Kobe scores 60 in unbelievable farewell win
LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant went out with a Hollywood ending to his remarkable career.
Bryant scored 60 points in his final NBA game Wednesday night, wrapping up 20 years in the NBA with an unbelievable offensive showcase in the Los Angeles Lakers' 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz.
He scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, posting his first 50-point game since February 2009 and rallying the Lakers from a 15-point deficit to win the final game of the worst season in franchise history.
With the entire Staples Center crowd standing, Bryant drained a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left. He hit another with 31 seconds to play, putting the Lakers ahead 97-96. He finished with an assist before checking out for good with 4.1 seconds left in just the Lakers' 17th win of the worst season in franchise history.
Bryant played 42 minutes and took a career-high 50 shots to get there, his teammates attempting to set him up for shots on nearly every possession. He also had four assists and four rebounds in his highest-scoring performance since getting 61 against New York in 2009.
It was the fifth highest-scoring game of his career, and he became the oldest player to score 50 points in an NBA game.
The entire night was a tribute to Bryant, who is retiring after 20 seasons, five championship rings and 18 All-Star selections with the Lakers, who honored him before and after the game. Bryant is just the fifth player in NBA history to play 20 seasons, and the first with just one team.
Between the whistles, Bryant and his teammates conspired for one last omnivorous scoring performance by the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
Bryant briefly addressed the crowd after the game, expressing thanks for the fans' support.
"I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout," Bryant said. "You'll always be in my heart, and I sincerely, sincerely appreciate it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you guys."
He also had a few laughs after finishing his 1,346th regular-season game with 33,643 points.
"The thing that had me cracking up all night long is, I go through 20 years of everybody screaming to pass the ball," Bryant said with a grin. "And then the last night, they're like, 'Don't pass it!'"
Bryant surpassed his previous career high of 47 shots, taken in a loss to Boston on Nov. 7, 2002.
It was daylong tribute with thousands of fans thronging the downtown streets around Staples Center and chanting his name from early afternoon. Fans lucky enough to get inside Staples Center greeted him with ovations at every opportunity. Magic Johnson anchored a brief pregame tribute by calling Bryant "the biggest and greatest celebrity we've had in this town for 20 years" and "the greatest to wear the purple and gold."
ROCKETS 116, KINGS 81: At Houston, James Harden scored 38 points and the Houston Rockets took the final Western Conference playoff spot.
SPURS 96, MAVERICKS 91: At Dallas, rookies Boban Marjanovic and Jonathon Simmons set career scoring highs and San Antonio rallied past Dallas despite leaving home four starters and two key reserves.
PISTONS 112, CAVALIERS 110, OT: At Cleveland, LeBron James wore a black blazer and watched from the bench and all the starters for Cleveland and Detroit rested for their first-round playoff matchup as Jodie Meeks scored 20 to lead the Pistons past the Cavaliers.
RAPTORS 103, NETS 96: At New York, rookie Norman Powell scored a career-high 30 points and Toronto wrapped up the best regular season in franchise history by beating Brooklyn.
CELTICS 98, HEAT 88: At Boston, Isaiah Thomas had 21 points and Boston rallied from 26 points down to beat Miami.
WIZARDS 109, HAWKS 98: At Washington, with a seemingly half-hearted showing in its final regular-season game, Atlanta lost to a bunch of backups for Washington and wound up with the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
MAGIC 117, HORNETS 103: At Charlotte, Al Jefferson scored 26 points and playoff-bound Charlotte closed out its best regular season in 16 years with a victory over Orlando.
PACERS 97, BUCKS 92: At Milwaukee, Solomon Hill scored a season-high 25 points to help Indiana beat Milwaukee.
BULLS 115, 76ERS 105: At Chicago, Nikola Mirotic scored 32 points, Justin Holliday added a career-high 29, and Chicago closed a disappointing season with a victory over Philadelphia.
TIMBERWOLVES 144, PELICANS 109: At Minneapolis, Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points and 14 rebounds and Minnesota sent coach Sam Mitchell out in style with a victory over New Orleans.
SUNS 114, CLIPPERS 105: At Phoenix, Mirza Teletovic scored 22 points to lead seven Phoenix players in double figures and the Suns finished their second-worst season in franchise history against a Los Angeles team made up almost entirely of Clippers bench players.