NBA Breakfast Special: Klay Thompson’s Ultimate Kobe Bryant Tribute

Klay Thompson paid the ultimate tribute to Kobe Bryant, imitating Kobe’s iconic Game 7 in the 2010 Finals by going 6-for-24 in a game his team won.

What better way to honor a man who had both of his jersey numbers—8 and 24—raised to the Staples Center rafters Monday night?

Sure, Golden State won 114-112 in overtime, and sure, Kevin Durant clowned Lonzo Ball in making the game-winning dagger, and sure, the Warriors were hot garbage, shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 32.4 from long range and the Lakers couldn’t capitalize, but hey, you just can’t beat that Kobe tribute.

Speaking of Lonzo, he’s actually playing respectable basketball in December. He’s not good, merely respectable, putting up a .424/.333/.556 slash line and averaging 10.3 points a game, still a bust by any second-overall-pick standard, but at least he’s not the horror show he was in November when he shot 30.4 percent in 14 games.

And once again—Golden State played like complete dog crap and still won a basketball game on the road. The Lakers are that bad.

On the subject of Kevin Durant…

And then there’s Jeanie Buss, giving Kobe his props…

And how about the actual game, huh? Durant with 12 points on 4-of-4 in the extra frame:

Bankers Gut Punch Fieldhouse

Oh man…what a vicious night to be a Pacers fan.

First the Celtics scored the game’s first 12 points and ran out to a nearly 20-point lead early, maxing out early in the second quarter at 40-21.

Then the Pacers came roaring back, powered by Victor Oladipo scoring 38 points in the contest, putting the team on his back and guiding them to a 111-110 lead and the ball with nine seconds to go.

Then it all unraveled. Bojan Bogdanovic gave the ball away, as Terry Rozier went charging in the other direction, slamming Pacers fans’ hearts through the basket to secure a 112-111 win.

Those are the kinds of games that just wrench the stomach like a bad burrito.

Kyrie Irving had 30, Jayson Tatum had 16 on 6-of-8 and played Bogdanovic like a fiddle throughout the contest, and Al Horford came an assist short of a triple-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Boston shot 55.7 percent. They were outshot at the free throw line (30-of-38 for Indiana, 8-of-14 for the Celtics), but a big defensive play when it mattered most along with a no-bones-about-it choke job from Bogdanovic iced the game.

Highlights? Man, it hurts as a Pacers fan to do this, but…

The Jazz Play A Great 36-Minute Game

Unfortunately for Utah, basketball games are 48 minutes long.

The Houston Rockets won the fourth quarter 41-15 and the game 120-99, as James Harden had the most James Harden game possible; he shot 6-of-17 and still managed to score 26 points, thanks in part to shooting 4-of-12 from three and then cinched by making all ten of his free throws.

Clint Capela put up 24 points, hauled down 20 boards, and posted a plus-35 in his 35 minutes. Eric Gordon completed the Triple 20 with 33 points off the bench.

And the Rockets hit 39.5 percent (17-of-43) of their three-point shots and 67.6 percent (23-of-34) of their two-pointers, putting up an eFG% of .630 for the game. That is simply not a performance you can even hope to match. 120 points on 77 field goal attempts? That’s insane.

Oh, and did we mention Houston outrebounded Utah 52-32 and that Harden attempted more free throws (10) than the entire Jazz team (8)? Houston on the whole was 23-of-27 from the stripe, winning that battle by 16 points.

That’s 14 in a row, and Houston remains undefeated with Chris Paul in the lineup.

Highlights from the man of the match and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Gordon:

You start asking yourself things like “can this team go 78-4” sometimes.

A Truly Russell Westbrook Experience

Remember all those games where Westbrook would basically win the game by himself because his Thunder teammates couldn’t do a damn thing last year? And remember how he propelled Oklahoma City to the playoffs based on having enough of those sorts of games to average a triple-double and deservedly win the MVP for guiding a G-League team to the playoffs?

Well, with Paul George having a terrible night and Carmelo Anthony continuing to be washed up, Westbrook had just that kind of a night in the Thunder’s 95-94 win at home over the Denver Nuggets Monday night.

Russ had 38 points on 16-of-28 shooting, propelling OKC to a 48.1 percent shooting night despite the rest of the team shooting 43.4.

Not like the Nuggets were keen on helping their own cause. Will Barton was a horrifying 2-of-15 from the field, missing all eight of his three-point tries and finishing with just six points. The best Denver could get was 17 points out of Gary Harris, who needed 17 shots (he made just seven) to do it.

Denver hit just 43 percent of their shots overall, so despite winning the rebounding battle 45-40 and making five more threes than the enemy, they still lost.

Highlights belong to the reigning MVP:

Bulls Hit

Chicago has won six in a row. The latest victim? The Philadelphia 76ers, who are spiraling into oblivion, mired in the 10 spot in the East and stuck under .500 once again.

The Bulls won 117-115 behind the unstoppable combination of a Triple 20 (22 each from Kris Dunn and Nikola Mirotic and 20 from Justin Holiday) and a Total Team Effort (four other Bulls scored.)

Even though Philly had a Total Team Effort of their own, only Dario Saric (27 on 10-of-19) scored more than 20 points.

Ben Simmons nearly notched a triple-double, scoring 19 points, pulling down 11 boards, and dishing out 90 cents’ worth of dimes, but this was just plain Chicago’s night.

The Bulls won the turnover battle 20-15, cranked out a .478/.464/.842 FG/3PT/FT slash line against Philly’s .484/.424/.722, and overcame a 47-39 rebounding deficit to grab the victory.

Chicago played great down the stretch in the come-from-behind win, and we’ve got the highlights:

Hornets Sting Unicornless Knicks

The Charlotte Hornets make no sense. Ostensibly improved by adding Dwight Howard and with a solid backcourt, you’d think they’d actually be as good as they were when they won 48 games two seasons ago.

Sadly, that hasn’t been the case. They’ve started 11-19, including a horrific 2-11 record on the road.

But at home, where they’re 9-8, and with the Knicks lacking their emerging star, Charlotte notched a 109-91 win behind 24 off the bench on 10-of-13 from Frank Kaminsky.

Kemba Walker had only nine points. Howard had 11 on 3-of-10 shooting in a woeful double-double (10 rebounds).

But when the other team shoots 16.7 percent from three, as the Knicks did in going 3-of-18, and when you smoke them on the boards 47-37, and when oh by the way you also make 9-of-20 (45 percent) threes?

Well, that’s why they won by 18.

Highlights for the man of the match off the bench:

So Bad Even the Hawks Beat Them

Miami is an enigmatic squad. Sometimes the Heat look like that team that went 30-11 in the second half of last season. Other times they look like the team that started 11-30.

At Atlanta Monday night, they were the former.

The Hawks won 110-104 to get only their seventh win in 30 tries this season; that 7-23 record is worst in the league.

Taurean Prince had 24 points, Dennis Schroder had 23, and the Hawks won the turnover battle 19-12 to propel themselves to the extra possessions they needed to pull this one out.

After all, Atlanta made two more shots, one more three, and one more free throw than the Heat did. The shooting percentages were comparable (45.8 percent for Atlanta, 45.6 for Miami); the Hawks just got four more shots up.

So with mirror-image free throws (25-of-30 for the Heat, 26-of-31 for the Hawks), it just came down to making shots.

Cleanup on Aisle 5:

And game highlights:

Dallas Mavs Wrecked

The Phoenix Suns won an ugly 97-91 ballgame in Dallas in which the Mavs shot 36.4 percent from the field and 29.7 (11-of-37) from three. The Suns were a much more solid 44.3 and 40.0 (10-of-25) from beyond the arc.

T.J. Warren led the Suns with 19 points, while Isaiah Canaan managed to put up a plus-26 plus/minus, leading a Suns second unit that just demolished the Mavs’ reserves.

Harrison Barnes had 26 on 11-of-21 shooting for Dallas; the rest of the team was 21-of-67, a whopping 31.3 percent.

Highlights, with a little help from the folks at Fox Sports Arizona:

Austin Rivers Sucks

The coach’s son was 4-of-15 shooting, and there wasn’t any Lou Williams (sprained right foot) to bail the Clippers out off the bench.

Which means the Spurs were able to run wild, winning 109-91 behind a 48.8-44.0 shooting percentage edge, a massive free throw disparity in both count and accuracy (20-of-25 vs. 8-of-16), and just generally not being a garbage team like the Clippers minus Blake Griffin.

Oh, and did we mention Rivers was minus-32 in his 33 minutes? Because he was minus-32.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 19 on 7-of-13 shooting for the Spurs, Tony Parker had 16 on 7-of-9, and San Antonio distributed the load, with nine players scoring at least seven points.

The Spurs led 31-17 after one, and they never truly looked back.

Highlights, as Parker takes the man-of-the-match honors:

And Finally…

Leave it to Jimmy G. Buckets, aka Jimmy Butler, to take the reins of this one by himself. Who needs team play when Jimmy G had 37 points on 12-of-21 from the field and 11-of-12 from the line?

The Timberwolves squeaked out a 108-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in a weird one statistically. Portland made 100 percent of their free throws…all five of them.

But the Blazers also shot 54.8 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from the line, and out-rebounded Minnesota 40-32.

So what happened? Well, besides the free throws (Minnesota made 17-of-21), there was the ever-present turnover battle. The Wolves won it 17-10.

Although as we pointed out Sunday, Minnesota is actually a worse team when they take care of the ball, as the caution seems to take them out of their flow; no wonder they only shot 46.2 percent and assisted on a pathetic 19 of their 42 made baskets.

This game is symptomatic of how Tom Thibodeau’s coaching is completely ill-suited for his roster; the Wolves may be 18-13 and riding high in fourth place in the Western Conference, but until their coach learns to let his stars off the leash, they’re going to have these lousy wins where they look fundamentally sound but lose everything that makes them what they are.

But hey, Jimmy Butler had 37 points, including the clutch free throws to seal the game. So he gets the man-of-the-match highlight reel:

There’s going to be Pacers coverage later today, because it’s Tuesday. I need something better to write about than that Bogdanovic choke. Let me…think about it for a bit.

Meanwhile, stay tuned and thanks for reading!