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The Sports Report: Rams defeat Seahawks

Cooper Kupp makes a reception in front of Seahawks cornerback Sidney Jones in the second quarter.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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

Gary Klein on the Rams: It probably was too much to ask for high artistry.

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The Rams endured a week that featured nearly 30 players going onto and coming off the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list, ravaging their roster and forcing the league to push their game against the Seattle Seahawks to Tuesday night.

So, it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing at SoFi Stadium.

But for one moment, the Rams were picture perfect.

Matthew Stafford’s magnificent touchdown pass to receiver Cooper Kupp early in the fourth quarter was the key play in the Rams’ 20-10 victory before a crowd of 71,565.

On a record-setting night for Kupp, Stafford connected with him for two touchdowns and the defense neutralized Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in a victory that improved the Rams’ record to 10-4 and moved them into a first-place tie with the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West.

“This was a heavy week of navigating through all the things that we went through,” coach Sean McVay said, adding, “This was big time win.”

The Rams don’t have much time to rest.

They play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in Minnesota, and then finish the season with a trip to play the Baltimore Ravens and a home finale against the San Francisco 49ers.

But the Rams were savoring their second victory of the season over the Seahawks (5-9), especially after the trials and tribulations of the last two weeks.

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Rams’ 20-10 victory over Seattle Seahawks by the numbers

Photos: Rams defeat Seahawks to stay in thick of NFC West title race

NFL: Jalen Hurts has three touchdowns, Eagles come back to beat Washington

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LAKERS

Dan Woike on the Lakers: A mask covered Monty Williams’ mouth, meaning you couldn’t see his jaw drop when he heard the question. But his eyes? They opened wide like a perfectly spaced court.

Minutes earlier, Lakers fill-in coach David Fizdale talked about how the Suns have become one of the NBA’s best teams by balancing star power with offensive balance – a team with guys who can get 50 points but are even more lethal when a handful score 20.

How, then, have the Suns pulled off what the Lakers have tried so hard to figure out early this season – getting players with clout like Chris Paul and Devin Booker and up-and-coming reputations like Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges to function as one?

“That’s not something I’ve ever even thought about. I can’t even answer that,” Williams said sounding a little stumped. “...I know who they are. I value them on a different level, not on their stardom. I value them on their commitment to the program. And to me, that means more than anything.”

Stardom is the Lakers’ program – the title banners and retired numbers position side-by-side in their home arena’s rafters as a constant reminder.

But stars aren’t getting it done, at least not this group with this team, Tuesday another reminder that the Lakers simply aren’t in the class of the NBA’s best teams.

The Suns, at first slowly and then ferociously, picked the Lakers apart, asserting their dominance without much question in a 108-88 victory.

Even before Anthony Davis injured his knee last Friday, the Lakers have been chasing an attitude that diverts from that, preaching teamwork over individualism. Frank Vogel has gone as far to tell his team that the “open man” is more talented than anyone on the court (save for maybe LeBron James).

Now with him out the Lakers are chasing the Suns’ balanced identity even more. Star or not, the Lakers need to start doing the things that equal winning basketball more often than not – by hanging on to the basketball and grabbing rebounds.

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Q&A: Jared Dudley on how being a championship Lakers player helps him as a coach

NBA has ‘no plans’ to pause season as COVID cases rise among players

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers placed No. 2 quarterback Chase Daniel and backup defensive lineman Joe Gaziano on the COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday.

Those moves brought to nine the number of players the team has put on the COVID list in the last two days.

Coach Brandon Staley said Monday that Joey Bosa will miss the Chargers’ game this weekend at Houston after the star edge rusher tested positive. Reserve defensive back Kemon Hall also was ruled out by Staley.

The other Chargers on the list include starting center Corey Linsley; cornerback Tevaughn Campbell, who has been starting in place of the injured Asante Samuel Jr.; kick returner Andre Roberts; defensive back Trey Marshall, and edge rusher Chris Rumph II.

NHL

The NHL will withdraw from the Winter Olympics after the regular-season schedule was disrupted by coronavirus outbreaks, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the announcement had yet to be made on the NHL pulling out of Beijing. The NHL informed the NHLPA on Tuesday that it was retaining its right to withdraw from Olympic participation because there was a material disruption to the season, the person said. The NHLPA was not going to dispute the decision.

An announcement was expected Wednesday.

USC FOOTBALL

Kedon Slovis is trading USC for Pittsburgh.

The former Trojans quarterback announced Tuesday he is heading east to join the Atlantic Coast Conference champion Panthers, where he will get a chance to replace ACC player of the year Kenny Pickett.

“I’m feeling incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a Panther — and I can’t wait to prove myself again on this stage,” Slovis said in a piece he wrote for The Players Tribune released Tuesday evening.

Slovis entered his junior season at USC as a Heisman Trophy contender but he struggled to find any rhythm. He passed for 2,153 yards with 11 touchdowns against eight interceptions in nine games before being lost for the season because of a leg injury.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1894 — The United States Golf Assn. is founded, becoming the governing body for the game in the country.

1915 — The Federal League folds. Owners of the American and National Leagues buy out half of the owners (Pittsburgh, Newark, Buffalo, and Brooklyn) of the Federal League teams. Phil Ball, owner of the St. Louis Terriers, is allowed to buy the St. Louis Browns of the AL, and Charles Weeghman, owner of the Chicago Whales, buys the Chicago Cubs of the NL.

1924 — Babe Dye of the Toronto St. Patricks scores five goals in a 10-2 victory over the Boston Bruins.

1946 — The Cleveland Browns beat the New York Yankees 14-9 in the first AAFC championship game.

1969 — Pete Maravich sets an NCAA record by hitting 30 of 31 foul shots, and scores 46 points to lead LSU to a 98-89 victory over Georgia.

1974 — Boston’s Phil Esposito scores two goals, including his 500th goal, to lead the Bruins to a 5-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Boston Garden.

1990 — Paul Coffey becomes the second NHL defenseman to record 1000 points. Coffey reaches the milestone with an assist on Kevin Stevens’ goal in second-period of a 4-3 win against the New York Islanders.

1996 — Brett Hull becomes the 24th player in NHL history to score 500 goals, with a hat trick in the St. Louis Blues’ 7-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Brett and his father, Bobby Hull, are the first father-son tandem to each score 500 goals.

2003 — Brett Favre passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns a day after his father dies, moving into second place in NFL history for career TD passes while leading the Green Bay Packers to a 41-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Favre passes Fran Tarkenton on the NFL’s career list with his 343rd TD throw.

2005 — Reggie Campbell of Navy ties the NCAA bowl record with five touchdowns and had 290 all-purpose yards, leading the Midshipmen to a 51-30 win over Colorado State in the Poinsettia Bowl.

2006 — Peter Bondra scores his 500th NHL goal early in the third period to snap a 1-all tie and lead Chicago past Toronto 3-1.

2007 — Eathyn Manumaleuna blocks a field goal as time expires to give BYU a 17-16 victory over UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl.

2009 — Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh becomes the first defensive player voted The Associated Press College Football Player of the Year, winning the award after his dominant performance against Texas in the Big 12 title game.

2013 — Peyton Manning finishes 32 for 51 for 400 yards and four touchdown passes to set the single season touchdown mark in Denver’s 37-13 win over Houston. Manning, with 51 touchdown passes, passes Tom Brady (50 in 2007) for the most in a single season in NFL history.

2013 — Tom Brady leads the Patriots to a 41-7 win at Baltimore as New England clinches the AFC East. It’s the 11th division title for Brady, the most by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

2016 — Matt Linehan throws for 381 yards and four touchdowns and runs for a another score to help Idaho beat Colorado State 61-50 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It’s the third-highest scoring game in bowl history. Idaho (9-4) matches its highest victory total since moving to FBS in 1996.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Brett Hull scores his 500th goal. 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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