As I took my seat at Staples Center right before tip-off against the Golden State Warriors, something was severely off.
It was my first game in attendance of the 2014-2015 season, and things had changed drastically since the last game I attended — which happened to be a game last season against the Warriors as well, albeit that game resulted in a win for the Lakers.
There was no energy in the building, despite the pending tribute to Lakers great Elgin Baylor at halftime.
I was all the way atop the rafters for this game, so I had a perfect view of just how listless the stadium looked and sounded. One fan even fell asleep right in front of me for the duration of the game, although likely due to other reasons.
Anyway, the Warriors proceeded to attack and abuse the Lakers, and Kobe Bryant fired up shot after shot in an attempt to keep the game close, all to no avail.
The defense looked anything but sharp, giving up 136 points — albeit to one of the most explosive teams in the league.
Now, Staples Center is notorious for being more low-key and “Hollywood” for Lakers games, but despite that, the game I attended last season was filled with energy and excitement throughout, en route to a 102-95 victory for the Lake Show.
This time around, I could have literally finished up studying for my Series 66 exam with the non-existent background noise.
What’s different from last season and this season, even though both teams were/are huge disappointments by Lakers standards?
Well for one, the team is completely different. New coach, plenty of new players, and no Pau Gasol. There also appears to be no chemistry, either.
Kobe Bryant, however, is back and looking remarkably healthy and durable in his 19th season at age 36.
Is he shooting too many shots and taking the Lakers out of their offense? That’s a story for another day and one that hopefully won’t be much of a storyline after Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Another aspect that’s different from this year’s Lakers compared with last has been the absence of Nick Young.
However, Swaggy P — as Young famously dubbed himself — makes his return tonight after recovering from a torn ligament in his right hand.
See where I’m going with this?
Lakers Practice Report: Nick Young Update, Jeremy Lin’s Comfort Zone