The Sports Report: Lakers, Clippers and Ducks lose

Carmelo Anthony blocks the shot of Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis in the first half.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: Fifteen months ago, the Lakers won the NBA championship and Frank Vogel was lauded for being the steward who guided them to their 17th title that tied L.A. with the hated Boston Celtics for the most in league history.


Now, on Jan. 19, some two hours before the Lakers were set to play the Indiana Pacers, Vogel sat behind a desk answering questions about his job status.

His position as coach of the Lakers seemingly had become a cloudy situation, with reports that his job was in peril because of his team’s poor play and standing in the NBA.

On nights like Wednesday, when the Lakers blow a 15-point lead and drop a 111-104 game to a Indiana Pacers team with a 16-29 record now, that’s when the talk about Vogel’s job being in jeopardy starts to make noise.

Even with five players scoring in double figures, the Lakers lost a game because their defense was poor in the fourth quarter.

LeBron James tried to carry his part of the weight with a double-double of 30 points and 12 rebounds, which made him the 42nd player in NBA history to collect at least 10,000 rebounds.

The loss that dropped the Lakers to 22-23 was even more disconcerting because Russell Westbrook and Trevor started walking towards the locker room with 8.4 seconds left in the game at Arena.

Westbrook had another of his horrible shooting nights, going five-for-17 from the field for 14 points. He was a minus-18 in the plus-minus department.

“This is definitely a disappointing loss, against a team sub.-500, on our home court,” Vogel said. “We feel like we should win. And you got to win the games you feel like you can win.”

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Andrew Greif on the Clippers: Gulping a bottle of water to calm the fury inside him, Tyronn Lue waited before speaking at a postgame dais, as visibly upset as the coach had appeared since becoming the Clippers coach in 2019.

Twice after a 130-128 overtime loss to the Nuggets in Ball Arena, Lue said he was glad he had paused himself, “before I said some things I shouldn’t say,” he said. “But I’m pretty sure you guys seen it as well.”

Lue was furious at officials, at Denver star Nikola Jokic taking 16 free throws, two more than were taken by the entire Clippers roster, after staying in the game despite charging an official during the first half and being held back by his coach. After a defensive three-second call to open overtime, he had yelled at official Brandon Adair, asking “how can you call that?”

He was upset because it had marred a game played in Denver’s thin air, amid even thinner margins. The Clippers came in waves despite playing without Marcus Morris Sr. and Nicolas Batum. They pushed the ball on battering-ram drives by Justise Winslow, their lead on put-back baskets from Ivica Zubac and the tension throughout the fourth quarter and overtime through one-on-one isolations pitting guard Reggie Jackson against Jokic, the reigning most valuable player.

But on a night when their contributions came from everywhere, they were undone because Jokic provided nearly everything for the Nuggets in a 49-point, 14-rebound, 10-assist masterpiece that included a high-arching pass that traveled easily 45 feet, from in front of the Nuggets’ bench, over a long-armed double team of 7-foot Zubac and 6-8 Amir Coffey and toward the opposite corner, where Aaron Gordon waited.

Gordon’s three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in overtime broke a 127-all tie, all because of a pass that Lue said only Jokic and LeBron James likely could have made.

The shot sent the crowd into hysterics and sent Nuggets reserve Davon Reed sprinting off the bench, too, mistakenly believing the game was over – drawing a technical foul, which pulled the Clippers within two points. But Jackson’s half-court heave at the buzzer did not fall.


Gary Klein on the Rams: For the last 12 years, when the NFL playoffs moved to divisional-round games, Stafford was relegated to interested observer. The Rams quarterback rooted for friends and former Detroit Lions teammates on teams trying to advance to NFC or AFC championship games and beyond.

“I’ve made bunch of relationships in this business,” Stafford said Wednesday during a video conference with reporters. “So, I’m always paying attention no matter what. Just trying to pull for the guys I know.”

On Sunday, for the first time since he was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, Stafford will be a participant, not a fan, for an NFC divisional-round game when the Rams play the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Stafford earned the opportunity by leading the Rams to a 34-11 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in a wild-card game at SoFi Stadium. It was Stafford’s first playoff win after losing three wild-card games with the Lions.

Now a Rams team built with a mandate to play in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium has a chance to take another step toward that goal.

“I’m hoping that we continue to earn more opportunities,” Stafford said, adding, “I’m enjoying every moment of it and preparing myself to play as a good as I possibly can to help us try to keep it going.”

The pressure will be on Stafford on Sunday in a game that pits him in a postseason duel against Tom Brady, the most successful quarterback in NFL history.

Stafford has a 1-3 record in the playoffs. Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion, is 35-11.

This season, the Buccaneers led the NFL in passing and were second in scoring.

“The biggest thing about going against a guy like Tom is just knowing his consistency and his ability to get his team in the end zone,” Stafford said. “He’s done a great job throughout his career, both in New England and Tampa, scoring points — and doing it kind of every which way is called upon.

“As an offense, we need to do the same.”


NFL roundtable: Super helpful for Rams to play Buccaneers next instead of Packers?


All times Pacific

Divisional round

Cincinnati at Tennessee, 1:30 p.m., CBS, Paramount+, Tennessee favored by 3 1/2 points
San Francisco at Green Bay, 5:15 p.m., Fox, Fox Deportes, Green Bay by 6

Rams at Tampa Bay, Noon, NBC, Peacock, Universo, Tampa Bay by 3
Buffalo at Kansas City, 3:30 p.m., CBS, Paramount+, Kansas City by 1 1/2

Note: Super Bowl is Sunday, Feb. 13 on NBC.


Ben Bolch on the Bruins: On the rare instances in which he’s beaten defensively, Peyton Watson can use his length and explosiveness to recover in an instant and block a shot from behind. He’s done it several times.

When his team needs a big steal late in a game, Jaylen Clark can use his active hands and quick feet to badger his counterpart into a turnover. He’s done it several times.

They are plays Watson and Clark are uniquely qualified to make. They’re also becoming more commonplace for UCLA with a recent uptick in playing time for the young players who are the most athletic on the team.

Clark, a sophomore guard, made his first career start last weekend against Oregon State and rewarded the Bruins with a career-high 11 points in addition to his usual lockdown defense.

Watson, a freshman guard, showed the many ways he can help his team while playing 21 minutes against Oregon and nearly 23 minutes against Oregon State. It was the most playing time he’s earned in back-to-back games and portends the possibility of a larger role as No. 9 UCLA (11-2 overall, 3-1 Pac-12) prepared to face Utah (8-10, 1-7) on Thursday night at the Huntsman Center.

“It’s exciting that both of those guys are improving because they’re our two best athletes and I think that it shades a weakness of ours at times with our lack of athleticism on the court,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “So long term, for us to get where we want to go, I think that both of those guys are going to have to be factors for us.”


Ben Bolch on the Bruins: UCLA has found its new tight ends coach in Jeff Faris, who served in a variety of positions in a decade at Duke.

After the completion of his playing career with the Blue Devils, Faris rose from graduate assistant to co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season. He had also served as the wide receivers coach for four seasons and the tight ends coach for three seasons before being promoted to his most recent role a year ago.

Faris was part of the staff let go in November after Duke decided to part ways with longtime coach David Cutcliffe.

Faris, who turns 32 in March, will make the cross-country move along with former Duke wide receiver Jake Bobo, who is joining the Bruins after catching 74 passes for 794 yards and one touchdown last season for the Blue Devils. Graduate transfer running back Brittain Brown, who recently completed his second productive season with the Bruins, also began his career at Duke.


Pavel Francouz made 34 saves for his second career shutout, Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist and the Colorado Avalanche earned a point in their 10th straight game, defeating the Ducks 2-0.

Francouz made only his sixth appearance and fourth start of the season. He missed the first two months due to an ankle injury. Both of his shutouts have come against the Ducks. Francouz is 5-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .922 save percentage this season.

Samuel Girard also scored for the Avalanche, who are an NHL-best 9-0-1 in January. They also are 15-1-2 in their last 18 games.

John Gibson made 26 saves for the Ducks, who have lost their last four. It was his first game back in net after he missed the last five due to the league’s health and safety protocols.


1891 — The International YMCA in Springfield, Mass. is the site of the first official basketball game. Peach baskets were used, but it wasn’t until 1905 that someone removed the baskets’ bottoms.

1937 — Nels Stewart of the New York Americans becomes the NHL’s all-time scorer with his 270th goal in a 4-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

1952 — George Mikan scores 61 points, a career-high, to lead the Minneapolis Lakers to a 91-81 double-overtime victory over the Rochester Royals.

1966 — Ted Williams, longtime star of the Boston Red Sox, is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Williams was a two time triple crown winner, a two time MVP and the last player to hit over .400 — despite losing five prime years to service in the Marine Corps.

1968 — Elvin Hayes scores 39 points to lead Houston to a 71-69 victory and end UCLA’s 47-game winning streak. A regular-season record 52,693 fans attend the game at the Houston Astrodome.

1970 — Cincinnati’s Tom Van Arsdale and Phoenix’s Dick Van Arsdale are the first brothers to play in the same NBA All-Star game. Dick scores eight points for the West team, while Tom scores five for the East, which wins the game 142-135 at Philadelphia.

1980 — President Carter announces the U.S. Olympic team will not participate in the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the previous month.

1980 — Terry Bradshaw passes for 309 yards and sets two passing records to help the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Rams 31-19 and become the first team to win four Super Bowls.

1985 — Joe Montana passes for a Super Bowl record 331 yards and three touchdowns to lead the San Francisco 49ers to a 38-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Roger Craig scores a record three touchdowns.

1996 — Rudy Galindo, in the biggest upset in decades, wins the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, earning two perfect marks along the way.

2001 — Alan Webb of South Lakes High School in Reston, Va., becomes the first American prep runner to break four minutes for the indoor mile, with a time of 3:59.86 at the New Balance Games in New York.

2002 — Steve Yzerman becomes the ninth player in NHL history to notch 1,000 assists, which he earns on Mathieu Dandenault’s game-winning goal when Detroit beats Ottawa 3-2 in overtime.

2008 — Despite a shaky Tom Brady, New England Patriots are too much for the banged-up San Diego Chargers in the AFC championship game, pulling out a 21-12 victory that sends them back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in seven seasons.

2008 — Lawrence Tynes, who missed a 36-yard field goal at the end of regulation following a bad snap, nails a 47-yarder in overtime to give the New York Giants a 23-20 win over Green Bay in the NFC championship at Lambeau Field. The Giants win their 10th straight on the road in the third-coldest championship game ever.

2013 — San Francisco’s Frank Gore runs for a pair of second-half touchdowns and the 49ers rebounds from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC championship game.

2013 — Joe Flacco outduels Tom Brady, throwing three touchdown passes in the second half and leading the Baltimore Ravens to their first Super Bowl in 12 years with a 28-13 victory over the New England Patriots for the AFC championship.

2016 — Kathryn Smith is promoted by the Buffalo Bills to take over as special teams quality control coach, making her the first full-time female coach in the NFL.

2017 — Henrik Sedin had a goal for his 1,000th career point before Luca Sbisa scored the winner early in the third period to help Vancouver beat Florida 2-1. Sedin converted a pass from twin brother Daniel on a 2-on-1 rush for his 11th goal of the season. Henrik Sedin became the 85th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points, and the 38th to accomplish the feat with one franchise.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Highlights from the Steelers-Rams Super Bowl. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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