Kobe takes bow as Philly, for once, shows him love

For a few seconds the Wells Fargo Center went dark and grew deafening Tuesday night, and when the lights had come back on and the sellout crowd's ovation had subsided and the echo of the public-address announcer's voice had faded, Kobe Bryant emerged a young man again.
There were boos, of course, inspired of that lingering and ironic resentment over a Lower Merion kid and Lakers great who seemed to cherish his Philadelphia roots only on those occasions he plotted to cut out the city's and the 76ers' hearts. But there was no way Bryant could hear them. The love for him was too loud, too long, too overwhelming, and in a sweet moment to savor during his 20th, his final, and probably his hardest season in the NBA, Bryant let it all wash over him, then turned it into fuel for the fleeting promise of one more transcendent night.
He came off a screen and flushed his first shot, a three-pointer from the top of the key. Then he hit his second, another three. He missed a mid-range shot, watched rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell corral the rebound and chest-pass the ball back to him, and drilled another three. All this, in the game's first 90 seconds, in his first game since announcing that he would retire at season's end, in his last game in his hometown. Had Bryant kept up that pace, the ghost of John Updike would have had to write the game story.
He did not keep it up. He could not. He missed 18 of his final 22 shots. He finished with 20 points as the Sixers ended their 28-game losing streak, 103-91, continuing the pattern that has played out over his 14 games this season: lots of shots, lots of misses, lots of remembrances of who he used to be - the five championships, the two scoring titles, the 2008 MVP award - and no longer is.