Thursday’s exhibition game ended too late to get any details into Friday’s paper, so here’s an update from the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu:
** Despite playing the entire first quarter without a true point guard (Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes splitting ball-handling duties in the half-court), the Warriors still did well enough to score 30 points. The Jackson-as-point guard experiment was not spectacular, notwithstanding his on-the-money alley oop to leading scorer Kelenna Azubuike (22 points) in transition. The Warriors were able to succeed in that period because they hit 13 of 22 shots, and that’s something that’s really stood out in these two games — everyone on this roster has the ability to hit open jump shots. Yes, the Warriors will rely on the fast break to help fuel their offense, but their half-court game is infinitely more varied this season because of that all-around shooting ability. And that’s a very good thing.
** Center Patrick O’Bryant continued to play outstanding ball, this time in the place of injured starter Andris Biedrins. What was most impressive was that O’Bryant showed off a completely different facet of his game than he did Tuesday. This time, O’Bryant featured his offensive game (10 points on 5-for-6 shooting), most notably his ability to post up defenders and then find cutting teammates for easy layups (leading to four assists). If he can do that with regularity in the regular season, he will make a fairly compelling case for a place in the rotation.
** Barnes was joking before the game about being “in midseason form” with all his assorted bumps and bruises, and he added another one with 8:20 remaining in the third quarter, when he knocked knees with ex-Warrior guard Derek Fisher. Barnes got to his feet rubbing his left knee and lower thigh, then hobbled off to the bench and did not return.
** Mickael Pietrus, who like Barnes was looking to avenge a poor performance on Tuesday, did so for 2 1/2 quarters (17 points, four rebounds), but then had to leave after twisting his back at the 5:59 mark while defending a Bryant 3-pointer. It was officially diagnosed as a strained back, and he also did not return.
** Pietrus was replaced by rookie Stephane Lasme, but that only lasted a couple of minutes before Lasme joined the injury parade with a sprained left ankle.
** Rookie Brandan Wright started at power forward and performed adequately. He wasn’t terrific — things started poorly when Ronny Turiaf spun him like a top for an easy three-point play 57 seconds into the game — but he wasn’t terrible, either. Nelson said pregame that both Wright and Kosta Perovic will probably bounce between the D-League and the Warriors. Given how Perovic has looked in scrimmages, you’d have to give the edge to Wright in terms of who’s more likely to stay in Oakland.
** Wright was the target of some of Don Nelson’s verbal ire, but it was nothing compared to the tongue-lashings administered to Marco Belinelli, who is still struggling in assimilating the playbook but managed to score 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting. He also finally got on the floor for the first time with his idol, Kobe Bryant. Belinelli wound up picking up Bryant a couple times, and even forced a turnover on one of Bryant’s more reckless drives.
** Speaking of Bryant, Lakers coach Phil Jackson had to admit pregame that his star has been “distracted, obviously,” by owner Jerry Buss’ admission that he’s willing to listen to trade offers for his lone remaining superstar. Bryant had another bizarre performance in which he constantly broke down the Warriors’ defense only to dish off to teammates who often couldn’t convert. It wasn’t necessarily Bryant’s way of telling Buss, “Go fetch me some better teammates,” but sitting courtside, it sure seemed like it.
** The way Barnes kept attacking Lakers rookie Coby Karl, you would have thought Coby’s dad, Nuggets coach George, had cut Barnes loose at some point in his NBA travels.
** Lakers camp is not a bad gig for the referees, either. Jim Clark, Gary Zielinski and Tommy Nunez Jr. worked both games here and enjoyed a mostly free day off in Honolulu on Wednesday on David Stern’s tab.
— Geoff Lepper