After spending so much time on jeremylin.net since finding out Jeremy Lin got traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, my friend asked why don’t we go watch the season opener? I told my friend that I already spent $100 on ballstreams and am perfectly fine staying at home watching the game in HD while avoiding the traffic, exorbitant parking fees and stadium food as well as the price of admission with decent view of the court. Friend said “fug dat” and bought a pair of rather pricy tickets. Wooo I am set.
It was weeks of trepidation while waiting for the day to come as preseason games were filled with so many unknowns. As eluded in the previous “Get on the Buss” article, ownership seems to be in disagreement regarding the team’s direction and leadership. The new coach Byron Scott seems reluctant to start Jeremy Lin while giving some of the same excuse given by the Houston Rockets last season as to why Jeremy should come off the bench.
Before the game, I was worried about a few things:
1) Will Jeremy Lin start the season opener?
2) Will Kobe play nice with Jeremy?
3) Will Houston either “solve” Jeremy or injure him?
4) Will Laker bigs play nice with Jeremy?
5) What camera to bring into the stadium?
So, I woke up excited to watch the game today. Got to work, told the boss I am taking half day off to watch the game. Split after lunch. Arrived at Staples Center early to avoid rush hour, to find cheap parking (found one for $15 on Francisco street near Court Yard Marriot), and to walk around Nokia Theater.
Saw the ESPN 710 kiosk where Max and Marcellus is arguing about some Laker/Rockets stuff.
Partook in some tourist food.
After, after dinner, lined up outside the stadium to get an early look at the basketball court and to see whether any players were doing pregame warmups.
As we were walking to our seats, we found Ludobird.
Found our seats and spotted Jeremy working out with trainers.
On the other side of the court was Dwight warming up.
Jeremy shooting off dribble.
Harden started warming up too.
Jeremy working on his drives.
Jeremy warming up with trainer and grinning.
Players got onto the floor.
Coach Scott made a speech welcoming the fans.
Starters are introduced. Although I knew Jeremy was going to start, I was still holding my breath and am finally relieved after seeing Lin’s mug shot on the jumbotron.
The game started off badly. First play of the game was a 10 footer by Boozer that Howard grabbed while the shot was falling. No goal tending was called. Then, some minutes later, Jeremy got shoved and lost his balance and handles but no call. Ref made it up to Jeremy a few minutes later by giving him freethrows for Beverley’s reach in foul.
Lakers assessment: Too much Kobe. Too much Jeremy Lin probing. Not enough off ball movement. What this resulted in was very boring Laker basketball. Bodies and ball movement were stagnant. Typical play is Lin dribbles the ball up court. Surveys the defense for a few seconds. Kobe parks it at the post and raises his arm up, Lin lobs him a reluctant pass, Kobe isolates with either an inefficient fade away for a 20 feet 2 pointer or he passes the ball after making absolutely sure that he doesn’t have a shot.
Houston assessment: I saw two Houston Rockets teams during the past two seasons. When winning, they were running and gunning with 3 pointers galore. When losing, they were either Harden or Howard isolation plays. Well, the winning team showed up tonight. Ball and body movement were as though in fast forward compared to that of the Lakers. Houston had multiple arsenals in the paint, beyond the arc and even players coming off the bench most notably Donatas and Kostas.
In game notes:
1) Boozer took the first shot of the season, a flat 10 footer. Howard grabbed it in mid air but no goal tending was called. In my opinion, the ball was coming down.
2) Lin’s first turnover was possibly resulting from both Lin running out of rhythm and being shoved. I think Lin received free throws a few plays later because the referee wanted to make it up to Lin for the no call by calling a ticky tack reach in on Beverley.
3) 6 minutes into the game, Lin was fighting through a pick when he got elbowed. Lin fell and crashed into the guy holding the ball. This sequence happened right in front of the Rocket’s bench where coach McHale was sitting. At the very moment that the referee called a charge on Lin, coach McHale jumped out of his seat, did a fist pump and clapped vigorously for about 10 seconds. Personally, I felt McHale couldn’t resist showing Lin up.
4) I don’t think I saw Kobe passed the ball to Lin. Not even once.
5) Randle’s a very talented player and is sure to become a fan favorite as fans were cheering loudly whenever he starts his isolation drives which he made one of two. It’s too bad he landed awkwardly and had to be removed from game with a stretcher.
6) I saw very few minutes of Lin and Davis playing together. Ed’s size is not that much smaller than that of Dwight’s. However, Ed just seemed like a smaller player because he crouches a lot when he’s in the paint. Also, I don’t think I saw a single pick and roll play between Ed and Jeremy. Further, I think the ratio of picks Lin had to run through when defending his man versus the number of picks that was set for Lin on offense is 10 to 0.
7) There was some ticky tack between Howard and Kobe. Technicals were thrown at both players. Howard made both his free throws. In fact, he iced them. All net. Kobe only made one of two. Fans were showing their abhorrence for Howard during the altercation
8) Harden scored 20 points with relative ease. I don’t think he even broke a sweat. Kobe, on the other hand, was annoyed that he wasn’t the top scorer and did whatever he could to make up for his personal points deficit. I also saw him throw his arms down when Lin was bringing the ball down court too slowly.
9) “Linsanity” lasted for about 3 seconds in the third quarter. Jeremy was free to probe with Kobe on the bench. Defense collapsed on Lin each time he probed into the paint, but the Lakers bigs didn’t start moving their bodies until after the third sequence. And, even with them moving, Jeremy’s four drive and dump onto a big in the paint resulted in, I think, 1 field goal, 2 dropped passes and an air ball by Sacre. Lin did get a 3 point play off a drive which I consider to be the highlight of his night.
(not my video)
Players leaving the court. Lin is no longer grinning but is leaving with his head hanging.
Lastly, I ended up choosing a Sony NEX3N camera to bring to the game. The body is great. The kit lens will be replaced. Maybe the 20mm f2.8.
Regarding the title, some season ticket holder stood up and left with about 6 minutes left in the fourth. As he was leaving, I heard him muttered “this is the worst game I have ever seen”. Another season ticket holder behind me said “too much Kobe”.
Final thought: Jeremy Lin. Welcome back to Houston!