1996-97 Season

Record: 56-26, second place in Pacific Division

The Lakers made two huge additions in the off-season, signing free-agent center Shaquille O'Neal from the Orlando Magic and drafting Kobe Bryant out of high school. O'Neal led the Lakers to their best record since the 1990-91 season, averaging 26.2 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, while Bryant was mainly a reserve in his first season, though he did win the slam-dunk contest at the All-Star break.

The Lakers also added an important piece of future titles by acquiring Robert Horry during the season from Phoenix for Cedric Ceballos.

Playoffs: The Lakers advanced to the Western Conference semifinals before losing to Utah in the semifinals.

Playoff Results

Western Conference first round

  • at Lakers 95, Portland 77

  • at Lakers 107, Portland 93

  • at Portland 98, Lakers 90

  • Lakers 95, at Portland 91

Western Conference semifinals

  • at Utah 93, Lakers 77

  • at Utah 103, Lakers 101

  • at Lakers 104, Utah 84

  • Utah 110, at Lakers 95

  • at Utah 98, Lakers 93 (OT)