Three Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: Vintage Kobe returns for one night

Associated Press
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I know you were busy Tuesday teaching eagles to take out drones, so you didn’t get to follow the slate of NBA games for the night. We’ve got you covered, here’s what you need to know from around the Association:

1) Kobe Bryant gets sick of losing, turns back the clock and drops an efficient 38 points in Lakers’ win.
For a night, it felt like old times (when the regular season games for the Lakers were entertaining time killers while everyone waited for the playoffs). Kobe was draining threes (seven of them) and attacking. The other Lakers were giving him options and making plays when called upon. Jack Nicholson was sitting courtside. Everything seemed right. The Lakers needed all of it to hold off a charge by Andrew Wiggins and Minnesota, 119-115. Bryant had 14 of the Lakers final 18 points, including the dagger, and finished the game with 38 points — on just 21 shots.

The win snapped the Lakers’ 10-game losing streak — a loss Tuesday would have set another dubious franchise record. It was fun for a night with the Lakers, a chance to forget about all their troubles.

2) Earl Watson loses debut as Suns’ coach, which shouldn’t be a shock. There’s a new coach in Phoenix, but that was never going to change the myriad of roster issues with this team, or suddenly get guys healthy (in fact, the Suns lost T.J. Warren for the season Tuesday). The Suns are going to be a bad basketball team no matter who coaches them; the front office can thank themselves for that. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Earl Watson — who got bumped into the big chair after Jeff Hornacek was fired — lost his first game as coach, 104-97 at home to a good Toronto team. On the bright side,  Markieff Morris played like a man unchained — the forward had easily his best game of the season, scoring 30 points and adding 10 rebounds and six assists (that should help his trade value). But the Suns are not a good team right now, and the best Watson can do is hope to make them less bad as the season wears on. The chef can only cook with the ingredients in front of him, and the Suns are like a Chopped basket (and Watson can’t go to the pantry to round it out).

3) James Harden‘s 26 points, 14 assists get shorthanded Rockets win. No Dwight Howard, suspended for a game for contacting a referee. His backup Clint Capella was out with a thigh bruise. That meant Josh Smith was getting the start at center for Houston, which would have made normal people run out and bet on Miami in this one. But in the battle of erratic teams, James Harden stepped up with the big night — 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting, he dished out 14 assists, the ball was moving, and the Rockets pulled away in the second half for a 115-102 win at home. Smith had 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting and was efficient for the night. Miami looked like they wore down physically, their shots would not fall after the first quarter, and the Rockets will take the needed victory.