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The Sports Report: Rams have a dynamic duo to run past the Saints on Sunday

The Sports Report: Rams have a dynamic duo to run past the Saints on Sunday
Todd Gurley, left, and C.J. Anderson (Associated Press)

Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Saturday edition of the Los Angeles Times daily sports newsletter. My name is Houston Mitchell and I’m your host for the festivities.

Let’s get to it.

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Rams

The rotation began seven plays into the Rams’ divisional-round playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

Star running back Todd Gurley, on the field for the first time in nearly a month, had carried the ball four times when back-up C.J. Anderson came off the sideline and carried three times before an eventual field goal. The rotation continued throughout the game.

By the end of the 30-22 victory, Anderson had rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns in 23 carries. Gurley rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown in 16 carries.

It had been two decades since two backs from the same team each ran for more than 100 yards in an NFL playoff game.

And all of a sudden, the Rams high-powered offense had another dynamic.

“Kind of that perfect balance,” coach Sean McVay said Friday.

Vote in our poll!

So, it will be Rams-Saints for the NFC title and Patriots-Chiefs for the AFC title. Who do you think will win those games? Vote in our polls and the results will be revealed at the end of the week. A random voter will win a free subscription to the newsletter!

For the Rams-Saints poll, click here.

For the Patriots-Chiefs poll, click here.

USC sports

Just days after his controversial choice to retain football coach Clay Helton in late November, USC athletic director Lynn Swann did something even more controversial that flew under most everyone’s radar until now: He removed the Song Girls from USC home basketball games for the rest of the 2018-19 season.

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The reason? “Due to ongoing game management concerns, time constraints and space issues at the Galen Center, the USC Song Girls will not perform at the remaining men’s and women’s basketball games for the 2018-19 season.”

The Trojan Dance Force will remain a presence at games.

Huh?

It appears there are some corporate-sponsored activities, among other things, that have taken up some time that could be devoted to the Song Girls.

“I don’t feel I’ve gotten an adequate explanation,” said Hilary Hodgkins, the Song Girls’ alumni advisor, “and when I ask, I get stonewalled. I don’t understand it. I wish I could answer this question: For the life of me, it makes no sense to me why athletics is even worried about a dance team.”

It’s really a fascinating story, as written by Brady McCollough.

Here’s a thought: How about a high-powered USC alum, maybe one who owns his own business, sponsoring the Song Girls? I mean, if Chick-fil-A can sponsor an opponent’s missed free throws, someone can sponsor the Song Girls.

Lakers

Good news for the Lakers: Rajon Rondo has been cleared to participate in full-contact practices as he recovers from hand surgery last month.

Rondo tore a ligament in his right ring finger on Dec. 25 in Oakland and had surgery to repair the injury three days later.

Boxing

A Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. rematch is as close as one Pacquiao victory away, Lance Pugmire writes.

And should the favored welterweight champion take care of Adrien Broner on Saturday night in Las Vegas with Mayweather ringside at MGM Grand, a repeat of the richest one-day sporting event in history becomes the best possible option for all involved.

“That’s the thinking in my mind and my heart — that there will be another [Mayweather] fight,” Pacquiao said last week in a conversation with the Times.

Clippers

It was an untimely test for the sputtering Clippers, they lost to the surging Golden State Warriors, 112-94. Check out Jorge Castillo’s story for all the details.

Angels

With the Angels and the city of Anaheim poised to renew negotiations intended to keep the baseball team in town for decades to come, the success of the talks could turn on one question: Does the team buy into the city’s latest vision to build up the area around the ballpark? Bill Shaikin looks into the matter here.

Ask a Times sportswriter

A new feature of this newsletter will be you, the loyal subscriber, being able to ask any Times sports reporter a question. Just click here to send me an email. Include in the email who you want to ask a question of and what your question is. I’ll pass it on and it will be answered in a future newsletter. Ever wanted to ask Bill Plaschke a question? Want to ask Tania Ganguli a question about the Lakers? Have a question for Sam Farmer about the NFL? Click here and ask away. But make sure you let me know which sportswriter you want answering the question.

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me here. If you want to subscribe, click here.

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