LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant went out absolutely firing in his final game before retirement, giving the Lakers one more dazzling display of offense to close out his 20-year career. And he went out a winner.
Scoring 60 points — on 50 shots — Bryant’s career came to a close last night with the Lakers beating the Jazz 101-96.
Earlier in the night, the Rockets earned the final postseason spot with a 116-81 victory over Sacramento, giving them the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and officially making Bryant’s final game nothing more than a ceremony.
Bryant hugged former teammate Shaquille O’Neal in the final seconds and scored 23 points in the final quarter.
It was a storybook finish, the sixth 60-point game of his career. It also was the most shots taken by anyone in an NBA game in the last 30 seasons, according to STATS.
Bryant checked out with 4.1 seconds left, serenaded by “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!” chants.
He retires as the NBA’s No. 3 all-time scorer and won five championships. No one in NBA history ever scored more points in his last game. And around the league, it seemed at least one star was just fine with Bryant going out firing.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving slid a chair in front of a large TV in Cleveland’s locker room to cheer on Bryant following the Cavs’ loss to Detroit. Irving at one point criticized the other Lakers for not passing the ball more to Bryant.
“If I was on the floor, the young guys wouldn’t even touch the ball,” Irving said. — AP