By Ben Eagle
A frustrating season in Laker Land might finally be hitting a boiling point.
A league source told the Daily News that the Lakers stars got into a heated exchange following a New Year’s Day loss to the 76ers, and Bryant went for a low blow – referencing and agreeing with Shaquille O’Neal’s criticisms of Howard being soft.
Howard was restrained from going at his teammate, according to the source, and there have been rumblings from the center’s camp that he’s been unhappy with Bryant since earlier in the season.
Bryant, long a Twitter hold out, tweeted that the incident didn't happen.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLA also said that her sources have denied the incident took place.
The Lakers sit at 15-18, losers of three straight. Howard, who criticized the Lakers' chemistry after their 107-102 loss to the Clippers Friday, is set to be a free agent at season's end. He is averaging 17.3 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.
This represents just the latest big-man feud for Bryant, who has traded barbs with O'Neal and taken shots at former L.A. big men Kwame Brown and Andrew Bynum. "That was a different dynamic. Shaq and I were a different dynamic," Bryant told ESPNLA when asked to compare his relationship with Howard to his relationship with O'Neal. "That just wasn't going to last." Will Bryant and Howard learn to co-exist? Only time will tell.