Kobe Bryant has taken his last shot inside of Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Despite only making one appearance a season, Bryant has had some terrific moments inside the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wednesday night, the sold out crowd cheered on the Lakers great from the introduction of the starting lineups until the final buzzer despite his Lakers falling to LeBron James and the Cavaliers 120-111.
“I appreciate the amount of respect the fans gave me here tonight,” Bryant said after the game.
Bryant finished with 17 points on just five of 16 shooting. Bryant’s big moment was converting a four point play with 5:35 remaining in the game to get the Lakers back to nine at 104-95. Cleveland had a lead as big as 22 points on the night. Lou Williams lead the Lakers with 28 points. Jordan Clarkson added 22 points. Former Ohio State Buckeye D’Angelo Russell had 15 points off the bench but left the game for a while in the third quarter when he took a James pass intended for Iman Shumpert right in a bad spot for any man, the groin.
James had another typical stat line on Wednesday night. LeBron came up just three rebounds short of back to back triple doubles. James had 29 points, seven rebounds and eleven assists. James was 12 of 22 shooting and three of six from three point range. Once again the free throw issues return as LeBron was just two of five from the foul line. James also passed Paul Pierce for 15th place on the NBA’s all time scoring list.
Kyrie Irving lead the Cavaliers in scoring for a second straight game. Irving finished with a season best 35 points to go along with three rebounds, seven assists and a pair of steals. It was the second straight game that Irving established a season high in points. Irving scored 32 points on Monday night against the Sacramento Kings.
Tristan Thompson racked up another double double and was perfect shooting the basketball. Thompson had 15 points and 13 rebounds. Thompson was six of six from the field and three of three from the line as the starting center.
Kevin Love had a tough evening for a pair of reasons. Love shot just two of nine from the field. Both field goals were from behind the three point line. Love finished with just eight points in 20 minutes. Love would leave the game in the final minute of the second quarter after injuring his left shoulder. The same shoulder that he dislocated in the first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics last April by Kelly Olynyk. The Cavaliers released an update on Love’s injury after the game.
“Cavaliers forward Kevin Love left the game with 46.5 seconds left in the second quarter after an in-game collision. Further examination by the Cavaliers medical staff confirmed a left shoulder contusion.”
Love talked to the local media following the game and says he’ll be fine and the shoulder was feeling better. The Cavaliers begin the All-Star Break on Thursday and don’t play again until February 18 against the Chicago Bulls.
LeBron and Kobe will have one more meeting against one another on March 10 when the Cavaliers face the Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. LeBron has a 15-6 lifetime edge over Kobe in head to head matchups. It’s a shame that Kobe and LeBron never faced one another in the NBA Finals.
“I don’t know if weird is the term I would use for it,” Bryant said. “Our teams just never crossed paths, unfortunately. I don’t want to say it was weird or anything like that, it’s just the ebb and flows of the season.”