The actual game between the Lakers and Blazers on Friday night was almost incidental to what we witnessed prior to tip-off, which was a remarkable tribute to Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the rest of the victims who lost their lives in a shocking helicopter crash near L.A. last Sunday. It was a night filled with mourning and remembrance, as the organization, the players, and everyone inside the arena and watching at home took the opportunity to celebrate the life of an NBA legend whose impact and influence transcended sports and reached across the globe to affect the lives of millions.
But beyond all the Kobe Bryant jerseys, the stirring musical numbers, and unforgettable speeches, there was still a game to be played, and both teams honored Kobe in the best way possible by putting their emotions aside and battling it out from wire to wire.
By the final buzzer, it was the Blazers who emerged victorious behind an otherworldly performance from Damian Lillard, who continued his blistering streak with 48 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds to help lead his team to the 127-119 win. Lillard was lights out from downtown for most of the night, draining 7-of-12 from three, many of which were from deep beyond the arc.
He also got plenty of help from Hassan Whiteside, who contributed 30 points and 12 rebounds on a near-perfect 13-for-14 from the field and who helped keep the game out of reach late on this beautiful alley-oop from Lillard.
They were able to overcome a huge night from Anthony Davis, who poured in 35 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists for the game. LeBron narrowly missed a triple double, finishing with 22 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds but committed five turnovers.
Still, the outcome of the game isn’t what will be remembered as this night will stand as an extraordinary tribute to the Lakers legend whose legacy lives on in the NBA family and fans around the world.