Kobe Longing for Shaq?

For a moment, Bryant flickered back to the agonizing but undeniably successful times with Shaquille O'Neal. He smiled when asked if the Wade-James combination was unfair to the other 29 teams.

"Well, I can't really complain about it," Bryant said. "I had another guy some-odd years ago that, we dominated the league. So I really can't say too much."

Bryant longing for O'Neal? Chalk it up as another strange turn in a season full of churn.

Dwight Howard was supposed to be the new O'Neal, a force down low, the cornerstone for a franchise chasing its 17th NBA championship.

He had 15 points and nine rebounds against the Heat, still playing with a sore shoulder and occasional numbness in his legs from back surgery, and still not making the difference on a team dying for a post presence with Pau Gasol out, possibly until April.

Early in the third quarter, with the teams locked in a close game, Steve Nash found Howard underneath but Howard fumbled the bounce pass. Nash and Howard then had words about it.

Howard wanted it up high; Nash argued it should have been down low. It was in front of 20,300 fans and also a network audience.

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