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Sports

The Sports Report: Should the Lakers fire Luke Walton?

Luke Walton
Luke Walton
(Rick Bowmer / AP)

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

Let’s get to it.

Lakers

If you believe everything you read, then Lakers coach Luke Walton’s job has been in jeopardy several times this season. And some vocal Lakers fans have been leading the call to dump him, saying he is not a good coach and does not run a good offense. After the Lakers lost to the woeful Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, many were convinced that was the last straw.

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Not so fast.

According to Times reporter Brad Turner, there have been no internal discussions about Walton’s job status and Walton “will definitely finish the season.”

And it appears team Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and team owner Jeanie Buss are all in agreement about this.

Walton reminds somewhat of former UCLA coach Steve Lavin. Youthful, energetic, very likable, but somewhat limited when it came to designing plays. Would motivate his team to upset top-10 teams then would lose to teams they should easily beat. Walton is the same. Lakers defeat Boston one night, then lose to Atlanta. Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

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What do you think? Should Luke Walton be fired? Click here to vote.

Dodgers

Russell Martin was acquired in the offseason to replace Yasmani Grandal, a move questioned by many fans because Martin was so bad with Toronto last season, hitting just .194.

“I was horrible last year,” Martin said. “Still a tough out. Still can work a count. And still hit the ball hard — relatively hard — but it was a down year. I wasn’t as good as I can be. When you get older, they give you an excuse for you. Like, ‘You’re getting old.’ My body felt great last year. I got zero excuses.”

Read more about Martin here.

MLB

Yasiel Puig is with the Reds now and has already reported to camp. Andy McCullough was there to witness it all. An excerpt:

The prospects gathered in the outfield grass around the veteran. For more than an hour on Wednesday, as the rest of the Cincinnati Reds filtered into their clubhouse, a few young players received a tutorial on the path to big-league success. The lesson came from an instructor dubbed, in the words of one Reds staffer, “Coach Puig.”

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Always catch the baseball with two hands, Yasiel Puig told them.

Never overthrow the cutoff man.

Always run hard when you leave the dugout to play the field.

And never, ever, try to mimic Puig’s own violation of these rules.

“I told the kids, ‘Do the right thing,’” Puig said. “Catch the ball with two hands — don’t do the same thing I do, because I catch the ball with one hand. That’s me.” Puig listed a few of the other former All-Stars assembled on the Reds roster. “They need to take the good things that Puig does, Joey Votto does, Matt Kemp. Don’t look into the bad things that we do. Because everybody does bad things in baseball, and bad things in life.”

Auto Racing

NASCAR continues to shed fans and hopes to reverse that trend this season, starting with their biggest race, the Daytona 500. Times reporter John Cherwa takes a look at five questions NASCAR must answer. Click here to read it.

Golf

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Tiger Woods is in town to play in the PGA Tour tournament at Riveria Country Club this week. He has played in the tournament, currently called the Genesis Open, 13 times.

“There’s no secret to this golf course,” Woods said Wednesday. “It’s right in front of you. …

“We wish we could play more venues like this that are so simple and straightforward, but that’s what makes it just a classic golf course. … You have to hit the ball well.”

Woods has rarely played well in the tournament. He tees off at 12:22 p.m. today. Phil Mickelson tees off at 7:22 a.m.

Odds and Ends

The Clippers routed the Phoenix Suns to strengthen their hold on the final playoff spot in the West… The Chargers announced they will not pick up the contract option for defensive tackle Corey Liuget, who has been with the team since 2011… UCLA announced plans for a $35-million academic facility on campus to support its athletes that will be named after principal donor Mo OstinCarl Hagelin of the Kings talks about the possibility of being traded…. Matt Harvey talks about joining the Angels and his troubles in the past… The UCLA gymnastics teams made it a special day for 6-year-old Make A Wish kid Joselin Palma… The UCLA men’s basketball had trouble with Cal, which was 0-11 in the Pac-12 Conference, before pulling out a 75-67 overtime victory.

Sports Podcast

In the latest episode of the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast, NBA writer Brad Turner discusses the recent Anthony Davis trade saga between the Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans and what it was like covering the developments as they happened.

“During the course of all this, it was exhausting on both sides,” Turner tells host Beto Durán. “I was always feeling challenged to try to find out what was going on, who to call, who to text, who to truly trust in all of this, knowing that both sides wanted to get out their narrative and both sides did.”

In addition to an in-depth look behind the scenes at the trade that never happened, Turner also discusses how Magic Johnson and LeBron James navigate in a different orbit than everyone else and the tampering investigation into Johnson’s dealings with Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Best sports movie

As we continue the quest to pick the best sports movie of all time, we move on to boxing. Vote for the best boxing movie by clicking here or by emailing me here. Vote for your four best boxing movies The nominees:

Ali (2001), starring Will Smith

Body and Soul (1947), starring John Garfield

The Boxer (1997), starring Daniel Day-Lewis

The Champ (1931), starring Wallace Beery

The Champ (1979), starring Jon Voight and Ricky Schroeder

Cinderella Man (2005), starring Russell Crowe

Creed (2015), starring Michael B. Jordan

Creed II (2018), starring Michael B. Jordan

Fat City (1972), starring Stacy Keach

The Fighter (2010), starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale

Girlfight (2000), starring Michelle Rodriguez

The Great White Hype (1996), starring Jamie Foxx and Samuel L. Jackson

The Greatest (1977), starring Muhammad Ali

Grudge Match (2013), starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro

The Harder They Fall (1956), starring Humphrey Bogart

The Hurricane (1999), starring Denzel Washington

The Main Event (1979), starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal

Million Dollar Baby (2004), starring Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood

Raging Bull (1980), starring Robert DeNiro

Real Steel (2011), starring Hugh Jackman

Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), starring Anthony Quinn

Rocky (1976), starring Sylvester Stallone

Rocky II (1979), starring Sylvester Stallone

Rocky III (1982), starring Sylvester Stallone

Rocky IV (1985), starring Sylvester Stallone

Rocky V (1990), starring Sylvester Stallone

Rocky Balboa (2006), starring Sylvester Stallone

The Set-Up (1949), starring Robert Ryan

Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), starring Paul Newman

Southpaw (2015), starring Jake Gyllenhaal

When We Were Kings (2007), documentary

Here are the results of the three best hockey movies poll:

Slap Shot, named on 97.4% of the 4,135 ballots cast

Miracle, 75%

The Mighty Ducks, 46.1%

Missing the cut

Mystery, Alaska, 30.3%

Youngblood, 11.2%

D2: The Mighty Ducks, 8.6%

Red Army, 7.9%

Goon, 7.3%

Others (in order of votes received): Sudden Death, D3: The Mighty Ducks, Slap Shot 2, Idol of the Crowds, Pond Hockey, Les Boys, Sudden Death, The Last Gladiators, MVP: Most Valuable Primate, The Love Guru.

Born on this date

1907: Jockey Johnny Longden

1913: Baseball broadcaster Mel Allen

1931: NHL player Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion

1935: Golfer Mickey Wright

1960: NFL player Jim Kelly

1966: NHL player Petr Svoboda

1970: Volleyball player Elaine Youngs

1972: NFL player Drew Bledsoe

1973: NFL player Steve McNair

1973: NBA player Tyus Edney

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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