<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports - [LA FEATURE] SoCal Sports 4 You]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sportsen-usWed, 29 Mar 2017 04:39:13 -0700Wed, 29 Mar 2017 04:39:13 -0700NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[John Wall, Wizards Comeback Vs. Lakers]]>Tue, 28 Mar 2017 23:03:10 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-657773940.jpg

Leading by 16 points with 14 minutes remaining in Tuesday's ball game, the Los Angeles Lakers appeared destined to put down the Washington Wizards and claim a rare victory over a playoff team.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Lakers had magically handed the Wizards an 11-point victory, 119-108. The Lakers only had 21 victories entering the night, and the purple and gold exited Staples Center with the same number of victories thanks, largely, to Wizards superstar point guard John Wall.

Wall finished the night with 34 points, 14 assists, four steals and three rebounds, including eight points, three steals and two assists in the fourth quarter alone. In fact, Wall's final stint on the court consisted of seven minutes and two seconds during which time the Wizards outscored the Lakers by 15 points.

In truth, the Lakers crumbled for the duration of the fourth quarter. LA only scored 13 points over the final 12 minutes, while the Wizards put up 37. Coincidentally, the Lakers scored 37 points in the third quarter after hitting 15 straight shots as a team, but that offensive rhythm evaporated faster than LA's 16-point lead.

Before the fourth quarter collapse, Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell had put together an impressive night. Russell scored 24 points, handed out seven assists and pulled down five rebounds through the first three periods en route to what appeared to be a possible triple-double performance.

Then, the 21-year-old simply could not find the bottom of the net. Russell played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter and only made one of his seven field goal attempts. Over those final 12 minutes, Russell and the Lakers were outscored by 24 points as Wall orchestrated the magical turnaround.

Save for the final quarter, the Lakers played well. Jordan Clarkson finished with 22 points, and five Lakers finished in double figures.

"The fourth quarter, when it's winning time, the intensity gets to a whole other level," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game. "I thought our guys did a good job of playing for most of the night, and once (the Wizards) got back that momentum, we didn't do a good enough job to stop them."

Russell summarized the night far more succinctly: "We were making shots; we were getting stops. Then, we stopped making shots, and we stopped getting stops."

Lottery Watch

With the loss, the Lakers fell to 21-53 on the season and remain in last place in the Western Conference, only half a game behind the Phoenix Suns, 22-53. LA is still five games ahead of the NBA worst Brooklyn Nets, 16-58.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oilers Clinch Playoffs, LA Kings on Brink of Elimination]]>Tue, 28 Mar 2017 21:21:02 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Oilers+Clinch+Playoffs.png

The Edmonton Oilers clinched their first playoff berth in 10 years by virtue of their 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings at the Rogers Place in Edmonton on Tuesday night. 

Connor McDavid and Eric Gryba bookended a Jarome Iginla goal as the Oilers qualified for their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006. 

Meanwhile, the Kings are headed in the opposite direction, losers of six of their last eight games, and on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs themselves. 

It's likely not a matter of if, but when as the LA Kings find themselves 11 points behind their closest competitor, the St. Louis Blues with seven games left in the regular season. 

The Kings are 13 points behind the Calgary Flames, their opponent on Wednesday. A Kings loss, coincided with a Blues victory, and the Kings will be officially eliminated from the Staley Cup Playoff picture. 

Sophomore sensation McDavid scored 14:44 into the first period to give the Oilers an early lead. After an earlier goal was disallowed by a Kings' coaches challenge, McDavid scored when his attempted pass bounced off L.A. defenseman Derek Forbort and past quick. 

The Kings tied the game less than a dozen minutes later when he picked up the loose pick in front of the net and went top-shelf for the game-tying goal. 

Gryba gave the Oilers the lead in the second period when the Edmonton defenseman bounced a puck past Quick that pinballed through the crease. 

The Kings had plent of scoring opportunities in the third period, but were ultimately denied the chance to send the game to overtime. Instead, Edmonton was able to celebrate on their home ice, whereas the Kings are left scratching their head on a third straight disappointing season.



Photo Credit: Derek Leung/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Rookie Ivica Zubac Raising Eyebrows]]>Tue, 28 Mar 2017 01:55:02 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Ivica-Zubac-Lakers-1.png

Only a couple days removed from his 20th birthday, Los Angeles Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac sat in front of his locker. The team had practiced on the center's birthday, but seemingly no one had remembered, and the kid escaped the Saturday practice without embarrassingly singing in front of the team while reporters filmed from the sidelines.

Instead, the center marked the end of his teenage years with a helicopter ride over Los Angeles, a city where Zubac has quickly become a fan favorite.

Prior to nearly every game, Zubac owns the space in front of his locker like he currently owns the starting center position for the Lakers. Unlike the majority of his older teammates who often hide away in the players-only lounge, decline to speak to the media pregame or joke around while making arrangements for tickets, Zubac sits stoically at his locker half playing on his phone. If asked for an interview, the center generally obliges and answers questions honestly without dropping the flurry of clichés that seemingly live in professional sports locker rooms.

While the professionalism the 7-foot 1-inch center displays regularly is commendable and notable, he is still in the infancy of his NBA career. Zubac only recently moved into the starting lineup and expects to start his ninth straight game on Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards. Since becoming a starter, Zubac is averaging 12.4 points and 6.25 rebounds on 60.8 percent shooting in 23.9 minutes per game.

"I got to prepare more for the games," Zubac speaks about his transition to the starting lineup in his thick Eastern European accent. "I got to be ready for better players and starting lineups, just get a bit more focused, more prepared and got to be in better shape."

Before celebrating his 20th birthday, Zubac became the first Lakers' teenager to ever score 25 points and pull down 10+ rebounds in the same game. Far from a finished product, though, the 20-year-old understands where he needs to improve the most: "I got to be better on defense, so I'll keep working on that until the end of the season."

The center adds, "Every area: pick and roll defense, post defense, closing out. Everything."

Lakers coach Luke Walton, who credited Zubac's hard work in practice and in the NBA Development League as the driving factors in pushing the then 19-year-old into the starting lineup, also pointed to the defensive side of the ball when asked about what areas to big Bosnian-born Croatian needed to work on entering the summer.

Walton said, "He needs to get defensively ready to make plays. His reactions are a little slow. I think it's because he's constantly standing upright. He needs to do a better job of staying low when he's away from the ball. When he's engaged in the play, he's pretty good as far as being active and reacting to what's happening. But a lot of times, he gets either fouls or beat because he has to react to once he sees the action, and that takes too long in this league."

The coach added, "I think he'll continue to get stronger, which will obviously help. He's got a real good feel for protecting the rim and getting block shots."

With regards to getting stronger, Zubac's offseason focus is precisely on building up his body. While the Croatian's pronunciation of the word "muscles" is endearing and forces an exercise in reporters' face muscles, the young center seems to understand that his offseason work in the weight room is of the utmost importance.

"We're going to work hard on my body, put on some muscles," Zubac tells NBCLA.com about his summer plans. "That's going to help me a lot to run faster, to move quicker, to jump higher. So that's where we should start. There's a lot of work to do. I think every part of my body needs improvement."

Zubac adds, "In Europe, I didn't do a lot (of weight training), maybe once a week or something like that. And it was very light. And now, I'm doing every day in the weight room. It's really different. I like it. It helps me a lot. I think this summer I'm going to spend a lot of time in weight room, and next season is going to be much better."

While Zubac contends that players in Europe are more physical due to the style of play, the Croatian says that NBA players are quicker and more athletic than their European counterparts. The weight training is a means to help Zubac close that gap. After all, he is only 20.

Asked how he can work on quickness and defensive speed over the summer, Zubac offers an answer that is the opposite of the sports cliché and yet sounds like the perfect response every coach and team would love to overhear from a player: "To be honest, I don't know. My coaches know. They're going to know everything. I just got to listen to them. They know what they do. I think that's the only way I can improve: to work hard, to listen to my coaches. Not to question anything."

Zubac summarizes succinctly, "Coaches say what to do. I do it."

Thus far, Zubac's mature attitude and strong work ethic has resulted in a degree of growth so pronounced that high priced center Timofey Mozgov may be in serious danger of losing his starting spot at the start of the 2017-18 season. While fans will point to Mozgov's $16 million salary with disdain, the truth is that the Russian center losing his starting spot would have more to do with Zubac's sudden unexpected rise than Mozgov's decline.

Walton will likely face a tough decision entering the 2017-18 season. When the coach drones about Zubac's strengths, though, the coach adds to the rim protection and shot blocking with the far more offensive strengths: "He's got great touch obviously. I think he'll continue to improve as far as finding his spots on the floor."

In fact, Walton called a play for Zubac to shoot a three-pointer at the end of the first half on Sunday night. The shot missed, but the fact that Walton ran the play suggests the coach acknowledges that his 20-year-old 7-footer could be a three-point threat sooner rather than later. After the game, the center reminded reporters that he's made three-pointers in the NBA Development League and shoots the shot in practice.

Ivica Zubac and Larry Nance Jr. practice 1-on-1 in Philadelphia

Zubac's biggest fan and best friend on the team is undoubtedly second-year forward Larry Nance Jr. Nance is the guy that decided to spit out a flurry of nicknames like "Zu Alcindor" and "Zu-pac" when the Croatian put on a couple positive performances earlier in the season. In fact, the pair actually bought t-shirts that featured Zubac's face imposed on a 2Pac-style image—bandana and all. As a note, Zubac said he did not know the people making the t-shirts, but he was not upset about it and liked the shirts.

"I think Zu and Larry got great chemistry on and off the court," Walton says with a laugh. "They're buddy-buddy."

Even if the team forgot to celebrate the Croatian's 20th birthday, Nance didn't forget. He met Zubac for lunch to mark the occasion.

"Confidence," Nance responds with one word when asked how he's seen his big buddy change over the course of the season. "He came into the year not sure about himself, about measuring up against these guys. I was there two years ago. You watch them on T.V. and they seem like juggernauts but now you're here and you're competing against them, and it's like, ‘Hey, they're human too.' I think you've gotten to see his confidence grow and he's starting to feel himself and get to his shots a little bit more."

Nance added, "There's still part of his game you guys haven't seen. He can shoot. He can shoot all the way from three pretty consistently. And I'm hoping he gets to show these last couple games. He's got a pretty complete arsenal. I'm looking forward to seeing it."

While the summer timeline has not yet been set since the Lakers still have nine games remaining on the docket, Zubac plans to spend the majority of the offseason working out in LA.

"First, going home to spend time with my family and my friends," Zubac says when quizzed on his post-season plans. "And then, I look forward to working out. I want to work out a lot. I want to improve a lot over the summer, so I'm going to be dedicated and good things will happen."

Asked if he'll be joining his buddy for workouts over the summer, Nance says he hasn't thought about anything but resting following the season. Then, the forward adds with a knowing smile, "We'll both be out here (in LA), so I'm sure we'll get some work in."



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Dodger Matt Kemp Auctioning San Diego Mansion]]>Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:25:03 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/matt-kemp-poway-mansion.jpgMLB player Matt Kemp listed his mansion in San Diego for $11.5 million in December.

Photo Credit: Antis Real Estate Photography/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Crash and Burn Against Blazers]]>Sun, 26 Mar 2017 22:58:59 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Damian-Lillard-Lakers-Blazers-3-26.jpg

The Portland Trail Blazers continued their fight to claim the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a convincing 97-81 victory over the LA Lakers on Sunday night at Staples Center.

With the loss, LA remained glued to the bottom of the West and fell to 21-52 on the season.

In what has become all too familiar a sight recently, the Lakers fell behind big at the start of the second half and failed to make the game competitive. The purple and gold managed to only trail by seven points after the first quarter despite only scoring 17 points. In the second quarter, LA only scored 15 points but somehow only trailed by eight points at the intermission.

All in all, it was an ugly first half for both teams, and the Blazers led 40-32.

In the third quarter, though, the visitors came to life offensively and scored 37 points behind Portland point guard Damian Lillard's 14 points in the period. The Lakers scored 24 points in the third quarter, which was their best scoring quarter of the game thus far, but that hardly mattered as the Blazers led by as many as 21 points during the period.

Lillard eventually finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Blazers, while Allen Crabbe finished with 18 points off Portland's bench.

In the fourth quarter, the Blazers increased the difference to as many as 26 points before the game clock mercifully ran out with the score board reading "97-81."

With the win, the Blazers improved to 35-38 and into a tie with the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff sport. The Lakers, meanwhile, remained a half game behind the Phoenix Suns and in last place in the conference.

Next, the Lakers play the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night at Staples Center. Only nine games remaind in the Lakers' season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Stunning Collapse Against Kings]]>Sun, 26 Mar 2017 16:00:31 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Kings+Shock+Clippers.png

A royal collapse.

The Los Angeles Clippers blew an 18-point lead with less than five minutes remaining as the Sacramento Kings stole a stunning victory, 98-97, on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.

In what may go down as their worst loss of the season, the Clippers led 95-77 with less than five minutes remaining in the game before Sacramento went on a 21-2 run to complete the comeback.

"This is a bad loss," said Chris Paul after the game. "The worst one we've had in the regular season by far."

Los Angeles missed their final nine field goals of the game, including a three-pointer by Chris Paul at the buzzer.

"I caught it ready to shoot," said Paul of the final shot. "It felt good, I'll take that shot any day of the week."

The crushing loss moves the Clippers a full game behind the Utah Jazz (two in the loss column) for fourth place in the Western Conference playoff picture.

The Clippers were playing on the second day of the rare back-to-back day games after defeating the Jazz just 24 hours earlier to take over the tiebreaker in the event both teams finish with the same record.

"We knew this game was going to be a fight," said Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers. "Second day of a back-to-back, both 12:30pm starts, and the final game of 8 in 12. We knew it wasn't going to be easy."

The Jazz and Clippers are currently seeded fourth and fifth in the Western Conference, respectively, with both teams likely to meet in the first round of the NBA Playoffs next month.

Los Angeles was sleepwalking through the first half, clinging to a 44-42 lead at halftime. They dominated the third quarter, leading by 11 points going into the final frame.

As the Clippers bench extended the lead to 18 points, coach Doc Rivers stuck with his reserves, but the Kings never surrendered, finishing the game on a 21-2 run with center Willie Cauley-Stein putting in the tip-back with 1.2 seconds left in the game to give the Kings their first lead of the second half.

"I just remember taking off and seeing Ben [McLemore] had a lay-up and the only thing I'm thinking is, 'If this ball comes off, I've got to grab it and put it up,'" said Cauley-Stein of the final Kings' possession. "Thankfully, it just came right to my hands."

"The blame goes all around on this one," said a frustrated Rivers after the game. "Should I have inserted the starters earlier? Left the bench in? The blame goes all around."

Sunday's game was a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions as the Clippers continue to battle for home-court advantage after clinching their sixth consecutive playoff appearance on Saturday. 

"These games should mean so much more to us than them," said Blake Griffin. "Nothing against them, but they're out of the playoff picture, and it looked the other way around in that fourth quarter."

Meanwhile, Sacramento is headed to the NBA Draft Lottery after trading away their All-Star center, DeMarcus Cousins, at the trade deadline. The Kings are currently 13th in the Western Conference and battling for a top-five draft pick.

Darren Collison scored 19 points to lead the Kings and Anthony Tolliver chipped in 15 points off the bench. 

A year ago today, Kings' guard Buddy Hield scored 37 points at the nearby Honda Center to lead his Oklahoma Sooners to the Final Four. One year later, he scored 11 points in the final few minutes against fellow Sooners alum, Blake Griffin.

"I think they thought they had it in the bag," said Hield. "But we could start to see them collapse, I think they were shook. It ain't over until the fat lady sings."

Griffin finished with 17 points, six rebound and four assists for the Clippers. Chris Paul had 17 points and nine assists.

"We're pros," said Paul, of having to come into the game in the final minutes after sitting for so long. "We have to come back in there and close the game out."

Clippers' guard Jamal Crawford reached a career milestone in the game, surpassing 18,000 points in his 17-year NBA tenure.

Jordan was the most dominant player on the court for either team, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds, a double-double, his 35th of the season.

Up Next:

The Clippers face a tough test on Wednesday when the Washington Wizards head to Staples Center for a matchup of teams with nearly identical records.

Please refresh this page for more updates, stats, and player reactions…



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Danny Moloshok]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings on Brink of Playoff Elimination]]>Sat, 25 Mar 2017 22:24:56 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/Kings+Fall+to+Rangers.png

The Kings playoff chances are sinking faster than you can say, "Go Kings Go!"

Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, and Rick Nash all scored as the New York Rangers shutout the Los Angeles Kings 3-0, on Saturday night at Staples Center.

L.A. needs every point they can pick up as their chances of making the NHL playoffs continue to sink with every loss they receive.

As of Saturday night, the Kings would need to win five more games in their final eight than the St. Louis Blues who have a favorable schedule down the stretch with two games each against the Coyotes and Avalanche. 

Once again, it was the offense that failed the Kings on Saturday night. New York's All-Star goalie, Henrik Lundqvist was out with an injury, and the Kings offense could not conjure a goal against backup goalie Antti Raanta.

"We had our chances and we didn't score. That's been a problem for us all year long," said the Kings best offensive player this season, Jeff Carter. "If I knew why, we wouldn't be in this situation, but when you don't score, you don't win too many games."

Raanta made 30 saves, shutting out the Kings for the 10th time this season despite L.A. firing more shots than the Rangers, 30 to 20.

After a scoreless first period, Stepan put the Rangers on the board when he knocked Brendan Smith's shot that bounced off the boards and right to Stepan on the left side of the net.

New York made it 2-0 in the third period just four seconds after Andy Andreoff was put in the penalty box for a double-minor for a high-stick to the face of Pavel Buchnevich. The Rangers captain blasted a slap shot as soon as the power play started and the puck bounced between Jonathan Quick's legs and into the net for the goal.

Nash added an empty-net goal late in the third period, it was his 21st of the season.

Quick took the loss, stopping just 17 shots. Kings' center Johnny Brodzinski made his NHL debut and attempted three shots on goal.

"We lost. That seems to be happening a lot lately," said Quick. "We just have to try and win the next one and not worry about the standings."

The loss puts the Kings nine points behind the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with just eight games remaining in the season.

UP NEXT:

The Kings travel to Canada for a three-game road trip against Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver next week.

Please refresh this page for more stats, updates and player reactions…



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Clinch Playoffs, Inch Closer to Jazz]]>Sat, 25 Mar 2017 20:13:33 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Clippers+Beat+Jazz.png

Jamal Crawford scored 28 points off the bench, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 108-95 on Saturday to clinch a playoff berth for the sixth straight year.

The Clippers trail the Jazz by a half-game in their race for the No. 4 playoff seed in the West.

Blake Griffin added 15 points and DeAndre Jordan had 15 rebounds for the Clippers.

Rudy Gobert had 26 points and 14 rebounds for Utah, and reserve Joe Johnson added 17 points. The Jazz have dropped four of five.

Utah rallied in the third, putting together a 20-6 spurt to trim Los Angeles' lead to 72-70 heading into the final period. Gobert had nine points and Johnson scored seven during the run that included 10 straight points for the Jazz over one stretch.

Chris Paul and Crawford both got technicals while the Clippers struggled to score and defend.

But Los Angeles turned things around in the fourth, scoring the first eight points for an 80-70 lead. Crawford had 17 points in the quarter, scoring six in a row to push the Clippers' lead to 103-84. He was 9 of 9 at the free-throw line for the game.

The Clippers grabbed control early on, shooting 52 percent in the first quarter while building a 15-point lead.

The Jazz got within seven to start the second before the Clippers restored their 15-point margin and eventually led 49-41 at halftime.

Utah's top two scorers, Gordon Hayward and George Hill, struggled. Hayward, who averages 22 points, had 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Hill, who averages 17.1, had nine points while shooting 4 of 11.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Gobert was coming off a career-high 35-point, 15-rebound performance against the Knicks on Tuesday. ... G Sheldon Mack missed his 11th straight game with a left ankle sprain. ... F/C Derrick Favors remains out with a left knee bone contusion.

Clippers: Their six-year playoff run is the longest in franchise history. ... They have won 18 of 20 against the Jazz dating to Feb. 1, 2012. ... They won the season series 3-1.

UP NEXT

Jazz: Host New Orleans on Monday.

Clippers: Host Sacramento on Sunday in their next-to-last back-to-back of the regular season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Danny Moloshok]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat T-Wolves in OT on Shaq Statue Night]]>Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:38:48 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-career-night-3-25-17.jpg

With Shaquille O'Neal and a host of former Los Angeles Lakers in attendance to celebrate the former three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player's statue at Staples Center, the LA Lakers snapped a six-game losing streak and beat the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime, 130-119.

Jordan Clarkson scored 35 points and made eight of his 10 three-point attempts, both of which set new career-highs for the third-year guard. The combo-guard who recently returned to the starting lineup also scored seven points in the overtime period and only missed out on game-high honors by a single point.

Andrew Wiggins, who fouled out in overtime, finished with 36 points in the loss.

What started out as a back-and forth contest witnessed the Lakers falling behind by 12 points at halftime. LA appeared headed for a seventh consecutive loss and trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter.

However, LA's backups worked to get the Lakers back into the game and closed the gap to only eight points entering the fourth quarter. Less than five minutes into the fourth quarter, the Lakers' reserves had chopped the deficit entirely and faced a tie ball game with the home crowd roaring to mark O'Neal's special night with a rare victory at Staples Center.

In particular, Corey Brewer fueled the comeback with energetic defense and 10 points in the fourth quarter against his former team. Still, when Lakers home P.A. announcer Lawrence Tanter repeated his customary notification of "Two minutes" remaining in the contest, LA trailed by five points and seemed destined to fall short.

Eighteen seconds later, Clarkson hit a three-pointer and got fouled for a four-point play. Suddenly, LA had all the momentum, and when the game went to overtime, LA rode the crowd and Clarkson's career night to a victory.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shaquille O'Neal Gets His Statue...And It's Awesome]]>Sat, 25 Mar 2017 04:50:51 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Shaq-statue-Staples-Center-3-24-17.JPG

On Friday, Shaquille O'Neal finally got his statue at Staples Center.

The "Big Aristotle" earned a few jabs from LA Lakers royalty, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talked about O'Neal's memorable performance in Kazaam--memorable for all the wrong reasons, of course.

Jerry West, who is literally the logo of the NBA, arrived late due to traffic but offered a poignant speech about how O'Neal asked for $150 million from the Lakers, which was an absurd amount to request back in 1996. Instead, the Lakers gave the "Shaq" $120 million for a seven-year contract that yielded three NBA championships and three NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Awards.

While O'Neal's kids and Jeanie Buss spoke with emotion, feeling and humor, Kobe Bryant's presence on the stage next to his former side kick drew the most attention, and Bryant's speech drew the loundest cheers from the fans.

During his speech, Abdul-Jabbar even joked, "Some people thought the odds of Kobe Bryant showing up today were the same as Shaq making a free throw."

Bryant, though, gave a warm speech where he spoke about how dominant and great a basketball players O'Neal was, rather than the high character and larger than life personality the other speakers had focused in on. 

"I think we've heard a lot of stories about Shaq today, but what we haven't talked about is how good of a player he was," Bryant spoke over a crowd that had been chanting "Kobe! Kobe!" as he started speaking.

"The most dominant player I've ever seen," Bryant spoke about how O'Neal would be a fun loving guy, but before tip-off, the big center got serious and seemingly turned on a switch that showed that he wasn't out there to do work.

O'Neal played to win and to dominate.

When the big man took the microphone, he thanked all of his former teammates and told the story of how he came to LA. O'Neal thanked everyone in attendance. When he got to Bryant, O'Neal smiled.

"The next time we're out here for a statue, it'll probably be your statue," O'Neal said to Bryant.

Ultimately, though, the fan favorite finished with a focus on the crowd that had flooding behind the barricades.

"I just wanted you to know that I heard you in the games when I was missing free throws," O'Neal smiled. "I heard it. I heard you in the game when I wasn't rebounding like I was supposed to be. I heard it all, but thank you for staying on me. Thank you for motivating me."

O'Neal then continued by thanking familiar faces he saw in the crowd before turning out to the crowd of purple and gold assembled like they were once again celebrating a championship in 2000, 2001 or 2001.

"As I look here, I have to do it. You know what's coming," O'Neal primed the crowd that began to yell.

"Can you dig it!" O'Neal shouted.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodger Stadium Bus Service to Return for 2017 Season]]>Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:57:55 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/165202516_8.jpg

Metro announced Friday that it will again provide Dodger Stadium Express bus service from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to Dodger Stadium for the 2017 baseball season.

The service will begin with exhibition play between the Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels on April 1, and for the regular season opener April 3 against the San Diego Padres. Metro will also offer Dodger Stadium Express service from Harbor Gateway Transit Center in the South Bay area.

The downtown service, which has been operating since 2010, will be provided to all home games under a grant from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee, while the Harbor Gateway service is funded by Metro's ExpressLanes Net Toll Reinvestment Grant Program.

The MSRC funding comes from a portion of the state vehicle registration fees set aside for projects that result in emission reductions from autos.

"This service has become a staple in getting in and out of Dodger Stadium without the hassle of traffic and parking, providing a real time savings for baseball fans," said Metro Board Chair John Fasana. "We are grateful to the continued funding by the MSRC that allows us to offer this popular service."

As part of the MSRC program, fans with a ticket to the game can ride the Dodger Stadium Express for free from Union Station or Harbor Gateway.

"Metro's system provides easy, convenient connections to get people to both Union Station and Harbor Gateway Center where they can then benefit from this direct service to Dodger Stadium," said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington.

"This is a great example of how our overall system provides transit options to enhance the customer experience."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Justice Department Settles Suit Over LA Dodgers Broadcasts]]>Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:17:02 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/DodgerStadiumViewGame3NLCS.jpg

The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday it has settled a lawsuit that accused AT&T's DirectTV unit of orchestrating a backroom deal with competitors to not carry the sole channel that broadcasts Dodgers baseball in Los Angeles.

The deal, while a seeming victory for deprived Dodger fans, will not necessarily lead to them seeing their team on TV more this season.

The suit claimed DirecTV swapped information with Cox Communications Inc., Charter Communications Inc. and AT&T — before it acquired DirecTV — during negotiations to carry the SportsNet LA, the network owned by the Dodgers.

Officials said the settlement will ensure that the companies will no longer make agreements to prevent competitors from offering the channel to lure customers. "We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties," AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook said Thursday.

Dodger fans were bitter they could only watch games through Time Warner Cable — now owned by Charter — the past three seasons. But that bitterness may continue. The government did not order AT&T to start carrying SportsNet LA, it only sought to prevent such dealing in the future.

The settlement also requires the companies to monitor certain communications their programming executives have with their rivals, and to implement antitrust training and compliance programs.

"When competitors email, text, or otherwise share confidential and strategically sensitive information with each other to avoid competing, consumers lose," Acting Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division said in a statement.

The government said DirecTV was the ringleader because it was the only company that unlawfully talked to multiple rivals, and said that DirecTV executives acknowledged that the satellite-TV company would be in a stronger position if competing TV providers also did not carry the Dodgers channel.

David McAtee, the general counsel for AT&T, which bought DirecTV in July 2015, said in November that cable and satellite TV providers chose not to carry the channel because the companies did not want to pass inflated prices on to customers for a channel devoted only to the Dodgers.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shaquille O'Neal Statue Unveiled Outside Staples Center]]>Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:52:02 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17075474448220-shaq.jpg

A nine-foot, 1,200-pound bronze statue of Basketball Hall of Fame center Shaquille O'Neal was unveiled Friday outside Staples Center in front of a crowd of thousands that included former Laker greats Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson.

The statue is suspended 10 feet above the ground in Star Plaza and connected to Staples Center, depicting O'Neal throwing down one of his signature thunderous dunks.

"This moment is very unexpected," O'Neal told the crowd, noting that he believes there are "at least two Lakers ahead of me that definitely deserve a statute," referring to James Worthy and Wilt Chamberlain. "I definitely appreciate this honor very much," 

In addition to the Lakers, O'Neal thanked his family for standing by him while he was traveling so much during his playing career. Three of his six children spoke during the ceremony, and he told them, "The way you delivered those speeches -- you're going to law school, you're going to law school, you're going to law school.''

O'Neal recognized some of his former teammates in the crowd, but gave special thanks to Kobe Bryant, who spoke during the event. The former teammates had a famous falling out that led to O'Neal's departure from the team and they remained estranged for years before reconciling.

"Brother, thank you. We pushed each other, you know, we had our battles, we had our times. But we always had respect for each other and we were able to win three championships -- definitely couldn't have done it without you. I appreciate you very much,'' he said. "Next time we're out here for a statute, it'll probably be your statue, so thank you.''

The statue was created by Julie Rotblatt Amrany and Omri Amrany, who also created the statues of Abdul-Jabbar, Chick Hearn, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Luc Robitaille and Jerry West in Star Plaza.

The statue is the eighth in Star Plaza. The others honor International Boxing Hall of Fame member Oscar De La Hoya and NHL all-time leading scorer Wayne Gretzky.

Prior to the unveiling, a street festival dubbed "Shaqtown," was held on Chick Hearn Court and Microsoft Square at L.A. Live, featuring a variety of interactive games, including Fireball Alley, Block-A-Shaq and Plinko, a Hall of Fame exhibit, specialty photo opportunities, a Ferris wheel, a mini Lakers basketball court and a DJ playing music.

O'Neal played for the Lakers from 1996-2004, leading the team to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000-2002, winning the NBA Finals MVP award each time.

O'Neal was selected for the All-Star Game seven times as a Laker and was the league's MVP for the 1999-2000 season.

During the statute-unveiling ceremony, Abdul-Jabbar compared himself with Shaq, saying, "We're both over 7 feet tall. We're both dashingly bald, and both famously outspoken." He also pointed to their acting careers -- noting their respective roles in "Airplane" and "Kazaam" -- but "both of us were suspiciously overlooked for the Academy Awards."

Bryant, meanwhile, hailed O'Neal's greatness on the court, calling him the "most dominating player I've ever seen."

"He's such a fun, outgoing guy," Bryant said. "Loves to tell jokes, loves to have fun with his teammates, practical jokes. But before the tip-off, something happens. The switch goes off for him. He's no longer joking around. He's no longer playing around. He's not smiling anymore. He's out there and he's trying to dominate.

"I remember the playoff series against San Antonio. We're going into the arena and he and I were sitting with each other in the back of the bus and he leans over to me and he goes, 'Bring it to me early tonight. Bring it to me early.' I look at him and I'm like, 'All right what's going on?' He said, 'When I was a kid, David Robinson wasn't very nice to me.' I said, say no more. This series is in the bag, man. That's it. That's it."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Statue Day: Celebrating Shaquille O'Neal]]>Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:40:32 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/3371092.jpgShaquille O'Neal got his statue in Star Plaza outside Staples Center on Friday, March 24, 2017. Take a look back at his career in photos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Ground Jets to Keep Pace]]>Thu, 23 Mar 2017 22:21:09 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Kings+Ground+Jets.png

Drew Doughty, Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar each scored a power-play goal, and the Los Angeles Kings kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.

Ben Bishop made 19 saves and Tanner Pearson and Jake Muzzin also scored for the Kings, who trail Nashville for the second wild card in the Western Conference by eight points with nine games to play.

Gaborik put the Kings ahead 2:01 into the third period, and Doughty doubled the lead 1:56 later as Los Angeles emphatically broke out of a 1-for-13 slump with the man advantage.

Pearson then added a short-handed goal with 10:38 remaining.

Patrick Laine and Mathieu Perreault each scored and Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves for the Jets, who had their three-game winning streak ended along with whatever chances remained for an unlikely late playoff push.

UP NEXT

The Kings will hos the New York Rangers on Saturday night at Staples Center.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Lose on Late Steal to Mavericks]]>Thu, 23 Mar 2017 22:02:50 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Clippers+Lose+on+Late+Steal.png

Harrison Barnes thrived in a new position on Thursday night, and so did the Mavericks.

Barnes made the go-ahead basket, then stole the ball from Blake Griffin with 3.9 seconds left as Dallas beat the Los Angeles Clippers 97-95.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle started a big lineup, with Barnes moving from power forward to small forward.

"I have a little bit more energy from not banging with as many bigs," Barnes said.

Barnes made a 14-foot jumper with 1:06 remaining for the game's 11th lead change, making it 96-95. After he stripped Griffin, Wesley Matthews made a free throw with 0.9 seconds to play before J.J. Redick missed a 3-point attempt that would have won it at the buzzer. His shot bounced off the far side of the rim.

"We had a great shot on the last play," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "That was great execution, and it was a 3, would have been a game-winner. Make, miss, we will live with that."

Griffin scored 21 points, including nine in a row in the fourth quarter, but he missed his last three shots and turned the ball over four times in the game.

"I got to take care of the ball on the last play of the game," Griffin said, "if you trust me with the last play of the game."

Dallas expected Griffin to have the ball.

"I have to give credit to our coaching staff," Barnes said. "They scouted that play well before the game. We knew it was coming to Blake. I just tried to play good defense, and I was in the right spot and the right time."

The Clippers had their three-game winning streak snapped. Dallas, battling from behind for a playoff berth, had lost four of six.

"I don't care about the race," Rivers said. "I care about how we play."

Seth Curry led Dallas with 23 points. Barnes finished with 21 and Dirk Nowitzki had 14.

The new lineup had Nerlens Noel starting at center and point guard Yogi Ferrell on the bench.

Curry started at point guard and had four assists.

"We're going to give this a look," Carlisle said. "It may be the rest of the year, it may not."

Noel finished with 12 rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals, including one in the final minute.

DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 18 rebounds for the Clippers. Chris Paul scored 15 points and Austin Rivers had 13.

The Mavericks led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter. But after trailing 44-32, Los Angeles finished the first half on a 22-4 run for a 54-48 halftime lead.

Paul had 13 points in the first half, and Jordan already had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Nowitzki and Curry each had 10 points for the Mavericks.

Dallas started the third quarter with a 13-2 run to regain the lead at 61-56. The Mavericks took a 79-77 lead into the fourth quarter.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Redick's four-point play in the second quarter was the 31st of his career. ... The Clippers outrebounded Dallas 25-15 in the first half, but only 20-19 in the second.

Mavericks: Barnes has scored 20-plus points 35 times this season. He totaled 19 games of 20-plus in his first four NBA seasons with Golden State. ... Dallas scored 21 points off 17 turnovers, nine in the second half. The Mavericks committed only nine turnovers for eight points.

THE LINEUP

Carlisle seemed pleased with the lineup change.

"We got to look at Curry at point with a really conventional team out there. We got a look at Noel with Dirk and Barnes. We got to see how things would shake out with Barnes at 3."

THE MIGHTY FALL

Dallas' J.J. Barea — listed at 6 feet, 185 pounds — was ejected with 5:29 to play in the third quarter after pushing the 6-10, 251-pound Griffin to the floor.

Crew chief Bill Spooner explained the call.

"The contact, in our judgment, was deemed unnecessary and excessive. The contact was to the shoulders and above to the throat. That is deemed as a flagrant penalty two."

UP NEXT

Clippers: Begin a three-game homestand on Saturday afternoon against Utah.

Mavericks: Play the third game of a four-game homestand vs. Toronto on Saturday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez]]>
<![CDATA[USA Dominates Puerto Rico to Win First WBC Title]]>Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:38:16 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*127/AP_17082181722984.jpg

America's pastime is back in the hands of the United States.

Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer and Marcus Stroman threw six shutout innings as the United States dominated Puerto Rico, 8-0, to win their first ever World Baseball Classic Title.

It was a patriotic night at Dodger Stadium as the Americans outplayed the undefeated Puerto Ricans in every facet of the game, avenging a 6-5 loss in the quarterfinals last Friday in San Diego.

"We were prepared since we've already played them once," said Pittsburgh Pirates' outfielder Andrew McCutchen. "They got us the last time, we made mistakes in that game, but today, no mistakes were made. That's something we keyed on and we were able to do it. We made history today."

Kinsler got the scoring started for the United States when the Detroit Tigers second baseman teed off on a four-seam fastball from Seth Lugo in the third inning to give the Stars and Stripes and early 2-0 lead.

Earlier in the day, Kinsler sounded off on how Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries play the game, telling The New York Times, "I hope kids watching the World Baseball Classic can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico or the Dominican plays. That's not taking anything away from them. That just wasn't the way we were raised."

The United States didn't give Puerto Rico a chance to celebrate on Wednesday night as Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman had a no-hitter through six innings.

"I love pitching in these moments," said Stroman. "I love the atmosphere. I feel like the bigger the game, the more I'm able to get up, the more effective I am. I truly try to pride myself on being a big-game pitcher. This was probably one of the biggest if not the biggest game I've ever pitched in."

Stroman is of Puerto Rican descent, but ironically, opted to play for the United States over Puerto Rico in the WBC tournament. His mother, who is Puerto Rican, was harassed on social media earlier in the week for her son's decision to pitch for Team USA. 

"It definitely added a little fuel to the fire," said Stroman, who was named MVP of the tournament. "This is our first win. We've had a few early exits in the past. So each and every guy came into this with one goal, and that was to win it. I love these guys. It was an unbelievable experience, and I'll be back in four years to defend the title." 

Angel Pagan broke up the no-hitter with a double down the left field line to leadoff the top of the seventh. It was one of only three hits Puerto Rico would have on the night.

Andrew McCutcheon was 2-for-4 with two RBI and Brandon Crawford had a pair of RBI of his own as the U.S. hoisted the WBC trophy for the first time in it's fourth installment.

"It was a fun and great experience," said Crawford after the game. "Just to be on this team and around all these guys. They're All-Stars, Gold Glovers, Silver Sluggers, all that on this team. It was a lot of fun for me just to be a part of it, but the winning makes it even better."

The Americans relished their victory underneath a downpour of confetti on the field. Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer carried a bald eagle statue on the stage for the trophy celebration and acknowledged the team had their sights set on winning it all before the tournament began.

"We wanted to get the U.S. back on top of the baseball world," he said. "We did that."

Lugo, a New York Mets minor league pitcher, took the loss for Puerto Rico, allowing four runs on five hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in four innings. Entering the game, Lugo was 2-0 in the tournament, but Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games.

Before the game, Puerto Rico had printed up t-shirts that read "WBC Champions," and reportedly had plans for a return flight to San Juan and a parade pre-scheduled.

That preemptive arrogance irked Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.

"Do you want the truth? Before the game, we got a note that there were championship shirts made, a flight, and a parade, and it wasn't for us," said Jones. "That didn't sit well with us."

Most of the 51,565 fans in attendance chanted "USA! USA! USA!" as they draped themselves in American Flags. After the game, United States' manager Jim Leyland said this would be the last time he would put on a baseball uniform and dedicated the game to our country's military

"This is for the men and women who serve our country."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Plan Costa Mesa Training Camp]]>Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:20:27 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/5PM_PKG_LA_CHARGERS_OF__KNSD64PO_1200x675_420392515731.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers have finalized a deal to hold the first training camp after their move north in Costa Mesa.

The Chargers announced their plans Tuesday night after the Orange County town approved the proposal in a city council vote.

The Chargers will train at Jack Hammett Sports Complex, which is only about 2 miles from the planned site of their regular-season base in Costa Mesa.

The team can use the facility for three to five weeks per year for up to 10 years. The Chargers agreed to make an estimated $1 million in improvements to the complex while paying $150,000 in annual rent.

The Los Angeles Rams held training camp last year at UC Irvine, about 5 miles away.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Rout Lakers, Walton Benches Starters]]>Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:47:53 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Clippers-crush-Lakers-3-21-17.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers met in a game that pitted one team that experts consider a dark horse to make the NBA Finals and one team that is dead last in the Western Conference.

Predictably, the Clippers won, but the fashion of the 133-109 victory had the Lakers' home crowd at a loss for words and struggling to do more than launch into unified groans a various points during the game.

The game started with the Clippers scoring the first seven points and opening up a double-digit lead before the Lakers scored their second basket. However, the purple and gold appeared to be gaining their sea legs when the first quarter ended with the home team trailing by single digits.

Then, the second quarter hit.

Led by a massive rebounding edge, the Clippers out played, out worked and out scored the Lakers. In the blink of an eye, the Clippers led by 25 points at the midway point in the second quarter. When Chris Paul hit a buzzer beating three-pointer, the Clippers entered their locker room leading 70-40: a 30-point lead.

"They were aggressive," Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram said after the game. "They attacked first. They brought the physicality."

When the second half started, the Lakers came out with a new look. Lakers coach Luke Walton benched all five of his starters and started the second half with Tyler Ennis, David Nwaba, Corey Brewer, Thomas Robinson and Tarik Black.

Obviously, the Lakers' coach was trying to send a message.

"The most important [message] was that playing without a certain amount of effort isn't acceptable or tolarated," Walton explained his actions after the game.

Walton added, "We've had a lot of downs, but to come out in front of our home fans and give out that type of effort wasn't okay. It wasn't right."

While the Lakers did not play as poorly in the second half as they did in the first half, the Clippers cruised to victory and led by as many as 37 points on the night.

On the night, Paul stood out as the best player for either team and the Clippers' point guard finished with 27 points on 9/15 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and four assists in only 25 minutes of play.

With the win, the Clippers improved to 43-29, while the Lakers dropped to 20-51 with the loss. After a 10-10 start to the season, the Lakers have now lost 41 of their last 51 games.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Keeping David Nwaba, Sign to Multi-Year Deal]]>Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:36:49 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/Lakers-David-Nwaba-Luke-Walton-2.png

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers agreed to sign 24-year-old guard and LA-native David Nwaba on a multi-year contract.

The University High School graduate went through two 10-day contracts with the team, which meant the Lakers had to make a decision on whether they wanted to sign the undrafted rookie for the remainder of the season after his contract expired on Monday.

Ahead of Tuesday's game against the LA Clippers, LA Lakers coach Luke Walton met with General Manager Rob Pelinka and President of Basketball Operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson to make a decision on whether the team wanted to sign Nwaba or bring in a different player on a 10-day contract.

Had the team opted to go with the latter option, Nwaba would have been available for other teams to sign and claim. Instead, the Lakers locked up the local kid.

"We have been impressed by David's focus and determination, especially on defense," said Pelinka. "He has a mentality about him that is infectious, and he works hard every day to improve himself. He has brought energy to both our Lakers and D-Fenders games, and has certainly earned his spot on the roster."

After the team's morning shootaround on Tuesday, where Nwaba was not present, Walton confirmed that if the team signed Nwaba, he would be available to dress and play against the Clippers on Tuesday night.

Per The Vertical at Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers agreed to sign Nwaba to a two-year contract with the team holding an option on the second year.

With Nwaba's signing, the Lakers have a complete 15-man roster, once again.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Host Clippers on Tuesday]]>Tue, 21 Mar 2017 01:43:34 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Clippers-3-21-17.jpg

Based on current form, the Los Angeles Lakers should have no chance against the LA Clippers on Tuesday night at Staples Center despite the fact that the Doc Rivers' guys are technically "visitors" in their home arena.

The Lakers have lost five games in a row and 13 of their last 14 overall. In contrast, the Clippers have won two in a row and suddenly have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin healthy less than a month away from the playoffs.

However, the Clippers are on the second night of a back-to-back, while the Lakers come in rested. In addition, the two teams have split their meetings thus far, with the purple and gold beating the red, blue and white in the previous home meeting on Christmas night.

On that holiday night, the Lakers snapped an 11-game losing streak with all five starters scoring in double figures. At the time, those starters included Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov and Nick Young, all of whom expect to either be inactive or playing reduced roles.

For the first time since that Christmas night game, however, the Lakers finished with all five of their starters scoring in double figures against the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. D'Angelo Russell scored a career-high 40 points on the night, and the Lakers carry momentum into Sunday's game, even if they are still enter on a losing streak.

Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love may no longer be at Staples Center on Tuesday night, but the LA Clippers have their own healthy "big three" in D'Andre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

Against the New York Knicks on Monday, Griffin scored 30 points in 31 minutes, while Paul and Jordan both managed double-doubles in a comfortable victory. Of course, Paul's double-double consisted of assists, while Jordan's incorporated rebounds.

For the Lakers to be successful on Tuesday, Julius Randle must use his physical style when matching up against Griffin, while Russell must follow his career night with an outing worthy of comparison to Friday night's 40-point eye opener.

Another key matchup will be 20-year-old rookie center Ivica Zubac facing the best defensive center in the NBA. Only a few days removed from being a teenager, Zubac already has more offensive moves than the Clippers' 28-year-old center, but Jordan's athleticism and experience should make for a fascinating battle between the two towering 7-footers.

More than likely, Lakers coach Luke Walton will match up Jordan Clarkson on Paul defensively, meaning Russell will need to chase and stick with sharp shooting J.J. Redick. Clarkson's attacking style, though, should work in the Lakers' favor on the offensive side of the ball.

While Randle may be a more interesting match up with Griffin, rookie Brandon Ingram expects to draw the Clippers' All-Star forward as well. Considering former UCLA Bruin Luc Mbah a Moute may possess too much strength for the 19-year-old, Ingram will need to use his length and foot speed to make up for Griffin's power from the opening tip.

After practicing on Monday, Nick Young expects to be back as an option off the bench on Tuesday. The 31-year-old, who previously played half a season for the Clippers, missed Friday night's game due to gastroenteritis.

For the Lakers to pull off an unlikely victory and snap thier five-game losing streak, the entire cast needs to play up to its potential. For the Clippers to win, they simply need an average night out of their stars.

The Lakers and Clippers tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Clobber the Knicks]]>Mon, 20 Mar 2017 22:36:51 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Melo+and+BG.png

Blake Griffin scored 30 points, Chris Paul had 13 points and 13 assists and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the New York Knicks 114-105 on Monday night.

DeAndre Jordan added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and the Clippers blew the game open by outscoring the Knicks 34-19 in the third quarter for a 25-point lead.

The Clippers (42-29) pulled to within one game of the Utah Jazz for fourth in the Western Conference and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They have 11 regular season games remaining.

"It's important, but I'm not going to focus on that," said Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers of getting home court advantage against the Jazz. "I'm going to focus on winning every game and at the end we'll see where we're at." 

The fading Knicks were led by Kristaps Porzingis' 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Derek Rose had 18 points and Carmelo Anthony had 16. Largely using their bench, they cut the 25-point deficit to seven points in final minutes.

Griffin got off to a hot start, hitting eight of his first 10 shots. Jordan was right behind, connecting on 5 of 6 to help the Clippers shoot 55.8 percent in the first half. Griffin had 20 points at the break.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ryan Kang]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Playoff Hopes on Life Support]]>Mon, 20 Mar 2017 21:05:12 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-483951293.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings are on life support. 

Matrick Maroon and Milan Lucic both scored as they Edmonton Oilers shutout the Kings, clamping down on L.A.'s slim chances of making the NHL Playoffs. 

Oilers' goalie Cam Talbot made 35 saves as the Kings lost their second straight game in as many nights, following a 5-2 loss to the Flames on Sunday. 

Oilers youngster, Connor McDavid, assisted on both goals. 

The Oilers have won four straight games and are now tied with the Anaheim Ducks for seocnd place in the Pacific Division as they leapfrogged the Flames. 

Meanwhile, the Kings find themselves in need of a miracle to make the playoffs this season. As of Monday, the Kings are six points behind the idle St. Louis Blues with just 10 games remaining in the season. 

Entering the weekend, Los Angeles had a slight chance of catching the Flames and Oilers as they had three games with each team remaining on the schedule, but following the back-to-back losses, the Kings trail the Flames by 11 points with 10 games left to play and the Oilers by 12 points with 10 games left to play. 

Needless to say, things are looking dire for the two-time NHL Stanley Cup Champions.



Photo Credit: Derek Leung/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Local David Nwaba's Lakers' Dream Coming to End?]]>Mon, 20 Mar 2017 15:28:50 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/David-Nwaba-Lakers-10-day.JPG

Monday could be Los Angeles native and former University High School alumni David Nwaba's final day with the Los Angeles Lakers, the team the West LA kid grew up cheering for.

Nwaba’s fairy tale story of being an undrafted guard that went from trying out to play in Europe to getting a special invite to an NBA Development League tryout to eventually landing on the Lakers has lasted 20 long NBA days that passed in a blue. Nwaba's second 10-day contract expires on Monday, which means the team now faces the choice of signing the 24-year-old guard that specializes in defense and throwing down monster dunks for the remainder of the season or opening a roster spot to bring in a new player on a 10-day contract.

NBA rules only allow two 10-day contracts per player before the team is forced to make a decision, so Sunday may well have been the former Santa Monica College Corsair's final game.

Only, Nwaba didn't know that fact until Sunday night after the Lakers had already lost 125-120 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Asked about it after the game, the guard told NBCLA.com that he had been told that he still had one more game with the team on Tuesday. After NBCLA.com counted the days and relayed the information, Nwaba paused and had a genuinely look of shock. He may never be back in the locker room where he stood following a nationally televised game against the world champions.

"Wow," Nwaba attempted to grasp the reality that Monday's practice did not guarantee a game on Tuesday. Asked if he had spoken with the team, he mumbled, "They haven't talked to me about it."

Nwaba said that he had not pushed to talk with the team, either, but he seemingly understood a choice was at hand. Three and a half weeks remain in the Lakers' season, so LA could theoretically bring in a new player and try him out for two complete 10-day contracts before the end of the season. The financial obligation is not an issue as much as the team must decide if it wants to further integrate the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate into the squad with a view to the NBA Summer League and a training camp invite or if another player worth trying out is on its radar.

"I know," a rather conflicted Luke Walton said when NBCLA.com mentioned that Nwaba's second 10-day contract expired on Monday. The cameras were off and his post game interview was over, but Walton seemed a bit stressed when NBCLA.com brought up the topic Sunday night. "He's been playing well."

Wearing the difficult decision with the expression on his face, NBCLA.com asked Walton if the team had figured out what was next with regards to Nwaba: "No, we have not."

Back in front of the locker that read "Nwaba," the last player in the Lakers' locker room had completed his interview obligations for the night before he figured out Monday was the only guarantee he had with the Lakers.

"I definitely hope to stick around and just get the NBA experience, but if not, get back to the D-League, keep working hard, keep working on my game and see where that goes," Nwaba said.

He added, "It's been a great experience, just helping me build confidence and knowing I can play at this level. I just feel good out there and just hope they give me another opportunity to build and just grow as a player."

Almost poetically, the Lakers will likely make a decision on the LA-native ahead of Tuesday's city rivalry game against the LA Clippers.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings' Uphill Climb to Playoffs Gets Steeper]]>Sun, 19 Mar 2017 21:45:48 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-519298294.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings' uphill battle to make the NHL Playoffs got even more steep after a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.

Linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan had a goal and two assists each to lead the Flames over the Kings on their home ice. 

Michael Stone, Mark Giordano and Kris Versteeg also scored for the Flames, and Brian Elliott made 19 saves for his 11th straight win to tie a club record set by Mike Vernon in the 1988-89 season.

Anze Kopitar and Nic Dowd scored for the Kings, who remain six points behind the Nashville Predators for the final Western Conference wild card.

Goalie Jonathan Quick started for the Kings but was replaced by Ben Bishop at 11:36 of the first period after giving up two goals on seven shots. Bishop stopped 14 of 16 shots.

The Flames moved into third in the Pacific Division past the Edmonton Oilers, who will host Los Angeles on Monday.

The Kings are six points behind the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference with just 11 games left in the regular season. 

Entering the game on Sunday, L.A. had a slight chance to catch Calgary or the Edmonton Oilers with three head-to-head games between the two Pacific Division foes left on the schedule. 

However, after Sunday's loss the Kings are now 11 points behind the Flames and 10 points behind Edmonton with 11 games remaning. Even if the Kings swept the Oilers in their next three games, they would still be four points behind the Oilers with eight other games on the schedule. 

Needless to say, L.A. will need to win out or at the very least, go 8-3 the remainder of the way to have a shot at the playoffs. 

Up Next: 

Kings face a must-win on Monday night in Edmonton against Connor McDavid and the Oilers. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Derek Leung/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Beats Cincinnati to Advance to Sweet 16]]>Sun, 19 Mar 2017 21:09:52 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ucla-cincinnati-2017-ncaa-tournament.jpg

UCLA has shot its way into the Sweet 16.

The No. 3 seed Bruins beat sixth seeded Cincinnati 79-67 on Sunday night, capping off an exciting slate of games in the second round.

All five UCLA starters scored at least 10 points each. The Bruins hit 18 of their first 28 shots in the second half after struggling to find a rhythm in the first.

They will play in the South Regional in Memphis. It's the third trip to the Sweet 16 in four years under coach Steve Alford.

UCLA will play No. 2 seed Kentucky on March 24.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' D'Angelo Russell Scores Career-High 40 Point]]>Mon, 20 Mar 2017 02:25:25 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DAngelo-Russell-Kyrie-Irving-Lakers-Cavs.jpg

D'Angelo Russell returned to the starting lineup on Sunday due to Nick Young sitting out with gastroenteritis, and the 21-year-old had a record night. Along with setting a career-high with 40 points, the 21-year-old Russell became the youngest LA Lakers' player ever to score 40 points in a regular season game.

The fact that Russell scored 40 points was impressive enough, but that he did it against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers seemed to mean a bit more.

"I think it started with him knocking down shots," Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Russell's special night. "I think we've all seen him when he gets going, he's tough to handle. What was most impressive offensively to me, because I already know he can shoot the ball, he did a great job of mixing up and trying to get into the paint and play-making."

Walton added, "On offense, purposely calling certain plays to get people the ball and coming off picks and making the correct decisions...just his overall aggression was as good as I've seen."

In the end, the Cavaliers walked away 125-120 winners behind 46 points from Irving and 34 points, seven assists and six rebounds from James, but the talk for the young Lakers centered on how Russell and Jordan Clarkson fit into the backcourt together.

"We'll continue to try that lineup going forward and see if we can make that chemistry between the two of them a normal thing," Walton said after the game.

The coach revealed that the numbers behind the combination had been less than impressive statistically in the past, and when Clarkson earned his chance to start, the Lakers initially dropped Russell to the bench in a role that did not seem to suit him at all.

Russell's return to the starting lineup alongside Clarkson, though, now provides Walton and the Lakers a fresh look at the combination for the remainder of the season. The coach stated that Clarkson is still meant to act as the primary playmaker when the opposing team scores, but on misses, Walton wanted whichever player naturally was "floating near" the ball to take hold of the role.

Walton added that if Julius Randle is the big man that grabs the rebound, he has a tendency to push the ball anyhow, which served as a reminder of how versitile the Lakers could be with three players capable of bringing the ball up the court and serving as ball handlers.

"We think he can (play off ball)," Walton said about Russell but conceded, "Part of the reason we're doing this is to get more information on it."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trojans Eliminated From March Madness by Tough Baylor Bears]]>Sun, 19 Mar 2017 19:28:01 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/gettyimages-655379944.jpg

Johnathan Motley had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 3 seed Baylor defeated No. 11 seed Southern California 82-78 on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Terry Maston scored 19 points, King McClure added 17 and Manu Lecomte scored all 12 of his points in the final 5 minutes for the Bears (27-7), who advanced to play Duke or South Carolina in the Sweet 16.

Chimezie Metu scored 28 points and Bennie Boatwright added 16 for USC (26-10), which was trying to make its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2007. The Trojans had rallied from second-half deficits to win their first two NCAA Tournament games.

A four-point play by Lecomte put the Bears up 69-67. Lecomte, who hadn't scored the entire game, scored eight points in 45 seconds to put the Bears up 73-67, and Baylor led the rest of the way.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBA Fines Lakers Nick Young, D'Angelo Russell]]>Sun, 19 Mar 2017 14:39:38 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NBA-fines-Nick-Young-DAngelo-Russell.jpg

On Sunday, the NBA announced that Nick Young and D'Angelo Russell had both been fined for their parts in an scuffle that broke out of Friday night when the LA Lakers played the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center.

Young, who took exception to a hard foul by shoving Malcolm Brogdon, will now pay a $25,000 fine, while Russell will pay a $15,000 fine for "entering the altercation and pushing (Greg) Monroe."

Monroe came to Brogdon's defense and seemed to shove Young in the neck area and also got a bit of a slap in on Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram. The Bucks' big man will pay the league office $35,000, so financially speaking, he is the player hit with the harshest penalty in an incident where no one threw a punch and neither team had players leave their bench areas.

In the aftermath of the game, Lakers coach Luke Walton was left fuming at one of the Bucks' team employees pushing Ingram, and the Lakers' coach even seemed to go as far as to suggest that LA could add a bit of muscle on their bench for future incidents if the NBA didn't have a problem with the Bucks' employee placing his hands on the Lakers' rookie.

While a fine would have been expected for the Lakers' coach, the NBA doesn't seem interested in leveling a fine on the coach, suggesting that his post-game rant was not out of bounds.

Also, the NBA did not offer any language on the team employee who got involved, so the league is sending a slightly mixed message by not fining the coach for speaking out, while also not punishing the team for sending out a security guard during an on-court scuffle.

What does this mean? Well, maybe the Lakers will be hiring a bit of extra help on their bench, after all.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[The Reactions From Adam Jones USA Catch]]>Sun, 19 Mar 2017 18:07:17 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Adam+Jones+Catch.png

It's only March, but already it feels like playoff baseball courtesy of the World Baseball Classic.

On Saturday night in San Diego, Team USA avenged an earlier loss to the reigning champions, the Dominican Republic, with a 6-3 win in front of over 41,000 fans at Petco Park.

The Dominican Republic took an early 2-0 lead in the game, but the Americans fought back, thanks to some "must-see" plays by Florida Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.

First, Stanton belted a homer to tie the game. The obliterated ball shot off Stanton's bat like a cannon and hit the all-brick Western Metal Supply Building in left field.

Later, it was Jones, robbing his Orioles' teammate Manny Machado, with one of the more amazing home run stealing catches you'll ever see. 

Machado hit a deep fly ball to right-center that Jones tracked down and leaped into the stands to steal from a contingency of American fans. Jones' catch was not only spectacular, but considering USA led by just one run at the time, Machado's homer would have given the Dominican Republic the lead and may have changed the course of the final few innings of the game.

Instead, Jones' catch saved the Americans and eliminated the defending champions. 

The video of the catch (in case you haven't seen it yet) is below, but it is the fan reactions behind Jones that has everyone on the Internet buzzing on Sunday morning.

Never before have we seen so many different, yet amazing, reactions occurring simultaneously on the faces of baseball fans. From the girl screaming in the front right behind Jones, to the crushed look on the Yankees' fan's face after his souvenir was stolen from him.

This image shows the close up reactions of the different fans. From the gentleman on the right who looks like he's seen a ghost, to the guy with the bandana in the back who seems to have his eyes closed. On the far left, this longhaired fan with his hat backwards seems to be amused by it all.

The beauty of this image is the American flags in the back, the fact that one fan managed not to spill his beer in the ordeal, and the fan to the left of Jones seems to be in awe as he slowly reaches up to place his finger tips on the red, white and blue.

All in all, we agree with most of the Internet, this is art, and we love it. 



Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Crush Shorthanded Cavs ]]>Sat, 18 Mar 2017 20:13:19 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Clips+beat+Shorthanded+Cavs.png

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin scored 23 points and the Los Angeles Clippers capitalized on the Cavaliers' decision to rest their top three players with an easy 108-78 victory over Cleveland on Saturday night.

LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving sat out for the Cavaliers, and the Clippers snapped their three-game losing streak by feasting on the defending champions' supporting cast.

J.J. Redick added 16 points for the Clippers, who swept their season series with the Cavs. Cleveland's personnel decision also allowed the Clippers to rest Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan for the entire fourth quarter while their reserves turned a comfortable win into a blowout.

Griffin sat out Thursday's loss at Denver to rest, and he poured in 13 points in the third quarter while the Clips pulled away.

Richard Jefferson scored 12 to lead the Cavs in their lowest-scoring game of the season.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Love already was scheduled to sit out this game in his comeback from left knee surgery, and Irving left Thursday's game at Utah early with tightness in his own left knee.

With the Cavs beginning a stretch of eight games in 14 days, Lue also decided to rest James instead of forcing him to play without his full supporting cast.

The result was not surprising — and perhaps just what the Clippers needed to shake up their team in a humdrum March. Los Angeles (41-29) had lost six of 10, and Oklahoma City is a half-game behind the Clippers for fifth place in the Western Conference.

The Cavaliers (45-22) have lost five of eight, but still lead Boston by 1 1/2 games atop the Eastern Conference.

THE LEFTOVERS

Channing Frye, Deron Williams and J.R. Smith started for Cleveland in the stars' place along with Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson. All five starters hit double figures.

The Staples Center crowd hated Lue's decision, reacting with confusion when the starting lineups were announced and then booing James when he joined the Cavs on the bench early in the first quarter. "We Want LeBron!" chants were taken up by much of the crowd on a few occasions.

NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME

For the second straight week, ABC's showcase Saturday night game was dampened by a coach's decision to sit his best players. Golden State's Steve Kerr sat Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala for a showdown with San Antonio last week.

Lue acknowledged the disappointed fans on TV and in the arena. He said James also didn't like the decision. But Lue felt he had justification beyond pure rest due to Love's recent return and Irving's new injury, and he didn't want James to play without his top two lieutenants.

Lue said his three stars all will return Sunday night against the woeful Lakers.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Shumpert played after spraining his left shoulder Thursday. ... Kyle Korver also missed his sixth straight game with a foot injury. ... Cleveland had won its last two road games against the Clippers.

Clippers: Coach Doc Rivers flatly rejected a widely reported rumor of a possible reunion with the Orlando Magic: "I have a past with the Magic. I have no future. My future is here." Rivers coached the Magic from 1999-03. ... James averages 23.9 points per game against the Clippers. That's his lowest mark against any opponent. ... Paul went 0 for 8 from the floor, but had seven assists. ... The Clippers are one win from clinching their sixth straight winning season. That's the same number of winning seasons that the erstwhile Buffalo Braves had in the franchise's first 41 years of existence.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Clippers: Host the New York Knicks on Monday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]]>
<![CDATA[Video: Angry Luke Walton: 'Don't Touch My Damn Players']]>Sat, 18 Mar 2017 04:19:15 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/234*120/Lakers-Bucks-fight-Luke-Walton-3-18-17.png

"Don't touch my damn players," Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton protested following his team's 107-103 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Staples Center.

The fact that the Lakers lost hardly came up because the coach was fuming about the fact that the referees had ejected Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell after the 21-year-old had come to the aid of his 31-year-old teammate, Nick Young.

Young, who had been frustrated enough to earn a technical foul earlier in the ball game for running his mouth at the officials, got fouled as he drove the basket. Malcolm Brogdon seemed to catch Young on his head, and the Lakers' veteran retaliated with a shove.

Already carrying a technical foul, so Young's ejection had effectively been sealed at that moment. Only, the drama didn't die there. In fact, that was only the starting point.

Bucks center Greg Monroe entered the equation and immediately seemed to shove Young by his neck.

In retaliation, Russell shoved Monroe in the back. As players and coaches from both teams came in, Monroe shoved Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram in the face.

Ingram, predictably, got upset and attempted to get involved, but a referee managed to push the lanky teenager out of the way. At this point, a staff member from the Bucks' bench got involved and proceeded to shove Ingram.

"You grab someone by the neck, that's not right," Walton sounded off. "And then, Monroe went and slapped Brandon in the face. So, he did all that, and he got the same penalty as what D'Angelo did for just shoving someone in the back that was defending a teammate. So, that's crap to me."

Walton continued, "One of their employees is on the floor, and he grabs Brandon by the jersey and shoves him--not holding him back--shoves him. And that doesn't get addressed either?"

Walton intimated that had he seen the replay while on the floor, he would have been far more upset. The fact that a staff member from the opposition had pushed his player did not sit well with the coach, and he proceeded to advance the point.

"Then, I have no problem finding some people to hire on our staff next time we get into a skirmish, I'll keep all of my players back because the fact that they don't get in trouble for that, the refs don't say anything about that, and he puts his hand on one of our players," Walton's rant gained steam. "He works for them. He can touch their players all he wants. Don't touch my damn players."

Walton closed, "Because if that's okay, I'm sure we can find a couple people here in LA that want that job working for the Lakers, too."

"I didn't even know he pushed me that hard," Ingram told NBCLA.com after the game. "But it won't happen again."

The coach didn't have a problem with his players coming to the aide of a teammate and instead said that he would have been upset at Russell if he hadn't shoved Monroe in that position.

"I love it," Walton said he was proud of the group that was on the court for responding. "That's what they're supposed to do. They're supposed to have each other's backs."

More than likely, Walton's aggressive comments will result in a sizable fine for the coach, but the 36-year-old got his point across, and the NBA will likely also hit the Bucks' staff with a fine because a staff members shoving an opposing player probably should not be skipped over.

While the Lakers won the ejection battle 2-1, they did lose the game on Friday night and fell to 20-49 on the season. Next, LeBron James and the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers visit Staples Center on Sunday.

]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts' Father Dies]]>Fri, 17 Mar 2017 16:28:17 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Dave+Roberts+Father+Passes+Away.png

The Dodgers family received some tragic news on Friday morning when it was announced that Waymon Roberts, father of manager Dave Roberts, had died at the age of 68.

Roberts immediately left the teams spring training facility at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, to be with his father and the team released a statement that bench coach Bob Geren and Triple-A Oklahoma City manager Bill Haselman will manage the Dodgers two split-squad games on Friday night.

The last we saw Roberts' father was during his introductory press conference in December 2015. At the time, Roberts' father was asked about how he felt that his son was the first minority manager in Los Angeles Dodgers franchise history.

"We didn't talk about race," Waymon told reporters that day. "And we didn't talk about racism either."

The elder Roberts was referring to his family and how they were raised. Waymon Roberts hailed from Texas and was a member of the United States Marines Corp. He met his wife Eiko, while he was stationed in Japan and they gave birth to their son, Dave, in Okinawa in 1972. 

The family settled down in San Diego, California, where the Roberts family would reside for many years. No further details as to cause of death were given. 



Photo Credit: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Upsets SMU, 66-65, to Advance in NCAA Tournament]]>Fri, 17 Mar 2017 14:46:03 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17076772863398-2.jpg

Elijah Stewart hit a late 3-pointer for No. 11 seed Southern California as the Trojans upset sixth seeded SMU 66-65 Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

SMU's Shake Milton missed a floater at the buzzer.

Stewart had 22 points for the Trojans (26-9). Bennie Boatright and Chimezie Metu each added 14 for USC, which advances to play Baylor in the second round of the East region on Sunday.

Semi Ojeleye had 24 points and 10 rebounds and Sterling Brown had 17 points for SMU (30-5), which had won 16 straight.

SMU was in the NCAA Tournament after being banned from postseason play a year ago for multiple violations, including academic fraud and unethical conduct.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Is it Too Little Too Late for the L.A. Kings?]]>Thu, 16 Mar 2017 23:44:49 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Kings+Sabres.png

The Los Angeles Kings may be on the outside looking in when it comes to the NHL Playoffs, but thanks to a 2-0 shutout against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, the Kings still have a pulse with a dozen games left in the season. 

Los Angeles is in the midst of a paltry seven-game homestand that saw the two-time Stanley Cup Champions go 4-2-1 during a time they need to win every game. 

Jarome Iginla and rookie Adrian Kempe scored in the third period, and Jonathan Quick earned his first shutout of the season on Thursday night, but the two teams the Kings are chasing for the final NHL Wild Card spots in the Western Conference also won, prompting the question: is it too little, too late for the L.A. Kings?

The Kings haven't given up on their playoff hopes despite sitting four points behind St. Louis for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. Back-to-back losses earlier in the week, including a 3-1 loss to the Blues , allowed St. Louis to surge ahead with just 11 games to play, but the Kings have enough games left against their playoff rivals to keep them in the thick of the race — with a lengthy winning surge, of course.

"It's that time of year, right?" asked Dustin Brown, who had two assists. "We've just got to find ways to grind points out."

After getting two late goals as a reward for grinding through two scoreless periods, Los Angeles still failed to gain postseason ground with its latest blanking of Buffalo, since the Blues won 4-1 at San Jose at the same time.

In his 43rd career shutout, Quick made 26 saves while shutting out the Sabres for the third time in eight career appearances against Buffalo. The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner has allowed more than two goals just once in seven starts since returning from a 4 1/2-month injury absence.

Robin Lehner stopped 34 shots for the Sabres, who have lost six of seven and 10 of 12. Buffalo was shut out for the first time since Nov. 7 at Boston .

The Sabres are getting used to this fate at Staples Center: Their last four games in downtown LA have ended in 2-0 losses.

Buffalo hasn't scored a road goal against the Kings in more than 263 minutes of play.

"It was a game exactly like we thought it was going to be," Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said. "It was going to be a hard-fought game. It was going to be a battle for every inch of ice. We were in that battle. It's just a sign of how tough it is against a playoff-caliber team."

Iginla connected 36 seconds into the third for his 622nd career goal on a slick pass across the crease from Anze Kopitar. The goal was Iginla's third in seven games with the Kings, who acquired the 39-year-old veteran from Colorado two weeks ago for the playoff push.

"Coming to a new team, you definitely want to find ways to help out," Iginla said. "I've got a great shot here. I'm going to keep working at it. There's room for improvement, but it feels good."

Kempe then got his second career goal with 5:20 to play, beating Lehner from a tough angle after Brown kept the play alive.

The Sabres lost 4-1 at San Jose on Tuesday in the opener of a four-game road trip that includes all three California clubs. Buffalo is wrapping up what's almost certain to be its sixth consecutive non-playoff season.

UP NEXT

The Kings have a chance to gain ground on two teams in front of them when they travel to Canada to face Calgary and Edmonton on Sunday and Monday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Continue to Slip in Western Conference]]>Thu, 16 Mar 2017 23:31:44 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Paul+Pierce+Clippers.png

The Los Angeles Clippers played the second night of a back-to-back in the Mile High City of Denver, dropping their third game in a row, 129-114, to the Nuggets on Thursday night. 

The Clippers played without Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, who were left back in Los Angeles for the one-game trip. Denver forwards Wilson Chandler (right groin) and Danilo Gallinari (left knee bone bruise) also sat, but Kenneth Faried returned after missing nine games with lower back spasms. Faried had 12 points in 18 minutes.

Nikola Jokic finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to help lead Denver to a win in a matchup of short-handed teams.

Without Gallinari and Chandler, Barton stepped in with his second straight strong game after an extended slump. He played 17 straight minutes in the first half and nearly 19 consecutive minutes in the second half and still hit 12 of 18 shots.

"I'm a baller," he said. "I'm one of those guys who will play 5-on-5 in the gym all day until someone quits. That's who I've been my whole life. This can go on forever if it's up to me."

Chris Paul had 18 points and 14 assists, J.J. Redick scored a team-high 22 points and Austin Rivers had 17 for the Clippers, who have lost three straight.

Paul criticized the Clippers' subpar defense during their tough stretch.

"That's on us," he said. "We've got to give more effort, be better all around."

The Nuggets led by as many as 15 in the first half and 13 at the break, but the Clippers quickly cut it to six in the third quarter.

Barton, who scored 13 points in the second quarter, ended the third with nine points in the final 56 seconds to give Denver a 103-80 lead heading into the fourth.

The advantage grew to as much as 25 and the Clippers never threatened. Barton's seventh 3-pointer, which tied a career high, capped a 20-point half for the guard.

"The team needed me to step up and that's all I wanted to do," Barton said. "We know what we're trying to get to, trying to make that push, so all I'm focused on is doing whatever I've got to do to win games."

Veteran forward Paul Pierce saw the court for the first time since February 5th when he started in his old stomping ground of the Boston Garden. Pierce scored five points in 16 minutes off the bench. 

TIP-INS

Clippers: Griffin has missed 21 games this season, 19 of which are related to his right knee. The other two are for rest.

Nuggets: Gary Harris finished with 17 points. ... Coach Michael Malone doesn't think Chandler and Gallinari will be out for the long term. "I think it's about coming to grips with the pain and becoming confident enough to play with that," he said.

GOOD ADVICE

The Clippers made the decision to leave home Griffin and Jordan before Wednesday's loss to Milwaukee, but Malone was asked before Thursday's tip how he found out that the two big men were out.

"I called up Doc (Rivers) after the game last night and said, 'Tough loss to Milwaukee, guys look tired and why don't you keep them home,'" Malone joked. "One of my assistant coaches texted me after the game, and listening to the postgame comments that Doc had mentioned he was going to leave them home."

TRAVELING MAN

Jordan had played in every game this season, was busy with All-Star weekend and has been flying back and forth to his home in Houston to deal with a family issue, so Rivers told the center he wasn't going to play against Denver.

"I didn't pose it as a question," Rivers said. "I thought that was a better way of doing that. He's had no rest all year, and he went through the All-Star weekend, and he enjoyed that whole weekend, if I know my DJ. He's done more travel than us these past two weeks, which is virtually impossible."

UP NEXT

Clippers: Host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.

Nuggets: Host the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Inconsistency Continues in Loss to Bucks]]>Wed, 15 Mar 2017 22:36:17 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Blake+Griffin+and+the+Greek+Freak.png

The Milwaukee Bucks traveled to the Los Angeles neck of the woods and defeated the Los Angeles Clippers on their home floor, 97-96, on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Bucks beat the Clippers for the second time in a dozen days. Milwaukee beat L.A. 112-101, at the Bradley Center in Wisconsin last Friday.

"They're aggressive and have a lot of length," said Clippers' point guard Chris Paul on what in particular the Bucks do that gives them problems. "It seems like everybody shoots the ball well against us. It seems like every time someone shoots a three against us, it goes in."

Giannis "The Greek Freak" Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 16 points, and Khris Middleton also had 16 points as six different Milwaukee players scored in double figures.

The Clippers defense continued to be as inconsistent as the weather in Los Angeles, as the Bucks bookended two low-scoring quarters with 28 and 30 points in the first and fourth respectively.

"We couldn't get the strings of stops that we needed to be a good team," said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. "I just thought we failed to get big stops tonight."

The Clippers made it interesting down the stretch, after DeAndre Jordan completed a three-point play to bring L.A. within a point with 30 seconds remaining in the game. Blake Griffin had a chance to win it in regulation, but his jump hook in the lane bounced off the rim and the Clippers lost the game.

Jordan led all scorers with a game-high 22 points and 17 rebounds. Griffin chipped in 18 points and Chris Paul had six points, seven assists, and five rebounds.

With the loss, the Clippers fall three full games behind the Utah Jazz for fourth place in the Western Conference and just a 1.5 games ahead of the Thunder for sixth place.

Up Next:

The Clippers will have no time to hang their heads as they immediately head to the Mile High City to play the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night in a brutal back-to-back.

Update: DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin are expected to stay in Los Angeles and miss Thursday's game in Denver.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Carlson]]>
<![CDATA[Julius Randle Has Career Night, Elbows Rockets]]>Wed, 15 Mar 2017 20:00:31 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Julius-Randle-vs-Hornets-2-28-17.jpg

Not surprisingly, the Los Angeles Lakers lost on Wednesday night in Houston, and it wasn't close. For the second time in as many trips to the most populous city in Texas, the Lakers suffered a blowout 39-point defeat.

While the final score of 139-100 matched the play in aggregate, Lakers forward Julius Randle put together a highlight filled night that featured a new personal best. The 22-year-old scored a career-high 32 points and also grabbed eight rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes. The bruising forward also made 13 of his 17 field goal attempts.

Speaking of bruising, Randle also had one of the most incredible plays of the night, as he elbowed two opponents on one play, while also seemingly striking a third.

Randle emerged unfazed, but two different Rockets ended up either clutching their faces on the ground. The 22-year-old didn't seem to even notice as towels had to be unfolded and provided for the bloodied victims.

Beyond Randle's special night, Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram also had a standout night with 18 points to record his sixth straight game scoring in double figures. Ingram made eight of his 14 shots on the night, including two of his three three-point attempts.

While lottery picks Randle and Ingram stepped up for the occasion, no. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft D'Angelo Russell had an awful night where he finished with seven turnovers, five points, two assists and two rebounds in 25 minutes before fouling out. The 21-year-old, who recently got demoted to a bench role, missed eight of his 10 shot attempts and all five of his three-point attempts.

The seven turnovers, though, stood out for the backup point guard. In two games off the bench, the Lakers are -57 points while Russell is on the court.

Jordan Clarkson, who took Russell's starting spot, finished with 18 points and three assists in 35 minutes in the loss.

Of course, the Rockets had their own story, as James Harden continued to make his case for the league's Most Valuable Player award. Harden recorded a triple-double with 18 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds on the night.

Former Lakers' guard Lou Williams, who was traded to Houston just shy of the trade deadline, finished with 30 points off the Rockets' bench to lead the home team.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings Lose Heartbreaker to Coyotes]]>Wed, 15 Mar 2017 22:24:35 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Coyotes+Kings+Hockey.png

Anthony DeAngelo and Brendan Perlini scored in an 11-round shootout, Louis Domingue made 44 saves and the Arizona Coyotes defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Max Domi scored two goals for the Coyotes, who have won three consecutive games for the second time this season. Domi tied it 2-all with less than a minute left in regulation.

Tyler Toffoli scored twice, including a power-play goal with 1:36 remaining that gave Los Angeles a 2-1 lead.

Ben Bishop stopped 30 shots, but the Kings' playoff chances were dealt a second major blow in two nights.

L.A. earns a point, but is now four points behind the St. Louis Blues with for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference with 13 games remaining in the season. 

St. Louis has 14 games left in the season, making it that much more difficult for the Kings to secure the final spot. 

Toffoli converted a one-timer from Jeff Carter, to give the Kings the lead with less than two minutes left in the third period. Arizona immediately went on the attack, pulling the goalie for the extra skater. 

Drew Doughty missed the Coyotes open net with by an inch with 44 seconds remaning and Arizona made them pay on the ensuing face-off. Kings' defenseman Derek Forbort failed to clear the puck and Domi tied it up with 44.3 seconds left in the game.

Up Next: 

The Kings host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Timofey Mozgov to Sit Remainder of Season: Report]]>Tue, 14 Mar 2017 17:30:01 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Timofey-Mozgov-out-for-season-healthy.jpg

According to an ESPN report, LA Lakers center Timofey Mozgov is set to sit out the remainder of the 2016-17 season despite being healthy.

The move would hardly come as a shock, as Mozgov has been inactive for the Lakers' recent games, and 19-year-old rookie center Ivica Zubac has taken over the starting spot as the season winds down.

In Denver on Monday night, Zubac scored a career-high 25 points and became the first Lakers' teenager ever to score 25 or more points and record a double double. So, a report stating Mozgov does not expect to play the remainder of the season on the following day fits in line with general expectations of a team at the bottom of the Western Conference.

From a development standpoint, Zubac and Tarik Black playing the bulk of the minutes at center for the remainder of the season was already the assumption. Add in that Lakers coach Luke Walton prefers to go with small lineups late in games and use either Julius Randle or Larry Nance Jr. at center in those lineups, and Mozgov's role for the final month of the season already expected to be negligible.

The optics, however, do not look good, as Mozgov is on a four-year contract worth $64 million and is LA's second-highest paid player at $16 million per year. If Zubac continues to blossom, Mozgov could quickly lose his spot and become an expensive contract sitting on the bench for the bulk of the 2017-18 season.

Add in that Luol Deng is the Lakers' highest paid player at $18 million per year on a four-year contract worth $72 million and that the veteran forward is in a simmilar situation to Mozgov. Deng is a regular inactive despite being healthy, and the 31-year-old has not featured for the Lakers in any of their previous seven contests. Deng playing any role for the final 15 games of the season is tough to imagine.

If rookie Brandon Ingram continues to develop and gains strength over the summer, the move to start Ingram for the duration of his sophomore season would seem natural. Ingram is currently the starter and expects to retain the role for the remainder of the season.

With Deng and Mozgov, who are both known for being good teammates and locker room guys, the Lakers have two high salary players that don't appear to fit into the team's long term plans, though both are on long-term contracts. Both Mozgov and Deng have three years on their contracts after the current season expires, and both demand salaries that are difficult to trade away.

Entering the summer of 2017, Mozgov and Deng's contracts don't help the Lakers' free agency situation, and the latest ESPN report only further serves as a reminder that former Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak left the Lakers with two players that don't seem to fit into the current redevelopment plan and also take up a fair bit of salary cap space.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zubac Sets Lakers Teenage Record]]>Mon, 13 Mar 2017 23:30:52 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Zubac-Nance-Lakers-road-trip.JPG

On Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers lost big in Denver, 129-101, as a national audience struggled to watch a blowout that failed to provide any drama.

In truth, the contest was anything but, well, a contest.

The Nuggets led by 13 points after the first 12 minutes and put up 67 points in the first half. LA trailed by 24 points at the halftime intermission, as the Nuggets cruised to victory with seven different players scoring in double figures.

"There was a message. Hopefully, it was heard," Lakers Luke Walton spoke about a "lack of competing" on Spectrum Sportsnet following the game.

In searching for positives, the coach muttered, "(Ivica) Zubac was good. Brandon (Ingram) in the second half, when he actually played, was good."

Zubac provided the bright spot of the night, with the 19-year-old Croatian making his second straight start and finishing with a career-high 25 points, to go along with 11 rebounds. That made Zubac the first ever Lakers' teenager to finish with 25+ points in a double-double.

Despite the Lakers losing by 28 points, LA actually finished net +8 points while Zubac was on the court. The only other Lakers' player to finish with a positive line in that category was Metta World Peace, who played five minutes in the second quarter when Walton seemingly lost his cool, got a technical foul and lost his patience with his young players.

All in all, Monday night was an odd game before it even started. On the second night of a back-to-back, Walton started the night by changing his starting lineup by sending D'Angelo Russell to the bench and starting Jordan Clarkson only one night before he'd changed his starting lineup to demote Nick Young to a bench role and start David Nwaba. Also, Zubac had been promoted to start over Tarik Black on Sunday night.

Clarkson responded to the promotion with a strong start, and the Lakers hung with the Nuggets for the first eight minutes of the game. When Walton turned to Russell and his new-look second unit, though, LA failed to compete. What had been a one-possession game turned into a 13-point deficit to close the quarter, and Denver never looked back.

When Walton pulled Russell for World Peace with 5:03 remaining in the first half, LA trailed by 27 points. To close the half, Russell, Ingram and Julius Randle all sat and watched from the bench as their team got embarrassed on national television.

For the night, the lineup experiment had failed, though it remains unclear if Walton will change lineups again ahead of Thursday night's game in Houston or stick with Clarkson as a starter.

The last time LA was in Houston, the Rockets ran up the score and won by 39 points, so one would expect the worst team in the Western Conference is not about to get an easy break when it faces the third best team in the conference.

Is there any good news for the Lakers? Well, LA now only has 15 games remaining in a mentally grueling season. Looking at the calendar, the season will be over in less than a month.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings Playoff Chances Take Hit After Loss to Blues]]>Mon, 13 Mar 2017 22:11:23 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Kings+Stopped+by+Blues.png

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Magnus Paajarvi scored a power-play goal, Jake Allen made 38 saves and the St. Louis Blues extended their winning streak to five games with a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

David Perron scored late in the second period and Alexander Steen added an empty-net goal with 6.5 seconds left for the Blues, who lead the Kings by five points for the second wild card in the Western Conference.

Dustin Brown scored with 2:55 remaining and Jonathan Quick stopped 23 shots, but the Kings failed to earn a point for the first time in Quick's six starts since returning from a groin injury.

Quick made an acrobatic initial save on Perron's one-timer, but the puck trickled free underneath the goalie and Perron tapped it in for his 14th goal of the season 13:37 into the second.

Paajarvi then redirected Patrik Berglund's shot to give the Blues a 2-0 lead 1:10 into the third.

The Kings outshot St. Louis 39-26 in the game, but could not get more than just one goal past Allen on the night. 

The loss severely hurts L.A.'s dwindling playoff hopes as they Kings were chasing the Blues for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. 

Entering the night, L.A. trailed St. Louis by just three points in the standings, and a win would have moved them within one. The loss puts L.A. five points behind the Blues with just 14 games left in the regular season. 

Up Next:

No rest for the Kings as they host the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Hinder Home Court Chances With Loss to Jazz]]>Mon, 13 Mar 2017 21:32:55 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/Clippers+Jazz.png

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gordon Hayward scored 27 points and the Utah Jazz broke a nine-game home losing streak to the Los Angeles Clippers with a 114-108 victory Monday night.

The victory gave the Jazz a two-game lead over the Clippers in the race for the No. 4 playoff seed in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the first round.

Utah scored 40 points in the third quarter, a season-high for any quarter, after trailing much of the first half. George Hill was much more aggressive on the offensive end after a sluggish first half and the Jazz missed just four of 17 shots in the period while hitting all six 3-point attempts. The ball movement was outstanding on offense and nearly everyone got in the mix.

Chris Paul had 33 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Clippers.

The Clippers never figured out how to slow Hayward, whose back-to-back 3-pointers gave the Jazz a 103-92 lead. Hill finished with 19 points and Joe Ingles scored 18 off the bench.

Los Angeles cut the lead to 107-103 late, but back-to-back buckets by Joe Johnson put away the game.

The Clippers led 56-49 at halftime thanks to a dominant 18-point half from Paul and a stretch of eight straight points from Austin Rivers to push the lead to a first-half high of eight points.

J.J. Redick added 16 points for the Clippers.

TIP-INS

Clippers: The Clippers shot 58.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc in the first half, but led by just seven at the break. ... The Clippers held the Jazz to an average of 73.5 points in their first two meetings before Monday.

Jazz: Derrick Favors was held out with a bone contusion in his left knee and will be re-evaluated later in the week. It's his third straight missed game and his 18th of the season due to an issue with the left knee.

SEEDING OVERRATED

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he's not concerned with the race between the Jazz, Clippers, Thunder and Grizzlies for the No. 4 playoff seed.

"Yeah, we would like whoever is the 30th seed ... we'd prefer that," Rivers said. "Other than that, you've just got to get ready in the playoffs.

"I've always laughed at three (seed), four, let's get five. That's ridiculous. If you're trying to win it all, you're going to play the good teams eventually. You just have to be ready for it."

UP NEXT

Clippers: Los Angeles hosts All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Jazz: Rudy Gobert and Utah travel to face Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday in a matchup of two of the league's best centers.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer]]>
<![CDATA[Jordan Clarkson Has Career Night]]>Mon, 13 Mar 2017 05:43:14 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-Lakers-Sixers-3-12-17.jpg

On Sunday evening at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers played out an exciting back-and forth contest where the visiting Sixers edged out the Lakers, 118-116, behind 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Dario Saric.

To start the night, the Lakers shook up their starting lineup, but Jordan Clarkson retained his role as the team's sixth man. The 24-year-old, who is considered a key member of the Lakers' young core, put together his best performance of the season. Clarkson scored 12 points and passed off five assists in the first half en route to 30 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

For Clarkson, the 30 points tied his career-high, while the eight assists set a new season high. Clarkson's six rebounds also came within one rebound of leveling his season high. 

"Tonight, he put it all together obviously," Walton said regarding Clarkson's play following the game. "He was really good."

While Clarkson stayed in his bench role, 19-year-old rookie center Ivica Zubac moved into the starting lineup in a move designed to further develop the promising Croatian big man. Within five minutes, Zubac had already tied his career-high with four block shots. By the time halftime rolled around, Zubac had made all four his field goal attempts and pulled down four rebounds in addition to his four blocks.

The seven-footer looked ready for the spotlight and eventually finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks in 20 minutes.

Walton referenced the team's late night flight to Denver and the second night of a back-to-back posing a challenge for Zubac on Monday, with Nuggers' standout Nikola Jokic waiting in the Mile High City.

"That's good for (Zubac) to feel that, and then to have to get on a plane, get five hours of sleep tonight, and then have to wake up and guard Jokic tomorrow, so I think that's another great learning experience for him, as far as what it's like to play a back-to-back against a starting center," Walton said after the game.

In addition to the shakeup to the lineup with Zubac, Walton also took Nick Young out of the starting lineup and started David Nwaba. Nwaba is a defensive-minded guard that the Lakers signed to a second 10-day contract on Saturday.

Nwaba, who is an LA local and attended University High School and Santa Monica College, is experiencing a meteoric rise from being an NBA Development League player to starting for the Lakers in less than two weeks. Nwaba came up with a couple high energy plays down the stretch, including a big block and a rim rocking dunk that woke up Staples Center late in the fourth quarter.

With Young seemingly pushed entirely out of the rotation, new addition Tyler Ennis earned backup minutes at one of the guard spots, as the team clearly shifted further into evaluating its young talent. Ennis finished with eight points and two assists but struggled with foul trouble in his limited time on the court.

On the topic of youth, the Lakers started possibly the youngest starting lineup in the team's history, with 24-year-old Nwaba acting as the elder statesman. Zubac and fellow rookie Brandon Ingram are only 19, while D'Angelo Russell is 21 and Julius Randle is 22.

In terms of game flow, the 76ers came out and took an early lead before LA's second unit fought back. The Lakers and 76ers were tied at the break, but Philadelphia put together a strong start to the third quarter and opened up a 12-point lead. LA battled back to enter the fourth quarter trailing by eight points.

Led by the bench energy of Clarkson and Corey Brewer, the Lakers clawed back from down 11 points at the 10:42 mark in the fourth quarter to being level at the 5:36 mark.

Walton eventually went back to his starters, while opting to keep Larry Nance Jr. on the court in place of Zubac and coming back with Clarkson in place of Nwaba. The Lakers have a tendency to play with smaller lineups to close out games, so Nance and Randle playing as the two biggest players on the court was not a new look or a knock on Zubac's performance.

In a back and forth contest, the Lakers and Sixers took turns tasting the lead over the final three minutes. With 1:00 on the game clock, LA led by one point, but Philadelphia 76ers guard T.J. McConnell hit a short jump shot to put the visitors up 113-112.

Then, the Lakers missed their first attempt to take the lead but retained possession. Following a timeout, Russell seemingly forgot that he had only five seconds on the shot clock, and the yelps from the crowd alerted the 21-year-old to launch a desperation three-pointer to beat the buzzer.

The ball barely grazed the rim on its way out of bounds, as the Lakers managed to get two shots on the possession but came up with two blanks. Following a review to see if the ball struck the rim, the Sixers got possession of the basketball with 24.4 seconds remaining in the game.

Russell's brief mental lapse proved to be vital, though the point guard previously had a different mental lapse that was far more embarrassing during the first half.

As the game wound down, LA fouled Philadelphia and sent the visitors to the free throw line despite having Gerald Henderson seemingly tripled teamed at center court. Henderson converted both free throws to put Philadelphia up by three points, 115-112, with 19.7 seconds remaining.

"They just executed better down the stretch," Randle, who took the ill advised foul on Henderson, said after the game.

The Lakers opeted to go for a quick two, and Clarkson got fouled on his way to the hoop. The Lakers' guard made his first foul shot but missed the second, meaning the Lakers now trailed by two points. That missed foul shot meant that Philadelphia could take a four-point lead with two converted foul shots and effectively put the game to bed.

Two free throws later, LA seemed headed for yet another loss. However, the Lakers again kept hope alive when Nance hit a corner three-pointer to cut the game to a one-point difference with 5.0 seconds remaining. One second later, Saric got fouled and went to the foul line. The 22-year-old made his first free throw and missed his second.

Randle grabbed the rebound with 4.0 seconds remaining and the Lakers trailing by two, but LA was out of timeouts. The forward took off up court, but he had to launch a desperation heave from half court as time expired.

The shot did not even rattle the rim, and the Lakers did not win. LA is now 20-46 on the season.

"I think we just get better and better each and every game," Ingram said. "I think we just move on to the next game, look at the film and see what we can do better."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Spectacular Defensive Play by Galaxy Saves a Goal]]>Mon, 13 Mar 2017 13:03:25 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/234*120/Rafa+Garcia.png

The Los Angeles Galaxy may be off to their worst start since the 2001 season, but that didn't stop right back Rafael Garcia from making one of the more spectactular defensive plays you'll see all year. 

Garcia, normally a midfielder, started at right back in replace of the injured Robbie Rogers for Sunday's game against the Portland Timbers. 

After a pitch perfect counter attack goal gave Portland an early 1-0 lead, the LA Galaxy were forced to play shorthanded in the second half after captain and center back Jelle Van Damme was sent off for two yellow cards. 

The 10-men LA Galaxy hung around, but the play of the game came in the 72nd minute when Timbers' striker Fanendo Adi streaked down the field for what appeared to be a breakaway goal. 

Garcia initially slipped at the start of the play, allowing Adi nothing but open grass between him and the keeper. After beating Galaxy goalie Clement Diop, Adi seemed poised to score into a wide-open net, but suddenly, Garcia reemerged to make the goal-saving clearance. 

"I was thinking 'get up as quickly as possible,'" Garcia said of the hustle play. "As the play was unfolding I slipped. I cleared it, luckily, but it was a play that could have been avoided in my opinion."

The spectacular play saved a goal, but not the game for the Galaxy who have lost their first two home games for the first time in franchise history. Meanwhile, the Timbers are off to their best start in franchise history, with victories in their first two games and their first road victory since the 2015 MLS Cup.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Reed Saxon
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[A Capital Win For LA Kings]]>Sat, 11 Mar 2017 23:27:59 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Kings+Crown+The+Caps.png

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Adrian Kempe scored his first NHL goal with 11:14 to play and captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist in the Los Angeles Kings' 4-2 victory over the NHL-leading Washington Capitals on Saturday night.

Marian Gaborik also scored and Jonathan Quick made 17 saves in a big win for the Kings, who have won three of four as they fight to stay in the playoff race. Jeff Carter added an empty-net goal, and Los Angeles won back-to-back games for the first time since early February.

The Kings are in ninth place in the Western Conference, trailing St. Louis by three points.

Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie scored for the Capitals, who have lost three straight regulation games for the first time in their outstanding season.

Philipp Grubauer stopped 18 shots, but Washington's lead over Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division has dwindled to one point with 15 games to go.

Kempe put the Kings ahead when he skated off the boards and spun his way into a clear shot at Grubauer, who was screened. Kempe, a 20-year-old Swedish rookie drafted in the first round in 2014, found the net in his 11th game for the Kings.

Vrana put the Capitals ahead on their first shot, converting a pass from Kevin Shattenkirk on a power play.

The Kings evened it later in the first period on the second goal in two games by Gaborik, who has excelled lately on a line with Kopitar and newcomer Jarome Iginla.

Oshie put the Caps back ahead early in the second while following up a chance by Marcus Johansson. The American's 26th goal matched his career high set last year in his debut season with Washington.

But Kopitar tied it again with a tip on Jeff Carter's shot during a power play. Los Angeles has scored a man-advantage goal in five straight games, and Kopitar is finally heating up on offense after an uncharacteristically quiet season.

NOTES: Alex Ovechkin played his 17th consecutive game without an even-strength goal. ... Washington F Justin Williams had an assist, giving him points in the last three games he has played against the Kings. The goal-scorer known in LA as "Mr. Game 7" won the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Kings' second Stanley Cup championship run. ... Grubauer got the start over Braden Holtby after the German backup goalie earned a 38-save shutout in Washington's home game against the Kings earlier this season. ... Los Angeles scratched regular D Brayden McNabb and inserted Kevin Gravel.

UP NEXT

Capitals: At Ducks on Sunday.

Kings: Host Blues on Monday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ryan Kang]]>
<![CDATA[Paul Powers Clippers to 112-100 Victory Over 76ers]]>Sat, 11 Mar 2017 22:37:15 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Paul+Powers+Clippers.png

Once Chris Paul stepped up his play for the Los Angeles Clippers, it was all over for the pesky Philadelphia 76ers.

Paul scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half, leading Los Angeles to a 112-100 victory Saturday.

"We were just trying to figure things out, because all game long we couldn't get much separation from them. They're a gritty team," Paul said. "It's going to be like that some nights, and luckily we started to get some stops and made some big shots down the stretch to get separation."

DeAndre Jordan had 19 points and 20 rebounds, helping the Clippers (40-26) to their fourth win in five games. Paul also had seven assists, and Blake Griffin added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

"If you show up and expect to beat them like you did three years ago, you are going to get beat," Griffin said.

The Clippers trailed 79-75 after three quarters but opened the final period with a 10-0 run. Los Angeles has beaten Philadelphia in 10 of their last 11 meetings.

"We were able to get stops when we needed to and then we executed offensively," Jordan said. "It was energy and effort down the stretch and throughout the game that got us back in it and spread the lead out for us."

Richaun Holmes led Philadelphia with 24 points and nine rebounds. Dario Saric added 16 points, and Jahlil Okafor had 14.

The Sixers (23-42) have lost four in a row and seven of eight overall. They haven't beaten the Clippers in Los Angeles since March 2011.

"CP showed his veteran leadership and pretty much took over the game," said T.J. McConnell, who had nine points and 10 assists for Philadelphia. "We're playing hard but we couldn't get stops."

Both teams had 41 rebounds, and Los Angeles improved to 31-8 this season when it equals or outrebounds its opponent.

The Sixers, who shot 47.6 percent from the field, fell to 8-23 on the road this season.

"We competed, I thought at a high standard," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "We were ahead at halftime. We were ahead going into the fourth period. We stuck with a nine-man rotation and I thought our guys fought to the end. We came up short these last two games but we're competing and that's what we have to do the rest of the season."

With the win and Utah's loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday, Los Angeles trails the Jazz by one game for the fourth playoff spot. The teams play Monday night at Utah.

TIP-INS

Sixers: In 13 games dating to Feb. 8, Saric is averaging 19.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists and shooting 48.6 percent. Only Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook have registered similar numbers during that span. ... Robert Covington had 13 points.

Clippers: After starting the season 14-2, the Clippers are 26-24. They are just 5-5 since the All-Star break.

ROOKIE SENSATION

Saric has nine 20-point games to his credit this season, second among NBA rookies, trailing only his teammate Joel Embiid. Entering Saturday's game, Saric led all rookies with 403 rebounds.

"He's had an excellent year," Brown said.

CAMEROON CONNECTION

Embiid and Clippers forward Luc Mbah a Moute are two of three active NBA players from Cameroon. Countryman Pascal Siakam plays for Toronto.

EMBIID UPDATE

Embiid met with doctors in Los Angeles on Friday to discuss options on repairing his torn meniscus in his left knee.

UP NEXT

76ers: Visit the Lakers on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Clippers: Visits Utah on Monday night

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Carlson]]>
<![CDATA[Can You Ace This Dodgers Spring Training Quiz?]]>Sat, 11 Mar 2017 16:05:53 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-649325294.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers are at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, AZ preparing for the 2017 MLB season. 

In honor of the team's ninth year in the desert, we created a fun, yet challenging, 15-question quiz to test your Dodgers Spring Training knowledge. 

See if you know your team inside and out this Spring, and try and ace our questions. We bet you can't get them all correct!

Good luck.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Inside the Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training Camp]]>Tue, 14 Mar 2017 06:32:10 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Kershaw+Pitching.jpegPhotos from Camelback Ranch, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training Camp.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers]]>
<![CDATA[With Kobe in Attendance, Lakers Intro Rob Pelinka as New GM]]>Fri, 10 Mar 2017 18:24:58 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Rob-Pelinka-Lakers-GM-3-10-17.png

Earvin "Magic" Johnson put on his trademarks billion dollar smile and introduced new Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka. "This is truly an exciting day that I can know that my running mate is here, that my partner is here, that we can move this franchise forward because it's going to take both of us and a lot of other people as well."

Kobe Bryant, Pelinka's former client tuned up for his first public appearance after walking off into the sunset with a 60-point fairy tale ending 11 months earlier. Before Pelinka even spoke, Johnson made sure to have the audience give Bryant a round of applause.

Johnson echoed the same criteria he described in the past with regards to Pelinka's relationships with other NBA General Managers, the former agent's familiarity with modern players and also the 47-year-old's deep understanding of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"He's teaching me the C.B.A. right now, as we speak," Johnson said before giving Pelinka the microphone.

"When Magic and I first got together and started talking about this with Jeanie's support, it became instantly clear that the vision was like completely minded," Pelinka stated. "We had a common faith. We felt like this was a calling to do something great and critically important."

Pelinka spoke about a "commitment to excellence" and the work required to lift the Lakers from the depths of the NBA back to the shining global symbol of basketball supremacy: "The Lakers' franchise serves really two things: it serves the players and it serves the fans."

The former agent shared a story of back in 2007 when the Bryant went on the radio and publicly demanded a trade. In the aftermath, former owner Dr. Jerry Buss invited Pelinka and Bryant to his home and the men spoke about their expectations, desires and frustrations. Pelinka said he remembers that moment because of how Buss treated people and how they solved the problem of the time. He saw that day embedded in his the fabric of the occasion and in the future of the franchise.

"We have amazing leaders in this room, and we are all going to come together like Dr. Buss envisioned, and we're going to collaborate," Pelinka stated. "We're going to exchange ideas. People's opinions are going to be shared and respected."

Pelinka added, "Jeanie and Earvin are going to guide the vision, and we're all going to architect it."

Both Johnson and Pelinka spoke glowingly of Lakers coach Luke Walton, with Pelinka sharing his experience that Walton was incredibly well liked like few others in locker rooms around the NBA. General Managers and coaches work hand-in-hand, so the positive words from both Johnson and Pelinka confirmed that the organization had no intentions of changing Walton, who was hired by Jim Buss and former Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

"There could not be a better person to (coach the Lakers)," Pelinka said to Walton.

When the floor opened to questions, Pelinka spoke about the roster and his thoughts on the young core of the team.

"We have some really, really strong young talent on this team, but in terms of accountability, we're 29th out of 30 teams," Pelinka said. "We have to get better talent for Luke to coach."

The Lakers G.M. spoke about a strategy to develop players but also to bring in new talent, which is his job. Notably, Pelinka did not mention a trade but did talk about adding to the roster via free agency. Although the former University of Michigan Wolverine refused to set a timeline, he equated his approach to that of a chess game, meaning he had already begun planning on changes and moving pieces that should be factors down the road.

"We are implementing a plan as we speak and making moves to have the best talent in the league in this building, and it won't stop until we accomplish the goal, but to predict whether that's one year or five years is impossible," Pelinka said, while also building up that the Lakers' still had an intrinsic advantage due to the greats like Bryant and Johnson that had come before.

Pelinka also spoke about having worked with every single front office in the NBA and having had a player on every team at some point, which could be perceived as another major advantage. In addition, Johnson spoke about his new the two running mates going to the league office in New York to get an even better grasp of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"We have a championship coach, and Earvin and I are going to put in a championship accountability system," Pelinka said, highlighting all the success of the personnel up and down the organization.

Pelinka hinted that the Lakers would now be all on the same page, "The one thing that I've seen with the great organizations that have had success recently is that the coach and the general manager and the president, the basketball operations folks, have to be in lock step and have to be collaborating and sharing."

"I've had too many sleepless nights and hours. I've been cursing at the TV, and I don't normally do that," Johnson said he shared the frustrations of the fan base because  he was part of that upset fan base.

The President of Basketball Operations concluded, "We're going to win back the fans eventually. We're going to build this thing right."



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers GM Rob Pelinka Completes Front Office Changes]]>Fri, 10 Mar 2017 14:45:12 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rob-Pelinka-Lakers-GM.jpg

On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers officially introduce Rob Pelinka as their new General Manager to complete the front office shakeup that brought about a bunch of Buss family drama and updates that shook up folks across Southern California.

Ultimately, Jeanie Buss comes out looking stronger than ever, and there's no longer any doubt about who the boss is in El Segundo. Even the whimpering attempts to dethrone her have only further confirmed her status in charge, with court cases due to confirm her inherited right to rule.

Before Jeanie took charge, her brother and the former general manager hired a coach.

Luke Walton re-joined the franchise as the Head Coach at the start of the current season, after being drafted by the team and winning two titles as a player. Both Lakers president Jeanie Buss and Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson have publicly expressed that the organization is thrilled with Walton and that his job is secure.

The day following President's Day, Lakers president Jeanie Buss celebrate the occasion by firing the Lakers executive vice-president of basketball operations, her brother Jim Buss. After years of a segmented organization where the right hand wouldn't speak to the left hand, Jeanie Buss finally brought in Johnson to run the basketball side of the business and also be her connection that world.

In addition, Johnson had a divine right to rule over Lakers' basketball, as late owner Dr. Jerry Buss on his death bed summoned Johnson to his side and reportedly wished for the five-time champion to run the team. Johnson's role in the organization is that of an executive capable of running the basketball team as his mentor, Jerry Buss, once did.

Along with Jim Buss, the Jeanie Buss also cut Mitch Kupchak. And this is where Pelinka comes in to complete the new front office redesign.

Currently, the Lakers have a nice little stockpile of talented players and have roughly a coin flip's chance of landing another lottery pick in the summer. Pelinka largely earned his position due to his relationships in front offices around the league, in locker rooms and also because of his understanding of the ever changing basketball financial landscape.

Pelinka, an agent by trade, understands the salary cap because he had to work under the confines of the NBA's salary cap to get his clients the best contracts based on the system in place. He should have an advanced understanding of how to structure contracts in building a roster.

Though former client Kobe Bryant likely played a significant role in Pelinka getting the gig, the agent's Rolodex of front office contacts surely didn't hurt his profile. From Friday onward, Pelinka is the Lakers' primary representative with regards to the business of basketball around the league.

Considering the wealth of young talent on the Lakers' roster, even if the Lakers don't keep their lottery pick in the summer, those contacts should be texting and calling Pelinka passionately when the warm weather months arrive.

Whether he wants to trade the young talent for more polished players or sit back and allow the young players to mature will be an active decision taken on by the new General Manager. More than likely, he'll have plenty of offers and opportunities come across his desk.

In terms of signing free agents and structuring contracts, Pelinka now takes on those responsibilities for the team, as well. That's a fancy way of saying he builds the team. Johnson approves the moves and is involved in the planning and personnel, but Pelinka negotiates the contracts, creates the structures of the deals and takes on the work of building the team.

And when Pelinka's done building the roster, Walton coaches it.

The press conference to introduce Pelinka begins at 1 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Suns, Probably Shouldn't Have]]>Thu, 09 Mar 2017 23:52:03 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers-beat-Suns-dAngelo-Russell.jpg

On Thursday night in Arizona, the Los Angeles Lakers snapped an eight-game losing streak by beating the Phoenix Suns, 122-110, behind a strong second-half performance sparked by D'Angelo Russell, who finished with 28 points on the night.

Thursday's nationally televised contest featured the two worst teams in the Western Conference going head-to-head, which meant this game had serious NBA Draft Lottery implications.

With the victory, the Lakers collected their 20th win of the season and now trail the Phoenix Suns by only a single game in the standings counting from the top to the bottom. Since many see the goal as ending as close to the bottom as possible, the Lakers technically moved one game closer to giving up their title of second worst record in the NBA.

The Brooklyn Nets have all but secured the worst record in the NBA, so the Suns and Lakers are the two leading candidates to finish with the second worst record in the NBA.

For the Lakers, finishing with a top-three draft pick after the lottery is imperative because the team would be obliged to give up its draft pick if it fell out of the top three spots following the draft lottery. And so, Thursday's win in the desert was the one game the Lakers seemingly could afford to lose and not lose any sleep over.

While the dark cloud of the lottery chase is not going anywhere for the remainder of the season, Thursday's contest provided a few bright rays of hope in terms of youth development.

Included in Russell's 28 points, the point guard made six of his nine three-point attempts and also collected three steals and three assists without committing any turnovers. He also scored 10 points in a vital third quarter where the Lakers outscored the Suns 29-18.

Off the bench, Jordan Clarkson scored 19 points as he continued to take the lead as the sixth man of the team following Lou Williams' departure prior to the trade deadline.

In the front court, Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle split time in the front court and combined for 26 points, 16 rebounds and two steals split evenly between the two power forwards.

Rookies Ivica Zubac and Brandon Ingram also contributed 14 points apiece in a game that featured six Lakers scoring in double figures and every Lakers' player scoring at least one bucket.

All in all, Thursday's game in Phoenix was a positive victory from the development angle. It just didn't help the lottery chase.

For the Suns, who are not in any jeopardy of losing their draft pick, even if they finish outside the top three picks in the draft, second year standout Devin Booker finished the night with 23 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Next, the Lakers host the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Quiz: How Much Do You Know About the Lakers?]]>Wed, 08 Mar 2017 13:26:18 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/lakers-magic-237934_10+%2813%29.jpg

The Lakers may be trying to rack up points on the court, but see if you can throw down a slam dunk from the sidelines with our quiz.

NBCLA sports reporter Shahan Ahmed curated 15 of the toughest trivia questions for die-hard Lakers fans. See if you truly know it all -- or just click through to learn some fun facts about one of the NBA's most storied franchises. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dirk Nowitzki Hits Historic Mark, Lakers Lose]]>Tue, 07 Mar 2017 21:11:59 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dirk-Nowitzki-30000-Lakers-Mavs.jpg

On Tuesday night, 38-year-old Dirk Nowitzki entered a regular season against the Los Angeles Lakers needing only 20 points to become the first foreign player to score 30,000 points in the NBA.

At the end of the first quarter, the versatile German already had 18 points, leading his team to a 38-29 lead. Then, early in the second quarter, Nowitzki made history, as he became only the sixth player in NBA history to reach the 30,000-point mark.

The German joins a list that only includes the NBA elite of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Notably, four of the six players to reach the legendary mark wore the Lakers' colors for at least a portion of their careers.

Fueled by Nowitzki's fast start, the Dallas Mavericks comfortably beat the Lakers 122-111, though that score line is a bit generous. The Mavericks pulled away early by scoring 70 points in the first half, which was a bad sign for the visitors considering Dallas is the only team in the NBA that does not average 100 points per game.

Nowitzki led all scorers with 25 points on the night, as Dallas got all five starters scoring into double figures.

For the Lakers, Jordan Clarkson led the bench unit with 22 points, and D'Angelo Russell dropped in 22 points to lead the starters. Julius Randle finished with 13 points, 10 assists and 18 rebounds in 35 minutes to record one of the quietest triple-doubles in recent memory.

The Lakers will look to snap their eight-game losing streak on Thursday in Phoenix, a game that has major implications for the bottom of the Western Conference. The Suns and the Lakers are the two worst teams in the conference and are in competition for the second worst record in the NBA.

With the win, the Mavericks improved to 27-36, while the Lakers dropped to 19-45.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Officially Announce Rob Pelinka as GM]]>Tue, 07 Mar 2017 18:42:20 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rob-Pelinka-Lakers-GM.jpg

Exactly two weeks after firing Mitch Kupchak, the Los Angeles Lakers finally made the hiring of Rob Pelinka as the team's new General Manager official.

Considering Pelinka's background as an NBA agent, most famously Kobe Bryant's former agent, the news hardly came as a shock, as the newest member of the Lakers' front office began informing clients of his decision to take the Lakers' gig a fortnight ago.

Divesting from clear conflicts of interest took time, and the team officially announcing the hiring signals that the process has been completed. Pelinka will be introduced to the media with a press conference scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m.

Friday will also likely be the first time Earvin "Magic" Johnson provides the greater LA media an opportunity to question the new head of Lakers' basketball.

In the interviews Johnson has provided to select outlets, the new President of Basketball Operations has repeatedly voiced a desire to bring Bryant back into the Lakers' organization in any capacity the retired star wishes.

With Pelinka representing Bryant in the past, one would be wise to keep a look out for the Lakers' recently retired five-time champion possibly turning up at the team's practice facility on Friday. On Tuesday, Bryant already took to Twitter and voiced his approval of Pelinka's hire.

"The Lakers are a gold standard for sports franchises in the world, so we all share a responsibility to pursue excellence in everything we do," Pelinka said in a team statement announcing his hire. "Excellence is what the Lakers stands [sic] for, what Jeanie Buss and Earvin Johnson embody, and what Coach Walton demands from our players. That obsession for greatness is what will bring Lakers basketball back to a championship level. With Jeanie and Magic guiding the vision, I am thrilled to help architect the future. I am really excited to get to work."

Obviously, Pelinka has worked with and against the Lakers in negotiations representing the face of the Lakers' franchise for a couple decades.

"We have worked closely with Rob for many years and have first-hand experience with his knowledge of the league and the business of basketball," Lakers president Jeanie Buss stated. "In our recent discussions, it was clear that he also shares our goal of returning the Lakers to being an elite NBA franchise. Together with Earvin and Coach Walton, I believe we are in a great position to bring winning basketball back to the Lakers."

Hinting at the reasons for picking Pelinka, Johnson added, "Rob's knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Heating Up After Comeback Victory Over Celtics]]>Tue, 07 Mar 2017 00:38:07 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Clippers+over+Celtics.png

Don't look now, but the Clippers are heating up.

Chris Paul scored 23 points as Los Angeles won their second straight game, 116-102, over the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on Monday night. 

Paul was tasked with the difficult challenge of chasing Celtics' guard Isaiah Thomas all over the court, and although Thomas scored 32 in the game, the leading scorer in the NBA in the fourth quarter was held to just ten points in the final frame. 

The back-and-forth battle saw eight different lead changes, with the Celtics leading by as many as 13 points midway through the third quarter.

Clippers' shooting guard J.J. Redick was struggling on both ends of the court to guard the backcourt duo of Thomas and Avery Bradley, so Doc Rivers wisely took him out of the game and inserted Jamal Crawford. 

"He just had one of those nights," said Rivers of Redick. "Avery Bradley makes a lot of guys have those nights. He may be the best on-ball defender in the league. Bringing in Jamal and Mo allowed them to get going and other guys to get going and that really helped us."

Crawford, A.K.A. "J-Crossover" went unconscious for the remainder of the game, scoring 19 points off the bench, including four-of-five from beyond the arc. Redick did not see the floor again.

"The moment was in the second half when I hit a three in the corner," said Crawford of when he felt he started to heat up. "From there I knew it was on. My teammates and coaches saw it and they said 'just go.' It was a total team effort."

"When he gets hot, it's 'get out of the way and let him do his thing,'" said teammate Blake Griffin. "He can miss ten shots straight, but he'll make the next twenty. There's never a time where you don't think the next shot is going in, you're just waiting for it."

With Crawford on the court, the Clippers quickly erased a 13-point deficit, turning it into an 18-point lead by the fourth quarter.

Blake Griffin had 26 points and DeAndre Jordan scored 15 points with 12 rebounds despite shooting 3-for-16 from the free-throw line.

The Clippers had lost four-of-five with their only winning coming in overtime against the Hornets, but after back-to-back blowouts to the Rockets and Bucks, L.A. has defeated two Eastern Conference playoff teams by double-digits in their last two games.

"We're getting better, but we still have a ways to go," said Paul after the game. "It's good to win and figure it out at the same time, but we still have a ways to go."

After defeating the Lakers on Friday at Staples Center, the Celtics have dropped back-to-back games to the Phoenix Suns and Clippers. They continue to trail the Cleveland Cavaliers by three games in the Eastern Conference.

Clippers' forward Paul Pierce received two different video tributes during the game because his former team was in town. Fans in attendance started to chant "Paul Pierce" in the fourth quarter, but with the game still within single digits down the stretch, Rivers opted not to insert 19-year veteran into the game.

Up Next:

The Clippers will head to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves on Wednesday.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA['Big Baby' Doubles Down on Feud With Doc Rivers]]>Mon, 06 Mar 2017 22:56:17 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/218*120/Big+Baby+Doc+Rivers+Feud.png

We're starting to see a pattern.

Former Los Angeles Clippers forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis doubled down on his criticism of his former head coach Doc Rivers last week when he said Rivers is "fishing for things he once had."

Davis was a guest on the Fox Sports One show the Undefeated with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe last Wednesday when he doubled-down on his verbal assault against Rivers.

"He went to go get the Rasheed Wallace, like the Spencer Hawes and the Mo Speights," said Davis. "J.J. Redick comes off all the screens, that's a Ray Allen. He went to go get an old Paul Pierce. Paul Pierce is great, but he's not the same Paul Pierce."

"He's fishing for things that he once had, but at the same time he's with another team," continued Davis. "So, being a coach, you have to adjust. You have to see, 'Hey, you know what? I don't have a KG [Kevin Garnett] on my team, so this is what I need to do to be a better coach." 

As an isolated talking point, Davis' criticism of Rivers might not appear to be anything but an opinion on the surface. However, this is not the first time that Davis has had not-so-nice-words about a coach he spent over four years playing for in both Boston and Los Angeles.

A few weeks prior, on Chris Broussard's "In the Zone" podcast, Davis called Rivers "overrated" and said that he was "lucky as hell" to win a championship in Boston.

"He was lucky as hell. Lucky as hell," Davis said on the podcast. "The year before that they were wearing trash bags in the crowd…but then the next year they win it, now he's one of the best coaches ever? I'm just not feeling that, you know what I mean?"

Firstly, nobody that we know of in the sports world has called Rivers one of the best coaches ever, but that appears to be besides the point. Davis' criticism has clearly advanced into the territory of personal attacks.

When asked about Davis' comments, Rivers took the high road and did not want to discuss it, opting instead to focus on the players he has on the court with the Clippers.

However, a source close to Rivers, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told us that Rivers heard the comments when they first came out and was disappointed with Davis.

"I think he [Davis] is frustrated," the source said. "He's trying to get back into the league and he's been struggling to do that, so I think his comments are a byproduct of that."

Davis certainly sounds ungrateful towards Rivers who he won an NBA Championship with in 2008. Davis has said that his NBA comeback is "on hold" recently as he pursues a career in film production in Los Angeles.

Rivers and Davis have a long history as "Big Baby," famously lived up to his nickname when he was seen crying on the bench after a scolding by Kevin Garnett during a game in Boston.

Years later, as a member of the Clippers, Rivers famously benched Davis and sent him to the locker room after the two exchanged words during a game in Houston in 2014.

It sounds like Davis has taken his past brush-ups with his former coach personally and possibly blames him to some degree for his inability to find another job in the NBA. We're not sure where this feud is headed, but one thing is for certain, as long as "Big Baby," continues to get a platform to speak from, he will continue to bad mouth Rivers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers in The Courts And on The Court]]>Mon, 06 Mar 2017 08:38:01 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Luke-Walton-tanking.jpg

In court documents reported over the weekend by LA Times Nathan Fenno, Lakers president Jeanie Buss stated that her brother, Jim Buss, was "completely unfit" to run the team and that she feared her brothers would not allow Earvin "Magic" Johnson to do his job, which is to effectively replace Jim Buss as head of the basketball side of the Lakers' organization.

Suffice it to say, Jeanie Buss firing Jim Buss has been about as ugly a saga as one would expect from two siblings going through a professional divorce in public.

Jim Buss gets a bit of a raw deal considering the Lakers did win a couple titles under his watch, and his biggest crime seemingly was that he continued to put his faith in former Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

With Kupchak, the Lakers did a great deal in terms of laying the foundation for a team that can compete in the future by drafting well and not pulling the trigger on a trade that would jeopardize the growing stockpile of talent. Rather than rushing to improve in a hurry, the Lakers have protected their assets. Also, hiring what appears to be the right coach, finally, to make sense of the rubble left over from three torrid seasons was a positive move by nearly all accounts.

Saying Jim Buss is "unfit" to run the basketball organization is a bit of a stretch, though that doesn't mean both Jim Buss and Kupchak did not deserved to lose their jobs in recent years.

They absolutely did.

The Lakers sank to their three worst seasons since the team moved from Minnesota in three successive seasons, and that happened on Jim Buss' watch, with Kupchak pulling the strings and even netting a contract extension. While Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram arrived in exchange for those three painfully forgettable seasons, the fact that the Lakers fell to those depths should have probably cost both men their jobs earlier.

Now, the Lakers appear to be in contention for a fourth straight NBA lottery, suggesting that Jeanie Buss made the correct decision to sack the front office and start fresh.

Also, signing Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov to four-year contracts is unforgivable. For three more years, the Lakers are saddled with two big contracts that look much worse after the arrival of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Everything considered, those two hefty, unmovable contracts deserved to get both Kupchak and Jim Buss canned.

In truth, Jeanie Buss probably said it best on the day she fired her brother and hired Johnson to run the basketball side of the business. With Johnson sitting next to her at the Spectrum Sportsnet studios, the President of the Lakers told television cameras, "This was a very difficult decision. It was probably so hard for me to make that I probably waited too long. And for that, I apologize to Lakers fans."

Jim Buss was gone, and Jeanie Buss had taken full control.

All the Buss family drama seemed sorted and all was Kosher until Friday's reports of an attempt to remove Jeanie Buss as head of the Lakers, seemingly orchestrated by her brothers Jim and Johnny. Quickly, lawyers got involved, and seemingly, Jeanie won the battle as the two siblings retreated and swore they meant no harm.

Jeanie Buss' lawyer suggested that the war had only begun after Jim Buss and Johnny Buss had seemingly intended to remove Jeanie from the board of directors, which would also disqualify her from being the controlling owner of the Lakers.

If there is a conflict and a fight, one imagines that Jeanie Buss' lawyers pushing for and setting a trial date means she's confident that she'll emerge victorious.

For now, Johnson is calling the shots, and both the previous and current administrations agree that Luke Walton is the right man to coach the team.

On the courts most regularly associated with the Lakers, the purple and gold lost their seventh straight game on Sunday night at Staples Center. Since Johnson took over, the Lakers have lost all five games. On a related note, the Lakers traded away their best player and top scorer of the season for a draft pick and Corey Brewer at the trade deadline, and so, the decline in wins is expected.

If the Lakers are in such a hurry to fall to the bottom, do they still even need to taste wins?

"Absolutely," Walton said in the wake of his team's 105-97 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans. "The work that these guys are putting in, and we are working them. We're working them like it's early in the season right now because we know how important this time is and this opportunity is in building the right momentum into the off season."

Walton added, "I don't know if I'll say we 'need' it. I might need it, but I put that aside for what's going on. It would be really nice to have that feeling of winning after some of these games just to reinforce what we're working for because we're going to continue to push it every day."

The Lakers only have 19 games remaining in the season, and LA is currently two full games clear of the Phoenix Suns at the bottom of the Western Conference. At this point, every loss is a welcomed sight for fans in the streets and the front office crossing its fingers and toes in the hopes to land a top-three draft pick in the lottery.

If the Lakers don't land in the top three, their pick goes to Philadelphia as part of the Steve Nash trade that continues to torment the franchise.

While the Lakers will never admit to tanking and players play to win and coaches coach to win, the moment Johnson pulled the trigger to give up the team's leading scorer for a future late first round draft pick, the team entered full development mode, i.e. "Tanking."

Since it needs to be stated more clearly, the Lakers are tanking. Mozgov and Deng, who are their two highest paid players, are no longer starters. Both rarely expect to play for the remainder of the season.

Prior to trading Lou Williams, the Lakers won at a rate of approximately one win per three games. Without Williams, the Lakers have lost five in a row, and the purple and gold would be fortunate to win even once every six games.

With only 19 games remaining on the schedule, one win per six games for the remainder of the season would add up to three wins and a 22-60 record. To put that win total in context, the Lakers under Byron Scott in 2014-15, when Nash retired mid-season and Kobe Bryant only played 35 games, won 21 games and finished as the first 60-loss team in franchise history.

Only finishing one win better than the team that started Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Price for a large chunk of the season would not be worth boasting about.

And so, the Lakers may not exactly be sitting at rock bottom anymore, but they're still closer to the bottom than they are to the mountain top.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose Again, That's Seven Straight]]>Mon, 06 Mar 2017 01:32:46 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Pelicans-3-5-17.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans both entered Sunday evening’s game hoping to snap dubious win-less streaks.

For the Pelicans, Sunday night provided the visitors the opportunity to claim their first victory since with DeMarcus Cousins, after the team traded for the former Sacramento Kings' big man at the end of All-Star Weekend. New Orleans had only won one game since making the trade to get Cousins, but that victory came while Cousins sat out due to a suspension.

For the Lakers, Earvin "Magic" Johnson was named President of Basketball Operations about the same time Cousins was traded, and LA had failed to win in four attempts prior to Sunday night. Going back a couple games before Johnson took over Lakers' basketball, the Lakers had actually failed to win in six straight games entering Sunday's home game against the Pelicans.

Short of the game being called due to a water break, either the Lakers under Johnson or the Pelicans with Cousins had to win. One way or another, a win-less streak would be broken, right? Well, technically, the Pelicans won on Sunday with Cousins, but the Pelicans' big man fouled out with 1:55 remaining in the game, and by the time the Pelicans' center got comfortable on the bench, the game was tied at 97-97.

After trailing by as many as 14 points on the night, the Lakers rallied late behind a pumped up home crowd to level the score. In fact, the Lakers put together a 14-0 run from the 5:38 mark in the fourth quarter until Randle rattled in his free throw to level the game at 97-97.

From there, though, the Pelicans went on to score the final seven points of the game to claim the 105-97 victory. LA dropped to 19-44 on the season, while the Pelicans improved to 25-38.

Davis led all scorers with 31 points, to go along with nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks. Cousins finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out, and Jrue Holiday claimed 20 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals in the victory.

For the Lakers, Brandon Ingram finished with 16 points to rebound from a forgettable game on Friday night against the Boston Celtics. Nick Young led the Lakers in scoring with 19 points, including a memorable dunk and 50 percent from beyond three-point land. D'Angelo Russell finished with 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds, but the 21-year-old turned the ball over six times and missed nine of his 11 three-point attempts on the night.

Next, the Lakers play in Dallas on Tuesday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Look Galaxy Lose MLS Season Opener]]>Sun, 05 Mar 2017 17:20:36 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/JVD+LA+Galaxy.png

The Los Angeles Galaxy opened a new chapter in their storied history with a disappointing 2-1 loss to FC Dallas in the official start of the Curt Onalfo era in Los Angeles.

After a scoreless first half that saw new LA Galaxy captain Jelle Van Damme make a spectacular save off the line, the reigning Supporters' Shield winners struck first with a goal by Maximiliano Urruti in the 47th minute.

Urutti raced past Galaxy defenders and blasted a shot from just outside the box that beat Galaxy keeper Brian Rowe to the far post to give FC Dallas the early lead.

Five minutes later, the Galaxy drew even after Dave Romney was tripped in the box by Hernán Grana, awarding a penalty to L.A. Galaxy striker Giovani Dos Santos. Gio stepped up and converted the penalty to level the score.

L.A. had plenty of chances to take the lead, including a shot off the post from new midfielder, and United States Men's National Team star Jermaine Jones, but ultimately, the offense was unable to find the back of the net for the remainder of the game.

Kellyn Acosta scored the game-winner in the 69th minute after he blasted a shot between two defenders inside the near post for the go-ahead goal.

"They were the best team in the MLS last year," said Onalfo. "When you make msitakes, they're going to punish you. I'm disappointed, but for me, it's about getting better each day."

Takeaways:

1.    Youth Movement

The new-look L.A. Galaxy will have their work cut out for them as they returned just four starters from last season. After the departures of Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard, A.J. DeLaGarza, Landon Donovan, and Alan Gordon, the Galaxy are infused with an influx of young players and new faces this season.

2.    We Need Back Up

The L.A. Galaxy's glaring weakness for the 2017 season is their young backline that is missing veterans Ashley Cole and Robbie Rogers. On Saturday, the Galaxy started Rafael Garcia at left back, Daniel Steres and Dave Romney alongside captain Jelle Van Damme. The back four were exposed early and often as FC Dallas was able to fire away virtually at will.

3. FC Dallas is Still the Toast of the West

After a 2016 season that saw FC Dallas win the U.S. Open Cup, the Supporter's Shield and almost advance to the MLS Cup, the favorites in the Western Conference proved why they are poised to make another deep run this season with a 2-1 victory on the Galaxy's home pitch.

Up Next:

The L.A. Galaxy will host the Portland Timbers next Sunday, March 12th at 4:00PM PST. 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gus Ruelas]]>
<![CDATA[Celtics Embarrass Lakers at Staples Center]]>Sat, 04 Mar 2017 03:05:14 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Celtics-Isaiah-Thomas.JPG

Entering Friday night's rivalry game, the Boston Celtics always expected to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, but a 25-point lead at halftime told the story of exactly how far apart the Lakers and Celtics are on the court.

When the final buzzer mercifully rang out after 48 long, painful minutes, the Celtics collected their 40th win of the season. In sharp contract, the Lakers counted their 43rd defeat of a season that continues to spiral down the toilet.

Friday's rivalry game was so unbelievably noncompetitive that referring to it as a rivalry seemed to cheapen the occasion. Isaiah Thomas, who is considered the premier fourth quarter scorer in the NBA, did not even take the court in the final quarter due to the lopsided nature of the score. Thomas finished with 18 points and eight assists in 25 minutes.

Early in the third quarter, the Celtics hit their apex, which brought out cheers from the surprisingly large segment of fans dressed in green and supporting the visiting team. At one stage, The Celtics tasted the 31-point lead when Thomas threw an alley-oop in transition off the backboard.

Lakers coach Luke Walton spoke about the embarrassing basket and shared his thoughts when it happened.

"A little bit of anger, a little bit of frustration because there's teams showboating on our home court." Walton said, pointing to the fact that not getting back in transition meant the players weren't putting forth the effort.

As such, Walton immediately pulled his starters, and turned to Jordan Clarkson and the bench.

Clarkson's scoring and the second unit's energetic defensive effort, highlighted by 10-day contractee David Nwaba fighting over screens, brought the Lakers within 13 points with 11 minutes remaining in the ball game.

However, a couple of turnovers, and Boston quickly responded with a run of its own. The result of the game was no longer in doubt by the time the final six-minute mark came about. The Boston fans began to cheer louder and louder as the Lakers' fans began to clear out.

Clarkson evetually finished the game with 20 points to lead all scorers on the night. When the final buzzer sounded, the score board read, "Celtics 115, Lakers 95."



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Jeanie Buss Blocks Lakers Board Removal Attempt: Report]]>Fri, 03 Mar 2017 16:05:08 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jeanie-Buss-Jim-Buss.jpg

On Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times broke a story that Lakers president Jeanie Buss had blocked an attempt by her brothers to take over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lawyers had to get involved and, apparently, a temporary restraining order was filed on Friday to prevent a board of directors meeting for the team from going forward. The plan, reportedly, involved Jim Buss and Johnny Buss, Jeanie's brothers, proposing four new board members that did not include their sister.

In order for her to be controlling owner, Jeanie has to be on the board of directors.

However, the restraining order sent a clear message that the plan would not work, so the brothers withdrew their request, and Jeanie Buss also withdrew the temporary restraining order. The meeting to elect new board members has since been cancelled.

So, what exactly went down?

Well, thankfully, Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN managed to break down the madness on Twitter by explaining that Jeanie Buss is identified as the controlling owner in the Buss family trust, and thus, removing her from the board would be in violation of the trust.

The attempt fixated on using a technicality that if Jeanie Buss was no longer a board member, she could not be the controlling owner. However, Jeanie Buss' side argued that since she is listed as the controlling owner in the trust, she must retain a position on the board, so this attempt would be against the trust left behind by former Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss.

Seemingly, Jeanie Buss has the trust on her side, and so, her lawyers went so far as to ask for a trial date to resolve this matter once and for all. Shelbourne reports that the trial date is set for May 15.

While Jeanie Buss retaining power and getting around the challenge from her siblings could be viewed as a positive affirmation of her power and legal right to make the sweeping changes she recently untook, including firing her brother Jim, the fact that this challenge arose is a harsh reminder that the Buss family is hardly on the same page or working together.

Filing a restraining order, no matter how temporary, against siblings is never a good look for a family.

This most recent saga seems to reveal that Jim and Johnny, who are also board members, are in direct opposition to Jeanie. Meanwhile, Joey Buss and Jesse Buss both continue to be involved with the team under the new administration, led by Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

The only sibling seemingly not caught up in this family drama is Janie Buss.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Local David Nwaba Living Out Lakers Dream]]>Fri, 03 Mar 2017 04:29:51 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/Lakers-David-Nwaba-Luke-Walton-2.png

On Monday, David Nwaba had the day off. On Tuesday, he had a Wikipedia page.

Cliché as it may sound, Nwaba is living the dream—every LA kid's dream. Only, this Kobe Bryant fan's path to joining the Los Angeles Lakers is anything but a cliché.

After attending University High School in Los Angeles, the LA kid went to Santa Monica College before transferring to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. From there, Nwaba went undrafted and looked set to jump overseas for his basketball career until he caught the eye of a coach for the LA D-Fenders, which is the Lakers' NBA Development affiliate.

"It was actually a closed tryout," Nwaba told the story with a somewhat stunned look on his face, sitting in the same locker room that they player he "idolized" reigned for 20 years. "I was actually going in for a showcase to go overseas, and a D-Fenders coach saw me and invited me to a closed door tryout. They liked me, and I stayed around and made the team."

According to the player, he looked set to join the Reno Big Horns when he got a call from the D-Fenders letting him know that they had traded for him. Being on the D-Fenders, though, is hardly a guarantee of an NBA call up, especially considering this particular player's profile.

Nwaba's specialty is defense, rebounding and throwing down the occasional monster dunk. While the last skill in that set sounds attractive, a defensive guard that can rebound is not exactly something that stands out in the box score, especially in a league that rarely finishes with either team scoring fewer than 100 points. Nwaba was a defender in a scorer's league.

Anyone who has watched the Lakers play in recent years can see clear as day: the Lakers need help on defense. According to Nwaba, the only interaction he had with Lakers coach Luke Walton prior to joining the Lakers came at a D-Fenders game when the coach briefly complimented the player on his defense in passing. 

Then, a series of fortunate events left the Lakers with an open roster spot after Jose Calderon negotiated a buyout of his contract with the hopes of joining the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors eventually opted to sign former Laker Matt Barnes, but the Warriors held up their agreement with Calderon to the tune of the Spaniard netting $415,000 for two hours of service in Northern California.

In the meantime, Calderon's escape from LA provided Earvin "Magic" Johnson the opportunity to sign his first free agent since taking over the basketball side of the Lakers' business.

And so, Nwaba got a call from his coach on Monday.

"I actually thought (D-Fenders coach Coby Karl) wanted me to work this Boys and Girls clinic, so that was actually going through my mind," Nwaba shared his thoughts when he got the call to come into the office on his off day, Monday. Then, he got the news. "I was shocked and very happy."

The next day, Tuesday, Nwaba found himself inside the Lakers' practice facility going through a morning shootaround with his new teammates and his new coach, Walton. A few hours later, Nwaba was due to put on a Lakers' jersey.

Talking to the Lakers' media contingent on Tuesday morning, Nwaba smiled wide and said, "Yea, it's pretty crazy just growing up a Laker fan and just dreaming about this day, and it's finally happening."

About two and a half hours away from tip-off, he sat on the Lakers' bench at Staples Center. Fans would not be allowed into the building for a couple of hours, but Nwaba stayed glued to his seat on the Lakers' bench. When he got hold of a basketball, he held on tight almost seeming as though letting go of the ball may cause him to wake up.

"Showed up early just to experience the atmosphere," he explained. "I'm just living it up and enjoying the experience."

When Walton strolled into the arena, dressed casually with a black Lakers' hat on, the coach took a stutter step before grabbing a seat next to the 24-year-old ball player living out the dream of every LA kid that grew up watching no. 24 for the past two decades.

"He's an LA kid," Walton said he offered advice. "I just kind of asked him how it was sitting there in a Laker uniform on the Laker bench. It's obviously different for everybody, but I remember my first time. It was a pretty incredibly, special night. And then, I told him 'Enjoy it, really enjoy it, embrace it, but once we start playing, put all that outside your mind. It's just about playing basketball, competing and doing what you do well and what's got you here.'"

When the Lakers' interns came by and placed team sheets on all the courtside seats, Nwaba picked up the piece of paper that has a slight gold tint to it and read the names of players. Yes, his name was listed under the Los Angeles Lakers.

It was real.

"It's just crazy," Nwaba said about seeing his name listed and the numerous other "pinch-me" moments of the day. "Everything is shocking, but I'm just enjoying it when I can, just having fun."

Next, Nwaba took the Staples Center floor with the purple and gold and warmed up in front of his fellow hometown fans. When he sat on the bench this time, the Lakers—his team—were playing a real life NBA game. After three quarters had passed, Nwaba figured he would not get into the game. After all, it was a game that hung in the balance entering the final 12 minutes.

Walton called Nwaba's number in the fourth quarter.

He entered the game with the score tied 82-82, and he spent five minutes and 19 seconds energizing the Lakers' defense. He guarded Kemba Walker, an All-Star point guard. When he left the court, the Lakers led by two.

"As far as us seeing what we wanted to see (from Nwaba), it was good," Walton said after the game. Then, the coach almost laughed, "You know, we put him on Kemba Walker in the fourth quarter of a game he hadn't played in, in a league he had never played in, and he did not seem to be timid out there."

Certainly, Tuesday had been a test. Nawaba had passed.

Walton added, "I thought he did a fine job in the minutes that he got, and I told that group they did their job. When they came out, we had a lead."

After the game, though, Nwaba seemed to focus more on his single missed shot and the lone defensive mix up than all the stops he was a part of. The mindset was understandable and commendable considering the Lakers had lost a close one to the Hornets.

After being reminded he went up against an NBA All-Star in his first NBA game, Nwaba responded, "I mean, it was a good experience. I took the challenge. I wasn't afraid of the challenge."

He admitted that the fast pace of the NBA game stood out to him but added, "The next game will be a lot easier, hopefully better."

Incidentally, the "next game" happens to be against the franchise's greatest rival: the Boston Celtics. For a Laker fan, this dream just keeps getting better.

Lakers versus Celtics tips off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Come Back to Beat Leafs in Iginla's Debut]]>Fri, 03 Mar 2017 00:37:42 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/218*120/Jerome+Iginla+Wins+Debut.png

It was everything he hoped it would be. 

Jarome Iginla got a victory in his Los Angeles Kings debut as his new team came back from a two-goal deficit to take down the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, in a shootout on Thursday night at Staples Center. 

"It was a fun game to be a part of," said Iginla afterwards. "For the guys, to come back there in the third when down a couple, big goal by Kopi [Kopitar] to start it and get the energy going."

Iginla played just 16 minutes on the ice in his first game with his new team after the 39-year-old winger was acquired by the Kings from the Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline on Wednesday. 

Iginla wore the No. 88 in honor of Wayne Gretzky who he said inspired him to purchase his own No. 88 L.A. Kings jersey when he was a kid after Gretzky was famously traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles in 1988. 

Iginla received cheers from the crowd every time he touched the puck, playing most of his time on the same line as center Anze Kopitar. 

After the Kings allowed two early goals, it was Kopitar who brought the team back from the brink, snapping a 13-game drought with L.A.'s first goal just 27 seconds into the third period. 

Kopitar's slapshot hit off the helmet of Nikita Zaitsev and bounced past Andersen into the goal. A lucky shot that would swing momentum on to the side of the Kings for the remainder of the game.

A minute and a half later, Tanner Pearson tied the game with a nifty move in front of the net to beat Frederik Andersen. 

Jonathan Quick took over from there as he made 29 saves, many in the third period and overtime. However, with the game on-the-line and possibly the Kings playoff hopes, Quick stopped three consecutive Toronto players in the shootout to secure the victory. 

Kopitar scored the only goal of the shootout for L.A., but it would turn out to be the only one they needed.

"To be honest with you, I missed my shot, but it went in," Kopitar said of the goal. "They all count and I'll take it."

The win was the Kings first shootout victory since Oct. 22 and opens up the first of a seven-game homestand that L.A. desperately needs to take advantage of in order to solidify themselves in the Western Conference playoff picture. 

The two points earned on Wednesday, give the Kings 68 on the season, one more than the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

However, the Kings have played two more games than the Blues and ideally need to catch the Calgary Flames who are four points ahead in the Pacific Division. L.A. and Calgary will meet three more times over the final 18 games remaining in the regular season.

Meanwhile, Toronto has lost four straight and are 1-8 in shootouts this season. 

Tyler Bozak scored in the first period and Nikita Zaitsev scored in the second period. Anderson made 33 saves on the night, but it was not enough to earn the victory.

Up Next

The Kings will host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Rams Unveil New Uniforms for 2017 Season]]>Fri, 03 Mar 2017 14:35:03 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*144/RamsNewUniforms.jpg

The Rams are turning over a new leaf.

After a tumultuous first season back in Los Angeles, the NFL franchise is ready for a fresh start.  The team cleaned house in the offseason, firing head coach Jeff Fisher and most of his assistants before hiring Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in NFL history.

On Wednesday, the team continued the reinvention of the Rams by unveiling their new uniforms for the 2017 season. 

The team will wear white and navy blue, a nod to the team's long history in Los Angeles and playing at the L.A. Coliseum. The Rams wore similar uniforms in week 16 on a Thursday night game against the Seattle Seahawks.

The new uniforms consist of a white-horned navy helmet with a white face mask. As seen in the image above, the pants are white with just one navy stripe down the side, a detail that was voted on by fans on social media this week.

The team announced that over 90,000 fans voted for a single stripe over a double stripe on the pants in an online poll that was up for just 48 hours on Facebook and Twitter.

For fans of the Rams history in Los Angeles, the new uniforms are similar to the one's worn by the team between 1964 and 1972 when greats like Rosey Grier, Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and Merlin Olsen wore them. This quarter, otherwise known as the "Fearsome Foursome," struck fear in the hearts and minds of opponents.

"This just goes to show all the hard work my teammates and I put in while wearing those uniforms isn't forgotten," said quarterback of the Rams from 1962 to 1972 Roman Gabriel. "We loved those uniforms and wore them with pride. I know the current players will wear their uniforms, especially the white horns with just as much pride."

The Rams are not done with just new jerseys, the team is undergoing a full rebrand and will introduce new uniforms in 2019 when the new LA Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park opens.



Photo Credit: LA Rams]]>
<![CDATA[Iginla 'Very Excited' to Join L.A. Kings]]>Thu, 02 Mar 2017 22:19:41 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/193*120/Jarome+Iginla+Debut.png

It's just past noon at the Ottawa International Airport and an anxious 39-year-old hockey player is pacing like back-and-forth like a caged tiger. Reflective, but excited for what's ahead. 

His name is Jarome Iginla, a 20-year veteran of the National Hockey League and six-time All-Star. The abrupt nature of the business has him waiting at the airport for a flight to Los Angeles. After three seasons in Colorado, he's been traded to the Kings.

Just over a week ago, Iginla was skating against the Kings at the Pepsi Center in Denver, now, for the third time in his career, one phone call has turned his life upside down, but this time for the better.

"I'm very excited about it," Iginla said of the trade to Los Angeles. "Not until this morning did I hear the Kings were a possible destination. Obviously their track record and success is great. I'm really looking forward to it."

So Iginla exchanges the rocky mountains and snow storms for the pacific ocean and palm trees as he joins forces with the likes of Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and a familiar face in Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.

"Kopi [Kopitar] reached out to welcome me and I really appreciate that," said Iginla. "It kinda feels like I know them a little bit from playing and competing against them on the ice over the years. I don't know them well, but it feels like I do know them." 

Other than a couple All-Star appearances over the years, Igiinla has not played with many of the Kings current crop of world-class talent. In fact, the Kings newest star, forward Adrian Kempe, wasn't even born when Iginla made his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames in 1996. 

Seven years later, Sutter would join Iginla in Calgary as the Flames head coach and general manager for the 2003-2004 season. In his first full year behind the helm, Sutter and "Iggy" led the Flames to the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"It feels like it was both just yesterday and a long time ago," Iginla said of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals with Sutter. "I really enjoyed playing for him in Calgary. He's been very successful. He is firm and he can be tough, but I think that's a good thing. It does make it easier having a relationship with him. It wasn't that long ago I was playing for him. Time flies." 

It certainly does. It seems like just yesterday that Iginla was celebrating his 600th goal of his career against his new teammates at the Pepsi Center. As fans stood giving Iginla a standing ovation, he was mobbed by teammates on the ice. The Kings could only stand and applaud as greatness was in front of them. Now, it will be beside them.

"I remember seeing Doughty say after he won the last Stanley Cup [20140 how hungry he was for another one," Iginla said of joining the Kings All-Star defenseman. "They have a shot to win it again and I'm excited to join them and be a part of it."

At 17-42-3, the Avalanche have the worst record in the NHL and haven't been competitive all season. It's been a difficult season for Iginla as his numbers are well below his career averages, so when the NHL trade deadline got closer, he was hopeful to join a competitor.

Ironically, Iginla received help from a man he competed against for years on the ice in Avalanche vice president and general manager Joe Sakic. 

"I talked to Joe and my agent. Joe was great," Iginla said of his former boss and longtime opponent. "He said he would do whatever he could to help facilitate it."

Sakic likely didn't want to lose one of his top offensive players, especially as a mentor to some of the younger guys on the team, but he knew trading Iginla to a team where he could compete for a Stanley Cup was the best thing to do. 

"We felt it was the right thing to do for him," said Sakic. "It's a respect thing. For him as a person and as a hockey player."

On Thursday, Iginla will make his Los Angeles Kings debut in front of some of the best fans in sports at the Staples Center. He won't be able to wear his customary No. 12 jersey that's followed him around the NHL for 16 seasons, so instead he chose No. 88 in honor of Wayne Gretzky.

"Actually a true story, one of the only jerseys I ever bought was when Gretzky got traded to the Kings," Iginla admitted. "I was a huge Oilers fan growing up, but I bought a Kings jersey and I put on number 88 and I put my name on the back when I was ten years old. I don't know if that number's available, but the kids might like that one." 

Star Wars fans will take pleasure in seeing IGGY-88 on the ice on Thursday night, but for Iginla, it will be calming the nerves and butterflies floating around his stomach. 

"It's a huge adjustment. It's nerve racking for sure," he said of meeting his new teammates. "A lot of unknowns about going into a dressing room as the 'new guy,' It is going to be awkward and a little bit different at first. "

If Iginla can help ignite the Kings offense which has struggled to score this season, there's no doubt he will be welcomed into the locker room with open arms, similar to how veteran Vincent LeCavalier was received after he was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Kings last season. 

"I have lots left in the tank. I still have the desire and I look forward to battling," finished Iginla when asked what he can bring to the team. "I think I can still be effective."



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bob Miller Retires as Voice of the L.A. Kings]]>Fri, 03 Mar 2017 13:57:43 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/Bob+Miller+retires.png

The greater the love, the greater the tragedy when it's all over. 

Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller loves hockey. As the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Kings for 44 years, his familiar voice has become an extended member of our family for the better part of five decades.

So it was with a heavy heart, and tears in his eyes, that Miller announced his retirement at 78 years old from broadcasting.

at 57 years in radio and television at the home of the Kings, Staples Center.

Miller has been in the business of radio and television for 57 years, but a recent string of health concerns forced him to slow down and reasses his future in broadcasting.

Miller underwent quadruple bypass surgery last year and missed the second half of the Kings season while recovering from surgery.

In May, he suffered a minor stroke, but still was able to maintain his play-by-play duties for the King's 50th Anniversary season, which started in October. 

However, on January 27th, during the NHL All-Star game, which was held at Staples Center, Miller was taken to the hospital after experiencing pain and discomfort before the NHL All-Star skills challenge.

Miller was told by Doctors at USC Medical Center that he had suffered another mild stroke and after a few weeks of recovery, ultimately decided to retire from the broadcast booth.

Miller has broadcast over 3,000 Kings game in his career, including two Stanley Cup Finals in 2012 and 2014.

The 78-year-old was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006, and plans to spend more time with his family, his wife Judy, and their two kids.

Miller announced on Thursday in a press conference that he plans to call two final games before walking away from the booth forever: the Kings final home game against the Blackhawks on April 8 and the final game of the season in Anaheim on April 9th

During the press conference, the Kings played a video tribute to Miller that can be seen below.

Similar to Chick Hearn and Vin Scully before him, Miller is a Los Angeles legend and one of the greatest broadcasters of all time. He will be missed.



Photo Credit: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Announcer Bob Miller to Make 'Major Announcement']]>Thu, 02 Mar 2017 11:07:54 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-496991078.jpg

Longtime Los Angeles Kings announcer Bob Miller will make a major announcement regarding his future plans Thursday amid a report he is expected to retire.

"I have received a lot of inquiries about my health situation and I appreciate the concern," Miller said in a Kings statement, which reported he would hold an afternoon news conference. "I think it's time to bring everyone up to date on my progress and what's ahead in my future."

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Miller is expected to retire.

The 78-year-old Miller suffered a mild stroke on Jan. 28, hours before he was scheduled to work a live broadcast of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition from Staples Center.

Miller has been the voice of the Kings since 1973. He took a reduced on-air role this season after undergoing successful quadruple heart bypass surgery in February 2016.

Miller's honors include the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, given to members of the television and radio industries for outstanding contributions to their profession and hockey, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and membership in the halls of fame of the Kings and Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.

Miller became a hockey announcer in 1968, when the program director at his radio station in Madison, Wisconsin, told him he would be announcing a University of Wisconsin game the following Friday because it was the school's only team to win consistently and draw standing-room-only crowds.

Miller first sought to be hired by the Kings in 1972, when the team's original announcer, Jiggs McDonald, left for the expansion Atlanta Flames.

Legendary Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn recommended Miller for the job, but team owner Jack Kent Cooke hired California Golden Seals announcer Roy Storey. When Storey was fired after one season, Hearn again recommended Miller, with Cooke going along that time.

There was a benefit to the one-season delay in joining the Kings.

Staying at Wisconsin, he broadcast the Badgers during their 1972-73 NCAA championship season.

Miller waited 39 years to broadcast another title-winning team, when the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, which they won again in 2014.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rockets Rout Clippers Behind Three-Point Barrage]]>Thu, 02 Mar 2017 00:53:55 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Clippers+Rockets+.png

The Houston Rockets set a record for the most three-pointers ever made against the Los Angeles Clippers as they cruised to a 122-103 victory at Staples Center on Wednesday night.

Ryan Anderson drained six threes as the Rockets made a total of 20 three-pointers in the game on 52 shot attempts from beyond the arc. 

"You don't realize how many three-pointers we are taking because it's so natural for the way we play," said Anderson. "It's fun basketball when you trust that the next guy is going to make the shot, and James [Harden[ did a great job of making the right plays and getting us open."

The two teams combined to shoot 86 three-pointers, but it was defending the long ball that was the Clippers' Achilles heel throughout the game.

"I think offensively they space the floor so well, they move the ball really well. You know what they want to do, but it's tough to stop a team like that in transition." said Clippers' forward Blake Griffin. "We just have to be better at finding a man, that was our biggest downfall."

Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers was excited to see what his team looked like fully healthy after the Rockets routed L.A. 140-116 in Houston on Dec. 30th.

Both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul missed that game due to injury, but both were on the court together on Wednesday against the Rockets for the first time since Dec. 19, 2015.

"I had no clue that was the case," Paul said of how long it's been since both he and Griffin played the Rockets. "No disrespect, but that means nothing. We're just trying to win games. We're one of the few teams that has to worry about us, not everybody else."

The game was close early, 37-34, with points a plenty. The two teams combined for 19 three-pointers and 71 points in the first quarter alone, a formula that would bode well for the high-octane Houston offense. 

"The first quater, the first ten minutes, I thought we played with the right sense of urgency," said Griffin. "And then, from then on, that was the change of the game, we didn't have the right sense of urgency."

The Rockets took off in the second quarter, opening up a 16-point lead, the 48th time in 62 games that the Rockets have led by double digits. 

James Harden scored 26 points, Anderson added 23 and Patrick Beverly posted his third double-double of the season with 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

"We need that sort of balance on the offensive end to get where we need to go," said Harden. "Having multiple guys in double-figures is really important for us."

Griffin led the Clippers with 17 points and Chris Paul chipped in 16 points and 11 assists.

The game felt eerily similar to the 2017 NBA All Star game which took place in New Orleans a couple weeks ago. Defense was missing in action, and layups, dunks, as well as wide-open three-pointers were in abundance.

Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen and Jason Verrett of the Los Angeles Chargers sat courtside during the game. 

Up Next:

The Clippers will head to the Midwest for a two-game road trip in Milwaukee and Chicago.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Trade Away Another Pitcher]]>Wed, 01 Mar 2017 18:42:11 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Chase+De+Jong+Dodgers.png

The Seattle Mariners acquired right-hander Chase De Jong from the Los Angeles Dodgers for a pair of minor leaguers Wednesday.

The Mariners sent infielder Drew Jackson and pitcher Aneurys Zabala to the Dodgers, and designated infielder Mike Freeman for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

De Jong, 23, is coming off a stellar 2016 season mostly spent at Double-A where he went 15-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 26 starts with Tulsa. He was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City for one game. He was named the Texas League pitcher of the year last season. Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto says the Mariners see De Jong as "knocking at the door," of being a starter in the majors.

Freeman, 29, hit .227 in 21 games in the majors last season, 13 of those with Seattle.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Rob Tringali/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Julius Randle Has Monster Game Vs. Hornets]]>Wed, 01 Mar 2017 05:59:31 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Julius-Randle-vs-Hornets-2-28-17.jpg

Julius Randle finished with 23 points, 18 rebounds, six assists, three steals and only one turnover in a masterful performance that featured the 22-year-old forward playing 34 high-octane minutes.

"That's the longest period of time he's played hard all season," Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Randle after the game.

The Lakers' coach said, "Normally, when he plays that hard, at the six minute mark, his is kind of looking at me like, 'Alright, I need one.' That's understandable because that's not easy."

Even with Randle putting up super human effort and guady numbers usually reserved only for perrenial All-Stars, the LA Lakers lost 109-104 to the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night at Staples Center in a game that went down to the wire.

With two minutes to play, the Lakers led by one, but a couple of big three-pointers gave the Hornets a five-point lead with one minute remaining in the game. After Nicolas Batum recorded an impressive block on Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers didn't have enough ladders to dig out of the hole they found themselves buried in.

Though D'Angelo Russell made a couple late three-pointers to cut the margin to three points, clinically coverted free throws from Frank Kaminsky and Kemba Walker sealed the victory for the visiting Hornets.

Walker, who is an All-Star, finished with his own impressive stat line: 30 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

For the Lakers, this defeat followed the narrative a large segment of Lakers' fans will gladly accept for the remainder of the season, seeing as losses help the Lakers' chances of keeping their draft pick after the season concludes.

Ultimately, the Lakers played their young players big minutes and hung in against a playoff team in a back-and-forth contest that had the crowd roaring down the stretch.

As Walton summed up, "We're proud of the way we played tonight. We're not happy because we didn't win, and losing's not fun. It's not supposed to be fun, but we're proud of the way we played tonight."

Notes: David Nwaba, who signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers earlier in the day, played five minutes and 19 seconds in his NBA debut. He entered the game in the fourth quarter with the score tied and exited with his team leading by two. After the game, Walton commended the LA native on his defense and said that the unit Nwaba played on did its job.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Waive Calderon, LA-Local David Nwaba to Join]]>Tue, 28 Feb 2017 03:11:18 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Jose-Calderon-waived.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers announced that the team has waived veteran backup point guard Jose Calderon, which hardly came as a shock considering the 35-year-old had been rumored to be a target for the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors. The Spaniard expects to join the Warriors as a third point guard on the roster.

Calderon only appeared in 24 games for the purple and gold, and nearly half of those appearances came in the form of starting as a replacement for injured point guard D'Angelo Russell. When Russell was healthy, Calderon did not figure in the team's primary plans for the vast majority of the season.

With 22 games remaining on a season headed for the NBA lottery and Calderon's contract due to expire in the summer, the Lakers seemingly obliged and provided the career 41.1 percent three-point shooter the walking papers he seeked.

Calderon's agent thanked Earvin "Magic" Johnson for negotiating the buy out, and now, the veteran point guard can join the Warriors' super team that most of the basketball world expects to win the title.

With Calderon off the roster, the Lakers' only had 14 players, so one roster spot was suddenly available. LA could potentially sign a free agent, promote a player from their NBA D-League affiliate or do absolutely nothing. While having an extra empty roster spot can be an asset, that function doesn't apply after the trade deadline has passed.

The team opted to mine the D-Fenders and will sign, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, guard David Nwaba to a 10-day contract.

Nwaba is only 23 and lists Los Angeles as his home town. He attended University High School before going to Santa Monica College and transferring to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In his first year as a professional, Nwaba started 29 of the 38 games he's played for the LA D-Fenders, which will change their name to the South Bay Lakers at the end of the season. 

The 6'4" guard averages 13.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per game with the D-Fenders and, well, is a guard that can seemingly play defense in a league that is not known for its defense.

Currently, the Lakers are not exactly known for their defensive abilities, so getting a guard that can defend while also shooting a high percentage from the field (64.5 percent), even if he rarely attempts three-pointers (0.1 per game), sounds like an enticing proposition.

With Nick Young, D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers already have three guards that freely launch three-pointers. If Nwaba can come in and guard perimeter players, though, he can provide the Lakers with a skill that is desperately lacking on the roster.

In addition to Nwaba, the team also added 22-year-old point guard Tyler Ennis at the trade deadline in exchange for Marcelo Huertas. With Ennis and Nwaba, Lakers coach Luke Walton has a chance to test a couple of young guards to see if either is worth bringing back after the summer.

Notes: The Lakers host the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Grooming Chris Taylor For Center Field]]>Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:11:48 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-576803636.jpg

The center field position is arguably one of the most difficult there is in the game of baseball.

The position requires the player to have some semblance of speed as typically the center fielder covers more ground on the diamond then any other position in the sport.

In addition to the legs, the arm is equally, if not more important, as an everyday center fielder needs to require the arm strength to throw out would-be runners trying to score or advance to third. 

Therefore, it came as quite the surprise to Dodger fans when infielder Chris Taylor was seen in center field during the team's first game of the spring on Saturday afternoon against the Chicago White Sox.

Taylor was acquired from the Mariners in a midseason trade last season that saw pitcher Zach Lee head to Seattle in exchange for the utility infielder. During his time in the Mariners farm system, Taylor played shortstop, second base, and third base, but had never played center field in his career before Saturday.

"The last time I played center field was probably Little League," joked Taylor.

Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts told reporters after Saturday's game that he had talked to Taylor about learning the new position at the beginning of camp, but Taylor told us that the first mention of moving to center field was during workouts on Saturday morning. 

"Doc told me before BP [batting practice] yesterday [Saturday] 'Hey, make sure you get some reads in center,' so I guess that's when he told me," said Taylor. "I was a little surprised when he told me during the game to go out there." 

In order to further learn and develop at the position, Taylor has been working with outfield coordinator George Lombard and sought the advice of Joc Pederson.

Roberts said that the decision to try Taylor at center is in order to help make him more versatile to hopefully make the Dodgers roster. Roberts explained that the team has plenty of depth at the corner outfield positions, as well as multiple players who can play the infield, so they see centerfield as a place Taylor could find time.

Taylor will likely continue to compete with other utility players Kiké Hernandez and Charlie Culberson for a roster spot as well as with Trayce Thompson as a right-handed bat that can also play center field. 

"Being as versatile a player as you can is only going to help you," concluded Taylor. "We have a lot of really good players on this team, so you never know where you're going to end up." 

To listen to the full interview Taylor had with NBC LA, click on the audio player below.



Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What Exactly is Magic Johnson's Impact on the Lakers?]]>Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:31:13 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Earvin-Magic-Johnson-2-27-17.jpg

In between the Los Angeles Lakers' 17-point defeat in Oklahoma City on Friday night and Sunday's 21-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center, coach Luke Walton managed to wrangle his entire team into the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo on Saturday afternoon.

By the time the team met on Saturday, Earvin "Magic" Johnson had traveled with the Lakers, met with his coaches, observed practice, addressed the players and pulled off a couple of trades in his first week as President of Basketball Operations.

But had anything actually changed?

Yes, obviously, Lou Williams had been traded, so the Lakers had given up their leading scorer and best player in the current season for a future first round draft pick. That trade, however, expected to happen without the front office changing hands, as demand for Williams was high. In subsequent interviews with select media members, Johnson publicly voiced his intentions of holding onto the team's core of young players, which echoed the policy practiced by the previous administration.

So, if Johnson's arrival has not exactly shaken up the front office's dealings and philosophy, has it offered any tangible changes within the team's philosophy, coaching method, practice style or anything solid?

"No, what we do down here (on the practice court), it doesn't really have anything to do with what goes on up there (in the front office)," Lakers coach Luke Walton said on Saturday. "We go about our business the same we have before the change happened."

After taking control, Johnson voiced his approval of Walton on both his television and radio interviews with the team's official broadcast partners, ESPN Radio and Spectrum Sportsnet, but that didn't mean Johnson had no impact on the coach and the team, right?

"Am I coaching differently since we hired Magic?" Walton said with a tone that straddled the line between bemusement and bereavement.

"No, we have our vision and our goal of what we're trying to do," Walton explained with a slightly defensive rant in the hopes to end the line of admittedly annoying questions. "We've had great talks, but that's one of the great things (about) working with Magic. He's said multiple times, he's not going to come down here. Coaching is my job and my staff's job. Why would he, in his job, try to come down here and tell us how to coach and what he thinks what we should do?"

Walton added, "We're doing the same stuff down here. And yea, we definitely bounce ideas off each other, what he sees. Of course, I value the opinion of some that is one of the all-time greats in this game, but it's not going to change the way we coach this team."

Based on Walton's words, Johnson isn't changing the coaching style of the team, unless he plans on replacing the coach. To be clear, Johnson has repeated that he supports Walton and thinks the Lakers have the right coach in place.

While on his television and radio interviews, Johnson said he would huddle with Joey Buss and Jesse Buss, along with Walton and Ryan West to get their thoughts prior to the trade deadline. In effect, Johnson used the same resources that former general manager Mitch Kupchak and former Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss used at their disposal. The two younger Buss sons have been involved with the basketball side of the business for some time. Jesse Buss has been a scouting asset with the team and is officially in his second season as Assistant General Manager/Director of Scouting, while Joey Buss runs the LA D-Fenders, which is the Lakers' Development League affiliate.

If the Buss family holds onto the Lakers for the long term, either Jesse, Joey or both will likely take over as President of Basketball Operations one day.

West, who is the son of former Lakers general manager Jerry West, is serving in his second season as Director of Player Personnel after spending three seasons as Assistant Director of Scouting. Suffice to say, West was an integral part of the scouting operation for the Lakers under the previous administration. During his ESPN Radio interview, Johnson made a point to single out West as doing a great job leading the scouting effort, and certainly, the Lakers have found gems with late first round and second round picks in recent years: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Ivica Zubac. Both West and Jesse Buss have been notable figures involved in Lakers' draft war rooms and free agency meetings.

In effect, Johnson turned to the same brain trust that advised the previous administration, and he doesn't appear interested in overhauling the scouting department. So, what is he trying to change, exactly?

In his ESPN Radio interview, Johnson also insisted that the Lakers were behind other teams in terms of analytics. While that may have been true three, four or five years ago, LA recognized it was behind the times and segmented out a Basketball Analytics Department prior to the 2015-16 season. Yes, the switch to analytics began during the Byron Scott era.

Former Head Advance NBA Scout Clay Moser switched over to become a Director of Basketball Strategy in the Analytics Department, while retaining his assistant coach title. With Yuju Lee serving as Director of Basketball Analytics for the second straight season, the team employs the father and son consulting combination of Rudy and Trey Tomjanovich. After stepping down as coach into his first season with the Lakers back in 2005, the older Tomjanovich stayed on as a consultant for a period of years and provided reports to former coach Phil Jackson. As time went on, the nature of those reports turned more and more statistical in nature. Meanwhile, the younger Tomjanovich, who studied Computer Science, has provided the Lakers with statistical software in the past.

In addition to the Tomjanovichs, Moser and Lee, the Lakers also hired Lorena Martin as a Director of Sports Performance Analytics prior to the 2016-17 season. Also, Lakers athletic trainer Marco Nunes works closely with Martin and the Analytics Department to monitor usage and avoid putting players in overworked zones where injuries are more likely to occur.

At this stage, one should point out that no Lakers' player averages even 30 minutes per game, and that is no accident. Julius Randle leads the team with 28.3 minutes per game with other young core members Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell next in line averaging 28.0, 27.4 and 26.8 minutes per game, respectively.

Needless to say, the Lakers have been addressing their analytics dysfunctions of the past, so Johnson's change is likely not expected to have any meaningful impact in that department. Further, Walton arrived in LA from the pro-analytics culture of the Golden State Warriors, so one would expect that he would have an idea of the type of information he needs to see in order to make the best decisions on the bench and in preparing for games. Sixty games into the season, Walton and his staff should have sorted out any shortcomings. As far as analytics go, the previous administration had already taken steps to create and advance the department.

Approaching a full week on the job, Johnson's name and presence offer the only notable changes to the organization thus far.

Of course, Johnson offers a far more charismatic and vibrant personality than either Kupchak or Jim Buss could have possibly delivered in free agent meetings, so he should be an asset in the room when the summer arrives. Also, the Lakers appear to be nearing the public reveal on hiring a new general manager, Rob Pelinka.

When Pelinka finally finishes divesting from his company to avoid possible conflicts of interest and arrives to assume his post, more tangible changes to the structure could be on the way, but Pelinka's hire appears to be based on three criteria: his relationship with other NBA front offices; his relationship with players; and his understanding of the new collective bargaining agreement.

One should probably add a fourth item to that list in that Pelinka was formerly Kobe Bryant's agent, so Johnson's publicly stated desire to bring Bryant back into the Lakers' fold should not be ignored when analyzing the Pelinka pick. Hiring Bryant's former agent surely can't hurt the Lakers' chances of bringing Bryant back in some capacity.

Before going any farther, one should point out how ridiculous this whole saga reads. The same agent that negotiated with the Lakers and got Bryant a two-year extension that ultimately doomed the Lakers to their two worst seasons and cost the general manager and the basketball executive their jobs will now be hired by the new basketball executive to be the new general manager of that same team. And yes, Lakers president Jeanie Buss, who fired the front office for under-performing over those handcuffed years, approved the Bryant extension and publicly defended it.

Moving past all that, one can argue that the Lakers have not improved nearly enough. However, another more logical argument would point to the fact that the Lakers have changed to a young and progressive coach, modernized their basketball operations to address analytics, made sensible draft picks to accumulate blossoming talent and already won more games than the previous season with 22 games remaining on the schedule.

Appointing Johnson may well prove to be the best decision the Lakers ever make, and Pelinka may turn out to be the best general manager in the history of the organization, but the facts remain that the previous regime had already weathered the harshest portions of the storm, modernized the organization to the current culture of the NBA, hired a forward thinking coach that relates with players and set the team on a viable path to recovery by accumulating young, promising talents via the draft.

Approaching a full week on the job, Johnson's lack of notable impact in shaking the foundation of the organization is a positive sign for long-term stability. In terms of changing the organization, however, the Lakers already appear to be heading in the right direction, and Johnson would be wise to simply ride the wave.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brandon Ingram Sets Career-High Vs. Spurs]]>Fri, 03 Mar 2017 04:17:45 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Brandon-Ingram-vs-Spurs-2-26-17.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram provided the silver lining in an otherwise forgettable game of basketball on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.

The San Antonio Spurs led by as many as 28 points en route to a 119-98 rout at Staples Center, but Ingram finished with 22 points to set a new career-high after making eight of his first nine field goal attempts. Eventually, the lanky forward finished with 10 made field goals, which is also a new career-high, on 15 attempts.

"One of the few bright spots tonight was the way Brandon played out there today." Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.

Although Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 25 points on the day, Walton credited Ingram with challenging the forward on both ends and ultimately conceded that Leonard simply made tough shots.

"I thought our heart our competitive spirit, our lack of--especially in the first half--was a bigger issue (than turnovers)," Walton said moments after sitting down in front of reporters following the defeat.

At halftime, the Lakers had turned the ball over 12 times for 19 Spurs' points. Conversely, the Spurs' four turnovers had only yielded two Lakers' points through the first 24 minutes. Related, the Spurs led by 20 points at the break.

Walton added, "I told (the team) at halftime that's unacceptable in front of our home crowd, in front of a team like the Spurs."

Along with Ingram scoring 16 points in the second half, which was only one point shy of his previous career-high, the Lakers played the Spurs 58-57 for the final 24 minutes of Sunday's game.

LA never truly threatened the Spurs and never even got within 20 points past the 3:21 mark in the third quarter.

With the defeat, the Lakers fell to 19-41 on the season, while the Spurs improved to 45-13 with the victory.

Next, the Lakers host the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Notes: Former Lakers center Pau Gasol, who now plays for the Spurs, scored 15 points off the bench,including two three-pointers. Gasol received loud ovations from the crowd despite being on visiting team.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Can Quick's Return Send Kings to Playoffs?]]>Sun, 26 Feb 2017 15:32:32 -0700http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/Quick%27s+Return.png

A King has returned.

Jonathan Quick returned to the net for the first time since the season opener on Saturday, and the struggling Los Angeles Kings responded with a four goal flurry in the final period to defeat the Anaheim Ducks, 4-1.

Quick has only been on the ice for 20 minutes this season after suffering a severe groin injury in the team's first game. Instead of surgery to repair the groin, Quick opted for a non-surgical procedure that would strengthen the tendon through recovery and rehab.

Initially, Quick was expected to be out for three months, but four and half months later without returning to the rink had Quick himself questioning if he would return at all this season.

"Obviously, when you first get hurt, everything runs through your mind," Quick told reporters after Saturday's fourth chapter of the Freeway Faceoff. "You start thinking thoughts that maybe you shouldn't, and I'm just glad it worked out that I was able to come back and play here."

Not only did it work out, but Quick was surprisingly sharp in his return to the ice, making 32 saves in his first win of the season.

With Quick back in the crease, the Kings coronation into the Stanley Cup Playoffs could begin as the team has fallen out of the playoff picture since the All Star Break.

The Kings inability to re-sign forward Milan Lucic in the offseason, followed by Quick's injury led many NHL analysts to bury the Kings before the season was even a week old.

However, Peter Budaj has played brilliantly in Quick's absence, shouldering the load with a .917 save percentage over 53 games, a higher percentage than Quick's average over the last four years.

Thanks also in part to Jeff Carter's MVP caliber season, the Kings have kept their heads above water and find themselves just three points behind the St. Louis Blues and four points behind the Calgary Flames for a wild card spot in the Western Conference.

The Kings have 21 games to leapfrog either of those two aforementioned teams and make the playoffs for the seventh time in their last eight seasons, if Saturday's game was any indicator, then Quick's return should provide a huge emotional boost to the team.

"It was exciting for everybody—players, coaches, fans," said L.A. Kings head coach Darryl Sutter who became the team's all-time winningest coach in franchise history with the victory. "It was fun to see. He's an emotional leader in a lot of ways for our hockey club. It's good to have him back in the room."

The Kings have not won a playoff series since they hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2014. On paper, the 2016-2017 roster is not as talented as years prior, but with Quick in the net, L.A. just needs to get into the postseason and then anything can happen.

The Kings first Stanley Cup in franchise history came in 2012 when L.A. limped into the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Western conference. Once in the playoffs, Quick and the Kings became virtually unstoppable, losing just four games total in four playoff series.

Quick was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner after that run, and the Kings are hoping history repeats itself this year.  

"He's one of the best, if not the best, goalie in the league," said teammate Tyler Toffoli. "He stood on his head and made some big saves when we need them."

Now, with just over a month left in the regular season, the Kings are hoping that Quick can make the biggest save of all, and rescue their season.



Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Tyler Ennis Found Out He Was Traded on Twitter]]>Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:01:43 -0700http://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]]>Sat, 25 Feb 2017 00:38:00 -0700http://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 20:31:18 -0700http://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?!']]>Fri, 24 Feb 2017 00:52:48 -0700http://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]]>Fri, 24 Feb 2017 00:19:46 -0700http://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]]>Fri, 24 Feb 2017 00:12:13 -0700http://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 14:33:55 -0700http://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 07:31:55 -0700http://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 14:47:35 -0700http://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 01:51:32 -0700http://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 19:40:39 -0700http://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 18:13:47 -0700http://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 16:34:11 -0700http://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 12:30:23 -0700http://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 16:15:16 -0700http://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 23:34:28 -0700http://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 22:13:39 -0700http://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 22:01:25 -0700http://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 15:06:46 -0700http://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 23:34:39 -0700http://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 23:53:41 -0700http://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 03:31:19 -0700http://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 02:48:21 -0700http://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 15:16:52 -0700http://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 12:33:10 -0700http://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 01:56:23 -0700http://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 15:00:28 -0700http://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 14:52:27 -0700http://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 01:58:34 -0700http://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 20:52:02 -0700http://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 02:45:30 -0700http://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 21:34:49 -0700http://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 22:01:00 -0700http://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 20:43:34 -0700http://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 19:24:50 -0700http://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 19:01:50 -0700http://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 17:40:35 -0700http://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 07:21:29 -0700http://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 23:38:34 -0700http://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 05:51:03 -0700http://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 23:34:03 -0700http://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 12:59:40 -0700http://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 16:55:17 -0700http://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 15:37:18 -0700http://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 15:12:06 -0700http://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 22:06:12 -0700http://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 20:50:28 -0700http://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 19:30:43 -0700http://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]]>Fri, 03 Feb 2017 00:45:22 -0700http://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 20:16:56 -0700http://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 15:13:50 -0700http://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 14:35:06 -0700http://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 20:13:29 -0700http://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 06:29:10 -0700http://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 04:00:51 -0700http://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 17:10:21 -0700http://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 16:42:16 -0700http://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 18:47:49 -0700http://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 06:19:22 -0700http://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 23:21:17 -0700http://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 20:30:58 -0700http://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 11:46:13 -0700http://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 20:59:27 -0700http://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 19:41:16 -0700http://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 19:47:40 -0700http://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 15:50:30 -0700http://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 18:09:46 -0700http://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 18:10:17 -0700http://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 17:15:33 -0700http://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 02:38:43 -0700http://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 23:32:22 -0700http://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 12:20:56 -0700http://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 11:45:27 -0700http://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 01:34:56 -0700http://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 18:10:52 -0700http://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 14:28:26 -0700http://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]]>Tue, 17 Jan 2017 00:01:47 -0700http://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 14:43:54 -0700http://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]]>Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:44:54 -0700http://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 23:33:07 -0700http://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 21:25:56 -0700http://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 16:47:16 -0700http://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 14:21:35 -0700http://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 16:21:46 -0700http://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 14:14:53 -0700http://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 09:58:33 -0700http://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 07:35:51 -0700http://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 07:06:40 -0700http://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 21:01:12 -0700http://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 08:09:02 -0700http://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 08:12:14 -0700http://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 07:29:56 -0700http://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 06:57:20 -0700http://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 05:09:06 -0700http://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 04:13:20 -0700http://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 19:46:16 -0700http://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 19:08:59 -0700http://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 15:34:13 -0700http://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 12:48:56 -0700http://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 05:42:21 -0700http://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 03:56:52 -0700http://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 22:49:27 -0700http://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 23:29:36 -0700http://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]]>Thu, 05 Jan 2017 00:45:19 -0700http://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]]>Thu, 05 Jan 2017 00:44:05 -0700http://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 22:10:09 -0700http://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 18:15:50 -0700http://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 23:09:28 -0700http://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 05:45:51 -0700http://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 16:19:58 -0700http://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 ]]>Tue, 03 Jan 2017 00:31:49 -0700http://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 23:11:06 -0700http://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 23:12:48 -0700http://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 12:22:53 -0700http://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]]>Mon, 02 Jan 2017 00:39:51 -0700http://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 20:06:55 -0700http://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 02:08:11 -0700http://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]]>Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:36:05 -0700http://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 19:40:36 -0700http://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 01:04:20 -0700http://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 15:33:53 -0700http://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 19:03:07 -0700http://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 12:24:45 -0700http://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 01:10:55 -0700http://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."



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