Celtics

Kobe reached a legit milestone Wednesday night

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Kobe reached a legit milestone Wednesday night

From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Before Kobe Bryant had even turned in his latest dominant performance, NBA Commissioner David Stern sought him out to offer a congratulatory hand shake for the extraordinary scoring milestone the Lakers star was about to surpass.Stern assumed Bryant would score the 13 points he needed to become only the fifth player in NBA history to reach 30,000, and who wouldn't?Bryant had 17 points by halftime, finished with 29, and Los Angeles snapped a two-game skid with a 103-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night."He just congratulated me and told me I was one of the best competitors that he's seen in this game and I really appreciated that," Bryant said of his pregame exchange with Stern.Now Bryant in is elite company. The only other players to score more than 30,000 are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain."It's pretty awesome," Bryant said. "These are players I respect tremendously and obviously grew up idolizing and watching and learned a great deal from."When Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni was asked before tipoff about Bryant's impending milestone, the coach joked, "That just means he is old."In fact, at 34, Bryant is younger than the other four were when they hit the mark, but Bryant also turned pro at 18, and is in his 17th season."Honestly, I don't know why I'm still working as hard as I am after 17 years," Bryant said. "I enjoy what I do. I think that's the thing that I'm most proud of: every year, every day working hard at it. It's a lot of years, a lot of work."Bryant eclipsed the scoring milestone with a short jumper late in the first half that was perhaps the least spectacular of his baskets, which included the usual array of soaring dunks, demoralizing transition 3-pointers and turnaround, off-balance jumpers.Dwight Howard added 18 points and five blocked shots for the Lakers, who trailed 48-47 at halftime but seized control with a 13-0 run to open the third quarter, and the lead grew as large as 20 in the fourth.Ryan Anderson scored 31, hitting 5 of 8 3-pointers for the Hornets, who were playing their ninth straight game without top overall draft choice Anthony Davis. Greivis Vasquez added 16 points, while Robin Lopez scored 15 points and blocked five shots.Anderson said Bryant "deserves all the recognition that he gets.""He's a special guy to play against. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win," Anderson added. "I would have liked him to get the 30,000, but for us to get the win."Antawn Jamison scored 15 and Metta World Peace 11, and Chris Duhon had 10 assists for Los Angeles, which is playing without Steve Nash and Pau Gasol and won for only the second time on the road this season. The Hornets fell to 3-7 at home and lost for the 10th time in 12 games overall.The Hornets led from early in the first quarter until halftime, going up by as many as eight points when Al-Farouq Aminu slammed down an alley-oop lob from Vasquez, energizing the largest crowd of the season at the New Orleans Arena.Bryant helped the Lakers trim their deficit after that, hitting five free throws and his milestone on 3-foot jumper in the last 2:15 of the second quarter.Jamison opened the third-quarter onslaught with 3, Howard followed with a fast-break layup and Bryant had two straight fast-break dunks, one of which he created himself with a steal. Howard finished the surge with a layup."I just didn't think our defense was there, especially that first five or six minutes of the third quarter," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "Our defense was really poor, and we can't afford those lapses."Anderson's shooting helped the Hornets pull to 70-62 late in the third period, but Bryant hit an 18-footer and Jodie Meeks added one of his three 3-pointers to give Los Angeles a 13-point lead heading into the final period. Meeks and Darius Morris then added 3s early in the period and New Orleans could not recover.Afterward, Bryant sat in his locker, reflecting on the elite company he now keeps in NBA history, and the things he sees in younger prolific scoring stars like Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, who the Lakers will see next on Friday night, and who could very well join the 30,000-point club at the rate he's going.One common characteristic, he said, is an apparent immunity to both pressure and criticism."Scorers kind of have a fighter-pilot mentality. We're a different breed," Bryant said. "But there are different positions. We scored in a myriad of ways. We all went about it differently in different situations. It's fun to see."Notes: Stern said the scheduling that allowed him to see Bryant reach 30,000 was pure coincidence. Stern was making a regularly scheduled visit with first-year Hornets owner Tom Benson, who is also the owner of the NFL's Saints, to see how Benson's plans for the NBA franchise were taking shape. Stern visited Saints headquarters, where new construction has begun on additions that will also accommodate Hornets offices and practice courts. Stern said he was looking forward to congratulating Bryant. "As a talent, a competitor, I think that he is up there on the pedestal with Michael Jordan. He is one of the greatest," Stern said. ... Stern also discussed the possibility of a team name change, something Benson has said he wants since buying the club last spring. Stern says the club has not yet applied for a name change but that the league would likely accept whatever name the Hornets want and expedite the transition.

Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

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Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

BOSTON -- These are tough, heart-tugging times for the Boston Celtics, who are less than 24 hours removed from the gruesome left-ankle injury suffered by Gordon Hayward in the first quarter of their 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.
 
Hayward is scheduled to have surgery today, and potentially could be out for the entire season.
 
As much as their hearts go out to Hayward and his family, the Celtics know they can’t spend too much time sulking. The nature of this business won’t allow them, evident by the fact the C's step back on the floor tonight to host the Milwaukee Bucks.
 
“You hurt for him,” said coach Brad Stevens. “He’s put in a lot of great work. I thought he had his most comfortable week as far as feeling like he was going to play really well. It’s a tough, tough deal but I guess that’s part of it, the risk of injury. I really feel for him.”
 
But in the same breath, Stevens is a realist.
 
He's been in the league long enough to know that grieving for a lost player won’t help that player in the short-term. Or the team, for that matter.

MORE ON GORDON HAYWARD

 
The best way the Celtics can help Hayward is to continue to compete in his absence.
 
We saw that in last night’s loss to the Cavaliers.
 
When Hayward was carted off the floor, the Celtics were ahead, 12-9. The lead disappeared and was eventually replaced by an 18-point deficit, only for Boston to chip away and eventually go ahead in the fourth quarter.
 
But down the stretch, too much LeBron James and Kevin Love would prove to be too much for the Celtics to overcome.
 
While the loss was disappointing, it gave the team some insight into how to fight on now that one of its main guys will be out for a significant amount of time.
 
We saw Jaylen Brown emerge from being a second-year pro on the rise into a matchup problem who dropped a career-high 25 points on the Cavs.
 
And Jayson Tatum reminded us all that he’s a teenager in age only, finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. The last rookie to tally a double-double for the Celtics in his opening night debut was Larry Bird in 1979, who had an identical 14-point, 10-rebound line.


 
But Bird didn’t have to play most of that game with one of the then top-three Celtics out for all but the game’s first five minutes.
 
When it comes to adversity, NBA players don’t have the luxury to pick which ones to handle and which ones to pass on. They either step up to the challenge or be consumed by it.
 
Under Stevens, Door Number One is the only option under consideration.
 
And since Stevens has been in Boston, his players have risen to the challenge.
 
That doesn’t mean they'll win every game, but they've shown the ability to at least be competitive. And in defeat, they'll refuse to use injury as an excuse.
 
That means younger players like Brown and Tatum will assume a larger role at both ends of the floor if Boston is to make it through these tough times relatively unscathed.
 
Veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Smart will be leaned upon more heavily to be leaders, both on and off the floor.
 
And Stevens, considered by many to be one of the better coaches in the NBA, will once again be tasked with making on-the-fly adjustments with his lineup and rotations under less-than-ideal conditions.
 
Nobody hurts more than Stevens when it comes to Hayward’s injury. Remember, he's known him longer than anyone associated with the Celtics, having recruited Hayward to play for Butler. It was the platform that launched both of their NBA careers.
 
Which is why the way he approaches not having Hayward is the example for all his players to follow.
 
Shortly after the loss to the Cavs, Stevens was asked about moving on while handling the emotional dynamics of losing Hayward for an extended period of time.
 
“We’ll be ready to play [tonight],” Stevens said with a heightened level of seriousness in his voice that spoke to how important it was to him and his players that they came out and performed at their best on Tuesday against Cleveland.

And that's the blueprint required for them going forward if they hope to be successful in handling adversity as it comes their way.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.