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The Sports Report: Lakers prove something against the Pelicans

Lakers star LeBron James dribbles next to New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram during the Lakers’ win Sunday.
Lakers star LeBron James dribbles next to New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram during the Lakers’ win Sunday.
(Rusty Costanza / Associated Press)

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

LeBron James faced Zion Williamson one on one, with just 2:27 left in the game. James stepped back and released a three-pointer over the heralded Pelicans’ rookie and sank it. Having given the Lakers a five-point lead, he backpedaled and looked toward his bench with his tongue hanging out, Williamson trailing close behind. James’ face then settled into a snarl.

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The Lakers won the final regular-season chapter of their series against the New Orleans Pelicans 122-114 to finish undefeated against the young Pelicans.

James notched a triple-double with 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds. Kyle Kuzma started in place of Anthony Davis, who was listed with a sore knee, and scored 20 points with four rebounds and one assist. The Lakers also got 40 points off their bench, nearly twice of what the Pelicans could muster from theirs. Williamson led the Pelicans with 33 points and seven rebounds. Lonzo Ball nearly had a triple-double for the Pelicans with 19 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.

The Lakers had a four-point lead in the first quarter, and a two-point lead at halftime. There were 16 lead changes through the first three quarters.

Read more Lakers

Lakers waive guard Troy Daniels, giving him chance to sign with a playoff team

CLIPPERS

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is in negotiations with the owner of the Forum to purchase the Inglewood arena, according to a person familiar with the talks who is not authorized to speak publicly.

Ballmer is in the process of trying to build a $1-billion arena for the Clippers near the Forum that triggered multiple lawsuits, including one by Forum owner Madison Square Garden Co. Purchasing the Forum would remove one big obstacle in Ballmer’s pursuit of his proposed arena.

“The Clippers continue to pursue plans to build a state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat basketball arena and entertainment complex in Inglewood and are currently working with the city to successfully complete the comprehensive Environmental Impact Report,” the team said in a statement. “We are examining every possible way to resolve our differences with Madison Square Garden Co. regarding our new arena.”

MSG has two additional pending lawsuits in relation to the arena — dozens of key figures from the Clippers, MSG and Inglewood have been deposed — and has paid the legal fees for a community group that’s also suing.

Read more Clippers

Clippers overcome miscues and defensive struggles in win over 76ers

LAFC

Carlos Vela scored on a beautiful chip shot shortly before halftime and LAFC beat Inter Miami 1-0 on Sunday in the inaugural game for owner David Beckham’s MLS expansion team.

Vela controlled the ball with his chest and eluded four defenders before chipping a perfect shot over Miami goalkeeper Luis Robles from the edge of the box. The 44th-minute goal decided the season opener for both teams.

Vela scored on his 31st birthday and dampened a celebratory day for Inter Miami, which joined the North American league along with Nashville SC this season as its 25th and 26th teams. Miami wore white jerseys with pale pink shorts for its first game, and its new roster competed solidly against one of MLS’ elite teams.

Beckham, the former Galaxy star, wore an Inter Miami team blazer as he watched the game from a luxury box at Banc of California Stadium along with his wife, Victoria, and his ownership partners. Miami also packed several hundred raucous fans into the visiting supporters’ section, where they waved pink banners and held up banners hailing their new franchise.

AUTO RACING

When NASCAR fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired two years ago, his powerhouse team, Hendrick Motorsports, turned the No. 88 Chevrolet over to the relatively unknown driver Alex Bowman.

Bowman went on to win one NASCAR Cup Series race, at Chicagoland Speedway last year, but the Tucson, Ariz., native also has struggled at times.

On Sunday, though, Bowman validated Hendrick’s decision by driving to a dominant victory at the Auto Club 400 in Fontana and thus stole much of the thunder from NASCAR legend, Jimmie Johnson, who was making perhaps his final start at Auto Club Speedway.

Bowman, 26, won by nine seconds over second-place Kyle Busch, who won the race last year. Bowman, who started third, also led 110 of the race’s 200 laps, including the final 35.

Kurt Busch, Kyle’s older brother, finished third and Bowman teammate Chase Elliott was fourth.

“We were up front when it counted,” said Bowman, who raced quarter-midget race cars in Pomona as a youngster. “I don’t think we made a change in the race car from how it came off the truck. That makes my job a heck of a lot easier.”

You can view the race results by clicking here.

DODGERS

The anger and hostility that clouded the first week of camp for the Dodgers has given way to the more familiar emotions of spring: excitement, anticipation, hope.

Talk of the Houston Astros’ high-tech sign-stealing scandal, which tainted the team’s 2017 World Series championship while possibly robbing the Dodgers of a title, has dissipated.

In its place is a keen sense of optimism fueled by the addition of 2018 American League most valuable player Mookie Betts and 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price to a team that won a franchise-record 106 games and its seventh consecutive division title last season.

“That excited the fans, the media and our players — infusing those two guys really added to the buzz,” manager Dave Roberts said. “David Price and Mookie Betts in Los Angeles — this is great for baseball, the city of L.A. We all gotta talk about what’s good about this game, right?”

Read more Dodgers

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ANGELS

In Anthony Rendon’s last game with his last team, the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros to win the World Series. The Angels spent $245 million on Rendon so he could help them beat the Astros, who have won the American League West three years running.

“I think we’re going to be really good,” Rendon said. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

Rendon last won a postseason game on Oct. 30, 2019. The Angels last won a postseason game on Oct. 22, 2009.

Read more Angels

Angels fall in a pair of split-squad games

BOXING

A little more than a week after Deontay Wilder lost via technical knockout to Tyson Fury, the Alabaman boxer has exercised has right to a rematch against newly crowned World Boxing Council and lineal champion Fury, and a third fight between the two heavyweights is being planned for July 18 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, according to Top Rank head Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter.

“We received a letter from Wilder’s team on Friday night, and we agreed with the networks and the hotel that July 18 was the optimal date,” Arum told The Times. “We had a seamless promotion last time with Al Haymon, PBC [Premier Boxing Champions] and Fox. We look forward to working with them again.”

Fury battered and bruised Wilder through all seven rounds Feb. 22 at the MGM Grand, forcing Wilder’s corner to throw in the towel. The contract for the sequel contained a bilateral clause that gave the losing fighter a 30-day window to ask for a rematch and for it to take place by July.

KINGS

Anze Kopitar scored twice, rookie Cal Petersen made 42 saves and the Kings beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 on Sunday night.

The Kings improved to 6-2-1 in their last nine games, a winning stretch that came on the heels of a 1-9-1 skid that spanned from Jan. 11 to Feb. 9.

Los Angeles, which is in last place in the Pacific Division, snapped Vegas’ franchise record-tying eight-game win streak. The Golden Knights hadn’t lost since a 4-0 defeat in Minnesota on Feb. 11.

Petersen, who improved to 2-0-0 against Vegas, was brilliant in stifling the Golden Knights’ normally potent offense that clearly was missing Mark Stone, who is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Of his 42 stops, 19 came in the third period.

DUCKS

Pavel Zacha scored two power-play goals, Cory Schneider made 34 saves for his first shutout in more than a year, and the New Jersey Devils beat the Ducks 3-0 on Sunday night.

John Gibson made 31 saves for the Ducks, who could not put together their second three-game winning streak of the season after beating Edmonton on Tuesday and Pittsburgh on Friday.

RUGBY

Sakoyisa Makata scored in extra time as South Africa rallied to defeat Fiji 29-24 in the final of the Los Angeles leg of the Rugby Sevens World Series.

The Blitzboks were down 19-0 to the Olympic champions after 5 minutes before beginning their rally. Jerry Tuwai’s try put Fiji up 24-12 midway through the second half before Chris Dry and Branco du Preez responded for South Africa. It was du Preez’s try and conversion after the buzzer that sent the match to golden point.

“They kept on believing until the end,” South Africa coach Neil Powell said. “There were a lot of up and downs. The guys refocused and you cold see that in the second half. They did a good job at chipping away.”

The U.S. defeated Ireland 24-19 in the fifth-place match.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Dodgers vs. Cincinnati (exhibition game), Noon, Spectrum Sportsnet, AM 570

Angels vs. Chicago Cubs (exhibition game), Noon, ESPN, FSW, AM 830

BORN ON THIS DATE

1909: Baseball player Mel Ott (d. 1958)

1934: Football player Howard Cassady (d. 2019)

1956: Boxer Eusebio Pedroza (d. 2019)

1958: Golfer Ian Woosnam

1962: Baseball player Terry Steinbach

1965: Baseball player Ron Gant

1982: Hockey player Henrik Lundqvist

1982: Football player Ben Roethlisberger

1985: Football player Reggie Bush

1988: Diver Matthew Mitcham

DIED ON THIS DATE

2004: Baseball team owner Marge Schott, 75

2007: Former Dodger Clem Labine, 80

AND FINALLY

Vin Scully talks about his favorite ballplayer as a kid: Mel Ott. Listen 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.


Newsletter
Go beyond the scoreboard

Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
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