A high-profile incident involving Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and a heckling fan highlights the sometimes overly-close physical proximity between NBA fans and the targets of their derision.,On Monday night, Westbrook and 45-year-old Shane Kiesel exchanged insults during the second quarter of the Thunder’s game with the Jazz in Vivint Smart Home Arena.,Westbrook explained after the game that Kiesel’s insult is the latest in a series of disdainful remarks by fans aimed at him and other NBA players when playing in road arenas.,First, Kiesel and several other fans in Vivint Smart Home Arena were issued co-called “warning cards” pursuant to the NBA’s Fan Code of Conduct.,In addition to the Fan Code of Conduct, the uniform player contract signed by every NBA player contains provisions that empower commissioner Adam Silver to punish Westbrook.

And at this stage in James' career, with three championships, eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances to his name and an equally burgeoning business and political profile off the court, James is a transcendent star.,Johnson said the Lakers didn't want to make the team like the Cleveland Cavaliers all over again for James.,James was just starting to find his footing with this new cast in Los Angeles.,Since his return from injury, the Lakers have a defensive rating of 109.6 when James is on the floor in four wins; the Lakers have a defensive rating of 113.1 when James is on the floor in the eight losses.,Most of the roster wasn't going to be back next year anyway, given the team's insistence on signing players to only one-year contracts to preserve salary-cap space for a second star this summer.

USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James’ team won the All-Star Game, but that’s not the only reason why he had a ton of fun over the past few days.,READ MORE: NBA commentary from columnist Martin Rogers CLICK ROLL: Get exclusive content with our NBA newsletter He just spent a nice little break with a group of elite players, especially those he selected for his own team to take on Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo), that he’d love to be playing with every night.,And there's plenty to suggest that the closest James will get to his preferred Dream Team just passed by over the weekend, or will once again come and go at next year’s All-Star break.,Autoplay Show Thumbnails Show Captions read more

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, with all due respect to local football fans following the Rams' Super Bowl defeat, thinks his team has some similarities to the NFL champion New England Patriots.,"I think early on they were facing a ton of adversity," Pelinka said on a conference call with reporters Friday to discuss his team's NBA trade deadline deals.,The Clippers' deal opened a roster spot, and Pelinka said the team is evaluating "a handful" of players to fill it -- either now or closer to the March 1 deadline to add a player and have him be playoff eligible.,Continuing the Patriots' parallel, Pelinka compared Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman to the players the Lakers added, noting how New England found its rhythm after the slot receiver returned from a four-game suspension, much the same way he hopes the Lakers find their stride now.,Pelinka confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that detailed Johnson's plan to meet the team in Philadelphia -- Pelinka said Johnson is attending a reunion celebrating Michigan State's 1979 NCAA championship as he makes his way west to east.

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LOS ANGELES — LeBron James’ return to action definitely wasn’t "back in no time," as he promised post-Christmas, but it was worth the wait for the Los Angeles Lakers.,In a thrilling 123-120 overtime victory over the local rival Los Angeles Clippers, James put his team ahead for the final time on a nerveless jump shot with just over a minute remaining to set up the win.,So much for the Lakers watching James’ playing time carefully as he came back from a groin strain sustained against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.,At the time of the injury, James seemed mightily relieved that the groin strain he sustained was not more serious.,Back when James got hurt while reaching for a loose ball against the Warriors, a partnership with Davis was nothing more than a mere possibility, and one far more likely to happen later than sooner. read more

Stephen Curry never embarrassed himself more than on Monday, when he overshadowed the Golden State Warriors' 130-111 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers by slipping on a dunk attempt and airballing a 3-pointer all on the same possession.,"See, what happened was the L.A. Kings had a game right before us and they must not have put the floor back on top of the ice all the way, 'cause there was a little wet spot and I slipped," he joked.,All in all, it wasn't Curry's best night from the floor, as the two-time MVP went just 3-of-12 from the field and 2-of-10 from the 3-point line.,He and the Warriors remain in first place in the Western Conference, however, and resume play Thursday against the Washington Wizards (watch on fuboTV with NBA League Pass extension).,Plus, there's no Washington Capitals game scheduled for right beforehand.

Curry led the Warriors with 28 points, Durant added 24 and Golden State won its seventh in a row and sixth straight on the road.,With Cousins finally in the lineup, Golden State became the first team in 42 years to start five All-Stars from the previous season.,Cousins missed his first shot but came right back with a one-handed slam off Durant's bounce pass for the Warriors' first basket.,The Warriors took their first double-digit lead in the first four minutes of the third when the Clippers missed their initial six shots.,Golden State opened on a 14-2 run with five different players scoring, including a basket by Cousins before getting his fourth foul, to go up 66-53.

Then we give up.Other Chargers storiesChargers Cover-Three defense looked more like Cover-NoneHelene Elliott columnizes off of the gameAntonio Gates wants to keep playingSaints winThe New Orleans Saints defeated the defending Super Bowl champ Philadelphia Eagles, 20-14, to advance to the NFC title game, where they will host the Rams next Sunday at noon on Fox.That means the conference championship will be a rematch of teams that met in Week 9, with the Saints beating the Rams, 45-35, also in New Orleans.I think that we match up really well, Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said of the Saints.,The last time we played them, it came down to a game of just running out of time.At the end of the day, I think well have a better plan against them the second go-round, and youve got to be excited to be able to go back there and get another chance at those guys again.You can take a first look at the Rams-Saints matchup by clicking here.So, it will be Rams-Saints for the NFC title and Patriots-Chiefs for the AFC title.,So did the Cleveland Cavaliers.Things arent quite that bad, but the Lakers are 3-7 since LeBron James was injured and are tied with Utah for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.Fans took to social media after the game to criticize coach Luke Walton.,Turns out it wasnt gold in their stockings, it was a lump of coal painted gold.Also check out:Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram take on expanded roles with LakersHigh school basketballOne thing that often gets overlooked in the discussion of the impending strike by the LAUSD teachers strike set to begin today is how the strike will impact high school sports.High school sports reporter and columnist Eric Sondheimer takes a look at that by using the upcoming Fairfax-Westchester game as an example.The strike will halt the sports seasons for thousands of City Section athletes, boys and girls.,Bartow seemed pretty unhappy with the team in the second half, becoming very animated in timeout huddles more than once.Kris Wilkes had 21 points and Prince Ali had 13 points for the Bruins, who lost their first Pac-12 game and are now 3-1 under Bartow.USC basketball (Kevin Porter Jr. suspended indefinitely)What seemed so promising turned out to be a disastrous time in Oregon for the USC mens basketball team.

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — AL MVP Mookie Betts, NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and major league home run champion Khris Davis reached high-priced one-year deals to avoid salary arbitration, while slugger Nolan Arenado and pitchers Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino and Aaron Nola were among 15 players still on track for hearings.,LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers reacquired catcher Russell Martin on Friday in a trade with Toronto, days after Yasmani Grandal left for a deal with Milwaukee.,NFL read more

Andrew Wiggins scored 25 of his 28 points in the first half, helping the Minnesota Timberwolves take charge from the opening tipoff and breeze by the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers for a 108-86 victory on Sunday, the last game for coach Tom Thibodeau.,RAPTORS 121, PACERS 105

TORONTO (AP) — Norman Powell scored a season-high 23 points, Pascal Siakam had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Toronto snapped Indiana's six-game winning streak.,NETS 117, BULLS 100 read more