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The Sports Report: Why the Lakers are not a championship team

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

From Bill Plaschke: After the fireworks smoke had cleared and the giddy shrieking had quieted and every T-shirt had been shot into hungry and sweaty arms, a cluttered Crypto.com Arena was left with a stark and solitary truth.

The Lakers are not a championship team.

The feisty Clippers, if they get Paul George back at any point in the playoffs, could possibly make some noise.

But the Lakers? Nah. Not this season. Not after Wednesday night, when they attacked arguably their most emotional game in the history of their hallway rivalry with every ounce of resolve they could muster.

And it still wasn’t enough.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis played the second game on back-to-back nights like it was the first game of the season, big minutes on aching joints, going for broke.

And they broke.

The rest of the Lakers played their third game in four nights at the end of a long trip like it was their only game this week, hustling, competing, working.

And ultimately wilting.

Continue reading here

‘Healthy and getting reps’: Despite loss to Clippers, the Lakers continue to build chemistry

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From Ben Bolch: In a move as predictable and heartfelt as UCLA’s pregame roll call, Jaime Jaquez Jr. said his time as a Bruin is over.

The senior forward who started his college career as a bit player and ended it as the No. 8 scorer in the school’s storied basketball history announced his decision Thursday on social media as part of an all-inclusive farewell, thanking fans, teammates, coaches and trainers.

“Please know, I gave you everything that I had,” wrote Jaquez, who finished his career with 1,802 points, surpassing such legends as Bill Walton, Gail Goodrich and Marques Johnson. “My four years at UCLA have been incredible, and I’ll always be proud to be a Bruin. But I’m also excited about my future, my NBA dreams and my continued basketball growth.”

Continue reading here


From Jack Harris: The Dodgers are developing an important skill early on this season: Scoring runs with two outs in an inning.

In a 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, all of the Dodgers’ runs came in such situations, starting with Chris Taylor’s RBI single in the second, then an Arizona error and J.D. Martinez double an inning later.

James Outman added a two-out knock of his own in the sixth, part of a two-hit performance that extended his season-opening on-base streak to six games.

Then Freddie Freeman hit his first home run of the season in the seventh —- providing important breathing room on a night Dustin May gave up one run in six innings, but the Dodgers bullpen nearly squandered the lead during a seventh-inning jam.

It wasn’t the first time the Dodgers have been able to extend innings this year. Entering Thursday, the team ranked third in OPS (.984) in two-out situations. And by night’s end, their 23 two-out runs led the majors.

Continue reading here


From Jorge Castillo: Shohei Ohtani added another unprecedented bulletpoint to his resume Wednesday, becoming the first player in Major League Baseball history called for a pitch clock violation as both a pitcher and a batter in the Angels’ win over the Seattle Mariners.

It’s not the kind of history the star takes the field to make. But it was another subtle reminder of a fact that somehow remains downplayed: Ohtani being an elite two-way player at the big league level is absurd. He is one of the best pitchers and one of the best hitters in the majors. He throws the ball harder, hits the ball farther, and runs faster than almost everybody else. Five years ago, when he arrived from Japan, the thought of such dominance was laughable. Now it’s normal.

Soon we’ll find out what the industry believes his unparalleled skill set is worth.

One major league official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because tampering rules forbid him from discussing prospective free agents on other teams, said he believed the bidding would start at $500 million and reach $600 million. One agent predicted Ohtani will sign a 12-year, $600-million deal. Spotrac, a website that focuses on sports contracts, recently revealed contract valuations for Ohtani: Eight years, $230 million as a pitcher and 10 years, $333 million as a hitter. Combined: $563 million.

Continue reading here

Shohei Ohtani reveals new custom glove design based on WBC prototype

From Steve Henson: Carson Steele invites hyperbole. The new UCLA running back with flowing blonde locks, chiseled body and a pet alligator is instantly noticeable on the field and off.

So coach Chip Kelly could be excused for exaggerating Steele’s status among returning rushers across college football when he said Thursday, “you look at him statistically, and he’s the leading rushing returning guy in the country. He also had the most broken tackles in the country.”

With 1,556 rushing yards for Ball State, Steele actually finished 11 yards shy of Mississippi freshman Quinshon Judkins. The other seven running backs who rushed for more yards than Steele are headed to the NFL draft. Texas running back Bijan Robinson led the nation with 34 forced missed tackles, one more than Steele and Judkins.

Continue reading here


From Sam Farmer: On a day of red numbers and red flags, Jon Rahm got the worst out of the way early.

The world’s third-ranked golfer four-putted the first green at the Masters on Thursday for a double-bogey before playing the next 17 holes at nine under par.

That was good enough for a seven-under 65 and a share of the lead with Brooks Koepka and Viktor Hovland under foreboding skies at Augusta National.

“If you’re going to make a double or four-putt or anything, it might as well be the first hole, 71 holes to make it up,” said Rahm, who hit every fairway and 17 of 18 greens. “After that, it was more, I was focused on the fact that all the strokes were good. The reads were good. The roll was good.”

Cameron Young and Jason Day were two shots off the lead in one of the better opening-round scoring days in Masters history.

Continue reading here


The Vegas Golden Knights scored four goals on their first six shots and took a big step toward clinching the Pacific Division and the top seed in the Western Conference with a 5-2 win over the Kings on Thursday night.

The third line shined for the Knights with Phil Kessel, Ivan Barbashev and Chandler Stephenson each finishing with a goal and an assist. Vegas’ other two goals came from Nicolas Roy and Jonathan Marchessault.

Marchessault’s goal 1:02 into the second period chased Kings goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who was replaced by Pheonix Copley. Kopitar and Gavrikov answered to bring Los Angeles to within 5-2 entering the final period.

Copley saved all 22 shots he faced.


1940 — Jimmy Demaret wins the Masters by four strokes over Lloyd Mangrum. Mangrum opens with a 64, a course record by two strokes that stands for 46 years.

1946 — Herman Keiser edges Ben Hogan by one stroke to win the Masters.

1951 — Ben Hogan takes the Masters by two strokes over Robert Riegel.

1956 — Joe Graboski scores 29 points and Paul Arizin 26 as the Philadelphia Warriors beat the Fort Wayne Pistons 99-88 to win the NBA championship in five games.

1963 — Jack Nicklaus becomes the youngest Masters winner at 23, beating Tony Lema by a stroke.

1969 — Ted Williams begins managing the Washington Senators.

1985 — New Jersey’s Herschel Walker rushes for a USFL-record 233 yards in leading the Generals to a 31-25 victory over the Houston Gamblers. Walker breaks his own USFL record for the longest run from scrimmage by going 89 yards on his second carry.

1995 — Baseball exhibition season begins late due to strike.

1996 — Dave Andreychuk scores a goal for his 1,000th point, and the New Jersey Devils top the New York Rangers 4-2.

1998 — Al MacInnis has a goal and an assist in St. Louis’ 5-3 loss at Detroit to become the sixth NHL defenseman to reach 1,000 points.

2000 — 1st regular season MLB game at Enron Field (now Minute Maid Park) in Houston.

2003 — Syracuse wins the NCAA title with an 81-78 victory over Kansas.

2007 — Michigan State beats Boston College 3-1 for its first NCAA hockey title in 21 years.

2008 — Mario Chalmers hits a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and Kansas goes on to defeat Memphis 75-68 for the NCAA title.

2009 — Tina Charles scores 25 points and grabs 19 rebounds and Connecticut routs Louisville 76-54 to capture its sixth women’s basketball title. UConn (39-0) wins every one of its 39 games by double digits, a first in college basketball.

2010 — Don Nelson sets the NBA career record for victories by a coach in the Golden State Warriors’ 116-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Nelson’s 1,333 wins surpass Lenny Wilkens’ total.

2014 — Shabazz Napier scores 22 points and Connecticut wins its second NCAA men’s title in four years, beating the freshmen-led Kentucky 60-54 in the championship game.

2015 — UConn’s women down Notre Dame 63-53 for their 10th NCAA championship. Coach Geno Auriemma ties UCLA’s John Wooden for the most titles in college basketball.

2016 — Ernie Els, winner of four major titles, opens with a 10 on the par-4 first hole at the Masters. After his first two shots, Els seven-putts from 2 feet. His sextuple bogey is the worst score on the first hole at the Masters, beating the old mark by two strokes.

2016 — The Golden State Warriors become the second team to win 70 games in a season by beating the San Antonio Spurs 112-101.

2018 — Vegas Golden Knights end regular season with most victories of any expansion team.

2019 — 38th NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship: Baylor beats Notre Dame, 82-81.

2019 — Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki play final NBA games.

2019 — Magic Johnson quits as President of Basketball Operations of the Lakers.

—Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally…

Magic Johnson quits the Lakers. Watch and 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.

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