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The Sports Report: Clippers edge the Celtics

Clippers guard Terance Mann defends against Boston forward Jayson Tatum during the first half.
Clippers guard Terance Mann defends against Boston forward Jayson Tatum during the first half.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

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

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: It would usually count as a telling moment if a rookie, after only his second basket of the game, turned to his defender and mouthed something about his defense striking enough to warrant a technical foul.

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But in the case of Brandon Boston Jr., the moment early in Wednesday’s second quarter wasn’t truly that surprising.

The 20-year-old from Georgia, once a star at Chatsworth Sierra Canyon before falling to the 51st pick in July’s draft after a below-expectations season at Kentucky, is beloved by the Clippers because he contains multitudes. Bouncing on his toes, he cheers from the background for teammates during their games and postgame television interviews. Reflecting Wednesday morning on playing against LeBron James – otherwise known as the father of his Sierra Canyon teammate, Bronny – for the first time, there was a wide smile and wonderment.

“I ain’t gonna lie,” he said. “It was crazy.”

All of the pinch-me giddiness ignores a fearlessness born out of training as a teenager against professionals for the past several summers that makes coaches smile often as wide as the rookie. If he seems awed to be on this stage, in the deepest reaches of his confidence, the player has only ever known confidence he belongs there – and that he can score on anyone on it. The Clippers bought a draft pick to select Boston in part because he’d made nearly every shot he took during his pre-draft workouts.

Through three quarters Wednesday, during the Clippers 114-111 victory against the Celtics at Staples Center -- marking their first consecutive victories since Nov. 13 -- he was the best Boston on the court.

He needed only 11 minutes to set a career-high in scoring. He made an absurdly difficult, turnaround three-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer for a 12-point Clippers lead. And within 19 minutes, he had scored 23 points, including a pull-up three-pointer he celebrated by playing an air guitar while jogging back on defense. He finished with 27 points in 25 minutes, making nine of his 13 field goals and joining Eric Gordon and Lamar Odom as the only Clippers 20 or younger to score at least 27 points.

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ANGELS

Bill Shaikin on the Angels: The Angel Stadium sale was declared illegal Wednesday by California’s state housing agency, which gave the city of Anaheim 60 days to redo the deal or make the land available to interested bidders.

That could put the city in the position of scrapping the deal and starting over, suing to pursue it, or paying almost $2 from every $3 in cash from the sale toward state fines.

Two years after celebrating an agreement in which a neighborhood would sprout on the long-dormant parking lots surrounding Angel Stadium and the Angels would remain in Anaheim through at least 2050, the city is now faced with the prospect that the deal might disappear, the parking lots could remain empty, and the team could leave town in eight years.

The city also has been sued by a citizens group alleging the deal violated state transparency laws. In the wake of the latest development, one city councilman suggested Anaheim start the sale process anew.

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers placed wide receiver Mike Williams and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. on the COVID-19 reserve list Wednesday.

Both players are not vaccinated but still could play this weekend against the New York Giants because they were deemed to be close contacts on Sunday.

The earliest an unvaccinated player can return to his team is five days.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen, who tested positive, was placed on the COVID list Monday. He is vaccinated and, therefore, also could play Sunday.

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NFL roundtable: Why Chargers didn’t collapse and Rams collapsed lowly Jaguars

HOCKEY

Helene Elliott on hockey: Hugh Robertson is an avid hockey fan, which isn’t unusual for someone who grew up in Michigan but is less common in Southern California, and he wanted to pass along his love for the game to his five children. He had season tickets to the Kings in the early 2000s and would gather the kids at the family home in Arcadia and take them downtown to Staples Center.

Jason, the second son of Hugh and Philippine-born Mercedes Robertson, remembers his father would turn those trips into fun occasions.

“We’d always go to the Palm [restaurant] and then we’d all go to the Kings games,” Jason said. “We’d go to the games wearing Kings apparel and carrying mini-sticks.”

They’d dash around the concourse during intermission, dodging fans and ushers while playing their own fiercely competitive version of hockey. Eventually, Hugh brought them to skate in Burbank to see if their energy would carry over to the ice. The rest is an improbable story that means Jason won’t need a ticket when he visits Staples Center on Thursday because he will be using the players’ entrance.

SKATEBOARDING

David Wharton on skateboarding: The women keep their distance. At first. Dressed in T-shirts and sneakers, skateboards in hand, they stand by a chain-link fence, talking, laughing, waiting to make their move.

The Aunt Skatie crew, as they call themselves, has traveled east of downtown Los Angeles to convene just outside a community skate park outfitted with all manner of concrete stairs, banks and ledges for doing tricks. On a gray Sunday morning, they can see the space is filled mostly with guys.

Killing a few minutes on an adjacent tennis court, the women ride in lazy circles as a portable speaker blasts rap music, its heavy beat mixing with the scuffle of urethane wheels. One of the men inside the park stops to peer through the fence at them; Maggie Bowen, the Aunt Skatie leader, is used to this.

“Going into a skate park as a woman can be kind of intimidating,” she says. “Especially if you’re a beginner, guys look at you weird.”

Their sport is not immune to cultural issues of race, gender and sexual orientation, but Bowen says “for women and queer people, it’s easier if you skate as a group.” And the increasing popularity of crews like hers has sociologists wondering if skaters might teach the rest of us something about inclusivity.

GOLF

Ten months after his right leg was badly damaged in a car crash, Tiger Woods is returning to competition next week with 12-year-old son Charlie in the PNC Championship.

“Although it’s been a long and challenging year, I am very excited to close it out by competing in the PNC Championship with my son Charlie,” Woods tweeted. “I’m playing as a Dad and couldn’t be more excited and proud.”

It will be his first competition, even in a tournament Woods described last week as the “hit-and-giggle” variety that he can play, since he and his son tied for seventh a year ago in the unofficial event that pairs family members.

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

2021 sports year in review: The year Simone Biles taught us it’s OK to not be OK

Top 2021 sports moments: UCLA’s Final Four run; Dodgers thrive despite Trevor Bauer

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1934 — The New York Giants wins the NFL championship by beating the Chicago Bears 30-13 in the famous “Sneakers Game.” With the temperature at 9 degrees and the Polo Grounds field a sheet of ice, the Giants open the second half wearing basketball shoes and score 27 points in the final period to overcome a 13-3 Chicago lead.

1938 — The Chicago Cardinals select TCU center Ki Aldrich with the first pick of the NFL Draft.

1939 — The Chicago Cardinals select Tennessee half back George Cafego with the first pick of the NFL Draft.

1949 — The All-America Conference merges with the National Football League. Three teams from the AAFC — the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts — join the 10-team NFL. The league is called the National-American Football League, but months later the National Football League name is restored.

1973 — Jim Bakken of the St. Louis Cardinals kicks six field goals in a 32-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

1984 — Eric Dickerson of the Rams rushes for 215 yards and two touchdowns against the Houston Oilers, breaking O.J. Simpson’s NFL single-season rushing record of 2,003 yards. Dickerson ends the season with 2,105 yards.

1993 — Kevin Johnson of Phoenix becomes the 13th player to record 10 steals in an NBA game, during the Suns’ 114-95 win over Washington.

2000 — Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith rushes for a season-high 150 yards, putting him over 1,000 for a record-tying 10th straight season and joins Walter Payton and Barry Sanders as the only players in NFL history with 15,000 career yards.

2001 — Bode Miller becomes the first American since 1983 to win a World Cup giant slalom race. Miller, third after the opening leg, has an excellent second run to win in a combined time of 2 minutes, 36.02 seconds in Val D’Isere, France.

2007 — Peyton Manning of Indianapolis becomes the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw 300 touchdown passes, getting four and going 13-for-17 for 249 yards in a 44-20 win over Baltimore.

2009 — Cassidy Schaub rolls consecutive 300 games and sets a Professional Bowlers Association 16-game scoring record, averaging 257.25 to retain the second-round lead in the Pepsi Red, White and Blue Open. Schaub had a 16-game total of 4,116 pins to erase the PBA record of 4,095 set by John Mazza in Las Vegas in 1996.

2016 — Russia’s sports reputation is ripped apart again when a new report into systematic doping details a vast “institutional conspiracy” that covers more than 1,000 athletes in over 30 sports and a corrupted drug-testing system at the 2012 and 2014 Olympics. This second and final report by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren says the conspiracy involves the Russian Sports Ministry, national anti-doping agency and the FSB intelligence service, providing further details of state involvement in a massive program of cheating and cover-ups that operated on an “unprecedented scale” from 2011-15.

2017 — Jozy Altidore opens the scoring in the 67th minute and Toronto FC beats the Seattle Sounders 2-0 in the MLS Cup to become the first Canadian champion in league history.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

The NFL’s 100 greatest players, no. 52: Eric Dickerson. 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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