This is the preferred kind of finger-pointing between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

It's the first possession Friday night and Bryant finds his Lakers teammate near the basket for a reverse layup. Howard acknowledges Bryant on his way back up the court by extending his index finger in appreciation.

Soon there is another grateful gesture after Howard takes a bounce pass from Bryant and drives for a ferocious dunk.

It's no longer complicated for a couple of Lakers who had bickered for most of the season's first four months. They appear to like playing alongside one another, their fondness shown in subtle public displays of affection.

The strengthening bond between Howard and Bryant has helped the Lakers fortify a season that is no longer quite so wobbly, their 118-116 overtime victory against Toronto at Staples Center on Friday moving them over .500 for the first time since Nov. 20.

Howard even may have assisted Bryant on the game-winning shot, the center grabbing a handful of Rudy Gay's jersey as Bryant drove for the dunk that gave the Lakers a 117-115 lead.

"Sometimes you have to be nasty and sometimes you have to be creative," Howard said. "I just held my man, but there's plays where I do a good job of sealing for those guys."