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.
BOSTON – The Bruins ice a young lineup for their preseason opener against the Blue Jackets, and they got some solid results from the next generation of skaters ready to wear the Black and Gold. It wasn’t enough for the win, however, as Sam Gagner won the game in the shootout for the Blue Jackets by a 3-2 score after both Riley Nash and Jake DeBrusk dinged the left post with their first two shootout attempts.
DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Brandon Carlo, Jakub Zboril and Austin Czarnik all had very strong games as young players vying for NHL roster spots with a couple of jobs potentially open at the NHL level.
DeBrusk set up Jimmy Hayes for Boston’s first goal, and Heinen redirected a Carlo point shot past Curtis McElhinney in the third period to tie things up.
Sonny Milano opened up the game’s scoring by beating Anton Khudobin to the short side on a play where the B’s backup goaltender was a little bit sloppy with his technique. Hayes scored to tie things up for the Black and Gold on a nifty transition play up the ice that embodied the “play fast” philosophy that Claude Julien is espousing.
Daniel Zaar added a goal for the Blue Jackets midway through the second period that again gave Columbus the slim one goal lead, but that evaporated in the final 20 minutes when Heinen redirected a Carlo point shot from the slot area past the Blue Jackets netminder.
The Bruins will get back at it with another home preseason game at TD Garden against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.
WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players who have spent part of their NBA journey having Kevin Garnett barking in their ear words of encouragement or just telling them to get the hell out his (bleepin’) way, you can count Avery Bradley among those who will miss the man affectionately known as ‘Big Ticket.’
Garnett recently announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons, leaving behind a legacy that includes an NBA title won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
Among the current Celtics, Bradley is the only current member of the team who played with Garnett in Boston.
When Bradley got the news about Garnett’s retirement, he said he sat down and wrote Garnett a letter.
“To let him know how much I appreciate him, how special he is to me,” said Bradley who added that his relationship with Garnett was impactful both on and off the court. “Kevin’s just an amazing person.”
Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 with Garnett, echoed similar praise about his former teammate.
“As a teammate, as a player, KG meant the world to me,” Powe told CSNNE.com. “Intensity … he brought everything you would want to the game, to the practice field, he was just non-stop energy.”
And when you saw it time after time after time with him, pretty soon it became contagious.
“The intensity just motivated every guy on the team, including me,” Powe said. “It made you want to go out and lay it out on the line for him and the team. You see how passionate he is. You see he’s one of the greats. And when you see one of the greats of the NBA going hard like that all the time, you’re like ‘Man, why can’t I do that? It trickled down to me and every young guy on the team.
Powe added, “He brought that every single day, night, morning, it didn’t matter. He brought that intensity. That’s all you could ask for.”
And Garnett’s impact was about more than changing a franchise’s fortunes in terms of wins and losses.
He also proved to be instrumental in helping re-shape the culture into one in which success was once again defined by winning at the highest levels.
“KG has had as big an impact as anybody I’ve been around in an organization,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “The thing that stands out the most to me about KG is his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG, individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice. That’s something I’ll remember about him.”