DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Javaris Crittenton is eager to get his career started with the Lakers.
The Lakers and Warriors kick off preseason play in Hawaii
STORY SUMMARY »
The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors wrap up their training camp stays in Hawaii with two exhibition games tomorrow and Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Lakers and Warriors went 42-40 last season and feature dynamic guards in Kobe Bryant and Baron Davis, and several heralded rookies making their first appearances in NBA uniforms.
"I'm definitely looking forward to that," said Lakers guard Javaris Crittenton, the team's first-round draft pick. "First real NBA experience. I had summer league but this is the real deal."
While the veterans use the preseason to get into a rhythm for the regular season, it can be a proving ground for those hoping to win a roster spot.
Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets are available at etickethawaii.com and by calling 944-2697.
FULL STORY »
How much do preseason games matter?
Depends on whom you ask.
"The first two games of preseason are the most important of the season. We have GOT to win those," Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson joked after a recent practice in Laie.
Sure, preseason scores -- particularly early on -- have little bearing on the course of a team's season. But there are things for the Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers to get done when they open their exhibition schedules with two games this week at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Veterans generally use the preseason to establish a rhythm in preparation for the regular season. For rookies and free agents, there's a chance to enhance their case to make the roster.
For others, just getting back on the court is a big deal even if the scores aren't.
"It's going to be exciting, and I love playing out here in Hawaii," said Lakers center Chris Mihm, who missed all of last season following ankle surgery. "These fans are great, so we'll have some fun and I'll enjoy putting that jersey on again."
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Golden State coach Don Nelson, center, talked to his players during practice last week.
After two of the league's most accomplished coaches -- Nelson and the Lakers' Phil Jackson -- worked their teams through a week of training camp, the Lakers and Warriors will test their early progress in games tomorrow and Thursday at the Sheriff Center. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
"We feel really good about ourselves," said Golden State forward Andris Biedrins. "We can't wait to start our exhibition games to see where we are."
The Warriors spent the week on the North Shore, training at BYU-Hawaii's Cannon Activities Center and Kahuku High School. The Lakers split their practice time between Iolani School and the Sheriff Center.
Having the chance to watch Lakers star Kobe Bryant, the two-time defending NBA scoring champion with 31.6 points per game, take the floor will be much of the attraction for local fans. Bryant sat out a practice over the weekend to rest a sore knee, but is expected to play this week.
Golden State returns Baron Davis, who led the Warriors with 20.1 points per game and helped the Warriors break a 12-year playoff drought last season and score an upset of top-seeded Dallas.
The games will also mark the debuts of several rookies, including first-round picks Javaris Crittenton of the Lakers and the Warriors' Marco Belinelli and Brandan Wright, who was acquired in a draft-day trade.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Two-time defending NBA scoring champion Kobe Bryant of the Lakers missed a practice this weekend to rest a sore knee, but he is expected to play in this week's exhibition games at the Stan Sheriff Center.
With the established stars likely to play limited minutes rather than risk injury this early in the season, some of the younger players hope to use their opportunities to prove their worth to the coaches.
"I think it's like when you take a test -- you can learn the information, but you have to be able to answer the questions and put it into action," said Lakers guard Coby Karl, a rookie free agent out of Boise State.
"I think the coaches are going to be looking for guys who understand the game and can do some things on the floor. Basketball is basketball. It's fun, but at the same time, there's going to be a little more pressure on us."
Others may not make it to the floor. Luke Walton missed practice time with a tight hamstring, and Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown are easing their way back from injuries. The Warriors got a scare on Friday night when guard Monta Ellis was briefly hospitalized following a collision with a teammate in practice. He was released early Saturday morning with a sprained neck.
Star-Bulletin reporter Billy Hull contributed to this story.