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Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard hugged after the Lakers' loss to the Rockets, claim to be 'cool'

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Best friends forever, right?

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard have had their clashes over the years, with Bryant defeating Howard in the 2009 NBA Finals when Howard was with the Orlando Magic before the two became teammates during what would be one of the Lakers' most disappointing and tumultuous season in Lakers history.

Bryant and Howard's rumored disagreements and the Lakers' unwillingness to "muzzle" Bryant are among the reported reasons Dwight chose the Houston Rockets as a free agent after his lone season with the Lakers. However, Lakers' head coach Byron Scott predicted before the Lakers Saturday night loss to the Rockets that while Kobe and Dwight had had their difficulties, he expected "bygones to be bygones" with Bryant in his last year. Metta World Peace told reporters he thought Mike D'Antoni's system was more responsible for the Lakers' struggles in the 2012-13 season than any animosity between his two superstar teammates.

After the game, Scott and World Peace appeared to be proven correct when Dwight and Kobe hugged it out at midcourt:

Awwwwww.... That is certainly nicer than one of the two's other meetings since no longer being teammates, when Kobe only had this to say to Dwight:

After the hug game, Bryant had this to say (via Baxter Holmes of ESPN):

"[Things with Dwight will] always be cool. They'll always be fine," Bryant said. "My responsibility, when Dwight and I played together, was to get him to play his best basketball. That involves sometimes pushing buttons when guys don't necessarily appreciate it at the time. But as a leader, that's your job. That's your responsibility. It's nothing personal. You just try to get the best out of them, even if they don't really find the humor in that at the time."

Howard also claimed to have "no issue" with Bryant:

"At the end of the day, we're all men, and we make decisions based on our life, so I don't think he was really upset after it was over and done with. I don't have an issue with him. I pray for the guy every day, and I'm happy to see him go out on a high note."

While many Lakers fans will long lament that the two could not come to such an understanding while both men were in Los Angeles, it sounds like neither Bryant nor Howard are holding on to the past.

Byron Scott transcribed via TWC Sportsnet