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The Sports Report: Coronavirus descends onto the sports world

Basketball fans leave Chesapeake Energy Arena after it is announced that an NBA basketball game.
Fans leave the arena after it is announced the Thunder-Jazz had been postponed.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

The NBA has suspended play of the 2019-20 season indefinitely after a Utah Jazz player, allegedly center Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena,” the league said in a statement. “The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”

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Gobert and guard Emanuel Mudiay were both listed on the team’s injury report with illnesses, but as the day progressed, Gobert got upgraded to questionable before being ruled out.

The Jazz, in a statement, said a player tested negative for “influenza, strep throat and an upper respitory infection.” And while the player’s symptoms diminished throughout the day, doctors decided to test for COVID-19. The results came in right before the start of the game.”

The NBA announced the season would be suspended after Wednesday’s slate of games. The final game, New Orleans at Sacramento, was subsequently canceled because one of the officials had worked a Jazz game earlier this week.

“This is something out of a movie,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said after his team’s game in Dallas. “You just don’t expect it to happen in real life.”

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As leagues and teams begin to shut door on fans because of coronavirus, will NHL follow?

Juventus’ Daniele Rugani becomes first Serie A player to test positive for coronavirus

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DODGERS

Dodgers officials Wednesday said the organization remained unsure how it will proceed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the club has had conversations with “different stakeholders” on the matter.

Among the possibilities MLB is considering: delaying the start of the season, relocating games to areas not yet dealing with an outbreak, and playing games in empty stadiums without fans.

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The Seattle Mariners on Wednesday announced they were seeking “alternative plans” for their first two series of the season after Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state of Washington was banning large gatherings through the end of March.

The Dodgers open their season with six games at Dodger Stadium, beginning March 26 against the San Francisco Giants, before traveling to San Francisco for three games April 3-5. On Tuesday, the mayor of San Francisco announced that the city banned large gatherings indefinitely.

“Things are changing,” Friedman said. “It’s obviously very fluid. And we are trying to do everything we can to make sure our players, our fans, our staff, everyone, is being looked after, we’re being smart about how to handle this. Again, it’s fluid. Things are changing daily.”

Read more Dodgers

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ANGELS

Shohei Ohtani possesses the physical gifts to dominate the major leagues on the mound and at the plate. The Angels’ Japanese star proved capable of it for 2½ months in 2018, the year he debuted as the first true two-way player MLB had seen in decades and was voted the top rookie in the American League.

Can he bat at least .300 for a season, a traditional hallmark of a distinguished hitter?

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Angels manager Joe Maddon challenged Ohtani to meet that lofty goal.

“I still like using that number,” Maddon said. “I don’t want to say, ’Your OPS is going to be .850.’ I get where [advanced statistics are] important but it’s not groovy to a hitter. If you think of yourself as a .300 hitter, you think you’re pretty hot.”

KINGS

The Kings locked up a cornerstone piece of their future Wednesday by agreeing to terms with former first-round draft pick Alex Turcotte on a three-year entry level contract.

The No. 5 overall selection in last summer’s NHL draft will report to the club’s minor league affiliate, the Ontario Reign, and is expected to practice at its El Segundo headquarters Thursday.

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Considered the top prospect in a Kings pipeline ranked by multiple outlets as the NHL’s best, the 19-year-old center is turning pro after completing his one and only college campaign at the University of Wisconsin.

Turcotte is expected to spend the remainder of this season in the American Hockey League with the Reign (he will technically play the rest of the season on an “amateur try-out” deal before his entry-level contract kicks in next year) but still joins a crop of other young centers in the Kings organization (a group that includes Blake Lizotte, Gabriel Vilardi, Michael Amadio and Jaret Anderson-Dolan among others) that will be competing for NHL roster spots next year.

Read more Kings

Kings stay hot, beat Senators for seventh straight win

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DUCKS

Alex Pietrangelo scored two goals, Jake Allen made 36 saves and the St. Louis Blues defeated the Ducks 4-2 on Wednesday night.

This was the game that was rescheduled after Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac episode 12:10 into the first period on Feb. 11. It started with the score tied 1-1, as it was at the time of the postponement, after goals by Anaheim’s Adam Henrique and St. Louis’ Ivan Barbashev carried over.

PAC-12 TOURNAMENT RESULTS

First round

No. 8 Oregon State 71, No. 9 Utah 69

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No. 5 Arizona 77, No. 12 Washington 70

No. 10 California 63, No. 7 Stanford 51

No. 11 Washington State 70, No. 6 Colorado 50

Today’s schedule
Quarterfinals
All times Pacific

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No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 8 Oregon State, noon, Pac-12 Networks

No. 4 USC vs. No. 5 Arizona, 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks

No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 10 California, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks

No. 3 Arizona State vs. No. 11 Washington State, 8:30 p.m., FS1

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TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

USC vs. Arizona, 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks

UCLA vs. California, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks

Cruz Azul at LAFC, 7:30 p.m., FS2

Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs (split squad, exhibition), 1 p.m.

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Dodgers vs. Oakland (split squad, exhibition), 1 p.m., Sportsnet LA

BORN ON THIS DATE

1910: Boxer Tony “Two-Ton” Galento (d. 1979)

1938: Race car driver Johnny Rutherford

1942: Former Dodger Jimmy Wynn

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1956: Baseball player Dale Murphy

1962: Baseball player Darryl Strawberry

1963: Synchronized swimmer Candy Costie

1963: Runner Joaquim Cruz

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1965: Former Dodger Steve Finley

1966: Basketball player Grant Long

1968: Football player Merton Hanks

1971: Basketball player Isaiah Rider

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1971: Former Dodger Raul Mondesi

1990: Football player Dont’a Hightower

1990: Football player Marvin Jones

DIED ON THIS DATE

1973: Baseball player Frankie Frisch, 74

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1987: College football coach Woody Hayes, 74

2018: Tennis player Ken Flach, 54

AND FINALLY

Vin Scully calls Steve Finley‘s division-winning walk-off grand slam. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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