the day were eager to go at it on Christmas.

Gameday, Christmas Day in the house that Kobe and Shaq built, The 21-7 Miami Heat came in led by Wade and O’Neal against the middle of the pack Lakers at 14-11. Although it was not the best start, Kobe was on a tear playing over 40 minuets per contest to keep the Lakers in each game, averaging close to 28 points as well. With all the talk about the Heat having the better team, there was no way the Heat were going to come into Kobe’s town and leave with a blowout victory. The Lakers were going to fight led by their fierce leader.

Tipoff up and away, and let’s get into it.

The First quarter was filled with scoring, funny enough this intense battle of the two started the way Shaq said it would, Kobe as the Corvette that he is, drives through attempts a short jumper and it was blocked by the brick wall of O’Neal. But knowing Kobe, that was only a warmup shot for him, as he sinks his next fadeaway from the same distance. From there on it was the Mamba torching the Heat’s defense from 3 point land, Bryant fired away and nailed 3, 3’s in a row. The Lakers took a 17-9 lead to start the 1st, After a small exchange of Buckets between Shaq and Kobe, the X-factor in this entire game, Dwyane Wade decide to chime in with 13 points of his own. Hitting inside shots, midrange shots, and of course doing what Wade does best, getting to the free throw line. A Firework show of a first quarter ends 32-31 Miami.

This game was looking like it was going to be an offensive shootout, both teams were scoring, little to no defense was really played, but from the 2nd quarter on, the intensity of the defense was heightened. Both squads were in the grill of their opposition. After a Brian Cook basket for LA, taking a 37-34 lead, the next few minuets became a brick fest, defense was locking in, turnovers galore, and finally Christian Laettner hits a 17 footer to break the ice. Bryant turns it over the next play, and Shaq capitalizes with back to back jams to put the Heat up by 3. With about a minuet to go in the half, the Lakers had an eight point lead, but after a technical foul by Lamar Odom, former Laker Eddie Jones took advantage of not only making a technical free throw but then following it up with a 3 pointer of his own, in a matter of seconds Miami cut the lead to 4, However Odom redeemed himself by nailing a three pointer of his own with 34 seconds left in the half. After an Offensive foul on Kobe, with 3 seconds left, the Heat turned to the man who got them out of their slump earlier in the quarter, Christian Laettner for a short jumper to end the half at 56-54 Los Angeles. Ugly quarter but hey nobody said this game was going to be a cake walk for either team.

This matchup had the making of an amazing second half. Lets get into the 3rd shall we?

As this Christmas game gets into the second half, what would we see? A Shaq-Wade take over? A Kobe Bryant barrage in points and crazy shots? Role Players stepping up? Someone getting ejected? This game had the right formula for any one of these situations to happen. The Lakers opened up their half by feeding none other than Chucky Atkins on a three pointer to give the Lake Show a 5 point lead early on, after O’Neal hits the short hook, the Mamba started to get going, was this the point of attack for KB? Kobe quickly scored 5 points, including another 3 pointer. However Kobe did not continue to torch the Miami Defense, or at least not just yet. The Heat were still trailing in the third and did not seem to have a true rhythm, Eddie Jones was shooting well, Shaq had his Diesel moments, but it was not anything truly dominate, and Dwyane Wade nearly went scoreless until the end of the quarter with a few inside buckets. With 2 minuets left in the 3rd, this back and forth battle seemed as even as the number 2. One of the highlights came when Wade showed his defensive prowess against Kobe as he blocked one of Bryant’s jumpers that resulted in a Jump Ball situation. With the game knotted up at 73 a piece, we saw the King of LA do his thing, Bryant nailed a short jumper, and after a Wade offensive foul, Kobe followed

it up by teeing off another long jumper to give the Lakers the 77-73 lead going into the fourth. This was going to be one crazy finish.

As Christmas Day goes on, these two teams have given us an abundance of gifts, joy, and holiday spirit. The Lakers opened the 4th with a 77-73 lead, and it did not look like the best start, both teams turned the ball over, and were in search of a basket. Jumaine Jones kicked off the fourth with a three pointer of his own, a gift from Kobe to him. After another lakers possession ending in a Kobe Bryant turnover, the Heat needed to bring in the big Diesel to get the wheels moving. Shaq was balling out, scoring layups, finding open shooters such as Damon Jones, blocking shots, and making sure his presence was felt in the paint. Shaq was on a tear, leading the charge of a 7-0 run to bring the Heat back to a tie game of 80-80. After a laker timeout with 8 minuets to go, the intensity was turned up to the max. Nothing came easy for both teams, fouls occurred left and right, everybody was getting to the free throw line from Lamar Odom to Dwyane Wade to Kobe Bryant to Chris Mihm. After a quick exchange of buckets from Kobe and Shaq. The Lakers still controlled the lead 86-82, with about 5 and a half minuets left in the game. Could Kobe do what he always was bred to do and take over the game? Or would Shaq be the brick wall that he promised he would be and stop the Corvette? Kobe tried to put the Heat away, but the toughness in Miami really showed. Wade takes it in for a layup and Damon Jones was once again ready to catch and shoot with an assist from Shaq to cut the lead to 2, 89-87. After Kobe misses a lay-up and Shaq gathers another board, Wade gets to the foul line and makes both. Tie Game. 89 all. This feels like the longest 3 minuets of both team’s lives. Kobe calmly sinks two free throws, to give the Lakers the slight lead, which then was answered back quickly by Shaq with another dunk. 2 minuets left. Here we go.

Kobe gets to the line again filling up the stat sheet with another two free throws, and after a foul on KB , the Heat reset and got the ball to the fastest man on the court, Flash, Wade ties the game with another layup. In the final minuets with the game tied at 94, both teams squandered opportunities to take the lead, the Lakers had a shot clock violaton, the Heat missed two jumpers in a row, and this game gave us the gift of all gifts, free basketball. Over time.

I told you guys this game was instore for a crazy finish.

Kobe had 42 points heading into Overtime, and with that we all know Kobe was going to shoot the lights out and get 50 points and a W. Right?

As Overtime started, Wade steals the ball from a misfired pass from Odom and finds Eddie Jones for a jumper to get the Heat going. Wade quietly had a double-double stat line of 29 points and 10 assists, while playing hard nosed defense all night long. Odom made up for the turnover by getting a bucket to tie the game once again. The Heat missed and now it was Kobe’s time to be the Laker that saved Christmas. But unfortunately clanked missed a short jumper and followed it up by losing the ball recording a game high 9 turnovers. Eddie Jones scores Heat up 4. Time out LA and it seemed as the Heat were going to be the Grinch. But coming out of the Timeout, the Lakers found Odom once again for three and bang, Lamar is keeping the Lakers in it. With Two minuets left, the Heat are in control 101-99, Kobe is still scoreless in the Overtime period, and Wade hits a 10 foot jumper to essentially ice the game for Miami. But guess who strikes again for Los Angeles? The Candy Man himself, Lamar Odom, hits another big three to make it a two point game. 104-102. The Heat were trying once again to ice the game by giving the ball to Wade, as he drives, he missed from near point blank, the Heat however

gather the offensive rebound and quickly call timeout. Now with 49 seconds, you forsure have to go with either Shaq or Wade in this situation, instead Eddie Jones takes the mid range J and misses it, the Lakers have a chance to strike until Chucky Atkins gets called for an offensive foul with 27 seconds. The Heat were trying to run the clock out and the Lakers did not try to foul, and interesting strategy here, it was purely a gamble for the Lakers, if they don’t foul and the Heat either miss or get a shot clock violation the Lakers can come back down and get a bucket with seconds to go. By going with the no foul strategy, it paid off, the Heat were forced into a shot clock violation, and the Lakers called their last timeout with 3.4 seconds left.

3.4 seconds left, down two, on Christmas, will Kobe finally delivery the gift of victory for Staples Center?

The inbound to Bryant, with 3 seconds, fires away a 3 pointer for the win

As the ball was in the air the entire building patiently waited for a Lakers victory

Yet the Miami Heat were the Scrooge of this Christmas, the shot misses, and the Heat come out of staples center with a 104-102 Christmas Day victory. Kobe was held scoreless and Odom was the only Laker to score in the OT period. However Bryant ended the day with 42 points and 6 assists, while the victorious Heat had Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade going for double-doubles. O’Neal went for 24 and 11 rebounds.

The Rivalry between Shaq and Kobe lived up to all the hype, and have given us so many classics throughout, but this Christmas Day at Staples in 2004 was one for the books.


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