More hijacking. The Warriors’ exhibition debut Tuesday night ended too late to get anything in the paper, so here’s some quick thoughts from the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu:
** You remember that scene in “Rocky” where Apollo Creed’s trainer watches Rocky busting the ribs on sides of beef and realizes this guy really means business? That’s what Kelenna Azubuike’s first-quarter performance was like: 14 points, 5-for-6 shooting, 2-for-2 from deep, five rebounds. He finished with a game-high 27 points, flinging himself into the lane several times in the fourth quarter when the Warriors had no other offensive options, and nine boards. Marco Belinelli suddenly has an uphill battle on his hands. “It was a hell of a showing for a first game,” Stephen Jackson said. “A lot of people were saying, ‘What are we going to do about (losing) J-Rich?’ I think Buke answered that.”
** Of course, Azubuike wasn’t the only thing hopping in that first quarter. With all five starters in, the Warriors just ran the Lakers off the floor, 41-20. Not only did Golden State shoot 15-for-23 in the quarter, but it forced Kobe Bryant into four turnovers and no points. Ridiculous. “It was so easy, those first minutes, we thought that our season only ended a couple of days ago, because everybody already knew what to do, where to pass the ball, where to help each other (defensively),” Andris Biedrins said. “It was a really good feeling.”
** Who are you and what have you done with Patrick O’Bryant? The 7-footer wearing uniform No. 26 bore no resemblance to the O’Bryant of last season. This year’s model more than held his own against young Lakers big man Andrew Bynum and starting center Chris Mihm, finishing with 12 rebounds and three blocks. Coach Don Nelson, who challenged O’Bryant to prove himself in preseason games, said: “That’s the best I’ve ever seen him play.”
** Troy Hudson’s definitely seems 100 percent healthy, if the way he was hounding rookie Javaris Crittenton is any indication. And, oh yeah, he looked pretty good on that game-winning 20-footer.
** At 32, Austin Croshere may be the oldest Warrior under contract for this season, but still has some spring in those legs, as witnessed by a brutal third-quarter jam. And give him credit for setting the screen that freed up Hudson to get the inbounds pass on the game’s final play.
** Posting up Jackson was a focus of the game plan, and it worked to perfection. He had eight points on only three shots (4-for-4 from the line) and five assists against one turnover is maximum efficiency.
** By the way, sitting next to the Warriors’ bench (a luxury we writers are no longer afforded at the Oracle Arena) made it clear how much coaching Davis and Jackson are doing from the bench. Davis is especially looking after Belinelli, constantly offering advice.
** Biedrins sat out the second half with a sprained big toe on his left foot. It’s not known if it’ll keep him for playing on Thursday.
** Fox Sports Net reporter Matt Steinmetz was showered with affection from the stands by Warriors die-hards who shouted “Let’s go, Matt!” during one of his on-screen appearances.
– Geoff Lepper