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The Sports Report: Lakers win another game in New York

Nets guard Kyrie Irving defends against Lakers forward LeBron James during the first half of a game Jan. 23, 2020, at Barclays Center.
Nets guard Kyrie Irving defends against LeBron James during the first half.
(Mike Stobe / Getty Images)

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

A night after needing stingy defense to beat the New York Knicks, the Lakers played almost no defense until the second half of a 128-113 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

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But the Lakers had enough firepower to sweep a New York City back-to-back and improve to 36-9. The loss dropped the Nets to 18-25.

“Coach kind of reminded us tonight that we were 12-0 on back-to-backs, but we just tried not to fall into the trap of being tired or anything of that nature,” Anthony Davis said. “Not having fresh legs. Everybody plays back-to-backs. Guys have been in the league a long time know how it feels I think it makes us lock in a lot more, we knew it was probably going to be tight on a back-to-back, but we just try to fight through it and come up with wins.”

LeBron James finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, which means he will go to Philadelphia 18 points shy of passing Kobe Bryant for third on the all-time scoring list.

Overall, the Lakers made 52.4% of their shots and 54.3% of their three-pointers, with Danny Green contributing a team high four of them. Six players scored in double figures and Davis and Dwight Howard contributed double doubles. Howard started in place of JaVale McGee, who missed the game with an illness.

The teams combined for 145 points at halftime.

“That was sort of the halftime message, as a team, to lock in defensively and guard,” Coach Frank Vogel said. “We relied on the positive experience of last night in the Knicks game, where we were OK in the first half but really raised our level ion the second half, held them to 34% shooting. We did the same thing tonight. It was a great defensive effort in the second half.”

Read more NBA:

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard are All-Star game starters

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COLLEGE SPORTS

On Thursday night at the NCAA Convention’s annual “State of College Sports” plenary session, Mark Emmert, a president rallying his constituents at a time of crisis, delivered a message that was predictably light on detail but heavy on rhetoric meant to build consensus on a shared mission before the attendees returned to their respective campuses.

With his association under fire from the outside as never before, Emmert moved deftly between the usual talking points — “We’re in the human development business, first and foremost,” he began — and the reality of the mounting issues that have torn down public confidence in this uniquely American institution.

“But I also want to talk about something that’s a hard truth right now, that many people, too many people, believe that there’s something fundamentally unfair right now about college sports,” Emmert said on a stage at the Anaheim Convention Center flanked by cinema-sized screens flashing his image as he spoke. “We see it and we read it and we hear it all the time. I know for me, and I’m sure for most all of you, that’s really frustrating.”

Earlier in the day, at the NCAA’s Division I Forum, an alarming statistic had been presented to the audience: Seven percent of a group surveyed about college sports have trust in the NCAA to act in the best interest of “student-athletes.”

USC BASKETBALL

Chris Duarte had 30 points and 11 rebounds, Payton Pritchard reached a Pac-12 milestone for career points, rebounds and assists, and No. 12 Oregon outlasted USC 79-70 in double overtime Thursday night.

With 24 points and seven assists, Pritchard became the first player in the Pac-12 to reach 1,500 career points, 600 assists and 500 rebounds. When the achievement was noted on the video scoreboard at Matthew Knight Arena in the second half, the crowd gave the senior guard a standing ovation.

Pritchard is just the sixth player in Pac-12 history with 1,500 points and 600 assists, joining Oregon State’s Gary Payton, Arizona’s Damon Stoudamire and Jason Gardner, USC’s Jordan McLaughlin and UCLA’s Tyus Edney.

Duarte also had eight steals, one shy of the school record.

Oregon (16-4, 5-2) led by 11 in the second half but USC rallied with a 17-2 run to take a 62-58 lead, capped by Jonah Mathews’ three-pointer with 1:24 left.

UCLA BASKETBALL

Chris Smith scored nine of his 15 points down the stretch, leading UCLA to a 62-58 victory over Oregon State on Thursday night.

The Bruins (10-9, 3-3 in Pac-12 play) made their last nine free throws in the last two minutes to stay in front.

Zach Reichle made two free throws with 11.6 seconds left that brought Oregon State (12-7, 2-5) to within one point at 56-55.

Jalen Hill then made two free throws for UCLA, his first points of the game.

GOLF

Tiger Woods had his lowest opening round of the year since 2011. It wasn’t enough to be among the leaders Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open, but it was fine with him.

Coming off his record-tying 82nd victory in his last PGA Tour start three months ago in Japan, Woods handled the par fives on the easier North Course at Torrey Pines and limited mistakes for a three-under 69.

Sebastian Cappelen and Keegan Bradley had the low scores of the opening round, which was not the same as sharing the lead. Cappelen had eight birdies for a 66 on the South Course, which played about three shots tougher than the North, where Bradley shot his 66.

Rory McIlroy, who played in the group in front of Woods, was among those at 67. Jon Rahm, playing alongside Woods, was in the large group at 68.

GALAXY

The hoopla surrounding the arrival of the Galaxy’s newest prize, Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, was exceptional.

About a thousand raucous fans crowded the Tom Bradley International Terminal on Wednesday night when Hernández’s British Airways flight from London touched down — so many that the player was forced back inside the terminal for his own safety. More than 160 media members were credentialed for his introductory news conference Thursday afternoon — so many that some reporters had to stand on chairs to see the dais.

In between, Hernández, wearing a bright blue Galaxy warm-up suit and surrounded by a phalanx of security guards, jogged onto a practice field where he was welcomed by his teammates, then jogged off 15 minutes later without breaking a sweat.

“It’s incredible,” a clearly emotional Hernández said of the reception. “It’s incredible when you can create all of this doing what you love. I’m blessed. I’m grateful. I’m very touched. I’m very moved about that.

“I was a kid. I know what that means for a lot of people.”

TENNIS

Down to what sure felt like her last chance, Serena Williams came through with a cross-court forehand winner to close a 24-stroke point, then raised her arms, held that celebratory pose and looked over toward her guest box.

Finally, on her sixth try, after 1½ hours of action, she had managed to convert a break point against 27th-seeded Wang Qiang in the Australian Open’s third round.

Right then, it appeared that the comeback was on, the bid for a 24th Grand Slam singles title could continue. It turned out that Williams only was delaying a surprising defeat.

So tough at the toughest moments for so many years, the 38-year-old American just could not quite do enough to put aside so much so-so serving and all manner of other miscues, instead making her earliest exit at Melbourne Park in 14 years, a 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 loss to Wang.

Williams was broken in the final game after more than 2 1/2 hours, fittingly ending things with a backhand into the net. That was her 27th unforced error on the backhand side, part of a total of 56 miscues. Wang made only 20.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Clippers at Miami, 5 p.m., ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570

Washington at UCLA (women), 7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks

Washington State at USC (women), 7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks

BORN ON THIS DATE

1916: Sportscaster Jack Brickhouse (d. 1998)

1947: Soccer player Giorgio Chinaglia (d. 2012)

1947: Golfer Jumbo Ozaki

1955: Swimmer James Montgomery

1964: Baseball player Rob Dibble

1967: Football player Chris Warren

1968: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton

1973: Hockey player Chris Ferraro

1974: Football player Tim Biakabutuka

1983: Race car driver Scott Speed

1984: Former Angel and Dodger Scott Kazmir

DIED ON THIS DATE

1986: Volleyball player Flo Hyman, 31

AND FINALLY

Highlights of the Lakers-Nets game. Click here to watch.

Until next time...
That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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