I’m not huge on attending games. I prefer the home experience, the bathroom, the Zumoff, not dealing with parking, not sitting near uninformed fans who get overly excited for a made basket after the whistle, and many other snooty reasons. But when I saw LAKERS v. KINGS on the schedule, I knew. I knew I had to make an exception.
It was the ultimate game. And if you’re asking — if it’s the ultimate game, why do they play it again next year? — I’m here to tell you they aren’t. This is the last ultimate game. The Sixers own the Lakers pick if it falls outside the top 3 once the lottery balls are drawn, and the Sixers have Sharone Swap Rights on the Kings pick if they jump ahead. With three games left in the season, both teams have tremendous incentive to lose.
This game was made for me.
I splurged on good seats because when will I ever have a chance to watch something so hideously beautiful again? I had to be close enough to smell the failure. Every missed rotation a total eclipse. Even nearing poncho territory for an errant pass, of which there were many.
Trying to conceal my pick protection ulterior motive, I scooped up my Lakers fan girlfriend, put on a shirt that has Luka Mitrovic and Danny Granger on the back, and headed to the Staples Center for what I was certain would be the most important live event of my life. I was right. It was also the sloppiest live event of my life, handily unseating the 2008 Buffalo Wing Festival.
You know by now. With the spectre of tying the Suns in the win column hanging over them, the Lakers snatched success from the jaws of “somebody had to win this game,” and won this game. The play of the day — and for the Sixers, the play of the season -- was with the Lakers up two with five seconds to play, Corey Brewer ripped an inbounds pass out of the sky, which sent the Lakers to the foul line to seal it. We will not forget what you’ve done for us, Corey Brewer.
We’re getting that Lakers pick.
A few other stray thoughts:
- I have nothing but disdain for D’Angelo Russell. For as bad as Jahlil Okafor was then and now, I am also vacuumically happy that D’Angelo isn’t a Sixer. He’s objectively talented, but I can’t stand watching him. Lazy. Sloppy. Annoying. He has permanent Little Brother Face. Watching Luke Walton have other guys run point so DAR can work off the ball in the event of Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz joining them next year only makes me want the pick to drop to #4 even more. Enjoy bidding against yourself for Derrick Rose!
- Easy as it is to make fun of the Kings for being the Kings, I think they might have something with Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. Kind of a mini Dunk City going on in Sacramento. Papagiannis seems like a sturdy young man as well. If they get Frank Ntilikina and Miles Bridges, there might be some there there. Keep an eye on them, and not just ironically.
- Is there a less 2017 basketball player than Tyreke Evans?
- Count me in on Brandon Ingram. It’ll take time for his improvements to manifest statistically, but he’s getting vicious attacking the rim, and as his handles and body continue to improve, he’ll be even harder to stop.
- Less upside certainly, but I have feelings for Julius Randle too. I’ve always been attracted to plump athleticism (Anthony Bennett................................... hello), and his jumper is ever so slightly moving outward. That plus near-elite rebounding from the 4-spot with a center (or Ingram) to clean up his defensive mistakes is interesting. He’s got great touch and keeps getting better at finding himself in the right places on offense.
- To the delight of the crowd, Metta World Peace played. He can’t defend like he used to, but he still tries to, which resulted in a pissed off Buddy Hield a few trips down. Once, MWP got called for a foul, and when it was announced, the crowd cheered. They cheered for a foul call against their own player. Might be one of those things where he’s the last remnant of a bygone era, but I couldn’t help but think he was a coach’s kid on senior night with the crowd begging him to shoot. Artest used to be so, so good.
- Forever Sixer Thomas Robinson with a very gracious 9 and 5 off the bench.
- Parking was $30. Imagine that would’ve stung more had the Kings won.
- Every episode of NBC’s dark comedy “Trial & Error” is available for free on Hulu or NBC.com here. I’ve written over 1,500 articles on Liberty Ballers, and I also write on that show for which I’d like there to be a second season, so if you liked my Sixers-Bulls recap from 2010 where they lost by 32, you’re obligated to give my show a shot.
The Lakers sit 1.5 games ahead of Phoenix in the 3-spot with three games to play. LA is home against Minnesota and New Orleans before finishing up at Golden State. Phoenix hosts Dallas and then ends their season at... *big gulp* *30 ounces of Big Gulp*... Sacramento. We’re not out of the woods yet.