Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) The tributes for to Kobe Bryant continue to pour in from every corner of the NBA — and globe. The Shock of Kobe Bryant’s unexpected death on Sunday — in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna and seven others — is wearing off and sadness fills its place. Tributes to the future Hall of Famer kept on pouring in on Monday.
Every NBA game on Monday started with a 24-second violation by one team and an 8-second backcourt violation by the other — 24 and 8 celebrating Kobe’s numbers.
In Los Angeles, where Kobe played for 20 years and became part of the image and fabric of the city — the man even won an Oscar — the grief from the loss has been particularly acute. Monday night you could feel the city’s love when an impromptu crowd filled the area around Staples Center — where a memorial has sprung up — as well as the L.A. Live plaza across the street to watch an outdoor, big-screen replay of Kobe’s finale (shown outside the West Coast ESPN offices) — a 60-point game that was the perfect ending to his career. Laker fans showed up and chanted his name.
Kobe’s name echoing outside Staples Center pic.twitter.com/smHPkSRzG2
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 28, 2020
There will not be a Lakers’ game in Los Angeles for a few days, however. The Clippers/Lakers game for Tuesday was postponed (likely until April). The Lakers’ first game back will be home Friday against the Trail Blazers.
The tributes were not limited to Los Angeles. There was Madison Square Garden, home to some of Kobe’s biggest nights.
And there were arenas in Utah and Portland — two franchises Kobe particularly tortured on the court — where tributes were paid because of the respect the man had earned.
Kobe tributes poured in from around the globe, including in the Philippines.
This is the famed Tenement basketball court in Manila, where work continues Monday night on a tribute mural to Kobe and Gigi. The hand-painted court is surrounded by candles and personal tributes written on surrounding walls. Amazing work by @IamMikeSwift and his team. pic.twitter.com/po5UG4zbOZ
— Wayne Drehs (@espnWD) January 27, 2020
Back in the NBA, Gregg Popovich summed up how Kobe seemed to impact everyone.
Before tonight's game, Pop summed up reach of Kobe's impact this way: "Young kids on your team idolized him and looked up to him. The older ones knew him, and talked to him and had relationships with him. No matter which one of those groups you belong to, it was a tragic shock."
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) January 28, 2020
No player seemed hit harder by the tragedy than the man who took over the Lakers’ mantle, LeBron James.
I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! 😢😢😢😢💔. Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation💜💛 and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️🙏🏾 #Gigi4Life❤️🙏🏾
A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Jan 27, 2020 at 6:43pm PST
The Jazz entered the night the hottest team in the NBA having won 14-of-15. The Rockets came in sitting guys who account for 62.1 points per game in Harden (thigh bruise) and Westbrook (rest), or 51.6 percent of their points.
So Eric Gordon — who has battled injury much of the season himself — just took over and dominated, dropping 50.
3) Kings come from 27 down — 17 in the final three minutes — to beat the Timberwolves in overtime. Welcome to “the comeback of the year” or the “most painful of our 10 straight losses,” depending on how you want to look at this one.
Minnesota had this one. They were about to snap a nine-game losing streak, Andrew Wiggins had just nailed a three with 2:49 left to put the Timberwolves up 17. It’s empty the bench and ice the knees time… except the Kings close the game on a wild 21-4 run that is capped off by De’Aaron Fox, down 2 with 4.7 seconds left, intentionally missing a free throw off the front of the rim, getting his own rebound and tying the game.
Boxing out people. It’s not just a 1950s skill. (It will be interesting to see if the Last Two Minute Report says that should have been a lane violation on Fox; still you got to seal him off there.)
That sent the game to overtime and the Kings got the win.
Buddy Hield, who grew up idolizing Kobe (as many of his generation did), came off the bench to drop 42 — he has found a spark as a sixth man for the Kings.
Here is your Hield/Kobe stat of the night to tie everything together.
Buddy Hield scored 20 points on 6-6 shooting in the 4th quarter tonight.
He joined Kobe Bryant (Dec. 6, 2002 vs Mavericks) as the only players in the last 20 seasons with a 20-point, 100% shooting 4th quarter in a game where his team overcame a 25-point deficit to win.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 28, 2020