Preview and Chat: The Sacramento Kings

Kurt —  April 15, 2008

Records: Lakers 56-25 (1 seed); Kings 38-43 (11 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.7 (3rd); Kings 109.0 (13th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 107.2 (7th); Kings 111.5 (25th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Kings: Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia, John Salmons, Mikki Moore, Spencer Hawes

Lakers Notes: There is a tendency for teams to look past the last game of the year against a banged-up opponent playing just for pride. But, with the top seed in the West and home court through conference playoffs on the line, the Lakers had better show up to play tonight like they have the last two games. You don’t play to see who you can get first round — there are no good options — you play for home court.

If you don’t think the Kings will come out playing hard, ask the Hornets from a couple nights back. Or, remember the Lakers game against them last month.

Go Forth And Vote: The fine folks (and good bloggers) at Hardwood Paroxysms have put together an NBA blogger end of season ballot for you to vote on. I’m assuming this will be an American-style election where your vote is at least counted, as opposed to a third-world dictator election where the results will be thrown out and they will name themselves winners in every category.

The Kings coming in: The Lakers catch a break as it appears that Kevin Martin and Ron Artest will sit out tonight, and Brad Miller remains out. The Kings still have talent on the roster, but that takes away some of the scoring firepower (even if Artest is not efficent in getting those buckets).

Also, this is the second night of a back-to back for the Kings, who last night put a scare in San Antonio (after a 15-2 fourth quarter run gave the Kings a 6-point lead) but fell 101-98.

Despite the record and missing the playoffs, if I were a Kings fan, I’d be pretty happy about the last month of play (and I know Tom Ziller is). Beno Udrih has established himself as a solid point guard who can lead this team for years. Francisco Garcia as a solid role player guy and Spencer Hawes has found a comfortable place in this league. John Salmons is a nice role guys as well and Sheldon Williams has developed into a decent player off the bench. Mix in the efficent scoring of Kevin Martin and you have some nice pieces for rebuilding with a young, long and athletic core. Certainly there are needs, but there is a young core to start with. That should give Kings fans hope.

Keys To The Game: It has to start with focus tonight — the Kings (even without Martin and Artest) are too good to think the Lakers can just coast past them. This is a team with a quick point guard running the pick-and-roll all night, if the Lakers take a night off from defending that they are going to be in a fight. Come out focused on defense and Kobe and crew can rest in the fourth as we all wish it could have been Son of George time.

On offense, the Lakers should have no problem scoring — the Kings are not a good defensive team and Kobe should be able to get his on Salmons (even if he hasn’t in the past). Plus, they are not good defensively on the block and would have to double Gasol, which should lead to open looks for others.

As for what to do on defense, well, Bill Bridges in the comments did it better than I:

The Lakers have gotten very good over the last 2 games at following over the screen on one hand (Fisher and Farmar) and also aggressively showing on the other (Gasol and Odom). The difference in the last two games is that the guards didn’t go under the screen and that the bigs quickly retreated back into the lane after showing. Of course, the big’s effectiveness was enhanced due to the fact that neither West nor Duncan are particularly good at slipping the screen and diving to the hoop on the pick and roll. What I mean is that the retreat and cover of Gasol/Odom still has a way to go to handle Amare.

The problem facing the Lakers D with the Kings is whether the pick and roll defensive scheme is as effective when translated to stop a left handed point guard. (The Lakers traditionally have been very poor at covering lefties) Basically the entire defense has to be rotated in a mirror-image form. There is a danger that the bigs will be slower to retreat and cover after showing with the right leg forward. When they defend right-handed PGs and show with their left leg forward, Gasol retreats back with his dominant leg. There is a tendency for retreating for bigs to retreat back with the dominant leg. When he shows with his right leg forward to defend Udrih, lets hope he can retreat back leading with his non-dominant leg instead of switching and thus slowing down his retreat.

Udrih likes to shoot the J coming off the screen so Fisher and Farmar has to fight harder to try to stay with him. Also Miller being out could cause a bigger problem because Spencer Hawes is much more aggressive at diving to the hoop whereas Miller is exclusively a pick n pop guy. John Salmons has been a problem in the past. For some reason he gets up to play Kobe and plays him well. Kobe has to concentrate on stopping Salmons instead of ignoring him as he usually does.

Francisco Garcia: Play him like Peja. Miki Moore: Let him shoot the 18 footer but not straight away. Salmon: play him to drive. Likes a pull up J. In transition stop him early – doesn’t have great handles.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7:30 pm Fox Sports West here in LA and League Pass nationally. (Sorry, NBATV is going Magic/Hawks tonight.)

Kurt

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68 responses to Preview and Chat: The Sacramento Kings

  1. That was very informative, Bill Bridges. How do you know so much??

  2. Let’s all pray for a blitz in the first half and a limited night for Kobe and Fish. They’ve both played all 81 games this year and a little extra rest for the playoffs would be a nice luxury. That said, we can expect a dogfight from the Kings, who have a lot of pride for a team that was never really in the playoff picture

  3. Bill, I don’t agree with you… There is no dominant leg on defense and there’s no such thing as a mirror defense. At least not at this level (and even lower levels). The problem with covering a left handed player has more to do with his shooting than anything else, but even that is more noticeable on low post moves than on perimeter play.

    I do agree with everything else… Beat the Kings, and have home court advantage until we face the Celtics.

  4. well, over the past few years, I’m usually starting to prepare myself for the first round exit, and the blues that come with the end of B’ball (for me it pretty much ends when the Lakers are done) and the only game is baseball, which is pretty boring to me (unless you go in person or it’s a penent race).
    however, this year feels just a little bit different, for I suspect we’ll get past the first round this year. and the second round, too. and the western finals, ahhhhh…
    with some luck, we won’t have to face our “end of the season” blues for maybe 2 more months…wouldn’t that be nice?
    and at least this year we’ll have the olympics…and summer league might be interesting…and finally, the fall comes around and we can start reading about pre-season, etc.
    I not a real fan of any other sports teams, just the Lakers and I’m a die hard, catch every game, feel the pain and the joy!
    end of the season, yes, but no reason for the blues! yeah!

  5. Interesting article on Kobe…

    http://tinyurl.com/3gjfya

    By the way, not to get sappy with the last game of the season and all……but I wanted to thank everyone for contributing to this wonderful site. I’ve had so much fun during this crazy season reading and sharing thoughts with fellow intelligent and respectful Lakers fans. Not only is it fun to share insights with others……..it has personally gratifying to learn from others (i.e. Kurt, Reed, Craig W., Stephen, Warren, Renato, Kwame A., Bill, and many more I’m forgetting!) as well.

    So as we (crossing fingers, knock on wood) bask in our victory tonight and finish with the #1 seed (given this past summer, who would’ve thought!)…….kudos to you all for making this site a tremendous joy!

    Go Lakers!

  6. Kurt, any thoughts on an “FB&G” Lakers viewing party??

    It’d be nice to put a face to a name and watch a lakers playoff game together.

    I’m located in the OC, but would be willing to drive up to LA if necessary.

  7. I’ll be at this game tonight. Luck of the draw gave me the last game of the season but fortunately it isn’t a throw away game for once. I’ll be wearing my Kobe for MVP shirt, and laughing at Artest somehow finding a way to show up and play despite sitting so much. So excited for a possible lock on the number 1 seed, seems like it has been forever.

  8. the other Stephen April 15, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    yeah, i got a little bit lost thinking about the “dominant leg on defense.” beno can really slice and dice, so we we need to watch out. but here’s a video of kobe utterly mashing udrih to potatoes from a couple years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbFlgE1yS1s&feature=related

  9. Well Renato you may be right. Just something I observed from the last time the Lakers defended Udrih. It may just down to the fact that there are very few left handed point guards. If you gear your D to stop Paul, Williams, Parker, Davis etc… a left hander might take you by surprise, much like a southpaw in boxing. Other than Udrih, I can only think of Conley and he’s no threat at all in the West and none of any consequence in the east. Of course the Lakers have Fisher but we don’t run pick and roll with him at all!

    And if you are used to making certain rotations to stop the right handed PNR, the constant practice will embed certain movements and reactions into muscle memory. That you are a step slow defending an unorthodox left handed pnr is not out of the realm of possibility.

    Having said all that…. I really don’t see a problem tonight. The only problem is that the Hornets probably beat Dallas while Denver wins out. First round vs Dallas coming up.

  10. Gatinho-What is going on up in the Bay, Warriors had a great season, but no playoffs and B.Diddy is benched the WHOLE second half of there playoff decider? Is he gone?

  11. I’m up in Santa Cruz. I would love to have an up north viewing party in the city or San Francisco.

  12. Tim Kawakami wrote a good speculative article about why Boom Dizzle sat the last half, but it is simply speculation. http://www.mercextra.com/blogs/kawakami/2008/04/14/phoenix-122-warriors-116-nelson-vs-baron-to-end-the-season-what-a-fascinating-game/

    BD didn’t talk to reporters either.

    He sat him in favor of Kelena Azubuike, who has become a solid player, remember how did against Kobe?, who was actually attempting to guard Nash in the screen roll.

    The Warrior faithful are shaken because no one has won 48 games and not made the playoffs ( if not ever, it is something like 15 years ago). BD, Biedrins and Ellis are all restricted FA or have an option, Mullin (and Nellie) have some tough off season decisions to make.

    I have to admit I blew some three fingered kisses to some co-workers this morning ala BD when they beat the Lakers in Oakland

  13. 12-Thanks. I love that you got the co-workers with the three-fingered kisses, I would love to send an E-card to all Warrior fans doing the same. They will be mad about that last win we got against them for a long long time.

  14. ADB, if there is interest in a viewing party we could try to put one together during the playoffs. Honestly, because of my wife being well into her pregnancy, I’d probably want to do it in Long Beach or the South Bay, just to be cautious. But if there is interest, we could probably find a spot.

  15. If we all got together I suspect we would be a really weird bunch. I live in Glendale and could make it pretty much anywhere.

  16. I have to thank everyone who contributed as well,i have been viewing this site since the beginning of the season, and i have learned a whole lot about the lakers. Thanks again guys. I will be at the game tonight, and hopefully we will clinch #1 seed
    Cheers

  17. i´ll bring the signed basketballs i promised you at the beginning of the season.

    ps-but please try to make it a home game

  18. Bill Bridges is the man

  19. By the way, if you haven’t seen it, Knickerblogger did a very good western conference playoff seeding scenarios breakdown.

    http://www.knickerblogger.net/index.php/2008/04/15/western-conference-seeding-scenarios/

  20. Just once I’d like to watch the Lakers without a bunch of haters around. Living In Spur country is brutal. (tired of giving myself the high five) This should be a good test of finishing off ..be it a season or a series. Finish.

  21. 13- They are still talking about that Ellis offensive foul… then I remind them that they lost their first 6 games because someone was suspended.

  22. Texas Rob (#20): Got a little Bogut in you, huh?

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=Zc11PUnFgkQ

    Bill Bridges: Love the analysis. Though I do think that there are a few guards like Nash, Paul, and Deron that can run the P&R effectively to both hands, so hopefully we have seen enough of those guys to be able to play it both ways. I must agree, though, that our “show” man on the P&R has been much more agressive in both “showing” and recovering to the paint to either his own, or the weak side big. These types of rotations are all effort plays where the guys need to show the proper amount of dedication to what it means to play team defense. Look at Boston, and tell me we couldn’t play that way if we just played harder and more efficiently on D.

    Players that slip the screen are always an issue though. Especially those guys who do it flawlessly like Amare. That is where the awareness of the other defenders comes into play. If our big, who is showing, and the guard, who is going over the top, end up in a soft trap on the ball and the screen setter dives, the opposite side big needs to rotate and our weakside guard has to play 2 men on the backside (one in the corner and the other at the extended elbow above the 3 point line). That is where having an athletic wing man like Kobe (or even Ariza) comes in handy…they are much more capable of covering the space that exists when they are put in that type of “zone” defense when 2 guys are on the ballhandler. Awareness by the weakside big to step up and stop the dive man, though, is the key there.

    As for the Warriors and Baron…I was confused by Nellie. I think he rode the “hot” unit for too long. Sure ‘Buke and Croshere and the rest of those guys brought the team back, but they were gassed by the end of the game. Meanwhile Baron and Harrington are on the bench and Barnes is still in his warmups. I just think that when Phoenix came back and took the lead back, Nellie needed to go to the guys that had the fresh legs. Instead, Monta and JackO are trying to provide the offense and they didn’t have the gas in their tanks. I know that Baron was awful for the entire night, but you have to give one of your best players the chance, don’t you? Just my take as a guy living in Oakland.

  23. I know this is a longshot, but if there’s anyone in the Central Coast area who wants to watch some playoff games, let me know.

    Warren – I posted a response to your Kobe salary scenario in the last thread.

    Kurt – This is probably a silly question, but are knickerblogger.net and knickerblogger.blogspot two different guys? Which knickerblogger is the “original”.

  24. #22: Where are you at Matt? I’m from the Central Coast, but now live in the bay.

  25. 19-That is a great link Kurt.I guess we are rooting for San Antonio (ensuring them and Phoenix are in the other half of the bracket) and Dallas (ensuring we play Denver).

  26. Although i don’t regularly contribute by leaving comments, i read this blog every single day and have enjoyed reading it since almost 2 yrs ago….i would love to meet some of the very insightful ppl…lets make a viewing party happen!

    as for tonight…..go lakers!

  27. Darius, I’m in SLO. I lived up in the Bay Area for a while too, first in SF, then in Sonoma.

  28. 23. Matt, knickerblogger.net is the original. He’s as “old school” NBA blogger as that term allows.

  29. #22 – That is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I think I am delirious from work now.

    I expect the Lakers to come in and take care of business today. Given all the people that are out for the queens this game shouldn’t be close.

    I am definitely down for a viewing party. Given it’s a weekend of course, and people in SD wanna do something I am deifintely game.

    I am happy with how Luke is playing lately. I am not his biggest fan and he has struggled since he went down last year. He definitely has picked up his play as of late being smarter and putting himself in a position to succeed. I would like to see how he does through out the playoffs.

  30. Craig, I’m in Glendale too, so we could carpool. haha..
    sounds like it’s going to have to happen in the south bay, but I’m ok with that.

  31. Mr. Bridges, you make some great points and obviously know your b-ball…but, I just can’t agree with your argument regarding the troubles that left-handed point guards give us.

    For one, you mention that, “the entire defense has to be rotated in a mirror-image form.”…I just don’t agree. Offenses don’t flip when a left-handed point comes into a game. Admittedly, the passing angles are a little different…but, the great points can pass with either hand anyways…

    Also, who are these historic point guards that have given the Lakers trouble? Mighty Mouse and Nick the Quick are the only two top-tier lefties I can think of since Kenny Anderson (unless you mean J Rose – who is one of my heroes – or Kukoc??? – another hero).

    Oh, there is one more guy – Fish – but isn’t he on our team? Farmar and Sasha must be used to guarding him. Plus, isn’t Odom a lefty? And (sorry, I’m going for the jugular here) isn’t Phil Jackson a south-paw as well?…he should be able to scheme up something…

    Anyhow, I don’t mean to be argumentative…just hoping (anxious) that Kobe takes it to Salmons…it’ll be embarrassing if we lose tonight…I have faith though…

  32. By the way, if we do this it doesn’t have to be down south. Maybe downtown LA if that is central. As I said, I have put no real thought into this.

  33. when does the league announce the playoff schedule? Can we assume that the Lake show will kick off on Sunday?

  34. downtown’s very good for us Glendalians.
    but where downtown? I used to live down there, maybe the hotel next to the Staples, but then we’re going to be in game day traffic, unless it’s an away game.
    let me ask around, lot’s of new places opening up downtown.

  35. i seriously doubt a player’s left-or-right handedness changes anything. This isn’t baseball, and even in baseball left vs. right has more to do with individual players than trends.

    there’ll be tendencies and preferences, but those are easily adjusted at an individual level, i’d think, as long as the defender reads the scouting report…

  36. re: downtown, the Biltmore does have a sports bar, and if I recall, it wasn’t Biltmore prices, average prices, typical bar food, lots of screens around, dark room, so it’d be ok for viewing.
    I asked my buddy who still lives down there, and he’s going to check around.

  37. 35-Unfortunatley I heard that place closed, although I am not sure.

  38. 36 wouldn’t surprise me, not enough clientel at the time I was down there, the places there were more late night clubbing, and USC kids, the Standard, Golden Gopher, the bar at the Hotel Figeroua was dope though!

  39. I’ve been exclusively lurking on the site all season. You guys know your ball better than I ever will. You’ve all been a great read. Thanks!

    I’m stuck up in the great wet north but I have a big old house just east of Seattle. I can put a bunch of folks up for a weekend to watch a game on the 42 inch HD. We could even go down to Key Arena and toss pebbles at the tires of the moving trucks as they take the Sonics to OK City after the game. ;-)

  40. I’ll actually be in town this coming weekend and would love a Biltmore FB&G viewing party to open the post season with. I haven’t contributed much beyond daily clicks to the site. It would be great to buy Kurt a drink as well.

    Hell, the last time I was at the Biltmore it was to watch the 2000 election unfold in a hotel full of Democrat functionaries. Biltmore knows drama.

  41. This Sunday I’ll be at the Long Beach Grand Prix.

  42. I’m a part of the group that doesn’t comment but reads daily… I would love a viewing party. I live in San Diego during the week and OC for the weekend… wherever the party is, I want to be there to hang out with all of you great insightful people!

  43. Warren Wee Lim April 15, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Matt – Yeah I also thought so of that 10.5% raise thingie… which made me doubt my own proposal first of all. Nevertheless, I think Mitch has one of those “brilliant lawyers” that aided him to make the McKie move which Cuban then followed suit thru Van Horn. I think something can be worked out and it may involve Kobe not opting out after all.

    I love your viewing party idea… somehow I live in the Philippines so perhaps we can meet up somewhere in the middle of the pacific ocean? LOLz.

  44. Warren Wee Lim April 15, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Anyone interested in how BSPN made its MVP vote? Kobe got 64 points as supposed to CP3′s 60pts. The Scoring they did was rotisserie of the fantasy leagues, 5pts for 1st place votes and 4pts for 2nd, and so on…

  45. ok, it’s official, no Martin, no Artest, and no Brad Miller…
    this scares me a bit because of that Utah game where they were missing 2 of their stars, came out and kicked our butts.
    I hope the news that Sacto won’t have those key players causes our guys to let down, because on any night, any player can have a career night, they are pros, and are more than capable.
    NO LET UPS!

    another possibility for downtown, the New Otani in Little Tokyo, might have a sports bar, I’ll look into it. (They do have an amazing rooftop bar, if you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to go there, it has weird hours though, only open to the public on weeknights, from like 5PM to 9PM, but it’s worth it mates.)

  46. Kurt-

    You know I love the blog and I’m a huge supporter, but I’m afraid I can’t cast my vote for you as the best blogger until the end of the season. The best bloggers make their team better, so I’m going to have to support the blogger whose team finishes best in the western conference. I’m pulling for the Lakers tonight, I’d like to give you the lifetime achievement award, but these are the arbitrary guidelines I’m following. I’m sure you understand.

  47. I’m glad the Suns ended up with M. Banks over J. Salmons, he (Salmons) would’ve been a great bench weapon for them.

  48. the other Stephen April 15, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    that blog vote was wack. i don’t even read any other blogs besides this one, maybe with the exception of clipper blog. anyway, everyone pleaase watch that clip of bogut high fiving himself that Darius posted at #22.

  49. Kobe is shooting… shooting… and shooting…

  50. where’s coby karl tonight?

  51. 49 – I personally dont give a damn considering we are blowing out the Kings. This one, is one to savor.

  52. This team, it seems, is having some fun……

  53. The Lakers:

    Where Pacific Division Champions happens…
    Where Western Conference Champions happens…
    Where and we’re not done yet happens.

  54. Really missing Coby Karl tonight :(

  55. The Dude Abides April 15, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Well…I guess they are playing Chris Mihm tonight to see if he could give them something for the postseason. Answer….no.

  56. As citizens of the NBA, it falls on the rest of us to help Save the Sonics! I beg you to please post your team/owner’s information with the following. Thanks!

    We Miami Heat fans have put together a proposed plan of action here: http://thesouthfloridafan.blogspot.com/2008/04/how-to-help-seattle-keep-their-sonics.html

    It involves this:

    IMPLORE EVERY NBA TEAM BLOG TO POST THE ADDRESS OF THEIR OWNERS. IN ADDITION, LETTERS SHOULD INCLUDE SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

    “As a form of protest, we vow to boycott any game next season in which the Oklahoma City Sonics play, whether it be in our arena or watching it on television.”

    Spread this around as much as you can. It’s going to take the other teams to prevent this from happening. Let’s save the Sonics!

  57. Very well-intentioned by the South Florida Fan, I’m sure, but can we get a minute to celebrate…

  58. 51, granted a win is a win, but hate seeing him do stuff like that. that and have him make comments like ‘i had to shake the tree’ bit.

    maybe it’s true that ownership wouldn’t have acted without Kobe prompting them, but even if it was, he’d be much better off playing ‘my hats off, regret my words’ than trying to claim some credit for the shakeup and the team’s successful moves OFF the court.

  59. Hi,

    As a fan of the Seattle Supersonics, I am writing to ask everyone to please help us keep our Sonics in Seattle. If you have a moment, I would really appreciate it if you would write your owner and ask him to vote NO to the relocation of the team. This is a fight that can be won, but we need your help! One way would be to send this message:

    “As a form of protest, we vow to boycott any game next season in which the Oklahoma City Sonics play, whether it be in our arena or watching it on television.”

  60. So we have the top seed…. RIGHT?! :)

  61. lol, a good game all around. Defense was solid. Not much to say since I was just busy enjoying the game. Now, on to the playoffs.

    Re: the Sonics, yeah, they need to stay in Seattle.

    Kurt, since the playoffs are just a few days away, would an open thread on Dallas/Denver be a good idea to keep us from going dry?

  62. *tears* Go Lakers!

    I might also be up for a viewing party because both of my Lakers-lovin’ friends moved to freaking Asia. But yeah. If you guys don’t mind a lurker/stranger :)

  63. So after putting up with all the juvenile, nonsense on the “main” yahoo blog site, I finally find this one! People writing intelligently about the Lakes and hoops in general. Complete sentences, even! The comments by Bill Bridges and Darius about switching and rotating were outstanding. The third rotation after attacking a pick and roll/pop/slip is the most crucial and what sets the great defensive teams apart from the merely good ones. If we continue to play on top of the screen and have a total commitment to rotation and recovery, we should be able to improve the most obvious weakness in our D.
    And here’s some love for the great work L.O. has been doing on the boards lately! No more second half siestas for #7 it seems. I’m hoping we can keep the 3-balls down to around 20 per game; maybe even less. Work the triangle inside to out.
    Pau’s passing ability has been a welcome suprise, and he even got a hand in the face of a good number of Tim Duncan’s attempts last Sunday. Everyone knows the Lakes can fill it up–we’ll go as far as our D will take us. As someone old enough to remember the balloons in the rafters at The (Fabulous) Forum, Zeke’s 63-footer only to lose in OT, the 33 game streak, and, of course, Showtime, I’m as excited about this year’s playoffs as I can ever remember being. Go Lakes!

  64. Kurt, I will be at the Long Beach grand prix also. I have never been, but I hear it’s loud.

    Also, if the game is on sunday, anyone know what time it will likely be?

  65. Count me as another in that group of lurkers (going on about 2 years). I just want to thank all of the regulars, and especially Kurt, for teaching me about this game. I’ve watched basketball for years and I’ve learned more in the two seasons than I ever knew before.

    And I wanted to add that it just thrills me to read the following phrases in the AP article about tonight’s win:

    “Western Conference champions” and “leading MVP candidate Kobe Bryant.” Now, if only the voters will pay attention to the AP . . .

  66. I’m pretty sure i read a snippet somewhere (maybe here) that Coby Karl was relegated to the D-League for the rest of the year.

    I’m down for a FB&G meet up if my schedule allows. I been asking for that since last year’s playoffs. I live on long beach so i’m voting for long beach. haha. but who am i? If the lakers play at 12:30 on sunday, i can make it.

  67. I’m toally up for a game watching party- I’m in the OC but willing to drive :D