<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports - [LA FEATURE] SoCal Sports 4 You]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sportsen-usSun, 26 Feb 2017 02:39:39 -0800Sun, 26 Feb 2017 02:39:39 -0800NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Lakers Tyler Ennis Found Out He Was Traded on Twitter]]>Sat, 25 Feb 2017 16:01:43 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Tyler-Ennis-Lakers-trade-Twitter.png

Guard Tyler Ennis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers moments before the NBA's trade deadline. Two days later, he went through his first practice in El Segundo, California, spoke about how he found out he was traded via Twitter and also shared details of his personal relationship with Jordan Clarkson. (Shahan Ahmed)

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Lose to Spurs in Chris Paul's Return]]>Fri, 24 Feb 2017 23:38:00 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/CP3+Returns+but+Clips+Lose+to+Spurs.png

Just like an effacing tide, Chris Paul returned on Friday.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.

Paul scored 17 points after missing the last five weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb, but his return to the court was not enough as the Los Angeles Clippers dropped their second straight game, 105-97, to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night at Staples Center.

"The only thing that matters is how we did as a team," said Paul after the game. "I came out unscathed which is great. It felt great to be back out on the court. It was a tough loss, but it felt good to through an entire game."

Led by Blake Griffin's game-high 29 points, the Clippers held a nine-point lead at one point in the third quarter, but like a caged creature, fatigue factored in as they faded down the stretch into the lusterless Los Angeles night.

"It felt like the same way when Blake [Griffin] came back in the first game, we were moving, but we just weren't in sync," said Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers. "We knew that would happen a little bit. I thought our second unit got us going in the first half."

L.A. was taking the court on the heels of a high profile back-to-back in Oakland against the team with the NBA's best record in the Golden State Warriors.

Less than 24 hours after allowing 50 points to Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and company in the third quarter of an eventual 10-point loss, the Clippers had to take the court again against a fully rested Spurs team sporting the league's second best record.

"Both teams were very aggressive, very physical and it was a good game," added Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. "I thought our defense was pretty decent throughout and down the stretch and we made some shots."

Kawhi Leonard battled through foul trouble to record 21 points and San Antonio received a boost from center Pau Gasol who returned to the court for the first time since January 19, when he fractured his left hand during pregame warm-ups.

"It was fun," Leonard said of having to play with five fouls through most of the third and fourth quarters. "I was just waiting, trying to stay ready until my turn was called. My mind was on the [five fouls], but coach did a good job of putting in someone else."

Gasol chipped in 17 points off the bench including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc to help the Spurs start the second half of their schedule with a victory.

"I had low expectations, but at the same time, I worked really hard with the staff," Gasol said of his return. "All of the training staff was on me every single day, working twice a day so, that when I get back, I will be ready to go and it won't be too hard. So, it really paid off."

Austin Rivers had another hot-shooting night, scoring 23 points in just 26 minutes off the bench.

The loss drops the Clippers to 5-7 on the second night of back-to-backs and they are now a full game behind the Utah Jazz for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

Up Next:

The Clippers will host Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Westbrook's Triple-Double Leads Thunder Over Lakers]]>Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:31:18 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Russell-Westbrook-Lakers-vs-Thunder.jpg

Early in the third quarter of Friday's game, Russell Westbrook recorded his 28th triple-double of the season as he led the Oklahoma City Thunder to victory, 110-93, over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Westbrook finished with 17 points, 19 rebounds and 17 assists and three steals in yet another all-around performance from the Long Beach native. Westbrook was one of five Thunder players to score in double-figures on the night, and the fact that no Oklahoma City player finished with 20 points hinted at the balanced scoring for the home team.

Steven Adams finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Andre Roberson made eight of his nine field goal attempts to score 19 points to record a new career-high.

For the Lakers, Earvin "Magic" Johnson attended his first game since accepting the position of President of Basketball Operations earlier in the week. Johnson witnessed D'Angelo Russell finish with 29 points to go along with six assists, four rebounds and four steals in the loss.

Julius Randle finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds to nab a double-double in the defeat.

While the scoreboard may not have been friendly to the visitors, Ivica Zubac and Larry Nance Jr. displayed promising defensive activity at times. Both backup big men finished with three blocks on the night, and Nance collected a couple steals, too.

With Lou Williams no longer with the team, LA suited up new arrival Corey Brewer. Brewer featured for four minutes and converted a slam dunk for his first points as a Lakers' player.

Finally, Brandon Ingram displayed a bit more aggression in attacking the basket, and Johnson told Spectrum Sportsnet during an in-game interview that he had advised the 19-year-old to not shy away from the contact. Ingram finished with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists in the loss. 

"Obviously, it sucks to lose, but there's some good building going on out there," Lakers coach Luke Walton told Spectrum Sportsnet cameras after the game.

Next, the Lakers will host the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ Green Taunts Pierce: 'You Thought You Was Kobe?!']]>Thu, 23 Feb 2017 23:52:48 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/Draymond+Green+Taunts+Paul+Pierce.png

The Clippers and Warriors don't like each other.

A once budding rivalry has now turned into a Warriors chokehold as Golden State has beaten their Pacific Division rivals ten consecutive times.

On Thursday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, it took less than a minute for tempers to flare after Warriors' forward Draymond Green unleashed a tirade at Clippers' forward Paul Pierce who wasn't even playing in the game!

"Are you chasing that farewell tour?" said Green as he taunted Pierce from the court. "They don't love you like that. What, you thought you was Kobe!?"

At the time, the Clippers were leading by a single point, 1-0, but the score in the game made no difference to Green.

Pierce announced in September that this would be his final season in the NBA and hopes to notch one more championship ring in his hometown before he hangs it all up.

"After 18 NBA years," wrote Pierce in the Player's Tribune back in September. "It's hard to believe I'll be playing in each arena for the last time. So I'm going to enjoy every practice, every bus ride, every team dinner, every time running out through the tunnel. I'm going to do my part to give us a shot at the ultimate goal."

The game marked Pierce's final regular season game in Oakland against the Warriors, and there was no pregame tribute to the former Celtic before the game, which perhaps is what prompted Green's taunts.

It's true, Pierce is no Kobe, but he is a future Hall-of-Famer and an NBA legend in his own right. Unfortunately, Father Time has caught up to Pierce this season as the 39-year-old forward is averaging just 3.7 points in 11.8 minutes in just 13 games this season.

Pierce didn't see the court on Thursday, and it was probably for the best as the Warriors erased a 12-point halftime deficit with a 50-point third quarter to put the game away, and continue their stranglehold over the Clippers.



Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Lose 10th Consecutive Game to Warriors]]>Thu, 23 Feb 2017 23:19:46 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/Clippers+Can%27t+Get+Past+warriors.png

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 17 of his 35 points in a 3-point flurry over the final 3:37 of the third quarter, and the two-time reigning MVP also had seven rebounds, five assists and four steals as the Warriors used a big second half to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 123-113 on Thursday night.

Curry's four-point play with 30.7 seconds left in the third and buzzer-beating 3 to punctuate the one-sided period propelled Golden State. Curry and Kevin Durant combined for eight of their team's nine 3-pointers in the third.

The Warriors scored 50 points in the quarter after trailing 61-49 at halftime. It was the NBA's first 50-point quarter since the Lakers had 51 against the Knicks on March 25, 2014.

Durant scored 15 of his 25 points in the third and also contributed 15 rebounds and seven assists as the NBA-best Warriors (48-9) began the stretch run with a downright dominant second half.

Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford scored 19 points apiece and DeAndre Jordan had 17 and 11 rebounds as the Clippers missed Chris Paul for a 14th straight game as he recovers from surgery last month for a torn ligament in his left thumb. Los Angeles had its four-game winning streak snapped.

Jordan received a technical at halftime as players were walking off the court.

Klay Thompson scored 18 points and had his streak of eight straight games scoring 20 or more points snapped. It matched the longest such streak of his career, also done Dec. 2-16, 2014.

Golden State welcomed back starting center Zaza Pachulia after he missed eight games with a right shoulder injury and backup big man David West, who missed 14 games with a non-displaced fracture in his left thumb

Pachulia had three blocked shots in five minutes of the first quarter and finished with a career-best four.

After the Clippers took a 144-98 beating in their last visit to Oracle Arena on Jan. 28, they controlled the game for the first two quarters. That 46-point win matched the largest margin of victory ni the series.

Golden State won its 10th straight in the rivalry.

So, how did Los Angeles feel about facing the NBA's best team immediately out of the All-Star break?

"I kind of like jumping back in, personally," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of starting with the Warriors. "I did as a player. I would rather get going."

PAUL UPDATE

While Paul's return Friday against the Spurs was "iffy" in Rivers' mind, the point guard is likely to be back in the next couple of games — with Sunday's home game against Charlotte sounding like a real possibility.

Paul went through an intense workout Thursday.

"He's really close," Rivers said. "He looked good the last two days but I thought he was a little hesitant."

TIP-INS

Clippers: Los Angeles shot 13 free throws in the third. ... The Clippers have lost 11 in a row at Oracle Arena since a 105-86 victory on Dec. 25, 2011 — and their last win home or road was also a Christmas Day game, in 2014. ... Los Angeles has lost its last six when playing the second night of back-to-backs after winning the initial five this season.

Warriors: Golden State recorded its first 50-point period since 1989 and the fourth in franchise history. The nine 3s in the quarter matched a franchise record. ... Durant bruised his left pinkie when he fell in the opening quarter. X-rays were negative and he returned. ... Golden State committed 12 first-half turnovers, the total coach Steve Kerr strives for over an entire game.

UP NEXT

Clippers: Host San Antonio on Friday night looking for their fourth straight home victory in the series.

Warriors: Host Brooklyn on Saturday before a stretch with eight games in 12 days including an East Coast trip, return to the Bay Area then back-to-back on March 10-11 at Minnesota and San Antonio.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ben Margot]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings Mauled by Bruins 4-1]]>Thu, 23 Feb 2017 23:12:13 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Kings+mauled+by+Bruins.png

Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak scored their 26th goals of the season, and the Boston Bruins improved to 5-1-0 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy with a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.

Rookie defenseman, Kevin Gravel, scored the first NHL goal of his career to tie the game at 1-1 in the first period, but Pastrnak shot a knuckler through the five-hole of Peter Budaj in the second period as he broke his stick on the play.

"It feels good obviously, it was a long time coming," Gravel said of his first ever NHL goal. "Good play by Marty [Alec Martinez] to get the puck going to the net, Kemps [Adrian Kempe] made a great play to find the back door there, and I had nothing but net to shoot at so I basically just tapped it in."

Anton Khudobin made 27 saves in his second start since Christmas for the Bruins, who nursed an early lead to their first win in Los Angeles since March 24, 2012.

Pastrnak's go-ahead goal was his seventh power-play goal of the season. Dominic Moore ended his 26-game goal drought with an empty-net score, and David Krejci added another empty-netter with 7.2 seconds left.

The victory was the first for the Bruins in Los Angeles since March 24, 2012.

The Kings have now lost six of eight overall and four of five since their bye week. With just 22 games left to play, the Kings are now four points behind the Calgary Flames for the second and final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. 

"We can't chase the lead," said L.A. head coach Darryl Sutter. "The early goal is just a constant theme, chase the lead. We need to put some production on the top end of our lineup to overcome that."

Up Next: 

The Kings host the rival Ducks on Saturday night at Staples Center.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Make Deadline Trade, Acquire Tyler Ennis]]>Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:33:55 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Tyler-Ennis-Lakers-trade.jpg

In three days, Earvin "Magic" Johnson made two trades.

After reportedly agreeing to send Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and a late first round draft pick, Johnson made a final hour NBA Trade Deadline move to send point guard Marcelo Huertas to the Houston Rockets for Tyler Ennis per Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical at Yahoo! Sports. Houston expects to waive Huertas, meaning the 33-year-old Brazilian's NBA adventure likely comes to an end short of two seasons.

For fans in LA, Huertas will likely always be remembered as "The Catalyst," a nickname that he acquired when former coach Byron Scott credited the backup point guard with coming in and rescuing a game. 

Ennis, who played at Syracuse University as an undergraduate, is a 22-year-old, 6-foot 2-inch point guard. Into his third NBA season after being drafted by Phoenix in the 2014 NBA Draft with the no. 18 overall pick, Ennis has only averaged 11.5 minutes and made eight starts in his two-plus years in the NBA.

While the former Orangeman may not be a savior of the franchise, he likely provides more hope for improvement than a fully mature Huertas. Like Huertas, Ennis' contract runs out at the end of the season, so the Lakers are not on the hook for anything beyond the current year.

All-in-all, the Huertas for Ennis trade isn't a blockbuster, but the Lakers get a close look at an underdeveloped talent and can provide Ennis with regular NBA minutes freed up since Williams is no longer with the team.

For Ennis and the Lakers, this is a win-win situation.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Paul Could Return Thursday Against Warriors]]>Thu, 23 Feb 2017 06:31:55 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Chris+Paul+Return.png

Surprise, he's back!

Los Angeles Clippers' point guard Chris Paul has been medically cleared by doctors and could take court as soon as Thursday night when the team heads to the "Roaracle" to take on the NBA's best team in the Golden State Warriors. 

Paul was back at practice on Wednesday after missing the last five weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb. The injury occurred during a game against the San Antonio Spurs on January 16, and Paul had surgery to repair the tear two days later. 

Originally, Paul was expected to miss up to eight weeks, returning during the middle of March, but doctors said that the nine-time All-Star is ahead of schedule in the recovery process.

"I'm getting better," Paul told reporters after practice on Wednesday. "Yesterday was the first time in 4 and ½ weeks I've gotten a chance to play."

Paul could take the court as soon as Thursday in Oakland when the Clippers take on the Golden State Warriors, but Paul didn't necessarily exude confidence in that regard.

"It can't factor in. I don't want to be out there hurting the team," Paul said on whether they fact it’s the Warriors impacts his decision to return on Thursday. "Unfortunately, I'm very familiar with the rehab process."

The Clippers are currently riding a four-game winning streak without their star point guard, but lead the Utah Jazz for fourth place (and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs) by only ½ game in the Western Conference.

The next two games for the Clippers are against the Warriors on Thursday, and the Spurs at Staples Center on Friday. Two important games that the team could use Paul as they are 11-19 in games without him over the last two seasons.

"Overall he was pretty aggressive," Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers said of how Paul looked in practice. "But it was clear as practice went on and he got more and more aggressive. In the first half, he wouldn't even play with the starters, but the end of practice he was back playing with the starters."



Photo Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Buying Big on Magic Johnson]]>Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:47:35 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-president-Magic-Johnson-2-23-17.jpg

The day after President's Day, Lakers boss Jeanie Buss finally demonstrated her presidential authority.

For years, Buss would go into the press from time to time and make comments that hinted at the dysfunctional relationship between her and her brother, Jim, but she allowed her brother to continue in his role, though outsiders even wondered if she truly had the legal authority to remove him.

"This was a very difficult decision," Jeanie Buss told Spectrum Sportsnet on the day she decided to remove her brother from his position as the executive in charge of the basketball side of the family business. "It was probably so hard for me to make that I probably waited too long. For that I apologize to Laker fans."

On Tuesday, President Jeanie Buss fired Jim Buss from being the executive Vice President of Basketball Operations and also let general manager Mitch Kupchak go. Longtime Vice-President of Public Relations John Black also got shown the door after 27 years with the team.

Jeanie Buss finally used her power.

Kupchak had been part of the Lakers since 1981. He'd spent the final five years of his playing career in LA after Earvin "Magic" Johnson told former Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss that he wanted to play with Kupchak on a picnic. Yes, the 1980's were a different time.

Thirty-six years later, Johnson's return to the Lakers closed the loop on Kupchak's tenure with the team. Poetically, the same man who brought Kupchak into the Lakers' organization helped take him out. One trade and one secured general manager later, Johnson had an eventful first day at his "dream job" as President of Lakers Basketball Operations.

That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the Lakers welcomed a large contingent of reporters begging to talk to the coach and to the players about the Lou Williams' trade and the shakeup in the organization. Kupchak and Jim Buss had been involved in bringing every one of those players and the entire coaching staff to the Lakers. For the bright young talents on the team, Kupchak had brought them into the NBA.

Also, it was Kupchak and Buss who reportedly refused to include Brandon Ingram in the trade for DeMarcus Cousins over All-Star weekend. Cousins eventually landed in New Orleans, and one could easily argue that the failure to get that deal done proved to be the final straw that broke the camel's back.

Upon his arrival, however, Johnson labelled the young core of players "untouchable" for trade talks and appeared set to continue the same policy of protecting the young core and keeping it intact.

"Nobody is really untouchable," Lakers coach Luke Walton smiled and said after Wednesday's practice. The coach hypothesized that if a certain two-time MVP was available via trade, players may suddenly become touchable. The coach added, "But we love our young guys."

"You should never feel like you're untouchable," Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell, who is only 20 years young, echoed his coach's thoughts with a straight face. Russell referred repeatedly to the business side of the sport and also took Williams' trade as a reminder that the NBA life can change in an instant.

"It just show how much they believe in the young core, coming out here, seeing us work every day," Ingram responded when asked about what he took away from the front office refusing to include him in a potential trade for Cousins. Whether he was fully aware of it or not, Ingram was referring to the former Kupchak and Buss front office with his comments.

"It was strange. It's different. It's weird," Walton said about not working with Kupchak anymore.

Johnson's return and Kupchak's time with the franchise, though, are not at odds with one another in the eyes of the players and coaches.

"I think it was great for the organization, of course," Ingram, who is only 19, shared his thoughts on Johnson's hiring with one breath. "Of course, (Johnson is a) legendary player, great mind, a great point guard, a winning player, so of course I thought it was a good idea."

With another breath, Ingram spoke about continuing his relationship with the man that pulled him out of the college basketball womb and brought the teenager into the Lakers' family: "(Kupchak) was always a great guy to me."

"Our owners are doing what they think is best, and I support it 100 percent," Julius Randle, who was the Lakers' 2014 lottery pick, did his best to state his allegiance to the Lakers while also sharing his gratitude for the dearly departed executive. "As far as Mitch, I can't thank him enough, how grateful I am that they had me on their radar and brought me in here to this great organization, to this great family. To him, I can't thank him enough. He did an amazing job and he was great here. I loved him here."

Asked about whether Johnson's presence at practice is a bit surreal, Randle smiled and said, "Yea, I definitely had the awe factor when he came in."

For Walton, he toasted to two titles with Kupchak and Jim Buss as a player and also got his first head coaching job under the dissolved duo. Naturally, Walton had mixed emotions.

"I am really close with Jim and Mitch and I really enjoyed working with them, and so it was interesting," Walton shared. "And I had great talks with both of them on the telephone afterwards. They were both very supportive. They both gave the message of 'Continue to work.' 'You got a job to do.' 'You're going to be great at the job.' 'Keep working with the young guys.' It was definitely a little sad. I think it's important to remember all the great things they did while they were here too."

When the topic turned to Johnson, though, Walton again spoke glowingly and enthusiastically about his new boss: "He demands respect because he's earned that. That is who he is. I'm not going to say it's what the franchise needs, but he's fun to work with. He really is. We've had great talks. He's been in here all day for the last two days. I've really enjoyed the short amount of time that we've spent bouncing ideas off each other and having him around."

At one point, a reporter asked if Johnson would even have an impact with the younger generation of NBA players that may not have seen him play or understand exactly all that he accomplished. Would Johnson have any magic with free agents?

"I think Magic's great," Walton quipped. "I think if I'm sitting in a room with Magic, from my experience, if he's selling me on something, most times I'm buying it."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Snap Three Game Skid With Win Over Avs]]>Wed, 22 Feb 2017 00:51:32 -0800http://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[Report: Lakers Hire Rob Pelinka To be New GM]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:40:39 -0800http://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 -0800http://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 -0800http://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 -0800http://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[NHL Bye Week Format Takes Center Ice]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:15:16 -0800http://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[45-Year-Old Jagr Hurts L.A. Kings Playoff Chances]]>Sat, 18 Feb 2017 22:34:28 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/177*120/Jagr+vs.+Kngs.jpg

Jaromir Jagr extended his point streak to five consecutive games as he setup Aleksander Barkov in the third period for the game-winning goal and the Florida Panthers won their fourth straight game 3-2 over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night at Staples Center.

The 45-year-old forward continued to defy age and science as he notched an assist and a +2 over 18 minutes on the ice. Roberto Luongo made 33 saves for Florida in the victory.

Jussi Jokinen and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for the Panthers, who have won seven of eight. Florida is tied with Boston for third in the Atlantic Division and leads Toronto for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference by one point.

Tanner Pearson and Dwight King each scored and Peter Budaj made 22 saves for the Kings, who are two points behind Calgary for the second wild card in the Western Conference.

Jokinen's goal put the Panthers ahead 2-0 1:14 into the second, but the Kings roared back to tie it in the same period. To start the third, Barkov raced ahead of three Kings and put a backhand shot past Budaj, reclaiming momentum and the lead.

King scored 5:39 into the second. Luongo couldn't handle his shot with Kings center Nick Shore and Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic crashing the crease, and Florida interim coach Tom Rowe challenged unsuccessfully for interference.

Pearson then got Luongo moving to his left with some clever puck handling, exploiting the subsequent gap between the goalie's legs to score his 19th of the season.

The first period turned on a delayed penalty against Los Angeles' Marian Gaborik. The Kings had held the puck in the offensive zone for nearly a minute before losing it, prompting Gaborik to reach out his stick and trip a Panther in a fruitless attempt to get it back.

Huberdeau then beat Budaj with a wrist shot in the 6-on-5 action, notching his fourth goal of the season in his sixth game, after the Panthers were able to steady themselves by getting Luongo off and bringing on an extra attacker.

Florida turned the tables on the Kings after L.A. pounded the Panthers 6-3 just 12 days ago at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL. 

Part of the reason for Florida flipping the script has been the play of Kings' goalie Peter Budaj since the NHL mandated bye-week the Kings had last week. Budaj struggled to stop point-blank shots in the team's 5-3 loss on Thursday and fell behing the eight-ball again on Saturday. Overall, he's allowed 19 goals in his last five starts.

The loss leaves the Kings stalling at 60 points on the season, two points behind the Calgary Flames and the Nashville Predators for the final two wild card spots in the playoffs. 

After defeating the Sharks on Wednesday, and the Anaheim Ducks last night, the Panthers complete the rare California Sweep.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Visit St. Louis on Monday night.

Kings: Visit Anaheim on Sunday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bruins Beat Trojans, Get Revenge on USC]]>Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:13:39 -0800http://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 -0800http://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 -0800http://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[WATCH: Jordan Asks Griffin For Tips on Dunk Contest]]>Sat, 18 Feb 2017 22:34:39 -0800http://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 -0800http://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 -0800http://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[Kings Trump Lakers 97-96]]>Wed, 15 Feb 2017 01:48:21 -0800http://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[Chargers Announce Season Ticket Prices]]>Tue, 14 Feb 2017 14:16:52 -0800http://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.

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<![CDATA[Lakers No Longer at Rock Bottom]]>Tue, 14 Feb 2017 11:33:10 -0800http://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[Clippers Jazzed Up in Win Over Utah]]>Wed, 15 Feb 2017 00:56:23 -0800http://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 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/vintage-dodgers-spring-training.jpgDodgers 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 -0800http://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[Dodgers Bring Back Chase Utley, Add Gutierrez]]>Wed, 15 Feb 2017 00:58:34 -0800http://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[Lakers Score 47 Points in First Quarter, Shoot Down Bucks]]>Fri, 10 Feb 2017 19:52:02 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nick-Young-Lakers-Bucks.jpg

On Friday night in Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Lakers scored 47 points in the first quarter to mark their highest scoring opening 12 minutes since 1987.

That fast start set the tone for the evening, as the Lakers shot down the Milwaukee Bucks 122-114.

Six different Lakers did not miss a single shot in the first quarter. In all, the Lakers shot 81.2 percent for the opening quarter and made 18 of 22 field goals.

LA built on its first half 17-point first quarter advantage to lead the stumbling Bucks by 21 points at the halftime intermission. The third quarter has been especially problematic for the purple and gold this season, but LA managed to jump out to a 26-point lead only three minutes into the third quarter.

Nick Young, in particular seemed to have the basket locked into his sights, as the 31-year-old finished with 26 points after making his first five three-point attempts. Young converted eight of his 11 field goal attempts on the night.

To finish the third quarter, the Bucks had clawed back to within 19 points, but LA seemingly still had control of the contest. Milwaukee, though, quickly changed that narrative by starting the fourth quarter on a 14-2 run and making it a seven-point contest with six and a half minutes remaining in the game.

Following a timeout, LA settled back down and rebuilt a 13-point lead with 4:48 remaining after Julius Randle got an offensive rebound and converted a conventional three-point play.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, though, would not be denied and led the Bucks back to within six points with 1:45 showing on the game clock. When Greg Monroe converted a layup with 59 seconds remaining, the difference between the teams was only five points.

Milwaukee, however, would get no closer, as the Bucks seemingly ran out of time. Antetokounmpo finished with 41 points, which set a new career-high. The Bucks' dynamic point forward also recorded three blocks, six assists and eight rebounds in the loss.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Magic Johnson Wants to 'Call the Shots' for the Lakers]]>Fri, 10 Feb 2017 01:45:30 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Magic-Johnson-shot-caller-Jim-Buss.jpg

Earvin "Magic" Johnson has already been a baller with the Los Angeles Lakers, and now, he's shared his intentions of becoming a shot caller for the purple and gold mere days after joining the team in a special advisory role that reports only to Lakers president Jeanie Buss.

"Working to call the shots, because it only works that way," Johnson told USA TODAY Sports when describing his new, somewhat ambiguous role with the Lakers. "Right now I'm advising. I get that. But at the end of the day, then we all got to come together and somebody's got to say, 'I'm making the final call,' all right? And who's that going to be?"

Johnson's return to the franchise always seemed suspicious considering his previous public criticism of Lakers vice-president of basketball operations Jim Buss. However, Johnson initially went on a bit of media tour to calm the nerves and speak about how he would be available to work with all components of the basketball and business operations, rather than necessarily usurp their powers or lord over them. He presented himself as an extra resource to be called upon but only if needed.

These latest comments, however, suggest that Johnson's return is likely a power play designed to transition the final say on basketball decisions away from Jim Buss, who officially took over having the final say on these matters from the late Dr. Jerry Buss after his death. Jeanie Buss has always been more involved on the business side of the Lakers and has kept her hands clean of the basketball side, save for being involved in select free agent meetings.

Johnson, however, clearly has ambitions to get elbow deep in the Lakers' decision making process with an eye to disrupt the current order that features Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak doing, well, his job and Jim Buss giving his final approval on decisions.

Johnson is clearly not in position to become an NBA general manager, so one would imagine his presence is not a threat to Kupchak in the least. However, the face of the Lakers from the 1980's to the early 1990's seemingly wants to have the final say on basketball decisions.

Seeing as Jim Buss currently holds the role Johnson is describing, one cannot help but point out the obvious: Johnson wants to replace Jim Buss.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings Pummel Panthers]]>Thu, 09 Feb 2017 20:34:49 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/Kings+Pummel+panthers.jpg

50 years ago the Los Angeles Kings hired Jiggs McDonald to be their first ever broadcaster.

On Thursday, they sent him out with a bang.

Jeff Carter had two goals and two assists and the Los Angeles Kings scored a flurry of goals to defeat the Florida Panthers, 6-3, in McDonald's final game.

McDonald was hired by original Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke in 1967 and was a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, the highest honor for a sports broadcaster in 1990.

He retired in 2004, but has continued to call games for the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers as a fill-in broadcaster over the years. In order to celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Kings approached McDonald about doing one final broadcast when the team traveled to Sunrise, FL.

After back-to-back scoreless games that saw the Kings outscored 10-0, they came out firing on Thursday, scoring six goals in the first two periods.

Dwight King, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, Dustin Brown and Carter all scored for the Kings who greased the crease just 1:39 into the game. 

Carter tallied his 28th and 29th goals of the season, putting him second in the NHL behind Sidney Crosby (30) of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kings' goalie Peter Budaj made 36 saves in the win, as L.A. was outshot 39-26 despite the lopsided victory.

The Panthers struggled between the pipes as starting goalie James Reimer allowed three goals on eight shots in the first period before he was lifted in favor of Roberto Luongo.

However, Luongo didn't fare much and allowed three goals himself in the second period before Reimer came back in the game.

The win moved the Kings back into the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with 60 points on the season.

UP NEXT:
LA Kings: The Kings get a much-needed six days of rest before they host the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center next Thursday.

Panthers: Florida takes on the Nashville Predators in Tennessee on Saturday.



Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clips Come Back to Beat Knicks, Oakley Ejected]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2017 21:01:00 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Oakley+Knicks+Clippers.png

Things have been strange in the Big Apple recently, but on Wednesday, they got even weirder.

Blake Griffin scored 32 points, Carmelo Anthony missed a game-tying shot in the final seconds, and former Knicks star Charles Oakley was ejected from the arena as the Los Angeles Clippers came back to beat New York, 119-115, at Madison Square Garden.

Before the game began, the Knicks provided plenty of fireworks for the front pages of New York City after team president Phil Jackson took a dig at Anthony on Twitter.

Anthony reportedly has privately told teammates he won't not let Jackson "run him out of town," and said that he would not be distracted on the court.

However, Knicks head coach Heff Hornacek admitted before the game that the tweet and subsequent media speculation that followed may have been a distraction.

If the ongoing Jackson-Anthony drama had deterred the Knicks, it didn't show on the court, even as Jackson sat above the court like a winged cloud, New York led throughout the game, including by 10 points early in the fourth quarter.

"We bounced back from that Lakers game," said Melo. "The effort was there. The fight was there. We couldn't pull it out at the end."

The Clippers would come back, going on a 21-9 run thanks to Griffin and first-time All-Star DeAndre Jordan. Jordan chipped in 28 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks to help lift the Clippers past the Knicks.

Griffin's 32 points were a season-high, and Austin Rivers added a career-high 10 assists in the game. Jamal Crawford scored 20 points off the bench, including five straight points in the final seconds to secure the win for the Clippers.

"The way we got down...guys were fighting, guys were scrapping," said Griffin after the game. "Jamal [Crawford] was huge, DJ was huge, Austin [Rivers] was great down the stretch. We have to put that together for 48 minutes."

Anthony had 28 points and Kristaps Porzingis contributed 27 points. Derrick Rose had one of his best games as a Knick with 20 points and eight assists.

Despite the performance of many of the Knicks starters on the court, it was the performance of a former Knick off the court that overshadowed the game, especially early in the first half.

Former Knicks star power forward Charles Oakley was carried out of the arena by security after a physical altercation in the first quarter.

Oakley appeared to be going after Knicks owner James Dolan who was sitting courtside at the time. After he was blocked and confronted by security, Oakley grew angry, physically pushing multiple officials before he was carried out by a pack of security.

The Knicks PR staff released a statement shortly thereafter, saying that Oakley had been arrested by the New York Police Department.

Things got even more strange later in the game when Spencer Checketts, son of former Knicks president Dave Checketts (who was fired by Dolan), tweeted that his dad was trying to bail Oakley out of jail.

Meanwhile, back on the court, Anthony missed a three-pointer with 5.9 seconds left that would have tied the game. Instead, Griffin was fouled and put the game away with a free throw.

"They were running a double drag action so Derrick [Rose] came off there and Porzingis was going to roll to the basket," said Hornacek of the final play. "He threw it back to Melo who has made those shots before."

The loss snapped a three-game losing streak for the Clippers who have been falling in the Western Conference standings without point guard Chris Paul.

The Knicks are now in the midst of their own three-game losing streak as the dysfunctional franchise has now hit a season-low after they were swept by both L.A. based teams at home in back-to-back games.

UP NEXT:

Clippers: The Grammy road trip continues as the Clippers head to Charlotte on Saturday to take on Michael Jordan's Hornets.

Knicks: New York will continue their high-profile drama when they host Carmelo Anthony's former team, the Denver Nuggets on Friday.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II]]>
<![CDATA[Pistons Speed Past Lakers 121-102]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2017 19:43:34 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Pistons-2-8-17.jpg

Andre Drummond finished with 24 points, 17 rebounds, three steals and four blocks without playing any of the fourth quarter, as the Detroit Pistons raced out to a 121-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Tonight just wasn't good for us," Larry Nance Jr. said after the game. "We just got to be better. The whole game was unacceptable."

The Lakers committed 12 turnovers before the intermission, but somehow, LA only trailed by six points at that stage. Then, the dreaded third quarter came about. LA has been notoriously poor in the third quarter, and Wednesday night in Detroit was no exception.

The Pistons out-scored the Lakers 36-20 in the third period, turning a six-point contest into a 22-point blowout. In the fourth quarter, that lead popped up to 28 points before the final score settled on the 19-point difference.

For the Pistons, six players scored in double figures and the team and the team won the turnover and rebounding battles, to point out a few key areas of emphasis. LA finished the night with 21 turnovers in a sloppy showing.

Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell had a particularly off night, as the 20-year-old finished with more turnovers, three, than points, two. Russell only attempted two shots and did not appear to have the right type of energy for the occasion.

"(Russell) looked a little tired," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game. "At shootaround even today, I thought he looked a little tired. But you got to play through that. It's the NBA. There are a lot of game, I get it, there's long road trips, but you got to find a way to fight through that."

While the Lakers' second year lottery pick struggled on Wednesday, the team's rookie lottery pick provided one of the few bright spots for the visitors. Brandon Ingram scored 15 points on 6-10 shooting to go along with five assists and four rebounds in 27 minutes. Ingram hit three of his four attempts from long range and appeared to be in a good shooting rhythm, though early foul trouble limited his influence on the game.

Next, the Lakers wrap up their five-game road trip on Friday night in Milwaukee.

Notes: Larry Nance Jr. finished the night with six points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes, ending his two-game streak of double-doubles. Nance's minutes dropped due Julius Randle's return to health. Randle played 30 minutes and finidhed with 17 points and six rebounds.

All quotes courtest of Spectrum SportsNet



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Charles Oakley Escorted Out of Clippers/Knicks Game]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:24:50 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-157698819.jpg

Former New York Knicks forward Charles Oakley is no stranger to altercations.

Oakley was escorted out of Madison Square Garden in ugly fashion on Wednesday night during the first quarter of the Los Angeles Clippers and Knicks game on ESPN.

Oakley was reportedly trying to get close to Knicks' owner James Dolan who was sitting courtside at the time, and was approached by security.

The altercation escalated as Oakley shoved a security member and had to be hauled out by a bevy of officials.

Oakley and Dolan have had a tumultuous relationship over the years with Oakley telling reporters at one point that Dolan told him he was not welcome anymore at Knicks games.

Witnesses at the garden said that Knicks team president Phil Jackson tried to calm Oakley down in the tunnel, but according to a statement released by the team, he was escorted out of the arena and arrested by the New York Police Department.

The video of the incident as it unfolded live during the ESPN's live broadcast of the game is below.



Photo Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Announce 2017 Full Coaching Staff]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:01:50 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/LARamsCoachingStaff.jpg

The Rams are starting fresh.

After a tumultuous 4-12 record in their first season in Los Angeles, the Rams fired head coach Jeff Fisher and have now completed their offseason house cleaning as they have announced an entirely new coaching staff for the 2017 season.

The 18-member coaching team will be led by 31-year-old Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in NFL history.

"We have a great group of talented coaches that I'm very excited to work with this year," McVay said in a statement released by the team on Wednesday. "They have a vast array of experiences and the qualities we are looking for as we build this staff. Their unique insight to the game will collectively make this team better as we prepare for the 2017 season."

One of the only coaches retained by the Rams was interim head coach John Fassel who returns in his previous role as Special Teams Coordinator. A decision that three-time Pro Bowl punter, Johnny Hekker, hailed on social media.

After the departures of defensive coordinator Greg Williams to the Cleveland Browns and offensive coordinator Rob Boras to the Buffalo Bills, McVay quickly replaced each position with some well-respected names in the NFL.

Former head coach and renowned defensive coordinator Wade Phillips joins the Rams this season after winning a Super Bowl as DC with the Denver Broncos in 2016.

Speaking of Super Bowl, McVay nabbed Matt LaFleur as his new offensive coordinator. LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach for the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons who collapsed in epic fashion on Sunday in a 34-28 loss to the New England Patriots.

LaFleur is a mentor of 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan and has spent the last two seasons in Atlanta molding Ryan into one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Previously, he worked with McVay in Washington from 2010 to 2013 as quarterbacks coach of the Redskins.

Here is the complete list of coaches for the 2017 Los Angeles Rams:

Sean McVay (Head Coach) – McVay has been the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins under head coach Jay Gruden for the past three seasons. Prior to that he was the tight ends coach for the Redskins. He began his coaching career in 2008 as an assistant to Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay.

John Fassel (Special Teams Coordinator) – Served as the Rams’ special teams coordinator for the past five seasons where his units have consistently finished in the top tier of league rankings. Was Los Angeles’ interim head coach for the final three games of 2016. Led the Oakland Raiders’ special teams (2008-11) and served as an assistant in Baltimore (2005-07) prior to joining the Rams in 2012. Is the son of former Giants Head Coach Jim Fassel.

Matt LaFleur (Offensive Coordinator) – Entering his first NFL season as an offensive coordinator following a two-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons (2015-16) coaching quarterbacks, where he concluded the 2016 season with an NFC Championship title. Held the same position with the Washington Redskins (2010-13) where he coached alongside McVay. First NFL coaching position came in 2008 where he served as an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans (2008-09). Made five collegiate coaching stops over the course of his career which began in 2003 at his alma mater, Saginaw Valley State.

Wade Phillips (Defensive Coordinator) – Brings 39 seasons of coaching experience to Los Angeles, which includes 25 as a coordinator (seven teams) and nine as a full-time head coach (three teams). Previously held the same position with the Denver Broncos the past two seasons where he helped led the club to a victory in Super Bowl 50. Named Assistant Coach of the Year twice by the Pro Football Writers of America (2011 & 2015). Started his NFL career with the Houston Oilers under his father, Head Coach Bum Phillips.

Joe Barry (Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers) – Now in his 16th NFL season, including four as a defensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins (2015-16) and the Detroit Lions (2007-08). In his first stint coaching linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he helped lead the team to their first championship with a 48-21 win over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Thad Bogardus (Defensive Quality Control) – Joins the Rams for his fourth season as an NFL assistant. Started his NFL career in 2014 with the Buffalo Bills as a defensive quality control coach and went to the Denver Broncos for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Began his career as a graduate assistant at Ball State (2012-13).

Andy Dickerson (Assistant Offensive Line) – Enters his 11th NFL season and sixth with the Rams after serving as an assistant for the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. Also worked in operations for the New England Patriots and played offensive line at Tufts University in Boston.

Ejiro Evero (Safeties) – Begins his first season with Los Angeles after spending 2016 as the defensive quality control coach for the Green Bay Packers. Spent five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2011-2015) as a defensive assistant, offensive assistant and quality control coach. Name is pronounced e-JEE-row EV-uh-row.

Bill Johnson (Defensive Line) – Coached defensive line for nearly four decades and boasts 16 years of NFL experience. Comes to Los Angeles from New Orleans where he developed the Saints defensive line for eight years. Served in the same role with the Denver Broncos (2007-08) and the Atlanta Falcons (2001-06). Son, Billy, is entering his fifth year with the Rams as an area scout.

Aaron Kromer (Offensive Line) – Was the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line coach the last two seasons and prior to that, served as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach of the Chicago Bears (2013-14). Other NFL stops include the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders. Coached nine years on the collegiate level prior to entering the NFL ranks.

Zak Kromer (Offensive Quality Control) – Comes to Los Angeles after coaching in the same capacity for the Buffalo Bills during the 2016 season. Prior to joining the Bills, he was a student assistant for the University of Oklahoma’s football team.

Greg Olson (Quarterbacks) – Joins the Rams for his second coaching stint with the club where he previously served as an offensive coordinator from 2006-07. Resume includes nine seasons as an offensive coordinator in the NFL with four franchises and 30 years total of coaching experience.

Skip Peete (Running Backs) – Veteran of 18 seasons as an NFL assistant returns to Los Angeles for his second season. His previous coaching stops include coaching running backs for the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and Oakland Raiders. His father, Willie, was a longtime college and NFL coach, and his brother, Rodney, played 16 seasons as an NFL quarterback.

Aubrey Pleasant (Cornerbacks) – Coached with McVay at the Washington Redskins for four seasons beginning in 2013. Started his NFL career as an offensive assistant in Washington before transitioning to a defensive quality control a year later. Became the Redskins’ assistant defensive backs coach in 2016.

Ted Rath (Strength and Conditioning) – Enters his ninth NFL season and first with Los Angeles after spending 2016 with the Miami Dolphins as the club’s strength and conditioning coach and the previous seven seasons with the Detroit Lions in the same capacity (2009-15).

Chris Shula (Assistant Linebackers) – Hired as a defensive quality control by the San Diego Chargers in 2015 and previously served as defensive coordinator at John Carroll University. Played college football with McVay at Miami (Ohio) and is the son of former Bengals Head Coach David Shula and grandson of Don Shula, Hall of Fame head coach of the Colts and Dolphins.

Zac Taylor (Assistant Wide Receivers) – Comes to Los Angeles after spending 2016 as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Began his NFL coaching career coaching quarterbacks for the Miami Dolphins staff in 2012 and was named offensive coordinator in 2015. His brother, Press, is an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Shane Waldron (Tight Ends) – Was a member of the Washington Redskins’ staff last season and served as the team’s offensive quality control coach. His other professional football coaching experience includes the wide receivers for the Hartford Colonials (UFL), and tight ends and offensive quality control for the New England Patriots. 

Eric Yarber (Wide Receivers) – Most recently coached wide receivers at UCLA dating back to 2012 after two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and five seasons in the NFL overall. Other coaching stops include the Seattle Seahawks, Oregon State, San Francisco 49ers, University of Washington and Arizona State. Was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1986 and was part of the team that won Super Bowl XXII.



Photo Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC's Rose Bowl Hero Suspended Indefinitey]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2017 16:40:35 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Matt+Boermeester.jpg

In order to be a great hero, you need sorrows and burdens.

It's been just over a month since USC's dramatic come from behind win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl, but already one of the heroes from that game has found himself in some hot water.

According to multiple reports, the University of Southern California has suspended field goal kicker Matt Boermeester indefinitely for a "code of conduct issue."

Boermeester is a junior at the university and helped lift the Trojans to a 52-49 victory in the Rose Bowl on January 2nd, 2017 when he made a 46-yard field goal as time expired to help cap off one of the most dramatic comebacks in college football history.

On Tuesday, the university issued a press release that read, "While this student code of conduct issue is being investigated, the student will not be representing the university as a member of its athletic team."

The athletic department would not disclose any further details of the incident, but Samer Kalaf of Deadspin reported that the incident in question involves Boermeester and his ex-girlfriend and could possibly be related to domestic violence.

Boermeester is just the latest Trojan to have off-the-field conduct issues as USC suspended three different players last season including linebacker Osa Masina who is awaiting trial in Utah on sexual assault charges.



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LaMelo Ball, Brother of UCLA's Lonzo, Scores 92 Points]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2017 06:21:29 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/02-07-2017-lamelo-ball.jpg

On Tuesday night, Chino Hills High School sophomore LaMelo Ball scored 92 points in a regulation 32-minute basketball game.

LaMelo is the younger brother of UCLA standout Lonzo Ball, who is expected to be a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft--if the 19-year-old decides to leave college after his freshman year in Westwood. LaMelo has also committed to spend his collegiate career with the Bruins, but Tuesday night's 92-point performance suggested the point guard could make history before he graduates high school.

Against Los Osos, LaMelo scored 41 points in the fourth quarter alone to help claim the 146-123 victory. The younger Ball only had 29 points at halftime. He made 37 of 61 field goal attempts over all, including seven of 22 from beyond the three-point line. LaMelo also collected seven assists and five rebounds, meaning he was responsible for over 100 points on the night.

Likely playing into the motivation for LaMelo's big night, Chino Hills had a 60-game winning streak snapped on Saturday against Oak Hill Academy. LaMelo scored 36 points in the loss. Lonzo Ball referenced the loss in his social media post noting his sibling's big night.

Several LA sports stars, including Joc Pederson of the LA Dodgers and Jared Goff and Todd Gurley of the LA Rams, also acknowledged the fantastic feat on social media, expressing interested in attending future games.

Notes: LaMelo and Lonzo have a third brother, LiAngelo, who also plays for Chino Hills and leads the team in scoring, but LiAngelo did not play on Tuesday night due to an ankle injury.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Change Lineups, Rout Knicks]]>Mon, 06 Feb 2017 22:38:34 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers-start-Brandon-Ingram-vs-Knicks.jpg

Starting a rookie to send a veteran to the second unit and benching another veteran to give minutes to two younger centers sounded like moves designed to develop talent, rather than win games. So, when the Los Angeles Lakers opted to start Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black in place of Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov at Madison Square Garden on Monday, what came next seemed all the more shocking.

A team that had not won a road game in nearly two months, the Los Angeles Lakers, led the New York Knicks by 27 points at Madison Square Garden 20 minutes into the contest. With a new-look, young lineup, the Lakers comfortably blew out the Knicks on their home court, 121-107.

Ingram finished the night as one of seven Lakers to score in double figures, while Black finished with the best on-court plus/minus rating, i.e. the Lakers were +34 points while Black was on the court. Black's presence on the boards had a notable impact, and the Lakers out-rebounded the Knicks 55-40 in the game.

The only tenured veteran in the starting lineup, Nick Young, finished with 17 points in 21 minutes to lead the starting unit, while sixth man Lou Williams finished with 22 points to lead the team in scoring.

Power forward Julius Randle also returned to the starting lineup for LA following a bout with pneumonia and finished as one of the Lakers' starters to score in double figures. However, the energetic and inspiring play of Ingram sparked the Lakers early and often on Monday at the "mecca of basketball."

Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell also continued his recent uptick in passing production since returning for a knee and calf injury. The 20-year-old point guard had never crossed the 8-assist mark prior to his injury, but that time on the sidelines appears to have triggered a change. Russell entered the night averaging 9.0 assists over his previous three contests and finished the night with more assists, six, than field goal attempts, four. Russell only featured for 20 minutes in the lopsided victory.

After jumping out to a 27-point lead in the second quarter, Knicks star Carmelo Anthony inspired a 15-4 run to trim the difference to only 16 points at the intermission. Anthony finished with 26 points in 37 minutes, but his input did not have any notable impact on the outcome of the game.

Despite Anthony's second-quarter heroics, the Lakers would again taste a 27-point lead in the third quarter and managed to maintain a 24-point lead entering the fourth quarter. The Knicks did claw back to within 14 points with three minutes to play, but the comeback did not gain nearly as much momentum as chants for Lakers substitute Metta World Peace in his home town.

Eventually, Lakers coach Luke Walton called upon World Peace and the 37-year-old took the opportunity to go one-on-one against Anthony and score over the Knicks' star. The crowd went nuts. The final buzzer sounded moments later with LA claiming a 121-107 victory. With the victory, the Lakers improved to 18-36 on the season, meaning they had now surpassed their win total from a season ago.

Notes: Larry Nance Jr. finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds to record the only double-double in the game.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Lakers at New York Knicks: Preview]]>Mon, 06 Feb 2017 04:51:03 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nick-Young-three-point-contest.jpg

On Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers are in New York and will take on the New York Knicks at the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks have lost three of their last four games and are currently 1.5 games out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but the Lakers claim the second-worst record in the NBA at 5-23. Related, the Lakers last won a road game on Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.

To make matters worse, LA is currently on a tough stretch of road games after playing five of its last six games away from Staples Center, losing all five of those road games. Also, the Lakers face four of their next five games on the road, before stumbling into the All-Star Break.

@jordanclarksons is helping @swaggyp1 get ready for the 3-pt contest at NBA All-Star weekend.

A video posted by Los Angeles Lakers (@lakers) on

On the topic of the upcoming All-Star weekend, the Lakers are sending D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram to the Rising Stars challenge, which features the top first and second year players in the NBA. Also, Nick Young will take part in the three-point contest, which shouldn't be a shock to anyone watching "Swaggy P" dance on the court this season.

For qualified league leaders, Young ranks 12th in the NBA shooting 41.9 percent from beyond the three-point line and 10th overall in three-pointers made with 134. That means Young isn't simply impressing on percentages; he's also attempting his fair share of shots and continuing to hit a high percentage. Of the nine players ranking ahead of Young in three-pointers made, only All-Stars Stephen Curry (42.3 percent) shoots a better percentage than the 31-year-old.

Needless to say, Young has surprised a few folks with his long-range shooting. In Boston, the Lakers' starting shooting guard made five of his 10 attempts from beyond the three-point arc. While Young is lighting it up from the outside, point guard D'Angelo Russell continues to struggle from distance. After shooting 30.6 percent from distance in January, Russell is averaging 34.1 percent from three-point land for the season.

The second-year guard, however, has seemingly cracked bits of the point guard code. The 20-year-old former Ohio State Buckeye is averaging 19.0 points, 9.0 assists and 6.7 rebounds since returning from a knee and calf injury. The most impressive aspect of Russell's reformation is that he had even recorded a single nine-assist game prior to his injury. In his first two games back from injury, the former no. 2 overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft set back-to-back career-highs in assists.

One player that has thus far out-shined Russell from his draft class is Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis. When the Lakers hosted the Knicks in December, Porzingis scored 26 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and nearly recorded a triple-double with seven blocks on the night. On the season, Porzingis is averaging 18.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. In addition, the no. 4 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft is shooting an impressive 37.8 percent from three-point land.

To put those numbers in perspective, Carmelo Anthony shoots 35.6 percent from three, averages fewer rebounds and blocks than the second-year stud. Anthony still leads the Knicks with 22.9 points per game, but increasingly, the Knicks are becoming Porzingis' team.

The Lakers and Knicks tip-off at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Relive Super Bowl LI]]>Sun, 05 Feb 2017 22:34:03 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-633935718.jpgWe look back at Super Bowl LI through photos as the Patriots complete the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Super Bowl LI Memes]]>Mon, 06 Feb 2017 11:59:40 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Brady+and+Goodell+Super+Bowl.png

It was the greatest Super Bowl ever.

The New England Patriots scored 31 unanswered points after trailing 28-3 in the second half of Super Bowl LI, as they rallied from behind to complete the greatest comeback in the game's history 34-28, on Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Arguably, even better then the game itself, was following along with the memes on the internet as fans went through an emotional rollercoaster ride with everyone else watching in the world.

As you can imagine, most of the memes surrounded Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Roger Goodell, but with politics taking center stage lately, it poured over onto the field, and the internet, as plenty of fans attacked Brady and Belichick for their support of President Donald Trump.

After countless memes, trashing Brady and gloating about a Falcons victory, the tide quickly turned when the Patriots scored back-to-back touchdowns with two-point conversions to send the game into the first overtime in Super Bowl history.

The Patriots won the coin toss in overtime and quickly marched down the field, with James White scoring a touchdown to win the game. Afterwards, the Brady is a G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) memes poured in whereas the Falcons and Matt Ryan memes followed.

Here are all of them throughout the game in their full glory. Enjoy. 



Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Final Truth: Paul Pierce Says Farewell to Boston]]>Sun, 05 Feb 2017 15:55:17 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Paul+Pierce+Farewell+to+BOS.png

The final truth.

Fittingly, Paul Pierce hit the final shot of the game — a three-pointer — in his Boston farewell as the Los Angeles Clippers lost to the Boston Celtics, 107-102, on Super Bowl Sunday at the Garden.

Isaiah Thomas continued his dominance in the fourth, leading the Celtics with 28 points, but let's be honest, the game was all about the swan song of "The Truth."

Pierce played for the Celtics from 1998 to 2013, bringing back an NBA title to Beantown in 2008 under current Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

In a classy move, Rivers inserted Pierce into the staring lineup even though he hasn't seen the court sine New Years Eve.

Before the game, the Celtics played a video tribute to their former MVP winner and Pierce was brought to tears by the acknowledgement as fans at a sold-out Garden chanted "Paul Pierce, Paul Pierce, Paul Pierce!"

The chants didn't stop there as fans continued to shout out their wishes and desires, proclaiming, in unison, "We Want Pierce!" throughout the game, until Rivers finally obliged them in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.

With the outcome of the game no longer in doubt, Pierce entered the game for the final 35 seconds, and promptly drilled a three-pointer, for the final points of the game.

Not only was the three-pointer a fitting way to say farewell to Boston, but Pierce had never been held scoreless in a game at the Garden in his illustrious career. With less than 17 seconds remaining, Pierce made sure that the streak would stand the test of time, albeit in the nick of time.

As the crowd was filtering out to get home in time for the Super Bowl, Pierce walked back onto the parquet floor, dropped to his knees, and kissed the leprechaun at center court.

Pierce, 39, has said he will retire after the season. He had not played since Dec. 31 but former Celtics coach Doc Rivers put him in the starting lineup so he could have a fitting farewell.

Meanwhile, his Clippers teammates looked out of sorts on the court, and lacked competitiveness throughout the game.

Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford scored 23 apiece, and DeAndre Jordan had 16 rebounds for Los Angeles, which lost for the sixth time in eight games.

Al Horford had 13 points and a season-high 15 rebounds for the Celtics, who brought Pierce to tears with a first-quarter highlight video. Thomas had eight assists but had a four-game streak of 35-point games snapped.

With fans undecided on whether to cheer louder for the Celtics, for Pierce, or for the New England Patriots, who played in the Super Bowl later Sunday, the basketball team held on as the Clippers cut a 12-point lead to 103-99 in the final minute.

UP NEXT

Clippers: at Toronto on Monday.

Celtics: At Sacramento on Wednesday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Steven Senne]]>
<![CDATA[Caps Turn the Tables on Kings]]>Sun, 05 Feb 2017 14:37:18 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/Kings+vs+Caps.png

The Los Angeles Kings had the tables turned on them in the Nation's capital on Super Bowl Sunday.

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals snapped the Kings five-game winning streak and back-to-back shutouts with a shutout of their own, 5-0, at the Verizon Center on Sunday afternoon.

Caps backup goalie Philipp Grubauer got the start and made a season-high 38 saves for a shutout of his own against opposing goalie, Peter Budaj, who leads the NHL in shutouts this season with seven.

Despite being outshot 38-20, the Capitals were opportunistic in shelling Budaj, limiting quality chances and relying on Grubauer to make the routine saves.

"He doesn't get in there all the time, but when he does he's just been really good," said Brett Connolly, who scored his 10th goal of the season. "There was a couple times we turned the puck over and they had a good chance in front and he was there to bail us out."

Grubauer denied Marian Gaborik from close range in the second period but didn't have to make too many 10-bell saves for his third shutout of the season. Coach Barry Trotz liked the team defense in front of Grubauer, who compared the new NHL-mandated slimmer goalie pants to "European skinny jeans."

"The guys did an amazing job keeping (shots) to the outside today," Grubauer said. "I don't think we gave up too many Grade-A chances."

The Kings did.

They left Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams wide open on their goals, and Connolly was in all alone on a semi-breakaway to score his. T.J. Oshie's goal popped the cap off Budaj's water bottle, sending water flying and adding insult to injury.

Williams, a former King who was part of the Kings two Stanley Cup victories in three years, including winning the Conn Smythe Trophy for the NHL Playoffs MVP with L.A. in 2014, scored the game's final goal in the waning minutes of the third period. 

Budaj, who leads the NHL with seven shutouts, was pulled after allowing four goals on 15 shots in two periods. He had stopped all 39 shots in his past two starts, but this loss was more on the Kings' defensive miscues than their goaltender.

"When you don't manage the puck well and give them opportunities to score, they're going to score," defenseman Jake Muzzin said. "You give them a little space and they capitalize on that. That's the danger, and we gave them too much space."

Coach Darryl Sutter said no one wants to get into an All-Star Game against the Capitals because the Kings are "not in that class." When the Capitals are getting this kind of goaltending and depth of scoring, few teams in the league are.

Washington leads the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference by seven points and is five up on the Minnesota Wild in the Presidents' Trophy race that also comes with home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Trotz said the team isn't thinking about the standings but is focused on each game.

Good thing for the Capitals that with Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby and Grubauer, they have a goalie they can turn to each game who can steal points if needed.

"Both goalies are tremendous," captain Alex Ovechkin said. "I think we have best duo in the league. When Holts have a break, Grubi stepping up and show he can be tremendous as well."

The Kings may have been victims of a tough stretch on their schedule as they traveled from Los Angeles to Philadelphia on Friday, squared off with the Flyers on Saturday afternoon, and then traveled to Washington D.C. for a rare 9AM PST start against the Capitals. 

L.A. surrendered two goals early in the first period on plays that were more defensive lapses, rather than great stick work by the Capitals. Early on, the two-time Stanley Cup winning Kings appeared to be sleepwalking through the first period as they hit the snooze button for the remainder of the game.

UP NEXT

Kings: Travel to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday in their third stop on a four-game road trip.

Capitals: Look to make it four in a row when they host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, the teams' second meeting in just over two weeks.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Molly Riley]]>
<![CDATA[What Time Does Super Bowl LI Start?]]>Sun, 05 Feb 2017 14:12:06 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/SuperBowlLi+info.png

Are you ready for some football?

The biggest game of the year is upon us as the Atlanta Falcons take on the dynasty juggernaut that is Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

Here's everything you need to know about the 51st edition of the big game. 

Who's playing?

The NFC representative is the Atlanta Falcons (13-5), led by NFL MVP Matt Ryan and wide-receiver Julio Jones.

The AFC representative is the New England Patriots (16-2) led by four-time champion Tom Brady, and the No. 1 ranked scoring defense in the NFL.

Who is favorite?

Currently, Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Patriots favorite by 3 points (NE -3). The over/under is set for 58 points.

Where is the Super Bowl?

Super Bowl LI is in Houston, Texas this year and will be played at NRG stadium, the current home of the Houston Texans. 

When does the game start?

Kickoff is set for Sunday, February 5, 2017 at 3:30 PM PST.
The game will air live on FOX with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Chris Meyers and Erin Andrews set to call the game.

Where can I stream the Super Bowl?

You can stream the Super Bowl live using the Fox Sports Go app on your smart phone or tablet. The app is also available on all streaming devices such as Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox One, Roku and more.



Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Snag Sergio Romo from Rival Giants]]>Fri, 03 Feb 2017 21:06:12 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Sergio+Romo+Dodgers.png

Sergio Romo is officially behind enemy lines.

The longtime San Francisco Giants reliever has reportedly signed a one-year deal to join the Dodgers for the 2017 season.

The Mexican-American right-hander with a wicked slider hails from Brawley, CA a city below San Diego near the border. He rose to prominence in the Major Leagues in 2008, and has spent the last nine seasons with the rival Giants.

Over that span, Romo rode his slider into the setup and closer roles for San Francisco as they won three World Series titles in five years. Romo was named setup man of the year in 2012, and was named an All-Star in 2013. The greatest moment in his career came on the mound in 2012 when he struck out American League MVP Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 4 to win the World Series.

The 33-year-old has posted a 3.21 ERA over the past three seasons as he relinquished his closer role to Santiago Casilla in 2014.

After the announcement, which was first reported by MLB Network's Jon Morosi, many Dodger fans across the Southland issued their displeasure with the signing of a rival who now finds himself in hostile territory.

For those fans concerned with Romo's loyalty to the Bay, fear not. The right-hander grew up a Dodgers fan and his family famously wore Dodger blue to games at AT&T Park when Romo pitched.

"I followed them as a kid, but we became rivals in San Francisco," Romo told reporters in Culican, Mexico where he has been hanging out with Julio Urias and pitching for Team Mexico in the Caribbean Series. "Truthfully, it was something that came up when I was a kid. I've never put on a Dodgers uniform, not even in Little League. You never know if it will happen now, only God knows. We'll have to wait, but there are talks."

Also, Romo is not moving into the closer role which belongs to Kenley Jansen who signed a five-year, $80 million contract in the offseason.

If Romo can remain healthy (he missed 40 games last year with a strain in his flexor tendon), he is expected to serve as a specialist in late-inning matchups against right-handed hitters. Similar to Joe Blanton, Romo's slider is nearly unhittable against righties. In his career, right-handed hitters are batting .187 against Romo.

The Dodgers could still add another arm or two in their bullpen for pitchers and catchers are set to report on February 15th. Among the names to be on the lookout for are Blanton, and left-hander Craig Breslow.



Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Celtics Beat Lakers, Isaiah Thomas Scores 38]]>Fri, 03 Feb 2017 19:50:28 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Celtics-2-3-17.jpg

Isaiah Thomas scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and came within two points of becoming the first Boston Celtics' player to score 40 points in three straight games.

Ultimately, Thomas settled for 38 points and a 113-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, which helped the Celtics secure their sixth straight victory and further solidified their standing as the second best team in the Eastern Conference. Also, beating the franchise's biggest rival helped put a smile on the point guard's face at the final buzzer.

The Lakers, meanwhile, finished with five different scorers in double figures, led by Lou Williams off the bench with 21 points. D'Angelo Russell led the starting unit with 20 points, six assists and six rebounds in the loss, while Nick Young scored 17 points and hit five three-pointers on the night.

Overall, the Lakers shot 39.4 percent from the field and missed a number of open looks on the night.

In terms of the game flow, the Lakers started slow and trailed 7-0 before finding their feet and finishing the first quarter leading 30-29. Boston turned up the pressure and took a nine-point lead into the halftime intermission before jumping out to a 17-point advantage in the third quarter. LA especially struggled to hit shots early in the third quarter.

Down the stretch, however, the Lakers clawed back to within seven points with 3:49 remaining in the game. However, a series of three-point attempts early in the shot clock failed to go down, and Thomas made the Lakers pay for their misses. Seventeen fourth quarter points for the Celtics' point guard secured the victory for the home team.

With 90 seconds remaining, Thomas only needed two points to set the record and become the first Celtics' player to score 40 points in three straight games. However, the point guard failed to attempt another shot. After the game, he told ESPN cameras that he had no clue that he was within touching distance of history with a smile and did not seem bothered by missing out.

With the win, the Celtics improved to 31-18. With the loss, the Lakers dropped to 17-35. Next, the Lakers play in New York on Monday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers in Boston on Friday]]>Fri, 03 Feb 2017 18:30:43 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Celtics-2-3-17.jpg

For the first time in over 20 years, the Los Angeles Lakers go to Boston without Kobe Bryant on the roster.

The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers provide the NBA with its most famous and most meaningful rivalry. The rivalry gained steam in the 1960s, when Bill Russell's Celtics beat up on Wilt Chamberlain's Lakers, renewed in the 1980s with Magic and Bird, and completed its latest chapter in the new millennium with Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce.

In all, the Celtics and Lakers have met in the NBA Finals 12 times, starting with 1959 and most recently in 2010. Boston leads the head-to-head series 9-3, but the Lakers have won three of the last four meetings in the NBA Finals.

While the current Boston Celtics are second in the Eastern Conference and look well ahead of schedule, a return to the NBA Finals would be a surprise for Brad Stevens' group. Even more surprising than the Celtics making the Finals would be Luke Walton's Lakers making the playoffs in the Western Conference.

Entering Friday's game, the Lakers have fewer wins, 17, than the Celtics have losses, 18, but those numbers being comparable speaks to the current divide between the two teams. However, the Lakers and Celtics have a great deal in common, starting with their young coaches.

Stevens was a fresh 37-year-old coach back when he coached his first NBA game in 2013. Similarly, Walton is 37 and in his first season as an NBA head coach. Three years from now, the Lakers would love to be competing with the elite of their conference. In Stevens' first season, the Celtics missed the playoffs and finished with a 25-57 record, which is about where the 17-35 Lakers are headed in the current season.

The Celtics have been buoyed by a weak Eastern Conference that has consistently allowed Boston to gain invaluable playoff experience over recent seasons, as Boston snuck into the 2015 NBA playoffs despite finishing with a losing record. A year later, the Celtics finished with a winning mark and tied for the third best record in the conference.

Consistently, the Celtics have improved under Stevens, and the emergence of MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas has a great deal to do with the recent jump in status. Thomas is averaging 29.7 points and 6.4 assists per game for the season and enters Tuesday's game with back-to-back 40-point games in his back pocket. The 27-year-old has been a man possessed recently and averaged 32.9 points and 6.9 assists per game in January. Thanks to Thomas, the Celtics enter Friday's rivalry game on a five-game winning streak.

The Lakers are also excited about the recent play of their point guard, D'Angelo Russell. The 20-year-old set career-highs in assists in back-to-back contests following a short spell on the sidelines due to a knee injury.

In his young career, the point guard had never recorded more than eight assists in a game prior to Tuesday night. Then, the former Ohio State Buckeye seemed to unlock the NBA puzzle and set a new career high with 10 assists and 22 points in a win over Denver, following that up with 17 points and 11 assists in the loss to Washington Thursday night.

In both games, the guard pulled down seven rebounds, hinting that a triple-double could be just over the horizon. Getting the first career triple-double against the Celtics in a surprise win would certainly endear Russell to the Lakers' fan base. The Lakers and Celtics is a rivalry game, after all.

For one game, records go out the window, as does all talk of "tanking" for a draft pick. For one game, at least, all Lakers' fans will be unified in cheering for a victory.

The Lakers and Celtics tip-off at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[It's Official. The Warriors Have the Clippers' Number]]>Thu, 02 Feb 2017 23:45:22 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Warriors+beat+Clippers.png

It's official. The Golden State Warriors have the Clippers number.

The Splash Brothers dropped 50 points and the Warriors blew out Los Angeles, 133-120, for their ninth consecutive victory over the Clippers.

Sure, Thursday's 13-point thumping wasn't as bad as Dub Nation's 46-point demolition last Saturday in Oakland, but the Warriors were playing without three big men in Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and David West.

In retort, the Clippers can say they played without Chris Paul. But whether it's Paul, Blake Griffin, Green or Kevin Durant, the gap between the two teams is wider then Michael Strahan's.

Unless you're Steve Ballmer, nobody can say they "own" the Clippers more so then the Warriors.

What was once a budding rivalry has now become a one-sided affair with the Warriors as the wrecking crew, destroying everything in their path, including the Clippers "Big Three" of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.

Since the thrilling first round playoff series in 2014 that saw the Clippers escape their neighbors to north by the skin of their teeth, L.A. has lost 10 of their last 11 against the reigning Western Conference Champions, including the last three games this season by a combined 96 points.

"Yes, they have our number," admitted Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. "They've won nine in a row, they're the better team until we prove differently."

Just to prove how far apart these two teams are, the Clippers have lost the last nine straight games by an average of 14 points, allowing the Warriors to eclipse the century mark in scoring in all nine of those defeats.

"We have to figure out how to play them, because they've beaten us nine straight times," said Jamal Crawford who scored 21 points off the bench. "We'll get another look at them, but obviously they're playing with a lot of confidence. We need to figure them out."

To add insult to injury, the Clippers co-tenants, the Lakers have more victories (3) over the Warriors then the Clippers do over the same span.

Thursday night in front of a sold out Staples Center crowd was simply more of the same. The Warriors led wire-to-wire and rested reigning MVP Steph Curry for the majority of the fourth quarter for the second straight night.

Curry did most of his damage early, scoring 29 points to go with 10 assists and three steals. His three shots from long distance in the game, gave him 202 on the season, the fifth consecutive season he's drained 200+ three pointers, an NBA record. 

"When you get off to a good start on the road, it's important," said Curry. "You don't want to be fighting an uphill battle, so, we came out with intent."

Curry's running mate and co-player of the month in the Western Conference for January, Kevin Durant, chipped in 26 points and Thompson had 21. 

Blake Griffin led all scorers with 31 points in a losing effort and J.J. Redick had 17. No other starter scored in double-figures for Los Angeles. 

"We have to play harder," Griffin said of how the Clippers can beat the Warriors when they see them again in a couple weeks. "We will look at the film and probably tweak a couple things, but playing hard and executing our game plan."

The Clippers night was summarized perfectly by former Warriors center Mo Speights who was critical of the Clippers early in the season after a 17-point lopsided loss to Golden State at home in December.

Speights took a pass and rose to the rim for what should have been a monster one-handed dunk on Durant. Unfortunately, Speights was instead met by the rim and he not only missed the slam, but hit the floor hard on his back. The Warriors went the other way in transition and scored in easy bucket while Speights lay on the floor, much to the delight of his former teammates who celebrated on the visiting bench.

The Clippers lone highlight of the night came on a posterizing dunk by Griffin on Warriors forward Kevon Looney in the second quarter. The monster dunk, momentarily ignited the Staples Center crowd, but the excitement was short-lived as the outcome of the game was never in doubt.

At this point, it's obvious the Clippers are not in the same class as the Warriors. Golden State's young nucleus has grown tremendously since their first round defeat to the Clippers in 2014.

They've risen to the top of the NBA, and have been to back-to-back NBA Finals, winning one, and losing the second, despite breaking the NBA regular season record for a team in a single season with 73 wins.

"They won a championship," said Jordan about the different directions the two teams have gone since that 2014 playoff series. "We've got to get better, because we're not doing it. We've got to get better, period."

Unfortunately for the Clippers, they wont have much time to figure out why they can't overcome the immovable object that is Golden State as they head out on a five-game road trip that ends with a date with Warriors on February 23rd.

"We have to be more organized against them," said Reddick on how they can beat the Warriors. "We have five tough games going up on this trip (including the Warriors) and we have to find a way to win them all."



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[John Wall Blocks Lakers' Comeback]]>Thu, 02 Feb 2017 19:16:56 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/John-Wall-Lakers-Wizards.jpg

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — John Wall scored 33 points and had 11 assists, Bradley Beal added 23 points and Marcin Gortat tied his season high with 21 to lead the Washington Wizards to their sixth straight win, 116-108 over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

It marks Washington's first six-game winning streak since Dec. 8-19, 2014. The Wizards have also won 16 straight at home — the second-longest run in franchise history.

Jordan Clarkson led Los Angeles with 20 points.

Washington had a 14-point lead, 86-72 with 2:37 to play in the third quarter, but the Lakers, who have lost nine of 11, tied it at 91 with 9:10 to play.

Wall, who scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, including the Wizards' final eight, sealed the win with a steal with 1:18 to play. He converted a jumper with 1:06 left, another with 38 seconds remaining and added four late free throws.

TIP INS

Lakers: Coach Luke Walton was happy to hear that Magic Johnson was returning to the team as an adviser. "I'm excited, obviously. He's Magic Johnson. Not only one of the all-time great Lakers, but one of the great all-time NBA players. He's a champion. It's a nice piece to have on your side," Walton said. ... G Nick Young will participate in the 3-point contest on Feb. 18 during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. ... F Julius Randle returned after missing two games with pneumonia.

Wizards: Coach Scott Brooks said C Ian Mahinmi, who has missed all but one game this season with a knee injury, participated in drills the last two days and is getting closer to a return. ... Wall was selected as a participant in the Skills Competition on Feb. 18. ... Gortat had 14 rebounds.

UP NEXT:

Lakers: At the Boston Celtics on Friday for the second game of a five-game road trip.

Wizards: Play the second of a season-high four-game homestand against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Magic Johnson Involved in Lakers' Future]]>Fri, 03 Feb 2017 14:13:50 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Magic-Johnson-adviser-Lakers.jpg

A change appears to be just over the horizon in LA.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that Earvin "Magic" Johnson will return to the team to assist Lakers president Jeanie Buss in "all areas of basketball and business."

Previously, Buss had stayed out of the basketball side of the business and allowed her brother, Jim Buss, to manage the product on the court in accordance with her late father's wishes.

However, the Lakers have put together three losing seasons since Dr. Jerry Buss passed, and a fourth straight losing season is 31 games short of completion. As the losing has mounted, Jim Buss has shouldered the brunt of the blame for the franchise's decline on the court. Also, Jim Buss made a now famous promise to his siblings, i.e. the owners of the team, that the Lakers would be contenders for a title by the end of the 2016-17 season or he would step down.

Seventeen games below .500, the Lakers are not contending for anything but a top three lottery pick.

Johnson, who was one of Jim Buss' most public and vocal critics in the past, joining Jeanie Buss to advise on basketball matters is a strong signal that Jim Buss' days with the Lakers are numbered. Johnson's arrival puts the writing on the wall that the Lakers are set to change their front office over the upcoming summer. Whether that change includes Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak remains to be seen, but certainly, the move to bring in Johnson should turn the heat up on Jim Buss' control of the basketball operations.

The Lakers also listed that Johnson's duties included "collaborating with coaches, evaluating and mentoring players, assessing future franchise needs, and helping ownership to determine the best path for growth and success."

In addition, Johnson will report directly to Jeanie Buss, and so, the move away from Jim Buss managing the basketball operations of the storied franchise seemingly took an accelerated turn on Thursday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Makes Big Splash on National Signing Day]]>Thu, 02 Feb 2017 13:35:06 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/USC+National+Signing+Day.png

It's known as one of the greatest moments in a high school athlete's life.

After years of prep football, Friday Night Lights, and homecoming games, National Signing Day is the culmination of 18 years of hard work in a young man's life.

So it should come as no surprise, that these young men tend to relish the moment a little. For years, the extent of National Signing Day was a folding card table with a row of hats on it, and a smiling teenager surrounded by his parents.

Now, National Signing Day has become a spectacle as ESPN and other sports outlets devote entire days of coverage to where the best high school football players have committed to attending college. 

On Wednesday, this was no exception as some of the biggest and most entertaining ways to choose an upper education burned throughout the country. As fans of college football, we were happy to oblige as millions of Americans hung on the choices of hundreds of teenagers and what hat they donned on their head.

Thankfully, for those of us here in Southern California, the USC Trojans were the surprise choice of many of these adolescents as they announced that they would be putting their talents on full display in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the next two to four years. 

USC shocked many experts in the college football world when they received letters of intent from six top recruits with four-star rankings or higher.

Wide receiver Joseph Lewis (16th) running back Stephen Carr (30th), offensive lineman Austin Jackson (54th), linebacker Levi Jones (65th) tight-end Josh Falo (92nd), athlete Greg Johnson (116th) and defensive tackle Jay Tufele (119th) were among the Trojans top signings on the day.

Jones put on one of the best shows when the four-star linebacker ruffled some feathers in the state of Florida after faking out fans during his announcement. Jones unzipped a black jacket to reveal that he was wearing a blue Florida Gators t-shirt that sent the crowd in attendance into a round of applause. 

However, Jones wasn't done. He quickly removed the shirt and revealed a red Florida State Seminoles t-shirt. Fans audible groans and gasps of shock were quickly quelled when Jones removed that shirt and revealed a USC Trojans cardinal and gold t-shirt.

Nobody knew if there would be another reveal or not, but when Jones quickly put on a Trojans hat and said "Fight On!" his final announcement was made.

Not to be outdone, top recruited tight-end Josh Falo added a native New Zealand dance and some high production value to his announcement video that was released by Bleacher Report.

In the video, Falo watches a traditional Maori haka dance with people wearing various college regalia such as Michigan, Oregon, Washington and USC, as the dance comes to an end, everybody drops to a knee except the dancer wearing a Trojans t-shirt.

The good times continued to roll for the Trojans as four-star recruits Jackson and Tufele put on USC hats during their announcements in Arizona and Utah, respectively.

The Trojans by far pulled off the biggest rise from previous recruiting classes, as they were ranked with the 5th best recruiting class by Scout.com behind Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State. Last season, Coach Clay Helton's first as head coach, USC was ranked ninth in the country.

According to ESPN, the Trojans landed 14 of the top 300 players in the country and had the best recruiting class in the Pac 12 conference. Oregon was second with the 16th ranked class, UCLA 21st, Washington 23rd, and Stanford 24th.

Here is the final breakdown of the 24 players that signed letters of commitment on Wednesday:

Name                     Pos     Rating
Stephen Carr            RB       ★★★★★
Joseph Lewis             WR      ★★★★★
Bubba Bolden           S         ★★★★
Hunter Echols            OLB     ★★★★
Josh Falo               TE       ★★★★
Austin Jackson       OT       ★★★★
Greg Johnson         ATH     ★★★★
Levi Jones                 LB        ★★★★
Brett Neilon             C          ★★★★
Isaiah Pola-Mao       S          ★★★★
Jack Sears           QB       ★★★★
Jay Tufele           DT       ★★★★
Marlon Tuipulotu      DT       ★★★★
Alijah Vera-Tucker    OT       ★★★★
Juliano Falaniko       LB        ★★★
Jay Godfrey           CB       ★★★
Randal Grimes           WR      ★★★
Tayler Katoa              LB        ★★★
Erik Krommenhoek  TE       ★★★
Jacob Lichtenstein   DE       ★★★
Jalen McKenzie         OL       ★★★
Brandon Pili             DT       ★★★
Andrew Vorhees       OT       ★★★
Damon Johnson         LS        ★★



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: National Signing Day Sweeps Through SoCal]]>Wed, 01 Feb 2017 19:13:29 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-nationa-signing-day-2017.jpg

It's National Signing Day! NBC4 is out covering our local high school football stars as they make their college announcements. From the heart of the city to the San Fernando Valley to the Inland Empire, some of the top prospects in the nation have become stars before our eyes. So where are they headed next? Take a look:

Jaelan Phillips

Joseph Lewis

Greg Johnson


Hunter Echols

Jamire Calvin


Jaylon Redd


Stephen Carr

 

Darnay Holmes




Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Luol Deng Shares Experience of Being Refugee]]>Wed, 01 Feb 2017 05:29:10 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Luol-Deng-refugee-1-31-17.jpg

"So, who's going to be the first to ask?" Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng asked to the hoard of cameras and microphones encircling him at his locker late Tuesday night.

Deng had answered far too many basketball questions for a player who scored seven points in 31 minutes and understood that the extra attention had less to do with a win over the Denver Nuggets and more to do with President Donald Trump's recent executive order impacting refugees and migrants from seven mostly Muslim countries.

The forward shared his own views as a "proud refugee" a day earlier on social media in a well-received message. Deng left Sudan as a refugee, spent five years in Egypt before landing in the United Kingdom, and eventually becoming a naturalized citizen there.

Sudan is one of the nations whose citizens can't travel to the U.S. for 90 days under the ban. The U.S. refugee program was suspended for 120 days.

"I know for a lot of refugees, they can't speak up and they can never be heard, so I wanted to put it out there and let people know how proud I am to be a refugee," said Deng, who is now a dual citizen of South Sudan (which gained independence from Sudan in 2011) and the United Kingdom, regarding his social media post.

Deng connected his personal experience to current events: "We never really asked to leave my homeland, and a lot of these people go through a lot of things that they have no control of, and to see a light at the end of the tunnel and to go towards that light and then that light is turned off is very difficult, not just individually but for the family."

Deng continued, "I remember when I was a kid, as a refugee in Egypt, every day there was always a hope that we would get to leave tomorrow, we could go somewhere. Never knew where. Just wanted somewhere where we could have an opportunity.

"That opportunity came five years later. Now, I'm thankful for growing up in Egypt and I've learned a lot, but at the same time, I know what it feels like to wait for that opportunity to come every day."

Deng spoke to the helpless feeling of refugees not having control over their destinies and said that he had decided to share a message of hope. He wanted those struggling as refugees to understand that they were not alone and that he understood their struggle.

"You always have hope," Deng said. "No matter what, there's always hope. You always believe things are going to work out. Even sometimes when it seems like it's not going to, all you can do is hope."

While Deng said that being a citizen of South Sudan meant the executive order should not directly impact him, the 31-year-old also explained that he knew people the ban would affect from Sudan.

However, he did not seem interested in making a political statement and instead wished to only share his experience as a "proud refugee."

Deng also cautioned that questions still remained regarding the impact the order would have on refugees and immigrants, as the executive order was not even a week old.

"I'm not really caught up in politics," Deng clarified. "I'm just speaking out as somebody who had an opportunity, was a refugee and how I feel about it. When it comes to politics and all that, I leave that alone."



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Russell's Return Sparks Lakers to Victory]]>Wed, 01 Feb 2017 03:00:51 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Nuggets-Faried-1-31-17.jpg

On Tuesday night at Staples Center, D'Angelo Russell and Ivica Zubac both had career nights as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets, 120-116.

Russell, who is a second-year point guard, recorded a new career-high with 10 assists, to go along with 22 points and seven rebounds. Zubac, who is a 19-year-old rookie center, set a new career-high with 17 points.

In the first quarter, the Lakers welcomed Russell back, and the point guard provided a missing spark to the offense. Russell scored seven points, collected three assists and pulled down a rebound in the first quarter, but most importantly, the 20-year-old did not record a single turnover.

However, Denver's Kenneth Faried lived up to his nickname of "Manimal" and attacked the Lakers on the glass and in the paint. Faried used his superior athleticism to nearly record a double-double only 10 minutes into the game.

When Faried went to the bench after 10 minutes, the Nuggets' forward had already scored 10 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Eventually, Faried finished the game with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Faried's early influence on the boards played a major part in the Nuggets taking a 59-54 lead into the halftime intermission. At that stage, the Lakers trailed the Nuggets 31-20 in rebounds.

Seemingly, though, Lakers coach Luke Walton fired up his team in the locker room, and the Lakers cleaned up on the glass to start the third quarter. LA out-rebounded the Nuggets 14-10 in the third quarter and rode the hot hand of Nick Young to a five-point lead at the end of three quarters.

Young scored 10 points in the third quarter to bring his total to 20 points through the first three quarters, as the 31-year-old guard seemed to flourish with his backcourt-mate, Russell, back in the lineup. Young eventually finished with 23 points for game-high honors.

The fourth quarter started with the Nuggets immediately hitting a trio of three-pointers to help open the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run. Suddenly, the Lakers had an uphill battle staring them in the face, as Denver hit its first six three-point attempts in the quarter.

However, Denver's defense did not exactly shut down the Lakers at any point on Tuesday, so LA managed to hang around and trailed by only two points entering the timeout just past the six-minute mark. Despite the Nuggets hitting seven of their first eight three-point attempts in the fourth quarter, LA took a three-point lead with four minutes remaining in the game when Young hit a long range bomb from the corner.

Young's three-pointer resulted in Russell's ninth assist, which set a new career-high for the second year point guard.

When the Nuggets responded and re-assumed the lead, LA looked to their 19-year-old rookie center. Zubac had scored nine points through the first three quarters. He scored eight in the fourth quarter alone, including big buckets down the stretch to help LA to a 120-116 victory.

Notes: Julius Randle missed the game due to pneumonia



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Luol Deng Speaks Out Against Trump's Travel Ban]]>Mon, 30 Jan 2017 16:10:21 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Luol-Deng-Lakers-Blazers.jpg

Luol Deng was born in war-torn Sudan and escaped his homeland as a refugee, eventually landing in Great Britain and being naturalized as a citizen.

Due to a civil war, Deng's country of birth has since become South Sudan, and thus, the 31-year-old should not be affected by President Donald Trump's Executive Order, which named Sudan as one of the seven countries on the travel ban list.

However, Deng considers himself a "proud refugee" and decided to take to social media to share a message that aimed to dignify refugees around the world, while also not so subtly speaking out against the president's actions, which suspends all immigration for citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days.

In his statement, Deng pointed to policies of providing safe harbor as saving "countless lives." The Lakers forward also went on to state, "Refugees are productive members of society that want for their family just as you want for yours."

Deng added, "I stand by all refugees and migrants, of all religions, just as I stand by the policies that have historically welcomed them."

Deng is a dual citizen of South Sudan and of Great Britain and a permanent resident of the United States. However, the president's order applied to dual citizens, though the application on permanent residents, or green card holders, has been a bit less clear.

Also, Deng was technically born in Sudan, as South Sudan did not exist as an independent nation in 1985, so his passport and documents likely list "Sudan" as the country of birth. This minor detail could complicate Deng's status. While the president's order should not apply to Deng, the forward will likely have to take a few extra measured steps prior to his next international travel.

The Lakers have already made their annual trip to Toronto, so the team does not expect to encounter any issues related to international travel in the near future.

Deng opted not to speak with reporters following Monday's practice but will honor his media availability on Tuesday night at Staples Center following the game against the Denver Nuggets.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Russell Cleared to Play Tuesday]]>Mon, 30 Jan 2017 15:42:16 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/DAngelo-Russell-questionable-11-22-16.jpg

On Monday, D'Angelo Russell said he did not know whether he would play on Tuesday night at Staples Center when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Denver Nuggets, but NBC4 has learned that the point guard had been cleared by the team's training staff.

Russell explained plainly what would be the determining factor on returning to the court: "How I feel before the game starts."

The 20-year-old fell awkwardly about a minute into the Lakers' game against the Indiana Pacers 11 days earlier. Including that one minute cameo as a missed game, the second-year starter will sit on 17 games missed due to knee injuries with the Lakers having completed 50 games. That comes out to slightly more than a third of the season, thus far.

In many ways, Russell's development in his sophomore season has been severely stunted due to the injuries and the subsequent time required to shake off the rust and return to game flow.

"Honestly, just watching him develop and continue to build the type of chemistry point guards need to have with their teammates on the floor," Lakers coach Luke Walton spoke to what he had missed most about Russell sitting out. "All this time is crucial for what we're trying to get to. We need him out there for those minutes and those opportunities."

Though hardly shouldering the entire blame, the Lakers' front-loaded rigorous schedule has not helped the hobbling point guard. The Lakers are one of only two teams to have played 50 games as of Monday morning.

The team's hope, of course, is that Russell can stay healthy until the All-Star break in the middle of February. The time off combined with a less strenuous final stretch of the season, from a scheduling perspective, could prove to be an invaluable time in helping Russell and the young Lakers develop as a whole.

After all, Russell first began experiencing knee problems about 12 games into the season. At that point, he was averaging 16.8 points, 4.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 27.3 minutes per game. The Lakers were 7-5 at the time. From that point forward, LA has gone on to lose 20 of their 29 games, and Russell's inability to stay healthy has played an undeniable role in that decline.

Note: Lakers forward Julius Randle was not at Monday's practice and was recently diagnosed with pneumonia. Walton said that he's less confident in Randle's playing on Tuesday's game than in Russell potentially making a return against the Nuggets.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former L.A. King, Simmonds, Wins NHL All Star Game for Metro]]>Sun, 29 Jan 2017 17:47:49 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Wayne+Simmonds+MVP.png

The NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles revolved around the Great One.

So it was only fitting that another former L.A. King named Wayne played the role of hero. 

Former Los Angeles Kings forward Wayne Simmonds scored the game-winning goal in the Championship Game and the Metropolitan Division All Stars, led by replacement head coach Wayne Gretzky, defeated the Pacific Division All Stars, 4-3, in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday at Staples Center. 

The 3-on-3 tournament style format saw the Pacific Division stars led by hometown favorites Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty defeat the Central Division All-Stars by a touchdown, 10-3, in the first game of the day.

After a brief reprieve, the Metropolitan Stars defeated the Atlantic Division stars, 10-6, in the second game, to set up the Championship final with the Pacific Division.

"They're the hottest division in the league right now," said Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson who represented the Atlantic Division, the team that won Saturday's NHL Skills competition and therefore choose to play the Metropolitan Division in the first game on Sunday. "You're going to have to ask Carey [Price] he's our team captain. He made a hard decision, and there wasn't much we could do about it.

The back-and-forth battle that was the Championship game appeared to tilt towards the Pacific Division when Ryan Kesler scored to give the hometown team the 4-2 lead. However, Gretzky challenged the goal, and after a reply review, the goal was disallowed for an offside penalty.  

"I might have been a millimeter offside," said Edmonton Oilers young sensation Connor McDavid. "So it was a good coaches' challenge by Gretzky, I guess."

The challenge by Great One in the glorified exhibition match turned out to be the difference as Columbus Blue Jackets' forward Cam Atkinson scored minutes later to tie the game, and Simmonds found the back of the net immediately after for the go-ahead score.

Simmonds, appearing in his first All-Star game of his career was named the MVP after the game, as he scored a team-high three goals in the two games, spoiling the Hollywood ending for the pro Pacific Division crowd.

"I didn't know he won MVP," said former teammate Drew Doughty after the game. "We're going to Philly next week, and dinner will definitely be on him."

The former King played three seasons with Los Angeles before he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011. Simmonds was a fan favorite in L.A. and the Staples Center crowed showed their support for one of their own as they cheered Simmonds loudly throughout the game.

"It's all surreal right now," Simmonds said of being named the MVP in his return to L.A. "I have family members here and my fiancé is from here so I'm lucky to enjoy this with them. It's been an awesome weekend for me."

The same could not be said for many of those talented stars that play for the Kings rivals as fans in attendance booed a trio Chicago Blackhawks All-Stars, as well as members of the San Jose Sharks.

Despite the games played on the ice, the highlight of the day came before the game when over half of the players named in Friday's NHL 100 ceremony took to the ice and stood in a line as they shook hands with the current NHL All-Stars. After the introductions, the bridge between past and present united when the legends met with the current stars for the ceremonial puck drop.

"That was so cool," added McDavid. "To have the 100 greatest players of all-time here was so much fun to be around and be a part of it. There were so many amazing players down that line."



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Justin Bieber With Mystery Baby During NHL Celebrity Game]]>Mon, 30 Jan 2017 05:19:22 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Biebs+NHL.png

Baby, baby, baby oh.

Justin Bieber opened himself up for plenty of speculation and fan gossip when he appeared at Staples Center with a "mystery" baby after he participated in the NHL Celebrity All-Star Game on Saturday.

The Biebs donned his skates and headed out to the ice for the annual event featuring NHL legends, and celebrities.

Fellow Canadiens Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux coached the two teams, which saw Gretzky's team get the victory over his longtime rival from the Penguins.

Players in the game wore a patch in honor of the late Alan Thicke, and Thicke's 19-year-old son, Carter, who was with Thicke when he suffered a heart attack on an ice ring in Burbank, also played in the game.

Bieber was itching to score in the game, shooting nearly every time he got the puck, including when he was denied on a penalty shot early in the game. Bieber finally scored before time expired, but paid the price after he was hit against the boards by Chris Pronger.

After the game, Bieber walked into the postgame press conference holding a baby, saying that he was unable to speak to the media due to the infant. Not sure who let Bieber hold their baby, or why, but it was just another odd moment in a series of them throughout the day.

Other celebrities who played in the NHL Celebrity Shootout included Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Bruckheimer, Tim Robbins, James Badge Dale, Steven R. McQueen, Taylor Kitsch and David Boreanaz.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[USC Upsets No. 8 UCLA 84-76]]>Wed, 25 Jan 2017 22:21:17 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/USC-vs-UCLA-1-23-17.JPG

No. 8 UCLA strolled into Galen Center and scored the first eight points of Wednesday's rivalry game against USC, and the Bruins seemed like they would enjoy a comfortable win over a lower ranked team.

That narrative, though, didn't last long. This was a rivalry game, and the crowd played its part.

USC coach Andy Enfield singled out the crowd after the game: "This is a big time college atmosphere. This is as good as I've ever seen it."

Thanks largely to sloppy play by the Bruins and strong outside shooting from the Trojans, USC went on to outscore UCLA 50-30 for the remainder of the half. The home team hit nine of its 19 long range attempts, while the Bruins only attempted five three-pointers in the first half.

In particular, Shaqquan Aaron off the USC bench caught fire from beyond the arc. The 21-year-old sophomore converted four of his nine three-point attempts in the game and finished with 23 points, which were good enough for game high honors.

Added to the Trojans' hot shooting, UCLA's star guard Lonzo Ball had a rough night that included five first half turnovers. As a team, UCLA played sloppy basketball and gave the ball away 13 times in the first 20 minutes compared to only three turnovers for the Trojans in the first half.

Lonzo Ball on the court at Galen Center

With USC leading 50-38 at the intermission, the second half featured Ball getting a bit more aggressive and looking to force the issue. That aggression led to the 19-year-old Anaheim native increasing his total to seven turnovers in a hurry, but the likely lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft seemed to help the Bruins find some rhythm by the 30-minute mark.

The Trojans had also cooled off from distance relative to the first half at that stage, and USC had only hit two of their nine second-half three-point attempts entering the final 10 minutes of the contest.

With the Trojans missing shots and Ball forcing the action, the Bruins cut the lead to only four points. Suddenly, the spattering of blue shirts in the crowd began to make their voices heard.

However, the Trojans quickly regained their shooting prowess from distance and hit a couple three-pointers to rebuild a seven-point lead at the seven-minute mark. Added to that, USC responded with a couple highlight dunks and negated a Ball three-pointer with yet another Trojan three-pointer. The Trojans finished the game with 14 threes made on 34 long range attempts.

With four minutes to play, USC sat on a nine-point lead and UCLA was suddenly squarely staring at its third loss of the season. The Bruins would proceed to launch a flurry of three-pointers that refused to drop.

Eventually, the clock ran out and USC beat UCLA 84-76.

The Trojans improved to 18-4 with the victory. The Bruins dropped to 19-3. The two teams meet again in Westwood in February.

Notes: Ball finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and seven turnovers in the loss. 



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Stars Send Motivational Message to Cancer Patient]]>Wed, 25 Jan 2017 19:30:58 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Turner+and+Gonzalez+Support.png

They always protect one of their own.

Two veteran players of the Los Angeles Dodgers joined thousands of others to offer their support and encouragement for a former college baseball player who is currently suffering from his second separate battle with a rare form of cancer. 

Ryan Teixeira, a college baseball player from Arroyo Grande, California, is currently in the fight of his life, for the second time.

Three short months after Teixeira received a scholarship to play baseball for Colorado Mesa University, he was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that targets the bones and soft tissue. 

That diagnosis came in 2015, and after doctors removed a 10-pound tumor from Ryan's leg, it appeared that he had won his battle after the Ewing sarcoma went into remission.

However, just months later, Ryan was once again struck with bad news. Teixeira was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a separate form of cancer that originates in the bone marrow and spreads throughout the body via the bloodstream.

The cancer cells overcome the healthy cells, reducing the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Without treatment, the cancer spreads quickly and can be fatal. Treatment ranges from aggressive chemotherapy to stem cell transplants from willing donors.

"There are two things you can do," Teixeira told KSBY Channel 6 in Arroyo Grande after his first diagnosis. "You can say this is going to beat me, you know, this is going to be better than I am, or you know you can go after it full head of steam and bring it on, and that's what I'm choosing to do. 

Ryan has gone through 18 months of rigorous cancer treatments as he tries to beat not one, but two forms of rare cancer. He has received support from family, friends, the community, and now, some of his favorite athletes.

During the end of the 2016 Major League season, Ryan received an upbeat message from Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts along with third baseman Justin Turner and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

At the time, the Dodgers were at Chavez Ravine for their final home stand of the season, and the final broadcast at Dodger Stadium of Vin Scully's prolific career behind the microphone.

The Dodgers needed to defeat the Colorado Rockies on a Sunday afternoon in order to clinch the National League West title for the fourth consecutive season. Before the game, Roberts, Turner and Gonzalez, recorded the message via Facebook, telling Ryan that they were rooting for him, supporting him, and going to go out and win the division for him.

The Dodgers ultimately did go on to win the division, and advance to the National League Championship Series where they lost in six games to the eventual World Series winners, the Chicago Cubs.

Meanwhile, Teixeira has continued to fight and has received more messages from Turner and former football player turned baseball player, Tim Tebow.

Right before the Christmas holiday, and just days after he re-signed with the Dodgers, Turner visited Ryan at Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center for an up close and personal visit.

"It's such a mental break," Teixeira told the San Luis Obispo Tribune in December. "It breaks up everything from your day-to-day routine that you get stuck in in the hospital. Because the hospital isn't any place you want to be. It really means a lot to me."

Teixeira says he plans on beating this second form of cancer, and with the help and support of his favorite big league ball players, he hopes to continue his baseball career at Colorado Mesa as soon as he's able. The University has said that they will hold his scholarship for him, until he's healthy and ready to take the field again.

If you or anyone you know is currently battling cancer, or AML, we encourage you to follow Ryan Teixeira's progress on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/17strong



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors: Jerry West Doing Well After Brief Hospital Visit ]]>Wed, 25 Jan 2017 10:46:13 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/GettyImages-468251444+%281%29.jpg

The Golden State Warriors say Hall of Famer and team executive board member Jerry West is doing well after a brief hospital visit following a fall.

Warriors spokesman Raymond Ridder was in touch with West's wife and provided the update Wednesday morning, a day after West was taken to a Southern California hospital for observation and tests.

The 78-year-old West, in attendance during the Warriors' recent long homestand this month, fell on Tuesday.

TMZ.com first reported West's hospitalization.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blake Griffin Returns, But Clippers Lose to Sixers]]>Tue, 24 Jan 2017 19:59:27 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/162*120/Griffin+Sixers+Return.png

Blake Griffin started for the Los Angeles Clippers for the first time since Dec. 20, but the Los Angeles Clippers could not overcome a second half surge by the Philadelphia 76ers, losing 121-110, on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. 

Griffin missed the last five weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, but nonetheless played well in his return to the court. 

Griffin started at power forward and in 29 limited minutes scored 12 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out five assists. 

The Clippers led by as many as 19 points in the second half, but the Sixers erased the deficit in the third quarter, thanks mostly in part to implementing the dreaded "Hack-A-DJ" strategy. 

Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown ordered his young team to foul Clippers' center DeAndre Jordan every time down the court in the third as the career .430 percent foul shooter went 4-of-12 from the line in the game. 

Even actor/comedian Kevin Hart had to chuckle at Jordan's poor free throw shooting, but he couldn't gawk at his dominant presence on the glass, as Jordan grabbed 20 rebounds for the eighth time this season. 

Jamal Crawford scored a game-high 27 points off the bench, and J.J. Redick chipped in 22 in the loss. 

The Sixers were without centers Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, inserting Nerlens Noel into the starting lineup. Noel led the team in scoring with 19 points. 

In total, Philly utilized a balanced attack to defeat one of the top teams in the Western Conference as six different players scored in double figures for the 76ers. 

Clippers coach Doc Rivers did not coach in the game because of an illness. Mike Woodson coached in Rivers' absence.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton: "I Don't Believe in" Tanking]]>Tue, 24 Jan 2017 18:41:16 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Brandon-Ingram-tanking.jpg

At the final buzzer of the Los Angeles Lakers' historic 49-point defeat in Dallas, LA dropped to second from the bottom in the Western Conference. Later that night, the Phoenix Suns won a game, so the Lakers dropped one slot lower to last in the West and third from bottom in the NBA. By Monday night, a Miami Heat win pushed the Lakers into a tie for the second worst record in the NBA.

Talk of "tanking" could no longer be ignored. "Tanking" is the name given to teams strategically losing games on purpose by fielding weakened teams or leaving key players out of the rotation late in the season with an eye towards landing a higher spot in the NBA's draft lottery. Constructing a team designed to finish at the bottom of the league, which was the premise of the famous sports film Major League, could also be considered tanking.

"I don't believe in it," Lakers coach Luke Walton said on the topic of tanking following Tuesday's practice. "I believe in trying to play the right way and have a culture that you're going to try to win no matter what. If you start losing on purpose, I think the basketball gods comeback and get you in the long run and good things aren't going to work out for you."

Walton added, "We try to do things the right way around here, which means we're going to play to win, but that's just us."

Of course, former Lakers coach Byron Scott uttered similar words on the topic, but the Lakers often looked like they were tanking, though it was tough to make out since those teams played consistently awful basketball. An argument could be made that the two years Scott coached the Lakers, the teams were constructed to finish near the bottom of the league, which is another definition of tanking in of itself.

In addition, Scott's final year on the sidelines ended with a 17-win season which featured former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams curiously not playing any part for the final seven games of the season due to the team opting to play younger talent. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has always contended that the Lakers do not tank and will not tank, but an argument could be made that his team did do just that to land two straight no. 2 overall picks.

As is widely known, the Lakers only hold onto their first round draft pick in 2017 if the team lands a top three spot following the 2017 NBA Draft lottery. A quick check on social media and various team blogs makes it obvious that a sizable segment of the fan base has shifted its focus from possibly making the postseason to praying for losses and the keeping the team's 2017 draft pick.

As such, the Lakers wouldn't exactly draw overwhelming criticism if they did the undercover tank. What does that mean? Well, starting 19-year-old Ivica Zubac in place of Timofey Mozgov would be move that could be sold as providing the young center experience, but the young Croatian is obviously not yet ready to play 25-30 minutes on a winning NBA team. Giving Tarik Black the backup center minutes and shutting down Mozgov for no obvious reason would not draw the ire of fans, but it would also not necessarily help the team win games in the short term.

Similarly, pushing 19-year-old rookie Brandon Ingram into the starting lineup following the All-Star break and sacrificing a veteran like Luol Deng would be widely applauded by the fan base, but dropping Deng out of the rotation to provide Ingram even more minutes on the court would not necessarily give the Lakers a better a chance to win games this season. Ingram is playing enough minutes at the moment and needs to grow into his body and gain strength more than anything else.

Replace Nick Young with Jordan Clarkson in the starting lineup, and Walton can sell the full move to youth movement. If Walton sells lineup changes as long terms moves for the growth of the team, the Lakers would suddenly have a starting lineup that features two rookies, one second-year player and two third-year players. LA has lost 16 of its last 22 games, but these moves would likely lead to even fewer wins than previously projected.

Even more subtle, if Walton limits Williams' play off the bench, the Lakers could remain competitive but struggle to pull out wins. Williams leads the team with 17.9 points per game and ranks sixth in the NBA with 7.3 points per fourth quarter. Simply resting the best fourth quarter scorer on the team in a move to provide the younger players opportunities to finish games could be enough to pull off a subtle tank. Fans would likely applaud the move to give D'Angelo Russell and Clarkson more time together on the court in crunch time.

"I would prefer to not be stuck in the lottery for very long," Walton said before boarding Tuesday's flight to Portland, where the Lakers face the Blazers on Wednesday evening.

The inconvenient truth, however, is that the quickest way to get out of the lottery is to draft the right, franchise-elevating talent. Ingram could potentially fill that role, as could Russell and Julius Randle. Getting one more top-three draft pick would increase LA's chances to escape the lottery for the foreseeable future by another 33 percent—or it could provide one more trade chip to finally trigger a move and launch the Lakers off the bottom of the Western Conference.

With 34 games remaining in the 2016-17 season, talk of the Lakers tanking has only just begun.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Did Jet Lag Cost Dodgers a World Series?]]>Tue, 24 Jan 2017 18:47:40 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Kershaw+Jet+Lag.png

It was October 23, 2016 and despite the fact the Dodgers were headed back to the Windy City trailing the National League Championship Series 3-2, the team still felt like they had all the momentum going into the final two games at Wrigley Field. 

They had the greatest pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw getting the ball in Game 6 atop a mound he shutout Chicago, 1-0, in Game 2 of the series. If L.A. could win game 6, they had Rich Hill in Game 7. Needless to say, the Dodgers liked those odds.

But disaster struck instead. Kershaw was clobbered in Game 6, as he allowed two homers and five total runs in a 5-0 loss that catapulted the Cubs to the World Series. 

After the debilitating loss, fans in La La Land were left asking what went wrong. Did the Cubs take control of the series after trailing 2-1? Did their bats suddenly come alive? Why was Kershaw not his usual dominant self in Game 6? 

Months later, the finger pointing may finally be able to come to an end as at last a culprit may have been identified: jet lag.

According to researchers at Northwestern University, (ironically located less than 10 miles away from Wrigley Field), the toll of cross country flights on an athlete's body, specifically pitchers, can play a large role in a team's performance.  

Airline travelers across the globe know how crippling jet lag can be on their bodies. The sudden change of our body clocks can lead to extreme fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, lack of focus, alertness and mood changes. Per the report, athletes are equally affected as everyday travelers. 

The study is the first of its kind in sports, as Dr. Ravi Allada and his colleagues chose to focus their research on baseball, arguably the most grueling of all the major American sports as teams play over 162 games (more including preseason and playoffs) over a nine-month span, traversing the continent in the process.

Researchers studied over 20 years of data from Major League Baseball and according the study, they found nearly 5,000 instances of teams taking the field after traveling across two or three time zones without an efficient amount of time for their bodies to adjust.

According to doctors, on average, the body needs at least 24 hours to adjust to each time zone crossed.

Among the findings, which were released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was that traveling from west to east, takes more of a toll on the body than east to west. 

Of the 5,000 instances studied over the two-decade span by researchers, the home team won 54 percent of the games played. However, when the home teams were the ones that were under the effects of jet lag, that percentage was reduced by 3.5 percent.

Specifically, the study found that jet-lagged teams hit fewer doubles and triples, stole less bases, grounded into more double plays, and laid down fewer sacrifice bunts. Essentially, those players that were under the affect of jet lag were slightly more lethargic then if had they been playing with a full day's rest.

The study also found that the effects of jet lag were even more devastating to starting pitchers who allowed more home runs both home and away, while under jet lag's stranglehold. 

The study suggested that starting pitchers would perform better if they were sent to the city that they were scheduled to pitch a few days before the team arrived there. That way, their bodies could acclimate to the time change.

Currently, some teams send their pitches ahead of the rest of the team, especially on long flights, but typically it is only a few hours ahead, not days ahead like the study recommended. 

Doctor Allada himself referenced Kershaw and the NLCS when pointing out specific examples of the study. The Department of Neurobiology Professor noted that Kershaw was not the same pitcher he was in Game 2 after traveling from Los Angeles to the Windy City for Game 6.

"I can't attribute it all to jet lag," Allada told the Associated Press. "But our work would suggest that at least it's a contributing factor to change in his particular performance."

Cubs fans will argue that both teams were subject to the same traveling conditions and affects of jet lag. However, if Kershaw had an extra day to recover before Game 6 or, flew ahead of his team, perhaps that deciding game may have turned out slightly different. 

In any event, it's an interesting thing to monitor and observe as we prepare for the start of the 2017 season. 



Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Rank Third in NBA Team Merchandise]]>Tue, 24 Jan 2017 14:50:30 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-brand-ranks-3rd-in-NBA-2017.jpg

The top four jersey sellers in the NBA play for either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Golden State Warriors, so it's not shocking that the Warriors lead the NBA in merchandise with the Cavs second, the NBA announced its results based on sales at the NBAstore.com.

What is surprising is that the Los Angeles Lakers rank third in the NBA in terms of merchandise sold despite not having a clear star player on the team or even a clear emerging star. No Lakers' player ranks in top 15 jerseys sold in the NBA, and LA is the only team in the top seven in merchandise sold to hold that distinction.

Meanwhile, young emerging stars like Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks ranks seventh in jerseys sold, which helps explain the Knicks coming in fifth in total merchandise sold. Also helping the Knicks is the fact that Derrick Rose ranks 10th in jerseys sold and Carmelo Anthony ranks 15th.

Dwyane Wade's move back to his native Chicago played a part in the Bulls finishing fourth in overall merchandise, along with Jimmy Butler jumping up to no. 9 on the jerseys list.

Still, one should repeat that the Lakers don't have any players on the list, which only further goes to prove that the Lakers' brand continues to be healthy while the basketball team is sick to its stomach. As of Tuesday, the Lakers were last in the Western Conference and tied for the second worst record in the NBA.

And yet, the iconic purple and gold brand continues to flourish.

Conspicuously missing for the list are the LA Clippers. Despite a logo rebrand and revamping of marketing activities to go along with three clear stars on the court, the Clippers did not make the top 10 list for the NBA's most popular team merchandise. Likewise, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan did not make the cut for the top 15 most popular jerseys either.

Considering Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers for $2 billion, one can only wonder what the Lakers' would sell for should the Buss family decide to sell the team. Even if the Lakers are drowning on the court, the Lakers' brand doesn't appear to be sinking.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Acquire 2B Logan Forsythe From Rays]]>Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:09:46 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Forsythe+Trade.png

The Dodgers have finally found their second baseman for the 2017 season.

Surprise, it's not Brian Dozier.

The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired second baseman Logan Forsythe from the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday afternoon in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Jose De León.

The Dodgers have had a large void at second base after Chase Utley became a free agent and the team traded away Howie Kendrick to the Philadelphia Phillies. 

During the busy offseason, L.A. looked like they were on the cusp of trading for Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, but reportedly, the Twins asking price was too high, and the trade talks stalled out a couple weeks ago.

Over the weekend, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman found a new trading partner in his old team, the Tampa Bay Rays. Friedman famously traded for Forsythe via a seven-player deal in 2014.

Forsythe batted .264 with 52 RBI, 20 home runs, four triples and 76 runs scored last season as the Rays leadoff hitter. The 30-year-old University of Arkansas product was drafted in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. 

Over the span of six Major League seasons, Forsythe has a career .255 batting average with 55 homers, and 203 RBI. More importantly however, he can hit left-handed pitching, an Achilles heel of the Dodgers in 2016.

Forsythe led the Rays in batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.359) and slugging percentage (.444) against left-handed pitching and his slugging percentage (.599) ranked third in the American League in 2015.

In exchange for Forsythe, the Dodgers begrudgingly had to part ways with the No. 3 prospect (Baseball America) in their farm system. De León was dominant with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers last season, going 7-1, while posting a 2.61 ERA in 16 starts.

The 24-year-old Puerto Rican native was selected in the 24th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Dodgers and made his Major League debut at Dodger stadium last September. In four starts at the big-league level, De Leon went 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA.

Forsythe is expected to bat leadoff in front of reigning 2016 National League Rookie of the Year winner Corey Seager in the Dodgers 2017 starting lineup. 



Photo Credit: Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers in Last Place After 49-Point Loss]]>Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:10:17 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Luke-Walton-2016-17-Lakers.jpg

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the bottom of the Western Conference with a 49-point loss that went down as the worst single game in franchise history.

On Monday morning, the Lakers making a playoff push is an altogether delusional thought. Though LA may technically be only 5.5 games back of the eight-seed in the Western Conference, the Lakers are 16 games below .500 with nine of the next 11 games coming on the road.

This is not to say that Luke Walton has failed. He's dealing with 19, 20, 21 and 22-year-olds. Fighting through inconsistency is part of the process. Add injuries to the mix, and the Lakers' youth combined with mixing lineups help explain the losses. LA is playing better basketball and has a brighter future than it did a season ago or two seasons ago. The team is on an upward trajectory, and Walton has a great deal to do with that.

In particular, 20-year-old D'Angelo Russell has struggled with both inconsistency and injuries. On the eve of the worst defeat in franchise history, the Lakers announced that Russell will miss one to two weeks with an MCL sprain in his right knee to go along with a calf strain and a bone bruise.

If he misses the full two weeks and there is no push to rush the kid back—and there shouldn't be any—Russell would return on Monday, Feb. 6 in New York. That would amount to seven games missed, which would be an improvement on the 11 games he missed earlier in the season after taking a PRP injection in the opposite knee. In all, Russell has missed most or all of 15 games due to injuries thus far, and sitting out another five games would add up to the Lakers' young starting point guard missing a quarter of his second NBA season.

That's not a recipe for success.

So What's Next?

The Lakers are currently the third worst team in the NBA and on pace to win 27 games. Barring a miracle, the Brooklyn Nets are going to finish with the worst record in the NBA. The Lakers are a couple wins better than the Heat, but Miami has won three games in a row.

A year ago, the Lakers finished with the second worst record in the NBA, and the Lakers have Brandon Ingram to show for it. Yes, this is familiar territory. The Lakers' fan base should be experiencing a strong, sickening feeling of déjà vu.

While not just yet, it's nearly time for "Team Tank."

Due to the infamous Steve Nash trade, the Los Angeles Lakers benefit from losing games because only a top three draft position will allow the Lakers to keep their 2017 NBA Draft pick. Otherwise, the pick goes to the Philadelphia 76ers.

However, even if the Lakers finish with the second or third worst record in the NBA, they still have about a coin flip of a chance of losing their pick. If LA finishes with the second worst record, they have a 55.8 percent chance of keeping the pick in the lottery. If the Lakers finish with the third worst record, they have a 46.9 percent chance of keeping their pick.

Those aren't great odds, which is why coaches and players generally aren't instructed to lose games, along with the whole morality of competing to lose games.

It's an awkward position for fans to actively root against wins, but these are the troubled waters the Lakers' ship is approaching. It's a familiar journey. Following the All-Star break in mid-February, the passion behind "Team Tank" comes to the forefront.

Outside of beating the Celtics and the Clippers, a significant segment of fans celebrate losses. Secretly, even the Lakers' front office will probably be celebrating defeats. Actually, that's probably not entirely accurate.

Lakers co-owner and vice-president Jim Buss, who oversees basketball operations, made a well-known promise to his family a few years ago that the Lakers would be competing by the end of the current season. Otherwise, he would step down from his role. And so, even if the Lakers keep their draft pick, Buss may not be the person making the selection by the summer.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who was publicly critical of Buss in the past, recently attended a game and sat next to Lakers president Jeanie Buss. Jeanie has been public about holding her brother Jim accountable to the timeline. Johnson's appearance with Jeanie immediately sparked rumors, as Johnson is part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and former minority owner of the Lakers. With every loss, those rumors regarding the future of the franchise will only grow, but the summer could provide major changes in the Lakers' front office.

With only 34 games remaining, the conclusion of the 2016-17 season is setting up as yet another odd trip that feels frighteningly far too familiar.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Pull-off 'Alternative Win' in Dallas]]>Sun, 22 Jan 2017 16:15:33 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Mavs-.jpg

On a day that "Alternative Facts" entered American popular culture, the Los Angeles Lakers provided an alternative win against the Dallas Mavericks, 122-73. As the final score suggested, LA was alternative competing for the majority of the afternoon in Dallas and eventually suffered the worst defeat in the history of the franchise.

"We didn't show up to play, honestly," Lakers coach Luke Walton explained the alternative win on Spectrum SportsNet after the game.

Walton added, "Honestly, it's embarrassing for us as a team, for us as an organization, for our Laker fans that are so good for us. At this point, it's not about every night going out and winning. It's playing a certain style that allows you a chance to win." 

Following a competitive first quarter, LA only scored 11 points in the second quarter and trailed the Mavericks by 34 points at halftime. What made that difference even more incredible was that the Lakers only had 33 points at halftime. Yes, Dallas had more than twice as many points as the Lakers after 24 minutes of play.

LA did not have a banner day. On the 11-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant's 81-point game, Sunday was an alternative day to remember for the Lakers. As a team, the Lakers could not even manage 81 points against the Mavericks. LA scored 73 points at American Airlines Center.

For the Mavericks, individual player statistics didn't mean much on this day, as the bow-tie wearing Rick Carlisle used his reserves due to the blowout circumstances of the game. Worth noting, however, Dirk Nowitzki played 20 minutes, scored 13 points and pulled down five rebounds in the win. While Nowitzki was on the court, the Mavs had a net-positive score of plus-28 points.

With the win, the Mavs moved to 15-29 on the season, meaning they now had a better winning percentage than the Lakers in the standings. LA is second from the bottom in the Western Conference and fourth from the bottom in the NBA with a record of 16-32.

Due to the Steve Nash trade, the Lakers only keep their first round draft pick in the 2017 NBA Draft if it lands as a top three pick in the lottery. Considering the season is nearly 60 percent complete, the Lakers look like they'll have decent odds at keeping their draft pick.

And so, in a way, the Lakers did win on Sunday in Dallas, but for anyone dressed in purple and gold, it was clearly an alternative win, i.e. a loss. The 49-point defeat was an huge loss.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Snap Losing Streak, Beat Pacers]]>Sat, 21 Jan 2017 01:38:43 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lou-Williams-Lakers-road-trip.jpg

On Friday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers finally won a game, though it was not nearly as straight forward as the 108-96 final score read.

Just over a minute into the game, starting point guard D'Angelo Russell stepped on power forward Julius Randle's foot and collapsed into a heap. Extremely slow to get up, Russell eventually found his way back to the locker room and did no reemerge. The team announced that the 20-year-old had suffered a mild MCL strain in his right knee and also had a strained right calf.

Russell is scheduled to have an MRI on Saturday to determine the full extent of the injury.

Later in the first half, Russell's starting back court mate, Nick Young, hobbled off the court and also fell down in despair. The 31-year-old shooting guard limped off and was diagnosed with a hyper-extended left knee, but a halftime reevaluation cleared Young to return. Young came back in and played a stellar second half.

While neither team led by more than five points in the first half and LA trailed by two points at the halftime intermission, the second half offered an entirely different narrative. Led by rookie Brandon Ingram scoring 10 points in the third quarter, the Lakers tasted a 12-point lead and carried an 11-point advantage into the fourth quarter.

There, Lou Williams took over the ball game and helped LA jump out to a 20-point advantage. Williams led all scorers with 27 points, 15 of which came in the second half.

Notes: Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. was cleared for a full practice on Saturday and expects to return on Sunday, on a minutes restriction.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Without Stars, Clippers Fall From Earth]]>Thu, 19 Jan 2017 22:32:22 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/Screen+Shot+2017-01-19+at+10.01.37+PM.png

Starless Night Part Deux.

For their second separate stint of the season, the Los Angeles Clippers went down in flames without their two biggest stars, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. 

Karl Anthony Towns had a game-high 37 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves erased a 12-point deficit in the second half to shock the Clippers, 104-101, snapping LA's seven-game win streak on Thursday night at Staples Center.

The 2015-2016 NBA Rookie of the Year dominated down the stretch with 15 fourth quarter points to complete the comeback, whereas the Clips wilted without their two best players in the waning minutes of the game.

Without Paul and Griffin, the Clippers appeared to have the game in the bag as they led by seven points at halftime, and by as many as 12 in the third quarter.

DeAndre Jordan had a career-high 29 points to lead Los Angeles in the loss and Austin Rivers chipped in 20 points.

The Clippers seemed poised to remain the only undefeated team in the NBA when they led 101-98 with 1:12 left in the game, but the T-Wolves scored six unanswered points to close it out, handing L.A. their first loss of 2017.

Andrew Wiggins finished with 27 big points and drained two free throws with five seconds left, leaving L.A. with two last gasp three-point shot attempts that did not go down. 

The victory was just Minnesota's sixth road win of the season, and their first triumph of the season in a game decided by four points or less. Entering the game, the Timberwolves were winless at 0-10 in games decided by less than a handful of points. 

The Clippers are 2-6 without Paul this season and have a franchise winning percentage of just .293 when their floor general doesn't take the court.

Things only get worse for L.A. as they currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, just a game and a half ahead of the Utah Jazz, and four games away from being in seventh place. 

The Clippers will play 10 of their next 11 games on the road, and will face seven teams with winning records, including two head-to-head matchups with the NBA-best Golden State Warriors.

The Clippers are expected to be without both Griffin and Paul during that stretch, and are in danger of falling further down the standings in the Western Conference. 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ryan Kang]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Stellar Defense in Hands of Wade Phillips]]>Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:20:56 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/Wade+Phillips.png

Wade Phillips is the Los Angeles Rams' new defensive coordinator, the team confirmed Thursday.

A week after 30-year-old head coach Sean McVay said the 69-year-old Phillips would be joining him on the West Coast, their partnership finally was made official by the Rams, who are rebuilding after finishing 4-12 in their 13th consecutive non-winning season.

Phillips begins his 40th NFL season as a coach with the Rams, the 10th franchise to employ him. He was a head coach at Dallas, Buffalo and Denver, and he served as an interim head coach for New Orleans, Atlanta and the Houston Texans.

The son of famed coach Bum Phillips has been one of the NFL's top defensive minds for decades. He spent the past two years with the Broncos, coordinating the dominant defense that won the Super Bowl last season.

"Wade has seen it all in our league, and I believe that his wealth of knowledge and experience will be a tremendous asset to our entire coaching staff and players," McVay said in a statement. "Our defense has been one of our core strengths, and I expect it to continue to grow and thrive under Wade's leadership."

Phillips, who will turn 70 before the upcoming season begins, might seem to be an unlikely partner for McVay, who will be the youngest head coach in modern NFL history even after he turns 31 next week.

But they have a strong family connection: Phillips' son, Wes, was McVay's tight ends coach for the past three seasons in Washington.

Phillips and his wife also have personal reasons to be excited about a move to Southern California: His daughter, Tracy, works in Los Angeles as a dancer and choreographer.

Gregg Williams was Jeff Fisher's defensive coordinator last season with the Rams, who haven't made the playoffs since the 2004 season in St. Louis. Williams left for the Cleveland Browns shortly after the regular season ended with the Rams losing the final seven games in their homecoming season.

Phillips traditionally runs a 3-4 defense, but Rams defensive linemen Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers all excelled in Williams' 4-3 scheme. McVay said last week that he expects Phillips to have no problem coming up with ways to maximize the success of Los Angeles' talented defensive line.

McVay's coaching staff is quietly taking shape one week after the Rams hired the former Washington offensive coordinator. The Rams are retaining special teams coordinator John Fassel, who served as their interim coach for the final three games after Fisher was fired last month.

The Rams are soon expected to announce the hiring of veteran offensive coordinator Greg Olson as their quarterbacks coach. Olson worked on Jon Gruden's staff at Tampa Bay with McVay, who says he will call the Rams' plays next season.

Veteran NFL assistant Joe Barry is in line to become the Rams' assistant head coach and linebackers coach, and Bill Johnson is expected to be their defensive line coach. The team hasn't announced their hiring yet, either.



Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oscar De La Hoya's Ex-Big Bear Training Site Sells for $1.5M]]>Thu, 19 Jan 2017 10:45:27 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-oscar-de-la-hoya-big-bear-cabin-tn-2.jpgThe former Big Bear training camp of boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya has switched hands again.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Bob Angilella]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Strike Gold With Zubac in Loss to Nuggets]]>Wed, 18 Jan 2017 00:34:56 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ivica-Zubac-1-17-17.jpg

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their fifth game in a row after giving up 40 points in the first quarter and trailing the Denver Nuggets by as many as 15 points over the first 12 minutes.

That deficit would jump to 19 points in the third quarter despite LA having trimmed the difference to only four points at the start of the second half.

The fourth quarter, however, provided a spark that had Lakers coach visibly and audibly beaming after the 127-121 loss.

"We found it," Walton said in the post-game press conference. "We found our passion, our fight, our togetherness, [our] playing for one another. We saw it firsthand there. What an effort those guys gave."

One of those guys, in particular, served as the lightning rod that electrified Staples Center back to life for the fourth quarter. Ivica Zubac, who is a 19-year-old rookie out of Croatia played a career-high 26 minutes and recorded a double-double with 11 point, 13 rebounds, three blocks, one steal and one assist.

While Lou Williams played a major role by scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter comeback, Zubac played beyond his years and scored seven points, pulled down five rebounds and blocked two shots in that final period.

"I thought 'Zu' was really good today," Walton said after the game and credited the rookie's time in the NBA Development League for the growth.

"This is the second time I've played in Staples Center, so it felt good to play in front of the home crowd, and I hope I can have more moments like this."

Zubac continued, "I'm trying to prove I'm not in this league just [as a] bench guy, going to do little stuff. I'm trying to prove I'm a good player and that I can help my team."

Zubac's locker is next to Brandon Ingram's locker, and the Lakers' no. 2 pick had come out of the shower to find access to his locker blocked by cameras and microphones interviewing the Croatian on his big night. Upon hearing Zubac say "I'm trying to prove I'm a good player," Ingram spoke over the cameras and corrected his fellow rookie: "Great player."

"He has an amazing skill set," Ingram said about his fellow rookie and spoke about how the two of them have built a relationship in the weight room and doing extra work before games. "He's going to be really good."

Along with Zubac, Williams, Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson, Ingram played a role in the final unit that made inroads against the Nuggets. However, core youngsters Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell notably sat and watched the final quarter from the bench.

After the game, Walton said, "I would hope and I think with the guys we have, they sat on the bench and saw five guys give it their all. It's so much fun to watch that and be a part of that that I would hope that would teach in its own right."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Paul Out 6-8 Weeks With Torn Ligament in Thumb]]>Tue, 17 Jan 2017 17:10:52 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/usa-chris-paul-los-angeles-clippers.jpg

The Clippers curse continues. 

The Los Angeles Clippers anounced on Tuesday that point guard Chris Paul will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

The Clippers said Tuesday that their All-Star guard will continue to undergo treatment and evaluation by the club's medical staff.

Paul was injured on a first-half play involving Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook in Monday night's victory over the Thunder. Paul didn't return in the second half.

Paul was visibly upset as he left the court, kicking a chair on his way to the locker room. Initial x-rays were negative, but an MRI exam on Tuesday revealed the torn ligament. 

This is the worst possible news as the Clippers are already without All-Star forward Blake Griffin. The power forward has been out since Dec. 19 when he underwent athroscopic surgery on his right knee. 

The Clippers are currently the NBA's hottest team as they are on a seven-game winning streak and are the only team to remain undefeated in the calendar year. 

Unfortunately, Paul is the lynchpin to the Clippers offense and defense. Without him in the lineup, the Clippers have a winning percentage of just .293. With Paul on the court, that percentage is nearly .700. 

Paul is averaging 17.5 points, 9.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds, and leads the NBA with 2.25 steals per game.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: CSNPhilly.com]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Introduce Anthony Lynn as Head Coach]]>Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:28:26 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/161*120/GettyImages-630768152+%281%29.jpg

The Chargers formally introduced Anthony Lynn as their head coach Tuesday.

As Lynn opened his remarks at a press conference at the StubHub Center in Carson, he initially appeared to have some trouble remembering which city the team will be playing in next season.

"I am so proud to be the head coach of the San Diego -- uh, L.A. Chargers," Lynn said. "Oops," he quickly added.

The team hired Lynn as their head coach Friday night, one day after announcing their relocation to Los Angeles.

The 48-year-old Lynn is a respected veteran assistant who spent the last two seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He moved up during this season from running backs coach to offensive coordinator to interim head coach, presiding over the Bills' final game after Rex Ryan was fired.

"I knew this was the right place for me early on in the interview when I asked one simple question -- 'What are you looking for in a head coach?'" he said. "And I feel like they described me. And I had to hold back my excitement at that time, but I knew I wanted to be a Charger at that time."

Lynn said he was confident the team would emerge from the "adversity" of coaching and venue changes, with the players and staff becoming a closer-knit unit.

"Guys are so excited to come here and play on this stage right here that we have in Los Angeles, so I'm really excited about that," he said.

"The type of team that I envision us having, after watching our personnel and going through our tapes -- these guys play hard," he said. "We brought in the right players. We have good character guys that understand football and know how to play the game, OK? But we're going to be tough. We're gonna be disciplined on the football field. We're going to play smart, situational football and we're going to have good efficient quarterback play."

Chargers President-Football Operations John Spanos called Lynn "a natural-born leader."

Lynn attracted extensive interest on the NFL job market, and the Chargers took a break from planning their move out of San Diego to secure a deal with him. Lynn becomes the first black coach in franchise history.

"This is really a dream come true," Lynn said in a statement. "I want all of our fans to know that we're going to start by putting together a great staff, and we're going to put together a team with the heart and will of a champion. I know there's a lot of work to be done, and I'm going to give everything I have to the Chargers, the Spanos family and the City of Los Angeles."

Lynn replaces Mike McCoy, who was fired on Jan. 1 after going 27-37 in four seasons.

The coaching change coincided with the franchise upheaval caused by owner Dean Spanos' decision to leave San Diego after 56 years to move two hours north, where the Chargers will play next season at the 30,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson before sharing the Los Angeles Rams' palatial Inglewood stadium in 2019.

Along with hiring a coaching staff and implementing a new philosophy on both sides of the ball, Lynn will have to do much of his work in likely temporary surroundings until the Chargers complete their relocation. Their training complex is expected to be in the Orange County city of Costa Mesa.

"Anthony has a commanding presence and brings a no-nonsense approach," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. "He is going to be a great leader, and we're confident he's going to lead the Chargers to great success that our fans have come to expect out of this organization."

Lynn inherits a Chargers team that won only nine games over the past two seasons following 11 consecutive years in which they made six playoff appearances and never won fewer than seven games. McCoy's Chargers repeatedly struggled in late-game situations despite a fairly talented roster, and San Diego missed the playoffs this year for the sixth time in seven seasons.

Ryan promoted Lynn to offensive coordinator in mid-September after firing Greg Roman. After Ryan was fired, Lynn ran the team for a loss to the New York Jets.

Lynn helped to build a powerful running game in Buffalo, and he will have many ingredients for another ground-and-pound unit in Los Angeles. The Chargers are taking along talented running back Melvin Gordon, who rushed for 997 yards and scored 12 touchdowns last season, behind an offensive line that struggled with injuries this season.

Lynn was a running back in the NFL for seven seasons despite going undrafted out of college, and he was with the Denver Broncos when they won consecutive Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999. He is also the first former Texas Tech player to become an NFL head coach.

Lynn was a running backs coach for the previous 13 seasons, including the past eight spent working under Ryan with the Bills and Jets. Lynn also held the title of assistant head coach with the Jets in 2014, his sixth season in New York.

He also coached running backs under Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, Bill Parcells in Dallas, Romeo Crennel in Cleveland.

"He's had a number of great coaching influences in his life," said John Spanos, the Chargers' president of football operations. "As a former player who won two Super Bowls, Anthony knows firsthand what championship pedigree is all about. We couldn't be more excited to have him lead our franchise into this exciting new era of Chargers football."

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Clippers Avenge New Year's Eve Loss to Thunder, Lose CP3]]>Mon, 16 Jan 2017 23:01:47 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/231*120/CP3+and+Westbrook.png

The Clippers may have won the battle, but they could have lost the war.

The surging Clippers avenged an earlier blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on New Year's Eve by turning the tables on their foes, 120-98, on Martin Luther King Day at Staples Center.

The Clippers overcame a crippling blow as point guard Chris Paul exited the game early in the second quarter with a sprained thumb after going for a steal on Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. 

Initial x-rays on Paul's thumb were negative, but the point guard is still expected to miss significant time. Currently there is no timetable for his return.

Mo Speights had a season-high 23 points, J.J Redick scored 20, and DeAndre Jordan had 19 points and 15 rebounds as the Clippers improved to a franchise best, 7-0 in 2017.

Westbrook scored 24 points, but was held mostly in check as the triple-double machine fell firmly short of the mark with just five rebounds and four assists. 

"We just were not ready to play," Westbrook said after the game. "We need to be more physical. It's a road game. They are a good team at home. We need to be ready to play."

After Paul left the game, Austin Rivers and Raymond Felton drew the assignment to guard the NBA's leading MVP candidate. Rivers scored 16 and Felton chipped in 15 as the two guards combined to outscore Westbrook 18-13 and dished out more assists 11-to-4 in Paul's absence.

"We don't know what's going on with him [Chris Paul] yet," said Felton after. "I haven't had the chance to text or call him, but it was a scary moment to see him go down. Hopefully, he's going to be alright."

It was a week of retribution as the Clippers avenged losses to the Lakers and Thunder in back-to-back games. Both teams defeated L.A. soundly during their six-game losing streak to end the year, but are now notches on their belt as the Clippers remain the only undefeated NBA team in 2017.

Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams missed the contest with a concussion, and his presence was missed in the paint as Jordan and Speights combined for 37 points. As a team, the Clippers outscored the Thunder 62-to-34 in the pain over the course of the game. 

"They were great," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said of playing the two centers together. "I was playing them tonight against a team who went big. We were able to do that tonight and it was a great combination."

Both Rivers and Jordan were assessed technical fouls in the game, despite head coach Doc River's pledge that the team would cut down on techs in the new year. Under the coaches' new policy, both Rivers and Jordan will have to donate money to a charity.

"I didn't like either one of them," Rivers said about the technical fouls on his players. "We talked about it. Heart V.I.P. gets more money, and we're going to keep giving more money. Neither one of them should have gotten it. We're a very egregious team. Austin is like his mom in that regard."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was honored before the game with a video tribute and a choir at a halftime. Before the game, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said that Dr. King's dream has still not been realized yet, telling ESPN's Jackie MacMullan that "we're still not there yet," as a country.

Up Next:

Thunder: Things only get worse for OKC as they head north to Oakland to clash with former teammate Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors. 

Clippers: Los Angeles will get two days off before hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday at Staples Center. 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC's Adoree' Jackson Declares for the NFL Draft]]>Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:43:54 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Adoree+Jackson+NFL.png

His fate was inevitable, but the timing still hurts.

Martin Luther King Day marked the final day that college players could declare for the 2017 NFL Draft, and true to form, USC Trojans cornerback Adoree' Jackson waited til the last moment, leaving us all holding our breaths.

Jackson, the 2016 Jim Thorpe Award winner for the nation's best defensive back made the announcement to forgo his senior season on his Twitter account, mentioning the Trojans 52-49 Rose Bowl victory over Penn State and thanking fans for their support, claiming he will forever be a Trojan.

Jackson is a projected first round NFL talent, but is seen mainly as a punt and kick return specialist, then an every-down cornerback because of his size.

The two-sport athlete (track and field) was a unanimous All-American in 2016 and follows second-team All-American receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to the NFL. Smith-Schuster shared a touching tribute to his brother after the announcement was made on Twitter.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose To Pistons, Walton Talks Growing Pains]]>Sun, 15 Jan 2017 23:44:54 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Luke-Walton-Lakers-Pistons.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers ended Sunday night by collecting their fourth defeat in as many games, as the Detroit Piston came to Staples Center and erased a 14-point first quarter deficit to race past the Lakers 102-97.

Tobias Harris scored 23 points and hit the game clinching three-pointer with 30.5 seconds remaining to give the struggling Pistons their first win in four games. Marcus Morris also contributed 23 points in the victory, and Detroit center Andre Drummond pulled down 17 rebounds to go along with 15 points.

Lou Williams led LA with 26 points off the bench, while Starting point guard D'Angelo Russell scored 20 points in the defeat. No other starter scored in double figures on a night when the Lakers shot 43.4 percent from the field and only made six of their 23 attempts from beyond the three-point arc.

The Lakers appeared to have picked themselves up off the mat when they won three of four games in early January, but four straight defeats put LA at 30 losses through 45 games. No team in the Western Conference has as many defeats, and only the Brooklyn Nets have more losses in the entire Association. Of course, the Lakers have played the most games in the NBA, but the losses have come fast and hard.

LA has lost 20 of 25 games following a 10-10 start to the season.

"For whatever reason, it hasn't hit home with us yet that...the energy and the focus has to be there for the majority of the game," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game. "We still seem to get a little bit careless once we build up a lead and we're playing and we're having some success. It sounds like a broken record, but we're going to keep preaching it and we're going to get there. We obviously haven't gotten over that yet."

At this point, what can Walton say that hasn't been said before?

"Nothing," Walton responded. "You just keep doing it. Honestly, we all know we got a young team here. Down the stretch, we're playing teenagers, and 20-year-olds and 21-year-olds, and this is a grown man's league. Are we good enough to win? Absolutely, we are. But it takes making mistakes, and there's no formula that tells you this is exactly when it happens."

Walton added, "Different people get it at different times. Some people never get it. Some people get it right away. I'm very confident that as a group, we're going to get it, and our young guys are going to figure it out, and because of this type of feeling and going through this as a group, they're going to be a very tough team in the future."

One of the young players Walton referenced was 19-year-old Ivica Zubac. The rookie center earned key minutes when backup center Tarik Black left the game due to an ankle injury. Zubac played well and scored four points, pulled down five rebounds, blocked two shots and even handed off an assist in only eight and a half minutes on the court.

"He looked good," Walton said about the rookie center.

The coach added, "We've been talking as a staff of trying to get 'Zu' some minutes because we feel like he's earned them. He's been busting his butt doing D-League and with us. In practice, he looked really good in the games."

As the losses pile up and development moves onto the front burner even more, Zubac's development and extra minutes on the court could be one of the positive for fans to clutch onto if the team continues to struggle in terms of wins.

Walton summed up the team's situation, "We don't know when we are finally going to get over the hump and stay over. We have gotten over it and then we take a step or two back and that's pretty normal with young teams in the NBA. But it can be frustrating at times when you see the same type of thing happening multiple times."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[5 Things You Should Know About LA Rams Coach Sean McVay]]>Sat, 14 Jan 2017 22:33:07 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/194*120/McVay+Rams+5+things.png

Wolfgang Puck, Bill Walsh and Fergie. Three famed figures that could not be more different from each other, and yet, they all have one thing in common: Los Angeles Rams new head coach Sean McVay.

L.A.'s first team to relocate back to the City of Angels sent shockwaves through the NFL on Thursday when they announced their new head coach would be a 30-year-old millennial with no experience.

McVay made history when he was announced to the media for a nearly hour-long press conference on Friday. Despite his youthful inexperience, the former Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator showed poise, passion, and intensity along with maturity beyond his years.

If you're like most of us in Southern California, you've never heard of McVay before Friday. Don't feel bad, neither did Wolfgang Puck, which leads us to a story that starts at Spago in Beverly Hills as we tell you five things you should know about the Rams new head coach.

1. He Gets Starstruck Just Like Us

Rams Owner Stan Kroenke took McVay and several team officials out to dinner at Spago in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night. The informal interview was the second for McVay and the Rams' front office, but first at a hot spot such as Spago.

During the dinner meeting, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, (who owns the restaurant), continually approached the table to talk to Kroenke.

"Wolfgang kept asking, 'Mr. Kroenke, have we found a coach?' McVay told a select group of reporters after the press conference. "I wanted to say to him, 'Hey man, I'm right here!"

Turns out, Mr. Puck was not the only celebrity to approach the table that night, McVay, who was visiting Los Angeles for the first time in his life this week, said he nearly lost his cool when celebrity couple Josh Duhamel and Fergie approached the table.

"Only in L.A.," McVay said about meeting the Transformers actor and the Black Eyed Peas singer. "I'm sitting there and Josh Duhamel and Fergie walk up and wish Mr. Kroenke good luck."

"Did they recognize you?" I asked him.

"Absolutely not," McVay said smiling. "They were probably thinking, 'Who is this guy?'"

He's the new head coach of the Rams, that's who he is.

2. Youngest Head Coach in NFL History

As mentioned, McVay became the youngest coach in NFL history when the Rams made the announcement on Thursday. At 30-years-old, McVay surpasses the previous record held by former Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin who was 31 when he was hired by Al Davis in 2007.  

McVay's age was on display during the press conference when his parents and younger brother took their seats in the second row. His mother and father looked younger than the previous Rams coach, Jeff Fisher, and looked just as shocked as we did when they found out McVay was getting the job.

"It's an incredible moment," said his father Tim. "It came fast."

"Your son is going to do a great job," added Rams vice president Kevin Demoff.

While there are a few players on the Rams roster that are older than their head coach, most notably defensive end William Hayes, L.A. has the youngest roster in the NFL and the youngest starting quarterback in 22-year-old Jared Goff.

"I'm very excited," said Goff who spent a few hours with McVay this week before the decision was announced. "I said to myself, 'If they pick him, I'm going to be really excited.' And they did. I liked it."

3. He's a Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan Protégé

McVay was groomed by the Grudens to become an NFL head coach. His grandfather, John, was close friends with Jim Gruden Sr. as the two coached and worked together at the collegiate level. So it should come as no surprise that Jon Gruden hired McVay fresh out of college at the age of 24 to be a coaches assistant in Tampa Bay.

"The Gruden Family and the McVay gamily go way back," McVay said during the press conference. "Jim Gruden St. actually recruited my dad (Tim) to the University of Indiana, so our family connections go way back. That opportunity to be a coaching assistant was one that I was fortunate enough to take advantage of. Coach Gruden gave me an opportunity to get on the staff and get right into this thing."

After Gruden left Tampa Bay in 2008, McVay moved on to Jon's brother, Jay Gruden. The younger Gruden was coaching the Florida Tuskers in the United Football League, and he hired McVay as the wide receivers coach.

After that, McVay got a job with Mike Shanahan as the tight ends coach with the Washington Redskins. Under the tutelage of Shanahan and his son, Kyle, McVay fine-tuned his offensive skills, eventually getting promoted to offensive coordinator when he was reunited with Jay Gruden in 2013.

"Sean has been a part of Mike and Kyle's system," said Rams' general manager Les Snead. "In Washington, what he did was a blend of Jon and Jay Gruden with Mike and Kyle. So it's an interesting evolution there."

4. He Comes From a Football Family

McVay's leatherhead legacy started with his grandfather John McVay who was the head coach of the New York Giants from 1976-1978.

After that, he spent 21 years with the San Francisco 49ers where he was the architect of the Niners dynasty in the 80s and 90s. Part of McVay's first executive move after being named the Niner's vice president was to hire Bill Walsh who led San Francisco to three Super Bowl Championships before they won two more under his successor, George Seifert.

The youngest McVay was born in 1986 and grew up around the 49ers organization.

"I can remember being around those guys," he told Sports Illustrated about San Francisco legends Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young. "I was around Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens. They were always so great to me. At the time I was so young, you don't realize what a unique and neat experience it was."

5. He Comes From the 'Cradle of Coaches'

McVay played his college ball at the University of Miami (Ohio), the same as his grandfather. The RedHawks football program is known as the "Cradle of Coaches" as they are responsible for developing some of the greatest leaders to ever grace the sidelines.

In addition to his grandfather, Miami (Ohio) is responsible for Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes, John Pont, Sean Payton, Jim Tressel, Ara Parseghian and John Harbaugh.

"As soon as I got into coaching out of college, I knew I wanted to be a head coach," McVay said of his career arc.

"When you listen to Sean quote Bill Walsh and John Wooden, you get the sense this someone who understands how to have success," added Demoff during the press conference.

The Rams are hoping that they have the right man for the job both now and in the future, and referenced other young coaching hires in the NFL who went on to win the Super Bowl. One of those was Walsh himself who famously said:

"Champions behave like champions before they are champions."

If that rings true, the Rams may be champions of the NFL one day under McVay. 



Photo Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Why Chris Paul is Key to Clippers Success]]>Sat, 14 Jan 2017 20:25:56 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*123/Chris+Paul+lakers.png

"I don't really remember Christmas."

A confident Chris Paul stood at the podium after a pedestrian 20-point, 13-assist performance in the Los Angeles Clippers 113-97 blowout victory over their Staples Center co-tenants, the Lakers.

Paul was pressed on how important his presence is on the court for the Clippers, but would not divulge any information as to what his team did differently to avenge their 111-102 Christmas Day loss to the Lakers.

"I can't speak about games I didn't play in," he said matter-of-factly.

To say that Paul is the engine that drives the Clippers' Corvette is an understatement. He's the steering wheel, the tires, the battery, and the brakes. Without him, the car goes nowhere.

Paul missed seven games in December and January with a right hamstring strain, and the Clippers record was 2-5 over that span. Since his return, the Clippers are riding high, in the midst of a six-game winning streak and are undefeated in the year 2017. 

"It's a lot attributed to him [Paul]," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said about the team's success. "We didn't play well on Christmas Day. We gave the ball away every time we had it. I think the difference is we came to play today. Today was a competition. We came in ready to go, without all that stuff they have on Christmas."

Yes, there's a fair amount of distractions for teams on the Christmas Day games; new jerseys, commercial breaks for the national television audience, Santa, but those are simply excuses. The Clippers are clearly not the same team without Paul on the floor. He's more valuable to the team than Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, he's arguably the best defensive player on the team, and the general that leads them into battle. It's as plain as the day is long: as Paul goes, so go the Clippers.

"CP [Chris Paul] played today," said Clippers' center DeAndre Jordan when asked why the team was able to beat the Lakers so soundly just three weeks after they suffered a loss to them. "CP is a playmaker. He's one of the best defenders on our team. As the floor general, he sees a lot of things before they happen and he gets guys open looks. Whenever he's on the floor, it's good for us." 

It's often said that what makes a superstar in sports is the ability to make those around them better. Nobody embodies this more than Paul as evident by Jordan's statline.

In the first meeting with the Lakers, the Clippers big man had just seven points, 10 rebounds and no blocks. On Saturday, Jordan led all scorers with 24 points, 21 rebounds and two blocks. He was 12-for-13 from the field, with most of his points coming from dunks, dished out by Paul on the lob. 

"It was great today," Jordan said of his performance. "Our energy got us going and we got easy buckets."

In addition to making his teammates better, Paul controls the offense and the defense. The Clippers scored 11 more points and allowed 14 less points with him on the floor. In the first matchup with the Lakers, the Clippers committed 15 turnovers as Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, and Austin Rivers all took turns running the point.

With Paul running the offense, the team committed just seven total turnovers and shot more than 10 percent better from the field (53-to-43) than they did in the Christmas Day game.

Defensively, Paul locks down the team's opposing point guard like a raven clutching its prey. Lakers' point guard D'Angelo Russell scored 14 points during the yuletide game, but managed just five points while guarded by Paul on Saturday.

The Clippers are currently the NBA's only undefeated team in the New Year, and as long as Paul can stay healthy, they will continue to pile up wins as they move up the Western Conference standings.

Things will only get better as Blake Griffin is expected back from knee surgery in the next couple weeks. Needless to say, if Lob City can stay healthy, the future is as high as a Paul lob to Jordan for the dunk.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Clobber Lakers, Remain Perfect in 2017]]>Sat, 14 Jan 2017 15:47:16 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chris-Paul-Lakers-Clippers-1-14-17.jpg

On Saturday afternoon, the LA Clippers remained perfect in 2017 by demolishing the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-97, behind a double-doubles from Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.

The Clippers, who played as the home team in this the second meeting of the season between the Staple Center co-tenants, avenged their Christmas night defeat, when Paul sat out due to injury. With CP3 back in the team, though, the Clippers enjoyed a 13-point lead in the first quarter, as the Clippers' point guard connected with Jordan and took advantage of sloppy Lakers' play.

That advantage jumped up to 22 points before halftime, though a late buzzer beater by Julius Randle helped the Lakers hobble into the locker room down by 19 points.

For LA, Jordan Clarkson offered a strong offensive boost off the bench with 21 points on the day, but that contribution did little to stop the combination of Paul and Jordan. Jordan finished with 24 points and 21 rebounds on 12/13 shooting on the day, to go along with two block shots and a steal.

"[Jordan] has been terrific," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after the game. "He was as dominant of a force as you can have in the NBA. That's how good he was. I thought he disrupted everything. He makes you not want to drive and not want to be near the basket. It allowed our guards to really get into the ball and pressure."

Paul added, "I expect that type of play from [Jordan], so I'm not surprised by the game he had at all."

Paul, who had a statistically strong game in his own right, exited the game late in the fourth quarter with 20 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and two steals to drive the Clippers to their sixth straight victory of the calendar year.

In searching for positives, the Lakers could look to 19-year-old Brandon Ingram, who scored 14 points and recorded five rebounds and five assists in yet another efficient performance.

The Clippers remained perfect in 2017 and improved to 28-14, while the Lakers dropped to 15-29.

Notes: Lakers committed 15 turnovers to the Clippers' eight. The Clippers shot 52.2 percent from the field. The Lakers shot 44.4 percent. The Lakers missed 12 foul shots, while the Clippers made seven of their eight free throws.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Introduce Sean McVay as Head Coach]]>Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:21:35 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-rams-coach-sean-mcvay.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams formally introduced 30-year-old Sean McVay as their coach today, the youngest in the modern history of the NFL, and he wasted no time vowing to build a winning franchise.

"On offense and defense, what you can expect from us is we're going to be attacking on both sides of the football, but we're also going to be fundamentally sound," McVay said. "Our first priority is going to be to assemble a great coaching staff. ... We're looking for leaders, teachers and motivators of men to help develop our players and help them reach their highest potential.

"... It's an exciting time to be an L.A. Ram, and we can't wait to go to work, roll our sleeves up and figure out a way to consistently give this fan base and this great city of L.A. a winner and a team that they can be proud of week in and week out."

The Rams announced McVay's hiring Thursday to replace Jeff Fisher, who was fired Dec. 12, one day after a 42-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons dropped the team's record to 4-9.

The Rams lost all three games under interim coach John Fassel, ending the season with a 4-12 record, their worst since 2011, and a seven-game losing streak.

McVay spent the past three seasons as the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator. Washington was second in the NFL in passing yards per game (297.4), passing yards per play (7.84) and yards per play (6.4) in 2016.

The team averaged more than 400 yards per game and set a team record with 6,454 yards, ending the regular season as the NFL's third-ranked offense. Washington was 8-7-1, with a 19-10 loss to the New York Giants in its final game costing it a playoff berth.

"The accomplishments and success that he has rendered in less than a decade in our league are remarkable," Rams owner Stan Kroenke said. "I am confident in his vision to make this team a consistent winner and to ultimately bring a Super Bowl title home to Los Angeles."

McVay joins a team that has had 10 consecutive losing seasons, last made the playoffs in 2004, when it was 8-8, and hasn't had a winning record since 2003.

McVay began his NFL career in 2008 as an offensive assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a season after completing his college playing career as a receiver for Ohio's Miami University.

When Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden was fired following a 9-7 season and a new coaching staff was brought in, McVay became the tight ends coach of the Florida Tuskers of the now-defunct United Football League.

McVay returned to the NFL in 2010 as an offensive assistant with Washington. He was the team's tight ends coach from 2011-13.

Former Washington tight end Chris Cooley tweeted that McVay's hiring was "going to be the start of an awesome run."

"I'm so proud of you buddy," Cooley tweeted.

Washington third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld tweeted that the "Rams got a good one" in McVay.

McVay is a grandson of John McVay, the New York Giants coach from 1976-78 and an executive with the San Francisco 49ers from 1979-95 when the team won five Super Bowls.

McVay will turn 31 on Jan. 24. The NFL's modern era is considered to have begun in 1933 when the league was split into two divisions and a championship game was played.

The previous youngest coach was Lane Kiffin, who was 31 years and eight months old when he was signed to coach the Oakland Raiders in 2007.

McVay insisted that the Rams will be a team of great character.

"Our character will be the foundation and it will be the glue that holds us together as an organization," he said. "We're going to be committed to our process, and we're going to be committed to a standard of performance. And those things are going to be focused on daily improvement and daily excellence. And that's what's going to help guide us on our journey to try to achieve a world championship and bring it to this great city of Los Angeles.

"... A Ram for us -- they're going to be mentally and physically tough players that are smart and love to compete. ... In order to be able to put out that product that our fans deserve, that we want to see that's going to give us a chance to win games week in and week out, we've got to be committed to that process and that standard of performance."



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Will Owe the City of San Diego Millions of Dollars]]>Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:21:46 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/spanos-nov13-2016-ap.jpg

The Chargers have a contract with the City of San Diego that runs through the 2020 season.

They have a four-month window that begins Feb. 1 and ends May 1 to opt out of the team’s lease at Qualcomm Stadium. If they end the lease early, they will pay the City $12 million for the buyout, freeing the Chargers to play in Los Angeles next season.

That doesn't pay off the remaining bond debt that financed a stadium expansion.

On notice of termination, the team will also have to vacate the Murphy Canyon Practice facility.

The Chargers plan to conduct offseason training and minicamp at Chargers Park.

A spokesperson for the City told NBC 7 Thursday, the team would have to vacate by July 31, 2017.



Photo Credit: CSN Bay Area staff]]>
<![CDATA[Rams, Chargers To Battle For Fans in LA]]>Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:14:53 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chargers-leave-San-Diego.jpg

Chargers owner Dean Spanos made the decision to move the Chargers out of San Diego on Thursday, confirming that Los Angeles would go from having zero NFL teams in 2015 to having two professional football teams in 2017.

Talk of the relocation fee and the money the NFL offered to pay in order to help subsidize a new NFL stadium in San Diego is moot at this point because the Chargers are coming to Los Angeles.

It's done.

San Diegans proceeded to burn jerseys and take all the actions NFL fans in St. Louis can relate to, but just as the airport in St. Louis no longer features Rams' t-shirts or jerseys for sale, the Chargers will quickly become a four-letter word in San Diego.

The Chargers did not entirely announce the move with grace and style, though, as the new logo looked lazy and plagiarized and deservedly got roasted on social media. Since it looked like a cross between the Tampa Bay Lightning and LA Dodgers' logos, those two teams enjoyed some social media humor. The original tweet by the NFL had been taken down, and Spanos said in interviews that he wasn't sure if it was a permanent logo, whatever that means. Regardless, the internet had fun with it.

While the re-branding is off to a less-than-desirable start, there's a blueprint to moving an NFL team to LA, apparently. Just as the LA Rams harped on their history of having roots in LA and marketing the history of the franchise in Los Angeles, the Chargers have already begun reminding anyone who will listen that the franchise started in LA in 1960. Spanos made sure to mention this little factoid in Thursday's letter announcing the move, and the 1960 season will likely be brought up a million times between Thursday's announcement and the start of the 2017 season.

So, how will LA cope with two NFL teams?

First of all, the Chargers aren't expected to move to the LA Coliseum, where the Rams currently play. The Chargers will play at the home of the LA Galaxy in Carson. Yes, the Chargers plan on spending two years at the 30,000-seat StubHub Center until the giant new stadium opens in Inglewood in 2019. This should provide for a unique NFL viewing experience, but choosing to fill a small soccer ground over only halfway filling an actual football stadium like the LA Memorial Coliseum was likely more of a move to safe face than to provide a special atmosphere.

In 2019, both the Rams and the Chargers will share the currently under construction stadium in Inglewood, and both teams expect to stay there for a long, long time.

While the Stubhub Center is being pitched as an exclusive opportunity to watch NFL football in an intimate setting and a considerable upgrade on Qualcomm Stadium in terms of a fan experience, the reality is that Spanos probably moved because he saw a weakened Rams' team not yet re-established in the LA market.

Spanos said fans stopped turning up at the stadium and cited the failed ballot measure for the new stadium as motivations for the move. Yes, the Chargers did rank second-to-last in the NFL in attendance in 2016, but San Diego still pulled in 57,024 fans on average at Qualcomm. That's nearly double the capacity of the Stubhub Center.

The Chargers' move cannot possibly be about gate receipts, or it could have, frankly, waited a couple years.

Instead, the Chargers enter the Los Angeles NFL market with an interesting opportunity. The Chargers were the sixth worst team in the NFL a season ago, which was only one win better than the Rams, who were the fifth worst team in the National Football League. Neither team is close to making the playoffs, let alone winning a Super Bowl. If the Chargers can start winning games faster than the Rams, they can start winning fans faster than the Rams.

The cold war between the Rams and Chargers offered its first taste on Thursday. Neither team had a head coach at the start of the day, but both seemingly had a man in place by the end of the day, which signaled the start of the arms race. The Rams officially hired 30-year-old Sean McVay, who will be 31 by the start of the season, and plan to introduce the youngest NFL coach in the history of the league on Friday.

The Chargers will reportedly hire Anthony Lynn as their Head Coach, which is also a bit of a stunner. Lynn served under Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman at the start of the 2016 NFL season but found himself as the offensive coordinator only two games into the season after Bills coach Rex Ryan fired his coordinator. The Bills also fired Ryan before the end of the season, and Lynn finished the year as the Bills' interim coach. That meteoric rise landed Lynn with the Chargers.

The Rams and Chargers both have Head Coaches that are unproven and short on experience. Considering the high stakes, both teams are rolling the dice and taking big chances. However, both teams have put their trust in coaches on the offensive side of the ball, with McVay getting a great deal of credit for the work he did with Kirk Cousins in Washington.

However, the importance of winning for both franchises is paramount considering they are working to build new fan bases in a city that can't be bothered with losing teams. The greater Los Angeles Metropolitan area now features two professional NBA team, two professional MLB teams, two professional NHL teams and two professional NFL teams. Los Angeles is Noah's arc. The NFL may continue to be the biggest sport in America, but by the end of the 2016 season, the losing Rams were no longer worth Sunday afternoons because LA is spoiled for choice when it comes to sports.

The timing of the Chargers' move suggests that Spanos sees an opportunity to usurp a greater portion of the LA market by outperforming the Rams on the field. Considering how good the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders looked during the 2016 NFL season, one has a tough time seeing the Chargers back in the playoffs in the next two years, which is what it would take for the LA Chargers to truly catch on prior to the move into the new digs in Inglewood.

As Spanos told the LA Times on Thursday, he will also be personally relocating to Los Angeles with the team. In fact, the Chargers' owner appeared at the LA Kings hockey game on Thursday night and is reportedly being hosted in a welcoming dinner by Lakers owner Jeanie Buss on Friday.

On Day 1, Spanos is working hard to connect with sports fans and teams in Los Angeles.

Directly, the Rams and Chargers are not rivals, as one plays in the NFC and the other plays in the AFC. Also, the Chargers staying in Carson and the Rams playing at the Coliseum avoids scheduling conflicts for the next two years.

However, the Rams and Chargers will undoubtedly be rivals when it comes to fighting for wallets in the LA market, especially when the time arrives to fill seats in a new stadium in Inglewood. For now, the Rams have a one year head start, but a year of awful football under Jeff Fisher didn't exactly win hearts and minds.

For the foreseeable future, Los Angeles has two football teams again, but will either the Chargers or Rams be worth the attention (and money) anytime soon?



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers' Move to Los Angeles: What's Next?]]>Fri, 13 Jan 2017 08:58:33 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/GettyImages-630782446.jpg

After the Chargers announced plans to relocate the team to Los Angeles, the team launched its new website detailing what's in store for the Los Angeles Chargers and a new campaign to "Fight for LA." If you're a Chargers fan, here's what you need to know about the team's plans moving forward.

"Fight for LA"

The Chargers played their first season in Los Angeles in 1960, but called San Diego home for 56 years. Now, with plans to return to the City of Angels, Owner and Chairman of the Chargers Dean Spanos acknowledged in a statement that the "organization has a tremendous amount of work to do."

"We must get back to winning. And we must make a meaningful contribution, not just on the field, but off the field as a leader and champion for the community," Spanos said in the statement. "The Chargers are determined to fight for LA and we are excited to get started."

Shortly after plans to move were confirmed Thursday morning with a letter from Spanos, the team launched a new website emphasizing a team campaign to "Fight for LA," which the team hopes will demonstrate the Chargers' and the Spanos family's commitment to "earn the respect and loyalty of Los Angeles football fans," read a Chargers statement.

"Our ultimate goal is to bring L.A. a Super Bowl championship," said John Spanos, president of football operations for the team, in a statement. "When we say we will fight for L.A., this is the essence of our pledge."

The team went five and 11 last season in the AFC West.

Logo

Shortly after the announcement, the Chargers changed the logo on its social media accounts.

The letters "LA" are shown in white on a navy background, and the end of the "L" turns into the Chargers' iconic lightning bolt.

In a radio interview Thursday, Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos was asked about the logo similarity. He said: "I don't know if this is going to be permanent or if it's going to be the introductory logo into the marketplace. My son is handling all that so I'd have to defer to him."

NBC4 affiliate NBC San Diego reached out to Bill Johnston, Director of Public Relations with the Chargers. He responded with the following statement:

"We are not changing our official marks/logos. Nothing about our uniforms, colors, helmets, etc. is changing. That image is strictly for marketing use."

The Chargers' New Home

The team will play at the StubHub Center in Carson until a new stadium, which will serve as the home for the Los Angeles Rams and the Chargers, is built at Hollywood Park in Inglewood.

StubHub Center is located on the California State University Dominguez Hills campus in Carson. "Capacity for Chargers games at StubHub Center will be 30,000 seats, with approximately 3,000 premium and field seats, 46 suites, 16 cabanas, and 10,000 on-site parking spaces," according to the Chargers.

The team's future home is being constructed on the former site of the Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood.

The stadium, with an estimated capacity of about 80,000, is expected to include 275 luxury suites, more than 16,000 premium seats and have nearly 3 million square feet of usable space. The overall project has a price tag estimated at about $2.6 billion.

Season Tickets

The team's website gave fans the option to place a refundable $100 deposit to "secure an opportunity" to purchase season tickets, the website reads.

"The fully-refundable $100 deposit allows fans to reserve up to four seats at StubHub Center, ensures priority status for 2017 Chargers season tickets, and grants priority status for seats at the new Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, the future home of the Chargers," read a statement from the team Thursday.

The website noted a spot on the waitlist does not ensure the person placing the deposit will receive season tickets, because tickets will be sold to fans depending on when they joined the waitlist.

"Current Chargers Season Ticket Members will maintain their priority status and are not required to make a deposit," a statement from the team read.

More information about placing a deposit was listed on the Los Angeles Chargers website.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers 2017 Bobblehead Schedule]]>Thu, 12 Jan 2017 06:35:51 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/Dodgers+2017+bobbleheads.png

Bobble baby, bobble baby, bobble baby, bobble.

The 2017 MLB season is still a few months away, but the Los Angeles Dodgers are getting fans excited anyway as they announced their 10 bobblehead giveaways for the upcoming season.

Corey Seager will start things off at the end of April as fans can celebrate his 2016 Rookie of the Year Award as they expand their collection. Newly re-signed Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner will have big heads in 2017, as will Joc Pederson, Andre Ethier and Dave Roberts who won the NL Manager of the Year Award.

There will be three more bobbleheads still to be determined at the end of the season, and fans can collect a once in a lifetime bobblehead of Clayton Kershaw batting at the end of July.

The entire schedule of the promotional giveaways and their dates are below:

Dodger 2017 Bobbleheads:

DATE                OPP     BOBBLEHEAD              PLAYER                                   
4/29 Sat        PHI     Bobblehead #1   Corey Seager 2016 NL Rookie of the Year 

5/10 Wed       PIT      Bobblehead #2            Kenley Jansen

5/23 Tue        STL     Bobblehead #3            Joc Pederson

6/6 Tue          WSH   Bobblehead #4            Justin Turner

6/21 Wed      NYM   Bobblehead #5              Andre Ethier

7/6 Thu         ARI     Bobblehead #6   Dave Roberts 2016 NL Manager of the Year

7/26 Wed      MIN    Bobblehead #7             Clayton Kershaw hitting

8/15 Tue        CHW   Bobblehead #8            TBD

9/6 Wed         ARI     Bobblehead #9            TBD

9/26 Tue        SD       Bobblehead #10          TBD

Fans are encouraged to head over to the Dodgers website and purchase ticket packages that include all 10 bobblehead giveaways. 



Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Abracadabra! Clippers Remain Undefeated in 2017]]>Thu, 12 Jan 2017 06:06:40 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/Clippers+Magic+.png

And then there were three.

The Los Angeles Clippers joined the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks as the only three teams in the NBA to remain undefeated in the year 2017 after they made the Orlando Magic disappear, 105-96, at Staples Center on Wednesday night.

The Clippers have come a long way since they were dismantled by the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 26-point beat down on New Years Eve. After the ball dropped and the date changed, the Clippers have run off five wins in a row to start off the New Year with a bang.

"We're playing with the right spirit and the right energy," said point guard Chris Paul after the win over Orlando. "We just need to keep piling up wins.

It's no secret, that the Clippers winning ways are directly correlated to the play of CP3. During the team's six-game losing skid to end December, Paul played in just one of those games due to a strained right hamstring.

Since he's returned, the Clippers offense has found it's rhythm again, DeAndre Jordan is catching and dunking lobs again [albeit in atrocious postgame attire], and the defense is stifling again. Without Paul, the Clippers allowed an astonishing 110.5 points per game to their opponents, but with him back on the court, they're allowing just 93 points per game.

"We're getting healthier," said head coach Doc Rivers. "Our schedule is better for us and we're playing harder. We're playing better. We got back whatever that was. I like the way we're playing right now."

Doc's son Austin has a different opinion on why the Clippers have suddenly started winning again, he believes that the team needed to hit rock bottom, in order to start to pick themselves back up and walk again.

"I don't know what the old saying is, but it's something like, 'If you're going through hell, keep going and you'll get through it," he said from his locker on Wednesday. "That's what our guys did. They just kept going."

One theory could be Doc Rivers' New Years resolution of no more technical fouls. Since he announced that he was going to start holding the team accountable and if anyone picked up a tech, they would have to donate their own money to a charity of their choosing, the team has only recorded one technical foul from an official (DeAndre Jordan), and have not picked up a single one in back-to-back games.

However, when asked if that was the reason behind the team's success, and if it could continue in the second half of the season, Rivers contained his optimism.

"I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself," he began. "But, so far, so good and I hope it continues. I think it's going to take a while for the officials to see what we really are a changed people."

The Clippers victory on Wednesday brought their record to 27-14 at the midway point of the season, ironically, the exact same record they possessed at this time last season.

"I like where we are and who we are," said Rivers about the team's record. "Obviously we have to get healthy, but I love our team."

Veteran shooting guard, J.J. Redick, believes that in addition to health, the NBA schedule and playing weaker opponents is the sole reason why the Clippers have started 2017 off to such a hot start.

"The schedule is the biggest thing," said Redick. "No more seven games in ten days, or eight in twelve, or back-to-backs in Houston and Oklahoma City. Having CP [Chris Paul] back has been great and we're looking forward to getting Blake [Griffin] back in a couple weeks."

The Clippers schedule has indeed lightened considerably to start the year with just five games in ten days and four of those five at home. The lone road game in that stretch was a short trip up to Sacramento to play the struggling Kings.

The luck continues as the team has just three games over the next eight days, all at home with chances to avenge late December losses to the Lakers and Thunder next week.

All-in-all, if the Clippers can keep their head above water and continue their winning ways until their January 28th showdown with the Golden State Warriors--a game that Blake Griffin is expected to be available for--then the team could find themselves reclimbing the Western Conference standings in no time. 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Get Served in San Antonio]]>Thu, 12 Jan 2017 20:01:12 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Pau-Gasol-vs-Lakers-1-12-17.jpg

Kawhi Leonard scored 23 points, Pau Gasol had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and that was just by halftime. The San Antonio Spurs scored a season-high 72 points in the first 24 minutes of Thursday night's game in San Antonio, and the Los Angeles Lakers trailed by 18 points despite Julius Randle scoring 17 points before the break.

Predictably, the Lakers didn't get back into the game. Spotting the second best team in the NBA 12 points after the first quarter and 18 points by halftime is a recipe for a lopsided loss. In the third quarter, Leonard and the Spurs continued to score at will and finished the quarter leading by 31 points.

At one point, Gasol even ran down the middle of the lane and slammed home an emphatic dunk over Lakers forward Thomas Robinson. That dunk counted as Gasol's ninth field goal, as the former Lakers' center had made all nine of his shots against his former team. Gasol grabbed a seat after that dunk, leaving the game with 22 points to go along with nine rebounds and six assists in ony 26 minutes on the court.

Leonard also played no part of the fourth quarter and finished with 31 points on 10-13 shooting in only 26 minutes of play.

After Gasol's slam dunk, Lakers coach Luke Walton decided to empty his bench and bring in Marcelo Huertas and Ivica Zubac, both of whom have rarely found playing time this season. Zubac, who is a 19-year-old rookie center, added a little life to the game with his inventive converted hook shot immediately after joining the action, but the final 15 minutes of the game may as well have been a practice session.

The result of the game had long been decided before the start of the fourth quarter. When the buzzer mercifully sounded to signal 48 completed minutes, the Spurs won by a final count of 134-94, which also counted as the most points the Spurs had scored all season.

The Spurs improved to 31-8 on the season, while the Lakers dropped to 15-28. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Sign Kevin Garnett, But It's Not What You Think]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2017 07:09:02 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Kevin+garnett+Clippers.png

The Big Ticket is back!

The Los Angeles Clippers announced on Tuesday that they officially signed forward Kevin Garnett.

There's only one caveat. He's going to be a consultant, not a player.

Garnett's official role with the Clippers will not be as a coach, or an executive, but more as a mentor. Earlier in the NBA season, Garnett was seen at the team's traning camp in Irvine, working with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Garnett's new role with the team is expected to be similar to what he did during that training camp period as the team announced that he will only occasionally be at practice to work with players, and will not travel with the team, nor be seen on the sidelines at Staples Center.

"He's hired in here as a consultant. So I'm sure he'll be in and out when it presents itself for him to work with our guys," Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson told ESPN. "And I think when he's here, it's important for our bigs to take advantage of him being out here on the floor. Because he brings so much to the table, has so much to offer for the game of basketball, it's not even funny."

One of those big men is Jordan who is a leading candidate for defensive player of the year this season, and has had to take on more of an offensive role with the team since Griffin has been out with a knee injury.

"Amazing. Amazing. Amazing," Jordan said of Garnett. "Besides him cussing me out, we played against each other. He's a great spirit and a great basketball mind, a Hall of Fame guy. Someone I looked up to coming up and even playing against. So any pointers he can give me, tips, it's great. I just want to be a student when he's here.

Like Garnett, Jordan is an active talker on the court and plays with plenty of passion and emotion. Both players are notorious for getting after it on the defensive end of the floor as well.

"He's one of the main reasons why I talk so much, talk so loud when I'm out there," continued Jordan. "Because when I'm watching film of him or playing against him, the presence that he has—on both sides of the floor—is something that's contagious."

The move reunites Garnett with his former head coach in Boston, Doc Rivers, as well as Celtics teammates Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass.

The power forward was a 15-time All-Star and NBA MVP in 2004 in stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, and New Jersey Nets. He will likely be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer in a few years time.



Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings' Doughty and Carter Named NHL All-Stars]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2017 07:12:14 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Doughty+and+Carter.png

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The rosters for the NHL All-Star Game are brimming with top-shelf talent, though they lack an unusual fan-picked favorite like John Scott.

Rookies Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine were among the 40 players selected Tuesday for the NHL's 62nd midseason showcase at Staples Center. The Chicago Blackhawks led the league with four players selected for the All-Star weekend, which will be held Jan. 27-29 in Los Angeles.

The game format will again be a 3-on-3 tournament featuring a team from each of the NHL's four divisions. The players also will compete in a skills competition on Saturday, Jan. 28.

The Pacific Division won the tournament last year, but the weekend was dominated by the unlikely story of Scott. The journeyman enforcer scored two goals and was voted the MVP after an equally improbable grassroots online campaign by fans to vote him into the game as a captain — even after he was traded from Arizona to Montreal and sent to the minors.

The NHL changed its fan voting rules this season to reduce the chances of a similar situation, adding stipulations that players had to be on their team's roster on Nov. 1 and hadn't been sent to the minors before Jan. 26. The fans' eminently logical choices for captains this time around were Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Edmonton's Connor McDavid, Nashville's P.K. Subban — who has been out with an injury since Dec. 15 — and Montreal goalie Carey Price.

Although some fans were angered by the rule change, major sports leagues are searching for balance between encouraging fan participation in All-Star events and trivializing those showcases with vote manipulation and organized silliness.

Millions of fake accounts on social media could potentially warp fan vote totals for events like the NBA's upcoming All-Star showcase . Major League Baseball canceled more than 60 million ballots for the 2015 All-Star Game after an elaborate campaign to manipulate the results to favor the Kansas City Royals, among other teams.

The NHL rosters include many veteran stars, including Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, Erik Karlsson and Chicago teammates Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford.

McDavid, the NHL's 19-year-old leading scorer with 48 points, is headed to his first All-Star Game after missing out on last season with a broken collarbone. Crosby, right behind McDavid with 44 points, incredibly hasn't played in an All-Star Game since his second NHL season in 2007, missing out on four subsequent selections due to injuries.

The coaches will be Columbus' John Tortorella, Minnesota's Bruce Boudreau, San Jose's Peter DeBoer and Montreal's Michel Therrien.

The Los Angeles Kings will be represented by forward Jeff Carter and defenseman Drew Doughty in their home rink, while the nearby Anaheim Ducks are sending center Ryan Kesler and defenseman Cam Fowler.

Among the first-time All-Stars is Philadelphia forward Wayne Simmonds, who began his NHL career with Los Angeles before being traded 5 1/2 years ago.

"It's kind of surreal," Simmonds said after a morning skate in Buffalo. "It makes me think when I was a young kid watching the All-Star games, and watching all the great players who played in it. To even be mentioned in the same breath as All-Stars in the NHL is pretty special, and it's a great accomplishment."

Columbus, which has roared to the top of the overall NHL standings with its recent 16-game winning streak, will send only defenseman Seth Jones and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to the All-Star Game. Forward Cam Atkinson, tied for eighth in the league with 39 points heading into Tuesday's games, was not selected.

The top two picks in last summer's draft also made the game after scoring 21 goals apiece this season. The 19-year-old Matthews is Toronto's sole representative, becoming the Maple Leafs' youngest All-Star since Wendel Clark made it 31 years ago.

The Winnipeg Jets are represented solely by Laine, the Finnish teenager with 37 points in his torrid rookie season. Laine is out indefinitely with a concussion, however.

"Patrik Laine is kind of an All-Star kind of player," Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault said. "He makes a difference. He's that threat to score at all times, which is something we didn't really have in the past here."

Although the rosters frequently change due to injury, every team currently has a player representative at the midseason extravaganza, which changed format last season to a four-team tournament of 20-minute games. Each team consists of six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies.

Arizona ended up without a player at last year's game after Scott was traded to Montreal. The Coyotes will be represented this time by 34-year-old goalie Mike Smith, an All-Star for the first time in his 11-year NHL career.

"I'm just excited to play with the list of players that I am joining," Smith said. "The best players in the league in a format like that is kind of scary for a goaltender, but it'll be a lot of fun."

___

AP Hockey Writers John Wawrow and Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jansen and Turner to Meet With Media]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2017 06:29:56 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jansen-kenley-turner-justin-dodgers.jpg

Welcome home.

Plenty of people in Los Angeles got excited upon hearing the news last month that the Los Angeles Dodgers had re-signed All-Star closer Kenley Jansen and third baseman Justin Turner to new contracts within hours of each other. On Wednesday, the world will find out why.

Jansen and Turner are scheduled to meet with the media on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium to answer questions pertaining to their decisions to stay with the team after both became free agents at the end of the 2016 season.

Likely, the reasons lie in the adage, "finish what we started," as the Dodgers finished just two games shy of the World Series last season. However, the fact that both players were together in Curacao for Jansen's wedding just days before the December 12th announcement was made has conspiracy theorists believing that the Dodger family trumped money, at least in this instance.

Jansen wedding with the fam!!!🏝 @court_with_a_k @yasielpuig #SVS @akvanslyke @andreaberenice_dltt #Curacao

A photo posted by Justin Turner (@redturn2) on

Both Jansen and Turner re-signed with the Dodgers for subsequently less money than other teams were reportedly offering them. Jansen's deal is for five-years, $80 million with an opt-out clause after the 2019 season.

According to multiple reports, Jansen will receive a $4 million signing bonus and an exponential contract that starts out at a team friendly $10 million in 2017 and 2018, then jumps to $18 million in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Should Jansen stay with the team for all five-years of the deal, he would receive $21 million in 2021.

Turner's deal was inked at four-years, $64 million, the fourth highest of all free agent position players this offseason. He also will receiver a $4 million signing bonus as was originally reported by The Associated Press, and like Jansen, his contract is exponential as it starts at $12 million for the first two years and then leaps to $18 and $19 million in the final two years. 



Photo Credit: CSN Bay Area staff]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Doubtful on Dozier After Talks Stall]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2017 05:57:20 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Dodgers+and+Brian+Dozier.png

The Dodgers made a move regarding a second baseman on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, it was not the one that fans in Los Angeles were hoping for. 

In order to make room for closer Kenley Jansen on the 40-man roster after he finally signed his new five-year, $80 million dollar contract to stay with the only team he's ever known, the Dodgers designated second baseman, Micah Johsnon, for assignment.

Should Johnson get claimed off waivers, the Dodgers would lose out on another option to play second base in the 2017 season. Currently, that position is a gaping black hole on the L.A. roster, and a void that seems to only get larger by the day.

Late on Tuesday, Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the ongoing trade talks between the Minnesota Twins and the Dodgers for All-Star second baseman Brian Dozier had hit a stalwart, and that it was unlikely either team would make a move.

The hot stove rumors surrounding Dozier have been happening for months, but in December, it finally appeared like both teams had made some traction when it was leaked that the Dodgers were willing to include top pitching prospect Jose De Leon in the deal.

However, according to Rosenthal, the Twins want more than just De Leon in exchange for Dozier. Likely, they are asking for another top prospect in the Dodgers' farm system, such as first baseman Cody Bellinger or outfielder Alex Verdugo, two young minor leaguers that are deemed "untouchable."

De Leon is certainly a great piece for any trade to start with, but it's possible the Twins scouts don't deem the Puerto Rican right-hander as valuable as most in Major League Baseball do. As of now, the Dodgers are moving on to plans B, C, and D as the trade talks have stalled.

If the deal for Dozier is indeed dead (but likely it could start up again if the Twins don't get a better offer), the Dodgers will turn their attention to Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler or perhaps Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe.

Veteran second baseman Chase Utley is still out there, and the Dodgers could re-sign him regardless of whether they make a trade or not to add a left-handed bat off the bench, and an experienced presence to continue to nurture the growth of 2016 NL Rookie of the Year, Corey Seager.

If the Dodgers can't land a second baseman via trade, look for them to re-sign Utley and promote a guy like Willie Calhoun from the minors.

In other Dodger news, the Cincinnati Reds have officially signed former L.A. relief pitcher Louis "Sweet Lou" Coleman. The 30-year-old right-hander had a 4.69 ERA in 38 innings with the team last season.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles, is still on the look out for a reliever, primarily in the role of setup man for Jansen. Last year's eighth inning guy, Joe Blanton, is still available as a free agent, as is former closers Neftali Feliz, Santiago Casilla, and Greg Holland.



Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Damian Lillard Not Pleased With Lakers' D'Angelo Russell]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2017 04:09:06 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Damian-Lillard-1-11-17.jpg

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers led the Portland Trail Blazers by two points at halftime, as Portland's star point guard Damian Lillard had started the game missing nine of his 10 shots. Meanwhile, LA's point guard D'Angleo Russell had masterfully provided six assists to go along with four points and five rebounds in a half that had laid the foundation for a triple-double.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, Russell seemingly let that strong start lead to a little bump on Lillard in the third quarter. The Blazers' guard took offense and, quickly, the two players had to be separated. When both players received technical fouls, the Lakers trailed 64-63.

Lillard described the incident to CSN Northwest following the game and spoke out about Russell.

"Since last game, he'd been doing little slick elbows, and I play the game clean," Lillard didn't seem pleased with how Russell had been guarding him in the two meetings between the teams this season. "I'm from Oakland. I ain't with that extra stuff. Nobody can do just what they want to me. And I got called for a foul to start the third quarter for reaching in, but when I reached in, the only reason there was contact was because his elbow came up again."

Lillard continued by describing the double-technical foul incident: "After he blocked my shot, I was walking to my spot, and I felt he went out of his way to get that elbow in there again. I told him, 'Man, that ain't going to fly.' And I wasn't interested in anything else that was said after that."

Russell, though, seemed like he had plenty to say to the Blazers' guard, and Lillard issued a not-so-subtle non-basketball challenge to the former Ohio State guard following Tuesday's game: "We ain't going to do it on the court, so we'll be in the back, and whatever happens, happens. It was nothing. He poked the bear, and you see what happened after the game."

Russell went on to miss his next four shots in the quarter and only managed two points for the remainder of the game. He finished with nine points, six assists and eight rebounds in what quickly turned into a lopsided loss.

Lillard, on the other hand, woke up from his sluggish start and scored six more points following the verbal spat. In the third quarter that changed the game, Lillard scored 11 points, while the Lakers' team scored 12 points. In the process, Portland turned a two-point deficit into a nine-point advantage.

Lillard added another seven points in the fourth quarter but only had to appear for fewer than four minutes on the court because the Blazers had easily sunk the Lakers in the fourth quarter. Portland led by as many as 23 points in that fourth quarter, and Russell's bravado had seemingly been the catalyst for Lillard's second-half explosion and Portland's eventual 108-87 victory.

Lillard confirmed, "I took it as a challenge. I was struggling shooting the ball, and I was getting good looks. Maybe he felt that was because of him or whatever, but it's levels, and I got a little more aggressive and our team got a little more aggressive, and we pulled off."

Russell didn't record a single assist in the second half, and the Lakers only scored 30 points over the final 24 minutes. Meanwhile, the Blazers scored 53 points following the intermission and Lillard finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the victory. Blazers guard C.J. McCollom finished with 25 points to lead all scorers.

Luol Deng finished as the Lakers' top scorer and the only starter to score in double figures with 14 points on the night, but Deng scored 13 of his 14 points in the first half. Truly, Tuesday night offered a game of two halves, with the Lakers missing shots and failing to move the ball to compound the problem of Lillard coming to life.

After the game, Lakers coach Luke Walton was left confused and stuttering, "I'm still trying to figure out what happened in the second half, honestly. I need to get home and watch the tape."

Whether or not it shows clearly on the tape, Russell seemingly poked an All-Star caliber player and woke up a sleeping giant, which is never a good idea.

When asked about whether the double technical may have ignited Lillard, Walton didn't need to review the tape and offered, "(Lillard)'s one of the best players in our league. I think he got angry and he started playing better. That's what happens with All-Stars."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Host Blazers on Tuesday Night]]>Tue, 10 Jan 2017 03:13:20 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Blazers-1-10-17.jpg

Tuesday night at Staples Center may only be one of 82 games on an NBA schedule, but for both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Lakers, a victory at Staples Center could be the difference between making the playoffs and watching the postseason from home when the regular season concludes come April.

The Lakers have won three of their last four games and making the Western Conference playoffs suddenly doesn't seem like a far-fetched idea again for a team that only won 17 games a season ago. The purple and gold only trail the eighth and final playoff spot in the West by 2.0 games. The Blazers currently hold that coveted spot with a less than stellar record of 16 wins and 23 losses. With a win on Tuesday, the Lakers would record their 16th win of the season and only trail the Blazers by two defeats in the loss column with 40 games remaining.

The Lakers and Blazers both seem to be teams rebounding from a forgettable December. Prior to winning three of the past four contests, the Lakers dropped 15 of their previous 17 games. Likewise, the Blazers lost 10 of 11 games before winning three of the past six games.

Included in those three wins, Portland beat the Lakers in Oregon on Thursday to extend Portland's head-to-head winning streak to nine games. The last time the Lakers beat the Blazers was on Mar. 3, 2014. Pau Gasol led LA with 22 points that night on a team that featured a starting five of Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Kent Bazemore, Wesley Johnson and Kendall Marshall.

Needless to say, it’s been a while since the Lakers beat the Blazers. Another way to look at it is that the Lakers are due for a win over Portland. Helping the Lakers' cause, a victory on Tuesday would be the fourth straight win at Staples Center for the home team and give the Lakers a winning record in LA for the season.

The Lakers and Blazers tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Key Matchup

D'Angelo Russell: 15.7 points, 4.6 assists, 3.7 rebounds

Damian Lillard: 26.6 points, 6.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Will Adoree' Jackson Follow Juju Smith-Schuster to NFL?]]>Mon, 09 Jan 2017 18:46:16 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*132/Adoree+and+Juju.png

Another Trojan is taking his talent to the NFL. 

Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster announced on Saturday via Twitter that he would forgo his senior season at USC and declare for the NFL Draft.

"This was a very difficult decision to make," Smith-Schuster said. "I have loved my time at USC and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Smith-Schuster departs just days after USC defeated Penn State, 52-49, in one of the most dramatic and exciting Rose Bowl's in recent memory. He caught a crucial fourth quarter touchdown that brought the Trojans within a score, and the final catch of his collegiate career was a sensational diving grab along the sidelines that set up the game-tying score. He now joins guard Damien Mama as USC players who will enter the NFL draft.

That leaves eyes on All-American three-way player Adoree' Jackson who was the Jim Thorpe Award winner for the country's best defensive back in 2016. Jackson has yet to announce his decision, but told NBC LA last week that he will likely announce his decision in the coming days.

NFL teams are already starting to scout Jackson with the belief that he too will decide to enter the draft.

The question on the minds of Southern California sports fans is whether or not Smith-Schuster's decision to depart will affect Jackson's. The short answer is yes.

Jackson and Smith-Schuster are close and both have a propensity for making thrilling plays that make the jaw drop. Jackson shared his thoughts with his teammates decision to declare for the NFL Draft, by posting a meme on Twitter.

Jackson's frustration with Smith-Schuster's decision is evident in the Denzel Washington inspired gif. One of the many things Jackson will take into consideration while making his decision is which players are returning to the Trojans.

If Jackson chooses to return to USC for his senior season, he will have his eyes set on the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship. Both of those goals suffered a setback when Smith-Schuster elected to go pro.

After the receiver's decision, Jackson is likely to follow in his teammates footsteps. After an injury on a kickoff return in the Rose Bowl put a scare into Trojans' hearts and NFL scouts, Jackson will realize that he is one freak injury away from costing himself, and his family, millions of dollars.

His draft stock is high entering the 2017 NFL season and likely can only drop from here. We know it will be tough to walk away from his coaches and teammates at USC, but it's wise for Jackson to go pro.

If Jackson does declare for the NFL draft, the departures of both Jackson and Smith-Schuster will leave a huge void at USC next season. The Trojans have always had a "next man up" mentality, but if they want to make the leap to a championship caliber team, they will need to recruit heavily and live by their own mantra: Fight On!



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Chargers Tackle Nearly Killed by Painkiller Addiction]]>Sun, 08 Jan 2017 18:08:59 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/Shane+Olivea.JPG

In 2006 LaDainian Tomlinson had arguably the greatest offensive season by any player at any position in the history of the National Football League. It was certainly the best year by a running back.

L.T. had 2323 scrimmage yards and 31 touchdowns, the pinnacle of what will soon become a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. Tomlinson did that running behind one of the best offensive lines in Chargers history. Many of those names are well-known to Bolts fans.

Nick Hardwick, the Pro Bowl center, is now a staple in the San Diego media. To his left were Kris Dielman and Marcus McNeill, both still fan favorites. To his right was Mike Goff, who was a long-time contributor to NBC 7’s Football Night in San Diego and a coach at Hilltop High School.

But the right tackle is often overlooked. Perhaps it’s because he simply disappeared, suddenly falling off the NFL radar. Recently that man resurfaced, and oh does Shane Olivea have a cautionary tale to tell.

In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Olivea revealed his NFL career ended because of an addiction to painkillers. Olivea was a 7th-round pick out of Ohio State in 2004. He ended up starting all 16 games as a rookie, but the beating of a long season took its toll on his body. He took a Vicodin, a powerful opiod, and says he was hooked.

“There wasn’t one day in the NFL I wasn’t high on a pill after my rookie year,” Olivea told the Dispatch. “At my height on Vicodin, I would take 125 a day. It got to the point I would take a pile of 15 Vicodin and would have to take them with chocolate milk. If I did it with water or Gatorade, I’d throw it up.”

Olivea says he eventually moved on to Oxycontin and would play NFL games under its influence. He would head to Mexico to buy the drugs, estimating he spent more than half of a million dollars on them.

But he stayed on the field, missing just one game his second season and playing well enough for the Chargers to reward him with a $20 million contract extension.

He would play just 29 more NFL games.

Olivea told the Dispatch his mother eventually staged an intervention. When doctors did blood tests they were shocked the man was still alive. Olivea enrolled at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage and has been clean and sober for more than eight years. In 2015 he re-enrolled at Ohio State and in December of 2016 earned his degree in Sport Industry, honoring a request his mom made.

He’s now entertaining the idea of coaching. Shane says he not only has the ability to teach kids how to be successful football players, but he might be able to pay forward the life-saving advice he received nearly a decade ago.

“If you got it, you can spot it,” Olivea told the Dispatch. “I can spot an addict in a public setting. I know the behavior. I know the tendencies. I know what he’s going to do. I’ll be able to notice somebody going down that slippery path and maybe catch them.”

Olivea has never coached before but says he has a few irons in the fire. He’s now 35 years old and looking to start another career preparing others for the pitfalls of the one that nearly ended his life far too soon.

]]>
<![CDATA[Stars Forced to Make Emergency Landing ]]>Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:34:13 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/Dallas+Stars+Emergency+Landing.png

The Los Angeles Kings next opponent may not arrive in time.

Texas's lone NHL franchise, the Dallas Stars, were forced to make an emergency landing on Sunday evening after their plane filled up with smoke shortly after takeoff. 

The team was heading from St. Louis—where they suffered a 4-3 loss to the Blues—to Los Angeles where they will play the Kings on Monday night at Staples Center.

According to multiple reports, minutes after the plane took off, smoke started to fill the cockpit, and the pilots were forced to land the plan back in St. Louis.

Some of the players did not notice the smoke, and continued to ear their in-flight meals. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the issue was electrical: 

"St. Louis Downtown Airport Fire Department Chief Mike Mavrogeorge said the smoke might have been caused by an electrical issue, but there was no fire. The fire department shut off the electricity to the plan. Maintenance crews were inspecting the plane while another was on the way to take the Stars to Los Angeles in time for Monday's game.

The team tucked into a lunch they were supposed to eat on the plane while they waited in the Jet Aviation terminal. Stars spokesman Ben Fromstein said the team didn't notice any smoke in the cabin. 'Everybody is safe and that's all that matters,' he said." 

The Stars Twitter account did eventually tweet out that the team did board another flight and was en route to Los Angeles.

Sounds like the Stars will be on the ice for their Western Conference showdown with the Kings that has plenty of playoff implications.

If the NHL Playoffs started today, the Kings would secure the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The Stars suddenly find themselves on the outside looking in, as they sit just four points back of L.A. The two teams are set to faceoff at 7:30PM 



Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Hit Halfway Point...Playoffs?]]>Mon, 09 Jan 2017 11:48:56 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Lakers-2016-17-season-playoffs.jpg

Entering 2017, the Los Angeles Lakers looked like a dead body strapped to a slap of concrete sinking to the bottom of the Western Conference. The Lakers were on the tail end of a stretch that saw the purple and gold lose 15 of 17 games and fall from a promising playoff contender playing with energy to a lifeless team looking like it could finish with a top three draft pick for the third year in a row.

Then, a new year brought about new hope.

Three wins in four games, including three wins in a row at home saw the Lakers suddenly climb back into the playoff picture. Waking up on Monday morning, Lakers coach Luke Walton can check the standings and see that his team of young, blooming talent is only two games out of the final playoff spot with half a season to play.

When NBCLA approached the coach and told him that Sunday night marked the halfway point in the season, he responded, "Really? That was fast."

Upon being reminded that his team started 10-10 before losing 15 of 17 games and now recording three wins in its last four contests, the coach used his arms to mimic the motion of a roller coaster.

The 2016-17 season has been a roller coaster for the Lakers, but the Lakers could yet get off the ride smiling, rather than feeling sick to their stomachs. After beating the Miami Heat by 27 points and beating the Orlando Magic by 16 points, LA has seemingly rebounded from a dreadful December where injuries and a tough schedule took their toll on a young ball club. December featured 16 games over 31 days, 10 of which were on the road. However, LA seemed to have turned a corner, broken the shackles of its sinking body bag and given itself a chance to get to the surface in time to catch an all-important breath..

Following the recent performances, LA looks like it's finally gaining its sea legs with its collection of young talent leading the way. Lottery picks Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram have played vital roles in the revitalized Lakers' rebirth.

"There's been a real change in the way they're preparing as far as how hard they're playing in practice, the accountability they're taking when they're making mistaking, the constant staying after and getting shots up whether it's shootaround or practice," Walton spoke about Russell and Randle following Sunday's victory over the Orlando Magic.

Walton added, "They've really stepped up their professionalism as far as [how] they're treating their bodies and approaching practice at every opportunity."

According to the coach, Russell has "re-committed" himself in the weight room, and the 36-year-old maestro spoke about how the process of improvement has been gradual.

Russell missed 12 games due to injury, which coincided with the Lakers losing their way. Slowly, the point guard has re-assumed his role as a leader on the court. Since the start of the month, Russell is averaging 20.8 points, 5.0 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game while only turning the ball over 1.4 times per game. In addition, the 20-year-old is shooting 39.5 percent from beyond the three-point line on a sizable 7.6 attempts per game. If anything, Russell could do with spending more time shooting over smaller defenders in the post, but the former Ohio State Buckeye has quickly become a dead-eye long range shooter for LA.

Likewise, Randle has turned into a monster that fills the box score in a manner reminiscent of versatile forward Lamar Odom. Randle, who became one of only six players with multiple triple-doubles in the NBA during the 2016-17 season, is averaging 17.0 points 9.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.4 steals with only 1.6 turnovers per game. To illustrate how difficult it is to record a triple-double, Randle has more triple-doubles than Chris Paul, Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant and is only one statistical blockbuster game shy of LeBron James.

As starters and finishers, Russell and Randle have been playing at All-Star levels in 2017, though neither expects to earn a spot in February's showcase exhibition game due to the Lakers' December woes.

Following Sunday's game, the Lakers look healthy again, with Larry Nance Jr. the only injured body, though the backup forward expects to return within the next couple weeks. On Sunday, Nance told NBCLA he was confident that he would beat his initial four week recovery timeline and stated he was already on the court shooting.

As the Lakers have gained health over the previous month, Ingram has returned to his familiar bench role with greater consistency while continuing to experience valuable minutes at the end of games.

"We're big fans of what he can do on the basketball court," Walton said when the topic turned to Ingram on Sunday night.

While the 19-year-old has been an asset defensively and on the boards throughout the season, Ingram has scored in double-figures in each of his last three games, which equals the number of times he crossed that threshold during the entire month of December. Over those three games, Ingram has made 15 of his 24 field goal attempts, which calculates to an eye-popping 62.5 percent from the field for the lanky, gliding forward. In addition, the North Carolina native has made 44.4 percent of his three pointers in his last three games, which signals that the former Duke Blue Devil may have broken through the fabled rookie wall.

"I keep thinking he's going to hit a rookie wall, and I thought he even did earlier in the season, so maybe he even hit it and pushed through, but he looks great. He really does." Walton continued gushing over the no. 2 over all pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. "A lot of times, you can physically see when a rookie hits that wall. They can't even keep their eyes open in film sessions."

Walton added, "He's alert. He's in there early. He wants more every time I talk to him. He wants that responsibility."

When NBCLA.com caught up with the rookie following Sunday's game, he pointed to the help provided by the coaching staff and veterans on the roster in helping him adjust over the first half of the season. When asked if anything has been different recently, Ingram admitted that he's been "more locked in" and pointed to the "repetition" and consistency of practice finally translating to the games.

Along with the trio of lottery picks, the Lakers have also been getting valuable minutes from veterans like Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov recently. Both free agent acquisitions have been criticized for their hefty price tags, but the two new faces have seemingly adjusted to their new roles under their new coach. Likewise, Jordan Clarkson seems to have found a fighting spirit, literally and figuratively, off the bench in recent games.

"I think it's the whole team, whether they got sick of losing or whatever it was, but the whole team has really brought it, kind of like we got after it in training camp, the last weeks in practice," Walton said regarding the recent change in play and results.

Forty-one games into an 82-game season, the Lakers have been on a roller coaster ride, but halfway through the ride, this team looks far more like the team that started 10-10 than the team that lost 15 of 17 games in the middle. If the purple and gold can stay healthy for the second half of the season, this team looks far more likely to rise to the surface than to sink to the bottom of the Western Conference. Also, a friendly home schedule to end the season offers all the makings of a storybook Hollywood ending (Don't say we didn't warn you back in November).

Can the Lakers make the postseason?

Most certainly, the NBA playoffs are back in play for the LA Lakers, and a win on Tuesday at home over the Portland Trail Blazers could bring the Lakers within one game of that final Western Conference playoff berth. Of course, the second half of the roller coaster NBA season promises more ups and downs, but on the whole, the Lakers look to be on the up and up and their young players seem to be trending upwards.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Magic, Win Third Straight at Home]]>Mon, 09 Jan 2017 04:42:21 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Julius-Randle-Lakers-Magic-1-8-17.jpg

After only winning twice for the entire month of December, the Los Angeles Lakers collected their third win of January after only eight days of the New Year, beating the Orlando Magic 111-95.

With the victory, the Lakers suddenly and miraculously found themselves squarely back in the playoff chase. After Sunday's victory, the Lakers were only 2.0 games back of the eigth and final playoff spot.

Sunday's game against the Orlando Magic also provided a great deal of confidence in the team having finally passed a sour patch in the season that saw the team go from being being 10-10 in late November before losing 15 of the next 17 games.

Along with the return to health of D'Angelo Russell and Nick Young, the recent resurgance has been fueled by the improved play of rookie Brandon Ingram and the increased activity of forward Julius Randle. 

Randle, who recorded his second triple-double of the season to give the Lakers' their first win of 2017, is averaging 16.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists to start the New Year. On Sunday, Randle finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Ingram, who is a 19-year-old that constantly draws comparisons with Kevin Durant for his physical stature, has scored in double figures in three straight games. To put that improvement in perspective, the former Duke Blue Devil only had three games where he scored in double figures in all of December.  Against the Magic, Ingram scored 17 points on 6/9 shooting from the field, meaning was shooting 62.5 percent and 44.4 percent from beyond the three-point arc over his previous three games.

LA improved to 15-26 on the season with the victory.

In addition, the Lakers also expect injured forward Larry Nance Jr. back from a bone bruise in his knee within the next two weeks, and the 24-year-old's return would return the Lakers' roster to full health.

Next, the Lakers host the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, Jan. 10.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clarkson Ejected in Wild Night at Staples Center]]>Sat, 07 Jan 2017 02:56:52 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-ejected-Lakers-Heat.jpg

In a bizarre Friday night game that saw two players ejected, Luol Deng recorded a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds and led the Lakers to a convincing, 127-100, victory over his former team, the Miami Heat, at Staples Center, while veteran forward Metta World Peace somehow ended up as the star of the game by committing three fouls in the final 2:12 of the game.

LA won for the second straight home game and for the second time in three games overall on a night when the offense seemed to be working with fluidity. Not coincidentally, six different Lakers scored in double-figures for the second straight home game, and the Lakers scored their season high in points with 127.

Lou Williams led LA in scoring on the night with 24 points, but World Peace drew the loudest ovations of the night when he checked in late in the contest. World Peace's entrance into the game signaled the end of the contest in a literal sense but elevated the atmosphere inside Staples Center.

Due to contractual terms, there is a possibility that had World Peace appeared in his last game on Friday night due an impending deadline arriving on Saturday for non-guaranteed contracts, and if that is to be the case, the crowd didn't seem to hide their love for the 37-year-old. Every time World Peace committed a foul, the crowd went nuts. When he attempted a shot that went in-n-out, every one in attendance seemingly let out a loud sigh in unison.

The end of the game offered a playoff atmosphere from the crowd despite the fact that the Lakers finished with a 27-point victory, and that engagement had more to do with World Peace than anything else.

"My recommendation is to keep him with us, obviously," Lakers coach Luke Walton said when asked about the impending decision on World Peace. "I want the guy around my players. He's a professional. I think it's more beneficial when actually in practice and in the trenches with them, but he's someone that helps the team, just being around."

The other memorable moment in the game came from a scuffle that broke out in the third quarter between Jordan Clarkson and Goran Dragic. Seemingly, the two guards exchanged back and forth minor physical actions before it blew up into Clarkson pushing Dragic with a forearm.

From there, both team had to be separated. Julius Randle and James Johnson seemingly also had to be separated, with the latter receiving a technical foul for his actions in the aftermath.

"It's the heat of the game," Clarkson explained the action, though he expressed concern over possibly missing Sunday's game due to the incident.

The Lakers' guard added, "That's my first ejection."

Lost in all the madness of World Peace and Clarkson and Dragic fighting, Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram put together one of his better games of the season. The 19-year-old tied a career-high with 17 points on 6-9 shooting from the field to go along with four assists and six rebounds. The former Duke Blue Devil has now scored in double figures in back-to-back games.

Between the fighting, the festive atmosphere and a high point for a first-year Laker, Staples Center offered a fun Friday night.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Angels Pitcher 'Read' Over 2,000 Books in 2016]]>Thu, 05 Jan 2017 21:49:27 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/ChuckFinley.png

Baseball is good, books are better.

Former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher, Chuck Finley, had a long and prolific career on the mound, but his next chapter in life could be in the library.

Over the span of a 17-year MLB career, the left-hander was a five-time All Star, had a 3.85 ERA and recorded 2,610 career strikeouts. He apparently also read 2,361 books last year.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, a person by the name of "Chuck Finley" checked out over 2,000 books during a nine-month period in 2016 at the East Lake County library in Sorrento, FL.

Among the list of books that the former southpaw reportedly "read," was "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck and "Why Do My Ears Pop?" by Ann Fullick.

Nobody knew Finley was such a bookworm, but the only problem to this story, is it's a complete farce. Finley currently resides in Newport Beach, CA and the account in his name was created by the library's staff in order to keep books from going into extinction.

The Sentinel reports that two employees who work at the library created the fake account including attaching a fake address and driver's license number in order to keep books on their shelves. 

The farce is currently being investigated by the Lake County clerk of courts' inspector general's office, and the employees in question, including George Dore, the library's branch supervisor, admitted to using the former baseball player's name in order to "save" books, something he says other libararies across the country do as well. 

According to the staff, books that are not checked out for long periods of time, are sometimes discarded and removed from the library. In order to keep these books on the shelves, they created a "reader" after former pitcher, Chuck Finley, who would check them out and bring them back, therefore guaranteeing the books stay in circulation and on the shelves.

We have yet to reach out to Finley himself to see what he thinks of the whole thing, but we're confident he would encourage people to read, even if it is about the history of the Angels.



Photo Credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blazers Comeback From 14 Down, Beat Lakers]]>Thu, 05 Jan 2017 22:29:36 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Brandon-Ingram-Lakers-vs-Blazers.jpg

On Thursday night in Portland, C.J. McCollom and Damian Lillard led the Portland Trail Blazers to a 118-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers despite the home team trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half.

Initially, the Lakers came out flat and immediately fell behind 6-0 but immediately battled back to only trail by five points after 12 minutes. Since it was a nationally televised game on TNT, Walton provided the network with a short interview in between the first and second quarters where he pointedly criticized his team for not following the defensive plan and getting caught cheating under screens, rather than fighting over them.

Seemingly, Walton's players heard the message loud and clear.

The second quarter featured some of the Lakers' best basketball of the season, particularly on the defensive end. LA put together a 13-0 run at the start of the second quarter and quickly erased the Blazers' advantage. As the quarter progressed, LA found its offensive rhythm to go along with its defensive fortitude.

Rookie Brandon Ingram, who earned the start in place of injured forward Luol Deng, found his shooting range and hit two of his three shots from beyond the arc to reach 10 points for the half. LA led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter and entered the halftime break leading by nine points. LA had outscored Portland by 14 points.

At the start of the third quarter, though, the Blazers came to life, and the Lakers looked, well, dead.

The nine-point lead evaporated in the blink of an eye. Portland started the third quarter with a 13-4 run and tied the game at 66-66. A back and forth stretch of play eventually witnessed the Blazers tasting their first lead of the second half at 79-78 with 2:11 remaining in the third quarter.

The Blazers led by as many as three points in the third quarter before Randle began to bulldoze his way to the rim and plowed the game to an 84-84 score line with 12 minutes remaining. The Lakers' dynamic forward was coming off a triple-double game a couple nights earlier and finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes on Thursday.

In the fourth quarter, Randle and D'Angelo Russell took the initiative and put the visiting Lakers in position to steal a road game. With 4:20 to play, the Lakers trailed by only one point: 104-103. And then, the offense suddenly stalled for the Lakers and kept on blazing for Portland. With a minute remaining in the game, the Lakers trailed the Blazers 114-106. Effectively, the Lakers had lost the game on poor shot selection down the stretch.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Lakers lost for the 26th time in 39 games by a final count of 118-109.

Notes: McCollom led all scorers with 27 points and also tabbled seven assists and five rebounds. Lillard scored 21 points in his first game back from injury and led all players with 10 assists on the night. Evan Turner played vital minutes off the Blazers' bench and scored 20 points in the victory. Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers' bench with 21 points on 8-14 shooting from the field. Russell led the Lakers with 22 points on the night.

Next: The Lakers host the Miami Heat on Friday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Doc Rivers Implements New Policy For Technical Fouls]]>Wed, 04 Jan 2017 23:45:19 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/Doc+Rivers+no+more+techs.png

New year, new culture in the Los Angeles Clippers locker room. 

The Clippers are currently third in the NBA with 32 technical fouls this season and are consistently among the leaders in the league when it comes to techs, year after year.

The teams' players are among the league leaders in technical fouls as DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers are fifth and sixth in the NBA with 8 and 7 respectively.

In fact, that number could be a lot higher if Blake Griffin and Chris Paul hadn't gotten hurt, perennial leaders in technical fouls year after year.

The lack of discipline all starts at the top as their head coach, Doc Rivers, has been ejected three times already this season, and has more technical fouls than any player on the team.

On Wednesday, before the team's game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Rivers finally put his foot down and announced a new team policy with the hopes of limiting technical fouls.

"I had a long talk with the team today," Rivers began. "I told them after a day and a half off and watching literally every tech that the team has gotten this year, including me, I told them that that doesn't represent us and I made a pledge to them.

"Number one, I've been thrown out of three games this year. I told them that is not me and that is not going to happen again and that I have to be the leader of this team. My actions have to go first.

"One of my things that I start his year, was that I told them that I would do the fighting and they would do the playing, and after wathcing that, that doesn't work because they are still doing the fighting and I'm going the fighting.

"So, we are reversing it now. Now, I am holding everyone accountable, including me, if anyone gets a technical foul."

Rivers announced that he's partnering with the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) in the Los Angeles area as a new way to encourage the team to stop complaining to the refs.

"I told them from now on, every technical foul that I get, that's where my money will go, and it's retroactive. So, all of the money that I have been fined is going to them now and any technical foul after that is going to them. Any technical foul the players get, I want them to find their group and give it to an organization."

The message seemed to resonate with his team as the Clippers did not pick up a technical foul in the game, a 115-106, victory over the Grizzlies, as the team improved to 2-0 in 2017.

"It's extremely tough," Clippers' center DeAndre Jordan said about holding back his emotions during the heat of the moment in the game. "We have to do a better job. From myself, to Chris [Paul], to Blake [Griffin], Doc [Rivers], all of us. We have to let stuff go and just play."

"I didn't get no techs before I came here," interjected Austin Rivers. "I didn't even know I had that many techs. For the rest of the year, I'm not going to get anymore. We cleared that up. I'm done."

The VIP's mission is to protect and treat all victims of family violence and sexual assault. They offer care and service to both children and adults who have been physically or sexually abused and focus mainly on the mental health aspect of recovery.

"We are better than that," finished Doc. "We have to do a better job."



Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Claw Back to Beat Grizzlies]]>Wed, 04 Jan 2017 23:44:05 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/AP_17005199347565.jpg

Austin Rivers had a game-high 28 points and the Los Angeles Clippers clawed back to beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 115-106, on Wednesday night at Staples Center. 

"It's a huge win," said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers after the game. "When you play that team and they have their horses. It's always a good win."

Rivers played 44 out of a possible 48 minutes and also led the team in assists with seven. Jamal Crawford scored 22 points for the Clippers off the bench. 

"We couldn't take him out," Rivers said about his son's minutes. "Usually I bring in Jamal [Crawford] for Austin in the third quarter, but he was rolling at that time and we needed points. I didn't even notice he played that many minutes until after the game. He's the 24-year-old out there. So we let him play."

DeAndre Jordan just missed a 20-20 game, finishing with 18 points and 20 rebounds. Jordan leads the NBA with five 20+ rebound games this season and tied Shaquille O'Neal with 35 in his career. 

Jordan is also the second active player (behind Dwight Howards's 72) in 20+ rebounds games.

Marc Gasol had 23 points for Memphis in a losing efforts as the Grizzles get swept by both L.A. based basketball teams on back-to-back nights. 

"We didn't get any stops at the end of the game," said Gasol. "It's going to be hard for us to win. When you are playing teams that attack a certain way, especially on pick-and-rolls and from the top of the floor, we all have to be on the same page."

The Clippers trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half, but Rivers caught fire in the third quarter, with nine points and five assists as L.A. outscored the Grizz, 36-22, in the period.

They would never trail again, completing the comeback and notching back-to-back victories since snapping a six-game losing streak on Monday against the Phoenix Suns.

Clippers superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin did not play in the game, but Paul was active and in uniform. He is expected to suit up on Friday against the Sacramento Kings.

"If you take the two best players off of each team, let's see what happens," Doc said about his team's recent stretch without their stars. This group keeps fighting. The bench is saving us."



Photo Credit: AP/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[Adoree' Jackson Opens Up About Future at USC]]>Wed, 04 Jan 2017 21:10:09 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Adoree+Jackson+Rose+Bowl.png

Adoree' Jackson is loving life.

The junior cornerback capped off a sensational season at USC as a Jim Thorpe Award winner for the country's best cover man, set records as a return specialist, and limped off the field a Rose Bowl Champion.

The question on everyone's mind now is what's next for the All-American?

Does the three-way player make the leap to the NFL next season? Or will he return to the Trojans for his senior season and compete for a Hesiman Trophy and perhaps a National Championship?

As we learned from speaking with the college football standout less than an hour after his Trojans finished one of the most dramatic comebacks in Rose Bowl Game history by rallying to defeat the Penn State Nittany Lions, 52-49, what Adoree' knows, is quite different from what he's telling you.

NBC LA: Adoree', first of all congratulations on the victory. Where does this game rank for you in your career?

Jackson: This is number one. It's the Rose Bowl and the seniors went off on a great note. I love my boys. They came back. There was never any doubt in my mind. I knew what they were capable of and they were victorious.

Was this the best Rose Bowl game of all-time?

AJ: They say the Rose Bowl game in 2006 was the greatest Rose Bowl game ever because it was a national championship game. I said, 'if we win this, it will be the greatest one ever.' I think this is the greatest one ever for us, because we've been through so much and this could be a turning point for us.

Why was Penn State's offense so difficult to stop?

AJ: That damn quarterback, man. He was scramblin' and ramblin'. We were in great coverage, but that scramble drill, they would just take off running around and they ended up getting a couple touchdown passes and some big gains on third down because we couldn't get the quarterback down. Credit to them and the receivers. The running back had a hell of a game. That receiver, Godwin, he did his thing, he had a hell of a game, when his opportunity came he took it. He's a hell of a receiver. He's a stud.

What was going through your head when Penn State scored touchdowns on three straight plays to start the second half?

AJ: That was crazy! They scored two times in 20 seconds. I was like 'Damn, how's that possible?' Their running back [Saquon Barkley] he was just freaky, he went this way, and that way, and then back this way and that way. He made a couple players miss and then took it to the house.

Then that play with the receiver. He had a lot of concentration. Great coverage, great play on the ball, just didn't bat it down, he batted it up, the receiver caught it, turned around and went the other way. For us to come back from that it was just about rallying. I was thinking 'This is not us,' we knew they were hot and rolling, but we knew how hot we could get. It came late, but like I always say, better late than never.

This game must have been an emotional roller coaster for you and your teammates is that what poured over after the clock reached zero?

AJ: We've been through a lot. There was a lot of different coaching changes. There were tears of joy because the wait is finally over. We wanted to get to this point, we knew we could and we're thankful.

What were you feeling when Matt Boermeester kicked that last field goal as time expired?

AJ:  As soon as the ball went up I just took off running, well, I wasn't running I was hopping.

On replay, it looked like you seriously hurt your knee or ankle in the fourth quarter. How are you feeling and how serious was it?

AJ: I was trying to get freaky and go back to the house. I thought I was. I said 'I'm about to break this tackle,' but my foot got stuck and I rolled my ankle. Other than that, I'm good. I'm alive, I'm walking, I feel like I'm alright. 

We saw you running on it on the sidelines, did you try and go back in the game?

AJ: I tested it out to see what I could do. I was feeling fine, but they taped it, and once they taped it, my adrenaline was gone, so I couldn't go any more. I was mad, but we came and got a victory.

Does anything ever surprise you about Sam Darnold? 

AJ: He wows me all the time. I look at him like, 'Don't do that,' than he does that and I'm like 'Yeah, do that! Do your thing.' He impresses me in those ways.

Adoree' when are you going to make a decision on your future?

AJ: I'm gonna celebrate for about a week. I'm gonna go out tonight, I don't go out ever, so I'm going to go out and have some fun with my boys. Then I'll keep my ankle up so it gets better and I'll go from there.



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Nick Young Gyrating on the Court]]>Wed, 04 Jan 2017 17:15:50 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nick-Young-dancing-threes.png

Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young is a special character on the court with a personality that is impossible to ignore. On Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, Young added a new move to his repertoire of internet memes and viral moments: the hip thrust.

Young, who is a Michael Jackons fan, would even have the late King of Pop raising an eye brow after those oncourt moves. However, Young has good reason to be gyrating on the court.

Young continues to blaze nets from long range and now ranks sixth in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage, 44.9 percent, and is shooting 56 percent from distance over his last nine games. On Tuesday, Young hit six of his 11 attempts from beyond the arc but none more memorable that the one that had the 31-year-old dancing like no one was watching, even though he was the center of attention for 18,897 fans in attendance and many, many more watching at home or on their phones, tablets and computers.

While Young struggled to express his unique joy in recent years, the eccentric guard appears to be freed from all shakles under new coach Luke Walton. Recently, Young offered another dancing three-pointer that led to the internet proclaiming, "Live your life with the confidence of Nick Young shooting a 3."

Young, who has the ability to opt out of his current contract at the end of the season, may have another reason to be dancing with every made shot. The 31-year-old looked like he had one foot out of the NBA at the end of the 2015-16 season, but entering 2017, Young is playing arguably the best basketball of his career and could be due a big payday over the summer.

But, then again, Young may just be celebrating because that's who his is. Heck, the former USC Trojan famously even celebrated a three-pointer that didn't drop to create one of the most entertaining NBA clips in recent history.

Never change, Nick.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Sweep Rival Sharks in Different Years]]>Tue, 03 Jan 2017 22:09:28 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/Tanner+Pearson+wins+it+for+Kings.png

The Los Angeles Kings completed a quick home-and-home series sweep against the rival San Jose Sharks with a 3-2 victory on New Years Eve at Staples Center and a 2-1 victory on Tuesday at the SAP Center.

Pearson scored 58 seconds into overtime to help the Los Angeles Kings rally from a one-goal third period deficit in order to complete the sweep.

The Kings first win came last Saturday night at Staples Center in the year 2016 when they recorded their first win of the season over the Sharks as it was once gain Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter who scored. 

Carter, who assisted on the game-winning goal, tied it early in the third with his 21st goal and then set up the winner after San Jose lost possession in the offensive zone.

Carter came in on a 2-on-1 and passed to Pearson for the one-timer that gave the Kings their league-leading seventh overtime win of the season, and first victory of the 2017 new year.

Peter Budaj made 26 saves and Los Angeles followed up a 3-2 win at home over first-place San Jose on Saturday night with another on the road to even the season series at two games apiece.

Logan Couture scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who lost for just the second time all season when leading after two periods. Martin Jones made 33 saves.

Trailing 1-0, the Kings tied the game early in the third with a power-play goal by Carter. With Justin Braun in the box, Jake Muzzin fired a pass from the point that Carter re-directed past Jones for his seventh goal in the past seven games.

Each team had chances after that, but San Jose's Brenden Dillon and Los Angeles' Nic Dowd hit posts and the goalies came up with key stops, including a point-blank save by Jones against Jordan Nolan late in the third.

Los Angeles was all over the Sharks at the start but was unable to break through against Jones despite a 16-6 edge in shots in the first period. San Jose steadied things in the second period and ended up getting the lead.

Kevin Labanc fed Couture with a nice pass in the neutral zone and Couture skated toward the net with the puck. He fired a wrist shot that Budaj partially stopped, but the puck trickled under his arm and rolled in for Couture's fourth goal of the season against Los Angeles.

The Kings nearly tied it a few minutes later when they got a power play on a holding penalty by Brent Burns. Alec Martinez took a point shot that Jones stopped. The rebound popped into the air and was knocked in for an apparent goal by Marian Gaborik. But it was wiped off after replays showed that the puck was hit by Gaborik's glove.

Los Angeles had another good chance late in the period but Anze Kopitar was stopped on a short-handed breakaway by Jones in the closing seconds of the period to keep the game at 1-0.

UP NEXT

Kings: Open seven-game homestand against Detroit on Thursday night.

Sharks: Host Minnesota on Thursday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ben Margot]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Maul Grizzlies, Randle Gets Triple-Double]]>Wed, 04 Jan 2017 04:45:51 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Julius-Randle-vs-Grizzlies.png

On Tuesday night at Staples Center, Julius Randle recorded a triple-double, as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 116-102. Randle finished with an impressive stat line: 19 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

In the first quarter, the Lakers took an early 8-0 lead, but when the Grizzlies charged back to take an 11-10 advantage, LA looked to be in a dogfight. Leading 22-20 after one quarter, the Grizzlies looked set for a low-scoring contest and anything but what would occur over the next couple of quarters.

In the second quarter, Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell set forth on taking the game over from beyond the three-point arc. Young and Russell each scored 15 points in the first half, as the Lakers’ starting backcourt combined to shoot 10-16 from beyond the arc.

LA led by nine points entering the locker room, as the Lakers’ starters had 48 of the team’s 57 points in the half.

In the third quarter, the Young and Russell hit another couple of three-pointers and the ball continued to move. LA had already tied a season high with 16 long-range makes, and Young and Russell accounted for 12 of those. However, Randle took over the contest with six points, five assists and four rebounds in nine and a half minutes of third quarter play.

Suddenly, a manageable lead turned into a healthy lead that looked like it could carry LA to victory. However, the Grizzlies cut the 17-point deficit to 14 points entering the final 12 minutes.

In the fourth quarter, the Lakers kept the Grizzlies at bay and Randle eventually got the one assist required to complete his third career triple-double. Six different Lakers finished scoring in double figures, and the Lakers finished with 34 assists on 42 made field goals.

For a night, at least, the Lakers again looked like the team that started the year 10-10 before falling off a cliff. They moved the ball, they played with energy and they beat a team they had no business beating.

Next, the Lakers play in Portland on Thursday.

Notes: With the win, the Lakers moved up to 12-25 on the season. The Grizzlies fell to 22-15. LA made 17



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Host Grizzlies on Tuesday]]>Tue, 03 Jan 2017 15:19:58 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Grizzlies-1-3-17.jpg

On Tuesday, the Memphis Grizzlies enter Staples Center on a run of four wins in their last six games. The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, have only won four of their last 20 games. In fact, the Lakers have lost 15 of their last 17 and have fallen off a cliff since a 10-10 start to the season.

Nearly half the season is complete, and the Lakers currently sit half a game out of last place in the Western Conference, and LA has lost to all three teams currently below them in the standings: Phoenix; Minnesota; Dallas (twice).

However, the eighth seed in the Western Conference is a crap-shoot, so the Lakers could yet squeeze into that spot if the team returns to playing the .500 basketball that the Lakers started the season with. As of Tuesday, the Lakers only trailed the eighth seed by 4.0 games. At 14-19, the Sacramento Kings currently hold the eighth seed, which seems to signal that a losing record will be good enough to qualify for the Western Conference playoffs.

While injuries and missing players served as an excuse for the Lakers to drop out of the postseason picture, extended stretches without Zach Randolph and Mike Conley Jr. didn't derail the Grizzlies' season.

Memphis enters Tuesday's game with a 22-14 record and sits only half a game out of the no. 4 seed. A win against the Lakers would put the Grizzlies in a tie with the LA Clippers, who the Grizzlies face on Wednesday at Staples Center.

Since returning from injury nine games earlier, Conley has appeared in seven games and averaged 16.1 points and 4.9 assists in 28.7 minutes per game. Randolph has been back in the team for nearly a month, and the 35-year-old bruiser is averaging 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game.

Marc Gasol remains a steady rock for the Grizzlies, as the Spaniard is averaging 19.5 points, 4.1 assists, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 33.5 minutes per game. Gasol has taken to shooting three-pointers, which is a new trend for big men in the NBA, but the former Defensive Player of the Year is shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc with 3.5 attempts per game. That makes Gasol, who was originally drafted by the Lakers and then traded to Memphis for his brother Pau Gasol, 20th in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage.

Lakers guard Nick Young, who is shooting 44.3 percent from distance on the season, is the only member of the home team that ranks higher than Gasol in three-point shooting for qualified players. Jose Calderon does not qualify for the league leaders but shoots 41.7 percent from distance.  Young has been on a tear from beyond the arc, and his 36 made three-pointers over the previous eight games is the most by any player in the history of the Lakers' franchise. Young shot 56.3 percent from beyond the arc during that stretch.

While the Grizzlies are known from playing bigger lineups that clog up the paint, the Lakers have been experimenting with the paint filling combo of Tarik Black and Thomas Robinson. The duo combined for 18 rebounds and 21 points off the bench against the Toronto Raptors, including eight offensive rebounds.

Lakers coach Luke Walton explained that Robinson's positive play while Black sat out with an ankle injury made it difficult to simply bench the 25-year-old former lottery pick. So, the solution involved playing both players in tandem, which was partly facilitated by Lakers power forward Larry Nance Jr. missing time due to a bone bruise in his knee. The experiment seemed to provide positive returns in the first half, at least.

Walton also revealed the Black's ankle required re-taping at halftime, so the backup center is far from 100 percent healthy. Black, though, seemed confident that he would be able to play on Tuesday in the aftermath of Sunday's loss to the Toronto Raptors.

"Am I supposed to sound any other way? That's my question," Black told NBCLA.com, with his foot shin deep in an ice bucket. "I wouldn't sit here and tell you guys, 'No, I think I'm going to be hurt.' How's that sound coming from a player? I'm going to stay on top of it."

Considering the bruising, physical style of Randolph, the Lakers could do with having Black available to play minutes. Officially, the center is listed as "probable" to play on Tuesday night.

The Lakers and Grizzlies tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Relive The 103rd Rose Bowl ]]>Mon, 02 Jan 2017 23:31:49 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/184*120/Screen+Shot+2017-01-02+at+11.09.54+PM.pngThe best images from the 103rd Rose Bowl Game as the USC Trojans defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions, 52-49.

Photo Credit: Tournament of Roses - Pool/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trojans Complete Fairy Tale Comeback Over Penn State ]]>Tue, 03 Jan 2017 22:11:06 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-630816810.jpg

The 'Grandaddy of Them All' lived up to the hype.

In 2006, Texas Longhorns quarterback Vince Young ran into the end zone on fourth down to stun USC and complete one of the most dramatic comebacks in Rose Bowl history.

Eleven years later, the Trojans got vindication.

Matt Boermeester kicked a 46-yard field goal as time expired and the USC Trojans shocked the Penn State Nittany Lions, 52-49, in what may go down as the greatest Rose Bowl Game in history.

It was certainly the highest scoring.

The two teams entered the game on a combined 17-game winning streak, and scored 101 total points — a Rose Bowl record — shattering the previous mark of 83 set by Oregon and Wisconsin in 2012.

It was a dark and ominous sky to start the game as the anxiety of the fans, both the ones who traveled from Pennsylvania, and the ones who drove up the 210 Freeway, hung over the historic stadium like an impenetrable cloud. 

Maybe it was the fact that the first ever game played at this stadium was the 1923 Rose Bowl by both teams, which gave off an aura that we were in for an instant classic. 

Junior Trace McSorley started the game with an interception on each of his first two pass attempts and before the Goodyear blimp even got to Pasadena, the Trojans were out to an early 13-0, first quarter lead. 

"Early on, I thought he struggled a little bit," Penn State head coach James Franklin said of his quarterback. "We turned the ball over too much. You can't turn the ball over against good opponents and have a chance to win."

McSorley would settle in, and like a heavyweight fight, both teams took turns exchanging knockout blows as they combined to score touchdowns on five straight possessions to end the first half as the Trojans took a 27-21 lead into the locker room.

"We hate first halves. We've hated them all year long," said Franklin at halftime. "We've got to continue to get our playmakers the ball."

They did.

The Nittany Lions opened up the second half by putting together a human highlight reel, featuring two of their biggest offensive superstars.

First, it was Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Saquon Barkley, who took Penn State's first snap of the second half all the way to the house, breaking ankles along the way, as he scampered for a 79-yard touchdown run, the longest run from scrimmage USC allowed all season.

"Coach told me someone's got to come up and make a play, and I took that personally," Barkley said of his amazing run. "The O-line blocked it perfectly and got me one-on-one with a guy and I was able to make him miss." 

Minutes later, it was the Lions leading receiver, Chris Godwin, who made a jaw-dropping, juggling catch that led to a 72-yard touchdown, also the longest reception allowed by USC all season.

"Godwin's made plays all year long," added Franklin "He reached back behind him and made an unbelievable catch, the bobble for the touchdown. He's a special player, there's no doubt about that."

After an interception by freshman quarterback Sam Darnold, placed the ball on the USC three-yard line, Penn State struck again on a quarterback keeper by McSorley and Penn State had scored an inconceivable three touchdowns on three plays in less than three minutes to take a commanding, 42-27 lead.

All said and done, Penn State scored 28 points in the third quarter, and recorded touchdowns on an unconscious seven straight possessions as their reputation as a second half team was on full display.

The Trojans had awoken a sleeping giant and it would take a long, 10-play touchdown drive from Darnold to receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for USC to finally stop the bleeding and get back in the game.

With the mellowing hand of time slowly ticking away, the Trojans found themselves down 49-35 with 8:15 left to play in the game, and a deflated Cardinal and Gold crowd left holding their collective breaths. 

But the Trojans weren't done with this extravagant and entertaining edition of the 103rd Rose Bowl. Personifying the school's mantra of "Fight On," USC scored back-to-back touchdowns to tie the game with 1:20 left on the clock.

"These kids that I've had the honor to coach, they are the definition of 'fight on'," said USC head coach Clay Helton. "This game kind of just signified what our whole season has been, about never quit, keep competing and good things will happen to you."

On the ensuing Penn State drive, McSorley's third down pass was intercepted near the sideline by senior Leon McQuay III and the Trojans suddenly had a chance to immortalize one of the greatest games in College Football history, a heart-stopper that will live in infamy. 

"You can't turn the ball over in that situation," said Franklin after the loss. "Obviously there was a discussion to run the ball and play for overtime. That's not really who we've been all year long."

Boermeester calmly drilled the game-winner, sending the sold-out stadium into chaos and pandemonium as players sprinted and celebrated on the field as fireworks and confetti rained down upon their beaten, but victorious bodies.

"Credit to the whole team. They're the one's who gave me that opportunity," said Boermeester. "To kick that game-winner, validates our entire season." 

As the rose pedals lay trampled on the turf, the Trojans had arisen from the ashes triumphant, while breaking multiple records in the process.

The victory was USC's record 33rd Rose Bowl trophy and it extended their winning streak to nine games, the third longest active streak in College Football. 

Darnold threw for a career-high 453 yards, and a Rose Bowl record five touchdowns.

"What ultimate game maturity this young man has as a redshirt freshman," Helton said of Darnold after the game. "I love the quiet confidence about him. You never saw his demeanor change tonight. It was an amazing game. It's what fairy tales are made of."

Sophomore Deontay Burnett finished with a career-high 13 receptions for 164 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-tying, 26-yard catch and score.

"Practice makes perfect," Burnett said of how he and Darnold were able to connect throughout the game. "It's surreal it's a dream come true." 

Penn State has nothing to hang their heads about as they were sensational through the second and third quarters. 

"These guys should have their chin held high, their chest out, because of what we've been able to accomplish this year from the beginning to the end is really the story," finished Franklin. "Tonight may have been the most exciting Rose Bowl Game ever." 

McSorley threw for 254 yards and finished with four touchdowns and three interceptions. 

Godwin put up video game numbers, hauling in nine catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Not to be outdone, Barkley rushed for 194 yards on 25 carries and two scores.

The magical seasons for both teams who were virtual mirror images of each other in 2016 comes to an end, but both programs are on the rise and could be ready to compete for National Championships for years to come.

Like the embodiment of a perfect rose, these two teams did not disappoint.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian]]>
<![CDATA[Trojans 52, Penn State 49]]>Mon, 02 Jan 2017 22:12:48 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-630814884.jpg

What a game! 

The USC Trojans came from behind late in the fourth quarter to defeat the Penn State Nittany Lions and win the 103rd annual Rose Bowl Game in an incredible fashion. 

Matt Boermeester kicked a 46-yard field goal as time expired, and No. 9 Southern California rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a spectacular 52-49 victory over No. 5 Penn State on Monday night in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl ever played.

Freshman Sam Darnold passed for 453 yards and five touchdowns while leading a jaw-dropping comeback for the Trojans (10-3), who won their ninth consecutive game and won their first Rose Bowl since 2009.

"It was a whole team effort," Darnold said. "That's the way it's been all year. We never gave up."

The Trojans were almost finished when they trailed 49-35 with nine minutes to play, but Darnold and the Trojans had something extra in one of the most entertaining chapters in the 103-game history of the Granddaddy of Them All.

Deontay Burnett, who had three TD catches, caught a tying 27-yard scoring pass from Darnold with 1:20 left to cap an 80-yard drive in 38 seconds with no timeouts available.

Leon McQuay III then intercepted a long pass by Trace McSorley and returned it 32 yards to the Penn State 33 with 27 seconds left to set up Boermeester, who missed two earlier field goals.

The junior confidently drilled the Rose Bowl winner, and he sprinted away to celebrate amid pandemonium in the packed stadium.

"It's beautiful," McQuay said. "This is a special group of guys. Oh man, this is the time to step up. This is the time to make plays."

McSorley passed for 254 yards and threw two of his four touchdown passes to Chris Godwin for the Nittany Lions (11-3), whose nine-game winning streak ended in heartbreaking fashion.

Saquon Barkley rushed for 194 yards and two TDs for the Nittany Lions (12-2), who followed up their 21-point comeback in the Big Ten title game with another ferocious rally.

With one jaw-dropping play after another from two talent-laden offenses, the teams obliterated the combined Rose Bowl scoring record in the third quarter, surpassing Oregon's 45-38 victory over Wisconsin in the 2012 game.

The Nittany Lions' offensive stars put together a highlight reel for the ages during a 28-point third quarter. After trailing 27-21 at the break, Penn State scored three touchdowns on its first three snaps of the second half: a stunning 72-yard run by Barkley, a jaw-dropping bobbled 79-yard catch by Godwin and a 3-yard TD run by McSorley after an interception return.

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: The Nittany Lions' magical season culminated in an extraordinary heartbreaker, but this collapse won't hurt their prospects for 2017 and beyond. Penn State is firmly back on the national stage, and a wealth of talent will return to defend the Big Ten title.

USC: The defense had been remarkable since USC's 1-3 start to the season, but it couldn't stop Penn State's big-play stars. Darnold made sure it didn't matter, and he'll be back next year as an immediate Heisman Trophy candidate looking to add more achievements while raising his profile in the pantheon of Trojans quarterbacks.

UP NEXT

Although both teams will have gaps to fill from departing stars, Penn State and USC should both be among the top preseason candidates to get to the College Football Playoff next season. After this postseason showcase for recruits and fans, the future is bright for two proud programs firmly restored to their former glory.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2017 Rose Bowl Preview: Penn State vs. USC ]]>Mon, 02 Jan 2017 11:22:53 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/2017+Rose+Bowl.png

It's time to stop and smell the roses.

The 103rd edition of the annual Rose Bowl game, affectionately called, "The Grandaddy of Them All" kicks off on Monday afternoon and features two of College Football's most historic programs.

The No. 9 USC Trojans and No. 5 Penn State Nittany Lions will tangle toe-to-toe for the tenth time in each of their school's history, and for the first time since they last met in the Rose Bowl in 2009.

The Trojans won that game, 38-24, at the tale end of the Pete Caroll era, and a year later, the school was jolted by sanctions from the NCAA that crippled the program over the next five years.

Sanctions are something that Penn State knows all about after they too, suffered debilitating penalties in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Both teams emerged through a dark period in their programs and had high hopes for the 2016 season, but after their first month of play, each looked more like Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong then they did powerhouses as they sank in the rankings, singing "Wake Me Up When September Ends."

The Trojans fell flat on their face out of the gate as they were dominated by last season's College Football Champion Alabama, 52-6, in the opener. Things only spiraled from there, and USC was 1-3 before October began. 

In familiar fashion, the Nittany Lions also struggled in their first four games, falling to 2-2 after a similar blowout loss, 49-10, to Michigan at the Big House. By October 1st, both teams were a combined 3-5 and looked like they would have to fight for their lives just to win the six games necessary to be eligible for a Bowl Game.

Fittingly, the two embattled programs became mirror images of each other as if they were destined to dance in the parade of roses. Each team ran the table, with the Trojans winning their last eight games, including a statement win over No. 4 Washington, a team that won the Pac 12 Championship and was in the College Football Playoff.

Penn State took it a step further, winning their last nine games of the season including victories over No. 2 Ohio State (another CFP team) and No. 8 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Ironically, the two in-season turnarounds for the legendary programs started at the quarterback position where redshirt sophomore Trace McScorley finally came into his own in Happy Valley and Trojans freshman Sam Darnold inevitably won over the starting job from junior Max Browne, a role he arguably should have had since day one.

In their first season at quarterbacks for their respective teams, McSorley led the Big Ten in passing yards (3,360) and TDs (25) to go with only five interceptions.

Darnold was not far behind, throwing for 2,633 yards and more touchdowns (26) in less starts (9). He also rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns as the tall, physical, and athletic play caller provided fits for opposing defenses.

The key to victory for both teams will not surprisingly come down to defense, where each team will have the tough task to stop the opposing team's quarterback and a high-octane offense.

For the Trojans, that starts with shutting down sophomore running back Saquan Barkley who was recently named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Barkley rushed for 1,302 yards and 16 touchdowns this season for the Lions.

Barkley's ability on the ground set up McSorley to locate his top receiving target, junior Chris Goodwin who caught 50 passes for nine touchdowns on the season.

The Nittany Lions have scored 38 or more points in their last six games, averaging over 45 per game. If USC wants to keep their edge over Penn State in head-to-head matchups all-time (5-4) they have to keep the Lions out of the end zone.

Penn State has struggled on third down this season and Clancy Pendergast's defense will need to stop Barkley on the ground and force McSorley and the offense off the field if they want to win the game. 

The key to any game is turnovers, and such will be the case on Monday. Penn State is one of the top teams in the country at causing (and recovering) fumbles, something that has been an Achille's heel of Darnold this season.

Look for the Trojans to establish the run early and often as Darnold hands the ball off to the two-headed monster that is running backs Ronald Jones II and Justin Davis. The Lions have struggled against good rushing teams this season including Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Wisconsin.

If Tailback University has it rolling in the first half, Darnold will look to leading receiver, junior JuJu Smith-Schuster who will almost certainly play between the hashmarks on Sundays.

The X-factor of course for USC could be Thorpe Award winner Adoree' Jackson, who was voted the country's top cornerback last month. Jackson is also an offensive threat out of the backfield, and the nation's top return specialist.

In the Trojans final game of the season, Jackson scored a touchdown on offense, on a punt return, and a kick return as USC demolished long-time rival Notre Dame, 45-27, on November 26th.

This game is easily the most anticipated matchup outside of the National Championship game next week and it's only fitting that the two teams meet in the same stadium that they played their first ever Rose Bowl in 1923, a 14-3 USC victory.

So what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? 

We're about to find out as one team's winning-streak is about to come to an end. Kickoff for the game is slated for 2:00PM PST on Monday, January 2nd on ESPN.



Photo Credit: Jeff Golden/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raptors Feed on Lakers to Start 2017]]>Sun, 01 Jan 2017 23:39:51 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kyle-Lowry-DeMar-DeRozan-Raptors-Lakers.jpg

Kyle Lowry put on a show and had one of the most offensively efficient performances in NBA history with a season-high 41 points on only 16 shot attempts to go along with seven assists and nine rebounds.

Twenty of Lowry's 41 points came in the fourth quarter, and the Toronto Raptors needed every one of those points to put away the surging Los Angeles Lakers, who battled back from 19 points down to only trailing by five with 42.7 seconds to play.

Lowry scored the final four points of the game to seal the 114-123 victory.

"It was my time to go out there and be more aggressive," Lowry said after the game. "If it's taking the extra shot or making more shots or creating more shots, it's just a chance to go out there and play basketball. Playing in the fourth quarter is really fun."

For the Raptors, the win ended a two-game losing streak, while the Lakers recorded their third straight defeat and the 15th defeat in 17 games. Lakers coach Luke Walton, however, applauded his team's effort and thought that overall, the Lakers played a good game. The Raptors, however, had a couple of players that simply outmatched anything the Lakers could put together.

Compton-native DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points for the visitors and managed to provide tongue-in-cheek commentary regarding his backcourt mate's impressive night.

"He could have had more," DeRozan said about Lowry's point total. "I think he missed a couple easy, maybe four or five shots he should have made, but I'm not mad at the percentage."

The Lakers, however, had a few notable performances of their own. Nick Young continued his recent hot shooting from distance, making 7-9 from beyond the arc. With the seven makes, Young set a new franchise record with 36 three-pointers over games. Along with making all those triples, Young is also shooting 56.3 percent from long range over the record breaking stretch.

Young finished with 26 points in the loss.

Young's backcourt mate, D'Angelo Russell, led the Lakers in scoring on the night with 28 points and made six of his 12 three-point attempts. Russell scored 14 points in the final quarter and played a major role in the Lakers' attempted comeback.

However, when the final buzzer rang out at Staples Center, the Lakers fell to 12-25 on the season and sat only half a game out of last place in the Western Conference. Somehow, LA is still only four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot, which highlights that the final playoff team in the Western Conference could be any team that gets its act together.

Following Sunday's loss, the Lakers are an arm length away from the playoffs and a fingernail away from bottom of the West.

Next, the Lakers host the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams End Season on 7 Game Losing Skid]]>Sun, 01 Jan 2017 19:06:55 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Rams+Finale+against+Arizona.png

It was not a Happy New Year for the Los Angeles Rams.

Jared Goff ended his rookie campaign without a victory as the Los Angeles Rams welcomed in the New Year with a loss, 44-6, to the Arizona Cardinals on New Year's Day at the Coliseum. 

Goff threw for just 120 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, but was sacked seven times as the Rams stagnant offense was unable to reach the end zone.

"They had nothing to lose so they brought a lot of pressure," Goff said of the seven sacks. "I appreciate the effort from our group up front. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."

The loss was the team's seventh consecutive of the season, all with Goff under center as the team has lost 11 of their final 12 games, finishing 4-12, their worst finish since the 2011 season, the year before they hired Jeff Fisher.

"We just lost our mojo," said linebacker Alec Ogletree of the team's 1-11 finish to the season. "I felt like we kept trying to play each week, but we didn't learn how to finish games."

Todd Gurley entered the game just 155 yards shy of 1,000 on the season, but had his worst performance on the ground in the finale, carrying the ball 14 times for just 40 yards.

"It didn't come," Gurley said of missing out on 1,000 yards this season. "Coming off a season like this, I don't ever want to feel this way again. I'm gonna work a little bit harder this offseason."

The Rams best offensive play of the game, and the season for that matter, came on a trick play at the end of the first quarter when rookie wide receiver Pharoh Cooper caught a screen pass and then threw to a wide-open Gurley at the ten-yard line.

However, the play personified the Rams season as the pass sailed in the air for too long, and was intercepted by Cardinals safety Harlan Miller at the last second.

Former USC Trojan, Carson Palmer, made his return to the Coliseum, and threw for 255 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

"I never dreamt I would get an opportunity to play in this facility again and it was everything I could have asked for and more," Palmer said of his return. "It was a beautiful day. We had tons of fans here. Just a great day and a great way to finish off this season."

J.J. Nelson caught four passes for 75 yards to led the Cardinals and Pro-Bowler Larry Fitzgerald had 5 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown in the game. After his fourth quarter score, the remaining Cardinals fans at the Coliseum started chanting, "Larry, Larry, Larry!" for the veteran wideout.

"I heard it, it was nice to see that many Cardinal fans come out and support," said Fitzgerald. "It's always good when we can put a show on for them on the road."

All-Pro running back David Johnson was carted off the field with a horrific knee injury in the first quarter. Johnson's left leg was caught under a Rams' defensive end Eugene Sims and bent awkwardly on the play.

Johnson set an NFL record with 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first 15 games last week, and was looking to extend that record to 16 games on Sunday. He was also seeking to become the first player since Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig to record 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a single season. Johnson finished the year with 841 yards receiving, 159 short of the mark.

"Nothing seriuos it looks like right now," Arians said after the game. "We'll get an MRI tomorrow, but he's walking fine and he's in good spirits. Knock on wood there's no ligament damage.."

Rams punter Johnny Hekker extended his NFL-record for most punts inside the 20 with one more in the game. Hekker will finish the season with the record at 51 punts.

Plenty of questions surround the Rams as they head into the offseason. The most glaring will be if the team retains general manager Les Snead, and if not, who will replace him. After finding a new GM, who that person will hire as the next head coach and assistant coaches, thereafter.

"I'm going to go home tonight and spend some time with my wife and kids," said interim head coach John Fassel. "I am a Ram and I'm proud to be a Ram, but my fate is up to other people."

The team will be built on offense around Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley. The offensive line and wide receiver positions are glaring weaknesses for the team.

"This isn't the end, it's the beginning," said Goff after the game. "Whenever we get that new playbook while start learning it. Our guys are hungrier than ever."

On defense, the front line consisting of former Defensive Rookie of the Year and three-time Pro Bowler Aaron Donald is a strength, as is Alec Ogletree at linebacker. The secondary, especially at the cornerback position could be a place the team could upgrade.

"Something has to change, a lot has to change," said safety T.J. McDonald. "In this business, you want to move on, flush it and get this organization to where it needs to be."



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Continue Slide Into 2017 With Sixth Straight Loss]]>Sun, 01 Jan 2017 01:08:11 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/176*120/Clippers+Crash+Out+of+2016.png

Goodbye, 2016, and good riddance.

The Los Angeles Clippers are among the many that are happy to say goodbye to the old year as they welcome in the new.

The Clippers celebrated New Year's Eve about as disastrous as Mariah Carey did, with a season-high 26-point loss, 114-88, to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

"2016 is over, so hopefully, going into 2017 we can transform it," said Clippers center Mo Speights. "We have a home stretch, so that will hopefully help us get back playing our brand of basketball."

Russell Westbrook had one of the quickest triple doubles we've ever seen when he tallied 11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists at the half. He finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists in just 29 minutes.

The MVP front runner is finishes 2016 averaging a triple double with 23.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.7 assists and is on pace to break Oscar Robertson's single-season record of 41 triple doubles. Westbrook concludes the year with 16.

"I think we did a good job of, like you said, playing fast on both sides," said Westbrook. "Defending, getting out in transitioning, getting easy buckets All of that was good for us."

The loss was the worst of the season for the suddenly free-falling Clippers and came on the heels of a 24-point beat down by the Houston Rockets just 24 hours earlier. 

"I know it's going to be a struggle right now, you can see it. I'm not coaching for tomorrow. I'm coaching for the end of the year, and that's why I kept calling timeouts and making them run stuff; forcing us to run offense," said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers after the game. "Because you can lose your spirit in this. We haven't done that, but you can. So, my job right now is to get us through this. This is a heavy hit for us." 

As Lob City withered away under the power of Westbrook, they closed out 2016 on an NBA-worst six-game losing streak, the longest the franchise has ever had in the Chris Paul era.

Speaking of Paul, he missed his second consecutive game with a strained hamstring and has not played in six of the team's last seven contests. His backcourt mate, J.J. Redick is still recovering from a sore left hamstring, and superstar Blake Griffin is out until at least February after undergoing knee surgery.

To add insult to injury—literally—Clippers center DeAndre Jordan also went down with a left hip and ankle injury in the game, but stayed on the court despite limping noticeably. 

The Clippers current slide looks eerily similar to how they exited the 2016 NBA Playoffs in May. The Clippers dominated the Portland Trail Blazers in their first two games of the best-of-seven series only to see Paul and Griffin go down in Game 3 within minutes of each other.

Both stars were lost for the remainder of the playoffs, and the Clippers would lose the next four games leading to another early exit from the postseason. 

The basketball Gods have bestowed their curse upon the club and proven that without Paul and Griffin, the Clippers are among the minnows of the NBA. Nothing has been working for L.A. as they've trotted out five different starting lineups in the past five games to no avail.

The Clippers had the best record in the NBA through the first 16 games of the season, but are just 8-12 since, and have dropped from first to seventh in the Western Conference Standings.

"We're losing games. We're dropping in the standings, but at the end of the day, it's all good. It really is," Rivers said, doing his best to brighten the mood around the team. "We have to get through this. Learn something. Learn something from each other, too. You can learn a lot about your team when you're struggling." 

Here's toasting to good health for one of the NBA's most entertaining teams in 2017.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Sink Sharks to Ring in New Year]]>Sat, 31 Dec 2016 23:36:05 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/Kings+Ring+in+New+Year+With+Win.png

The Kings returned home and rang in the New Year with a victory over their rivals.

Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty and Tanner Pearson each scored a goal, as the Los Angeles Kings ended 2016 on a high note, beating the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Saturday night at Staples Center.

Peter Budaj made 18 saves and Alec Martinez had two assists, helping end the Sharks' four-game winning streak. The Kings stopped a three-game losing streak by breaking out of an offensive funk that sunk their nine-game road trip.

"I think we have a very good little rivalry going on with San Jose," said Budaj after the game. "They have a very good team and we always play them hard and they always play us hard so it's a big win especially after the three losses we had."

Los Angeles has now earned a point in 12 of 16 games at Staples Center this season.

Brent Burns scored his 15th goal of the season, Kevin Labanc added a goal, and Martin Jones stopped 24 shots for the Sharks, who had won the first two games in the season series by allowing just two goals.

After Burns scored a power-play goal 12 seconds into the third period, Carter responded with his team-leading 20th goal. Carter and Devin Setoguchi had a 2-on-1 break, but Carter held onto the puck all the way and buried a wrist shot to restore a two-goal advantage at 3-1.

Labanc scored with 6:03 remaining to pull within 3-2, but the Sharks could not find an equalizer.

Doughty capitalized on the power play after Burns tripped center Anze Kopitar 32 seconds into the second period. Doughty unloaded from the edge of the near circle, beating his former LA teammate over the right shoulder for his sixth goal and second on the power play to make it 2-0.

Jumping all over the Pacific Division leaders from the opening faceoff, Pearson put the Kings in front 1-0 after 4:17 in the first period. Pearson's ninth goal of the season was a sniper shot from between the circles into the top right corner of the net.

"The key thing is getting the first one and not chasing the lead right off the start," Pearson told reporters after the victory. "It is nice to be home and you know, teams have to come in here and they know that they're coming in here. I think everyone in the league takes pride of their home ice and we've got to be there too."

Jones faced down a 13-6 shot disparity in the first period, as San Jose lost for only the second time in its last 10 games. The Kings kept the Sharks pinned in their own end for the better part of the first four minutes, a stretch broken up only by a fight between Kyle Clifford and Sharks center Micheal Haley that left Haley with a cut on his right knuckle.

Fans in attendance enjoyed a lazer light show to ring in the New Years after the game.

NOTES: Sharks D Marc-Edouard Vlasic did not play after being hit in the face by a puck during Friday's 2-0 win over Philadelphia. The Sharks also scratched C Tommy Wingels and LW Matt Nieto. . The Kings scratched D Matt Greene, D Tom Gilbert and C Andy Andreoff.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Host Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Kings: Visit San Jose on Tuesday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[DeAndre Jordan Takes an L in $11.7M Sale of His Mansion]]>Fri, 30 Dec 2016 18:40:36 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-deandre-jordan-pacific-palisades-home-sale-tn.jpgLos Angeles Clippers star DeAndre Jordan has parted ways with his stylish Pacific Palisades mansion, selling the seaside estate for $11.75 million, according to a report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Nick Springett]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton Frustrated Following Defeat to Dallas]]>Fri, 30 Dec 2016 00:04:20 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Suns-Randle.jpg

Following a 101-89 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, where the Los Angeles Lakers led by seven points at halftime before being outscored 31-13 in the third quarter, Lakers coach Luke Walton shared his unfiltered frustrations.

"I really thought we'd turned a corner a little bit," the 36-year-old coach said. "Obviously, you don't fix everything over night, but I thought we had made some big progress. I was disappointed to see that we had the same type of result again—a very similar game to what we've seen the last week or two."

With the defeat, the Lakers capped off December with their 14th defeat in 16 games to end off a miserable 2016, which witnessed the Lakers losing 62 of 85 games during the calendar year of 2016.

"As a team, we're going to be fine. We're going to figure it out," Walton shared his message to the team after the final defeat of the year. "'When?' is the question. How much does it mean to us right now, to figure it out this season? Or do we want to wait two, three years as natural development happens?"

Walton reminded his players, the media and probably most importantly, himself, "We've proven to ourselves that we're capable of beating anyone in this league when we're competing and playing defense and sharing the ball on offense. We have it within us to make that improvement and to make it sooner, rather than later, but a lot of it has to be individual desire to want it now."

Walton added, "Time will tell."

After Walton and the Lakers started the season 10-10, the team appeared set to be the surprise story of the season. Where would the Lakers rank in the Western Conference playoffs? What would a year of playoff experience mean to a young Lakers' squad? Would Walton win Coach of the Year?

A month later, the coach looked frustrated and sounded demoralized.

"No, it's not demoralizing," Walton corrected that observation. "It's frustrating. It's where we're at right now. I was hopeful and thought that we had learned from our past mistakes. The most frustrating part was that it happened again...the most frustrating part was our initial fight coming out of the half."

Walton shrugged helplessly as he shared that he thought his team had learned from its mistakes and that the beatings of December had taught the young Lakers the importance of staying focused and competing for the full 48 minutes.

"I was expecting a little more fight when we started the half, but I was wrong," Walton said, not pulling any punches.

NBA coaches, though, are a fighting, optimistic bunch. Leaders of losing team, in particular, seem to be able to focus on the glass being half full, or even a quarter full.

"But I'm still very confident that our group is going to get it," Walton said. "It's just, unfortunately, it seems like we're going to have to take a lot of these lumps before it really kicks in to how hard it really is and how locked in we have to be as a young team in the NBA to get wins."

He continued, "It's part of the learning process, but after you get hit so many times, you would hope that you would start to see that change happening. Unfortunately, tonight wasn't one of those nights."

Certainly, the Lakers are taking their lumps. They've been taking them for some time, but under Walton, these lumps seem to feature far more learning that the lumps received under the previous regime. Thursday night didn't display that progress, but the coach seems to be accepting of the learning process and far less inclined to panic and change his approach due to the losing.

"Technically, we could start yanking players every time they make mistakes, but we're not going to do that," Walton said. "We don't want players playing, looking at the bench every time they're doing something. Taking lumps is a great way to learn...your parents tell you to do something. You don't listen. You go out and do something stupid. Then, you know, 'I shouldn't do that anymore.' So, we'll take our lumps. Hopefully, that lesson works and we don't keep doing whatever it is we shouldn't be doing."

Walton answered honestly, "I don't have a time table or formula to speed up the process."

The coach, though, did not think that team had entirely fallen flat in the face of learning. He contended that the players were slowly figuring it out, but his body language and speech suggested that the speed was testing his patience.

Walton said, "Through our failures and these times, we should grow and become a better team."

The coach made it clear that changing lineups, though, was not the answer.

"I want to keep it consistent," Walton said of lineups. "We can obviously make changes. The lineups aren't the problem. The lineups we have work. They're just not working for the whole game right now. The first unit's been playing much better than they were at the beginning of the year. The second unit has struggled a little since the beginning of the season, but they've been affected by injuries, what not, coming in and out. The lineups are fine together. It's just putting together a good first quarter, then a good second quarter, then regathering at halftime and coming out and playing well in the second half again."

Somehow, the Lakers ended Thursday night still only 4.0 games back of the Sacramento Kings for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Will the Lakers learn their lessons in time to make a run at the postseason?

As Walton stated earlier, "Time will tell."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Pederson and Seager Hang Ten in Hawaii]]>Thu, 29 Dec 2016 14:33:53 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/233*120/Corey+and+Joc.png

Aloha and Mahalo!

That's what Los Angeles Dodgers youngsters, Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, have been saying this week as they hang out in Hawaii. 

Pederson and Seager are on the island of Oahu this week, hosting a youth baseball camp and home run derby for a local Hawaiian charity organization known as the Kemoeatu Brothers Foundation.

All proceeds of the two-day camp open for kids ages 8-14, which took place on Wednesday, December 28 and Thursday, December 29 go to the foundation with the Home Run Derby open to all ages in order to benefit the foundation that aims to improve the lives of underprivileged youth in Hawaii.

"I remember going to camps when I was young and looking up to the people that were there," Seager, the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year, told local reporters. "So it's kind of nice to be in that role and guide these kids and have fun with it at the same time."

"You know it means a lot to be able to give back and be in the position Corey and I are in," added Pederson. "So, to come here and help the kids and see a smile on their face is priceless and it's all going to a great cause."

Seager and Pederson also donated to the charity as well.

Seager has stayed silent on social media throughout the trip, but Pederson has posted many pictures and videos of the trip, including sightseeing, playing golf, and hanging out at the resort.

The 24-year-old centerfielder even posted a picture of himself working out in the ocean on one of the many pristine Hawaiian beaches, issuing a postseason workout challenge to teammate Adrian Gonzalez.

Yooo @adrian_eltitan what you do today?

A video posted by Joc Pederson (@yungjoc650) on

Gonzalez's response?



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Image]]>
<![CDATA[Jordan and Paul to Start Day After Accident]]>Wed, 28 Dec 2016 18:03:07 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/DJ+and+CP3+accident.png

The Los Angeles Clippers received some good news on Wednesday.

Point guard Chris Paul and center DeAndre Jordan will both be in the starting lineup when against the New Orleans Pelicans, 24 hours after Jordan was injured in a car accident in Playa del Rey.

Jordan was involved in a minor fender bender on Tuesday afternoon in Playa del Rey. According to TMZ Sports, which was the first to report the accident, one person was sent to the hospital, and Jordan walked away with just a minor scratch, as evidence by a bandage on his left forearm on Wednesday in New Orleans. 

Teammate Chris Paul arrived on the scene to provide a State Farm assist for the Clippers' big man. Paul was not involved in the accident, but reportedly was close by and arrived with members of the Clippers staff, which gave Jordan a lift to the airport to catch the team's flight to the Big Easy.

"I think people are just taking the State Farm thing too serious," Jordan joked to ESPN's Justin Verrier at the Smoothie King Center before the game. "I'm playing tonight, so that's good. We can't afford for anybody else to be out. I'm just very fortunate that I'm OK and that everybody else that was involved was OK." 

Both Jordan and Paul are pitchmen for the insurance company and star together in multiple commercials that air nationally. Paul's return to the lineup is from a hamstring injury, and has nothing to do with the accident, that left Jordan's car totaled.

"I won't be seeing that car ever again," he said. "It was scary. I was like 'Doc [Rivers] is going to be pissed. I'm late to the flight.' But like I said, I'm a lucky man. I'm just glad everybody's OK." 

The cars involved were a black Tesla and an SUV. 

J.J. Redick (hamstring) and Blake Griffin (knee surgery) will not play in the game on Wednesday. 



Photo Credit: Zhong Zhi/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Larry Nance Jr. Hopeful of Early Return]]>Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:24:45 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Larry-Nance-jr-knee-injury.jpg

On Dec. 20 in Charlotte, Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. knocked the ball loose and then proceeded to chase the play into the backcourt. When the ball went out of bounds, Nance stood still.

"Felt a little tweak in my knee and so I pulled up and stopped and couldn't put too much pressure on it, so that's when I asked those guys to get me off the court," Nance explained the play that had fans fearing the worst, prior to Tuesday's loss to the Utah Jazz.

Tests revealed that Nance did not have any structural damage in his knee but had suffered a bone bruise.

"It's hard not to go through all the possible scenarios being that I already had one major injury in my right knee," Nance said, referring to a torn ACL he suffered in college. "That was something I was hoping it wasn't, but I think we got the best news we could have possible gotten."

On Christmas Day, the Lakers listed a recovery timeline of "approximately four weeks," but the forward sounded upbeat that he could beat that timeline. He had already started rehab a couple days earlier and was now off crutches.

Nance said, "They said this one could potentially be four weeks. We’re hoping for earlier than that."

As he was talking to the media, Jordan Clarkson walked by chanting "Lar-ry! Lar-ry!" at one point and D'Angelo Russell walked by and screamed, "We miss you, Larry!" at another. Nance is a coach's favorite on the court and a locker room favorite with his teammates. His loss will be missed.

"I haven't died, I don't think," Nance joked.

Though he conceded that the travel following the injury probably didn't help reduce the initial swelling in his left knee, the 23-year-old said he would like to be with the team on any future trips. However, he admitted not being aware of the upcoming schedule, which only calls for a quick flight to Portland on the front end of a back-to-back over the upcoming fortnight.

Nance did not outright state that he would be back sooner than the four-week timeline, but when pressed, the former University of Wyoming standout offered, "I'm optimistic it'll be shorter than four weeks." 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose to Utah on D'Angelo Air-Ball]]>Wed, 28 Dec 2016 00:10:55 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Jazz-Gordon-Hayward-12-27.jpg

Gordon Hayward scored 31 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz to a 102-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

In a frantic finish, Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell attempted a long range three-point attempt with one foot on the "C" in the Staples Center sign on the court and found nothing but air. Time expired, and the Lakers lost by two points due to the missed 26-footer.

"That last possession is on me," Lakers coach Luke Walton took the blame, after admitting that the play he had sent in with substitute Lou Williams did not anticipate Utah center Rudy Gobert missing both his free throws with 13.1 seconds remaning in the game.

Only trailing by two, the Lakers should have been able to find a better shot than launching a prayer from closer to midcourt than the basket. In search of silver linings, the loss did feature a standout performance from starter Julius Randle, who finished the game with 25 points and 12 rebounds.

Randle had bulldozed the Lakers into the lead, but a missed defensive assignment allowed Joe Ingles to hit a corner three-pointer with 21.6 seconds remaining, which turned out to be the game-winning final field goal of the contest.

Despite the missed assignment, Walton did not appear too downtrotten over his team's play. The Lakers had gone toe-to-toe with a playoff team that finished the night with a 19-13 record and only came up short by one muffed possession. And that was in spite of the fact that the Lakers only hit four of their 25 three-point attempts.

"Obviously, it stings; the players are hurt that we lost," Walton said after the game. "The message afterwards was [that] we played the most aggressive, in my opinion, defensive game that we have in a long time."

Walton added, "We're still going to make mistakes. It's just part of learning, but we were being aggressors and switching."

The coach may not have been smiling after the loss, but he pointed to the lack of three-point shooting and the team still being in the game until the end as proof of the improved defensive execution. Prior to the game, Walton had shared that the team would be working on defense in practice during the home stand. So, while the loss may have hurt in the short term, it should have only further highlighted the importance of fixing the problems on that end of the court.

Walton concluded, "We had a chance to win, because of our defense."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Phil Jackson, Jeanie Buss End Engagement]]>Wed, 28 Dec 2016 01:51:50 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jeanie-Buss-Phil-Jackson-12-27-16.jpg

Late Tuesday evening, former LA Lakers coach and current New York Knicks president Phil Jackson released a note on his Twitter account that announced the end of his longtime relationship with Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss.

"With mutual love and respect, we have decided to end our engagement," the note read, before citing "geography" as a reason for the break.

"We expect to remain supportive of each other in the future," the note concluded with the joint initials of "PJ/JB."

Shortly after that initial announcement, Buss also took to Twitter, quoted Jackson's note and stated, "Nothing but love and respect for this man."

Buss also followed up with another tweet that seemed to provide an alternate reason for the breakup beyond "geography."

Buss wrote, "The love of my life is the Los Angeles Lakers. I love Phil & will always. It's not fair to him or Lakers to not have my undivided attention."

Though Twitter may be an odd medium to announce these private matters, Buss and Jackson also announced their engagement via Twitter in January of 2013.

Buss was also an outspoken critic of her brother, Lakers vice-president of basketball operations Jim Buss, when the team decided to hire Mike D'Antoni only a couple months prior to the couple announcing their engagement. Jackson had previously won five NBA titles with the Lakers and had interviewed for the position. Before he could accept the vacancy, the team hired D'Antoni.

The decision had seemingly caused a rift in the Lakers' ownership group.

In 2014, Jackson joined the New York Knicks and took over the team's front office. Jackson's role with the Knicks created a possible conflict of interest between the two presidents, but the NBA ultimately allowed Jackson to take on the new role because Jeanie Buss did not deal with basketball operations and left that department to her brother, Jim.

Jackson's professional move placed him on the opposite coast as Buss, and seemingly, ultimately led to the end of the relationship.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shorthanded Clippers Lose Third Straight Without Stars]]>Mon, 26 Dec 2016 22:34:17 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Starless+Clippers.png

What would the night sky look like without stars?

More than likely, it would just be a black void, with tremendous loss of light.

The Los Angeles Clippers can relate.

Playing without their three leading scorers, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, the Clippers dropped their third straight game to a subpar team, 106-102, to the Denver Nuggets on Monday night at Staples Center.

"What can you do?" said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers after the game. "A lot of teams go through stretches like this, with injuries, there's nothing you can do, we just have to keep playing."

The loss of firepower was evident in the final score as the two teams met just five days ago, a game the Clippers won, 119-102. 

In that game, their first without Griffin, Paul and Redick combined for 43 points and held the Nuggets starting backcourt to just three points on 1-of-15 shooting.

Less than a week later, the same Nuggets roster scored 106 total points and the backcourt combined for 19 points, proving the value and importance of Paul and Redick in the Clippers lineup.

It was not a great brand of basketball by either team in the first half as both teams struggled from the field. Similar to their Christmas Day loss to the Lakers, the Clippers started to fade in the third quarter.

The Nuggets led by as many as 17 points in the third, but the Clippers clawed their way back and took a two-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter before building up a seven-point advantage midway through the quarter. 

However, like a gnat, the Nuggets would not go away and they erased the deficit, taking a three-point lead with 2:30 remaining in the ballgame.

The Clippers self-combusted defensively down the stretch and Denver held on to secure the victory.

"We're tired of losing to be honest," said Jamal Crawford who made his first start of the season. "Our margin of error is gone."

Rookie Nikola Jokic lead the Nuggets with 24 points, draining two big shots from beyond the arc. Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points and Wil Barton chipped in 23 off the bench.

"He was good tonight. He's a good player," said Austin Rivers. "He had a great game. He hurt us. Him and Barton."

Jamal Crawford was inserted in the starting lineup for the first time this season and scored a team-high 24 points on 11-of-23 shooting. Austin Rivers scored 19 points starting at point guard in place of Raymond Felton who started the previous two games.

"We should have won that game," continued Rivers. "The momentum changed at the end of the game. It's crucial at the end of the game to get stops. We have to find a way to win. That's what I took from this."

Players of the Game:

Wil Barton: 23 points
Jamal Crawford:
24 points
Nikola Jokic: 24 points

Three Takeaways:

1. Starless Night: Without their three leading scorers, the Los Angeles Clippers are a below average basketball team. They have lost three consecutive games to the minnows of the NBA Western Conference, the Mavericks, Lakers and Nuggets. Those three teams are a combined 33-62 this season.

2. Sliding Scale: At their current pace, the Clippers cannot continue to tread water as they have fallen from third to fourth in the Western Conference standings and are only two games ahead of the Thunder and Grizzlies.

3. What a Difference a Day Makes: Five days ago, the Los Angeles Clippers starting backcourt of Chris Paul and J.J. Redick held the Denver Nuggets backcourt of Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris to just three points. On Monday, the duo scored 19 points, proving the importance defensively of Paul and Redick in the starting lineup.

Up Next:

Nuggets (13-18): Denver returns to the Mile High City on Wednesday to host the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Clippers (22-11): Los Angeles kicks off a three-game road trip with a stop in New Orleans on Wednesday night at 5:00 PM PST.

Please refresh this page for more updates, stats, and player reactions…



Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Celebrate Christmas With Victory Over Clippers]]>Mon, 26 Dec 2016 02:18:45 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-beat-Clippers-on-Christmas.jpg

For the first time since Oct. 29, 2013, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the LA Clippers.

On Christmas night at Staples Center, the Lakers delivered a gift to the home crowd after digging an early hole, climbing out by halftime and eventually burying the short-handed Clippers in the second half. Seven different Lakers scored in double figures, including all five starters, in the victory. J.J. Redick led the Clippers with 22 points in 26 minutes but did not play in the fourth quarter due to a hamstring injury.

The Clippers were already without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul due to injuries.

Sunday night was an odd game, though, as the Lakers stumbled early defensively and let the Clippers jump out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter. The purple and gold, who were dressed in special Christmas white jerseys, regained their footing with Thomas Robinson coming in and hitting a couple shots and providing a bizarre finish to the first quarter. Robinson, who is known for his play in the paint, dribbled the ball coast-to-coast and hit a floater to beat the first quarter buzzer.

The Clippers still led 31-27 after 12 minutes, however, and continued to hold an advantage for the duration of the second quarter. During those second 12 minutes, the Clippers regained control and popped their advantage back up to eight points. Thanks to Nick Young's hot shooting, the Lakers managed to trim that difference and entered the intermission only trailing by three points, 58-55.

In the third quarter, the Lakers took charge.

"I thought we took our jobs very seriously in the third quarter," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.

"The third quarter, I thought, our guys came out ready, locked in, mainly defensively. Transition defense was terrible in the first half, and we did a much better job of taking away easy baskets, including transition [in the third quarter]." 

Walton added, "That's the way we need to play."

Riding veterans Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng, the home team scored the first 13 points of the second half and held the visiting Clippers scoreless for the first four minutes of the third quarter. Mozgov finished the game with 19 points, which tied Young for team honors. Deng collected a double-double and finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

From there, the Lakers extended their advantage to 18 points with 15 minutes remaining in the contest. Fast forward three minutes, and the Lakers held a 15-point lead entering the fourth quarter and looked like they would cruise to their 12th win of the season. Over those vital 12 minutes, the Lakers had outscored the Clippers 34-16 in the third quarter.

This is Hollywood, after all, so the Lakers managed to build drama by returning the favor at the start of the fourth quarter. The Lakers went scoreless for the first 3:41 seconds of the final period, until Lou Williams hit a free throw. Suddenly, the Clippers were only down by four points and LA looked prime to blow another big lead.

The back-and-forth game then picked up until Williams briefly took over the fourth quarter for the Lakers, which is a bit of a habit for the Lakers' sixth man. Williams scored seven points in the fourth quarter and helped the Lakers push the lead out to 11 points with 3:40 showing on the game clock.

From there, the Lakers went on to win by a final tally of 111-102, with the only late drama being whether the home crowd would get to go home with free tacos. Marreese Speights hit a late three-pointer to push the Clippers over the 100-point mark and drew the ire of the Lakers' faithful.

With the victory, the Lakers improved to 12-22, while the Clippers fell to 22-10 on the season. The last time the Lakers had all five starters score in double figures was back in April of 2015.

Notes: Julius Randle finished with 13 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals in 31 productive minutes on the court. Jamal Crawford led the Clippers' late rally and finished tied for game-high honors with 22 points on 7-17 shooting. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Punter Johnny Hekker Sets NFL Record]]>Sat, 24 Dec 2016 17:48:16 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Johnny+Hekker+NFL+record.png

LOS ANGELES – It's been a season of misery for the Los Angeles Rams this year, but on Saturday, they found a silver lining.

Punter Johnny Hekker put an exclamation point on the most successful special teams season in NFL history when he set the all-time record for most punts inside the 20-yard-line when he pinned the San Francisco 49ers on the 13-yard marker in the second quarter. 

The former Oregon State punter surpassed Dave Zastudil's record when he placed 46 punts inside the 20 with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012. Hekker's record was even more impressive as he broke the mark on just 85 tries compared to Zastudil who set the mark on 112 kicks. 

Hekker was named to the Pro Bowl earlier this week for the third time in his career.

Hekker spoke with NBC LA on Tuesday at the team's practice facility in Thousand Oaks to talk about his Pro Bowl selection and the record.

"The number really snuck up on us," Hekker said about his 47th punt. "We didn't even really think about it until probably the last weeks, when we were like, 'Hey, damn, we're at 40.' We're just trying to do what we can to help this team. If records come with that, that's a positive."

Hekker is also the league leading in punting average with over 46.2 net yards per punt, and has already kicked the ball further than 75 yards twice this season.

"I'm so grateful to be playing under Coach Fassel and with the rest of the special teams group that takes so much pride in what we do," continued Hekker. "I really owe it to the other guys that go out there and make me look good on a consistent basis." 

Interim head coach John Fassel has been the Rams special teams coach since Hekker joined the Rams in 2012 and credits a lot of his success to the high-energy coach that has developed arguably the best punter in the league.

He extended his record to 50 punts inside the 20 by the time the game was over as the Rams lost a heartbreaker, blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead, 22-21, to the 49ers at the LA Coliseum.



Photo Credit: Michael Thomas/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kaepernick Leads 49ers To Comeback Win Over Rams]]>Sun, 25 Dec 2016 01:57:11 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-vs-49ers-12-24-16.JPG

On Christmas Eve at the LA Memorial Coliseum, the Los Angeles Rams scored three touchdowns but still lost, 22-21, as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick led a furious comeback that culminated with the controversial QB diving into the end zone on a game-winning two-point conversion.

To start the game, Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who grew up in Northern California, seemingly had a flashback to his childhood fantasies and completed a pass to the 49ers' cornerback Tramaine Brock. The 49ers took only three plays to turn that interception into a touchdown, and the Rams trailed 7-0.

"Obviously I grew up a fan of their's [Niners]," said Goff of going against his boyhood team. "Once the whistle blew though, they were just another team I was trying to beat."

However, LA responded immediately. Rookie Pharaoh Cooper started off the response with a kickoff return near mid-field. Then, the Rams took nine plays to get into the end zone, as running back Todd Gurley rushed up the middle for the touchdown.

The Rams, though, weren't done yet.

Kaepernick gave one back, as he overthrew a pass intended for tight-end Garrett Celek that fell into the arms of Rams safety Cody Davis. On the very next play, dynamic Rams receiver Tavon Austin rushed for 30 yards into the end zone for a Rams' touchdown. LA led 14-7 and had scored two touchdowns in the first quarter.

"It felt good to score my first touchdown at home," Austin said from his locker. "I got some great blocks and we called a great play at the right time. I saw my lane and I used it."

The second quarter featured a great deal of back and forth, but neither team managed to score any points. Indicative of the second quarter, Rams' punter Johnny Hekker set the NFL single season record for the most punts downed within the 20-yard line. Hekker came into the day in a tie for the record 46 touchbacks inside of the 20-yard line.

"As hard as it is, there's still positives that come out of the game. Johnny [Hekker] has had a historic season," said interim head coach John Fassel. "I'm proud of Johnny. He comes every day. He's a leader, he's tough, he's good and the guys respect him. I wish we could have gotten him a win to make Christmas a little bit more sweeter tomorrow."

As such, the Rams entered the locker room leading 14-7.

The third quarter mirrored the second quarter, which meant more punts than anything else. By the start of the fourth quarter, Hekker had already pushed his new record up to 50 punts downed inside of the 20-yard line in a single season.

The fourth quarter, though, offered a considerable uptick in excitement beyond counting punting records. After a completed pass from Kaepernick to running back Carlos Hyde, a brutal hit to Hyde's knee dislodged the football. Though the play was originally ruled incomplete, a video challenge reversed the call and gave LA the ball in a dangerous position just outside of the red zone.

Four plays and 25 yards later, Goff found tight-end Tyler Higbee open in the end zone for a touchdown. After Greg Zuerlein converted the extra point, LA led 21-7 and appeared on its way to a comfortable home victory.

"It's really hard. It's hard on everyone," Goff said after the game of the loss. "To all the fans that came out today, we're appreciative, and I promise you guys it will get fixed. I will give everything in my heart and soul to get it fixed."

However, Kaepernick found a way to scramble his way for 13 yards to score a touchdown with 5:06 remaining in the game. After the extra point, the 49ers only trailed 21-14 and suddenly, the Coliseum looked primed for an exciting finish.

After the 49ers' defense came up with a stop, San Francisco got the ball back on the 27-yard line with 3:10 to play. After a big penalty and a sturdy drive, Kaepernick found wide receiver Rod Streater who fought his way into the end zone for a touchdown.

With the clock showing 31 seconds and the 49ers losing 20-21, the team from the Bay Area decided to go for the two-point conversion. Kaepernick kept the ball on the scramble and dove into the end zone for the score.

"I had a feeling we were going for two and when coach called the play we all got excited," said Kaepernick of head coach Chip Kelly's decision to go for the win and not the tie. "Thankfully, it worked out great for us."

San Francisco took a 22-21 lead, as the stunned Rams' crowd looked on. After another interception from Goff, the Rams went on to lose.

"It's horrible," said Rams' Pro Bowl tackle Aaron Donald. "I don't know what else to say. We just keep losing and we just need to keep trying to find ways to win and finish games. It's definitely drustrating. I'm tired of going home mad each and every week."

Kaepernick finished 28-of-38 for 257 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Goff's numbers weren't as impressive going 11-of-24 for just 90 yards a touchdown and two picks.

Gurley carried the ball 23 times for 67 yards and a touchdown, and still has not rushed for over 100 yards in his last 18 games. 

Wide receiver Kenny Britt had just one catch for 15 yards before leaving the game with a right shoulder injury, but the one grab was enough to eclipse 1,000 yards on the season, the first time he's done that in his career and as a member of the Rams.

"It means everything to me," Britt said after the game. "After eight years in the NFL, I finally get my first 1,000 yard season. It's special, even though it comes from a season that we weren't expecting. It's some good things, and it's some bad things."

LA is now 4-11, and will face the Arizona Cardinals at home in the season finale next Saturday. Meanwhile, San Francisco improved to 2-13 with both wins coming against the lowly Rams.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers End Road Trip in Orlando]]>Fri, 23 Dec 2016 20:21:50 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lou-Williams-Lakers-road-trip.jpg

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Most NBA games are decided in the last few minutes. The Orlando Magic's 109-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night may have been decided in the first few minutes.

The Magic blocked eight of Los Angeles' first 16 shots and took a 10-point lead before the Lakers scored.

"That first quarter defensively set the tone for the whole game," Magic coach Frank Vogel said. "It's not easy playing ahead in this league with the way teams are coming after you, but it's probably a lot easier than playing from behind. We've been in that situation a lot, when we're climbing uphill."

This time it was the Lakers trying to climb back and they never made it, losing for the 12th time in 13 games in the conclusion of a seven-game trip.

The Magic blocked nine shots in the first quarter, a franchise record for a quarter.

"We've been playing good basketball offensively, but defensively not so good," said Bismack Biyombo, who had three of the blocks. "We've got to get back to establish ourselves as a defensive team, and I think tonight we did a better job than last night (in a loss at New York)."

Elfrid Payton had 25 points and nine assists, and the Magic shot 51 percent.

"We went with the game plan, but guys were just making shots," said Jordan Clarkson, who led the Lakers with 18 points. "He (Payton) got hot and made shots that we wanted him to take."

Serge Ibaka contributed 19 points, 11 rebounds and five of Orlando's 11 blocks.

D.J. Augustin made two 3-pointers and a layup while the Magic blocked five of the Lakers' first seven shots, taking a 10-0 lead before Nick Young got the Lakers on the board with 6:51 left in the first quarter.

Orlando ran off to a 25-point lead in the first half and led 57-40 at halftime.

Clarkson made three 3-pointers and a dunk during a 16-2 run that helped the Lakers get within six, at 88-82, early in the fourth quarter. But C.J. Watson scored seven of 13 straight Orlando points to help the Magic put the game away.

"The problem when you get down big is that it takes a lot of energy to get back in it," said Lakes coach Luke Walton. "Guys are dying out there, and we go to the bench and start playing guys that aren't used to playing."

 

MEEKS GETS FIRST MAGIC START

Jodie Meeks had nine points and five rebounds in his first start for the Magic against his former team. Meeks played in 155 games over two seasons with the Lakers, averaging a career-high 15.7 points in 2013-2014.

 

HOME NOT SO SWEET

 

Friday night's win was only the third for the Magic in their last 10 home games. "It's baffling that we haven't won more at home, but I think that will iron itself out as the season goes along. I think we'll finish with a plus-.500 record," predicted Vogel. "I think it's some early-season struggle that we'll get past."

 

TIP-INS

Lakers: F Julius Randle missed the game, having attended the birth of son Kyden in Los Angeles on Friday morning. . . . C Tarik Black (sprained right ankle) and G Jose Calderon (strained right hamstring) did not play, but both expect to play soon.

Magic: G Evan Fournier, the Magic's leading scorer at 17.8 points per game, missed his first game of the season with a right heel contusion.

 

UP NEXT

Lakers: Sunday night's game against the Clippers will be the Lakers' first home game in two weeks. They will play 11 of their next 14 at home.

Magic: Monday's home game against Memphis will be a rematch of a 95-94 loss on Dec. 1 in which the Magic blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Stun Spurs Without Two Biggest Stars]]>Thu, 22 Dec 2016 23:27:06 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/DJ+Dunks+on+Pau+Gasol.png

They might be wishing for some healthy players this Christmas.

Without stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers surprised the San Antonio Spurs for the second time this season, 106-101, on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Paul started the game, but left in the third quarter with a left hamstring strain and did not return to the court for the final frame.

"I saw it right when it happened, and we got him out right away," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said of the injury. "Right now, I'm concerned about everybody's health. He's day to day, we'll just have to wait and see."

Despite playing just 23 minutes, Paul led the team in points with 19, and had seven rebounds, six assists and two steals, but it was the second unit that closed out the game for the Clippers. 

The L.A. reserves outscored the Spurs 58-33 in the game thanks to 14 points in a team-high 29 minutes for Mo Speights. Backup point guard Raymond Felton chipped in 13 points in Paul's absence.

"That shows the confidence we have in our bench," added Rivers. "We just left them out on the floor against their starters. We kept telling Raymond [Felton] to get to the basket. He's been a great veteran for us."

Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 27 points, and also had the most rebounds for the Spurs with nine.

"It's a long season. We will get it together as long as we keep competing, having our motivation and the mind set to try and win the game," said Leonard from his locker. "It doesn't just happen right away, you have to sustain that mindset and have it carry over."

Former Laker Pau Gasol added 21 points to go with seven rebounds in a losing effort.

"You have to give them credit," said Gasol. "Their bench stepped in and played well and got going and they all contributed. We were not very sharp and we waited until the second half to get into it and finally complete with more aggressiveness and physicality."

The Clippers jumped out to a double-digit lead in the second quarter and never looked back. They led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, without Paul on the court for the majority of the second half.

"I was watching the game from the back and I said, 'I guess they don't need me,'" joked Paul about why he didn't try and return for the fourth quarter. "Hopefully, I'll be back tomorrow."

Los Angeles' defense held the Spurrs to just 38.5 percent shooting in the first half and 31.6 percent from the three-point line in the game.

"They were better than us," said San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich, a man of little words. "Is that what you want me to say?"

Entering the game, the Spurs were 15-1 on the road, as their lopsided loss in LaLa Land was just the second defeat away from home all year. 

This is the second time this season that the Clippers defeated the Spurs, as they beat them soundly 116-92 in San Antonio early in November. 

Players of the Game: 

Chris Paul: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists.
Kawhi Leonard: 27 points, 9 rebounds

Three Takeaways:

1. Punching his 'Big Ticket': Chris Paul passed Kevin Garnett for 16th on the NBA's All-Time Steals leaders and is one shy of Isiah Thomas.

2. Gimpy Hamstring: Chris Paul left the game in the third quarter with a left hamstring strain and did not return to the game.

3. He Puts the 'Pau' in 'Poster': DeAndre Jordan put former Laker Pau Gasol on a poster when he threw down a thunderous dunk on the Spurs center.

Up Next:

Spurs (23-6): The team with the second best record in the NBA will head to Portland for a matchup with the Blazers on Friday night.

Clippers (22-8): Lob City will host the lowly Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at Staples Center.

Please refresh this page for more updates, stats and player reactions…

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<![CDATA[WATCH: DeAndre Jordan Posterizes Pau Gasol]]>Thu, 22 Dec 2016 21:37:23 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/DJ+Dunks+on+Pau+Gasol.png

Now that's not in the Holiday Spirit.

Los Angeles Clippers center was naughty on Thursday night at Staples Center when he threw down a thunderous dunk on San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol.

Despite playing for the Lakers for seven years where he saw Jordan four times a year, not to mention just down the hall in the Clippers locker room, the Spanish center decided it was a good idea to contest Jordan at the rim as he came running down the lane.

Unfortunately, things didn't work out for Gasol and Jordan did what he does best, and destroyed the 36-year-old veteran. 

Gasol shrugged it off, but fans of the Clippers continued to retweet the dunk on Twitter, stating that DJ just forced Pau into early retirement.

In any event, here's the video of the poster worthy dunk.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Whoops! Lakers Blow Big Lead Again]]>Thu, 22 Dec 2016 20:12:11 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Heat-12-22-16.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers started hot and led by as many as 19 points for the second game in a row, and for the second game in a row, they blew the lead and lost the game.

This time, the Miami Heat came back on the Lakers to win by a final score of 115-107 on a night that will probably be best remembered for Shaquille O'Neal's jersey retirement at American Airlines Arena.

O'Neal previously had his jersey retired by the Lakers and is due a rather fantastic statue at Staples Center in March, but the Heat wanted to honor the greatest center in recent memory for helping bring the franchise its first NBA title. The halftime ceremony included speeches and jokes from Heat president Pat Riley and O'Neal.

Back to the action on the court, the Lakers started the game leading 11-0 and peaked with a 42-23 lead in the second quarter. However, the short-handed Lakers only held a seven-point advantage entering the intermission.

LA was without Julius Randle, who was away for the birth of his first child, and also without the injured duo of Larry Nance Jr. and Tarik Black. Thin at the power forward position, Lakers coach Luke Walton looked to Thomas Robinson as the backup power forward.

Robinson played 18 minutes and finished with eight points, 12 rebounds, two assists and a block. Robinson made the most of his time on the court, but even his energetic efforts could not pull off a victory on Thursday.

Lou Williams led the Lakers in scoring with 27 points off the bench, while Nick Young led the starters with 20 points on 7-14 shooting. Four of the five Lakers' starters scored in double figures, with rookie Brandon Ingram being the only exception.

For Miami, the starting trio of Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Justice Winslow got bench contributions from James Johnson and Tyler Johnson to pull off the comeback and claim the victory, which ended a three-game losing streak.

Both Winslow and Whiteside finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while the two Johnsons and Dragic combined to hit 10 of 17 shots from beyond the three-point line.

Simply, the Heat started ice cold, but by the end of the night, Miami out shot the Lakers from the field and from beyond the three-point line. Miami also record more rebounds, assists and blocks than the Lakers, as LA seemed to run out of gas the longer the game went on.

With the defeat, the Lakers fell to 11-21, which means the purple and gold have now lost 10 of their last 11 games. Next, the Lakers wrap up their seven-game road trip in Orlando on Friday night before returning home to play the LA Clippers on Christmas night.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Pro Bowl Stars Want to Celebrate With Win]]>Thu, 22 Dec 2016 02:02:07 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Aaron+Donald+Pro+Bowl.png

The Rams have had a tough season.

At 4-10, the move to LaLa Land in the offseason for the former St. Louis franchise has not yielded the Hollywood ending one would have hoped for. However, there is a silver lining in the script that is the L.A. Rams 2016 season.

Two stars have emerged from the fire, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and punter Johnny Hekker, both of whom were selected to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday. 

"It's been tough," Donald said of the Rams struggles this season. "It's definitely been tough this year. I had high expectations for this year, thinking we were going to do some big things, and a lot of things just didn't go the way we expected." 

Some of those surprises were the team switching quarterbacks halfway through the season, and to see their coach get fired just four weeks later. 

After the season ends, the leader of the Rams' defense will head to Orlando for his third straight Pro Bowl. He knows that shortly thereafter, the team will have a new head coach, and likely, a new general manager.

With an entirely different coaching staff and front office, the 2017 Rams will look drastically different, but without building around Donald, they could look the same on the field. 

"We need to finish these last two games strong and try to build on what we have," Donald said of the team's final two games of the season that starts Saturday at home against the San Francisco 49ers. "Next year it's going to be a totally different team." 

One player whose role is solidified is Hekker, a special teams standout who is one-punt inside the 20 away from setting the all-time NFL record this season.

"I'm so grateful to be playing under Coach Fassel and with the rest of the special teams group that takes so much pride in what we do," Hekker said. "I really owe it to the other guys that go out there and me look good on a consistent basis." 

Hekker leads the league in punt average at 46.2 yards per kick and has surpassed 70 net yards twice already this season. Despite his historic season, he's still had some time to stop and admire his fellow Pro Bowl teammate. 

"It's quite the sight to behold, just watching Aaron dismantle a double and triple team out there," Hekker said via conference call on Tuesday. "You can tell that the other teams' offensive coordinators have to game plan for Aaron Donald, and he's still a game wrecker."

Donald has seven sacks this season, four less than last season, and two less than he had in 2014 when he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The reason for the drop off is the amount of attention that Donald receives on every snap, as coordinators often send two and three linemen at him at all times.

Pro Bowl voters saw past the statistics to see the game-changing player that Donald is, not to mention the fact that remarkably, he's been able to stay injury free this season. In doing so, Donald joins Torry Holt as the first Rams player to earn three consecutive Pro Bowl selections since 2000. 

"It's definitely a big accomplishment," he said on a conference call of his own. "Anytime you get rewarded for all the work you put into this game, you're going to be happy about it. So definitely a big deal." 

It's noteworthy, that no players on the Rams offense were selected to the Pro Bowl this season which should not come as a surprise considering that unit ranks last in the NFL. 

That could all change on Christmas Eve when the Rams look to put up some points on the hapless 49ers defense that is also last in the league, and allowing an NFL-worst 31 points per game. 

Running back Todd Gurley, who has had a disappointing sophomore campaign, has the opportunity to rush for over 100 yards for the first time this season as San Francisco allows 176.3 rushing yards per game, dead last in the league. 

"We've got to make out blocks. We can't jump offside, and we can't hold on the big runs," Rams' Offensive Coordinator Rob Boras said on what it will take for Gurley to break out in Week 15. "I thought Todd was running really strong in the first half [against Seattle]. We need to find that rhythm and more consistency. Hopefully we can keep handing him the ball where he can find one of those explosive runs."

For the Rams to win on Saturday, Gurley will need to have a big game, and that will likely mean that the team is in the contest for it's entirety, unlike their lopsided 28-0 loss in their opener. If they can do that, there's a strong chance that the team can celebrate Christmas on a high note this year, with two Pro Bowlers and a victory over their rivals.



Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young's Odd Russian Massage Therapy]]>Wed, 21 Dec 2016 16:57:07 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nick-Young-russian-massage.jpg

Since returning from a calf injury, Nick Young has slowly popped back into form and even surpassed his surprising early season output. The 31-year-old is shooting 56.5 percent from the field over his past three games and an unbelievable 51.7 percent from beyond the three-point line over that stretch.

Young, who is as famous for his personality off the court as he is for his scoring on the court, seemingly did not hang his head after an awful end to the 2015-16 season that even had his future with the team in question. Growing up in Los Angeles and looking up to Kobe Bryant, Young ultimately has assumed the role vacated by Bryant: starting shooting guard for the LA Lakers.

Young, somehow, seemingly saw this coming.

Only three weeks after Mamba Day, when Bryant scored 60 points in an incredible career finale, the Prophet of Swag recorded an, um, interesting interview for a show called "Here's the Rub" with hilarious Russian personality Nikolai Popov.

The episode was released on Wednesday with a giggling Young not at all worried about his future with the Lakers.

"He's a hater," Young joked about Bryant throwing his Adidas in the trash following the legend's 60-point game. Bryant refused to sign Young's shoes after the game, but no. 24 did eventually sign Nike's for Young. In the interview, though, Young appeared confident that Bryant's exit would lead to his arrival.

"Let me shine," Young said in reference to the post-Bryant era. "Kobe took a lot of my shine."

Young has clearly benefited from Bryant moving on, though the former USC Trojan also seemingly benefited from the departure of old school coach Byron Scott and the arrival of the younger Luke Walton. Also, Young's offseason work has translated to both ends of the court, which has been a pleasant surprise for the team.

The oddly entertaining interview is only 10 minutes long and features Young laughing uncontrollably at the Russian host's blunt interview style, which is juxtaposed alongside a strange massage session that involves being hit by brushes at one point and drinking Mexican beer in a hot tub at another.

"So people throwing trees on you is supposed to help your body?" Young asks the Russian host while the masseuses are performing the odd therapeutic practice.

Whatever it was that Young did during the offseason, it seems to be working. We're not sure if getting hit by trees at a Russian spa has Young shooting the best percentage of his career from the field, 46.5 percent, or shooing the best three-point percentage of his career, 41.1 percent, but somehow getting hit across the back with a bundle of shrubs makes about as much sense as the 31-year-old suddenly playing, arguably, the best defense of his career.

To see Young, Popov and the entire bizarre episode, Click Here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for GQ]]>
<![CDATA[Larry Nance Jr. Undergoes MRI, Out Indefinitely]]>Wed, 21 Dec 2016 16:45:35 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Larry-Nance-Jr-MRI-results.jpg

Larry Nance Jr. is known as one of the Los Angeles Lakers' hustle players, and on Tuesday night, he stripped the ball loose into the Charlotte Hornets' backcourt and chased it down.

At some point during the frantic hustle play, Nance realized that something was wrong. He had hopped on one leg at the end of the play but stood motionless waiting for trainer Marco Nunez to come over.

After a short conference, Metta World Peace and Thomas Robinson helped carry Nance into the visiting locker room. The initial diagnosis called for a left knee injury, and the x-rays at the arena came back negative. Knee injuries generally don't involve bone fractures, so that hardly put Nance in the clear. Several sources reported that Nance left the arena on crutches.

The team announced that Nance would undergo an MRI in Miami on Wednesday to further diagnose the injury. Late Wednesday afternoon, the team finally announced the results of the MRI. Nance had a bone bruise, but further results were inconclusive due to swelling.

The team announced Nance will undergo further tests on Sunday, when the team returns from its seven-game road trip.

"That's going to be a tough loss," Lakers coach Luke Walton told Spectrum Sportsnet cameras following Tuesday's loss in Charlotte. "Larry gives us a lot of versatility. He's probably our most intelligent player as far as reading defenses and being able to cover for people."

So far, the results of the initial x-ray and the initial MRI still provide hope that the injury could be less serious than Nance's reaction on the court led on. The former Wyoming Cowboy suffered a torn ACL back in his college days, but that injury occurred in his right knee.

On Sunday, team physician Dr. David McAllister of UCLA Health will examine the forward and provide an update on Nance's injury and his future. Until then, Nance is officially out indefinitely.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jeff Fisher Wants Revenge on Rams]]>Tue, 20 Dec 2016 20:47:28 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Jeff+Fisher+Wants+to+play+Rams.png

"The best revenge is massive success." – Frank Sinatra

Jeff Fisher spoke candidly of his desire to get revenge on the Los Angeles Rams after they fired him last Monday, following a 42-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13. 

Fisher sat down with Charissa Thompson of Fox Sports in his first interview since the firing, and vented his frustration with the organization and how the season unfolded.

"Bottom line is I didn't win enough games," began Fisher when asked what happened. 

Fisher admitted that he was taken by surprise by the timing of his termination, but knew he was on the hot seat after the team had lost eight of their last nine games before the final decision to part ways was made.

"I knew things were getting tough, but I didn't anticipate this," he said. "I always thought that depending on what happened the last three weeks, there might be that potential, but on a short week it caught me off guard."

Fans in Los Angeles became increasingly frustrated with the team's performance and Fisher's public feud with Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson.

As the team continued to lose, news of Fisher signing a two-year contract extension leaked, as did reports that his relationship with General Manager had turned "toxic."

"Somehow it got out and that became an issue," he said of the extension. "None of it was handled appropriately. In my opion, the successful NFL teams stay quiet, they don't leak things and that was a frustration of mine." 

Fisher confirmed that the decision to draft Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft was largely his, but said that it was a "unanimous decision."

Both in his interview with NFL Gameday and Sirius XM NFL Radio on Tuesday, Fisher bestowed praise on Goff.

"He's going to be the face of this franchise and he's going to be great," Fisher said. 

"He's still learning as you saw on Thursday night when he took that hit," he told Sirius XM NFL radio. "Don't take those hits. It hasn't translated into wins yet, but he's going to be special."

For Fisher, his pathway to "massive success" starts with an opportunity to coach another NFL team, something that he said he wants very much.

When asked where that next opportunity might be or when it will come, Fisher just had one requirement for the next head coaching job he gets. 

"I want a chance to play the Rams," he said with a huge grin on his face.

That's going to be fun to watch.

The Rams next take the field on Saturday, December 24, at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum against the San Francisco 49ers.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Image]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Stung by Hornets, Larry Nance Jr. Hurt]]>Tue, 20 Dec 2016 18:45:06 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Hornets-12-20-16.jpg

On Tuesday night in Charlotte, the Los Angeles Lakers hit new heights for the 2016-17 NBA season when the team scored 73 points in the first half, but Kemba Walker's 28 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds combined with a disasterous third quarter gave the Hornets a 117-113 victory.

In the first half, the Lakers shot 66.7 percent from three-point land, as Jordan Clarkson and Nick Young combined to hit nine of their 12 three-point attempts from the depths of the NBA three-point line. While the Lakers had to be happy with their ball movement on offense, the fact that the Charlotte Hornets scored 59 points of their own in the first 24 minutes had to be cause for concern.

After the hometown Hornets scored 16 of the first 20 points following the intermission, the Lakers' lead had been trimmed to a skinny two points only four minutes into the third quarter. A couple minutes later, the Hornets took an 82-80 lead with 5:52 remaining in the third quarter.

The game had changed.

The Lakers' had led by as many as 19 points in the first half, but the team tasted a four-point deficit in the forgettable third quarter. Even worse, Larry Nance Jr. came up limp following a rush for a loose ball and appeared to be unable to put weight on his left leg. He had to be helped off the court and into the locker room by his teammates. Nance was initially diagnosed with a left knee injury and did not return to the game. Spectrum SportsNet reported that X-rays came back negative, but Nance will undergo an MRI on Wednesday in Miami to better evaluate the injury.

Nance's exit seemed to serve as the smelling salt for the Lakers, who immediately went on a run and rallied to take a six-point lead. However, those effects wore off, and LA entered the fourth quarter only leading by two points.

In the fourth quarter, Clarkson continued to hit the mark from long range, as the Lakers' backup shooting guard set a career-high with seven made three-pointers in the game on nine attempts. Unfortunately, Clarkson did not get up more attempts later in the game. As a team, the Lakers finished with 16 makes on 33 attempts from beyond the three-point line.

The final quarter proved to be a back-and-forth ordeal. With two minutes remaining in the game, the Lakers and Hornets were tied at 113-113. The score would remain unchanged until Nicolas Batum hit a running bank shot with 13.0 second remaining to give Charlotte the 115-113 lead.

Out of a timeout, the Lakers tossed the ball in to Young at the top of the key, but the 31-year-old's three-point shot did not drop. LA then had to play the fouling game, and a couple of made foul shots late, the Hornets claimed the 117-113 victory.

Notes: Batum finished with 23 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in the victory. Lou Williams finished with 16 points and eight assists. Clarkson finished with a team-high 25 points on 9-13 shooting, to go along with five assists. LA dropped to 11-20 on the season, while the Hornets improved to 16-13.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Dodger Matt Kemp Selling Sprawling San Diego Mansion]]>Tue, 20 Dec 2016 22:49:34 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/matt-kemp-poway-mansion.jpgMLB player Matt Kemp has listed his mansion in San Diego for $11.5 million.

Photo Credit: Antis Real Estate Photography/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Padres Player Matt Kemp's Poway Mansion Up for Sale]]>Tue, 20 Dec 2016 17:30:49 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/matt-kemp-poway-mansion.jpgFormer Padres outfielder Matt Kemp has listed his mansion in Poway for $11.5 million.

Photo Credit: Antis Real Estate Photography/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Road Trip Stops in Charlotte]]>Tue, 20 Dec 2016 13:10:06 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DAngelo-Russell-12-20-16.JPG

After a day off to rest his knee, D'Angelo Russell expects to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday evening in North Carolina, as the LA Lakers face the Charlotte Hornets in their fifth game of the seven-game road trip.

LA is 1-4 since departing from the relative warmth of Southern California, but the team has displayed a renewed jump in energy over the past couple of games. Even without Russell in the lineup, the Lakers stayed competitive with the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Philadelphia 76ers in a wire-to-wire victory on the front end of the trip.

A return to health and form from the likes of Russell and Nick Young has boosted LA, after the team had been on an eight-game losing streak prior to the win in Philadelphia. Young scored 32 points in the loss to Cleveland on 12-19 shooting, including 8-14 from three-point land. Young also played an efficient 21 minutes against the Sixers a night earlier, making 5-9 from the field for 15 points.

Russell played four games in four different cities over six nights before sitting out in Cleveland, with the official injury report listing "rest." Russell practiced on Monday and expects to play on Tuesday without any limitations, but the 20-year-old did miss 11 straight games with a sore knee prior to stretch of four games in six days.

Everything considered, sitting out one odd game following a quick comeback is not cause for concern, but if Russell continues to struggle to stay in the lineup going forward, especially as the Lakers' schedule eases up, alarm bells should be sounding inside the Lakers' training room.

The Lakers enter Tuesday's game with a record of 11-19, which is still within sight of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, current held by the 13-16 Portland Trail Blazers. The Hornets, however, are not exactly pushovers. With a record of 15-13, Charlotte is the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference. Incidentally, that record would place the Hornets as the eighth-best team in the West.

Ahead of Tuesday's game, Charlotte has lost four of its last five, but all four of those loses came on the road. Point guard Kemba Walker leads the Hornets with 22.4 points to go along with 5.3 assists per game. Nicolas Batum leads the team in minutes, 33.5, and assists, 5.4, to go along with 13.7 points per game. Largely riding that combination, the Hornets currently lead the Southeast Division and look like legitimate playoff contenders.

Tip-off is at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers' Blake Griffin to Miss 4-6 Weeks]]>Mon, 19 Dec 2016 03:57:33 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Griffin+Knee+Surgery.png

Another season, another major injury.

Los Angeles Clippers' forward Blake Griffin is expected to miss between three and six weeks after he undergoes minor knee surgery after a doctor's visit on Monday. 

The team has yet to announce the news, but multiple outlets are reporting that Griffin will undergo a procedure to "clean up" his right knee and isn't expected to return to the Clippers lineup until the end of January. 

Griffin is no stranger to injuries. The former 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year missed more than half of the 2015-2016 season after he broke his hand punching a team equipment manager outside of a restaurant in Toronto.

After his return, Griffin suffered another injury, this time to his quadriceps that took him out of the final three games of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Griffin sat out a game at Staples Center last week with knee pain, but accompanied the Clippers on their recent three-game road trip which concluded Sunday in Washingtoin D.C.

Griffin scored 26 points and played 38 minutes in the game, but it's likely he's been playing through the pain, and the team sought it best to undergo the procedure now, before it became a lingering or more severe issue in the latter half of the season.

The Clippers currently stand in fourth place in the NBA's Western Conference, but could slide even further in the standings without Griffin. The five-time All-Star is currently leading the team in scoring at 21.9 points, second in rebounds with 8.9 and second in assists at 4.6 per game.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Life on the Road, It's A Trip]]>Sat, 17 Dec 2016 13:12:07 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ingram-road-trip-temple.JPG

Ask the locker room of the Los Angeles Lakers, and most players will tell you life on the road in the NBA is far duller than most fans would imagine.

Today's basketball stars have grown up in the social media age or at least adapted to it, and so, the days of going clubbing until 4 a.m. on a game day are rare, if not altogether reserved for the past. On a Lakers' team full of young talent in its early 20's, 37-year-old Metta World Peace is the connection to the past, though he, in many ways, embodies the transition from the past to the present.

"Honestly, I don't know man," World Peace responds when asked if he has any standout memories from his first year on the road. "I was probably drunk half the goddamn time. I couldn't tell you. Rookie year was crazy, man. I can't even remember that [stuff]. I was drunk all the time."

"Metta's come a long way," Lakers coach Luke Walton, who is actually younger than World Peace, says upon being told of the former Ron Artest's recollections, or lack thereof.

World Peace says, "In Chicago, we were plain losers, so [expletive] it, right? In my third year in Chicago, I started to take it seriously. By the time I got to Indiana, it was a transition, but I would still drink. I didn't notice how bad drinking was until my first year here (in Los Angeles). I didn't realize how bad the alcohol was."

That first year in Los Angeles is when World Peace and Walton became teammates, going on to win the 2010 NBA championship. World Peace shares his reformed wisdom with the passion of an evangelical, "When I was 25, I felt worse than I feel now. I was still balling, but as far as my body, everything was sore. Everything hurt."

The alcohol had been cut out by the time World Peace arrived in LA, and Walton remembers a monk-like Artest who was so health obsessed that he refused to even eat the catered airplane food.

"I remember every city we'd land in, Metta would go find the Whole Foods and buy his meals for the whole trip," the coach recalls.

Though Walton probably did not go through his entire rookie year drunk, he doesn't remember much about those early road trips in the NBA either: "The only thing I remember about it was being blown away, like when we got off the bus, they just told us, 'We'll see you tomorrow morning at 10 am,' In college, you have a film session, team dinner all of that stuff. You get to the NBA and you get to a city and they just tell you 'You're on your own for the rest of the day.' That's the only thing."

So what did Walton do with his free time? "Some cities, you have friends from college, so you go meet them for dinner. Other cities, you go out to dinner with your teammates. Our bench used to all go to the movies together at least once on every road trip."

Walton adds, "You find stuff to do."

Some players find trouble, but the current Lakers have steered clear of the tabloids, which is tough considering the ubiquity of camera phones and the ease with which anyone can publicize any moment via social media. So what do the players do on the road, then?

For the younger additions to the NBA like Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac and Jordan Clarkson, life on the NBA road is often about going on special trips to historical sites and getting privileged access that comes along with being a member of the Lakers.

"Me and Anthony Brown went and visited the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination site," Nance thinks back to one of those special trips during his rookie year. "That was cool to see a little bit of the history. Private screening of movies he had, and that was a bit of the exclusive NBA experience. It was elite. It was awesome."

Thinking a little harder, Nance's voice jumps a couple octaves, "Actually, the coolest thing? We got to tour the NASA facility, and we got to learn how to fly. Well, not learn how, but fly simulators and all that. It was really cool. Honestly, if we get to do it again, I'll be in there every single time."

While Nance tries to think of interesting things to say about the road, Clarkson interrupts and jokes about how they get sleeping bags and sleep in the same room. It's a joke, but the road is about building camaraderie as much as it is about anything else.

"Probably the JFK memorial," Clarkson says when asked about his favorite museum visit on the road. "Just venturing off and seeing stuff that I haven't seen before. Just to see about the conspiracies, the facts, to see all that."

Life on the road in the NBA offers an extended, specialized education beyond the basketball and the social aspects of being celebrities and successful at a young age. More important than going out for a meal or learning about the city, the NBA road life is about recovery.

"It's learning how to buy time while resting your body," Nance says. "Sometimes you want to go like there's a mall down the road, 'I want to go there,' but then, you know what, 'I just came off a back to back.'"

Nance says he spends 90 percent of his time in his hotel room, referring to himself as a "Netflix aficionado." Related, "Chill" is the word most often used to describe what activity players do on the road. "Nap" is a close second.

Nance admits he's just not a club guy, though that option could be available considering the down time and the amount of freedom afforded to NBA players. Perhaps a window into the second-year forward's mindset comes when he thinks about which cities he most wants to visit and why. The 24-year-old is looking forward to going back to Chicago because it has a nice hotel, and he's most excited about returning to San Antonio, of all places, because the hotel the team occupies has a particular dish that agrees with him.

"The salmon and mushroom risotto," Nance says with hearts in his eyes. "We stayed (in San Antonio) for two days last year, and I had it probably seven times. Best food on the road."

From Walton to World Peace to Clarkson and Nance, every player said that long road trips force team bonding. Seemingly, it's inevitable.

"Yes, absolutely," Walton says about the bonding component of long road trips. "When you get all the other distractions away and it's just you and the team, I think it's a fine line. I think you should bond nicely on the first part of the trip and when you're on a trip as long as we are, by the last day everyone's kind of sick of each other and ready to get home, but there's definitely bonding that happens on road trips for sure."

Clarkson summarizes his coach's thoughts far more succinctly, "We don't have anybody else to see but us. All day, we're just chilling."

Providing a far more unique perspective, Zubac is a 19-year-old rookie who played professionally in Europe before joining the Lakers. Due to his young age, the team assigned Zubac to the LA D-Fenders for stretches early in the season, and so, the Croatian experienced first-hand the difference between luxurious travel in the NBA and the modest road life in the NBA Development League.

"In Europe, you have to eat breakfast with whole team together," Zubac says in a thick, endearing European accent. "You have to eat lunch, whole team together. You eat dinner, whole team together. And here you don't have to do that."

Zubac explains that road trips in Spain meant hopping on a bus for a single game and returning home, so the idea of an extended seven-game cross country road trip involving private jets was as foreign to him as he was to the snow-less winters of LA. Getting dropped down to the D-League, though, offered him a reminder of how good life is in the NBA.

"It's a lot different," Zubac says about playing with the D-Fenders. "We fly with commercial planes. You need to wait a lot for the check-in, for boarding. We have worse hotels than the NBA. Everything is different. Everything you do is one level below the NBA."

Zubac thought about what he loved most about his first road trip in the NBA, "First time, it was like you get there 15 minutes before flight, before taking off. You don't have to go to check-in or anything. You just go on the aircraft and enter the plane."

The private plane is something World Peace remembers from his first year in the NBA, too. In fact, it's about the only thing he remembers.

"I remember the plane," World Peace says with a light bulb appearing over his head, after previously drawing a blank about his rookie road trips and blaming it on the alcohol. "We had an amazing plane. The plane had suites. I got there right after (Michael) Jordan and those guys, and I never had money. The plane had suites, so we had a door and a curtain, lay all the way back, put the curtain up."

World Peace says with a giant smile that further goes to explain why that rookie year was a bit hazy, "We had a bar on the plane!"

Approaching two decades later, World Peace contends that the Bulls' plane was still better than the Lakers' current private service. "Yes, it was insane. I've never been on a plane like that since. Even though I've been on Dallas' plane, their plane wasn't even like this Bulls' plane. The Bulls plane was insane."

Asked what he does on the road these days, World Peace says he mostly stays in his hotel room and writes music. Oh, and he also claims he's writing three books simultaneously. Of course, he is.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Offseason Move: Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez Snags Lavish Estate]]>Sun, 18 Dec 2016 11:30:23 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-adrian-gonzalez-san-diego-home-tn.jpgIf you were wondering what Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Adrian Gonzalez was up to during the offseason, he was making a multimillion-dollar real estate transaction like a boss.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Nina Wells]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Sixers, Snap Losing Streak ]]>Fri, 16 Dec 2016 20:56:41 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-beat-Sixers-12-16-16.jpg

On Allen Iverson Hall of Fame night, the Los Angeles Lakers had all the answers for the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.

LA jumped out to an 11-0 lead and proceeded to win 100-89 in a wire-to-wire victory that snapped an eight-game losing streak. Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell, who finally looked fully recovered from a sore knee that forced him to miss 12 games, combined well with forward Julius Randle to give the Lakers the much-needed victory.

Randle finished with 25 points on 10-13 shooting, nine rebound, four assists and three steals in 33 minutes. Russell ended his night with 15 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes.

"He was real big time," Russell responded when asked about Randle's contributions after the game. "I think he's capable of doing that every night. Just bringing that energy level. He's destined to make shots. He's destined for the ball to fall in his lap, for him to make plays. I feel like the sooner he realizes that we need him every night, we'll be a different team."

With Randle and Russell back combining well, other Lakers' starters like Nick Young found space to operate. Young finished with 15 points on 5-9 shooting in 21 minutes. With fellow former Sixer Lou Williams continuing to light up the scoreboard in the city he previously called home, LA comfortably led by 13 points at the half. Williams eventually ended the night with 18 points and four steals in 23 minutes.

"I thought that we came out and set our tone defensively early on and had one of our better defensive games for the most part of tonight," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.

In the third quarter, the Lakers brought out the boo birds from the Philly fanatics. LA used the same combination of players that had helped build the initial lead to take a 22-point advantage, but a late Sixers' 9-0 run had the fans re-energized and only trailing by 10 points entering the fourth quarter.

When the Sixers cut the deficit to only seven points with nine minutes remaining in the game, the crowd began to believe a comeback was possible. However, four short minutes later, the Lakers led by 12 points and the hope, along with the home fans, began to dissipate in concert with the game clock.

Despite a late push by the home team, the Lakers held on to collect a much-needed victory and improve to 11-18 on the season.

"It feels good to get this one, stopping that losing streak," Russell said after the game.

Next, the LA travels to Cleveland to play the defending NBA champs on the second night of a back-to-back.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Player Pleads Not Guilty to Utah Sexual Assault Charges]]>Fri, 16 Dec 2016 13:09:10 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/osaAP_471617987459.jpg

A suspended University of Southern California football player pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he sexually assaulted a friend who passed out after a summertime party in his home state of Utah.

A judge ordered Osa Masina, 19, to stand trial after the woman testified that alcohol and marijuana left her nearly unable to move when she woke up on a basement couch in the middle of the attack. The woman said she'd known him since high school in suburban Salt Lake City before the attack that left her scared, helpless and injured.

Masina's lawyer Greg Skordas has said any sexual activity was consensual and his client's perspective on what happened is different than the woman's. Defense attorneys could appeal the decision to send the case to trial, though that decision hasn't been made yet.

Masina and his teammate Don Hill were also investigated after the woman said she was sexually assaulted two weeks earlier when she visited Masina in California, court documents say.

She said the pair assaulted her at Hill's off-campus apartment after giving her marijuana, alcohol and the anti-anxiety prescription drug Xanax. Masina took video and sent it to the victim's ex-boyfriend, authorities said.

The woman said she remembered parts of what happened in California but was in denial about it before she reported the Utah assault. No charges have been filed in California.

Masina is appealing a decision to suspend him from USC. Hill also was suspended.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Tarik Black "Questionable" Against Sixers]]>Fri, 16 Dec 2016 13:02:05 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Tarik-Black-ankle-injury.jpg

PHILADELPHIA, PA—On Friday, Lakers coach Luke Walton smiled at positive injury news, as he passed on news that backup center Tarik Black's status had been upgraded to "questionable" for Friday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Walton explained that Black has an impact on the overall chemistry of the second unit, and the center's time on the sidelines due to an ankle sprain had hurt LA, especially on defense.

"We've got some small guards out there defensively," Walton explained. "(Black) blocks shots for us. He makes plays. He gets us out running. He dives to the basket hard, so if (opponents) decide to double or they miss their rotations, we get some easy looks. He hits the offensive glass pretty hard and gets us second, third looks."

From early in the preseason, Walton designated a second-unit core of Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram and Black. While Walton toyed with the idea of starting Jordan Clarkson or Lou Williams, the trio of forwards stayed steady with the second unit until injuries finally forced Ingram into the starting rotation.

"They're three of our more active defenders," Walton spoke about the second unit combination of Nance, Ingram and Black. "We get multiple defenders that can guard multiple positions. You have the versatility to do switching and they can cover up for other players and rebound and run."

Though Walton seemed excited about Black's progress, he cautioned that Black would play a limited role if he is passed fit. The coach even hinted that he may hold Black out regardless of whether the backup center has the green light from the training staff. Black went through the entire practice on Thursday, but Walton mentioned that he noticed a bit of a limp on the 24-year-old.

"If he does play, it won't be a ton," Walton said.

Entering Friday night's game in Philadelphia, Black has missed five games due to the ankle sprain. Even if he does not take part on Friday, Black appears close to a return.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Poopfest: Rams Fall to Seahawks in Seattle]]>Thu, 15 Dec 2016 20:53:12 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Rams+Fall+to+Seattle.png

The lamp may be different, but the lights are the same.

The Los Angeles Rams offense struggled again as they fell to the Seattle Seahawks, 24-3, in their first game without head coach Jeff Fisher on NBC's Thursday Night Football. 

Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers as the Seahawks clinched the NFC West Division with the victory.

Meanwhile, in a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions, the Rams continued their downward spiral as they dropped their fifth consecutive game and ninth in their last ten matchups. 

Both teams were playing on just three days rest in an NFC West matchup deemed the "Poopfest," by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman throughout the week.

Despite most of the team not playing at 100 percent, the Rams started the game with an unexpected energy and excitement under new interim head coach John Fassel. 

Fassel proved to be every bit the risk taker he was as Special Teams coordinator for the Rams when he went for it on 4th and 1 from the Seattle 7-yardline on just L.A.'s second drive of the game.

Two drives later, with the Rams trailing 7-0, Fassel called for a fake punt on 4th and 9 from their own 30, but Johnny Hekker's pass fell short to a wide-open Michael Thomas that would have been enough for the first down.

With nothing to lose, the Rams played loose and free throughout the contest, but unfortunately a tiger doesn't change it's stripes, and the offensive inefficiency problems that plagued the team all season continued to rear its ugly head on Thursday night.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Rams had less than 100 yards on total offense, and just three points on the board.

Jared Goff finished 13 for 25 for 135 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Todd Gurley had 38 yards on 14 carries and Kenny Britt led the Rams receiving corps with four catches for 50 yards.

The game may have been decided on a controversial call at the end of the third quarter. On first and goal, Russell Wilson threw a pass to Jimmy Graham in the corner of the end zone that appeared to have been intercepted by linebacker Bryce Hager.

The play was ruled incomplete on the field and Fassel challenged the call, but after review, the ruling was upheld. IT was a game-changing decision as Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin two plays later to give the Seahawks a two-touchdown lead.

On Seattle's next drive, Wilson connected with wide receiver Tyler Lockett on a 57-yard touchdown bomb that gave the Seahawks a 24-3 lead. Locket finished the game with seven receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown.

Goff left the game early in the fourth quarter and was taken to the locker room for concussion testing after he took a shot from Sherman inside the five-yardline. In total, four different players had to leave the game for concussion testing.

The Rams three points scored was the second lowest total of the season since their were shutout 28-0 by the 49ers on Monday Night Football in the opening game of the season.

Players of the Game:

Russell Wilson: 221 yards, three touchdowns.
Tyler Locket: 6 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Seattle Defense: 3 points allowed.

Three Takeaways:

1. Poopfest: The Thursday night matchup between the two NFC West Division opponents was officially titled the "Poopfest," by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman who blasted the NFL for scheduling games on Thursday night during the week.

2. Ankle Breaker: Seattle Seahwaks wide receiver, Doug Baldwin, broke the ankles of Rams' cornerback Troy Hill during a third quarter touchdown catch. Hill was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster on Wednesday.

3. Law and Order: Leave it to NBC to find a use for the theme song of one of their most successful TV shows, Law and Order, during a replay review in the third quarter.

Up Next:

Rams (4-10): Los Angeles will get eight days off to rest before they host the San Francisco 49ers at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Christmas Eve.

Seahawks (9-4-1): Seattle will also have eight days off before they host the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Eve.

Please refresh this page for more stats, updates, and player reactions…



Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Host Winter Wonderland for Kids ]]>Thu, 15 Dec 2016 19:15:42 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/1-2VZtOsxDCHMCg52h6OQfPw.jpeg

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.

The Los Angeles Dodgers with the help of their foundation, made a lot of those dreams a reality on Wednesday as they hosted more than 300 schoolchildren from the L.A. area at Dodger Stadium for a Children's Holiday Party.

More than a dozen different elementary schools participated in the event that featured games, gifts, Santa Claus and snow!

The team created a two-lane sledding hill that kids got to race down throughout the afternoon. Dodgers' outfielder Joc Pederson was on hand to hang out with the kids and participate in the many activities, including a snowball fight for the ages.

"The Dodgers are thrilled to welcome children who live and learn near Dodger Stadium." Said Naomi Rodriguez, Dodger vice-president of external affairs and community relations. "These children and their families are part of the Dodger family. It's magical watching them play in the snow, talk to Santa, and head home with toys and shoes. We are grateful to our partners for their generous support."

The snow was provided by Artic Glacier Ice, and each child received a free pair of shows from Sketchers. Lunch was catered by Levy Restaurants and toys for the kids came courtesy of Mattel.



Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Players React to Death of Craig Sager]]>Thu, 15 Dec 2016 18:11:59 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Craig_Sager_Death.png

He will be missed.

Craig Sager put the "color" in color commentary as the iconic NBA sideline reporter entertained millions with his interesting and provocative interviews with basketball legends over the years, but he was perhaps most known for his eccentric attire, as you could always spot Sager a mile away because of his flashy and sometimes flamboyant sports coats.

Sager died on Thursday morning after a more than two-year battle with leukemia. Sager underwent multiple bone marrow transplants and was constantly in-and-out of treatment since 2014.

Since the news broke that Sager had passed away at the age of 65, multiple athletes throughout the world of sports have share their stories and send their messages of condolences to Sager's family.

Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Doc Rivers released a statement on Thursday on Sager's passing as well as multiple players on the team.

"The NBA lost a giant today, and I've lost a dear friend," Rivers said in the statement. "Craig and I have owned a business together, we worked together at TNT, and he has covered me and the teams I've worked with over the years. What always stood out to me were the traits he possessed that we want all our great players to have. He was the hardest worker and the most unselfish person I know. On behalf of the entire Clipper family, we extend our sincere condolences to his family. Heaven just got brighter."

 



Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton Addresses "Soft" Comments]]>Thu, 15 Dec 2016 15:28:08 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-practice-12-15-16.png

PHILADELPHIA, PA—At Temple University, the Los Angeles Lakers met for a rare Thursday practice following the only literal "road" leg of their seven-game road trip. LA took a bus from New York City to Philadelphia before getting onto the court of the Temple Owls on a below-freezing day in the City of Brotherly Love.

"We got some good stuff done," Lakers coach Luke Walton shared with a small enough media contingent that even the coach commented on the lack of faces holding recorders and the absolute absence of television cameras.

"Guys voiced some opinions and made some good points," Walton continued. "That's what we're looking for. We want guys constantly stepping up and taking on bigger roles. It's not easy for young guys in this league to do that, but I was happy with the response today."

Walton was referring to forwards Thomas Robinson and Tarik Black, neither of whom played in Wednesday's forgettable loss to the Brooklyn Nets, speaking passionately to the team following the Saturday practice session. Robinson went first and seemed to focus on keeping composure on the court, focusing on and fighting for possessions. Black emphasized appreciating the opportunity of being in the privileged position of being NBA players and playing for the Lakers and not to take that for granted. Black reminded his teammates that the primary focus should always be basketball.

"We didn't ask them," Walton said the two players volunteered to speak to the team. "They both asked if they could say something. And they both did and made solid points. That's what we want out of our players. We don't want it constantly to come from coaching and us being the only ones talking. We want the players doing stuff like that."

Walton added, "Only when it comes from the heart and they mean it."

Of course, the coach had seemingly yelled at his players following the loss in Brooklyn the night before and also called his team "soft," which the players took as a challenged issued.

On Thursday, Walton explained.

"I don't think that we are mentally soft. I think at times, we play mentally soft, and there's a big difference," Walton clarified his position. "We got a group that I think had a lot of success early on, relatively speaking, and basically, along that way, lost our priorities and lost our focus on what we were doing to have that type of success. I think a lot of that is part of the mental game. And being able to get that back, we haven't found it yet. I think it's something that we have within us, but we've got to dig deep and find it and bring it out."

So did the fast start, positive press and relative success go to his players' heads?

Walton paused and thought hard before responding, "I know that we were getting a lot of love around town, and I know that feels good. And I know that when you feel good, you lose some of that toughness and that edge, and you want to keep it, but I don't know the answer to that."

Asked about raising his voice, Walton said he had no problem yelling at his players. However, he didn't believe in publicly ripping into players.

"I have no problem with yelling or being upset at all," Walton said with a stern face. "I don't believe in doing it to the players in front of people, but when we're in the privacy of our locker room, I have no problem with that."

Afterward, Walton sat down and hung out with Julius Randle, took a couple shots light-hearted shots at Ivica Zubac and Larry Nance Jr. and walked off the court with a smile on his face.

He may have yelled at his players and challenged them fewer than 24 hours earlier, but he's still a players' coach that continues to maintain open communication with his players.

Notes: Lou Williams was excused from Thursday's practice, but Walton said he expected the team's designated scorer off the bench to be in uniform on Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. Black practiced with the team on Thursday, but Walton admitted that the backup center was limping a bit. Black's return from an ankle injury depends on his ability to recover from Thursday's practice and Friday's shootaround. Jose Calderon ran on the sidelines but did not take part in practice. Walton called Calderon's running "progress" but did not offer a timeline on the veteran's return.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton Shares Thoughts on Craig Sager's Passing]]>Thu, 15 Dec 2016 18:49:06 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Craig-Sager-Lakers.jpg

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton had barely completed practice on the campus of Temple University when he heard the news that Craig Sager had passed.

"He's such a part of our game that even though he wasn't out there playing, you would turn on a TV on a Tuesday night, part of the fun of the entertainment of that we do is seeing Craig in one of his crazy suits, and he's phenomenal at his job," Walton said when asked about the longtime sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT.

Walton continued, "And he just brought something every night he was on TV. It's sad. It's sad. We should all mourn his loss and count our blessings for our health."

Sager lost the battle with cancer but continued to fight on and turned up for work on television in between treatments far beyond the point anyone could have expected.

"(Sager) did it on a public stage," Walton said. "I can't even imagine how hard that's got to be to put on that face and come and do the job that you love and knowing that you're not at your best or feeling at your best and fighting for your life and still out there fighting that fight and not letting it beat you and not staying home all day. And he's still out there living his life as long as he can."

Walton concluded, "He's an incredible, strong, strong man."

Los Angeles Lakers owner and president Jeanie Buss also released an official statement from the team mourning Sager's passing: "Craig was a great reporter, a wonderful person, and an absolute joy to work with. He put up a valiant and courageous fight, but unfortunately, cancer won. He will be terribly missed, and our condolences go out to Craig’s family and his many friends."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton "Raised His Voice," Called Team "Soft"]]>Wed, 14 Dec 2016 20:54:46 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Luke-Walton.png

BROOKLYN, New York - Following Wednesday night's loss to the Brooklyn Nets, which was the eighth straight loss for the Los Angeles Lakers, Head Coach Luke Walton called the team out and challenged them.

"He raised his voice," Lakers guard Nick Young said after the game. "He got his point across today."

Young expanded on what that meant: "Just mentally being soft and calling us out. We got to step up to the plate. I know I'm not soft. My team mates (are) not soft. So we got to show him and prove ourselves. He believes too much in us for us to go out like this."

Of course, Walton received a notable $15,000 fine for fighting for his players on Friday night, so watching his team fall apart against the lowly Nets understandably irked the 36-year-old. 

Asked if the response was positive and if it was what the right medicine for the sickly looking team, Young responded, "I think everything is needed right now. Whatever it takes to get us out there, talking, yelling at each other. Everything is needed right now."

Young confirmed, "Yes, he's challenging us."

Forward Larry Nance Jr., who threw down a highlight dunk that had fans and reporters still buzzing after the game, expanded on the coach's message.

"It's true," Nance agreed with his coach's words. "We've been getting mentally outworked. We've just been lack of focus. Knowing our personnel. There's been a lot of issues we've had. I think the reliance we've had is due to a weakness mentally. So, I think he's right."

However, Nance couldn't offer a cause, "If we knew why it was happening, it wouldn't be. So, I don't know what to tell you."

Nance continued, "We've got to go the drawing board, figure something out and get on top of it before it compounds even worse."

The Lakers were 10-10 and looked like a potential playoff contender prior to the losing streak. Eight games later, this team looks headed for the lottery and even possibly a team that could finish in the bottom three and keep its draft pick yet again. But Wednesday night in Brooklyn wasn't the first time the coach had been upset with his guys, of course.

"We've heard it before," Nance explained. "Luke is a player's coach, but he doesn't lack the…he can get on us."

Nance added hopefully, "That's not the first time we've heard it, so I just hope we respond to it well."

Forward Julius Randle also agreed with his fellow teammates.

Said Randle, "I think it is a challenge. We got to step up. Coach is exactly right. We got to man up. We go to get back to being us. We've got too many guys pouting or whatever it may be or complaining or whatever it is. Things aren't going our way, not making shots, whatever it is, but you just got to step up."

However, Randle didn't entirely agree with being "called out." At least, he didn't see it that way.

"I don't think it's really he called us out," the 22-year-old said about his coach's message. "He just challenged us. I don't think it was a personal shot at anybody. He just challenged us as a team to step up, man up and take ownership and guard out man. It wasn't a shot where anybody should be offended. It's just a challenge as a competitor, as a player."

Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell, however, had a far more drastic response. He asked for his team to take the coach's message to heart and take the losing more seriously.

Said Russell, "As a team, I don't want to come together as a group and talk. I want to get a great practice in (on Thursday), just don't say nothing. I don't even want us to talk to each other. I want it to be straight business approach going into this game, because it's not what these fans are used to, it's not what we're used to, it's not what coach is used to."

Russell continued, "Our main focus is to turn it around, the organization. There's losses here and there, but eight and 10's and 12's in a row. That's not us. I don't want to talk about it anymore. I don't want guys to speak their minds. I just want to come in and just get to work."

"Nobody," Russell responded when asked if anyone on the team spoke after the coach exited the locker room after delivering the challenge. "I think that's the best thing for us. Somebody cusses everybody out, everybody puts their two cents in and it doesn't work. It don't work [sic]. We come out and we still perform the same way. It's bigger than that."

The Lakers practice in Philadelphia on Thursday and play in the Sixers on Friday night. If they lose, the team will be one game away from having twice as many losses as wins, which would be an unbelievable fall for a team that was even at .500 before the losing streak took hold.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Larry Nance Jr. Dunks on Brook Lopez]]>Wed, 14 Dec 2016 22:28:37 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Larry-Nance-Jr-drunk-vs-Nets-12-14-16.jpg

Anyone following the Los Angeles Lakers knows by now that Larry Nance Jr. can dunk and that he got it from his daddy, who won the first ever NBA Slam Dunk contest.

On Wednesday night in Brooklyn, however, Nance took his jumping ability to the next level as he got up to the sky over Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, who is a legitimate 7-foot center. Lopez is tall, and he jumped, but Nance got higher and stayed in the air longer until the Nets' center shrunk to two feet tall.

Even the Nets' bench had trouble keeping their composure on this one.

The Lakers may have lost their eighth game in a row and lost to one of the worst teams in the NBA, but at least Nance give Lakers' fans something to cheer about on an otherwise forgettable game.

The Nets may remember the victory, but they didn't exactly play beautiful basketball. Wednesday night's game in Brooklyn could be used as punishment for any basketball fan, and the game film should be burned in an undisclosed location, save for Nance's dunk of course.

Neither team shot even 40 percent from the field, and the Nets missed 10 free throws on the night. Foul shots are literally called "free" throws, but the Lakers topped the Nets in terms of awfulness, as the purple and gold missed 13 of their free throws.

The final score was 107-97, and the Nets collected their seventh win of the season, while the Lakers lost their 18th of the year and eighth in a row.

Back to Nance's dunk, though, that was fun.

After the game, Nance was asked about what he was thinking when he jumped up over a 7-footer, "At that point, it's more so go to the basket aggressive. If the contact is there, there will more than likely be a foul. If not, I can finish over him, and I knew that."

One more time in slow-motion, please note how far away from the basket Nance is when he jumps and that the 7-footer also jumps pretty darn high, just not high enough. Look up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Nance dunking on Lopez.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton Not Deterred By $15,000 Fine, Would Do it Again]]>Wed, 14 Dec 2016 16:42:21 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Luke-Walton-NBA-fine-15000.jpg

BROOKLYN, New York - The NBA announced that Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton had been fined $15,000 for "verbally abusing a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner after his ejection."

Prior to Wendesday's game against the Brooklyn Nets, Walton was asked about the fine and responded unapologetically, "It's their call."

Asked if he had any regrets or wished he'd handled the event differently, Walton didn't sound the least bit sorry or remorseful about walking onto the court, cursing out the game officials before eventually leaving the court without his suit jacket on his back.

"No," Walton answered if he had any regrets regarding the incident. "It's the same thing I said after the game. (If) our guys aren't getting, the way I feel, treated right, then I'm going to stand up for them. That's what we do as a team. I've always raised that (the) team is a family. You stand up for your family. You stand up for your brothers."

Walton concluded, "So, as a head coach, that's what I'm going to do every time for my guys."

Yup, Walton isn't sorry for losing his mind and his jacket, and he promises to do it again. To be fair, Julius Randle did get fully football tackled by DeMarcus Cousins on the play, and apparently, none of the three officials saw anything wrong with the non-basketball action. Walton had good reason to lose his mind considering Randle has had a couple of hip pointer issues and admitted to being less than 100 percent entering the game.

The NBA did not comment on whether any or all of the three officials had also been fined for missing the obvious call.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Look to Break Losing Streak Wednesday]]>Wed, 14 Dec 2016 11:55:52 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-in-Brooklyn-Nets-losing-streak.jpg

On Wednesday night in Brooklyn, the Los Angeles Lakers (10-17) look to snap a seven-game losing streak on game no. 2 of their marathon seven-game road trip. The Lakers' opponents, the Brooklyn Nets (6-17), have lost five of their last six games, including a 125-118 defeat at Staples Center on Nov. 15.

On that night, Julius Randle recorded a triple-double with 17 points, 10 assists and 14 rebounds, while point guard D'Angelo Russell scored 32 points and hit 7-13 from three-point range.

Russell, who has been on a minutes restriction since returning from knee soreness that sidelined the point guard for 12 total games, played 20 minutes on Monday night in Sacramento and hit six of his 10 shots, including three of his four three-point attempts. The Lakers have sorely missed Russell's shooting and chemistry on the court.

With the Lakers struggling, Brooklyn is a welcome sight. Since the Nets moved out of New Jersey, the Lakers have won three of their four games in the borough made famous by rappers like the Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z. A season ago, a winless Lakers' team entered the Barclay's Center and collected its first win of the season.

Hurting LA's chances, the Lakers continue to be without backup center Tarik Black and backup point guard Jose Calderon, and neither of the hobbled Lakers took part in the team's shootaround session on Wednesday morning in New York. Lakers coach Luke Walton, who was ejected from Monday's game in dramatic fashion, said he was hopeful that the injured duo could return for the scheduled practice session in Philadelphia on Thursday, though the coach did not appear to have any set expectations.

For the Nets, former Lakers point guard Jeremy Lin returned on Monday after missing six weeks. Lin played 20 minutes and recorded 10 points and seven assists against one of his other former teams, the Houston Rockets. Lin played off the bench on Monday, though his sharpness may force the 28-year-old back into the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

The Lakers and Nets tip-off at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Who is Rams New Coach John Fassel?]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 08:59:35 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/AP_16348067277672.jpg

Boy, that escalated quickly.

Los Angeles Rams' special teams coach John Fassel hadn't even gone to sleep after the team lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 42-14, on Sunday at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, and was preparing for a Monday morning meeting, when he was called into Jeff Fisher's office.

"It happened so fast," Fassel recalled. "I found out just about an hour before my special teams meeting. I talked to Mr. Demoff, and Coach Fisher, and they let me know that this was going to happen."

The "This," he was referring to, was the decision that shook up, but did not necessarily surprise, the sports world on Monday afternoon as the Rams announced that they had fired Fisher as head coach of the team after five losing seasons, promoting Fassel as the interim head coach. 

"The first thing I did was talk to Coach Fisher and basically asked what he thought and asked for his blessing," a doe-eyed Fassel said when faced in front of hundreds of media members and cameras. "I said to him, 'Coach me up, Coach Fish! And he told me everything that I needed to know."

Fassel's run with the Rams over the final three games will be his first taste as an NFL head coach, but he comes from a long line of coaches, and has the pedigree to be successful in the role, both now and in the future.

As Fassel spends the next 48 hours learning "everything he needs to know" to do the job, NBC LA fills you in on everything you need to know about the Rams new interim head coach.

Fassel, 42, joined the Rams staff as the special teams coach at the same time Fisher took over in 2012. Over the past five seasons, his players have quickly become one of the best units in the NFL, and currently lead the league in punts and punt average this season.

Through the use of All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker, Fassel has become an aggressive special teams coordinator, creatively manufacturing fake punt, fake field goal, and nifty trick plays on kick off returns.

As we mentioned, Fassel has never had any previous head coaching experience, but is the son of former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel, who led the G-Men from 1997 to 2003, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2000.

Father Fassel gave John his first coaching gig in the NFL when he was the offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens in 2005, as he helped his son get hired as an assistant to the Special Teams coordinator with the Ravens.

Afterwards, Fassel spent three seasons as the special teams coordinator with the Oakland Raiders before joining Fisher and the Rams.

Admittedly, Fassel was surprised that he was chosen by the organization as the interim head coach, especially with other candidates out there like defensive coordinator Greg Williams, assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, and linebacker coach Mike Singletary all considered more qualified candidates.

"I was surprised," he said softly. "I'm grateful for it—although the situation isn't something that you want to be in, but they asked me to do it. Coach Fisher gave me his blessing, and I'll do it."

Fassel said he had no previous aspirations of being a head coach in the NFL, but believes he's ready for the opportunity to show the league what he can do.

He was obviously chosen by Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff for a reason, one that comes down to Fassel's attitude, energy, and relationship with the players.

"The players love him," Demoff told the media in a 45-minute press conference. "Our special teams is one of the best performing and his energy is great."

All-pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald was emotional after the announcement that Fisher was fired, but excited that Fassel had been promoted in his place.

"He's a player's coach. He's a great coach," Donald said from his locker. "He's going to push you and you're going to have fun doing it."

In any other circumstance, an interim head coach could have between a week to two weeks to get familiar with the job and prepare his team for battle. However, in the case of Fassel, he had 72 hours from being informed of his new title, to Thursday night when the Rams take the field against the Seattle Seahawks.

"I said to him, 'take these three games as, not only an audition for us, but for everybody else in the league and coach this team to the best of your ability,'" added Demoff. "And I think he'll take that challenge to heart and he'll get the best out of our players."

Fassel has received plenty of advice from friends and former coaches in the aftermath of the announcement, and although he hadn't spoken to him as of Monday evening, he plans to grab the ear of his father and his vital knowledge of the game over the next few days.

"I actually haven't talked to him," Fassel admitted. "I know it's horrible--I'll call you in a bit, Dad. I promise. It happened so fast, that I've neglected to call the people most important to me. But that will happen tonight."

Perhaps Fassel's biggest challenge other than to get the Rams out of their current four-game losing streak, is to change the energy and emotion around the facility, one that starting quarterback Jared Goff admitted on Monday was "awkward," and "weird," throughout the day.

"It was quiet today," acknowledged Fassel. "I don't think I can manufacture energy for the team. It's going to be something that will probably have to be built here over the next couple days. The best advice so far, from Coach 'Mac' [Dave McGinnis] was 'just be yourself,' if that helps create some energy, that's great—but I can't fake it."

Indeed, "be yourself," a memorable line from the Robin Williams voiced Genie character in the Disney animated film Aladdin, could turn out to be the best advice of all as things will become overwhelming for Fassel in the next 48 hours.

For fans that watched HBO's Hard Knocks this year, they might remember Fassel as the high-energy, enthusiastic, and encouraging leader of the special teams who was mic'd up at various times on the show.

The video above is a great example of just what kind of coach Fassel could be, as he tries to salvage the final three games of the season. In order to do that, he's going to try and inspire his team, build off Fisher's foundation, and hold everyone accountable for the season so far.

"This team doesn't need to be saved," Fassel said. "They need to rise up and take responsibility. If you love football and you love Coach Fisher, that has got to get us through the next three weeks."

Fassel knows he'll make mistakes and that he has to learn as he goes, but if the same guy that once saved a man's life who was caught in a portentous Pacific Ocean riptide off the coast of Manhattan Beach last year appears on the sidelines, then the Rams will be fine.

In the meantime, Fassel has already issued a new rallying cry for the team over the final three games.

"Go Kick Some A**!" he said on multiple occasions during his introductory press conference. "I don't know if I'm allowed to say that. I say it in the meetings, but I don't curse."

Go get em' Coach Fassel. 



Photo Credit: AP/Jayne Kamin-Oncea]]>
<![CDATA[3 Things to Know About LA Galaxy's New Coach]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 02:37:01 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Curt+Onalfo.png

If the Los Angeles Galaxy were looking to make a big splash with their head coaching vacancy, they picked the wrong candidate.

But, that doesn't mean they didn't pick the right candidate.

The five-time MLS Cup champion and most decorated franchise in MLS history is expected to name Curt Onalfo as their new manager at a press conference on Tuesday according to multiple sources.

If Onalfo's name doesn't register with you, that's okay, it shouldn't for most modest soccer fans. That's why NBC LA is here to fill you in on the new head coach of Southern California's local soccer team.

Here are three things to know about Bruce Arena's successor:

1. He was born in Brazil: Onalfo was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil in 1969, but grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut and played his college ball at the University of Virginia under then head coach Bruce Arena—a pairing that would suit Onalfo well for the remainder of his career. Onalfo also speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese.

2. He Played for the LA Galaxy: Onalfo was drafted by the LA Galaxy in February 1996 of the inaugural draft. He played for the Galaxy in the first ever MLS Cup that year and had MLS stints with the San Jose Clash (Earthquakes) and D.C. United. He also played for the U.S. Men's National Team in 1988, making one appearance.

3. He was the Manager of D.C. United, Kansas City, and LA Galaxy II: You may have not heard much of Onalfo's coaching career, but we promise its quite extensive. The 47-year-old rejoined D.C. United as an assistant in 2000 and later became the interim head coach in 2001. After that, he became an assistant coach for the USMNT under Bruce Arena. After Arena left the national team in 2007, Onalfo was named the manger of the Kansas City Wizards (Sporting KC), before another short stint with D.C. United in 2010. When Arena took over the L.A. Galaxy in 2008, he asked Onalfo to join him, something that eventually happened in 2011.

With the prospect of filling Arena's shoes at some point a possibility, Onalfo took over as manager for the LA Galaxy II a developmental team that is owned by the Galaxy and play in the United States Soccer League.

Onalfo will have big shoes to fill, but he knows the tradition, the personnel, and the culture of Southern California's soccer dynasty.



Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jared Goff Doesn't Impress Fran Tarkenton]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 02:34:20 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Fran+Tarkenton.png

You've got a long way to go, kid.

At least that's what former Minnesota Vikings quarterback and Hall of Famer, Fran Tarekenton, thinks about No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff.

Tarkenton was at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoon and watched the Los Angeles Rams lose in a lopsided affair, 42-14, to the Atlanta Falcons.

After the game, Tarkenton tweeted that he watched Goff play, but said, "He isn't a very good at quarterback," and then expressed surprise that he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Goff is 0-4 as the Rams starter and was just 24 of 41 for 235 yards and two interceptions against the Falcons. He did rush for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but by that time, Atlanta already had their reserves on the field and the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Despite the harsh criticism, Tarkenton definitely is a great evaluator of the quarterback position.

The nine-time Pro Bowler was the NFL MVP in 1975 and at the time of his retirement in 1978, owned every major quarterback record.

Part of Goff's lackluster play over the past four weeks could be the anemic Rams offense which seems to lack creativity and excitement.

That could all change next season when the Rams will hire a new head coach that is expected to come from an offensive background. Current offensive coordinator, Rob Boras, an inexperienced OC is also expected to be gone at the end of the season, so it could be that Goff just needs a better leader to learn under.

In the meantime, it's still early in Goff's career but with fellow No. 1 overall picks, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, and Jameis Winston all having success, he will need to produce sooner, rather than later. 



Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Lakers Coach Gets Ejected]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 00:16:40 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Luke-Walton-ejection-12-12-16.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers were winning 17-14 when their coach, Luke Walton, stormed onto the court and lost his head. He had to be held back as he promptly received two technical fouls and proceeded to continue berating the officials with a flurry of curse words that had lip readers at home gasping for air.

What was Walton so upset about?

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins had seemingly confused Monday night basketball for Monday Night Football and tackled Lakers forward Julius Randle to the ground. Somehow, all three officials on the court had ignored the contact and allowed the play to continue.

Walton was not in the mood to ignore the contact. The Lakers' coach was livid. He ran onto the court and had to be held back.

"I just felt like I needed to stand up for my guys," Walton told Spectrum Sportsnet cameras after the game. "What happened on the floor wasn't right, and my concern is our guys in the locker room and our team. If I feel like something's not right, I'm going to stand up for my guys."

Eventually, Walton left the court but not before he removed his suit jacket.

Following Walton's outburst, the Kings went on a 17-7 run to finish the first quarter with a 31-24 lead. If it was a passionate move to draw inspiration from his team, it appeared to have backfired. However, LA did battle back in the second quarter and entered the locker room leading 58-49.

Then, the third quarter came around.

Cousins scored 16 points in the third quarter, which were three more points than the entire Lakers' team. As a unit, the Kings beat down the Lakers with a 39-13 third quarter than ended the game as a contest, though the technical fouls kept the game interesting in a WWE kind of way. Who would be disqualified next?

At one point, Cousins and acting Lakers coach Brian Shaw began to speak on the sidelines in a manner that one of the officials didn't appreciate. A double technical foul was called on the player and the Lakers' assistant. By the final buzzer, seven technical fouls had been issued on the night, six of which were put on the Lakers.

It was an oddly officiated game, to say the least. And yes, Walton had every right to lose his mind when the officials didn't call a foul on Cousins open field tackling Randle. He'll likely take a fine from the league office, though the lack of a call should also lead to an inquiry after the game, which is what Lakers guard Nick Young implied after the game in his comments to Spectrum Sportsnet cameras.

But the Lakers lost the game in that third quarter, not in the first period when Walton saw red and heard two quick whistles designed to discipline the furious 36-year-old.

Eventually, the Lakers lost 116-92 on the first game of their seven-game road trip and fell to 10-17. It was their seventh loss in a row.

In terms of positives to take away, D'Angelo Russell played limited minutes and made three of his four three-point attempts and finished with a total of 17 points and four assists in 20 minutes. Luol Deng continued his strong play and finished with 16 points on 7-11 from the field. Also, Thomas Robinson continued to be an energetic spark off the bench for LA.

Next, the Lakers play in Brooklyn on Wednesday night.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Reason Why The Dodgers Brought the Band Back]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 02:32:41 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Dodgers+Bring+Back+the+Band.png

In his first two offseasons, Los Angeles Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman had never signed a free agent for more than $48 million…

Monday he signed two.

The Dodgers agreed to terms with closer Kenley Jansen (5 years, $80 million) and third baseman Justin Turner (4 years, $64 million) within hours of each other on Monday as the duo join starting pitcher Rich Hill (3 years, $48 million) as L.A. looks to get the band back together for the 2017 season.

The total money committed to the team's top three free agents is $192 million, lavish among today's luxury tax standards.

The Dodgers projected salary for the 2017 season after Monday's signings is $230 million, and the team has still yet to sign a second baseman, or add another reliever.

That $230 million could easily increase to $250 million by Opening Day, well above the $195 million cap established by the MLB Labor Agreement for 2017.

As reported, the MLB mandated the Dodgers lower their payroll in order to cut debt, especially as changes in the labor agreement and the luxury tax penalties take effect in 2018.

That's the year that an additional draft penalty will be dealt to any team that is more than $40 million over the tax threshold as the Dodgers have been the past three seasons. If that trend continues in 2018, the team would move down 10 picks in the first round of the MLB draft.

That leaves a one-year loophole in 2017 for the Dodgers to still be over the luxury tax threshold without significant consequences. They will likely still be hit with a $35 to $40 million luxury tax penalty, but that's chump change to a team with an $8.3 billion television deal. 

Despite some fans' disappointment with the spending on Jansen and an aging third baseman in Turner, the deals make perfect sense for a team that finished two wins shy of the World Series this season.

First and foremost, if the Dodgers did not bring back Turner and Jansen, they would likely have had to turn to Plan B, which meant a trade for Todd Frazier and David Robertson of the Chicago White Sox.

Instead of $148 million (Jansen and Turner), the trade would have cost the Dodgers top prospects like Cody Bellinger, Alex Verdugo, Julio Urias, and Jose De Leon. That allotment of talent is not only invaluable to the Dodgers, but they are part of the long-term plan to lower spending. 

Had the Dodgers traded for Frazier and Robertson, they still would owe them a combined $21 million, just $12 million shy of what Turner and Jansen will make. Not to mention, Frazier would become a free agent at the end of the year and Robertson the year after that. Jansen and Turner will be with the Dodgers for the next five and four years, respectively. 

The advantage for the Dodgers in signing those two free agents is they bring back the core of a team that has won three straight NL West division titles, and assure themselves another competitive team in 2017.

After the season, contracts like Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Alex Guerrero come off the books, freeing up close to $45 million dollars for players that either are no longer playing for the team, or often injured as is the case with Ethier.

The following year, Adrain Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Hyun Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy all come off the books, which should free up another $50 million in payroll provided that the team doesn't trade any of those players before then.

The plan for Friedman and the front office is for their own home grown talent to come up from the farm system by then, allowing Verdugo, Bellinger, Urias, and DeLeon to take more prominent roles on the 25-man roster at an extremely low cost to the team. 

The money saved following the 2018 season should allow the team to offer big contracts to free agents Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager that offseason. 

For now, the Dodgers have brought back their best players from last season, and still have time to improve the team via trade, say for a second baseman or another relief pitcher.

Also, this front office has always shown a propensity to go for it at the MLB trade deadline, as evident by the Rich Hill and Josh Reddick additions this season. Meaning, the team that takes the field in April may not look the same as it does in October. 

In the meantime, everyone is happy in LaLa Land, just ask Adrian Gonzalez.



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dickerson Says He'll Return to Rams Sideline]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 02:28:13 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/Dickerson1.JPG

One of the benefits of Monday's announcement that Jeff Fisher had been fired as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams is that Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson can now return to the sidelines.

Dickerson put a self-imposed ban on his attendance at Rams games this season after Fisher had called and told him he was no longer welcome on the sidelines as long as he was head coach. 

After the feud between the two went public, Dickerson vowed to never return to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum until Fisher was no longer on the field. That all changed on Monday.

"Of course I will go to the games now," Dickerson said on Fox Sports Radio's The Herd. "I have said this before, it's all about winning. The Los Angeles Rams fans deserve more, better than that. I just want us to win."

Dickerson said that he did not necessarily want Fisher to get fired, but his Twitter timeline suggested otherwise. Despite his words to the contrary, the Rams legend was not surprised by the news on Monday.

"I am not shocked," he told the show's host, Colin Cowherd about the firing. "I think it's something that had to happen. You have the players giving up on you; you have to make a change."

Dickerson was referring to the postgame comments by Rams' star running back Todd Gurley who said the team's offense played "like a middle school team," and believed that some of the players gave up.

The Rams lost their eighth game in nine contests, with Sunday's lopsided defeat the worst of the season so far. The Falcons led 42-0 entering the fourth quarter, and the game finished in a 42-14 blowout. 

"I am not hating on Jeff. I am not mad at him," Dickerson said. "But I can't be sorry for a guy who's made $35 million coaching. He'll be okay. It is what it is. They cut players, they went in another direction; we are just going another direction here also." 

Dickerson also weighed in on who he thought would make a good head coach for the Rams, naming Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden as potential successors to Fisher.

"They have to have someone who is a real football guy, who is going to make a difference, a splash," he said. "Not a yes man; they need someone who knows football and wants to win. That's what it's all about in L.A. You can't put a mediocre product on the field out here, as you saw yesterday."

Dickerson's next chance to be on the sideline will be on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24th, when new interim head coach John Fassel looks to beat the lowly San Francisco 49ers. 



Photo Credit: Michael Duarte/ NBC LA]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Players React to Fisher's Firing]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 02:13:22 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Players+React+to+Fisher+Firing.png

They said he was a "players coach," but even the players couldn't save Coach Jeff Fisher.

Fisher was fired on Monday morning by the Los Angeles Rams, less than 24 hours after his players defended him in an embarrassing 42-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. 

Rams veteran offensive lineman Rodger Saffold talked about Fisher after the game on Sunday, and as a player who was with the Rams pre-Fisher, he said that the players have to take responsibility. 

"I've seen the 2-14 team, I've seen the 7-8-1 team that had a chance to go the playoffs—I've seen it all," Saffold said at his locker. "Eventually, something's going to have to change. I'll tell you right now, the coaches are coaching their ass off. And if we can't execute, then they get blamed. I'm sick of hearing that. It's up to us."

Unfortunately, it wasn't up to them. It was up to Rams' Owner Stan Kroenke and Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff, and after seeing a half-empty stadium with their team down 42-0 to start the fourth quarter, they decided enough was enough.

"He's a players coach, he gave us every opportunity and we didn't get it done," said safety T.J. McDonald on Monday after hearing the news. "We carry a big responsibility for what happened."

The former USC All-American was especially emotional at his locker as he discussed his fellow Trojan alum and now former head coach.

"Coach Fish gave me my chance and drafted me," added McDonald. "I love Coach Fish. I think I speak for everyone in the locker room when I say I have nothing but love for him."

Others in the Rams locker room at the team's practice facility ushered the same sentiments about Fisher, including the 2014 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Aaron Donald. 

"We feel like we let him down," said Donald at his locker. "When things aren't going right you look at the leader, but we're out there playing the game. We're making the mistakes and we need to fix it. No matter who's coaching, we have to be the best football players we can." 

When asked if he thought it was Fisher's fault that the team had fallen to 4-9 this season and struggled in their last few games—all lopsided losses—Donald was defiant in his answer.

"No!" he exclaimed. "Coaches coach and players play. That's on us, we have to be more consistent."

On the practice field, the players were eerily quiet as the voice of their leader was glaringly absent in the afternoon.

"Today was hard," said starting quarterback Jared Goff. "It wasn't easy. It was weird. Coach Fisher always treated us the right way, and we let him down."

"Get away from my locker," running back Todd Gurley told reporters who gathered around him. "I'm not talking today and you can tweet that."

Fisher addressed his players shortly after he was informed of the owner's decision that the team would move on without him, and according to those in the room, it was a very emotional meeting.

"He stood up in front of the room like a man, told us he cared about us, said it was tough we couldn't get it done, but wants us to finish the season strong," McDonald said of the moment.

"He talked to us from the heart," added Donald. "He stood strong and talked to us like a man. Anytime you lose a leader like that, you're going to be down about it, but we got to keep on playing for him." 

It was a whirlwind 24 hours for the players and will be a roller coaster of emotions in the next 48 as they have to gather their thoughts and get on a plane to Seattle to face the NFC West-leading Seahawks in a primetime matchup on NBC's Thursday Night Football.

The last word of the afternoon came from Goff who was asked if there was a lesson he learned from all of this. The 22-year-old play caller paused, and then gave a poignant retort. 

"The number one lesson I learned, is that in this league things can go away quickly," he said. "One day you're here and one day you're not. Unfortunately, we learned that the hard way and some guys got a chance to see that." 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Why the Rams Fired Fisher and Who Will Be The Next Coach]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 02:06:02 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/Fisher+Fired.png

We all knew it was coming.

As the vice president of football operations and Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Rams, Kevin Demoff stepped to the podium for the second time in as many weeks to address the media, he started his discourse with a few simple words:

"This is a difficult day." 

But was it?

After a nearly 45-minute press conference at the Rams practice facility in Thousand Oaks, everyone in the room knew that the writing was on the wall, well before the final decision came down.

It's always difficult when you have to fire someone, as it not only affects the individual themselves, but their co-workers, family, and friends. Nonetheless, the decision for Jeff fisher was a long time coming.

The beginning of the end for Fisher likely began when he, with the help of general manager Les Snead, traded six draft picks on the eve of the NFL draft in order to select Cal quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall draft pick.

Three months later, it was journeyman Case Keenum who was announced as the team's starting quarterback and as the team struggled from their initial 3-1 start to the season, the calls for Goff got louder and louder, voices that Fisher defiantly ignored until week nine of the season.

Then, it was the highly publicized feud with Rams legend and Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson who was critical of the team on the L.A. airwaves. After asking for sideline passes for his friends, Fisher called Dickerson and told him not only would he be denied the passes, but that he was not welcome on the sideline as long as he was the head coach of the team.

Dickerson drew a line in the sand after that phone call and vowed to never attend another Rams game as long as Fisher was the head coach. He retweeted fans praises, as well as their shouts for the Rams to fire Fisher immediately.

Finally, as the Rams season began to fall faster than a ship filling with water in the open sea, a report came out claiming that Fisher and Snead's relationship had become "toxic," and that the organization had become a "Junior High-like atmosphere."

The team's downright pathetic and embarrassing, 42-14, loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum sealed the deal, and sent the Rams to a 4-9 record on the season. Just to add insult to injury, the loss tied Fisher with Dan Reeves for the most losses in NFL history with 165.

"Making a decision such as this, especially during the season, is one of the most difficult in sports. I have great respect for Jeff as a coach, person, father, and friend," Rams Owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement on Monday. 

"He has worked tirelessly despite some challenging circumstances. He played an integral role in helping this team make history in returning the NFL to Los Angeles, and we always will be grateful for his commitment and dedication to our organization. 

"However, this is the right time to make a change as our performance has not lived up to my or our fans' expectations. We all are focused on improving as an organization and building a team that makes Los Angeles proud. Our mission is to celebrate a Super Bowl title with our fans in L.A. Today is the first step to bring us closer to that goal."

Demoff and Kroenke watched the game on Sunday together from a suite and discussed Fisher's fate into the wee hours of the evening. Kroenke decided to sleep on it, and in the morning made the call to bring the axe down on his head coach.

If Fisher's firing is the first step to a Super Bowl, then the Rams will have a lot of stairs to climb over the next few seasons. Demoff admitted that the team's dismal season was not entirely Fisher's responsibility, but an "organizational failure," an announcement that could lead to the team cleaning house this offseason. 

"Coach Fisher was the only decision made today, but collectively, we all need to make changes," Demoff said. "We need to take an entire look at this organization. It would be a mistake to assure you that Les [Snead] would be back." 

The timing of his termination came as a surprise to Fisher as the Rams have just three games left in the season, including a game against the Seattle Seahawks in less than 72 hours. 

"I don't think he was expecting it." Demoff said of Fisher's reaction to the news. "Jeff was obviously disappointed. He was looking forward to coming back and getting this team in a better place."

Fans in Los Angeles were also expecting to see Fisher back on the sidelines next season, although admittedly, they were looking forward to it far less than the 58-year-old coach was.

Fisher was 31-45-1 in five seasons as the Rams head coach. He never had a winning record, with his best finish coming in his inaugural year with the Rams in 2012 when the team ended the year at 7-8-1.

Fisher was in the fifth and final year of his contract, but signed a two-year extension earlier in the year, a decision that shocked many when it was announced last Sunday before the Rams, 26-10, loss to the New England Patriots. 

"You never want anyone going into a relocation situation as a lame duck," Demoff said of why Fisher was given an extension. "We did it before the move."

It's normal when you're asking people to uproot their lives and families and move across the country that those same people would expect a certain amount of job security. Therefore, offering an extension to Fisher seemed appropriate at the time, and did not necessarily mean that the team would not part ways with their coach if they felt it necessary. In the case of Fisher, it was.

Fisher was making $7 million this season and is expected to receive that amount for next season as part of his extension. After he received the news on Monday morning, he asked to be the first person to address the team. 

Fisher told the team that he was let go as head coach, and vowed that he was there for them if they needed him. He reiterated his love for the players, and his disappointment that they were not able to get the job done. His parting words were to finish the final three games strong and that he would be rooting for them.

The Rams named special teams coordinator, John Fassel, as the interim head coach, and with three NFC West division games remaining, the organization is hopeful that a change of leadership can spark the team down the stretch.

"When you look at our team, we lost eight of nine and the last couple of losses weren't close. Those were factors in the decision," Demoff said. "There's never a good time, but with division games left, we thought we had a chance to win those games. At the end of the day, this team is not where it needs to be."

Now the search begins for the next head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, a job that lit by the backdrop of Hollywood could prove to be pretty enticing for some of the top coaches in the country. 

"We need to find the best head coach for the Los Angeles Rams and to do that, we have to look down every avenue," Demoff said about the search for the team's next head coach. "The biggest thing is, does he have a plan to maximize the potential of the offense."

The next head hauncho of the Rams will have a Pro Bowl running back in Todd Gurley and a young franchise quarterback with a big arm in Goff. They will also have the allure of a brand new $2.6 billion dollar stadium in Inglewood to move into in 2019. 

"What's most important with our fans is wins and losses and we need to find a coach moving forward to get us more wins than losses," concluded Demoff. "This is going to be a really attractive opening."

At least that's what the Rams' job posting will read.



Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton Explains Team's Terrible Defense]]>Mon, 12 Dec 2016 01:11:00 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-defense-Walton-upset.jpg

Julius Randle recorded a double-double, Luol Deng scored a season high 22 points and made 5-8 from three, Nick Young scored 15 points in 20 minutes and Lou Williams scored 24 points in 26 minutes off the bench, but the Los Angeles Lakers still somehow walked away losers on Sunday night against the New York Knicks.

How does a team that scores 112 points at home manage to lose?

"Defense," Lakers coach Luke Walton only said one word when asked what stood out to him after Sunday's 118-112 defeat, which was the Lakers' sixth in a row. "We played well enough offensively to win. We score 112 points at home, that should be a win."

"It's tough to win when we can't get stops," Walton sounded as frustrated as he's been since taking the Lakers' job but still managed to relay that he had not yet lost hope. "I won't say that we can't get stops because we can get stops."

The coach corrected himself, "It's tough to win when we don't get stops."

Derrick Rose started the game by making all five of his shots in the first quarter, and Walton didn't seem impressed with his team's response, or lack thereof. First, he said the players needed to be more aware of the game plan and the defensive schemes. 

"A lot of it is individual challenge," Walton continued to express his frustrations by calling out his players, without naming names. "It's taking pride in not letting the guy you're guarding get past you."

Over the current six-game losing streak, LA's opponents are averaging an unnerving 115.7 points per game. In terms of advanced statistics, the Lakers rank 30th in the NBA with a defensive rating of 109.7 for teh season, meaning the Lakers allow 109.7 points per 100 possessions. That's dead last in the NBA.

"I don't think it's gotten worse; it's stayed pretty similar," Walton said about the team's defense before explaining the reason for the lack of resistance. "But honestly, it's hard once the season gets going because between the injuries and the schedule, you don't really have a lot of practice time. And that's what we need. We need reps and reps and reps and reps. It's the only way to break habits."

Walton explained that the Lakers' defensive woes go beyond the current losing streak and even beyond the current season: "We haven't been a good defensive team for the last few years, so you add that with the fact that we have a new team and a new staff and new concepts, and we're putting all that out there and we're getting the effort, but then, if we're lucky we can get two solid practices in a week."

The Lakers' coach continued, "It's tough to get the amount of reps that we really need to in the practice. So, a lot of the reps we're getting are literally happening in a game, which is still getting reps at it, so we still should get better at it, and we will." 

Optimism, though, could not mask reality, and Walton concluded honestly, "It just hasn't happened yet."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Embarrassed by Falcons at Home]]>Sun, 11 Dec 2016 21:32:58 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Rams+Hit+Rock+Bottom.png

When it rains it pours.

It rained for the last home game at the Coliseum, and it poured down boos in the team's latest debacle, as the Rams were embarrassed, 42-14, by the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. 

The boo birds came out early as Mike Thomas muffed the opening kickoff in his own end zone and the Falcons recovered the ball on the three-yard line.

Matt Ryan wasted no time putting the Falcons on the board as he threw a touchdown to Justin Hardy on his first pass of the game to give Atlanta an early 7-0 lead.

"First play of the game, Justin Hardy makes a great catch and catches a touchdown pass in one-on-one coverage," Ryan said of the first score. "I'm proud of the way our guys competed."

On the ensuing Rams drive, Jared Goff drove L.A. down to the Falcons 16-yard-line, but his third-and-three pass bounced off the hands of receiver Kenny Britt and into the hands of safety Ricardo Allen for the drive-killing interception.

Ryan opened up the second half with a 64-yard deep touchdown strike to Taylor Gabriel. The 25-year-old speedster beat the Rams secondary and walked into the end zone as nobody was in the same area code as Gabriel on the play.

"We've been working on that play all week," Gabriel said. "Coming out of the half, we were thinking we were going to get the coverage and we did. Matt [Ryan] threw a great ball and all I had to do was catch it."

Ryan threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns as he sat the entirety of the fourth quarter, replaced by Matt Schaub with the outcome no longer in doubt.

"We made some plays, but really, we benifted from some turnovers and great field position," Ryan said after the game. "We were opportunistic and when we got our chances we capitalized."

Atlanta running back Tevin Coleman caught a touchdown and rushed for another as the Falcons scored 42 unanswered points to start the game, the largest lead an NFL team has had on the road since the Detroit Lions led 45-3 over the Broncos in Denver in 2011. 

The Falcons were without All-Pro receiver Julio Jones who was inactive for the game due to a turf toe injury. Backup receiver, Mohamed Sanu, was also out, leaving the Falcons with their third and fourth string wideouts. 

"Our guys did a great job. We have a lot of belief and confidence in everyone," added Ryan. "They played the wayl they're capable of playing."

The Rams have five turnovers in the game, including two interceptions and a fumble for Goff, two of which were returned for touchdowns, one being the first pick-six of the rookie's career. 

"That was a bad ball," Goff said of the throw. "The defender made a really good play on it and took it back."

Falcons' linebacker Deion Jones jumped a Goff pass in the second quarter and returned the interception 33 yards for the score. Later, in the third quarter, Vic Beasley got the always impressive, strip-sack fumble, recovery, and touchdown as Atlanta converted touchdowns on four of the Rams' five giveaways on the day. 

"We made mistakes that we shouldn't have made," said Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson. "I really feel like we beat ourselves today."

The Rams definitely miss backup running back Benny Cunningham who missed the game with a neck injury. Cunningham would have been on special teams on the fumble on the opening kick and the running back during Malcolm Brown's second half fumble that led to the Falcons fifth touchdown.

"Benny [Cunningham] might be second or third in the league in kickoff returns," said Jeff Fisher on Cunningham's absence. "We miss Benny...but everybody's going through that."

Despite the lopsided score, Goff still threw for 235 yards and rushed for a touchdown. Todd Gurley rushed for 61 yards and scored L.A.'s first touchdown of the game on the opening play of the fourth quarter. 

"Obviously, we got our *** kicked, but I feel like I've grown a lot. Even in these tough games I can use every experience as something to build with," said Goff. "Hopefully, sometime in the future, and sooner, rather than later, we can look back at days like today and know that they made us better."

Goff is now 0-4 as a starter as him team falls to 4-9 overall on the season. There will be no rest for the weary as the Rams are scheduled to take the field again in four days as they travel to Seattle to take on the NFC West Division-leading Seahawks on NBC's Thursday Night Football.

"I feel responsible for this," said Fisher after the game. "I have great respect for each and every player in that locker room, and I've developed relationships with them. My job is to maximize their strengths, identify their weaknesses and help them to be as good of players as they possibly can. That's my job. I have to take it. The head coach takes it."

Players of the Game:

Matt Ryan: 237 yards, 3 TDs.
Falcons Defense: Five takeaways.
Tevin Coleman: Rushing and receiving touchdowns. 

Three Takeaways:

1. I'ts Your Duty Judy: Hall of Fame manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda, lit the Olympic torch at the LA Coliseum before kickoff. Lasorda donned a Rams hat as he brought the crowd to their feet.

Los Angeles legend Tommy Lasorda lighting the Coliseum torch #ATLvsLA #MobSquad

A video posted by Los Angeles Rams (@rams) on

2. Rock Bottom: The Rams become the first team since the Denver Broncos in 2011 to be down by 42 points at home.

3. Are they saying "Boo" or "Boo-urns?" Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher was booed throughout the entirety of the game by the Coliseum crowd. The team has not won since the home opener of the Seahawks on Sept. 18 and with Sunday's loss, Fisher is now tied with Dan Reeves for the most losses by a head coach in NFL history.

Up Next:

Falcons (8-5): The second highest scoring offense in the NFL gets another minnow from the NFC West when they host the 1-11 San Francisco 49ers in Atlanta next Sunday.

Rams (4-9): Los Angeles travels to Seattle to face the NFC West-leading Seahwaks on Thursday at 5:25PM PST. 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tommy Lasorda Lights Torch at Rams Game]]>Sun, 11 Dec 2016 14:45:25 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Lasorda+Lights+Torch.png

It's your duty, Judy.

Fans in Los Angeles are used to seeing former Dodgers' manager Tommy Lasorda behind home plate at Chavez Ravine, but Angelinos got a treat on Sunday at the LA Memorial Coliseum when the former manager surprised the crowd by lighting the ceremonial Olympic torch before the game.

The 89-year-old was on the sideline before the game and was seen speaking with Rams president and COO Kevin Demoff.

The two-time World Series manager was the skipper for the Dodgers from 1976 to 1996 and shared the city with the Rams for 18 of his 20-year tenure with the boys in blue.

Lasorda's catchphrase is "blue heaven on earth," but it was hardly angelic on the field as the Rams gave up 21 straight points to the Atlanta Falcons to start the game. In case you missed it, the video of Lasorda lighting the torch is below.

 

Los Angeles legend Tommy Lasorda lighting the Coliseum torch #ATLvsLA #MobSquad

A video posted by Los Angeles Rams (@rams) on



Photo Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers D'Angelo Russell Questionable For Sunday]]>Sun, 11 Dec 2016 09:45:36 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DAngelo-Russell-questionable-vs-Knicks.jpg

Fresh off a five-game losing streak, the Los Angeles Lakers are due a bit of good news, and the team received just that ahead of Sunday's game.

Guard D'Angelo Russell managed to go through an entire Saturday session and is considered "questionable" for Sunday's game against the New York Knicks, after originally being listed as "Out."

Russell has missed 12 games with a sore knee, and the Lakers have lost nine of those 12 games. Not helping the purple and gold is the fact that backup point guard Jose Calderon and starting shooting guard Nick Young have also been sidelined with injuries, so Lakers coach Luke Walton has been forced to shift lineups constantly in an attempt to fill the void.

Thus far, the injuries have been too overwhelming, and the Lakers have dropped five games below .500, even struggling to compete at times. Even against the Phoenix Suns at home on Friday night, the Lakers started slow and fell behind by as many as 18 points before rallying to ultimately lose by four points.

Getting Russell back would instantly improve the offense on the Lakers' first unit, as the 20-year-old is averaging 16.1 points and 4.8 assists in 13 starts during the 2016-17 season. Prior to Russell first missing a game with the affliction on Nov. 18, the Lakers stormed out to a 7-6 start to the season with big wins over the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. Without Russell, the Lakers lost to the Warriors twice by an average of 33.5 points, while the Rockets beat the short-handed Lakers by 39 points on Wednesday night in Houston.

LA misses Russell, but it appears that he should be back for the Lakers' upcoming road trip.

While Calderon is still sidelined, Young also appears close to a comeback from his calf strain. While the 31-year-old is not in contention to play on Sunday at Staples Center, Young should return at some point during the Lakers' seven-game road trip, which launches on Monday night in Sacramento and stops in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Charlotte, Miami and Orlando before the Lakers come back home for a Christmas night date with the Los Angeles Clippers.

On Saturday, Young also went through the entire practice.

Another injury to keep an eye on is forward Julius Randle, who missed a game with a hip pointer injury earlier in the season. After Friday's loss, the 22-year-old forward revealed that he had hurt his opposite hip pointer a couple games earlier and that a hard fall at the end of Friday's game re-aggravated the injury. Randle is also listed as "questionable" for Sunday's game, but the physical forward insisted that he would not miss games because his team needed him.

If Randle does miss time, Walton is likely to start Thomas Robinson and leave Larry Nance Jr. with the second unit. Robinson has been an asset for the Lakers on the boards and with regards to energy. With Tarik Black also sidelined due to an ankle sprain, Robinson has seen increased minutes in recent games. The 25-year-old started in place of Randle the last time the forward missed a game due to injury.

Sunday’s game against the Knicks offers the Lakers a tough Eastern Conference opponent that has won five of its last six games, with the only loss over that stretch coming against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Carmelo Anthony is averaging 22.8 points, while second-year seven-foot sensation Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 19.7 points per game. Former MVP Derrick Rose is listed as day-to-day but did take part in Saturday's practice after missing two games with a back injury.

Having Russell back to matchup against Rose would go a long way for the Lakers to have a fighting chance on Sunday and for the general entertainment value of the Sunday showdown.

The Lakers and Knicks tip-off at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Williams Scores 35, as Suns Shade Lakers]]>Fri, 09 Dec 2016 23:36:03 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Suns-Randle.jpg

On Friday night at Staples Center, Lou Williams scored 35 points to mark the third time the backup guard had topped the 30-point mark in the past four games. Unfortunately for Williams, the Lakers lost on Friday night and wasted an incredible individual performance once again.

"Over and over again, we let other teams dictate the pace," Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. lamented after the game. "They come out and throw the first punch, and at that point, we're just backpeddling, trying to catch up. Obviously, it hasn't gone well for us, so we got to go back to the drawing board." 

LA allowed 30 or more points in three of the four quarters against the Phoenix Suns, and even the defensive success of the third quarter featured Phoenix scoring 27 points. Scoring 115 points at home should to enough to secure a victory, but the Suns scored 119 and fended off a late comeback charged by Williams' hot shooting.

Williams scored 23 points in the second half and helped trim an 18-point deficit to only three points with 91 seconds showing on the game clock. However, the Lakers continued to make mistakes when the game hung in the balance, and Phoenix took advantage of those unforgivable errors.

Asked about his recent scoring flurry, Williams offered, "Usually, you score a lot of points, you probably get some wins out of it. We haven't got any wins out of it, so it's not a lot to take from it."

Williams added, "Losing is losing. We're not in the business of moral victories."

LA turned the ball over 16 times and gave up 25 points off turnovers, which were 11 more points than the Lakers scored off Phoenix's mistakes. That difference could easily sum up the game.

To add injury to insult, Lakers forward Julius Randle came up limping with an apparent hip injury after a tough fall.

"It's my hip. I just re-aggraveted it," Randle said after the game. "Actually, I hurt it a couple games ago on the other side, and it's just been sore. I've been playing with it. I just re-aggravated it, but like I said, it'll be fine. I don't think there's time to sit out right now."

Previously, Randle missed time with a hip pointer injury, so the hip injury on the other side of the hip has to be concerning for the team that already had four regular players sitting out of Friday's game due to injuries: Jose Calderon; D'Angelo Russell; Nick Young; and Tarik Black.

Quote of the Night:

"It wasn't five, but I think we had a losing streak at Duke where we lost four in a row." - Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram, when asked if he can remember the last time he lost five games in a row or if he's ever lost five games in a row.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fisher and Snead Respond to 'Toxic' Relationship Rumors]]>Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:28:32 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/LA+Rams+Jeff+FIsher+and+Les+Snead.png

Sometimes the most toxic people in your life are disguised as your family.

That's logically the case with Los Angeles general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher who have become family after an arranged marriage by Rams' owner Stan Kroenke brought them together in 2012.

Kroenke cleaned house of the then St. Louis Rams after the 2011 season, firing both head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney on the same day.

Since then, Fisher and Snead have had their ups and downs over the last four seasons, but things exploded on Thursday when a MMQB story by Albert Breer on SI.comstated that things between Fisher and Snead were "toxic," and that the Rams practice facility in Thousand Oaks, CA was a "junior high" atmosphere.

Both Fisher and Snead disputed that report on Friday morning and vowed to find the "anonymous source," that was quoted in the Breer article. 

"I don't know where it's coming from, but I'll find out," said Fisher. "In our business, unnamed sources, they're not good. If we've got sources from within the organization that are speaking, then we'll address it. But there are no issues between Les and I."

Snead ushered the same sentiment when he met with reporters about an hour before Fisher did.

"The working relationship is good," Snead said.

Fisher and Snead each received two-year contract extensions before the season began, but an announcement didn't come until last Sunday morning before the Rams faced the New England Patriots in Foxborough.

Fisher was asked about Snead's extension after practice on Tuesday and he told reporters that he was "honestly, unaware," that his GM of the last four years had received an extension and added "we need to do a better job from a personnel standpoint," a comment that the media took as a jab at Snead.

However, Snead saw the comments and said that he did not take them personally.

"I didn't blow it out of proportion in any way," said Snead. "I realized we were in the same boat as far as getting extensions."

As for the comments about a "junior high" environment at the facility, Fisher said those came from the "writer or editor" of the story and did not believe that anyone in the organization feels that way.

"I don't know where that's coming from, but I don't pay as close attention to those things as you do because I'm more concerned about the Falcons," said Fisher. "But I'll just say this again, Les and I are fine. We work together. We talk every day. "

For now, Fisher and Snead are focused on football and snapping a three-game losing streak by beating the Atlanta Falcons at the Coliseum on Sunday, but the witch hunt for the unnamed source within the organization has officially begun amidst the dramatic Hollywood backdrop that has become the 2016 Rams season.



Photo Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jackson's Heisman Hopes turn to Jim Thorpe Award]]>Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:15:09 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Adoree+Jackson+Jim+Thorpe+Award.png

He may not win the Heisman trophy, but USC junior defensive back Adore'e Jackson just added some hardware to his trophy case.

A couple weeks ago at Trojans practice, Jackson told the media that he still had three goals left to accomplish as an NCAA athlete:

Win a National Championship, win the Heisman, and win the Jim Thorpe Award. 

Trojan fans hoping for Jackson to return to the team for his senior season might find solace in the fact that he is unable to accomplish the first two goals this year, but they can scratch that last one off the list.

Jackson achieved one of those goals on Thursday night during ESPN's College Football Awards ceremony in Atlanta when he won the award for the Nation's top defensive back.

Jackson was also named a first team All-American, and despite not being named a Heisman finalist for Saturday's trophy presentation in New York City, he is sure to receive some votes, especially by those journalists on the west coast.

Jackson joined Trojan alum, Mark Carrier (1989), as the only two defensive backs in Trojans history to win the award.

Jackson had four interceptions, 11 pass deflections, 51 tackles, and two recovered fumbles for the Trojans this season, but it was his usage as a human Swiss Army Knife that likely weighed heavily in the minds of voters.

You see, Jackson not only plays on nearly every defensive snap for the Trojans, he also lines up on offense and is the team's punt and kick returner.

As a return man is perhaps where Jackson's strongest attribute, his speed, shines the brightest. The former Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2014 leads the nation in overall return touchdowns with two kickoffs and two punts returned for scores this season.

"He's a superhero," said Trojans head coach Clay Helton after USC destroyed rival Notre Dame 45-27 in their final regular season game. "He had a kick return, punt return, and a catch for a touchdown. He's unbelievable."

Jackson became the Trojans all-time leader in kickoff return yardage after that game, and with a punt return touchdown in the Rose Bowl, he could become the all-time leader in that category.

"When I get the ball in my hands, I know something special is going to happen."

Here's hoping so.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore]]>
<![CDATA[Speights Calls out Teammates for Technical Fouls]]>Fri, 09 Dec 2016 06:08:58 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/Speights+and+Curry.png

It's better late than never.

Los Angeles Clippers center Marreese Speights may be one of the newest members of the team, but after a three-year stint with the World Champion Golden State Warriors, he is the only player on the squad with a ring won in the last five years. 

Speights, affectionately known as "Mo Buckets," therefore has a right to speak his mind when he wants, and he did just that to NBC LA on Wednesday night after his former team, defeated his current team, 115-98 at home.

"I've been trying to tell everyone. We have to share the ball. Tonight they see it. They see everything I say in practice. They see how they play," said Speights of the Warriors. "If we want to play like that, we can, but that's a championship caliber team over there, but if they don't see how they play, I don't know what the problem is." 

Speights frustration was evident on his face as he spoke to just a select few reporters, including yours truly. It's important to note that despite the national reporting of Speight's critical comments on Thursday, that 6-foot-10-inch big man was not singling anybody out specifically, nor did he intentionally seem to be putting down the team. It was just an honest assessment of a nine-year veteran whose played for both sides.

If Speights has been telling his new teammates in practice for the last few months what they need to do in order to take that next step and compete for an NBA Championship, it's possible that his words are going in one ear and out the other. Hence the reason he specifically mentioned that the Clippers have now seen the way the Warriors play up close for the first time this season, and it only reinforces what he's been saying since early October. 

"We need to lock in more, because sometimes we just go out there and play the game," he said candidly. "We've been losing a lot lately like that." 

When asked what specifically the Clippers need to do in order to become a Championship caliber team, Speights did not hesitate to point out that some of his teammates focus too much on the officiating, or their own statistics, then they do their opponent.

"First, we need to leave the refs alone," he said. "Guys need to sacrifice. Do some other things than just scoring. Put aside your personal goals. Just try something new. They've been doing it here for four or five years and now it's time to try something new."

Speights has a point. Since Doc Rivers became the coach of the Clippers in 2013, they have lead the league in technical fouls each and every year. Consistently, they are an exciting and elite level team during the regular season, but those attributes have not translated into the postseason where L.A. has failed to make it past the second round of the NBA Playoffs. 

On Wednesday, in the lopsided loss to the Warriors, those perennial faults that have hampered the Clippers in the postseason shined brightly as Rivers, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul each received technical fouls in the game, and multiple players, including Speights himself, said the team "lost their spirit," during a 12-0 first quarter run by Golden State.

"That's the scouting report when you play against the Clippers," continued Speights. "It's always been, especially when I was with the Warriors. You hit them a couple of times and their spirit is going to be down, that's what happened. We have to try a way to get over that hump."

After hearing Speights comments, some of his teammates like Paul and shooting guard J.J. Redick agreed, but when I asked Griffin about it after the game, he simply blew it off. 

"I mean you could say that about any team. The scouting report for us when we go against an opponent is to break their spirit," Griffin said discounting Speights' comments. "That's like saying the scouting report is to score more points than the other team." 

Rivers also had heard about Speights comments on the practice court on Thursday and told the scrum of media reporters surrounding him that he disagreed with two of his assessments of the team.

"The officiating thing, I don't think, is our issue. I will say that," said Rivers about the technical fouls. "If that were the problem, then, Golden State would be struggling. They've been No. 2 the last two years in techs, too. I think we need to point fingers in another direction than that." 

The second thing Rivers disagreed with was Speights assumption that his teammates need to be less selfish.

"That's the other thing I didn't like," continued Rivers. "I don't think we have an agenda team. I think we've proven that."

Speights also walked back his comments a bit at practice stating that he "probably should have phrased it better," and noting, like I already mentioned earlier, "he did not mean to call nobody out."

Speights may have changed his tune a bit 24 hours after the loss, but that doesn't mean he wasn't right. It's time to try something new if you're the Clippers. 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton's Hands On Approach]]>Thu, 08 Dec 2016 16:40:49 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Branon-Ingram-1-on-1.jpg

At the tail end of Thursday's practice in El Segundo, the Los Angeles Lakers offered a rather interesting sight. Five coaches swarmed on defense, as the players tried to work the ball around the intense trapping defense being played by old timers like Brian Shaw, Mark Madsen and Luke Walton.

Yes, the Lakers' head coach takes a hands on approach to teaching, but watching five-on-five drills with five coaches taking on five players with the older five-some flustering the NBA players looked a bit curious.

When asked about the drill, Walton didn't focus on the fact that his coaches had effectively been playing against the players and instead explained that the goal of the drill was to counter teams trapping Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson while players like D'Angelo Russell and Nick Young remain sidelined due to injuries.

The coaches all taking on a hands on approach is the norm at Lakers' practice at this point, so the coach did not even care to address that aspect of the day's class on the court.

As related to Young and Russell, both took part in shooting drills and all non-contact drills at Thursday's practice according to the coach, but neither player expects to play on Friday. Tarik Black did not take part in Thursday's session.

Walton said regarding Russell's return, in particular, "Until he goes through a full practice and we can get him out there, and if the schedule doesn't allow for a full practice at least some competitive 3-on-3, until that day comes he won't be playing."

That translates to Russell still being at least a game or two away, though the point guard said he had been progressing nicely and stated that he had been cautious until he was "100 percent" healthy before returning to the practice court.

A couple players that will be playing on Friday, though, are Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram, and the duo took part in post-practice one-on-one drills after the team sessions had concluded.

"It's a challenge for me, as well, because he's long, he can move his feet," Clarkson said on the topic of going 1-on-1 against Ingram. "I was just trying to help him out. Guys getting physical with him, (so) I was trying to foul him as much as I can and just trying to put a body on him."

Clarkson hinted that the drill was primarily designed to help Ingram: "A lot of it was coach (Brian) Shaw and coach (Bill) Burtka and stuff, just harping on footwork, all the pivots, being able to get guys off, spacing and being able to take those shots over guys. He's 6-8, 6-9 and long and he's going to be able to shoot over them. Guys like me are going to be guarding him."

Clarkson said that he thinks Ingram is growing more comfortable and said that he expects the 19-year-old to be more aggressive, especially when he's running the point guard position.

While Shaw appeared to be the coach leading the one-on-one drill, Walton came by and saw something. So, he talked to Ingram for a moment and then returned to demonstrate after the two players had concluded their work.

With a couple shared smiles, Walton spoke about defending with hands up invoking the names of guys like LeBron James and Draymond Green. Then, the coach took Ingram on the court 1-on-1 and showed the rookie what he was talking about. This unique hands on approach is why Walton was so popular in Golden State, why he is seemingly everyone's favorite person in El Segundo and why his reputation continues to grow exponentially around the league.

Walton explained what he told the rookie, "He's got a habit of keeping his hands down when he's playing defense and we're trying to get him in the habit of mirroring the ball with one of his hands. With the length he has, he should be able to really affect other team's players. Whether it's deflection or just making it hard for them to see passing angles, when your hands are down, you don't do that. You can see everything."

While seeing Walton literally taking a hands on approach to teaching may not be earth shattering news at this stage in the season, it's still unique and continues to resonate with the players, even the day after a 39-point loss. After Walton had taken the extra bit of time with Ingram and given him a fatherly tap on the stomach to signify that the rookie was dismissed, Ingram wore a satisfied smile as he left the Lakers' classroom.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rockets Lift Off, Leave Lakers Behind]]>Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:48:01 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/James-Harden-Lakers-Rockets-12-7-16.jpg

James Harden led the Houston Rockets with 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds in 30 minutes, as the Houston Rockets exploded past the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in Texas.

The Lakers failed to offer any resistance to Harden and the Rockets, as the home team scored 43 points in the opening quarter and led by as many as 18 points fewer than 12 minutes into the game.

One may not be able to win a game in the first quarter, but the Lakers sure seemed to lost Wednesday's game in those first 12 minutes. While the Lakers cut the lead back to single digits in the second quarter, the halftime deficit stood at 12, and that was after Lou Williams hit three-quarter court shot.

Entering the locker room, the Rockets had already scored 67 points, as defense had taken the night off. LA's 55 points would have been adequate on just about any other night, but facing Mike D'Antoni's Rockets, that points struggled to keep fans from flipping the channel at halftime.

In the quarter, the lead jumped up to the 30-point range, as the Rockets had already scored 106 points with 12 minutes remaining on the game clock. Eventually, the final buzzer sounded and the short-handed Lakers lost 134-95.

LA committed 27 turnovers on the night, with Williams and Marcelo Huertas each giving the ball away six times. Houston shot 54.3 percent from the field compared to LA's 39.1 percent, and the Rockets assisted on 35 of their 51 made field goals. LA only assists on 14 of its 34 made field goals.

The Rockets beat the Lakers in seemingly every statistical category, save for free throw percentage and blocks. LA shot 0.5 percent better than the Rockets from the foul line.

At one point in the fourth quarter, the Rockets led by 42 points. So, this is one to forget for the purple and gold. With the loss, the Lakers fell to 10-14, while the Rockets improved to 15-7 with the win.

Next, the Lakers play the Phoenix Suns at home on Friday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Wipe Out Clippers ]]>Wed, 07 Dec 2016 23:42:21 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Warriors+Blowout+Clippers.png

New season. Same result.

The Golden State Warriors crushed the Los Angeles Clippers 115-98 for their seventh straight head-to-head victory over their Southern California rivals on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The NBA's best team proved why they are the overwhelming favorite to win the NBA title this year after they went up by 20+ points in the first quarter, and never looked back.

"I think they broke our spirit a little bit," Chris Paul said of the first quarter. "We gave them a lot of baskets. You can't give them points and we were playing transition defense all night."

Klay Thompson led the Warriors on offense with 24 points. Draymond Green chipped in 22, Steph Curry had 19, and  Kevin Durant finished with 16 in his first meeting with the Clippers as a member of the Warriors.

"Defensively is where we won the game," said Durant. "We held them to 39 percent shooting and that's the formula. We made them play one-on-one and made them shoot tough shots all night."

Curry failed to make a three-pointer (0-for-8) for the second time this season, both coming on the Staples Center court as his streak of 157 straight games with a three ended in November against the Lakers.

"It was kind of a coincidence," Curry said of not nailing a shot from beyond the arc. "We try to affect the game in other ways when your shot isn't falling. That's the test, to stay locked in and not get frustrated ebcause I know that won't happen often."

Both teams started the game sloppy as it was apparent that emotions and excitement were at peak levels for the first matchup of the regular season between the two teams. The Clippers committed nine turnovers in the first half, and Golden State had five. 

"I don't think either team played that great in the first few minutes," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. "You can't give a good team more confidence and we did that tonight."

L.A. led 9-7 midway through the first quarter, but that would be their only lead of the game as the Warriors ran off 12 straight points and never looked back.

By the time celebrities sitting courtside found their seats, the Warriors had doubled up the Clippers, 30-15, at the end of the first quarter.

Chris Rock, Jay Z, Waka Flocka, Jaleel White, Simone Biles, Wayne Brady and reverend Jesse Jackson were all courtside to watch the Warriors demolition of their Western Conference foes. 

The Clippers "Big 3" struggled from the field as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul were a combined 12-for-34 in the game for just 27 points.

"We need to be more resilient, especially against a team like the Warriors," said Griffin after the game. "I turned the ball over, I put myself in those positions. I missed easy shots. I forced bad shots."

J.J. Redick only had two points and DeAndre Jordan had 10 points to go along with 12 rebounds.

Jamal Crawford led L.A. with 21 points off the bench.

"In the Cleveland game, we were the agressors," Crawford said of their victory last week against the reigning NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers compared to tonight. "Tonight we played on our heels."

Golden State has won four consecutive games against the Clippers at Staples Center and seven straight overall, dating back to Christmas 2014. The seven-game losing streak against the Warriors is the longest active streak against any opponent for the Clippers.

The Warriors continued their NBA-record pace with 32 assists in the game, right at their average. They fell just short of their NBA-leading 120.2 points per game mark with 115. 

Players of the Game:

Draymond Green: 22 points
Jamal Crawford: 21 points
Klay Thompson: 24 points

Three Takeaways:

1. Dray and Jay: Draymond Green had a hug for rap mogul Jay Z before the game.

2. Not Even Close: Entering the game, the largest deficit the Clippers had faced on the season was 21 points. On Wednesday, the Warriors led by as many as 27 points.

3. Bring Home the Gold: There were plenty of Gold medalists on the court as Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, DeAndre Jordan, and Klay Thompson all represented the Stars and Stripes in Brazil this summer, but it was four-time Gold Medalist and Olympic gymnast, Simone Biles that trumped them all as she watched the game courtside.

Up Next:

Warriors (19-3): Golden State's five-game road trip continues in Utah on Thursday where they will face the tough-minded Jazz at 6:00PM PST.

Clippers (16-7): Los Angeles will look to rebound from their worst loss of the season when they host the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday at 7:30PM PST.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Well-Rested Clippers Ready for Showdown with Warriors]]>Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:14:04 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Well-rested+Clippers+ready+for+GSW.png

There's finally rest for the weary.

The Los Angeles Clippers got two consecutive days of rest for the first time all season as they prepare to host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Clips concluded a brutal stretch that saw them play 10 games in 16 days including seven on the road. Since the start of the season, the team has played 22 games in 38 days without back-to-back days off.

The excruciating NBA schedule finally caught up with the veteran-laden Clippers on Sunday in a 111-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers. 

"They looked really well-rested," said Blake Griffin. "Rest does a lot for a team, this is only their second game since we played them in Indiana. Two games in seven days… I think that has a lot to do with it." 

It's true. The Pacers defeated the Clippers at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 27, and had just one game before traveling to Los Angeles to face them again. Indiana got four days off between playing the Portland Trailblazers and the Clippers, plenty of time to get back stars Paul George, C.J. Miles and Kevin Seraphin.

The difference in a rested team and a team that had played four games over the same span was noticeable, and it's something the Clippers hope will play in their favor when they host the Warriors on Wednesday. 

"We've been talking about this for weeks now," added Griffin about the back-to-back days off before the NBA's newest "Superteam" rolls into town. "It's like that vacation you've always planned that you thought was never going to get here, and now it's finally here. This is huge for us." 

The Clippers will need any advantage they can get when they host the team with the best record in the NBA (18-3). The Warriors high-octane offense is firing on all cylinders coming into the highly anticipated matchup, scoring at least 132 points in three straight games and fresh removed from a 142-106 whooping of the Pacers on Monday. 

Klay Thompson scored 60 points in that game in just 29 minutes, and the Warriors most efficient shooter is ready to spice up the rivalry with the Clippers.

"We were a team trying to break through and make the playoffs in previous years," Thompson said on Wednesday about the rivalry. "They were trying to do the same thing, as far as make noise in the playoffs. We both had an edge to ourselves and we haven't lost it. They're still hungry to get to that championship level. You can see that, but so are we."

Thompson is correct in his assessment. When the two teams met in the Playoffs a few years ago and it went seven games, a series the Clippers won 4-3, the two teams were considered to be California rivals that would battle for championships for years to come. 

However, since that playoff exit, the Warriors have been to back-to-back NBA Finals and won it all in 2014-2015. The Warriors have dominated the rivalry since then, sweeping the Clippers in all four meetings last season, and winners of six straight overall against the Southern California foes.

The most recent beat down provided by the Warriors was a 45-point thumping, 120-75 in the preseason on Oct. 4 at Oracle Arena.

Wednesday will be the first clash of these two Western Conference titans of the regular season, and first since the glorified exhibition game. If anything, the matchup will be a measuring stick for both teams, and the Clippers first taste of newest Warrior, Kevin Durant. 

"They're a top team in the West, a top team in the league no matter what," said Griffin at practice on Tuesday. "Yeah, it's a different type of game than if you're playing the last seed in the East. Absolutely it is. I'd be lying to come in and just say it's a regular game."

The Warriors have won 14 of their last 15 games, whereas the Clippers have struggled as of late, losers of four of the last six. Fatigue could have played a factor in those games, but not on Wednesday as the Clippers will be the more fresh team and will have no excuses when the final buzzer rings.

Tip-off between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers will be at 7:30PM at Staples Center. 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Get Injury Boosts, Nance Returns]]>Wed, 07 Dec 2016 14:23:01 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Larry-Nance-Jr-back-vs-Rockets.jpg

On Wednesday morning deep in the heart of Texas, the Los Angeles Lakers received a positive boost as Larry Nance Jr. went through shootaround and now expects to play against the Houston Rockets. Nance had missed LA's previous two games due to a right knee contusion, and the Lakers lost both games by a narrow margin.

While Nance's inclusion would not necessarily have resulted in a victory, the forward' return is a big boost for a team that has been extremely shorthanded in recent days. LA Lakers coach Luke Walton is surely welcoming the return.

Following a recent loss to the Golden State Warriors in late November, Walton hinted at Nance's importance to the bench unit: "Larry's so key to the versatility of that second unit that if we would have started him, when I was sitting there mapping out different scenarios, the second unit just didn't seem like it would work when (the Warriors) have (Kevin Durant) and Draymond (Green) out there at the 4-5 because we feel completely comfortable out there when we have Larry and (Tarik) Black switching and guarding perimeter players."

As illustrated in the coach's words, Nance's defensive versatility plays a major role in the second unit's success. Nance featuring in a bench role seemingly has as much to do with Julius Randle's talent level as it does with the 23-year-old fitting with the second unit. Nance's return should give the injury-ridden Lakers a welcome boost on Wednesday.

In addition to the good news with Nance, the Lakers also received the green light to put point guard D'Angelo Russell back on the practice court. Russell did not travel with the team for Wednesday's game and has already missed 10 games due to a sore knee. The current hope appears to be pushing for a return as early as Monday night in Sacramento, when LA launches on a seven-game road trip.

Nick Young and Tarik Black also did not expect to travel to Houston. The latter is recovering from a sprained ankle suffered during Monday's loss to Utah, while the former is recovering from a strained calf. According to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, Young surprisingly made the trip and took shots on Wednesday morning in Houston with hopes to improve his status and return ahead of schedule.

Young's original timeline called for two to four weeks on the sidelines, so a return on Monday would mean the 31-year-old beats the minimum timeline by a couple of days.

Jose Calderon is also out for the Lakers on Wednesday night, as the Lakers take on the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Lou Williams Scores 38 Points Vs. Utah]]>Tue, 06 Dec 2016 02:14:28 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lou-Williams-38-points-Lakers-loss-Jazz.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers began the game without four injured regulars, and lost a fifth in the second half. The Utah Jazz were merely without their coach and second-leading scorer.

In a game defined by who was missing, Gordon Hayward and the Jazz continued to assert themselves in the Western Conference.

Hayward scored 23 points and Utah overcame the absence of ill coach Quin Snyder for its sixth victory in seven games, 107-101 over the depleted Lakers on Monday night.

Rodney Hood scored 16 points and hit two difficult shots in the waning minutes to keep the Jazz on track to win their only road game in a nine-game stretch. They made up for the absence of George Hill with scoring balance: seven players managed at least nine points.

Veteran assistant Igor Kokoskov ran the Jazz for Snyder, who fell ill earlier in the day and decided he couldn't coach shortly before game time. Utah's bus also got stuck in traffic and arrived late at Staples Center.

"It's difficult, but to be a pro, you have to be there and be prepared for your team," Kokoskov said of his last-minute NBA head coaching debut. "The team needs you, and you have to step up. That's what we ask from our guys, and that's what you do as a coach."

Players on both benches stepped into important roles.

Lou Williams had 38 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers, who rallied in the fourth quarter and nearly stole a victory despite finishing their eighth loss in 11 games without a large chunk of their roster.

Tarik Black sprained his right ankle in the third quarter and joined D'Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Jose Calderon and Larry Nance Jr. on the sidelines as Los Angeles lost its third straight while playing its ninth game in 14 days. Injuries and a brutal schedule have conspired to slow down the Lakers' encouraging start under first-year coach Luke Walton, but Williams led another thrilling rally.

"It's been tough, because we're kind of short-handed right now," said Jordan Clarkson, who scored 17 points. "It just shows we ain't backing down from anybody, and we ain't letting up. This time will pass and we'll get back to winning games."

Williams scored nine points early in the fourth quarter, and Julius Randle's layup trimmed Utah's lead to 98-95. But Hood nailed two tough shots during Utah's ensuing 9-2 run to ice it.

"Quin is our leader, so it definitely was a different situation for us," Hayward said after his eighth consecutive 20-point game. "I thought Coach Igor and the rest of the staff did a great job."

LOUUUUU

Two nights after scoring 40 points in Memphis, Williams put together the first back-to-back 30-point games of his 12-year NBA career. He also became the first Lakers player to score at least 38 points in successive games since Kobe Bryant in March 2013.

"When we need him, he has stepped up on the court," Walton said. "That gives other people a lot of confidence."

KOKOSKOV'S TURN

Kokoskov got his first game in charge of an NBA team after a long career as an assistant with six franchises and as a head coach in Europe. The 44-year-old Serbian first arrived stateside in 1999 as an assistant to Snyder at Missouri.

RON-RON RETURNS

With his top two point guards out, Walton came up with an unorthodox starting lineup due to injuries. Seldom-used veteran Metta World Peace joined a group with no players under 6-foot-7 as a counter to the Jazz's big lineup. World Peace became the 11th player to start a game for the Lakers this season. The 37-year-old veteran hadn't started since March 18, and he had appeared in just four of the Lakers' previous 14 games.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Kokoskov is the head coach of Slovenia's national team in his spare time. He also spent seven years as Georgia's head coach. ... Hill missed his third straight game with a sprained left big toe.

Lakers: Calderon will be out at least two more weeks with a strained right hamstring. ... Russell will be re-evaluated Tuesday to determine how much longer he will be sidelined by a sore knee. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in the joint two weeks ago.

UP NEXT

Jazz: Host the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

Lakers: At the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young Displays Unique Style at Lakers' Game]]>Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:23:59 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Nick-Young-interesting-fashion.jpg

Injuries can be tough to deal with, but for Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Nick Young, a strained calf that has the 31-year-old sidelined didn't seem to be keeping his spirits low.

Young walked into the Lakers' locker room ahead of Monday's game against the Utah Jazz decked out in what can best be described as clothes that belonged in the 1970s, if they belonged anywhere. Actually, Young described the look as "Fresh out of the 70's" when NBCLA.com decided to record Young as he peacocked around the locker room.

During Young's strutting, veteran guard Lou Williams walked in and took a long hard look at his teammate. The room fell silent and waited for the response.

"You should feel ashamed of yourself," Williams said to Young, as the room burst out in laughter.

But "Swaggy P" is a different type of character. No words questioning his stylistic choices could remove the beaming smile from his face. Even though he wasn't playing, he owned the pregame locker room talk. "Uncle P" even stopped fellow injured guard D'Angelo Russell dead in his tracks.

Injured or not, Young remains one of the absolute stars of the Lakers this season. Unfortunately, he couldn't steal the ball from his teammates and hit the game winner on this occasion.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Jose Calderon Joins Injured Contingent]]>Mon, 05 Dec 2016 12:20:21 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-injuries-Jose-Calderon.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers are down to one true point guard, and his name is Marcelo Huertas. Jose Calderon joined D'Angelo Russell on the sidelines, when the 35-year-old underwent an MRI on Monday to reveal a strained hamstring. The expected recovery time for the injury is 2-4 weeks, so the Lakers expect to field an even thinner roster in the coming days.

Russell, however, could be back sooner rather than later if his sore knee has healed. On Monday night, the 20-year-old point guard will miss his ninth straight game due to the injury and 10th overall. The Lakers have won three and lost seven of the 10 games the former Ohio State Buckeye has skipped thus far.

In the best case scenario, Russell could be back as early as Wednesday night in Houston, if his sore left knee has responded to the PRP injection administered nearly two weeks earlier.

LA is also without starting shooting guard Nick Young due to a strained calf, so the back court has become a bit of a MASH unit in recent weeks. For Tuesday's game, LA will likely look to Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram to start, with Lou Williams, Metta World Peace and Huertas as the only other viable options.

Lakers coach Luke Walton decided to cancel Monday's shootaround, probably because the team is still reeling from a strenuous road trip but also because the Lakers are short on numbers these days. The team also announced that rookie center Ivica Zubac had been recalled to the team from the LA D-Fenders, which is the Lakers' Development League affiliate.

Considering the size and length of Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the decision to recall Zubac may be an insurance policy should starting center Timofey Mozgov get in foul trouble. Or, considering Larry Nance Jr. is also listed as questionable, it could just be a desperate attempt to guarantee at least 11 active players for Monday's game.

Considering Monday kicks off a stretch of 11 games in 19 days in nine different cities, the Lakers will need every healthy body they can get.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Back Home on Monday Night]]>Mon, 05 Dec 2016 02:41:07 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lou-Williams-Lakers-12-5-16.jpg

On Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers return to play a game at Staples Center following a brutal four games in five nights road trip, but the NBA scheduling gods are not exactly rewarding the black and blue purple and gold with a long rest and extended time off.

From Monday night until the 23rd of December, which adds up to 19 days in total, the Lakers will play 11 games in eight different cities—nine if we count LA. If we were using modern true travel statistics, which is not really a thing, the Lakers play in 10 cities over the next 19 days, since the Lakers take off for a game on Wednesday in Houston and come back home for a couple games before turning into a nomadic herd of basketball wanderers not sure of the time zone, day, month or state.

LA's most recent road trip yielded three losses, three injuries and only one win in four games, but the team's ability to get a tough win in Chicago and remain competitive on the final night in Memphis proved to be encouraging signs. LA led for the majority of Saturday's game against the Grizzlies and only lost by three points despite playing without starting point guard D'Angelo Russell, forward Larry Nance Jr. and starting shooting guard Nick Young. LA also lost stand-in starting guard Jose Calderon after eight minutes, but the team still battled through blood and haze and only come up one possession short.

Lou Williams scoring 40 points helped, of course, as the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year looks like he could be in line to add to his trophy cabinet. Williams is averaging 17.5 points and 3.5 assists in only 24.2 minutes per game off the bench. When Williams won the award with Toronto during the 2014-15 season, the Georgia native averaged 15.5 points and 2.1 assists in 25.2 minutes. So, Williams is playing less minutes and having a greater offensive impact. He's also shooting a higher percentage from the field and from beyond the three-point line.

A big reason the Lakers have the best bench in the NBA is Williams' offensive production. LA's reserves average a league-best 52.3 points per game, which is more than 10 points more than the second-best bench in the NBA, Philadelphia at 42.1 points per game. And LA continues to keep up the second unit scoring despite a slew of injuries forcing forward Brandon Ingram to take on double duty with the starters and the reserves.

In the four games that Young has missed either entirely or partially due to injury thus far, Ingram has taken on the burden of increased minutes and averaged 38.5 minutes per game. Based on the initial timeline, Young could be back as early as Dec. 14 in Brooklyn, so the next five games promise the 19-year-old no. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft plenty of opportunities to grow on the court.

For Monday's game against Utah, the Lakers list Calderon, Russell, Young and rookie center Ivica Zubac as out, though the last name on the list is busy getting playing time in the NBA Development League. Nance is questionable to take part due to a right knee contusion suffered late in Friday's loss to Toronto and which kept the forward out of Saturday's game in Memphis.

While Nance's injury is not considered to be serious, Russell could be back as early as Wednesday if he manages to hits the minimum on his original injury timeline. The Lakers have sorely missed the former Ohio State Buckeye's scoring in the starting lineup, as he recovers from a sore left knee that required a PRP injection. The second year starter has been traveling with the team while he rests.

While the Lakers fight injuries and their schedule simultaneously, Monday's game against Utah offers the team an opportunity to earn a quality win against a potential competitor for a Western Conference playoff spot. Utah is currently the seventh seed, while the Lakers sit in the nine-hole and on the outside looking in. LA lost in Utah earlier in the season, and faces a tough task considering the injuries. However, Lakers coach Luke Walton has found a way to earn at least one win against every team the Lakers have faced multiple times this season: Golden State; Atlanta; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Chicago.

Sitting on 10 wins and 11 losses ahead of Monday's game, keeping touching distance of .500 is key to LA staying in the playoff race. Shorthanded though they may be, the Lakers need to protect their home court, and a win on Monday against the Jazz could realistically be the difference between making the postseason and missing out by the time April rolls around.

Notes: Jordan Clarkson started the second half in Memphis, so Lakers may rely on both Ingram and Clarkson playing extended minutes on Monday night. With Calderon and Russell out, Clarkson expects to start against the Jazz. Marcelo Huertas is the alternate option to start at point guard, but the Brazilian is more likely to earn minutes with the backups.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Offense Sputters in Loss to Patriots]]>Sun, 04 Dec 2016 13:15:58 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Rams+fall+to+pats.png

Now what's cooler than being cool?

The Rams offense went ice cold in New England, and the Patriots pulverized Los Angeles, 26-10, on Sunday afternoon at Foxborough Stadium.

Four-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback Tom Brady set the all-time NFL record for wins (201) as he threw for 269 yards and a touchdown, and outperformed No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff.

Goff struggled in the cold weather, throwing for just 161 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Goff found receiver Kenny Britt in the back of the end zone with just over a minute remaining in the game for the Rams only touchdown of the game.

New England set the tone early as Pats running back LeGarrette Blount busted through the line for a 43-yard touchdown on the team's first drive of the game, giving them an early 7-0 lead.

Blount finished with 88 yards to go with his score, and Dion Lewis rushed for 27 yards on five carries as the Patriots rushed for over 135 total yards in the game.

Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell led all receivers in the game with eight catches apiece.

Stephen Gostkowski was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals in the game as the Rams were able to hold the Patriots out of the end zone in the second half.

Two-time Pro Bowl punter Johnny Hekker was the lone bright spot for Los Angeles as he punted eight times for an average of 54 yards per punt, including a long of 76 yards and four kicks inside the 20-yard line.

The Rams fall to 4-8 on the season, and head coach Jeff Fisher is guaranteed to continue his streak of not having a winning season with the Rams.

Fisher reportedly signed a two-year contract extension before the game, but has never had more than seven wins as coach of the Rams. 

Players of the Game: 

Stephen Gostkowski: 4 field goals.
Johnny Hekker: 8 punts, 54 yards per punt.
LeGarrette Blount: 80 yards and a touchdown.

Three Takeaways:

1. Bobby Boucher: Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker wore these custom Nike Waterboy cleats for the game against the Patriots as part of the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" program.

2. The G.O.A.T: Tom Brady set the NFL record for most wins by a quarterback with 201 in the victory. 

3. Turn Your Head and Goff: Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff did not have a very fun day on the job as he was sacked four times and fell victim to two unfortunate interceptions on the day.

Up Next:

Rams (4-8): Los Angeles heads home to Hollywood where they will lick their wounds before hosting the NFC South Division leaders the Atlanta Falcons at 1:25 PM PS T.

Patriots (10-2): New England will host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football next week.



Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Headed for Rose Bowl to Face Penn State]]>Sun, 04 Dec 2016 11:51:10 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/USC+Rose+Bowl+Penn+State.png

It's time to stop and smell the roses.

Fans of the USC Trojans football program get to stay home for the holidays this year as the Men of Troy will make the 17-mile drive to Pasadena on January 2nd for the "Grand Daddy of Them All," the Rose Bowl.

The No. 9 Trojans catapulted the No. 11 Colorado Buffaloes in the final College Football Playoff Rankings after the Buffs lost in lopsided fashion, 41-10, to the Washington Huskies in the Pac 12 Championship game on Friday night.

No. 5 Penn State missed out on the Playoffs and finished just one spot shy of a semifinal berth after they defeated No. 8 Wisconsin 38-31 in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday.

James Franlkin's team was snubbed by the committee for losses against No. 6 Michigan and No. 22 Pittsburgh this season despite the fact that they defeated No. 3 Ohio State in Happy Valley earlier in the year. 

This will be the fourth time the Nittany Lions have gone to the Rose Bowl in the school's history and the third time they face the Trojans (1923 and 2009).

The Rose Bowl game will kickoff at 1:30PM PST on ESPN. 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jeff Fisher Signs 2 Year Contract Extension with Rams]]>Sun, 04 Dec 2016 11:06:41 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/Fisher+Extension.png

It looks like Eric Dickerson won't be on the sidelines any time soon.

The Los Angeles Rams signed head coach Jeff Fisher to a two-year contract extension through the year 2018 as first reported by NFL Network's  Ian Rapport on Sunday morning before the team took on the New England Patriots in Foxborough. 

As reported by Rapport, the agreement, which likely will have an opt-out clause by the team after the 2017 season, was initially agreed to in the preseason after Fisher guided the Rams through the very difficult relocation process from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

The deal was signed at some point during the season, which also helps explain why the Rams' front office has continued to praise Fisher and told everyone to judge him outside "the prism of just the record," even though the Rams are headed for another losing season. 

Fisher is in the sixth and final year of his original contract with the team and has never had a single winning season over that span. The last time Fisher had a winning season as a head coach was in 2008 with the Tennessee Titans.

Fisher has been on the hot seat in recent weeks for his decision not to start No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff until week 11 of the season, the team's performance on the field, and a very public spat with former Rams Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. 

Dickerson recently told the public that Fisher denied a request for sideline passes for his friends, and asked him not to be on the sidelines for Rams home games after criticizing the team publicly. 

Dickerson called out the coach and vowed to never come to another home game as long as Fisher remained as the head coach. 

Fisher and general manger Les Snead reportedly received the same deal, and appears to be no more than a one-year consolation prize for managing the team through the moving process. 

The Rams could still fire both Fisher and Snead after the season, and only owe them one-year of salary, but it's likely they will allow the duo one more season to turn things around.

Neither Fisher nor Snead has spoken publicly about the extension, but with the release of the news on Sunday, expect the head coach to be asked about it during his postgame press conference in New England on Sunday.



Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Finish Road Trip in Memphis]]>Sun, 04 Dec 2016 03:51:19 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Grizzlies-12-3-16.jpg

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale refers to the remaining members of his injury-plagued squad as the Nasty Nine.

 

On Saturday night, it was Troy Daniels turn to fill the void for the short-handed Grizzlies.

 

Daniels scored a career-high 31 points, and the Grizzlies hung on for a 103-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers after Julius Randle three free throws with 5.9 seconds left.

 

Daniels shot 12 of 23 from the field, including 6 of 12 from outside the arc. Marc Gasol had 19 points while JaMychal Green finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds as Memphis won its second straight.

 

"I was just taking what the defense gave me," Daniels said. "And my teammates helped me get into those spots."

 

Lou Williams scored a season-best 40 points for the Lakers. Luol Deng added 18, and Timofy Mozgov had with 13.

 

"It just flowed," Williams said about his shooting. "It was just one of those games."

 

Memphis pulled away in a tight game with a 9-2 burst that erased a 95-94 Lakers lead in the final 5 minutes.

 

Williams converted a three-point play with 51 seconds remaining to pull the Lakers within one possession. They then had a chance to tie when Gasol fouled Randle on a 3-point attempt.

 

After Randle missed the third free throw, there was a scramble for the ball, and Jordan Clarkson hurled up a 3-pointer from the right corner that was off the mark.

 

"They made the little plays," Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Memphis. "Down the stretch, they got to a couple of loose balls that they turned into big plays."

 

Both teams were short-handed with injuries, particularly in the backcourt. Starters D'Angelo Russell and Nick Young already were out for the Lakers and Jose Calderon, who started, left in the first quarter with a right hamstring strain.

 

The Lakers held a 62-54 lead into the break.

 

But Memphis opened the second half with a 10-4 run, and the game settled into a close affair with 17 lead changes, nine of them in the fourth quarter.

 

Memphis forward Tony Allen said Memphis came out a different team after intermission thanks to Fizdale's halftime speech.

 

"He's not going to sugarcoat anything," Allen said. "He came in and gave us a scolding, and the guys responded."

 

TIP-INS

 

Lakers: Williams' 40 points were the most ever scored by an opponent's reserve against Memphis. J.R. Smith had 35 for the Knicks on March 27, 2013. . Williams, who hit all 14 of his free throws in the game, has converted a free throw in 30 straight contests, longest streak in the league. ... The Lakers wrapped up a four-game trip over five days.

 

Grizzlies: A contingent of Grizzlies executives, including coach David Fizdale, went to Marion, Indiana for the visitation of F Zach Randolph's mother, Mae Randolph, earlier Saturday. .Green recorded his second double-double of the season. ... Memphis had 32 assists on 41 made field goals. Gasol had eight and rookie Wade Baldwin had a season-best nine assists. .Memphis converted 18 turnovers into 25 points.

 

TRIAGE UNIT:

 

Lakers: Russell (left knee injury), Young (strained calf, right leg) and reserve F Larry Nance Jr. (right knee contusion)

 

Grizzlies: G Mike Conley, G Vince Carter, F Chandler Parsons and F James Ennis. Randolph remains away from the team after the death of his mother.

 

WELCOME BACK NO. 1

 

Lakers reserve C Tarik Black is from Memphis and played at the University of Memphis before playing his final year at Kansas.

 

WELCOME BACK NO. 2

 

Some may forget that Lakers coach Luke Walton was hired as an assistant for the Memphis Tigers during the lockout prior to 2011 NBA season.

 

UP NEXT

 

Lakers: Return home for the first time in a week to face the Utah Jazz on Monday night.

 

Grizzlies: Travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Monday night, the only road game over a six-game stretch.

 

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reggie Bush Honors Joe McKnight With Cleats]]>Sat, 03 Dec 2016 17:19:16 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Reggie+Bush+Honors+Joe+McKnight.png

The man who was once called, "The Next Reggie Bush," is about to be honored by the man himself.

Current Buffalo Bills running back Reggie Bush will pay tribute to his former USC Alum, Joe McKnight, with a pair of custom cleats on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. 

Bush shared the cleats he will be wearing on social media with fans and will not be fined by the NFL as the league will allow special cleats to be worn by players for week 13 as part of their "My Cause, My Cleats," campaign.

The 28-year-old McKnight was shot and killed in an apparent road rage incident in New Orleans on Thursday afternoon. The investigation has received national attention after the admitted shooter, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, was released by police on Friday morning.

Both the sheriff's department and witnesses have described Gasser as the man who gunned down the former NFL running back, but conflicting reports on what happened have led to his release as the Jefferson Parish Sherriff Department continue their investigation.

McKnight is a Louisiana native where he played his high school ball and admitted that part of his decision to attend USC instead of LSU was because of a phone call from Bush and the Trojans rich tradition.

McKnight played three seasons with the Trojans, but never quite lived up to his potential due to injuries and fumbling issues. He declared for the NFL Draft in 2010 and was taken in the fourth round by the New York Jets.

McKnight played three seasons for the Jets as a running back, return specialist and defensive back. In 2011, he his first career touchdown was a 107-yard kickoff return that still stands as the longest play in Jets history.

McKnight was released by the Jets in August of 2013, and last played in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs during a short sting in 2014, but his season came to an end prematurely after he tore his Achilles tendon.

McKnight last played in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Colorado's Lopsided Loss Could Send USC to Rose Bowl]]>Sat, 03 Dec 2016 04:38:50 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/RoseBowl.png

Everything's coming up roses.

Or at least it could for the USC Trojans football team who entering Friday looked like a long shot for a chance at the Rose Bowl.

The No. 11 ranked Trojans were behind both No. 4 Washington and No. 8 Colorado as they had to watch from home as both Division champions slugged it out in the Pac-12 championship game at Levy's Stadium in Santa Clara.

Before the game began, USC's slim chances of making the Rose Bowl hinged on the fact that they would have to jump No. 8 Colorado in the final College Football Playoff Committee polls released next Tuesday.

Standing between USC and Colorado are Big 12 rivals Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who will duke it out against each other in the Big 12 Conference championship game on Saturday.

Therefore, it stands to reason that the loser of that matchup could fall below the Trojans in the rankings and the winner could leap ahead of Colorado. That would put Colorado and USC adjacent to each other at No. 9 and No.10 respectively.

The final piece of the puzzle would be a blowout victory by Washington in the Pac 12 championship game that would cement their position as one of the four best team's in the country, and expose Colorado as overrated at their current ranking.

Thankfully for the Trojans, that's exactly what they got as the Huskies blew out the Buffaloes, 41-10, on Friday, forcing the College Football committee to have to decide who is better? Colorado or USC?

It's safe to assume that by virtue of their victory, Washington will advance to the four-team playoff where they will likely play Alabama in the semifinal. That leaves the second best team in the Pac 12 with a Rose Bowl berth, a decision that will be determined on which team is ranked higher come Tuesday.

Will the committee choose the South Division champion Colorado Buffaloes who essentially are considered the runner-up in the division? Or will they select the Trojans who will have the same number of losses as the Buffs, but beat both Colorado and Washington head-to-head this season. 

Colorado's lopsided victory to Washington may be the final straw that tips the scale to the Trojans side. Had the game been close, the decision would have been easy, but with Washington winning in convincing fashion, everything is now much more complex.

The Trojans have the second longest winning streak in the country at eight games, behind only undefeated Alabama and Western Michigan. They have two top-10 wins against No. 4 Washington and No. 8 Colorado, but many of their other victories were against ranked opponents at the time, or teams who at one point or another were ranked in the AP Top 25.

There three losses came at the hands of No. 1 Alabama, No. 18 Stanford and No. 20 Utah, all respectable teams. USC will also likely leapfrog Colorado in the AP and Coaches poll on Monday, two factors that could benefit the Trojans when the committee makes their final decision.

Colorado will have a similar body of work to build their case for the committee. They will have one more win than the Trojans (9), and will have wins against Stanford and Utah. Their three losses will all come against likely top-10 teams once the final rankings are released in No. 4 Washington, No. 5 Michigan and USC. 

Ironically, the final decision for the committee could come down to that head-to-head matchup between the two teams at the Coliseum on October 8th that the Trojans won 21-17.

For those that don't remember, that game ended with USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster running toward a wide-open end zone, but instead falling on the ground at the 14-yard line to secure the victory for the Trojans.

It was a decision that Trojans head coach Clay Helton praised after the game, but could ultimately cost USC important style points now that a Rose Bowl berth is on the line.

The final rankings produced by the College Football Playoff committee will be released on Tuesday. If the Trojans do not finish ahead of Colorado they will likely play in the Alamo Bowl against the loser of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Eaten Alive By Raptors in Canada]]>Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:50:30 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Raptors-DeMar-DeRozan.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers did not put up much of a fight on Friday night in Toronto. LA-native DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors raced out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter before the Lakers' bench came in and seemingly got the game under control.

After the first quarter, the Lakers only trailed by six points. The Raptors, however, did not relent.

By the halftime whistle, the Lakers trailed by 21 points. Toronto shot 60 percent in the first half and only committed three turnovers, so the Raptors played a clean game and built a sizable lead. Just about the only silver lining in the first half was that rookie Brandon Ingram, who had started for the second game in a row in place of injured Nick Young, found his shooting rhythm and scored nine points in the first half. Ingram finished with 16 points on 8-16 shooting from the field, though he only made one of his five three-point attempts. The rookie also contributed six rebounds and two assists.

In the third quarter, the Raptors outscored the Lakers for the third straight quarter. But this time, it was only one point, so the Lakers did improve. LA trailed by 22 points with 12 minutes remaining.

Again, the Raptors refused to their feet off the gas. With six minutes remaining in the game, Toronto led by 26 points with six minutes remaining in the game. With the Lakers scheduled to play on Saturday night in Memphis, Lakers coach Luke Walton had already waived the white flag by that point, as Marcelo Huertas, Thomas Robinson and Metta World Peace were all on the floor.

Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry finished with 24 points and seven assists in the victory. DeRozan added 16 points and six assists.

Eventually, the final buzzer sounded, and the Raptors had considerably more points than the Lakers: 113-80.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Coach Luke Walton: Even Better than Expected]]>Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:04:50 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Luke-Walton.png

Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton is the talk of the town.

From his first game until game no. 20, he has made surprising decisions that have paid off time and again. In that season opener, the debate centered on whether the first year head coach would start Jordan Clarkson or Lou Williams at shooting guard alongside D'Angelo Russell.

In his pregame press conference, Walton refused to show his hand and said the decision had not yet been made. This is something Walton has consistently done over his first 20 games, whenever lineups have required tweaks due to injuries. Reporters, and presumably his opponents, do not know who the Lakers will start until the last possible moment. Call it a glimpse into the coach's competitive spirit.

On Opening Night, surprisingly, the 36-year-old coach started 31-year-old Nick Young at shooting guard, pairing Young alongside 20-year-old D'Angelo Russell in a move that epitomized how far and how fast the team had changed from the 17-win team that ended the season in April. Back then, Russell and Young had trouble sitting in the same locker room.

Twenty games into Walton's tenure, Young and Russell may both be on the shelf due to injuries, but the coach's decision proved to be the right one. The Lakers are 10-10, largely due to the difficult decision to start Young and leave both Clarkson and Williams as scoring threats for a second unit that is torching the NBA on a nightly basis. As much as his three-pointers have energized the team's scoring, Young has been the Lakers' best perimeter defender and a defensive asset to the starting unit.

In Chicago on Wednesdayth, however, Walton was without Young due to calf strain that would bench the reinvented shooting guard for a minimum of two weeks. Looking for a player to match up against Dwyane Wade, Walton again refused to leak his replacement in his pregame press conference. Predictably unpredictable, the coach overlooked the easy choices of Clarkson and Williams and instead went with 19-year-old rookie forward Brandon Ingram.

Ingram's length and defensive ability helped the team hold the Bulls to 90 points on the night and walk away with a shocking victory. Again, Walton had made a tough call that did not seem intuitive at first. Again, he had made the right decision. The proof was in the pudding, as the short-handed Lakers, without their starting backcourt, beat the Bulls in Chicago.

Walton started the regular season with a considerably better roster than the Lakers featured on the night Kobe Bryant scored 60 points to record win no. 17 in an 82-game season that would be entirely forgettable had it not doubled as Bryant's farewell tour. However, Walton played an active role in building the team over the summer and maximized every roster spot entering the regular season.

Often, he has refused to make the easy decision when choosing lineups. However, when asked if there is a vote, Walton makes it clear that he listens to his counsel, but he is running a dictatorship, not a democracy. Walton owns that final call, and it tends to be the correct call.

Before leaving for the current road trip, forward Julius Randle sat out due to a hip pointer injury. LA needed a starting power forward and the obvious choice was to promote Larry Nance Jr., who started 22 games for the team at the position a season earlier. Nance had also been playing well during the current season, so this one seemed like a no-brainer. Staying true to form, Walton refused to reveal which player would assume the position when reporters queried the coach an hour and 45 minutes before tip-off.

When the starters were announced against Atlanta, Thomas Robinson started against Paul Milsap and the Hawks. Robinson had only played 21 total minute over the first 15 games of the season, but that night, he finished with nine points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes. The Lakers won, and again, Walton had made a decision that most coaches simply would not have made and most experts would not have predicted. Again, Walton had made the correct call, evidenced by a Lakers' win.

Over the first 20 games of the season, Walton has already displayed enough cunning and creativity that it is tough not to give the coach a respectful shove to the front of the line in the discussion for Coach of the Year. It may seem like early days on that front, but it's not. The Lakers have already powered through a quarter of the 2016-17 season and accumulated 10 wins. LA did not hit the 10-win total until Feb. 2 a season ago, so Walton could literally lose every single game for the next two months without falling behind the pace set by his predecessor.

With every passing game, the reality is becoming more and more evident: Yes, Walton is that good.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Hand Cavs Worst Loss of Season]]>Thu, 01 Dec 2016 20:11:34 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/186*120/CliipersCavs.png

Maybe they saved the best for last.

J.J. Redick shot the lights out and the Los Angeles Clippers snapped a four-game losing streak against the reigning NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-94, on Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

Redick scored 23 points and was 4-for-6 from downtown as the Clippers also snapped a season-worst three-game losing streak on their current six-game road trip.

The Clippers had not defeated the Cavaliers since LeBron James returned to his hometown team before the 2014-2015 season. The Clippers last victory over the Cavs was on March 16, 2014.

A fresh Blake Griffin may have made the difference in the game as the Clippers forward did not play in the team's double overtime loss to Brooklyn on Tuesday. Griffin messed around and nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, 11 assists and five rebounds.

Chris Paul had 16 points, nine assists and six rebounds and DeAndre Jordan grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.

Cleveland led by six points in the first quarter, but the Clippers broke the game open in the second and went into halftime with a four-point lead.

Los Angeles would never trail again as they opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run thanks to alley-oop dunks from Redick, Paul and Griffin to Jordan as Lob City landed in full force in Cleveland.

L.A. extended their lead in fourth quarter, as they went ahead by as many as 23 points before the reserves entered the game.

The lopsided loss was the second largest of the season for the Cavs, and comes on the heels of a 17-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 28 points and LeBron James finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists.

The Clippers had a season-high 33 assists in the game, whereas the Cavs had just 12 assists to go with 18 turnovers. 

Players of the Game:

J.J. Redick: 23 points, 4 three-pointers
Blake Griffin: 13 points, 11 assists.
Kyrie Irving:
28 points

Three Takeaways: 

1. Pass the Rock: Blake Griffin had a career-high eight assists in the first half and nearly had more assists (11) then the Cavaliers had in the entire game (12).

2. Red Hot Redick: J.J. Redick was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and has now made a three-pointer in 76 straight games, the sixth longest streak in NBA history.

3. Sportsperson of the Year: Before the game, Sports Illustrated, named LeBron James their 2016 Sportsperson of the Year. Here is slamming home a windmill dunk against the Clippers.

Up Next:

Clippers (15-5): L.A.'s six-game road trip concludes in the Big Easy where they will face Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

Cavaliers (13-4):  LeBron James will reunite with old running mate, Dwyane Wade as Cleveland heads to Chicago to face the Bulls on Friday.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ron Schwane]]>
<![CDATA[Blake Griffin Stars in New Space Jam Commercial]]>Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:19:15 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Blake+Griffin+Space+Jam.png

What's up, Jocs?

Space Jam 2 is slated for 2017, but fans of the Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny film from 1996 got a small taste of what's to come in a 90-second commercial for Jordan's brand Defy on Thursday.

The commercial stars Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler who starts the ad by saying, "It's the same story it's always been," as the world prepares for the return of the "villains," the Monstars who are looking for a rematch after losing to Jordan and the Looney Tunes 20 years ago.

However, it's not Butler who steps up to square off with the Monstars, but Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin. Four players decked out in Jordan gear head down the back alley of a Foot Locker where they are met by Bugs Bunny who pushes Griffin out a door to help the kids challenge the Monstars. 

The commercial is for the new Air Jordan XXXI shoes and isn't necessarily linked to the new reboot of the film that stars LeBron James and will be directed by Fast and Furious head Justin Lin, but it's possible that Griffin and Butler could play a role in the film as they are both signed to the Jordan brand.

In the meantime, you can take a peak at the full commercial below and tune in to TNT on Wednesday night as Griffin's Clippers challenge James Cavaliers in a matchup of two of the best teams in the NBA.

 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Randle Pulls Down 20 Rebounds, Lakers Beat Bulls]]>Wed, 30 Nov 2016 23:01:22 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-beat-Bulls-96-90.jpg

Short-handed and on the second night of a back-to-back, the Los Angeles Lakers came back from 14 points down to beat the Chicago Bulls, 96-90, on Wednesday night.

Lakers forward Julius Randle battled on the boards and tied a career-high with 20 rebounds to go along with 13 points, which led the Lakers' starters in scoring. The 22-year-old scored the go-ahead bucket on a spin move with 45.1 seconds remaining in the game and seemed to be the emotional leader on the court.

"He took it upon himself," Lakers coach Luke Walton said on Spectrum Sportsnet about Randle's fight and competitive spirit after the game. "I was proud of him. We tried to take him off of Taj Gibson. Taj hurt us last game, so we wanted to put a bigger body on him. Julius took it upon himself. He wanted the matchup."

Walton added, "I love the accountability he wants. Not only to say you want it but to go out and get 20 rebounds and back it up is impressive."

The Lakers were without their starting backcourt, as Nick Young had been ruled out for a minimum of two weeks with a calf strain earlier in the day. D'Angelo Russell remained sidelined with a sore knee.

"Our guys have proven that when their backs are against the wall, that they can step up for a challenge," Walton said about his team not folding under the adverse circumstances. "They did it tonight. That's a great win against a very good team."

Along with being short-handed, the Lakers fell behind early, as the Bulls doubled the Lakers' score at 28-14 in the first quarter. Rather than fold and use the multitude of excuses available to them, the Lakers showed incredible fight and finished the first half level at 47-47.

Rookie Brandon Ingram, who earned the start in the makeshift lineup, played a career-high 41 minutes and contributed in a variety of ways, even if his 1-9 shooting numbers did not exactly jump out of the box score. Ingram's length played a role in disrupting shots on the defensive side of the ball.

As has become a familiar trend, the Lakers looked to their bench to fill the scoring need. Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams each scored 18 points to lead the team in scoring. Larry Nance Jr. scored 12 points to go along with his 11 rebounds off the bench, as well. The bench outscored the starters 56-40.

However, the broken record inside the Lakers' locker room after the game sounded out the same word: "defense." The coach pointed out that Wednesday night was the first game the Lakers had won where they did not score 100 points.

Walton said, "All we talked about pregame was defense. That's it. Defense. Win or lose, let's get better. They were good tonight."

Notes: Jimmy Butler scored 40 point when these two teams played at Staples Center on Nov. 20. On Wednesday, Butler finished with 22 points on 4-18 shooting, including a potential game-tying air ball in the final minute. The Lakers committed 23 turnovers in the win but managed to get extra possessions by out-rebounding the Bulls 60-46. LA is now 10-10 on the season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Was Jeff Fisher Justified in Eric Dickerson Ban?]]>Wed, 30 Nov 2016 20:49:55 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Fisher+justified.png

They say there are three sides to every story:

Your side, my side, and the truth.

Such is the case in the ongoing spat between Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and Hall of Fame former running back Eric Dickerson.

Dickerson played five seasons with the Rams from 1983-1987 where he averaged over 111 yards per game and became a local legend in the Los Angeles community.

As we reported on Monday, Dickerson revealed that Fisher had called him and told him he was not welcome on the Rams' sidelines during games.

Dickerson told Fox Sports Radio, that the call came after the former Rams running back had requested sideline passes for some friends for the team's Nov. 20 home game against the Miami Dolphins.

Dickerson had been critical of the team in the preceding weeks on Fred Roggin's radio show and Fisher told him that his comments had made the players uncomfortable and that he was denying his request for sideline passes because of it, a fact that Fisher acknowledged in his post-practice press conference on Tuesday:

"He was voicing his opinion, which he has every right to do," Fisher began. "And then immediately after, wanted things from the organization—and it doesn't work that way. You can have it one way or the other, it's just simple."

Dickerson says the call went like this:

"I see a 314 number calling in. So I get on the phone and say hello. He says, 'Hey, Eric, this is Jeff Fisher.' I said, 'How you doing, Jeff?' He said, 'I just wanted to call you. I want to tell you a few things here. I don't have time for this, but I'm going to tell you. You're not going to be talking about the football team, talking about our team, talking about my coaches, expecting to get things from this football team. We're not going to give you anything. We're not going to support you in anything. As long as I'm here as coach, we feel uncomfortable with you coming on the sideline. The players are uncomfortable with that. So as long as I'm head coach here, I'm just going to let you know it's not going to happen."

The truth of the ever-evolving feud between former player and current coach lies in between both parties' respective stories of how the conversation unfolded.

Dickerson has been vocal in the media of the Rams, Fisher, the players, and the coaching staff this season. He has repeatedly criticized the play of the offensive line, the uninspired play calls from offensive coordinator Rob Boras, and Fisher's decision not to start No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff for the first nine games of the season.

So despite those very public claims, the question remains: should Dickerson receive "favors" from the Rams organization because of his Hall of Fame standing as a player, or is he not allowed to have his cake and eat it too?

There's no doubt that Dickerson is one of the most loved and revered figures in Los Angeles sports and he has every right to voice his opinion about the team and their performance on the field, but, as head coach of the team, Fisher too, has every right to respectfully decline his request for sideline passes for his friends after he was critical of him, his coaches, and his players.

Fisher's number one priority is to make sure his players and coaches are prepared to perform at their best on the field and that distractions don't hinder them from doing their job. It's hard to tell them to stop listening to the news or the radio when members of the media including former players are talking about them, but he can control whether one of those people are standing feet away from them come game day. 

In Fisher's defense, he never "banned" Dickerson from the sideline and has said publicly this week that he is "always welcome" on the team's sideline. The issue at hand is whether the team should accommodate Dickerson's request for sideline passes from his friends and where the line gets drawn for future favors down the road.

Fisher felt that after being so critical of his players and coaches, that it was better Dickerson and his friends were not on the sidelines and instead offered them a catered luxury suite.

"I opened everything to Eric," he said. "I wanted him to know that we would provide anything for him that he needed."

Fisher also made the argument that if Dickerson wanted to be critical of the organization publicly, that he should see what's going on behind-the-scenes at practice, team meetings, and walkthroughs. He mentioned that other famous Rams alumni like Jackie Slater and Jack Youngblood have attended practices and former Titans running back Eddie George who played for Fisher, has frequently attended meetings with the team whereas Dickerson has not.

"I'd welcome him in the building. I'd love to have him come in. I'd love to have him come to practice. I'd love to have him come in the meetings," Fisher said of Dickerson. "Eddie George has been in my meetings more than Eric Dickerson has. I'd love to have him here."

The probability of that ever happening appear to be slim as Dickerson has now publicly stated that he will never again attend a Rams game at the Coliseum as long as Jeff Fisher is head coach.

"I want to go to a football game as much as I want to tie a bloody steak around my neck and jump in the Pacific Ocean butt naked," Dickerson said on Fox Sports Radio.

It's a shame that the Rams' myopia didn't factor into their decision to decline Dickerson's sideline passes. It's also a shame that Dickerson revealed the contents of a private conversation between he and Fisher for public consumption, and it's a crying shame that it happened after the Rams lost back-to-back games and got embarrassed in New Orleans, 49-21, by the Saints.

On Wednesday, Fisher said that Rams' chief operating office Kevin Demoff has reached out to Dickerson and welcome him back into the Rams family, but Fisher has not spoken with him or heard his name since Tuesday. 

"No, it's the first time I've heard his name since yesterday, not a word," Fisher said when asked if there's been any new developments or contact with Dickerson. "It's all about the Patriots now."

At this point, it appears the relationship with Dickerson and the team is beyond repair as E.D. continues to rage war on social media between the fans and Fisher.

In the meantime, Fisher himself has bigger fish to fry (pun intended), as his team travels to Foxborough to face Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

It appears that Fisher's future won't lie in the court of public opinion, or based on the hurt feelings of Dickerson, but rather, how the final few weeks unfold on the field.

At 4-7, the team's losing record will carry more weight on whether or not Fisher remains the coach of the Rams next season. The development of Jared Goff, how the defense performs, and how Fisher handles the pressure of the next month will all determine his future in Los Angeles. 

Despite the now public spat with Dickerson and the team's record, Fisher has done a credible job in transitioning the team through the relocation process. He led the organization as they moved halfway across the country, had OTAs in Oxnard, training camp in Irvine, practices in Thousand Oaks, and games across the globe including London this season.

Fisher has not had a winning record in his five seasons with the Rams, but he was also without a franchise quarterback, something the team believes they now have in Goff. 

Fisher has the faith of his team, but the organization's hand might be forced when it comes to the faith of the fans, especially in light of the Dickerson situation. 

Rams' owner Stan Kroenke will need to have the excitement of the city and fanbase at an all-time high when the team moves into their new stadium in Inglewood in 2019. It's possible that Fisher may get a longterm extension in the offseason with one-year out clauses for the team until that time comes, but for now, all eyes will be on Fisher as he leads the team to New England.



Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2016-17 Lakers Set Up For Hollywood Ending]]>Wed, 30 Nov 2016 02:19:11 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Luke-Walton-Lakers-11-30-16.jpg

After Wednesday night's game against the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers will be through 20 games of the 82-game regular season, which translates to just about a quarter of the season.

So, what have we learned?

For starters, the Lakers have been a fun team to follow because they continue to fight and win games they, seemingly, have no business winning. Save for perhaps the overly ambitious expectations that sit inside every NBA locker room at the start of a season, the Lakers have already crushed preseason predictions. Even after Tuesday's loss in New Orleans, LA is on pace to finish with 39 wins.

ESPN had the Lakers winning 25 games and finishing bottom of the Western Conference, which fits in line generally with how experts' predictions have gone in 2016: "Wrong!"

Approaching the quarter mark in the season, LA has been jumping in and out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference and has three times as many wins as last place Dallas. The Lakers may well end up in the lottery and miss out on the postseason, but this team currently looks just as likely to sneak into the playoffs and matchup against the likes of the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs or (fingers crossed) the Los Angeles Clippers.

Who wouldn't welcome a hallway series at Staples Center?

As the Lakers deal with the injury bug with hopes to hydrate and get back on their feet rather than end up on their backs in bed, the reality is that the Lakers are still a work in progress more so than most other teams. A new coach means new systems, roles and methodologies.

Thus far, Lakers coach Luke Walton has been a master motivator in terms of getting effort from his players, as the team is still adjusting to meet the coach's demands with regards to execution.

"When you break down film, you see a lot of mistakes, and as coaches, you're probably nitpicking and it's probably not fair," Walton said before his team started the current road trip. "But there's a lot of stuff we need to clean up and get better at."

Walton spoke in the wake of Sunday's win over Atlanta, when the Lakers had improved to 9-9: "The fact that we're 9-9 now, I think, speaks a lot to the effort our guys are playing with, the trust they're having in each other and not as much on the execution of the plays or getting the defensive schemes down pat, which is where we want to be."

Walton continued, "But in the meantime, if we can keep playing hard and competing, I'm confident that we'll get the more complicated stuff down as well and then, we can make real growth happen, as well."

In short, the Lakers are a work in progress and far from the finished product, even if they do pull off wins on a semi-regular basis.

Over the next 15 games, though, even injuries and inevitable losses cannot hamper the team's long-term growth. These young Lakers have already tasted enough success to continue buying into the coaching staff and playing hard more often than not. Scheduling will play a role in the standings as the season progresses, and the current stretch illustrates that point.

Including Wednesday's game in Chicago, the Lakers play 11 of their next 14 games away from Staples Center. So, the schedule decrees that LA should experience a fair amount of defeats in the coming weeks as road wins in the NBA are tough to come by. And yet, the team should continue to experience growth in terms of understanding what the coaching staff is asking for, beyond the effort.

The other side of that scheduling coin features the Lakers setting up for a fairy tale finish.

Following the All-Star break in the middle of February, LA plays 16 of the final 24 games of the season at Staples Center. Technically, one is an away game against the Clippers, but going to bed at home, going through pregame rituals at the practice facility in El Segundo and mentally getting prepared in the home locker room has value for players. Also, a fair amount of Lakers' fans tend to get into the building for those local rivalry games.

If the start of the season is any indication, Walton should have his team playing hard on a nightly basis at the least. Over time, the execution should improve. As the young team grows more comfortable with the coach's concepts, continues to build chemistry in the systems on both ends of the court and generally improves with much-needed game experience, that final stretch of the season sets the stage for a comeback story that feels all too familiar in Hollywood.

Walton summed up the present reality against the end of season hope: "The effort and the competitiveness has [sic] been off the charts almost every night for our guys, but we need to get the execution up to par with that."

With Walton's assessment in mind, one can easily see the Lakers struggle in the coming months and be counted out before putting together an impressive finish to the season that lands LA a postseason berth. The Lakers have not made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, when Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles and knocked down a couple foul shots to help LA get into the playoffs. The Lakers did not win any games and were promptly swept by the Spurs.

Coming off a franchise worst 17-win season, though, making the playoffs would provide the perfect Hollywood ending for the 2016-17 Lakers. Only, for Walton's Lakers, this season is only the beginning.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CP3 Gives Pierce CPR in Double OT Loss to Nets]]>Tue, 29 Nov 2016 20:16:35 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/Killer+Kilatrick.png

Things went berserk at the Barclays Center.

Sean Kilpatrick scored a season-high 38 points, Doc Rivers was ejected and Paul Pierce needed CPR from teammate Chris Paul as the Brooklyn Nets overcame an 18-point deficit to shock the Los Angeles Clippers 127-22 in double overtime.

The bizarre game saw eight ties and seven lead changes as the Clippers hit game-tying three-pointers at the end of regulation and overtime to keep the game going.

"We lost respect for the game," head coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the game. "Sometime the basketball Gods will punish you and I think that's what happened tonight."

Pierce played a season-high 29 minutes in place of Blake Griffin, who was given the night off to rest, a surprising move considering the 10-time All-Star had only appeared in two previous games entering Tuesday.

Pierce showed signs of rust against his former team, shooting 1-of-7 from the field and scoring just five points, but it was a failed dunk attempt in the second half that had fans rolling out of their seats.

Paul and Pierce were running a two-on-one break with less than a minute remaining in the first half when the point guard delivered a beautiful behind-the-back pass to Pierce who was wide-open for the dunk.

His teammates rose from their seats ready to celebrate the 39-year-old's hops, but instead Pierce missed the dunk and fell flat on his back on the play. That's when Paul went over to resuscitate his teammate by performing CPR.

Paul on the other hand, did not need any lifesaving as he scored a team-high 26 points recording a double-double with 13 assists.

DeAndre Jordan had his first 20-20 game of the season as the Clippers big man finished with 21 points and 23 rebounds in the loss.

J.J. Redick had 18 points and Austin Rivers scored 15 off the bench including a nine-point flurry in under a minute in the second half.

Kilpatrick led Brooklyn with a career-best 38 points and 14 rebounds, including 20-points in the fourth quarter.

"That's on me," continued Rivers. "We let him go to his strong hand 120 times. That was frustrating."

Brook Lopez had 27 points including four-three pointers that helped seal the victory for the Nets.

Brooklyn was up by three with 13 seconds remaining in the game when Paul hit a three-pointer from the corner to send it into overtime at 107-107. It was the first overtime game of the season for the Clippers.

Things got wild and crazy in the final second of the overtime period as DeAndre Jordan was fouled on a dunk attempt with 19 second remaining in the game.

Jordan made one of the two free throws but Doc Rivers received a technical foul from the bench. Second later, Rivers received a second technical foul and was ejected from the game by referee Ken Mauer, prompting the coach to charge the court and be restrained by players.

"It was the damnedest tech to give at that time," Rivers said. "The referee [Mauer] was away from the play and didn't know what we were talking about. It wasn't even an argument."

Brooklyn would miss three of the next four free throws, giving the Clippers a final chance to tie the game, and Jamal Crawford delivered with a game-tying three-pointer that sent the game to double overtime, the first for L.A. since March 23, 2011.

Mike Woodson took over as coach four the second extra period, but by that time the Clippers were out of gas and were unable to finish the job as the Nets held on for the win thanks to Kilpatrick.

Players of the Game:

Sean Kilpatrick: Career-high 38 points.
DeAndre Jordan: 21 points and 23 rebounds.
Chris Paul: 26 points and 13 assists.

Three Takeaways:

1. Four!!! Los Angeles Clippers can proudly boast they have the top two players with the most four-point plays in NBA history after J.J. Redick converted the 27th of his career midway through the fourth quarter. Redick now ranks second all-time behind teammate Jamal Crawford (49)

2. The Kilpatrick Quarter: Brooklyn Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick caught fire in the fourth quarter as the undrafted sophomore out of Cincinnati scored 20 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter, as the Nets erased a 13-point fourth quarter deficit.

3. You Mad, Bro? Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was ejected in the final seconds of the first overtime after he received back-to-back technical fouls from referee Ken Mauer. Rivers was heated and had to be restrained by players as he charged onto the court after Mauer.

Up Next: 

Clippers (14-5): The six-game road trip continues as L.A. visits Quickens Arena to take on the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.

Nets (5-12):  Brooklyn will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday at the Barclays Center.



Photo Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose Nick Young And The Game]]>Tue, 29 Nov 2016 20:19:44 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-nick-Young-injury.jpg

On Tuesday night in New Orleans, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered two big losses, though one will be felt far longer than the other. LA lost starting shooting guard Nick Young to an Achilles tendon strain before the team went on to lose by a sizable margin, 105-88, to Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Young's injury is far more concerning, as LA is already without starting point guard D'Angelo Russell while the 20-year-old recovers from a sore left knee. On night one of a daunting four-game road trip that takes place in four different cities over five nights, the already short-handed Lakers lost another key member of the rotation.

After suffering the injury, Young could be heard loudly exclaiming as he hopped towards the Lakers' bench before collapsing at center court in front of the scorers' table. The 31-year-old had to be carried off the court and into the locker room by teammates.

The team announced that Young will get an MRI in Chicago on Wednesday, and judging by Young's reaction and the potential seriousness of the injury, the former USC Trojan does not expect to feature for the Lakers against the Bulls. An official timetable for Young's return should be set following the MRI.

The Lakers also got another injury scare when forward Julius Randle landed awkwardly in the first half. The former Kentucky Wildcat, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Tuesday, limped off the court into a timeout. Randle, who was making a return to the lineup following a hip injury, managed to shake off the second quarter injury scare and provided one of the silver linings on an otherwise bleak night for the purple and gold.

Randle finished with 12 points on 6-9 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds in 22 minutes on the court.

For the Pelicans, Davis torched the Lakers for 41 points in 41 minutes, and the lanky forward also pulled down 16 rebounds. Former UCLA Bruin Jrue Holiday added 22 points in the Pelicans' victory.

Notes: Lou Williams led the Lakers with 16 points off the bench.

UPDATE: According to a couple of reports emerging from inside the Lakers' locker room, Young's injury may not be as serious as originally thought.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Racking Up Mileage on the Road]]>Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:08:17 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-road-trip-New-Orleans-11-29-16.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers are in New Orleans on Tuesday evening to begin a treacherous road trip that had Lakers coach Luke Walton scratching his head.

"It is a challenge," Walton said on Sunday night when asked about the trip. "We're going from the South to the North, to the North, back to the South. It makes zero sense."

LA plays in New Orleans on Tuesday night before flying up to Illinois for a Wednesday night showdown against Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls. Then, Friday night features a quick trip to Canada to face DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors before Saturday night's Tennessee tango with Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies.

That's two back-to-backs in five nights, which amounts to four games in five nights in four different cities. Including the flight out of LA on Monday afternoon and the flight back to LA on Saturday night, the Lakers are scheduled to fly about 6,700 miles in six days. That adds up to roughly 500 miles more than the distance from Los Angeles to Beijing, China.

Also, LA doesn't exactly get a break following the bumpy plane rides. After four games in five nights in four different cities, the Lakers get home late Saturday night and host the Utah Jazz on Monday night before heading to Houston for a quick Wednesday night contest in the Lone Star State. Following that odd one-game road trip on a Wednesday, the Lakers go back home and play the Phoenix Suns on Friday night and the New York Knicks on a Sunday night before beginning a seven-game cross country road trip that starts in Sacramento and stretches as far east as Brooklyn and as far south as Miami.

Over the next 25 days, the Lakers play 15 games in 12 different cities, not counting LA.

"It's tough," Walton said about the geographic challenges of the upcoming trip. "We'll keep an eye on minutes because of the travel and the minutes and the back-to-back and already being shorthanded. It's the cliché of one game at a time, and that's what we need to do."

The Lakers begin this daunting stretch in New Orleans at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Julius Randle, who celebrates has 22nd birthday on Tuesday, is questionable to take part on Tuesday night due to a hip pointer injury, though the forward is expected back at some point during the upcoming road trip. D'Angelo Russell remains sidelined with a sore left knee that received a PRP injection. LA starts the road trip with a .500 record of 9-9.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Feud With Eric Dickerson Reaches Fever Pitch]]>Tue, 29 Nov 2016 04:18:33 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/Dickerson1.JPG

Well is there a welcome mat, or isn't there?

An escalating feud between Los Angeles Rams Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson and current head coach Jeff Fisher has seemingly reached a fever pitch.

It all started a few weeks ago when Dickerson began to criticize Fisher and the team for their up-and-down season, and their reluctance not start No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff at quarterback. 

After the team's groundbreaking ceremony in Inglewood last week, Dickerson said he was told by a friend to expect a call from either Fisher or general manager Les Snead.

The call reportedly came from Fisher, and Dickerson was told he was no longer welcome on the Rams sideline. Dickerson remained mum on who the call came from, and after the Rams embarrassing loss to the New Orleans Saints, 49-21, at the Superdome on Sunday, he spoke publicly about the team's decision on his radio show with our very own Fred Roggin on AM 570 LA Sports. 

"Someone with the Rams called me and told me I'm not wanted on sidelines at games, that what I've said makes the players uncomfortable," Dickerson told L.A. listeners without revealing who called him only saying that it was someone in "upper management."

A few hours later, the Rams Executive Vice President of Football Operations & Chief Operating Office, Kevin Demoff, took to Twitter to quell the notion that Dickerson was banned from the team.

Demoff reiterated that he did not know who reached out to Dickerson, but believed it was a "miscommunication," and that he personally reached out to Dickerson to tell him he was welcome at all games and practices.

Later in the evening, at his weekly press conference, Fisher finally weighed in on the Dickerson ban when asked by a reporter.

"I don't know where that's coming from," Fisher said. "I had a really good conversation with Eric last week. We welcome the alums. We welcome the tradition and the history."

Fisher was then pressed on the topic and asked if Dickerson was still welcome on the Rams sideline.

"He's always welcomed," continued Fisher. "I'd love to have him come in. I'd love to have him come to practice. I'd love to have him come in the meetings. Eddie George has been in my meetings more than Eric Dickerson has. I'd love to have him here."

That last comment, regarding George seemed odd, and a bit of a jab at Dickerson not attending practices and voicing his opinion from afar, but regardless, Fisher seemed to also quiet any rumors that Dickerson was not welcome and openly invited him to games and practices.

Ordinarily, the CFO, COO and Head Coach of an organization publicly stating that Dickerson is welcome would be enough to end the debate, but Dickerson continued to pour fuel on the fire as he went on Fox Sports Radio with host Jason Smith to explain what happened.

"This happened about 10 days ago," began Dickerson. "The conversation was between he [Jeff Fisher] and I. He called me and said 'Look, I just want to call you and tell you that we at the Rams aren't going to have you talking about the team and asking things from the team.'"

Dickerson explained that he had previously asked the team for sideline passes for some friends of his and that Fisher told him they would not grant his request.

"'The players feel uncomfortable with you on the sideline and as long as I'm head coach here, you can come to the games, but you're not welcome on our sideline,'" Dickerson said, quoting Fisher. "I will always be Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams and I have to say what I see."

Dickerson confirmed that Fisher told him Eddie George had come to team meetings and that he was welcome to those meetings and practices as well, but Dickerson put a final exclamation point on the call.

"I told him 'you don't have to worry about me ever coming to a game again,'" sad Dickerson. "I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable, but I told him 'As long as you're head coach, you don't have to worry about me coming to a Rams game ever again.'"

Dickerson said that Fisher tried to walk back his comments and said that Dickerson was welcome at the games and as an alum, the team wanted him a part of their organization and their future.

"I'll watch them from a distance, and I'll always support my football team 100% but I will never be at another Ram game in the Coliseum again as long as he's head coach," Dickerson said emphatically. "I want to go to a football game as much as I want to tie a bloody steak around my neck and jump in the Pacific Ocean butt naked."

It sounds like bad blood is brewing between the greatest running back in Los Angeles Rams franchise history and their current head coach. Dickerson has been retweeting messages of support from hundreds of Rams fans throughout the day and it does not appear like this beef between one of the team's most popular former players and the man at the top will end any time soon.

"I want my team to win, I'm a frustrated fan just like the other thousands out there." Dickerson said. "If you're satisfied with 8-8 you're a loser. He had the nerve to call me and tell me what he did. He doesn't have the right. He hasn't had a winning season with the Rams ever, ever, ever. "

It's safe to say that things in Tinseltown just got worse for the 4-and-7 Rams.



Photo Credit: Michael Duarte/ NBC LA]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Julius Randle - Injury Update]]>Mon, 28 Nov 2016 14:31:19 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Julius-Randle-injury-update-11-28-16.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle played through a hip pointer issue in the Los Angeles Lakers' thrilling 101-109 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the 21-year-old forward appeared hampered by the nagging injury.

Since then, he has missed three games and remains questionable to play at the start of LA's upcoming four-game road trip.

"Julius did non-contact stuff, still questionable with hopes that he'll be ready to play at some point on this road trip," Lakers coach Luke Walton provided a brief injury update on Monday.

Walton admitted that the upcoming schedule did not allow for practice time to assess the forward's progress, "He'll have to go to the gym and do some stuff whether it's before a game and really push it and once he's pain free and doing some stuff, we'll get him on the court."

According to Randle, the trickiness of the injury is that it is based in both muscle and bone. The combination led to a slower than expected healing process, but the forward is doing his best to be patient and mature about his recovery.

"I don't have to be pain free," Randle explained that the bone bruise may be more painful but isn't the major concern, as the muscular aspect could have longer effects. "I'm just trying to figure out a way around it. The biggest thing is I don't want it to get worse. It's easy to play through an injury, but I don't want it to get worse. And then, it affect us down in the long run, you know, (if) we're fighting for a playoff spot, we're fighting for a seed and I'm not there because I didn't take care of a nagging injury 20 games into the season."

Randle explained that he feels the pain and discomfort when he makes sharp "game moves" and also when he takes on contact. Given that Randle's game is heavily based on being physical, the inability to handle contact would significantly hamper the forward's effectiveness.

Randle concluded, "I want to play. It's just a process."

Notes: D'Angelo Russell is also out due to a sore left knee, which received a PRP injection. Russell is not in contention to play on the upcoming road trip, but the point guard will travel with the team.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Get Last Laugh on Dwight Howard]]>Mon, 28 Nov 2016 01:33:05 -0800http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Hawks-Dwight-Howard.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers' fans had the last laugh on Dwight Howard on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Howard started the game making six of his first eight shots and scoring 13 points in the opening quarter to give the visiting Atlanta Hawks an 11-point lead after 12 minutes. Atlanta had led by as many as 13 points in the opening period thanks to Howard, but Howard would only score six points in the final three quarters.

Once again, the Lakers' second unit came up big as it has been prone to doing this season.

"The energy that the second unit brought on the defensive end in that second quarter changed the outcome of that game," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.

Walton added, "The second quarter stretch is the best we've been defensively, in my opinion, all year long." 

Led by Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson offensively, LA erased the Hawks' double-digit lead and tasted the first Lakers' lead since the team led 2-0 in the opening seconds.

To cap off an eventful second quarter, starting shooting guard Nick Young returned to finish out the half and caught fire. Young hit all four of his three-point shots to enter the locker room as the leading scorer in the game with 15 points. LA managed to hold Howard to zero points in the second quarter and entered the break leading 56-48.

In the third period, the Lakers and Hawks played nearly an even 12 minutes, with the Hawks cutting into the Lakers' lead by a single point. Former Laker Kent Bazemore led the Hawks' assault with 10 points in the quarter to move up to a game high 18 points for the game. He finished with a team-high 21 points.

In the final quarter, the Lakers managed to keep hold of their lead and entered the final stretch leading by 13 points, which was the team's largest lead of the game to that point. The Lakers would extend that difference to 16 points with 5:58 remaining in the game. With five minutes remaining, the Lakers led by 18 points.

On the 100th anniversary of legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn's birth, a night the team celebrated with videos on the big screen, a scholarship presentation at halftime and a key chain giveaway for fans in attendance, the Lakers poetically put the game in the refrigerator: the lights were out, the butter was getting hard, the eggs were getting cool, and the jello was giggling.

Staying true to form, the home fans continued to jeer and harass Howard every time he touched the ball for the remainder of the game, until a chorus of boos showered the most hated former Laker on his way to the bench.

Chants of "We Want Tacos" began to sound out at Staples Center about the time the game went into the refrigerator. Eventually, the Lakers won by a final count of 109-94, and yes, everyone got tacos. The Lakers improved to 9-9 and next hit the road for a daunting stretch of four games in five nights starting with a game in New Orleans on Tuesday night. 

Notes: Nance finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds to record a double-double. Lou Williams led the Lakers in scoring with 21 points. In his first start of the season, Thomas Robinson scored nine points and pulled down eight rebounds. The Lakers were without the injured duo of D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>