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Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates with Lamar Odom #7 during a 110-82 win over the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on March 31, 2011 in Los Angeles.
To make way for tens of thousands of sports fans, downtown Los Angeles is closing several streets Sunday. Not only are the Kings and Clippers competing in back-to-back playoff games at Staples Center, but a pro-cycling tour has also rolled in next door.
For a week, L.A. city leaders have warned us: don’t drive into downtown if you don’t have to. In recent days, sports fans have jammed the streets around the arena.
That’s because, for the first time in Staples Center history, three of its teams — the Lakers, the Kings and the Clippers — have playoff games at the same time. This also happens to be the weekend pro-cyclists roll into downtown for the last leg of the Amgen Tour of California.
“We’ll have an army of officers out here," said LAPD commander Andy Smith. "A lot of motorcycle officers, officers on bike, officers on foot. ... At some point, we’ll exceed more than a hundred officers in this immediate area just to make sure all these events are covered and everything’s safe.”
Downtown traffic could snarl through the day while street closings are in effect. L.A. County Metro expects to re-route and delay some bus lines. Its officials recommend planning trips ahead of time and transferring from a bus to a rail line, if possible.
L.A. County Metro’s Bruce Shelburn said that light rail might be your best option to get downtown this weekend if you have to.
"There’s not a lot of buses that are going to be able to get into the downtown area," said Shelburn. "I think the bottom line is people need to plan ahead."
Commuters traveling near downtown could also experience traffic snarls along the 110 Freeway. The Dodgers play home games Saturday and Sunday at Elysian Park and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters will perform “The Wall” Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum.
Meanwhile, the L.A. Kings are just one game away from the Stanley Cup Finals. They beat the Phoenix Coyotes 2 to 1 at Staples Center Thursday night to take a commanding 3 to 0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.
Kings left-winger Dustin Brown said they cannot look past Game Four.
“I feel like the excitement is there," said Brown. "We’re one game away from playing for the Cup. We have a game at home on Sunday, and it’s an opportunity to put the nail in the coffin.”
Thursday night's match was the first of six playoff contests in four days at Staples Center. The Lakers and Clippers will host back-to-back games beginning Friday, and the Amgen Tour of California — the biggest bike race in the U.S. — is set to end in downtown L.A. just 30 minutes before the puck drops on Sunday afternoon.
View Traffic map: Amgen tour of California and NBA Playoffs in a larger map