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The Sports Report: Film room is once again helpful to Lakers

Lakers guard Dennis Schroder
Lakers guard Dennis Schroder
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: The funk the Lakers found themselves in during a four-game losing streak only strengthened their resolve that film sessions could help lift them out of that tailspin.

If anything, they delved deeper into film work, searching for every little detail, reviewing every painful moment, looking for adjustments to correct the wrongs that had left the Lakers tumbling during porous defensive outings.

The long hours of being in the film room proved beneficial in helping the Lakers win the NBA championship last season.

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So they knew it would work this time too.

It has, pushing the Lakers to a two-game winning streak because of a more purposeful defense that had been lacking.

“One thing about us, we do a good job of taking our film sessions and applying it to these game situations,” LeBron James said Sunday night after the Lakers throttled the Golden State Warriors 117-91 at Staples Center. “I think tonight we knew that we didn’t play [the way] we’re capable of defensively. We broke down a lot of film. We broke down some things, able to get on the floor and walk through some things, go over some things. And I think it’s helped us the last two games.”

The Lakers lost Anthony Davis to a strained right calf during this rough stretch. Then they lost point guard Dennis Schroder to the NBA’s health and safety protocols during the losing streak.

Davis and Schroder are two of the Lakers’ top defenders; Schroder returned for the last two games.

“When you lose a mega-piece like AD is, it’s going to take some time, both offensively and defensively, how we want to play and what’s going to be our rhythm and how we get into our rhythm,” James said. “I think over the last two games, we’ve done a good job of trying to, you know, this is where we’re going to have the ball. This is how we’re going to be effective. This is where we need to run and how we’re going to benefit from one another.

“And I also think guys knowing when they’re going to play, they’re knowing the rotations, things of that nature. Guys are just staying ready. Obviously, you always got to stay ready. But guys know their rotations and it’s worked out a lot for us.”

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CLIPPERS

Helene Elliott on the Clippers: If the Clippers made a clear statement about themselves and their championship hopes by beating league-leading Utah last week to end the Jazz’s nine-game winning streak, what they’ve done since then is more difficult to interpret.

The team that handed Utah only its second loss in 22 games also split a pair of games with the rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies and lost to the East super-team Brooklyn Nets while alternating wins and losses over the last eight games. The Clippers’ slow-moving, cold-shooting fourth quarter at Milwaukee on Sunday consigned them to another loss to another top contender and gave Giannis Antetokounmpo freedom to enjoy a 36-point, 14-rebound, five-assist spree in the Bucks’ 105-100 victory at Fiserv Forum.

“Just one of those nights,” forward Kawhi Leonard said, providing little comfort to Clippers fans who have endured too many of “those nights” over the years.

Coach Tyronn Lue was left to repeat that in the closing minutes Antetokounmpo “got whatever he wanted,” which was true. No matter whom the Clippers threw at Antetokounmpo, the two-time NBA most valuable player found a way over, around or through them and to the basket.

He could have illuminated the city of Milwaukee with his smile after he pulled off a beautiful cutting dunk that put the Bucks ahead 103-100 with 10.3 seconds left. He scored 17 points in the fourth quarter on six-for-nine shooting.

“Got downhill, got into the paint, finished a lot, made his free throws,” Lue said.

SPARKS

Helene Elliott on the Sparks: Opting out of the WNBA’s pandemic-shortened 2020 season was a difficult decision for Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike, but her history of microfracture surgery and a torn Achilles tendon demanded that she get more time to prepare than the condensed calendar allowed. Although she was physically distanced from the bubble that operated in Bradenton, Fla., her emotional connection to her teammates remained strong.

“I’d be watching and be like, ‘Man, set some screens, get some rebounds,’” she said.

This season, she will be able to tell them that in person.

Ogwumike, a two-time WNBA All-Star and a vice president of the Women’s National Basketball Players Assn., last week signed a two-year deal to return to the Sparks. Her older sister and teammate, six-time All-Star and WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike, has reached a verbal commitment to return in 2021.

DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The only time adrenaline rushed through Trevor Bauer in his Dodgers debut Monday was when, facing the last hitter of his two-inning stint, he flipped the script and signaled fastball to catcher Will Smith.

Bauer was locked in by that point. The batter, former Dodgers farmhand Connor Joe, knew what was coming and it didn’t matter. Bauer reared back and delivered the pitch up and over the plate. Joe fouled the pitch off to remain in an 0-2 hole. The next pitch was a tight curveball that Joe swung through to become Bauer’s second strikeout victim of the chilly afternoon at Camelback Ranch.

Otherwise, Bauer said butterflies didn’t surface during his short time on the mound. He appeared amped up to start against the Colorado Rockies, pitching in front of fans for the first time in a year but settled in after yielding a leadoff single.

In all, he threw 28 pitches, 21 for strikes, and didn’t allow a second baserunner. His fastball velocity sat between 89 and 94 mph. His curveball, which he used to seal both strikeouts in the second inning, was 78 to 81 mph.

“It was just a game,” Bauer said. “It felt good to be back, out doing my job.”

ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Angels: Seven years later, Angels manager Joe Maddon sees the same potential in pitcher Alex Cobb.

After last working together in 2014 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Cobb and Maddon have been reunited this season with the Angels. And despite a Tommy John surgery, a decline in performance and injury problems over the last three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Cobb still reminds Maddon of the pitcher who posted a 3.21 earned-run average over his first 81 career starts from 2011 to 2014.

“I’ve seen him really good,” Maddon said. “I know it’s been a couple years, injuries have hurt him a bit, but he’s feeling really good right now. Man, when this guy is right, you sit on the sideline and it looks like a Wiffle Ball up there it moves so much.”

Cobb pitched in his first game of spring training Monday, working around two baserunners to post a scoreless inning in the Angels’ 4-4 tie against the Chicago White Sox in a scheduled five-inning game at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

“My arm feels great,” said Cobb, who throws a sinker, splitter and curveball. “The ball is jumping really well. I’ve got some good carry on the ball.”

UCLA MEN’S BASKETBALL

Ben Bolch on the Bruins: As with everyone who converges on the city, UCLA will be forced to take a gamble next week in Las Vegas.

Simply by showing up, the Bruins will put their perfect record against COVID-19 on the line. At stake is something much more meaningful than a Pac-12 Conference tournament championship.

“I’m just extremely concerned if you have a virus situation and it costs you the NCAA tournament — that’s all I’m saying,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said Monday. “I’m not anti-conference tournament, I’m just concerned about if something happens because you’re traveling or you’re at a hotel; it’s a big concern of mine.

“I would hate to see anybody in the whole country lose by trying to play these games that, to me, I don’t know how much they matter.”

DUCKS

Dakota Joshua scored in his NHL debut and Zach Sanford got two goals in the St. Louis Blues’ 5-4 victory over the Ducks on Monday night.

Jordan Kyrou and David Perron also scored for the Blues, who won for the second time in five games. Ville Husso made 29 saves for St. Louis in the same arena where he earned his first NHL victory on Jan. 31.

Isac Lundeström scored three goals for the Ducks, whose winless skid stretched to a season-worst seven games. John Gibson stopped 30 shots.

Lundeström completed his hat trick and trimmed St. Louis’ lead to 4-3 with 4:44 to play on a deflection of Kevin Shattenkirk’s shot. Anaheim then had a 6-on-4 advantage in the waning minutes, but Sanford scored an empty-net goal from deep in St. Louis’ end to complete his three-point night.

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf scored with 60 seconds to play, but Anaheim couldn’t get the equalizer.

Joshua became the 17th player to score in his Blues debut when his shot hit Gibson’s blocker, but arced over the Ducks goalie and into the net during the second period.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1918 — Joe Malone is held scoreless in the Montreal Canadiens’ 5-3 season-ending loss to the Toronto Arenas, but finishes the first NHL season with a league-high 44 goals in 22 games. The 44 goals remains an NHL record that stands until 1944-45 when Maurice Richard scores 50 goals in 50 games.

1921 — Kentucky beats Georgia 20-19 in the Southern Intercollegiate men’s basketball championship game in Atlanta. The 14-team conference does not keep formal regular-season standings. It’s college basketball’s first tournament.

1929 — The Chicago Blackhawks end their NHL record eight-game scoreless streak. Chicago scores twice to beat the Montreal Maroons 2-1.

1940 — Seabiscuit, ridden by Red Pollard, wins the Santa Anita Handicap in his final race. Beaten by a nose in both the 1937 and 1938 Santa Anita handicaps, Seabiscuit beats Kayak II by 1 1-2 lengths to retire as the leading money-winning horse in the world.

1951 — In the first NBA All-Star Game, Ed Macauley of the Celtics scores 20 points to lead the East to a 111-94 victory at Boston Garden.

1951 — St. John’s Bob Zawoluk scores 65 points to lead the Redmen to a 105-61 rout of St. Peters. It’s the first time in its 43-year history that St. John’s scores more than 100 points in a game.

1962 — Wilt Chamberlain scores an NBA-record 100 points to lead the Philadelphia Warriors to a 169-147 triumph over the New York Knicks in Hershy, Pa. He scores 59 second-half points and 28 points from the foul line for records.

1966 — Chicago’s Bobby Hull becomes the first NHL player to have two 50-goal seasons when he scores a third-period goal in the Black Hawks’ 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

1969 — Boston’s Phil Esposito becomes the first NHL player with 100 points in a season, scoring a goal in the Bruins’ 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

1991 — Chris Corchiani of North Carolina State becomes first player in NCAA history with 1,000 assists in a career. Corchiani, who has 12 assists in the game, gets the milestone with 1:16 left in the first half on a pass to Rodney Monroe. N.C. state loses to Wake Forest 89-84.

1991 — Del Ballard Jr. throws the most famous gutter ball in PBA Tour history in the finals of the Fair Lanes Open. Ballard, needing seven pins on his last roll to beat Pete Weber, gets none as his ball falls into the gutter. Weber wins 213-207.

2011 — Pittsburgh overcomes a slow start to clinch at least a share of the Big East regular-season championship with a 66-50 win over South Florida. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon sets an NCAA Division I record for most victories in the first eight seasons of a career with 214 — one more than Everett Case had at North Carolina State and Roy Williams had at Kansas in their first eight years.

2012 — Major League Baseball expands its playoff format to 10 teams, adding a second wild card in each league. The decision establishes a one-game, wild-card round in each league between teams with the best records that are not division winners.

2018 — Kristina Vogel of Germany wins a record-tying 11th women’s world cycling title when she takes the individual sprint at the track world championships in the Netherlands. Vogel ties Anna Meares’ record for most women’s world titles.

And finally

A look at Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. 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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