empty staples center

Lakers’ seven-year, 270 game sellout streak ended Tuesday


Los Angeles is a Lakers town.

Yes, the Clippers are the better team now and plenty of people are jumping on the bandwagon (despite what they will say, plenty of Los Angeles sports fans are willingly polygamous, rooting for USC football and UCLA basketball for example). Yes, the Dodgers are the one team that could make serious inroads into the Lakers’ title claims, but they have years of damage to repair.

That said this is Los Angeles — if the product isn’t good people will not pay top dollar to be entertained by it. Without Kobe Bryant in the lineup (and no Steve Nash and a hobbling Pau Gasol) the Lakers’ product isn’t nearly as compelling.

Tuesday night, the Lakers’ streak of 270 consecutive home sellouts ended, a streak that stretched back seven seasons. The Lakers drew 18,426 to see them beat the Pelicans, short of the capacity of 18,997.

If you want to compare, the Clippers are now at 98 consecutive sellouts, dating back to 2011, which is when they became interesting.

The Lakers are still more popular on the secondary ticket market, according to a report by Vividseats.com. They say the average Lakers ticket on the secondary market goes for $50 more than the Clippers ($180 to $130) and that the most expensive ticket on the secondary market is the Heat’s Christmas Day game in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.