With visions of Derek Fisher doing a clumsy tango with Monta Ellis still in their heads, Warriors fans may have a tough time remembering what life was like in the minutes before the second leg of the recently concluded Lakerthon.
Last night’s game was the NBA’s best regular season game of the year. It doesn’t matter what transpires at the end of the season (Dallas may fade out of the picture in a hurry anyway, leaving the rest of the season simply a question of seeding) – no game could rival what Warriors/Lakers, Vol. 2 had going for it.
The Warriors had their swagger back after Sunday’s first half at Staples, a virtuoso performance not just on offense but defensively. The Warriors were in every passing lane, to the point of rendering Luke Walton completely useless. They knew if they won two games in as many days against a team that has quickly become their biggest rivals, the Warriors wouldn’t just have a better chance at the postseason, but a mental edge against a possible first round opponent.
Obviously Kobe Bryant would be in full revenge mode before last night’s tip-off, and that it would be difficult to beat the Lakers twice in a row, even without Pau Gasol. But Gasol brings consistency to the Lakers’ frontcourt, a quality one wouldn’t really use to describe Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf or Vladimir Radmanovich.
But it was the crowd that made this game special. Lakers games in Oakland have always been a notch above standard regular season faire. But now that the Warriors aren’t just good but also completely influenced by how their fans feel about them at any given moment, the Oakland crowd is now truly a part of the game.
This game had everything: unbelievable drives to the hoop by Baron, Monta and Kobe, great passing (at times), and Kobe’s bloody face, which for some reason was never really tended to. And which is commonly the case in any important Laker game, last night’s contest had an EXTREMELY questionable call at the end. OK, maybe “poor” or “incorrect” are better words to use than “questionable.”
Regardless of the outcome, this game showed why the Warriors won’t make it past the second round of this year’s playoffs. If Andris Biedrins and Brandan Wright can’t stay on the floor against Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf, there’s no way they can handle Gasol/Bynum, Boozer/Millsap/Okur or Duncan/Thomas. The Warriors’ playoff experience will probably be very much like last night’s game: exciting, loud, can’t-miss, and ultimately a losing proposition.
Can’t They at Least Have him for a Preseason Game or Something?
McNolan should know by now if you deal with sharks, you’ll get bitten
The 49ers brain trust, who wanted nothing more than Lance Briggs to stick next to Patrick Willis in their still-evolving 3-4 defense, were forced to swap third round picks with the Bears (Niners get the 12th pick of the round, the Bears now get the 7th) and give up their fifth round pick entirely in next month’s draft due to tampering charges.
The rumors that McNolan contacted Briggs’ agent Drew Rosenhaus during trade talks last season were researched and concluded to be fact by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Scot McCloughan complained about the ruling, saying he thought the Niners were within the spirit of the rules. But instead of blaming Goodell, McNolan should blame themselves for dealing with a slime ball like Rosenhaus. Now the Bears not only have Briggs, they also improved their own draft position and embarrassed the Niners publicly.
Put together with the trade for Joe Staley that gave the Patriots the Niners’ first pick (7th overall), the 2008 NFL Draft is going to be chocked full of reminders for the 49ers that sometimes it’s better to not be super-aggressive all the time – especially when you’re dealing with the Patriots or Rosenhaus.
At Least Now He’ll Have Plenty of Time for Murph and Mac
Kevin Frandsen, the local kid everybody wants to like but wishes would shut up every once in a while, tore his achilles yesterday and will miss the entire 2008 season.
The knock on Frandsen is that he’s always willing to talk a good game, but has never really produced over a substantial period of time in the Majors. Now that he’s missing the entire season, he’ll probably never get the chance to prove himself in San Francisco.
Looking at the bright side, this could mean a lot more Eugenio Velez, a younger, much faster player who has been leading the league in steals this spring. True, he may not be as colorful an interview as Frandsen, and his glove still needs work, but his ceiling is about thirty floors higher than Frandsen’s ever was.
With the Giants getting to the point where avoiding 100 losses in 2008 could be considered a moral victory, I hope Velez gets a chance to show his speed on the field during entire games at second base, not just as a pinch runner. If Ray (is it my contract year, yet?) Durham starts over 120 games this season, it will be nothing less than a catastrophe.