1995-96 Season

Record: 53-29, second place in Pacific Division

Magic Johnson decided to come out of retirement and joined the Lakers on Jan. 30, giving the Lakers an impressive group of players: Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones at the guard spots, Vlade Divac at center and forwards Elden Campbell and Cedric Ceballos.

The team shrugged off the mysterious behavior of Ceballos, who disappeared after a win over Seattle in late March. The team didn't hear from him for five days, until he reappeared hours before a game, claiming he had to take care of a personal matter in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Many felt he disappeared because he was mad about his reduced playing time in the wake of Johnson's return.

Despite all the turmoil, the Lakers easily qualified for the playoffs.

Playoffs: The fourth-seeded Lakers opened against the fifth-seeded Houston Rockets. The Rockets were two-time defending NBA champions, and easily dispatched the Lakers in four games, ending a strange season in L.A.

Playoff Results

Western Conference first round

  • Houston 87, at Lakers 83

  • at Lakers 104, Houston 94

  • at Houston 104, Lakers 98

  • at Houston 102, Lakers 94