The Sports Report: Here’s why the struggling Lakers need LeBron James back

The Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks in front the Lakers Wednesday in Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks in front the Lakers Wednesday in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 109-102.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Iliana Limón Romero, filling in for Houston Mitchell, who is off but probably trying to get more people to vote in the Dodgers Dugout Hall of Hall poll before the Nov. 31 deadline. Let’s get right to the news.

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: MILWAUKEE — The Lakers began their five-game trip unable to deal with the force of Milwaukee’s brilliant Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo was the most powerful player on the Fiserv Forum court Wednesday night, doing as he pleased in torching the Lakers with 47 points during the Bucks’ 109-102 win.


The Lakers tried to counter with Talen Horton-Tucker, who in his third game back from thumb surgery and as a starter was strong again with 25 points and 12 rebounds.

They got an efficient game from Russell Westbrook, who had 19 points on seven-for-16 shooting and 15 assists.

They got a solid game from Anthony Davis, who had 18 points and nine rebounds.

But the man of the night was Antetokounmpo. He was 18 for 23 shooting from the field, including three for four from three-point range. He was eight for 11 from the free-throw line.

“Yeah, I think he was three for four from three tonight. We want him shooting that three ball,” Davis said. “He’s gotten better at the midrange and the turnarounds, but we want him shooting the three. And everyone against the Lakers makes their threes. We know he’s been working on it, but that’s a shot we’re living with. ... But he’s a hell of a player. And a lot of his shots were in the paint, most of them. But he was hitting some big-time shots, kind of keeping us honest.”


The Lakers' Anthony Davis grabs a rebound in front of the Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Lakers’ Anthony Davis grabs a rebound in front of the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo during a game Wednesday in Milwaukee.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

Dylan Hernández on the Lakers: MILWAUKEE — Where these Lakers end up will depend on the health of a sidelined player who turns 37 next month.

This was always the case. This never changed.

What has changed is the degree of optimism regarding the team they can be without LeBron James.

A roster constructed to better withstand the breaks James takes during games has been forced to play without him altogether.

What’s transpired has been disheartening, even borderline disastrous.

The situation has raised the stakes of James’ return.

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Kobe Bryant stands on the scorers' table at Staples Center after the Lakers defeated the Celtics
Kobe Bryant stands on the scorers’ table at Staples Center after the Lakers defeated the Celtics to win an NBA championship.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)


Helene Elliott on Arena: It’s an age-old question, famously posed more than 400 years ago by William Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet.”

What’s in a name?

The answer in 2021: about $700 million over 20 years for AEG that the owner and operator of Staples Center gained from a stunning naming rights deal announced late Tuesday with Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange

As of Dec. 25, the red Staples logo will be removed from the arena. By next June all hints of Staples’ sponsorship — which was secured in 1997, two years before the building opened — will vanish. It will officially be called Arena, but few fans are waiting that long to begin launching puns on the new name.

Teams that erase big deficits and win will rise from the Crypt. Teams that flop will be declared dead and will be consigned to the Crypt. Future broadcasts and stories from the building surely will be labeled “Tales From the Crypt.” The possibilities are endless, and a few are truly funny.

More on the name change:

‘The House That Kobe Built’: Vanessa Bryant, others react to Staples Center name change

Call it ‘the Crypt’: Where does Arena rank among all NBA arena names?

Lakers’ Russell Westbrook jokes Staples Center will soon be called ‘Crip Arena’


UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr., right, grabs a loose ball away from North Florida guard Jarius Hicklen
UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr., right, grabs a loose ball away from North Florida guard Jarius Hicklen Wednesday in Los Angeles.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Ben Bolch on UCLA basketball: UCLA center Myles Johnson thrust his massive arms into the air, providing a wall of muscle there was no getting around.

North Florida’s Jonathan Aybar tried anyway, awkwardly releasing the ball in a futile attempt to get it over the defender’s 7-foot-7 wingspan. The ball never reached the basket, falling into Johnson’s hands to send the Bruins running the other way early in the second half.

After Johnson went to the bench and the Bruins’ defense faltered, North Florida’s Jadyn Parker meeting no resistance on his way into the lane for a dunk, UCLA coach Mick Cronin bolted off the bench and motioned for his top interior defender to re-enter the game.

The graduate transfer from Rutgers triggered roars from the crowd when he blocked a shot, following it moments later with a steal. The repeated stops for a defense-starved team showed why Cronin had been so eager to import Johnson last spring, calling him 10 minutes after his name went into the transfer portal even though the Bruins were in the Final Four.

Johnson helped his new team drastically tighten its defense in the second half Wednesday night at Pauley Pavilion, just what was needed for second-ranked UCLA during a 98-63 victory that qualified as an improvement over what had preceded it two days earlier.


The Coliseum is one of several existing venues in the L.A. area that will be used during the 2028 Olympics.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

David Wharton and Dakota Smith on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles: Los Angeles officials have reached a tentative agreement with private organizers of the 2028 Summer Olympics that, while short on details, serves as a road map for the biggest issues facing the city as it inches toward hosting a sporting event that could cost $7 billion or more.

Much of the so-called Games Agreement focuses on financial risk and the need for insurance against the type of expenses Tokyo incurred when the coronavirus outbreak forced a one-year postponement of its Summer Games.

The proposed contract also identifies concerns involving traffic and the homeless population, as well as the need to include small businesses and local workers in discussions about hiring and procurement.

“The Olympics and Paralympics are a golden opportunity to make sure that we can advance solutions to the issues of our day,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said in a statement before viewing the contract. “We have seven years to get there.”

The 25-page document was released Wednesday, allowing time for public scrutiny before a City Council vote expected later this year. Instead of providing dollar amounts or explicit policies, officials and the LA28 organizing committee would establish deadlines for finalizing their plans over the next few years.


Chargers defensive end Christian Covington warms up before playing the Eagles on Nov. 7
Chargers defensive end Christian Covington warms up before playing the Eagles on Nov. 7 in Philadelphia.
(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers added defensive end Christian Covington to the COVID-19 reserve list Wednesday, stressing their thinned-out defense even more.

Preparing to play Pittsburgh on Sunday night at SoFi Stadium, the Chargers are dealing with significant issues on the defensive line, most of which are coronavirus-related.

Edge rusher Joey Bosa and tackle Jerry Tillery went on the COVID-19 list Tuesday. Tackle Linval Joseph also missed practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury.

Coach Brandon Staley said Bosa is a close contact to Tillery, who tested positive. He said Bosa has tested negative and that both Bosa and Tillery are “feeling well,” indications that the pair still could play Sunday.

Their availability — along with that of Covington — figures to remain uncertain until later in the week. The soonest Bosa, who among the three players is the only one unvaccinated, could rejoin the team is Saturday.

Linebacker Drue Tranquill also is “trending positive,” Staley said. He was placed on the virus list last week.


Kings defenseman Alexander Edler takes a shot against Capitals left wing Conor Sheary
Kings defenseman Alexander Edler (2) takes a shot against Capitals left wing Conor Sheary (73) Wednesday in Los Angeles.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Associated Press on the Kings: Garnet Hathaway scored twice late in the third period and the Washington Capitals beat the L.A. Kings 2-0 Wednesday night at Staples Center, snapping the home team’s eight-game point streak.

The game was scoreless until there were three minutes, 30 seconds left, when John Carlson caught Jonathan Quick playing out of position and flipped a cross-ice pass to Hathaway, who stationed to the side of the and was able to put it in.

Hathaway then scored an empty-net goal with 1:18 left. He has five goals on the season and six points in the last four games.

Ilya Samsonov made 34 saves for his second shutout this season and fifth of his career.

Quick, who stopped 36 shots, had a four-game winning streak snapped.


Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer celebrates after the team defeated the Giants in Game 5 of the NLDS
Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer celebrates after the team defeated the Giants in Game 5 of the NLDS on Oct. 14 in San Francisco.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: Max Scherzer might have been the best pitcher in Major League Baseball after the Dodgers acquired him at the July 30 trade deadline, but 30 media members collectively determined he wasn’t the best pitcher in the National League for the entire 2021 campaign.

Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes was instead named the NL Cy Young Award winner in a razor-thin margin over Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler. Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, placed third.

Burnes and Wheeler each received 12 first-place votes, with Scherzer taking the remaining six. Burnes finished below second place on four ballots. He accumulated 151 total points over Wheeler’s 141 to become the third Cy Young Award winner in Brewers history.

Scherzer tallied 113 points. He didn’t make the top three on six ballots. The 37-year-old free agent has finished in the top five in Cy Young Award voting eight times in his career.

Don’t miss: Free agents Corey Seager and Chris Taylor decline qualifying offers from the Dodgers


The Mets' Noah Syndergaard throws in the outfield prior to a game against the Reds in Cincinnati
The Mets’ Noah Syndergaard throws in the outfield prior to a baseball game against the Reds on July 20.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Jack Harris on the Angels: He might not be José Quintana, Julio Teherán or Matt Harvey.

Yet the Angels’ signing of Noah Syndergaard alone might not be a surefire fix-all for their pitching staff, either.

In their first big move of the offseason, the Angels agreed to a one-year, $21-million deal with Syndergaard, the 29-year-old right-hander who was one of the game’s best young pitchers but has thrown only two innings the last two years coming off Tommy John surgery.

The deal would back up general manager Perry Minasian’s stated goal for this offseason: improving on the mound with “aggressive” arms who can set the tone for the rest of the staff.

What it likely won’t do, however, is relieve all the concerns for an Angels rotation that last season ranked 22nd in earned-run average, 26th in innings pitched and 16th in strikeout-to-walk rate.

Don’t miss: GM Perry Minasian talks Noah Syndergaard signing, Raisel Iglesias pursuit


Angel City unveils its first home jersey, which is made from recycled material
Angel City unveils its first home jersey, which is made from recycled material and contains vertical lines of a geometric sunrise pattern.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Kevin Baxter on Angel City’s first jersey: Angel City FC, Los Angeles’ newest professional sports franchise, has hired a coach, signed a player and moved closer to finalizing a deal for a training complex during the past three months. Now the team has something to wear as well after introducing its first-year home kit at an invitation-only event at Banc of California Stadium on Monday.

The jersey, made by Nike, was unveiled publicly Wednesday morning.

The primary color of the kit is black with the embroidered crest and sponsor name in sol rosa, a pink-tinted hue unique to Angel City. The jersey, made from recycled material, also contains vertical lines of a geometric sunrise pattern in sol rosa. It is intended to evoke the rising sun, representing the start of a new day with the return of women’s soccer to Los Angeles.

Don’t miss: Behind the Scenes: The unveiling of Angel City FC’s first kit


1962 — Bill Wade of the Chicago Bears passes for 466 yards and two touchdowns to edge the Dallas Cowboys 34-33.

1970 — Joe Frazier knocks out Bob Foster in the second round to retain the world heavyweight title in Detroit.

1974 — Charley Johnson of the Denver Broncos passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-34 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.

1978 — Vanderbilt’s Frank Mordica rushes for 321 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-27 victory over Air Force. Mordica scores on runs of 48, 30, 6, 70 and 77 yards.

1990 — Monica Seles captures the first five-set women’s match since 1901, defeating Gabriela Sabatini 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the Virginia Slims Championships.

1995 — Iowa State’s Troy Davis becomes the fifth player in NCAA Division I-A to rush for 2,000 yards, reaching that plateau in a 45-31 loss to Missouri.

1995 — Alex Van Dyke sets an NCAA record for most receiving yards in a season, catching 13 passes for 314 yards as Nevada beats San Jose State 45-28. Van Dyke raises his total to 1,874 yards, surpassing the record of 1,779 set in 1965 by Howard Twilley of Tulsa.

2000 — Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El becomes the second player in NCAA Division I-A history to rush for 200 points and pass for 200 points in a career in a 41-13 loss to Purdue.

2003 — American soccer phenom Freddy Adu, 14, signs a six-year deal with MLS.

2006 — Top-ranked Ohio State beats No. 2 Michigan 42-39 in Columbus in the regular-season finale. The Big Ten rivals had the top two spots in The AP football poll since Oct. 15.

2007 — Jimmie Johnson becomes the first driver to win consecutive Nextel Cup championships since Jeff Gordon in 1997 and ’98, wrapping up the title by finishing a trouble-free seventh in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

2007 — Top-ranked Roger Federer wins his fourth Masters Cup title in five years, overwhelming No. 6 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

2012 — Matt Schaub has a career-high five touchdown passes, completes a franchise-record 43 passes and finishes with 527 yards passing, second most in NFL history, to lead the Houston Texans to a 43-37 overtime win over Jacksonville. Norm Van Brocklin holds the record with 554 for the Rams in 1951.

2014 — The NFL suspends Adrian Peterson without pay for at least the rest of the season. The league informs the Minnesota Vikings running back he would not be considered for reinstatement before April 15 for violating the NFL personal conduct policy.

And finally

Watch Pac-12 Network highlights from No. 2 UCLA’s 98-63 win over North Florida Wednesday night at Pauley Pavilion.

Until next time...

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