The Sports Report: Lakers are getting what they deserve
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Bill Plaschke on the Lakers: Shame on the Lakers.
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Shame on them for turning a magical championship season into an unabated clown show.
Shame on them for spending the last 15 months deconstructing their rebuilt credibility and allowing themselves to crumble back into the same old mess.
Magic Johnson ripping from the cheap seats. Kurt Rambis sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. A coach getting publicly skewered and probably fired. Lofty banners obscured by dirty laundry.
Remember in April 2019 when Johnson abruptly quit as the Lakers’ president, sending the organization spinning into weeks of confusion and embarrassment? Rob Pelinka was ridiculed, Kurt and Linda Rambis were ripped, and the coaching seat was soon swept clean.
It’s all happening again.
After a humiliating 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena, the Lakers confirmed their identity as a mediocre team with major problems caused by serious mismanagement, and there is no easy solution in sight.
Five things the Lakers can do to get back on track
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Gary Klein on the Rams: Jalen Ramsey has faced Tom Brady only once in the postseason, and it was a game Ramsey chose to put out of his mind.
In the 2017 playoffs, Brady led the New England Patriots to victory over Ramsey’s Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium.
“That game was disappointing, so I just tried to forget about it as much as I could,” Ramsey, the Rams star cornerback, said Thursday during a video conference with reporters.
Ramsey and Brady have changed teams since that playoff matchup.
On Sunday, Ramsey gets another postseason shot at neutralizing the most successful quarterback in NFL history when the Rams play Brady and the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFC divisional-round game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
“I’m sure he’s going to bring it,” Ramsey said of Brady. “I’m sure his team’s going to be ready.
“He’s a great leader, the way he’s able to get his team to rally around him, the way he’s able to get his team to all believe that they’re great and able to make all the plays possible. I’m sure we’ll get their best effort.”
Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The 2021 Chargers finished third in passing yards and fourth in total offense.
Of the eight teams that scored the most points this season, seven made the playoffs. The other team was the Chargers.
Yes, defense was their most glaring issue. And their most surprising, general manager Tom Telesco admitted Thursday.
“I thought the transition would be more seamless and quicker than it was,” he said. “I actually thought it would take much longer on offense than defense. But that’s kind of how it worked out.”
Meeting with the media for the first time since his team’s season ended with a Week 18 overtime loss in Las Vegas, Telesco said he takes responsibility for the defense failing to meet expectations.
He repeatedly expressed his love for the scheme employed by head coach Brandon Staley and praised the work of defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill. He explained that another year of learning and development should help in 2022.
But Telesco said he “overestimated” how the Chargers would perform defensively, something that no doubt will impact how the roster is retooled over the next several months.
At SoFi Stadium, Dr. Dre assembles a hip-hop dream team for Super Bowl halftime show
NFL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE
All times Pacific
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 5 1/2
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.
UCLA-USC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
Thuc Nhi Nguyen on UCLA vs. USC: Exactly half of UCLA’s huddle was dressed in uniform to play. The other half settled for sweatpants and gray T-shirts. But they all wore a matching smile by the end of the night.
Even with as many players injured as available, short-handed UCLA cruised to a dominant 66-43 victory over rival USC on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion to win its fourth consecutive game in the series.
“Seven’s all we got, but seven’s all we need,” Bruins coach Cori Close said. “I thought there was a look in their eye today that wasn’t lip service anymore. They weren’t trying to convince themselves, they really believed it.”
UCLA (8-4, 3-1 Pac-12 Conference) won its third straight game overall entering Sunday’s 6 p.m. rematch at Galen Center in the second game that was rescheduled because of COVID-19 outbreaks on both teams. For the Trojans, who shot 27.6% from the field and turned the ball over 27 times, a chance at redemption can’t come soon enough.
“We got our ass kicked,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “I don’t think that’s who we are or who we want to be. … But as bad as I feel and as embarrassed as I am, I’m excited to play this team again.”
UCLA’s aggressive defense flustered the Trojans (9-6, 2-3 Pac-12) into eight first-quarter turnovers, knocking them off kilter.
UCLA MEN’S BASKETBALL
Ben Bolch on the Bruins: Mick Cronin brought out an old boxing reference when asked about the challenge facing his ninth-ranked team against a massive underdog, mentioning Buster Douglas’ epic upset of Mike Tyson as evidence of what can happen without inflicting enough early damage.
It was the Bruins who absorbed most of the body blows in the first half Thursday night at the Huntsman Center against a team that had not won in almost a month.
Utah battered UCLA with one three-pointer after another while holding every Bruin not named Johnny Juzang in check defensively. Seeking their first victory since beating Fresno State on Dec. 21, the Utes held a three-point lead midway through the second half, invigorating a small but spirited crowd.
The Bruins were already shorthanded on the wing, missing their top two reserves, when Jules Bernard limped off the court. Fans unleashed an “Overrated!” chant that seemed appropriate given the sequence that followed. UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell missed a layup and forward Cody Riley threw a cross-court pass that was stolen before Jaime Jaquez Jr. compounded the mess by committing a foul.
It was only in the final minutes that a game that had been tilting heavily the other way finally went in the Bruins’ favor.
Bernard sparked a late run with a three-pointer that wiped out his team’s final deficit, the Bruins finally on the way to a 63-58 victory that allowed them to deeply exhale.
They got there only after Utah missed two three-pointers in the final 20 seconds and Bernard made two free throws after grabbing a rebound and getting fouled. Bernard was just one of many Bruins protagonists.
Jaquez took a charge on Both Gach with 30 seconds left and the Bruins (12-2 overall, 4-1 Pac-12) holding a two-point lead, his teammates mobbing him in celebration while he sat on the court. Utah fouled Campbell, who made one of two free throws with 25 seconds left to push UCLA’s lead to 61-58 before Utah’s final misses.
Juzang finished with a game-high 28 points on nine-for-13 shooting, including three of five three-pointers.
USC MEN’S BASKETBALL
When Chevez Goodwin transferred to USC, he quickly learned about the rivalry with, and losing streak to, Colorado.
“I knew for a fact coming into this year, I was like, I’ll be going to Boulder, personally, and I’m going to break that streak right here, right now,” Goodwin said.
After a rough first half, Goodwin carried the 16th-ranked Trojans to their first win over the Buffaloes since 2018.
Goodwin scored all 14 of his points in the second half and grabbed 18 rebounds, Max Agbonkpolo had 11 points and hit three of four free throws in the final 15 seconds, and USC ended three years of frustration against Colorado with a 61-58 victory on Thursday night.
Isaiah Mobley had 13 points and six rebounds and Boogie Ellis overcame foul trouble to score 11 for the Trojans (15-2, 5-2 Pac-12), who had dropped seven straight to the Buffaloes (12-5, 4-3).
Helene Elliott on the Kings: Aisha Visram expected her family and friends to become emotional when she told them she would be filling in on the Kings’ athletic training staff Jan. 13.
They had supported her unlikely dream, offering encouragement when her job applications were rejected and taking it in stride when she was too busy to answer their calls and texts during hockey season. When the national anthem played before the Kings’ game against the Pittsburgh Penguins that night, she said, “I felt like they were all there with me sharing in the moment.”
But Visram, who is the head athletic trainer for the Kings’ American Hockey League farm team in Ontario and was called up to The Show when the Kings’ training staff was thinned by COVID-19, didn’t expect the torrent of publicity she received for simply doing her job.
Toronto-born Visram, 36, unknowingly made a splash when she became the first woman to stand behind the Kings’ bench and the second confirmed to have worked behind an NHL bench. The Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society initially said she was the first woman to have worked a regular-season NHL game behind the bench in any capacity but later amended that to say Jodi van Rees was the first, as an assistant athletic trainer for the Montreal Canadiens in 2002.
Good for Visram. Like the players whose health and fitness she monitors, she had to move up through the ranks, starting with St. Lawrence University before she spent three seasons with Adirondack of the ECHL. She was hired by the AHL Ontario Reign just over a year ago. She earned her NHL promotion, which extended to the Kings’ game against Tampa Bay, on Tuesday. The fuss that it caused, though, left her with conflicting emotions.
Kings’ skid continues with 4-1 loss to Avalanche
Jack Harris on the Dodgers: The Dodgers haven’t been able to do much during MLB’s nearly two-month lockout, which has halted all major league player transactions and is threatening to cause delays to spring training and the regular season.
But this week, the team made news by announcing a series of front office personnel moves, highlighted by the promotion of Brandon Gomes to general manager that Gomes and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman discussed publicly Thursday for the first time during a video call with reporters.
Here are four things to know about the Dodgers’ front-office changes.
Click here to read the four things.
Dodgers GM Brandon Gomes found his calling during his many stints in the minors
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1921 — Kenesaw Mountain Landis takes office as baseball’s commissioner.
1947 — Carl Hubbell, Frank Frisch, Mickey Cochrane, and Lefty Grove are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1953 — Dizzy Dean and Al Simmons are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The baseball writers pass over Joe DiMaggio in his first year of eligibility.
1954 — For the first time in NBA All-Star history, an overtime period is needed. Boston’s Bob Cousy scores 10 points in the overtime to give the East a 98-93 victory and Cousy the MVP honors.
1958 — Bob Pettit of St. Louis becomes the first member of the losing team to win the NBA All-Star MVP award, scoring 28 points and grabbing 26 rebounds, even though the East beats the West 130-118.
1969 — Roy Campanella and Stan Musial are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1979 — Terry Bradshaw throws four touchdown passes to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to their third Super Bowl win, a 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Bradshaw, the game’s MVP, completes 17 of 30 passes for 318 yards.
1990 — John McEnroe becomes the first player thrown out of the Australian Open. McEnroe’s tantrum comes while leading Mike Pernfors 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, 2-4.
1996 — Karrie Webb becomes the second quickest winner in LPGA Tour history winning the HealthSouth Inaugural at Walt Disney World. Webb, in her second LPGA start, beat Jane Geddes and Martha Nause on the fourth hole of a playoff. Webb finished second in her first LPGA start a week earlier in the Chrysler-Plymouth Tournament of Champions.
2005 — Four-time Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjoerndalen wins his 49th career World Cup biathlon, breaking the record for career victories. Bjoerndalen edges fellow Norwegian Frode Andresen in the 10-kilometer sprint event to pass former cross country great Bjorn Daehlie at 48 career wins.
2007 — Lovie Smith becomes the first black head coach to make it to the Super Bowl when his Chicago Bears win the NFC championship. Tony Dungy joins him when his Indianapolis Colts take the AFC title.
2009 — New Jersey Institute of Technology ends its 51-game losing streak, getting 26 points from Jheryl Wilson in a 61-51 victory over Bryant. NJIT had not won since it defeated Longwood on Feb. 19, 2007.
2010 — Lakers guard Kobe Bryant becomes the 15th player in NBA history to reach 25,000 career points and the youngest to hit the milestone. Bryant finishes with 31 points in the Lakers’ 93-87 loss at Cleveland.
2012 — Notre Dame upsets No. 1 Syracuse 67-58 and hands the Orange their first loss after 20 straight victories. It’s the eighth time Notre Dame has beaten a No. 1 team — that ties for fourth-most all-time.
2017 — Adam Hadwin shoots a 13-under 59 in the CareerBuilder Challenge for the ninth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history and the second in 10 days. The 29-year-old Canadian reaches 13 under with a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th and makes a 3-footer from just off the green for par on the 18th at La Quinta Country Club.
Supplied by the Associated Press
Vin Scully remembers Roy Campanella. Watch and listen here.
Until next time...
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