<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usWed, 22 Feb 2017 09:45:26 -0800Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:45:26 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Kings Snap Three Game Skid With Win Over Avs]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 00:51:32 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kings+vs+Avs.png

The Kings are off the mat.

Trevor Lewis scored the game-winning goal during a three-goal second period and the Los Angeles Kings snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night in Denver. 

The Kings entered the game on a three-game skid following a weeklong NHL mandated bye week that was introduced this season. After a scoreless first period, both teams amped up the action in the second.

Colorado scored first after a costly turnover by Kings' defenseman Drew Doughty in their own zone. Mikko Rantanen picked up the puck off Doughty's stick and scored easily on a breakaway goal.

Minutes later, Doughty atoned for his costly turnover when he delivered a no-look, backhand pass to forward Tyler Toffoli who scored an instant before crashing into the net to tie the game. 

Less than seven minutes later, Lewis scored on an Avalanche turnover as he skated down the left side of the ice and cut to the net, beating Colorado goalie Calvin Pickard to give the Kings the lead. 

Pickard was pulled for the final few minutes of the third period as the Avalanche unleashed a flurry of shots to try and tie the game. Kings' goalie Peter Budaj made 11 saves in the final period, as the Kings held on for the victory.

Budaj spent years in Colorado with the Avalanche and had his best season as a pro in Denver during the 2006-2007 campaign that notched him 31 wins. Tuesday's victory gave Budaj 27 on the season. 

The victory was also a historic win for longtime Kings coach Darry Sutter. The two-time Stanley Cup winning head coach secured his 215th win after the game, putting him in a first place tie with Andy Murray for most wins in Los Angeles franchise history. 

The Kings earned two points, giving them 62 so far on the season, two points behind the Calgary Flames for the second and final wild card spot in the NHL playoffs.

UP NEXT:

Kings head home to Staples Center where they will host the Boston Bruins on Thursday. 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Take the Field for Spring Training]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:36:18 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/dodgersspringtraining+pic.JPG

Money may not buy titles, but it sure helps if you want to build a team stacked with talent. "We're two games away from where we want to be," said Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner on the first day of spring training. After narrowly missing the World Series last year, the team is back on the field to prepare for the next season. Mario Solis reports from Glendale, Arizona for the NBC4 news on Tuesday, February 21, 2017.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Lakers Hire Rob Pelinka To be New GM]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:40:39 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rob-Pelinka-Lakers-GM.jpg

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss shook up their front office by firing General Manager Mitch Kupchak and reducing Jim Buss from Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations to simply an owner. Earvin "Magic" Johnson took on the new title of President of Basketball Operations, which meant he had effectiely assumed Jim Buss' job.

Now, Rob Pelinka will reportedly be named General Manager and will replace Kupchak to complete the Lakers' front office movement.

Pelinka is most famous for representing Kobe Bryant as an agent, though the 47-year-old still represented top NBA talents like James Harden, Dante Exum and others after Bryant retired.

In taking the position with the Lakers, Pelinka reportedly went through the process of divesting his interests in Landmark Sports agency, which meant the sports agent spent time calling up his various clients around the NBA on Tuesday afternoon. As such, Pelinka's move into the Lakers' front office wasn't a closely guarded secret by Tuesday night.

Earlier in the day, the Lakers had been linked with Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers, though that would have been a tough capture to pull off for various reasons. Pelinka follows a similar path as Myers, though, in terms of being an agent that appears to be set to become an NBA General Manager.

A giant bonus to Myers and Pelinka's path to NBA front offices is that their work as agents has already build relationships inside NBA front offices and with players and coaches. Also, agents have to maintain an understanding of the NBA salary cap and the changing financial landscape of the NBA.

Pelinka will not walk into the Lakers' job blind and start from scratch. On the contrary, he likely had a better understanding of potential deals bubbling across the Association.

Beyond his time as an agent, Pelinka played basketball as a backup point guard at the University of Michigan during the famed "Fab 5" era. Also, Pelinka bears an uncanny resemblance to Rob Lowe.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Magic Makes Move, Trades Lou Williams To Houston]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 17:13:47 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lou-Williams-traded-to-Houston.jpg

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced a major shakeup in the front office and gave the keys to their basketball kingdom to Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

Johnson didn't take long to put those keys in the ignition and go for a spin. Before the end of the day, reports from The Vertical at Yahoo! Sports emerged that the Lakers had agreed to trade away Lou Williams for forward Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick.

Considering the Rockets' record, the Lakers are likely to only receive a late first round pick. However, a previous late first round pick acquired from Houston in the Jeremy Lin trade turned into Larry Nance Jr., so LA should have confidence that its scouting department can find a hidden gem in the draft.

Brewer is likely a throw-in piece to match salaries, as the Lakers' primary goal was likely acquiring a first-round pick for Williams' trade friendly contract. However, Brewer's contract does extend into the 2017-18 seasons and will cost the Lakers slightly more than Williams' $7 million. Brewer is due $7.58 million for the 2017-18 season per Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. 

Williams took to social media to thank fans after the initial reports emerged.

Prior to being traded, the backup shooting guard led the team with 18.6 points in only 24.2 minutes per game. Williams also averaged 3.2 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game.

Another perceived positive byproduct of the Lakers trading away Williams is the abundance of minutes now available at the guard position late in games. Likely, Youngsters D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson will assume those extra minutes and earn valuable playing time late in games and help their overall development.

Of course, the Lakers are also in a race to keep their top-three protected draft pick, so trading away arguably the best player on the team could also be a move to increasing their odds at keeping their draft pick, i.e. tanking.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Magic Johnson Takes on "Dream Job" With Lakers]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:34:11 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Magic-Johnson-adviser-Lakers.jpg

On Tuesday morning, LA Lakers president Jeanie Buss fired her brother and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. Earvin "Magic" Johnson took over Jim Buss' role as the head of the basketball arm of the LA Lakers, though there was one notable change. Johnson is the "President of Basketball Operations," while Jim Buss had been "Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations."

Though the difference is subtle and likely makes no difference in responsibilities, Jeanie Buss giving Johnson a stronger title than he biological brother speaks to the power she is affording the new head of Lakers' basketball.

"The phones are ringing," Johnson said on Spectrum Sportsnet when asked about Thursday's looming NBA Trade Deadline.

Johnson made it clear that he had been fielding all phone calls personally and revealed that the majority of those calls coming in expressed interest in Lou Williams.

In effect, Johnson is the acting general manager for the Lakers, along with being the newly appointed head of the basketball operations. He confirmed that the Lakers were in the mix to get DeMarcus Cousins, however.

"They didn't call me and let me know," Johnson explained that he was completely out of the loop on the Lakers' failed push to get Cousins.

News of Cousins being traded to New Orleans went public on Sunday night. By Tuesday morning, the tables had turned. Johnson is returning phone calls and calling the shots with input from the Lakers' scouting and coaching staff. Kupchak and Jim Buss are no longer involved.

With Kupchak out the door, Johnson is tasked with finding a new general manager, which is probably going to be his first major hire.

"It's not about quick. It's about finding the right person," Johnson told Spectrum Sportsnet.

In an interview with ESPNLA Radio on Tuesday, Johnson provided more insight into the timing of the G.M. job search. Johnson said, "Definitely before the end of the season, you have to have somebody in that position because we have to get ready for the upcoming draft and then Summer League and also we want to make sure that person is in place because we're going to have exit meetings with the player, as well as the players."

Johnson also laid out the criteria for the Lakers' next general manager in that same interview: "I will interview people who I think will buy into the vision that I set for this organization and also understand the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) as well as salary cap and have relationships with the league, as well as teams, player and coaches."

Thus far, NBA super agent Rob Pelinka, who was most famously Kobe Bryant's agent, has been rumored as a front runner. Johnson refused to confirm or deny interest in Pelinka when asked in his radio interview. 

Johnson continued on the topic of the Lakers' next general manager, "That person has to be an out of the box thinker too. That's how we're going to have to build this thing. It's a new NBA today."

Over the course of his television and radio interviews, Johnson expressed confidence in Lakers coach Luke Walton being the right man for the job and also shared his trust in the Lakers' scouting department led by Ryan West. In addition, the new Lakers' president also spoke about the strengths of the various young players on the team while expressing a desire to create a more versatile roster.

On the whole, Johnson seemed to think the Lakers were moving in the right direction but failed to excuse the previous three years of awful basketball on and off the court.

Next, Johnson is set to pack his bags and head on the road with the Lakers to Oklahoma City, where the team plays on Friday. The five-time NBA Champion shared intentions of studying the team's practices and also watching players adjust during games to make better assessments of personnel.

Through all the talk, the Hall of Fame Class of 2002 point guard expressed utter joy and excitement at his new job. Johnson stated that he couldn't sleep on Monday night and stated that he had to pinch himself at one point. The new Lakers president thanked his boss, Jeanie Buss, and shared a brief history with the Lakers as a former player and former owner.

Johnson concluded, "If you could draw up your dream job, what would it be? This would be it."

Notes: Johnson stated that he would remain owner of the LA Dodgers, but his priority would be the Lakers over all his other business holdings.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[OFFICIAL: Magic Johnson Takes Over Lakers Basketball]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 11:30:23 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-fire-Mitch-Kupchak-Jim-Buss.jpg

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss announced massive changes to the front office, including the firing of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and the demotion of Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who was named as a special advisor to the president at the start of the month, has quickly ascended to the title of President of Basketball Operations. Apparently, Johnson is now running the basketball arm of the Lakers and solely reporting to Lakers president Jeanie Buss.

With the NBA trade deadline looming on Thursday, the timing of the changes is a bit curious. The Lakers suddenly no longer have a general manager. Any potential deals Kupchak had been working are now no longer active, meaning the Lakers would be far less likely to be involved in any moves.

Lou Williams had previously been heavily rumored to be on the move with the Washington Wizards linked with the scoring guard, but any trade negotiations would likely now start from scratch.

Johnson was expected to meet with Jim Buss and Kupchak on Monday and Tuesday of this week, but scheduling issues reportedly pushed Monday's meeting between the trio back. 

Multiple sources stated that the Lakers were one of the final teams that the Sacramento Kings considered before trading away DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans over the holiday weekend, so pushing back the meeting may have made sense for Kupchak and Jim Buss in the moment.

However, the failure to land Cousins appears to have been the final act for the Kupchak-Buss front office.

Clearly, Jeanie Buss no longer wanted to wait to make a change. Johnson has consistently been one of Jim Buss' harshest critics, and so, now, the 57-year-old Hall of Fame player and accomplished businessman gets to put his money where his mouth is.

In a press release, Jeanie Buss explained her motivations: "I took these actions today to achieve one goal: Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by Earvin and myself. We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again."

The implication of Jeanie Buss' words, of course, is that the Lakers were not all pulling in the same direction and was truly as divided a house as outsiders often reported.

Johnson's close relationship with Jeanie Buss changes that sentiment immediately and leads to a far more inclusive role for the Lakers' president, who has often shared that she had been left out of the loop on decisions as public as coaching hirings and firings.

Of course, Jim Buss remains a part-owner of the team, but his days of making basketball decisions for the Lakers appear to be over.

With regards to finding a new general manager, Jeanie Buss stated that "Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway." This implies that the Lakers planned on making these changes, and considering the timing and magnitude of the changes, fans hope this is true.

In addition to the structural changes to the Lakers' front office, Jeanie Buss also parted ways with Vice President of Public Relations John Black. Black joined the Lakers in 1991, meaning he leaves the organization after 25 years of service.

Longtime media relations manager Alison Bogli is managing all Lakers PR until the organization replaces Black. Lakers chief operating officer Tim Harris is in charge of the search to replace Black.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tom Brady's Stolen Super Bowl Jersey Valued at $500K: Report]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:16:30 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-634604296.jpg

Houston police have released an official report for the theft of the jersey New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wore during Super Bowl LI.

The jersey — valued at $500,000, according to the report — was reportedly stolen after the Patriots' 34-28 comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons in overtime on Feb. 5.

Brady, who was named the game's MVP, noticed his No. 12 jersey was missing from his bag in the team’s designated locker room inside NRG Stadium after the game. He told a team equipment manager he remembered putting it in his locker and that "someone stole it."

After searching, Brady told the team's owner Robert Kraft that the jersey had been stolen. Kraft replied, "You'd better look online."

While Brady walked to the team bus, a reporter asked the quarterback if he had recovered the jersey. Brady later joked with a reporter that it would "be on eBay at some point."

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked the Texas Rangers to help the Houston Police Department locate the jersey.

"Tom Brady's jersey has great historical value," Patrick said in a statement. "It will likely go into the Hall of Fame one day. It is important that history does not record that it was stolen in Texas."



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Going Roggin: More with Doug Adler]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 16:51:57 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DOUG_ADLER_PART_TWO_1200x675_881976899539.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[NHL Bye Week Format Takes Center Ice]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:15:16 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-633229644.jpg

This is a story about stats, with a dash of opinion sprinkled in.

It's an honest question that should seemingly have a singular answer: how do professional sports teams perform after a bye week?

This question has been unearthed thanks in large part to a new scheduling change by the National Hockey League this season. After years of complaints by players that the season is too long and arduous, the NHL gave every team a week off for the 2017 schedule.

If you didn't notice that your favorite hockey team had a bye week, don't worry, you're not alone. The NHL's new schedule has snuck up on everyone, including the players.

Ironically, it was the players who negotiated for the extra five days of rest in the new collective bargaining agreement with the NHL. The NHL  Players' Association negotiated the "five-day bye week," which takes place between January 1 and March 1.

As part of the agreement, there is no practice for five consecutive days, with the team only allowed to practice after 4:00 PM PST on the fifth day.

Despite the fact that the extra week of rest should be seen as a good thing, the new break has many coaches across the league fuming.

"I think it's 100 percent wrong for player safety," Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock told the Buffalo News earlier in the season. "You've got so many games in such a short period of time and you're jamming in more. To me, the more days rest you can have by not playing back-to-backs and jamming it in, the healthier you have a chance to be." 

The NHL's "bye week" model follows the National Football League who first implemented a bye week during the regular season in 1990. Many believe that the extra week of rest in the NFL works in the favor of the team coming off a break, but statistics don't necessarily back that up.

In the NFL's bye week format, all 32 teams are given an extra week of rest during the course of the 17 week season. Proponents of the bye week believe that it gives players and coaches an extra week to prepare, scout, and game plan for their opponent coming off the break, not to mention, more time to heal from injuries.

However, in a five-year case study of how NFL teams performed after a bye week, ironically, the numbers suggest that the extra week of rest has little to no impact on the outcome of the game.  

Fantasy football players and sports book handicappers pay extra attention to teams on a bye week during the season, but according to Cheat Sheet War Room, the odds of a team winning a game after an extra week of rest are about the same as a coin flip. 

The study researched all NFL teams between the 2009 and 2014 seasons, with teams returning to the field after a bye week winning only 52.2 percent of the time, and losing 47.8 percent of the time.

While some teams like the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos were perfect over that span coming off a bye, other teams like the Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings struggled to get wins.

The numbers are even worse in the NHL with the bye week format set to end in a couple weeks. NHL teams are a shocking 3-10-1 this season in their first game following the mandated five-day break. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Kings became the most recent victim of the "rusty from rest" outcome.

"We didn't look at it as coming off a break. We just looked at it as coming home and trying to get a win," said Kings' head coach Darryl Sutter after his team lost to the last-place Arizona Coyotes 5-3 at Staples Center on Thursday. "I've watched a lot of these games where guys are coming off the break and the goaltenders are not very sharp. Team's are 3-9 this season after a bye. We would have liked to make it 4-8, but we couldn't get it done."

Kings' goalie Peter Budaj was the net-minder for the game against the Coyotes and he definitely did not look like the player who leads the league in shutouts and is in the top 10 of nearly every goaltending statistical category this season.

Budaj allowed two goals within a 16-second span in the first period that all but sealed the two-time Stanley Cup Champions' fate as they chased the game the remainder of the way.

The Kings showed some fight in the third period and outshot the Coyotes two-to-one, 44-22, over the course of the game, but it was the rust shown by Budaj that made the difference. The Czechoslovakian goalie allowed two easily savable shots to get past him late in a close game.

"It was definitely a factor," Kings' forward Tanner Pearson said of the rust coming off the bye week. "Hopefully, we got it all out of our system. It's tough. We just have to be able to wrap our heads around it, and go out there and do our jobs."

Theoretically, the extra week of rest should be beneficial to an athlete's body and their overall performance. After all, any trainer will tell you that rest and recovery are two non-negotiable components when it comes to allowing your body to operate at peak performance.

"It's tough, you want to get right back in the thick of things, but teams that are hockey-ready, teams that are playing a ton of games when you're on vacation on the beach, it's tough," New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall told NJ.com after the Devils lost 4-1 following their bye week last Sunday. "Over the course of time, it helps out a lot, being able to rest and heal injuries, but certainly a first tough game back."

Time will tell if the NHL's new bye-week format is beneficial or detrimental to teams. Sports schedules are grueling on the body and mind, and a much-needed reprieve from the monotony of the day-to-day can ultimately behoove an athlete in the long run.

Clearly, it's difficult for teams to jump right back into the thick of things following a week in which absolutely zero hockey activity takes place, but in the long run, it could be the difference during the final stretch run of the season when rest and health can decide whether or not a team makes a deep Stanley Cup run or heads home early.



Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bruins Beat Trojans, Get Revenge on USC]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:13:39 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UCLA-beat-USC-Lonzo-Ball.jpg

In front of a packed Pauley Pavilion in Westwood, the no. 6 UCLA Bruins entered Saturday's rivalry game against the unranked USC Trojans with revenge on their minds, and revenge is exactly what they got with a convincing 102-70 victory.

Steve Alford's team had won four straight since the shocking 84-76 defeat to the Trojans at Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 25, and Saturday’s game pushed the Bruins to their third straight win at home and fifth straight win over all. On the season, UCLA improved to 24-3 and 11-3 in conference.

Saturday's game started with the Trojans riding sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright to 10 early points and a five-point lead just past the quarter mark in the ball game. However, the Bruins managed to weather USC's early outburst.

From there, the Bruins called upon a raucous home crowd to surf to a fantastic finish to the first half and never looked back. Over the final 9:30 of the first half, the Bruins outscored the Trojans 30-13 to take a 46-34 lead, punctuated by freshman Lonzo Ball's deep three-pointer four seconds shy of the halftime break.

Ball, who is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, entered the locker room with nine points, five rebounds and three assists.

Though the Trojans attempted to rally back and hung with the Bruins for the first 10 minutes of the second half, UCLA eventually blew the doors off the contest in an embarrassing manner. What was an 11-point contest with 10 minutes to play suddenly turned into a 20-point difference with six minutes remaining in the game.

The party was on in Westwood, as the Bruins continued to pile on.

After Ball ignited the crowd by completing an alley-oop, Bryce Alford hit a three-pointer to put the Bruins up by 30 points. At that stage, the fans began to clear out, but those who stayed behind witnessed Ball throw down another slam dunk before being substituted out. UCLA led 100-66 at that point, as the clock could not run out fast enough for the Trojans.

Ball exited the game with 15 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals. Alford finished as the game's highest scorer with 26 points and six assists. Forward Thomas Welsh collected 16 points and 16 rebounds, while Leaf finished with 19 points and eight rebounds as the other forward.

"It's special. He's a great scorer for us," UCLA Coach Alford said about his son, Bryce, after the game. "He's phenomenal."

Boatwright led the Trojans with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

USC dropped to 21-6 with the defeat.

Next, UCLA heads on the road for two games in Arizona, starting with a game against the Sun Devils on Feb. 23.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: DeAndre Jordan Dunks Over DJ Khaled]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:01:25 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/DJ+Dunks+Over+DJ+Khaled.jpg

Yo DJ, pump this party up.

In his first ever All-Star appearance, Los Angeles Clippers' center DeAndre Jordan got the NBA Slam Dunk Contest started in exciting fashion as he jumped over celebrity, DJ Khaled, and his DJ booth to start the show.

Jordan was selected to go first, and brought the crowd at the Smoothie King Center to their collective feet when he brought out Khaled (and his keys), along with a DJ booth, complete with turn tables, and a microphone.

Khaled held a basketball over his head with his left hand, and with his right hand, was streaming live with his cellphone.

The other DJ, Jordan, easily lept over Khaled and dunked the ball to start the show, but Jordan simmered out in his second attempt, and missed out on the final.

Jordan told Mark Medina of the OC Register that he had practiced over 100 dunks entering the contest, but said he was "more nervous," to perform at the Dunk Contest then the All-Star Game itself. 

"I just think the worst," he told Medina on Saturday. "Getting hung out there, my shorts falling down, trying to do a dunk 20 times. I don't want the crowd giving me a pity cheer."

Indiana Pacers forward Glenn Robinson II and Phoenix Suns rookie Derrick Jones Jr. met in the finale, but both dunkers were underwhelming as Robinson III ultimately took home the trophy.

In case you missed it, Jordan's dunk of Khaled is below.

Got on my snap �� #wethebest #shining #GRATEFUL

A post shared by DJ KHALED (@djkhaled) on



Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Young Lakers Feature on All-Star Friday]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 14:06:46 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-All-Star-2017-Lakers-Russell-Ingram.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers have no All-Stars or players even on the fringes of the All-Star Game, but their young talent will be on display in the Friday Night All-Star Rising Stars Challenge, which is intended to be a precursor to the main event and is slated to tip-off at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Second-year D'Angelo Russell, who also appeared at the same event a year ago, and rookie Brandon Ingram will represent the Lakers in New Orleans.

"It's a great opportunity to represent the organization," Russell spoke about the selection a couple days before boarding a flight to Louisiana. "We got two Lakers in there that are young guys and went high in the draft (and) still have a lot to prove in this league. So, (you're) trying to go out there and dominate guys at your age."

A year ago, Russell played a shade over 16 minutes off the bench for Team USA, while teammate Jordan Clarkson started and played 24 minutes. Russell finished the night with 22 points and seven assists in a 40-minute game that is known far more for its offense than defense. With rosters comprised exclusively of rookies and sophomores, the 2016 Rising Stars Challenge finished with a score of 157-154 in favor of Team USA.

While the game itself may not exactly be worth studying on film, Ingram and Russell's selections do speak highly of the Lakers' future.

"We got some good young talent," Lakers coach Luke Walton explained what he took away from the selections. "That's what happens when you're trying to climb back up after you lose Hall of Fame players. We got some young guys that obviously are playing well. It's nice of them to be recognized by the other coaches in the NBA as far as being at All-Star Weekend."

In addition to Russell and Ingram in the Rising Stars Challenge, Lakers guard Nick Young, who  is shooting 41.3 perfect from distance on the season, also a contestant in the three-point shootout on All-Star Saturday night. Young ranks 10th in three-pointers made but shoots  higher percentage than six of the nine players ahead of him.

Notes: LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan will take part in the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest and also take part in the main event on Sunday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Michael Jordan's Top Sports Moments]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 06:11:52 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/TITLEMJ.jpg Air Jordan turns 54 today. From the unforgettable "double nickel" game at Madison Square Garden to the iconic "Flu Game" against the Utah Jazz, take a look back at some of Michael Jordan's greatest moments on the NBA hardwood.

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Gymnastics Doc Used Hide-and-Seek Games to Molest: Accuser]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:11:04 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gymnasticsdoctormolestor.jpg

A woman who says the disgraced team doctor for USA Gymnastics molested her as a child testified Friday that he turned games of hide-and-seek in the basement of his home into abuse sessions, NBC News reported.

"Almost every time I was there for a couple of years, something occurred," the woman, a former family friend, said during a preliminary hearing before a judge ordered disgraced doctor Larry Nassar to stand trial on state sex-abuse charges.

Nassar, 53, is also charged in federal court with possession of child pornography — more than 37,000 images, including Go Pro video he allegedly made himself.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Magic to Run Show in Lakers' Major Front Office Shakeup]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 12:54:32 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lakers-shakeup.jpg

Lakers legend and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson has been named president of basketball operations in a major front office restructuring for the storied franchise.

General manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, team president Jeannie Buss' brother, have been relieved of their duties, the Lakers announced Tuesday. The restructuring comes during the worst four-year stretch in franchise history.

"Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect," Jeanie Buss said. "Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me."

Kupchak had been the 16-time NBA champion franchise's GM since 2000, when Jerry West left the club. He had been in the front office for three decades, including the last 17 as general manager -- the league's longest current stretch as front office chief. 

Jim Buss had been in the team's front office for 19 years. 

The team has already started a search for a new general manager, the result of which will be announced in "short order," Jeanie Buss added.

Johnson, a beloved fan-favorite who guided the team to five league titles during his 13 NBA seasons, said he hopes to restore the franchise's mystique fter four straight losing seasons.

"It's a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family," said Johnson. "Since 1979, I've been a part of the Laker Nation and I'm passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions." 

The Lakers are 19-39 this season after an encouraging start under first-year head coach Walton. They finished 17-65 last season, a franchise low in the last year of Kobe Bryant's two decades with the team.

The Lakers clinched back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, but then descended to the depths of the NBA -- a dramatic reversal of fortunes for one of the NBA most popular and successful franchises. After an extraordinary trade for Pau Gasol propelled the Lakers to three straight NBA Finals appearances, Kupchak and Jim Buss made a series of high-profile personnel moves that did not pan out. 

They made a pricey trade for Dwight Howard, who fled the franchise after one year, and another deal for Steve Nash, who barely played thanks to back woes. The Lakers are still feeling the effects of that deal, which will cost them their first-round pick this summer if it isn't in the top three.

The front officer moves come two days before the league's trade deadline. 

This will be Johnson's first foray into a decision-making NBA executive role, but he has been a successful businessman and investor since his playing career ended. He also briefly coached the Lakers, but dropped his ceremonial title as a team vice president last June after his frequent criticisms of Jim Buss and former coaches.

He sold his ownership stake in 2010.

The Lakers' recent ineptitude didn't hurt their place as Los Angeles' most beloved sports franchise and a worldwide brand, but Jeanie Buss finally tired of the apparent lack of progress. The Lakers have a talented young core with D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson, but haven't been able to translate that potential into wins despite playing an exciting style under Walton.

The team also parted ways with Vice President of Public Relations John Black.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Jordan Asks Griffin For Tips on Dunk Contest]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 22:34:39 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*124/GettyImages-473393302.jpg

Get your popcorn ready. 

For years, Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has been asked by the NBA to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend, and for years he has politely declined.

That may seem odd for a player who has consistently led the league in dunks year-after-year, but Jordan has said previously that he would only participate if he was an actual NBA All-Star. 

After three straight seasons in which the two-way player was snubbed by the All-Star selection committee, Jordan was announced as a first-time All-Star for the Western Conference in the 2017 All-Star Game in New Orleans this weekend.

With his ticket to basketball's best exhibition game booked, Jordan agreed to follow in the footsteps of fellow big men Dwight Howard and original champion Larry Nance as centers who have won the dunk contest.

Historically, taller players don't often fair well in the showcase as most of the winners in the 32-year history of the competition have been guards who can jump out of the gym.

For evidence of this, one needs to only look at back-to-back champion Zach LaVine, a 6-foot, 5-inch guard out of UCLA who brought the crowd to their feet in consecutive years with his eye-popping dunks on Saturday night.

So with the odds stacked against him, Jordan turned to friend, teammate, and 2011 Slam Dunk Contest winner Blake Griffin for advice on how to take home the trophy.

Courtesy of Fox Sports West, Jordan interviewed Griffin during the team's recent five-game Grammys road trip and asked him what he did to win the contest in 2011 at Staples Center when Griffin memorably jumped over a car to win the award.

"I actually didn't know what I was going to do until about 30 minutes before the contest," Griffin told Jordan during the interview. "I knew I wanted to do the car one if I got to the finals, but I pretty much just made some stuff up beforehand. I don't recommend doing that."

Griffin did recommend that Jordan come prepared with at least six different dunks in case some of the other contestants did similar dunks before Jordan was set to take the court.

"The only piece of advice I give to anybody [performing in the dunk contest] is to have back up dunks," said Griffin. "I didn't, and that messed up."

The interview took a comedic turn after Jordan asked Griffin where he keeps the Slam Dunk Contest trophy and if he still gazes at it on occasion.

"It's at my house," Griffin said. "Sometimes when I'm feeling lonely and feeling sad, I go down at stare at it…it doesn't make me feel better."

As for the actual dunk contest Jordan has gotten some ideas from teammates, opponents—like Wednesday's opponent and 2008 winner Dwight Howard—as well as from his head coach Doc Rivers.

"I'm suggesting he gets Drew Brees to throw a ball from the other basket for a dunk," Rivers said after the Clippers beat the Hawks, 99-84, to head into the All-Star Break. "That would be really cool. That's what I'm looking for."

Jordan liked the idea of a quarterback throwing him a lob, especially with All-Star point guard Chris Paul out with a torn ligament in his left thumb, but as a Cowboys fan, the Dallas native said there would be only one gunslinger he would ever consider for the job.

"If anyone is throwing me a pass it would be Dak Prescott," Jordan said. "Me and Blake [Griffin] are Cowboys fans."

Hinting at a possible reunion between the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest and the 2011 winner, Jordan did say that he would have a special guest come to the court to help him with a dunk, and that it would be a friend and "former winner."

Regardless of what goes down this Saturday night in New Orleans, it's going to be a thrilling show as Orlando's Aaron Gordon, Indiana's Glenn Robinson II, and Phoenix's Derrick Jones Jr. are all set to compete with Jordan for the Slam Dunk crown.



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Handle Hawks for Fourth Straight Win]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 22:53:41 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-635551044.jpg

Blake Griffin scored 17 points and the Los Angeles Clippers handed the city of Atlanta their second heartbreaking loss in as many weeks, 99-84, over the Hawks on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The reigning NBA Player of the Week continued his assault on opposing teams as Griffin finished with nine assists, five rebounds and two blocks in just 29 minutes of action.

"Figuring out how to play without a guy like Chris [Paul] has been difficult, but when he comes back, we will be better having gone through this," said Griffin of the the team's recent stretch without their All-Star point guard. "Guys have stepped up and been great. That will help us down the stretch."

The matchup was touted as a battle between two of the NBA's top big men, but it was the Clippers' guards who stole the show, making 14 three-pointers from beyond the arc (That's a lot of Bingos).

However, DeAndre Jordan (16) and Dwight Howard (15) went toe-to-toe when it came to cleaning up on the glass as the duo combined for 31 rebounds in the game.

"Our defense last game was a lot better than it has been and tonight we picked up where we left off," said Jordan. "We're doing a better job of trusting each other.

After a competitive first quarter that saw the Hawks lead by a point, the Clippers opened up the game on a 29-12 run in the second quarter and cruised the remainder of the way, leading by as many as 22 points in the final frame.

The play of the game came at the end of the half when Griffin took an ill-advised shot, but he was bailed out by Jordan who caught the ball in midair and dunked it home at the buzzer.

J.J. Redick had 15 points on five three-point shots as five Clippers' players scored in double figures.

Dennis Schroeder led Atlanta with 15 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 11. The Hawks lone All-Star, Paul Millsap was held to just eight points on the night, well below his average of 18.1 per game.

"I don't know why that is, but I want us to keep doing it," head coach Doc Rivers said of the team's second straight superior defensive effort.  "If you look at the steals tonight, it was all on solid defense. It wasn't gambling. It was solid defense pull-ins, deflections, that tells you everybody was pretty active."

"They had good pressure against me," responded Millsap. "I remember throwing a few away, unforced. It was them being aggressive and taking away what we do."

It was the first Clippers victory over the Hawks at home since March 8, 2014.

The Clippers ride into the All-Star break on a four-game win streak and will open up in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors on February 23.

It was a star-studded affair at Staples Center as Floyd Mayweather, Mariah Carey, Anthony Anderson, Kid Ink and Billy Crystal all were spotted courtside.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Walton Explains Not All Minutes Are Created Equal]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 02:31:19 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Russell-Ingram.jpg

Neither Julius Randle nor D'Angelo Russell played a single fourth quarter second of Tuesday's narrow 97-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings, as Lakers coach Luke Walton opted to go with the group that brought him back from down 13 points earlier in the game.

"Actually, Luol (Deng) was doing a good job, too, but I wanted Brandon (Ingram) to get those final three minutes of a close game type of thing," Walton explained that he decided his 19-year-old lottery pick could learn from being on the court at the end of an NBA game that still hung in the balance.

Ingram is 19, and putting him back in the game for a veteran that is a dozen years older than the rookie makes sense, even if Deng had played a notable role in the comeback.

However, this selective favoritism led to the natural questions about whether the Lakers' coach views end of game experiences for 20-year-old D'Angelo Russell differently than he views those same experiences for Ingram.

"This is Brandon's first chance at it," the coach explained. "So, every chance we get to get him to feel what it's like guarding different players, being in when you're down 15, being in when you're up 15, a one-point game with two minutes to go at home versus the road--all that at this level, he hasn't been a part of."

Walton even made a point to explain that Ingram feeling the physicality of the NBA at every opportunity during the season would be important to the former Duke Blue Devil during his off-season workouts.

"D'Angelo knows what it's like; he's played all last year and this year," Walton contended Ingram's minutes on the court as a rookie carried greater weight than Russell's minutes on the court as a sophomore. "He's been in clutch games. He's been in blowouts, so he has that experience."

Walton, though, made a point to say that more minutes on the court would also obviously benefit Russell's development but pointed out that third-year Jordan Clarkson being on the court for the duration of the fourth quarter also helped that guard's development.

"Now, obviously, we want more and more of that experience (for Russell), but we're also trying to get more experience for (Clarkson). So, if (Clarkson's) part of a group, we want him to earn, he earned with that group the opportunity to finish a game."

Walton explained that a case could be made to put Russell in for Lou Williams, but the veteran guard had almost single-handedly carried the Lakers back into the game by tabbing 19 points and four assists during the fourth quarter. A better argument would have been to take minutes away from Nick Young, but Walton had made his point.

For Walton, game time minutes on the court hold value, and Clarkson earning minutes to finish a game out supersedes simply tossing Russell back on the court. Similarly, second-year power forward Larry Nance Jr. playing in the fourth quarter over third-year Julius Randle cannot exactly be considered as a move designed to stunt the growth of the Lakers' young players.

When it comes to Ingram, though, Walton made it clear that those minutes matter more than they do for guys like Russell, Randle, Clarkson or Nance, who have all managed to get at least one full season under their belts.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Fall to Kings 97-96, Walton Talks Postgame]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 01:30:49 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Kings_1200x675_877641283535.jpg Lakers coach Luke Walton spoke about the final shot that did not fall in the Lakers' 97-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings and also about how he works to get Brandon Ingram time on the court late in games but has a slightly different philosophy with D'Angelo Russell. (Shahan Ahmed)]]> <![CDATA[Kings Trump Lakers 97-96]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 01:48:21 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-DeMarcus-Cousins-40.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers trailed by as many as 13 points with about nine and a half minutes remaining in Tuesday's game against the Sacramento Kings. Fewer than three minutes later, LA had tied the ball game.

Lou Williams caught fire and gave the purple and gold a chance to beat the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center, as the 30-year-old guard scored 19 points on 7-10 shooting and also passed off four assists over the final 12 minutes of the game. Williams, though, could not sink a deep three-pointer at the buzzer for the victory and finished with 29 points and five assists in the losing effort.

"I've seen enough basketball in my experience that if you get the guy that you want with the ball in his hands, and if you can kind of not allow the defense to get set, good things can happen," Lakers coach Luke Walton explained why he did not call a timeout on the final play, where Williams' shot missed the mark.

DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento with 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the 97-96 victory, and the 26-year-old center managed to tally 16 points over the final 7:36 of Tuesday's contest.

Cousins hit the game-winning free throw and played at such a supreme level that resulted in the Lakers fouling the Kings' center often. In all, Cousins attempted 19 free throws, which added up to more foul shots than the entire Lakers' team attempted, 15.

In a contest that could best be described as sloppy in the first half, the Lakers somewhat inexplicably hung around despite not playing well at any stage during the first three quarters. Following the game, Walton shared that even he wondered how his team had only trailed by two points at halftime.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Kings appeared set to widen the gap and comfortably trot to victory, but Williams took charge and carried LA back into the contest. Cousins' quality ultimately shone through.

Williams summed up the evening following the loss, "(Cousins) is an All-Star caliber player. He's the best player on that team, one of the best bigs in the league. He did everything he was supposed to do tonight."

Next, the Lakers play in Phoenix on Wednesday before disbanding for the All-Star break.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lawsuit Against Lance Armstrong Can Go Ahead: Judge]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 04:35:18 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lancearmstrongmara.jpg

A federal judge has allowed a civil lawsuit brought by the U.S. government against disgraced former pro cyclist Lance Armstrong to proceed, tossing aside Armstrong's arguments that the case should be dismissed, NBC News reported.

The Justice Department alleges in the lawsuit, made under the False Claims Act, that Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France winner, defrauded the government by doping while sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. The Justice Department declined to comment Tuesday.

From 2000 to 2004, the Postal Service paid Armstrong's team, the aptly named U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, a little more than $32 million, most of which went to Armstrong because he was the team's star rider, according to court filings.

But the government is seeking damages nearing $100 million, about three times what USPS paid in sponsorships to the Postal Service Team during periods that fall within the False Claims Act's statute of limitations.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Announce Season Ticket Prices]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 14:16:52 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/5PM_PKG_LA_CHARGERS_OF__KNSD64PO_1200x675_420392515731.jpg

The Chargers have announced season ticket prices for their return to Los Angeles, where they will play the next two years at 30,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson.

The team said Tuesday that prices for season tickets range from $70 to $375 per game depending on seating locations. Season tickets to all home games range from $700 to $3,750.

Next season's NFL schedule will be released in April, but the Chargers will host Philadelphia, Washington, Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami, Kansas City, Oakland and Denver.

The Chargers are calling StubHub Center "the NFL's most intimate venue."

Fans can join the waitlist for season tickets by placing a fully refundable $100 deposit at FightForLA.com. The deposit grants priority status to buy season tickets for games in Carson as well as for the new stadium in Inglewood, which the Chargers will share with the Rams starting in 2019.

]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers No Longer at Rock Bottom]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 11:33:10 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-not-at-rock-bottom-2-14-17.jpg

On Valentine's Day, the Los Angeles Lakers welcome to Sacramento Kings for a lovefest at Staples Center. Tuesday's game is only the Lakers' second game at home over its previous 10 games, as the schedule thus far has been brutal for the purple and gold, and the roster thinned out at various points during the first two-thirds of the season.

However, the Lakers appear to be healthy entering the mid-season break.

"It's lovely. It really is," Walton responded when NBCLA.com asked the Lakers' coach what it felt like to have 15 healthy bodies at Monday's practice. Walton spoke about how the team could properly practice sets and work as full units, rather than switching to four-on-four drills. He concluded, "It's definitely ideal to have 15 guys out there."

When the Lakers have healthy bodies, they tend to win games. LA started out the season 10-10 before a flurry of injuries led to the team losing 15 of its next 17 games. Back to full health, the Lakers have won two of their last three games and have already eclipsed their win total from the 2015-16 season.

Incredibly, the Lakers had not finished with a better regular season record than the previous season going back to 2008-09 season. LA won the title that season and the next. In 2010-11, the Lakers matched their regular season record from the previous year but failed to complete the three-peat.

From there, LA continued to steadily decline from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the ocean. The Lakers lost in the second round of the 2011 and 2012 NBA playoffs. The 2012-13 Lakers barely finished with a winning record, though Kobe Bryant's torn Achilles, Steve Nash's broken body and Dwight Howard's escape from LA sent the Lakers into a tailspin that featured the team losing 55, 61 and 65 games over the following three season.

Those three years of pain also led to the arrivals of Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram, along with Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Ivica Zubac.

With the 2016-17 Lakers already collecting two more wins than the 2015-16 team, LA will improve on its previous regular season record for the first time in a long while. Yes, that's tangible, measurable progress, and considering the Lakers have not experienced anything close to progress for at least half a dozen years, that deserves acknowledgment.

In addition, the Lakers have wrapped up the most daunting and road-heavy stretches of their 2016-17 season, so more wins could be on the way before the 2016-17 season concludes. The post All-Star break features 24 games, only eight of which will be played away from Staples Center.

If the Lakers manage to win only one in every three games for the remainder of the season, they will be back to the levels of the Mike D'Antoni 2014-15 squad. While that may not immediately sound like an impressive accomplishment, jumping from a 65-loss season to a 55-loss season while giving 19, 20, 21 and 22-year-olds heavy minutes for the duration of the season suggests the Lakers have finally turned the tide.

Beyond the current season, LA could and should continue to improve going forward. As the 2016-17 season enters its final stretch, the reality that the Lakers are no longer at the bottom of the ocean is becoming more and more evident with each win.

A season ago, the Lakers hit rock bottom, though one could have made that argument at the conclusion of each of the previous two seasons, too.

Walton and the Lakers are no longer sinking. By the end of the 2016-17 season, the purple and gold hope to get back onto dry land, and the coming years should provide the challenges of climbing back up to the mountain with the hopes to one day standing atop the summit.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Charles Oakley's MSG Ban Lifted, But He Wants an Apology]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 12:04:32 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/oakley+dolan.jpg

Charles Oakley is allowed back in Madison Square Garden, though the former New York Knicks star says he wants an apology before he would return. 

MSG chairman James Dolan banned Oakley last week, two days after the former power forward had an altercation with security guards while attending a game and was arrested. 

But the sides reconciled, helped by a meeting Monday at NBA headquarters with Commissioner Adam Silver and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Jordan and Oakley were teammates in Chicago before Oakley was traded to New York, where he became a fan favorite with the Knicks from 1988-98. 

Dolan then decided Oakley is welcome back at the arena, a person briefed on the discussions told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ESPN.com first reported the decision. 

Oakley later told ESPN: "It's not about being at the Garden. It's about the fans. I want them to apologize to the fans. I told the commissioner I want them to apologize to the fans." 

Oakley was asked on "The Dan Le Batard Show" if he would attend Madison Square Garden as Dolan's quest. 

"Right now, no," he said. "I told him yesterday." 

"I have never asked for nothing," Oakley added. "I love the fans in New York. They've been supportive. One of the things I told the commissioner, I want to have a press conference and I want him to apologize to me and the fans. They've had my back and they've felt the pain. I really appreciate the people all around who've had my back." 

The Knicks said they had nothing to add beyond a statement issued Monday by Silver, who said both sides were apologetic about the rift and thanked them for working toward a resolution. 

Oakley was a popular player in New York but his relationship with Dolan became strained after his criticisms of the team and its management. The Knicks stopped providing him with complimentary tickets and inviting him to team functions. 

Oakley still attended a few games a year on his own, including last Wednesday's, when he was seated a few rows behind Dolan and was surrounded by security in the first quarter. He shoved a couple of security officials before he was pulled away and handcuffed. 

Dolan announced the ban during an interview with ESPN Radio on Friday, though he said he hoped to see Oakley return someday. Dolan said he believed Oakley had anger or alcohol issues he first needed to address. 

The Knicks are on the road this week for their only game before the All-Star break. They don't play at home again until Feb. 25. 

Dolan welcomed back another estranged former Knick, Latrell Sprewell, on Sunday for the team's most recent game. Sprewell hadn't been back at MSG since 2004 following his falling out with the owner.



Photo Credit: AP/Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Jazzed Up in Win Over Utah]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 00:56:23 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Clippers+Jazzed+Up.png

It's just a noisy hall, where there's a nightly brawl, and all that jazz. 

Blake Griffin scored 26 points as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Utah Jazz 88-72 in a defensive slugfest on Monday night at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

The NBA's Player of the Week fell four assists shy of a triple-double as he finished with 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks as the Clippers' defense held the Jazz to a season-low 72 points. 

L.A. led from wire-to-wire as their only All-Star, DeAndre Jordan, finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Austin Rivers chipped in 15 points. 

Jamal Crawford scored 11 points off the bench, and continued to gain ground on teammate Paul Pierce (2,1328) for all-time three-point field goals made in the NBA. Crawford is 129 three-pointers away from moving into fourth on the all-time list. 

For weeks, Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers has been pleading with his team to play a full 48 minutes of defense, an attribute that has been lacking for the Clippers without floor general Chris Paul.

On Monday, the Clippers put together their best defensive effort of the season, holding the Jazz to just 33 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent from beyond the arc, both season lows for Utah.

Los Angeles allowed just 49 points after three quarters before allowing 23 points to the Jazz in the fourth quarter, their first quarter of over 20 points on the night.

Derrick Favors led Utah with 13 points and Rudy Gobert had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Jazz only All-Star, Gordon Hayward, was held to just seven points on 2-of-12 shooting including just 1-of-6 from the three-point line.

The victory was the Clippers ninth straight against the Jazz in Utah, tied for their longest active winning streak on the road against any opponent.

The game featured a potential first round matchup in the NBA Playoffs as the Clippers and Jazz currently stand in fourth and fifth place, respectively in the Western Conference standings. 

If the season ended today, the Clippers would host the Jazz in the first round with the first two games at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Spring Training Through the Years]]> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 14:00:28 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/vintage-dodgers-spring-training.jpg Dodgers pitchers and catchers will report to Camelback Ranch in Arizona on Wednesday. Get geared up for Spring Training with this historical Dodgers Spring Training gallery.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton Talks Magic and the Showtime Lakers]]> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:52:27 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Luke-Walton-Showtime-Lakers.JPG

The Los Angeles Lakers with Earvin "Magic" Johnson calling shots on the court pushed the pace and played an exciting brand of basketball that was popularly dubbed "Showtime."

With Johnson back in the fold as part of the Lakers' organization and talk of him calling shots in the front office, however premature they may be, discussions about Johnson's potential influence on the organization permeated to the Lakers' practice court in El Segundo.

"There's similarities," Lakers coach Luke Walton said when pressed on what a return to "Showtime" could mean. "Obviously, the way that the 'Showtime' Lakers played and the up and down tempo, that's how we want to play. We want to get out. We have versatile forwards that can handle the ball. We got multiple wings that can bring it up. So, there's a similarity to the way we want to play with them."

Walton continued, "Obviously, the game's changed as far as the technical standpoint and the rules have changed so there's the things that are a lot different now, too, but it'd be a nice blend to be able to get some of that style into the way we play."

Though Walton humored the crowd of mics and cameras with the comparison to the "Showtime Lakers," the coach made it clear that his focus was on Tuesday night's home game and the current product on the court, not on Johnson's emergence as a special advisor to the team.

"I have plans to coach games tomorrow and Wednesday, and then, when I get some free time, I'd love and I'm looking forward to sitting down with Magic," Walton said. "It's going to happen."



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Former Miami Dolphin Quentin Moses Dies in GA House Fire]]> Sun, 12 Feb 2017 12:41:36 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/021217+quentin+moses.jpg

Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Quentin Moses was one of three people killed in a house fire in Georgia early Sunday, authorities said.

Moses, 33, was found unconscious inside the burning home in the city of Monroe just after 6 a.m. after firefighters arrived, Monroe Fire Department officials said.

He was moved outside and given CPR then taken to a local hospital where he died. After the roof collapsed, firefighters later discovered the bodies of 10-year-old Jasmine Godard and her mother, 31-year-old Andria Godard, inside the home.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Friends and former teammates took to Twitter Sunday to offer their condolences.

Moses was from Georgia and was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the third round in 2007. He later signed with the Dolphins and stayed with the team through the 2010 season. He registered 3.5 sacks in 44 games.

"We were deeply saddened to hear about the tragic news involving Quentin Moses. Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to his family and friends during this difficult time," The Dolphins said in a statement Sunday.

Moses had most recently been serving as a football coach at Reinhardt University.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Bring Back Chase Utley, Add Gutierrez]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 00:58:34 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-614397088.jpg

The Dodgers added some finishing touches on their 2017 team just days before pitchers and catchers are set to report to spring training on Wednesday.

According to multiple reports, the Dodgers agreed to one-year deals with free-agent second baseman Chase Utley and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.

Utley reportedly turned down higher offers from other teams in order to return to the Dodgers in a bench role. The 38-year-old started at second base for Los Angeles in 2016, and will enter into his 15th season this spring.

Bringing back Utley comes as a bit of a surprise for the boys in blue after the team traded for second baseman Logan Forsythe with the Tampa Bay Rays. However, after the trade was made, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said that the trade for Forsythe did not mean Utley would not return and told reporters that he was in talks with Utley and his agent.

"You never say never with a guy like Chase," Friedman said at the time. "Just because of the guy he is and the impact that he has."

The six-time All-Star appeared in 138 games for the Dodgers last season and batted .252 with 14 home runs and a .319 on-base-percentage as the team's primary leadoff hitter. 

Utley will likely be used as left-handed hitter off the bench in 2017, but could start at second base against some right-handers with Forsythe possibly giving Justin Turner days off at third base or vice versa. 

Meanwhile, the Gutierrez signing seems to be more of a head-scratcher. The veteran outfielder now gives the Dodgers eight different outfielders entering into spring training. 

Trayce Thompson missed the second half of last season with two broken vertebraes in his back, and if he starts the season on the 60-day disabled list, Gutierrez could get some time in centerfield against left-handed pitching.

However, the 12-year veteran has played more games at the corner outfield positions in recent years (left field in 2015 and right field in 2016) and is not accustomed to facing National League pitching after spending the entirety of his Major League career in the American League.

Originally, Gutierrez was scouted and signed by the Dodgers out of Venezuela in 2000, but he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2004 for Milton Bradley. 

Gutierrez blossomed into a Gold Glove winning outfielder with the Seattle Mariners and a perennial powerhouse against left-handed pitching with a .289 batting average and .846 OPS over his career.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to the Dodgers facility at Camelback Ranch in Arizona on Wednesday, February 15th, with the first full team workout scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 21.



Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marlins: Jose Fernandez's Estate Targeted by Two Lawsuits]]> Sat, 11 Feb 2017 15:22:53 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/josefernandezfeuerherd.jpg

Jose Fernandez's estate will be named as the defendant in a pair of negligence and personal injury lawsuits.

When the former ace of the Miami Marlins tragically passed away in September, two other men perished with him. The parents of both men will be the plaintiffs in the lawsuits. Each lawsuit is seeking $2 million in damages from Fernandez's estate. One lawsuit was filed on Friday, and a second will become official on Monday.

Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Jesus Macias were the other men with Fernandez on his boat that evening. Rivero who was 25 and Macias who was 27 had alcohol in their systems at the time of the crash, but were not over the legal limit. Rivero's toxicology report showed cocaine, but Macias' did not. Fernandez however was legally drunk and also had cocaine in his body. Both families are being represented by attorney Christopher Royer.

Fernandez's career was brief, and therefore his earnings were minimal compared to his potential. Estimates of the value of his estate hover around $2.5 million, which would be lower than the demands in the lawsuits combined. A settlement however could be possible and is something Royer mentioned in a statement. 

“We remain open to a settlement and are hopeful a prompt resolution can be achieved to spare these families, and that of Jose Fernandez too, from any additional suffering,” said Royer.

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding that tragic evening, has been the identity of the boat's driver. Ralph Fernandez, who is representing Fernandez's estate believes Fernandez was not driving the boat. A final report on the accident is still pending. The identity of the driver may be a part of that report. The estate's attorney also questions the use of cocaine by Fernandez.

“There are indications that his cocaine use that night was not voluntary,” Fernandez stated.

In addition to the tragic losses that evening of the three men, Fernandez left behind a pregnant girlfriend. 



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[More Patriots Stars Boycott Visit to Trump White House]]> Sat, 11 Feb 2017 06:59:00 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/newenglandpatriotsfeuerherd.jpg

Six New England Patriots players have a message for the Trump White House: We're just not that into you, NBC News reported.

Since the team won an historic fifth Super Bowl with a stunning come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons in overtime on February 5th, a growing number of players on the team have told the press that they would turn down an invite to commemorate their victory at the White House.

On Thursday, running back LeGarrette Blount and defensive lineman Alan Branch said during separate interviews they would not make the trip. Defensive end Chris Long tweeted the same.

Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower had previously said they would not attend.

And while some have not explicitly cited President Donald Trump and his policies as the reason — some have — and the number of players planning to boycott a future photo-op is unprecedented compared to years past.

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Photo Credit: AP]]>