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The Sports Report: Short-handed Lakers fall to Bulls

Chicago Bulls guard Coby White dunks past LeBron James during the second half.
(Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

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

Dan Woike on the Lakers: coach Frank Vogel wasn’t on the sidelines, another one of his players entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and the team’s best defender had a bulky knee brace visible through his sweats.

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And all things considered, there was good news to be celebrated.

Anthony Davis, who the Lakers lost for at least four weeks Friday night in Minnesota, detailed how things could’ve been way worse for him, how his knee popped loud enough for him to hear and how the pain built and built until he collapsed.

The prospect of the next month without Davis could seam bleak, but there are worse outcomes, and with the Lakers’ luck 31 games into this season, no one would’ve been shocked.

“Mentally, I’m fine,” Davis said before Sunday’s 115-110 loss to the Bulls. “I’m in good spirits just being around the team — obviously avoided a major injury, which has kind of got my spirits back up because I just didn’t know.”

That kind of uncertainty has been the wind in this team’s sails all season, the Lakers uncertain what kind of performance they’d deliver on a nightly basis. And just when it seemed like they might have found some threads of consistency, this trip happened.

The Lakers started losing players to the NBA’s health and safety protocols Monday. Positive tests quickly spread into the team’s traveling party and broadcast team, the roster changing on a daily basis. Needing bodies to fill their roster, they signed veteran guard Isaiah Thomas on Friday.

With Kent Bazemore entering COVID protocols, the Lakers had to start Thomas.

“We were getting into it and now something else happened,” Davis said. “It’s our entire team, though. Like, we started playing well, start getting a rhythm with each other and then all the COVID stuff happened and then more injuries.

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USC MEN’S BASKETBALL

Ryan Kartje on the Trojans: USC’s sensational start to the hoops season is officially on hold amid an outbreak of COVID-19 within its own program.

The Trojans’ final road trip of the non-conference season was cut short Sunday, as the team was forced to cancel its Tuesday matchup with Oklahoma State and pause all team activities due to several confirmed positive cases.

The non-conference matchup, which was billed as part of the Compete 4 Cause Classic, will not be rescheduled. It’s the first game USC hoops has had canceled outright since last December, when the Trojans were also forced to pause all team activities amid an outbreak of the virus. That outbreak claimed two non-conference games, while a conference matchup with Oregon State was rescheduled for later in the season.

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: After nearly a week of continuing uncertainty about their roster, and how it might affect their chance to make a run to the NFC West title, the Rams got a double dose of good news Sunday.

Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who had been on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list since last Monday, was activated to the roster and will play Tuesday against the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium. Ramsey had been put on the list only hours before the Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals, the team that had the best record in the NFL.

“That’s a huge deal for us,” Rams coach Sean McVay said of Ramsey’s return during a videoconference with reporters, “and I was ecstatic when I got the call that he was cleared.”

The Detroit Lions, with a big hand from former Rams quarterback Jared Goff, defeated the Cardinals (10-4) on Sunday, positioning the Rams (9-4) to move into a first-place tie with Arizona if they beat the Seahawks (5-8).

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NFL Week 15: Aaron Rodgers and Packers defeat Ravens to win NFC North title

NHL

Helene Elliott on the NHL: The NHL season will continue despite the recent increase in positive tests for the coronavirus, the NHL and NHL Players’ Assn. said Sunday, but games involving travel between teams based in the United States and Canada will be postponed starting Monday and extending through Thursday, the last day before the league’s scheduled holiday break.

The league and the players’ union also said they are “actively discussing” players’ scheduled participation in the Beijing Winter Olympics hockey tournament and they expect to make a determination “in the coming days.” It appears increasingly unlikely that players will travel to China for the Games.

The NHL formulated two schedules, one with a break to allow players to represent their homelands at the Olympics and another that did not halt play in the event players don’t go to China. That second schedule could be adjusted to accommodate games that have been postponed.

KINGS

Adrian Kempe scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to give the Kings a 3-2 win over the undermanned Washington Capitals.

Washington was missing forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Michael Sgarbossa, all on the COVID-19 list. Oshie was placed on the list earlier Sunday, and Sgarbossa was a late scratch.

Garret Sparks, recalled from the minors before the game, stopped 33 shots for his first NHL win since March 20, 2019.

Blake Lizotte scored short-handed and Christian Wolanin also had a goal for the Kings, who trailed by two late in the second period.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1921 — Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis casts the deciding vote to return to best-of-seven World Series from the best-of-nine format. The American League votes to return to best-of-seven World Series, while National League votes for the best-of-nine format. The a best-of-nine series was used in 1903 and 1919 through 1921.

1966 — The NBA grants a franchise to Seattle, expanding the league to 11 teams for the 1967-68 season.

1973 — Henri Richard of the Montreal Canadiens scores his 1,000th point, getting an assist in a 2-2 tie with the Buffalo Sabres.

1980 — NBC experiments by not providing commentators for the national broadcast of the game between New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. The Jets win 24-17.

1981 — Winnipeg’s Doug Smail scores a goal five seconds into the game to set a NHL record for fastest goal from the start of a game. The Jets beat the St. Louis Blues 5-4.

1983 — Montreal’s Guy Lafleur scores his 500th goal as the Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 6-0. Lafleur scores the milestone goal at 8:34 of the third, beating Glenn Resch with a rising 30-footer.

1985 — North Carolina sets an NCAA record with 18 blocked shots in an 87-55 rout of Stanford.

1998 — Green Bay’s Brett Favre becomes the first NFL player to throw for more than 30 touchdowns in five different seasons. Favre connects three times with Antonio Freeman in the first half of a 30-22 win over Tennessee to break a tie with Dan Marino.

2003 — St. John’s provides a perfect ending for coach John Gagliardi’s record-breaking season, snapping Mount Union’s NCAA-record 55-game winning streak with a 24-6 victory in the Division III championship game.

2005 — Kobe Bryant scores a career-high 62 points and the Lakers beat Dallas 112-90. Bryant scores a franchise-record 30 points in the third quarter and sits out the fourth after outscoring the Mavericks 62-61 over the three quarters.

2006 — Bode Miller wins the super-giant slalom in Hinterstoder, Austria, 90 minutes after Lindsey Kildow and Julia Mancuso finish 1-2 in a downhill at Val d’Isere, France. Those successes give the U.S. team five wins and an unprecedented nine podium results over six days. It’s the most impressive streak for the American team since 1983.

2009 — Ben Roethlisberger completes 29 of 46 passes with three TDs and 503 yards, becoming the first Pittsburgh quarterback to throw for 500 yards in a game during a 37-36 win over Green Bay. He hits rookie Mike Wallace for a 19-yard touchdown on the final play.

2009 — Cleveland’s Jerome Harrison scores his third touchdown with 44 seconds left for the winning points and rushes for a team-record 286 yards in a 41-34 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Joshua Cribbs of the Browns has two kickoff returns for touchdowns.

2014 — No. 1 Kentucky scores the game’s first 24 points in an 83-44 victory over UCLA. The Wildcats lead 41-7 at the intermission. It’s the lowest point total in a half for UCLA and the fewest by a Kentucky opponent since December 1943.

2015 — New England improve to 12-2 with a 33-16 win over Tennessee, and becomes the second team in NFL history with at least 12 regular-season wins in six consecutive seasons.

2017 — Fletcher Magee scores 27 points to help Wofford stun No. 5 North Carolina 79-75, snapping the reigning national champion’s 23-game home winning streak.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Kobe Bryant scores 62 points in three quarters. 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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