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The Sports Report: Lakers routed by New Orleans, 128-111

Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker looks to pass the ball as Alex Caruso defends.
(Associated Press)

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

Dan Woike on the Lakers: How do you stop Zion Williamson? Can you contain Brandon Ingram? Do you have the size to fight with Steven Adams?

The Lakers had none of those answers on Tuesday, and for a night, that’s fine.

But take a step back after the Lakers’ 128-111 blowout loss in New Orleans and think about the bigger questions the Lakers have to be asking.

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“What are we going to do without LeBron James and Anthony Davis? How are we going to get stops? How are we going to get scores? Can we hang on?”

That “Talen Horton-Tucker” is a key part of all that answers speaks to the 20-year-old’s promise and the problematic situation the Lakers find themselves in with Thursday’s trade deadline nearing.

He is the best young player the Lakers have, someone who can attack the basket with strength and athleticism only to finish with feathery touch. He projects as good defender, his long arms and quick feet a near-ideal combination.

“As he starts shooting the ball more consistently,” New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy said, “he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in this league.”

He’s valued inside and outside the organization, with James not hesitating even a second to name him when he was recently asked about new players on the Lakers that he trusted come the playoffs.

“I know that he’ll be ready for it,” James said.

But can the Lakers wait?

Tuesday, they lost for the second-straight game, looking terribly undermanned against a team that entered the night 12th in the West. Tougher games are coming, and its still unclear when Davis or James, who wasn’t with the team in New Orleans after returning to Los Angeles, will be back to help.

“It’s a challenge. But it’s not nothing that we can’t overcome,” Kyle Kuzma said. “So I think we just got to look at the drawing board, continue to trust each other, try to play for one another on both sides of the ball. I think if we can do that, we give ourselves a chance every single night. That’s the challenge we’re up against. Just got to strap it up and go.”

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT

J. Brady McCollough on the men’s tournament: USC nearly doubled Kansas’ worst NCAA tournament loss in school history Monday night. The craziest thing? It didn’t even feel that crazy.

By the end of a long weekend that flipped the “best conference” argument on its head, a Pac-12 team administering that kind of noogie to one of the sport’s venerable programs felt like a West Coast hoops birthright.

“A major rout!” CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle called it, well before the Trojans’ 85-51 victory was complete.

The first five days of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament were a rout for the Pac-12, for you, for your neighbor, probably for your neighbor’s neighbor, too. After a three-year period of basically counting on Oregon coach Dana Altman to maneuver the Ducks into the later rounds, the Pac-12 went 9-1 (10-1 if you count Oregon’s no-contest in the first round) and claimed four spots of the Sweet 16.

No other league has more than two teams, and the Pac-12’s tally doubles the Big Ten and the Big 12’s combined two. Remember when those were the obvious choices as the best leagues in college basketball this season?

I’m not big on the notion of conference pride, but if there were ever a time for a league’s fans to band together and puff out their collective chest, it is now. The Pac-12 just hijacked one of the wildest first weekends of March Madness ever, and, no matter your loyalty, how could you not be able to find just a small glimpse of a reason to root for UCLA, USC or even Phil Knight “U”? (The assumption here is that everyone will find it easy to jump aboard the Oregon State bandwagon.)

The only thing standing in the way of Pac-12 camaraderie, of course, is that both USC and Oregon were so under-seeded that they were placed in the same region and on the same side of the bracket where they could meet in the Sweet 16. Sadly, we’re going to lose the Trojans or Ducks on Sunday night, which means there’s no chance of an all-Pac-12 Final Four.

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Check out the men’s bracket here

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

When was last time USC and UCLA reached Sweet 16, Elite Eight in same year?

NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on UCLA’s women’s team: Even with a 6-foot-1 guard occasionally playing power forward and the team making just three of 14 shots in the fourth quarter, UCLA had no trouble in the first round of the NCAA tournament. That is the luxury of being a Power Five team with an All-American playing an overmatched Wyoming team.

UCLA’s next task is much taller: 6-5 junior center Charli Collier.

A second-team All-American at Texas, Collier recently announced she would forgo her senior season to enter the WNBA draft. She is the projected top pick.

Collier, who averages 20.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, leads the sixth-seeded Longhorns (19-9) into a second-round NCAA tournament game against No. 3 seed UCLA on Wednesday at 6 p.m. PDT in San Antonio.

A win puts the Bruins (17-5) into their fifth consecutive regional semifinal. To get there, UCLA will have to overcome what looks like a nightmarish matchup for a team built around athletic players who can play and guard multiple positions. UCLA has only one player taller than 6-1: Emily Bessoir, a 6-4 forward, is a freshman playing in her first NCAA tournament games. Collier scored 23 points with 15 rebounds in Texas’ first-round win over Bradley.

Even against smaller opponents in the first round, UCLA’s post players struggled to defend without fouling. All three of the team’s forwards, Bessoir, Michaela Onyenwere and Lauryn Miller, ended the game against Wyoming with four fouls. Coach Cori Close shuffled her play calls and lineups by using a zone defense or putting guard Lindsey Corsaro at the No. 4 position.

“There’s no way we can survive [playing that way against Texas],” Close said after Monday’s win. “I really think that that would be a tall task to expect to beat Texas and be in that kind of foul trouble.”

CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: While pursuing backcourt help as the NBA trade deadline approaches, the Clippers on Monday received a boost from a guard already on their roster.

The performance sparked a comeback and ignited a question: With the postseason looming fewer than 30 games away, could Luke Kennard’s skill set fill some of the gaps the team is seeking to fill?

As part of the all-reserves lineup that entered with the Clippers behind by 21 points against Atlanta midway through the third quarter, Kennard scored 20 points on eight-for-eight shooting amid the 119-110 comeback victory. He is the first player in team history with at least 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists in fewer than 20 minutes and called it one of his most enjoyable games.

“Not even just NBA, but just playing basketball,” he said on a postgame videoconference. “It’s top two, if it’s not at the top. That was a lot of fun. The group that was in, it was hearing the guys on the sideline, the way that they were cheering us on as we made that run. That’s just what team is all about.”

U.S. WOMEN’S SOCCER

Kevin Baxter on soccer: U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski called up a 23-woman roster Tuesday for April friendlies in Sweden and France, part of the national team’s continuing preparation for this summer’s Olympic tournament in Tokyo.

Fifteen of the players were on the 2019 Women’s World Cup championship team. The U.S. is bidding to become the first country to win a World Cup and Olympic gold medal in the same four-year cycle.

There were no surprises in the roster that Andonovski summoned and — aside from the injury-related absences of Mallory Pugh, Tobin Heath and Casey Short Krueger — the 18 players the U.S. takes to Tokyo likely will come from the team called up Tuesday.

The roster

Goalkeepers: Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders: Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

Midfielders: Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG)

Forwards: Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage).

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT RESULTS, SCHEDULE

All times Pacific
Saturday’s schedule
Third round

Midwest Regional
No. 8 Loyola of Chicago vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 11:40 a.m., CBS
No. 2 Houston vs. No. 11 Syracuse, 6:55 p.m., TBS

South Regional
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 5 Villanova, 2:15 p.m., CBS
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts, 4:25 p.m., TBS

Sunday’s schedule
Third round

West Regional
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Creighton, 11 a.m., CBS
No. 6 USC vs. No. 7 Oregon, 6:45 p.m., TBS

East Regional
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 4 Florida State, 2 p.m., CBS
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 11 UCLA, 4:15 p.m., TBS

NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE, RESULTS

All times Pacific
Tuesday’s Results
Second round

Mercado Regional
No. 1 North Carolina State 79, No. 8 South Florida 67

River Walk Regional
No. 1 Connecticut 83, No. 8 Syracuse 47
No. 2 Baylor 90, No. 7 Virginia Tech 48
No. 6 Michigan 70, No. 3 Tennessee 55
No. 5 Iowa 86, No. 4 Kentucky 72

Hemisfair Regional
No. 1 South Carolina 59, No. 8 Oregon State 42
No. 5 Georgia Tech 73, No. 4 West Virginia 56

Alamo Regional
No. 1 Stanford 73, No. 8 Oklahoma State 62

Today’s schedule
Second round

Alamo Regional
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 6 Oregon, Noon, ESPN2
No. 5 Missouri State vs. No. 13 Wright State, Noon, ESPNU
No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 7 Northwestern, 2 p.m., ESPN2

Mercado Regional
No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 12 Belmont, 2 p.m., ESPNU
No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 11 BYU, 4 p.m., ESPNU
No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 7 Iowa State, p.m., ESPN2

Hemisfair Regional
No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 7 Alabama, 10 a.m., ESPN2
No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 6 Texas, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Check out the women’s bracket here

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1936 — Detroit’s Mud Bruneteau ends the longest game in NHL history with a goal after 116 minutes and 30 seconds (six overtimes) to edge the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

1941 — Long Island University wins the NIT championship with a 56-42 victory over Ohio.

1945 — NYU battles back from a ten-point deficit with two minutes to go to send the NCAA Tournament national semifinal game into overtime. NYU wins 70-65. At the time, a team got one free throw when fouled near end of game, but could elect instead to inbound the ball. Ohio State is fouled three times, opts to shoot the foul shot and misses each time.

1952 — Chicago’s Bill Mosienko scores three third-period goals in 21 seconds to lead the Black Hawks to a 7-6 comeback win over the New York Rangers.

1962 — Paul Hogue scores 22 points and grabs 19 rebounds and Tom Thacker adds 21 to lead Cincinnati to a 71-59 victory over Ohio State for its second NCAA basketball championship.

1970 — Jerry West of the Lakers wins his only NBA scoring title, accumulating 2,309 points in 74 games for a 31.2 ppg. average.

1973 — Kansas City-Omaha’s Nate “Tiny” Archibald becomes the first player in NBA history to lead the NBA in both scoring (34.0 ppg.) and assists (11.4 apg.) in the same season.

1975 — Muhammad Ali knocks out Chuck Wepner in the 15th round to retain the world heavyweight title in Cleveland.

1975 — Princeton becomes the first Ivy League school to win the NIT title with an 80-69 win over Providence. Mickey Steuerer leads the Tigers with 26 points and Todd van Bloomesteyn adds 23.

1979 — Indiana State, led by Larry Bird, advances to the NCAA Championship game by squeezing past DePaul 76-74. Bird has 35 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists.

1980 — Louisville beats UCLA 59-54 to win the NCAA basketball title.

1991 — Dean Smith becomes the first coach to win regional titles in four different decades when North Carolina beats Temple 75-72 in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament.

1992 — Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux becomes the 36th player in NHL history with 1,000 points, getting an assist in the second period of the Penguins’ 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

1994 — Kansas State’s Askia Jones scores 62 points in 28 minutes in a 115-77 victory over Fresno State in the NIT quarterfinals. Kansas State ties an NCAA record for three pointers in a game, making 23-of-36. Jones shoots 18-for-25 from the floor, including 14-of-18 on three-pointers, and 12-for-16 from the line.

1996 — Vancouver loses its 18th consecutive game, 90-85 to Cleveland. The Grizzlies, with losing streaks of 18 and 19 games in 1995-96, are the first team in NBA history to have two losing streaks of 18 or more games in the same season.

2000 — Michael Johnson smashes more than a half-second off the world record in the rarely run 300 meters at the Engen Grand Prix in Pretoria, South Africa. Johnson is timed in 30.85 seconds, breaking the mark of 31.48 set in 1990.

2005 — Auburn senior Fred Bousquet swims the two fastest 50-yard freestyles in history, breaking a record in the preliminaries and winning the final in the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championship at Minneapolis. Bousquet swims the preliminary in 18.74 seconds, breaking the old NCAA mark of 19.05 set by Anthony Ervin in 2002. Hours later, he returns to win the final in 18.90 seconds — the second time anyone swam the event in under 19 seconds.

2006 — Davis Love III makes history at The Players Championship as he finishes 18 shots worse than his opening round and entered the PGA Tour record books as the only player in the 33-year history of its showcase event go from first to the weekend off. Love has a quadruple-bogey 9 on his final hole for an 11-over 83, missing the cut by four shots.

2008 — Houston beats the Sacramento Kings 108-100 to give coach Rick Adelman his 800th career victory. Adelman, who won 395 games coaching the Kings from 1998-2006, is the 13th coach to reach the milestone.

2013 — Florida Gulf Coast goes from shocking the men’s college basketball world to downright impressing it. The Eagles beat San Diego State 81-71 to become the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

2016 — Amanda Kessel scores twice and Minnesota breezes past Boston University 6-3 to finish the first perfect season in the 13-year history of NCAA women’s hockey. The Gophers (41-0) win their second straight national championship and stretch their record win streak to 49 games. Their last loss was to North Dakota on Feb. 17, 2012.

And finally

Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. 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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