Links: Lakers/Nets Game Notes

by February 06, 2008

by Lang Whitaker

• First of all, out of respect for Ben celebrating the Superbowl win of his favorite team and Sam celebrating the Superbowl win of his new favorite team, I didn’t post anything yesterday. They won, good for them. Meanwhile, my quarterback is in jail in Kansas and my coach is coaching a college in Arkansas.

I had to deal with some family stuff and spent the weekend assembling bookshelves and desks and various home furniture. (Aside: The person who invented the Allen Wrench should burn in hell.) So I woke up this morning at 4:30 a.m., flew to NYC, took a taxi straight to the office and spent the entire day editing stuff for SLAM 117. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon when I realized that the Lakers were playing in Jersey tonight. Hey, if I’d known in advance I’d have gone out there and done game notes from Jersey on Pau Gasol’s first game in a purple jersey. But I didn’t, so I couldn’t, so I didn’t.

But I did watch it from the comfort of my couch in the YES Network’s lovely HD.

Oh, and I took a few notes…

• The best thing about Nets games on TV? No, not Jason Kidd. Not Richard Jefferson. It’s the Nets announcing team, Marv Albert and Mark Jackson. They’re each so funny, and they work incredibly well together — my favorite announcing team in the NBA.

• Nobody has ever made the word “Stromile” sound cooler than Marv Albert does.

• Pregame interview with the least-talkative man I’ve ever interviewed, Stromile Swift. He’s a cool guy, let me spend an entire day with him Baton Rouge, took me to lunch at Hooters (he ordered crab legs, which I thought was odd at wings restaurant). My man just doesn’t have a lot to say. Nothing wrong with that.

• We should also have a moment of silence for the leaving of Jason Collins, who for the last few years here on The Links has been designated Collins the Greater. His twin brother Jarron, of course, is Collins the Lesser. They’re my favorite identical twins currently in the NBA. Collins the Greater is not exactly gone, but not seeing his blank stare every time I’m out at the Meadowlands is going to hurt. Oh wait, he really is going to be playing alongside Darko and Kwame! I’ve got to remember to start watching the Grizzlies again! And we really need to call them The Three Stooges, right?

• Nets start Kidd, Vince, Jefferson, Sean Williams and Marcus Boone. Yes, Yes, Yes, Needs To Improve, Nah. The Lakers start Fisher, Kobe, Vlad Radmanovic, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Yes, Hell Yes, Eh, Hell Yes, Hell Yes. Advantage Lakers.

• Vlad scores on a jumper off the tip. He scored so fast the Yes Network hasn’t even put the scoreboard on the screen.

• I love how hard Sean Williams runs the floor. Next time you watch a Nets game, check out how fast Williams gets up and down the court. 8-5 Nets, early.

• Kobe flips a sweet behind the back pass to Lamar, who swoops in for a dunk but misses. On his follow-through he elbows Richard Jefferson square in the jaw, like Mike Tyson his prime. RJ went down incredibly hard and stayed down for a while, as the Nets sound system played “Cantaloop.” Marv says he was “TKO’d.”

The YES Network makes a grisly parallel to the last time the Nets and Lakers played Jersey when Nenad Krstic tore his ACL, and they show us multiple replays from various angles of Nenad Krstic tearing his ACL. Gross. What is this, Faces of Death?

• Antoine Wright’s in for Jefferson, and he immediately bowls over Kobe for a charge. Would be great if he got in foul trouble.

• Kidd gets a rebound, Pau rips it and gets a dunk for his first basket as a Laker. Gets another dunk a few seconds later to put L.A. ahead 9-8. He’s gonna be a star in L.A. Looks like he could use a facial first.

• Boston Snackbar is in the game. And he’s serving some nachos tonight. You will eat them and like them.

• Gasol picks up two fouls quick and comes out of the game. Kidd is really pushing the tempo and keeping the Lakers on their heels. Then he picks a pass and, and with Kobe on his back he tries to dunk it. Kobe swats it out easily. MarkJax points out Kidd hasn’t “stuffed a basketball in over a year.” Next time down, Kidd sets up Snackbar for a three. Nets up 17-16.

• The Lakers seem to have amazing spacing on their offense. I like to think maybe it’s because Phil Jackson is employing some deep Zen philosophy that only FreeDarko could explain. Maybe it’s just good coaching.

• The Snackbar is red-hot. Another three from the corner, 9 for the game. Nachos for everyone! Jersey’s up 24-18. L.A.’s scoring in a variety of ways, making a lot of nice passes to open guys. It also helps that the Nets don’t play any defense at all.

• I don’t watch “Lost,” but Ronny Turiaf looks like he might be one of the people on it.

• Mark Jackson congratulates the Giants on their Superbowl win, saying it was, “just outstanding awesome.” He also calls out Vince Carter for complaining after a foul was called on him, and he and Marv have been openly critical throughout of the Nets’ lack of urgency in recent games. I can’t tell you how rarely you’ll hear an NBA announcer duo employed by a team be as honest as Marv and Mark are.

• At the end of the first quarter, Farmar hits a runner to make it 27-26. With 1.1 left on the clock, the Nets inbound it to Marcus Williams, who fires a full court shot over the backboard as the quarter runs out. Marv points out a lot of players won’t throw up crazy last-second shots when the clock is running out because they’re afraid of hurting their field goal percentage. Mark singles out Trent Tucker as a frequent culprit. Yes, Mark Jackson just dry snitched on Trent Tucker.

• Richard Jefferson returns to the bench with his face to’ up! MarkJax says he looks like Bonecrusher Smith. Are we going to have to start calling him Kanye Jefferson? He checks back in, even with the black eye and stitches.

• Jefferson drills a turnaround. Lamar gets to the rim and gets to the line. My man Mike Sager once said to me that Lamar Odom was almost totally “left-sided,” which I thought was a perfectly apt description. Radmanovic dunks to tie it at 33, then Gasol gets a layup to go ahead, 35-33. Kidd checks in, and as he walks the ball up the court the crowd erupts. Marv says Michael Strahan has arrived and is making his way across the floor. Strahan is not with Dr. Ian Smith.

• Odom and Gasol are a wiry tandem down in the post. Six minutes in the half and Odom has 8 boards and 4 assists.

• Whoa! Old Vince Carter just showed up! He swoops in for a dunk then pulls it down for a lay-up (that misses), like that famous MJ clip. Remember when Vince used to do that kind of stuff every night? I guess all that great stuff he did about eight years ago is somehow worth like $16 million a year now.

• Kobe somehow brushes his right pinky against Derek Fisher and has to call a timeout and leave the game, and then go to the locker room. There’s L.A.’s luck: They get Gasol and now Kobe breaks his hand.

• I didn’t even recognize Vujacic out there. What happened to him? When did he turn into Alexander Supertramp?

• And I still don’t understand how the Grizzlies could give away Gasol like that. Basically, they got two late first-round draft choices for a great NBA player and global superstar. Now they need to coax Bryant Reeves out of retirement to complete their destruction.

• You can exhale, L.A.: Kobe is back.

• So is Old Vince! He just Benga’d one on DJ Mbenga. And If I ever get to DJ at a party my name is going to be DJ Mbenga.

• Mbenga’s revenge is back-to-back lay-ins. Marv says he’s “a martial arts specialist…so don’t mess with DJ Mbenga.” No kidding.

• At the end of the quarter, with one second left, the Lakers inbound to Kobe Bryant, who does not attempt a full-court shot as the buzzer sounds. 47 all at the half, and Kobe only has 2 points. Gasol hasn’t done much either. Tonight is Lamar Odom night in Jersey. Meanwhile, Vince Carter has 16.

• Have you ever read the back of a box of Hot Pockets? If you cook one in a microwave, it takes 2 minutes. If you use an actual oven, it takes 35 minutes. Technology has just proven its worth to me.

• Mark Jackson rips into Bobby Knight for quitting on Texas Tech in the middle of the season, a really impassioned rant. MarkJax gets outraged that someone would compare even Bob Knight to John Wooden. When he finally pauses his diatribe, Marv says, “You through?”

• You know how the Nets will sell sponsorships to anyone carrying cash? They should do Lawrence Frank’s Wardrobe presented by the Young Men’s Collection from Sears.

• Gasol abuses Boone for an and one. Wouldn’t it have been cool to have been a fly on the wall when Gasol showed up and Phil had to teach him the entire Triangle offense in about two hours?

• The Lakers go up 55-49, and then Kobe draws a foul, then Snackbar rips a three. Then Kidd plucks a steal from midair, throws a fullcourt hook pass and Vince gets hacked on a dunk attempt. 57-53.

• By the way, as bad as the Nets are on the interior, Lawrence Frank still didn’t dress Stro Show because he felt he needed at least one practice with the team. Is the Nets offense really that complex?

• Here comes Kobe? He snaps in a field goal over Kidd, who responds with a three. Kobe comes back and gets doubled. Old Kobe would’ve forced a shot, but he whips it cross-court to Fisher for an open three.

• Vince earns an Oscar nomination after Odom barely touches his jersey. Then he drives on Gasol for a lay-up. Then he drives again for a reverse. Vince has come to play tonight. Then he settles for a contested three that bricks. Sigh.

• Fisher and Snackbar exchange threes. Snackbar gets a layup. You want a drink with those nachos? The Nets are playing OK, but the Lakers are staying ahead without much effort. 73-67, 1:30 to go in the third. Sean Williams hasn’t done anything tonight.

• I bet Kobe tries to speak Spanish to Pau.

• Sean Williams looks like a stretched out Jason Terry.

• Between the third and fourth quarter, the Nets let Giants player Aaron Ross operate the t-shirt cannon, which is a lifelong dream of mine.

• If you’re Lawrence Frank, every time Vince nails one of the long, tough jump shots — which he does pretty frequently — you have to have a little twinge of regret because each one is like negative reinforcement.

• Vince and Kobe face off. Kobe taps the ball away, Vince regains it, Kobe bats the ball away, Vince regains it, then, obviously embarrassed, Vince fires up a three to try and show Kobe up. He bricks it. The Lakers come back, work the ball around and get it to Gasol inside for an easy 2, putting the Lakers up 80-73, with 9:30 remaining in the game.

• YES catches a great moment: In between quarters, a kid went over and knelt down next to Kobe on the end of the L.A. bench so his dad could take a picture of the kid with Kobe. Kobe notices and, without the kid catching on, looks at the camera over the kid’s shoulder and holds up two fingers behind the kid’s head. If you’re that kid, please email me the picture so we can run it on

• The Nets have to get something going. Vince starts by driving and drawing a foul. Gasol scores, then Sean Williams gets a dunk. Then Walton gets an easy lay-up, and the Nets crowd actually boos their inability to play defense. And why isn’t Kidd in the game? This is when you’ve got to make a run, and Marcus Williams can’t make that happen.

• Kidd returns with 7:28 to go, down 84-77.

• Sasha Vujacic fouls Richard Jefferson, then packs a bag and hitchhikes to Alaska.

• Jefferson gets it going, and the Nets pull within three before Gasol rips Josh Boone (I don’t know why he was in the game) and gets an easy lay-up. Kobe hasn’t done anything tonight, and Odom’s been contained in the second half. Gasol’s en fuego right now (20 and 10) with 5:37 left. Vince hits a jumper to make it 87-83.

• While doubled, Gasol flips a blind pass over his head to Fish for a wide-open lay-up. Just wait until Gasol learns the triangle and Bynum is back. Wow. I’d jump on the Lakers’ bandwagon but Ryan Jones took the last remaining seat earlier today. As I typed that, Kobe hits a cutting Gasol for a lay-up to put the Lakers up 10 with 3 minutes left. As the Nets call a time out, Turiaf and Walton run out and give Gasol a friendly chest bump. Kobe has 6, 5 and 7, and the Lakers are easily handling the Nets. The Nets calmly collapse as the Lakers close it out to win 105-90.

• Mark Jackson says this trade makes the Lakers the team to beat in the West. I don’t agree — still think San Antonio, when full-strength, is a stronger team…but then, Kobe and Gasol just destroyed Josh Boone in a two-man game. I don’t think the Lakers are the Western Conference leaders, but they’re right there at two/three with Phoenix.