Kobe Bryant accepted his Most Valuable Player trophy on Wednesday, then poured in 34 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 120-110 victory over Utah in the NBA playoffs.
Lamar Odom added 19 and 16 rebounds as the Lakers took a 2-0 lead over the Jazz in their best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series.
The Lakers remained unbeaten this post-season as they look ahead to Game 3 in Salt Lake City on today.
Before tip-off, NBA commissioner David Stern presented Bryant with the first MVP trophy of his 12-year career.
“I’m at a loss for words, I don’t know what to say,” Bryant told the crowd. “I love you guys so much. We’re going to play until June. Let’s get this party started.”
Bryant, who was booed by fans at the Lakers home opener back in October after a contentious offseason, celebrated his and the team’s turnaround with a sparkling performance that also included eight rebounds and six assists.
Derek Fisher scored 22 points and Lamar Odom contributed 19 and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles, who shot 57 percent (39-of-68) from the field.
Fisher, who played for last year’s Jazz team that advanced to the conference finals, made a key three-pointer from the top of the key to push the Lakers’ advantage to 104-94 with 4 minutes, 55 seconds to play — after the Jazz had crept within six points minutes earlier.
After a three-point play by the Jazz, Bryant sliced through the lane and found Pau Gasol underneath for a dunk that resulted in a 10-point lead with 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining.
Bryant sealed the game with a pair of free throws to keep the margin at double figures with just under a minute left.
“We were playing against a backcourt that has 18 to 20 years experience,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Bryant and Fisher.
The Jazz, who out-rebounded the Lakers by 17 in the opening game, won the rebounding battle by just a 41-37 margin.
Deron Williams had 25 points and 10 assists and Paul Millsap scored 17 off the bench for Utah, who had seven players score in double figures but never looked like getting over the hump.
“We never really had that point where we felt threatened in this ballgame,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We felt like the offense was going well, we were doing the things we wanted to do.”
The Lakers, who swept Denver in four games in the first round, now travel to Utah, where the Jazz had a league-best home record during the regular season of 37-4. One of those four defeats was to the Lakers.
The Jazz will be hoping a return home will signal a change of fortune for Carlos Boozer, who was in foul trouble early and finished with 10 points — all in the second half.
“I have to figure out a way to play my game without getting fouls,” Boozer said.
When two Spanish soccer players took to the controls of FIFA 20 after the COVID-19 pandemic saw their La Liga match canceled, a stadium-sized virtual audience watched online. The huge digital crowd last week is part of a spectacular boom for the digital gaming industry, as record numbers flock to online servers for distraction, entertainment and friendship with the “real world” seemingly falling apart. Real Betis Balompie striker Borja Iglesias kicked the winning goal using his own digital likeness in the 6-5 battle against Sevilla, which was broadcast on popular video game streaming platform Twitch. It took place at the same time the
New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson has said that the sport is “fighting for survival” as competitions at all levels are shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Robinson told Sky Sport’s The Breakdown that he cannot say when professional rugby might resume in New Zealand and in what form, whether it would be the five-nation Super Rugby tournament or the domestic Mitre 10 Cup. Rugby is New Zealand’s national sport and the All Blacks, the national men’s team, are one of the country’s most recognizable brands. The continuing suspension of competitions has been fully testing rugby’s resilience, Robinson said. “We’re fighting for sport’s survival in
Six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez might be able to celebrate his first win of the season today when the Spaniard takes part in a virtual race from the comfort of his home. The dominant Honda rider has had no opportunity to triumph on the real racetrack so far this year, with this month’s opening Qatar round canceled and the following four races all postponed. The season is not due to start until mid-May at the earliest. Marquez has a remote chance, in the strictly literal sense, in what is being presented by MotoGP organizers as the #StayAtHomeGP. “All of us are living in
Staying home during a national lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic is like “nirvana” for cricketers, as they generally have to live out of a suitcase, Australia head coach Justin Langer said yesterday. Australian cricket is in its off-season and has been largely insulated from the effects of the outbreak, which has suspended all of the country’s major sporting competitions that run during the autumn and winter. Some Australian players are signed with teams in the Indian Premier League, but the lucrative Twenty20 tournament has been postponed at least until the middle of next month and might end up being scrapped like