The Sports Report: Is it too late for the Lakers this season? Yes
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
From Broderick Turner: Exactly who the Lakers are has not yet been defined, yet with 58 regular-season games in the books, there might not be enough time left for them to become the team that was once considered a serious contender for the NBA championship.
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They do not have an identity, said several NBA scouts during the All-Star break, and that is an issue the Lakers must grapple with when the season resumes later this week.
Time is not on their side, the scouts said, even if the Lakers showed some life in their last two games before the All-Star break.
They lost a close game to the Golden State Warriors and defeated the Utah Jazz, playing with energy and a renewed spirit.
“Well, I love the way we’ve played the last few games,” LeBron James said during his news conference at the All-Star festivities in Cleveland over the weekend. “I feel like after the trade deadline the energy shifted in our locker room, and I love the way we’ve played the last couple games. One resulted in a win, one resulted in a loss in the Bay [Area].
“But I hope we can just continue that same energy, that same connectivity and as a leader of the team, obviously it starts and ends with me , and we go from there.”
The Lakers are 27-31, 21 games behind the Phoenix Suns, who have the best record in the Western Conference and the NBA.
“If you’re still searching for an identity right now, you don’t have one, right? And they are,” said a Western Conference scout. “If you haven’t figured out who you are, figured out like the chemistry by now, you’re not going to figure it out. If you haven’t figured it out in  games, you’re not going to figure it out.
“The sense of urgency has been there too. They’ve said this for the last month and a half, ‘Oh, we got to figure it out!’ Well, it’s proven that you can’t figure it out now.”
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U.S. women’s soccer players reached a landmark agreement with the sport’s American governing body to end a six-year legal battle over equal pay, a deal in which they are promised $24 million plus bonuses that match those of the men.
The U.S. Soccer Federation and the women announced a deal Tuesday that will have players split $22 million, about one-third of what they had sought in damages. The USSF also agreed to establish a fund with $2 million to benefit the players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at growing the sport for women.
The USSF committed to providing an equal rate of pay for the women’s and men’s national teams — including World Cup bonuses — subject to collective bargaining agreements with the unions that separately represent the women and men.
“For our generation, knowing that we’re going to leave the game in an exponentially better place than when we found it is everything,” 36-year-old midfielder Megan Rapinoe said during a telephone interview with the Associated Press. “That’s what it’s all about because, to be honest, there is no justice in all of this if we don’t make sure it never happens again.”
Commentary: Here are the real winners of the USWNT players vs. U.S. Soccer Federation lawsuit
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Jack Harris on the Kings: It’s what Todd McLellan didn’t see that encouraged him the most.
With his team trailing by two goals at Arizona on Saturday night, the Kings coach noticed no panic from his players. Sensed no alarm on his bench. Felt no concern with his group’s state of mind.
The previous night, when the Kings faced yet another two-goal hole against the Vegas Golden Knights, he witnessed the same scene — composure, calmness and confidence exuding from a club that has been molding itself into something different this season.
“There’s a belief within our group that we can play and come back,” McLellan said. “We believe we can play against anybody.”
Those weren’t feelings the Kings often had in recent seasons, when they not only missed the playoffs three consecutive years but never even came close as they turned over the roster and built for the future.
This season’s team, however, is proving capable of much more. In Las Vegas, the Kings rallied for a 4-3 overtime win against the Golden Knights. The next night, they finished with a four-goal flurry to bury the Coyotes in a 5-3 victory.
With two months to play in the regular season, it’s clear they’re emerging from their rebuild with a new approach and elevated aspirations, a rebirth they hope results in a playoff appearance this year and return to a championship contender in the not-too-distant future.
“We haven’t had this much fun in a couple years,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “Every game just feels so important, and when you pull it off and win, I don’t know how to really explain it in the room. It just feels so good.”
Rickard Rakell had two goals in regulation and scored the winner in a shootout to lead the Ducks over the skidding San Jose Sharks 4-3.
Trevor Zegras converted in the first round of the tiebreaker, and Anaheim goalie Anthony Stolarz turned away Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl. That put it in the hands of Rakell, who went top shelf on James Reimer to give the Ducks their second straight win.
It was Rakell’s second multigoal game of the season. The Swedish left wing has a three-game point streak (three goals, one assist), and six of his 14 goals have come in the last seven games.
Derek Grant also scored for the Ducks, and Stolarz stopped 40 shots.
Couture had two goals for the Sharks, who lost their seventh in a row.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1935 — George “The Iceman” Woolf makes history, riding Azucar to victory in the inaugural Santa Anita Handicap. Azucar beats such greats as Equipoise and Twenty Grand in the first $100,000 horse race.
1938 — Joe Louis knocks out Nathan Mann in the third round to defend his world heavyweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York.
1960 — Carol Heiss captures the first gold medal for the United States in the Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, Calif., winning the figure skating event.
1968 — Wilt Chamberlain becomes first player to score 25,000 points in the NBA.
1980 — Eric Heiden wins his fifth gold medal and shatters the world record by six seconds in 10,000-meter speedskating at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. His time is 14:28.13.
1985 — Indiana coach Bob Knight is ejected five minutes into the Hoosiers’ 72-63 loss to Purdue when he throws a chair across the court. Knight, after two fouls called on his team, is hit with his first technical. While Purdue was shooting the technical, Knight picks up a chair from the bench area and throws it across the court, earning his second technical.
1987 — Seattle’s Nate McMillan sets an NBA rookie record with 25 assists to lead the SuperSonics over the Los Angeles Clippers 124-112.
1991 — North Carolina becomes the first team in NCAA basketball history to win 1,500 games with a 73-57 victory over Clemson.
2002 — The Americans end nearly a half-century of Olympic frustration for the U.S. men’s bobsled team, driving to the silver and bronze medals in the four-man race at the Salt Lake Olympic Games.
2007 — Tiger Woods’ winning streak on the PGA Tour, which began in July, comes to a shocking end. Woods fails to notice a ball mark in the line of his 4-foot birdie putt that would have won his third-round match against Nick O’Hern. Woods misses, then loses in 20 holes when O’Hern saves par with a 12-foot putt at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
2013 — Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche makes history just by stepping into the UFC cage. Rousey wins the UFC’s first women’s bout, beating Carmouche on an armbar, her signature move, with 11 seconds left in the first round of their bantamweight title fight at UFC 157.
2014 — Canada defends its Olympic men’s hockey title with a 3-0 victory over Sweden. Canada becomes the only repeat Olympic champ in the NHL era and the first team to go unbeaten through the Olympic tournament since the Soviet Union in Sarajevo in 1984.
2014 — Russia, the host country of the Winter Olympics, finishes with 33 medals overall and 13 gold. It’s the first time Russia topped both medals tables since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The U.S. wins 28 total, including nine gold.
2014 — Jason Collins becomes the first openly gay athlete in the United States four major pro leagues, playing 10 scoreless minutes with two rebounds and five fouls in the New Jersey’s 108-102 victory over the Lakers.
2014 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins a rain-delayed Daytona 500, a decade after his first victory in the “Great American Race.” Earnhardt snaps a 55-race winless stretch that dated to 2012. It also ends a frustrating sequence at Daytona International Speedway that had seen him finish second in three of the previous four 500s.
Supplied by the Associated Press
Bobby Knight, apparently about 8 years old, throws a chair. Watch and listen here.
Until next time...
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