The Sports Report: UCLA stays in the hunt for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed
Howdy, I’m your host, Austin Knoblauch, filling in for Houston Mitchell, who’s probably trying to track down Jeff Hardy so he can learn the correct technique for a Swanton Bomb. Let’s get right to the news.
From Ben Bolch: For the briefest of moments as he dribbled on the wing, UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. saw an opening. A screen by teammate David Singleton had cleared a tempting path to the basket.
Accelerating with a quick burst, Jaquez commenced liftoff.
Three Arizona State defenders converged on the airborne intruder, Desmond Cambridge Jr. daring to challenge Jaquez at the rim.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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Bad decision. There was no stopping Jaquez on Thursday night.
Soaring with the ball in his right hand, Jaquez threw down a vicious dunk over the helpless defender.
As the crowd’s roar inside Pauley Pavilion washed over him, Jaquez paused for a moment after he landed to savor one of his final highlights on his home court.
It was Jaquez’s third ferocious dunk of the game and another sign that the Bruins were not going to suffer the letdown their coach had feared with the Pac-12 Conference’s regular-season championship already theirs.
Fourth-ranked UCLA showed plenty of passion on the way to a 79-61 victory over the Sun Devils that solidified Jaquez’s candidacy for the conference’s most valuable player award in his last college season.
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“I know he’s not gonna say it, but he deserves the damn award, if you get what I mean,” UCLA guard Jaylen Clark said after Jaquez scored 19 of his 26 game-high points in the first half. “He’s sizing people up, he rebounds, he defends, he stays in front of the ball, challenging shots above the rim, he scores in three ways. I mean I’ve guarded all the best and he’s the hardest person I’ve had to guard by far, not even close.”
“Facts,” point guard Tyger Campbell added.
Jaquez’s latest scoring barrage helped the Bruins (26-4 overall, 17-2 Pac-12) overcome another sluggish start in which they fell behind by 10 points to log their ninth consecutive victory.
Campbell added 18 points and Clark had 15 points and 11 rebounds as UCLA also remained in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament going into its Saturday showdown against eighth-ranked Arizona.
From Dan Woike: The Lakers officially announced LeBron James’ foot injury Thursday, five days after he went down on the court in Dallas with a non-contact injury to his right foot.
While the Lakers offered little in detail — James has a “right foot tendon injury” — the team said he would be evaluated in approximately three weeks.
The Lakers play 10 times in the next three weeks with eight games happening in Los Angeles.
James posted a video of himself inside a whirlpool with “road to recovery” written on it Thursday to mark his first day of rehab from the injury.
While the initial injury news was disappointing, inside the Lakers locker room it was never met with panic. The Lakers, who began Thursday in 11th place in the West, are well within striking distance of a spot in the postseason.
From Helene Elliott: Funny how the puck bounces, eh?
A day after the Kings traded two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick to Columbus to upgrade their goaltending for what they hope will be a long playoff run they learned Quick had been traded again — and is now in position to block their postseason path.
The Blue Jackets, rebuilding as they sit at the bottom of the NHL East, acquired Quick from the Kings on Wednesday for draft picks, goalie Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. Before Quick could be issued a new jersey or jump when the cannon booms at Nationwide Arena, Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen performed a noble deed Thursday by flipping Quick to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Columbus got a minor league goalie and a late draft pick from Vegas for retaining 50% of Quick’s salary-cap hit and making the numbers fit for the Golden Knights. “We just wanted to do the right thing for a future Hall of Famer, Jonathan Quick,” Kekalainen told NHL Network. “He gets to stay close to home, with his family, and gets to play for a team that’s in the playoff picture and is going for the Stanley Cup.”
From Ryan Kartje: For the last two weeks, as the pieces finally started to fit for USC, Boogie Ellis had been the glue, a once-streaky point guard finally coming into his own as the engine of a suddenly soaring offense.
But as those pieces began to come apart Thursday for USC, its senior point guard was left to drive a sputtering offense alone, firing one three-pointer after another, emptying his tank until only fumes remained. It wouldn’t be enough, as USC eventually broke down in an 87-81 loss to Arizona.
An otherwise lifeless offense wouldn’t keep Ellis from trying to push the Trojans along. He set another career high in the process, scoring 35 points and knocking down six threes.
Still, it was no use. With each answer, Arizona would offer its own full-throated response, using all of its weapons to overpower USC, which has now locked in the No. 3 seed for next week’s Pac-12 tournament.
From Andrew Greif: In an arena with only a few open seats shy of reaching its 18,064-seat capacity Thursday, no one found themselves consistently surrounded by more room than Clippers guard Russell Westbrook.
From start to finish Golden State dared Westbrook, a 30% three-point shooter this season, to shoot by sagging his, and every other, defender several strides away, their feet planted in the paint as Westbrook dribbled atop the three-point arc, showing more regard for a pass or drive than a shot.
The strategy of avoidance is not unique in Westbrook’s career, but was employed to this exaggerated extent for the first time since he joined the Clippers four games ago, and underscored the challenge of spacing with Westbrook, who made three of his 12 shots, and none of the seven he attempted outside the paint, and finished with eight points and six assists in 28 minutes.
Yet as has become abundantly clear since the All-Star break ended and a four-game losing streak began, the latest defeat, a 115-91 loss to Golden State that leaves the Clippers 33-32, the Clippers’ challenges are not limited to finding the best uses for their new point guard.
From Thuc Nhi Nguyen: Camryn Brown had a wide-open lane to set a career high in scoring, but as the senior watched Kiki Rice’s one-armed baseball pass float through the air, Brown’s own stats were the furthest thing from her mind.
“I can’t let her get the turnover,” Brown said she thought to herself.
With a quiet but critical career-high nine points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks, Brown’s selflessness helped propel the No. 5-seeded Bruins into the Pac-12 tournament semifinals after a 73-59 win over No. 4 Arizona on Thursday at Michelob Ultra Arena.
UCLA will face top-seeded Stanford, a 76-65 winner over No. 9-seeded Oregon, on Friday at 6 p.m.
Forward Emily Bessoir led the Bruins (24-8) with 18 points and 13 rebounds, her first career double-double.
The redshirt sophomore made two key three-pointers in the fourth quarter to ensure that the Bruins, who blew a 19-point lead against No. 12 seed Arizona State on Wednesday and lost in overtime to Arizona (21-9) during the regular season after giving up an 11-point fourth-quarter advantage at Pauley Pavilion, wouldn’t let another win slip away.
From Bill Shaikin: You might have heard this before: Baseball is dying.
It’s not. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani might be the world’s most intriguing athlete. Baseball games offer top-rated prime-time programming in just about every city in the major leagues. The intensity of this month’s World Baseball Classic, and the introduction of new rules designed to showcase athleticism and pick up the pace, should stir even more interest. And a dying industry does not generate record revenues, as Major League Baseball did last year.
Over the last few weeks, you might have heard “baseball is dying” cries from an unlikely source: the owners of several major league teams, who have called MLB “an industry in crisis” in which “the vast majority of players, agents and clubs dislike baseball’s economic system.” One owner suggested his team had not spent on free agents last winter because his up-and-coming team had “overperformed” last summer.
Hey, fans, get your tickets now!
Seriously, hire Curtis Granderson to do all the talking, and to help come up with the big ideas. Granderson told me five years ago how baseball was failing to develop fans across the country in part because the league had not provided Mike Trout “an opportunity to play where fans can see him.” This year, Trout and Ohtani and all the Angels will play every team.
From Andrew J. Campa: The stretch of the 5 Freeway where Tommy Lasorda started his trips to Dodger Stadium and exited after games now bears his name.
Twenty-seven miles southeast of what Lasorda called “Blue Heaven on Earth” is the “Tommy Lasorda Dodger Legend Memorial Highway.”
The pair of green highway signs are already up on the 5 Freeway in Fullerton, near the former Dodgers manager’s longtime home. The signs are on the northbound and southbound lanes between Lincoln Avenue and Ball Road.
On Saturday, the late Lasorda will be recognized during a ceremony featuring his daughter, Laura, former Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros, the 1992 National League Rookie of the Year under Lasorda, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silver (D-Fullerton). The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. and is part of the West Fullerton Little League opening day festivities at James Carter Field at 1015 West Hill Ave. in Fullerton.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1920 — The Montreal Canadiens set an NHL record for most goals in a game with a 16-3 rout of the Quebec Bulldogs.
1951 — Temple’s Bill Mlkvy scores an NCAA-record 73 points in a 99-69 rout over Wilkes.
1966 — Buckpasser, ridden by Bill Shoemaker, wins the Flamingo Stakes by a nose. The colt is such a prohibitive favorite among the field of nine the race is declared a non-wagering contest. The race is known as “The Chicken Flamingo.”
1968 — Montreal’s Jean Beliveau becomes the second NHL player to score 1,000 career points with a goal in a 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
1984 — Peter Ueberroth, president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, is elected commissioner of baseball by major league team owners.
1985 — Bill Shoemaker becomes the first jockey to win $100 million in career purses after riding Lord at War to victory at the Santa Anita Handicap in Arcadia, Calif.
1985 — Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics scores a team-record 56 points, making 22 of 28 shots in a 138-129 home victory over Detroit.
1987 — Mike Tyson adds the WBA heavyweight crown to his WBC heavyweight crown with a unanimous 12-round decision over James “Bonecrusher” Smith in Las Vegas.
2000 — Edward Fryatt ties a PGA Tour record with eight consecutive birdies in the second round of the Doral-Ryder Open. Fuzzy Zoeller did it in the 1976 Quad Cities Open, and Bob Goalby in the 1961 St. Petersburg Open.
2001 — A bloodied John Ruiz becomes the first Hispanic heavyweight champion by knocking down Evander Holyfield in the 11th round and earning a unanimous decision for the WBA title.
2012 — Wladimir Klitschko stops France’s Jean-Marc Mormeck in the fourth round to retain the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles. Klitschko is credited with the 50th KO of his career as he improves to 57-3.
2012 — No. 2 Syracuse beats No. 19 Louisville 58-49 to tie the Big East record for victories. The Orange (30-1, 17-1) match Connecticut’s 17 conference wins in 1995-96 and finishes the regular season with 30 wins for the first time in Jim Boeheim’s 36 years as coach.
2014 — LeBron James scores a career-high 61 points, breaking Glen Rice’s franchise record, and the Miami Heat defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 124-107.
2017 — Kyrie Irving scores 43 points, LeBron James has 38 and the Cleveland Cavaliers set the NBA regular-season record with 25 3-pointers in holding off the Atlanta Hawks 135-130.
2018 — Deontay Wilder survives a pummeling from Luis Ortiz, then knocks out the challenger in the 10th round to retain his WBC heavyweight title.
Compiled by the Associated Press
Jaime Jaquez Jr. gave the UCLA faithful plenty to cheer about Thursday night against Arizona State. Check out his poster dunk here.
Until next time...
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