Shaq-Kobe V Tonight…

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Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant will share a court tonight for the first time in over two years when O’Neal makes his Phoenix Suns debut against Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers. These two have quite a history, both on and off the floor. Here, however, are the notable measurables from their four regular season head-to-head meetings, in which Shaq’s team has prevailed three times:

DECEMBER 25, 2004: Miami Heat 104, Los Angeles Lakers 102, OT
Shaq: 24 points (11/19 FG, 2/7 FT), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks in 39 minutes (fouled out)
Kobe: 42 points (12/30 FG [5/13 3PT], 13/13 FT), 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 9 turnovers, 1 steal in 50 minutes

MARCH 17, 2005: Miami Heat 102, Los Angeles Lakers 89
Shaq: 25 points (11/19 FG, 3/9 FT), 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, 1 steal in 37 minutes
Kobe: 26 points (8/23 FG [2/6 3PT], 8/9 FT), 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 1 block in 46 minutes

DECEMBER 25, 2005: Miami Heat 97, Los Angeles Lakers 92
Shaq: 18 points (8/18 FG, 2/5 FT), 17 rebounds, 3 assist, 6 turnovers, 1 block in 34 minutes
Kobe: 37 points (12/30 FG [0/8 3PT], 13/19 FT), 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks in 44 minutes

JANUARY 16, 2006: Los Angeles Lakers 100, Miami Heat 92
Shaq: 18 points (8/14 FG, 2/8 FT), 10 rebounds, 1 assist in 31 minutes
Kobe: 37 points (13/24 FG [2/5 3PT], 9/9 FT), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal in 41 minutes

So, if we boil these down to averages for the series, we get:
Shaq: 21.3 points (.543 FG%, .310 FT%), 12.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2 blocks in 35 minutes
Kobe: 35.5 points (.421 FG% [.281 3P%], .860 FT%), 6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2 steals in 45 minutes

To the naked eye, that looks to be slight advantage: Kobe, but as the 3-1 series advantage in Shaq’s favor — not to mention the success of the Lakers post-Shaq, until very recently — indicates, it’s not always about the individual. It should be interesting to see if Shaq is able to adjust to his new teammates tonight and/or replicate his numbers of past years when the new-look Suns meet the new-look Lakers.

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