Links: The Links Goes To Hawaii, Day 4

by October 12, 2007

by Lang Whitaker

Woke up this morning at 8:00 a.m. with a splitting headache, which is always fun. I stumbled down to — wait for it — Starbucks, and as it turned out, three Advil and a grande coffee were just the remedy.

I spent all day holed up in my hotel room, sending emails, making calls, transcribing stuff and writing. The maid kept banging on my door and asking if she could clean my room, I guess because I’ve had the Do Not Disturb thing on my door the entire time I’ve been here. They probably were thinking I had either a dead body or pricey sports memorabilia stolen from OJ Simpson in my room. To get the woman off my back — which is eerily reminiscent of being married, actually — I told her she could have at the room at 1:00 p.m.

I took a break then and walked to downtown Waikiki, where I grabbed lunch and copped a Colt Brennan t-shirt. Then went back and watched the baseball playoffs before heading to the game.

I made another trip to Starbucks in the afternoon and ran into Andrew Bynum. Andrew was a little peeved that they didn’t have any pound cake. I realized after we left that I should’ve taken a picture so I could make a sequel to last year’s Quizno’s With Andrew Bynum post.

On the way to the game I was interviewed by the local ESPN Radio station. They asked me if it was true I had a dog named Starbury — I guess they checked my Wikipedia page that one of you guys made — and I told them I did. I used the line someone sent me for use on The Links years ago that after we took Starbury from the pound, all the dogs who were left behind started playing well together and getting along. Thanks to whoever sent that in a while ago.

Let’s get to it…

• I wonder how many players have gotten lei’d since they’ve been here?

• One hour before tipoff, Baron Davis was out on the floor shooting three-pointers over Warriors assistant coach Steve Silas. While I was watching, Baron hit 20 of 25.

• In the Lakers locker room, Lamar Odom was leading a discussion of the baseball playoffs. He knew the Rockies had won earlier in the day, and he said he doesn’t think the Rockies keeping their baseballs in a humidor would bother Boston if they make the Series because the Ortiz/Manny combo can hit no matter where they are.

• Also, Lamar’s haircut is pretty remarkable. His head is completely shaved, except for a couple of stars on the back, one on each side. it’s like Drew Gooden’s ducktail multiplied by two and crossed with a planetarium. I tried to get a picture but if you pull out a camera in the locker room, lightning will strike.

I told Lamar he should grow a new star for every big play he makes, so his head would be like a football helmet. He seemed intrigued by the idea.

• Oh, before the game we were talking about breaking backboards in the locker room, and I asked Kobe if he’d ever broken a backboard. Twice, he said. One was a wooden backboard “so that doesn’t really count,” and the other was a glass backboard when he in 9th or 10th grade. He said the basket must’ve been ready to go because he “couldn’t have weighed more than a buck-twenty.”

• Jerry Buss is back courtside and he’s once again sitting next to an unusually lovely young lady, the same as he was next to the other night.

• Tonight the part of Phil Jackson is being played by Sir Ian McKellan.

• The Lakers pulled the old rookie trick on Javaris Crittenton tonight, allowing him to lead the layup line out from the locker room and then holding everyone else back, so Crit ran out all alone all the way out to halfcourt and ended up just standing there, forlornly dribbling the ball. The rest of the Lakers came seconds later, all cracking up.

• During lay-up lines, Kobe raised things up a notch by throwing an alley-oop to himself and throwing down a tomahawk reverse, Fred Jones-style. Then the next time through he tossed another self-oop and windmilled it home. Javaris Crittenton followed that with a 360, but Kobe won the informal dunk contest easily.

• The pregame welcome to the crowd came from Vlad Radmanovic, who did a credible job welcoming everyone.

• Warriors starting lineup tonight is Fishbone Barnes, Brandan Wright, Patrick O’Bryant, Stephen Jackson and Kelenna Azubuike. Strange crew there.

• The Lake Show goes with the more conventional five of Luke Walton, Ronny Turiaf, Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant.

• Tonight’s refs are Jim Clark, Junior Nunez and Gary Zielinski, auto parts king.

• How long will it take before Phil Jackson puts in Coby Karl and goes with the Coby/Kobe backcourt?

• Brandan Wright looks tiny out there, like a two-guard or something. He can’t weigh over 200 pounds.

• Someone on the floor is covered in Ben Gay, because I can smell overwhelming whiffs of it each time the action is in front of me.

• With the Lakers up 4-3 early, Turiaf goes to the line. As his free throw is in the air, he exclaims, “Sh*t!” The ball swishes through.

• Bynum’s wearing gray socks tonight.

• Sometimes Turiaf is too vocal for his own good. After a made basket, Turiaf tried to guard the G-State inbounds pass. He turned upcourt and yelled, “Get mine, Drew! Get mine, Drew!” He was hoping Bynum would pick up his man, Patrick O’Bryant. Well, the Warriors threw it in and, realizing nobody had picked up O’Bryant yet, Fishbone Barnes threw it the length of the floor to an unguarded O’Bryant for an O’Dunk.

• Five minutes in and nobody’s playing any defense at all. 14-10, Lakers. Though according to the scoreboard, Bynum has 5, Turiaf has 3 and Fisher has 7. Isn’t that 15? This Hawaiian exchange rate is nuts. (Macadamia, I suppose.)

• My two favorite Irish players in the NBA right now are Pat Burke and Patrick O’Bryant. Shaquille O’Neal is up there, too.

• Turiaf and Kobe run a pick and roll on the left side of the court, and as Turiaf rolls to the rim, Kobe throws him a bounce pass through the legs. Turiaf misses the shot.

• O’Bryant and Matt Barnes score back to back to tie it at 14.

• Jim Clark has warns Turiaf to tuck in his shirt for the second time in about five minutes. You’d think a French guy would be a better dresser. You’d think wrong.

• Eight minutes into the first and Kelenna Azubuike has followed up his 27-point Game One performance with 0 points and 2 fouls.

• Kobe catches on the right wing and gets doubled. He passes up top to Brian Cook, who holds it for a second and thinks about shooting — you can actually see the thought developing in his head. Cook eventually decides to swing it on around, and as he releases the pass, Kobe yells, “Shoot it!” The ball ends up in the hands of Fisher, who drains a three from the corner.

• With three minutes to go in the first, Chris “McRib” Mihm and Jordan Farmar check in. Sometimes I’m glad I’m not a Lakers fan.

• They just showed one of those videos on the scoreboard where a player goes through his likes and dislikes. During this segment, we learn that Chris Mihm’s favorite desert is crème brulee.

• Stephen Jackson has played point guard the entire game, and with 2 minutes to go the Warriors are down 27-23. I guess Baron’s not playing tonight, though he’s in uniform on the bench.

• Just after I write that sentence, Pat Burke checks in and the Warriors go on a 7-0 run to end the quarter. After one, G-State leads 30-27. Kobe and Baron have combined for 2 points and 2 shots. And Baron hasn’t even played.

• Video time: Sasha Vujacic says, “My favorite book is Nostradamus.” Funny, because two of my favorite books are John Irving and Truman Capote.

• The Lakers start the second quarter with Radmanovic, Cook, Mihm, Farmar and Vujacic — five white guys in athleticism, if not actual ethnicity.

• Stephen Jackson catches on the wing and faces up against Vujacic. When Jax looks down and sees Vujacic, his eyes light up. He pulls out his nine, screams “Thug Life” and empties the clip, then drives in for a basically uncontested layup.

• Troy Hudson checks in for Stephen Jackson and gets a nice hand, I guess because the fans appreciate that game-winner he nailed two nights ago. Either that or the people of Hawaii appreciate entrepreneurial hip-hop.

• Vujacic pops a three from the corner to give the Lakers a 35-28 lead. Belinelli hits a layup to make it a five point game with 8:52 in the second. Time out.

• Phil Jackson is pissed about something. He tells referee Zielinski, “You missed it the first time, the second time you just didn’t call it.”

• 7:12 to go in the second, and Phil Jackson actually does insert the Kobe/Coby tandem. The Lakers turn it over and Coby forgets to guard Belinelli, who nails a wide-open three. Next time down, Coby is called for illegal defense. He gets really upset about this and blames it all on Gary Payton.

• The Warriors slide Belinelli to the point. he dribbles down and straight jacks a three. Misses. Like the guts, though.

• Larry Turner checks in for the Lakers. I don’t know who he is either.

• Coby skies and tries to block a shot from Barnes, but he crashes hard to the floor and lands flat on his back.

• Kobe breaks free and smashes a one-handed reverse in traffic. 47-41, G-State.

• As Kobe goes to the line for two free throws, Belinelli says something to him in Italian. Kobe smiles and yells something back at him, also in Italian.

• On the next possession, Belinelli is called for palming the ball. I wonder if Belinelli told Kobe, “Watch me get called for palming the ball on the next play.” And Kobe responded, “I’d like to see that!”

• Coby Karl is an interesting player. He’s almost completely a complimentary player, meaning he plays off of everyone else and sets guys up pretty well. Actually, he’d be a good fit in Denver. With the Lakers he plays basically the same role as Luke Walton.

• The Warriors throw a 2-3 zone at the Lakers. The Lakers aren’t sure what to do, so they pass it around and end up bricking a long jumper. The next time down Kobe gets the ball and just dribbles through everyone and gets fouled.

• Uh-oh! Kobe leads a break and pauses around the free throw line, and Pat Burke(!) pokes it loose. Kobe Bryant can’t handle Pat Burke!

• There’s a Stephane Lasme loose on the floor for Golden State.

• On the next possession there’s a loose ball, and Burke and Luke Walton both dive for the ball. Burke ends up taking out Walton and gets charged with a foul. “Too much WWE,” he announces.

• Halftime, and the Warriors lead 63-56. No Biedrins, Harrington or Baron, apparently. As they walk off the court, Harrington makes eye contact with me and I shrug and point to the court and then my watch. He smiles back and shrugs as well. Fishbone Barnes leads all scorers with 13. Pietrus has 10 points as well. Kobe has 8 on 1 of 7 shooting, with 5 turnovers.

• Man Law: Any time a man approaches a urinal, before he begins to urinate he has to spit in the urinal first.

• Chris Mihm begins the second half with an open dunk attempt. As he gathers himself and goes up, Pietrus slides in and there’s a huge collision in midair, a clash of the…well, anything other than titans.

• With 9:32 to go in the third, Matt Barnes picks up his fifth foul Nellie makes no attempt to sub him out.

• Here comes Kobe. He starts with a reverse layup, then an assist to a cutting Mihm. Then Turiaf runs through a Fishbone Barnes pick and cracks knees with him, sending Barnes to the floor clutching his knee. By way of apology, Turiaf jogs over and awkwardly pats him on the shoulder a few times, like you’d do with a dog that you’re not sure is friendly or not. Turiaf then catches a long rebound and dunks it and comes up lame. Fishbone must’ve cursed him.

• 8:20 to go in the third and it’s time for the Laker Girls to do the Soulja Boy. Crank that, Soulja Boy. I was half expecting to see Stephen Jackson doing it on the Warriors bench.

• Kelenna Azubuike solos up on the wing against Kobe. Kobe is getting into a defensive stance when Azubuike flies by him and to the rim. As he soars toward the basket, Kobe goes, “Aw, sh*t!” Azubuike creates contact and gets to the line.

• The Warriors make basketball look so easy, even when it’s not their starters in the game. They space the floor, move the ball, take every open jumper.

• Something happens to Pietrus and he immediately comes up lame. The Warriors take a 20, and the trainer, Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis all sprint out to check on him. I too far away to hear what’s going on, but Pietrus says something and Baron and S-Jax completely lose it and start laughing, so much so that Jackson pulls his warmup jacket up over his mouth. Pietrus limps back to the locker room. I think it must be the dreaded “lower abdominal strain.”

• G-State is up 83-69, by the way, and their regular starting five has played a combined 13 minutes (all from Stephen Jackson to start the game).

• Luke Walton dumps it underneath to Chris Mihm, who dunks on Patrick O’Bryant. Mihm misses the free throw and Brian Cook grabs the rebound, spins and shoots an airball. Why am I here?

• 3:32 to go in the third and it’s 88-75. You know who’s winning. Kobe has 11. So does Chris Mihm.

• At halfcourt during a timeout, a “lucky” fan is presented with an autographed authentic Luke Walton jersey. She seems really excited about it, too, despite it being an autographed authentic Luke Walton jersey.

• Three of the Laker Girls are taller than referee Tommy Nunez, Jr.

• It’s Croshere time! He’s been in Hawaii for a week and he’s still so white you can see blood flowing through his veins.

• The Lakers run the play where they throw it in to Bynum in the post, he turns around and bowls someone over and picks up an offensive foul. They should call that play “Eddy Curry.”

• Ha! The next time down the Lakers run “Eddy Curry” for Bynum again. Andrew executes it flawlessly for his fourth personal foul.

• Belinelli tries to drive on Vujacic, and Vujacic flops wildly to the ground. It’s so obviously fake that I’m hoping Jim Clark will show him a red card. After Belinelli goes unabated to the basket and scores, Phil Jackson yells, “Sasha!” Vujacic looks over at him and PJ points to the spot on the floor where the flop occurred and gestures as if to say, What the hell was that?

• Third quarter ends with the Warriors up 93-81. I find myself hoping that Nellie opens the fourth with all his starters.

• If I was a Lakers fan, I’d be pretty upset with this team. I know Lamar Odom is missing, but you’ve still got the best player in the world in the prime of his career on your team and you’re surrounding him with assorted flotsam and jetsam? Other than Kobe, nobody can defend, nobody can create all that much, at least on par with the best teams in the West. They’ll be lucky to break .500 this season. At least Kobe’s fun to watch.

• Vlad Rad just threw one down on Stephane Lasme, who somehow sprained his ankle while getting dunked on. That’s in contention for SLAMadamonth in our special D-League issue.

• Azubuike is just killing the Lakers, going to the rim at will. He’s scored a combined 51 thus far in the last two games.

• Coby Karl almost crashed into me, ass first. My initial reaction was to stick out my hand to keep him away, then I realized that as badly as I didn’t want to Coby Karl to crash into me, the only thing worse might be touching his sweaty ass. Luckily, he caught himself.

• 106-91. This team of Croshere, Belinelli, Brandan Wright, Troy Hudson and Kelenna Azubuike is balling. By the way, Wright has done absolutely nothing of note tonight.

• Just noticed that on the official scorer’s sheet, Biedrins is listed out with “sore left big toe.”

• 112-93, 5:54 to go. This is so ugly that the Laker Girls are signing autographs for people in the crowd and passing them back and forth over my head, leaning all over the press tabl…um…hey…er…uh…watch the hai…whoa…hey, nice ra…can you watch the…wow…wait, don’t put those there…um…excuse me!

• Out of the timeout, Brandan Wright throws an alley-oop to Azubuike. On the other end, Andre Patterson runs out of bounds with the ball.

• The fans start chanting, “We Want Kobe.” I look over and see Kobe watching the game, mindlessly untying his shoes. So no more Kobe.

• Azubuike heads to the line again. He makes one free throw, giving him 22 points on the night. He’s definitely a leading contender for the Hawaiian Cup, a chalice filled with Kona coffee presented by me to the MVP of these two games in Hawaii.

• A fan from the stands gets near the bench and asks Kobe to smile for a photo. Kobe looks at the fan and flashes the hang ten/shaka hand sign. The guy snaps his pic and runs off.

• Official’s time out with 2:48 to go and the Warriors ahead 117-101. The arena is still mostly full.

• There’s a close call along the sideline that goes against the Lakers, and Coby Karl blows up at Jim Clark. Like father…

• And we’re done, 119-106. And I’m done, too.

I’m going to spend the next 24 hours trying to get back to New York. See you all on Monday…