Friday night in October. Los Angeles versus San Francisco. Two Long time California rivals battling it out in October. One a 2020 world champion, the other battling its way back into relevance after a decade full of titles. You have former MVPs on both sides, clashing in a beautiful building near Mission Bay in San Francisco, with title aspirations and regional bragging rights at stake.
We are talking of course about the third exhibition game of the preseason, between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers. Perhaps the stakes weren’t quite as high as they were down the shoreline at Oracle Park. Nevertheless, fans were invested, including my friend, who kept texting me about how good Damian Lee’s step back jumper looked, while Logan Webb was throwing 7 ⅔ shutout innings. This isn’t new for my friend. In 2013, we were in the stands for an A’s-Tigers playoff game, which he was ignoring to follow a Warrior’ preseason game against the Lakers. He couldn’t even enjoy the A’s walkoff victory because he was so disgusted with Toney Douglas.
But both San Francisco teams defeated their Los Angeles counterparts last night. If you missed the Warriors game, possibly because it was “meaningless” or “not the first time the Giants and Dodgers ever met in the playoffs” or “an exhibition game where Austin Reaves and Chris Chiozza played meaningful crunch time minutes,” we’ll try to recap it in terms you’ll understand.
Jordan Poole was Logan Webb: Gabe Kapler said Webb’s approach was to keep the ball in the zone, and whenever Poole had the ball last night, he was in the zone. Poole hit six three-pointers on his way to 28 points in 24 minutes. For the entire pre-season, he has 75 points in 70 minutes.
Steph Curry was Buster Posey: Both former MVPs seem fully-recovered from recent injuries. Curry and Posey both dominated near the dish, with Posey hitting a two-run homer and Curry going 9-10 on two-pointers on the way to 30 points.
Russell Westbrook was Cody Bellinger: Two other former MVPs struggled offensively for the Southern California team. Bellinger couldn’t recognize a breaking ball, and struck out twice, while Westbrook couldn’t recognize his own teammates, throwing the ball away to the tune of six turnovers in 17 minutes. Westbrook finished eight points, three rebounds, and four turnovers away from another signature triple-double, while Bellinger neither tripled nor doubled.
Otto Porter Junior was Kris Bryant: A veteran acquisition hit some bombs. Bryant hit one out off Walker Buehler; Porter went 2/4 from long range, punishing the Lakers defense for sagging off him. Porter excelled in a spacing-heavy lineup alongside Nemanja Bjelica and Poole that closed the first half on a 9-0 run, while Bryant provided outfield range for the Giants, whose entire game was a 4-0 run.
Avery Bradley was Evan Longoria: Neither one of these guys have been hitting anything recently, but hey, they’re winning games. And how about that veteran defensive presence?
Carmelo Anthony was Alex Vesia: Anthony and Vesia are specialists who are on the roster for specific reasons. Anthony is supposed to hit outside shots, and Vesia is supposed to get out dangerous left-handed hitters. Last night Melo was 0-4 from three, and Vesia gave up a home run to Brandon Crawford. No word on what kind of outlandish fedora either man was wearing after the game.
Draymond Green was Brandon Crawford: Draymond and Crawdaddy may have thrown the ball away a time or two, but they played excellent defense and did a great of delivering the ball on time, whether it was Crawford completing an impossible double play or Green racking up seven assists in just 24 minutes.
Moses Moody was Camilo Doval: Maybe neither Moody or Doval will be starters in the immediate future. But both young players are excellent closers, with Doval shutting down the Dodgers in the ninth inning and Moody closing out the game defensively by drawing a charge in the final minute. They both have cool names and they’re even cooler under pressure.
LeBron James was Max Scherzer: James and Scherzer are both future Hall of Famers, and both of them took the night off.
Klay Thompson was Brandon Belt: Thompson and Belt are currently injured, but these two leaders, who joined their Bay Area teams in 2011, are still around to support their teammates. Also, Brandon Belt declared himself the team captain, while Klay is an actual sea captain.