I almost didn’t go to Monday’s Warriors game. In fact, if our dog wasn’t at my mother in law’s in Danville, I would’ve stayed in after waking up at 4 am that morning to fly back home from Phoenix. I even thought about just driving to Danville in the middle of the day, picking up the pooch and heading back home to San Francisco without going to the game — but I wanted to see the Chris Mullin ceremony at halftime.
Turns out it was one of the best decisions I’ve made of late, as I got to hear how loud the crowd actually was when they booed Joe Lacob (TV didn’t do it justice).
On Saturday evening, I wondered exactly what I was planning on accomplishing by attending the Warriors/Kings game. Two tankalicious teams, battling it out for crappremacy. Yippee. But my wife was going with friends to see The Hunger Games, and I wasn’t invited because I haven’t read the book. Yeah, yeah, I know — great book, and I feel subhuman because I haven’t read it. Comes with the territory when you’re writing 2,000+ words a day. Anyway, I didn’t really have anything to do besides watch my NCAA bracket go down in flames, so I drove to Oakland.
The game was a close one, a 111-108 victory for the Warriors. Was it a good game? Absolutely not. Did it bring the excitement and comedy, with a huge emphasis on the latter? Yes, and then some. Here’s 10 reasons why…
1. Nothing better than hitting Octavia and seeing gridlock all the way to the Bay Bridge (thanks to a “stall” on the lower deck). Seriously, how do you drive a car that stalls on the Bay Bridge? I’ve driven some old cars in my life — I started on a 1987 Caravan, moved onto a 1979 Saab (4-speed!), then got a 1995 Accord that I kept for 11 years and 250,000 miles (I used to drive a lot) … anyway, your car gives you a heads-up before it gets to stall mode unless you do something stupid like let the oil run out or (most likely) run out of gas. Kids, don’t drive across the Bay Bridge with your arrow below the Empty line.
Why is this a reason why I loved Saturday’s Warriors/Kings game? I forget … wait, it’s because I entered the parking lot at 7:28 still made it into my seat (after getting some Media Room iced tea), two minutes before the game started.
2. Unlike Mark Jackson, whose sideline demeanor is the opposite of demonstrative compared to other NBA coaches, Keith Smart is frenetic. He was walking up and down the sideline and Charles Jenkins knocked the ball out of bounds — only it hit Smart, who was fully across the sideline in the court of play. The officials gave the ball to the Warriors, then huddled and reversed the call. It was a strange scene, especially for a coach who specializes in designing inbounds plays.
3. I didn’t write down the names, but there was a proposal during this game! The guy popped the question to one hell of a Warriors fan, since she said “yes” after her man chose to propose during a game between the No. 13 and 14 teams in the Western Conference. Then again, her nickname was “Mookie,” according to the scoreboard.
4. The Warriors’ centers on Saturday night: Jeremy Tyler (10 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound and one time when DeMarcus Cousins threw down on him, hard), Mickell Gladness (10 minutes, 6 points, 2 blocks, 2 rebounds) and Keith Benson (4 minutes, 2 rebounds). 24 minutes, 5 rebounds. Huh. After Nate Robinson went down with a hamstring injury, the Warriors often went with the oft-celebrated “no point guards, no centers” attack. Just as Dr. Naismith intended.
5. Cousins is so unbelievably good — 28 points and 18 rebounds against the Warriors. But does he have to thrash around, contort his face and delay the game every time he does anything? He’s huge, athletic and has the best hands of anyone 6′ 10″ or above. If he focused only on playing and stopped worrying about stuff like the opposing team grabbing the ball too quickly after Cousins scores, he’d be a top-10 player.
6. No owners were booed during halftime, and Rick Barry didn’t make an appearance. There were about 200 Jazzercisers on the court dancing around, though. Two of them were men. They had spirit.
7. Between the third and fourth quarters, a guy named Omar Ortega (season ticketholder) badly missed a free throw for money, airballed a three for more money (at least six feet short), then nailed a halfcourter for $10,000. It was the most illogical, shocking athletic achievement I’ve ever seen in person. SIX FEET SHORT on the three! Seconds later, nails it from 47 feet! Add in the fact that he would’ve looked totally natural dancing like Carlton from Fresh Prince, and we have the recipe for my favorite 2011-12 Warriors moment. You can close the polls now, we have a winner!
8. Tankin’ ain’t easy. Mostly because players don’t want their stats to take a hit, because your scoring average and FG% can be used against you. Still, neither team wanted to win this game, and it was obvious throughout (except Klay Thompson’s pissed off that he wasn’t picked for the Rookie/Sophomore game, and he’s in full “Hallelujah, Monta’s gone” mode — he isn’t tanking for anyone).
I heard or read some version of the word “tank” at least 20 times during the game. Everyone was thinking about it … except for the fans, who were going insane during the final minutes and loved that the Warriors won. Who needs lottery picks.
9. Before the Warriors finally “won,” there was some definite tomfoolery going on. Both teams kept turning the ball over in an attempt to tank, but the Kings were just a little better. So even though David Lee had a 5-second violation (which probably gave Smart a feeling of pride since they can’t run inbounds plays without him anymore), the Kings committed 6 turnovers in the final 3:30 to the Warriors’ 2. Sacramento just wanted it more.
10. As I walked to my car through the puddle-filled parking lot, I saw this empty bottle of Hennessey on the ground about 20 feet away from my car. I thought it represented the night perfectly.
Ten great moments, and I didn’t even mention the fact that I forgot Jimmer Fredette was a Sacramento King until the third quarter (Fredette was a DNP — Coach’s Decision on Saturday).