Let’s Play Two
Clippers and Lakers host games at Staples Center. On the same day.
And now, introducing your Los Angeles Clippers…
And now, introducing your Los Angeles Lakers…
Confused? Don’t be. It happens from time to time out here in sunny Southern California, especially when both teams play at home. On the same day, at Staples Center, mind you.
Such was the case on Sunday when the Clippers played host to the Detroit Pistons in the afternoon and the Lakers duplicated the feat against the Utah Jazz shortly thereafter, later in the evening in fact. A pair of games at the same venue in the span of nearly 12 hours.
SLAMonline was in the house for the double-header, of course. We plan on giving you an inside look, if you will, at how things played out over the course of the day and night. Here’s some of the sights and sounds. Both on, and off the court.
10:30 a.m.: Check-in for the Clippers game, beginning in two hours, is the first order of business. A walk down the stairs leads to the media room. No need to take the elevator. Lazy people do that. Reporters are scattered around and it’s surprising so many writers are in attendance considering St. Patrick’s Day was last night. Figured at least a few people would’ve enjoyed the festivities. Looks like we have some professionals in the building. No time to chop it up with the colleagues. There’s work to be done first.
10:40 a.m.: A walk down a long corridor underneath Staples Center leads to the floor. The facility’s staff has been hard at work already, given the fact the final pieces of the puzzle are in place for the Clippers’ home court. Fork-lifts are stationed nearby in the halls, however, presumably in an effort to be ready for the final seconds to tick off the clock and the process to start over again for the Lakers game.
10:50 a.m.: Bumped into Chris Paul as he came out of the trainer’s room. “Nothing’s wrong, just getting my ankles taped,” he said. Have to imagine Clipper-Nation would breathe a collective sigh of relief to have learned as much.
11:00 a.m.: Greg Monroe is out on the court well before the opening tip and working on his game. Shooting jumpers from the top of the key, some fans, Clippers of course, start to heckle him a bit. Monroe plays things off particularly well and proceeds to knock down five consecutive jumpers. The spectators are not as vocal before. Understandably so.
11:30 a.m.: Blake Griffin emerges from the locker room and is bombarded by autograph seekers. He does his best to meet everyone’s request, though it appears to be somewhat of an impossible task.
12:15 p.m.: Clippers hit the hardwood for warmups. Los Angeles native Nick Young makes his debut after a recent trade from the Washington Wizards and is received well by the crowd. Chances are, most of his cheering section is family and friends.
1:05 p.m.: Griffin flies face-first into the front row, the expensive seats even for a Clippers game, midway through the first quarter after battling for a loose ball. Two ladies get taken out in the process. Beer spills all over the place. Total party foul. Got to give some props to the dad a seat, or two, away from the melee though. He protects his daughter from the hard-charging Griffin. Clippers lead by the way, 12-8, with 6:33 left in the first quarter.
2:15 p.m.: It’s a little quiet in this place. Must be the early start time. Still, we’re in the third quarter, time for everyone to wake up. Must be due to the fact that the hometown team is playing poorly. Right on queue, Clipper Darrell makes his voice heard from Section 107 in the third quarter: “Let’s go Clippers… Let’s go Clippers… Let’s go Clippers…” The crowd joins in on the supposed fun. Nevertheless, Pistons are up 65-57 at the end of the third quarter.
2:50 p.m.: Griffin is flying again. This time through the lane and to clean up a Paul potential game-tying layup late in the fourth quarter. Griffin’s tip-in falls. We’re even, 74-74, and heading to overtime. Can’t imagine the Staples Center brass is pleased about this. The transformation process for the Lakers game later must wait. For now. At least five minutes.
3:15 p.m.: Paul is money. He’s completely taken over the extra session. A 21-footer, good. A three-pointer, good. A 17-footer, good. Two free-throws, good. A Clippers’ 87-83 victory, good. Paul finished with nine of his 19 points in overtime. He also adds 15 assists and nine rebounds. Nearly a triple-double.
3:30 p.m.: The clean-up crew starts to usher fans out of the facility. Media too? Hold on, I want to catch those fork-lifts in action, maybe take a spin in one of them. On my way to the locker rooms for interviews, it’s necessary to sneak a peek from behind the curtain underneath the first level. A minute, or two, glimpse reveals some hardwood sporting the Lakers logo being placed on top of a protective film directly over the floor the Clippers played on a few short minutes ago. Gotta get a picture of this with my smart phone. No one will believe me otherwise.
3:35 p.m.: The media patiently waits for Paul to finish up with his post-game routine. Head-to-toe in black gear, or suited-and-booted as some would say, he’s surrounded in the center of the Clippers’ locker room and begins taking questions from the throng of reporters. “Winning time,” as he calls, it is the main topic. “We only like close games,” said Paul. “We don’t believe in blowouts. You don’t get to work on as many things in blowouts.”
4:05 p.m.: Just wrapped up with the post-game stuff. Time to head back to the media room and regroup. Passing by the visitors locker room, the Jazz are sitting the hallway, waiting for the Pistons to get things together and roll out of Staples Center. Patience is a virtue, I suppose. This is a good chance to chat with Earl Watson real quick. Always good to see him. The one-time UCLA star talks about his days spent out in this neck of the woods and being in the presence of John Wooden in nearby Westwood. Stay tuned, SLAMonline will have a detailed Q+A with Watson in the next week or so.
5:15 p.m.: Word starts to spread about the court being installed and ready for the Lakers and Jazz game. Sure enough, things are in place. Andrew Bynum is going through his pre-game paces and working up a pretty good sweat. On the other end of the floor, Paul Millsap is doing the same. That cat is smooth, burying jumper after jumper. He makes everything appear so effortless. For the record, have some vested interest in Millsap tonight. Need a big game from him to win this week’s fantasy basketball league showdown against Armen Patrikian and his team, Hot Box.
6:20 p.m.: Crowd starts filing into Staples Center for the nightcap. Late as always. Cutting it short, anyway. After looking at the surroundings, one might not have ever known that close to 19,000 people were in the same place for a Clippers game earlier.
6:55 p.m.: We’re well underway here. Jazz are hanging tough without the services of Al Jefferson, and somewhat surprisingly, lead 23-20 at the end of the first quarter. Suppose matters have been helped by the fact Kobe Bryant has been ice cold.
7:45 p.m.: If not for Bynum, this game would be out of hand. He is playing with purpose and appears to be heading for a big night. After three, Lakers trail 75-69.
8:25 p.m.: With a three-point lead and less than a minute left, Millsap take the ball to the whole, converts the layup in traffic and is fouled in the act. And one. He sinks the free-throw. Jazz up five with :40 left on the clock. That’s a wrap. Lakers don’t do as well as the Clippers did earlier and lose on their home court. Or is it the Clippers home court. At this point, after a long day, who knows anymore. Suppose things could be worse, I’m not one of those poor souls who has to clean up this place. Again.
8:45 p.m.: A consummate professional, Bryant answered questions about his shooting woes from a hoard of reporters in the Lakers locker room afterward. His final line: 15 points on 3-for-20 from the field and a 1-of-6 clip from beyond the three-point arc. Can’t, forget to mention his seven turnovers.”I didn’t force anything,” Bryant said. “They were all easy looks. I only took 20 shots. It just seems like it’s one of those nights where we’re throwing the ball all over the place, couldn’t make a shot. We’ll have a game like this every now and then.”
9:15 p.m.: Computer is packed up. Heading to the ride for the long drive home. One last thing, a quick look at the goings on inside. All is well. Staples Center is clean as a whistle, seemingly ready for the next back-to-back Clippers and Lakers game.