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The Sports Report: Lakers improve to 13-2 with win over Thunder

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

LAKERS

LeBron James found Anthony Davis open in the corner, and as Davis released a three-point attempt, Oklahoma City center Steven Adams hurled himself at Davis and knocked him nearly into the Thunder’s bench.

From the ground, Davis saw the ball go through the hoop. He then made the ensuing free throw.

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“When AD hits a four-point play, especially in that time of the game, it’s kind of a backbreaker for a team,” Lakers guard Danny Green said.

That gave the Lakers a five-point lead with 2:36 to play, the cushion they needed to hold off the Thunder 130-127 on Friday night. The Lakers improved to 13-2, their best record since the 2010-11 season, when they also started 13-2.

It was the Lakers’ highest-scoring game of the season and marked the first time they allowed an opponent to score more than 115 points. The Lakers clicked on offense, making 51.1% of their field-goal attempts overall and 54.8% (17 of 31) of their three-point tries. Their defense struggled as the Thunder also shot better than 50% from the field, though Oklahoma City was less successful from three-point range, shooting 35.5%.

Davis led all scorers with 33 points and added 11 rebounds and seven assists. He made four of seven three-point tries. James scored 23 points and contributed six rebounds and 14 assists.

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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma and Dwight Howard all scored in double figures for the Lakers.

CLIPPERS

Two nights after closing a victory with a block, Kawhi Leonard ended another Clippers rally with a bucket, a fist pump and a deflection.

Leonard drove right on Houston’s P.J. Tucker, pivoted to find room and lofted an 18-foot, go-ahead jumper with 15.4 seconds remaining Friday at Staples Center to cap a second consecutive wild victory that featured a 10-2 Clippers run in the final two minutes of a 122-119 win over the Rockets.

“All Kawhi needs is an inch,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

With 1.2 seconds remaining, Leonard sealed the win as one of three defenders attempting to deny an inbounds pass to Houston’s James Harden. The Rockets couldn’t get a clean look at a tying attempt.

The victory pushed the Clippers (11-5) to 10-1 at home for the first time in franchise history.

Harden scored 37 points, one off his league-leading average, with 12 assists and Rockets (11-5) teammate Westbrook added 22 points in his first game against former Oklahoma City teammate Paul George, who had 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

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Leonard scored 24 points, with his two biggest his jumper over Tucker.

You can check out the NBA standings by clicking here.

USC BASKETBALL

Temple (4-0) used a second-half surge to hand USC its first loss of the year, winning 70-61 at Galen Center. Despite a size advantage, the Trojans (5-1) were outrebounded 42-38, and turned the ball over 13 times leading to 21 Temple points. The Trojans also missed nine free throws.

“We just didn’t have it,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “We weren’t sharp tonight unfortunately in a lot of areas.”

Freshman Onyeka Okongwu led the Trojans with 17 points, six rebounds and five blocks. He scored 12 points in the second half as USC took a seven-point lead early.

The Owls then responded with a 22-4 run that included 13 consecutive points in a six-minute USC scoring drought.

USC entered the game with 14.6 offensive rebounds a game, which ranked second in the Pac-12, but pulled down only six against Temple. The 6-foot-10 Justyn Hamilton is Temple’s only player taller than 6-9 who played more than 10 minutes in the game.

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“We have too much size and athleticism on our team to have six offensive rebounds,” Enfield said.

UCLA-USC GAME

The directive came straight from the new athletic director, who would soon decide his fate.

“It’s important to win,” Mike Bohn said, when asked about his expectations for the final stretch of an uneven season of USC football. “I’m not trying to add more pressure to him or the student athletes that represent him, but we always want to finish strong. Good programs finish strong. The idea is we want to see them and his team finish strong.”

As USC heads into its regular-season finale against UCLA on Saturday, coach Clay Helton and his Trojans (7-4 overall, 6-2 in Pac-12 play) certainly seem to have gotten the message.

Even as so many presumed his firing to be a foregone conclusion, Helton has kept USC within striking distance, albeit barely, of the Pac-12 South race, with a puncher’s chance of slipping into the title game with a victory over UCLA (4-6, 4-3).

Anything short of that may spell an end to Helton’s tenure as the Trojans coach. On Tuesday, Bohn told The Times that no decision on Helton would be made with a timeline “that would do anything to jeopardize momentum or opportunities that exist.”

So while those hopes in the Pac-12 are still intact, Helton plans to hold onto the moment as long as he can.

That means focusing only on what’s in front of him.

“What the future holds, that’s for smarter men than me,” Helton said. “My job is to go out there, compete like hell against UCLA, try to get the Victory Bell back on campus, and worry about the moment.”

Read more

How USC and UCLA built their crosstown rivalry

USC vs. UCLA: A look at how the teams match up

USC vs. UCLA: What the fans have to say about the rivalry

USC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: 790 KABC

USC 31, Fresno State 23

USC 45, Stanford 20

at BYU 30, USC 27 (OT)

at USC 30, Utah 23

at Washington 28, USC 14

at Notre Dame 30, USC 27

at USC 41, Arizona 14

USC 35, at Colorado 31

Oregon 56, at USC 24

USC 31, at Arizona State 26

USC 41, at California 17

Today vs. UCLA, 12:30 p.m., ABC

UCLA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: AM 1150

at Cincinnati 24, UCLA 14

San Diego State 23, at UCLA 14

Oklahoma 48, at UCLA 14

UCLA 67, at Washington State 63

at Arizona 20, UCLA 17

Oregon State 48, at UCLA 31

UCLA 34, at Stanford 16

at UCLA 42, Arizona State 32

at UCLA 31, Colorado 14

at Utah 49, UCLA 3

Today at USC, 12:30 p.m., ABC

Nov. 30 vs. California, 7:30 p.m., FS1

RAMS

John Wolford, the Rams’ practice-squad quarterback, is playing the role of Lamar Jackson on the scout team as the Rams prepare for Monday night’s game against one of the NFL’s hottest teams and their MVP-candidate quarterback.

“He’s extremely talented and smart,” Wolford said of Jackson. “He seems like a leader … an incredibly likeable guy.

“So a lot of respect for him.”

In 2017, Wolford was a senior at Wake Forest. Jackson was the reigning Heisman Trophy winner for Louisville.

In an Oct. 28 game at Wake Forest, Jackson completed 27 of 44 passes for 330 yards and a touchdown, with an interception. He also rushed for 161 yards in 27 carries and three touchdowns.

But Wolford completed 28 of 34 passes for 461 yards and five touchdowns, without an interception, and also rushed for a touchdown in a 42-32 victory.

“That was the best game of my career,” said Wolford, who had lost against Louisville and Jackson the previous two seasons.

Jackson was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the final pick in the first round of the 2018 draft.

Wolford was not drafted. He was about to start a job with an investment banking firm when the New York Jets offered him a spot for training camp. He played in one preseason game before he was released, and then signed with and played well for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football, a league that went out of business after eight games.

The Rams signed Wolford in April, released him at the end of the training camp but quickly re-signed him to the practice squad.

“I look back to last year at this time — I was working part time at a private equity shop and working out,” said Wolford, 24. “Now I’m playing for the Rams.

“So, I don’t take it for granted and just try to improve incrementally every day. That’s the goal. I never get complacent, and I’m just loving it.”

CHARGERS

Chargers starting cornerback Michael Davis was suspended for two games by the NFL for a violation of the league’s policy on substances of abuse.

In a statement issued by the team, general manager Tom Telesco said Davis “made a significant mistake this past offseason, a mistake for which he must be held accountable.”

He’ll miss games at Denver and Jacksonville and be eligible to return to the active roster on Dec. 9.

In his third year, Davis emerged as a starter last season and has 27 tackles and one interception through nine games in 2019.

ANGELS

The theater that staged the wildest celebration of the Angels’ lone World Series championship could be sacrificed so the Angels can build as freely as possible on the stadium parking lot.

The City National Grove of Anaheim is located on part of the land the city of Anaheim is discussing with the Angels for possible development, according to city documents.

The city and the Angels met for their second negotiating session Friday, with both sides hoping to strike a deal under which the team would stay in Anaheim for decades and would build shops, restaurants, hotels and other amenities on the parking lot around the stadium.

Neither the city nor the Angels would discuss Friday what might happen to the Grove, citing the ongoing negotiations.

The city previously has considered demolishing the venue. In 2005, the city pitched the NFL on building a stadium on the Grove site.

BOXING

Floyd Mayweather Jr. plans to fight again in 2020.

If you’re keeping count, that would be the fourth time the 42-year-old boxer stepped back in the ring after previously declaring himself done for good.

Mayweather took to Instagram on Thursday night to post a photo of himself with UFC president Dana White sitting courtside together at the Clippers-Boston Celtics game Nov. 20 at Staples Center.

"@danawhite and I working together again to bring the world another spectacular event in 2020,” Mayweather wrote in that post.

Very interesting but pretty vague. Did this mean Mayweather was actually going to fight next year or was he just teasing some sort of “spectacular event” of another nature?

Another post about an hour later seemed to clear up the confusion.

“Coming out of retirement in 2020,” he wrote in a post that also included a photo of himself with his hands taped, shirt off and boxing shorts on.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

UCLA at USC (football), 12:30 p.m., ABC, 790 KABC, AM 1150

Lakers at Memphis, 5 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, 710 ESPN

Arizona at Kings, 1 p.m., FSW

Ducks at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m., PRIME

BORN ON THIS DATE

1878: Tennis player Holcombe Ward (d. 1967)

1930: Baseball manager Jack McKeon

1934: Tennis player Lew Hoad (d. 1994)

1940: Baseball player Luis Tiant

1956: Swimmer Shane Gould

1964: Former Dodger José González

1971: Basketball player Vin Baker

1974: Basketball player Malik Rose

1974: Former Duck Saku Koivu

DIED ON THIS DATE

1948: Baseball player Hack Wilson, 48

1990: Baseball player Bo Diaz, 37

2001: Former Angel Bo Belinsky, 64

2006: Boxer Willie Pep, 84

2007: Baseball player Joe Kennedy, 28

2011: Race car driver Jim Rathmann, 83

2016: Former Dodgers Ralph Branca, 90

AND FINALLY

Luis Tiant and Carlton Fisk throw out the first pitch at a Boston Red Sox game. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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