The Sports Report: Lakers start second half of season with a victory
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From Dan Woike: LeBron James sent the message to the Lakers from Salt Lake City.
There will be no more time wasted, no more excuses and no more waiting.
Sunday, James said he was about to embark on 23 of the most-important regular season games of his career – a stretch that would determine whether the Lakers would make the playoffs or be out of it for the second year in a row.
Full-speed from here on out – and if this was the first step, it was a good start.
With James struggling and the Warriors’ defense locked in on Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ depth and defense was more than enough, the Lakers’ cruising to a 124-111 win out of the break.
“Overall, a great team win,” Darvin Ham said.
The Lakers led by as many as 28 – just the ninth time they’ve led by 20 in a game this season. More importantly, it’s the second game in row the Lakers have led by 20 – another dominant performance against a playoff contender after the team blew out New Orleans last week.
The Warriors were without Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins.
The Lakers’ push comes while the team’s urgency is a stated high – a pack of playoff contenders all trying to surge with the Lakers at the rear.
Everyone in the West, save for Denver, Memphis at the top and Houston and San Antonio at the bottom, has no firm of idea of what the postseason future looks like. As of Thursday, six games separated the third-place Kings from the 13th-place Lakers.
“I think it’s a sprint to the finish line,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said pregame. “I know given LeBron’s career and everything he’s achieved that it might sound like hyperbole, but we all feel a sense of urgency at this point. We’re just a couple games ahead of them. We’re all in this precarious position where we could be in the play-in, we could sneak into the six (seed), we could fall out entirely.”
We asked readers, “Do you think the Lakers will make the playoffs this season?” After 1,463 votes, the results:
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From Ben Bolch: The possibility made the rounds, players on the verge of something UCLA had not done in a decade talking about another Pac-12 regular-season championship.
“I mean, that’s the reason we came here,” junior guard Jaylen Clark said earlier this week. “I know it ain’t been done since 2013.”
Clark and senior forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. tried to recall who was on that team. The stars were Shabazz Muhammad, Larry Drew II and Kyle Anderson, the Bruins edging Oregon by one game in the conference standings. Everything was a downer from there, Jordan Adams breaking his foot in the Pac-12 tournament and coach Ben Howland getting fired after the Bruins lost by 20 points to Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Another Pac-12 championship was UCLA’s for the taking this week. The Bruins could clinch at least a share of the title with a sweep of Utah and Colorado or one victory plus an Arizona loss against Arizona State.
It wasn’t going to be easy. After losing most of a 16-point lead in the second half against Utah, the Bruins turned to the player who continued to emerge as their late-season savior.
Jaquez buried a fadeaway three-pointer with 63 seconds left, sending fans streaming toward the exits inside the Huntsman Center with the fourth-ranked Bruins on their way to a 78-71 victory.
Jaquez finished with 23 points while making 10 of 15 shots for the Bruins (24-4 overall, 15-2 Pac-12), who stretched their lead over the Wildcats to two games after Utah had closed within four points with 2½ minutes left.
Bella Murekatete had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Tara Wallack made a key three-pointer with 24.7 seconds left and Washington State beat No. 17 UCLA 62-55 on Thursday night for its first-ever win at Pauley Pavilion.
Washington State was 0-34 against the Bruins in Los Angeles — with just 10 wins in 80 overall games. The Cougars (19-9, 9-8 Pac-12) need to win at USC on Saturday to post back-to-back winning seasons in Pac-12 play for the first time in program history.
UCLA scored 10 consecutive points during a 14-4 run to close the first half for a tie at 25-all.
Charisma Osborne led UCLA (21-8, 10-7) with 14 points and eight rebounds. Kiki Rice added 10 points.
Boogie Ellis scored 21 points and USC breezed to an 84-65 victory over Colorado on Thursday night.
Ellis made 7 of 16 shots with two 3-pointers for the Trojans (20-8, 12-5 Pac-12 Conference), who have won three straight. Kobe Johnson had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Reese Dixon-Waters added 15 points and five boards off the bench. Drew Peterson pitched in with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists. Tre White had 10 points and six rebounds.
KJ Simpson paced the Buffaloes (15-14, 7-11) with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Luke O’Brien added 12 points and five boards.
Kadi Sissoko had 19 points, Destiny Littleton had 10 and Rayah Marshall grabbed 10 rebounds as the Trojans defeated 47-43. The Trojans held Washington to just two points in the first quarter on the way to a 17-11 halftime lead. The two teams combined to miss 75 shots in the low-scoring contest.
From Jorge Castillo: Julio Urías couldn’t believe it.
Austin Barnes? Mexican?
“I don’t want to draw conclusions based on appearance,” Urías said in Spanish, “but if you look at him or his last name, you don’t assume he’s Mexican.”
Benji Gil was surprised, too, when Mike Gallego informed him last summer.
“I said, ‘You know Barnes is Mexican, right?’ ” Gallego remembered. “He said, ‘Barnes? I never heard of a Mexican named Barnes.’ I told him he’s my nephew, and he goes, ‘You’re kidding.’ ”
Gallego and Gil work in the Angels’ organization together. Gallego knew Gil was in line to serve as Mexico’s manager in the World Baseball Classic in March, and that Gil was part of the contingent responsible for assembling the roster for the tournament. He thought his nephew, a veteran catcher for one of Major League Baseball’s perennial powers, would be a good fit.
Coupled with Urías’ endorsement, Barnes, to the surprise of most baseball followers, was named to Mexico’s roster earlier this month.
Mookie Betts expected to play some second base in WBC
New Dodger Noah Syndergaard seeks balance this spring to bring his heat back
From Bill Shaikin: The renovation of the oldest stadium in the Cactus League was delayed by the potential sale of the Angels, with a new major league clubhouse now expected to open in 2025 and a stadium expansion scheduled for completion in 2026.
In 2021, the Angels and the city of Tempe agreed on a $51-million renovation project at Tempe Diablo Stadium, with the new clubhouse as the top priority.
The city last year planned for a January 2023 groundbreaking, stadium director Jerry Hall said, but the Angels subsequently asked for a hold on construction, allowing any new owner the opportunity to make changes to the project.
From Gary Klein: Linebacker Bobby Wagner had a short but productive stay with the Rams.
Wagner, the team’s leading tackler last season, and the Rams have agreed to part ways, people with knowledge of the situation said Thursday. The people requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about a situation that will not become official until Wagner is released at the start of the NFL’s new league year in mid-March.
Wagner, 32, signed a five-year, $50-million contract last April, but it was essentially structured as a one- to two-year deal. He was scheduled to carry a salary-cap number of $12.5 million in 2023, according to overthecap.com.
From John Cherwa: The Breeders’ Cup will be held in Southern California for the second straight time next year when the two-day event returns to Del Mar on Nov. 1-2. The announcement was made by the Breeders’ Cup on Thursday. It will be held this year at Santa Anita on Nov. 3-4.
The move was not a surprise as the group has fallen into a cycle of Santa Anita, Del Mar, Churchill Downs and Keeneland alternating in various orders. Santa Anita has hosted the event 10 times and Del Mar twice. The first time it was held at Del Mar was 2017 and its success allowed the event to return in 2021. One mitigating factor about Del Mar is its slightly smaller size compared to the cavernous Santa Anita. But as racetracks have become smaller, in many cases driven by casino play being the primary business, the options to hold the Breeders’ Cup have dwindled.
Red-hot Dawson Mercer scored his second goal of the game 2:30 into overtime and the New Jersey Devils rallied late to beat the Kings 4-3 on Thursday night.
Tomas Tatar and Nico Hischier also scored for the Devils, with Hischier netting the tying goal with 38 seconds left in regulation. Vitek Vanecek had 19 saves.
Anze Kopitar, Viktor Arvidsson and defenseman Sean Durzi scored for Los Angeles. Pheonix Copley made 27 saves.
Jakob Silfverberg scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, John Gibson made 41 saves and the Ducks handed the reeling Washington Capitals a sixth consecutive defeat, 4-2 Thursday night.
The Capitals are mired in their longest losing streak since losing seven in a row in 2019 and their longest stretch without a point in nearly two decades. They last lost six consecutive games all in regulation in October 2003, before the NHL had a salary cap and before Alex Ovechkin was drafted.
The Ducks enjoyed a moment of joy in a rough season thanks to goals by Isac Lundestrom, Troy Terry and Silfverberg, an empty-netter by Derek Grant and a strong performance from Gibson, who made some hockey history in his own right.
Gibson’s 21st save gave him the most through a goaltender’s first 40 games of the season since Hall of Famer Jacques Plante made 1,396 for the New York Rangers in 1963-64. Gibson, who has faced the most shots and made the most saves in the NHL this season, made 40-plus stops for a league-leading 10th time.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1960 — Bill Cleary’s four goals lead the United States to a 9-1 victory over West Germany in the hockey championship round of the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif.
1967 — Wilt Chamberlain of Philadelphia shoots 18-for-18 from the field against the Baltimore Bullets, an NBA record for field goals in a game without a miss.
1978 — Kevin Porter of the New Jersey Nets sets an NBA record with 29 assists in a 126-112 victory over the Houston Rockets.
1980 — The United States hockey team wins the gold medal with a 4-2 victory over Finland at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
1985 — Jim Kelly of the Houston Gamblers passes for a USFL-record 574 yards and five touchdowns in a 34-33 comeback-win over the Los Angeles Express. Kelly completes 35 of 54 passes, including three for touchdowns in the final 10 minutes.
1988 — An unprecedented winner of the 90-and 70-meter individual events, Matti Nykanen becomes the Winter Olympics’ first triple gold medalist in Nordic skiing when Finland wins the new 90-meter team ski jumping event.
1993 — Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings scores his 1,000th career point with two goals and two assists in a 10-7 loss to Buffalo Sabres.
1994 — Lipscomb’s John Pierce becomes college basketball’s career scoring leader with 33 points in his regular-season finale, a 119-102 win over Cumberland. Pierce’s 4,110 points break former roommate Phil Hutcheson’s record of 4,106.
2002 — Svetlana Feofanova breaks the pole vault indoor world record for the fourth time this month, clearing 15 feet, 6 1/2 inches at the Gaz de France meet.
2002 — Canada beats the United States 5-2 for the gold medal in men’s hockey at the Winter Olympics. It’s the seventh time Canada has won the gold in its national sport, but the first since 1952.
2006 — Julia Mancuso earns a stunning victory in the giant slalom to salvage a disappointing Olympics for the U.S. women in their final Alpine event of the Turin Games. Mancuso gives the American women their first Olympic Alpine medal since Picabo Street’s gold in the super-G at the 1998 Nagano Games.
2012 — Missy Parkin becomes the first woman to reach the match play finals in the 69th U.S Open at Brunswick Zone-Carolier. Shafer, a 25-year Professional Bowlers Association Tour veteran, completes the 26-game qualifying portion of the U.S. Open with a total of 5,825 pins - averaging at a 224.04 pace.
2018 — Ester Ledecka wins the second leg of an unheard-of Olympic double, taking the gold medal in snowboarding’s parallel giant slalom to go with her surprise skiing victory in the Alpine super-G earlier in the games. The Czech star is the first to win gold medals in both sports.
2018 — The United States wins the Olympic gold medal in men’s curling in a decisive upset of Sweden. John Shuster skips the United States to a 10-7 victory for only the second curling medal in U.S. history.
2020 — Memorial service for Kobe Byrant are held at the Staples Center.
—Compiled by the Associated Press
The memorial service for Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center. Watch and listen here.
Until next time...
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