ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young had 45 points and 14 assists in an emotional game for the first-time All-Star, and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Washington Wizards 152-133 on Sunday night.
Young looked up toward the rafters several times to honor Kobe Bryant, his mentor and favorite NBA star who died in a helicopter crash earlier in the day. Young wore a No. 8 jersey to acknowledge Bryant during the first few seconds of the game and dressed up his shoes with a heartfelt tribute as well.
The Hawks, who have endured a tough season as the worst team in the Eastern Conference, had lost three of four before setting a season scoring high. De’Andre Hunter finished with 25 points, Kevin Huerter had 18 and John Collins 16, but this game belonged to Young, who surpassed 40 points for the eighth time this season, second-most in the NBA.
Bradley Beal scored 40 for the Wizards, who dropped to 15-30.
Young was sublime in the first half, scoring 21 points, handing out 10 assists and hitting a buzzer-beater from halfcourt.
Young has said periodically during his first two NBA seasons that Bryant has helped in his career development and was his favorite player when he was growing up in Oklahoma. Young was proud that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who also died in the crash, was one of his biggest fans.
The Hawks went on a 22-5 run to begin the third quarter and led 100-77 at the 7:23 mark when Collins dunked on Young’s alley-oop pass. The lead swelled to 25 less than a minute later on Young’s 3.
Pelicans 123, Celtics 108
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Zion Williamson had 21 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Boston Celtics 123-108 on Sunday for their first victory since the rookie star joined the lineup.
Jrue Holiday had 25 points, JJ Redick scored 17 and Brandon Ingram added 16 for New Orleans, which snapped a two-game slide.
Williamson played his most minutes yet in his third game back from arthroscopic knee surgery performed the day before the regular season opened. He had played the first five or so minutes of each quarter in his first two games, but the Pelicans made an adjustment to his fourth-quarter usage to allow the NBA’s top overall draft choice out of Duke to be on the court for the final minutes Sunday.
It paid off. Williamson scored eight points in the final three minutes — highlighted by a dunk on a baseline cut as he was fouled — and the Pelicans pulled away.
Kemba Walker scored 35 points, Gordon Hayward 23 and Jaylen Brown 20 for the Celtics.
Grizzlies 114, Suns 109
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to help the Memphis Grizzlies hold off the Phoenix Suns 114-109 on Sunday night for their second straight victory.
Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks finished with 20 points each for Memphis. Kyle Anderson, who had a season-high 12 rebounds, made a two free throws with 11.3 seconds left.
Devin Booker led the Suns with 36 points, Kelly Oubre Jr. added 27 points, and Deandre Ayton finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Phoenix lost for the third time in four games.
Clippers 112, Magic 97
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 15 of his 31 points in a big third quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Orlando Magic 112-97 on Sunday night.
Leonard scored seven straight points for the Clippers in the quarter to help Los Angeles stretch a four-point lead to 10 as they pulled away to their sixth win in seven games.
Landry Shamel and Montrezl Harrell scored 19 points each fr the Clippers and Lou Williams added 15.
Leonard had 14 rebounds, leading Los Angeles to a 53-45 advantage.
Michael Carter-Williams came off the bench to lead Orlando with 15 points. Nikola Vucevic added 13 for the Magic, who have lost five of six. They shot 35.4 percent for the game.
Orlando led 37-26 after starting the second quarter on a 9-0 spurt. Williams’ three free throws started a 21-8 run that pulled the Clippers ahead, and Leonard’s scoring burst in the third quarter helped them expand their lead to 19.
The Magic didn’t get closer than seven again.
It was the Clippers’ 13th straight win over the Magic.