first_imgEL SEGUNDO — The last time they spoke, fires raged in the hills of Los Angeles.When the Getty Fire threatened several residential areas in late October, there were more than a few NBA players who were fearful they might have to relocate, Paul George among them. That was when he heard from his old coach, Frank Vogel, offering him a place to stay if he needed it.“He reached out, giving support, ‘If you need anything,’” George said last week. “If we need a house to stay, he opened the doors for me. But he’s got his thing going, and I got mine.”That’s the kind of relationship Vogel and George, a player-and-coach tandem that had a six-year run with the Indiana Pacers have now. It’s close, like family, but distant, which can also be like family. Even though they share the same city, and even though they presumably see each other’s faces on billboards, hear each other’s voices in advertisements and think a good deal about how to beat one another, there’s space between them that’s hard to bridge – and yet in times of crisis, it’s not that hard at all. Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersFor his part, Vogel downplayed the exchange in October, saying it was “just what a friend would do.” But what else is he supposed to say two days before a Lakers-Clippers showdown on Christmas Day at Staples Center? Even while Anthony Davis and LeBron James are questionable for the game, Vogel’s connection with George, who missed the first Lakers-Clippers meeting, gives the nationally televised matchup a bit of an edge.“I love those guys and they’ll be family forever,” he said, lumping in George with other old Pacers. “But on Christmas Day, they’re the enemy. He’s the enemy, I guess. The Clippers are.”As much as Vogel might play down the relationship, the two men are inexorably linked for the effect they had on one another’s careers.George was a raw rookie when Vogel took over as interim coach in 2011, and it was Vogel who gave him his first career start. As George grew into a headlining superstar in Indiana, Vogel’s teams took off, reaching the Eastern Conference finals in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014.There’s a certain irony that the coach who would shelter him from the fire was the one who threw him into it at the beginning of his career.center_img “He definitely helped with my development by throwing me out there, throwing me into the fire, giving me that experience, letting me learn on the fly, make mistakes,” George said. “He definitely helped with my development of just film work, watching games, watching plays. The experience is what helped the most by allowing me to play and letting me learn and just being out there.”True to form, Vogel said George’s minutes were ones he earned by playing defense.“Offensively, he was very raw and had a long way to go from a development standpoint and from perimeter shooting and passing the basketball,” he said. “You can’t grow if you’re not getting opportunities on the court. … Since he had in his rookie year the ability to stay on the floor defensively, that’s what gave me confidence to throw him out there for long stretches and help him grow his offensive game.”Related Articles Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions George’s injury in 2014, a compound fracture of his lower leg, had a disastrous impact for Indiana the following year, and it was the first big backstep for Vogel’s Pacers. After the next season, when the Pacers stagnated and lost in the first round, Vogel and Indiana parted ways in 2016. A year later, George requested a trade out of Indiana.Nate McMillan recently acknowledged it was odd to see Vogel teaming up with LeBron James, the player that those Pacers attempted to unseat for years. But in a way, George seemed to understand why the Lakers scooped him up. In grinding seasons, Vogel helped pick up the team.“My whole time what made it so remarkable and so great with the system that he had was just positive, very positive influence, and it was great,” George said. “Tough days, long days, tough road trips, he always found the positive and it was great. It was a great flow to the locker room and it translated onto the court.”BRIEFLYThe Lakers said James (thoracic muscle strain) and Davis (right knee soreness) are both questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Clippers. … The Lakers participated in Secret Santa on Monday. Kyle Kuzma said he received a shoulder bag from Davis, while he gifted Quinn Cook with a kitchen table.Mirjam Swanson contributed to this story.last_img read more