The Sports Report: Carmelo Anthony leads Lakers past Trail Blazers

Russell Westbrook drives to the hoop past Portland's Jusuf Nurkic, left, and CJ McCollum, right.
Russell Westbrook drives to the hoop past Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic, left, and CJ McCollum, right.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Looking for Rams news? That comes in our special Super Bowl newsletter that you will get at 6 a.m. each day until the day after the Super Bowl. If you are subscribed to this newsletter, you are automatically subscribed to the Super Bowl newsletter.

Dan Woike on the Lakers: With the Lakers below .500 and failing to draw sellout crowds, the disappointments in this year’s Lakers team are easy to spot. Sometimes, you don’t even have to look.


Take early in the second half when Dwight Howard spent one second joking about a missed Portland free throw and the very next knocking a rebound out of Russell Westbrook’s hands. Or when Westbrook felt the Trail Blazer on his back and saw the wall of defenders in front of him, coughing up the ball as he pushed into certain failure. Slow to get back, the Trail Blazers capitalized on the numbers advantage and hit a three.

Those were some of the more embarrassing mistakes on Wednesday, a rotating list of errors that have kept the Lakers from coming close to any level of sustainable success this season.

But amidst all that changing chaos, there’s been one sign of consistency – Carmelo Anthony with the same braids, the same headband, celebrating three-point shots with the same sideways shuffle and the same fingers pointed to his temple.

Anthony hit five threes on his way to scoring 24 points, the Lakers winning for the first time since LeBron James left the lineup with a swollen knee.

James, who was listed as doubtful throughout the day after missing the previous three games continued receiving treatment away from the team and wasn’t in the building for Wednesday’s 99-94 victory.

Without him, the Lakers relied on Anthony Davis and Anthony to power them through a gritty game against Portland. Davis had 30 and 15 rebounds, a physically dominant performance in his fourth game since returning from a knee injury.

Fresh off a defensive-orientated practice on Tuesday, the Lakers held Portland to just 16 points in the first quarter while opening up a double-digit lead. But a series of lazy closeouts on Portland’s shooters allowed the Trail Blazers to get hot in the second, scoring 37 points against a suddenly helpless defense.

But despite the errors, and there were still plenty, the Lakers locked in enough on defense to steady themselves and finish the Trail Blazers off, ending their three-game losing streak.


Clippers and Lakers will face off hungry for a win and elusive positive momentum

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Kevin Baxter on soccer: The U.S. national team proved Wednesday that it’s possible to play soccer at the North Pole. What it didn’t establish, however, is why you would want to.

Playing in weather more suitable to polar bears, penguins and popsicles, the U.S. warmed its cooling World Cup hopes with a 3-0 win over Honduras that kept it second in the eight-team CONCACAF qualifying tournament with three games remaining, placing a ticket to this fall’s competition in Qatar well within its grasp.

Weston McKennie, Walker Zimmerman and Christian Pulisic stormed across the frozen tundra at Allianz Field to score on three set pieces, sending the U.S. to its most one-sided shutout win since last spring.

But it wasn’t attractive, it wasn’t artful and it probably wasn’t all that smart to be running around in shorts in 2-degree weather and a wind chill of -13, temperatures which made the kickoff the coldest for a U.S. qualifier this century by a wide margin.


Phillip Danault scored twice, including the go-ahead goal in the third period, and the Kings finished off a highly successful six-game trip with a 5-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

Arthur Kaliyev, Victor Arvidsson and Adrian Kempe also scored for the Kings, who went 4-0-2 on their road swing. Jonathan Quick, who is 6-1 in his last seven games against Detroit, made 22 saves.

“This type of game can go either way,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “You’ve been on the road for a really long time. You know the break is coming, you’re looking to get home to your families, and I thought our guys decided that this was going to be an important game. We played every minute like it was.”


J. Brady McCollough on the Trojans: We’re in the early stages of getting to know Lincoln Riley’s quirks. So far, here’s one: Detailed timelines of how seismic events occur aren’t going to be a strong suit.

Of course all anybody wanted to know from him Wednesday on national signing day was the nitty gritty of how he courted quarterback Caleb Williams to follow him from Oklahoma to USC. He did provide a glimpse of the start — one that will induce more red-faced conspiracy theories from the incredulous Sooner State.

“There’s zero communication, and then all of a sudden Caleb and his family make the decision to jump into the transfer portal,” Riley said, “and we had a conversation shortly after that, and I don’t think we talked even one bit of football. It was just kind of like long-lost friend. It was kind of good just to be able to reconnect.”

From there, Riley’s narrative jumped about four weeks with his old pal Williams getting himself enrolled last Friday, his last chance to do so and be eligible for spring practice. Frankly, while we’d like to hear more, Riley knows the fact that Williams is on campus this week taking classes with his fellow Trojans is all that matters.

For USC folks, after years of listening to a coach who talked too much and delivered little, it had to be refreshing Wednesday to observe one who says just enough to prove their precious program is in worthy hands.


John Cherwa on horse racing: An administrative judge has upheld the suspension of the veterinary license of Dr. Jeff Blea, equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board. It’s the latest turn in what seems to be a political battle between the California Veterinary Medical Board and the CHRB and could leave the state’s horse racing regulatory body without a full-time equine medical director for up to a year.

The denial of Blea’s reinstatement was by Nana Chin, the same administrative law judge who upheld her suspension of Blea’s license in an emergency hearing Dec. 24. The latest ruling followed a hearing on Jan. 21 with a determination issued last Friday. It was made public Wednesday on the Department of Consumer Affairs website.

No date has been set for a hearing into the charges, but it can take up to a year under normal circumstances. Attorneys for Blea have a few options left, including asking for a temporary restraining order, but nothing has been filed.


Mike DiGiovanna on the Angels: The Orange County 4th District Court of Appeals reversed a Superior Court decision to dismiss Brian “Bubba” Harkins’ defamation complaint against the Angels and Major League Baseball on Wednesday, sending the case back to the lower court for a jury trial.

“I was thrilled, and Bubba is as well,” said Daniel L. Rasmussen, an attorney representing Harkins. “The appeals court recognizes that this case deserves to have its day in court, that it was premature to dismiss it at an early stage.

“Bubba hasn’t won his case or anything — he’s just starting — but he gets a chance. He deserves a chance to prove his case and to see what a jury thinks about it.”

Harkins, the team’s long-time visiting clubhouse manager, was fired by then-general manager Billy Eppler in March 2020 after the Angels learned that he was providing a blend of sticky substances to visiting pitchers to aid their grip on the baseball.


David Wharton on the Olympics: The International Olympic Committee has approved a proposal to include surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing among the core sports for the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

The decision came during an IOC session on Thursday, a day before the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics.

“The LA28 Games have always been about bringing more freshness, youthful energy and creativity into the Olympic and Paralympic movement,” Casey Wasserman, chairman of the L.A. organizing committee, said in a statement.

As prototypical Southern California activities, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing made their Olympic debut in Tokyo last summer and will be included in the “additional” list for Paris in 2024.


Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the Winter Olympics: Get your TV guides out. It’s time for the Olympics again.

Navigating NBC’s Olympic coverage can feel like an Olympic sport . The network will present more than 2,800 hours of coverage — a record for the Winter Olympics — across NBC, USA Network, CNBC, and its streaming app Peacock.

It was only seven months ago that viewers were sorting through NBC’s Olympic puzzle without much success for the Tokyo Games. Hearing frustrations about how difficult it was to understand the various platforms, NBC has tried to streamline its coverage for Beijing.

“We realized we had to make it easier for the viewer to navigate that, to digest the amount of Olympic content,” NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a video released by NBC. “And I think one of the great things about Peacock is people will know that that is your safety net, your home for all things Olympics.”

Peacock will be one-stop shopping for every event, said Molly Solomon, president and executive producer of NBC Olympics Production. Fans can also look for event schedules with enhanced customization on and will get additional direction from on-screen graphics and tickers during broadcasts to direct them to upcoming events.


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1944 — Syd Howe of the Detroit Red Wings scores six goals in a 12-6 victory over the New York Rangers. Howe is the first player to score six goals in a game since Cy Denneny of the Ottawa Senators in 1921.

1956 — Austria’s Toni Sailer wins the men’s downhill to become first Olympic skier to sweep three Alpine events.

1976 — Washington’s Dave Bing, in his final NBA All-Star game apperance, wins the MVP and leads the East to a 123-109 victory over the West in Philadelphia. Bing has 16 points and four assists.

1980 — Larry Bird hits the first three-point shot in the history of the NBA All-Star Game. Bird’s 3 came in overtime. The East wins 144-136.

1982 — Steve Mahre, twin brother of overall champion Phil Mahre, becomes the first American male skier to win a gold medal in an Olympics or world championship competition when he edges Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark in the giant slalom at the worlds.

1990 — Bill Shoemaker, the world’s winningest jockey, finishes fourth on Patchy Groundfog in his final ride at Santa Anita. The 58-year-old Shoemaker finishes his 40-year career with $123,375,524 in earnings, a record 8,833 wins, 6,136 seconds and 4,987 thirds in 40,350 starts.

1998 — Dino Ciccarelli becomes the ninth NHL player to reach 600 goals when he scores on a power play with 5:09 remaining in the third period to give the Florida Panthers a 1-1 tie against the Detroit Red Wings.

2000 — World Wrestling Federation mastermind Vince McMahon unveils his latest creation: the XFL, a new pro football league.

2001 — One year later, the XFL muscles its way onto the national sports scene with its first two games. With exuberant cheerleaders and trash-talking players, the Las Vegas Outlaws beat the New York/New Jersey Hitmen 19-0, while the Orlando Rage beat the Chicago Enforcers 33-29 before a crowd of 35,603 in Orlando.

2002 — Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard field goal as time expires gives Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots their first Super Bowl title with a 20-17 win over the two-touchdown favorite St. Louis Rams.

2006 — Martin Brodeur becomes the third goaltender in NHL history to reach 100 shutouts when New Jersey blanks Carolina 3-0. Brodeur joins Terry Sawchuk (115) and George Hainsworth (102).

2008 — Eli Manning and the New York Giants end New England’s unbeaten season and pull off one of the great Super Bowl upsets. Manning throws a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left to beat the Patriots 17-14.

2013 — The Baltimore Ravens survive a power outage at the Super Bowl to edge the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. Jacoby Jones returns the second-half kickoff 108 yards, a Super Bowl record, to give Baltimore a 28-6 lead. Moments later, lights lining the Superdome fade. When action resumes 34 minutes later, Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers score 17 consecutive points, getting as close as 31-29. Baltimore stops San Francisco on fourth-and-goal from the 5 with under 2 minutes left when Kaepernick’s pass sails beyond Michael Crabtree in the end zone.

2017 — Tara VanDerveer becomes the second NCAA women’s coach to reach 1,000 victories when No. 8 Stanford beats Southern California 58-42 to give the Hall of Famer a milestone before a home crowd at Maples Pavilion.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

The Giants upset the undefeated Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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