The Boston Celtics’ 123-108 loss to New Orleans hurt for sure.
But the Celtics and the entire basketball world were suffering a much greater pain on Sunday following the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday.
Several teams honored Bryant’s memory on Sunday, with other franchises looking to do so going forward.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said no player will ever wear No. 24 again for the Mavericks. Bryant wore jersey No. 24 and No. 8 during his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.
As for the Celtics, they found themselves in catch-up mode most of the night and went into the half trailing by 20 points.
Boston was able to cut the deficit in half by the time the game moved on to the fourth quarter.
But down the stretch, the Pelicans came up with all the big plays at both ends of the floor to secure what would be Zion Williamson’s first victory in a regular season NBA game.
The loss snapped Boston’s three-game winning streak.
But the truth is, few Celtics fans - or fans in general - were giving much thought to wins and losses on this night.
Regardless of who won or lost, Bryant’s death sent shockwaves throughout the basketball community that are still being felt and will continue to be felt for some time.
He still didn’t play major minutes, but that didn’t keep him from making a major impact. Williamson, in his third NBA game, tallied a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds in just 27 minutes.
The scary part about Williamson's game is that he’s dominating the action in limited minutes while still learning lots of ins and outs of play.
As he gets older and matures and better understands how to use his vast array of skills to be impactful, he'll become an even bigger nightmare for foes to deal with.
KEMBA’S IN-GAME BOUNCEBACK
After a rugged start (zero points, 0-for-6 shooting in the first quarter), Walker bounced back with a strong night that put the Celtics within striking distance in the fourth quarter.
But Walker couldn’t quite muster up enough big shots in order for the Celtics to get the win, despite leading all scorers with 35 points to go with five rebounds and four assists with two steals and a blocked shot.
The slow start by Walker (he wasn’t the only one struggling early on by the way) was among the factors that forced the Celtics to play from behind most of the night.
Jaylen Brown comes back to the lineup, but Jayson Tatum (groin) and Enes Kanter (hip) remain out.
Sunday’s game was yet another night of injury roulette for the Celtics who continue to play most games short-handed with the missing player being one of their core, go-to guys.
It makes it extremely difficult for the Celtics to develop continuity, or determine if the roster needs to be addressed prior to the trade deadline.