Shaquille O'Neal will get his Lakers statue on Friday, and Kobe Bryant couldn't be happier: Only in looking back can Kobe Bryant truly appreciate the impact Shaquille O’Neal had on his career. In basketball history it is impossible to mention one without the other. “When you win three titles together and you’ve had so much impact on one another’s legacy as a player and as a champion,” Bryant said by phone this week. -- Los Angeles Times

Long trips for one game don't sit well with Los Angeles Lakers Coach Luke Walton: In the NBA’s attempt to reduce games on consecutive nights and stretches of four games in five nights, the league has created a schedule quirk that annoys Lakers Coach Luke Walton: One-game trips several time zones away. The Lakers this season have played the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder in separate one-game trips. And they’ve got upcoming one-game trips to San Antonio and Minnesota. -- Los Angeles Times

Shaq has ‘great emotions’ before Lakers unveil statue: Shaquille O’Neal looked confused as he heard the news that further validated his place in Lakers lore. After laughing on set with Jimmy Kimmel on Jan. 28, 2016, ABC’s late-night television host showed O’Neal a rendition of a 1,200-pound, 9-foot statue the Lakers planned to unveil of the former superstar outside of Staples Center. O’Neal hardly considered the honor a slam dunk, even if the statue showed him throwing one down. -- The Orange County Register

Shaq's teammates recall practice pranks, trying to defend him: His brute force intimidated anyone who tried to defend him, and his pranks left nearly everyone roaring with laughter. A dominant big man and a life-long jokester, Shaquille O’Neal brought those traits to every stop during his 19-year NBA career, which included an eight-year run with the Lakers (1996-2004) that yielded too many dunks and jokes to count. -- The Orange County Register

Lakers' Luke Walton strives to keep players focused as season winds down: Even when the Lakers’ seasons ended in championship parades, this part of the NBA schedule seemed pointless, too. While the current Lakers (20-51) enter Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (28-42) at Staples Center eager to address their offseason through the NBA draft and free agency, the playoff-bound Lakers wanted to play a game that actually meant something. -- The Orange County Register


Take a look back at Shaquille O'Neal's time in Los Angeles that included three championships and an intense rivalry with teammate Kobe Bryant.

You can't tell the story of Shaquille O'Neal's Lakers run without the three straight championships.

Stephen A. Smith cannot contain himself after LaVar Ball adds Magic Johnson to the list of comparative players to his son Lonzo.

In 2007, Kobe Bryant became just the 2nd player to ever drop 50+ in 4 consecutive games.

Stephen A. Smith has a problem with people being memorialized with statues.

Luke Walton uses benching to provide Brandon Ingram with a lesson in leadership: Brandon Ingram wasn’t among the players who lacked energy and effort at the beginning of the Lakers’ 133-109 loss to the Clippers on Tuesday night. But he was part of a starting lineup that did as a whole. Coach Luke Walton wasn’t interested in singling out anyone, so the whole group had to pay for their overall lethargy. -- Los Angeles Times

Lakers' Luke Walton pushing Brandon Ingram to be more of a vocal leader: Once the Lakers gathered in the locker room, Coach Luke Walton did not just express his displeasure with his team’s play. He became so disgusted with the Lakers’ 30-point halftime deficit to the Clippers on Tuesday that he informed his starters they would begin the second half on the bench. Walton then turned to rookie forward Brandon Ingram. -- The Orange County Register

For 32 seasons, from the 1980s Showtime era through Shaquille O'Neal and the beginning and end of Kobe Bryant, Gary Vitti tended to the Los Angeles Lakers, a fixture on their sideline in a career spanning 13 head coaches, eight championships, numerous Hall of Famers and enough stories to fill a library.

When Bryant ruptured his Achilles in 2013, Vitti was there. "Just tape it up," Bryant famously told him. And when Magic Johnson stunned the world by testing positive for HIV in the fall of 1991, Vitti was there. "When God gave me this disease, he gave it to the right person," Johnson told an emotional Vitti. "I'm going to do something good with this."

Gary Vitti frameAP Photo/Mark J. TerrillTrainer Gary Vitti retired at the end of last season after spending 32 years with the Lakers.

Last April, Vitti retired from his full-time post as the NBA's longest-tenured head athletic trainer, but he signed on to remain a consultant for two more seasons, in part to continue researching new technologies that might help not just heal injuries but hopefully prevent them altogether.

Though he no longer sat on the team's bench, Vitti was still a presence in the stands at Staples Center, where he'd often sit with his wife, Martha, and walk around the arena's lower bowl to shake hands and chat with friends and Lakers employees.

And Vitti still kept a small office down a hallway at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, California, where he could be found on most weekdays, calling software engineers and analytics firms, meeting with vendors about wearable sensors and sneaker microchips, examining SportVU data and the latest trends in sports medicine and nutrition.

Toward the end of practices, when media was allowed onto the practice court before interviews, it wasn't unusual to see Vitti chatting with Lakers head coach Luke Walton or individual players.

But since the team's dramatic front-office overhaul Feb. 21, when Lakers governor Jeanie Buss fired her brother, Jim, and general manager Mitch Kupchak, and promoted Johnson to president of basketball operations, Vitti has been noticeably absent.

According to sources close to the franchise, before Feb. 21, Vitti had been seen at every home game save for one and at the facility about four days a week when the team wasn't on the road -- but since the regime change, those sources say, Vitti hasn't been seen at any games, practices, anything.

In response to questions about Vitti's status, Lakers spokesperson Alison Bogli clarified that Vitti previously reported directly to the general manager and that with the regime change, their new GM -- Rob Pelinka -- is assessing what is needed going forward. No decisions have yet been made about what projects Vitti will continue to work on as a consultant for the Lakers, Bogli noted, adding that Vitti was certainly welcome to attend games whenever he liked.

"We love Gary and look forward to honoring his contract," she said.

Vitti issued the following comment to ESPN regarding his status with the Lakers:

"I worked more than half of my life for the Lakers, and I can honestly look at myself in the mirror and say I gave every ounce that I had every day. I will forever be grateful to [the late Lakers owner and patriarch] Dr. [Jerry] Buss, a man I believe exemplified what I believe to be the trifecta of the most important human values: honesty, kindness and loyalty. Going forward, it's not my team so Jeanie can do what she thinks is best."

Vitti declined to comment when asked about the status of his contract or if he would attend games or work with the team moving forward.

It remains unclear what will happen regarding the efforts Vitti made to connect the Lakers with various cutting-edge entities in the spirit of injury prevention.

Almost a year ago, the Lakers honored Vitti during a game against the rival Boston Celtics. A tribute video played. Fans and players gave him a standing ovation. He was presented with a framed Lakers jersey that had a purple-and-gold medical cross instead of a number. And the Lakers also gave Vitti two first-class tickets to Italy, where he keeps an offseason home about 60 miles outside Rome that he has visited every offseason since 1984, save for one.

"I'm a Laker," Vitti said in the video that played on the scoreboard that night. "That's what I am. It doesn't get any better than that."


With the Lakers set to unveil a statue of Shaquille O'Neal on Friday, coach Luke Walton, who played with O'Neal during the 2003-04 season, was asked about his favorite Shaq memory.

Clippers crush Lakers as teams stay on opposite paths, 133-109: With the LA Clippers desperate to pile up wins and the Lakers eager to improve their odds in the NBA draft lottery, both sides achieved the necessary result at Staples Center, with the playoff-bound Clippers trouncing the Lakers, 133-109. The Lakers, fittingly, never led. -- The Orange County Register

Luke Walton wants Jordan Clarkson to find other ways to contribute on poor shooting nights: In theory, the latest lineup switch should have invigorated Jordan Clarkson. After all, the third-year guard appears most comfortable whenever he has the ball in his hands. In the Lakers’ 133-109 loss to the Clippers on Tuesday at Staples Center, though, Clarkson experienced a painful lesson. -- The Orange County Register

Luke Walton doesn't want Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. to rely on 3-point shots: Like Julius Randle, Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. has spent time working on his 3-point shot in an effort to expand his game after hearing constant feedback in his past two seasons. But how much does Walton expect Randle and Nance to use that as a weapon without diluting their skills as bruising playmakers? -- The Orange County Register

Clippers take advantage of Lakers' bad start and never look back in 133-109 win: Fans received twinkling purple necklaces as they entered Staples Center for Tuesday night’s Lakers home game against the Clippers. The lights kept blinking, but the other team in town quickly sapped the rest of the energy out of the building. -- Los Angeles Times

Fight in name only: Luol Deng’s experience with playground fighting goes back to his childhood. He remembers fights in schools as part of daily life when he was a refugee in Egypt. “Whether it was because we’re Christians or we’re black,” Deng said. “It was literally every day in school. Almost every day you have to deal with something.” Deng had backup in the form of his brothers. -- Los Angeles Times


LOS ANGELES -- Chris Paul scored 27 points before watching the end of a blowout with his young son on the bench, and the Clippers beat the Lakers 133-109 on Tuesday night for yet another win in the battle of Los Angeles.

The Clippers have won 17 of the last 19 meetings against the Lakers. They cruised in this one, and the younger Chris Paul got to sit on his dad's lap on the bench during the fourth quarter.

Eight Clippers scored in double figures, including J.J. Redick with 24 points and Austin Rivers with 17.

The Clippers hit 15 of 33 3-pointers, and their starters sat out the entire fourth quarter for the second consecutive game.

Brandon Ingram led the Lakers with 21 points.

(Read full post)


With time winding down in the third quarter, Jamal Crawford pulls up from beyond mid-court and swishes the shot at the buzzer.

Chris Paul nails the corner 3 and gets fouled by D'Angelo Russell. Paul would hit the free-throw to complete the four-point play.

With time winding down in the first half, Chris Paul pulls up and nails the 3 from well beyond the arc as the Clippers hang 70 first-half points on the Lakers.



D'Angelo Russell
15.4 4.7 1.4 27.8
ReboundsJ. Randle 8.6
AssistsD. Russell 4.7
StealsD. Russell 1.4
BlocksI. Zubac 0.9