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Giddy Kings beside themselves after unprecedented comeback

The Kings were beside themselves Monday night after their 133-129 improbable overtime comeback victory over the Timberwolves.

Both locker rooms were left wondering what the heck just happened, except with different moods attached to the question.

In the Kings’ locker room, Kent Bazemore was watching the highlight of De’Aaron Fox’s free-throw miss and layup that tied the game in regulation, and watched it multiple times to make sure it actually happened.

On his phone you could hear the call from Wolves play-by-play broadcaster Dave Benz, whose call said something to the effect of, “I can’t believe it.”

Former Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver sitting nearby said, “Yes, you can.”

Tolliver, a 12-year NBA veteran, admitted he had never seen anything like it in his career.
“It was pretty insane,” Tolliver said.

It just confirms how improbable this Wolves collapse was. ESPN said since it began tracking in 1996, teams were 0-8,378 when trailing by 17 or more in the final three minutes before Monday.

Coach Luke Walton didn’t believe the Kings had a realistic shot of winning until “about 45 seconds left” when the Kings were down two possessions. That actually didn’t happen until three Buddy Hield free throws with 37 seconds remaining. The numbers are just staggering as to how the Wolves lost this game. They were up nine with 39.2 left, up 14 with 1:46 left, 17 with 2:49 left and somehow lost the game.

The Kings also trailed by 27 late in the third quarter.

From an incredulous Wolves locker room Shabazz Napier, when reflecting on the legacy of the late Kobe Bryant, said: “The competitor he is, he would be upset with us, truly upset with us, and I think once you step on them lines all you’re thinking about is playing the game and playing at the highest level. Today, we did a dishonor to him, to the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, to the fans.”

Hield, meanwhile, was proud after the game to honor his idol by shooting 24 shots, in honor of Bryant’s No. 24, and scoring a symmetrical 42. When asked what this win and what Bryant meant to him, Hield spoke for over four minutes uninterrupted.

“It felt great man, I’m not going to lie,” Hield said. “It was really emotional. Everyone knew what was going on in the atmosphere. A tragic loss. The greatest of all time, in my opinion. Growing up in the Bahamas, Kobe was that guy that made you believe, man. He helped me get out. He helped me through all the struggle …

“I used to watch the Finals games with my shirt off in the hot house, just sweating, screaming defense. Everything was Kobe for me growing up. Thank God for bringing him on this earth, man. He changed a lot of people’s lives and impacted a lot of people’s lives in a lot of ways that you can’t even describe.”

The Kings left laughing and buoyant. The Wolves left shaking their heads. Ten losses in a row, this one being one of the largest collapses in recent NBA history. 

Wolves players, former teammate Luke Walton remember Kobe Bryant


The emotions were strong at both Timberwolves and Kings shootaround Monday morning in advance of their game at Target Center.

The death of Kobe Bryant has hit players across the league hard -- those that knew him, played with him and against him or just grew up admiring him.
Wolves coach Ryan Saunders fought back tears when talking about Bryant wearing a Flip Saunders shirt as the Wolves played their first game against the Lakers after Flip’s death in 2015.
“It’s hard to wrap your head around right now with everything,” Saunders said. “I know these guys, we tried to be as business as usual, because as competitors and the competitor that Kobe was, that’s what he’d say. You've got to compete. But it affects all of us greatly.”

Here are some other reactions from shootaround:



From Kings coach Luke Walton, a teammate of Bryant’s with the Lakers:
“Been one of the harder times of my life the last 24 hours. Kobe was a friend, a teammate, most importantly a father. I know that’s what was most important to him. The love he had for his family and his daughters is heartbreaking and it’s tough to deal with, honestly. The basketball world, we lost one of our greats, and I don’t just mean that by what he did on the court, but just the way he lived his life. Every day he got the most out of it. … I don’t know if I’ve fully accepted it, but it’s really hard to think that we don’t have him with us anymore.”

Wolves forward Robert Covington, who played against Bryant once when Covington was with the 76ers:
“After the game, we had that moment where we got to talking at center court and he told me within those moments that I had the opportunity to be a very good player in this game. He was like, ‘I like your work ethic. I like your hustle. I like how you carry yourself.’ Within that I took from a big change in my life. I understand that someone that I looked up to tell me those positive words of encouragement, he was like stick with it. You got an opportunity to be someone great in this league. You can be someone that can really change the game. Just stay with it and just overall just keep going. Don’t give up because like you said you got a real nice opportunity. Those words really stuck with me.”

Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, who said Bryant “was my childhood:”
“It was already a horrific thing that Kobe died. It was pure tragedy that Gigi was part of it, and all the other people that were a part of it, as well, there were youngsters, as well, that also lost their lives. That’s what really hurt me yesterday, because you try to do so much, especially for kids, to inspire the next generation, and she was on her way to doing great things, and I know if Kobe had it any other way, he would’ve had just him on that helicopter instead of all the others, especially his daughter. And if I was in that situation, I would’ve done anything possible to have my kid off of it.”

Wolves President Gersson Rosas:
“The NBA is a family and any time you have a loss, a tragic loss of this nature, you talk about from the human aspect of it. There’s a wife who lost her husband, lost her daughter. Three daughters who lost their father, lost their sister and that affects all of us. … From a human aspect, and we’re not even talking about basketball, the legend that he is and what he meant to this game it really leaves a hole for our NBA family.”

Final, 1/27 1 2 3 4 OT F
Sacramento 17-29 24 26 28 41 14 133
Minnesota 15-32 37 31 29 22 10 129

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