The Sports Report: Clippers rout the woeful Lakers

Russell Westbrook reaches for a loose ball.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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

From Andrew Greif: Before LeBron James could reach the rim Thursday, he left the ball low enough for Clippers guard Reggie Jackson to cut off his drive and swipe the ball out of bounds, the threat ended.


As Jackson sauntered during the ensuing break in play, his chin up defiantly and jaw clenched, James did a double-take at the apparent temerity, his next-play focus transforming into disapproval. But there was little he could say. The Clippers led by 25 and the yawning gap between these franchises’ seasons had never been more apparent.

After winning the first three games of this series between Arena co-tenants by a combined eight points, the Clippers left no doubt during a 132-111 victory that extended their winning streak to five, pushed the Lakers’ losing streak to four -- and extended their misery.

The Clippers are 32-7 against the Lakers since the 2012-13 season and have won five in a row overall, and all of it left coach Tyronn Lue and Jackson waving their arms toward fans, asking for more noise, with less than four minutes remaining and the lead a stunning 29. Jackson had just hit a three-pointer while hearing chants of his first name on his way to 36 points, and Lue was on his way to improving to 7-0 against the Lakers since becoming the Clippers’ coach.

It is the first time the Clippers have swept four meetings against their rivals in the same season since 2015-16.

Amid a third quarter won by the Clippers, 40-18, they scored 23 unanswered points in a four-minute stretch that put two disparate seasons on display. With Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Norman Powell all watching from the sideline, with Lue offering no update on their injury recoveries, the Clippers continue to pound away.

Meanwhile, injured Lakers including Anthony Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker watched their team cut a 17-point first-half deficit to three at halftime, only to be overrun in a third quarter where the Clippers scored on all five transition opportunities and made five of their seven three-pointers.

James finished with 26 points and eight rebounds to lead the Lakers (27-35), who allowed the Clippers (34-31) to shoot better than 63% from deep.

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From Sam Farmer: The NFL is dropping its COVID-19 protocols. Mandatory testing, masks, proximity-measuring devices, it’s all over.

The league and NFL Players Assn. jointly announced the decision Thursday in a memo to all 32 clubs.

“Based on current encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the [Centers for Disease Control], changes to state law and based upon the counsel of our respective experts, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to suspend all aspects of the joint COVID-19 protocols, effective immediately,” the NFL said in a memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

“We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of the players, coaches and staff, as we have throughout the pandemic. Should there be reason to reimpose aspects of the protocols or take other measures, we will work closely with the clubs, the NFLPA and our respective experts, and local, state and federal public health officials to continue to safeguard the health of the NFL community.”


Matthew Stafford and wife take center stage in ‘Earnin’ It: The NFL’s Forward Progress’

Shane Olivea, former Chargers offensive lineman, dies at 40


Free-agent pitcher Joe Kelly writes a letter to baseball fans: A plea: Don’t give up on baseball. It’s too important.

I get it. You’re knee-deep in the millionaires vs. billionaires conversation that has dominated this offseason, looking for the signs of baseball stirring to life — images of ballplayers in sunglasses tossing baseballs in the shadows of palm trees, talk of rookies who look promising or players who deserve second chances. But none of those trusty signs of spring are here because of Major League Baseball’s lockout. I don’t blame you. This lockout feels like the last straw and you’re tempted to turn your back on the game. The usual criticisms of baseball have come bubbling to the surface. Baseball is slow, out of touch, selfish, steeped in traditions that no one even remembers anymore. Yes, I get it. The game has been trying to hold onto your loyalty for years now. This is it. Enough.

But it’s time to take a breath and understand, deep down, that baseball is awesome, and the same critics who love to undermine America’s pastime know this. They know baseball can inspire, delight and define three-quarters of a calendar year. They cherish the game, and that’s why they take issue with the way things are being managed. Is it the money that is at stake here? No, it’s the game itself that’s at stake. And I — along with my friends from all corners of the sports and entertainment worlds — am on a mission to save it.

To read the rest, click here.


Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer files a defamation lawsuit against Deadspin

While MLB lockout continues, Dodgers prospects take part in a real minor league camp


Endyia Rogers finished with 16 points and six assists, Nyara Sabally and Sedona Prince added double-doubles, and Oregon rallied for a 63-60 victory over upset-minded UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals at Las Vegas.

Rogers made just four of 13 shots from the floor for the second-seeded Ducks (20-10), but two of them were three-pointers and she made all six of her free throws. Sabally totaled 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Prince scored 12 with 12 boards.

Jaelynn Penn sank three of four from three-point range and scored 13 to help No. 7 seed UCLA (14-12) take a 32-31 lead at halftime. Sabally and Prince scored eight points each and Rogers added seven in the first half for Oregon. Te-Hina Paopao, who joined Sabally and Rogers on the All-Pac-12 team for a second straight season, missed all six of her shots and didn’t score.


From Ben Bolch: It could be a farewell followed by a welcome back.

UCLA’s David Singleton, Cody Riley and Jules Bernard will be honored on senior night Saturday at Pauley Pavilion before the No. 17 Bruins face No. 16 USC.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a goodbye. All three players might return next season because of additional eligibility granted every player in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin said Thursday that Singleton was the most likely of the trio to return, should he be accepted into graduate school, but no decisions have been made.

Some of the Bruins are expected to be more willing participants in the festivities than others.

“Cody doesn’t like the limelight,” Cronin cracked, “I might have to push him out there.”


UCLA freshman pitcher Ethan Flanagan has pulled off quite a comeback story


From Kevin Baxter: After suddenly becoming stuck for an opponent for a pair of April friendlies, the U.S. women’s national team will face Uzbekistan for the first time April 9 at Field in Columbus, Ohio, followed by an April 12 game at Subaru Park in Chester, Pa.

The U.S. thought it had games lined up against another team from the Asian soccer confederation, but that unnamed country backed out recently, citing complications over COVID-19 travel restrictions.

With the top European teams playing World Cup qualifiers in April, as are many of the lower-ranked teams in CONCACAF, the Americans were left with few options. Not playing wasn’t one of them: with the CONCACAF W Championship, which will determine the region’s automatic qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics looming in July, the U.S. needed a game.

The team also had obligations to its players, sponsors and broadcast partners. So the top-ranked Americans will play No. 45 Uzbekistan for the first time. Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic that gained its independence in 1991, will be the 55th country the U.S. has faced in women’s soccer.


1960 — Phil Latrielle of Middlebury scores an NCAA-record 10 goals in a 13-2 victory over Colgate. Latrielle, a three time All-American, would score a record 250 goals in the 85 games of his collegiate ice hockey career.

1962 — Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors registers his fifth straight 50-point game with 58 against the New York Knicks and sets a season scoring record with 3,921 points.

1968 — Joe Frazier wins the vacant New York world heavyweight title with an 11th-round TKO of Buster Mathis at Madison Square Garden.

1981 — Guy LaFleur of the Montreal Canadiens scores his 1,000th point with a goal in a 9-3 rout over the Winnipeg Jets.

1990 — Hank Gathers, one of two Division I players to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding in the same season, dies after collapsing during Loyola Marymount’s West Coast Conference tournament game against Portland. He was 23.

2004 — Mianne Bagger makes sports history at the Women’s Australian Open as the first transsexual to play in a pro golf tournament.

2006 — Rafael Nadal ends top-ranked Roger Federer’s 56-match hardcourt winning streak with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory in the final of the Dubai Open.

2011 — Miikka Kiprusoff becomes the first goalie in 25 years to stop two penalty shots in a game and finishes with 37 saves, leading Calgary past Columbus 4-3.

2013 — Gonzaga, the small Northwest school that has delivered big NCAA tournament wins, is on top of The Associated Press’ Top 25 for the first time. Riding the best record in Division I at 29-2, the Bulldogs become the 57th school to be ranked No. 1 since the AP poll began in January 1949.

2013 — Brittney Griner scores a Big 12 single-game record 50 points in her final regular-season game at Baylor and leads the Bears to a 98-50 win over Kansas State.

2015 — Russell Westbrook becomes the first player since Michael Jordan in 1989 to have four consecutive triple-doubles and the first since Jordan that year to have back-to-back triple-doubles with at least 40 points. Westbrook sets career highs with 49 points and 16 rebounds, and adds 10 assists, helping the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Philadelphia 76ers 123-118 in overtime.

2017 — Marit Bjoergen wins world championship gold in the 30-kilometer classical race as Norway completes a sweep of women’s cross-country ski titles at the world championships in Lahti, Finland. Bjoergen takes her record 18th career gold medal and fourth of the championships. No country had won all women’s cross-country gold medals at a single world championships since Russia in 1997, when there were only five events, rather than the current six.

2017 — Austrian Marcel Hirscher stuns the world of Alpine skiing by locking up an unprecedented sixth straight overall World Cup. He becomes the first male skier to win six overall titles. Hirscher’s 44th career win also secures him the giant slalom title.

2017 — Napheesa Collier scores 24 points and top-ranked UConn routed Tulsa 105-57 in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals. The Huskies (30-0) extend their NCAA-record winning streak to 105 games and reach the 30-victory mark for the 12th consecutive season.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Remembering Hank Gathers. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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