The Sports Report: Clippers rally for key victory over Memphis
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From Andrew Greif: The Clippers began this season believing their depth and talent would put them in a class apart within the Western Conference.
They have done just that. Over the past 67 games, they have undergone a unique transformation, going from what many within the organizatoin believed would be one of the NBA’s best teams to perhaps its most confounding. And over the course of Sunday’s final 12 minutes, a franchise whose direction appeared nearing free-fall went full-throttle to close out the season’s gutsiest and most desperately needed victory, a 135-129 victory against Memphis.
“It felt like the stakes were high,” coach Tyronn Lue said.
Trailing by 14 at home to a short-handed opponent missing its stars, Lue raised a topic with his team he has discussed publicly for several days, as their losing streak grew to five and the Clippers earned an ominous distinction – the only Western Conference team yet to win since the All-Star break.
“Just said mental toughness, just show some resiliency,” Lue said. “Continue to keep fighting, keep battling.”
Behind 42 points by Paul George and 34 from Kawhi Leonard, including 15 in the fourth quarter, the Clippers ended their five-game losing streak and salvaged a win on a night when, at one point, the championship aspirations appeared lost.
After allowing 51 third-quarter points to Memphis, the Clippers allowed just 17 in the fourth quarter.
“I thought Kawhi did a good job of turning it up that last 8 minutes,” Lue said. “PG was great all night. Marcus made two big shots when we were stagnant in that fourth quarter.”
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From Dan Woike: Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ quiet superstar, the one more ready with a sarcastic counterpunch than the lead blow, flexed his muscles and howled into the crisp air.
His baseline drive in the final minute put the Lakers ahead by six points, moving them to the brink of what would be a 113-105 win.
Still shorthanded, the Lakers quickly built a 20-point lead against the NBA’s defending champions in the first quarter Sunday at Crypto.com Arena. Then they spent the rest of the game desperately trying to hold on to the smallest slices of it.
While the Warriors would tie the score once in the third quarter and once in the fourth, they never could take the lead and push ahead.
Davis scored 39 points and a returning Stephen Curry had 27 for the Warriors, who also got Andre Iguodala back in their lineup. The Lakers were still without LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell, with Russell progressing and “trending” in a positive direction toward a return.
NBA PLAYOFF STANDINGS
First six qualify for playoffs. Nos. 7-10 compete in play-in tournament to determine final two spots.
1. Denver Nuggets, 45-19, —
2. Memphis Grizzlies, 38-25, 6.5 GB
3. Sacramento Kings, 37-26, 7.5 GB
4. Phoenix Suns, 36-29, 9.5 GB
5. Golden State Warriors, 34-31, 11.5 GB
6. Minnesota Timberwolves, 34-32, 12 GB
7. Dallas Mavericks, 33-32, 12.5 GB
8. Clippers, 34-33, 12.5 GB
9. New Orleans Pelicans, 31-33, 14 GB
10. Utah Jazz, 31-34, 14.5 GB
11. Lakers, 31-34, 14.5 GB
12. Oklahoma City Thunder, 30-34, 15 GB
13. Portland Trail Blazers, 30-34, 15 GB
14. San Antonio Spurs, 16-49, 29.5 GB
15. Houston Rockets, 15-49, 30 GB
Note: Utah currently owns the tiebreaker advantage due to its 2-0 series lead over Lakers this season (with two games between the teams remaining).
From Bill Plaschke: They play such scathing defense, the crowd roars with every deflection.
They are so smart on offense, the crowd roars with every screen.
They are so ready for the road ahead that a full and rollicking Pauley Pavilion sent them off Saturday night with the sort of noise rarely heard in this part of Westwood.
This is the loudest UCLA basketball team in years.
This is the best one too.
In the wake of the Bruin’s biggest victory of the season — a 82-73 win over eighth-ranked Arizona — there is only one place for UCLA to go from here.
The Bruins are deserving of a No. 1-seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament no matter what happens in this week’s unsightly and mostly irrelevant Pac-12 tourney.
From Thuc Nhi Nguyen: As UCLA players huddled closely on the court at Michelob ULTRA Arena, a cannon shot confetti into the air. The Bruins weren’t the ones celebrating.
The No. 5 seed Bruins lost 65-61 to Washington State in the Pac-12 tournament final on Sunday, coming one win short of their first conference title since 2006.
Senior Charisma Osborne had a team-high 19 points, including eight in the fourth quarter to help the Bruins (25-9) close an eight-point deficit to two, but her tying three-point attempt was blocked with nine seconds left.
Behind tournament most outstanding player Charlisse Leger-Walker (23 points, seven rebounds, three assists) and center Bella Murekatete (21 points), the No. 7 seed Cougars (23-10) became the lowest seeded team to win the Pac-12 tournament.
A team that wasn’t even receiving votes in the Associated Press poll this week knocked off three ranked teams in as many games en route to Washington State’s first conference title and the first Pac-12 championship for any women’s team at the school.
Helene Elliott bids farewell to Jonathan Quick: As the Kings rebuilt yet again in the early 2000s, it became clear their goaltender of the future was likely to be a guy named Jonathan. But which one?
Early comparisons between Jonathan Bernier, their first round draft pick in 2006, and Jonathan Quick, their third round pick, and 72nd overall, in 2005, favored Bernier. He came from Quebec, the cradle of standout goalies, and he had excelled in the high-scoring Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Quick had played high school hockey at Avon Old Farms in Connecticut. After being drafted he spent two seasons at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
As a pro, Bernier had solid credentials. Quick had a bad habit of oversleeping and being late for minor league bus trips. Missing a meeting with a coach earned him a demotion from the American Hockey League to the ECHL. It was a wake-up call he couldn’t afford to ignore.
“Bernier was drafted in the first round, so…,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said, his tone conveying the respect accorded a prime pick. “But Quickie came in and took the job. That’s what you always say: If you want to make the NHL, you’ve got to take someone’s job. He took it and ran with it.”
NFL MOCK DRAFT
From Sam Farmer: Quarterback mobility is a big deal in the NFL, and you can expect that a lot of teams are going to get mobile to land a quarterback.
What if the Chicago Bears bail out of the No. 1 pick?
This, the first of multiple Los Angeles Times mock drafts, ponders that possibility with several teams looking to upgrade at the most coveted — and often most perplexing — position.
And remember, there are only 31 picks in the first round this year, as the Miami Dolphins were stripped of their selection after the NFL ruled the club had violated tampering rules with quarterback Tom Brady and coach Sean Payton while they were under contract with other franchises.
Top-ranked men’s tennis champion Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the upcoming BNP Paribas Open, having lost his bid to enter the United States unvaccinated to play in the Southern California event.
The tournament announced his withdrawal on Sunday night. Play in the combined ATP-WTA event begins Wednesday at Indian Wells Tennis Garden and runs through March 19.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said on Twitter that Homeland Security had rejected Djokovic’s vaccine waiver request, which would have allowed him to play back-to-back at Indian Wells and Miami, which runs March 19-April 2.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1920 — Mickey Roach of Toronto scores five goals to lead the St. Patricks to an 11-2 rout of the Quebec Bulldogs.
1976 — Dorothy Hamill wins the World Figure Skating Championships in Goteberg, Sweden.
1977 — Montclair State’s Carol Blazejowski scores 52 points against Queens College, setting a new collegiate scoring record (for men or women) in the current Madison Square Garden in New York.
1982 — The San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks combine for 337 points in the highest scoring game in NBA history, to that point. The Spurs win, 171-166, in three overtimes.
1983 — The 12-team United States Football League begins its first season with five games.
1984 — Dale Hawerchuck of the Winnipeg Jets sets the NHL record for most assists in one period, with five in the second period of a 7-3 triumph over the Kings.
1988 — Julie Krone becomes the winningest female jockey in history with her 1,205th victory. Krone rides a filly named Squawter to victory in the ninth race at Aqueduct Racetrack.
1996 — Detroit’s Chris Osgood becomes the third goalie in NHL history to score a goal, firing the puck into an empty net with 11 seconds remaining in the Red Wings’ 4-2 victory over Hartford.
2000 — Shaquille O’Neal of the Lakers scores an NBA season-high 61 points and had 23 rebounds in a 123-103 victory over the Clippers.
2001 — George Mason beats North Carolina-Wilmington 35-33 in the second-lowest scoring game in the shot-clock era of NCAA basketball.
2010 — Devin Harris scores 31 points and the New Jersey Nets erased an early 16-point deficit to beat New York 113-93. The Knicks miss all 18 attempts in the most futile 3-point shooting night in league history.
2011 — Lindsey Vonn clinches her third discipline title in three days with a super-G victory to wrap up a memorable weekend of ski racing in Tarvisio, Italy. Vonn took the super-combined and downhill titles the previous two days.
2014 — The Clippers rout the rival Lakers 142-94. It’s the most lopsided victory ever for the Clippers’ franchise and the most one-sided loss in Lakers history.
2015 — Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is suspended for nine games, with the school punished for ignoring the “most fundamental core values of the NCAA” for academic, drug and other violations committed primarily by the men’s basketball program. The school is put on probation for five years and the basketball team is forced to vacate 108 wins in which ineligible players participated.
2015 — Shane Walsh scores the winning goal in the fifth overtime to lead UMass to a 4-3 victory over Notre Dame in the longest game in NCAA Division I ice hockey history.
—Compiled by the Associated Press
Shaquille O’Neal scores 61 points against the Clippers. Watch and listen here.
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