"The time has come."
-- Ricky Ricardo, I Love Lucy
The Lakers lost 24 times last year. The NBA season for a Finals team is roughly 7-1/2 months long. I cannot count past 27, so let us estimate the length of the Lakers' season as 225 days. This means that the Lakers were undoubtedly losers on 10 percent of the days in their 2008-09 season. This means that every ninth day in L.A., Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom walked around knowing that they absolutely, unquestionably had loserdom within them. There is no questioning that many times in the course of last year, Kobe Bryant was a loser. A big ol' weak stomached L.O.S.E.R.
This exercise cannot be replicated for the Sacramento Kings, because of an enchantment performed last Winter Solstice by Mikki Moore.
THE KEY BATTLE
The <Your Company Here!> Key Battle will be Spencer Hawes vs. Andrew Bynum. Hawes will be starting for the first time this preseason, coming off a minor ankle injury. Bynum has been beasting up the early preseason schedule, having scored more points (43) than any other Laker. Hawes defended Pau Gasol passably last season, but Bynum is a different type of center -- more Oden than Pau. Hawes's season won't be decided in any one game -- let alone preseason -- but every stop against bigger opponents does well to assuage fear.
While you'd never expect Kobe Bryant or Kevin Martin to relax for a minute, and while Bynum and Hawes have each heard questions about their fire, there's more at stake in the paint.
"Los Angeles, I'm Yours" by The Decemberists.
A theme song for the Los Angeles Lakers, if I've ever heard one.
There is not an ounce more clarity in the Great Small Forward Derby of 2009 today than there was prior to either of last week's games against Portland. Paul Westphal has discussed a three-guard lineup which would involve Kevin Martin and Tyreke Evans sharing shooting guard and small forwards duties. Paul Westphal has dubbed Desmond Mason the starter for tonight. Paul Westphal has given dap to Omri Casspi. Francisco Garcia has suffered greatly for our sins.
And nothing has been made more clear. Other than that we now know El Flaco won't be the starting small forward on opening night.
Ron Artest is reportedly bringing his A-game in preseason, and Lamar Odom could very well want to take some post-wedding pre-nup negotiation frustration out on the opponents. So the deck is a tiny bit stacked against Mason. ENTER THE OMRI.
WILD GUESS OF THE EVENING
Biggest Las Vegas cheer of the night: Lanny Smith.
Knowing that Martin will match up with Bryant in a completely meaningless game is really weird. And it's a complete lose-lose for Martin. If he scores 30, it means nothing because it's preseason. If he stinks, he got shut down by Kobe IN THE PRESEASON. Therefore, rule No. 1 of "weird Martin-Kobe preseason match-up": I will not discuss Martin or Kobe in the post-game recap at all tomorrow. No matter what. Martin could ride into warmups on a talking pygmy goat who says terrible things about Kobe's mother and I, Th. Ziller, Esq, will not write a word about it.
It's a 7PM game. It will be televised in Southern California. FB&G reports Gasol and Luke Walton are out; only Garcia will miss the game for Sacramento. The expected starting five for the Kings is Evans/Martin/Mason/Jason Thomspon/Hawes. I would expect Fisher/Bryant/Artest/Odom/Bynum for the Lakers. The game thread will be opened at 7 PM sharp.