THE GAME: Lakers vs Kings
Fuck. A decade and a half.
15 years ago this spring, these two teams were far and away the two best in the NBA. The '02 The Lakers were on their way to a third consecutive title. The '02 Kings were on their way to being known as one of the greatest teams - perhaps the single greatest - to not make the NBA Finals.
Now, they both suck. They Kings are 9 games under .500; the Lakers are 18 games under.
But it's still an NBA game, and, as I mentioned the other day, basketball is all we got for the next few weeks.
Between Scotch and nothing, I'll take Scotch.
A funny thing about that season: whenever a big game came up, I found that eating KFC and drinking a 40 of Miller High Life ensured that the Lakers would win.
Now, I'll be the first to admit, it was probably more of a coincidence than a correlation. But, you know, they still never lost when I ate and drank that combination before a game - including the final two games of the epic Western Conference Finals.
So, even though the stakes are a fraction of what they were back then, I thought I'd try KFC's new Georgia Gold Chicken for lunch and then make my own version for dinner.
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- The KFC Georgia Gold Chicken actually wasn't bad. I realize that is damning with faint praise, but I think KFC is pretty awful stuff, the lowest common denominator of fast food chicken, catering to people who have never had truly good, freshly-made fried chicken. This chicken had been cooked recently - which is rare at KFC these days - and the sauce, though a little too oily, had a very good mustard and pepper flavor.
- My chicken (the first two photos at the top of the page, of course) was better. I soaked a chicken breast (cut in three pieces) in buttermilk for an afternoon, then dredged them through breading before pan-frying them.
- I made a sauce of yellow mustard, cider vinegar, brown sugar, hot sauce, and a couple of splashes of Worcestershire, then tossed the chicken strips around.
- Unlike the flabby, flavorless pickles KFC served me, I used Bubbies.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- I remember some comedian had a bit about how strange it is the first time you get pulled over by a cop younger than you are. That hasn't happened to me (yet). But the head coach of the Lakers is younger than I am. That's pretty freaking weird.
- There will never, ever be a player whom I both love and hate as much as I did Rasheed Wallace. It just isn't possible - he was a complete knuckleheaded jackass but he also was one of the most breathtakingly versatile players I have ever seen. That being said, Boogie Cousins might end his career as being #2 on that personal list of mine. There are five minutes left in the first quarter and Boogie has already taken 6 free throws. Is he gonna end the game with 40 attempts?
- The Lakers had 47 points in the first quarter of their last game. Tonight, they have 23. That sums up what kind of season this is: who knows what you're gonna see from game to game?
- It's good to see Darren Collison again. I could go into all the reasons I loathed watching Ben Howland's UCLA teams, or I could just say this: Howland had Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Darren Collison, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute all on the same team... and they were still boring to watch. How is that even possible?
- Ingram had a sweet put-back dunk, although it was only possible because not a single King tried to box out. I wonder how many of them even know what that means.
- And the Lakers finish the half with only 41 points. That's what 37% shooting and 10 turnovers will get you.
- 120 games into his career and I have no idea what to make of D'Angelo Russell. I will say that every month that goes by, my idea of his ceiling creeps a little lower.
- Boogie exits the game and the Lakers go on a run to tie it. (His +/- for the game is currently sitting at +24; by contrast, D'Angelo is at -11.)
- Matt Barnes with a huge offensive rebound with less than a minute to go. I didn't like him when he was at UCLA, I didn't like him when he was with the Lakers... I sure as hell don't like him on Sacramento.
- Lou Williams was on fire in the 4th quarter but just tried to win the game with an off-balance three-pointer when the Lakers were only down 1 and had a timeout to use. I understand trying to score in transition while the other team isn't set, but that's still not the shot you want to take as time expires.
- That's the kind of crap the Lakers did last year and, well, the 19 years before that. They have to figure out where Russell fits into their plans. They can't have a point guard who sits on the bench and doesn't handle the ball down 1 in the closing seconds.
- Does that mean I should be rooting for them to lose and hope to end up with a top-3 pick and Lonzo Ball? I'm not there yet. But lose a few more of these winnable games at home, and...
- Sacramento wins by 1. Boogie ends up with a monster 40/12/8 game.
[EDIT: After watching the Lakers lose by 36 the following night to the awful Suns, I am now in complete tank mode. That was the most gutless, pathetic effort I have witnessed in a long time. This team is years away from competing on a regular basis.]