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The Sports Report: The Lakers have hit rock bottom

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives past Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton during th
LeBron James drives to the basket.
(Rick Scuteri / AP)

Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Sunday 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

The Lakers have hit rock bottom. They lost to the Phoenix Suns, who came into the game 12-51. The same Phoenix Suns who are tanking to get a good draft pick. The same Phoenix Suns who haven’t had a real general manager for months.

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“Obviously there’s something wrong with this team, and it’s up to us to try to fix it,” Kyle Kuzma said after the 118-109 loss. “But not really sure right now.”

“Until the fourth quarter we didn’t engage ourselves,” Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. “I don’t try to explain it. I just know we gotta be better. I know our group has worked really hard all year so I’m gonna continue to believe in them. But I don’t have an explanation for it.”

So, let’s face it. The Lakers aren’t going to make the playoffs. And you know whose fault that is? Apparently it is the media’s fault. You see, according to Jeanie Buss, the media harmed the team chemistry by reporting the Lakers were going to trade pretty much the whole team for Anthony Davis. So the Lakers have gone from “These men are professionals and aren’t hurt by rumors. Stop treating them like babies.” to “The media hurt team chemistry.”

I thought telling the team we’re a family and to have Laker pride and then trying to trade half of them for one player probably had more to do with it, but what do I know. I mean, I know Magic Johnson has been busy the last five years trying to iron out that Dodger TV deal, so he probably has his hands full and accidentally offered half the team for one guy.

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I’m sure next season everything will be much better.

UFC

Jon Jones was dominant in a fight that went the distance, earning a unanimous decision over Anthony Smith to defend his light-heavyweight title at UFC 235.

For every UFC PPV, we have the best MMA recapper in the business, Todd Martin, providing live round-by-round updates on our website. You can read his updates from UFC 235 here.

But next time there is a UFC PPV, I recommend visiting our site shortly after the card starts and following along. Todd knows MMA as well as anyone and you will be entertained.

Kings

For a few fleeting moments Saturday, it was easy to remember when the Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks were the elite teams of the Western Conference. They played each other, and we’ll let Helene Elliott take it from there:

“The Blackhawks, on a power play in the first period, repeatedly tried to set up Patrick Kane and were successful because the puck always seems to find elite players. Kane, still as feared a scorer as when the teams alternated as Stanley Cup champions in 2012-13-14-15, unleashed a shot from the right circle. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped it with his arm and shoulder. Kane got the puck again. Quick, tracking the puck well through traffic, again stopped it with the left side of his body, but the Blackhawks maintained possession. That created another one-on-one between Quick and Kane. Quick prevailed again, going to his knees to keep the puck in front of him before he froze it and got a stoppage.

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“It was 30 seconds of a rivalry reborn, a re-creation of the time these teams battled for supremacy instead of for position in the draft lottery. “Bringing back memories,” Kyle Clifford said with a smile.

“The rest of the game — a 6-3 victory by the Kings at Staples Center that ended their 10-game losing streak — didn’t come close to matching that brilliant sequence. Neither team was capable of sustaining a high level because both have aged badly and have lost the defensive steadiness that became their trademark. The Kings have fired two coaches since they beat Chicago in the 2014 Western Conference final and won the second of their two Cup titles in three seasons; the Blackhawks dismissed three-time Cup winner Joel Quenneville four months ago and are enduring their own painful rebuilding process.

Odds and Ends

Dodgers’ equipment managers relieved they won’t have to issue a No. 34 jersey this season…. Bryce Harper says he signed with Phillies because they were in it for the long haul…. Angels pitcher Matt Harvey says he’s ‘right where I want to be’…. Ducks sign Jakob Silfverberg to a five-year extension worth $5.25 million per season…. The Raiders, L.A.'s third NFL team by default, still get a piece of the Southland pie…. In short order, Kyler Murray could be the quarterback prize of the NFL draft…. Another horse dies at Santa Anita during third race on Saturday.

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

New York at Clippers, 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570

Dodgers vs. Texas, noon, Sportsnet LA

Angels vs. Oakland, noon, FSW+, KLAA 830 AM

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Colorado at Ducks, 1 p.m., FSW

Sporting Kansas City at LAFC, ESPN, ESPN LA 710

Born on this date

1872: Baseball Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler

1958: U.S. soccer coach Bob Bradley

1962: NFL player Herschel Walker

1962: Track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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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