NBA

HILL: A Stink-o de Mayo Laker hangover

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Randy Hill

Veteran columnist Randy Hill is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com.
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Few cities embrace co-opted history like Los Angeles, which buried its weekend while inventing and celebrating a holiday called "Stink-o de Mayo." Steering us through this seventh level of smell were the L.A. Lakers, who reasserted their NBA independence in a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. But as first dates go, this was a two-bagger. For surviving an event with the eye-stabbing potential of Joan Rivers Lookalike Night, the Lakers headline this episode of The Weekend Condition. Our unofficial grand marshal of Sunday's unsightly parade was Spurs superstar Tim Duncan, who finished Game 1 of this Western Conference semifinal series with 26 points and 21 rebounds. He also missed 21 of 30 field-goal attempts, including an 0-for-10 demonstration in the first quarter. Even the Elephant Man doesn't go 0 for 10 in a stewardess bar. Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, but missed 6 of 10 free-throw attempts. Shaquille O'Neal, the Lakers other superstar, finished the afternoon with 23 points, 17 rebounds and three stitches (index finger). Maybe the twisted karma can be traced to Saturday, when Paul McCartney played Staples. Representing just 25 percent of the Fab Four, Paul was the harbinger of only one good quarter the next day. Well, one good quarter for the Lakers. And that was the fourth. But the first two quarters were hideous. The Lakers made just 34 percent of their field-goal tries by half-time, while the Spurs were a toasty 29 percent. Staples hadn't witnessed anything this visually disturbing since Al and Tipper Gore mistook the Democratic National Convention for the back seat of a Chevy.
  • Chapter one in our Western Conference final four occurred Saturday at Sacramento, where the Kings and Dallas Mavericks sent the shot clock to its room hungry. Yeah, the only series that promises more scoring than Mavs-Kings is "Sex and the City." The home team did what it could in Game 1, scratching for 108 points. But the Kings' commitment to consider playing defense helped coerce Dallas into missing 61% of its field-goal attempts in a 91-point effort. The Mavs were defiant enough to lodge an official complaint regarding cowbells brandished by front-row fans at Arco Arena. Cowbells are nice, but the Mavericks have the only NBA owner who worked at Dairy Queen this season.
  • A hotter time was had Friday in Boston, where the Celtics bagged 19 of 29 three-pointers in a Game 5 elimination of the Philly 76es. The star of Must-C's TV was Paul Pierce, who scored 46 points and made 8 of 10 from distance. Paul, by the way, is from Inglewood, Calif., former home of the dreaded Lakers. In his honor, Celtics fans waved bye-bye to the Sixers by chanting "Beat L.A.!" and so on. They should save it for the Detroit Pistons, who ripped Boston on Sunday in Game 1 of the Junior Varsity Semifinals. For the record, their timing for "Beat L.A." really couldn't be any worse. This is Boston, remember, and only one war chant qualifies for early May: "Yankees suck!"
  • After the C's eliminated Philly, Larry Brown threatened to return for another $5 million run as coach of the Sixers. Then he executed a shrewd bargaining maneuver by suggesting the Sixers may trade Allen Iverson. Oh, Larry loves A.I.'s toughness; he's just a bit overwhelmed by Iverson's commitment to missing practice. But if you examine A.I.'s field-goal percentage, you realized he doesn't have to practice missing. Anyway, Iverson was offered the opportunity to take a shot at Brown, but did something unusual ¿ he passed.
  • An important function of covering NBA playoff games is pestering retired coaches while they're trying to mind their own business. Sunday's victim was Pete Newell, who made the mistake of hanging out in the press room at Staples Center. Newell, who coached the Cal Bears to the 1959 NCAA title and later worked for the Lakers, now is the unofficial Jedi master of low-post tutoring. As such, his opinion of 7-foot-5 Chinese draft specimen Yao Ming seems undeniably relevant. "His agility is remarkable for a guy that size," said Newell, who watched Wednesday's workout on ESPN News. "But he's going to have to learn how to play inside. The NBA can get 6-2 guys to stand there and shoot jumpers." By the way, sources who've actually been to Connecticut believe the Yao Ming pre-pre-draft workout will join the rotation on ESPN Classic.

    KENTUCKY DERBY

  • By cruising to victory, War Emblem unleashed trainer Bob Baffert on Saturday's innocent NBC audience. After discussing his third Derby victory, Baffert just couldn't shut the hell up during an interview with jockey Victor Espinoza. Before this session was over, Baffert was riding Espinoza and butting in while Victor responded to questions. I'm still waiting for Espinoza to go with the whip. War Emblem went off at 20-1, which also registers as the interview word ratio between Baffert and his jockey.
  • I don't pay much attention to horse racing, so when NBC's Donna Barton Brothers conducted a post-race interview on horseback, it was a new one on me. Horseback interviewing should be discussed for other sports, but won't make it in the NBA until Art Long is banned from the league.
  • The Kentucky Derby is known as "The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports," a claim that, in my opinion, better serves a Roy Jones Jr. fight or the last two minutes of the MLS season.

    MIKE TYSON

  • Mike Tyson in Hawaii has to qualify as trouble in paradise. Unfortunately for paradise, that's where Iron Mike entertained a few notepads and microphones as preamble for his upcoming bout with Lennox Lewis. Mike even admitted biting Lennox during their January press-conference melee, later insisting he was only telling reporters what they wanted to hear. One way or another, he's lying through his teeth. In related news, Tyson's candor may inspire the pay-per-view network to attach a microphone to his mouthpiece. The concept of "sound bite" will never be the same.

    BASEBALL

  • Montreal Expos superstar Vladimir Guerrero finished the weekend ranked among the National League's top five in eight offensive categories. Such eye-popping skill and versatility should be rewarded with Vladimir's own beer: Dispersal Draught.

    NHL PLAYOFFS

  • By working three overtimes on Saturday, the Senators and Maple Leafs made Game 2 last longer in Toronto than Isiah Thomas.

    WORLD CONGRESS OF SPORTS

  • When the big shots of sports and network television gathered in New York to discuss their future, it was agreed that business has been better. And they're blaming young people for not paying attention. So, in an effort to salvage our sporting way of life, the big shots have agreed to fund skateboard-riding lessons for Tiger Woods. Randy Hill can be reached at his e-mail address: rhill@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Senators, Maple Leafs, Celtics, Mavericks, Lakers, 76ers, Kings, Spurs, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan, Nationals, Vladimir Guerrero

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