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Lakers early exit could cost Los Angeles economy $70 million

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I have a buddy who owns a pub in the greater Los Angeles area. How did a then bartender get the seed money to start his own place? He worked every Lakers playoff game during one of the 1980s Showtime runs, when the place would fill up, and he set that money aside. It went a long way.

The Lakers are big money in Los Angeles. They are the far and away the biggest sports brand in this city (and if the NFL ever bothers to return it will start at number two and have to earn its way up).

So the numbers in a Los Angeles Times story today don’t really shock me.

The Lakers are a huge draw for merchants and won’t be easy to replace, said economist Esmael Adibi of Chapman University, who estimated that local businesses would lose at least $60 million to $70 million because of the team’s early exit.

“When you take the crowd that would go to the Staples Center itself and all the activities that take place, it is a large sum of money,” he said. “Every sporting event has some economic impact, and unfortunately there is no substitution.”

AEG — a sports business giant that owns Staples Center and a share of the Lakers — is also the primary investor in L.A. Live, the retail entertainment complex next to Staples that includes a variety of bars and restaurants (as well as the West Coast ESPN headquarters). On Lakers game nights that place is buzzing, alive with people and energy before, during and after games. The Lakers loss hits them in the bottom line.

Over at Trader Vic’s in downtown’s L.A. Live on Tuesday — when the Lakers would have played Game 5 against the Dallas Mavericks at neighboring Staples Center — just nine people were seated in the lounge of the tropical-themed restaurant, and a party of 10 was finishing up in the back dining room. Typically, there’s at least a two-hour wait for a table on game nights, owner John Valencia said.

“As a fan, I’m extremely disappointed, but as an owner, it’s pretty devastating for business,” he said. “We’re event-driven, and when you have a Laker game on standby and it doesn’t happen, it’s very difficult to backfill.”

Briante Weber goes from Warriors to Hornets, signs 10-day contract with Charlotte

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13: Briante Weber #12 of the Miami Heat looks on during a timeout against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 13, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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Backup point guard Briante Weber has signed a 10-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets. This comes after Weber signed two 10-day contracts with the Golden State Warriors earlier in the season. News of the signing was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

Weber, 24, played his college games at VCU and in his work this season for Golden State was somewhat disappointing. In seven games, Weber put up 9.4 points, 3.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per-game. His advanced numbers tell a bit of a different story, where his box plus/minus was -6.1.

Charlotte will look to use Weber in a backup role to Kemba Walker. Ramon Sessions had been playing rotation player minutes for the Hornets until early February when he suffered a left knee injury that could keep him out up to six weeks.

Stephen Curry assist wins Warriors fan $5,000

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Stephen Curry wasn’t just setting up teammates Saturday night, he was helping out a fan.

One of the Warriors in-game entertainment bits is to have basically adult skeeball for cash. One female fan was doing about as well as I do at arcade skeeball when Stephen Curry ran out to give her a little help and win her $5,000.

The Warriors went on to beat the Nets and clinch a playoff slot with the win.

Paul George ejected for arguing calls, Pacers go on to lose to Heat

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Paul George already had one technical in the game (from a double technical situation), when he thought he was fouled and should have gotten a call fairly early in the third quarter of a tight Pacers game against the Heat.

George apparently wouldn’t let up barking at the referees, maybe said some magical words, but whatever happened the officials hit him with a second technical. He was tossed. You can see the reaction above.

The Pacers hung close in the game until the Heat went on a 21-4 run to open the fourth and that was the ballgame. If you’re the undisputed leader of your team — as George is — you just can’t get tossed for things like this.

Warriors first team to clinch playoff slot with win over Nets

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 27 points on a night Kevin Durant missed his first game of the season with a hand injury, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-95 on Saturday to clinch a playoff berth.

Klay Thompson added 24 points. Curry converted a four-point play just before halftime to put his team up 62-51 at the break. The two-time reigning MVP had five 3-pointers and five assists.

This is just a first step for these star-studded, NBA-best Warriors (49-9): They want the No. 1 seed in the West. Oh, and a championship.

Durant sat out with a bruised left hand. He injured his pinkie in the first quarter of a 123-113 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, and X-rays were negative. He practiced Friday with his left hand heavily taped and still had some discomfort Saturday.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 16 points in the Nets’ 16th straight defeat.