The Sports Report: Clippers are stumbling into the playoffs

Doc Rivers, Landry Shamet, Montrezl Harrell
Doc Rivers, center, speaks with Landry Shamet, left, and Montrezl Harrell.
(Ben Margot / AP)

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


The Clippers continue their stagger into the playoffs with a 131-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, a team the Clippers may meet in the first round of the playoffs if they aren’t careful. The Warriors clinched the top seed with the win.

To avoid the eighth seed, and a first-round matchup against the Warriors, the Clippers need to win their regular-season finale Wednesday against Utah and have San Antonio lose its finale against Dallas. Even that alone, however, won’t keep them entirely clear of the eighth seed, depending how Oklahoma City finishes in its last two games.


“We’ll be ready when the time comes,” coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought we played right, we played hard today we just couldn’t sustain our play.”

Starting guard Patrick Beverley (hip) missed his third straight game, though he said he will play Wednesday. Starting forward Danilo Gallinari rested a sore ankle and reserve forward JaMychal Green was not with the team for a second straight game so he could be with family in Memphis after the birth of his son.


NBA columnist Dan Woike points out that, “After losing 131-104 Sunday to the Warriors, it’s much more likely that the Clippers open the postseason in Oakland than it was a week ago. Three straight losses have the Clippers vying with the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs for the worst-case scenario for a winning team in the West — a first-round series with the defending champs.


After joking about how great it would be if the Warriors would be excluded for the postseason, Rivers said he actually wants his team to come through Oakland — just not right away.

“If you want to win, you’ve got to play somebody at some point. There will be no dodging,” he said. “I just want to be healthy and playing great in the playoffs. Do we want to play the Warriors in the playoffs? Yes. Do we want to do it in the first round? Probably not.

“But, you’ve got to take it when you get it.”

UCLA men’s basketball

The Bruins coaching search is quickly turning into a game of “Guess Who?” Is he bald? No? I’ll eliminate all those candidates. Does he wear glasses? No?

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes emerged as the latest front-runner. According to Ben Bolch, “Barnes has interviewed with school officials, according to a person with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly.”

Barnes, 64, is coming off a season in which the Volunteers reached a regional semifinal in the NCAA tournament and he was selected the Naismith coach of the year.

Barnes has a 692-364 record in 32 seasons as a college coach, taking Texas to the Final Four in 2003 and making two other appearances in a regional final during his 17 seasons with the Longhorns.



Former Bruin Earl Watson would love to be the next UCLA coach, but he says, “if you really love the university, you will “love the university more than yourself.”

“For me, I just wish them all the best.” And he hopes for “a return to glory because it impacts you in pride and community and brings a great dynamic to college basketball.”


UCLA’s Jaylen Hands has hired an agent and will declare for the NBA draft.


The Dodgers and Cody Bellinger continued their hot start, defeating the Colorado Rockies, 12-6, to complete a three-game sweep.

Bellinger hit a solo blast to the second deck in right field in the eighth inning for his league-leading seventh home run. He also worked one of the Dodgers’ 10 walks, singled and doubled, pushing his batting average to .455 and slugging percentage to 1.023.


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March Madness

Ben Bolch preview tonight’s men’s tournament final. Here’s an excerpt: “The breakthrough star of the NCAA tournament has been Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, who continues his own Cinderella rise from cutting boxes behind grocery stores to putting his team on the verge of its own Wheaties box.

“What’s made Beard all the more alluring is that he’s enjoyed every low-budget motel and extra-value meal along the way to the national championship game, where his third-seeded Red Raiders (31-6) will face top-seeded Virginia (34-3) on Monday night at US Bank Stadium.

“I tell the guys to never forget where they come from and be you,” Beard, who’s in his third season at Texas Tech, said earlier this week. “For that young coach out there like me that sat in the open practices for 22 years and dreamed about being there, don’t give up. Keep at it.”

“Perseverance has handsomely rewarded the 46-year-old who didn’t get paid until his fourth coaching job, making ends meet before that by conducting private lessons and slicing the seams of those grocery store boxes.

“Beard parlayed Texas Tech’s run to a regional final last season into a new six-year, $19-million contract that now seems woefully inadequate. Red Raiders athletic director Kirby Hocutt acknowledged to reporter this week that he may need to tear up that deal and lavish a massive raise upon a coach whose $2.8-million salary puts him tied for 27th among college basketball coaches, according to USA Today’s database.

“It may require a blank checkbook to keep a defensive wizard who just prevailed in head-to-head duels with John Beilein, Mark Few and Tom Izzo, three of the top coaches in the college game.”

Today’s men’s final

All times Pacific

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 3 Texas Tech, 6:15 p.m., CBS

Women’s tournament

Chloe Jackson drove for a tiebreaking layup with 3.9 seconds left as Baylor held off Notre Dame, 82-81, to win the women’s title.

“They just kept doing what we’ve been taught to do, and that’s guard people,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We just beat the defending national champions. That team is so good, so talented. You’re going to see those guys play at the next level. Wow.”

Baylor was able to pull off the win without star forward Lauren Cox, who injured her knee in a frightening scene late in the third quarter. The Irish were able to rally from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to tie it at 78 in the fourth. Jackson then scored a jumper from the foul line, and Jessica Shepard countered with two free throws to tie it, setting up the exciting finish.

“We had to do it for LC,” said Jackson, who was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. “She got us here. We had to finish the job for her.”

Odds and Ends

Jemerrio Jones has a big hand in helping Lakers turn back playoff-bound Jazz…. Willie Desjardins will not be returning as coach of the Kings….Ducks’ exit interviews come earlier than they have in last seven seasons…. Mike Trout‘s record homer streak continues, bullpen delivers in Angels win…. Angels outfielder Justin Upton‘s turf toe is much worse than expected…. LPGA’s most dominant player this season wins first major title…. Tiger Woods’ first Masters was the last for his caddie at Augusta National that day…. It’s time for spring football practice and the transfer game at high schools…. Current success of U.S. women’s soccer can be traced to iconic 1999 squad…. George Brett says he’s no aspiring ‘Brockmire’

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

Dodgers at St. Louis, 4:45 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

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

Born on this date

1912: Figure skater Sonja Henie

1940: NBA player John Havlicek

1946: Baseball player Catfish Hunter

1949: Sportscaster Jim Lampley

1954: Baseball player Gary Carter

1963: NBA player Terry Porter

Died on this date

1978: Baseball commissioner Ford Frick, 83

2014: WWE star The Ultimate Warrior, 54

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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