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The Sports Report: Lakers get past Thunder in overtime

Lakers defenders Dennis Schroder, left, and LeBron James pressure Thunder big man Al Horford in overtime.
Lakers defenders Dennis Schroder, left, and LeBron James pressure Thunder big man Al Horford in overtime.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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

Dan Woike on the Lakers: It took the Lakers two overtimes to do it against Detroit on Saturday and another against the Thunder on Monday. And somehow, working with the exact same script, the Lakers found themselves in extra time Wednesday, having to claw back from 20 down to force the extra period against a team down to just eight players.

It wasn’t pretty – the team once again was atrocious from deep – but triples from LeBron James at the end of regulation and one from Wesley Matthews in overtime nudged the Lakers to their sixth-straight victory with a 114-113 win.

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It’s the seventh time in NBA history a team has won three-straight overtime games.

Ultimately, the Lakers wanted to avoid asking James to do it all, trying to find ways to keep him fresh during a stretch where he’s averaged 40 minutes per game during the Lakers’ winning streak, including a double-overtime win on Saturday and an overtime win on Monday.

“We’re going to be responsible and try to win the game,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of his team’s plan for James. “That’s the best thing I can tell you.”

They got the win, but James’ minutes once again extended north of 40, a worrisome sign.

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There’s a feeling that James gets, a vibe from the game he’s about to play, whether it’s a night where he needs to take over or if its one where his teammates need him to get them going.

Captaining a team that’s in a bizarre position – the Lakers are both winning and doing so unimpressively – Wednesday was a night where James decided he’d try to rely on his help.

Down Anthony Davis for the second-straight game against the Thunder, the Lakers’ star led the team in shot attempts but was much more active as a facilitator, trying to find the hot hand that would get the Lakers going.

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CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: Walking onto the court for his first opening tip in 16 days, Clippers guard Patrick Beverley tapped knuckles with Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns on Wednesday, took the game ball from an official and quickly planted a kiss on its leather.

For eight games, the Clippers had missed their voluble, intense starting guard, and he had felt a similar longing back. The day’s least surprising moment was hearing coach Tyronn Lue describe Beverley’s pregame mood as “super fired up.”

It took two quarters, but his team finally matched that energy.

On their way to a six-point halftime hole against a Minnesota team owning the Western Conference’s worst record, the Clippers appeared as though they were still de-icing from the negative temperatures outside Target Center’s doors — outhustled to rebounds, beaten to their spots on defense and playing at a glacial offensive pace.

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Yet by the end, after his team outscored Minnesota by 13 in the third quarter, and played a small-ball lineup to protect its lead during a critical fourth quarter, there was Beverley jumping on the shoulders of teammate Lou Williams during a postgame television interview moments after a 119-112 victory, yelling in celebration as the Clippers began their two-game trip by ending a two-game losing streak.

Beverley scored six points, with three rebounds and four fouls, in his 18 minutes, and he keyed a notable swing with 6 minutes 58 seconds to play in the fourth quarter when his block of Jarred Vanderbilt’s layup attempt quickly led to a dunk by Kawhi Leonard at the other end for a nine-point Clippers lead.

Without Paul George, the Clippers’ offense was carried by Williams’ season-high 27 points off the bench and 36 from Leonard, who also added eight rebounds and five assists.

DODGERS

The second and final part of an L.A. Times exclusive interview with Clayton Kershaw went up this morning, and you can read it here. Some excerpts:

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On whether he wants to play beyond this year: “Yeah. Well, I say that. I don’t know. I talk to different guys, you know, that have retired that I’ve played with and it’s hard. It’s always a hard thing to figure out when you want to be done, right? Because if you still feel good and are having success, why would you stop? But you don’t want to go until you completely break, right? And you don’t want to pitch when you’re bad.

“So I’ll just say, I don’t know. I have no idea. I do know that I still love it and I have a blast. I feel great and the number one goal this year is just to pitch good and win and next year will take care of itself after that.”

On talking to Sandy Koufax after the World Series: We talked on the phone. He’s just very happy for us. At some point, when he feels good to go out, I’ll see him again. It’s always cool because he’s always been so positive and he feels it, too, when I pitch bad and so it’s just cool to get to see all those guys. All the guys that came before us and stuff. Even the newer old guys like Andre [Ethier] and Matt Kemp, different guys. They’re just happy for us. it’s cool.

On when he was convinced of Andrew Friedman’s philosophies: “I think over probably the last, like, two years, really. It’s not that I didn’t think he was great at what he did. I just didn’t really pay much attention. I was just like, ‘I’ll just show up. We’re going to be good and make the playoffs.’

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Then you start seeing other teams around you having to go through like these waves and it’s just impressive what he does. I mean, it’s — he doesn’t miss on too many draft picks and then the guys he puts in place for development — because it’s an organizational thing, right? Just because you draft somebody that’s really good, you have to have people that make him good in five years to help us.

On when he knew he wanted to be an ally in the Black Lives Matter movement: Over the quarantine, over the summer. Like May, June. Started texting with different guys and right around Juneteenth, really, when I put out that statement. It’s true. I didn’t really understand it. I said it the other day, but the systemic racism, what that actually means, I thought you were either racist or you weren’t and I thought that it was kind of as simple as that. And it’s just not black and white — no pun intended.

And then figuring out if my kid doesn’t have the same opportunities as a Black kid because of the color of their skin, that’s not right. And how do you change that? What do you do? I don’t have the answers, but what I do know is you can support as best you can and be vocal about it with different things and maybe it’s something that I’m, not necessarily great at because I’ve never been like a vocal guy, maybe, potentially, but talking with Mookie, talking with David [Price] over texts, it’s just something that’s important.

USC MEN’S BASKETBALL

Ryan Kartje on the Trojans: When Ethan Anderson felt his lower back tighten up during an intrasquad scrimmage in early November, he didn’t think much of it. It was a familiar pain, one the point guard had worked through during high school. Just stretch, he told himself, and he’d be good the next day.

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But weeks later, as USC’s basketball season tipped off, the pain lingered. Anderson played through it for the first two games, scoring a combined 20 points. He told himself it would get better. Then, USC got on a plane to Connecticut, and the pain became unbearable. He tried to play against Brigham Young but struggled just to bend over as pain shot up his spine. He checked himself out after nine minutes.

It would be six weeks until Anderson returned to the court and three weeks after that until he felt like himself again. Doctors offered little in the way of answers. Chiropractors weren’t helping. Coaches wondered if he would have to sit out the season. Anderson kept searching.

That’s when he discovered Rolfing.

A few weeks later, the sophomore was pain-free, scoring a career-high 19 points Saturday to push USC past UCLA and into a first-place tie with the Bruins in the Pac-12. The Trojans (15-3, 9-2 Pac-12) play at Washington on Thursday.

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UCLA BASEBALL

Ben Bolch on the Bruins: UCLA announced Wednesday several planned improvements to Jackie Robinson Stadium, including a new state-of-the-art practice infield that will be called Branca Family Field in honor of former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca.

The stadium enhancements, scheduled to begin this summer, will include construction of a new synthetic turf practice infield and bullpen; installation of new sports lighting; and improvements to the parking lot and site utilities.

Branca was a three-time All-Star who embraced former UCLA standout Jackie Robinson upon Robinson’s breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier with the Dodgers, standing on the field beside Robinson on opening day in 1947 while other players refused.

John Branca, Ralph’s nephew and a renowned entertainment attorney and philanthropist who graduated from the UCLA School of Law, has committed $1 million toward the project.

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MLS

Kevin Baxter on Major League Soccer: MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Wednesday the league is anticipating another lean year in 2021, with losses expected to approach $1 billion for a second consecutive season.

Garber also announced that the start of the 2021 season would be pushed back two weeks, to April 17. Preseason training camps, which were to open Feb. 22, will be delayed as well. The commissioner blamed that on the CBA talks, which stretched nearly two weeks past their deadline.

Speaking in a teleconference with reporters two days after the league agreed on a seven-year collective bargaining agreement with its players, Garber said he expects the coronavirus pandemic will force teams to continue playing in empty stadiums or before limited crowds.

“I don’t have any sense that fans are going to be in our stadiums in large numbers for probably most, if not all, of the season,” he said.

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THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1878 — The Boston Bicycle Club, the first bicycle club in the United States, is formed.

1949 — Willie Pep becomes the first boxer in the history of the 126-pound class to regain a lost championship with a 15-round unanimous decision over Sandy Saddler at Madison Square Garden.

1950 — Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings scores three goals for his first NHL hat trick. Howe also has two assists in the 9-4 victory over the Boston Bruins.

1952 — Philadelphia’s Paul Arizin scores 26 points to win MVP honors and lead the East team to a 108-91 win over the West in the second NBA All-Star game. George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers leads the way for the West with 26 points and 15 rebounds.

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1970 — The Atlanta Hawks score 97 points, the most ever scored in the second half of an NBA game, en route to a 155-131 win at San Diego.

1971 — Montreal’s Jean Beliveau scores his 500th goal in the Canadiens’ 6-2 victory over the Minnesota North Stars.

1982 — Houston Rockets center Moses Malone grabs an NBA-record 21 offensive rebounds in a 117-100 win over Seattle.

1982 — For the first time in NHL history, referee Kerry Fraser awards penalty shots in the same period. Vancouver’s Thomas Gradin and Ivan Hlinka each score against Red Wings goalie Gilles Gilbert in the third period of a 4-4 tie at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.

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1988 — Wayne Gretzky gets his NHL-record ninth 100-point season. Gretzky scores a goal and has two assists in the Edmonton Oilers’ 7-2 victory at Vancouver to give him 101 points, He passes Marcel Dionne, who had eight seasons.

1990 — Mike Tyson loses for the first time when James “Buster” Douglas knocks him out in the 10th round and captures the heavyweight championship in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.

1992 — Anfissa Reztsova wins the women’s 7.5-kilometer biathlon event to become the first woman to get gold medals in two different Winter Olympic sports. She skied the final 5-kilometer leg on the Soviet Union’s winning 20K cross-country relay team in the 1988 Olympics.

1995 — For the first time an NBA team to has two of its players sweep the All-Star Saturday competition. Harold Miner wins the Slam Dunk and Glen Rice captures the Long Distance Shootout for the Miami Heat.

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2000 — Boston’s Ray Bourque becomes the second defenseman, and ninth player, in NHL history to reach 1,500 points. Bourque he scores a goal for the Bruins in a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

2007 — Anja Paerson captures the downhill, becoming the first skier to win gold medals in all five disciplines at the world championships. Paerson, who also won the super-G and combined titles earlier in the week, won gold medals in the giant slalom at the last two worlds and one in the slalom in 2001.

2017 — Ajee’ Wilson breaks the American record in the women’s indoor 800 meters to win the event for the fourth straight year in the NYRR Millrose Games. Wilson finishes in 1:58.27 at The Armory to break the mark of 1:58.71 set by Nicole Teter in 2002.

2017 — Henrik Lundqvist makes 32 saves for his 400th career win and the New York Rangers beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-2.

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2018 — In Pyeongchang, South Korea, David Gleirscher is a surprise winner giving Austria its first gold in men’s luge in 50 years. Chris Mazdzer, who’s season hit rock-bottom less than a month ago, makes history for the U.S., giving the Americans their first men’s singles medal by finishing second in 3:10.728.

And finally

Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson. 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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