<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Triple Threat]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/blogs/triple-threat http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:39:39 -0700 Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:39:39 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[McCarthy is Masterful in Rout of Rockies]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 17:55:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/192*120/468958714.jpg

Much like the female fans that flock to Chavez Ravine for day games, Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy had an affinity for the “long ball.” Through his first two starts, McCarthy allowed six home runs to opposing hitters. Thankfully, the Los Angeles native bucked that trend on Sunday and the Dodgers routed the Colorado Rockies 7-0.

McCarthy (2-0) was masterful on the afternoon spinning a three-hit shutout with six strikeouts. It was “Big Mac’s” first win against the Rockies in five career starts.

“I gave up less home runs,” joked McCarthy when asked about the difference between Sunday and his first two starts. “AJ [Ellis] did a great job of selecting pitches that I would have a greater chance of success on. We avoided the middle of the plate and we didn’t get punished on any pitches.”

Los Angeles completed their second straight series sweep and won its seventh consecutive game in a row. The Dodgers offense has been rolling during the streak scoring five or more runs in each game.

“We’re playing well,” McCarthy continued. “The offense is doing damage when it needs to and it’s not just one thing keeping us afloat, it’s a bunch of team performances.”

The Dodgers got on the board in the second inning with back-to-back RBI doubles by Scott Van Slyke and Joc Pederson. LA maybe could have gotten more, but Pederson was caught stealing in a bizarre rundown that he was able to Houdini out of before an umpires’ huddle called him out.

“I was safe, but unfortunately the ump said I slid out of the baseline,” said Pederson of the play. “It was a tough call, but it’s a base-running error that can’t happen, so I need to tighten it up.”

With the score still 2-0; Los Angeles switched on the power surge in the bottom half of the 6th inning. Howie Kendrick continued his hot start to the season with a 414-foot solo shot to dead center. Kendrick finished with his seventh multi-hit game of the season.

Two batters later Van Slyke made the most of his second chance after Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau dropped a routine fly ball in foul territory. Morneau was charged with an error on the play and Van Slyke returned the favor by crushing a curve ball into the left field seats for his first homer of the season. Van Slyke went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs and has hit safely in 11 consecutive games against Colorado.

“I’ve flown out to that area of the field many times, so I assumed he was going to make the play,” said Van Slyke of his stay of execution in the sixth. “I peeked back and saw he messed up the play. Anytime you get a second chance and do something good it’s a good feeling.”

The Dodgers went back-to-back for the first time this season when Pederson followed Van Slyke with a 432-foot rocket of his own into the right field pavilion.

Rockies rookie starter Eddie Butler (1-1) suffered his first loss of the season allowing two runs on six hits through 5 innings.

“They put some good swings on the ball,” said Butler. “They’re swinging it well right now.”

A day after making an atrocious base-running mistake that cost Adrian Gonzalez a double, Yasiel Puig was removed from the Dodgers lineup for “precautionary” reasons. A lingering left hamstring that had him out of the lineup for four games earlier in the week has hobbled Puig of late.

Gonzalez went 0 for 5 on the afternoon snapping his 13-game hitting streak and dropping his average to .469.

“I was just a little off today,” said Gonzalez. “I couldn’t cover the fastballs. Thankfully, Scotty [Van Slyke] steps in and has a great day, JT [Justin Turner] steps in and has a great day, we’re good 1 through 25.”

Justin Turner went 4 for 5 with three doubles and an RBI. It was the second time in his career he had at least four hits in a game.

Game Notes:
Record Producer and electro house DJ, Steve Aoki, performed before the game and threw out a cupcake rather than the traditional baseball for the ceremonial first pitch. The Dodgers have now won nine games in a row at home against Colorado, tied for their second longest streak against any team since 2010 (Padres – 10).
 



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn]]>
<![CDATA[Puig Propels Dodgers Into First Place]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 01:07:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/470286872.jpg

Yasiel Puig returned to the lineup on Saturday and propelled the Los Angeles Dodgers into first place in the National League West with a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Puig missed the last three games with a left hamstring injury. The Cuban slugger made his presence felt going 2 for 3 with an RBI double and a run scored.

“Stan [Kasten] came into the office early today and said that he [Yasiel Puig] was good to go,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. “After seeing him run yesterday, he looked pretty good. I’m glad he was out there tonight.”

Like the schoolyard bully who keeps taking your lunch money, Adrian Gonzalez continued to beat up on the opponents pitching. Gonzalez knocked in three runs and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Gonzalez’s 23 hits through the team’s first 11 games tie Eric Karros (1995) for the most in LA history.

“Six wins in a row is great,” said Gonzalez after the game. “Especially against a team who came in playing really good baseball. We were able to come out and beat them twice, and hopefully we can beat them again tomorrow.”

Zack Greinke was stellar once again for LA as the right-hander allowed just three runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings for his second win of the season.

Greinke (2-0) struggled to start the game giving up a leadoff double to Charlie Blackmon and an RBI single to Troy Tulowitzki before Nolan Arenado hit into an inning-ending double play to get Greinke out of the jam.

“That’s probably the toughest lineup in the National League,” said Grienke of the Rockies hitters. “I was looking at it today. Maybe our lineup is up with theirs, but they’re pretty good.”

Greinke found his groove pitching five scoreless innings before running into trouble in the top half of the 7th. With the score 4-1 in favor of LA, and Arenado on second with a leadoff double, Mattingly came out to the mound to talk to his starter.

Mattingly asked Greinke if he had enough left in the tank to stay in the game and the Florida native confidently nodded and asked to stay on the mound. After striking out Nick Hundley, Greinke just needed to get past DJ LeMahieu and he was out of the inning.

Turns out Mattingly might have left Greinke in a batter too long as LeMahieu blasted a fastball into the stands for his first homer of the season. It came on Greinke’s 103rd pitch of the game, which would also prove to be his last on the night.

“I think that may be his first home run on a fastball against a right-handed pitcher in his career,” added Grienke. “He’s hit some of them on off-speed pitches, so I was just trying to throw a fastball away and he hit it pretty well. I wasn’t really thinking home run at the time I threw it, but I had a decent lead and I just wanted to make him put the ball in play.”

LeMahieu is the hottest No. 8 hitter in the game right now as the Rockies second baseman is batting .463 with 18 hits and 6 RBIs through his first 11 games.

“I knew I was probably his last batter, so I didn’t want him leaving on a good note,” joked LeMahieu. “I’m just seeing the ball well. I had a good first series and I’ve just tried to carry it on.”

The Dodgers would add two important insurance runs after the stretch thanks to a trio of doubles by Jimmy Rollins, Puig and Howie Kendrick.

Jordan Lyles suffered the loss for Colorado surrendering four runs on five hits in six innings. Lyles (1-1) lost control in the fifth inning walking three of the first four batters he faced. He threw a chest-high fastball at Puig that just missed hitting the Dodgers star. Puig stared down Lyles for what seemed like an eternity before taking his base.

“It’s the walks that did me in,” said Lyles who had five total. “A lot of them scored. If they’re going to score, make them earn it. After I walked them, they earned it by getting them in. I’ve got to do a better job of attacking them early.”

Gonzalez followed with a two-run single to center. Gonzalez is batting .523 with 14 RBIs to start the season. His streak of reaching base at least two times a game was snapped at 10, and ties for the longest such streak to start a season since Jackie Robinson in 1952.

Joel Peralta worked a scoreless ninth and picked up his third save of the season.

Game Notes:
Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Dodgers won their sixth straight game while scoring at least five or more runs.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw K’s Twelve In First Win of Season]]> Sat, 18 Apr 2015 00:37:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/dodgers-clayton-kershaw-468755206_10.jpg

Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 Rockies en route to his first victory of the season and Adrian Gonzalez drove in two runs as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Colorado Rockies 7-3 on Friday night.

After picking up a no-decision in the Dodgers Opening Day victory over the Padres, Kershaw (1-1) was shelled in his second outing in Arizona 6-0. Kershaw returned to form on Friday, albeit with a few hiccups.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits over six innings. Despite the victory, Kershaw surrendered two homers to Troy Tulowitski and Charlie Blackmon bringing his season total to three. By comparison, Kershaw only allowed nine home runs all of last season.

“We had a good game plan, but I just didn’t execute all the way through on my part,” said Kershaw of his performance. “There’s definitely room for improvement, but it feels good to get a win.”

Kershaw wasn’t as dominant against Colorado as he was last June when he no-hit the Rockies in a memorable 15 strikeout, no walk performance; but he did improve his record to 12-2 with a 3.11 ERA against the division rival.

“It’s never a good thing seeing Kershaw,” said Rockies manager Walt Weiss. “Against a guy like this who’s at the top of the game, it’s even more important to take what’s presented to you and execute the game when the scoreboard tells you to.”

Colorado got runs in the fourth when Tulowitzki lined a ball down the left field line to the shallowest part of the park. Blackmon added two more in the fifth on a blast to right field, but that was all the runs the Rockies could manage as they fell for the first time on the road this season.

Gonzalez continued his hot hitting as he feasted off former Philadelphia Phillies starter, Kyle Kendrick. Gonzalez went 3 for 4 with two doubles, three runs scored and two RBIs as he set the Dodgers franchise record for most hits (22) through the teams’ first ten games.

“Adrian [Gonzalez] plays cat and mouse all the time,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly of his first baseman’s at-bats. “He has a really good understanding of what pitchers are trying to do to him – what they can do, what they can’t do, and he takes advantage of that.”

Batting behind Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick (no relation to Kyle), hit his first long ball of the season in the first inning. Kendrick’s two-run blast put the Dodgers up 3-0 early and Los Angeles would never look back.

“It’s pretty funny when you face somebody with the same last name,” said the Dodgers cleanup hitter. “I faced him before when he was with the Phillies during interleague play with the Angels. We actually swapped jerseys at that time, and we never even planned it. It just happened that way.”

Kendrick (1-2) allowed six runs on seven hits through 4 2/3 innings for Colorado.

“I made some mistakes that got hit,” said Kendrick of his outing. “They swung the bats pretty well, but my last inning got away.”

Gonzalez and Kendrick hit back-to-back RBI doubles in that inning to extend LA’s lead to 6-3.

Adam Liberatore pitched the ninth and struck out Michael McKenry to end the game in his major league debut. Liberatore was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City before the game. The 27-year-old left-hander had a perfect 0.00 ERA in spring training and was acquired from Tampa Bay with Joel Peralta on November 20th, 2014.

“It’s always nice to end the game on a punch out,” smiled Liberatore. “It was pretty cool to come in and be able to finish the game in my first appearance. When I got two strikes on that last guy [McKenry] the crowd made some noise and I thought ‘hopefully I can punch him out and make them scream even louder.’”

With the victory, the Dodgers won their fifth consecutive game and are now tied with the Rockies atop the NL West with a record of 7-3. The winner of Saturday’s game will sit alone in first place.


Game Notes:
Yasiel Puig sat out his third game in a row with tightness in his left hamstring. The cast of the cult classic film, "Super Troopers" threw out the first pitch of the game and Dodgers fans were greeted with fireworks after the game courtesy of Denny’s.
 



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Jarret Stoll Arrested for Possession of Cocaine and Ecstasy]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:23:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/jarret-stoll-arrest-cocaine-ecstasy.jpg

It’s been a rough week for the Los Angeles Kings. Not only were the reigning Stanley Cup Champions eliminated from the NHL Playoffs, but now news has broken that their star center, Jarret Stoll, has been arrested in Las Vegas for possession of cocaine and MDMA.

Las Vegas Metro police arrested Stoll on Friday at the MGM Grand hotel for drug possession. The 32-year-old hockey player was relaxing at the Wet Republic pool when he was taken into custody for possession of cocaine and MDMA, a more pure form of the drug Ecstasy.

Stoll was released from jail on a $5,000 bond later in the evening and a hearing has been set for Saturday. According to the Clark County police, the NHL and the LA Kings have been made aware of the situation. When contacted regarding the incident, an LA Kings spokesperson said that they are aware of Stoll’s arrest and are “actively investigating” the matter and had no further comment.

Stoll completed the final year of his contract this season with the Kings and is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Off the ice, Stoll is the long time boyfriend of sportscaster and “Dancing with the Stars” host Erin Andrews. The pair have been dating since 2013, and recent reports had the couple engaged. No word yet on whether or not Andrews was with Stoll at the time of his arrest or if anybody else was with Stoll at the scene.



Photo Credit: Courtesy Las Vegas Metropolitan Police]]>
<![CDATA[Do The Dodgers Have a Third Base Controversy Brewing?]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 18:47:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/469555730.jpg

It’s a word usually designated for the NFL and the revolving door of quarterbacks that enliven the league each year. Rarely do we see the word used in baseball, but in this instance it seems appropriate. The Los Angeles Dodgers have a good old-fashioned third base controversy on their hands.

Last Saturday, while the Dodgers were in Phoenix squaring off against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team saw third basemen Justin Turner and Juan Uribe leave the game with injuries on back-to-back plays. Turner injured his left index finger when A.J. Pollock slid into his hand and Juan Uribe (who was given the day off) injured his hamstring on the very next play, a groundball to third by Paul Goldschmidt.

The injuries paved the way for utility infielder Alex Guerrero (who might have not made the Dodgers roster if it wasn’t for a clause in his contract) to take over the hot corner. On Sunday, in his first major league start at third base, Guerrero went 3 for 4 with 4 RBIs and a two-run home run (the first of his career) in a 7-4 victory.

The following day, Guerrero started again at third and capped off an emotional come back for Los Angeles with a game-winning RBI single with two outs in the 10th inning. For an encore, Guerrero hit a pinch-hit two-run homer on Tuesday in a game that marked Uribe’s return to the starting lineup.

Guerrero was acquired by the Dodgers in the 2014 offseason on a four-year $28 million contract. The Cuban infielder was originally expected to be the heir at second base to Mark Ellis. However, Guerrero struggled defensively in the minors and the emergence of Dee Gordon meant Guerrero was not needed in 2014.

A three-team trade this winter that saw Gordon get shipped to Miami and the Dodgers acquire Howie Kendrick from the Angels means that once again Guerrero finds himself on the outside looking in of the starting lineup. The only problem now is that in the waxing crescent phase of the 2015 season, Guerrero has inserted himself as a rising star both with the bat and with the glove.

“He’s been hitting since all last spring, all last year – he can hit,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly of Guerrero. “Our biggest fear was defensively, how he looked last year, but he’s been good all through spring.”

Guerrero made five starts at third base this spring and played 52 innings in total at the hot corner. Guerrero is naturally a shortstop, a position he played in Cuba throughout his youth. 15-year veteran Jimmy Rollins currently occupies that position creating a logjam in the middle of the Dodgers infield.

Mattingly believes that Guerrero is more comfortable on the left side of the infield and now has the daunting task of finding playing time for him on the field. When asked if he thought he had a third base controversy on his hands, Mattingly ironically “dodged” the subject.

"There's no reason to get into that," he said.

Mattingly finds himself in the middle of an AM/PM commercial with the tagline “too much good stuff” ringing in his ears. Both Uribe and Turner hit over .300 last season with Uribe’s performance garnering him a Wilson Ball Glove for Defensive player of the year.

Uribe is one of the team’s veterans and leaders, as well as a defensive stalwart at the hot corner. In addition to flashing the leather throughout the season, Uribe who is often found with a cigar in his mouth, is nicknamed “Papi” (Daddy) by his teammates.

“This is a guy who had a good year for us last year,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Uribe. “You don’t just toss him aside, and a couple games are not going to change what we’re trying to do.

“We all know a lot of what we do is based on playing defense,” continued Mattingly. “Before the game (Monday), they were handing out not Gold Gloves but blue gloves (for Wilson Defensive Player of the Year awards) and Juan was out there getting one.”

Mattingly stated that Guerrero’s true in-house competition is actually with Justin Turner rather than with Uribe. Also, he doesn’t plan on adding playing time for Guerrero despite his hot streak.

"Not at this point,” Mattingly said. “We'll use him a lot like [Justin Turner]. We know they can hit and we're going to need everybody."

Right now, Guerrero is tied for the Dodgers lead with eight RBIs and is hitting .417 despite only having 12 at-bats. Turner is hitting .250 in eight at-bats and Uribe is battin .190 in 21 at-bats. Tell that to Mattingly and he’ll respond with the most subjective term in all of baseball, if not sports, “it’s still early”.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Coach, GM Talk Kobe, Draft]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 18:01:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Byron-Scott-4-12-15.jpg

Between Tuesday and Thursday, every single Los Angeles Lakers player on the team's final roster met with assembled media before heading out on summer vacation, with the exception of Kobe Bryant. Even Vander Blue, who had only been with the team for three days, spent time in front of the microphones and television cameras, but Bryant opted to skip the process all his teammates, coach and general manager went through.

For the second time in as many years, Bryant ended the season without going through the tradition of exit interviews. A year ago, Bryant went to Paris before the season ended. This time, he hung around for the season finale but did not appear interested in answering questions or meeting with reporters.

As such, Lakers coach Byron Scott and general manager Mitch Kupchak had to answer for Bryant.

"I don't know," Kupchak answered when asked what he expected from Bryant in the 2015/16 season, where the superstar will earn $25 million. "I do know that he's going to work as hard as anyone can work in the offseason to get his shoulder right."

Earlier in the same day, Scott had been asked about Bryant's rehabilitation and progress, as the player had not met with the media in over a month.

"From our conversation two days ago, (Bryant) is just starting his rehab," Scott said. "He's starting to lift weights. He's going back to more of an old-school approach."

"The first order of business is to get the base strong," Scott added. "I talked to him the other day, and he looked good and said he felt great."

The coach admitted fault on overplaying his aging star player during the 2014/15 season, but the shoulder injury that eventually ended Bryant's season did not seem to be related to the heavy minutes the 36-year-old logged early in the season. Still, Scott admitted he would change his approach by sticking to the maximum number of minutes Bryant tells him at the start of the season, rather than making his own judgement and increasing that number.

Asked about usage of his superstar at the small forward position, Scott said that Bryant would probably function best in that role in the future, but the Lakers' coach made a point to say that Bryant was a shooting guard and could also play point guard.

Beyond focusing on Bryant, Scott and Kupchak also talked about the future of the Lakers. Building a team via trades, free agency and the draft remained the three-pronged approach, and the general manager seemed content with where the team stood on all three fronts. For both Scott and Kupchak, the next date of note was May 19--the date of the NBA's draft lottery. Until that date, the Lakers appeared to be in a holding pattern, as LA still has a 17 percent chance of losing its top overall pick in the draft lottery. Conversely, the Lakers have an 11 percent chance of winning the lottery and picking first overall.

"This would be a good draft to participate in," Kupchak said on Thursday afternoon. "Being two months out, I'm pleased with the players."



Photo Credit: Getty Images 2015]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Exit Interviews: Recap]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 16:38:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Timberwolves.jpg

After 82 painful games, the Los Angeles Lakers brought out the final 10 players for exit interviews. After finishing as the worst team in franchise history on Wednesday night, players met with general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Byron Scott one last time before being discharged for the summer.

First up, Carlos Boozer sat down and hinted that he may not return because his primary focus was winning a championship ring. The Lakers finished fourth from the bottom in 2014/15, so Boozer explained that he would only be interested in returning to LA if the team looked like it would be contending in a hurry. Then, the forward went into a detailed explanation of his favorite phrase "Hold Dat." The best description for Boozer's explanation would be that the phrase serves as a way to brag about anything.

After Boozer, Wesley Johnson came next. Johnson said he would definitely like to return regardless of whether or not the Lakers looked like contenders. For Johnson, the last two historically bad seasons had provided the forward the goal of helping turn around the team. His personal attachment to the team trumped the desire to start fresh in a new environment.

Following Johnson, Robert Sacre came into the room and provided his usual laughs. The highlight of the interview featured a detailed definition of a mythical Canadian Sasquatch. Needless to say, Sacre left his conference feeling up beat.

Ed Davis would be the next man to the microphone, and the former University of North Carolina Tar Heel mentioned free throws as an area of improvement multiple times. He shot 48.7 percent for the season from the line, so the forward could probably do with some extra time at the line this summer.

Following Davis, Ryan Kelly sat down in front of the camera and spoke about his sacrifice for the team in terms of playing out of position. The Lakers had plenty of size, so Kelly often played as the small forward. In the interview, however, the former Duke Blue Devil made it clear that he would train to play stretch-four over the summer. In particular, Kelly said that he would work on improving his shot from distance. Also, he would be weary of over training, as he thought his early season hamstring injuries may have been the effects of over-training last summer.

After Kelly, Jordan Hill entered the room and said Kupchak and Scott had both expressed disappointment in the forward's inability to sustain a strong start to the season. Hill agreed with his coach and GM, and that drop-off may well be the difference between the Lakers exercising their $9 million team option on the power forward or not. For Hill, his offseason focus was to diet and exercise to take care of his body and sustain his high energy style of play for the duration of the season.

Next, Jordan Clarkson answered questions and revealed that he used his no. 46 pick status as added motivation. The 22-year-old said he had watched the entire 2015 NBA Draft eight to 10 times during the season as a source of motivation. Clarkson also spoke about his experiences with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. The rookie equated Bryant's view to the game as "solving a math problem" and said he expected to spend more time with Nash in one-on-one sessions over the summer. Clarkson's primary goals for the offseason were to add bulk and improve his on-court leadership skills. In terms of players to watch, Clarkson pointed to Chris Paul of the Clippers as a player he would study closely to become a better leader.

Next, the trio of colorful players stepped into the room one-by-one: Tarik Black, Jabari Brown and Vander Blue. Black went first and spoke in eloquent fashion, as he discussed expanding his game, playing as a power forward and completing his masters in black studies. Brown went next and sounded optimistic about his future with the team and in the league. Blue wrapped up the players' segment of the meetings with his story of his short time with the Lakers.

Blue said he signed his contract at the gate of the airport and did not have the opportunity to warm up because he was undergoing a physical. Next thing he knew, Blue played 26 minutes with a team he had not been a part of for the first 80 games of the season. Two nights later, the 22-year-old was starting for the Lakers in their season finale and played all 48 minutes because the Lakers did not have any guards available on the bench. He was named in-arena play of the game and finished with 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

The trio of colorful players expects to take part in the NBA Summer League team, along with Clarkson, and the point guard said his goal was to bring home a Summer League championship.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Complete Sweep of Mariners on Jackie Robinson Day]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 06:15:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*121/469871790.jpg

“Maybe we’ll all wear 42, that way they won’t tell us apart,” said Pee Wee Reese in the movie 42.

Reese’s vision came to fruition on the diamond as the annual Civil Rights Game was held at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

“Today is a day of remembrance and honor of Jackie Robinson,” said Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins. “Jackie pioneered the modern game of baseball and integrated it. Now the game is international, you can point back to a number of guys for that, but definitely it started with Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers organization.”

The Dodgers outfielders did most of the damage on the day as Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke and Joc Pederson all knocked in runs and Los Angeles completed the three-game sweep of the Mariners with a 5-2 victory.

Ethier went 2 for 3 with an RBI when he singled to left and scored Yasmani Grandal in the first inning. It was Ethier’s fourth consecutive game with a hit as the 33-year-old hit a double, triple and home run over that span.

Van Slyke hit a two-run double off the left field wall as the Dodgers tagged Seattle starter Taijuan Walker for three runs by the time fans found their seats.

“I didn’t establish my fastball enough early,” Walker said. “It was frustrating. Everything was up, fastball was up. It’s tough when I don’t have command of my fastball. It’s my best pitch.”

Nelson Cruz homered for the fifth consecutive game in the top half of the fourth inning. It was Cruz’s sixth round-tripper in five games and the second longest in Mariners history behind Ken Griffey Jr. (8 straight in 1993).

Adrian Gonzalez went 2 for 5 with an RBI, extending his hitting steak to 11 games. Gonzalez also has 19 hits through the first nine games of the season, an all-time franchise record for the Dodgers.

The Mariners threatened at multiple points throughout the game, but everytime it seemed they had a rally going they shot themselves in the foot. Mike Zunino lead off the Seattle half of the 5th with a ground-rule double. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Justin Ruggiano hit a line drive up the middle. Zunino hesitated before breaking to third and rookie Joc Pederson made a tremendous throw to gun Zunino out at the plate.

“He threw me out yesterday and he got me again today, so I’m glad I could return the favor,” joked Pederson. “Defense is huge, and it wins ballgames. To be able to take one away from someone is always nice to do. It brings some momentum to the team and it gives the pitcher some more confidence to make his pitch.”

It was the second sensational play by Pederson on the night as the young outfielder robbed Zunino of extra bases earlier in the game with a diving catch in centerfield. Pederson went 1-1 with three walks and singled home the fifth run of the game in the third inning.

With the bases loaded and the Mariners trailing 5-1 in the sixth inning, Kyle Seager hit an RBI groundout to third off Paco Rodriguez to bring the M’s closer. Rodriguez walked Morrison a batter later and Seattle second baseman, Robinson Cano was inexplicably caught jogging to home thinking the bases were loaded.

“I felt like I was the dumbest guy in the game,“ said an embarrassed Cano. “I thought there was bases loaded. I should have been paying more attention to the game. I’m human. I’m going to make mistakes. But those are the kind of things that I can’t let happen again. There’s no excuse for that.”

Brett Anderson (1-0) got his first win in a Dodgers uniform allowing two runs on six hits through five innings. Anderson is now 8-4 lifetime against Seattle with a 1.81 ERA over 16 games.

“I have to tip my hat to Robinson Cano a little bit for the out,” smiled Anderson from his locker. “You can’t really expect that from one of the best players in the game, but we’ll take outs anyway we can get them.”

Walker (0-2) was handed the loss as he was charged with all five Dodgers’ runs on six hits through four innings.

The Dodgers used a committee of closers in the ninth as Pedro Baez and J.P. Howell pitched a perfect inning to complete the sweep. Howell did not face enough batters in the inning to record the save, but if he had, he would have become the fourth Dodgers reliever to earn a save this season.

Game Notes:
Dodgers legends; Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda and owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson joined Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachel, on the field for a ceremony before the game.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Announce Jackie Robinson Statue Later This Year]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 23:14:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/186*120/469871538.jpg

It was Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday and in honor of the man who broke the color barrier 68 years ago today, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced they would erect a statute of Robinson in tribute.

Dodgers President Stan Kasten made the announcement before the game sitting alongside Commissioner Rob Manfred, Rachel Robinson (Jackie’s widow) and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

“We are announcing today the beginning of our ‘Statues Program’,” said Kasten. “And sometime later this year, we will announce that our first statue will be Jackie Robinson.”

Kasten did not divulge further information about the program or details regarding what the statue would look like or where it might be, but he did indicate that there would be more statues of Dodgers legends erected around the stadium.

“I would not be surprised if there are more to come,” he hinted.

Rachel Robinson was asked what it would mean for her to have a statue of her husband at Chavez Ravine and her reaction was just as priceless as the woman herself.

“I’ve been waiting 20 years for this,” she said emphatically. “It’s the fulfillment of a dream.”

There is already a statue of Jackie Robinson on Coney Island where the minor league team the Brooklyn Cyclones play. Robinson debuted with the Dodgers in 1947, becoming the first African-American player in the major leagues. The statue, which resides outside MCU Park is of Robinson and his teammate, Pee Wee Reese. Reese has his arm around Robinson in a symbol of solidarity.

“Maybe one day we will all wear 42,” said Reese on that fatefull day. “That way they won’t be able to tell us apart.”

Robinson’s jersey number 42 was retired throughout baseball in 1997, and since 2005, every player in the league dons the iconic number on April 15th of each year in honor of Robinson’s accomplishment.



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers End Their Worst Season in History]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 22:04:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-end-season-worst-ever.jpg

The season that would seemingly never end finally ended on Wednesday night at Staples Center when the LA Lakers lost to the Sacramento Kings. With the loss, the purple and gold made history as the worst team in franchise history with a final record of 21-61, which narrowly edged the 1957/58 Minneapolis Lakers for the worst winning percentage in the two-city history of the Lakers.

Ahead of the season finale, the team announced that standout rookie Jordan Clarkson would sit out the finale due to a sprained ankle sustained in Monday's loss to the same Kings team. Also, the team confirmed that Wesley Johnson would miss out with the same injury sustained in Sunday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

"Hilarious," was the word Lakers coach Byron Scott used on Wednesday morning, when asked to describe the series of injuries that had ruined all 82 games of the Lakers' 2014/15 season.

With the pair of starters ruled out, the Lakers only had two guards on the roster: Vander Blue and Jabari Brown. Not familiar with Brown and Blue? Well, Blue had only joined the team in an emergency situation two days earlier, and Brown had been added near the end of the season in order to fill a need.

The Lakers did not have any backups for their two unlikely starters, and they had power forward Ryan Kelly deputizing as a starting small forward. With only three big men available off the bench, the Lakers did not have any options in the backcourt. They also, apparently, did not have any chance of winning on Wednesday.

By the end of the first quarter, the Kings already had 33 points on the board, and defense did not appear to be in the program Wednesday night. By halftime, the Kings had scored 67 points. Predictably, the Lakers trailed at that point, as the home team simply did not have enough points on the roster.

With Blue, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill all in double figures in scoring by halftime, the Lakers managed to get to 53 points and trail by 14 at the break. That could not last.

In the second half, the Lakers cooled off, but the lack of defense due to limited available personnel continued to allow the Kings easy access to open looks. In the third quarter, the Lakers trailed by as many as 19 points as the visitors continued to pour it on.

However, eventually, the Kings lost the ability to knock down open looks for an elongated stretch because, well, they're not a good team, either. However, they were a better team than the Lakers on this night. After cutting the lead to 11 points, the Lakers again fell behind by 19 points at the end of three quarters.

At that point, the Lakers' season only had one quarter to go, and not much need be said about those final 12 minutes. For the 61st time in 82 games, the Lakers tasted defeat. The season fittingly ended as a loss, and this will go down as the worst season in their storied history.

It's finally over. Good riddance.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Lakers: Game No. 82]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 10:27:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/2014-15+LA+Lakers.jpg

The 2014/15 Los Angeles Lakers season ends on Wednesday night, and boy, just about everyone is excited for this one to end.

How excited? Well, Lakers coach Byron Scott did not think he even needed to wait until the end of the season to start parading players through exit interviews and out the door. Jeremy Lin, Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price, Julius Randle and Nick Young should be at Wednesday night's game, but the five-some of injured players could well be out of the country and on vacation by Thursday morning.

Kobe Bryant also expects to be at Wednesday's game, but Bryant does not expect to have an exit interview for the second time in as many years. In defense of the five-time champion, he did sit down with media for an extended exit interview when he first began showing up to home games following surgery on his shoulder.

In any case, the Lakers expect to wrap up exit interviews on Thursday and tie a bow on a season that looked and smelled like manure. Before all that, a hobbled LA Lakers team must finish 48 more minutes against the Sacramento Kings.

Winning no longer hurts the Lakers and losing no longer helps the Lakers, as the purple and gold enter the NBA's draft lottery with the fourth best standing and an 11.9 percent chance of getting the no. 1 overall pick. The team also has a 17.2 percent chance of missing out on the NBA draft altogether, as those are the odds at least two teams below the Lakers win the lottery and push LA outside the top-five picks. If the Lakers fall from fourth to sixth or seventh, the Philadelphia 76ers would take LA's only reward for an historically bad season.

How bad has this season been? With 21 wins and 60 losses, the 2014/15 Lakers have already ensured that they will finish as the worst team since the franchise moved to LA. Also, they sunk the Lakers to 60 losses for the first time ever. Previously, the Lakers had been the only NBA team never to hit the 60-loss mark--not anymore.

Wednesday's game, however, carries major meaning. If the Lakers lose against the Kings in the finale, they will overtake the 1957/58 Minneapolis Lakers as the worst team in franchise history based on winning percentage. If the Lakers win, they will narrowly best the 1957/58 team that finished with a record of 19-53 in a 72-game season. Worth pointing out, the 2014/15 LA Lakers held an identical mark of 19-53 through 72 games of their 82-game season.

Game no. 82 tips at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time, as the 2014/15 Lakers attempt to avoid falling to the absolute bottom. Win or lose, the season ends on Wednesday, and boy, is that a relief.



Photo Credit: Getty Images 2015]]>
<![CDATA[HowieWood Ending As Dodgers Walk Off Again]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 01:30:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/171*120/469749276.jpg

Howie Kendrick broke his bat on his game-winning two-run single on Tuesday night. And with his bat, he broke the hearts of the Seattle Mariners.

Kendrick hit a two-run single off Seattle closer Fernando Rodney with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Los Angeles Dodgers came from behind to defeat the Mariners 6-5 for the second consecutive night.

“It’s always good to come through for your teammates,” said a smiling Kendrick after the game.

It was the second walk-off victory for LA in as many nights, and their second come from behind victory after the 6th inning this season. By comparison, the Dodgers were 2-54 all of last season when trailing entering the 7th inning.

“We’ve had some games early this year where we’ve come back from deficits and tied the game up and went on to win,” added Kendrick. “All of that keeps building and building. Anytime you’re down, guys will start believing that we can always come back. Past couple of days we’ve been able to do that.”

The Dodgers’ day started with some scrambling to find a starting pitcher. Left-hander David Huff, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, was called up from AAA Oklahoma City before the game.

Huff is a native of Los Angeles and grew up a Dodgers fan. He attended college at UCLA and grew up in nearby Irvine. Huff had not started a major league game since September of 2013 with the New York Yankees, and had plenty of butterflies pitching for the Dodgers in front of his hometown.

“I tried to be calm, cool and collected,” said Huff. “Pitching here before on the opposing side helped, so it was too different.”

Nerves got the better of Huff in the first inning as he gave up back-to-back homers to Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz. Before you could say, “Lando Calrissian,” the Mariners had an early 3 to nothing lead.

“I didn’t have all my pitches working for me tonight,” continued Huff. “I left a few pitches up and they obviously capitalized on them.”

Cruz tied his career-high with four consecutive games with a home run. He now has three homers in two days against the Dodgers. After starting the season 1-for-15, Cruz is 7-for-16 since with five homers and eight RBIs.

Huff allowed four runs on seven hits in four innings in his Dodgers debut.

“Hopefully I’ll get another chance,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything yet, but they usually keep me in the dark.”

Adrian Gonzalez continued his hot start to the season with an RBI double to right field in the third inning. Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to ten games and has reached base two or more times in every game this season.

Alex Guerrero did again for the Dodgers in the bottom half of the 4th inning. The star of LA’s last two games, hit a pinch-hit two-run home run off of Hisashi Iwakuma.

“I feel very confident right now,” said Guerrero. “I was happy to have helped my team and contribute in that situation.”

It was a week of firsts for Guerrero as he hit his first career homer on Sunday, his first walk-off hit on Monday and his first pinch-hit home run on Tuesday.

Iwakuma allowed four runs on six hits with five strikeouts over five innings.

Andre Ethier brought the Dodgers closer in the sixth when the outfielder hit a frozen rope that wrapped inside the right field foul pole. It was Ethier’s first home run of the season and 146th of his career, good for 10th on the Dodgers all-time home run list.

Yimi Garcia (2-0) worked a perfect ninth for his second consecutive win on the season.

Rodney (0-1) blew his first save of the season. Last season’s major league leader in saves (48), gave up back-to-back singles to Justin Turner and Jimmy Rollins before inducing Carl Crawford into a fielder’s choice.

With runners at first and second and one out, Rodney wanted nothing to do with NL Player of the Week, Adrian Gonzalez. Rodney walked Gonzalez on five pitches to load the bases for Kendrick who sent the next pitch he saw to right field for the walk-off win.

“I knew he [Kendrick] was going to swing, but the pitch was up a little bit in the zone and that’s why he took the ball the other way,” said Rodney. “I tried to throw the sinker in to try and get a ground ball and get out of the inning, but they got me tonight.”

Game Notes:
It was Star Wars night at Dodger Stadium. Darth Vader, Storm Troopers and R2-D2 were walking around the stadium taking pictures with fans. Yasiel Puig did not play in the game with a hamstring injury.
 



Photo Credit: Harry How]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Start Exit Interviews Before End of Season]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:36:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NickYoungblamesrimforbadshooting_1200x675_428014147989.jpg

A night after the Los Angeles Lakers hit 60 losses for the first time in the storied history of the franchise, Lakers coach Byron Scott called his injured contingent of players to the practice facility to conduct exit interviews.

In order, Ronnie Price, Wayne Ellington, Jeremy Lin, Nick Young and Julius Randle took time to meet with Scott and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak before walking into the media room and answering questions that focused on the season that was and the uncertainty that lay ahead.

First up, Price sang the praises of his coach by complimenting Scott on staying consistent throughout the year. As one of the veterans in the locker room, Price stepped into a leadership role on and off the court this season.

"I enjoyed being a voice in the locker room," Price said. "Is it just being a good teammate or being a mentor? I don't know about that, but I enjoyed helping younger guys."

After Price wrapped up, Ellington came into the room. Similarly to Price in demeanor, Ellington spoke with his usual soft voice as he expressed gratitude for the support the Lakers provided him during his family tragedy. Wayne Ellington Sr. was murdered in Philadelphia during the season, and the 27-year-old had only taken a few days off before returning to the team and continuing through the season.

"Coaches, organization, teammates: Everybody was so welcoming when I came back [following the funeral]," Ellington said. "It really helped me just get away and focus on something I love to do. We had a great group of guys that really got along at the end of the day. I'm actually a little nervous for the off-season not being around guys."

Both Ellington and Price praised Scott, and the duo of injured guards were likely two of Scott's favorite players on the team.

Next, Lin and Young would sit in front of a banner adorned with Lakers' logos and facing a collection of microphones and cameras. Lin's season had not gone as expected, but the 26-year-old seemed content with the trajectory and the dramatic improvement following the All-Star break.
"As time went on, it just felt like there was good progression," Lin said. "There was improvement throughout the course of the year, all the way up until the end."

The point guard did not sound overly confident about returning to LA, but he also admitted he had yet to give it serious thought or even talk to his agent. However, when asked point blank if he would like to return, Lin said, "Yea."

The point guard would go on to cite his love for the city and the fans, but he did not sound overly confident that a return to the Lakers would be an option. Time will tell on that front.

After Lin, Young walked into the room. Unlike the three players who went before him, Young is on contract with the Lakers and does not have to anguish over free agent decisions over the summer. Still, the player had butted heads with Scott during the year, so this exit interview offered intrigue.

"If he ain't talking about you, he don't care about you," Young said when asked about Scott's continued criticisms throughout the season. "That's one of the things coaches always say."

On Tuesday afternoon, Young seemed to be in good spirits and sounded pleased with his conversations with Kupchak and, in particular, Scott.

"I think we needed to talk and just sit down and talk about what's been going on this whole year, and I think that was cool," Young said.

Perhaps the funniest moment of the day came when Young was asked about why he shot a career-low 36.6 percent from the field. Previously, Young had never shot below 40 percent from the field.

"I just blame it on the rim," Young said to the volcanic eruption of laughter. "The rim was trippin' this year. Next year, I'm going to take her on a date and shoot a little better."

After Young wrapped up, Randle walked into the room. The rookie spoke about his recovery from injury but did not provide any concrete timeline on when he would be back playing full contact basketball. With regards to Randle, the rookie will be with the team next season and nothing much had changed. He stated that his goal was to be ready for NBA Summer League.

What did come out of Randle's exit interview was his relationship with Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, who broke his leg a few months before the Lakers' rookie. George is back on the court, and Randle talked about how he had asked the Pacers' forward about a callus that had developed on his leg under the skin. George confirmed that it was part of the process and gave the rookie encouragement to go forward with training despite the initial pain.

"Even though I didn't get to play, it was still a huge learning process," Randle sounded adamant that he would not change anything about his year. "I got a lot out of it. Obviously I wanted to play, but the valuable things I learned this year I wouldn't give away."

The Lakers will play on Wednesday night and conduct exit interviews for all remaining players on Thursday morning and afternoon. Kupchak and Scott will also sit down to answer questions on Thursday afternoon.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Jeremy Lin Talks About Playing with Kobe Bryant]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:32:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JeremyLintalksKobeBryant_1200x675_428031043943.jpg Jeremy Lin shared his thoughts on playing with Kobe Bryant and a funny story of how he learned from the Black Mamba during Lin's exit interview on April 14, 2015]]> <![CDATA[Nick Young Blames Rim For Poor Shooting]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 15:06:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NickYoungblamesrimforbadshooting_1200x675_428014147989.jpg Nick Young blamed the rim for a bad shooting year and said he would take "her" out on a date during his exit interview on April 14, 2015]]> <![CDATA[Jeremy Lin Talks Up and Down Lakers Season]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 14:53:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JeremyLinExitInterview_1200x675_427964483996.jpg Jeremy Lin discusses his ups and downs with the LA Lakers during the 2014/15 NBA season.]]> <![CDATA[Dodgers' Guerrero Wins Game With Walk-off Single]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 01:36:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/469647604.jpg

On Sunday he had his first career home run. On Monday, for an encore, he had his first career walk-off hit.

Alex Guerrero was the hero for the second consecutive game as the Cuban infielder capped off the Dodgers comeback with a two-out, bases loaded single in the 10th inning to beat the Seattle Mariners 6-5. It was the first interleague game of the 2015 season for both teams.

“I had two strikes against me, so I wasn’t looking for a home run there, I was just looking to make contact,” said Guerrero through an interpreter.

Yasiel Puig homered for the second consecutive day as the Dodgers rallied from a four-run deficit in the fourth inning. Puig appears to have burst out of an early season slump as he went 3 for 5 on the night.

Brandon McCarthy who admitted he was not a ground ball pitcher after his first outing last week against the Padres, gave up four home runs, to bring his season total to six.

“My job is to always be around the plate as much as I can and attack the hitters,” McCarthy said after the game. “I know from time to time that sometimes you’re going to miss your spot and somebody’s going to drive a ball. You just hope it does minimal damage and doesn’t come in a grouping like this.”

Despite giving up the long ball, McCarthy surrendered five runs on six hits in seven innings and struck out ten batters in the no-decision.

It was feast or famine for McCarthy, as he became just the 11th pitcher since 1914 to give up as many as four home runs in a game and still strikeout at least 10 batters. He is the first pitcher to accomplish such a feat since the Milwaukee Brewers Mike Fiers did it on Sept. 30, 2012.

“I didn’t feel like I pitched terrible,” added McCarthy. “But balls just kept leaving the yard. They’re an extremely aggressive team, and anything that gets left out they’re going to hit.”

Nelson Cruz hit two homers in the game, a two-run blast in the first, and a solo shot to right field in the fourth inning.

Kyle Seager, the older brother of Dodgers’ top prospect, Corey Seager, followed Cruz with a solo shot of his own for the first back-to-back homers of Seattle’s season.

The Mariners were up 4-0 before Guerrero hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to get LA on the board in the bottom half of the inning. Joc Pederson followed up his first major league home run on Sunday with a two-run RBI to cut the lead to 4-3.

Dustin Ackley homered off McCarthy in the fifth inning to stretch the Mariners lead to 5-3.

The Dodgers would tie the game in the bottom half of the fifth after Puig’s first-pitch homer cut the gap to one. NL Player of the Week, Adrian Gonzalez, followed with a double and Howie Kendrick knocked him in with an RBI single off Seattle’s starter James Paxton.

“I made mistakes, left some balls up there out over the plate and they capitalized on them,” said Paxton of his performance.

Paxton gave up five runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked two while striking out six.

With the game knotted at five apiece, the two teams’ bullpens kept the game scoreless for the next four innings.

Dominic Leone (0-1) pitched two of those innings before giving up a leadoff double to Andre Ethier in the bottom of the 10th inning. After back-to-back walks to Gonzalez and Kendrick, Tyler Olson came in and yielded the game-winning single to Guerrero.

Yimi Garcia (1-0) picked up his first major league victory by pitching a perfect 10th inning for Los Angeles.

Game Notes:
The Mariners were playing in their third consecutive extra innings game after previous wins against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday and Sunday. Seattle pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game. Alex Guerrero was making his second career start at third base after Justin Turner and Juan Uribe were injured on consecutive plays on Saturday.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose to Kings, Clarkson Hurt]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 23:21:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson_Lakers-Mavs.jpg

For the first time in the history of the Lakers' franchise, the team has lost 60 games in a season. Loss No. 60 came on Monday night in the LA Lakers' penultimate game of the season. In Sacramento on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers lost 102-92, as the Kings gained separation late in the ball game.

However, the defeat was immediately overshadowed by standout rookie Jordan Clarkson's sprained ankle.

Clarkson has been the Lakers' shining light in a season of darkness. The 22-year-old played 47 minutes and 11 seconds before his coach, Byron Scott, took the initiative and pulled his limping point guard. With the team drowning in an injury crisis, Clarkson was on pace to play the full game, and the rookie came within 49 seconds of doing just that: 23 points (10/21), six assists, five rebounds and five steals.

Asked by Time Warner Cable about the ankle after the game, Clarkson said "the plan" was to have him play on Wednesday, but it was too early to tell whether or not he would be able to go or to what extent. Scott said Clarkson would need to take part in Wednesday morning shootaround, or the rookie would sit out the season finale. The coach also said that he would not plan of playing Clarkson 48 minutes for the last game.

Scott pointed to Vander Blue, who played his first game for the Lakers in Monday's loss, as a player who could help ease the minutes off Clarkson. Blue only joined the team on Monday night as an emergency guard. On Sunday, the team ruled Jeremy Lin out for the season with a sore left knee, Dwight Buycks broke a bone in his hand and Wesley Johnson sprained his ankle.

The Lakers went into Sacramento looking thin.

LA lost a game few will remember fondly in terms of entertainment value. Omri Casspi scored 26 points to lead all scorers, and 10 of those came via the free throw line. For the Lakers, Clarkson led the way, but rookie Jabari Brown also continued to show scoring and passing ability with 18 points and seven assists.

Off the bench, Ed Davis grabbed 14 rebounds, of which nine came on the offensive glass. Along with Davis, Carlos Boozer earned rare late season minutes and grabbed 10 rebounds in his 20 minutes. The duo of big men out-rebounded the entire Kings' team 17-5 on the offensive glass.

Ultimately, though, the loss came down to the Lakers' fouling on defense, and Sacramento making 28 of 36 free throws over the course of 48 minutes. In contrast, the Lakers only attempted 13 foul shots, making eight of them.

Finally, the Lakers end their season on Wednesday night in a rematch against the Sacramento Kings. This time, however, they play at Staples Center at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. With a loss in the finale, the 2014/15 Lakers will become the worst team in the history of the franchise.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ Robyn Regehr Retires In Emotional Locker Room Interview]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 22:49:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Kings-Robyn-Regehr-Retires.jpg

Long after the final horn had sound at Staples Center on Saturday lingered a 15-year veteran defenseman as he sat in front of his locker. Robyn Regehr, the Los Angeles Kings bruiser the past three seasons had given fans the shirt off his back, he had given the game everything he had, now it was time to say goodbye.

“I have been thinking about it for little while,” said the Brazilian-born player about his decision to leave the game he loves. “You have to think about where your body is at, how it is holding up and not holding up. There are family decisions and all kinds of stuff that are involved with a decision like that. It is a big decision and I think we have decided.”

Suddenly a lugubrious lull fell over the Kings locker room as the usually jovial media realized what they were witnessing.

“I’m probably not going to play again,” said a somber Regehr.

And there it was. The moment that every professional athlete struggles with at some point in their career, their own mortality.

Regehr won’t be remembered as one of the greatest Kings of all time, his jersey will never be in the rafters and its unlikely the future Kings team don purple and gold for a “Robyn Regehr Legends Night,” but trust me, Regehr will be missed. Despite his physical play on the ice, he was one of the good guys.

“Him and I go back a long ways,” said LA Kings head coach Darry Sutter who coached Regehr in Calgary and traded for him in 2013. “We lost a Game 7 Stanley Cup with Calgary. To get him here and win one here was awesome. He’s not only a good player; he’s a great person. That’s the best thing about when we got him.”

At his peak, Regehr was one of the strongest and most rugged defenseman in the NHL. He finished 14th in the James Norris Memorial Trophy voting in 2005-2006, an accolade bestowed upon the league’s best defenseman. He played for Canada in the 2006 Winter Olympics and scored 18 points in 67 playoff games.

After years of missing out on Lord Stanley’s Cup, Regehr finally lifted the cup last season with the Kings. The career defining moment, was made all that more special when Kings captain Dustin Brown, made sure that Regehr was the first teammate to get the cup after he received it.

As we languished in the locker room shortly after the reigning champions season ended shorter than anyone expected in a 4-1 victory of the San Jose Sharks, we realized that it was in this sacred room that Regehr’s presence would be missed the most.

After a tumultuous season that saw defenseman Slava Voynov suspended for the year for domestic violence charges, Regehr was a steady voice in the Kings locker room. The veteran defenseman was called the “quarterback” of the locker room after the game by several players and was a mentor to youngsters Brayden McNabb and Jamie McBain. It is that role the Kings will miss the most.

Good luck in the next chapter in your life, Robyn, you’ve earned it.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Injury Crisis]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 00:55:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dwight-Buycks-Lakers-injury.jpg

The 2014/15 Los Angeles Lakers season is ending exactly how it started: injuries.

Prior to taking the flight to Sacramento late Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that Dwight Buycks had suffered a fracture in his third metacarpal and would be out for the remainder of the season. The point guard was on a 10-day contract that expired on Sunday night, and the severity of the injury meant that the 26-year-old would likely not be re-signed. Buycks wore a troubled expression as he sat at a locker with a nameplate that read "Lakers" in white lettering placed against a purple backdrop.

Previously, Steve Nash had occupied the same locker, and ultimately, the story of the 2014/15 Lakers starts and ends at that locker. Starting with Nash, the Lakers have had nine players on their roster be labeled as "out for the season." In order, the Lakers have lost Steve Nash, Julius Randle, Xavier Henry, Kobe Bryant, Ronnie Price, Nick Young, Wayne Ellington, Jeremy Lin and Dwight Buycks.

Buyck was the latest, but the injury bug first appeared in preseason when Nash went down. In the first game of the season, Randle broke his leg. From there, the Lakers had a steady stream of head-shaking bad luck that continued deep into Sunday night.

"What's your contingency plan?" a reporter asked Lakers coach Byron Scott after Sunday's loss to the Mavericks.

After the room exploded in laughter, Scott responded, "I don't have one right now."

Scott tried to deduce a plan with Ryan Kelly back at the small forward position and with rookie Jabari Brown also possibly playing out of position as a small forward, but the coach eventually just gave up trying to figure out how he would get through 48 minutes on Monday night: "I'm just shaking my head. It's like 'wow.'"

Incredibly, Scott said that prior to hearing of Buycks' injury. At the time, the Lakers' coach was struggling to figure out how he would cope with only missing Wesley Johnson for Monday's game. 

In the first half of Sunday's game, Johnson came down on a foot after hitting a three-pointer. The forward stayed in the game and tried to walk it off. He limped his way into hitting another three-pointer for his 16th point, which was the top total on the team at the break. Immediately after hitting the shot, Johnson's limp became noticeable enough that the bench substituted him. He hobbled straight into the locker room with athletic trainer Gary Vitti following close behind.

X-rays came back negative, but Johnson would not be available for Monday's game in Sacramento, the Lakers confirmed.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, the Lakers only have one player capable of playing the small forward position, and “capable” is probably not the correct word to use here. If nothing else, Kelly proved he is not a small forward this season, but to end the year, the 6-foot 10-inch Kelly will spend another couple of games playing heavy minutes out of position.

“Heavy minutes” is an understatement. Out-of-position Kelly has no backup. Normally, one would think this is an exaggeration, but in the case of the plane full of Lakers landing in Sacramento for Monday's game, this is not hyperbole. Technically speaking, rookies Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson could play as small forwards, but those are the Lakers' only two healthy guards.

Clarkson and Brown cannot play at small forward because neither of them have any backups, either. The Lakers only have two guards, so both of them should expect to play all 48 minutes. If Clarkson or Brown foul out, need a rest or (heaven forbid) suffer an injury, 6-foot 10-inch Kelly would become a guard. These are desperate times.

In the event Kelly moves to guard, fouls out or needs a rest, the Lakers would ask Ed Davis, Robert Sacre, Jordan Hill, Tarik Black or Carlos Boozer to play as a small forward. All of the aforementioned names played as centers at some point this season. "Small" is not an adjective for any of those guys.

"How are your dribbling skills," a Lakers staff member jokingly asked Black in the locker room after Sunday's game. As the players processed the injuries, that wasn't a joke by the end of the night.

Even before hearing about Buycks, Scott had trouble talking about lineups without laughing in disbelief. "Hopefully we got seven, eight guys healthy for the next two games, and we can finish it out."

]]>
<![CDATA[Mavs Top Lakers, Two Games To Go]]> Sun, 12 Apr 2015 20:59:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rondo-Lakers-Mavs_4-12-15.jpg

On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers collected their 59th loss of the season, as the Dallas Mavericks put together a balanced team effort that featured seven different players scoring in double figures.

In the first quarter, the Mavericks set a blistering pace by scoring 33 points. Rajon Rondo looked especially active early and tabbed 11 points, three assists and two rebounds by halftime. While the Lakers managed to keep pace early with 27 points in the first quarter and 29 points in the second period, the pace suited the Mavericks far more than the Lakers. It was only a matter of time before the Mavericks pulled away.

Still, Wesley Johnson, who had 16 points in the half, led the Lakers in their pursuit of the visitors. At the break, the Lakers only trailed by five points. However, Johnson would roll his ankle late in that second quarter and hobble off the court into the locker room. X-rays came back negative, but Johnson would not return to the contest in the second half.

With Jeremy Lin ruled out for the remainder of the season prior to the game with a sore left knee, the Lakers could ill afford yet another injury setback. Already, eight of the 15 players on the Lakers’ roster at the start the season had been ruled out for the remainder of the season: Steve Nash, Julius Randle, Xavier Henry, Kobe Bryant, Wayne Ellington, Nick Young, Ronnie Price and Lin. With the exception of Nash and Henry, who had since been waived, all the other injured Lakers sat in suits on the sidelines.

With Johnson out for the second half, Ryan Kelly had to play out of position and move to small forward. Recently, Kelly had been playing better since moving to his natural power forward positions. Notably, he had 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds in LA's recent victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

On Sunday, Kelly struggled to find his shot and only made two of his first 10 shots. The Mavericks would take advantage of the short-handed Lakers and open up a 14-point lead in the third quarter. Thanks largely to rookies Jabari Brown, who scored nine points in the third quarter, the Lakers rallied to cut the deficit to only seven points entering the final quarter. Still, the pace of the game suited the Mavericks, and the Lakers struggled to keep up.

In the final period, the Lakers fell apart. The Mavericks led by as many as 18 points, and the final score would only prove to be a formality. Sure, the Lakers would rally, but the home team never truly threatened to come back and claim a victory over the playoff bound Mavericks.

The Mavericks would eventually win 120-106.

With regards to the rookie watch, Tarik Black had a monster game on the boards and pulled down 19 rebounds to go along with his 10 points. Rookie Jordan Clarkson finished with 26 points and six assists. Brown finished with 18 points.

Next, the Lakers play at Sacramento on Monday night.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Puig, Pederson Power Dodgers 7-4 Over Diamondbacks ]]> Sun, 12 Apr 2015 19:00:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/469499814.jpg

The Dodgers’ young sluggers flipped the power switch Sunday and the Los Angeles defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-4 in the valley of the sun.

Young guns, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Alex Guerrero each hit their first home runs of the season as Los Angeles avoided the three-game sweep in the rubber match of the series.

Zack Greinke was dominant for the Dodgers as he picked up his first win of the season. Greinke went seven strong innings surrendering no runs on five scattered hits. He fanned seven in the contest.

“I thought Zack was really what we needed today,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

In his first ever start at third base, Guerrero also hit his first career home run as a big leaguer. The Cuban sensation hit a single, double and a two-run blast in the victory. Guerrero knocked in four runs and will get plenty of playing time at the hot corner with injuries to Dodgers third basemen Juan Uribe and Justin Turner.

“He’s been hitting since all last spring, all last year – he can hit,” said Mattingly of Guerrero. “Our biggest fear was defensively, how he looked last year, but he’s been good all through spring.”

Puig and Pederson hit their first round trippers of 2015 off Diamondbacks pitchers Josh Collmenter and A.J. Schugel. For Pederson it was also his first major league home run. Collmenter (0-1) allowed three runs on nine hits over five innings in the loss.

Greinke (1-0) has been terrific in two starts for LA on the season. Surprisingly, through one week of play, It’s been Greinke who has looked more like the ace of the staff after reining NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw was roughed up to the tune of six runs on 10 hits a night earlier.

“I tried to make good pitches and make the other team adjust,” said Greinke. “That was the plan, to kind of mix it up.”

For the second consecutive start, Grienke was almost done in by the bullpen. After allowing just one run on two hits in his opening night start against the Padres, the bullpen blew up, allowing six runs over the final three innings and Grienke got the no-decision.

On Sunday, Greinke left with his team up 5-0 but watched as the Diamondbacks loaded the bases off of Chris Hatcher who also gave up four runs in Greinke’s last start. A.J. Pollock hit a three-run double off of Hatcher and Jorden Pacheco hit an RBI single before Mattingly brought in Joel Peralta with two outs and a runner on second to get the last out and earn the save.

Dodger killer, Paul Goldshmidt, went 0 four 4 with two strikeouts in the loss.

Game Notes:
The Diamondbacks placed catcher Gerald Laird on the 15-day disabled list with back spasms. Brandon McCarthy is set to make his second start of the season in Los Angeles on Monday when the Dodgers take on the Seattle Mariners night at 7:10PM. 
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Tanking" is Over for Lakers]]> Sun, 12 Apr 2015 12:44:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Byron-Scott-4-12-15.jpg

For the first time since the opening month of the 2014/15 season, the Los Angeles Lakers and all their fans are on the same page. The Lakers are locked into their NBA draft lottery position with the fourth worst record in the NBA and rooting for the team to lose no longer makes sense.

As odd as it may sound, fans of the team finally get to celebrate victories.

"Yay," Lakers coach Byron Scott said sarcastically on Sunday morning, when asked about having all fans back on board. The coach laughed and added, "It feels good."

In the past, Scott publicly stated that having fans of the team wishing for losses bothered him. However, the coach seemed relieved that he was no longer at odds with fans for simply trying to help his beloved purple and gold win games.

"It was a little awkward," Scott admitted. "True Laker fans, I understand. I do understand what they were trying to say as far 'lose games and try to get the very best pick,' but they have to understand that not only myself and my staff, but the players, are professionals."

The coach has maintained numerous times that being a competitor his entire life means he cannot bring himself to try and lose games. He may be able to appreciate what fans are saying, but personally, he could not get behind that train of thought.

"You don't go out to intentionally lose games," Scott said, speaking for himself, his staff and his players. "You try to win. That's what you do. That's in your nature."

While seemingly forgiving the fans for their hopes of failure and defeat, the coach made it clear that he could not be on board with "tanking."

"I understand a lot of the fans and where they were getting that," Scott said. "I don't agree with it at all, but I do understand."

One of the most outspoken fans on "Team Tank" was Scott's close friend and former teammate, Earvin "Magic" Johnson. When asked if he and Johnson could get along again, Scott said the "awkward" situation had not affected his relationship with Johnson.

"Me and (Johnson) are always going to break bread no matter what. We don't have to agree about everything, but we're always going to break bread. That's my boy."

Next, fans can cheer for their hometown Lakers to win against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday and twice against the Sacramento Kings, Monday and Wednesday.  

]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers, Kershaw KO'ed 6-0 in Desert]]> Sat, 11 Apr 2015 21:12:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/161*120/469397948.jpg

Clayton Kershaw suffered his first loss of the season and the Los Angeles Dodgers may have lost two third baseman for the foreseeable future. Both Justin Turner (finger) and Juan Uribe (hamstring) left the game on consecutive plays in the third inning leaving Cuban defector, Alex Guerrero, to man the hot corner.

Led by Paul Goldschmidt, the Arizona Diamondbacks dominated the National League’s reigning Cy Young and MVP winner 6-0 on Saturday night. For the second night in a row, Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer. The slugger has tormented the Dodgers to the tune of six RBIs in the past two games.

The night marked the debut of Diamondbacks hot pitching prospect, Archie Bradley. Bradley (1-0) made sure not to disappoint as he dazzled the hometown fans and outdueled the greatest pitcher in the game today.

Arizona’s first-round draft pick in 2011, fanned six Dodgers, walked four and allowed one-hit ball over six strong innings.

Kershaw (0-1) got knocked around in his second start of the season allowing six runs, on ten hits through 6 1/3 innings. Kershaw never surrendered more than 10 hits during the entire 2014 season, but he has given up 16 hits over his first two starts.

Mark Trumbo got Arizona their first run when he singled home A.J. Pollock in the bottom of the first inning.

Two innings later, Goldschmidt scored Pollock on a groundout to third and Pollock and Ender Inciarte drove in two runs in the fifth before Goldschimdit’s blast in the bottom of the 7th chased Kershaw from the game.

After finishing 15-4 against the Diamondbacks last season, the Dodgers are currently 0-2 against their NL West division rivals to start the year.

Game Notes:
Uribe was given the day off before Turner’s injury brought him into the game. The Dodgers used four total third baseman on the night when Darwin Barney took over in the seventh.
 



Photo Credit: Ralph Freso]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Sink Sharks 4-1 To End Season On High Note]]> Sat, 11 Apr 2015 18:50:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/469362376.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings ended their season on a high note on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

The two perennial hockey franchises that call California their home have made the playoffs each of the last five seasons. At Staples Center on Saturday, it was unfamiliar territory as each had their playoff chances crushed over the past week.

“It’s never a game you want to play in,” said Kings captain Dustin Brown of the meaningless contest. “But if you are in that situation we are all competitors and want to win a game like that. It means nothing in the standings, but it means a lot for the room.”

Disappointed and dejected that they would not be able to defend their Stanley Cup title, the Kings started out flat, surrendering an early goal to Brent Burns off the power play.

The Kings would come back however, scoring four unanswered goals to sink the Sharks 4-1. Tyler Toffoli, Brayden McNabb, and Marian Gaborik all scored as the Staples Center crowd gave their home team a standing ovation for a tremendous effort in the 2014-2015 season and two Stanley Cups in the past three years.

“It meant a lot for them to still support us,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty of the fans reception. “I guess they’re still satisfied that we brought them two Cups in the last three years. Even though we didn’t make the playoffs they are still here supporting us. Next year we’re going to come back and try and get back to the top.”

The Kings became just the fifth team since the NHL merger in 1967 to miss the postseason after winning the Stanley Cup the previous season when they fell to the Calgary Flames 3-1 at the Saddledome on Thursday.

The team finishes the season with 95 points, good for ninth place in the Western Conference. Ironically, 95 points would have put the Kings in the playoffs in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, and 95 points is exactly what the Kings finished with in 2012 the year they won their first title.

Burns scored on a power-play goal just 1:38 into the game. Joe Pavelski passed the puck to Burns whose one-timer beat Quick stick side for just his first goal in the last 20 games.

Toffoli tied the game midway through the second period. The young forward picked up a loose puck in the Sharks zone and slipped it through the crease for his 23rd goal of the season.

McNabb opened the third period with a bouncing shot that got passed Sharks goalie Alex Stalock. Gaborik beat the Minnesota native a few minutes later for his 27th goal of the season. Stalock surrendered three goals and stopped 32 shots on the day.

Rookie Andy Andreoff also added an empty-netter for his second goal of the season. He was also credited with an assist on Toffoli’s goal giving Andreoff his first career multi-point game.

Jonathan Quick made 20 saves for the Kings picking up his 35th victory of the season.

Quick and the Kings will now have an extended summer of rest for the first time since 2009. The Kings best six year stretch in franchise history has also meant the team has had to play more games than ever before. Since 2009, LA has played 64 playoff games, won 10 playoff series and hoisted two Stanley Cups.

“Excuses are for losers,” said former Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams of the extended post season runs being a reason for the team’s struggles this season. “We’re not fatigued. We just got kicked on our asses. We have to get ourselves back up. It’s frustrating and embarrassing, but mostly I’m angry that someone else is going to hold up the Cup.”

All eyes now focus on the offseason where you can expect plenty of changes to the current salary-cap strapped roster. Defenseman Robyn Regehr was named the third star in what is likely his last game in the NHL. The 34-year-old veteran announced his retirement in the locker room after the game.

A bevy of Kings players are free agents this summer, restricted or otherwise. Among them are Andy Andreoff, Nick Shore, Justin Williams, Jamie McBain, Andrej Sekera, Jaret Stoll and Tyler Toffoli.

“Whatever happens, happens,” said Stoll of the offseason. “I said it other day, it’s hockey. You play and you work hard for your team and you be a good teammate and that’s all you can do. We’ll see what happens.”

Game Notes:
The Kings tied their franchise record for most points at home in a season with 57. The Kings announced after the game that they sold out all 41 home games for the third consecutive season and 161st time overall (both franchise records).
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice For Final Time]]> Sat, 11 Apr 2015 14:34:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Worst-Lakers-Team-ever.jpg

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up their final practice of the 2014/15 NBA season without significant fanfare.

"I just told the guys we're going to have some fun today a little bit, get some shooting in, and have some fun little games. Then, they got to get their free throws in and we get ready for tomorrow," Lakers coach Byron Scott said without much emotion.

Despite a victory on Friday night, Scott remained consistent and called his guys into practice on Saturday. On Sunday, the Lakers play host the Dallas Mavericks before playing in Sacramento on a back-to-back on Monday. Tuesday should be a day off with the Lakers hosting the season finale on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings.

For Saturday, the topic turned to rookie Tarik Black and the big man's continued growth. On Friday night, Black finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Scott talked about the 23-year-old getting outside the painted area and working on shooting jump shots as part of his continued development. The Lakers' coach said that the goal is to get Black shooting jump shots, so he is harder to guard.

"I told (Black) the other day that he doesn't realize what he's got," Scott said. "He doesn't realize the body that he has, the strength that he has, the speed that he has, the quickness that he has, and he has to put that into use every single game. I don't think he utilizes it enough."

Scott added, "He's one of the fastest 6'9" (to) 6'10" guys that I've seen in this league in a long time, but he doesn't use it all the time. I compare him a little bit to Kenneth Faried, the athleticism that he has."

In the coach's mind, Black's natural position is power forward, and he would ideally only play as a center in unique instances.

"(This is) probably the most growth I've had in a season since I started playing basketball," Black credited the coaching staff for assisting in his maturation on the court, while also echoing the coach's words on utilizing his size, strength and athleticism.

Black detailed the areas of improvement and labeled himself as his own biggest critic and also his own biggest fan. After Black finished speaking, the Lakers closed the doors and wrapped up their final practice of the season.

Notes: Nick Young was in attendance and took part in shooting drills, while also arguing that his cousin Kendrick Lamar was a better rapper than Jay-Z. Jeremy Lin performed dribbling drills, and the point guard may yet feature in the final game of the season, but he is listed as "Out" against Dallas. Julius Randle was also visible at the facility, along with injured guard Wayne Ellington. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Get Win Over T-Wolves]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 22:39:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Timberwolves.jpg

On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers ended a five-game losing streak with a 106-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game that featured young developing players taking center stage for both teams.

Setting the tone for the evening, Lakers rookie sensation Jordan Clarkson received his Western Conference Rookie of the Month award for the month of March in a short ceremony before the game. Worth noting, Minnesota rookie Andrew Wiggins won the award for the first four months of the season.

Continuing with the season-long theme of young players, the Lakers and Timberwolves combined to start six rookies and two second-year players. Wesley Johnson and Kevin Martin were the only two starters who were at least a couple years removed from college.

As one would expect, the game featured plenty of highlight plays and athletic finishes. As such, this game did not bore nearly as much as others have. Early on, the Lakers' kids started strong by opening with a 14-point lead in the first quarter. However, the Timberwolves managed to shave that deficit to nine points entering the second quarter.

By halftime, the Lakers only led 52-47.

For the Lakers, ball movement ruled the day, as the Lakers had 18 assists on 21 made baskets at halftime. Lakers rookie Jabari Brown, who went undrafted and only recently joined the team to pack a scoring punch, had five assists to lead the pack. Both Clarkson and Wiggins had 12 points to lead all scorers at that point, and the rookie duel would continue into the second half.

In the third quarter, the Lakers would rely on second-year Ryan Kelly to launch from deep. Kelly would hit three of four shots from distance and score nine points in the quarter. Kelly would finish with 21 points, which was his season high, to lead the Lakers. Also, Johnson would hit a couple three-pointers in the third quarter, and the Lakers' long-range shooting would help open up an 18-point advantage for the home team.

However, Wiggins would catch the scoring bug and score nine points of his own in the third quarter, which helped the Timberwolves cut the deficit to nine-points entering the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, though, the Lakers would again push forward and open up a 17-point lead. The Timberwolves would rally and cut that lead to single digits, but the Lakers continued to keep distance. Late in the contest, however, Wiggins would turn up the aggression, and the Timberwolves drew within six points with about a minute and a half to play.

Ultimately, the Lakers would hold on in a game that featured plenty of highlights. Wiggins finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds, while Clarkson contributed 18 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals. For the Lakers' colorful rookies, Black managed a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Brown finished with 20 points and seven assists. Kelly finished with 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Next, the Lakers host the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

Notes: Jeremy Lin missed the second straight game with a sore left knee, but the point guard did on-court work ahead of the game. Earlier in the day, results of an MRI revealed that the point guard had not suffered an injury that would require surgery or necessarily end the season. Lakers coach Byron Scott said Wiggins had his vote for Rookie of the Year.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[D-Backs Beat Dodgers 4-3 in Extra Innings]]> Sat, 11 Apr 2015 14:19:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Cliff-Pennington-Backs-Dodgers.jpg

Paul Goldschmidt went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs including a three-run homer in the third inning and Ender Inciarte hit the walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th as the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 in 10 innings to open LA’s first road trip of the season.

Coming into the game, the Dodgers had won 15 of the their last 19 games against Arizona dating back to the start of last season. One Achilles heel from last season was the Dodgers record in extra innings games. Last season, LA was a paltry 6-12 in games that were decided after the ninth inning. That record appears to have carried over into this season, as the boys in blue dropped their first extra innings game of the year in their first road game of the young season.

Cliff Pennington came into pinch-hit in the bottom of the 10th with one out and dew a walk off Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell (0-1). Pennington took second on a wild pitch and then stole third easily off Howell who appeared to have fallen asleep on the play.

After walking Goldschmidt, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly brought right-fielder, Yasiel Puig, in from the outfield to play third base in a make-shift, five-man infield. The five-man defense proved to be futile however as Inciarte hit a ground ball past first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to give the Diamondbacks the victory.

The Diamondbacks wanted no part of Gonzalez on offense. The Mexican-American slugger known as “Titan,” came into the game with a MLB record, five home runs in his first three games of the season. Gonzalez went 1-2 with two walks, ending his home-run hitting streak of five consecutive games dating back to last season. Gonzalez also had a streak of three straight games with three hits or more snapped.

Yasmani Grandal’s first hit as a Dodger was a home run to right center in the 4th inning, that got the Dodgers on the board and brought them closer in the score at 3-1. An inning later, Jimmy Rollins would cap off LA’s fourth consecutive come back with a two-run double to right center that knotted the game at 3-3.

Other than Howell, the Dodgers bullpen was excellent on Friday night as Yimi Garcia pitched two innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts. Joel Peralta appears to be the new Dodgers interim closer after picking up his first save of the season on Wednesday against the Padres. Peralta pitched a perfect ninth for LA to send the game into extra innings.

Brett Anderson made his Dodgers debut and tried to turn back the clock in the desert. Anderson has battled injuries the better part of the past three seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers are hoping he can find his 2009-2010 form that got him 18 wins over two seasons. Other than the mistake to Goldschmidt, Anderson pitched well going six innings, allowing three runs on five hits with four strikeouts.

Chase Anderson (no relation), started for the D-backs and went five innings, surrendering three runs on five hits, striking out six.

Arizona reliever, Oliver Perez (1-0), pitched a perfect 10th for his first win of the season.

Game Notes:
Andre Ethier celebrated his 33rd birthday on Friday. The Arizona native pinch-hit in the 9th inning. Carl Crawford extended his hitting streak to 11 games dating back to last season.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Play Friday, 4 Games Left]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 03:34:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Dwight-Buycks.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers have 16 more quarters to play in the 2014/15 NBA season, and at this late stage, even winning doesn't exactly hurt the Lakers. If the Lakers lose out, they would still need Philadelphia to win two of its last three games in order to finish in a tie with the 76ers.

The season is so hopeless that even "tanking" doesn't make sense anymore. Three of the Lakers' final four games come against losing teams that would not even be in playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. These final four games do not promise joy or entertainment. They promise bad basketball.

First up, the Minnesota Timberwolves comes to Staples Center on Friday night. The Lakers have lost five games in a row, and the Timberwolves have lost eight games in a row. A loss helps Minnesota more than a loss helps LA, as the T-Wolves are only one game away the New York Knicks, whom hold the worst record in the NBA.

The Lakers started three rookies and a second year player against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, and Friday night should feature the same unless Jeremy Lin's knee miraculously improves. Lin underwent an MRI on his left knee after getting a late scratch in Denver. If Lin ends up on the shelf, he will technically become the seventh LA Laker to be ruled out for the remainder of the season. Nick Young's minor fracture in his left knee has the guard unofficially out for the season, too, which could bring the count as high as eight players who started the season but did not finish.

Of the healthy Lakers available, Lakers coach Byron Scott is playing with a squad most of the public could not pull out of a lineup, assuming the lineup featured abnormally tall and athletic people. When a team nears 60 losses on the season, though, players would probably prefer not to be identified in public.

As it stands, the Lakers enter Friday's game with 58 losses and 20 wins. No LA Lakers team has fared worse or lost as many games. This team needs two wins in its final four games to avoid becoming the worst Lakers team ever--only the 1957/58 Minneapolis Lakers can contend with the current Lakers.

For now, the 2014/15 group is simply the worst Lakers team since the team moved to LA. This team plays four of its final 16 quarters at Staples Center on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Only four more games before school's out for summer--school's out forever.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[No Post Season for Kings in Loss to Flames, 3-1]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 23:28:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/469116932.jpg

The Calgary Flames extinguished the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 on Thursday to advance to the playoffs, eliminating the reigning Stanley Cup Champions in the process.

Lord Stanley's trophy will reside in a new location this offseason as the Kings offense could get nothing going on Flames' goalie Jonas Hiller all night. Jiri Hudler scored two goals on a night the Saddledome had been waiting six years for.

Calgary (45-29-7) has not made the playoffs since 2009, constantly looking up at the Kings in the Pacific Division. This season was different though. From the teams' first game back on Dec. 22nd of 2014, Calgary has given the champs problems, whether it was a three-goal comeback in Los Angeles, or a narrow 2-1 victory a week later, the Flames always came out on top. After tonight's loss, the Kings finish the season with a record of 1-4 against their division rivals.

One reason for the lopsided series is the emergence of Flames star rookie,  Johnny Gaudreau, who is known by his nickname, "Johnny Hockey." Gaudreau has been excellent this season, especially against the Kings, scoring seven total points on four goals against them this season.

Gaudreau opened the scoring at the 12:15 mark of the first period. Kings goalie, Jonathan Quick, tried to get his body in front of the puck, but Gaudreau's shot bounced off Quick's shoulder and just across the grease for the 1-0 lead.

"It hit off the glass and bounced right in front of me," said Gaudreau of the goal. "I just tried to get a quick shot on net. [Hudler] saw it go in right away. I saw him cheer so I started cheering too. At first I thought it was a goal, but then they took a while to call it a goal so I kind of got nervous, but ultimately it went in so I was pretty happy about it."

Calgary doubled up the score two minutes later after Hudler was left wide open in the slot. The Kings defense didn't pick up the Flames forward who easily scored his 30th goal of the season. Hudler would score an empty-netter later for his career-high 31st goal.

"This was special," said a happy Hudler. "Obviously, we want to be in the playoffs every time, but after six or seven years we weren't in, it's special."

Down 2-0, the Kings could never quite recover. Playing with a two-goal lead, the Flames were easily able to sit back on their heels and focus on keeping the Kings out of the net. Hiller was superb in goal stopping 34 shots on the night.

The Kings (39-26-15) became just the fifth team in NHL history to miss the playoffs after winning the Stanley Cup the prior season. They are the first team to do it since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007. That Hurricanes team lost a lot of crucial players the following season, this Kings team did not, keeping their roster relatively intact from last year's championship run.

"It's hard to put stuff into words right now," said a dejected Anze Kopitar. "We're certainly not satisfied and are very disappointed. It is what it is; we just didn't play good enough hockey this year. Too much inconsistency, four and five game losing streaks, and you can't do that."

The Kings were playing catch up since the All-Star break and have been playing on the edge of a playoff berth for months. However, after winning back-to-back games at home to put themselves in a position to make the post season, they went on the road for a critical three-game trip. Canada wasn't kind to the Kings as they lost three consecutive games to Vancouver, Edmonton and now Calgary, sealing their fate of an early exit.

"We still defended it," said Quick of the Stanley Cup. "We defended it for 81 games. We had the expectation of winning the Cup again. That was our expectation this morning and all game long. Until they scored the empty-netter, that was our expectation - we're going to get in and we're going to win again. At the end of the day, we had 82 games to make the playoffs and we weren't able to do it."

Quick made 22 saves and Jordan Nolan scored the team's only goal in the disappointing loss. Injuries and illnesses to young stars, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson played a role in the Kings discouraging season so there's a silver lining in the fact that both players and the entire team as a whole will have more time to rest after three consecutive deep runs in the playoffs. The core of the team will stay intact and maybe a little R and R is just what this team needs to return to the Stanley Cup Finals next year.



Photo Credit: Derek Leung]]>
<![CDATA[Several Scenarios in LA Kings Playoffs Push]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 02:45:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/169*120/468642610.jpg

There’s no subtle way to put it, the Los Angeles Kings laid an egg on Tuesday. The nightmare scenario, that no fan of the reigning Stanley Cup Champions ever saw coming, could be less than 24 hours away; the Kings could miss the playoffs.

As the Edmonton Oilers were exacting their revenge on the team that beat them 8-2 less than a week earlier, SportsClubStats.com was calculating the Kings’ chances of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After the Oilers shocked the Champs 4-2 in Tuesday’s catastrophe, those changes fell to approximately 21.6 percent. So you’re saying there’s a chance…

While hope for the Stanley Cup playoffs seems bleak, there are still multiple scenarios in which the Kings can clinch a playoff berth. There are three teams battling for the final two spots in the Western Conference. Among the three teams, the Winnipeg Jets lead with 96 points, followed by the Calgary Flames (95 points) and the Kings are in the back seat with 93 points.

The Jets more than likely will finish with the conference’s second wild card birth, while the Flames can finish as the No. 2 or 3 team in the Pacific Division or claim either wild card birth. At this point, the Kings can only make the playoffs as either the No. 3 seed in the Pacific or as the second wild card term.

In this case, it’s safe to say that the Jets and Flames control their own destiny, win and you’re in. Unfortunately for the defending Stanley Cup Champions, it’s win and get help, lot’s of help.

But don’t tell that to Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.

“It hasn't been the greatest season,” Doughty said, “but we still have a chance. We win the next game against Calgary, and the next one against San Jose, some other things have to work out for us but we still have a chance."

Sure, the Kings still have a chance – but only if they beat the Flames in regulation on Thursday. A team that has beat them 3-out-of-4 times this season. Yet even if they beat the Flames and tie them at 95 points a piece for the final playoff spot, the Kings would be out by virtue of the tiebreaker.  

 In addition to beating the Flames at the Saddledome on Thursday, they also have to hope, pray and root for the Colorado Avalanche to beat the Jets as well. That outcome would set up an ideal situation where both Canadian rivals clash on Saturday and the Kings could clinch a playoff berth with a win over the San Jose Sharks.

 "We know what's at hand and a lot of us have been through similar situations before," said defenseman Alec Martinez. "We have that experience of having gone through it. Every season has its own story and this one is a little unique, because it's really, really down to crunch time. But we're pretty confident in the group that we have here and we all know we can do it."

The Avs are at the bottom of the Central Division with a 37-31-12 record (86 points) making that scenario unlikely. And while 86 points and a better win-loss record may not be terrible– compared to say, the Arizona Coyotes (56 points) –it’s still hard to bank your fate on a team that has struggled mightily all season.

The Kings have the tiebreaker advantage over the Jets but not the Flames. To get the advantage over the Flames in the playoff chase, the Kings will have to beat them at Calgary on Thursday and have them lose to the Jets while they take care of business against the Sharks on Saturday. However they wont have to worry about Saturday if the Kings win and Colorado comes through on Thursday.

This all may be confusing for you, or sound a lot like a bad episode of NCAA college basketball bracketology, but at the end of the day. The Kings simply need to win on Thursday and go from there, because if the Oilers victory on Tuesday taught us anything, it’s that miracles can happen. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gonzalez Hits Home Run Hat Trick]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 02:48:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/174*120/468959176.jpg

It was a record-breaking night for Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez on Wednesday. Fittingly, the man who calls himself "Titan" hit three titanic home runs and set an MLB record in the process with five long balls in his team's first three games.

Gonzalez went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and hit three solo shots off of Padres starter Andrew Cashner as the Dodgers crushed the Padres 7-4 in the series finale.

"I'm still not a home run hitter," said Gonzalez sarcastically. "I'm just trying to hit line drives."

In addition to the major league record, the Mexican-American slugger became the first Dodger since 1914 to start the season with home runs on three consecutive days. It was the first three-homer performance of his 11-year career and just the 11th time in Dodgers history a player has hit three home runs in a single game.

"Adrian's seeing the ball good," added Mattingly. "He needs to ride this wave and not let this get away. He needs to ride this streak as long as he can."

Gonzalez, who was awarded his second career Silver Slugger award before the game, is on fire against his former team. He came into the game with a .328 average and 10 home runs, and is batting a jaw-dropping .769 with 5 home runs and 7 RBIs in the series.

"I definitely don't know the pitchers, but I know how Darren Balsey likes to preach and what he preaches," said Gonzalez about his success against his former team. "He likes to preach fastballs down, so I come up ready to hit fastballs."

Brandon McCarthy (1-0) looked good in his Dodgers debut as he went five innings for Los Angeles allowing four runs on nine hits with nine strikeouts. His only blemishes on the night were a first inning home run to Justin Upton and a sixth inning blast to Will Middlebrooks.

"It was really loud," said McCarthy of the atmosphere in his debut. "It was the loudest I've ever heard a ballpark. It was awesome."

The Padres scored in the first inning for the third consecutive game as Upton's two-run blast put the Dodgers in an early hole.

"I got it where I wanted it, but he did a good job of getting in there and turning on it," added McCarthy of Upton. "He's a good hitter and he knows what he's doing."

Thanks to Gonzalez, the Dodgers would rally. After a first inning bomb, Gonzalez led off the third with another homer that extended LA's lead to 5-2. He hit the home run hat trick in the 5th inning when he led off with a mammoth 415-foot blast into the right field pavilion.

"I wasn't sure about the second one," joked Gonzalez. "Matt [Kemp} almost caught it. Thankfully, he didn't."

After a long curtain call, Gonzalez received a standing ovation from the home crowd when he stepped to the plate with runners on the corners in the sixth. Padres' manager Bud Black opted for a new strategy to get Gonzalez out so he called to the pen for left-hander Frank Garces. Righty or lefty, it didn't matter as Gonzalez singled home Justin Turner to give LA the 7-4 lead.

Cashner (0-1) suffered the loss in his season debut surrendering six runs (five earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts. The hard-throwing starter normally pitches well against the Dodgers as he entered the game with a 1.53 ERA in 17 previous starts against them.

"He's a good hitter," said Cashner of Gonzalez. "I felt I had a great game plan against him, but I just didn't execute. Three mistakes to the same spot, I've got to be better than that, mix in some off speed pitches, especially when I'm not locating my fastball."

There was a bizarre play in the second inning.  After McCarthy worked a bases loaded walk to tie the game at 2-2, Yasiel Puig came to the plate two batters later and grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice double play.

Puig hit a chopper to Middlebrooks who stepped on third for the second out of the inning. He promptly threw home, but his throw was wild, allowing Joc Pederson to score as the ball rolled to the backstop. Puig saw the play and immediately ran to second, but Jimmy Rollins who was on second himself, and didn't see that Middlebrooks had stepped on the bag. He yelled at Puig to run back to first, but it was too late as Cashner caught him in a run down for the very different double play.

"It was mass confusion," smiled Rollins as he talked about the play. "We had our own 'Not Top 10' out there. But it didn't hurt us tonight and we were able to swing the bats, well - Adrian swung the bat and he was real big for us."

In Don Mattingly's new "closer by committee" bullpen, Joel Peralta closed the door on the Padres by striking out Matt Kemp for his first save of the season.

Game Notes:
Adrian Gonzalez and Zack Grienke were presented with their Golden Glove awards before the game. Carl Crawford extended his hitting streak to 10 games, which dates back to last season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Landon Donovan Throws Out First Pitch At Dodgers Game]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 20:43:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/460117860.jpg

Newly retired soccer legend Landon Donovan returned to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the third and final game of the team’s opening series against the San Diego Padres.

Donovan retired from soccer this winter after leading the LA Galaxy to their fifth MLS Cup title and his sixth individual title. Donovan retired as the MLS and USMNT leader in goals and assists.

The 32-year-old isn’t spending his retirement years relaxing in a rocking chair and drinking lemonade. In the four short months since he walked off the pitch and into the sunset, Donovan has filmed multiple commercials, travelled, got engaged, attended community college, and now, thrown out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium.

Born in Ontario, California, Donovan grew up a die-hard Dodgers fan. He threw out the first pitch once before at Dodger Stadium right after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in which Donovan’s legendary stoppage time goal against Algeria saved the United States from elimination and sent them through to the round of 16.

On Wednesday, Donovan didn’t “bend it like Beckham,” he didn’t curl it into the corner, or kick it off his toe. He merely floated his throw high and to the right for catcher A.J. Ellis.

Donovan thanked the LA fans for all their support of the Galaxy and his individual career over the years. Before walking off the field, he spoke with Tommy Lasorda.

“I grew up watching the Dodgers and listening to the Dodgers on the radio. I met Tommy Lasorda,” said Donovan. “As a Dodgers fan, he’s the cream of the crop.” 

You can watch the video of Donovan’s first pitch in the tweet below.

 

 



Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Denver Nuggets Dismantle Lakers]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 20:43:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Nuggets.jpg

On Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers (20-58) lost to the Denver Nuggets (29-49) in predictably poor fashion, 119-101.

As they have done countless times this season, the Lakers started Wednesday's game slow. On this occasion, though, the Lakers had plenty of excuses for falling flat on their faces early. The team did not arrive at its hotel until early morning and had to play on the second night of a back-to-back in the high altitude of Denver. Added to all that mess, Jeremy Lin got the late scratch due to sore right knee, so the Lakers decreased their odds further.

Credit to the team, the Lakers fought back. After starting the game down by 14 points in the first quarter, the Lakers wrestled back to take a four point lead in the second quarter. By halftime, though, the Lakers trailed by four, 58-54. To that point, the Lakers had not yet figured out any way to stop the Nuggets from scoring, and three Nuggets had scored in double figures entering the break: Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried.

In the third quarter, the Lakers lost the game. Led by Faried scoring 14 points in the quarter, the Nuggets pushed out to a 24-point lead in the blink of an eye. How quickly did the game get out of hand? Well, the Lakers and Nuggets were tied at 64-64 with 9:50 to play in the third quarter. Seven minutes later at the 2:50 mark, the Nuggets took a 20-point lead when Faried threw down a dunk to take the score to 89-69.

After three quarters, the Nuggets led 93-71. The game had ended, but 12 minutes remained. Apart from an ankle breaker, not much else needed to be reported for the fourth quarter.

For Denver, Faried finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds, and Gallinari added another 27 points. For the Lakers, rookie Jordan Clarkson still managed 21 points and nine assists, but statistics did not mean much when the team trailed by 20-plus points.

When straining for positives to take out of the game, Ryan Kelly shot the ball well and made six of his eight shots for 17 points. Kelly struggled to only make three of his 17 shots one night earlier. Also, Ed Davis earned regular rotation minutes off the bench for the second game in a row, and the forward contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes.

Next, the Lakers play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night at Staples Center. Only four games remain in the 2014/15 LA Lakers' season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Lakers in Denver Wednesday Night]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 14:05:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Nuggets.jpg

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers put up a fight against the LA Clippers but ultimately fell short. On Wednesday, that same team will play on short rest and in the thin air of Denver. Blaming losses on scheduling may sound petty, but Wednesay night's game against the Denver Nuggets is about as close to a scheduled loss as the NBA offers.

The Lakers did not arrive in Denver until the early hours of Wednesday morning, and the airport is nearly an hour away from the arena and the team's hotel of choice. Add in the high altitude and thin air of Denver to the late arrival and playing on the second night of a back-to-back, and a Laker victory on Wednesday night would probably even surprise the NBA schedule makers.

Entering Wednesday's game, the Lakers have lost 57 of 77 games this season. Counting from the bottom of the standings, the Lakers are in fourth place, and LA has almost no chance of falling to fifth. In terms of catching Philadelphia for the third-worst record in the NBA, the Lakers would need the Sixers to win at least two of their final four games to even give the Lakers a chance at a tie.

The Denver Nuggets are in their own lottery chase, as the mile-high ball club nestles in between Detroit and Sacramento with the seventh worst record in the NBA. However, 17 of the Nuggets' 28 wins have come at home, and NBA schedule makers can probably take credit for a handful of those victories.

Ty Lawson, who missed Denver's loss to the Clippers on Saturday due to forearm injury, expects to be back against the Lakers. Lawson is one of the speedier point guards in the NBA, and Lakers rookie Jordan Clarkson will again be burdened with matching up against one of the better point guards in the NBA.

Clarkson went head-to-head against Chris Paul in successive games, and the rookie valued the experience of struggling against an elite point guard, studying film, devising a new strategy and showing results against the same team again.

"It's awesome," Clarkson described the process of improving after Tuesday's loss to the Clippers. "Just coming back and make chances (to) see if they work."

Clarkson added, "Next time, it's got to be an in-game change. I'm learning every day."

On Wednesday, Clarkson will get the opportunity to learn against Lawson and the Nuggets. The Lakers and Nuggets tip-off at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mistakes Cost Dodgers in 7-3 Loss to Padres]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 02:33:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/468883016.jpg

It was cloudy with a chance of errors on the Dodgers “Opening Night” game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.
Los Angeles made three errors including a misplayed fly ball and the Padres capitalized off those mistakes to beat the Dodgers 7-3 in front of 40,356 rain-soaked fans.
“Errors are going to happen. Those were plays we had chances to make,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. “It was actually a good game until the last couple innings there. It was a little sloppy, but it will be alright.”
The game was delayed for nearly 40 minutes as a rainstorm passed over Chavez Ravine earlier in the evening.
Padres’ catcher Derek Norris continued the downpour after things finally got underway. Norris had his second multi-hit game for the second consecutive day, going two for five on the night with a double and two RBIs.
Carl Crawford misplayed a Justin Upton's fly ball in the first inning that scored Matt Kemp from first. Upton ended up on third on the play and the Padres led 1-0.
For the first six innings the game was a pitching duel between two reigning All-Stars in Zack Grienke and Tyson Ross. The righties were dealing all night as they matched each other pitch-for-pitch for most of the game. After the first inning blunder by Crawford, Greinke did not allow a hit the rest of the way.
“I had good command. I didn’t throw many curves, but my other three pitches were working pretty good,” said Greinke of his performance. “I located good, mixed up my pitches and it worked for a little bit.”
In all, Grienke retired his final 16 of 18 batters allowing one run on just two hits through six innings. He did not factor in the decision and is still unbeaten in his career against the Padres with a mark of 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA.
Yasiel Puig broke his 0 for 5 slump to begin the season with a leadoff double to left center to start the 6th inning. Gonzalez followed in the Cuban’s footsteps with a double of his own to tie the game at 1-1. Howie Kendrick singled up the middle on the next pitch to give the Dodgers the 2-1 lead.
Ross went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits and is still winless against the Dodgers in his career.
“I was pretty amped up for my first start of the year,” said Ross “I mixed speed and location throughout the game and I have some great people behind me and they made great plays.”
Adrian Gonzalez continued his torrid hitting against his former team going 3 for 4 with a double, a home run, and three RBIs. Gonzalez hit a game-tying home run on the first pitch he saw from San Diego setup man Joaquin Benoit (1-0) in the bottom of the 8th inning.
“I was just trying to get good pitches to hit,” said Gonzalez. “But we lost the game, so none of that really matters.”
It was Gonzalez’s second thee-hit game in a row and his second consecutive game with a home run. He joins Cincinatti’s Ray Jablonski as the only players to open a season with a single, double, and home run in each of his first two games.
Wil Myers got the go-ahead run with an RBI single and the Padres scored four runs in the ninth inning off of Dodgers interim closer, Chris Hatcher (0-1).
“I couldn’t get the ball out of the middle of the zone,” said a disappointed Hatcher. “It started to snowball on me and that’s not a good recipe. I need to make better pitches.”
Craig Kimbrel made his first appearance after being traded to San Diego on Sunday. Kimbrel shut the door on the Dodgers in the ninth by striking out the side. 
“He’s nasty,” said Ross of his new teammate. “I’m just happy he’s in a Padres uniform.”
Monday’s hero Jimmy Rollins struggled in the field as the 15-year veteran shortstop made two errors in the game, including a costly one in the 7th inning that allowed the Padres to tie the game at 2-2 instead of getting the Dodgers out of the inning.
Yasmani Grandal made his Dodgers debut at catcher against his former team. Grandal was the centerpiece of the blockbuster offseason trade that sent Matt Kemp to San Diego in exchange for Grandal, Joe Wieland, and cash considerations.
“In between those lines, they’re [the Padres] my enemy,” said Grandal of his former team. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to beat them, take them out, whatever it takes to win.”
Game Notes:
Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The game was delayed nearly 40 minutes because of rain. Juan Nicasio made his Dodgers debut in the ninth inning. The Dodgers eight doubles through two games ties the franchise record set in 1995.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CP3's Clippers Beat Clarkson's Lakers]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 22:42:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Lakers-Clippers-Clarkson-Chris-Paul.jpg

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, but this game turned out to be far more competitive than Sunday's slaughter.

Lakers' rookies Tarik Black and Jordan Clarkson played vital roles in the team's competitive showing. Black would help the away team maintain a presence in the paint, while Clarkson shook off a rare bad game by leading the team in scoring. Clarkson scored 10 points in the first half, while Black added eight points and six rebounds before the intermission.

At the break, the Lakers trailed by 11 points, and J.J. Redick led all scorers with 17 points. Chris Paul had a relatively quiet first half with six points, five assists and five rebounds, but the fiery point guard would turn up the heat in the third quarter.

Paul would score 11 points in the third quarter to help the Clippers to a 12-point lead, but the Lakers continued to battle and cut the deficit to only seven points by quarter's end. Clarkson continued to shine and welcome the moment by responding to Paul's 11 points with 10 points of his own.

After three quarters, Clarkson had 20 points, four rebounds and three assists compared to 17 points, six assists and five rebounds for Paul. All-in-all, the rookie came back and proved he could play with, arguably, the best point guard in the NBA.

In the fourth quarter, the Lakers would trim the Clippers' advantage further and draw within one point after Ryan Kelly made a technical free throw with 5:54 to play in the ball game. The Clippers would extend that lead back to nine points with three minutes remaining. The Lakers would make it interesting down the stretch but failed to get close enough to threaten the lead.

After a series of free throws,  the Clippers would win by a final count of 105-100. Paul finished with 19 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. Griffin finished as the top scorer in the game with 27 points, and the big forward added six rebounds and six assists, too. DeAndre Jordan grabbed 17 rebounds to lead in the rebounding department.

For the Lakers, Clarkson finished with 20 points, six assists and four rebounds. Black would finish with 16 points and nine rebounds.

The Lakers fell to 20-57, while the Clippers jumped up to 53-26.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings Shoot Themselves In The Foot]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 19:14:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/165*120/467796584.jpg

The "Cardiac Kings" are at it again. The nickname given to the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings during last season's playoff run, which featured three consecutive seven-game series on the road including an opening series that saw them down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks, has been appropriate lately.

With just three games left in the NHL's regular season, the Kings once again find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the Stanley Cup playoffs. After consecutive victories at home against mediocre opponents, the Kings lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night 2-1 in a shootout.

The glorified skills competition that the NHL uses to decide tiebreakers after a five-minute overtime period has been the Kings kryptonite this year. After the loss, the Kings are just 2-8 in penalty shootouts this season, including a stretch where they were 2 for 28 on shootout attempts.

The Kings continued their awful percentage in shootouts again last night as Jeff Carter (2-9), Anze Kopitar (1-9) and Marian Gaborik all missed, surrendering a valuable point to their Pacific Division foes in the process.

As of today, the Kings are tied with the Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific and one point behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second Wild Card spot in the West. The Flames own the tiebreaker against LA by virtue of regular season and overtime wins.

As fate would have it, the Kings travel to Calgary on Thursday for a game that should decide their postseason future. Assuming they win tonight against Edmonton (a team they beat 8-2 less than a week ago), then a win over the Flames would give them the third spot in the Pacific and the sixth seed in the Western Conference, a loss, and the only chance they have is to pass Winnipeg who plays St Louis, Colorado and Calgary in their final three games.

If the Kings miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009, their record in shootouts is the culprit.

"That's obviously what has hurt us in the standings this year," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty after Monday's loss to Vancouver. "We only got one point out of it, and it could be big for us in the end."

In all, the Kings have left eight crucial points on the board because of shootouts. To put that in perspective, had LA won all of their shootout games, they would currently be in the playoffs as the fifth seed and just one point behind Chicago for the fourth seed.

There's no rest for the weary as the "Cardiac Kings" are back in action Tuesday night against Edmonton. Kings fans are holding their collective breaths with just three games left to claw their way into the playoffs and make a run at a second straight Stanley Cup. In or out, we'll all know by the weekend.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers at Clippers, Start the Countdown]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 13:54:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Worst-Lakers-Team-ever.jpg

"Twenty-four" is the number of note entering Tuesday's LA Lakers versus LA Clippers rematch. No, "24" does not refer to Kobe Bryant. Bryant will likely sit on the sidelines during the contest, but his famous no. 24 jersey will only be visible in the crowd, as the five-time champion is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

On the heels of a phenomenal national championship, one may think that the number of note could refer to the NBA's shot clock. No, the shot clock should be functional, and valuing every possession is important, but the reason to keep the no. 24 in mind is far simpler than that.

The 2014/15 LA Lakers only have 24 quarters remaining in their season. Twenty-four quarters provide these Lakers the opportunity to further cement their place in the darkest depth of the franchise. At the least, this team will finish with the worst record since the franchise arrived in LA. However, finishing as the worst team in franchise history remains a real possibility. The Lakers need two wins in their final six games to avoid finishing with the worst winning percentage in franchise history.

These are 24 quarters, frankly, just about everyone could do without. However, the Lakers held practice on Monday and return to the court on Tuesday night. The LA Clippers, who have won six in a row against their Staples Center co-tenants, plan on pounding the Lakers once again on Tuesday. On average, the Clippers have outscored the Lakers by 27.8 points per game over the past six contests. Right on average, the Clippers beat the Lakers by 28 points on Sunday.

Two days later, the Lakers have not miraculously improved, and the Clippers have not suddenly lost the ability to play basketball. The first four of the final 24 quarters could be the ugliest of the season. Doc Rivers, Chris Paul and the LA Clippers have not been merciful in this down time for the LA Lakers, and Tuesday promises another lopsided loss.

For those who intend to torture themselves by watching a lamb being tortured and slaughtered on Tuesday night, Lakers rookie Jordan Clarkson is a player to keep an eye on. After Paul and the Clippers lit up the Lakers on Sunday, Clarkson made a point to study film and adjust to the Clippers' defensive schemes that focused on neutralizing the 22-year-old.

With the rare rematch, Clarkson's ability to adjust and improve on Tuesday provides an interesting side story to distract from the scoreboard. After all, the game itself should be a one-sided entirely non-competitive contest. Even calling it a contest sounds like a stretch at this point.

The Lakers and Clippers tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[True Blue Dodger Fans]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 19:25:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/150406-opening-day-true-blue-fan-thumbnail2.jpg See photos of fans showing their "True Blue" Dodger pride this 2015 season.

Photo Credit: Kim Baldonado]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Beat Padres 6-3 on Opening Day]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 20:44:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*121/468757626.jpg

It was Opening Day in Los Angeles on Monday and for a couple of Dodgers fresh faces, it was a chance to make an impact in front of their new fans. New additions Howie Kendrick (acquired from Angels) and Jimmy Rollins (acquired from Phillies) drove in four runs and the Dodgers came from behind to beat the Padres 6-3 to open the season.
Kendrick knocked in the tying run in the bottom of the 7th inning, and Rollins hit a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the 8th to break the 3-3 tie and give the Dodgers the victory over their Southern California neighbors.
“I told him ‘I felt like I hit it,’ when he hit that home run,” joked Kendrick of Rollins homer. “I was so happy that he hit it. That’s how you want to feel, you want to be happy for the next guy.”
Former Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was making a fresh start of his own, albeit in the same stadium he played his entire illustrious career in. Kemp was stunned and saddened when he heard he had been traded to the San Diego Padres during the offseason. On Monday, he returned to Los Angeles and nearly spoiled the Dodgers Opening Day party.
Kemp went 2-4 with a double and drove in all three of the Padres runs in his first game wearing a uniform other than the Dodgers. Adding to the intrigue was the fact that Kemp had to go up against his friend and former teammate, Clayton Kershaw, who was making his fifth consecutive Opening Day start for Los Angeles.
“Honestly, I have no idea how to get him out yet,” said Kershaw before the game.
That fact was proven on the field, as Kemp had no trouble with the reigning NL CY Young and MVP winner.
“Matt’s strengths and what Clayton does cross paths so it was a clash of the Titans,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly after the game. “It was one of those matchups where something had to give. Clayton is going to do what he does and Matt is going to do what he does.”
Nerves got the better of Kershaw in the first inning. The Dodgers’ ace hit Padres leadoff hitter, Wil Myers, in the back of the knee to start the game, and allowed Myers to steal second a batter later.
Kemp drove in Myers with a single up the middle that gave the Padres the 1-0 lead.
The Dodgers would rally in the fourth off of Padres starter James Shields. Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with a solo homer to right field that just snuck inside the foul pole. Kendrick, followed with a triple over Meyer’s head, and Carl Crawford brought him home with a double on the next pitch.
“I was looking fastball, something up in the zone and he [Shields] left it middle-middle,” said Gonzalez of his homerun. “I was trying to stay through the zone and I was able to lift it.”
Shields stopped the rally by intentionally walking A.J. Ellis to get to Kershaw. The new Padres ace that was acquired from the Kansas City Royals in the offseason struck out Kershaw on four pitches. Shields surrendered two runs on six hits and struck out eight over six innings. 
Kemp knocked Kershaw around again in the top half of the inning. After a leadoff double by Clint Barmes, Kershaw struck out the next two batters before Padres catcher, Derek Norris, reached base on a very close infield single. Norris ran out a grounder to third and just did beat the throw by Uribe to extend the inning. After watching the replay, Kershaw went back to the mound and served up a two-run double to Kemp.
"He's a good hitter. He got the best of me today," said Kershaw of facing Kemp. "He got the better of me today so I got a lot of years left to face him and hopefully I start to figure out how to get him out."
Kershaw went six innings, allowing three runs, and six hits while striking out nine. Kershaw got a no decision and is still unbeaten on Opening Day at 3-0. 
The Dodgers would come from behind in the bottom of the 7th with back-to-back doubles by Gonzalez and Kendrick.
An inning later, it was Jimmy Rollins to the rescue. Rollins took Shawn Kelly deep to right field and into the Padres bullpen for a three-run, game-winning home run. It was Rollins first homerun as a Dodger, and his 11th consecutive opening day with at least one hit.
“I just had a vision,” Rollins said of his first home run in blue. “It’s not the first home run I’ve hit, it’s not the first one to win a game either, hopefully it’s something we can get used to.”
Chris Hatcher shut the door from there to earn his first career save.
Game Notes:
Former Dodgers Cy Young winners, Don Newcombe (1956), Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Eric Gagne (2003) threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice: Clippers Again]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 15:01:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-Lakers-rookie.jpg

The 2014/15 season has not been kind to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Monday's practice only served as a fast reminder of that fact. The Lakers trailed the LA Clippers by as many as 43 points on Sunday night, and the purpose of Monday's practice was to avoid a repeat of that embarrassment come Tuesday.

Due to a strange scheduling quirk, the Lakers and Clippers play each other twice in three days.

"I think it's a great learning experience for (Clarkson), because to me, (Chris Paul) is the best point guard in this league and on both ends of the floor," Lakers coach Byron Scott said early Monday afternoon.

Paul finished with 15 assists in a rout of the Lakers that allowed the veteran point guard to rest for the entire fourth quarter of Sunday's game. Unlike the Lakers, the Clippers continue to fight for playoff position.

Asked why the Lakers continued to practice with only six games remaining, lopsided losses latching onto the team and no chance of making the playoffs, Scott laughed and said, "The season ain't [sic] over. The only thing right now that is a definite is that we're not making the playoffs. Other than that, we still got work to do."

Scott added, "I don't quit."

The Lakers' coach shared that he spent time speaking with Clarkson and Julius Randle about being professionals and continuing to work despite the record and the late stage in the season. Scott, who previously coached Paul in New Orleans, said the Clippers' point guard "schooled" Clarkson. However, the coach sounded confident that his rookie would respond to the challenge on Tuesday.

"It's good," Clarkson said about playing the Clippers in back-to-back games. "I could definitely redeem myself. That was probably one of my worst games yesterday in terms of shooting and my impact on the game."

The rookie added, "All I was thinking about after the game was Tuesday."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Win 6th Straight Over Lakers]]> Sun, 05 Apr 2015 21:37:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chris-Paul-murders-Lakers.jpg

The Los Angeles Clippers routed the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night at Staples Center. With the loss, the Lakers collected their 56th loss, meaning the 2014/15 Lakers now sit alone as the worst team since the franchise moved to Los Angeles. Previously, the 2013/14 LA Lakers finished with a record of 27-55.

On Sunday, the Lakers and Clippers both started slow, but predictably, the visiting team picked up the pace. After one quarter, Blake Griffin had 10 points, and the Clippers held a 23-16 lead due largely to the purple and gold failing to get production from their starting back court. Jordan Clarkson and Jeremy Lin finished the first quarter combining for zero points and zero assists in 16 minutes and 24 seconds. The duo also accounted for three of the Lakers' five turnovers to that point.

In the second quarter, the Lakers would struggle to score, and Chris Paul would continue to set the table for the Clippers' offense. By halftime, Paul had nine assists, and the Clippers led by 13 points. Incidentally, the entire Lakers' team had nine assists at the intermission, and that score failed to tell the story of Clipper domination.

In the second half, the Clippers' point guard proved his pedigree. Along with dribbling through Carlos Boozer's legs, Paul added another six assists in the third quarter to arrive at 15 assists for the game. At that point, he had more assists than the entire Lakers' team, 14 assists.

Effectively, the game was over after three quarters. The Clippers led by 29 points at that stage, and none of their starters would return to the court for the final 12 minutes.

For the Lakers, Sunday night did not offer much in the way of development or practice. The score would get out of hand, and the Lakers would trail by as many as 43 points in the fourth quarter. The final score would read: "Clippers 106, Lakers 78." 

With the loss, the Lakers have lost six straight to the Clippers. Both teams play again on Tuesday, but the Clippers will act as the home team in the next meeting.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Preview: Lakers Versus Clippers]]> Sun, 05 Apr 2015 15:22:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Clippers-4-5-15.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers live in opposite worlds entering Sunday's game at Staples Center.

The Clippers only have five games remaining in the regular season and LA's second favorite NBA team ranks fifth in the Western Conference. The Clippers have won nine of their last 10 games and appear to be getting hot at the perfect time -- entering the post-season.

The Lakers have seven games remaining in the season in which 55 losses have ensured that they will finish near the bottom of the Western Conference. They are guaranteed to have their worst season in team history. Facing the Clippers should only further help the Lakers' draft lottery chances.

Even if the scoreboard at Staples Center appears broken at times on Sunday night, the match-up between Jordan Clarkson and Chris Paul offers a reason to watch. Over his past seven games, the Lakers' rookie point guard is averaging 21.9 points, 6.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds in 36.0 minutes per game. Paul, who has been playing at an MVP level lately, is averaging 24.4 points, 11.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game over his past 7 contests. The pair of point guards promise a sideshow that should overshade the actual contest.

Of course, Paul's teammates offer considerably more support than Clarkson's, so Sunday's game does not promise to be competitive for 48 minutes despite the Clippers playing on the second night of a back-to-back. For reference, the Lakers lost to the New Orleans Pelicans by 21 points on Wednesday and to the Portland Trail Blazers by 30 points on Friday night. Added to that, the Clippers beat the Lakers by 25 points the last time these teams met, which was back in January.

The Clippers have beaten the Lakers in five straight games by an average margin of 27.8 points per game. Considering the Clippers' current form and the Lakers' depleted roster, simply improving that average would be an accomplishment for the purple and gold.

The Lakers and Clippers tip-off at 6:30 p.m. at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers End Freeway Series In Tie, Announce Opening Day Roster]]> Sun, 05 Apr 2015 05:10:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/453237604.jpg

We are officially a little over 24 hours away from Opening Day and the Picasso-like picture that is the Los Angeles Dodgers suddenly looks clearer. After ending their preseason Saturday night in a 6-6 tie with the rival Angels at Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers finally announced their 25-man active roster.
The presumptive starters all made the club, but it’s worthy to note that not a single one of the 20 non-roster invitees that went to Spring Training made the team. This includes names like Corey Seager, Erik Bedard, and Erisbel Arruebarrena.
Yasmani Grandal and A.J. Ellis go into Opening Day as the Dodgers’ two catchers. Grandal was the centerpiece in the blockbuster trade that sent Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres and will go in as the starting catcher. They are counting on the pop in his bat to really shine now that he is away from Petco Park. Ellis could also be in the fold as Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher.
The infield rounds out with reigning National League RBI champ Adrian Gonzalez at first base, Howie Kendrick (acquired by the Angels) at second base, Jimmy Rollins at shortstop (acquired by the Phillies) and Juan Uribe at third base.
As for the outfield, both Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford remain in place in the corners with rookie Joc Pederson coming in at centerfield. After the Kemp trade, Pederson was given every opportunity to win the job in Spring Training. Pederson comes in as a player who can hit .300, slug 30 home runs and steal 30 bases.
There were no trades over the weekend which means that rumored targets, Andre Ethier and Alex Guerrero are still on the team. In addition to Guerrero, Scott Van Slyke, Darwin Barney and Justin Turner will be the extra infielders and the hero of the finale of the Freeway Series, Kiké Hernandez, who hit a home run to deep center in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game, has been sent down to AAA.
The Dodgers will go into the first phase of the season with a four-man starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. No. 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu is out with an injury and both Erik Bedard and Chad Gaudin are also injured. Therefore, they will carry an extra infielder until mid-April when they will have to call someone up to start.
Anderson started Saturday’s game as the Dodgers fourth starter in the rotation and he was knocked around by the Angels early as he gave up two runs on seven hits in three innings.
“My stuff was terrible, borderline embarrassing,” he said after the game. “If I wasn’t motivated before, this kind of sour taste in your mouth in the last outing is going to motivate me even more for my first start.”
There were many questions regarding the Dodgers bullpen as both closer Kenley Jansen and set-up man, Brandon League, are expected to miss the next two months with injuries. Unlike past seasons, youth won out over veteran experience as Paco Rodriguez, Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez all made the roster over journeymen David Aardsma, Sergio Santos, and David Huff. Surprisingly, one young gun we thought would make the team was left-hander Adam Liberatore, who had an ERA of 0.00 during 11 appearances in spring. Liberatore would have been the team’s third lefty out of the bullpen, making him expendable.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Beat Avalanche 3-1 Eye Playoffs]]> Sun, 05 Apr 2015 00:19:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/187*120/468636946.jpg

Alec Martinez played the role of hero for the Los Angeles Kings when he scored the game’s go-ahead goal in the second period and the Kings defense held Colorado to just 10 shots as they won 3-1 to remain tied with the Winnipeg Jets for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We did a good job of clogging up the neutral zone,” said Martinez who was also superb on defense. “We took away some time and space, had a few break downs here and there and Quickie came up huge for us. We definitely can play better hockey, but I’m obviously happy with the outcome.”
Dwight King and Marian Gaborik also scored for the reigning Stanley Cup Champions who have now won two consecutive games at home, albeit against the bottom feeders of the conference.
Jeff Carter had two assists for the Kings (39-25-14) who swept the season series with Colorado 3-0. LA has won five straight against the Avalanche overall and their last loss was in November of 2013.
“Their goalie was phenomenal,” said Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. “They’re a team that has a lot of depth, it’s a team that knows how to win and obviously they protect the puck very well. They play well against us and you have to give them credit for that.”
Ryan O’Reilly scored for the Avalanche (36-31-12) who were officially eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Jets beat the Vancouver Canucks earlier in the day.
“Our guys have been working hard all year, we’re out of the playoffs, but we’re certainly not going to give up,” added Roy. “We want to continue to improve as a team and look to preparing ourselves for next year.”
King got his team on the board in the first period when he found himself in the right place at the right time. Carter intercepted a Colorado pass and sprinted down the right hand side of the net for a two-on-one. Carter opted to shoot, but his rebound went right to King who scored for LA.
The Avalanche tied the game in the opening minutes of the second period in similar fashion. After a Kings turnover, Gabriel Landeskog shot from the left side of the ice on Jonathan Quick, but the puck ricocheted behind the Kings goalie where O’Reilly was able to tip it into the empty net. It was the only goal Quick would surrender as he made nine saves on the night.
Stanley Cup hero, Alec Martinez, saved the day for the Kings ten minutes later when he scored twice on one play. Martinez slammed Tyler Toffoli’s rebound into the net so fast that it hit the cross bar and bounced back so Martinez shot it in again for good measure. Only the first goal counted, but it was big enough to get the Kings the win.
“I thought the first one went in but I looked at the ref and he was shaking his head so I just tried to put it in again for good measure I guess,” joked Martinez of the play.
Gaborik beat Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov with a wrist shot from the top left circle with 1:56 left in the game to put the game out of reach.
Varlamov made 23 saves in the loss.
Game Notes:
Ronda Rousey and Drew Barrymore were in attendance and the two blondes were shown on the jumbotron via a split screen during the game. The 10 shots allowed by the Kings tied a franchise low. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young Likely Out for Season]]> Sat, 04 Apr 2015 20:26:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nick-Young-done-for-season.jpg

Nick Young will likely not appear in the final seven games of the 2014/15 season, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott revealed after Saturday's practice in El Segundo. Young suffered a minor fracture in his left knee cap and appears in line to miss the final 27 games of the season due to the injury.

"My feeling really is that with 7 games left, he probably won't play the rest of the season," Scott said about Young, while also revealing he had not even recently approached athletic trainer Gary Vitti for an update. 

Scott added, "The last report that i did get on him, which was when we were on the road, (was) that he wasn't making much progress."

If Young is done for the season, he will become the seventh Lakers to end his season due to injury: Steve Nash, Julius Randle, Xavier Henry, Kobe Bryant, Ronnie Price, Wayne Ellington and Young. While the Lakers did not appear in line for a title run entering training camp, injuries forced the Lakers to the depths of the Western Conference and a historically bad season. With Friday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Lakers have guaranteed that they will finish the season with the worst record since the team moved from Minneapolis to LA. If the 2014/15 Lakers don't win two of their final five games, they would eclipse that horrendous 1957/58 team, too.

"Being out as long as he's been out with 7 games to go, I don't see how he can probably play," Scott explained why Young likely would not return even if he received medical clearance. "He'd have to get back into game condition and things like that, so I don't think there's a chance that he's going to play in the next week or so."

Asked if there would be any reason to bringing Young back at this advanced stage in the season, Scott responded, "Not really."

The Lakers' coach acknowledged Young's desire to return, but the coach imagined the only advantage to having the 29-year-old back on the court would be to provide Wesley Johnson a rest. Johnson is the only healthy small forward on the Lakers' roster. Previously, Ryan Kelly had played minutes at the position, but the Lakers have allowed the second year power forward to slide back over to his natural position. With Kelly playing well at power forward, the Lakers remain thin at the small forward position.

With only seven games remaining and no reason to rush back a player that is on contract past the current season, Young's season appears to be over--even if that decision has not been officially made.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Bullpen Could Be Achilles Heel In 2015]]> Sat, 04 Apr 2015 17:45:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/479483715.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers are going into the 2015 season with a $273M payroll and high hopes for their first World Series appearance since 1988. They have the lineup and the starting rotation to keep hold of the top post in the National League West, but one issue that remains unsettled heading into Monday’s Opening Day is the bullpen. 

The bullpen was their biggest issue and ultimately their downfall in the 2014 postseason. Heading into the offseason there was one role that seemed to be cemented in stone, the closer. But then, on the eve of camp, the Dodgers received troublesome news. Their closer, Kenley Jansen, needed foot surgery and he would be lost for three to four months.
The Dodgers have spent the past six weeks searching for a bullpen that cannot only open the season, but also lead them to the fall classic. This winter, they acquired Juan Nicasio, Joel Peralta, and Chris Hatcher to help fill the void in the later innings of games. However, no pitcher has separated themselves from the pack this spring leaving a lot of uncertainty for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly on Opening Day.
“We’ll just play it out,” Mattingly said. “You’ll have to stay tuned. It’s a fluid situation.”
If Mattingly wanted a veteran bullpen guy with the experience and mental make-up to handle the high-pressure situations of the later innings, he’s out of luck. Veterans J.P. Howell (8.22 ERA), Nicasio (6.75 ERA), Hatcher (6.48 ERA), and Peralta (4.32 ERA) have struggled this spring.
Dustin McGowan was another veteran the Dodgers brought in for relief, he throws hard like Nicasio, but his 6.75 spring ERA got him bounced off the roster. Veteran starter Chad Gaudin was a reasonable candidate as a non-roster invitee, but a recurrence of nerve discomfort has him shut down for now.
Former Seattle Mariners closer, Brandon League, resurrected his career last season and could have fit nicely into Jansen’s spot, but the former All-Star is out for the next two months as he goes through a rehabilitation program for shoulder discomfort. League opted for rest and rehab over surgery, which still could be revisited when League returns to the team in June. He will open the season on the 60-day disabled list.
Young guns Yimi Garcia (0.87 ERA), Pedro Baez (5.40 ERA), Adam Liberatore (0.00 ERA), and Paco Rodriguez (0.00 ERA) could be options for Mattingly as well, but spring training is a lot different from the ramped up intensity of a major league game. Baez found that out the hard way when he gave up a grand slam to Albert Pujols on Friday night in the Angels 6-0 victory over the Dodgers in Anaheim.
The Dodgers recently acquired veterans Sergio Santos (4.66 ERA), David Aardsma (2.00 ERA) and David Huff (1.50 ERA) to try and stop the bleeding, but if Santos’ start on Thursday night against the Angels was any indication of things to come, there is still not a setup man or closer in the house.
“I just don’t think it’s that important,” said new Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi of who will be the team’s 8th and 9th inning guys. “That plays itself out over the course of the season.”
Zaidi’s sentiments are no surprise to those familiar with the former Oakland A’s assistant. A product of Billy Beane’s “Money Ball” system that uses advanced analytics to determine roster and bullpen situations, Zaidi, would prove to be more of a proponent of a closer by committee the way the Athletics and last season’s World Series Champions the San Francisco Giants do.
“We want mentality,” Mattingly said about the bullpen situation. “Bullpens are changing for sure. We don’t want ‘Oh it’s only the sixth inning. I get to chill.’ We don’t want that anymore. That’s how failure happens. From the fifth on, be ready to pitch. You’ve got the next inning.”
Without a set closer, the bullpen looks like a mess. Mattingly plans to use a situational approach to start the season and will probably have to use an abundance of left-handers as they have performed best this spring. Normally, a bullpen will have no more than two or three lefty pitchers, but the Dodgers expect to have four with Howell, Rodriguez, Huff and Liberatore.
“I’m OK with seven lefties if they get outs,” joked Mattingly.
The unresolved situation could prove to be the Dodgers Achilles heel again this season, but with 162 games to allow the cream to rise to the top, it could be a blessing to be without defined bullpen roles rather than a curse. Only time will tell.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>