Tales from the game and tales from the road trip
Here we go …
Doing what they’re supposed to
Even before the season, when everyone was getting all excited – almost too excited – what I figured had to happen for these fellas to have a good season was pretty simple:
They had to beat up on the other suspect young teams (and there are a lot of them), take care of things at home and steal a win out of nowhere against “good” teams and they’d get to where they should be:
Hovering right around that 38 to 41 win range that would put them in post-season contention, which is where they want to be.
In this stretch they’ve beaten Orlando twice, Cleveland, Detroit and New Orleans – all games they need to get to get where they want to go – and have surprised Houston and Dallas at home.
Yes, a few got away from them early – Charlotte, Detroit, Philly, Indy -- and that may ultimately cost them but, to this point, they’ve done pretty much exactly what I thought they’d do.
And with the way the schedule is and the way their confidence in blossoming and the way the rest of the league is shaking out, I think we might be in for a fun few months.
I didn’t get to run into John Lucas III after the game – something about having to go write – but just the fact that I could have was pretty significant.
It has to say something about a young man that he’d get back to his team after attending his grandmother’s funeral that afternoon, something about his personality and about the strength of a team, as Dwane alluded to before the game.
“I told him, ‘hey you don’t have to make it back, just take your time,’ but he wanted to get back and be with his team. A lot of times when you’re in those situations, it gives you a little solace to be with your friends and teammates and be around basketball. He was close to his grandmother and he felt like it would help him to get back here and be with his teammates.”
Know how I was talking about Dwane realizes there’s still all kinds of work to do and they haven’t done very much at all in this morning’s game story?
Well the message seems to be getting through, as Jose noted after the game.
“I think right now we just have to take it game by game. We are still 11-20 so it’s not like we’re back. We still have a big losing record and like coach said we have more to do. Don’t get too excited. It’s a step by step, game by game thing.
“Don’t think too much about what we’re doing. I think we’re playing great and it’s fun and nice to see everyone happy and doing the right thing but at the end of the day it’s just one game.”
That’s going to be Dwane’s biggest task in this coming homestand, making sure these guys don’t get too full of themselves.
Quickly, some more from the three-city, seven-flight (I hate United!), six-day journey?
I’m sitting in a couple of airplanes – and seats 32B and 41D are as delightful as they sound – and Super Family is wandering the French Quarter and run into this fellow filming a scene of something.
Antoine Batiste is one cool dude.
Want some snippets from the road? Here are some highlights or lowlights, depending on your view:
THREE (non-traditional) POINTERS
We’re in San Antonio and arrive at the arena to pick up that night’s credentials. There’s a gentleman of Even A Greater Vintage Than I sitting at the desk and he doesn’t have our passes.
So he brings out the old flip phone – yes, they still make them – and calls someone from the Spurs to bring them up, leaving a message for the obviously busy staffer.
We’re waiting and waiting somewhat impatiently – we have our league credentials, sure they can just write us new Spurs ones – when the dude’s phone rings.
I swear, he picks it up, starts screaming “Hello? Hello? Chris, is that you?”
Nothing out of the ordinary except …
THE PHONE IS STILL RINGING!
He’s got it to his ear, hasn’t actually answered and the thing rings about four times while he’s yelling hello.
Reminded me of this classic from the latest Three Stooges.
A Family Affair
It’s 4:45 a.m. when I walk out of my room in New Orleans to check out and get the first flight of the day and I come around the corner of the hallway, another door opens and this pajama-clad young woman, has to be in her 20s, walks out of her room with a baby – can’t be more than four or five months old – on her shoulder.
I figure maybe the baby’s a bit cranky and she’s going for a walk down in the lobby so her husband or whoever can sleep a bit.
We ride the elevator in silence, we get to the lobby and there’s this guy at the desk—and he has been major league over-sold at the bar – and he’s hot. Yelling and slamming the desk top, demanding the police in his slurred words (I heard “yeah, I’m a bit effed up but that doesn’t matter) and I’m thinking, ‘wow.’
Seems the guy had been in some bar fight or street fight, had either been charged or arrested and he wants the cops back or something – I really couldn’t quite understand him – and he’s making a big time ruckus. The poor young woman, with her baby and slippers and pajamas – it’s 4:50 a.m., mind you – is just standing there, looking sad. Drunk Dude finally gets calmed down and stumbles to the elevator; the woman stands there for a few minutes and walks back towards the room.
Sickening at some big level.
A Helping Hand
Another NOLA story.
I get to the airport on the off-day, walk out to the concourse to take the escalator down to ground transportation to meet Gumby Of The Sun when this porter, pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair, motions me over.
I’m just about to tell him that, no, I’m not with the woman when he says:
“Sir, can you help me out? Can you ride down one floor with this woman, I’m afraid of elevators and don’t want to take her down the baggage claim.”
Um, okay, sure.
So I push the lady to the elevator, help her in, ride down one floor push her chair back out the door and there’s the porter waiting for us.
I have no clue what the woman thought of the situation, we didn’t speak, but I figure that was my good deed for the trip.
Yeah, it was a helluva road trip, indeed.
Time to come home.