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The Sports Report: Montrezl Harrell leads Clippers past the Pelicans

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Lou Williams throws up an off-balance shot against Lonzo Ball.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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

CLIPPERS

Montrezl Harrell tied a career-high with 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 26 and the Clippers beat the New Orleans Pelicans 134-109 Sunday night for their fifth straight win.

“Honestly, I had a lot on my mind coming into today’s game,” said Harrell, who worked his way through whatever he issues he’s doing with by missing just five of the 18 shots. “I just really wanted to go out here and leave it all out here on the floor and just keep putting the work in doing something I love to do. Being out here with a great group of guys, man, and just being able to just doing what I need to do.”

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“I think that people think that Trez is good only because of Lou [Williams],” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “And I think they are starting to see Trez is good, period. There’s nothing else after that. He’s just a good basketball player. He can score in the post. He can score on isos. He can do it in a lot of different ways, and it’s been great to watch. Like each year, seems like he adds more and more to his game. He went left like five times today.”

The Pelicans tried to make the game interesting behind the play of forward Brandon Ingram, who played in his first game at Staples Center since he was traded by the Lakers to New Orleans along with Lonzo Ball for Anthony Davis.

Ingram had 24 points and Ball, who received a mixed reaction of boos and cheers when he checked into the game in the first quarter, had nine off the bench.

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Helene Elliott: Clippers’ winning formula of versatility, depth and trust set for road stress test

The way-too-early Western Conference playoff standings

Top eight teams make the playoffs

1. Lakers, 14-2

2. Denver, 12-3, 1.5 GB

3. Clippers, 12-5, 2.5 GB

4. Dallas, 11-5, 3 GB

5. Utah, 11-5, 3 GB

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6. Houston, 11-6, 3.5 GB

7. Phoenix, 8-8, 6 GB

8. Minnesota, 8-8, 6 GB

9. Sacramento, 7-8, 6.5 GB

10. New Orleans, 6-11, 8.5 GB

11. San Antonio, 6-11, 8.5 GB

12. Memphis, 5-10, 8.5 GB

13. Oklahoma City, 5-10, 8.5 GB

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14. Portland, 5-12, 9.5 GB

15. Golden State, 3-14, 11.5 GB

RAMS

The positive effects of Todd Gurley’s best performance of the season were evident in the minutes that immediately followed it and throughout the last week.

The Rams’ star running back smiled, joked and embraced questions from reporters after he carried the ball a season-high 25 times for 97 yards in a victory over the Chicago Bears. The next evening, he posed for countless photos, signed autographs and easily worked the crowd at Universal Studios during the Taste of the Rams charity event benefiting the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

And he appeared fit and nimble, with no signs of overuse, during drills as the Rams prepared for tonight’s game against the Baltimore Ravens at the Coliseum.

So will coach Sean McVay and the Rams once again put the ball in Gurley’s hands against the Ravens?

“We’ll see,” Gurley said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Read more

Sam Farmer: Lamar Jackson has been a difference-maker for the Baltimore Ravens

RAMS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: 710 ESPN, 93.1 JACK FM

Rams 30, at Carolina 27

at Rams 27, New Orleans 9

Rams 20, at Cleveland 13

Tampa Bay 55, at Rams 40

at Seattle 30, Rams 29

San Francisco 20, at Rams 7

Rams 37, at Atlanta 10

Rams 24, Cincinnati 10 (at London)

at Pittsburgh 17, Rams 12

at Rams 17, Chicago 7

Today vs. Baltimore, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Sunday at Arizona, 1 p.m., Fox

Dec. 8 vs. Seattle, 5:15 p.m., NBC

Dec. 15 at Dallas, 1:15 p.m., Fox

Dec. 21 at San Francisco, 1:15 p.m., NFL Network

Dec. 29 vs. Arizona, 1:15 p.m., Fox

SUNDAY’S NFL SCOREBOARD

at San Francisco 37, Green Bay 8 (read Sam Farmer’s game story here)

Tampa Bay 35, at Atlanta 22

at Buffalo 20, Denver 3

at Chicago 19, NY Giants 14

Pittsburgh 16, at Cincinnati 10

at Cleveland 41, Miami 24

at New Orleans 34, Carolina 31

at NY Jets 34, Oakland 3 (read game story here)

Seattle 17, at Philadelphia 9

at Washington 19, Detroit 16

at Tennessee 42, Jacksonville 20

at New England 13, Dallas 9

Read all about them here

Open date: Chargers, Arizona, Kansas City, Minnesota

Tonight’s game

Baltimore at Rams, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

USC FOOTBALL

In the wake of a rivalry victory, at the end of an uneven regular season that may very well be his last at USC, Clay Helton preferred to live in the moment, ignoring his uncertain future for as long as he could.

Soon, however, that future would beckon from across the dinner table. Hours after the Trojans took care of their crosstown rival Bruins with a 52-35 victory on Saturday, Helton had a recruiting dinner to attend, where he’d have to sell prospects on the future of USC’s football program, in spite of its uncertainty.

Even before a decision on Helton’s status seemed imminent, that pitch wasn’t going well this recruiting cycle, as USC ranks 76th in 247Sports composite rankings, just behind Bowling Green and just ahead of Texas San Antonio, the latter of which has been a part of the Football Bowl Subdivision for only six years.

Asked in his postgame news conference how he might pitch those recruits now, Helton’s voice raised to a boom.

“If you want to come and do something special, jump on the train with some damn good kid quarterbacks, some damn good skilled young kids and have a lot of fun, then come on!” he said.

“Is that good?” he said with a grin.

Whether Helton will even have a seat on the Trojans’ train next season remains to be seen, but regardless of who’s conducting, USC will have no shortage of talent when it opens the 2020 season.

UCLA FOOTBALL

The Bruins (4-7 overall, 4-4 Pac-12 Conference) won’t play in a bowl game and are headed for a fourth consecutive losing season, but they would like to provide a happy ending for their 10 seniors and two graduate transfers with a victory over California (6-5, 3-5) on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

“I told our players in the locker room to send our players out the right way,” coach Chip Kelly said. “We’re an underclass-driven team with not many seniors, but we owe it to those guys to show up next Saturday against Cal.”

Redshirt freshman Kyle Philips said the small group of seniors that includes running back Joshua Kelley, center Boss Tagaloa and linebackers Krys Barnes, Josh Woods and Lokeni Toailoa had set the standard for a robust work ethic while laying a foundation for better seasons to come.

“That game should be 100% for our seniors because they’ve done so much for this program and just for us individually,” Philips said. “They’ve shown us the right way of how to do things and doing work the right way.”

Barnes and Toailoa were injured against the Trojans, leaving their status for the game against the Golden Bears uncertain.

Those who attend the game could witness two oddities. Should the Bruins prevail, they would not qualify for a bowl despite compiling a winning record in Pac-12 play.

There also could be a minuscule crowd at the Rose Bowl considering the nighttime start for a post-Thanksgiving game with so little at stake. Even if UCLA surpasses the record-low crowd of 32,513 that came to watch the Bruins play Oregon State in November 1992, the team figures to set one dubious record at the stadium it has called home since 1982.

UCLA is averaging 44,998 fans for home games this season, meaning it will need 69,658 to show up Saturday to stay above the previous season low average of 49,107 set in 1995. Getting that many fans to come might require Beyoncé to perform at halftime.

LAKERS

The Lakers are planning to discuss with the NBA the officiating of LeBron James in Saturday night’s victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

James scored 30 points while taking 27 shots, with nine of them three-pointers. And he didn’t get to shoot a single free throw.

“He’s in the paint all night long and, look, it’s just something that we’ll go through the proper channels and talk to the league office about it,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “But certainly, when your guy’s attacking the basket the way he is and getting zero free-throw attempts, it’s something that can be frustrating, but we’ve got to look past that. Like everything, we’ll deal with the proper channels and talk to the league about that.”

James didn’t want to spend too much time talking about it, but he presented his left arm as evidence of the physicality with which opponents played against him. He had a long scratch on his forearm that was forming into a scab.

“I’m living in the paint, and if you look at my arm right here, these are four or five [scratches] that happened the last two games, and they weren’t called at all,” James said. “And it’s not me just going to the hole, going to the basket. But that can’t stop me. It didn’t stop me tonight.

“No matter what, I got to continue to go, but being able to get to the free-throw line is something that allows our defense to get in good position. It sets our defense. It slows the game down at times. It gives us a good rhythm. It relaxes me as well. So, I know I’m getting hit, but at the end of the day I just got to keep going.”

HORSE RACING

Del Mar has canceled racing on Thanksgiving in anticipation of bad weather. The track also canceled this past Thursday’s card in advance of rain that fell in the area for two days.

“The weatherman is making it tough, but safety always comes first,” said Tom Robbins, executive vice president of racing at Del Mar.

According to the Weather Channel, there is a 90% chance of rain on Wednesday and Thursday. The move also relieves the strain on a smaller-than-normal horse population making races easier to fill.

Weather was thought to be a contributing factor at Santa Anita earlier in the year when the track had a severe spike in racing and training deaths.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Lakers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, Radio Disney 1110 AM

Baltimore at Rams, 5:15 p.m., ESPN, 710 ESPN

San Jose at Kings, 7:30 p.m., FSW

NY Islanders at Ducks, 7 p.m., PRIME, AM 830

UCLA (baksetball) vs. BYU at Lahaina, Hi., 8:30 p.m., ESPN2, AM 570

BORN ON THIS DATE

1902: NHL Player Eddie Shore (d. 1985)

1914: Baseball player Joe DiMaggio (d. 1999)

1923: Golfer Art Wall Jr. (d. 2001)

1940: Football coach Joe Gibbs

1951: Baseball player Bucky Dent

1961: Wrestler Kenny Monday

1963: Football player Bernie Kosar

1969: Former Lakers Anthony Peeler

1976: Football player Donovan McNabb

1976: Soccer player Clint Mathis

DIED ON THIS DATE

1944: Baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, 78

1990: Race car driver Bill Vukovich, 27

2005: Soccer player George Best, 59

AND FINALLY

Bucky Dent homers in the 1978 AL East playoff 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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