Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Kobe's 60, Golden State's 73 add up to memorable night

For Golden State, it's on to the playoffs as record setters.

For Kobe Bryant, it's on to the next chapter after a memorable farewell.

The moment wasn't too big for Stephen Curry, the Warriors or Bryant on Wednesday night, when on one of the most anticipated nights in regular-season NBA history — if not the most — the stars absolutely delivered.

Bryant had 60 points in his last game after 20 seasons and the Lakers, the only team he ever played for, sent him off a winner in Los Angeles. The Lakers (17-65) capped the worst season in franchise history by defeating the Jazz 101-96.

The defending champion Warriors became the first 73-win team, beating the Grizzlies 125-104 to finish 73-9 and break Chicago's mark of 72 victories, set in 1995-96. Curry scored 46 and smashed his mark of 286 3-pointers he set a year ago. He hit 10 from long range Wednesday to wind up with 402 for the season; the reigning MVP has four of the top seven 3-point shooting seasons in league history.

Michael Jordan released a statement lauding the Warriors, as did commissioner Adam Silver. "The game of basketball is always evolving and records are made to be broken," Jordan said. "The Warriors have been a lot of fun to watch and I look forward to seeing what they do in the playoffs."

Curry also joined an exclusive club by shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 45 percent on 3s and 90 percent from the free-throw line in a season. Only two others have done it after playing more than 40 games: Steve Nash, who stopped by Curry's locker after the game, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

After his sixth 60-point game — on 22-of-50 shooting including 6-of-21 from 3-point range, plus 10-of-12 on free throws — Bryant, nicknamed "The Black Mamba," addressed the fans at Staples Center, ending with "Mamba out." Minutes later, T-shirts emblazoned with those two words were for sale on his website.

Utah was eliminated from playoff contention shortly before tipoff thanks to No. 8 West seed Houston's win over Sacramento.

"You know, I can't believe how fast 20 years went by. This is crazy. This is absolutely crazy," Bryant told the crowd.

Minutes earlier at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, about 370 miles up Interstate 5 from the Staples Center, Golden State celebrated in front of its raucous fans.

Draymond Green — the player who openly talked about wanting the record the most — came away with the game ball.

"We were going to play 82 games, anyway," Green said. "We might as well try to win. It means that I'm on the best team ever. Not many people can say that — 15 guys can say that."

President Barack Obama sent a tweet that said: "Congrats to the #warriors, a great group of guys on and off the court. If somebody had to break the Bulls' record, I'm glad it's them."

All-Star controversy: The league is expected to address team owners today on the controversy surrounding the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte. The briefing would occur during a regularly scheduled board of governors meetings in New York. After North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law House Bill 2, which limits the legal protections of LGBT individuals, the NBA said it is "deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect."

Firings: As expected, the Kings fired coach George Karl, who has the fifth-most wins in league history but went 44-68 in nearly 11/2 seasons in Sacramento. … Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said he's staying, but that coach Randy Wittman was fired. Washington wound up at .500 and out of the playoffs. Wittman went 178-199 in 41/2 seasons with the Wizards.

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