Last night was just a big night for Kobe Bryant in general. You might even say it was a rollercoaster of emotions for him. Perhaps a rollercoaster of love. Maybe not. By the end of the night he’d hit another amazing career milestone, had an insane first quarter display, a disappointing end, and a loss. But we’ll get to all that.
First, Bryant wound up taking over Hakeem Olajuwon’s spot on the all-time scoring list, moving into the eighth spot with this little move-o-rama.
So that was a pretty good time. This was in the midst of a 21 point first quarter for Bryant. An incredible display of shooting from Bryant, who seemed to be on a mission to show those who questioned him that they were absolutely 100% wrong and there was no point in even suggesting that he isn’t clutch.
Bryant would finish 2 of 11 in the fourth quarter, 1-5 in “clutch” time as referenced by 82games.com (inside 5 points and 5 minutes), with a pair of free throws. 38 points on 27 shots which is pretty good and had Bryant not scored like gangbusters in the first, the Lakers may not have even been in the game. Still, this won’t help the discussion of whether Bryant going AWOL in the offense takes his teammates out of it. And for those who said that you have to watch the games and ignore the numbers to see if Bryant is clutch, tonight will be one of many games completely tossed aside as “irrelevant.”
In all honestly, the Lakers were having one of those nights, and combined with the trap game aspect with the Celtics looming and a terrific performance by DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings, just one of those things that happens. The nice thing about having five rings is you get to ask people to count them when they doubt you.
Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.
What next for Boston?
In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.
Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:
First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.
What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.
At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.
And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.
Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).
But good news could be on the way.
Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:
The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.
Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.
John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.
Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.
It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.
But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.
Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.
This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.