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The Sports Report: Lakers fall to Grizzlies

LeBron James reacts during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies.
(Justin Ford / Getty Images)

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

Dan Woike on the Lakers: LeBron James walked down the court, his chest heaving and frustration and sweat rolling down his face. His eyes looked to the ceiling. His mouthpiece jutted in and out.

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More than 1,300 games into his NBA career, the worst feeling was written all over him as his shoulders slumped to the court.

There was nothing he could do. Another blown possession, another wasted night, another chance at grabbing the tiniest piece of momentum lost and he couldn’t stop it.

The Lakers lost to the Grizzlies 108-95 Thursday, James’ 100th career triple-double wasted as the Lakers returned to .500.

James tried to fix it — sometimes too hard.

He instructed Anthony Davis to be more physical in the post and barked at Malik Monk during a timeout. But he also turned the ball over — firing deep passes into coverage like a practice squad NFL quarterback.

Yeah, he could bully Memphis on his way into the paint, but as the game wore on and the Grizzlies lead grew, the breaths in and out of his mouth got deeper and his legs looked heavier.

The acquisition of Russell Westbrook was supposed to mitigate this, he and Davis the kind of stars that could lighten the load on James’ nearly 37-year-old shoulders.

But with where the Lakers are now, there’s no room for bad nights among those players — the rest of the roster is, even in a perfect world, built to complement them and not cover for them.

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RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: He carried the ball 24 times and also caught three passes in a victory that set up the Rams for a playoff push.

The 27 touches running back Sony Michel’s got Sunday in a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was his heaviest workload to date for a team built for a Super Bowl run.

“The good thing was, I wasn’t as sore as I expected to be,” Michel said Thursday, “and I’m pretty well turned over now, and ready to roll.”

Michel started against the Jaguars because Darrell Henderson was injured and, perhaps more importantly, because coach Sean McVay adopted a run-first mentality.

Whether McVay remains committed to that approach — and Michel’s role in it — will not be revealed until the Rams play the Arizona Cardinals in a key NFC West game on “Monday Night Football” in Glendale, Ariz.

The Cardinals (10-2) are currently the top-seeded team for the NFC playoffs. They defeated the Rams 37-20 at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 3.

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: He has elevated his play to the point where the Chargers are asking him to back off just a bit.

Third-year safety Nasir Adderley was told this week that he might accomplish more by trying to demolish less.

“He wants to just do everything kind of Tasmanian devil-like,” defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill said. “I told him, ‘Hey, you can do all those things and still be able to play under more control.’ ”

Adderley is among the Chargers who have emerged this season under the defensive scheme brought in by rookie head coach Brandon Staley.

Last weekend in Cincinnati, Adderley shared in his first career sack with fellow safety Derwin James Jr. On Sunday against the New York Giants, he likely will set his single-season high in tackles — with four games to go.

“His ceiling, he’s nowhere near it,” Hill said. “We’ve still got a lot to tap into.”

UCLA MEN’S BASKETBALL

Ben Bolch on the Bruins: They’re the fourth-ranked team in the nation, have won seven of eight games and are about to improve significantly.

“We’re 10 points or more better with him,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said Thursday, “that’s just a fact.”

Him would be Cody Riley, the redshirt senior power forward who could be on the verge of returning from the sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee that has sidelined him since the first half of the Bruins’ season opener against Cal State Bakersfield on Nov. 9.

Riley has practiced this week in a limited role, going one play with teammates before taking two plays off, while wearing a black knee brace. He moved somewhat stiffly during the portion of practice open to the media Thursday, jumping to lay in a lob from Jaylen Clark and setting a hard screen on a ball-movement drill.

DUCKS

Trevor Zegras and Rickard Rakell scored in the shootout and the Ducks rallied past the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 for their second straight win.

Isac Lundestrom scored for the Ducks and John Gibson stopped 33 shots for his fourth consecutive win against Columbus.

“Any time you can find a way to get two points on the road, it’s a win,” Gibson said. “It might not be the prettiest, and especially with some guys out, but finding ways to get points and especially get wins is huge. Hopefully it’s going to help us a lot down the long run.”

SPARKS

The Sparks will open the 2022 WNBA season against the defending champion Chicago Sky and former Sparks star Candace Parker on May 6.

The 5 p.m. PST game in Chicago is the second of four on opening night. Indiana is at Washington to tip off the season at 4 p.m. PST, while the nightcaps are Las Vegas at Phoenix and Minnesota at Seattle. The next night the other four teams in the league will open their seasons.

The Sparks resume their season-opening trip May 8 against the Fever at noon PST in Indiana before traveling to Atlanta and Connecticut before their home opener on May 17 against the Minnesota Lynx at Crypto.Com Arena.

SPARKS 2022 SCHEDULE
all times Pacific

May

6, at Chicago, 5 p.m.; 8, at Indiana, noon; 11, at Atlanta, 4 p.m.; 14, at Connecticut, 4 p.m.; 17, vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.; 20, at Seattle, 7 p.m.; 23, at Las Vegas, 7 p.m.; 25, vs. Phoenix, 7:30 p.m.; 27, at Indiana, 4 p.m.; 29, at Minnesota, 4 p.m.; 31, vs. Dallas, 7:30 p.m.

June

5, at Phoenix, 3 p.m.; 11, vs. Las Vegas, 6 p.m.; 19, at Dallas, 1 p.m.; 21, vs. Washington, 7:30 p.m.; 23, vs. Chicago, 7:30 p.m.; 27, vs. Las Vegas, 7:30 p.m.

July

1, at Dallas, 5 p.m.; 3, vs. New York, 7 p.m.; 4, vs. Phoenix, 4 p.m.; 7, vs. Seattle, 7:30 p.m.; 12, vs. Washington, 7:30 p.m.; 14, vs. Chicago, 7:30 p.m.; 19, vs. Indiana, 7:30 p.m.; 21, vs. Atlanta, 12:30 p.m.; 23, at Las Vegas, 7 p.m.; 28, at Phoenix, 7 p.m.; 31, vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m.

August

2, at New York, 4 p.m.; 3, at New York, 4 p.m.; 5, at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m.; 7, at Washington, noon; 9, vs. Connecticut, 7:30 p.m.; 11, vs. Connecticut, 7:30 p.m.; 14, vs. Dallas, 4 p.m.

HORSE RACING

John Cherwa on horse racing: There is little doubt that the search for answers on why Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit suddenly died on Monday after a workout at Santa Anita has been at the forefront of racing this week. But now the heat has been turned up even more as it has gained the attention of California’s senior U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein.

“Seeing any horse die on the race track is tragic, but the sudden death of a champion horse like Medina Spirit is particularly jarring,” Feinstein told The Times. “A thorough and transparent examination into the death is necessary to determine the cause of death and ensure that all education and training protocols were followed.”

Feinstein was a major voice during the 2019 horse fatality spike at Santa Anita, when 37 horses died during the year. Twice she called for the suspension of racing at Santa Anita, once on June 10 when six horses died in 23 days and again after the Breeders’ Cup, when Mongolian Groom died because of the result of injuries in the Classic.

OLYMPICS

David Wharton on the Olympics: It makes sense that the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics could play a major role in helping surfing and skateboarding earn regular spots in the Summer Games.

The prototypical Southern California pastimes recently made their Olympic debut in Tokyo and will be included on the “additional” list in Paris three years from now. On Thursday, Olympic officials proposed keeping them — and sport climbing — around for L.A. too.

“That’s … three!” Sabatino Aracu, head of the international skateboard federation, said in response to potentially being part of yet another Games.

The International Olympic Committee is expected to approve the addition at a session before the Beijing Winter Games in February. LA28 organizers expressed their support, with chairman Casey Wasserman noting the sports “share a youthful energy and creative vibe and will be perfect.”

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

1939 — The Green Bay Packers register the first shutout in an NFL championship game by beating the New York Giants 27-0.

1961 — Billy Cannon of the Houston Oilers rushes for 216 yards, catches five passes for 114 yards and scores five touchdowns in a 48-21 victory over the New York Titans. Cannon finishes with 373 combined yards.

1971 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scores a career-high 55 points in Milwaukee’s 120-104 victory over the Boston Celtics.

1982 — Michael Dokes knocks out Mike Weaver in the first round to capture the WBA heavyweight title in Las Vegas.

1985 — The Indiana Pacers hits only 19 field goals in an 82-64 loss to the New York Knicks, setting an NBA record for the fewest field goals made by one team since the inception of the shot clock.

1986 — Atlanta’s Dominique Wilkins scores 57 points to lead the Hawks to a 123-95 rout of the Chicago Bulls.

1992 — The NHL awards expansion franchises to Anaheim and Miami. The newcomers, scheduled to begin play in the 1993-94 season, bring the NHL to 26 teams.

1994 — Art Monk sets an NFL record for consecutive games with a reception on New York’s first play in the Jets’ 18-7 loss to the Detroit Lions. Monk’s 5-yard catch gives him 178 consecutive games with a reception, breaking Steve Largent’s NFL mark.

1999 — Laffit Pincay Jr. guides Irish Nip to a two-length victory in the sixth race at Hollywood Park for his 8,834th victory, breaking Bill Shoemaker’s 29-year-old record and making him the world’s winningest jockey.

2006 — LaDainian Tomlinson breaks Shaun Alexander’s NFL single-season touchdown record of 28 when he scores three times in the San Diego Chargers’ 48-20 victory over the Denver Broncos. Tomlinson has 26 TDs rushing and three receiving.

2006 — Marvin Harrison of Indianapolis is the fourth player in NFL history with 1,000 receptions, joining Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Cris Carter.

2008 — Carmelo Anthony matches George Gervin’s NBA record for points in a quarter with 33 in the third and finishes with a season-high 45 points in Denver’s 116-105 victory over Minnesota.

2010 — George Karl earns his 1,000th coaching victory, the seventh coach in NBA history, as Al Harrington scores a season-high 31 points and Nene adds 26 to help the Denver Nuggets hold off the Toronto Raptors 123-116.

2016 — Army ends a 14-year run of frustration against Navy, using an overpowering running game and opportunistic defense to carve out a long overdue 21-17 victory.

2016 — Roman Torres scores in the sixth round of penalty kicks to give the Seattle Sounders their first MLS Cup title, 5-4 over Toronto FC after 120 scoreless minutes. It’s the first MLS Cup final to fail to produce a goal in regulation, setting the stage for a dramatic tiebreaker.

2017 — Ben Roethlisberger completes 44 of a franchise-record 66 passes for 506 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 500 yards passing three times and leading Pittsburgh past Baltimore 39-38. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards for Pittsburgh.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

The Seattle Sounders with the 2016 MLS Cup. 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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