Sixers finally win as Kobe bids farewell
PHILADELPHIA — Kobe Bryant breezed through the Philadelphia 76ers locker room and said to no one in particular, "keep it going, guys."
His homecoming game spoiled, Bryant said one final goodbye to Philly, which is winless no more.
The 76ers ended the longest losing streak in major U.S. professional sports — winless in 28 games dating to last season. And 0-for-18 to begin this one.
The Sixers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 103-91 on Tuesday night for their first victory of the season. They remain tied for the worst start in NBA history with the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets, who also opened 0-18.
It was the first win for the Sixers since March 25 at Denver.
"Finally," forward Nerlens Noel said.
For one night, in front of a sellout crowd of 20,510 that came to cheer Bryant, the streaks hardly mattered.
"I'm pleased for the city," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. "We don't want this streak continuing."
Hours earlier, Bryant felt the love in Philadelphia as soon as he entered the arena. He took selfies with fans who might never see him play again, and his presence injected a playoff atmosphere into a city that has lost much of its passion in NBA basketball.
Bryant, who will end his 20-year career this season, opened the first leg of his farewell tour in his hometown and was feted with the kind of reverence and gratitude normally reserved for a Sixers great.
"I wasn't expecting that type of reaction, ovation," he said. "Deeply appreciative beyond belief. It was really, really special."
Bryant scored 20 points on 7 of 26 shooting and made four 3s.
By the fourth quarter, the Philly fans had turned their attention toward the home team, chanting "Beat L.A.!" when Jahlil Okafor made a layup for a 94-80 lead.
Robert Covington scored 23 points and Jerami Grant and Noel had 14 for the Sixers.