Live: Rooks vs. Sophs

by February 18, 2011

by Lang Whitaker | @langwhitaker

Hey all — Lang here, live from the Rookie/Sophomore Game at Staples. We’re trying to workout the kinks on the liveblogs tonight — especially trying to find out whether or not the wireless will work — so I’ll pop in up here with notes from time to time. In the meantime, feel free to comment below…

PREGAME: OK, I’m in the press box high above the Stapler, waiting for this game to get started up in here, up in here. I think we’re about 15 minutes from getting cracking. I haven’t actually seen anyone else from SLAM all day — people have been running all over the place, at all sorts of events. I spent my day working on some stuff for NBA TV, including a live episode of “The Beat,” during which David Aldridge and I nearly starved to death on live television. That would have been fun!

After that I bounced over here to the arena, and finally hooked up with our guy Nima Zarrabi. So! We’re here now. I’ll file occasional notes during the game…

• I have not been outdoors all day — which is really how I hoped to spend my time in L.A. — but I’m told by reliable sources (well, Nima) that a crazy storm is hitting outside right now. Which might explain why this arena is quiet right now.

• We had Brandon Jennings with us on NBA TV earlier, and he said at the Sophomore practice today, Sophomore coach Lawrence Frank put them through drills and had them running plays. Love Lawrence Frank.

• I just noticed that this event is officially called “T-Mobile Rookie Challenge.” No mention of the sophs? Putting all the pressure on the rooks, sounds like?

• Gary Neal — who is 26 — has to be oldest player in this game, right? Is Neal the oldest rookie of all-time?

• Oh, the game started! Sophs are up 10-4 early, and Blake gets called for an offensive foul. It would be great if Blake Griffin got in foul trouble and had to ride the bench for the entire game.

• Taj Gibson dunks and the PA system plays the old NBA Jams “Boomshakalaka!”

• So the Sophs lead 28-25 with 11:20 to go in the first half. Yeah, forgot to mention they play halves in this game. No dunks too outlandish thus far.

• Most impressive performance of the first half thus far might be the job Nima’s doing on these nachos. Total destruction.

• DaJuan Blair just tossed himself an oop off the glass and flushed it, drawing the biggest cheer of the night.

• The bright yellow adidas kicks a bunch of guys are wearing on court tonight are getting the most attention. And derision.

• Halftime, and the Rookies are winning 71-69 — Wes Johnson is 7-for-8, and the Blair and DeRozan are have 14 apiece. DaMarcus Cousins has tried a couple of ridiculous dunks, and made about as many as he’s missed. The halftime show was a live performance by the Cali Swag District, which means we must have made a wrong turn somewhere.

• Also worth mentioning from earlier, DA and I were eating dinner in the hotel bar across the street from the arena and Shannon Brown walked past wearing a backpack that had speakers built into it, with loud music blasting. This meant it was the first time in my life I had the chance to say the sentence, “Hey man, can you turn down your backpack?”

• Highlight of the night thus far was a Wall bounce pass oop that Griffin reversed. This isn’t much of a game, but that was a heckuva play.

• The wireless internet up here has been spotty every since Cali Swag District performed. Which obviously means The Dougie isn’t conducive to internet connectivity. The good news is that I now have been taught how to Dougie.

• Gary Neal’s got 14 points, 4 boards and 4 assists. Would be kinda fun if he could win the MVP, just because I’m pretty most of the kids in the arena here have no idea who he is.

• Biggest cheer of the night thus far just came for Kobe…who made an announcement on the scoreboard.

• When does this turn into a real game? I’m guessing when we get under 5 minutes…

• Sophs lead 128-125 with 4:46 left. Should be a good finish…but first?! Free t-shirts! AHHHHHHHHHH!

• John Wall just got his 20th assist with about 4 minutes to go. Rooks up 133-132. A WE WANT BLAKE chant takes over the arena, and the Sophs immediately turn it over as Blake…still doesn’t check back into the game.

• Blake gets shown on the scoreboard and crowd goes nuts, and he cracks a huge smile…but he still doesn’t get back into the game.

• Rookies lead 140-134 with 1:21 to go. Cousins has 29 and 12. Gary Neal scores again (20 pts) to put the Rooks up 142-134. Harden bangs a three to make it 142-137, with 36 seconds to go. Wall to the line, hits one free throw, then Boogie Cousins grabs the rebounds and dunks for 31 points.

• Steph Curry hits a three to make it a 144-140 lead for the rooks. Highest scoring Rookie/Soph game in ASW history. Yay!

• And with the clock running down, on a breakaway, Cousins throws an oop off the backboard to Wall for the two-handed slam. The Rooks win, 148-140.

• That’s it! Thanks for hanging with us tonight…be back with more soon on SLAMonline!