The Sports Report: Lakers fall to Warriors
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Dan Woike on the Lakers: LeBron James and Anthony Davis fit together “perfectly,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said before the Warriors and Lakers met at Staples Center on Monday. The two are always in step, the result of an ego-free partnership that led to an NBA title last season in their first year together.
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Neither player was at his best Monday, James getting bogged down with the ball in his hands in the first half as he tried to find the right seams in the Warriors’ defense. And Davis couldn’t get his shot going, instead focusing on facilitating, letting the Lakers’ supreme depth do their work.
And in a 115-113 loss, that stuff definitely mattered. But the Lakers should take long-term comfort in knowing that playing the right way — which on Monday meant the stars taking a bit of a back seat — is the recipe they want to follow.
It wasn’t Curry who put the Lakers away — it was Kelly Oubre Jr., a player who had been mostly lost in his role with Golden State through the season’s first 12 games. It was Green, a player who rarely affects games with his scoring, hitting two key buckets. And it was second-year big Eric Paschall dragging the Warriors back into the game in the first half, and again in the third quarter.
By the end of the year, the Lakers will probably be able to count on one hand nights like this when both Davis and James sputter so helplessly.
But even on a night when the two combined for just 36 points, there was enough production for the Lakers to win. And if James’ last-second jumper would’ve gone in, the Lakers would have.
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Kevin Baxter on the U.S. women’s national team: If Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe represent the legacy of the women’s national team and new citizen Catarina Macario represents the future, midfielder Sam Mewis is the present.
And the reigning U.S. Soccer player of the year was very much in the moment Monday, scoring her first international hat trick in a one-sided 4-0 rout of Colombia, played before a sparse crowd at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
“Every goal was a team goal really,” Mewis said.
Speaking of team goals, the biggest one for the top-ranked U.S. is never being satisfied, Mewis said. So while Monday’s win extended the team’s unbeaten streak to 33 games, it was just the first game of the new year, a year that includes next month’s SheBelieves Cup and the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.
To win there, being good won’t be good enough.
China’s defender Liu Yang and South Korea’s defender Kim Moon-Hwan jump for the ball during the AFC Asian Cup group C soccer match between South Korea and China at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
“We learn so much from games like this,” she said. “We learned so much from this week we spent training and the times that we play against each other, making sure that we’re not just doing enough to win or doing enough to get by and make it work.
“We’re really pushing ourselves to do the absolute most we can to grow and improve the squad.”
John Gibson made 34 saves in his 20th career shutout, and Nicolas Deslauriers scored early in the third period of the Ducks’ 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
After two scoreless periods dominated by Gibson and Minnesota goalie Cam Talbot, Deslauriers converted a superb pass from new Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for his first goal of the season. The Ducks hung on to earn their first win of the season while winning their home opener for the fifth consecutive year.
Talbot stopped 27 shots in the Wild’s first loss of the season. Minnesota began the year just up the I-5 freeway in Los Angeles by rallying from a pair of two-goal deficits to win twice in the third period, becoming the first team in NHL history to pull off the feat in its first two games.
The Wild went 0 for 5 on the power play, dropping to 0 for 16 to begin the season.
Ryan Kartje on the death of Jon Arnett: Jon Arnett, a homegrown L.A. legend who starred as a running back with USC and the Rams, has died, the university announced Monday. He was 85.
One of the most elusive runners of his time, Arnett earned the nickname “Jaguar Jon” during his days dominating the Trojans backfield. He took over as a sophomore in 1954 and led USC in rushing (601 yards), scoring (55 points), and punt returns (129 yards), as well as interceptions (three) while moonlighting on the defensive end.
Arnett was named an All-American in 1955 while leading the Trojans in even more statistical categories, including total offense (822 yards) and kickoff returns (418 yards). Sanctions leveled against USC ahead of the 1956 season would limit Arnett to just five games in his final Trojan campaign, but the speedy back managed to run for 625 yards and finish 10th in Heisman Trophy voting.
The future College Football Hall of Famer wouldn’t have to go far to start his pro career. The Rams drafted Arnett with the second overall pick in the 1957 draft, and he immediately took the NFL by storm, earning Pro Bowl honors in each of his first five seasons.
Arnett played seven seasons with the Rams before he was traded to the Chicago Bears, where he played the final three seasons of his career. Over a decade spent between the Rams and Bears, Arnett would run for 3,833 yards and 26 touchdowns, reel in 2,290 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns, and pass for two more. Not to mention the 4,000 return yards or three more return scores.
Nathan Fenno on Halley Harding: On a spring morning almost 80 years ago, Halley Harding marched past the 12-story tower watching over Wrigley Field in Los Angeles in search of a confrontation.
He had been a slick-fielding infielder in the Negro Leagues, barnstormed with the forerunner of the Harlem Globetrotters, worked for a movie production company, and promoted Club Alabam, the “swankiest night spot” on bustling Central Avenue.
But the one thing Harding couldn’t do was remain silent. The fast-talking city editor and sports columnist for the L.A. Tribune, a weekly Black-owned newspaper, joked that he laced on boxing gloves each morning to battle anyone and anything unjust.
Mornings like April 17, 1943, the day before the Pacific Coast League season opened at Wrigley Field, can be easy to overlook in the decades-long struggle for civil rights. What happened wasn’t Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge or Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of a bus, but instead one of innumerable smaller struggles amid the larger movement. As the country works through another era of racial reckoning, these unheralded moments, these forgotten trailblazers matter too. They should be remembered.
Though Harding’s fights, small and large, have faded into history, his impact hasn’t. He led the effort to reintegrate the NFL and helped set the stage for Jackie Robinson to become the first Black player in the modern era of major league baseball. Harding had an unflinching, unrelenting, almost prophetic certainty that those barriers — and so many others — would be obliterated.
Few things rankled Harding more than professional baseball’s color line. A half-million Black Americans were serving in the armed forces and down the street from Wrigley Field the casualty collection station begged for volunteers to care for the wounded in case of an air raid. But baseball couldn’t find space for a single Black player in the midst of a second world war? He savaged this as un-American.
“I really wonder if the powers that be in baseball know that a speeding bullet does NOT veer when it gets to a colored person; nor does a bomb from a plane fail to explode simply because the target turns out to be colored soldiers,” Harding wrote in the Tribune. “It is high time that the same people who unhesitatingly ask them to sacrifice their lives in time of war fix it so that in time of peace, this liberty they are supposed to have bled and died for becomes reality.
“Last season’s baseball contributed many dollars to worthy causes, and rightly so, but baseball also provided America’s enemies with their greatest single piece of propaganda, by barring the colored American.”
UCLA MEN’S BASKETBALL
Ben Bolch on UCLA men’s basketball: UCLA is back in the Associated Press college basketball rankings, the Bruins’ return requiring their best start in Pac-12 Conference play in 27 years.
The Bruins (11-2 overall, 7-0 Pac-12) were ranked No. 24 in the AP poll released Monday, their first appearance since opening the season at No. 22 before falling out after a loss in their first game to San Diego State. UCLA rose one spot to No. 20 in the latest Coaches Poll.
Only one other Pac-12 team — No. 20 Oregon — was ranked by AP, though Colorado and USC were among the other teams receiving votes. UCLA was the highest-ranked Pac-12 team in the Coaches Poll, followed by No. 21 Oregon and No. 23 Colorado. USC was among the other teams receiving votes in the Coaches Poll.
The number of players in strict quarantine swelled to 72 ahead of the Australian Open after a fifth positive coronavirus test emerged from the charter flights bringing players, coaches, officials and media to Melbourne for the season-opening tennis major.
That means the players won’t be allowed to leave their hotel rooms or practice for 14 days, whereas other players in less-rigorous quarantine will be allowed to practice for five hours daily.
The Australian Open starts Feb. 8 following a week of warmup tournaments.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1937 — Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker and Cy Young are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in the second year of voting.
1952 — The Professional Golfers Association approves the participation of blacks in golf tournaments.
1972 — Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers becomes the youngest player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame at 36. Yogi Berra and Early Wynn are also elected.
1974 — UCLA’s 88-game winning streak is snapped when Notre Dame overcomes an 11-point deficit in the final 3:32 to win 71-70. With 29 seconds remaining, Dwight Clay’s jump shot from the right corner gives the Irish the lead.
1992 — John Cook is the first golfer in PGA history to chip in on two consecutive holes to win a playoff after he edges Gene Sauers in the Bob Hope Classic.
2004 — Colorado’s Milan Hejduk scores on a penalty shot 59 seconds into overtime to give the Avalanche a 5-4 victory over Tampa Bay. It’s the third time an NHL game ended on a penalty shot in overtime.
2005 — LeBron James becomes the youngest player (20 years, 20 days) in NBA history to record a triple-double, with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Cleveland’s 107-101 win over Portland.
2006 — Irina Slutskaya wins her seventh European figure skating title, breaking the record she shared with Katarina Witt and Sonja Henie.
2008 — Bode Miller wins the downhill at the traditional Hahnenkamm World Cup races to become the most successful American skier ever with 28 World Cup wins, overtaking Phil Mahre.
2012 — Serena Williams moves into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova for her 500th career match win.
2014 — Peyton Manning passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns to lead Denver to a 26-16 victory over New England and send the Broncos to their first trip to the Super Bowl in 15 years.
2014 — Russell Wilson throws a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down and Seattle’s top-ranked defense forces two late turnovers, lifting the Seahawks into their second Super Bowl with a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
2015 — Lindsey Vonn wins a super-G for her record 63rd World Cup victory. The American breaks Annemarie Moser-Proell’s 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup wins with a flawless run down the Olympia delle Tofane course at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, finishing by a huge 0.85 ahead of Anna Fenninger of Austria.
2017 — Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is beaten 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 by wild-card entry Denis Istomin in a second-round match. No. 2-ranked Djokovic had won five of the six previous titles at Melbourne Park and six overall, and had never dropped a set in six previous meetings against Istomin.
Sandy Koufax’s speech on Vin Scully Day. Watch it here.
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