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Rudy Gobert dominates, Jazz pull away for comfortable 117-96 win against Trail Blazers

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Rudy Gobert had 18 points, 14 rebounds, and seven blocks — looking like last season’s Defensive Player of the Year and also getting buckets on Christmas Day.

Donovan Mitchell added 19 points to lead Utah to a 117-96 victory over Portland on Tuesday night.

Joe Ingles chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists for the Jazz (17-18), who won for the fifth time in their last six home games while shooting 55 percent from the floor.

Damian Lillard scored 20 points to lead Portland. Evan Turner added 12 points off the bench. The Blazers (19-15) lost to Utah for the second time in five days after shooting just 39 percent from the field.

Jae Crowder scored seven of Utah’s first nine second-quarter points, starting with the team’s first 3-pointer of the game, to cap a 9-0 run that gave the Jazz a 33-26 lead. The Blazers pulled within three on three different occasions. Lillard hit a couple of baskets to cut the deficit to a basket, then fed Jusuf Nurkic for a layup to trim Utah’s lead to 43-40.

The Jazz pulled away before halftime behind hot shooting from the perimeter. Joe Ingles and Crowder buried back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 16-5 run. Mitchell finished it off by beating the shot clock with another outside basket, giving the Jazz a 59-45 lead.

Utah went 5-of-7 from 3-point range in the second quarter after going 0-of-8 in the first quarter.

The Jazz extended their lead to 68-51 on back-to-back baskets from Ricky Rubio early in the third quarter.

Portland chipped away at the lead and finally cut it to 92-83 on a floater from Seth Curry early in the fourth quarter. That’s as close as the Blazers got.

Gobert answered with a dunk to push Utah’s lead back to double digits. It sparked a 14-2 run that slammed the door shut on any potential comeback. Mitchell punctuated the run with a 3-pointer, putting the Jazz up 106-85 with 4:49 remaining.

 

Michael Jordan braces for return of ‘Crying Jordan’ meme after Kobe Bryant eulogy (video)

Michael Jordan at Kobe Bryant memorial
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The NBA just held All-Star Weekend in Chicago, where Michael Jordan starred for years with the Bulls. Jordan wasn’t a visible part of the festivities, though. He just prefers to remain out of the spotlight.

Yet, Jordan spoke at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service today. That’s how important Bryant – whom Jordan described as a younger brother – was to Jordan.

Jordan even addressed the elephant in the room – that he was reproducing the “Crying Jordan” meme. Thank goodness for another laugh amid the tears.

Diana Taurasi praises Gianna Bryant, roasts LeBron James in well-timed joke (video)

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Vanessa Bryant’s eulogy of Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant was heavy and left few dry eyes.

Diana Taurasi followed with a welcome moment of levity.

Taurasi:

The same passion we all recognized in Kobe, obviously, Gigi inherited. Her skill was undeniable at an early age. I mean, who has a turn-away fade-away jumper at 11?

LeBron barely got it today.

Vanessa Bryant powerfully and gracefully eulogizes Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant (video)

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The world lost a basketball superstar in Kobe Bryant.

Vanessa Bryant lost her husband and daughter.

I can barely even imagine what Vanessa is going through. Kobe and Gianna seemingly had long lives ahead of them. Then, both were gone in an instant. Vanessa has to manage her own grief, be there for her daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri and be receptive to an outside world that wants to pay tribute to Kobe.

The weight of everything Vanessa is carrying showed at the beginning of the eulogy she delivered at today’s memorial: “I’ll start with my baby girl first.”

Vanessa’s strength and composure are just incredible. And we’re luckier for it, getting a more intimate understanding of Kobe and Gianna.

Watch Kobe Bryant memorial live stream (video)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Thousands of mourners will gather in Staples Center on Monday to say farewell to Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

The basketball superstar and his 13-year-old daughter will be honored in a public memorial at the arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant died along with seven others on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash.

The Celebration of Life will feature speakers reflecting on Kobe Bryant’s impact on his sport and the world, along with music and retrospectives on Bryant’s on-court achievements. Bryant became active in film, television and writing after he retired from basketball in 2016.

Bryant’s family, dozens of sports greats and many major figures in Bryant’s public life are expected to attend.

Staples Center is sold out for the memorial. The money made from ticket sales will be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in underserved communities and teaches sports to girls and women.

Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers, including the final 17 seasons at Staples Center, which opened in 1999. The five-time NBA champion’s two retired jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – hang high above the arena where he became the third-leading scorer in league history until Lakers star LeBron James passed him on the night before Bryant’s death.

Bryant’s death caused an outpouring of grief across Los Angeles, where he remained the city’s most popular athlete into retirement. Dozens of public memorials and murals have been installed around the sprawling metropolis, and thousands of fans gathered daily outside Staples Center to commiserate after the crash.

Symbolic meanings will run throughout the ceremony, which will be held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, chose Feb. 24 as the date in honor of the uniform numbers of Kobe and Gianna, who wore No. 2 on her youth basketball teams.

A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on Feb. 7.