Game Notes: Lakers at Hornets
L.A. looks older. Darren Collison looks invincible.
by Toney Blare
– Before the game, I had to walk from my office near the Arena to the French Quarter to retrieve a bicycle (long story). I was impressed by the healthy smattering of Laker fans, who both travel and enjoy the sunny gutter of Bourbon Street.
– Outside the arena, about 50 percent of the crowd is rocking L.A. Gear. OK, L.A. gear. Onstage at the Fan Fest, the young lady who hypes the Hornet crowd every game describes some of the in-game attractions we can expect tonight. “What about that Black Mamba?” a guy yells from the back.
– As a Steeler fan, I pause to ponder the resilient popularity of the Kobe jersey, the way sexual assault charges fade from America’s view, and the socialization of a star athlete. I told my brother yesterday I’d almost vote against Obama next time just so Steeler owner Dan Rooney would come back from his ambassador post in Ireland and set sh*t straight.
– The PA plays that “I Wanna Rock” Snoop Dog/Jay track, the one where Jay quotes Master P. Yeah, why does Snoop always introduce himself like he’s at a freestyle, I.e., “yeah, yeah…,” name the other rappers on the track, give love, etc.? We know you’re on the track, so go ahead and spit your middle aged lines about strippers and move on.
– Mo-Pete drops a 3 off of a Marcus Thornton pick of Kobe. On his third catch from CP3, Emeka Okafor finally converts, 5-2 Hornets.
– Thornton covers Kobe, who is free to post up and wait for the open man with impunity, hitting Gasol over and over. The Spaniard scores the first 12 points for L.A. against maybe the worst interior defense in the West.
– Down 17-16 in a meaningless game at the tail of the season, PJ calls time out and screams on his team. I am a huge Phil Jackson fan, mostly because of the way he’s handled these last few years when he might’ve been counting his buffalo.
– Hornets Drumline got a lot better, Aggrey.
– Collison vs. Farmar in a UCLA teammate re-match. DC buries a 3, 23-21 NOLA, quarter ends with them up 27-22.
– During the break, there’s a McDonald’s themed race. Did you hear about the group trying to force Ronald McDonald into retirement? RM should book a timeshare on Dumaine and Bourbon and live life.
– Chris and Collison bury 3s. I guess, aside from the point god’s competitive streak, Chris is out there for these last few games so the team can watch him play with Collison. I still think it’s a lot of minutes and a lot of losing efforts that can only infuriate the Man. We’ll see.
– Because every 3 movies made are now filmed in New Orleans, Bruce Willis is in the house. After introducing him, the PA cues up Welcome to the Jungle. Ron-Ron gets a big kick out of this synthesis, and could very well explode, so suitable is he to this combo. He makes the three on his forth try from deep. Has Ron-Ron filled his potential? Is he noticeably older? Will he keep jackin’ in the Playoffs?
– If I were Aaron Gray, I’d stay out of frat bars in smalltown Georgia for awhile.
– You give me a minute, I’ll hit a lay-up, FT, a 3, and a half-court shot NOT to get a lifetime supply of 7UP.
– Predictably enough, Kobe seems to be taking the coverage by a rookie very personally. I know we’re all supposed to admire his Team First conversion and the ring without Shaq, but don’t you sometimes think the rest of the dudes just got better, and, whenever he feels like it, the Kobester throws a fit on the triangle and tries to prove small points? No?
– During a break, about 20 middle aged white guys in short shorts and red vinyl jackets dance to the Ying Yang Twins in front of Bruce Willis.
– Mary Louise Parker and Steeler Ryan Clark are here to watch the half end, 50-42 Hornets. Didn’t see ANY of that coming.
– Your man Trombone Shorty is in the house, just a few seats down from Wendell Pierce. N.O. royalty shows up for the Mamba.
– If you play center and can catch and jump, you can get 15 a game with Chris Paul. “Can” is the operative term.
– At this point, the promotions department is very close to offering an evening with Julian Wright to most people who by a scratch-off lottery ticket. He may be the most accessible non-factor in history.
– Chris and Kobe are doin’ work on the ref at the same time. TV should evolve to a point where the camera and sound focus on exchanges like this during timeouts and free throws. Wouldn’t that be a million times more informative and entertaining?
– Kobester hits a tough bank shot. I think the game shows how bored the Lakers are, and how long the season is. If this game mattered even a little bit, the champs would look different. As it is, they’re throwing up 3’s and exaggerating their defensive intensity against an undersized 2 guard.
– A lot of minutes for Chris, who now decides to cover Kobe, just five days after doing the same against LeBron. Really, this is worth the risk?
– The thin strip of scoreboards above the lower bowl become a roulette wheel. If the ball stops on your section, the NBA has no gambling issues. Seriously, what if Donaghee was the Jose Canseco of the L?
– Ron Ron gets blocked and, yes, looks old.
– Songalia looks better than Okafor, and if you have to trade West and put Darius next to Okafor, giving the latter more shots, you might not miss Dave as much as you think.
– Gasol is frustrated, has 23 and 17 (yes, 17).
– Collison runs the length of the floor for an incredible lay-up, drawing contact from Pau. Quarter ends, 77-65, Bees.
– Look at the Mamba in the 4th quarter of a meaningless game against a wounded opponent. Jumper good; lay-up onto his back good, and 1; misses a 3; draws a foul on Posey. Been said before, but no one since Jordan takes it quite as seriously, quite as personally, at least no one with All-World talent.
– Can’t say enough about Collison, the best thing about the season along with Thornton, and maybe more so. A skinny guy who might’ve been pushed right out of the League, he seized the chance of working with Chris and then taking his place after CP3’s injury. He should at least get some ROY votes. No idea how that plays out next year, that said.
– Suddenly (OK, with Ron and Pau on the bench), Okafor is all over the boards, with a put back and tip in and some big grabs.
– Kobe comes back in with 5:44 left, Hornets up 87-81. Chris back in, too. I think he stashes his mouthpiece in his sock when he sits. In general, Chris seems to spend more time messing with his mouthpiece than any player I’ve seen.
– Farmar hits a three from Kobe. Ron-Ron misses one. 89-84 Hornets and the paint is wide open anytime L.A. feels like it, which I guess they don’t, being bored and all.
– James Posey does some ref suckering, then steps into a 3 like, well, like he was being paid a boatload to hit that shot. 96-86.
– Kobe and Chris wrestle at one end, no call. Thornton shoots FTs while the All-Stars yap at the refs. 100-93 Hornets.
– Cue up the Ying Yang Twins, and say goodbye to Bruce Willis with :38 seconds to go.
– 108-100 final. Kobe finishes with 31. Ron-Ron was 1-8 from long range. Gasol had 22 rebounds. The Collison-Thornton-Paul trio accounted for 50 points, and CP3 had 13 assists. Good to see streamers fall in this building this season. It might not mean a thing, but one last good win in front of the home crowd can’t hurt.