The Sports Report: Lakers fall apart at the end, again

LeBron James defends against Harrison Barnes during the second half.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

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

From Dan Woike: The swings were wild, 14 points in the Lakers’ favor after a red hot first quarter and 14 points back towards the Kings in the second half.

But with a little over four minutes left, the score was totally even – the Kings and the Lakers about to enter crunch time with the game totally undecided.

The Kings have been one of the NBA’s better teams in this situation – Wednesday being their 24th game within five in the final four minutes. They’d won 13 of them with De’Aaron Fox quietly becoming one of the league’s top clutch players.


The Lakers? For them, it’s been a mixed bag – the early season struggles in tight games giving way to improved play before losses to Dallas and Philadelphia in the last week re-ignited some old concerns.

At best, Wednesday, the Lakers were uneven down the stretch – trailing by five before coming back – only to blow it with defensive gaffes and more bad offense. The mistakes eventually cost them another tight game, the Lakers losing to the Kings 116-111.

Following a LeBron James three-point play to tie the game, Harrison Barnes easily split a double team by Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook to score while being fouled.

The Lakers wasted an empty possession, settling for a tough James three attempt before Juan Toscano-Anderson fouled Fox with just seconds left on the shot clock. Fox’s split at the free-throw line opened the door slightly – with Kendrick Nunn hitting a three.

But the Lakers failed to properly foul, giving up a clear-path foul that gave the Kings two free throws, the ball – and ultimately – the win.

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From Jeff Miller: Unlike many observers outside the organization, Brandon Staley said Wednesday he never felt his job as Chargers’ head coach was in jeopardy.

Staley faced significant scrutiny throughout the middle part of the season and then again following the team’s regular-season finale and subsequent wild-card playoff loss.

“I have a lot of confidence in the way we’ve done things for two years,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in what I see on the football field. I know the type of improvement that we’ve been able to make since I’ve been here.”

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Plaschke: Surprise! Brandon Staley is still the coach in Chargers’ biggest bet yet


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All times Pacific
Divisional round
Jacksonville at Kansas City, 1:30 p.m., NBC, Peacock, Universo
New York Giants at Philadelphia, 5:15 p.m., Fox, Fox Deportes

Cincinnati at Buffalo, Noon, CBS, Paramount+
Dallas at San Francisco, 3:30 p.m., Fox, Fox Deportes

Conference championship
Sunday, January 29

NFC: Noon, FOX, FOX Deportes
AFC: 3:30 p.m., CBS, Paramount+

Super Bowl
Sunday, February 12, Fox

Damar Hamlin has started making regular visits to Bills practice facility, coach says


From Gary Klein: In the aftermath of a 5-12 season, Rams coach Sean McVay is turning over much of his staff.

Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, offensive line coach Kevin Carberry, defensive backs coach Jonathan Cooley, outside linebackers coach Thad Bogardus, assistant defensive line coach Skyler Jones and defensive assistant Lance Schulters will not return next season, people with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday.

The people requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

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Lauri Markkanen had 34 points and 12 rebounds to help the Utah Jazz beat the short-handed Clippers 126-103 on Wednesday night.

The Jazz led wire-to-wire and by as many as 25 points over the weary Clippers, on the second game of a back-to-back set, without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Jazz (24-24) have won four of their last five games.

Norman Powell led Los Angeles with 30 points, and Zubac added 15 points and 12 rebounds. The Clippers (23-24) have dropped nine of their last 11 games.

Leonard (right knee) and George (right hamstring) played Tuesday night in the Clippers’ 120-110 loss to Philadelphia, but both sat out the Utah game to recover.


From Helene Elliott: Allyson Felix didn’t have to give USC a pile of money for the field at the Trojans’ track stadium to be named for her.

Her alma mater will honor Felix, a Los Angeles native and the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympics history, for giving of herself — for being a shining example of the power of one person and of the great resonance of a voice that might once have trembled but found the strength to bring about change for those whose voices often aren’t heard.

USC announced Wednesday that Allyson Felix Field will be dedicated at Katherine B. Loker Stadium this spring. The field previously carried the name of Dean Cromwell, a former USC track coach who was criticized for anti-Black views and antisemitic actions.

The university could have named the field for a philanthropist, as Loker was. It could have sold the naming rights. With that in mind, Felix was shocked when USC President Carol Folt called her to discuss naming the field — previously known as Cromwell Field — for her.

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From Ryan Kartje: The 2023 football schedule presented an unfortunate predicament for USC. When Brigham Young backed out of its scheduled November meeting with the Trojans amid the Cougars’ impending move to the Big 12, USC was faced with the prospect of playing a dozen straight games without a break.

The draw was part of the difficulty in scheduling the Notre Dame game, a challenge USC leaders have long dealt with. The Trojans played 12 games in 12 weeks in 2017 and their options for 2023, their last year in the Pac-12, were limited.

So USC opted for an alternative strategy. Instead of scheduling another nonconference opponent for its Week 3 opening, USC will begin its 2023 campaign with a Week Zero matchup against San Jose State on Aug. 26 at the Coliseum.

The stops on that final tour through the Pac-12 were announced Wednesday. And as it turned out, the early-start and extra-bye strategy offered USC only so much solace with a schedule that’s destined to be much tougher than 2022.

USC will play three games at home, including its conference opener against Stanford, before being off Sept. 16 — technically Week 3 on the college football calendar. From there, the Trojans will play nine consecutive weeks before a second bye Nov. 25.

2023 USC schedule

Aug. 26: San Jose State

Sept. 2: Nevada

Sept. 9: Stanford

Sept. 16: bye

Sept. 23: at Arizona State

Sept. 30: at Colorado

Oct. 6/7: Arizona

Oct.14: at Notre Dame

Oct. 21: Utah

Oct. 28: at California

Nov. 4: Washington

Nov .11: at Oregon

Nov .18: UCLA

Nov. 25: bye

The Pac-12 title game will be played Dec. 1 in Las Vegas.

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From Ben Bolch: With two Pac-12 football heavyweights falling off its schedule, UCLA’s slate of conference games in 2023 seems favorable … or does it?

The Bruins won’t have to play Oregon or Washington, who combined for a 21-5 record last season, but they will have to face three presumed contenders on the road as part of their farewell season in the Pac-12.

The outcome of games at defending conference champion Utah on Sept. 23, at Oregon State on Oct. 14 and at USC on Nov. 18 will heavily determine whether UCLA can vie for its first Pac-12 title under coach Chip Kelly. The Bruins have not traveled to Corvallis, Ore., to face the Beavers since 2015, and they may not return anytime soon given their move to the Big Ten Conference beginning in 2024.

2023 UCLA schedule

Sept. 2: Coastal Carolina

Sept. 9: at San Diego State

Sept. 16: North Carolina Central

Sept. 23: at Utah

Sept. 30: bye

Oct. 7: Washington State

Oct. 14: at Oregon State

Oct. 21: at Stanford

Oct. 28: Colorado

Nov. 4: at Arizona

Nov. 11: Arizona State

Nov. 18: at USC

Nov. 25: California

The Pac-12 title game will be played Dec. 1 in Las Vegas.

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From Kevin Baxter: Five players who were on the U.S. team in last year’s World Cup top a 24-man roster that was called up Wednesday for the national team’s first training camp of the new World Cup cycle.

Midfielder Kellyn Acosta and defender Aaron Long of LAFC, center back Walker Zimmerman of Nashville SC, FC Dallas forward Jesús Ferreira and former New York City goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who were all on the American team in Qatar, are among 16 domestic-based players summoned by assistant coach Anthony Hudson, who will run the weeklong camp while U.S. Soccer continues its investigation into former manager Gregg Berhalter.

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati), Sean Johnson (Unattached), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea)

Defenders: Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Aaron Long (LAFC), Jalen Neal (Galaxy), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

Midfielders: Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Alan Soñora (Unattached), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Alejandro Zendejas (Club América)


1937 — Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker and Cy Young are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in the second year of voting.

1952 — The PGA approves the participation of Black men in golf tournaments.

1972 — Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers becomes the youngest player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame at 36. Yogi Berra and Early Wynn are also elected.

1974 — UCLA’s 88-game winning streak is snapped when Notre Dame overcomes an 11-point deficit in the final 3:32 to win 71-70. With 29 seconds remaining, Dwight Clay’s jump shot from the right corner gives the Irish the lead.

1992 — John Cook is the first golfer in PGA history to chip in on two consecutive holes to win a playoff after he edges Gene Sauers in the Bob Hope Classic.

2004 — Colorado’s Milan Hejduk scores on a penalty shot 59 seconds into overtime to give the Avalanche a 5-4 victory over Tampa Bay. It’s the third time an NHL game ended on a penalty shot in overtime.

2005 — LeBron James becomes the youngest player (20 years, 20 days) in NBA history to record a triple-double, with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Cleveland’s 107-101 win over Portland.

2006 — Irina Slutskaya wins her seventh European figure skating title, breaking the record she shared with Katarina Witt and Sonja Henie.

2008 — Bode Miller wins the downhill at the traditional Hahnenkamm World Cup races to become the most successful American skier ever with 28 World Cup wins, overtaking Phil Mahre.

2012 — Serena Williams moves into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova for her 500th career match win.

2014 — Peyton Manning passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns to lead Denver to a 26-16 victory over New England and send the Broncos to their first trip to the Super Bowl in 15 years.

2014 — Russell Wilson throws a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down and Seattle’s top-ranked defense forces two late turnovers, lifting the Seahawks into their second Super Bowl with a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

2015 — Lindsey Vonn wins a super-G for her record 63rd World Cup victory. The American breaks Annemarie Moser-Proell’s 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup wins with a flawless run down the Olympia delle Tofane course at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, finishing by a huge 0.85 ahead of Anna Fenninger of Austria.

2017 — Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is beaten 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 by wild-card entry Denis Istomin in a second-round match. No. 2-ranked Djokovic had won five of the six previous titles at Melbourne Park and six overall, and had never dropped a set in six previous meetings against Istomin.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Notre Dame defeats UCLA to end the Bruins’ 88-game winning streak. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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