Game Notes: Lakers at Hornets
Where size matters.
by Toney Blare
– Actual tailgating going on for a Hornet game. Yes, white collar tailgating in a parking garage, but rare, nonetheless. The Hornets needed these extra games, a high note to end a tumultuous season. And kudos should go to the PR folks, who’ve plastered the city with a new slogan: “I’m In.” Reminds me of my teenage days…
– I get to the arena just in time to catch the end of Phil Jackson’s pregame. Not much in the way of questions, and as he’s about to wrap, he asks, “Anybody here from the Times-Picayune?” No one cops to that. The headline today was “Why Does He Hate Us?” Phil has a mini-history of shitting on the city and the team, in his sly, rhetorical question, Phil-type of way, most recently warning folks not to drink the water down here. He saw the headline and now asks, “What’s up with that?” Reporters jolly along with him. He’s about to break, and I’m like, no.
“If you lose this series, will you drink the water?” I ask.
“I’ll have to,” says the HOFer.
– Psssst: you know Bunk from the Wire, now on Treme? Word is he’s godawful with women. No gay rumor, just a terrible game with females. Ironic, huh?
– On the court, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher are still shooting with 45min to tip-off. A baby grand piano sits behind the two rows of baseline seats. I wish Fish could tickle some keys and Ron-Ron could lay across the piano ala Malice in the Palace, then sing about his recent award. Joe Smith could stand in the corner and smoke.
– The halls between lockers are covered with homemade signs of support from a local girls school. One reads, “David Anderson We Need Your Aussie Touch.”
– RUSH is playing the arena in June. That was my first rock concert. Yep, bought a shirt and everything. Then on the way home we got into a beef with the older dudes who drove us and I had to pull a knife to get out of the car alive. No idea why I thought I needed to bring a knife to a RUSH show, but I was right. I was 15.
– Inflatable Air Hugo the Hornet and Air Hugo, Jr. are Walking It Out at midcourt. Did I mention I’m amped?
– Hornet Pat Ewing Jr with a warm-up windmill dunk. Also amped.
– Irma Thomas sings the anthem, backed up by Allen Toussaint on piano. Royalty.
– BEAT L.A. chant is LOUD
– Might sound lame, but this is the biggest game in Emeka Okafor’s career. He gets quick 4 points in first 5min, 8-6 NO. Bad series so far, gotta come through if they have any chance.
– Lakers look a little cold. Kobe Bryant 0-3.
– I don’t know if the disdain for the refs could be any louder this early. Conspiracy theories abound.
– Lotta fouls. Not Playoff fouls, either.
– Quarter ends 18-16, L.A. Neither team shooting all that well. CP3 scoreless.
– Nice jumbotron work: shows Ohio State, Colts, Lakers, then LSU 2008, the Saints, and the Bees. Hard to think of OSU in that class, though.
– Bynum is eating Mek up.
– Cat with a neck brace is honored as Krewe Member of the Game.
– Hornets tie it up 26 all. Mamba and Pau check back in.
– This time of year, this age, Kobe’s not a lockdown defender anymore. Let it go.
– Okafor drops it over Pau Gasol. The fuck isn’t Pau more consistent?
– Kobe gets two takeaways in a row. OK, Jarret Jack is not a dynamic two guard. Let it go. KB24 gets it back on the break, 37-32, L.A.
– Somebody on NO needs to get hot soon, and it ain’t gonna be Marco Belinelli.
– ”Ugly sister” chant for LO at the line. Only two dudes chanting, but special.
– CP3 over Barnes, 40-34. Kobe throws it away on other end. Weird. Not as weird as Willie Green’s attempt at driving the hole. Half.
– I’ll just say, I’m not really that into Marc Broussard. OK.
– 9-8 Laker bench. Kobe was 4 of 10. Chris Paul has 2pts. Bynum’s 12 the difference right now.
– Reggaeton a funny choice to fire us up going into a crucial second half.
– Will Kobe make an early third quarter statement a la Game 5? Will Chris start shooting (2FGA’s in the first half)? Belinelli hits for 2.
– Great drive by Kobe, back to the backboard finish.
– Two jumpers from Pau. 46-40.
– Chris takes consecutive shots, misses both. Okafor picks up his fourth. A-Gray baby. Important stretch here.
– Bynum and Gray fight to ride each other’s slipstream down the court.
– IF you only had one rapper to provide all in-game music, who would it be? I’d pick Luda.
– One reason Chris has looked so unbelievable to those unfamiliar with his game is the absence of DWest, forcing even more creativity and making the contrast between leader and squad that much starker. Times like this, though, that automatic scorer is really missing. Sequence of bad possessions on offense.
– Then he hits Trevor Ariza on the break to cut it to 8, and Phil calls TO to bitch at LO. Always liked that Larry Brown line, “Let’s make him uncross his legs.”
– Seriously, the jumbotron has stepped it up. Just made a funny ass West Side/West Bank joke. All over “bandwagon fans.” Then two dudes appear on screen with DRose and LeBron jerseys. That’s just odd.
– Kobe has three all-stars and Derek Fisher on the court with him. Chris has Ariza, Willie Green, Jason Smith, and Mbenga. Chris takes it to the hole. 58-50. L.A.
– Crowd on their feet, then Kobe left wide open for 3.
– Weird that LO wears purple stockings.
– Kobe 13, and Pau 10 in the quarter.
– Ron Ron takes the ball off of Chris on the inbounds, hits lay-up. Fish steals from Smith, who flagrant fouls Kobe on the other end. Mamba claps his hands to the crowd, makes it 69-57. HUGE Ref You Suck chant.
– Wow it just hit me that this might be the last we see of the Hornets for awhile. Questions everywhere like inflatable tabasco sauce bottles.
– Chris will be in the whole quarter. Mamba sitting. Jason Smith for 2.
– LO for 3.
– Need to get Mbenga out of there asap. Laker bigs know him too well, like an old rebound sex pal.
– Chris’s shot is officially off tonight. L.A. up 17.
– Orlando loses. As you may know, I got noooooo love for Van Panic. Those trades were awful, but I thought they kept him a year long. Actually, two, but you can’t fire someone for their appearance in the Finals. Now they have to go into Dwight’s decision year with the whiny stache. Firing him midseason will only add to the “turmoil in the front office” excuse.
– Now Shannon Brown is heating up. Come on. Just thought about that historic Denver loss.
– Bynum is a good rebounder. Right now, every Laker is. Timeout, 82-62. People heading for exits with 7:22 to go. As a result, the least enthusiastic T-shirt gun giveaway ever.
– There’s a chick with a sign that says, “I Love Khloe Kardishian, but I’m a Hornet Fan.” Well then why the sign?
– Great, angry Chris Paul 1-on-3 drive, hits, and one. Starters back in for Lakers, LO for Bynum. They’re up 19 with 5:23 to go.
– Creepy ass King Cake baby makes an appearance. WTF.
– Carl Landry bangs Kobe’s head and the Mamba goes to his knees. Remaining fans get big kick out of this.
– Kobe fumbles a breakway, Chris hits a 3. Gasol tips back Kobe miss. Game won’t get closer, but it could get chippier. Maybe Phil pulls his starters.
– Kobe sits. That OMG song plays for some reason. I bet LeBron loves that jam.
– Ah, it’s just foul shots now.
– With 1:00 left, Monty calls timeout and the crowd gives the Hornets a teal standing O. Chris done for the night. He looks distraught, and who knows what’s running through his head. That man gave his heart and soul to this city over the last five years. “Thank you Hornets” chant now. Rookie Quincy Poindexter dunks for the final points, 98-80. The crowd really gives it up again as time runs out. Both teams exchange hugs. I see Chris’s jersey head out through the tunnel. Who knows when he’ll walk back out again?
– Unprompted, Phil Jackson admits to drinking the water earlier in the day. “I didn’t mean to.”
– Ron Artest admits to not remembering if they’d won Game 1.
– Pau Gasol admits that size matters.
– Chris Paul says it all comes down to wins and losses for him.
– The Hornets locker room is nearly empty, fairly funereal.
– The Laker locker room is business like, and the L.A. media is surprisingly joky.
– Kobe is short with his responses, a little smirky. He says he’s been in more physical series, that he’ll have to think about it, Dallas or Portland, and that no, Bynum won’t be important. “Of course, he will. He’s our defensive anchor. He’s getting better.”