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Places to Wet Your Whistle While Watching the Lakers

June 06, 2002

Downtown

Staples Center--Good luck getting tickets for a home game. But if you're interested in seeing an away game, Staples broadcasts them for spectators on a big-screen TV. (Tickets, available now for all away games, cost $10 for adults, $5 for children between 2 and 14.) If that doesn't work out, try Fox Sports Sky Box, a restaurant built to resemble an TV studio, with satellite feeds covering every sporting event on the air, real-time score tickers and no less than 54 screens (the largest one 16 feet wide). It's game-watching at its most decadent, but be forewarned: It's also a pillar of home-team allegiance. Unless you plan to burn it, leave your Nets gear at home. Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., downtown L.A., (213) 742-7340 or Ticketmaster, (213) 480-3232. Fox Sports Sky Box, (213) 742-7345.

Westside

Maloney's on Campus--This Westwood joint gets its fair share of Bruin business , but it's proven just as popular with nonstudents. Maybe the 23 TV sets, four of them big-screen, have something to do with it. Maybe it's beer company promos. Or maybe watching the Lakers is just one of those activities that transcends age barriers. 1000 Gayley Ave., Westwood, (310) 208-1942.

Hooters--If you're looking for viable Laker Girl substitutes, you can't do much better than this gleefully lowbrow joint. The menu features contests galore: jersey raffles, halftime trivia and, of course, a wing-eating contest. And as these are Hooters Wings, bring a competitive appetite. Also, bring a wallet, and be sure you use it throughout the evening if you don't want to get kicked out--there's plenty more where you came from. 321 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 458-7555; Also, 96 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 395-7700; 130 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 983-1010; 2406 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 723-5800.

San Fernando Valley

Champs--Basketball wasn't invented to lower anyone's blood pressure (if relaxation's your thing, take a mud bath), but Champs' refreshingly down-to-earth feel comes as close to soothing as the sport gets. That said, expect a turnout of at least 150 to 200 rabid fans at this popular bar. Also expect a discount price on a particular brand of beer, selected at random. On the off chance that you get bored watching the 12 TVs, two of which are big-screen, take a break at one of the free pool tables. 4103 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, (818) 840-9493.

Universal CityWalk--Parked in the middle of CityWalk's Cinema Plaza, adjacent to the Hard Rock Cafe, is the 18-by-22-foot Astrovision screen. And parked in front of that on any Lakers playoff night are about 1,000 screaming fans, many of whom line up hours in advance to stake out their seats. The good news: It's noisy. The other good news: It's freer than a free throw. Universal CityWalk, Hollywood Freeway at Lankershim Boulevard, (818) 622-9539.

Yankee Doodles--Beer promotions from Budweiser and Miller; raffles on gift certificates, prizes, shirts and hats; ESPN Radio on game nights; a special menu featuring old-fashioned American cuisine at bargain prices--hopefully, you'll still find time to watch the game. It would be hard not to; this two-story, 600-person-capacity bar has 40 TVs, eight of them big screens. 21870 Victory Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 833-3030. 1410 3rd St. (Third Street Promenade) Santa Monica, (310) 394-4632.

San Gabriel Valley

Moose McGillycuddys--One of Pasadena nightlife's most reliable establishments has a relatively low-key evening in store--that is, if five big-screen TVs, 27 smaller ones and a restaurant filled to capacity fit your definition of low-key. No free drinks or other giveaways here, but with a dance floor, live music and DJs spinning tunes from the '70s, '80s and '90s, it's still a sizable bargain. 119 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 304-9955.

National Sports Grill & Bar--Eight large-projection screens (approximately 10 feet each) plus one 21-foot screen (that's roughly three Shaqs) equals a sure-fire recipe for record turnout: On game nights, San Gabriel Valley's prime viewing spot serves as many as 900 patrons, with 200 more trying to fight their way in. Management is smart enough to keep the crowd happy by auctioning off valuable Laker memorabilia, from autographed photos to leather team jackets. 1360 W. Garvey Ave., West Covina, (626) 856-1000.

Q's Billiards--The folks at Q's were shrewd enough to procure authentic Laker jerseys to raffle off during recent games. (They're washed, of course. Take that as a good thing or a bad thing.) Expect the trend to continue, with even a pair of shorts or jackets thrown in if you're lucky. Four big-screen TVs, 30 smaller TVs, three floors and a capacity of 900 people--you do the math. But don't forget the $5 cover charge. 99 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 405-9777.

South Bay

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