For Jazz fans, it was probably the most fitting way for Kobe Bryant to end his career in Utah. Getting blown out, 123-75 in front of a sold out Vivint Smart Home Arena. It is the worst defeat in Kobe Bryant’s career and ties a franchise record for the worst loss in franchise history, which was a thumping at the hands of the Clippers back in 2014, a game Kobe didn’t suit up for. Even though Kobe is clearly not at the top of his game, as he gets ready to hang up the sneakers, the win, and by how much, is a nice feather in the cap for most Jazz fans. Bryant might let the Jazz fans have that feather and might not even try to not do his best Black Mamba impression, and steal the feather away. Obviously, Bryant’s not new to this farewell tour, but one thing that caught him off guard a little bit, was his farewell to the crowd when checking out of the game early in the 4th quarter. Jazz fans not booing Kobe, but quite the contrary; hooping and hollering in favor of the once, long-time villain. Here is Kobe Bryant’s comments with media members following the game:
However, in this game, it was not only the margin of victory that was huge, but the win, itself, was huge for standings purposes, because it kept the Jazz ahead of Dallas, who picked up a road victory Monday night vs. the Denver Nuggets. So with 8 games remaining in the regular season, the Jazz stand at 37-37 and have a one game cushion on the Mavericks and Rockets, who both sit at 36-38 on the season. As the schedules unfold for all three teams, I can’t help but keep holding on to the thought that the final spot in the West will be decided with the April 11th match-up, when Utah hosts Dallas. Plenty can still happen between now and then, but unless one of these 3 teams just completely falls flat on their face, the Rockets, Mavs, Jazz will have a pretty contentious end to their regular season campaigns, not just with the schedule in front of these teams, but the pressure to succeed when it matters most. What teams are up for the challenge?! And what team is left wondering, what could’ve been?! Though the prize for the two teams, is match-ups with the Spurs and Warriors. I don’t know if I’d wish that upon my enemies, but having said that, playoff experience can still go a long way for the Jazz’ future, even if it’s just 4 or 5 games.
Next up for the Jazz: Wednesday Night vs. Golden State – 7pm Tip
Next up for Houston: Tuesday Night @ Cleveland – 6pm Tip on TNT
Next up for Dallas: Wednesday Night vs. New York – 6:30 Tip
It was also a night where Jazz fans got to see Andrei Kirilenko, who was recognized for his achievements during his playing career in Utah, from 2001-2011. Kirilenko and Kobe made exchanges to each other, immediately following the celebration during the 3rd quarter. Both, AK47 and Black Mamba met up again, after media availability, to talk among themselves, while dozens nearby took photos of two.