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The Sports Report: Cam Akers returns to Rams’ practice field

Running back (3) Cam Akers of the Los Angeles Rams warms up before playing against the Dallas Cowboys.
Cam Akers
(Jeff Lewis / Associated Press)
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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Gary Klein: A boisterous scene in the Rams locker room unfolded Thursday after running back Cam Akers practiced for the first time in more than two weeks.

As reporters gathered to interview Akers at his locker, teammates playfully yelled their support of the third-year pro.

“I’m in-house,” said Akers. “I’m back with the team, so I’m happy.”

Akers, a second-round draft pick in 2020, had been estranged since the Rams’ Oct. 9 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys.

During Akers’ absence, the Rams defeated the Carolina Panthers but lost to the San Francisco 49ers, falling to 3-4 heading into Sunday’s game against the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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“Glad to have him back,” offensive coordinator Liam Coen said. “Hopefully we can get him going. If that’s this week and we can get him turned over both physically and mentally to play on Sunday, great.

“If not, then we’ll continue to kind of see how that situation develops and see where it can go moving forward.”

Coach Sean McVay, who does not speak with reporters on Thursdays during the season, had described Akers’ situation as an “internal” issue. But there clearly was a disconnect that led to the absence of a player who was leading the team in rushing.

The Rams attempted to trade Akers before Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline but found no takers.

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NFL Q&A: What are Rams to do with Cam Akers? Should Chargers GM Tom Telesco be fired?

NFL Week 9 picks: Bills beat Jets; Eagles go 8-0; Rams lose, Chargers win

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LAKERS

From Dan Woike and Broderick Turner: The Lakers were 1.3 seconds away from a brutal loss, a 16-point second-half lead totally erased as the offense went arctic. After a LeBron James layup with 3:02 on the clock, the Lakers missed six consecutive field-goal attempts as the Pelicans inched toward a win.

The last of those misses, a Lonnie Walker IV three from the corner, pretty much sealed things, with Pelicans rookie Dyson Daniels grabbing the rebound. ESPN’s analytics had New Orleans at 97.7% likely to win.

But inside the building, it seemed like a certainty.

With 1.6 seconds left, Daniels, the player New Orleans selected with the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick they acquired in the Anthony Davis trade, missed two free throws to give the Lakers another chance, down by three points.

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This is the inside story of that chance.

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Elliott: Seven games into head coaching career, Lakers’ Darvin Ham wisely trusts his gut

CLIPPERS

From Andrew Greif: The big man provided the big impact the Clippers needed.

Moses Brown’s 13 points in 12 minutes — matching the combined number of minutes he’d played all season to that point — “really won this game for us,” coach Tyronn Lue said after Wednesday’s 109-101 win in Houston that moved the Clippers to .500.

And yet the 7-foot-2 Brown isn’t necessarily the long-term answer for what the coach called “my biggest challenge.”

There are challenges, plural, because it is not only “how we get the second unit to play better, and be better,” as Lue said, but also how Clippers lineups without a center can play better, as well. The issues can overlap because the Clippers often have played bench units without a center.

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Kyrie Irving suspended by Brooklyn Nets for failure to disavow antisemitism

U.S. Embassy officials visit Brittney Griner in Russian prison, note her ‘tenacity’

WORLD SERIES

From Bill Shaikin: What defines a legacy?

Justin Verlander’s legacy surely could not have rested on this one game, could it? He is favored to win his third Cy Young award this year, and the list of three-time winners is eminently distinguished: Sandy Koufax, Clayton Kershaw, Pedro Martínez, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer and Max Scherzer.

Hall of Famers all, or Hall of Famers to be, Verlander included.

Before Thursday, Verlander had started eight World Series games. He had won none. If the postseason is a crapshoot — and we have heard that for two decades now — can the legacy of a player with 482 starts in the regular season truly be tarnished by the results of a handful of games in October and November?

“That’s what people remember,” Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I mean, I got 2,000 wins and all they talk about is I haven’t won the World Series yet. You know? So what’s the difference? You know what I mean?

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“So, yeah, it matters. It matters to the people. It matters to us.”

On Thursday, 16 years after he made his World Series debut, Verlander recorded his first World Series victory.

The Astros won Game 5 of the World Series by a 3-2 score, and they lead the best-of-seven series by a 3-2 margin. The Astros’ Game 6 starter is set to be Framber Valdez, whose undefeated postseason includes six shutout innings against Philadelphia in Game 2.

CHARGERS

From Jeff Miller: He is on the verge of making NFL history, and the Chargers’ Austin Ekeler actually is a little leery of the whole thing.

With 10 or more receptions Sunday against Atlanta, he would become the first running back to reach double figures in catches in three consecutive games.

“I’m not sure if that’s the best thing,” Ekeler said Thursday, laughing. “I would like to see some of those balls going down the field to some of these receivers and tight ends. But it’s the scenario we’re in right now.”

Ekeler has 22 receptions on 28 targets over the last two games, both of those marks career highs for back-to-back contests for a back recognized for his dual abilities on the ground and through the air.

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UCLA BASKETBALL

From Ben Bolch: Some introductions were in order Wednesday night when UCLA unveiled its freshman class.

One came in a flash.

Off and running on an early possession, sprinting past players nearly a foot shorter, was a 6-foot-10 blur of freakish athleticism. He soared to grab a lob, missing the dunk, but his rare combination of speed and size allowed him to snag rebounds, block shots and repeatedly cover for teammates’ defensive mistakes.

Welcome to Westwood, Adem Bona.

The newcomer with the biggest impact during the No. 8 Bruins’ 93-63 exhibition victory over Concordia at Pauley Pavilion, Bona finished with five blocks, six rebounds and two points in 20 minutes. Most of the blocks came when Bona quickly shuffled over to help a beaten teammate.

KINGS

Jonathan Toews converted Jake McCabe’s pass into an open-net goal in overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Kings 2-1 on Thursday night.

Toews scored his seventh goal of the season 1:31 into the sudden-death session, with goaltender Jonathan Quick drawn to the side by McCabe.

Quick stopped 17 Chicago shots.

OBITUARY

Ray Guy, the first punter to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Thursday. He was 72.

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The University of Southern Mississippi, where Guy starred before becoming the first punter ever taken in the first round of the NFL draft, said he died after a lengthy illness. He had been receiving care in a Hattiesburg-area hospice.

Guy was drafted 23rd overall by Al Davis’ Raiders in 1973 and played his entire 14-year career with the team. He was a three-time All-Pro selection. In 2014, he became the first player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame exclusively for his punting.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1934 — The Detroit Lions rush for an NFL-record 426 yards in a 40-7 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The only bright spot for the Pirates is scoring the first touchdown against Detroit this season, ending the Lions’ shutout streak at seven games.

1951 — The U.S. wins six of eight singles matches and ties another to win the Ryder Cup 9½-2½ over Britain at Pinehurst in North Carolina.

1959 — Ernie Banks, Cubs shortstop, wins his 2nd consecutive NL MVP.

1960 — Wilt Chamberlain of Philadelphia scores 44 points and sets an NBA record by missing all 10 of his free throws in the Warriors 136-121 victory the Detroit Pistons.

1976 — Baseball holds its first free agent draft with 24 players from 13 major league clubs participating. Reggie Jackson eventually signs the most lucrative contract of the group, $2.9 million over five years with the New York Yankees. Others free agents are Joe Rudi, Don Gullett, Gene Tenace, Rollie Fingers, Don Baylor, Bobby Grich and Willie McCovey.

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1984 — Seattle’s Dave Brown returns two interceptions for touchdowns in a 31-17 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs.

1989 — Sunday Silence holds off the late charge by favorite Easy Goer to win the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by a neck at Gulfstream Park.

2000 — R.J. Bowers rushes for 128 yards to become the first player in NCAA history to gain 7,000 yards in his career, leading Grove City past Carnegie Mellon 14-10.

2000 — In the highest scoring Division I-AA game in NCAA history, Ricky Ray passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns and scores three more to lead Sacramento State over Cal State Northridge 64-61.

2001 — Luis Gonzalez’s RBI single caps a two-run rally off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth, and the Arizona Diamondbacks win their first championship by beating the New York Yankees 3-2 in Game 7.

2006 — Rod Brind’Amour of Carolina scores his 1,000th point, assisting on a goal in the Hurricanes’ 3-2 win over Ottawa.

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2007 — Adrian Peterson runs for an NFL-record 296 yards and three touchdowns in Minnesota’s 35-17 win over San Diego.

2009 — The New York Yankees win the World Series, beating the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 in Game 6 behind Hideki Matsui’s record-tying six RBIs.

2012 — Andrew Luck breaks the NFL’s single-game rookie record by throwing for 433 yards in leading Indianapolis to a 23-20 win over Miami

2016 — Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell and Josh Anderson score two goals apiece and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat Montreal 10-0, matching the biggest loss in the Canadiens’ storied history.

2017 — Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw rushes for a career-high 265 yards and Army ends Air Force’s 306-game scoring streak with a 21-0 victory.

2017 — With a 31-24 overtime victory over Nebraska, Northwestern becomes the first Football Bowl Subdivision program to win three consecutive overtime games.

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Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Arizona wins the 2001 World Series. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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