OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors took their last shot at Michael Jordan and history and they swished it — for 73.
Down to their final chance at the record, the Warriors became the first 73-win team Wednesday night by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104, breaking what many considered an unmatchable mark set 20 years ago by Jordan’s Chicago Bulls — oh, and Golden State coach Steve Kerr, too.
“I want to congratulate the Warriors on their amazing season,” Jordan said in a statement. “The game of basketball is always evolving and records are made to be broken. The Warriors have been a lot of fun to watch and I look forward to seeing what they do in the playoffs.”
Curry achieved yet one more shooting milestone, becoming the first player to make 400 3-pointers in a season by knocking down 10 from long range on the way to 46 points and 402 total 3s. Golden State saved one last record for the closing day of the regular season, and did it for a roaring, sellout home crowd at Oracle Arena. Yet these Warriors want nothing more than to build off their remarkable run so far and ride it to another title.
Draymond Green had 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as defending champion Golden State (73-9) topped the Jordan-led 1995-96 Bulls who went 72-10.
“It’s a great way to finish off what was an amazing regular season,” Kerr said. “I just told our guys I never in a million years would have guessed that that record would ever be broken. I thought it was like DiMaggio’s hit streak, really. I was wrong, but I will say the same thing now that I said 20 years ago, ‘I don’t think this one will ever be broken.’ Somebody’s got to go 74-8. I don’t see it, and I hope our fans aren’t expecting that next year.”
KOBE BRYANT SCORES 60 IN FAREWELL GAME
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant went out with a Hollywood ending to his remarkable career.
Bryant scored 60 points in his final game Wednesday night, wrapping up 20 years in the NBA with an unbelievable offensive showcase in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz.
He scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, posting his first 50-point game since February 2009 and rallying the Lakers from a 15-point deficit to win the final game of the worst season in franchise history.
“It’s hard to believe it happened this way,” Bryant said. “I’m still shocked about it.”
With the entire Staples Center crowd standing, Bryant drained a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left. He hit another with 31 seconds to play, putting the Lakers ahead 97-96. He finished with an assist before checking out for good with 4.1 seconds left in just the Lakers’ 17th win.
“The perfect ending would have been a championship,” Bryant said with a smile. “But tonight was (me) trying to go out, play hard and try to put on a show as much as I possibly could. It felt good to be able to do that one last time.”
Bryant and his teammates conspired for one last omnivorous scoring performance by the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
Bryant played 42 minutes and took a career-high 50 shots, his teammates attempting to set him up for points on nearly every possession. He also had four assists and four rebounds in his highest-scoring performance since getting 61 against New York in 2009.
Kobe came up with the fifth highest-scoring game of his career. He became the oldest player to score 50 points in an NBA game.
It was one last classic from the Black Mamba.
“It just didn’t surprise me, the way he would go out,” said Lakers coach Byron Scott, Bryant’s teammate in his rookie season. “Sixty points wasn’t a surprise. I knew he had it in him.”
The entire night was a tribute to Bryant, who is retiring after 20 seasons, five championship rings and 18 All-Star selections with the Lakers, who honored him before and after the game. Bryant is just the fifth player in NBA history to play 20 seasons, and the first with just one team.
Bryant briefly addressed the crowd after the game, expressing thanks for the fans’ support.
“I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout,” Bryant said. “You’ll always be in my heart, and I sincerely, sincerely appreciate it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you guys.”
He also had a few laughs after finishing his 1,346th regular-season game with 33,643 career points.
“The thing that had me cracking up all night long is, I go through 20 years of everybody screaming to pass the ball,” Bryant said with a grin. “And then the last night, they’re like, ‘Don’t pass it!'”
Bryant surpassed his previous career high of 47 shots, taken in a loss to Boston on Nov. 7, 2002.
“Mamba out!” Bryant said with his final words to the fans.
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