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The Sports Report: Rajon Rondo leads Lakers past Suns

Spurs Lakers Basketball
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

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

If the Phoenix Suns had any notion that the 15-point deficit they faced against the Lakers heading into the fourth quarter was manageable, one man on the Lakers proved them wrong.

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Naturally, it was Rajon Rondo.

Rondo delivered a season-high 23 points in a 125-100 win over the Suns. He made nine of the 12 shots he attempted and four of five three-pointers. All of his points came after the first quarter.

It was a sloppy night for the Lakers, who committed 16 turnovers, eight of them charged to LeBron James, who also finished with 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Coach Frank Vogel, who said there were no major injury issues heading into this game, played a nine-man rotation for most of the game. Neither Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels nor Jared Dudley played until 4:48 remained in the game and the Lakers had a 23-point lead.

They struggled to stop the Suns in the first quarter, the Suns taking advantage of their open looks to shoot 58.8% shooting and five of nine threes attempted. The Lakers, meanwhile, made only three of the 10 threes they attempted and led by just one point after the first quarter.

During the second quarter the Lakers were able to put some distance between themselves and Phoenix. That’s when Rondo began his scoring spree. He scored 15 points during that period, making all six of the shots he took, including three threes. The Suns shot just 36.8% in the third quarter and made only two of eight threes.

Read more

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CHARGERS

It’s not necessarily his choice but after 16 seasons as an NFL quarterback, Philip Rivers finds himself running the option.

His days with the Chargers are over. The team announced as much Monday morning, making official what everyone knew was coming. And now Rivers begins the next chapter of his life.

The options in front of him: To pursue a job with another team (his preference) or call it a career.

“I’m feeling a wide range of emotions, from sad to reflective to thankful,” he said by phone from his home in Florida. “The underlying one is thankful.”

Rivers, who was selected to eight Pro Bowls, was more than the face of the Chargers franchise but an icon in San Diego, where he stayed with his family when the club moved north. He had a custom SUV made that allowed him to study tape in back on his daily commute to and from Costa Mesa.

He and his wife, Tiffany, recently moved to Florida with their nine children, relocating to a vacation home they bought five years ago. They home-schooled the kids this year in anticipation of a move, and are in a familiar place where in recent years they have spent Easters and summers.

“We’re hunkering down here,” said Rivers, who ultimately plans to return to the couple’s home state. “We know Alabama is the final destination at some point, but until this kind of plays out, we just felt being here was the right thing.”

Read more

What’s ahead for Chargers now that they’ve parted ways with Philip Rivers?

Philip Rivers: A career in pictures

ANGELS

The Angels appear to have moved on from Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson and pitcher Ross Stripling after a potential trade to acquire the players fell apart over the weekend.

“There are a lot of components in deals that need to be satisfied before you get to a point where you are calling players and informing them,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said in a statement Monday. “We weren’t able to get to that point and, in fairness to our players and players with other organizations, we won’t comment further than that.”

The Dodgers reportedly had agreed Tuesday to send Pederson, Stripling and outfield prospect Andy Pages to the Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo and at least one prospect contingent on the completion of their three-team trade to acquire star outfielder Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price from Boston.

But when the Red Sox pulled out of the original Betts/Price deal after reviewing the medical records of Minnesota Twins prospect Brusdar Graterol, who was to be sent to Boston, it threw the Dodgers-Angels trade into limbo for five days.

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USC FOOTBALL

As the top recruiter on Oregon’s staff, Donte Williams helped steal more than a few recruits out of Southern California in recent years.

This week, USC turned the tables, stealing the top recruiter out of Oregon.

USC will hire Williams to be its cornerbacks coach and defensive passing game coordinator, according to a person familiar with the decision. The hire is not yet official, but Williams, a Los Angeles native, confirmed the news on Twitter, suggesting that his decision to leave Oregon was “due to my father’s aging/failing health.”

“I’m lucky Coach Helton, Coach Orlando and Mr. Bohn are giving me an opportunity to come home and make a decision where I can put my immediate family first and become head of MY household,” Williams wrote. “With that all being said, it’s time to take back THE WEST. FIGHT ON.”

Williams arrives in Los Angeles after distinguishing himself as one of the West Coast’s most formidable recruiters.

RAMS

Sean McVay’s revamped Rams coaching staff is all but complete.

McVay hired John Bonamego as special teams coordinator, the team announced Monday, and Thomas Brown will join the staff as running backs coach, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Bonamego, 56, replaces John Fassel, who left the Rams after last season to join the Dallas Cowboys staff. Brown replaces Skip Peete, who was not retained by McVay after the Rams’ 9-7 finish. He also joined the Cowboys.

Bonamego, new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley and new offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell will be introduced at a news conference Wednesday. Staley’s and O’Connell’s hirings, known for weeks, also were announced Monday.

SPARKS

Kristi Toliver, who helped the Sparks capture the 2016 WNBA title at the end of a seven-year stint with the team, is back in Los Angeles.

The free-agent guard signed a contract with the Sparks ahead of the 2020 season, the team announced Monday.

“We are thrilled to have Kristi Toliver back in a L.A.. Sparks uniform,” said Eric Holoman, the Sparks’ managing partner and governor. “Kristi is a phenomenal leader and proven winner at every level. We can’t wait to see her back on the floor with her 2016 championship teammates.”

Also Monday, the Sparks acquired guard Brittney Sykes and center Marie Gülich from Atlanta in exchange for center Kalani Brown.

THE ALTOBELLIS

It’s still almost impossible to fathom more than two weeks later, three members of a Newport Beach family — a father, mother and their 14-year-old daughter — gone in an instant when the helicopter carrying them to a basketball tournament crashed into a Calabasas hillside on that foggy Jan. 26 morning.

A grieving community trying to come to grips with the tragic crash that killed longtime Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, 56, his wife, Keri, 46, and their daughter, Alyssa, wrapped its arms around the two surviving members of the family during a celebration of life in Angel Stadium on Monday.

As an emotional two-hour service filled with tears, laughter and music ended in the early evening darkness, family friend and pastor Erik Rees asked the crowd of about 4,000 to shine the lights of their phones toward JJ Altobelli, 29, John’s son and Keri’s stepson, and Alexis Altobelli, 16, Alyssa’s older sister.

“JJ, Lexi, I know the time you had together with all of them doesn’t seem like it’s enough, but I know you’ll cherish it,” said Buck Taylor, the former San Marcos Palomar College coach and current Kansas State pitching coach who was a longtime friend of John Altobelli. “You two are strong enough to work through this.

“I mean, look around. You have the support of so many great family members, friends and people here. I want you to understand that you’re always a part of our family.”

Taylor was one of 15 speakers to remember the Altobellis, a group that included University of Texas coach Bill Pierce, a college teammate of John at Houston, several former OCC assistants, longtime friends of Keri as well as her brother, and friends and teammates of Alyssa.

Also killed in the crash were Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan and Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Clippers at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., TNT, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570

St. Louis at Ducks, 7 p.m., FSW, AM 830

BORN ON THIS DATE

1909: Boxer Max Baer (d. 1959)

1919: Skier Gretchen Fraser (d. 1994)

1924: Tennis player Budge Patty

1931: Boxing commentator Larry Merchant

1972: Surfer Kelly Slater

DIED ON THIS DATE

1994: Race car driver Neil Bonnett, 47

2011: Baseball manager Chuck Tanner, 82

AND FINALLY

Max Baer vs. James J. Braddock. Watch it here.

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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