OKLAHOMA CITY - The Dallas Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 107-97 Monday on a night that offered several tributes to Kobe Bryant.
It was the first game for both teams after Bryant, one of the league's all-time greats, was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
The Thunder's Chris Paul sat out for personal reasons and was reportedly in Los Angeles on Monday night. Other players, like the Mavs’ Luka Doncic, wrote the names of Bryant or crash victims on their shoes as a tribute.
There was a moment of silence in the arena during pregame introductions and images of Bryant were shown on the videoboards.
Once the game started, the Mavericks took an 8-second violation in honor of the number Bryant wore to start his NBA career. The Thunder then took a 24-second shot clock violation in honor of the number Bryant wore later. After the two violations, the scoreboard clock read 11:24, and the 24-second clock below it had been reset to show 24 seconds.
After the game, Doncic tweeted that it was “by far the hardest game I ever had to play.”
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said during pregame that playing hard Monday night would be an appropriate way to honor Bryant.
“Yesterday was very difficult for everyone in the NBA family,” Carlisle said. “It’s an unfathomable loss. You’re talking about a guy who was a cultural icon, one of the greatest athletes to ever play in any sport. And a guy who over a two-decade period pushed everybody to a higher level.”
Members of both coaching staffs wore purple and gold ribbons (Lakers colors) provided by the Thunder.