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The Sports Report: Lakers win third straight since All-Star break

LeBron James disputes a call with referee Eric Lewis during the second half against Minnesota.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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

Dan Woike on the Lakers: There’s an element of patience that’s required with the Lakers.

Even though the team is coming out of the All-Star break, usually the time when restrictions are kicked away and teams start to gain speed, that landmark doesn’t mean the same thing this year.

After Tuesday’s game, the Lakers still have 32 more before they even get to the playoffs, the kind of timing thing that’s so abnormal that Lakers coach Frank Vogel emphasized it in his first meeting with the team once they came back together last week.

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The message was simple – know where you’re at.

It’s like that every night right now for the Lakers, too.

Stay with it, wait on what works and when the moment comes, make the most of it. The Lakers’ bench combined with another triple-double from LeBron James delivered a 137-121 win.

It’s the 99th triple-double of James’ career, with James scoring 25 to go with 12 rebounds and 12 assists. He also blocked Minnesota’s Jake Layman’s dunk attempt at the rim, triggering the Lakers’ dominance in the second half.

The Lakers are still missing so many key pieces – two starters in Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol and reserve guard Alex Caruso (Caruso went through an on-court evaluation pregame). And in an effort to best navigate this stretch without them, Vogel has kept two of his most productive players on the bench.

It means the Lakers can be prone to slow starts – they were in the first and third quarters Tuesday – waiting for Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma to feast on opposing benches. And now Talen Horton-Tucker is in the mix.

The trio combined to score 57 points – the entire Minnesota bench only scored 32 points. And their played helped erase a seven-point Minnesota lead in the second half, quickly turning that into a lopsided advantage for the Lakers.

Harrell’s role with the second unit – his preference – is all about comfort, and early against the Timberwolves he showed why. He scored 25, his third game with at least that many points in the Lakers’ last four.

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT

Ben Bolch on UCLA: After years of March sadness, the brackets were finally busting Mick Cronin’s way.

Virginia became the first top-seeded team to fall to a No. 16 seed, immortalizing the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. Third-seeded Tennessee went down to Loyola of Chicago, as if preordained by Ramblers superfan Sister Jean. Fourth-seeded Arizona got trampled by Buffalo, completing another depressing postseason for the Pac-12.

That left Cronin’s second-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats as the lone remaining heavyweight in the 2018 NCAA tournament’s South Region. All that stood between Cronin and his first Final Four was seventh-seeded Nevada and nobody more frightening than fifth-seeded Kentucky on the other side of the bracket.

If Cincinnati could get past the Wolf Pack in the second round, the plan was for the Bearcats to bus straight to Atlanta for the regional semifinal. In his mind, as he watched his son’s team build a 22-point lead in the second half, Hep Cronin was going to Atlanta — if not San Antonio for the Final Four.

“Our side of the bracket, before we had played that second game, the one, three and four [seeds] had already lost,” the elder Cronin recalled shortly after his son took the UCLA job a year later. “They’re thinking, we’re going to the Final Four!”

It was going to be the long-awaited breakthrough for Mick Cronin. He had taken Cincinnati to eight consecutive NCAA tournaments while advancing to only one regional semifinal, the lack of more deep runs serving as the one blemish on an otherwise exceptional coaching resume. Instead, they lost, 75-73.

He’s now one of just five coaches to take his teams to the last 10 NCAA tournaments, joining Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Kansas’ Bill Self and Gonzaga’s Mark Few.

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Check out the men’s bracket here

NCAA tournament bracket picks: J. Brady McCollough’s prediction for every game

March Madness: How to watch, stream every 2021 NCAA tournament game

Oddsmakers think this team will win the NCAA tournament

NCAA tournament betting guide: 10 tips on how to win March Madness

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers suffered a significant free-agent loss Tuesday when Hunter Henry agreed to a three-year contract with New England. His departure means the Chargers will need to find a new starter at the position.

In a potentially related development, Philadelphia on Tuesday gave Zach Ertz and his representatives permission to seek a trade. The Eagles are looking for a third- or fourth-round pick for the 30-year-old, according to the NFL Network.

Tyrod Taylor’s eventful, one-start tenure with the Chargers ended when he agreed to a one-year deal with Houston.

The veteran began last season as the Chargers’ starter. After a 16-13 victory at Cincinnati in the opener, Taylor suffered a punctured lung in a medical mishap in the locker room before the Chargers’ Week 2 matchup against Kansas City.

With Taylor gone, Easton Stick becomes the backup to Herbert, though the Chargers figure to look to add a No. 2 quarterback with more experience.

The Chargers re-signed kicker Michael Badgley to a one-year contract.

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: The Rams’ running back corps is skewing younger.

On Tuesday, veteran Malcolm Brown responded with appreciation to teammates’ congratulatory tweets after NFL.com reported he had agreed to terms on a free-agent contract with the Miami Dolphins.

Brown, 27, played six seasons with the Rams and was a sage presence last season for a position group that now includes second-year pro Cam Akers, third-year pro Darrell Henderson and Xavier Jones, who was an undrafted rookie free agent last season.

Brown rushed for a career-best 419 yards and five touchdowns in 101 carries last season for a team that mainly relied on Akers.

Defensive lineman Derek Rivers, who played part of last season with the Rams, agreed to terms with the Houston Texans, according to a tweet by his agent.

DUCKS

Nathan MacKinnon and Samuel Girard scored 2:23 apart early in the third period, and the Colorado Avalanche rallied for six unanswered goals to beat the Ducks 8-4 on Tuesday night.

Nazem Kadri had two goals and two assists for Colorado. Philipp Grubauer stopped 15 shots after replacing Hunter Miska, who allowed four goals on seven shots.

Anaheim had two goals in its previous three games but broke out with a big first period. Adam Henrique led with a goal and two assists, and Troy Terry also scored.

GOLF

Tiger Woods is back at home in Florida to resume his recovery from career-threatening leg injuries he suffered when his SUV ran off a road and down a hill in the Los Angeles suburbs last month.

“Happy to report that I am back home and continuing my recovery,” Woods said in a tweet posted Tuesday night. “I am so grateful for the outpouring of support and encouragement that I have received over the past few weeks.”

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

All times Pacific
Thursday
Play-in round

No. 16 Texas Southern vs. No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s, 2 p.m., TruTV
No. 11 Drake vs. No. 11 Wichita State, 3:25 p.m., TBS
No. 16 Appalachian State vs. No. 16 Norfolk State, 5:30 p.m., TruTV
No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 11 Michigan State, 6:45 p.m., TBS

Friday
First round
South Regional
No. 7 Florida vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech, 9:15 a.m., CBS
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 14 Colgate, 9:45 a.m., TBS/TruTV
No. 6 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Utah State, 10:45 a.m., TBS/TruTV
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts, Noon, CBS
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Hartford, 12:30 p.m., TruTV
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Wisconsin, 4 p.m., CBS
No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 13 North Texas, 4:25 p.m., TNT
No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 12 Winthrop, 6:45 p.m., TNT

Midwest Regional
No. 1 Illinois vs. No. 16 Drexel, 10:15 a.m., TNT
No. 8 Loyola Chicago vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech, 1 p.m., TBS
No. 5 Tennessee vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 1:30 p.m., TNT
No. 4 Oklahoma State vs. No. 13 Liberty, 3:25 p.m., TBS
No. 2 Houston vs. No. 15 Cleveland State, 4:15 p.m., TruTV
No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Rutgers, 6:15 p.m., TBS
No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 Syracuse, 6:30 p.m., CBS
No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 14 Morehead State, 6:50 p.m., TruTV

Saturday
First round
West Regional
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 14 Eastern Washington, 10:15 a.m., TBS
No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 12 UC Santa Barbara, 12:30 p.m., TruTV
No. 6 USC vs. Drake or Wichita State, 1:30 p.m., TNT
No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon, 3:25 p.m., TBS
No. 4 Virginia vs. No. 13 Ohio, 4:15 p.m., TruTV
No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Missouri, 4:25 p.m., TNT
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. App. State or Norfolk State, 6:15 p.m., TBS
No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth, 6:45 p.m., TNT

East Regional
No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 12 Georgetown, 9:15 a.m., CBS
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 UNC Greensboro, 9:45 a.m., TruTV
No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 St. Bonaventure, 10:45 a.m., TNT
No. 1 Michigan vs. Texas Southern or Mount St. Mary’s, Noon, CBS
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Iona, 1 p.m., TBS
No. 7 Connecticut vs. No. 10 Maryland, 4 p.m., CBS
No. 6 BYU vs. UCLA or Michigan State, 6:30 p.m., CBS
No. 3 Texas vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian, 6:45 p.m., TruTV’

NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

All times Pacific
Sunday
First round

River Walk Regional
No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Central Michigan, 9 a.m., ESPN
No. 7 Virginia Tech vs. No. 10 Marquette, 9 a.m., ESPNU
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Idaho State, 11 a.m., ESPN
No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Middle Tennessee, 11 a.m., ABC
No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 Florida Gulf Coast, Noon, ESPN2
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 15 Jackson State, 1 p.m., ABC
No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 South Dakota State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 16 High Point, 5 p.m., ESPN

Alamo Regional
No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Wake Forest, 10 a.m. ESPN2
No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 16 Utah Valley, 7 p.m., ESPN

Mercado Regional
No. 1 North Carolina State vs. No. 16 North Carolina A&T, 1 p.m., ESPN
No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 9 Washington State, 6:30 p.m. ESPN2

Hemisfair Regional
No. 5 Georgia Tech vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, 1:30 p.m., ESPNU
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 16 Mercer, 3 p.m., ESPN
No. 8 Oregon State vs. No. 9 Florida State, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 4 West Virginia vs. No 13 Lehigh, 5 p.m., ESPNU

Monday
First round

Alamo Regional
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 14 Drexel, 9 a.m., ESPN2
No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Wright State, 11 a.m., ESPN
No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Central Florida, 1 p.m., ESPNU
No. 5 Missouri State vs. No. 12 UC Davis, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU
No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 15 Marist, 5 p.m., ESPN
No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 11 South Dakota, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Mercado Regional
No. 6 Rutgers vs. No. 11 BYU, 9 a.m., ESPNU
No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 13 VCU, 11 a.m., ESPNU
No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 14 Stony Brook, 11 a.m., ESPN2
No. 5 Gonzaga vs. No. 12 Belmont, 1 p.m., ESPN2
No. 7 Iowa State vs. No. 10 Michigan State, 3 p.m., ESPN
No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 15 Troy, 3 p.m., ESPN2

Hemisfair Regional
No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 10 North Carolina, 9 a.m., ESPN
No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 15 Mount St. Mary’s, 1 p.m., ESPN
No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Bradley, 5 p.m., ESPN2
No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 14 Wyoming, 7 p.m., ESPN

Check out the women’s bracket here

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1871 — The National Assn. of Professional Baseball Players is organized to replace the amateur National Association.

1897 — Bob Fitzsimmons knocks out Jim Corbett in the 14th round to win the world heavyweight title in Carson City, Nev. It’s the first boxing match photographed by a motion picture camera.

1908 — Tommy Burns knocks out Jene Roche in 80 seconds at the Royal Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, to retain the world heavyweight title.

1961 — Manhattan District Attorney Frank S. Hogan arrests two professional gamblers, Aaron Wagman and Joseph Hacken, and implicates Hank Gunter and Art Hicks of Seton Hall in a collegiate point shaving scandal.

1974 — The Celtics beat the Capital Bullets 129-103 at Boston Garden, collecting an NBA record 61 defensive rebounds.

1988 — Michael Adams of Denver sets an NBA record of 24 consecutive games with at least one 3-point field goal, breaking Celtic Danny Ainge’s mark set earlier that season. Adams extends the streak to 79 consecutive games (over two seasons) with at least one three-pointer.

1993 — Dallas snaps a 19-game losing streak with a 102-96 win over visiting Orlando. The Mavericks were one game away from tying the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers for the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history.

2001 — Connecticut cruises to a 101-29 win over Long Island University in the first round of the East Regional, the best defensive effort in the history of the women’s NCAA tournament. Connecticut’s 72-point victory also ties the second-biggest margin in tournament history.

2005 — Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland wins the men’s title at the World Figure Skating Championships, his first medal in a major competition. It’s also the first world championship for a Swiss man since Hans Gerschwiler in 1947.

2006 — Jermaine Wallace hits a fadeaway 3-pointer with a split second left, and little Northwestern State pulls off a shocker with a furious rally, beating No. 3 seed Iowa 64-63 in the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament.

2007 — Colorado’s Paul Stastny extends his NHL rookie record by scoring in his 20th consecutive game with two goals in a 6-3 win over Phoenix. His streak is snapped the next night.

2010 — Michael Jordan becomes the first ex-player to be a majority owner in the NBA. The NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approve Jordan’s $275 million bid to buy the Charlotte Bobcats from Bob Johnson.

2011 — Toney Douglas ties a franchise record by making nine of the New York Knicks’ franchise-record 20 3-pointers, scoring 29 points in a 120-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

2012 — Lindsey Vonn sets a women’s record for the most World Cup points in a season after finishing eighth in a slalom won by Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser at Schladming, Austria. Vonn reaches 1,980 points to beat the mark of 1,970 set by Janica Kostelic of Croatia in 2006.

And finally

Weird Al Yankovic and his sports song. Watch and listen 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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