L.A. vs. L.A. : Round Two
Posted Dec 8 2006 11:55AM
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 2, 2006-- Call it fashionably on time.
It was a game so big that the L.A. fans actually got to their seats before tipoff.
The Lakers and Clippers met for their second matchup of the season, this time with the Lakers as the "road" team, but the result was the same as the purple-clad squad trumped the white-wearing contingent 97-88 on Saturday.
The other difference since the first bout (a 105-101 Lakers win) was that the lights were turned up -- the Clippers don't do the theatre atmosphere like the Lakers do. "It's not as romantic," Kobe Bryant said.
Romance or not, the hearty support group of Lakers fans that speckled the STAPLES Center had to love the Purple and Gold improving to 11-5. Meanwhile, Clipper Nation was left wondering if last year was just a tease as their boys in Red, White and Blue fell to 7-8.
And now, these are the 10 things I learned from the Tinsel Town Tussel ...
1. Smush outplayed Shaun
One was a lottery pick, the other a pick-up from Europe. One has been compared to Magic Johnson, the other had his team use its top draft pick this season on somebody who plays his same position. Shaun Livingston is supposed to be the bright young point guard of the future, but Smush Parker looked better on Saturday. In the first quarter he wrestled an offensive rebound away from Chris Kaman, fed it to Kobe who gave it right back to him for a spot-up three and he nailed it. Next possession he ran the break, faked a pass to the wing at the foul line and finished with a layup. The subsequent time down the floor he snatched a one-handed defensive board. Three possessions, five points, two rebounds. Not bad. Smush finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists in a win, and Shaun had eight, one and two in a loss.
2. Glad-handing rook
Before the game Lakers rookie Jordan Farmar greeted the game officials at center court and gave each of them a firm handshake and a smile. Saavvy move by such a young player. "I'm new, I need to go through this rite of passage," Farmar said about the exchange. "They're doing a great job. They have the toughest job in the business. They can't get it right any night. You see them there stretching and just say hello, introduce myself and get to know them. Hopefully I'll be in this league for a long time, we'll have good relationships in the future so now I have to go through it. It's just part of the game." While on the subject of Farmar, I heard this coming from the stands coming from a man chowing down on a bag of peanuts: “Hey Farmar! UCLA over USC baby!” To which his wife told him, “Stop it.” To which he replied, “No.” Of course, she shot him a “you better watch it or you are sleeping on the couch tonight” look, and he indeed stopped it. Man at his best.
3. Lefty Lamar
I never got to see much of Lamar Odom when he was playing on those struggling Clippers teams early on in his career, but I fell in love with his game when I got to see him play a bunch of games in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Seeing him use his southpaw to get to a tough rebound got me wondering -- who is the first-team all left-handed in the NBA? Apart from Odom, you have the Bucks’ Michael Redd, the Raptors’ Chris Bosh, the Blazers' Zach Randolph as the givens and then it gets tough. Chris Kaman is ambidextrous so that sort of counts, I guess. "It's an unspoken fraternity," Odom said. "It's so funny because I always feel awkward guarding a lefty because you just don't see that many. Our game is a little different. Most leftys got a nice touch. I don't know a lefty that won't shoot or can't shoot,especially from 10-to-15 feet." So who rounds out the top five? "I gotta do my research on that and answer that another time."
4. Sell out city
When the the term "sell out" is uttered in Hollywood it is usually somewhat derogatory, ripping an actor or musician who cheapens their art by selling it in a commercial advertisement. On Saturday however, sell out was a completely positive term. The official announced attendance was 20,550 which the Clippers proudly circulated to press row on its own sheet of paper with “SELL OUT #1” in font size of about 48 underneath it. The capacity crowd did not dissappoint as the "home" rooters went with the simple yet classy "Let's go Clippers, Let's Go!" chant and sent boo birds swirling around Kobe whenever he touched the ball. The Lakers fans got the last word though, going with the "MVP, MVP" chant for KB24 as he iced the victory with free throws in the final minute.
5. About that 24
It was the first time I saw Kobe in person donnning the two-four. I have to be honest, it's sort of hard to get used to. But, then again, it was hard for me to adjust to him switching to No. 8 after growing up watching him play high school ten minutes down the road from me in No. 33. I have heard several stories about why he did the numero switcheroo. First it was because he was a ball player 24/7. Then it was because he was copying Michael Jordan. Then it was because 3x8 is 24 and he is three times the player he used to be. Well, here is the real deal, in my understanding. Kobe grew up in Italy with his dad who was playing hoops overseas. During this time he became a very skilled player playing against Italian competition. When he came back to Pennsylvania in eighth grade, he had to prove to all of his American friends that he could play at their level and that European basketball was a great learning ground. That season he wore No. 24. Now, 15 years or so later, he felt like he had to prove himself again. This time the goal was to show that he can win without Shaquille O'Neal. Ol' No. 24 was there for him once, so he went back to it again.
6. Wouldn't be L.A. without celebrities
It had to be a, "Wow, I really made it" moment for Chris Tucker on Saturday because he was the biggest star at a Lakers game in L.A. It was a home game for the Clippers, so Jack Nicholson's Lakers season tickets were not valid. The spotlight was turned to Tucker who sat at midcourt with Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Other big names in the house included talk show host Larry King and Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson who might have been doing some scouting because he plays the Clips on Sunday night.
7. Kaveman sighting
He was supposed to be on the bench but he ended up as the game's top rebounder. The pregame injury report read, "Clippers center Chris Kaman (left ankle sprain) is out," but that was not the case. Kaman played on his bum wheel and contributed 12 rebounds, eight points, two assists as well as a block and a steal in 27 minutes of action. "We basically had no intention of playing him, and he basically said, 'Hey, I'm playing,'" Mike Dunleavy explained. "If you look at his ankle, he still has major swelling there and a lot of discoloration. I thought he was a guy that hasn't been out there for long, hasn't practiced for a while, but I thought he helped us."
8. Turnover troubles
The first thing on Dunleavy's mind when he started his postgame press conference says it all. "I thought our turnovers tonight were just way too costly," he said. "Eighteen turnovers for 28 points. The turnover differential, points off turnovers, was just too big to overcome. We were just at times careless with the ball." Kobe did his part in trying to even the playing field as he accounted for seven of the Lakers' 15 mishaps. The seven turnovers were a season high for Bryant who had six miscues in a game three times already this season, but had seemed to hone in his control as he had just five turnovers total in the last five games leading up the Clippers matchup.
9. I don't think Bill ever did this
If your dad was a legendary NBA center, you would think your bread and butter would be post moves, but somehow Luke Walton prefers life outside the paint. The fourth-year forward out of Arizona is leading the league in 3-point percentage as he is now 17-for-27 on the year (63 percent). The closest competition to Walton, who hit 1-of-2 from deep Saturday, is surprisingly the Pacers' Al Harrington. Harrington is 24-for-41, good enough for 59 percent.
10. Ageless wonder
I got an e-mail from Ryan in Michigan last week that said, "I think Sam Cassell should win the most productive player ever award... but that's just my opinion." The e-mail was totally unprovoked, as I hadn't written about Cassell in any previous McTens. Well, Ryan in Michigan, I can't say that I disagree with you. The 14-year vet who just turned 37 on Nov. 18, was producing against the Lakers with his patented brand of switching speeds to get off his feathery jumper. Sam-I-Am ended up with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists and continued to make his case for Ryan's fictional award.
Have a question or comment for The McTen or care to share what you learned this week? Get at me.