Now with basketball back in action, Laker Nation has decided to continue to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise.
DECEMBER 10, 1996
LA LAKERS 92 – SACRAMENTO KINGS 90
ROOKIE DEREK FISHER GUIDES LAKERS TO WIN AFTER VAN EXEL’S EJECTION
Nick Van Exel, in the truest sense of the NBA Jam phrase, was on fire. The quick-scoring guard, who had scored 17 and 10 in the first quarter of the previous two games, had shot 6-for-7 from the field for 15 points. So the only thing that could stop Nick the Quick was…well, himself.
When Elden Campbell would be called for an offensive foul with 50 seconds left in the half, Van Exel would say something to official Ronnie Nunn. earning him a quick technical foul from the referee. Van Exel would immediately say something else to Nunn, earning another technical and an automatic ejection. Van Exel turned back to face Nunn, but would never get a chance to say another word, as Laker coach Del Harris would grab Van Exel by the arm and send him to the locker room.
With Nick Van Exel cooling off in the locker room, that left rookie Derek Fisher, an aging Byron Scott and Rumeal Robinson as the only guards available on the roster for the second half. Playing for 19 minutes of the second half, Fisher would dish out a game-high six assists in the half, with Laker big men Shaquille O’Neal and Elden Campbell combining for 47 points. With fellow guard Eddie Jones making two free throws with 9.1 seconds left, Fisher would help guide the Lakers to the 92-90 victory in Arco Arena. The game would also be Fisher’s first meeting with close friend Corliss Williamson, Sacramento’s first-round pick and starting small forward, that Fisher had played with as a teammate in AAU basketball for nine years in his hometown of Litte Rock, Arkansas.
Quote of the Night: “The guy’s a rookie, and he knew he had to somehow reach down and pull us through.” – Former Laker coach Del Harris on his decision to put rookie Derek Fisher in the game. – From the LA Times, Dec. 11 1996