Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday during the NBA regular season we are here to help you break it all down. Here are three things you need to know from yesterday in the NBA.
1) Emotional, moving Kobe Bryant Celebration of Life just start of the day for James Harden, Devin Booker. The most fitting way to honor Kobe Bryant? Play the game of basketball with passion. Leave everything on the court.
James Harden and Devin Booker did just that.
Harden, Booker, and Russell Westbrook were at the powerful and unforgettable Kobe Bryant Celebration of Life memorial Monday afternoon at Staples Center in Los Angeles. All three left that event, hopped on charter flights, and were playing in NBA games that night.
Harden had 37 points on 14-of-25 shooting, leading the small-ball Rockets past the Knicks.
Westbrook also was in Los Angeles and then in Houston for the game, but he did not play (officially due to a sure thumb).
Booker’s flight took him to Salt Lake City where he scored a fitting 24 points to spark the Suns in an upset win over the stumbling Utah Jazz.
However, the most impressive double-duty of the day belonged to Oregon women’s basketball star Sabrina Ionescu. She spoke at Kobe’s memorial that morning.
Then she was on a plane to the Bay Area where she laced them up for the Ducks against Stanford and made history becoming the first college basketball player — male or female — to score 2,000 points and have 1,000 rebounds and 1,0000 assists in a career.
— Oregon Women’s Basketball (@OregonWBB) February 25, 2020
Somewhere, Kobe is smiling watching the way Ionescu plays. That passion is the most fitting way to honor him.
2) Bradley Beal scores 50+ points for the second straight game. Wizards lose for the second straight game. Bradley Beal is putting up up points like he’s an NBA Jam game come to life — “He’s on fire!” In Chicago Sunday night Beal scored a career-high 53 points, but Washington still lost in Chicago.
Monday night against the Bucks Beal topped it, scoring 55 points — including 22 in the fourth quarter to force overtime, then seven more in the extra frame — and still the Wizards lost. Again.
Around the league last summer, teams were making calls to see if the Wizards were ready to trade Beal. Instead, he took the cash and showed his loyalty to the franchise by signing a max extension. Beal and everyone else knew the Wizards would struggle this season, he made his $71 million decision (and you can’t blame a man for getting paid).
Those trade calls are going to start up again next summer, but the Wizards are intent on getting John Wall back on the court with Beal and their younger players such as Rui Hachimura then making a playoff push next season. Beal is not going to be on the move. Yet.
Also of note out of Milwaukee’s win, Khris Middleton scored Milwaukee’s final nine points on his way to 40 for the night.
3) Joel Embiid scores career-high 49 points in 76ers win. Joel Embiid is another one of the NBA players who has talked about how much Kobe influenced him — watching Bryant in the 2010 NBA Finals is what inspired him to play basketball.
Embiid played inspired ball on Monday night, scoring a career-high 49 points plus grabbing 14 rebounds in a 76ers win at home over the Hawks.
That win leaves Philadelphia just one game back in the loss column from Miami for home court in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. (A Heat/76ers matchup is looking more and more likely in that first round.)
However, the Sixers found out Monday that Ben Simmons will be out for an indefinite amount of time due to lower back pain. Losing the All-Star could be a blow to the Sixers home court (and maybe playoff) chances.