Los Angeles Lakers: Jason Collins

Rapid Reaction: Nets 108, Lakers 102

February, 23, 2014
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin

LOS ANGELES -- In what was supposed to be a lazy Sunday matchup between two sub .500 teams -- a game that was considered to have such little juice that it was dropped from the national TV broadcast schedule despite featuring teams from the two biggest markets in the country -- suddenly became a landmark event in the history of American pro sports.

The Brooklyn Nets signed Jason Collins to a 10-day contract Sunday morning, and when the backup center stepped on to the court against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night, he became the first openly gay athlete to play in a game in the history of the four major professional sports in the U.S.

There was a tepid response in Staples Center when Collins entered the game. Better that it was a smattering of cheers than boisterous boos, of course, but the L.A. crowd responded to the substitution the way any crowd might when a 35-year-old with career averages of 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds checks in.

In that respect, it was a comforting moment of normalcy. Even though many national media outlets descended upon L.A. to document Collins breaking a significant barrier, in the moment it was just about a backup basketball player doing what he has done in the NBA for the past decade plus.

"I don't have time to really think about history right now," Collins said before the game. "I just have to focus on my job tonight."

Which is the same approach the Lakers took, trying to put together only their sixth winning streak of the season despite starting Kent Bazemore, who just joined the team three days ago.

Yet for another night, they were overmatched.

How it happened: The Nets led by as many as 19 in the first quarter, with Paul Pierce starting off blistering hot by scoring 14 of his 25 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the opening frame. L.A. trailed by 16 at halftime but used a 13-2 run early in the third quarter to draw to within eight and got it down to six after a 3-pointer from MarShon Brooks in the final minute of the third before the Nets got it right back up to 12 with consecutive 3s from Mirza Teletovic.

The Lakers stormed back in the fourth. Nick Young brought L.A. to within four by making a layup with 7:36 left in the final quarter and Jodie Meeks got it back to four again with 10.5 seconds left, but the Nets' Deron Williams tacked on two late free throws to give him 30 points and take home the win in a game his team never trailed.

What it means: Friday night's win against the Boston Celtics was a nice moment for Lakers fans looking to stick it to their longtime rivals, but Sunday was a return to reality. There's going to be plenty more losses over the final 26 games of the season.

Hits: With 10:28 remaining in the second quarter, Collins checked into the game for the Nets, making history.

L.A. outscored Brooklyn 58-36 in the paint.

Pau Gasol had a solid double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Bazemore scored 17 points in his first start as a Laker.

Jodie Meeks had 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting.

Misses: Jordan Farmar shot just 1-for-6.

L.A. allowed the Nets to shoot 12-for-25 on 3-pointers.

Stat of the game: 29. That's how many turnovers the Nets had, leading to 27 points for the Lakers, but it still wasn't enough to get L.A. the win.

Up next: L.A. has only a dozen road games left this season and will be down to 10 after its trip this week to play the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies in a back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The L.A. in my Game," with Baron Davis, Part II

November, 9, 2011
By The Kamenetzky Brothers
As part of a continuing series, NBA players share how growing up in L.A. shaped their games.

We bring you the second part of our interview with Baron Davis, the NBA player we feel most epitomizes "L.A." Between his upbringing with roots in South Central and Santa Monica, plus an eye fixed on Hollywood and the next generation of ballers, Los Angeles remains a huge part of Davis' identity. In part I, he talked about learning the game as a child, the influence of his family and neighborhood and how he arrived at the prestigious Crossroads School. In part II, the L.A. journey continues.

Land O' Lakers: During your senior year, Crossroads won the state title by absolutely destroying Sacramento Encina 93-57. How did such a lopsided win happen?

BD: In high school, we were good. [And] they were a real challenging team. So when we run out for the warm-ups, they were looking at us, like, laughing! Like we were a joke. I think they were a tougher team. I don't know what neighborhood they were from, but they d--- sure acted like it. They were just shaking their heads, like, "C'mon, dude! This is Crossroads? Which one is Baron Davis? Are you serious?"

Kris Connor/Getty Images
Before working on movies together, Cash Warren and Baron Davis led Crossroads to a state title.

I was like, "Dude, we're about to beat the s--- out of you. You have no idea what's about to happen." (laughs)

That was the best game we played as a team and that was probably the best all-around game I ever played at the school. I think I was the second- or third-leading scorer of the game. The guys that were seniors, myself, Cash Warren, LeQuan Tolbert, it was our last time knowing we'll ever play with each other. So it was like, once again, somebody is underestimating us, let's go smack them in the mouth one more time.

And we had lost in the semifinals [the year before]. We were so hungry it was crazy. That's why we beat them by [46]. We were throwing the ball off the backboard by the end of the game. We were so afraid to lose. There was 10 seconds left in the game, we were still pressing and laying the ball up. It was crazy.

Land O' Lakers: You guys had already beaten Christ the King and some other great schools across the country.

BD: We beat Christ the King. We beat Simon Gratz. We beat Inglewood. We lost, I think, to Mount Zion, we lost to Dominguez at Dominguez, Crenshaw at Crenshaw. When we lost to Dominguez, they were No. 1 in the country. When we lost to Mount Zion, they were No. 1 in the country. And going to Crenshaw thinking you were gonna get a victory, you have a whole other thing coming.

We were up 20 going into the fourth at Crenshaw. Then all these [Crips] came in the gym and I just felt real uncomfortable. (laughs) The thing about Crenshaw, they never stopped playing. They were like Golden State -- no lead was too big for them to overcome. And we were playing in their house. And once the Crips walked in, it was like a whole different thing with me. It was like … OK … uh … where are my homeboys at? I was a little distracted at the time.

If you put that in the article, the dudes who were standing on that wall, they know what I'm talking about. They'll read that and laugh, I guarantee.

Land O' Lakers: Is that why the Crips were there? Or were they just there to watch the game?

BD: I don't know. I just know they came in right in the fourth quarter and that was very uncomfortable. We were up 20 before they walked into that gym … My antennas went up. They had to go up, you know what I mean?

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Kobe Bryant
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.1
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.5
BlocksE. Davis 1.1