Calling on the party line

It was the last home game of the season, which was one event: it was Kobe Bryant’s last-ever road game, which was another. The combination of the two was a bit baffling at times, but the desired results were obtained: Kobe knocked down 13 points in the first quarter, in Kobe-like fashion, and the Thunder, after a 10-point lead at halftime, went on to trounce the Lakers 31-13 in the third quarter on the way to a 112-79 blowout. And there was lots of purple and gold in the house, an appreciation for a man who almost always played like he had his eye on the Hall of Fame. Sentimental value, even in a 33-point loss.

Also evocative: a decent line from Metta World Peace. The Artist Formerly Known As Ron Artest hasn’t been taken seriously since returning to the NBA from China, but World Peace played a darned good game, 12 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes. Like all the Lakers, he shot relatively poorly: at 3-10, he was actually ahead of the team average for the night; but once again, sentimental value, despite his checkered past. And those 12 points were second only to Bryant.

The Thunder contributed to the festive atmosphere by jacking up a ridiculous 37 treys, managing to make 12. (L. A. was 7-31.) Kevin Durant went over 20 by, um, 14, and Russell Westbrook put together a triple-double in a stirringly negligible 18 minutes, one off the league record. Kyle Singler hit two treys; Josh Huestis missed one. Just another night at the ‘Peake.

At this point, of course, nothing really matters. There’s one more game in the regular season, tomorrow night at San Antonio, where the Spurs finally got beaten — by, of course, the Warriors. (Golden State now has 72 wins. Will they get a record 73? Their last game is at home, against the Grizzlies, and any year other than this I’d go with Memphis.) For all I know, both Gregg Popovich and Billy Donovan will rest everyone possible. If you’ve nailed down your playoff spot, you’re like the Armed Forces short-timer: at this point, nothing really matters.


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