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Lakers cruise to earn 15th title

Kobe Bryant scored 30 points to gain his fourth NBA championship ring. He was named the MVP.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Kobe Bryant has the NBA title he needed most - the one without Shaq.

Bryant's seven-year chase of a coveted championship is over. He's got his fourth, and Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson has his record 10th, a ring for each finger. One year after failing in the NBA Finals, Bryant and the Lakers found redemption.

They earned the 15th title in franchise history last night as Bryant scored 30 points and Pau Gasol added 14 and 15 rebounds in a 99-86 win over the Orlando Magic in Game 5.

Bryant stepped out of former teammate Shaquille O'Neal's enormous shadow at last bu winning his fourth championship.

O'Neal, now with the Phoenix Suns, was glad to see Bryant win another title.

"Congratulations kobe, u deserve it," O'Neal said on his Twitter page. "You played great. Enjoy it my man enjoy it."

Jackson, the bow-legged Zen Master who won six league titles in the 1990s with Michael Jordan in Chicago, now has won No. 4 with Los Angeles and broke a tie with legendary Boston coach Red Auerbach as the winningest coach in NBA Finals history.

"I'll smoke the cigar tonight in memory of Red," Jackson said. "He was a great guy."

Nothing was going to stop Bryant, who spent the postseason scowling, snarling, baring his teeth and all but breathing fire at anything in his path. For weeks, the all-star has worn his game face, and only when the victory was his in the final seconds did the finals MVP allow himself to smile.

Bryant had come up short twice in the finals before, in 2004 with O'Neal against Detroit, and again last season against the Boston Celtics. The Lakers were beaten in six games, losing the finale in Boston by 39 points, a humiliating beatdown that Bryant and his teammates had trouble shaking.

They went to training camp with one goal in mind. This was going to be their season.

"It's so tough to win championships," Bryant said. "We started over from scratch. Here we are again. This really feels like a dream."

After beating Utah in the first round, Los Angeles was forced to go seven games against Houston, which lost center Yao Ming to an injury. The Lakers then took care of Denver in six games, setting up a matchup with the Magic, who made their first visit to the finals since O'Neal took them there in 1995.

Dwight Howard, the Magic's star center, was hardly a factor in Game 5. He scored 11 points. Rashard Lewis scored 18 points, but was only 3 of 12 on threes for Orlando.

The Lakers were not just The Kobe Show this season. They got help from their entire roster as Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza and Andrew Bynum, who missed most of last season and the playoffs with a knee injury, came through.

The Lakers led by 56-46 at halftime and kept their distance in the second half, forcing the Magic, who shot a finals record 63 percent in Game 3, into rapid-fire mode.

This time, the shots wouldn't drop.



Lakers 99 Magic 86

Lakers win series, 4-1.