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The Sports Report: New NBA All-Star game format is a hit with players

James Harden, left, LeBron James, center and Kawhi Leonard during the second half.
James Harden, left, LeBron James, center and Kawhi Leonard during the second half.
(Associated Press)

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

Anthony Davis made the second of two free-throw attempts to clinch a 157-155 victory for Team LeBron over Team Giannis in the NBA All-Star game on Sunday night in Chicago.

In a topsy-turvy final quarter that had players taking charges, a goaltending call reversed and LeBron James hoisting a 35-footer that could have won the game, it was Davis drawing a holding call against Kyle Lowry that sent the Lakers All-Star to the line with two chances to win the game.

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After missing his first attempt, Davis sank the second.

“That was pretty damn fun,” Davis said in a television interview shortly after earning the win.

“I told my team I was going to miss the first one to put a little more pressure on myself here at home,” he then said jokingly.

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Kawhi Leonard was named the All-Star game MVP, which was newly renamed the Kobe Bryant All-Star game MVP.

As he walked through the United Center hallway, his child in his arms Leonard smiled when he thought about how Bryant would’ve reacted to Sunday’s show.

“He would’ve loved this,” Leonard told the Times. “We were out there competing. We had the 10 best players in the world on the floor at one time, going out there to compete, there’s nothing like that.”

“You could definitely feel his presence just from the start,” James said. “From every moment from the fans chanting his name till you seen the numbers. Every time you saw Giannis’ team run on the floor, you saw the 24. So, he was definitely here.”

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Read more All-Star game

The game box score

Dwight Howard soars again in honor of Kobe Bryant

NBA to name All-Star game MVP award after Kobe Bryant

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BASEBALL

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred had some words of warning for pitchers seeking retribution against the Houston Astros for their illegal sign-stealing scheme that aided their 2017 World Series championship.

It was delivered Sunday to the managers of the 15 Florida-based teams and will be repeated Tuesday when Manfred meets the managers of the 15 Arizona-based teams.

“I made it extremely clear to them that retaliation in-game by throwing at a batter intentionally will not be tolerated, whether it’s Houston or anybody else,” Manfred said during a news conference at CoolToday Park, the new spring-training home of the Atlanta Braves. “It’s dangerous and it is not helpful to the current situation.”

That’s some tough talk from a commissioner who has been taking heat for being far too lenient on Astros players, who were granted immunity from punishment in exchange for their testimony and allowed to keep their tainted World Series trophy.

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Numerous current and former players called his punishment “weak,” criticism that was not lost on a commissioner who insists the scorn heaped upon the Astros, along with the firing of three managers and one general manager in the wake of the scandal, will brand them for life.

“I’m more than prepared to tolerate and listen to the debate and criticism about whether or not the punishments levied in this case were sufficient,” Manfred said. “The one thing I do take issue with is the notion that anybody in the Houston organization escaped without punishment.

ANGELS

New Angels starter Julio Teheran was left off the Atlanta Braves’ postseason roster nearly five months ago. Some 30 days later, in November, the team that had nurtured his rise as one of baseball’s best prospects and featured him in its rotation for seven seasons let him go.

Teheran did not take it as a slight. The sting lasted briefly.

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“It was difficult at first,” Teheran, 29, said in Spanish. “After spending my whole career since I was a kid with the Braves, I couldn’t help but feel emotional. But I understand that it’s a business and it’s my career, too. I took the decision professionally. I knew that my future depended on me moving on with another team.”

That Angels need Teheran, who signed a one-year contract for $9 million in December, to be a leader for a pitching staff that posted some of the worst numbers in recent franchise history. After one week getting to know him at spring training, manager Joe Maddon believes Teheran is up to the task.

“The conversation was easy with him,” Maddon said Sunday. “The fact that he’s a veteran player still looking to get better and he’s willing to accept information from a new group so readily, that’s what I got out of it. … I think he is aware that there is another level for him.”

GOLF

With greens that seemed almost as firm as granite and pin placements that created target areas not much larger than manhole covers, Riviera Country Club presented a challenge that Sunday got the better of most of the best golfers in the world.

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But not Adam Scott.

Scott, co-leader of the Genesis Invitational with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar heading into play Sunday, survived a couple of front-nine hiccups and held on to shoot a one-under-par 70 to finish at 11 under par. That was two strokes better than Sung Kang, who shot a 69, Scott Brown (68) and Kuchar, who had led after each of the first three rounds but stalled in the fourth round with a 72.

Scott had won at Riviera in 2005, but the result was not official because the event had been shortened to 36 holes after rain saturated Southern California. Scott proved he was a mudder 15 years ago; he showed Sunday he could outrun the field on a fast track too.

Read more golf

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Scott Brown fell just short of a Masters-qualifying performance

DAYTONA 500

NASCAR teams are generally ready for any contingency from replacement motors to taping metal on to a car. But on Sunday they were all beaten by the one thing they can’t control, the weather.

After 20 laps, which included two rain delays, the Daytona 500 was stopped and will be completed on Monday at 1:05 p.m. PST on Channel 11.

This is the first time the race has gone to a second day since 2012 because of weather. That race was more memorable for Lap 160 on Monday when Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car and hit a jet dryer, which sprayed fuel on the course and caught fire. No one was hurt but it caused a two-hour delay as they tried to repair the track.

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In 2009, the race was cut to 160 of 200 laps because of rain. A race has to go at least 100 laps, or 250 miles, for it to be official. Monday’s resumption will be with the same running order as when the race was stopped.

Read more NASCAR

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is working through a fear of flying after plane crash

DUCKS

Adam Henrique scored twice, Derek Grant had a goal and an assist, and the Ducks beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 Sunday.

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Brendan Guhle and Sam Steel also scored for the Ducks, who have wins in two of their last three games.

The Ducks scored twice on the power play after going 1 for 21 with the extra man over their previous eight games. Anaheim was coming off a 6-0 loss to Calgary at home Thursday night.

Read more Ducks

Ducks’ postponed game against Blues rescheduled for March 11

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USC BASKETBALL

Erin Boley scored 25 points, Ruthy Hebard added 22 and Satou Sabally had 18 to help No. 3 Oregon rout USC 93-67 on Sunday for the Ducks’ 12th consecutive victory.

Boley’s points and her seven 3-pointers were both season highs. Hebard and Sabally had 10 rebounds each to help the Ducks dominate the boards, 38-23. Sabrina Ionescu had 13 assists to go with 12 points — her fewest points since 10 against UConn earlier this month.

Hebard completed a big weekend in Los Angeles, having notched 30 points and 17 rebounds in an 80-66 win at No. 7 UCLA on Friday.

The Ducks (24-2, 13-1 Pac-12) pulled away to lead by 28 points in the fourth after USC kept it close early in the game.

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TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Ducks at Calgary, 1 p.m., ESPN+, PRIME, AM 830

Oregon State at UCLA (women), 6 p.m., ESPN2

BORN ON THIS DATE

1905: College football player/coach Andy Oberlander (d. 1968)

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1908: Former Dodger announcer Red Barber (d. 1992)

1916: Tennis player Vivian McGrath (d. 1978)

1919: Tennis player Joe Hunt (d. 1945)

1931: Football coach Buddy Ryan (d. 2016)

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1936: Football player Jim Brown

1948: Basketball coach Rick Majerus (d. 2012)

1959: Swimmer Rowdy Gaines

1959: Basketball player Danny Ainge

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1963: Basketball player Michael Jordan

1966: Former Kings player Luc Robitaille

1967: Former Kings player Gary Shuchuk

1970: Skier Tommy Moe

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1980: Basketball player Al Harrington

DIED ON THIS DATE

1989: Baseball player Lefty Gomez, 80

1990: Hockey player Hap Day, 88

2016: Former Angel Tony Phillips, 56

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AND FINALLY

The NHL’s tribute to Luc Robitaille. 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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