The Sports Report: LeBron James’ injury comes at critical time for Lakers

Lakers forward LeBron James controls the ball during a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.
Lakers forward LeBron James controls the ball during a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. James is listed as doubtful to play Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Austin Knoblauch, filling in for Houston Mitchell, who’s probably trying to find a buyer for his Matt Beaty jersey. Let’s get right to the news.

From Broderick Turner: The news Monday on the injuries LeBron James and Anthony Davis are dealing with were on different ends of the spectrum, but the result is that both stars will be listed as doubtful when the reeling Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

James suffered a sprained left ankle Sunday during the Lakers’ loss at the New Orleans Pelicans. He didn’t practice Monday afternoon.


Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis sit on the bench during a game against Philadelphia.
Lakers stars LeBron James, left, and Anthony Davis sit on the bench during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 23.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

“Well, he definitely had some swelling from the ankle, the ankle sprain, and we’ll list him as doubtful for tomorrow,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said on Zoom. “He stayed back from practice today to get treatment on it and will be listed as doubtful.”

Vogel said Davis was able to practice Monday. He has been out since suffering a right mid-foot sprain on Feb. 16 against the Utah Jazz at Arena. Davis has missed 16 games.

Vogel said it was a “positive sign” to see Davis at practice.

“He went through full practice, did all of our drill work and did some live scrimmaging,” Vogel said. “So, we’re at a point now where it’s really about how he responds to that and the level of soreness he has coming out of his first live work. He’ll also be listed as doubtful for tomorrow.”

Injuries to James and Davis left the two playing in just 21 games together this season. The Lakers (31-43) are just 11-10 when James and Davis have played together.

Still, having them both on the court as they limp toward the finish line of their underachieving season is paramount as the 10th-place Lakers try to hold off the San Antonio Spurs for the NBA’s play-in tournament. The Lakers have a one-game lead over the Spurs and the Lakers are a half-game behind the Pelicans.

“Definitely snake bitten with trying to get those guys on the floor together,” Vogel said. “... It’s one of those things that’s out of our control. It’s unfortunate. But we have to lock in, and again like we’ve done all season, we have to shift our identity on the floor with regards to who’s in and who’s out.”

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Clippers guard Paul George laughs during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 25.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

From Andrew Greif: After three months and 43 games out of the Clippers’ lineup, Paul George is on the verge of a return.

Sidelined since Dec. 22 after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right, shooting elbow, George is listed as questionable to play Tuesday at Arena against the Utah Jazz, an upgrade to his condition that has been building for more than two weeks as the All-Star wing has begun taking part in more strenuous group workouts to improve his conditioning. He participated in practice Thursday, a five-on-five workout Sunday without any limitations and then did so again Monday.

George’s return raises the ceiling on the Clippers’ postseason potential, and the team has not ruled out either guard Norman Powell or wing Kawhi Leonard yet, though Powell, who fractured a bone in a toe, isn’t able to do more than shoot on the court, Lue said.

A virtual lock to finish with the Western Conference’s eighth-best record, the team is likely bound to play the seventh-seeded team in the play-in tournament, with the winner earning the West’s seventh seed and a matchup against the No. 2 seed in the first round of the playoffs. The loser would face the winner of the ninth- and 10th-seeded teams for theeighth seed and a matchup against Phoenix, the West’s top team.


Walker Buehler pitches against the San Francisco Giants during Game 1 of the NLDS in October.
(John Hefti / Associated Press)

From Jack Harris: When Major League Baseball’s lockout ended this month, one concern stood out above the rest for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

He worried about whether his starting rotation would be stretched out enough by the start of the season, and the potential ripple effects the starters’ lack of buildup might have on the rest of the staff.

As he said on the first day of camp: “I just don’t expect six-inning, 90-pitch buildup, for five guys or six guys to be there.”

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and Roberts’ tone had changed Monday morning.

His rotation is still behind schedule compared with a normal year but not nearly by the margins the seventh-year manager once feared.

Instead, Walker Buehler is on track to be almost fully built up for his opening-day outing April 8. The rest of the rotation doesn’t seem to be far behind. And the fear of a patchwork April on the mound, full of brief starts and de facto bullpen games, is vanishing a little more each day.


Chargers coach Brandon Staley, left, speaks to journalists during availability at the NFL's annual meeting.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley, left, speaks to journalists during availability at the NFL’s annual meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday.
(Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press)

From Jeff Miller: His 144 tackles last season led the Chargers and were the third most in the AFC.

And today Kyzir White is a Philadelphia Eagle.

“First of all, so much respect for Kyzir,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Monday. “He had an outstanding season for us. It’s probably my first time where the challenging side of the NFL comes in when you’re building a team and there’s decisions that you have to make that sometimes don’t line up with all the people you really value joining up with. I think that’s just one of those decisions.”

Speaking at the NFL owners meetings, Staley also called White “a favorite of mine” and said he was happy White was returning to the area where the linebacker grew up. White signed with Philadelphia last week.

The Chargers had the opportunity to retain White in free agency but instead allowed him to depart as Staley rebuilds a defense that didn’t meet his expectations — or specifications — in 2021.


From Sam Farmer: The NFL announced changes Monday to the Rooney Rule in an effort to increase the number of minority candidates to be considered for coaching and front-office vacancies.

The category of minority candidates now will include women. Also, in order to satisfy the Rooney Rule requirements, an interview for head coaches and general managers must take place in person as opposed to virtually.

Currently, there are five minority head coaches: Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Washington’s Ron Rivera, Houston’s Lovie Smith, Miami’s Mike McDaniels and Robert Saleh of the New York Jets.

“In general, I’d say that we have positives and negatives in terms of the hiring cycle,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II, whose late father, Dan Rooney, was credited with creating the Rooney Rule.

“We’ve seen progress in certain areas over the last couple of years. Certainly, the number of minorities that are interviewing for senior positions in the league has increased significantly over the last couple of years …

“Obviously, we’re still not seeing the kind of progress that we would like to see on the head coaching front and so we have been focusing on that effort and how we can improve the processes.”


UCLA coach Chip Kelly stands on the sideline during a game.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly is back, but how are the Bruins looking heading into spring practice.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

From Ben Bolch: Chip Kelly’s back!

Depending on one’s perspective, that statement might prompt either the flashing of a thumbs-up or a less wholesome digit.

The happy-he’s-back camp can point to the usual talking points involving the UCLA football coach. There’s the upward trajectory, Kelly earning a new four-year contract after the Bruins’ record improved from 3-9 to 4-8 to 3-4 to 8-4. There are the quality imports who have made Kelly a king of the transfer portal. There’s that high-octane offense.

The detractors just sigh. You call that improvement? Kelly had nowhere to go but up after posting a 7-17 record through his first two seasons. He has brought in so many transfers mostly because his high school recruiting has lagged. And have you seen the defense?

A showdown against nationally ranked North Carolina State in the Holiday Bowl was supposed to bring some clarity about the state of the program before the Bruins had to back out hours before kickoff because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Kelly hired a new defensive coordinator without revealing what happened to the old one — he could have retired or headed to the North Pole, for all anyone knows — as part of a staff makeover.

The returns of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet should keep the offense humming, but there are significant holes to fill on both sides of the ball.



Saturday’s Final Four schedule (all times PDT)

No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 1 Kansas, 3:09 p.m., TBS

No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Duke, 5:49 p.m., TBS


Monday’s Elite Eight results

No. 2 UConn 91, No. 1 North Carolina State 87 (2OT)

No. 1 Louisville 62, No. 3 Michigan 50

Friday’s Final Four schedule (all times PDT)

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 1 South Carolina, 4 p.m., ESPN

No. 2 UConn vs. No. 1 Stanford, 6:30 p.m., ESPN


1929 — The Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup with a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers to complete a two-game sweep.

1940 — Joe Louis knocks out Johnny Paychek in the second round at Madison Square Garden in New York to retain the world heavyweight title.

1941 — Wisconsin, led by Gene Englund’s 13 points, wins the NCAA basketball championship with a 39-34 victory over Washington State.

1952 — George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers scores an NBA playoff record 47 points in an 88-78 loss in Game 1 of the Western Division Finals against Rochester.

1960 — Boston’s Bill Russell pulls down an NBA Finals record 40 rebounds, as the Celtics lose to St. Louis 113-103 to even the series at 1-1. Bob Petit has 35 points and 22 rebounds for the Hawks.

1962 — Elgin Baylor (45) and Jerry West (41) of the Los Angeles Lakers become the first teammates to both score 40 or more points in an NBA Playoff game. It isn’t enough as the Lakers lose to Detroit, 118-117, in Game 4 of the Western Division finals.

1982 — Michael Jordan’s jump shot with 16 seconds remaining gives North Carolina a 63-62 victory over Georgetown for the NCAA men’s basketball championship.

1984 — The NFL Colts leave the city of Baltimore in the early hours of the morning, headed for Indianapolis.

1990 — Houston’s Akeem Olajuwon is the third player in NBA history to achieve a quadruple double during a 120-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. He scores 18 points, 16 rebounds, 11 blocked shots and 10 assists.

1992 — Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi becomes the first American woman to win consecutive world figure skating championships since Peggy Fleming in 1968.

1996 — The Vancouver Grizzlies break the NBA record for consecutive losses in a season with their 21st in a 105-91 loss to the Utah Jazz. The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers and the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks lost 20 straight.

2003 — Michelle Kwan becomes the third American to win five World Figure Skating Championships. Kwan, a seven-time U.S. champion, ties Dick Button and Carol Heiss for most world crowns by an American.

2008 — Curlin rolls to a record-setting 7 3/4-length victory in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race. Curlin is the fourth horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and then take the World Cup the following year.

2015 — Seventh-seeded Michigan State caps an improbable Final Four run with 76-70 overtime victory over Louisville. Duke beats Gonzaga 66-52 to send coach Mike Krzyzewski to a 12th Final Four, matching coaching record by John Wooden.

2015 — Belmont breaks three NCAA Division I records and tied a fourth during a 20-run sixth inning in a 34-10 victory over UT Martin.

2016 — The United States fail to qualify for consecutive Olympic men’s soccer tournaments for the first time in a half century. Roger Martinez scores twice, Americans Luis Gil and Matt Miazga are ejected and Colombia’s under-23 team defeats the U.S. 2-1 to earn the last berth in the Rio de Janeiro Games with a 3-2 aggregate win in the two-leg, total-goals series.

2017 — Russell Westbrook has 57 points — the most in a triple-double in NBA history — 13 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 114-106 overtime win over the Orlando Magic.

And finally

Does HBO’s “Winning Time” get Claire Rothman and Jeanie Buss right? Matt Brennan and Kareem Maddox discuss that and more on Episode 4 of the “Binge Sesh” podcast. Listen here.

Until next time...

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