What better way to kick-off the Kobe Farewell Tour than in his native hometown of Philadelphia, where a skinny kid from Lower Merion High School would make the jump the NBA and become one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.
The Los Angeles Lakers played the first of an eight-game road trip where as expected, the Black Mamba was welcomed with honorary tributes and a thunderous applause from the opposing crowd.
Kobe, looking to make his mark, did just that in vintage Mamba fashion by opening the game with a trio of three-pointers to give the Lakers a quick lead. The 76ers were not deterred as they answered with back-to-back threes of their own to cut the lead 9-6. Philly got some momentum by going on a 7-0 run to pull ahead by four before another Kobe bucket slimmed the lead, 11-13 with six minutes left in the first. Julius Randle got it going early in the paint with three layups in a row to tie the game at 17. Kobe continued his hot start with a turnaround hook to give him 13 points in the quarter. Nerlens Noel looked healthy after missing some time due to tendinitis in his knee, with a couple of quick buckets down low to keep Philly ahead, 26-23. The Lakers finally took the lead with two minutes left on a three-pointer from Lou Williams. Los Angeles ended the quarter strong, going on an 8-0 run to pull ahead, 33-26.
The 76ers struck first to begin the second with an alley-oop to Noel, cutting the Laker lead to five. The Lakers struggled to find any rhythm on offense before finally converting their first field goal three minutes into the second, on a three from Nick Young to stay ahead 38-32. D’Angelo Russell got his first bucket of the game on a soft jumper to extend the lead to eight. Philly answered with a put-back from Jahlil Okafor to trim the lead, 40-34. Suddenly both teams started to struggle from the field, as they each went four minutes without a bucket. The drought was finally ended with a monstrous dunk from Randle on the assist from Russell for his fourth of the game to go with a 48-36 lead.
Ahead by 10 with two minutes left, the Lakers showed off a beautiful passing display between Clarkson and Hibbert for the easy finish. Philly finally hit their only shot in the final three minutes of the quarter with a Nik Stauskas three to end the half with Los Angeles up, 58-50
Okafor got it going for the 76ers to start the second half with spin-off Hibbert for the easy finger roll. Philly capitalized on the struggling Laker offense by going on a 6-0 run to start the third quarter and tie the game at 58. Los Angeles finally hit their first shot four minutes into the third with three consecutive buckets from Jordan Clarkson take back a 64-63 lead. Things got a bit chippy midway through the third with Hibbert and Isaiah Canaan getting tangled up in the paint, almost resulting in an ejection for Roy. The Sixers battled back after a pair of three’s from Canaan to take the lead 69-65. After two minutes without a bucket, the Lakers tied the game at 71 with back-to-back buckets from Clarkson to give him 14 on the night. The Lakers regained the lead with two minutes left on a baseline jumper from Brandon Bass and the score now 73-71. However, Philly charged back by scoring six straight points to take back the lead 80-75 to end the third quarter.
The 76ers picked up where they left off with a jumper followed by a dunk from Jerami Grant to extend the lead 84-77. Kobe answered back by driving to the rim and finishing with a reverse layup. Russell then came back down with the strong finishing dunk to cut the 76er lead, 86-80. But Philly would not let up as they hit back-to-back three’s to jump ahead 92-80. The Sixers began to pick up the tempo on defense while the Laker offense remained stagnant. The Lakers finally ended the four-minute drought without a field goal on a three from Clarkson to cut the deficit to 13, 96-83. Russell came back with another three to narrow the lead to 10 with just under five minutes left in the game. After going back and forth with missed shots, the Sixers essentially put the game out of reach with the dagger from Hollis Thompson to go up 99-88 with two minutes to go.
Lakers ultimately fall to the 76ers, 103-91.