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Bryant leads Lakers to 15th NBA title

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—Kobe Bryant jumped and punched the air. He did it again, seven years of pent up frustration freed in a fit of joy.

This was the one he wanted more than all the others.The one to top them all.

One year after failing miserably in the finals against Boston, Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers found redemption. They finished a season they felt was theirs with a 99-86 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night in Game 5 to win the 15th NBA title in franchise history.

For Bryant, this was the missing piece from his resume, his fourth championship and first without former teammate Shaquille O’Neal.

“I don’t have to hear that criticism, that idiotic criticism anymore,” said Bryant, the finals MVP. “It was annoying.”
For Lakers coach Phil Jackson, this was title No. 10, moving him past legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach for the most by a coach in league history.

“I’ll smoke a cigar in honor of Red,” Jackson said. “He was a great guy.”

For Pau Gasol(notes). For Derek Fisher(notes). For Lamar Odom(notes). For Trevor Ariza(notes) and for Andrew Bynum(notes) and the rest of the Lakers, this was a title to savor.

“It’s a dream come true,” Gasol said. “The completion of a goal.”

Odom scored 17 points, Ariza had 15, Gasol 14 and 15 rebounds, and Fisher, whose two big 3s in Game 4 saved L.A., had 13 points.

It took longer than Bryant expected, but he has stepped from O’Neal’s enormous shadow—at last.

Bryant averaged 32.4 points, 7.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds and more than a dozen cold-blooded glares per game. He wasn’t out to make friends in these finals, he was out for redemption. Throughout the playoffs, he didn’t smile. He just snarled and bared his teeth.

Howard, the Magic’s superhero center, was hardly a factor in Game 5. He scored 11 points and took just nine shots. Rashard Lewis(notes) scored 18 points, but was only 3 of 12 on 3s for Orlando, which after living on the 3, finally died by it.

The Magic went just 8 of 27 from long range.

When the game ended, Howard didn’t move. As his teammates headed to the locker room, Howard stayed on Orlando’s bench and watched as the Lakers celebrated on the Magic’s floor. Jameer Nelson(notes), Orlando’s point guard who came back for the finals after missing four months with a shoulder injury, finally joined him
source : sports.yahoo.com

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