The Sports Report: Clippers fall to Dallas Mavericks
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Andrew Greif on the Clippers: For the Clippers, this wasn’t the night for a first.
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Winless in nine games this season when trailing after three quarters, they had cut their deficit in Dallas to six in the final seconds of the third Wednesday, after a pair of three-pointers by Paul George.
There seemed to be life.
Instead, there was only Luka.
Pounding the ball at midcourt with 90 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, with all-defense member Paul George on his left hip, Dallas’ phenom guard Luka Doncic lowered his head and drove to his right before whipping the ball behind his back to his left hand just inside the three-point arc. By the time George, who steadied himself by placing his right hand on the hardwood, was upright, Doncic was lofting a floater over Nicolas Batum’s head.
They were the last of Doncic’s 11 points in the fourth quarter and his 42 for the night. He also finished with nine assists and six rebounds to send the Clippers to a 105-89 loss, their second loss in four games since the All-Star break.
Raising both hands above his head, wiggling his fingers to coax noise out of the few thousand fans inside American Airlines Center, Doncic gazed into the stands, his work all but done for Dallas (21-18).
The guard entered the season atop some MVP odds, only to endure a rocky start, but proved every bit of his worth by completing the ninth 40-point game of his three-year career.
Victoria Hernandez on the Lakers: LeBron James expressed his condolences to the families of the eight people who were killed Tuesday night during multiple shootings across the Atlanta area, joining a wave of athletes supporting the #StopAsianHate movement.
At least least six of the shooting victims were Asian women, but authorities said it was too early to say whether the attacks were motivated by race. The shootings follow a trend of rising violence against Asian Americans.
James, a vocal opponent of social injustice, acknowledged the pain the entire Asian community felt at the loss, saying the shootings were “Just senseless and tragic!!” James’ Lakers teammates Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso also commented on the incident via their social media platforms.
Kuzma quoted James’ tweet with praying hands and added his own posts reflecting on the history of race in America. Caruso retweeted Kuzma’s message that read, “Racism isn’t just one race. Sad we’ve got to continue to see hatred among us all.”
Dan Woike and Broderick Turner on LaMelo Ball: More than halfway into his first NBA season, LaMelo Ball has managed to surprise evaluators around the NBA with his mature offensive game and high IQ, putting together the kind of season that more often than not triggers a high-level career.
“A lot of us are surprised at how good he really is, to tell you the truth,” one Eastern Conference scout said. “Really surprised.”
The 6-foot-6, 19-year-old Ball is on track to be one of five rookies ever to average 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists — a group that includes Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Ben Simmons and, to be fair, Michael Carter-Williams.
He’s leading all rookies in assists and rebounds. He is just a hair behind No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards for the most points among first-year players, putting him at the top of most rookie-of-the-year rankings.
“I feel like I learn day by day, game by game, practice by practice,” Ball said Tuesday. “I feel like every day you can take that as a learning school and just learn something from the day. Even if it’s something big or something very small, I feel like you’re always learning.”
And Charlotte is learning that they got the right guy.
Ball comes back to Los Angeles on Thursday to face the Lakers with more fans than critics, helping quickly shift his reputation around the NBA as the Hornets seem on track for the playoffs.
“He’s better than everybody thought he was going to be,” one Western Conference scout said. “Probably going to be the rookie of the year. He has great size and feel for the position, better than his brother [Lonzo]. He seems to be a more engaged and serious player than his brother is. He’s a better shooter at this point.
“He’s just got a great feel for the game. He rebounds the ball. He’s not a very good pick-and-roll defender yet, but most young guys aren’t. But he can rebound. He’s got great length, great size for the position.”
NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT
Ben Bolch on UCLA: What might go down as the strangest NCAA tournament appearance in UCLA basketball history started with a day of hotel lounging while stuck in quarantine, followed by a ride through the Indiana darkness.
Point guard Tyger Campbell played chess on his iPad and binge-watched YouTube before boarding a bus bound for Purdue’s Mackey Arena, site of the Bruins’ First Four game against Michigan State on Thursday night. By the time the team completed the 75-minute trip from Indianapolis, the statue of John Wooden outside the arena wasn’t much of an attraction.
“We got there,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said Wednesday, recalling the events of the previous day, “and it was pitch-black.”
The 9 p.m. practice on the eve of UCLA’s 50th appearance in the NCAA tournament was devoid of the usual lighthearted fare. Fans weren’t allowed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Neither were cheerleaders nor the pep band.
Nobody was disappointed, the Bruins having persevered through six months of practices and games without a single positive coronavirus test to achieve the intended payoff. Besides, there was nothing to compare it to for a group of players who have never participated in an NCAA tournament besides injured senior Chris Smith.
“We went into it knowing it wasn’t going to be like the normal March Madness,” Campbell said, “but it’s been cool.”
Ryan Kartje on USC: It’s been a few days since Andy Enfield has seen the sun, so forgive the coach for a bit of delirium. Ever since USC arrived Monday at the makeshift bubble in Indianapolis for the NCAA tournament, there’s been no need for him, his staff or his players to step foot outside.
Inside the bubble, which covers roughly a square mile of downtown, every detail is carefully controlled, every movement carefully choreographed with the novel coronavirus and the hundreds of millions in lost revenue from last year’s canceled tournament in mind. That means near-total isolation for the 68 teams taking part, including the Trojans, who, like their contemporaries, could find themselves coping with some serious cabin fever if they continue to advance.
The extended isolation may not be so bad for USC, seeded sixth in the West Region, if it means moving past the first weekend for the first time in Enfield’s tenure. The coach has taken the Trojans to the tournament two other times, navigating them to two wins as an 11th seed in their last trip in 2017, only to fall just short of the Sweet 16.
But he’s never had a team as talented as this one; nor has he faced circumstances like the ones USC will face inside the bubble, where the magic of March must be hermetically sealed.
“It’s a little different,” Enfield acknowledged, “but we understand.”
There will be next to no fans roaming downtown or family and friends hanging in the lobby of the team hotel. Players will be able to observe the outside world from the skywalk that stands above the street, connecting the four designated team hotels to the nearby Indiana Convention Center, which houses 12 courts and six weight rooms. Each of the 68 teams involved also has its own dedicated meeting and film study room, where they also eat team meals.
Drew Doughty, Carl Grundström and Trevor Moore scored in a dominant first period, leading the Kings to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.
Moore had a goal and an assist for his first multipoint game of the season, while captain Anze Kopitar scored an empty-net goal from the opposite goal line and added an assist. Cal Petersen made 19 saves to end his five-start losing streak for the Kings, who looked sharp in just their third win in 10 games.
Los Angeles and St. Louis were scheduled for two consecutive games at Staples Center this week, but Monday’s game was postponed after a blizzard stranded the Kings in Denver, where they had just lost back-to-back games to the Avalanche.
Mike Hoffman scored and Jordan Binnington stopped 20 shots for the Blues, who have lost five straight.
The Kings won for the fifth time in seven meetings this season with its West Division rivals.
Gary Klein on the Rams: On Wednesday, the first day of the NFL’s new league year, the Rams saw tight end Gerald Everett and defensive lineman Morgan Fox leave for new teams and they also completed a trade that sent defensive lineman Michael Brockers to the Detroit Lions.
The Rams and the Lions had been working to finalize the Brockers trade Tuesday night. The Rams received a future seventh-round draft pick for Brockers. The nine-year veteran carried a salary-cap number of $9.8 million, according to overthecap.com.
Everett, a second-round draft pick in 2017, signed with the Seattle Seahawks, a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly said. Last season, Everett caught 41 passes, one for a touchdown. He has 127 receptions in his career, eight for touchdowns.
Fox, a rotational player who had a career-best six sacks last season, agreed to terms with the Carolina Panthers, according to several reports.
U.S. MEN’S SOCCER
Kevin Baxter on soccer: The last time the U.S. qualified for the Olympics in men’s soccer, Galaxy defender Julian Araujo was 6 years old. That was 2008 and the Americans didn’t get out of group play in China, losing their final game to Nigeria.
Araujo, now 19, is among the 20 players who will try to help the U.S. find its way back to the Summer Games beginning Thursday when the eight-team CONCACAF Olympic-qualifying tournament opens in Guadalajara, Mexico. Teammate Jackson Yueill said the secret for making that happen is pretty simple.
“To qualify,” Yueill said Wednesday “you have to win.”
The tournament kicks off Thursday with the U.S. facing Costa Rica. Mexico will take on the Dominican Republic in the second game. Group B will begin play Friday with Honduras facing Haiti and Canada meeting El Salvador. The top two teams in each group will advance to the tournament semifinals March 28 with the winners of those two games earning a spot in the Olympic competition this summer in Tokyo.
U.S. coach Jason Kreis said anything short of that will be a failure.
“We need to continue to lay down markers that we are a dominant team in this region,” he said. “So yeah I do believe that this is an important moment for us to continue on that path, to continue to change people’s opinions about our national team programs.”
NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
All times Pacific
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1945 — Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens becomes the first NHL player to score 50 goals in a season during a 4-2 triumph over the Boston Bruins in the final game of the season.
1950 — CCNY beats Bradley 69-61 for the NIT championship.
1953 — Don Schlundt scores 30 points to lead Indiana to a 69-68 victory over Kansas for the NCAA basketball championship.
1990 — Jeff Fryer’s 41 points lead Loyola Marymount to a 149-115 victory over defending national champion Michigan in the highest-scoring game in NCAA tournament history.
1993 — Santa Clara beats Arizona 64-61 to become the second 15th-seeded team to win a first-round game in the NCAA tournament.
2000 — Colorado’s Ray Bourque becomes the first NHL defenseman to score 400 career goals in a 4-3 loss to Detroit.
2001 — Indiana’s Reggie Miller becomes the first player in NBA history to accumulate 2,000 3-pointers after hitting four in a 101-95 win over Sacramento.
2002 — Sami Kapanen’s goal with 10.4 seconds left helps Carolina extend its NHL record to seven straight ties at home with a 1-1 draw with Montreal.
2005 — Andrew Hines has the first sub-seven-second Pro Stock Motorcycle run in NHRA history to lead a record-setting day of qualifying for the Gatornationals. At Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway, defending series champion Hines powers his motorcycle to a 6.991-second run at 196.16 mph.
2006 — Dallas improves to an NHL-best 10-0 in shootouts this season, winning 4-3 over San Jose. The Stars set an NHL record with their 10th come-from-behind victory after trailing entering the third period — though four of those wins were in shootouts, which didn’t exist before this season.
2007 — Kobe Bryant scores 50 points for the second consecutive game leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 109-102 win over Minnesota.
2007 — San Jose’s Ron Wilson coaches in his 1,000th game, to become the 13th coach in NHL history to reach that milestone.
2008 — The Houston Rockets’ 22-game winning streak comes to an end. Kevin Garnett scores 22 points and Paul Pierce adds 20 as the Celtics beat the Rockets 94-74, stopping Houston’s remarkable run. The Rockets hadn’t lost since a 97-89 defeat to Utah on Jan. 27.
2009 — New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur breaks Patrick Roy’s NHL record for career wins by a goaltender. Brodeur records his 552nd win in a 3-2 decision over the Chicago Blackhawks.
2013 — LeBron James and the Miami Heat escape Boston with their 23rd win in a row, the second longest win streak in NBA history. James scores 37 points and makes the go-ahead basket with 10.5 seconds left in Miami’s 105-103 victory. The Heat overcome the largest deficit they’ve faced during their streak and only trail the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 in a row.
Kobe Bryant scores 50 points against Minnesota. Watch it here.
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