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The Sports Report: Clippers lose to Spurs

Clippers guard Reggie Jackson yells to a teammate after making a three-point shot in the first half.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: It wasn’t only Paul George and Serge Ibaka who were back Monday for the Clippers.

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Some of their worst habits were, too, the kind of nagging problems that have undercut their attempts to string together consistency more than a third of the way through this season – with the most difficult stretch of their schedule still to come.

Outhustled for rebounds, beaten back on defense in transition and unable to generate points off of San Antonio’s mistakes, the Clippers were methodically thumped, 116-92, in their last game in the building known as Staples Center, before its official name change to Crypto.com Arena.

There was a different name for this outing, though – ugly. It was also the latest in a three-game losing streak that dropped the franchise to 16-15.

Only two days after a victory in Oklahoma City was snatched away on the final possession, the Clippers appeared doomed well before the fourth quarter even began. A 17-point third quarter exacerbated the issues that led them to trail by eight after one quarter, by 14 at halftime and other difficult nights like this during the season’s first two months.

Their opponents had grabbed the league’s 10th-highest rate of offensive rebounds -- and that was before San Antonio grabbed 12 by halftime and scored 13 points off them. Through three quarters, San Antonio held a whopping 19-3 advantage in second-chance points.

The Clippers stand in the middle of the pack in points scored off of turnovers, a result based largely on their struggles to generate fast-break points, where they ranked third-worst in points per transition opportunity. Through three quarters, the Spurs had scored 11 more points in transition, and eight more off of turnovers.

On a night when the Clippers trailed by as many as 30, and San Antonio guard Dejounte Murray recorded his sixth triple double of the season, continuing to burnish his star turn, the best result for the Clippers was George’s return to the court, and form.

George scored 25 points on eight-of-18 shooting, with six assists and six rebounds, as well, and though he had four turnovers, he nearly offset them with three steals.

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CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: Edge rusher Joey Bosa was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Monday for the second time this season.

The difference now is that he will miss a game.

Coach Brandon Staley said Bosa will be out when the Chargers play at Houston on Sunday.

Bosa was one of seven players the team moved to the COVID list, the group including starting center Corey Linsley and cornerback Tevaughn Campbell, who has been starting in place of the injured Asante Samuel Jr.

Other than Bosa and reserve defensive back Kemon Hall, who Staley also said won’t play Sunday, the other Chargers on the list could return in time to face the Texans.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association adjusted the league’s virus protocols last week to make it easier for vaccinated players who test positive but are asymptomatic to rejoin their teams.
Bosa is unvaccinated and thus remains under stricter protocols.

“I think it’s just good strategy in terms of altering the return-to-play mechanisms, especially with the vaccinated,” Staley said. “They’ve done a really nice job of following the data, following the science.”

The other Chargers added to the COVID list Monday were kick returner Andre Roberts, defensive back Trey Marshall and edge rusher Chris Rumph II.

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: Defensive tackle Aaron Donald and wide receiver Cooper Kupp were voted to the Pro Bowl, the Rams announced Monday.

Full rosters for the NFC and AFC teams will not be released until Wednesday.

It is the eighth Pro Bowl selection for Donald, the first for Kupp.

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Cooper Kupp is looking to add to his memorable season when Rams face Seahawks

LAKERS

Dan Woike on the Lakers: It’s not hard to imagine LeBron James’ thinking as he huddled with his confidants this past summer, working with (or as) the Lakers’ front office in putting together the team he would try towin another title with.

He needed the Lakers to be more offensively dynamic so he sought out shooters, old friends like Carmelo Anthony who could catch a cross-court dart, rise and fire. He knew they’d need to be versatile so veteran Trevor Ariza became a logical choice.

But so many of those decisions had to have been with an eye on the playoffs — the only place where the results truly matter. Everything else would be about moving forward at a consistent pace, waiting for the right time to turn over the ignition and jet toward the finish line.

In the meantime, he had to have thought, All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis could do more of the work, lessen some of his burden and keep the Lakers in good position until the time became most critical.

But now past the 30-game threshold this season, it’s clear that this plan was full of miscalculations, that Westbrook and Davis were either not enough together or not enough as a pair with the surrounding players.

Nope, the Lakers need a lot from James. They need it now. And, for the first time in more than a generation, it might be more than he can deliver.

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Elliott: Unfamiliar-looking Lakers yearning for a return to whatever’s normal

USC FOOTBALL

Ryan Kartje on the Trojans: Abdul-Malik McClain, a former football player who left USC amid a federal probe into his brother, was arrested Monday on federal fraud and identity theft charges for allegedly orchestrating a scheme to claim nearly a million dollars in fraudulent COVID-related unemployment benefits, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

McClain, who’s now enrolled at Jackson State, is charged with 10 counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft for his alleged role in organizing and assisting a group of football players last summer in filing fraudulent claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistant program, which was established during the pandemic to provide aid to those who didn’t qualify for normal unemployment benefits.

The indictment, filed on Dec. 16, alleges that McClain and his “co-schemers” helped a group of football players file claims that contained false information about their prior employment status, their future plans of employment and their presumed job loss due to the pandemic, with the intent of defrauding California’s Employment Development Department.

ANGELS

Bill Shaikin on the Angels: In the final weeks of 2019, the city of Anaheim celebrated a landmark deal. The Angels would stay in Anaheim for decades, and the team’s owner would transform the desolate sea of parking lots surrounding the stadium into a vibrant ballpark neighborhood anchored by homes and offices, restaurants and shops, and Mike Trout.

As the first weeks of 2022 approach, no ground has been broken, and the deal remains in limbo. The latest hurdle: The state housing agency has charged the city with violating the law by failing to put the land up for bid among affordable housing developers. The city considers this bureaucratic nonsense, arguing the Angels’ ability to veto housing there for up to two decades makes the team owner the best buyer and likely the only bidder for the land.

If the city is correct, the state could back off. Real estate brokers suggest the city could be right. So why hasn’t the city put the land up for bid, the better to prove its point and the faster to proceed with the deal?

The Anaheim City Council meets Tuesday, for the first time since the state notified the city of the legal violation. The Angel Stadium land sale is not listed on the agenda, and the city has until Feb. 6 to resolve the violation with the state housing agency.

“We are in the early stages of preparing a response to the state’s notice and want to respect that process,” city spokesman Mike Lyster said. “We have many potential paths ahead of us and continue to evaluate all of them.”

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L.A. Times asks to unseal records in case involving death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs

NHL

The NHL is initiating a leaguewide shutdown starting Wednesday amid an increase of positive COVID-19 tests results among players across the league.

The announcement Monday night means the league’s already-scheduled holiday break will begin after Tuesday night; two games slated for Tuesday are still set to go on as scheduled.

The league and NHL Players Assn. on Sunday initially said in a joint statement they were attempting to avoid a leaguewide shutdown and were making decisions on a team-by-team basis before the later announcement. The latest shift gives all 32 teams an extended break before players, coaches and staff can gather again Sunday to skate and undergo coronavirus testing.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the Christmas break typically prohibits team activities before Dec. 27. Games are still scheduled to resume that day.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1891 — Dr. James Naismith introduces the first game of basketball. Based on 13 rules created by Naismith, the game is tested by 18 students at the School for Christian Workers in Springfield, Massachusetts. Using a soccer ball, two peach baskets and two teams of nine players each, the objective is to throw a round ball into a round basket attached to a balcony 10 feet above the floor.

1941 — The Chicago Bears win the NFL championship with a 37-9 rout of the New York Giants.

1975 — The Buffalo Sabres score eight goals in the third period of a 14-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. Rick Martin scores four goals and Fred Stanfield gets three for Buffalo. The Sabres, who lead 6-2 after two periods, outshoot the Capitals 22-3 in the final period.

1981 — Doug Schloerner’s 15-foot jump shot with one second remaining in the seventh overtime gives Cincinnati a 75-73 victory over Bradley. The seven overtimes set an NCAA record.

1991 — Buffalo’s Alexander Mogilny matches an NHL record by scoring five seconds into the game as the Sabres beat Toronto 4-1.

1997 — Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions becomes the third player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season when he gains 184 in a 13-10 win over the New York Jets. Sanders finishes with 2,053 yards, second to Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 in 1984.

2001 — Dwayne DeRosario scores six minutes into overtime as the San Jose Earthquakes beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 to win their first MLS Cup.

2008 — Detroit becomes the first 0-15 team when it’s routed 42-7 by the New Orleans Saints. The Lions also break NFL records by being outscored by a combined 176 points at home and by an average of 22 points.

2008 — Cleveland’s Jamal Lewis becomes the 24th player in NFL history to rush for 10,000 career yards in the Browns’ 14-0 loss to Cincinnati.

2008 — San Francisco’s Isaac Bruce becomes the fifth player to reach 1,000 catches on a three-yard touchdown grab in the 49ers’ 17-16 win at St. Louis.

2009 — Martin Brodeur surpasses Terry Sawchuk’s 40-year-old NHL record with his 104th shutout, leading New Jersey to a 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh.

2010 — The No. 1-ranked Connecticut women’s basketball team tops the 88-game winning streak by John Wooden’s UCLA men’s team from 1971-74, beating No. 22 Florida State 93-62. Maya Moore has a double-double with a career-high 41 points and 10 rebounds and Bria Hartley adds 21 points for the Huskies, who hold the record for the longest winning streak in all of college basketball history.

2013 — Jared Roberts makes a 41-yard field goal as time expires and Colorado State overcomes a 22-point deficit to beat Washington State 48-45 in the New Mexico Bowl.

2014 — Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson has six receptions for 65 yards in the Texans’ 25-13 win against Baltimore to become the 10th player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career catches.

2015 — Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are each banned for eight years by the FIFA ethics committee in a stunning removal of world soccer’s most powerful leaders. FIFA President Blatter and his one-time protege Platini are kicked out of the sport for conflict of interest and disloyalty to FIFA in a $2 million payment deal that is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Barry Sanders passes 2,000 yards rushing in a season. 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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