The Sports Report: Rising Clippers have a deflating loss to Rockets

James Harden
James Harden
(Mark J. Terrill / AP)

Howdy everyone, my name is Houston Mitchell, proprietor of this here newsletter. Let’s get right to the news.


You may want to hold off on printing any “Western Conference Champions” banners for the Clippers. They took on the Houston Rockets on Wednesday and got blown out, 135-103.

As our Clippers writer, Andrew Greif, put it:

“With Houston’s defensive switches leading to unforced Clippers turnovers and Rockets guard James Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer, effective as ever despite playing with two early fouls, the Clippers quickly trailed by double digits and never recovered.

“It marked the Clippers largest margin of defeat at home this season, and only the third time the franchise has lost by 32 points or more at home since 1995.


“Do we have any questions today after that?” coach Doc Rivers said to open his postgame press conference. “I mean, really. They just kicked our butts all around the floor.”

“Harden scored 31 points, Chris Paul had 29 and Clint Capela added 24 points and 15 rebounds in the rout, which came one week before the regular-season finale. Instead of the promising postseason tune-up the Clippers hoped for, Wednesday night quickly devolved into a beatdown.”


Columnist Dylan Hernandez was also at the game. Here’s an excerpt from his column:

“The Lakers wonder to this day.

“What if …?

“What if the NBA hadn’t cancelled a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to them?

“There are no such recriminations on the other side of the Staples Center corridor.

“Paul made his latest return to the building Wednesday night, almost two entire seasons after orchestrating a trade that sent him from the Clippers to the Houston Rockets.

“With Paul scoring 29 points, the championship-contending Rockets blew out the Clippers, 135-103. He was vintage Paul, collecting seven assists and sinking a shot that covered three-quarters of the length of the court with time expiring in the third quarter.

“He could return here again in a couple of weeks, as the Clippers and Rockets could potentially meet in the first round of the playoffs.

“And, yet, no animus.

“Paul was booed when he shot free throws, but the chorus of disapproval was noticeably unenthusiastic.

“There are no regrets here. There is no second-guessing.

“Obviously, where we’re at, it’s a pretty good place,” coach Doc Rivers said.


Luke Walton may not be the Lakers coach next season. Everyone knows that. But does team owner Jeanie Buss?

While recording a podcast Tuesday, she was asked a question that began “if [Walton] were to be the coach going forward . . . ”

Buss jumped in, laughing, “I’m not gonna answer that question.”

Does she have faith in him?

“Of course, of course. I think he’s a hard worker and somebody that players gravitate towards. He’s done an incredible job under a lot of challenging circumstances.

“Luke has always been somebody that — he came to the Lakers as a rookie. The last year of Shaq and Kobe. He kind of bridged two Lakers teams in the Shaq-Kobe era and what you would call the Kobe-Pau [Gasol] era. He is somebody I think who doesn’t even realize what a natural he is and that leadership that he has in terms of getting people connecting with people in all ages. I think he’s done a terrific job.

But what about Magic Johnson?

“We’re as tight as any two people, any two executives,” Buss said. “We’ve got a mission and a purpose of what we’re trying to do and we’re not done yet but I think we’re going in the right direction. In terms of basketball decisions, I will always defer to Magic.”

Sounds like Walton should not make any long-term plans.


If you’ve ever been to Long Beach, you are probably familiar of that building that has the painting of the whales. That’s the Long Beach Arena. And it may not be there a lot longer, because the city might demolish it to build a new home for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, Planet Earth (I think that’s the official name of the team).

The Angels’ lease at Angel Stadium expires after next season, and the team is considering whether to remain in Anaheim or move to a new ballpark. They hope to make a decision by the end of the year.

According to our Bill Shaikin, “In Long Beach, the proposed ballpark site is a 13-acre parking lot adjacent to the arena. However, the Long Beach City Council last month authorized negotiations on a larger parcel that envelops the ballpark site and includes the city’s convention center, performing arts center, arena and a greenbelt between Shoreline Drive and the Pacific Ocean.

“The arena no longer has an anchor tenant, and it is directly adjacent to the proposed ballpark site. As a result, demolition of the arena to accommodate development has been one of the scenarios raised in talks between Long Beach and the Angels, according to people familiar with the discussions but who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly.

Kevin Lee, the city spokesman, said he could not discuss the “specifics of any possible proposal” because negotiations are ongoing.

“Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia declined comment, referring questions to Lee. Garcia said last year that he envisioned development that extended beyond the parking lot — the largest undeveloped parcel in the city — and through the larger waterfront area south of Ocean Boulevard.

“In Anaheim, negotiations are on hold while the city awaits an appraisal of the Angel Stadium site. In Long Beach, an appraisal of the potential ballpark site and surrounding land has not been conducted, Lee said. He declined to say whether the city would commit to an appraisal, which would provide an independent valuation of the land discussed in negotiations between the city and the team.”

March Madness

Saturday’s men’s Final Four schedule

All times Pacific

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 5 Auburn, 3 p.m., CBS

No. 2 Michigan St. vs. No. 3 Texas Tech, 5:45 p.m., CBS

Friday’s women’s Final Four schedule

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 2 Oregon, 4 p.m., ESPN 2

No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Connecticut, 6 p.m., ESPN 2

Scheduling alert

There will be no newsletter this Saturday or Sunday as I take a couple of days off.

Odds and Ends

Chris Taylor drives in the go-ahead runs as the Dodgers beat the Giants, 5-3…. Jamie Dixon close to a deal to become UCLA’s next basketball coach…. Lakers’ trade of Ivica Zubac was a head-scratcher, but he’s with a winner now…. Farhan Zaidi thinks Connor Joe can follow the Max Muncy model with Giants…. Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen hopeful heart issue won’t recur at Coors Field…. Sickly Angels’ offense searches for cure in time for home opener…. Pernilla Lindberg defends LPGA’s ANA Inspiration title after a major learning experience…. Zoe Campos of Valencia is tied for first after Round 1 of Augusta National Women’s Amateur…. Kings call on Anti-Defamation League to help address Jr. Kings’ alleged anti-Semitic acts…. UCLA picks up commitment from quarterback Parker McQuarrie.

Sports Podcast

On the latest episode of the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast, enterprise reporter Nathan Fenno discusses big money in amateur athletics, with topics including the college admissions scandal and allegations from attorney Michael Avenatti that involve AAU basketball and Nike.

Later, columnist LZ Granderson talks about Duke superstar Zion Williamson and other college athletes who have made a lot of money for the NCAA and others but aren’t allowed to cash in on their own success. Granderson also discusses how rapper Nipsey Hussle’s death affected NBA players and LeBron James’ impact in Los Angeles (and vice versa).

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

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

Golden State at Lakers, 7:30 p.m., TNT, 710 ESPN

Texas at Angels, 7 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

Born on this date

1957: NHL player Mike Bossy

1966: NFL player Carlton Haselrig

Died on this date

1968: Swimmer/surfer Duke Kahanamoku, 77

2001: Baseball player Tommie Agee, 58

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.