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Hollywood ending as 60-point Kobe Bryant bows out

Hollywood ending as 60-point Kobe Bryant bows out

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers address the media during the post-game news conference after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game at Staples Centre on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant delivered a Hollywood ending as the curtain came down on his glittering 20-year NBA career on Wednesday in a blockbuster finale.

On a night of searing emotion at a packed Staples Centre, the 37-year-old signed off with a mammoth 60 points, including a final burst of scoring to inspire a 101-96 comeback victory over the Utah Jazz.

A galaxy of A-list celebrities — from Jack Nicholson to David Beckham — roared their approval from courtside as Bryant exited with a perfectly scripted final act.

“Man, I can’t believe how fast 20 years went by, this is crazy,” Bryant told his adoring fans. “What can I say? Mamba out.”

A sell-out crowd of 19,060 fans had packed into the Staples Centre to watch Bryant lace up for the 1,566th and last time.

“Tonight was trying to go out, playing hard and putting on a show as much as I possibly could. It felt good to be able to do that one last time,” Bryant said.

“The coolest thing is that my kids actually saw me play like I used to play.”

Tickets for the game were the most expensive in basketball history, according to online exchange StubHub.com, which sold one pair of courtside seats for a staggering $27,500 each.

Lakers legend Magic Johnson had acted as master of ceremonies for a lengthy pre-game tribute that featured video messages from some of the NBA’s most recognizable figures.

“We are here to celebrate greatness for 20 years,” Johnson told the crowd.

“He’s not only a great and unbelievable sports icon but he’s already the greatest to wear the purple and gold.”

MELANCHOLY NICHOLSON

Oscar-winning actor Nicholson — a regular presence at courtside during the Bryant era — wrapped up a montage of video messages.

“Kobe, goodbye, I think I might retire with you, I’m not sure,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson later described Bryant’s retirement as a “melancholy” moment.

“It’s like anything — you don’t know what you had until you don’t have it,” Nicholson told NBA TV. “Fortunately we do know what we had and he’s been great all the way.”

Football icon Beckham meanwhile expressed delight at the manner of Bryant’s departure.

“Every wanted him to go out like this,” Beckham said. “The way he’s gone out tonight is incredible.”

Lakers coach Byron Scott told his team they had “witnessed history.”

“I hope they savour the moment. I hope they realise that man gave everything he could for 20 years and he gave it again tonight,” Scott said.

Excitement for Bryant’s farewell game had built throughout the day, with the streets surrounding the Staples Centre transformed into a sea of purple and gold as thousands of fans thronged the area.

Los Angeles transport officials meanwhile got into the spirit of celebration, renaming a metro station near the Staples Center “Kobe Station” for the day.

On Twitter, fans were invited to share their memories under the trending hashtag “#MambaDay”, a reference to Bryant’s “Black Mamba” nickname.

As day gave way to dusk, Los Angeles City Hall was lit up in the Lakers’ iconic colours of purple and gold.

Announcing the gesture earlier in the day, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson declared the move a fitting tribute to the retiring star.

“The City of Angels owes Kobe Bryant a debt of gratitude for sharing with us 20 remarkable years of electrifying dedication and commitment to the city, our fans and communities,” said Wesson.

“His work ethic, hustle and quest for championships ensures his place in the history books – there will never be another Kobe Bryant.”

April 14, 2016 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:
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LaMarcus Aldridge lifts shorthanded Spurs over Timberwolves

DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings drives against LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs at Sleep Train Arena on February 24, 2016 in Sacramento, California.

DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings drives against LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs at Sleep Train Arena on February 24, 2016 in Sacramento, California.

 With their three veteran stars sidelined and coach Gregg Popovich absent, the San Antonio Spurs had a dominating effort from LaMarcus Aldridge in a 116-91 victory Tuesday at Minnesota.

Aldridge scored 29 points on 11-of-13 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds, blocked four shots and passed out four assists as the Spurs, 54-10, won for the ninth time in 10 games.

“I thought guys were focused,” Aldridge said. “Guys came back understanding where to be better on both ends of the floor. I thought guys competed well.”

The Spurs rested forward Tim Duncan and guard Manu Ginobili while French guard Tony Parker sat out with a bruised left toe and Popovich was gone because of a family health issue.

So it was left for Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina to explain how San Antonio rolled ahead by half-time with an all-star group missing.

“The machine is a well-oiled machine,” Messina said. “It goes on. You try to sit at the wheel and steer and try not to mess it up. Keep it straight.”

The Spurs, three games behind defending NBA champion Golden State for the best record in the league, bounced back from a 99-91 loss Monday to Indiana. They have not dropped two games in a row all season.

David West scored 18 points for San Antonio and Kawhi Leonard added 15. Ex-Timberwolf guard Andre Miller, who signed with the Spurs last week, had 13 points and five assists in place of Parker.

“When he was on the floor, the team was playing with poise,” Messina said. “We had the patience to throw the ball inside and take advantage of that, start throwing the ball out and finding shots.”

Andrew Wiggins had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves (20-45), who lost for the second time in as many nights. Karl-Anthony Towns added 19 points and nine rebounds.

RAPTORS RALLY TO BEAT NETS

At Toronto, the host Raptors erased a 16-point third-quarter deficit and held on to beat the Brooklyn Nets 104-99.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 25 points while Kyle Lowry added 23 points and nine assists and Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson each added 11 points for the Raptors (42-20), who pulled within two games of Eastern Conference leader Cleveland.

The Nets (18-46) were led by Brook Lopez’s game-high 35 points, seven blocks and five rebounds. Lopez became the first player in the NBA this season to score 35 points and block at least five shots in the same game.

Kenneth Faried had 24 points and 10 rebounds and the Denver Nuggets kept New York’s Carmelo Anthony winless in Denver since being traded from the Nuggets to the Knicks, taking a 110-94 triumph. Nikola Jokic had 20 points and nine rebounds and Gary Harris scored 16 for the Nuggets (26-38).

Anthony, booed whenever he touched the ball, had 30 points and seven rebounds but he remained winless in the Mile High City since he was traded to New York (26-39) in a 13-player deal on Feb. 22, 2011.

Jeff Teague scored 23 points and Paul Millsap added 18 as the Atlanta Hawks rallied to win 91-84 at Utah.

D’Angelo Russell scored 27 points, Jordan Clarkson added 24 and Julius Randle contributed 23 as the Los Angeles Lakers ripped visiting Orlando 107-98. Lakers star Kobe Bryant was sidelined with a sore shoulder.

Damian Lillard scored 39 points and the Portland Trail Blazers outlasted Washington 116-109 in overtime, improving to 33-31, level with Dallas for sixth in the Western Conference.

March 10, 2016 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:,
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Curry leads Warriors to 44th straight home win

Curry leads Warriors to 44th straight home win

Stephen Curry tallied a game high 33 points as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 on Thursday to tie the NBA record for consecutive home wins.

The Warriors’ second win over the Thunder in six days was their 44th straight at Oracle Arena as they equalled the record set by the Chicago Bulls from March 1995 to April 1996.

“This is special. We have been dominant here at home,” said Curry.

The win also capped a three-game, season-series sweep for the Warriors over the Thunder. That streak includes a 121-118 Warriors’ overtime victory at Oklahoma City on Saturday.

In similar fashion, the Thunder held another fourth-quarter lead before Golden State, who have recorded the best record in NBA history through 59 games, came from behind.

Curry drained five of 15 shots from beyond the arc as almost half of his points came from three pointers.

“I was a little rusty,” he said. “I didn’t shoot particularly well but my teammates told me on the bench to keep shooting.”

The Warriors have now won seven in a row. They trailed by as many as nine in the third quarter and were down 83-82 entering the final period. They took the lead for good on backup guard Shaun Livingston’s two free throws in the first minute of the final quarter.

“Our second unit got us off to a fourth quarter lead and they turned the momentum in our favour,” Curry said.

SPURS BEAT PELICANS

Forward Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 30 points and forward LaMarcus Aldridge added 26 while orchestrating a 16-2 closing run as the San Antonio Spurs rallied to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 94-86.

The Spurs’ run reached 13-2 when Aldridge hit a go-ahead, 17-foot jumper, and guard Patty Mills nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key, giving San Antonio a 91-86 lead with 81 seconds left.

Leonard closed out the burst with a three-pointer with 35 seconds remaining as the Spurs improved to 52-9.

The Pelicans blew their third consecutive fourth-quarter lead. Guard Eric Gordon led the offence with 23 points, and forward Anthony Davis finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

In Dallas, DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo each recorded double-doubles and the Sacramento Kings won for the first time in Dallas in more than 13 years with a 104-101 victory at American Airlines Centre.

Cousins, who had 22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, was 13 years old the last time the Kings won in Dallas back on February 2003.

Rondo finished with 18 points, 12 assists and three steals.

March 5, 2016 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

Thompson beats Curry in three-point contest

 

Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry has become the best three-point shooter in recent years, but on Saturday his teammate Klay Thompson reminded everyone why he is among the best NBA shooters by winning the 2016 All-Star Three-Point contest in Toronto, Canada.

Thompson finished the final round with 27 points, four more than Curry, who won last year’s contest.

Curry shot before Thompson in the final round, making his first seven shots and putting up 23 points which, until that point, was the best score of the night. However, Thompson made 19 of 25 in the final round to claim the title.

Thompson and Curry – two major players for the Warriors – entered the contest as favourites, and they lived up to the expectations, sending a sell-out crowd at Air Canada Centre into a frenzy.

“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen, so this is a rare occurrence that he loses. I’m just happy I caught him on an off night,” Thompson said after the contest.

Thompson also commented on his friendship to Curry, but when asked how long he will be retain bragging rights over Curry because of the three-point contest win, Thompson replied: “About 364 days, and then – but that’s a daily thing we do. We love to shoot against each other. I’ve never been on a team with someone who shoots it better than me, so it’s a privilege to work with him every day. He makes me that much better.”

Meanwhile, Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker was third, with 16 points in the final round. He beat the Rockets’ James Harden and JJ Redick of the Los Angeles Clippers to get out of the first round, while the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, Portland Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton were eliminated early.

February 15, 2016 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:,
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Buzangu joins Espoir as Burundian Ntagunduka signs for Patriots

Burundian Jean de Dieu ‘Yao’ Ntagunduka has joined Patriots BBC.

Burundian Jean de Dieu ‘Yao’ Ntagunduka has joined Patriots BBC.

Point Guard Patrick Buzangu has joined four-time reigning league and playoffs champions Espoir Basketball Club from rivals Cercle Sportif de Kigali (CSK) on a one-year contract.

The DR Congo-born star has been brought in as a replacement for former club captain Aristide Mugabe, who crossed to Patriots Basketball Club this season.

Meanwhile, Patriots have also completed the signing of Burundian Jean de Dieu ‘Yao’ Ntagunduka from Burundian champions, Urunani.

The 25-year-old won two consecutive Burundian league titles with Urunani, in 2014 and 2015 as well as the Zone V Club Championship in 2013 after they beat Espoir in the final.

February 9, 2016 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

Rockets’ Howard suspended

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Houston Rockets centre Dwight Howard has been suspended one game without pay for striking the arm of a game official and Rockets head coach JB Bickerstaff has been fined $10 000 for public criticism of the officiating, it was announced on Tuesday by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident involving Howard occurred with 8:08 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Rockets’ 123-122 loss to the Washington Wizards on January 30 at Toyota Centre. Bickerstaff made his comments to the media post-game following the same contest.

Howard will serve his suspension on Tuesday night when the Rockets host the Miami Heat at Toyota Centre.

Reuters

February 3, 2016 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

Rwanda’s Kabange voted Ugandan league’s MVP

Kami Kabange is also favourite for the MVP gong.

Kami Kabange is also favourite for the MVP gong.

Rwanda international Kami Kabange, who plays for City Oilers, has been voted the best player for the year 2015 in the Ugandan Basketball League.

Kabange, 30, did not only lead his side to their third straight league title, but was also pivotal in City Oilers’ second place finish at the Zone 5 Club Championship held in Kigali, Rwanda last year.

The DR Congo-born big man is also expected to be a front-runner for the MVP award during the FUBA (Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations) awards ceremony later this month.

“It’s good to win this award but most importantly the team won the title. I am looking forward to another exciting season. It is always a big crazy feeling to get recognized out of the many,” Kami said.

Leopards’ point guard Flavia Okecho was also named the best player of the year in the women’s category following her impressive displays with the national team during the Women’s Afrobasket Championships held in Cameroon.

She also led her KCCA side to the second spot at the Zone 5 Club Championships in Rwanda to a spot at the Afro-Club Championships in Angola.

January 26, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Players 0 Comment

Pacers out to avoid fourth straight defeat

Paul George

Paul George

The Indiana Pacers look to bounce back from three consecutive defeats on Saturday morning when they host the Miami Heat.

After winning six games in a row, Paul George’s Indiana Pacers suffered three straight defeats, including a 131-123 home loss to reigning champions the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.

Saturday morning’s match-up will be the second of four regular-season games between the Pacers and Heat, and will give a thorough look at both sides, and it’s become clear that they share more similarities than differences.

Each team currently holds a 12-8 mark, although Indiana rank fourth in the Eastern Conference, two places above Miami.

A month ago, George’s game-high 36 points proved crucial to Indiana’s 90-87 home win over Dwyane Wade’s Heat. In that game Miami’s leading scorer Wade was limited to nine points on 4-of-15 shooting.

Now, George, who is averaging career-highs 27.9 points and 4.3 assists per game, needs to bring his team together in order to improve Indiana’s undefeated home run to nine straight wins against Miami.

“It’s going to be a different ball game,” George said.

“We can’t come out here and expect that we’re going to beat them easily because we beat them already. It’s going to be an even tougher game for us.”

On the other hand, the Heat, who come from two consecutive defeats to Washington and Charlotte, haven’t lost three straight games this season, but have won only 2 of 4 on the road.

Thus this will be an epic battle between two sides in desperate need of a run of wins.

 

December 12, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:, ,
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Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder as Durant limps off

 

Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on against the Washington Wizards in the first half at Verizon Centre on November 10, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on against the Washington Wizards in the first half at Verizon Centre on November 10, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Russell Westbrook’s first triple-double of the season more than made up for Kevin Durant’s early exit Tuesday in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 125-101 NBA triumph over the Washington Wizards.

Westbrook sat out the entire fourth quarter after amassing 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for Oklahoma City, who led 68-50 at halftime and by as many as 29 points in the second half.

But the news wasn’t all good for the Thunder as Durant clutched his left leg late in the second quarter and didn’t play the second half because of a hamstring strain.

“We knew we had to come out and play the right way and not be relaxed,” Westbrook said of the Thunder’s determination to keep the pressure on in the second half.

“I thought we did a great job of sticking together.”

Durant, who played just 27 games last season as he battled to recover from a broken foot suffered in October 2014, downplayed Tuesday’s injury.

“I can walk, it’s just a little sore,” said the former NBA Most Valuable Player, who put up a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds before exiting.

“I’ll just get treatment and see how it goes,” he added.

Durant, who hails from the Maryland suburbs near Washington, is a fan favourite in the nation’s capital, with many hoping he might opt to join the Wizards when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

But after Durant said this week that his warm reception in Washington was “disrespectful” to the hometown team, he was actually booed sporadically on Tuesday.

The Wizards didn’t give their supporters much to cheer.

They committed only eight turnovers after a combined 49 in their prior two games, but were out-rebounded 53-41 and shot just 39.2 percent from the field.

Washington felt the absence of guard and leading scorer Bradley Beal, who hurt his left shoulder in Saturday’s road loss at Atlanta, and forward Nene, who was sidelined by back spasms.

PELICANS FINALLY WIN

The New Orleans Pelicans finally notched their first win of the season, snapping a six-game losing streak with a 120-105 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

However, the triumph was shadowed by an injury to star forward Anthony Davis, who exited with a hip contusion early in the third quarter after scoring 17 points and pulling down seven rebounds in 19 minutes on the floor.

Guards Eric Gordon, Ish Smith and Toney Douglas also each scored 17 points for the Pelicans, who handed the Mavs their third defeat in four games.

JAMES CARRIES CAVS AGAIN

Superstar LeBron James scored 17 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied for a 118-114 victory over the Utah Jazz.

The Cavs trailed by as many as nine in the final period — before James stole a pass, dribbled the length of the floor, drawing a foul as he powered to the basket, and converted the three-point play that energised his team.

James added eight assists and seven rebounds for Cleveland, who survived 16 turnovers to notch their seventh straight win and remain nbeaten in five home games this season.

HEAT BURN LAKERS

Kobe Bryant was a late scratch with back trouble, watching from the sideline as his Los Angeles Lakers fell 101-88 to the Miami Heat.

“I’ve been dealing with the back a little bit during training camp,” said the 37-year-old Bryant, who just this weekend was saying he wanted to play every game he could in his 20th and possibly final season. “Today, I couldn’t shake it free.”

November 11, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:,
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Bryant reigns, but Lakers lose

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

The New York Knicks, aided by a late three-pointer from Langston Galloway, beat the Los Angeles Lakers 99-95 on Sunday to lend a bittersweet flavour to Kobe Bryant’s likely last game at Madison Square Garden.

The 37-year-old Bryant, in his 20th and probably final season with the Lakers, says he doesn’t want the 2015-16 campaign to turn into a farewell tour.

But he may not be able to prevent it, if the adoring reception he received from New York basketball fans is any indication.

“It felt amazing,” said Bryant, who drew a roar almost every time he touched the ball.

Bryant had received a similar welcome across town in Brooklyn two nights earlier, but the cheers resonated even more in Madison Square Garden, the storied Manhattan venue where Bryant played his first NBA All-Star Game in 1998 and where he scored a stunning 61 points against the Knicks on February 2, 2009.

He entered the game with the highest scoring average at the Garden of any active player at 30.7 points per game in 15 games.

“I remember coming in my first game here, not knowing what the hell to expect, what to do,” Bryant said. “To be here 20 years later and have that (cheering) happen feels amazing.”

Although Bryant said he wasn’t certain that was his Madison Square Garden farewell, Lakers coach Byron Scott said this weekend he’d had his first real hint from the player that he wouldn’t return after his current contract expires at the end of the season.

Scott told reporters in New York he had asked Bryant about something coming up next summer.

“His answer was ‘This might be my last year,’” Scott said.

The five-time NBA champion led the Lakers with 18 points on six-of-18 shooting.

Centre Roy Hibbert added 18 points and nine rebounds and second-year guard Jordan Clarkson contributed 10 points.

But a close game got away from the Lakers in late in the fourth quarter.

Galloway drained a three-pointer with two minutes remaining for a two-point Knicks lead and the hosts never trailed again on the way to their first home win of the season.

Forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with a game-high 24 points, 11 of them in the fourth quarter and also pulled down eight rebounds.

After the game Bryant traded hugs and chats with some former Lakers colleagues, including ex-coach Phil Jackson, now the Knicks president, and former teammate Sasha Vujacic.

But former teammate Derek Fisher, another ex-Laker, wasn’t on the floor for the post-game embraces having been ejected in the third quarter for arguing when Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis was called for a foul on Bryant.

CAVS HOLD OFF PACERS

LeBron James, battling a sore left quadriceps, scored 29 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Indiana Pacers 101-97 for a sixth straight victory.

James, who had said he would undergo round-the-clock treatment after taking a knee to the thigh in a game on Friday, didn’t disappoint, nor did teammate Kevin Love, whose 22 points included two key shots in the final minute.

Love’s uncontested dunk with 8.2 seconds remaining sealed the game and his own best performance of the season. He also collected 19 rebounds, blocked three shots and handed out two assists.

Love and James combined for 18 of the Cavaliers’ 27 points in the fourth quarter.

Paul George scored 32 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for the Pacers, but a near four-minute scoreless spell late in the fourth ended Indiana’s hopes.

AFP

November 9, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment