All the need-to-know info from Monday’s slate.
Not Quite at Showtime, but Past the Rehearsal
The young 10-17 Lakers took the unrivaled reigning champion Golden State Warriors to overtime in Staples Center. All the celebrities—Jack, Shaq, Kendrick—were in attendance. Magic Johnson and Jeanie Buss spoke at halftime, when Kobe Bryant saw both of his numbers retired. It was, in a word, showtime.
Kobe left the moment Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed the last shot in regulation. It was going to OT, sure, but Kobe—who rode to the arena on a chopper and had no traffic in the air to beat—left all the same.
Lonzo Ball made two jumpers and drove through Golden State’s paint defense for a bucket in the extra quarter. It was his most rally-behindable performance yet, but Kevin Durant still did this on him for the win:
Indiana Pacers, Comeback Erasers :(
The Pacers led 107-102 with 31 seconds left against the Celtics. Then Kyrie Irving made a pair of 3s, Marcus Smart secured a floater in between, and Terry Rozier said “hold my beer”:
Wild ending.— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 19, 2017
Terry Rozier gets the steal & wins it with the slam! pic.twitter.com/7l3WyuRoCh
The story of the game should be 6-foot-2 Rozier picking off Bojan Bogdanovic’s pass and dunking it with 1.6 seconds left for the win. It wasn’t. (Sorry, Terry!) It was the Pacers getting spooked and collapsing fainting-goats-style en route to a 112-111 loss.
Victor Oladipo continued his Most Improved Player campaign, securing 12 of his 38 points in the final two minutes. Indiana was on its way to a 19-point comeback win. Per ESPN, it was the first time all season that a team leading by five with 30 seconds left lost, which [checks every Thunder fourth-quarter play-by-play] I guess … checks out.
Black Mamba(s) Out
Kobe Bryant flew into his jersey retirement ceremony by chopper. The Staples Center set up a Ferris wheel outside in celebration. Shaq made it kind of about him. Kendrick Lamar was there. Every member of Bryant’s family wore black (to go along with the Black Mamba nickname, though the finality of a jersey retirement does mean mourning for someone like Kobe). The Lakers made … a cartoon. Jeanie Buss said his accomplishments while wearing each jersey—no. 8 and no. 24—could make for two separate Hall of Famers.
It was extra, and it was intense, just like Kobe. Right, Klay?
my feelings exactly klay pic.twitter.com/JYpeJ8CIAc— Becca Laurie, PI (@imbeccable) December 19, 2017
Jayson Tatum Is 19, and No, We’re Not Lying
Brad Stevens told the Boston announcing crew to not show a replay of Tatum’s dunk, saying to instead “show the two plays before that where he didn’t do anything.”
[Brings Dad Brad an all-A’s report card only for him to tell you he doesn’t see any A+’s.]
It’s hard to stay mad at this:
Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic Make Contact ... the Good Kind
This move from Nikola Mirotic was so nice even Bobby Portis gave him a high-five pic.twitter.com/xlYFKQejzE— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 19, 2017
With the 117-115 win over Philadelphia, Chicago remains one of the league’s hottest teams.
The Day Larry Nance Jr. Became Larry Nance Sr., Too
Larry Nance Jr. isn't afraid to go at KD. pic.twitter.com/dzIlVPNXy6— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 19, 2017
Jimmy Butler Had Back Spasms and Scored 37 Points
… As one does just hours after being listed as questionable for that day’s game. Butler’s final two points, a pair of free throws with 2.5 seconds left, pushed the Wolves ahead for the 108-107 win.
When in Doubt (or Just Any Time, Really), Give Donovan Mitchell the Ball
Advanced Analytics Now Say Having Your Feet Set Is Overrated
"Bet you can't make a 3 AND do the splits"— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 19, 2017
"Challenge accepted" pic.twitter.com/HUvhN9Bqid
Let’s set the mood with a little Sam Cooke, shall we?
If your aim is a million miles away
I'd write a positive blog post each and every day
’Cause honey, nothin',
Nothin' can ever change this love I have for y—Russell Westbrook
It’s been quite the suffocating, pitch-black season for those of us who were forced to retreat inside the “I Support Russell Westbrook” closet. Monday, the reigning MVP scored 16 of his season-high 38 points in the fourth quarter. He made the free throw that pushed the Thunder ahead of Denver for good, 95-94, with two seconds left. He shot 57 percent on 28 attempts from the field. Westbrook, who does not need the crutch of a triple-double, also had nine rebounds and six assists.
We, the hive, shall disappear, both on Twitter and Slack, again next game, when he’ll surely go 2-for-19. But we’ll always have tonight.
(Melo had four points in 31 minutes.)
Bank on Frank
Baby-faced Stephen Silas was a Knicks ball boy under Pat Riley. Grown man Stephen Silas beat New York for the first time as a head coach on Monday (albeit, an interim—Steve Clifford has been out indefinitely since December 6 due to health concerns). The Hornets waved off the Knicks, 109-91, stopping their three-game skid. Silas largely has Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky’s game-high 24 points (which tied his season-high) off the bench to thank for that:
Frank knew that was going in pic.twitter.com/g2M0XGr8Kw— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) December 19, 2017
Frank was perfect from the field until the final quarter, and finished 10-of-13 with four 3s. Wisconsin announced before the game that it planned to retire Kaminsky’s Badgers jersey later this season, which is both sweet and the most important jersey-retirement news Monday.
A Metaphor for Tonight’s Heat Roster
Olynyk didn't know Taurean Prince was coming in for the block pic.twitter.com/D1LCwAqPvN— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 19, 2017
Atlanta beat Miami, 110-104, which was missing Goran Dragic (elbow), James Johnson (ankle), Hassan Whiteside (knee), and Justise Winslow (knee) and fielded just nine players. One was rookie Derrick Walton Jr., who made his first field goal (yay, Derrick!):
And another was Dion Waiters, who had a stomach bug. (And scored 23. Go, Dion!) Udonis Haslem played! Prayers welcome.