TUESDAY Lakers 106, Rockets 99 Yao Ming's in town, but the
largest presence on the floor is Tiger Woods. Before tip-off he
gets some courtside love from Kobe Bryant. Says Bryant,
"Remember, we've known each other since I was 17 and he was 20."
That is, since 1996, when both debuted as professionals. The next
afternoon Woods praises Bryant's 52-point performance, Kobe's
sixth straight game with 40 or more, despite playing with a sore
right knee. Says Woods, "For him to go out there and suck it up
and make all those big shots and lead the team is pretty
WEDNESDAY Clippers 110, Bucks 104 Die-hard cheesehead Jerry Kelly
is in attendance to see Ray Allen and Toni Kukoc, who earlier
that day had visited Riviera to check out their Wisconsin buddy.
Or maybe not. "Actually, I think they were out watching Tiger's
pro-am round and just came over later to say hello," Kelly says.
He's disappointed with Milwaukee's loss but despondent when
informed on Thursday that Allen has been traded to the Sonics.
"I'll always be a Bucks fan," Kelly says, "but I'm going to be
rooting for him on his new team." Kelly doesn't have to wait
long: On Sunday night he heads back to the Staples Center for the
Sonics' 106--101 loss to the Lakers.
THURSDAY UCLA 76, Cal 75 Setting out for Pauley Pavilion, former
Arizona Wildcat (and high school point guard) Jim Furyk hopes to
enjoy some Pac10 payback. "I'm looking forward to seeing UCLA get
thumped," he says, "although this year that wouldn't be unique,
since they're getting thumped by everybody." Sorry, Jim, but it's
UCLA alum Scott McCarron who leaves Pauley feeling triumphant.
"When I was in school, we won all the time," says McCarron, a
1988 grad, "but lately it's been tough times. It was great to see
them win one."
FRIDAY Lakers 92, Blazers 84 Pat Bates, Robert Damron, Chris
DiMarco, Sergio Garcia and Pat Perez are in the stands as Bryant
scores a nifty 40 to extend his streak. "Kobe was unbelievable,
but he's still not better than Jordan," DiMarco opines. There are
two prominent absentees among the players--Woods and Colin
Montgomerie. "Tiger must've had something better to do tonight,"
says Bryant. But nobody defends the AWOL Scot, least of all
Lakers p.r. staff members, who are annoyed that Montgomerie
called for tickets, then failed to show. "It would have been fun
to watch with him," says Bates, glancing toward the empty seats
at the end of his row. "I'm sure he doesn't know much about
basketball." Or about making polite calls to cancel comped
ducats. --Chris Lewis
COLOR PHOTO: MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS (WOODS) TIGER JAM Woods cheered on his old friend Bryant.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (2, GARCIA, BATES) HAIR-RAISING Bates (with son John) missed an AWOL Monty.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (2, GARCiA, BATES) SHOWTIME Garcia and DiMarco saw Kobe drop 40.