What, a reporter asked Rivers, did you tell your players at halftime?
“Guard someone,” he replied.
On Tuesday, Vogel, the Lakers’ coach, forecast a tight battle with the Knicks. James was considered doubtful for the game, as he had a cold and body aches. (A few nights earlier, James could be heard advising teammates that his wife was sick and so he had to hurry home to the Brentwood manse.)
Alas for the Knicks, James came running down the ramp before the tip, and that was that. He finished with 31 points and a few Union Pacific freight train trips to the hoop. The Lakers won, 117-87.
“It was definitely cool,” Barrett said of facing James. “I mean, he was my favorite player growing up.”
Barrett, who was 3 when James played his rookie season, caught himself. “But you can’t think about that.”
Robinson, 21, the Knicks’ 7-foot-1, 224-pound center, spoke of this trip as a finishing school. His moment came Sunday when Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers’ chiseled and barrel-chested center, tossed him around like junior high schooler. “That was one bad game of me guarding him,” Robinson acknowledged. “I had to wake up and shape up, bro.”
True that. It’s the charm of this team that the young players sound like the college sophomores they might otherwise have been. At night’s end Tuesday, Barrett headed toward the door of the locker room in a blue hoodie and shorts.