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Monta Ellis scores 24 points to lead Warriors past Lakers

The loss makes for a bittersweet homecoming for the Lakers, who returned to the Forum for the first time since 1999.

October 10, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

The ghosts of Lakers past were surely in the building, ready to lend a helping hand in the Lakers' return to the Forum.

Only one problem: The present-day players were haunted by Golden State point guard Monta Ellis.

It was only an exhibition game, the second of the season for the Lakers, but the lightning-quick Ellis burned them for 24 points and eight assists in a 110-91 Warriors victory, putting a dent in the field trip to the place that housed six championship teams before a change of venue to Staples Center in 1999.

Andrew Bynum had 19 points, but the Lakers were run off the court by one of the league's highest-scoring offenses.

"Golden State was quicker than we were tonight, and it's noticeable," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "I thought our big guys were a little bit late on the help. Andrew's got to step into that vacuum, help our guards. He did a little better job in the second half."

Times have changed, yet the Forum really has not.

The Lakers' locker room looked the same, save for a new linoleum-like floor. Orange and gold seats still dotted the arena. The Forum Club looked well-preserved, so much so that you could almost picture Jack Nicholson holding court there before the game.

"Just like old times," proclaimed longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti as he walked into the locker room.

Kobe Bryant sat down at his old locker, the one that used to belong to Magic Johnson. Derek Fisher took his old locker too, the one next to a trainer's room that could politely be called compact.

On the other hand, times have definitely changed.

Championship banners no longer hang from the walls. There is a cavernous hole in the ceiling where the scoreboard used to hang.

The Lakers brought their lighting trusses and scorer's table from Staples Center, not to mention the basketball court and the actual baskets. They also brought two large LED screens and hung them at each end, good enough for temporary scoreboards.

The Forum has hosted numerous events over the years -- rock concerts, church assemblies and even a free health clinic in August that drew thousands -- but a large-scale basketball game was not one of them until Friday.

Just the same, Fisher took a microphone and told fans before the game, "Thank you for allowing us to come home just for one night."

Prices had also changed since the Lakers played their last meaningful game here, a playoff loss to San Antonio in May 1999. A premium draft beer and a "bigger better cheeseburger" cost $18 on Friday, for those fans willing to brave the long lines at the concession stand.

As for the game, the Lakers weren't nearly as seamless as in their 118-101 victory over the Warriors on Wednesday.

The Lakers had 16 turnovers in the first half and finished with 25.

They made two of 18 three-point attempts, with Bryant, Fisher and Ron Artest combining to miss all nine of their shots from behind the arc.

Then again, it's only October.

Overseas camp

The Lakers haven't played a game outside North America since 1991, though that is expected to change next year.

The Lakers are planning to play an exhibition game in Spain and might also hold training camp over there.

"Next year we're going to Barcelona, I hear," Jackson said.

Discussions are underway, but plans have not been finalized, said team spokesman John Black.

The Lakers played two exhibition games against French teams in Paris in October 1991.

Quick hits

The replacement referees had a busy night, giving Golden State's Stephen Jackson five fouls in the first quarter. Seventy-two free throws were awarded in the game. "They're interesting to look at," Jackson said of the referees. "I always kind of wonder what their profession is -- dog catchers, office managers. They're moonlighting." . . . Jackson, the Warriors' mercurial guard-forward, did not return to Golden State's bench for the second half. He had six points and five fouls in nine minutes.


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