Friday, October 12, 2007

Lakers warriors preseason, Thursday night, 10/11/07 at the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii in beautiful Manoa. Traffic to the game was bumper to bumper on the freeway basically from when I got on right off of the Pali Highway to where I got off at Bingham (the exit before University, where people not in “the know” like myself all waited in an even more horrendous line, to the point where people were standing outside vehicles talking story to one another). I scooted down the side street that runs along the freeway and parked in the lot down the street, where there were plenty spots, the only requirement being $3 shoved into a lockbox. Cross the street and down a backroad under the overpass and voila you are on campus and there’s the arena. You really needed to know this. Ok, maybe not.

In any event, I got there, albeit late. I ran the whole way from the car, I mean, how often you gonna get to see NBA in Hawaii, I didn’t want to miss any more than I had to, sweat dripping the first 10 minutes be it as it would be. Grammar police, we’re looking at you.

By the time I got into the arena and started perusing the action, there was about 5 minutes left in the first quarter. Not too bad. Stephen Jackson was still in, although he wouldn’t be much longer. I think he hit a three. No major drama out of Jax that I saw. I don’t know if Baron Davis played at the beginning, but he didn’t play any of the game that I saw. Neither did Biedrins, nor Montay Ellis.

People that got a LOT of burn in this game for the warriors: Troy Hudson, he of the 20 copy selling rap CD, Marco Belinelli, the rookie out of the Italian Leagues (he looked good, he’s quicker than you’d think, and he can shoot), Barnes got a decent amount of time, and played pretty well. Al Harrington didn’t play a second. The rookie Brandon Wright played sparingly, he looked a little lost, but you can see the potential.

I’m kind of getting all over the place. I forgot to bring my camera, in my rush out the door, but I did remember my digital recorder, and I recorded a ton of random observations as I was watching, so I guess I’ll go through them and take some cues thereby, putting a little straighter stream into this consciousness.

Ok, 4:33 was left in the first when I sat down. It was 18-16 Lakers. The first thing I noticed, aside from Azabuke (please forgive my continued throughout this treatise of misspelling his name 5 different ways) shooting free throws, was Chris Mullin sitting courtside opposite the Warriors bench. Nice to be in the same building as a dream teamer. Moving on. As for Azubouke (again, I will continue to butcher this), Kelenna had himself a nice game too, LOTS of burn. He’s got mad energy, he can run, he’s a decent shooter, he just plays balls out at all times. If he doesn’t get moderate minutes with the Dubs this year, you’d think he’ll catch on somewhere. It’s a tough league, but I think he’ll be around for a while.

Derek Fisher was hitting a few threes in the early going. Nice to see Fish in a laker uniform again. I’m not a laker fan, but as an angeleno it’s hard not to have a soft spot for such a key cog of all those title teams, especially when during that run of three straight lakeshow championships the clips (surprise!) were nowhere cognizant to be seen, so I didn't feel much guilt taking at least a modicum of satisfaction in their success. I guess Fish had to go back to LA (or some bigger city, and LA was apparently his preference) as Salt Lake didn't have the required medical facilities for his daughters rare eye condition (as the father of two little girls, I got his back on that one)

I get a strange kick out of the Warriors, and it's nothing to do (although it didn't hurt) with their playoff run last season. I watched a lot of them the 4 years I was in Berkeley, starting just after Run TMC (when they had idiotically just traded Mitch Richmond for Billy Owens) and running through the whole Chris Webber debacle. Billy Owens. Where in the hell is Billy Owens? Anyway, both these teams are a distant fourth fiddle to the clippers on my radar, but I’m an NBA junkie. Like the bums rifling through the day old bagels in the alley, I check, I’m aware, I check.

Kobe blew a breakaway layup in the first and got a chorus of boos from the crowd. Before Farmar checked in toward the end of the first, they were having Kobe run the point. Wonder how much we’ll see of that this year. Aside from Farmar and Crittendon, who else besides Kobe would they have run the point? As many problems (and they were rampant) as there were with Smush Parker’s game, you at least got the feeling you were in semi-veteran hands, but you don’t get that with either of these guys. I do like Farmar’s game though, and Crittendon is intriguing. He’s long and very athletic, and handles the ball well. Kobe’s a good creator, but it just doesn’t make sense to me to have him at the point if you don’t have to. I guess they’ll put the ball in Odom’s hand a good amount, although I don’t know if he’ll ever be the pippen to Kobe’s Jordan. OK, I’m rambling again. Odom by the way, in street clothes for this one.

Azabuke really was all over the place in this game. Three pointers, a nice alley oop jam (not a riotous throwdown, but pretty nonetheless). Sasha Vujacic now has the same hairdo as the guy from High School Musical, stealing Vlad Radmanovic’s look (who’s now got a buzzed head). Vlad played quite a bit in this game, and shot pretty well. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the Lakers are hoping to get from Sasha Vujacic, maybe I’m missing something.

Don Nelson got a little jesftul crap from the media for wearing an Aloha shirt with a jacket over it in the first game (Tuesday). He still had the jacket on, but no aloha shirt this time. Don Nelson has a huge gut. It looks solid, like you could set things on top of it and forget about them for a while. Must be all that beer, said the guy who took care of two 32 ouncers last night (not to mention the two 12 ouncers before leaving the house). Yeah, I was feeling good by the time the 4th quarter rolled around. Don’t worry, my bodyguard drove.

Troy Hudson, who I love calling T-Hud, seemed like he played the whole game. There’s a big bald white guy, who I think is Pat Burke, playing for the Warriors now. Kobe continued to get booed here and there throughout. Then, however, when they wouldn’t bring him back after midway through the third, spatterings of a “we want Kobe” chant echoed through the building. It didn’t happen. He did play a good amount though. A lot the first, most of the 2nd, and maybe half of the third. Nice to give the people what they want (although I would have loved to see Baron play a bit, too).

Koby Karl played a good amount for the Lakers. Coach (now of Denver) George Karl’s son, he’s a bit familiar with the Stan Sheriff, as he played his college ball at Boise State, who as a WAC member comes out to Honolulu once a year to play the Warriors. The rainbow warriors of UH, that is. He seems like a hustle guy, actually pretty athletic too. At one point he skied to block a driving layup from Matt Barnes which got the crowd going. He also had a really nifty behind the back pass while driving to the basket to a cutting Radmanovic who threw down a quick dunk.

Vlad Radmanovic played quite a bit too. He can still shoot the hell out of the rock. Putting aside his crappy “snowboard” year last season, I think he’ll be much better in 07-08. I still am not convinced that Tim Thomas was an upgrade in the clipper rotation. You look at Vlad and don’t see a rebounder, a defender, a banger, but from what I’ve seen, he does all three at least as well as Tim Thomas (depending on which edition of TT is in the building that night) and if I had to bet on one or the other in a three point shooting contest, my money’s on the hairy eastern European.

Pietrus got in the game for maybe 20 minutes? (I haven’t looked at the box score) Biedrins didn’t see any burn that I noticed. Bryan Cook played some, and so did Andrew Bynum. Bynum fascinates me. The first three times he touched the ball, he just looked so clumsy, losing it in about 2 seconds, going up for a layup and completely shanking it, but I’ve seen him other times look like a 7 foot ballerina out there. It’s gotta be maddening as an NBA GM (especially one under the microscope like Kupchak) and have this possible prodigy that you just can’t see parting with, but at the same time you have no solid idea of what he’ll really develop into. He could be a future Shaq, he could be a future Jon Konkak, I’d really not be too shocked at either outcome.

Kobe had one really nice 180 (maybe 220) reverse jam, the result of a veritable turnstile that suddenly opened up in the Warrior defense, toward the end of the first half. Definitely the highlight of the night, brought the crowd to its feet. T-Hud responded 2 seconds later with a three pointer. Not sure if anyone besides myself noticed. T-Hud. I just like saying it. T-Hud.

At one point I pondered how it was kind of cool to see two of the greatest coaches ever (Nelson and Phil Jackson) in the same building. Although it was preseason, it was interesting to see these two guys get so intense, always coaching, always pushing, especially in the huddles. Such different styles, but wow the results. Although Nelson has no titles (as a coach) he’s 2nd in wins (behind Lenny Wilkins?), and Phil’s resume, with its 9 titles, well, speaks for itself. You wonder (at least I do) if it’ll be Rambis or Bryan Shaw taking over when Phil sails into the sunset, or if they’ll bring someone from outside. Kurt Rambis has put in so many years, you think it would be a nice justice, but the NBA is hardly about justice, it’s about success. I think he deserves a shot, though. As long as he wears the goggles.

Kwame Brown didn’t play at all, not sure if he was suited up or in street clothes. Right before the end of the 1st half, Luke Walton and Pat Burke (?) went diving to the floor fighting each other for a rebound. Luke came up shaking and rubbing his wrist. He shot a couple free throws and there was no time left. I’m trying to remember if he played at all in the 2nd half.

During halftime, there was a contest between two fans to see how many shots they could make. One of the guys kept his backpack on and shot about 4 airballs in a row from the free throw line. Then he started shooting them granny style, and made a couple. The other guy won. What level of embaressement is that, when your airballing not one, but four free throws wearing a backpack in front of 8,000 basketball fans. Why are you even at a basketball game if you can’t shoot a free throw properly? I mean, if he was in a wheelchair or blind I might understand, but, hmmm, and he didn’t even seem ashamed, as the laker girls escorted him off the court with fake smiles and crocodile tears (okay, no crocodile tears, but for some reason it sounded like a nice phrase to end the paragraph with).

Matt Barnes had his 5th personal foul with only 9 minutes left in the 3rd. Azabukke continued his nice play, jams, jumpers, hustle. Patrick Obryan got a bit more burn in the third. He looks clumsy, but long. Wasn’t able to really glean much about him from the night’s proceedings. His stints were short and unremarkable, at least in my eyes. Funny how I think I read somewhere this morning that he got player of the game? Maybe that was game one. Or maybe I was drunk and thought he was another person. Oh well. Sorry Patrick O’Bryant, if I failed to recognize your brilliance.

Nice to see Chris Mihm back healthy again. He had a few nice buckets and was active on the glass. He’ll never be some huge power in the league, but he’s decent at the lunchpail big man stuff.

It’s kind of fun, liberating, to watch a basketball game and pay virtually no attention to the score. Even watching teams you don’t care about during the regular season, you’re always keeping an eye on the score. At least from my eyes, it was totally irrelevant in this game. The only time it would matter, I’d think, is if it’s still close at the end, then obviously it’s fun to see who can win. But it’s all about seeing what each team has, getting players that you’re not sure about some decent burn, getting your stars out there, if you’re so inclined, to give the fans a show, and making sure no one (especially no solid rotation guys) get hurt. The Tuesday nite game, I guess, came down to the wire. This one did not. By the start of the 4th, the Warriors were already up almost 20, so the game ended in whimpering fashion. Still interesting to watch, though.

At 3:09 left in the third, Austin Croshere entered the game, to my complete shock. So did Andrew Bynum for the first time (that I had seen.) Croshere’s game isn’t absolutely horrible or anything, but I find myself wondering how Larry Bird and Rick Carlisle sold themselves that he was the 2nd coming. Of what, I don’t know. At one point he threw up an airball three pointer last night. Bynum’s first three times touching the ball were turnover, offensive foul, offensive foul. Austin Croshere’s hair frightens me.

As good as Azabukke looked, it bears mentioning that three of Nellie’s main rotation guys (Baron, Montay Ellis, Al Harrington) didn’t play AT ALL, and Stephen Jackson maybe played five minutes. I guess the lesson is, enjoy it Kellena, as you enjoy me butchering your name in 8,000 ways, because you’ll have to play your ASS off to get minutes in this lineup once the actual season starts. I think he’ll come off the bench, I’d be surprised if he sits the whole year, but I think Nellie will be trying to get Belinelli more time, and that may come at Azaboucke’s expense.

Havin’ a roni Turiaf played a bit. He’s a good hustle guy, always seems to change the energy of a game toward the lakers’ favor. Kinda reminds me of the clippers’ (well, formerly of the clippers) James Singleton. Pat O’Bryant did throw a nice alley oop up for Azzabookie with almost 5 minutes left in the game, so there’s something good that he did for the record. OK, now my recorder’s telling me that I may have been confused (drunk) and it could have been the rookie Brandon Wright. Not sure how much more useful information is in this thing. But it does indicated a nice symmetry, because with 5 minutes left, there wasn’t a lot of useful information in the game either, which indicates this may be a nice spot to wrap things up. “No one of any substance is coming back into this charade.” Yes, I’m quoting myself. And I’m noticeably slurring. I find it mildly depressing that the Warriors had to jettison Jason Richardson.

Dare I quote myself again? For the Lakers, “the mysterious #3 blocks a Belinelli jumper. Who is this guy? He hasn’t done anything outstandingly substantive, but he hasn’t sucked.” #3’s name is Patterson. I figured this out after I moved way down into the bottom section after the crowd had thinned out. A mysterious #4 then came in for the Warriors. There were a lot of mysterious # such and suches at this point. If a regular season game has garbage time, then what was this, hazmat time?

This seems as good a place as any to wrap this up. After the buzzer sounded, a small dustup occurred about 15 feet away from me. Some poor guy accidentally, apparently, spilled a little girl on some lady, so of course her psychotic genitally challenged husband had to throw his whole half a beer on the guy and then push and shove and loudly challenge while the crowd stared uncomfortable. It frittered away because the guy with beer all over him played the bigger man (although he was much smaller) and said it had been an accident. Of course Mr. Small D had to keep puffing his chest out and bitch and moan and make sure everyone knew how tough he was, saying “my wife, brah, you spilled beer on my wife. My wife.” Ok, man, she’s your wife, congrats, let’s go home champ, sleep it off, you’re the king of rock. Good night gracie. It’s just preseason, save the beer tossing and false crack fantasies for the real games. Hasta la vista.

I had a great time. Go clips. If you actually read this whole thing, get in touch with my agent, you’re the next contestant on the price is right. Aloha.


Anonymous Frances said...

When you watch live sports games, you'll definitely need to pass through a security turn stile.

11/28/2012 8:30 PM  

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