The NBA world is still coming to grips with the devastating news of Kobe Bryant’s passing. But the games must go on, and as expected, several tributes were held in honour of the all-time great.
SBOTOP NBA fans also got to witness some outstanding performances from the likes of Buddy Hield, who grew up a big Bryant fan, Eric Gordon, and Bam Adebayo that Kobe himself would be proud of.
Here’s a quick breakdown of all six games that went down in an emotional day around the NBA.
Cleveland Cavaliers 115-100 Detroit Pistons
The Cavs finally put an end to their seven-game losing streak as they defeated the Pistons in Detroit. Collin Sexton paced the Cavs with 23 points, while Kevin Love added 20 points and seven rebounds in just 24 minutes.
Reggie Jackson dropped a team-high 16 points for the Pistons, who were without top scorer Derrick Rose due to a sore right knee.
Orlando Magic 92-113 Miami Heat
After suffering just their second home loss of the season to the Clippers, the Heat bounced back to beat the Orlando Magic by 21 points.
Big man Bam Adebayo starred with a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, which he dedicated to Kobe.
The Magic simply couldn’t muster anything on offence. Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic were their co-leading scorers with 37 points as they shot a mere 37 per cent from the field.
Dallas Mavericks 107-97 Oklahoma City Thunder
With the Thunder’s Chris Paul out mourning Kobe’s passing, Luka Doncic and the Mavs capitalised by getting a big road win over Oklahoma City. Doncic dropped 29 points with 11 rebounds to lead Dallas. It’s the 11th time in 13 games this month that Doncic has scored 25 or more points.
Dennis Schroder led the Thunder in Paul’s absence with 21 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Meanwhile, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struggled mightily as he shot just 5-of-20 from the field to score his 16 points. The loss snaps the Thunder’s five-game winning streak.
San Antonio Spurs 109-110 Chicago Bulls
The short-handed Spurs dropped their third-straight close game as they lost to the lowly Bulls. All three of the Spurs’ losses in this recent slump have come by four points or fewer.
With LaMarcus Aldridge out with a sprained thumb, DeMar DeRozan carried the offensive load for San Antonio as he tied his season-high of 36 points. Patty Mills added 25 points off the bench.
But it wasn’t enough to beat the Bulls’ balanced attack. Zach LaVine led the way with 23 points, while six other Bulls finished in double digits. Denzel Valentine tied his season-high with 16 points off the bench.
Sacramento Kings 133-129 (OT) Minnesota Timberwolves
Buddy Hield grew up idolising Kobe Bryant, so it was fitting that the Kings’ No. 24 delivered a performance reminiscent of the Black Mamba himself. Hield dropped a career-high 42 points to lead Sacramento to an epic comeback against the slumping Timberwolves.
Down by as many as 27 points, Sacramento outscored the Wolves 41-22 in the fourth quarter. Hield helped bring them back with five 3-pointers in the last five minutes.
De’Aaron Fox perfectly executed an intentional missed free throw to score the tying bucket with just 3.6 seconds left to force overtime. He then scored six of his 22 points in overtime to seal the win.
After losing six games in a row, the Kings have now gone 2-0 since moving Hield to the bench.
Andrew Wiggins had 36 points — including 7-of-11 on 3-pointers — to lead the Timberwolves, who, despite the return of Karl-Anthony Towns, have now lost 10 games in a row.
Houston Rockets 126-117 Utah Jazz
Not to be outdone, Gordon also did his best Kobe impression as he scored a career-high 50 points to help severely short-handed Rockets defy the NBA 2020 and upset the Jazz in Utah.
With James Harden and Russell Westbrook both out, Gordon went full Mamba as he produced a number of NBA 2020 highlights. He went 6-of-11 from beyond the arc and 16-of-20 from the free-throw line. Austin Rivers and Danuel House Jr. also gave Gordon ample support as they finished with 21 points apiece.
Gordon is the seventh different player to reach 50 points in the NBA this season. Damian Lillard has the highest scoring total this season with 61 points against the Warriors.
Donovan Mitchell had 36 points in a losing effort for the Jazz, while Bojan Bogdanovic also dropped 30 points on 7-of-13 shooting on 3-pointers.
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