The Sports Report: Lakers continue their slow fade into the sunset

LeBron James during the loss to Memphis.
(Brandon Dill / Associated Press)

Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Tuesday 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.


Weren’t the Lakers supposed to start playing better when LeBron James came back? Wasn’t that supposed to right the ship? Someone forgot to tell the Lakers that.


The Lakers lost, 110-105, to the struggling Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. The same Grizzlies who came into the game on a four-game losing streak and with an overall record of 23-38. The Lakers are now 29-31 and will probably need to go about 16-6 the rest of the way for a chance to make the playoffs. Does anyone see the Lakers going 16-6 the rest of the way? You, with your hand up, you need your eyes checked.

Of course, as mentioned in yesterday’s newsletter, LeBron said he thinks that maybe the young players on the team don’t have the experience necessary to understand how a playoff race works. But maybe, just maybe, the young players on the team were disillusioned by Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and LeBron (you can’t tell me he isn’t consulted on things like this) basically telling them that all of them were worth one of Anthony Davis.

Yes, the players are professionals and should be putting their best effort forward every game. But what if your boss tried to send you and all your co-worker friends to a rival company for just one of their employees? I think it would be rightfully upsetting and cause you to subconsciously not go that extra mile anymore.

Dive for a loose ball? Hey, why don’t you get Anthony Davis in to do that. Make that extra pass? Get Davis to do it. I’m not saying it’s the right reaction to have, but it is the human reaction.


LeBron did have a reaction when a reporter asked him if it is possible the playoff push was a distraction to players: “If you’re still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come in and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this.’ Like, seriously, if you’re distracted by playoff pushes out of all the stuff that’s been talked about this year, nah. Just come and do your job. We do our job at a high level and that’s not a distraction. That’s what you want. That’s what you want every game. You want to feel like you’re fighting for something.”

James moved into 10th place on the NBA’s career assists lists with 8,535, passing Andre Miller on his first assist of the game. James is the first player to reach the top 10 in points and assists; he’s fifth on the scoring list with 32,162 points.

By the way, in case you were wondering, there is no timetable for Lonzo Ball’s return.



Montrezl Harris scored 32 points to lead the Clippers past the Dallas Mavericks, 121-112. The Clippers are now 34-28 and in seventh place in the Western Conference. The top eight teams make the playoffs.


Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Dodgers to sign Bryce Harper. As Dylan Hernandez writes:

Don’t order that customized jersey quite yet. In order to sign Harper, the Dodgers will have to demonstrate they are open to the kind of behavior they have resisted in recent years. There’s zero indication they are.


What the Dodgers have are several advantages over the two other teams known to still be in pursuit of the former National League most valuable player, the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants. They can win now. They have a richer history. Los Angeles is relatively close to Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas.

The Dodgers would be mistaken to think this will be enough. The organization’s confidence has morphed into something closer to arrogance as a result of their recent success, but the team’s executives have to temper their egos and recognize closing a deal will require more than the warm sentiments principal owner Mark Walter conveyed to Harper in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

The Dodgers will have to back up the figurative Brinks truck.



Arash Markazi writes about playing video games with Harper. Read it here.

Clayton Kershaw didn’t feel too good after playing catch Monday. Read about it here, and get more Dodgers details, including a look at the team’s all-time 40-man roster, in our Dodgers Dugout newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.


Are the Angels moving to Long Beach? Who knows, but there have been very, very, very preliminary discussion about it.


According to Bill Shaikin, the city has approached the Angels to see if the team might be interested in a new ballpark on a waterfront site.

The city has not determined whether a ballpark would be feasible on the site or the best use for it, let alone whether taxpayers would contribute to a construction cost that could exceed $700 million and could approach $1 billion.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said “As part of our efforts to create a downtown waterfront development plan, we are exploring the feasibility of a downtown sports venue on the convention center parking lot. We are in the early stages of our due diligence and are exploring a variety of options for this property.”

USC football


Now that the legendary Trojan career of Kliff Kingsbury is over, USC turns its eyes to Graham Harrell to run the offense next season. His goal is to simplify it and make it more player friendly.

“The philosophy is keep it easy and let the guys go play,” Harrell said Monday. “It’s an execution-based offense. You’re not going to go in there and try to out-scheme people. It’s an identity. It gives you an identity. This is who we are, and we’re going to be good at what we do.”

Here’s a very telling quote from Harrell, when he was asked if he feels pressure as the new man coming in to turn around last season’s 5-7 record, help save Clay Helton’s job and help make sure he himself lasts more than one season.

“I don’t ever worry too much about pressure. The great thing about SC, I don’t really think it matters if you win a Rose Bowl or you go 5-7, the next year it’s always pressure because they want you to win again. A lot of jobs throughout the country, you can be average and everyone is happy with you.


“You don’t get into this profession to be average. You get into this profession to win championships, and realistically there aren’t many schools in the country where you can win a national championship. … If you ever get to one of those schools, you better jump on it. You may never get it again. That’s why I’m here.”

Odds and Ends

How a journeyman pitcher, dressed in a shark onesie, livened up Angels camp…. Kings and Ducks aren’t among the major players as the NHL trade deadline passes…. Kings rally before losing to Tampa Bay in shootout…. Santa Anita death toll for horses rises to 19 in the last two months…. Raiders reportedly reach agreement to play at the Oakland Coliseum again next season…. The Ducks lost to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-0.

Today’s local major sports schedule (all times Pacific)


Dodgers vs. Kansas City, Noon

Angels vs. Oakland, Noon, PRIME, KLAA 830 AM

Kings at Carolina, 4 p.m., FSW

Born on this date


1887: Baseball Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander

1916: Former Dodger Preacher Roe

1968: Former Angel J.T. Snow

1973: NFL player Marshall Faulk


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.