Around the NBA: Jan. 31
Host Zech Lambert and analysts Logan Bourandas Ben Serfass, and Gabe Angieri remember Kobe Bryant and his legacy.
Shocked. Heartbroken. Devastated. These are the words surfacing the National Basketball Association over the past week. On Sunday, retired Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash en route to a basketball game in Calabasas, California. The entire league mourned and is still in complete despair, but everybody in the NBA grew closer and now realize to cherish every single moment.
Even with the tragic news, teams still hit the hardwood on Sunday. Across the league, games began with 24-second and 8-second violations to honor Bryant. Some players took mental days, others balled out on the court. Either way, it was tough for every single member of the NBA.
On the court throughout the week, we saw some All-Stars return to action in the Eastern Conference. First, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid came back on Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors after missing the previous nine games with a dislocation and torn ligament in his left ring finger.
Philadelphia has played well in his absence, going 6-3, but the team is excited to have the big fella back. The 76ers beat the Warriors 115-104, and Embiid led the way with 24 points, on 24 shots, while wearing number 24.
In Indiana, Pacers fans were excited about the long-awaited return guard Victor Oladipo. It's been a little over a year since the Pacers' star collapsed on a fast break against the Toronto Raptors due to a ruptured tendon in his quadricep. Indiana welcomed the Chicago Bulls into town, and the Bulls looked like they were going to ruin the return by stealing a win on the road.
The Bulls had a 100-97 lead late in the fourth quarter when Oladipo buried a three from the wing to tie the game at 100. The game went overtime, and the Pacers dominated the extra period to win, 115-106. Oladipo, off the bench, only had 9 points on 2-8 shooting, but came through in the game’s biggest moment and was very emotional, saying he was just thankful to return to the court.
Out West, the Lakers and Clippers postponed their game on Tuesday, with plans to reschedule for a later date. The Lakers are back in action Friday night against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Speaking of Logo Lillard, he’s become a problem. The point guard has been dominant in January, averaging 32.8 points per game. Last week, Lillard was the Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 52.7 points and 9.3 assists per game.
Wednesday night, against the Houston Rockets, the Weber State product was able to record his first-ever career triple-double with 36 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds in a 125-112 winning effort. Portland is also happy to have guard C.J. McCollum back, after missing the last few games with a bum ankle.
It’s been a wild week for the Sacramento Kings. on Monday night, they were down 27 points to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and came all the way back to beat them in overtime, 133-129. The Timberwolves held a 17-point lead with 2:49 to go in the fourth quarter when things started to collapse. Forward Buddy Hield scored 42 points off the bench to lead Sacramento and guard De'Aaron Fox added 22. It was one of the most incredible comebacks in NBA history.
It was difficult for players to step up and play this week with the tragic news. Give them credit. We saw some unbelievable individual performances out there during this difficult time. Many guys showed their own inner Mamba mentality on the court, dedicating their game to one of the greatest players to ever do it, and that is what makes this game so great.
Matthew McClure is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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