NBA

Kobe Bryant dead: Lakers-Clippers clash postponed by NBA

By Sports Desk January 27, 2020

The NBA showdown between city rivals the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers has been postponed after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.

Lakers legend Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

Sunday and Monday's games have gone ahead as tributes continue to pour in for the five-time champion and 2008 MVP, who spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers.

However, Tuesday's blockbuster clash at Staples Center will be rescheduled at a later date, with Los Angeles reeling following Bryant's sudden death.

"The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organisation, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday," the NBA said in a statement.

Bryant, who entered the league with the Lakers in 1996, is regarded as one of the all-time greats following a career spanning two decades at Staples Center.

An 18-time All-Star and two-time Finals MVP, Bryant won a pair of Olympic gold medals, helping United States to glory in 2008 and 2012.

LeBron James and the Lakers (36-10) top the Western Conference, ahead of the Utah Jazz and Kawhi Leonard's third-placed Clippers (33-14).

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    The Celtics rallied for a 121-108 victory over Miami on Friday to cut the Heat's Eastern Conference finals lead to 3-2.

    But Boston struggled early, trailing by 12 points, before a 41-25 third quarter helped them turn the game.

    Celtics head coach Stevens said improvement defensively was key for Boston.

    "I just thought we played with great tenacity defensively, and our offense followed suit," he told a news conference.

    "But they're very hard. It's easy for me to sit up and say to be at our very best and get stops on every possession.

    "This is a heck of an offensive team, a heck of a well-coached team and hard to guard."

    Celtics star Jayson Tatum scored 17 of his 31 points in the third quarter, with Boston going on a 20-3 run.

    Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra lamented his side's inability to slow the Celtics down.

    "We missed some open shots to start the quarter and then those turned into run-outs that got them going, those easy ones. This is a team that has great offensive firepower," he said.

    "When they see the ball go in the basket they started to get more aggressive and putting a ton of pressure on us in the paint, much like they did in Game 3 and we weren't able to shut that off, and they just carried that through."

    Game 6 is on Sunday.

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    Jayson Tatum (31 points and 10 rebounds) lifted the Celtics at the Walt Disney World Resort on Friday as they reduced Miami's series lead to 3-2.

    The win came after Miami made a better start, at one stage leading by as many as 12 points.

    Tatum scored 17 third-quarter points as the Celtics rallied on their way to a victory that kept them alive in the playoffs.

    Jaylen Brown (28 points) also starred, while Kemba Walker (15 points) and Daniel Theis (15 points and 13 rebounds) were also key contributors.

    Duncan Robinson (20 points) had put Miami in position in the first half before the Celtics' fightback.

    Jimmy Butler finished with 17 points, while Goran Dragic had 23 before fouling out.

    Coming off his Game 4 heroics, rookie Tyler Herro managed just 14 points.

    Game 6 of the series is on Sunday.

     

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    LeBron James took on the responsibility of guarding Jamal Murray down the stretch because he knew it was "winning time" for the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4. 

    With the Lakers holding a four-point lead with just over five minutes remaining in the final quarter, and Murray on 28 points on 12-for-17 shooting, James switched onto the Denver Nuggets guard. 

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    James is averaging 34.4 minutes in the playoffs, which is the fewest of his career – his previous low was 38.2 with the Miami Heat in 2013-14. 

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    "I don't look at it as a reserve tank. I've got pretty good energy when I'm on the floor all the time. It's winning time and I don't have a chance or time to be feeling tired. 

    "I'm tired now. That's when I'm tired, when it's zeros on the clock. That's when I'm tired. I'm not tired during the game."

    Murray appreciated the respect the Lakers afforded him but felt the Nuggets, who have come back from 3-1 deficits to advance in the past two rounds, still should have found a way to win. 

    He said: "I mean, they switched AD [Anthony Davis] on me to be on him, too. 

    "Obviously, with LeBron I do the same stuff I do when I see [Alex] Caruso, when I see [Rajon] Rondo and KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope], and Kawhi [Leonard], Paul George and Pat Bev [Patrick Beverley]. 

    "I mean, I do the same thing. Appreciate the respect, but we've got to win the game."

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