Advertisement
Share

The Sports Report: LeBron-less Lakers lose to Phoenix

LeBron James during the first half against Phoenix.
(Associated Press)

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

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: LeBron James sat a few feet away from the Lakers’ bench, his hoodie over his head, a mask covering his face, a walking boot on his high right ankle sprain that kept him out of the game and unable to help his teammates against the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers entire starting frontcourt of James, Anthony Davis (strained right calf) and Marc Gasol all sat on different parts of the bench agonizing over seeing their brothers struggling to find some offensive rhythm in Phoenix during a 111-94 defeat.

They watched the Lakers fall into a 15-point hole at the half, their 37.2% shooting and 16.7% on three-pointers (two-for-12) a sign of how difficult it was for them to score with their top two offensive weapons in James and Davis sidelined.

Advertisement

And since there is no timetable for James or Davis to return, the Lakers will have to find wins and offense from wherever they can. Lakers coach Frank Vogel reiterated before the game that James is out “indefinitely” and that high ankle sprains usually “take a while to heal.”

So, the Lakers pressed on Sunday night, going with the usual starting backcourt of Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to go along with Markieff Morris moving to center and with Kyle Kuzma and Wesley Matthews as the forwards.

In past games that he missed, Davis would take the iPad from the coaches and show his teammates something. During this game against the Suns, Davis walked backed to James to display something to him on the screen.

But no strategy was going to help the shorthanded Lakers on this night.

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT

Ryan Kartje on USC: Before his brother sprouted like a beanpole early in high school, soon to evolve into a 7-footer with skills unlike other players his size, Isaiah was once the imposing Mobley. He was the one demanding the ball and demanding attention. He won the majority of their backyard matchups, the more physical of the two siblings, relishing victories over the younger Evan, who would seethe on the court after, shooting alone for hours, determined to come back better and beat his brother.

Somewhere along the line, Evan Mobley became a generational prospect, his future as a top NBA draft pick assured whether or not sixth-seeded USC (23-7) can beat third-seeded Kansas (21-8) on Monday night in Indianapolis to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007.

For Isaiah Mobley, finding that fit in the Trojans’ offense has been a bit more complicated. But over the course of this postseason, everything seems to be falling into place for the 6-10 sophomore. While Evan is sure to be the focus of their second-round matchup on Monday, the elder Mobley will need to play a critical role if the two brothers hope to continue their tournament run together.

“He doesn’t have to score a lot of points to be effective,” USC coach Andy Enfield said of Isaiah Mobley. “He’s our best defender in the interior. He’s improved dramatically on the defensive end.”

In the first round, there was no more efficient offensive player on the floor for USC. Isaiah Mobley made six of seven shots, one of which came from long range. He scored 15 points, added five rebounds, and set the tone on the interior during one of the more impressive performances of his two seasons at USC.

“I’ve just been trying to figure out my role, and I feel like finally — it’s a little late — but I really have that role where I can help us consistently,” said Mobley, who’s averaging 9.2 points and 7.3 rebounds this season. “I hoped to carry that out as long as we keep on dancing.”

————

Ben Bolch on UCLA: Chris Smith sauntered toward the giant bracket, head nodding, shoulders swaying, intentions known to everybody around him.

He had performed the same ritual two nights earlier inside the lobby of UCLA’s hotel.

After the Bruins’ first victory in the NCAA tournament, the injured senior guard gently placed a white sticker bearing his team’s name in black onto the next round of the bracket, running his fingers over the material to make sure it remained in place.

This time, after the Bruins won again late Saturday night, he slapped another sticker into place as if trumpeting the return of a champion.

Don’t you know who we are? We’re UCLA!

The swagger is back, the momentum theirs, the glory burbling back to the surface for the program with the most national titles in the history of college basketball.

————

Follow every tournament game at home or at work with our live coverage, available here

Check out the men’s bracket here

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

Bill Plaschke: Potent USC has started what should be a magical NCAA tournament run

Amid NCAA weight room backlash, one voice on gender inequality was missing — Kobe’s

NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on UCLA: Natalie Chou’s week so was hectic that she could barely process the news. The UCLA guard was already preparing for the NCAA tournament and studying for final exams when a tragic headline took over social media.

Eight people, including six Asian women, were killed in shootings at three Atlanta-area spas on March 16. It was the latest in a surge of violent attacks directed toward Asians as hate crimes rose in the past year. UCLA players assured Chou, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, they are here to talk if she needed. She didn’t even know what to talk about yet.

I’m going to say something though, Chou told a reporter two days after the attack.

As the Bruins begin NCAA tournament play Monday, the redshirt senior is juggling several responsibilities. Not only does UCLA need the 6-foot-2 guard for a long tournament run, but she is playing on her sport’s grandest college stage as one of few Asian Division I athletes when people who look like her are being attacked on streets and at work.

Chou is more ready than ever to handle all the roles.

“She wants to make a difference in the world,” coach Cori Close said. “There’s been an inner strength that has sort of organically come out of her. … She’s fighting. She’s fighting in a way we’ve never seen and I think that translates on the court.”

Chou is averaging 10 points and 4.3 rebounds a game, both career highs, as the No. 3 seed Bruins face No. 14 seed Wyoming in the first round of the Hemisfair Region in the NCAA tournament. UCLA (16-5) relies mostly on third-team All-American Michaela Onyenwere and All-Pac-12 guard Charisma Osborne, but role players like Chou will determine whether the Bruins can break through after four straight NCAA regional semifinals to reach their first Final Four.

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: Two days after the Rams introduced Matthew Stafford, they gave their new quarterback a new weapon.

The Rams announced Sunday that they had agreed to terms with veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson, providing coach Sean McVay and the offense with a potential deep threat that was sorely lacking in 2020.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but it is a one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Jackson, 34, has 56 touchdown catches and has averaged 17.4 yards per catch during a 13-year NFL career that began with the Philadelphia Eagles and has also included stints with Washington — where McVay was offensive coordinator — and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before he rejoined the Eagles for two injury hampered seasons.

U.S. MEN’S SOCCER

Kevin Baxter on soccer: The U.S. moved a big step closer to Tokyo without ever leaving Guadalajara on Sunday, outlasting a game but weary Dominican Republic 4-0 to clinch a spot in next weekend’s semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.

Mexico, which will meet the U.S. in Wednesday’s group-play finale, also earned a place in the semifinals with a 3-0 victory over Costa Rica. The semifinal winners will advance to the Olympics, a tournament the U.S. hasn’t played in since 2008.

“It was a difficult match in a lot of ways,” U.S. coach Jason Kreis said of Sunday’s victory. “We’re pleased to walk out with another three points.”

The Dominican Republic, the youngest and most inexperienced team in the eight-team U-23 tournament, held the U.S. scoreless for the first hour behind goalkeeper Johan Guzmán, who faced 10 shots without conceding. But the Americans finally broke through on their 11th try with Jackson Yueill redirecting in a low pass from Sebastian Saucedo in the 61st minute.

KINGS

Sean Walker and Dustin Brown scored 51 seconds apart in the second period, and the Kings snapped the Vegas Golden Knights’ five-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory Sunday.

Cal Petersen made 41 saves and fell just short of his second career shutout as the Kings avenged the Knights’ 4-2 win at Staples Center on Friday with a strong all-around performance in a matinee ahead of a four-game road trip.

“This is huge, and I think it helps us confidence-wise that we can play at this level and beat those kinds of teams,” Petersen said. “I think this is one of our more complete games of the year, and so this should be a good indicator of what we can do and our potential.”

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT RESULTS, SCHEDULE

Follow every tournament game at home or at work with our live coverage, available here

All times Pacific
Second round
Sunday’s results

Midwest Regional
No. 8 Loyola of Chicago 71, No. 1 Illinois 58
No. 2 Houston 63, No. 10 Rutgers 60
No. 11 Syracuse 75, No. 3 West Virginia 72
No. 12 Oregon State 80, No. 4 Oklahoma State 70

South Regional
No. 1 Baylor 76, No. 9 Wisconsin 63
No. 3 Arkansas 68, No. 6 Texas Tech 66
No. 5 Villanova 84, No. 13 North Texas 61
No. 15 Oral Roberts 81, No. 7 Florida 78

Today’s schedule

West Regional
No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 7 Oregon, 9 a.m., CBS
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 8 Oklahoma, 11:30 a.m., CBS
No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 13 Ohio, 3 p.m., TNT
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 6 USC, 6:30 p.m., CBS

East Regional
No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian, 2:15 p.m., TBS
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 8 LSU, 4 p.m., CBS
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 5 Colorado, 4:45 p.m., TBS
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 10 Maryland, 5:45 p.m., TNT

Saturday’s schedule
Third round
Times/TV to be announced

Midwest Regional
No. 2 Houston vs. No. 11 Syracuse
No. 8 Loyola of Chicago vs. No. 12 Oregon State

South Regional
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 5 Villanova
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts

NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

All times Pacific
Sunday’s Results
First round

River Walk Regional
No. 1 Connecticut 102, No. 16 High Point 59
No. 2 Baylor 101, No. 15 Jackson State 52
No. 3 Tennessee 87, No. 14 Middle Tennessee 62
No. 4 Kentucky 71, No. 13 Idaho State 63
No. 5 Iowa 87, No. 12 Central Michigan 72
No. 6 Michigan 87, No. 11 Florida Gulf Coast 66
No. 7 Virginia Tech 70, No. 10 Marquette 63
No. 8 Syracuse 72, No. 9 South Dakota State 55

Alamo Regional
No. 1 Stanford 87, No. 16 Utah Valley 44
No. 8 Oklahoma State 84, No. 9 Wake Forest 61

Mercado Regional
No. 1 North Carolina State 79, No. 16 North Carolina A&T 58
No. 8 South Florida 57, No. 9 Washington State 53

Hemisfair Regional
No. 1 South Carolina 79, No. 16 Mercer 53
No. 4 West Virginia 77, No 13 Lehigh 53
No. 5 Georgia Tech 54, No. 12 Stephen F. Austin 52 (OT)
No. 8 Oregon State 83, No. 9 Florida State 59

Today’s schedule
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

Tuesday’s schedule
Second round

Mercado Regional
No. 1 North Carolina State vs. No. 8 South Florida, Noon, ESPN2

River Walk Regional
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Iowa, 12:30 p.m., ESPNU
No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 6 Michigan, 2 p.m., ESPN2
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech, 4 p.m., ESPN2
No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 8 Syracuse, 6 p.m., ESPN

Hemisfair Regional
No. 4 West Virginia vs. No. 5 Georgia Tech, 2:30 p.m., ESPNU
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 8 Oregon State, 4 p.m., ESPN

Alamo Regional
No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 8 Oklahoma State, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Check out the women’s bracket here

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1952 — The St. John’s Redmen avenge an earlier 41-point loss, beating top-ranked Kentucky 64-57 in the East Regional championship game of the NCAA Division I Men’s Tournament. St. John’s, led by Bob Zawoluk’s NCAA tournament record 32 points, advances to its first Final Four.

1953 — The United States beats host Chile, 49-36 to win the first FIBA World Championship for Women basketball tournament.

1958 — Vern Hatton and Johnny Cox combine for 54 points to give Kentucky an 84-72 victory over Seattle in the NCAA basketball championship.

1967 — Muhammad Ali knocks out Zora Folley in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden to retain his world heavyweight title.

1969 — Lew Alcindor leads UCLA to the NCAA basketball title with a 97-72 win over Purdue, and is chosen as MVP for the third straight year.

1969 — West Chester State beats Western Carolina 65-39 to win the first-ever women’s collegiate national championship. The game is played using the six player format.

1986 — Trevor Berbick wins a unanimous 15-round decision over Pinklon Thomas in Las Vegas for the WBC heavyweight title.

1994 — The NFL announces the addition of the 2-point conversion, the league’s first scoring change in 75 seasons.

1997 — Tara Lipinski’s jumps, the cleanest and the surest in women’s figure skating, lift the 14-year-old into history as the youngest women’s world champion ever.

2000 — Pat Verbeek of the Detroit Red Wings scores twice in a 2-2 tie with Calgary to become the 28th player in NHL history with 500 career goals.

2004 — Los Angeles’ Luc Robitaille becomes the highest-scoring left wing in NHL history, picking up an assist in a 2-1 loss to Edmonton for his 1,370th career point.

2005 — Amare Stoudemire with 40 points and 13 rebounds helps Phoenix beat Atlanta 105-94 as the Suns become the ninth NBA team to win 50 games following a 50-loss season.

2007 — Kobe Bryant becomes the fourth player in NBA history to score at least 50 points in three straight games. Bryant scores 60 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 121-119 win over Memphis. Bryant joins Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.

2007 — Brian Joubert is the first Frenchman in 42 years to win the world title by taking the men’s event at the World Figure Skating Championships in Tokyo.

2008 — Detroit reaches 50 wins for the third straight season by defeating Columbus 4-1. No NHL franchise has done that since Montreal did it four years in a row from 1975-79.

2008 — The first of two assists Colorado captain Joe Sakic has in a 7-5 loss to Edmonton are the 1,000th of his career. He is the 11th player in NHL history to reach the milestone.

2011 — The NFL owners vote to make all scoring plays subject to review by the replay official and referee.

2013 — Florida Gulf Coast, a school so new it wasn’t eligible for the NCAA men’s tournament until last year, upsets second-seeded Georgetown 78-68 in the second round of the South Regional. The Eagles used a 21-2 second-half run to pull away from the Hoyas and hold on in the final minute to become the seventh No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2.

And finally

Kobe Bryant scores 60 points against Memphis on this date in 2007. 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.


Advertisement