If you decided to go to bed early and turned off the late TNT game when the Kings were up by 27 on the Lakers, you missed a heck of a comeback and ending. Don’t let it happen again. To help out, here are three things you need to know from a four-game slate in the NBA Thursday.
1) Kobe Bryant becomes third player ever to reach 33,000 points in his career. Author Roland Lazenby said in the latest PBT Podcast that the way Kobe has come back this season from the dreadful start to this season — when many said he should just walk away from the game now — to playing respectable basketball with flashes of vintage Kobe has been one of his most impressive feats. In a career loaded with impressive achievements. Kobe needed to leave the game on his own terms and his grinding, hard-working style has served him well again because he has gotten his legs under him and he can make some plays.
Bryant dropped 28 on the Kings Thursday, doing so in 18 shots. Along the way he scored his 33,000th career point — only Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have crossed that threshold. Kobe just continues to put on a show, even on his way out the door.
2) The Lakers’ young stars made it a game, but DeMarcus Cousins was too much in the end. Kobe may have entertained, but the Sacramento Kings were smacking the Lakers around when he was in the game. Then in the fourth quarter, the Lakers made a 21-4 run behind a lineup of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell, Anthony Brown, and Brandon Bass. Four of the young players the Lakers are grooming and one solid NBA veteran big. Clarkson had a dozen points in the fourth and Russell had 11 (until he had to leave the game with what is described by the team as a moderate ankle sprain). They made it a game and Byron Scott wisely stuck with them until the end.
But in the end, it was too much Sacramento, and too much DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings’ franchise cornerstone had a key late offensive rebound and assist, plus hit free throws down the stretch to round out his 29-point, 10 rebound, seven assist night. Throw in a key late steal by Rajon Rondo and the Kings got a much-needed win at home — the Kings are just half a game behind Utah for the final playoff spot in the West, they need to rack up wins in games like this to make the postseason.
3) James Harden dropped 33 on Utah and Houston got the win. Utah had Rudy Gobert back (off the bench at first, but still he’s back) and they played well, taking a five-point lead into the half. But Harden had 10 points in the third as the Rockets made their run, then had seven more in the second half of the fourth quarter, on his way to 33 and the Rockets getting the win. It wasn’t vintage Harden, he had eight turnovers and was 0-of-7 from three, he was far from perfect, but the Rockets snapped a four-game losing streak so they will take it regardless. They just need wins to try to right the ship for now.