<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Sat, 28 Mar 2015 15:19:01 -0700 Sat, 28 Mar 2015 15:19:01 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Autistic Boy Forced to Remove His Letter Jacket]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:40:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LetterJacket.jpg A mother is outraged after her son's school forces him to remove a varsity letter jacket because special-needs athletes aren't allowed to wear the letters.]]> <![CDATA[Will Pete Rose Ever Be Allowed in the Hall of Fame?]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:00:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Going_Roggie_Pete_Rose_1200x675_418901571882.jpg With a new commissioner at the helm in the MLB Pete Rose may be able to have a shot at redemption. Fred Roggin discusses a possible reinstatement of Rose with Brian Kamenetzky of LandOLakers.com and Jill Painter Lopez of Fox Sports West. Originally aired on Going Roggin, March 21st, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Rumble With Romney]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:00:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rapid_Fire_March26_1200x675_418902595654.jpg Will we see an MLB All-Star game in LA before football returns? Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield are ready to rumble. Has hockey gone soft? All that and more as Fred Roggin is joined by Brian Kamenetzky of LandOLakers.com and Jill Painter Lopez of Fox Sports West for some Rapid Fire. Originally aired on Going Roggin, March 21st, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Former UNC Coach, Dean Smith, Leaves $200 to Former Players]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:45:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/80261754.jpg

Every letter winner who played for former North Carolina basketball coach, Dean Smith, was granted with a heart-warming suprise a month after his death: $200 dollars from his estate.

A letter sent to 180 players was sent from Smith's trustee, stating: "Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his letterman. Accordingly, Coach directed that following his passing each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message 'enjoy a dinner out, compliments of Coach Dean Smith.'

Smith, who died at age 83 last month, went 879-254 in his years at North Carolina, landing him in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. However, Smith was also known for the compassion he had for his players.

In 1965, Smith helped a black North Carolina graudation student, Howard Lee, purchase a home in an all-white neighborhood during segregations. A year later, Smith intergrated the Tar Heels, recruiting Charlie Scott, who became the first African-American scholarship player in the school's history.

Serge Zwikker, who played for Smith from 1993-1997, told ESPN: "My wife opened the letter and handed it to me. At first  I didn't know what it was, but when it hit me, it put a tear in my eye. Even after he passed, he was still all about this players."

<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:07:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/topSports-USA-DEN-467516564.jpg Click to see dramatic sports photos from the NFL, to basketball, baseball and more.

Photo Credit: FrontzoneSport via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wisconsin Basketball Player Accidentally Admits Crush]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:13:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2015-03-26-at-5.37.13-PM.jpg

Cattywampus. Onomatopoeia. Antidisestablishmentarianism. For Nigel Hayes, University of Wisconsin  basketball forward, these are the words of a modern love letter.

Hayes answered reporters covering the NCAA March Madness tournament with these arbitrary words in a press conference a couple days ago, stumping everyone in the room.  Hayes originally joked that he wanted to break up the monotony of the stenographer’s job with some unique words.

A reporter kicked off the latest news conference asking Hayes if he wanted to say anything to the stenographer, Debra Bollman, before they began, in which he responded: “syzygy”.

A hot mic then picked up Hayes whispering to his teammate, “God, she’s beautiful.” His eyes lit up when he heard laughter in the room. He asked Bollman, “Did you hear that?” She responded “yes” before Hayes covered his face with his hands in embarrassment.

While it's not yet known whether Hayes’ “soliloquy” will help him get a date with Bollman, he can at least say he's made her day more interesting.

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<![CDATA[Bengals' Devon Still: My Daughter Kicked Cancer's Butt ]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 08:00:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Devon+and+Leah+New.jpg

After months of treatment, constant updates on social media and nationwide support, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still shared the news he hoped to hear for over a year. His daughter, Leah's cancer is officially in remission.

"Today we received news from Leah's oncologist that her cancer, stage four neuroblastoma, is officially in REMISSION! After 296 days of day dreaming about what it would feel like to hear the doctors say my daughter is in remission, I finally know the feeling," Still said in an announcement Wednesday on his Instagram page.

Still and his daughter have captured the hearts of millions of people nationwide since she began to receive treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in June. Leah, who had a tumor removed from her abdomen back in September, completed her latest course of chemotherapy last month.

"It was not easy but every day, and every treatment Leah fought like hell and kicked cancers butt!" he said in his post.

Devon Still, a Delaware native and former Penn State Nittany Lion, was cut from the Cincinnati Bengals in August of last year. But the Bengals re-signed Still to their practice squad in order to help him pay for his daughter’s medical treatment after she was diagnosed with cancer.

The Bengals have said Still is considering a one-year deal to play next year. 

Still’s No. 75 jersey quickly became the team’s top seller after the Bengals decided to donate proceeds from his jersey sales to the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati and pediatric cancer care and research. More than $1 million have been raised from sales of the $100 jersey, according to the AP. 

Still has kept his followers updated on his daughter’s progress through social media.



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<![CDATA[New York Yankees Pay Homage to "The Sandlot" in New Ad]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 05:10:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Brett-Gardner-Yankees-Rangers-0729.jpg

The New York Yankees are paying homage to classic baseball movie “The Sandlot” with a recreation of its famous Babe Ruth scene.

The ad, which stars Brett Gardner as the innocent Smalls who unknowingly plays with a ball signed by the legendary Ruth, was posted to MLB.com Tuesday.

C.C. Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Didi Gregorius also make appearances in the spot.

Watch the video below:

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Clarkson Impresses, Lakers Lose]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:00:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Russell-Westbrook-Lakers-Thunder.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday evening, and that hardly came as a surprise. On this occasion, the team failed to protect the paint and attempted to foolishly outscore the Thunder in Oklahoma City. Predictably, the Lakers lost 127-117.

However, far more meaningful than the result was the continued development of rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson, who finished as the leading scorer in the game with 30 points.

Thirty points would be a new career-high for Clarkson, and the rookie point guard also added seven assists and four rebounds to the stat sheet. On this night, the 22-year-old played with maturity and control in a game that featured Clarkson attempting a game-high 19 shots and converting 12 of them.

With regards to the competition level of the game, the Lakers fell behind by double-digits early and never quite got back into the game. However, credit to interim head coach Paul Pressey for keeping his guys engaged and fighting. The team fought back from 20 points down early in the fourth quarter to finish the game down by 10 points at the final buzzer.

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who was Long Beach born and UCLA bred, only played three quarters and still managed 27 points and 11 assists. Overall, Westbrook still looked like the premier athlete on the court. That being said, Clarkson managed a few highlight plays of his own and did more than enough to earn praise after the game.

Jeremy Lin, Clarkson's new starting backcourt partner, finished with 19 points and seven assists in 30 minutes. In particular, Lin played a strong first half and attacked with regularity. The new backcourt duo appeared to be clicking early, and this combination of Clarkson and Lin should continue for at least a handful of games.

Along with Lin back in the starting lineup, Ryan Kelly also joined the starting five. Finally, Kelly earned time at power forward, which is his natural position. Offensively, he found a rhythm and hit five of nine shots for 16 points. However, since neither team appeared interested in playing defense, Kelly will need to prove himself against the stronger power forwards in the NBA in order to survive at the position.

Continuing the lineup theme, Robert Sacre also earned playing time after being looked over for seven consecutive games. Sacre's inclusion meant Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer did not enter the game despite being available.

The Lakers cannot dwell over the loss long, as the team travels to Minneapolis late Tuesday night and faces the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers at Thunder: Preview]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 02:56:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Clarkson-faces-Westbrook.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers start a five-game road trip on Tuesday evening, and the first stop is Oklahoma City, where Long Beach native Russell Westbrook and the Thunder welcome the Lakers to Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, who is the reigning league MVP, recently took a step back in his rehabilitation from a foot injury. Per Royce Young of ESPN, Durant was "removed from basketball activities" and is currently flirting with missing the remainder of the season according to Thunder general manager Sam Presti.

The day before Presti updated Durant's status, Westbrook scored 36 points to go along with 14 assists and 10 rebounds in a victory over the best team in the East, the Atlanta Hawks. The day after Durant's status update, Westbrook finished one rebound shy of a triple-double in a one-sided victory over the playoff-chasing Miami Heat.

Durant or not, the Oklahoma City Thunder can beat the best, and Westbrook deserves recognition for his astonishing play. The 26-year-old has logged seven triple-doubles in his last 13 games. From Feb. 24, when Westbrook started a four-game streak of triple-doubles, to Mar. 24, when the Lakers play the Thunder, the volcanic guard is averaging 32.2 points, 11.1 assists and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Yes, Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for a full month of the NBA season. The fact that he accomplished that remarkable feat while averaging 30-plus points per game is mind-boggling. Westbrook may not be in position to win a title if Durant's status does not dramatically improve, but he is the single most exciting player in the NBA at the moment.

Facing Westbrook, the Lakers roll out rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson. While the Lakers' rookie appears to be hitting a metaphorical wall at this late stage of the season, facing Westbrook promises to provide a few spotlight moments for the 22-year-old. Clarkson fits the Westbrook model in that he is an over-sized point guard with a shoot-first mentality, exceptional speed and next-level athleticism. If Clarkson turns into anything close to Westbrook, that $1 million the Lakers spent on the second round draft pick could be the best investment the Lakers have made in a long time.

Entering Tuesday night's game, Westbrook appears to be realizing his potential, while the Lakers' rookie has barely glimpsed all that he can be. Clarkson versus Westbrook may not exactly sell tickets in Oklahoma City, but for fans of the Lakers still watching games in LA, Mar. 24 is about as good as the season gets from here on out.

Tip-off is 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Game Notes: Lakers coach Byron Scott will not be present due to the passing of his mother. Assistant coach Paul Pressey will assume the lead seat on the bench. Prior to the team departing, Scott announced that Clarkson, Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black will start Tuesday's game. Nick Young, who suffered a fracture in his left kneecap, remains sidelined for the Lakers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Scott Mourns Mom, Lin to Start For Lakers]]> Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:26:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-starting-Byron-Scott.jpg

Before hopping a 2 p.m. flight to Oklahoma City for Tuesday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers met for practice on Monday morning.

Lakers coach Byron Scott led the session, but he will not be travelling with the team to Oklahoma City for family reasons. Scott recently lost his mother, and the coach will stay behind to attend his late mother's funeral service.

"Anyone who has been as close as I was with my mom, has lost a mom, they understand what I'm going through," a softer sounding Scott said after Monday's practice. "It's just a very difficult time for myself and my family."

Scott admitted that working with the team had helped take his mind off the loss, but he could not help but think about his mother when he had time to himself.

"(I'm) just trying to stay busy and not think about it as much as possible, which is impossible," Scott said before trying to be positive about the passing. "She's in a much better place, and she's not in pain anymore."

While Scott stays back home for a couple extra days, the Los Angeles Lakers will travel to Oklahoma City and then to Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Timberwolves. After that, Scott expects to re-join the team for Friday's game in Toronto. Assistant Paul Pressey will lead the team, and Scott said he did not hesitate in temporarily handing his post over to Pressey. 

However, before the Lakers embarked on their five-game road trip, which is the longest of the season, Scott decreed a few changes to the starting lineup. Jeremy Lin will start alongside Jordan Clarkson in the backcourt, which means the Lakers will play without a true point guard off the bench. Wayne Ellington will make way for Lin and move into the reserve unit. Lin scored 29 points, which was the player's season-high, in Sunday night's win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Along with Lin, Ryan Kelly will return to the starting lineup and play as a power forward. Wesley Johnson and Tarik Black will retain their positions in the starting five.

The Lakers and Thunder get the ball rolling at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Edge Sixers, Lin Scores 29]]> Sun, 22 Mar 2015 21:31:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Lin-beat-sixers.jpg

On Sunday evening at Staples Center, Jeremy Lin set a new season-high with 29 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Philadelphia 76ers 101-87. With the victory, the Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak and won their 18th game of the season.

In the first half, Lin and Jordan Hill led the home team with two impressive shooting performances. Lin started out by making his first three shots and went into the halftime break with eight points. However, the 26-year-old point guard would hold of on truly stamping his mark on the game until the second half.

Hill would make his first six shots, and only a missed free throw to put a blemish on an otherwise perfect performance by the power forward in the first half. Hill also had grabbed five rebounds to tie as top-rebounder at the break; Tarik Black and Ed Davis also had five rebounds at the intermission.

While Philadelphia struggled with its shot early and only managed to shoot 40.9 percent by halftime, the visiting Sixers still built a 10-point lead in the first half. By halftime, though, the Lakers had cut that deficit to six points and trailed 47-41. Thomas Robinson's 10 points off Philly's bench at halftime certainly helped the visitors' cause.

In the third quarter, the Lakers would battle back and momentarily take hold of the lead. Lin continued his strong play from the first half. In the final 5:25 of the third period, the point guard scored nine points and dished two assists. Lin would enter the fourth quarter as the leading scorer in the game with 17 points.

At the start of the fourth period, Davis would emerge as a defensive presence on one end and a clinical finisher on the other. With Lin finding the Lakers' big man in transition, the Lakers rode that energetic combination to an 11-point advantage with about six minutes left to play.

From there, the Lakers would cruise behind the Davis and Lin combination and even build out a 15-point lead. Davis scored six points and blocked four shots in the final period. Lin, meanwhile, added 12 more points and three more assists in the final period to take his final figures to 29 points, five assists and five rebounds.

Next, the Lakers play the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Notes: Lakers coach Byron Scott will miss the next two games to attend the funeral service for his late mother. Assistant coach Paul Pressey will assume the head coaching seat in the interim. Scott expects to re-join the team on Friday in Toronto.

<![CDATA[NCAA 2015: Best Moments of the Women's Basketball Tournament]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 05:06:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP384406691239_3_NCAA.jpg See the highlights, upsets, and dramatic finishes of the 2015 NCAA Women's Basketball tournament here.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Utah to Sweet 16 After Georgetown Defeat]]> Sat, 21 Mar 2015 20:35:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP867223623593.jpg

Utah is headed back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in a decade.

Brandon Taylor scored 14 points and Delon Wright added 12 and the fifth-seeded Utes beat No. 4 Georgetown 75-64 on Saturday night.

The Utes (26-8) will travel to Houston to play the winner of Sunday's game in Charlotte, North Carolina, between top-seeded Duke (30-4) and No. 8 San Diego State (27-8).

Utah hasn't advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2005, when the Utes fell as the No. 6 seed to No. 2 Kentucky. The Utes are making their first tournament appearance since 2009.

<![CDATA[Lakers Praise Nash on News of Retirement]]> Sat, 21 Mar 2015 16:19:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Steve-Nash-announces-retirement_Lakers.jpg

Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash earned praise from Los Angeles Lakers' players and coaches Saturday on the news of his retirement.

"(He's) one of the best players and one of the best people I've ever been around," coach Byron Scott said. "I wish I had the opportunity to spend more time with him and coach him for a few years, but obviously that didn't happen. But as a person and as a basketball player, there's nobody better."

Scott added, "He was the modern day Bob Cousy."

Nash clearly announced his retirement via an article published on the Players' Tribune on Saturday morning: "I'm retiring." 

In the article, Nash went on to identify several experiences that helped shape him and thank several of the people that helped drive him to his Hall-of-Fame caliber career. At one point in the article, Nash stated, "I will never play basketball again. I already miss the game deeply, but I'm also really excited to learn to do something else."

How great was Nash in his prime? Scott offered his experience as an opposing coach faced with the unenviable job of slowing down Nash.

"The one thing I always said about [Nash] when we played him is, 'Guys, we can't give him a steady diet of one thing. He's too good. He's going to pick it apart.' I had a team in New Orleans that was pretty good, and we changed up every quarter on our pick and roll coverage with Steve Nash just because of Steve Nash."

Scott added, "We didn't do that with anybody else in the league, but every quarter, we gave him a different look."

Fans in LA famously grew frustrated with Nash being unable to play regularly following a broken leg suffered in only his second game with the Lakers. Fans called talk shows and flooded the internet with criticism, and the Lakers' coach offered perspective on how fans of the team should still respect Nash's time with the Lakers.

"I think the fans also need to look at the fact that the guy did everything possible to get on the court," Scott said. "I don't think they take into consideration that he's hurt. He had some physical problems, but he did everything possible to get on the court, and I think they should really take that in consideration."

Scott added, "Take a look at everything he's done over his career and judge him by that, not by what ended up happening here [in LA]."

"From growing up in Vancouver, he's always been that guy that Canadians have always looked up to," Lakers' teammate and fellow Canadian Robert Sacre said on Saturday. "It's kind of sad to see it coming to the end, but I've been so honored and blessed to be able to play with him and just be a teammate."

"I've never seen anybody work harder," Sacre added. "People are always down on, 'well, he's always hurt,' but you don't understand how hard he works just to get five minutes on the court."

Nash's work ethic consistently came up during his career, and even amidst injuries, his coaches and teammates praised the aging point guard for working hard despite his body clearly not having enough left in the tank to be an NBA player.

Nash may be done as a player, but he still continues on as a mentor. For the Canadian national team, Nash plays an integral in recruiting and managing the team. For the Lakers, he has been working with rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson in one-on-one sessions to improve the 22-year-old's game.

"It's definitely hard to give it up, but he still wants to be involved," Clarkson said on Saturday. "You can tell when he comes in and works in the gym [with me].

The rookie added, "He still has love for the game."

<![CDATA[NFL Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik Dies at 89]]> Sat, 21 Mar 2015 18:07:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP050204012830.jpg

Philadelphia Eagles great Chuck Bednarik, a grisly pro football hall of famer and the namesake for one of college football's most prestigious awards, died early Saturday morning at a Pennsylvania assisted living facility at the age of 89, the Eagles announced.

Bednarik died around 4:30 a.m. Saturday following a brief illness, according to a release sent out by the team.

“With the passing of Chuck Bednarik, the Eagles and our fans have lost a legend. Philadelphia fans grow up expecting toughness, all-out effort and a workmanlike attitude from this team and so much of that image has its roots in the way Chuck played the game. He was a Hall of Famer, a champion and an all-time Eagle. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this time," said Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie.

Bednarik was born in Bethlehem and played football for the University of Pennsylvania as well as the Eagles when he was chosen first overall in the 1949 NFL draft.

Bednarik, known as "Concrete Charlie," was one of the NFL's most fearsome tacklers and was one of of the NFL's last great two-way players. He played center and linebacker who's best known for two monumental hits during the 1960 season.

In one, in the 1960 title game, he threw a Green Bay Packers running back to the ground and refused to let him get back up as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

He's also known for his takedown of fellow hall of famer Frank Gifford earlier in the season. Gifford, a New York Giants running back, was hit so hard that he suffered a concussion and didn't play again for nearly two years. Enduring images of the tackle show Bednirak towering over Gifford and pumping his fist.

“So many of the timeless moments in Eagles history are associated with Chuck Bednarik. He played his entire career in Philadelphia, college and pro, and he lived his entire life here and in the Lehigh Valley. He was a proud competitor and a dedicated and devout family man who loved Eagles fans as much as they loved him. He left his mark on this team and will forever be a legend within this organization." said Eagles president Don Smolenski.

College football fans also remember Bednarik for the award that bears his name. The Maxwell Football Club have presented the Bednarik Award each year to the most outstanding defensive player at the collegiate level.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker leaves behind his wife of 67 years, five daughters, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Tarik Blacks Shines, Lakers Lose to Jazz]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 01:49:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-rookie-Tarik-Black.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers lost their 50th game of the season on Thursday night, as the Utah Jazz beat the Lakers 80-73 at Staples Center.

In one of the uglier games in recent memory, bustling and bruising rookie Tarik Black provided a scoring and rebounding presence in what could possibly be described as his best game to date. Facing the extra length of Rudy Gobert, Black did not back down from one of the most overpowering defensive figures in the NBA. Instead, the Lakers' rookie took on the challenge and threw down a couple monster slam dunks.

Black finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds to claim the third double-double of his career. He fell one point and one rebound shy of his career-highs in both categories. Going against Gobert, Black's performance stood out as special.

When NBCLA.com caught up with the rookie center and asked him if his strength helped him mentally cope with Gobert's size, the 23-year-old shared an interaction with player development coach Larry Lewis earlier in the day.

"[Lewis] told me that I don't understand how strong I really am, and I don't think I really do either," Black said. "I know I move guys, but I don't really feel like the strongest guy out there. Things happen for me, and I guess looking at it, it's kind of like, 'this guy is really strong.' But when I'm out there on the floor, it's not really like 'I'm the hulk.'"

Black tried to clarify his point, "That extra strength helps, but on another note, I don't really understand how strong I really am."

When asked about how Black compensated for the extra height he gave up to Gobert on the night, Lakers coach Byron Scott pointed directly to Black's physical characteristics.

"I think brute strength has something to do with it," Scott responded.

Scott praised his rookie's defense, energy and athleticism. The coach pointed to Black's post-up game and his jump shot as areas to develop, and the rookie agreed with his coach's assessment.

"I kind of look at him in the same mold as Kenneth Faried--a guy that's all over the place, plays super hard," Scott said of Black. "His real true skill is how hard he plays."

Notes: Jeremy Lin played through back spasms, and his status for Sunday's game remains in doubt. Scott said Lin would likely only receive treatment on Friday in lieu of practice. The Lakers' coach also said rookie Jabari Brown would likely be signed to a second 10-day contract. Rookie Jordan Clarkson tabbed eight points and eight assists, the latter of which was a personal best.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Surprises SMU to Open Tournament]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:04:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/4668957561.jpg

UCLA slipped past Southern Methodist University 60-59 behind a stunning display of long-range shooting from sophonore guard Bryce Alford Thursday to open play in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

The 11th-seeded Bruins walked away with the one-point win after the 6th-seeded Mustangs missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer. Alford led the Bruins with 27 points and Norman Powell added 19.

The Bruins trailed 55-49 with 2:38 remaining before Alford's 3-pointer chipped into the Mustangs' lead. SMU pulled out to a 59-52 lead with 1:06 left to play before another Alford 3-point shot closed the gap.

Powell hit two freethrows for UCLA with 29 seconds left before another Alford 3-pointer -- actually, a goaltending called whistled against the Mustangs -- gave the Bruins a lead they did not relinquish. Alford's forced attempted appeared to be heading off the mark, but officials determined that SMU's Yanick Moreira touched the ball too soon and awarded UCLA the basket.

Alford hit 9 of his 11 attempts from 3-point range.

The Mustangs (27-7) had two shots to win in the final seconds, but Nic Moore missed a 3-pointer and then a 2-point attempt that sent the Bruins (21-13) into a wild celebration.

UCLA will play the University of Alabama-Birmingham Saturday in the Round of 32. 

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[2015 NCAA Tournament: Best Moments ]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:36:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ncaa-th-466889932.png See some of the best moments, upsets, and dramatic finishes of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament here.]]> <![CDATA[NCAA's First Big Upset ]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 13:30:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP545272355896.jpg

The first big upset of the NCAA Tournament goes to the scrappy UAB Blazers.

William Lee scored the last four points for 14th-seeded UAB, and the Blazers upset third-seeded Iowa State 60-59 on Thursday in their opening game in the NCAA Tournament.

The Blazers (20-15) came in with the youngest team in the NCAA Tournament and with nobody having played in this tournament before. They wound up winning the program's first NCAA game since 2005.

The ninth-ranked Cyclones (25-9) came into the South Regional looking for a much longer run than a year ago when they reached the Sweet 16 without top scorer Georges Niang due to injury. But they just couldn't match the scrappy Blazers on the boards in a second half where the Cyclones couldn't hold onto a 55-51 lead with 3:13 left.

The Blazers, who outscored Iowa State 9-4 down the stretch, will play either SMU or UCLA on Saturday.

Iowa State, which lost its opener as a No. 2 seed in 2001, last led at 57-56 on a basket by Monte Morris. But Lee hit a jumper with 24 seconds left putting UAB ahead to stay. Niang had a jumper blocked by Tosin Mehinti, and Lee got the rebound. Lee hit two free throws with 12.1 seconds left for the Blazers' final margin.

Naz Long missed a 3 that Morris tipped in with 0.4 seconds left, and the Cyclones couldn't get the ball back before the Blazers started celebrating their gutty win.

Robert Brown led UAB with 21 points, Lee finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Tyler Madison also had 11 rebounds as the Blazers dominated the boards 52-37, including 19 on the offensive glass.

Morris finished with 15 points for the Cyclones, who were making a school-record fourth straight tournament appearance only to lose their opener for the first time since 2001. Niang and reserve Matt Thomas both added 11 points, and Jameel McKay had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Iowa State looked ready to finally put away an opponent as the Cyclones opened the game with a 12-2 lead. The Blazers settled down quickly enough and used a 14-4 run to turn it into a game taking advantage of repeated turnovers by the Cyclones.

The Blazers took a 31-28 halftime lead but didn't score until Madison hit a jumper with 14:20 left — a scoring drought that spanned 6:52 from their last basket of the first half.

Not that it hurt as the teams wound up swapping the lead a total of 17 times with eight ties.


UAB: Blazers' fans didn't miss an opportunity to chant "Fire Ray Watts" during timeouts in their protest against the university president who shut down the school's football program in December.

Iowa State: Thomas hadn't scored in double figures since late February, a span of six straight games. ... The Cyclones, who came in with the third-most wins in school history, lost as a No. 2 seed to 15th-seeded Hampton in 2001. ... Niang broke a bone in his right foot in their first NCAA game last year with the Cyclones losing in the Sweet 16 to eventual champ Connecticut.

<![CDATA[Lakers Forward Ed Davis' Efficiency]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 05:35:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ed-Davis-March-19-15.jpg

Never too high or low, Ed Davis joined the Los Angeles Lakers as a largely unknown commodity. Hiding behind Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in Memphis, Davis did not previously earn consistent enough playing time to show his consistency around the basket on both ends.

Not one to draw attention to himself, the 6-foot 10-inch forward has been the most consistent player on the Los Angeles Lakers in a season that has been anything but.

For starters, Davis is the only LA Laker to play in all 66 games during the 2014/15 season. Had Jeremy Lin not been benched for one game, he would be the only other Laker to claim the same. As it stands, Davis is the only player on pace to appear in all 82 games, and no, he has yet to ask the coach for a rest due to fatigue.

For the season, Davis shoots 60.7 percent from the field, which is the best on the team. If he manages to make 65 more field goals over the final 16 games of the season, Davis would rank second in the NBA in field goal percentage behind LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, 70.8 percent. The league minimum to qualify as a league leader for field goal percentage is 300 made shots, and Davis falls shy of that mark.

Davis, who only averages 5.9 attempts per game, is not a guy who looks for his own shot. He plays within the offense and relies on setting hard screens and rolling to the hoop to get scores. For all the hoopla over Jordan Hill's ability to command offensive rebounds, Davis averages 2.9 offensive rebounds per game and leads the Lakers in that category. League-wide, Davis ranks 15th in the NBA on the offensive glass, and so, he tends to create his own scoring opportunities via hard work under the basket.

As a note, all 14 players ahead of Davis in the offensive rebounding rankings average more minutes than the Lakers' power forward.

On the opposite end of the floor, Davis is also the Lakers' leading shot blocker. He is the only player to average over a block per game on the team, as the 25-year-old averages 1.3 blocks per outing. That average is good enough for 24th in the NBA.

Davis' efficiency around the basket became apparent early in preseason, as the soft spoken power forward finished the Lakers' exhibition season making 27 of 37 shots, which calculated to 73.0 percent. Far from a fluke, Davis has not had a single month shooting under 50 percent. For March, he is shooting 69.8 percent from the field.

Whether in the starting lineup or off the bench, Davis provides consistent levels of energy and efficiency. His finishing around the rim looks simple, but Davis' hard work makes it seem so. His ability to finish around the basket is unique and should not be taken for granted. 

However, Davis is not the type to mouth off. As Nick Young screams and laughs loudly in the locker room, Davis looks over, cracks a quarter smile and puts his headphones on. Part of that air of professionalism comes from Davis' background. The son of a Terry Davis, who played 10 seasons in the NBA, and the product of the University of North Carolina, the 25-year-old displays maturity beyond his years.

Unfortunately, Davis came to LA on a two-year deal that held a player option on the second year. Davis has already made it clear, for the aforementioned reasons, that he will pick up the option and test the open market. However, he has stated numerous times that he hopes to stay in LA.

Considering his pedigree, production, professionalism and potential, the case to sign Davis is easier to make than the case against signing the power forward, but the Lakers will likely need to spend decent coin in order to do so. Whether or not Davis fits into the Lakers' long term plans remains to be seen.

In the short term, Davis will play game no. 67 against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Notes: Reading Davis' quotes from his signing day with the Lakers, the power forward has lived up to the description he provided on day no. 1. Also, wearing Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak's college number and having attended the executive's Alma Mater certainly do not hurt Davis' chances of returning to the Lakers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hampton Coach Calls Jesus For Help Against Kentucky]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 10:28:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP764387644610_Joyner.jpg

Hampton University squeaked into the NCAA tournament after a first round win against Manhattan. Now the Virginia school is up against undefeated and top-seeded Kentucky – a favorite to take the tournament.

Hampton's head coach isn't counting on divine intervention.

When the coach, Edward Joyner Jr., was asked about his team's odds, he picked up his cell phone and pretended to make a call. He then joked that he had "Jesus on speed dial."

“Hey, Jesus?” Joyner told reporters. “They want to know how much of a mountain and what our odds are. Hello? Hello? I guess he'll get back to me so I'll get back to you."

Hampton is up against tough odds. No team ranked 16 in the tournament has ever won the big dance against a No. 1 seed.

“It’s a heck of a mountain,” Joyner said.

If they win that one game, it'll be an upset of biblical proportions. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[President Obama Unveils 2015 NCAA Bracket]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 08:08:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/obama-bball-143831886.jpg

President Barack Obama is predicting that Kentucky will remain undefeated and take home the title in the NCAA Tournament.

The basketball fan in chief says there's a good reason the Wildcats are the prohibitive favorite in the tournament after going 34-0 so far. He picked them to beat Villanova in the title game during an interview broadcast Wednesday on ESPN.

The president advanced Arizona and Duke to the NCAA Final Four, scheduled for April 4-6 in Indianapolis.

Obama hasn't picked the correct national champion since his first year in office, when North Carolina won the 2009 championship.

Obama also tells ESPN he would like to see the NCAA move the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds and move back the lane and three-point line to mirror the NBA. 

Photo Credit: File Photo/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Retiring 49er's Dad "Relieved"]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:50:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/TLMD-chris-borland-49ers.jpg

Jeff Borland didn’t let his son, Chris, play football until high school growing up in Ohio. He thought youth coaches didn’t know how to teach little boys how to be safe tackling.

So it was with great pride and relief for him and his wife, Zebbie, when their 24-year-old son, the sixth of seven siblings and a promising rookie linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, announced to the world this week that he was retiring from the sport because he had researched what concussions could do later in life.

“As a parent,” Borland said Tuesday night in a phone interview with NBC Bay Area from Kettering, Ohio, “you’re relieved.”

Relieved, he said, because football usually means “physical punishment,” which takes a toll on the mind and body.

Now, the elder Borland said, his son will be looking at what to do next: "I think there will be more school," he said, without indicating what his son's next career path would be, adding that Chris Borland graduated with a history degree at the University of Wisconsin.

"He did what he had to do, and proved himself successful in the NFL," the elder Borland said. "There were many good lessons learned from playing football - preparation, discipline, team work. The challenge now is to transfer those skills to the next career."

Chris Borland began researching and reading all about concussions and head injuries, and announced his retirement on Monday to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. The two Bay Area brothers wrote a book and created a documentary, the “League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth,” that changed the national conversation about head injuries and football.

"I just honestly want to do what's best for my health," Borland told "Outside the Lines." "From what I've researched and what I've experienced, I don't think it's worth the risk."

The decision had nothing to do with his ankle injury and shoulder issues: “I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been," he told ESPN. "For me, it’s wanting to be proactive. I’m concerned that if you wait ’til you have symptoms, it’s too late.”

Borland is the most prominent NFL player to leave the game in his prime because of concerns about brain injuries, the brothers noted. More than 70 former players have been diagnosed with progressive neurological disease after their deaths, and numerous studies have shown connections between the repetitive head trauma associated with football, brain damage and issues such as depression and memory loss.

As the regular season approached, Borland’s father, owner of The Borland Group, a financial advisory firm, said his son began starting to think, “What am I going to do with my life?” That led his son to do some “reading and researching,” his dad said.

“He became concerned this could compromise his career after football," Jeff Borland said. "And he didn't want to jeopardize the next one."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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