By Agence France-Presse
LOS ANGELES – The tears continued to flow and the tributes kept pouring in on Wednesday, three days after five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant was killed in a devastating helicopter crash.
In New York, the Nets and their fans paid tribute to Bryant before their home game against Detroit with a video montage and an eight second moment of silence.
There were also two empty chairs at courtside at Barclays Center, each decorated with a bouquet of flowers. Bryant and his daughter Gigi sat in those seats for a December 21 game against Atlanta.
In the warm-up, the players wore red Lunar New Year shirts with Bryant’s name on the back. Nets fans then chanted “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe”.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter died when the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter they were riding in slammed into a rugged hillside in thick fog in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles. The crash also killed seven others.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 10 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter as Brooklyn pulled away for a 125-115 victory over the Pistons.
Elsewhere, Victor Oladipo wasted no time channeling his inner Kobe in his return by draining a clutch three pointer as Indiana beat the Bulls 115-106.
Oladipo wiped away tears as he described his clutch shot which came in his first NBA contest in more than a year after sitting out with an injury.
“I just shot it man. That’s the Mamba mentality. Mamba mentality,” said Oladipo, who is recovering from a right knee injury.
“That’s for Kobe, Gigi, all people on that helicopter. It has been a tough year. I am just thankful.”
T.J. Warren scored 25 points and Oladipo scored nine points on two-for-eight shooting in 21 minutes.
Oladipo delivered the biggest shot of regulation, tying the game 100-100 with a deep three-pointer with 10 seconds left.
Domantas Sabonis finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana while Malcolm Brogdon (15), Justin Holiday (13), Jeremy Lamb (10) and Goga Bitadze (10) also scored in double figures.
Chicago’s Chandler Hutchison scored a career-high 21 points as the defeat ended the Bulls’ modest two-game winning streak.
The Pacers have now beaten the Bulls eight straight times.
Also, Damian Lillard delivered 36 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his first career triple-double to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 125-112 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Lillard made six three-pointers to tie Stephen Curry for the NBA record of 33 over a four-game stretch. Golden State’s Curry set the mark in 2016.
CJ McCollum added 22 points and Trevor Ariza tallied 21 as Portland won for the third time in the past four games.
Carmelo Anthony scored a season-best 13 rebounds in the loss.