<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usTue, 06 Dec 2016 12:12:18 -0800Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:12:18 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Lou Williams Scores 38, Lakers Lose to Jazz]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 01:20:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Jazz_1200x675_825746499994.jpg Lou Williams scored 38 points, but the long list of injuries caught up with the Los Angeles Lakers as they fell 107-101 to the Utah Jazz on December 6, 2016 at Staples Center]]> <![CDATA[Nick Young Displays Unique Style at Lakers' Game]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:23:59 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Nick-Young-interesting-fashion.jpg

Injuries can be tough to deal with, but for Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Nick Young, a strained calf that has the 31-year-old sidelined didn't seem to be keeping his spirits low.

Young walked into the Lakers' locker room ahead of Monday's game against the Utah Jazz decked out in what can best be described as clothes that belonged in the 1970s, if they belonged anywhere. Actually, Young described the look as "Fresh out of the 70's" when NBCLA.com decided to record Young as he peacocked around the locker room.

During Young's strutting, veteran guard Lou Williams walked in and took a long hard look at his teammate. The room fell silent and waited for the response.

"You should feel ashamed of yourself," Williams said to Young, as the room burst out in laughter.

But "Swaggy P" is a different type of character. No words questioning his stylistic choices could remove the beaming smile from his face. Even though he wasn't playing, he owned the pregame locker room talk. "Uncle P" even stopped fellow injured guard D'Angelo Russell dead in his tracks.

Injured or not, Young remains one of the absolute stars of the Lakers this season. Unfortunately, he couldn't steal the ball from his teammates and hit the game winner on this occasion.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Jose Calderon Joins Injured Contingent]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 12:20:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-injuries-Jose-Calderon.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers are down to one true point guard, and his name is Marcelo Huertas. Jose Calderon joined D'Angelo Russell on the sidelines, when the 35-year-old underwent an MRI on Monday to reveal a strained hamstring. The expected recovery time for the injury is 2-4 weeks, so the Lakers expect to field an even thinner roster in the coming days.

Russell, however, could be back sooner rather than later if his sore knee has healed. On Monday night, the 20-year-old point guard will miss his ninth straight game due to the injury and 10th overall. The Lakers have won three and lost seven of the 10 games the former Ohio State Buckeye has skipped thus far.

In the best case scenario, Russell could be back as early as Wednesday night in Houston, if his sore left knee has responded to the PRP injection administered nearly two weeks earlier.

LA is also without starting shooting guard Nick Young due to a strained calf, so the back court has become a bit of a MASH unit in recent weeks. For Tuesday's game, LA will likely look to Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram to start, with Lou Williams, Metta World Peace and Huertas as the only other viable options.

Lakers coach Luke Walton decided to cancel Monday's shootaround, probably because the team is still reeling from a strenuous road trip but also because the Lakers are short on numbers these days. The team also announced that rookie center Ivica Zubac had been recalled to the team from the LA D-Fenders, which is the Lakers' Development League affiliate.

Considering the size and length of Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the decision to recall Zubac may be an insurance policy should starting center Timofey Mozgov get in foul trouble. Or, considering Larry Nance Jr. is also listed as questionable, it could just be a desperate attempt to guarantee at least 11 active players for Monday's game.

Considering Monday kicks off a stretch of 11 games in 19 days in nine different cities, the Lakers will need every healthy body they can get.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Back Home on Monday Night]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 02:41:07 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lou-Williams-Lakers-12-5-16.jpg

On Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers return to play a game at Staples Center following a brutal four games in five nights road trip, but the NBA scheduling gods are not exactly rewarding the black and blue purple and gold with a long rest and extended time off.

From Monday night until the 23rd of December, which adds up to 19 days in total, the Lakers will play 11 games in eight different cities—nine if we count LA. If we were using modern true travel statistics, which is not really a thing, the Lakers play in 10 cities over the next 19 days, since the Lakers take off for a game on Wednesday in Houston and come back home for a couple games before turning into a nomadic herd of basketball wanderers not sure of the time zone, day, month or state.

LA's most recent road trip yielded three losses, three injuries and only one win in four games, but the team's ability to get a tough win in Chicago and remain competitive on the final night in Memphis proved to be encouraging signs. LA led for the majority of Saturday's game against the Grizzlies and only lost by three points despite playing without starting point guard D'Angelo Russell, forward Larry Nance Jr. and starting shooting guard Nick Young. LA also lost stand-in starting guard Jose Calderon after eight minutes, but the team still battled through blood and haze and only come up one possession short.

Lou Williams scoring 40 points helped, of course, as the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year looks like he could be in line to add to his trophy cabinet. Williams is averaging 17.5 points and 3.5 assists in only 24.2 minutes per game off the bench. When Williams won the award with Toronto during the 2014-15 season, the Georgia native averaged 15.5 points and 2.1 assists in 25.2 minutes. So, Williams is playing less minutes and having a greater offensive impact. He's also shooting a higher percentage from the field and from beyond the three-point line.

A big reason the Lakers have the best bench in the NBA is Williams' offensive production. LA's reserves average a league-best 52.3 points per game, which is more than 10 points more than the second-best bench in the NBA, Philadelphia at 42.1 points per game. And LA continues to keep up the second unit scoring despite a slew of injuries forcing forward Brandon Ingram to take on double duty with the starters and the reserves.

In the four games that Young has missed either entirely or partially due to injury thus far, Ingram has taken on the burden of increased minutes and averaged 38.5 minutes per game. Based on the initial timeline, Young could be back as early as Dec. 14 in Brooklyn, so the next five games promise the 19-year-old no. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft plenty of opportunities to grow on the court.

For Monday's game against Utah, the Lakers list Calderon, Russell, Young and rookie center Ivica Zubac as out, though the last name on the list is busy getting playing time in the NBA Development League. Nance is questionable to take part due to a right knee contusion suffered late in Friday's loss to Toronto and which kept the forward out of Saturday's game in Memphis.

While Nance's injury is not considered to be serious, Russell could be back as early as Wednesday if he manages to hits the minimum on his original injury timeline. The Lakers have sorely missed the former Ohio State Buckeye's scoring in the starting lineup, as he recovers from a sore left knee that required a PRP injection. The second year starter has been traveling with the team while he rests.

While the Lakers fight injuries and their schedule simultaneously, Monday's game against Utah offers the team an opportunity to earn a quality win against a potential competitor for a Western Conference playoff spot. Utah is currently the seventh seed, while the Lakers sit in the nine-hole and on the outside looking in. LA lost in Utah earlier in the season, and faces a tough task considering the injuries. However, Lakers coach Luke Walton has found a way to earn at least one win against every team the Lakers have faced multiple times this season: Golden State; Atlanta; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Chicago.

Sitting on 10 wins and 11 losses ahead of Monday's game, keeping touching distance of .500 is key to LA staying in the playoff race. Shorthanded though they may be, the Lakers need to protect their home court, and a win on Monday against the Jazz could realistically be the difference between making the postseason and missing out by the time April rolls around.

Notes: Jordan Clarkson started the second half in Memphis, so Lakers may rely on both Ingram and Clarkson playing extended minutes on Monday night. With Calderon and Russell out, Clarkson expects to start against the Jazz. Marcelo Huertas is the alternate option to start at point guard, but the Brazilian is more likely to earn minutes with the backups.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Thursday Night Football Preview: Chiefs vs. Raiders]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 14:34:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-617476462-chiefs-raiders-oct-2016.jpg

Derek Carr has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year. Now he’s got a chance to lead his team to a major win.

First place and an inside track to the AFC West title are on the line when Oakland (10-2) visits Kansas City (9-3) on Thursday Night Football, at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Oakland will be in the hunt for its seventh straight win after roaring back late to blow by Buffalo, while the Chiefs are coming off a more dramatic win.

Do-everything star Eric Berry returned an interception of a 2-point conversion attempt back for the go-ahead points in the fourth quarter of a 29-28 win at Atlanta.

Kansas City’s Alex Smith mostly enjoyed a pressure-free day against the Falcons, something he’s not likely to repeat against Oakland’s Khalil Mack.

In the teams’ first meeting this year, the Raiders were held scoreless after halftime and Carr had a forgettable day in a season to remember.

Through 12 games, he’s thrown for 24 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards. But quarterbacks, fairly or not, aren’t judged just by stats.

On Thursday night, Carr can add to his resume by leading his team to the brink of its first division title since 2002 — in his third season.

Four to Watch

Oakland WR Michael Crabtree: Amari Cooper is the leader in yards receiving, but Crabtree has more touchdowns, and Carr threw to him 11 times in Sunday’s win.

Oakland DE Khalil Mack: Could be the best pass rusher in the NFL right now, but teams can usually ignore the Raiders’ other rushers.

Kansas City DB Eric Berry: Returned two interceptions for points on Sunday. One was for a touchdown, and the other came on a 2-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter of a one-point win.

Kansas City TE Travis Kelce: Coming off a huge game in which he had eight catches for more 140 yards.

Photo Credit: Brian Bahr, Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Offense Sputters in Loss to Patriots]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 13:15:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Rams+fall+to+pats.png

Now what's cooler than being cool?

The Rams offense went ice cold in New England, and the Patriots pulverized Los Angeles, 26-10, on Sunday afternoon at Foxborough Stadium.

Four-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback Tom Brady set the all-time NFL record for wins (201) as he threw for 269 yards and a touchdown, and outperformed No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff.

Goff struggled in the cold weather, throwing for just 161 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Goff found receiver Kenny Britt in the back of the end zone with just over a minute remaining in the game for the Rams only touchdown of the game.

New England set the tone early as Pats running back LeGarrette Blount busted through the line for a 43-yard touchdown on the team's first drive of the game, giving them an early 7-0 lead.

Blount finished with 88 yards to go with his score, and Dion Lewis rushed for 27 yards on five carries as the Patriots rushed for over 135 total yards in the game.

Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell led all receivers in the game with eight catches apiece.

Stephen Gostkowski was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals in the game as the Rams were able to hold the Patriots out of the end zone in the second half.

Two-time Pro Bowl punter Johnny Hekker was the lone bright spot for Los Angeles as he punted eight times for an average of 54 yards per punt, including a long of 76 yards and four kicks inside the 20-yard line.

The Rams fall to 4-8 on the season, and head coach Jeff Fisher is guaranteed to continue his streak of not having a winning season with the Rams.

Fisher reportedly signed a two-year contract extension before the game, but has never had more than seven wins as coach of the Rams. 

Players of the Game: 

Stephen Gostkowski: 4 field goals.
Johnny Hekker: 8 punts, 54 yards per punt.
LeGarrette Blount: 80 yards and a touchdown.

Three Takeaways:

1. Bobby Boucher: Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker wore these custom Nike Waterboy cleats for the game against the Patriots as part of the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" program.

2. The G.O.A.T: Tom Brady set the NFL record for most wins by a quarterback with 201 in the victory. 

3. Turn Your Head and Goff: Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff did not have a very fun day on the job as he was sacked four times and fell victim to two unfortunate interceptions on the day.

Up Next:

Rams (4-8): Los Angeles heads home to Hollywood where they will lick their wounds before hosting the NFC South Division leaders the Atlanta Falcons at 1:25 PM PS T.

Patriots (10-2): New England will host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football next week.

Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Headed for Rose Bowl to Face Penn State]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 11:51:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/USC+Rose+Bowl+Penn+State.png

It's time to stop and smell the roses.

Fans of the USC Trojans football program get to stay home for the holidays this year as the Men of Troy will make the 17-mile drive to Pasadena on January 2nd for the "Grand Daddy of Them All," the Rose Bowl.

The No. 9 Trojans catapulted the No. 11 Colorado Buffaloes in the final College Football Playoff Rankings after the Buffs lost in lopsided fashion, 41-10, to the Washington Huskies in the Pac 12 Championship game on Friday night.

No. 5 Penn State missed out on the Playoffs and finished just one spot shy of a semifinal berth after they defeated No. 8 Wisconsin 38-31 in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday.

James Franlkin's team was snubbed by the committee for losses against No. 6 Michigan and No. 22 Pittsburgh this season despite the fact that they defeated No. 3 Ohio State in Happy Valley earlier in the year. 

This will be the fourth time the Nittany Lions have gone to the Rose Bowl in the school's history and the third time they face the Trojans (1923 and 2009).

The Rose Bowl game will kickoff at 1:30PM PST on ESPN. 

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jeff Fisher Signs 2 Year Contract Extension with Rams]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 11:06:41 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/Fisher+Extension.png

It looks like Eric Dickerson won't be on the sidelines any time soon.

The Los Angeles Rams signed head coach Jeff Fisher to a two-year contract extension through the year 2018 as first reported by NFL Network's  Ian Rapport on Sunday morning before the team took on the New England Patriots in Foxborough. 

As reported by Rapport, the agreement, which likely will have an opt-out clause by the team after the 2017 season, was initially agreed to in the preseason after Fisher guided the Rams through the very difficult relocation process from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

The deal was signed at some point during the season, which also helps explain why the Rams' front office has continued to praise Fisher and told everyone to judge him outside "the prism of just the record," even though the Rams are headed for another losing season. 

Fisher is in the sixth and final year of his original contract with the team and has never had a single winning season over that span. The last time Fisher had a winning season as a head coach was in 2008 with the Tennessee Titans.

Fisher has been on the hot seat in recent weeks for his decision not to start No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff until week 11 of the season, the team's performance on the field, and a very public spat with former Rams Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. 

Dickerson recently told the public that Fisher denied a request for sideline passes for his friends, and asked him not to be on the sidelines for Rams home games after criticizing the team publicly. 

Dickerson called out the coach and vowed to never come to another home game as long as Fisher remained as the head coach. 

Fisher and general manger Les Snead reportedly received the same deal, and appears to be no more than a one-year consolation prize for managing the team through the moving process. 

The Rams could still fire both Fisher and Snead after the season, and only owe them one-year of salary, but it's likely they will allow the duo one more season to turn things around.

Neither Fisher nor Snead has spoken publicly about the extension, but with the release of the news on Sunday, expect the head coach to be asked about it during his postgame press conference in New England on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Finish Road Trip in Memphis]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 03:51:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Grizzlies-12-3-16.jpg

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale refers to the remaining members of his injury-plagued squad as the Nasty Nine.


On Saturday night, it was Troy Daniels turn to fill the void for the short-handed Grizzlies.


Daniels scored a career-high 31 points, and the Grizzlies hung on for a 103-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers after Julius Randle three free throws with 5.9 seconds left.


Daniels shot 12 of 23 from the field, including 6 of 12 from outside the arc. Marc Gasol had 19 points while JaMychal Green finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds as Memphis won its second straight.


"I was just taking what the defense gave me," Daniels said. "And my teammates helped me get into those spots."


Lou Williams scored a season-best 40 points for the Lakers. Luol Deng added 18, and Timofy Mozgov had with 13.


"It just flowed," Williams said about his shooting. "It was just one of those games."


Memphis pulled away in a tight game with a 9-2 burst that erased a 95-94 Lakers lead in the final 5 minutes.


Williams converted a three-point play with 51 seconds remaining to pull the Lakers within one possession. They then had a chance to tie when Gasol fouled Randle on a 3-point attempt.


After Randle missed the third free throw, there was a scramble for the ball, and Jordan Clarkson hurled up a 3-pointer from the right corner that was off the mark.


"They made the little plays," Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Memphis. "Down the stretch, they got to a couple of loose balls that they turned into big plays."


Both teams were short-handed with injuries, particularly in the backcourt. Starters D'Angelo Russell and Nick Young already were out for the Lakers and Jose Calderon, who started, left in the first quarter with a right hamstring strain.


The Lakers held a 62-54 lead into the break.


But Memphis opened the second half with a 10-4 run, and the game settled into a close affair with 17 lead changes, nine of them in the fourth quarter.


Memphis forward Tony Allen said Memphis came out a different team after intermission thanks to Fizdale's halftime speech.


"He's not going to sugarcoat anything," Allen said. "He came in and gave us a scolding, and the guys responded."




Lakers: Williams' 40 points were the most ever scored by an opponent's reserve against Memphis. J.R. Smith had 35 for the Knicks on March 27, 2013. . Williams, who hit all 14 of his free throws in the game, has converted a free throw in 30 straight contests, longest streak in the league. ... The Lakers wrapped up a four-game trip over five days.


Grizzlies: A contingent of Grizzlies executives, including coach David Fizdale, went to Marion, Indiana for the visitation of F Zach Randolph's mother, Mae Randolph, earlier Saturday. .Green recorded his second double-double of the season. ... Memphis had 32 assists on 41 made field goals. Gasol had eight and rookie Wade Baldwin had a season-best nine assists. .Memphis converted 18 turnovers into 25 points.




Lakers: Russell (left knee injury), Young (strained calf, right leg) and reserve F Larry Nance Jr. (right knee contusion)


Grizzlies: G Mike Conley, G Vince Carter, F Chandler Parsons and F James Ennis. Randolph remains away from the team after the death of his mother.




Lakers reserve C Tarik Black is from Memphis and played at the University of Memphis before playing his final year at Kansas.




Some may forget that Lakers coach Luke Walton was hired as an assistant for the Memphis Tigers during the lockout prior to 2011 NBA season.




Lakers: Return home for the first time in a week to face the Utah Jazz on Monday night.


Grizzlies: Travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Monday night, the only road game over a six-game stretch.



Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reggie Bush Honors Joe McKnight With Cleats]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 17:19:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Reggie+Bush+Honors+Joe+McKnight.png

The man who was once called, "The Next Reggie Bush," is about to be honored by the man himself.

Current Buffalo Bills running back Reggie Bush will pay tribute to his former USC Alum, Joe McKnight, with a pair of custom cleats on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. 

Bush shared the cleats he will be wearing on social media with fans and will not be fined by the NFL as the league will allow special cleats to be worn by players for week 13 as part of their "My Cause, My Cleats," campaign.

The 28-year-old McKnight was shot and killed in an apparent road rage incident in New Orleans on Thursday afternoon. The investigation has received national attention after the admitted shooter, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, was released by police on Friday morning.

Both the sheriff's department and witnesses have described Gasser as the man who gunned down the former NFL running back, but conflicting reports on what happened have led to his release as the Jefferson Parish Sherriff Department continue their investigation.

McKnight is a Louisiana native where he played his high school ball and admitted that part of his decision to attend USC instead of LSU was because of a phone call from Bush and the Trojans rich tradition.

McKnight played three seasons with the Trojans, but never quite lived up to his potential due to injuries and fumbling issues. He declared for the NFL Draft in 2010 and was taken in the fourth round by the New York Jets.

McKnight played three seasons for the Jets as a running back, return specialist and defensive back. In 2011, he his first career touchdown was a 107-yard kickoff return that still stands as the longest play in Jets history.

McKnight was released by the Jets in August of 2013, and last played in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs during a short sting in 2014, but his season came to an end prematurely after he tore his Achilles tendon.

McKnight last played in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Colorado's Lopsided Loss Could Send USC to Rose Bowl]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 04:38:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/RoseBowl.png

Everything's coming up roses.

Or at least it could for the USC Trojans football team who entering Friday looked like a long shot for a chance at the Rose Bowl.

The No. 11 ranked Trojans were behind both No. 4 Washington and No. 8 Colorado as they had to watch from home as both Division champions slugged it out in the Pac-12 championship game at Levy's Stadium in Santa Clara.

Before the game began, USC's slim chances of making the Rose Bowl hinged on the fact that they would have to jump No. 8 Colorado in the final College Football Playoff Committee polls released next Tuesday.

Standing between USC and Colorado are Big 12 rivals Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who will duke it out against each other in the Big 12 Conference championship game on Saturday.

Therefore, it stands to reason that the loser of that matchup could fall below the Trojans in the rankings and the winner could leap ahead of Colorado. That would put Colorado and USC adjacent to each other at No. 9 and No.10 respectively.

The final piece of the puzzle would be a blowout victory by Washington in the Pac 12 championship game that would cement their position as one of the four best team's in the country, and expose Colorado as overrated at their current ranking.

Thankfully for the Trojans, that's exactly what they got as the Huskies blew out the Buffaloes, 41-10, on Friday, forcing the College Football committee to have to decide who is better? Colorado or USC?

It's safe to assume that by virtue of their victory, Washington will advance to the four-team playoff where they will likely play Alabama in the semifinal. That leaves the second best team in the Pac 12 with a Rose Bowl berth, a decision that will be determined on which team is ranked higher come Tuesday.

Will the committee choose the South Division champion Colorado Buffaloes who essentially are considered the runner-up in the division? Or will they select the Trojans who will have the same number of losses as the Buffs, but beat both Colorado and Washington head-to-head this season. 

Colorado's lopsided victory to Washington may be the final straw that tips the scale to the Trojans side. Had the game been close, the decision would have been easy, but with Washington winning in convincing fashion, everything is now much more complex.

The Trojans have the second longest winning streak in the country at eight games, behind only undefeated Alabama and Western Michigan. They have two top-10 wins against No. 4 Washington and No. 8 Colorado, but many of their other victories were against ranked opponents at the time, or teams who at one point or another were ranked in the AP Top 25.

There three losses came at the hands of No. 1 Alabama, No. 18 Stanford and No. 20 Utah, all respectable teams. USC will also likely leapfrog Colorado in the AP and Coaches poll on Monday, two factors that could benefit the Trojans when the committee makes their final decision.

Colorado will have a similar body of work to build their case for the committee. They will have one more win than the Trojans (9), and will have wins against Stanford and Utah. Their three losses will all come against likely top-10 teams once the final rankings are released in No. 4 Washington, No. 5 Michigan and USC. 

Ironically, the final decision for the committee could come down to that head-to-head matchup between the two teams at the Coliseum on October 8th that the Trojans won 21-17.

For those that don't remember, that game ended with USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster running toward a wide-open end zone, but instead falling on the ground at the 14-yard line to secure the victory for the Trojans.

It was a decision that Trojans head coach Clay Helton praised after the game, but could ultimately cost USC important style points now that a Rose Bowl berth is on the line.

The final rankings produced by the College Football Playoff committee will be released on Tuesday. If the Trojans do not finish ahead of Colorado they will likely play in the Alamo Bowl against the loser of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Eaten Alive By Raptors in Canada]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:50:30 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Raptors-DeMar-DeRozan.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers did not put up much of a fight on Friday night in Toronto. LA-native DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors raced out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter before the Lakers' bench came in and seemingly got the game under control.

After the first quarter, the Lakers only trailed by six points. The Raptors, however, did not relent.

By the halftime whistle, the Lakers trailed by 21 points. Toronto shot 60 percent in the first half and only committed three turnovers, so the Raptors played a clean game and built a sizable lead. Just about the only silver lining in the first half was that rookie Brandon Ingram, who had started for the second game in a row in place of injured Nick Young, found his shooting rhythm and scored nine points in the first half. Ingram finished with 16 points on 8-16 shooting from the field, though he only made one of his five three-point attempts. The rookie also contributed six rebounds and two assists.

In the third quarter, the Raptors outscored the Lakers for the third straight quarter. But this time, it was only one point, so the Lakers did improve. LA trailed by 22 points with 12 minutes remaining.

Again, the Raptors refused to their feet off the gas. With six minutes remaining in the game, Toronto led by 26 points with six minutes remaining in the game. With the Lakers scheduled to play on Saturday night in Memphis, Lakers coach Luke Walton had already waived the white flag by that point, as Marcelo Huertas, Thomas Robinson and Metta World Peace were all on the floor.

Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry finished with 24 points and seven assists in the victory. DeRozan added 16 points and six assists.

Eventually, the final buzzer sounded, and the Raptors had considerably more points than the Lakers: 113-80.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Coach Luke Walton: Even Better than Expected]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:04:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Luke-Walton.png

Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton is the talk of the town.

From his first game until game no. 20, he has made surprising decisions that have paid off time and again. In that season opener, the debate centered on whether the first year head coach would start Jordan Clarkson or Lou Williams at shooting guard alongside D'Angelo Russell.

In his pregame press conference, Walton refused to show his hand and said the decision had not yet been made. This is something Walton has consistently done over his first 20 games, whenever lineups have required tweaks due to injuries. Reporters, and presumably his opponents, do not know who the Lakers will start until the last possible moment. Call it a glimpse into the coach's competitive spirit.

On Opening Night, surprisingly, the 36-year-old coach started 31-year-old Nick Young at shooting guard, pairing Young alongside 20-year-old D'Angelo Russell in a move that epitomized how far and how fast the team had changed from the 17-win team that ended the season in April. Back then, Russell and Young had trouble sitting in the same locker room.

Twenty games into Walton's tenure, Young and Russell may both be on the shelf due to injuries, but the coach's decision proved to be the right one. The Lakers are 10-10, largely due to the difficult decision to start Young and leave both Clarkson and Williams as scoring threats for a second unit that is torching the NBA on a nightly basis. As much as his three-pointers have energized the team's scoring, Young has been the Lakers' best perimeter defender and a defensive asset to the starting unit.

In Chicago on Wednesdayth, however, Walton was without Young due to calf strain that would bench the reinvented shooting guard for a minimum of two weeks. Looking for a player to match up against Dwyane Wade, Walton again refused to leak his replacement in his pregame press conference. Predictably unpredictable, the coach overlooked the easy choices of Clarkson and Williams and instead went with 19-year-old rookie forward Brandon Ingram.

Ingram's length and defensive ability helped the team hold the Bulls to 90 points on the night and walk away with a shocking victory. Again, Walton had made a tough call that did not seem intuitive at first. Again, he had made the right decision. The proof was in the pudding, as the short-handed Lakers, without their starting backcourt, beat the Bulls in Chicago.

Walton started the regular season with a considerably better roster than the Lakers featured on the night Kobe Bryant scored 60 points to record win no. 17 in an 82-game season that would be entirely forgettable had it not doubled as Bryant's farewell tour. However, Walton played an active role in building the team over the summer and maximized every roster spot entering the regular season.

Often, he has refused to make the easy decision when choosing lineups. However, when asked if there is a vote, Walton makes it clear that he listens to his counsel, but he is running a dictatorship, not a democracy. Walton owns that final call, and it tends to be the correct call.

Before leaving for the current road trip, forward Julius Randle sat out due to a hip pointer injury. LA needed a starting power forward and the obvious choice was to promote Larry Nance Jr., who started 22 games for the team at the position a season earlier. Nance had also been playing well during the current season, so this one seemed like a no-brainer. Staying true to form, Walton refused to reveal which player would assume the position when reporters queried the coach an hour and 45 minutes before tip-off.

When the starters were announced against Atlanta, Thomas Robinson started against Paul Milsap and the Hawks. Robinson had only played 21 total minute over the first 15 games of the season, but that night, he finished with nine points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes. The Lakers won, and again, Walton had made a decision that most coaches simply would not have made and most experts would not have predicted. Again, Walton had made the correct call, evidenced by a Lakers' win.

Over the first 20 games of the season, Walton has already displayed enough cunning and creativity that it is tough not to give the coach a respectful shove to the front of the line in the discussion for Coach of the Year. It may seem like early days on that front, but it's not. The Lakers have already powered through a quarter of the 2016-17 season and accumulated 10 wins. LA did not hit the 10-win total until Feb. 2 a season ago, so Walton could literally lose every single game for the next two months without falling behind the pace set by his predecessor.

With every passing game, the reality is becoming more and more evident: Yes, Walton is that good.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Soccer Players Who Missed Doomed Flight Cope With Loss]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 05:23:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/soccer-plane-crash.jpg

As the recovered bodies of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team begin to be returned to families Friday, the players who did not travel on the team's ill-fated flight are left mourning their teammates, NBC News reported.

"I still have the chance to hug and kiss my children, but my teammates can't do that anymore," said Chapecoense defender Demerson Costa.

The crash killed 71 people, including 19 people from the soccer team. The pilot reportedly told a Colombian air traffic controller he had run out of fuel just moments before the plane crashed into the Andes Mountains.

One player, Matheus Saroli, didn't board the flight because he forgot his passport. He lost his father, coach Caio Junior, who was on board.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Clippers Hand Cavs Worst Loss of Season]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 20:11:34 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/186*120/CliipersCavs.png

Maybe they saved the best for last.

J.J. Redick shot the lights out and the Los Angeles Clippers snapped a four-game losing streak against the reigning NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-94, on Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

Redick scored 23 points and was 4-for-6 from downtown as the Clippers also snapped a season-worst three-game losing streak on their current six-game road trip.

The Clippers had not defeated the Cavaliers since LeBron James returned to his hometown team before the 2014-2015 season. The Clippers last victory over the Cavs was on March 16, 2014.

A fresh Blake Griffin may have made the difference in the game as the Clippers forward did not play in the team's double overtime loss to Brooklyn on Tuesday. Griffin messed around and nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, 11 assists and five rebounds.

Chris Paul had 16 points, nine assists and six rebounds and DeAndre Jordan grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.

Cleveland led by six points in the first quarter, but the Clippers broke the game open in the second and went into halftime with a four-point lead.

Los Angeles would never trail again as they opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run thanks to alley-oop dunks from Redick, Paul and Griffin to Jordan as Lob City landed in full force in Cleveland.

L.A. extended their lead in fourth quarter, as they went ahead by as many as 23 points before the reserves entered the game.

The lopsided loss was the second largest of the season for the Cavs, and comes on the heels of a 17-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 28 points and LeBron James finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists.

The Clippers had a season-high 33 assists in the game, whereas the Cavs had just 12 assists to go with 18 turnovers. 

Players of the Game:

J.J. Redick: 23 points, 4 three-pointers
Blake Griffin: 13 points, 11 assists.
Kyrie Irving:
28 points

Three Takeaways: 

1. Pass the Rock: Blake Griffin had a career-high eight assists in the first half and nearly had more assists (11) then the Cavaliers had in the entire game (12).

2. Red Hot Redick: J.J. Redick was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and has now made a three-pointer in 76 straight games, the sixth longest streak in NBA history.

3. Sportsperson of the Year: Before the game, Sports Illustrated, named LeBron James their 2016 Sportsperson of the Year. Here is slamming home a windmill dunk against the Clippers.

Up Next:

Clippers (15-5): L.A.'s six-game road trip concludes in the Big Easy where they will face Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

Cavaliers (13-4):  LeBron James will reunite with old running mate, Dwyane Wade as Cleveland heads to Chicago to face the Bulls on Friday.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ron Schwane]]>
<![CDATA[Blake Griffin Stars in New Space Jam Commercial]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:19:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Blake+Griffin+Space+Jam.png

What's up, Jocs?

Space Jam 2 is slated for 2017, but fans of the Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny film from 1996 got a small taste of what's to come in a 90-second commercial for Jordan's brand Defy on Thursday.

The commercial stars Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler who starts the ad by saying, "It's the same story it's always been," as the world prepares for the return of the "villains," the Monstars who are looking for a rematch after losing to Jordan and the Looney Tunes 20 years ago.

However, it's not Butler who steps up to square off with the Monstars, but Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin. Four players decked out in Jordan gear head down the back alley of a Foot Locker where they are met by Bugs Bunny who pushes Griffin out a door to help the kids challenge the Monstars. 

The commercial is for the new Air Jordan XXXI shoes and isn't necessarily linked to the new reboot of the film that stars LeBron James and will be directed by Fast and Furious head Justin Lin, but it's possible that Griffin and Butler could play a role in the film as they are both signed to the Jordan brand.

In the meantime, you can take a peak at the full commercial below and tune in to TNT on Wednesday night as Griffin's Clippers challenge James Cavaliers in a matchup of two of the best teams in the NBA.


Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eric Dickerson: "All I Want is an Apology"]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:41:44 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DICKERSON_WANTS_APOLOGY_1200x675_822388804001.jpg Rams Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson wants the organization to apologize for the way they've portrayed his conversation with Coach Jeff Fisher. Dickerson tells Fred Roggin he'll meet with the Rams Thursday night.]]> <![CDATA[LeBron James Is Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of Year]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:23:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kingjamesja.jpg

LeBron James delivered on a promise and ended decades of Cleveland sports misery in 2016.

For leading the Cavaliers to an NBA title and ending the city's 52-year title drought, James was chosen as Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year on Thursday, joining Tiger Woods as the award's only two-time winners since its inception in 1954.

"I'm honored," James said following shootaround before the Cavs hosted the Los Angeles Clippers. "I'm more happy for my family, my kids, for my wife, my mom, and for my foundation, for the kids that I represent and the kids that use me as a role model and an inspiration."

Appearing in his sixth straight NBA Finals in June, James rallied the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the favored Golden State Warriors, who won 73 games during the regular season but couldn't put Cleveland away. James scored 41 points in Games 5 and 6 and made a key block in the final minutes of an epic Game 7, making the Cavs the first Cleveland major sports franchise to win a title since the Browns in 1964.

James was selected finals MVP for the third time in his career.

The 31-year-old James returned to Cleveland as a free agent in 2014 and pledged to bring a title to his home state. He did it in his second season, an achievement that ranks as the greatest accomplishment of his career.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Taking the Plunge: Michael Phelps Looks to Dip Into Tech ]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:30:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mikemikemike.jpg

Michael Phelps wants to dive into Silicon Valley's investment opportunities as he tries to make the transition from Olympic swimming star and product pitchman to entrepreneur.

"I would love to get involved, whether it's in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes," Phelps said in an interview during a recent visit to San Jose, California while appearing at an Intuit software conference.

For now, Phelps isn't providing any details about what he is going to do, though he says he has been getting advice from venture capitalists and other experienced investors in Silicon Valley startups.

Getting into tech investing would be a new direction for Phelps, whose business experience to date consists mostly of his own line of swimwear and endorsement deals with the likes of Under Armour, Visa and Wheaties.

These and other big brands have paid him an estimated $75 million during his career. That's far more than the $1.65 million that he received from the U.S. Olympic Committee and Speedo for winning a record 28 medals, including 23 golds, in five Olympics. He's still promoting products; he is currently doing commercials for computer chipmaker Intel in a campaign that began in October.

Whatever he does next, Phelps isn't ready to start his own investment fund, like retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant did earlier this year with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel. And if Phelps has ideas for founding a startup of his own, he's keeping them to himself.

Making the leap from pitchman to businessman won't be easy, said David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California's Marshall Sports Business Institute. "Athletes come and go and many talk a big game, but they don't follow through," he said. Phelps "is really going to have commit to learning about business and demonstrate his seriousness about it."

Other celebrities have ventured into the tech industry in search of riches, with decidedly mixed results.

[[388677371, C]]

Notable successes include rapper and record producer Dr. Dre, who was part of the founding team that sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion 2014. Actor Ashton Kutcher co-founded an investment fund in 2010 that made early investments in startups such as the ride-hailing service Uber, the home rental-service Airbnb and the music streaming service Spotify. The fund's value had soared to $250 million from $30 million, based on a review of its books earlier this year by Forbes magazine.

Among the flops: HJR Capital, a tech-investment firm that collapsed in 2009, a decade after former San Francisco 49er lineman Harris Barton founded it and later enticed ex-teammates Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott to join him. In Rhode Island, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling started a video game company that went bankrupt in 2012.

Phelps is exploring ways to expand his business ventures beyond a line of swimwear and other clothing bearing his "MP" logo. Other products are in the pipeline for next year, though he won't say what. "I am getting my feet wet," Phelps said with a grin. "2017 will be a big year."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Randle Pulls Down 20 Rebounds, Lakers Beat Bulls]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 23:01:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-beat-Bulls-96-90.jpg

Short-handed and on the second night of a back-to-back, the Los Angeles Lakers came back from 14 points down to beat the Chicago Bulls, 96-90, on Wednesday night.

Lakers forward Julius Randle battled on the boards and tied a career-high with 20 rebounds to go along with 13 points, which led the Lakers' starters in scoring. The 22-year-old scored the go-ahead bucket on a spin move with 45.1 seconds remaining in the game and seemed to be the emotional leader on the court.

"He took it upon himself," Lakers coach Luke Walton said on Spectrum Sportsnet about Randle's fight and competitive spirit after the game. "I was proud of him. We tried to take him off of Taj Gibson. Taj hurt us last game, so we wanted to put a bigger body on him. Julius took it upon himself. He wanted the matchup."

Walton added, "I love the accountability he wants. Not only to say you want it but to go out and get 20 rebounds and back it up is impressive."

The Lakers were without their starting backcourt, as Nick Young had been ruled out for a minimum of two weeks with a calf strain earlier in the day. D'Angelo Russell remained sidelined with a sore knee.

"Our guys have proven that when their backs are against the wall, that they can step up for a challenge," Walton said about his team not folding under the adverse circumstances. "They did it tonight. That's a great win against a very good team."

Along with being short-handed, the Lakers fell behind early, as the Bulls doubled the Lakers' score at 28-14 in the first quarter. Rather than fold and use the multitude of excuses available to them, the Lakers showed incredible fight and finished the first half level at 47-47.

Rookie Brandon Ingram, who earned the start in the makeshift lineup, played a career-high 41 minutes and contributed in a variety of ways, even if his 1-9 shooting numbers did not exactly jump out of the box score. Ingram's length played a role in disrupting shots on the defensive side of the ball.

As has become a familiar trend, the Lakers looked to their bench to fill the scoring need. Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams each scored 18 points to lead the team in scoring. Larry Nance Jr. scored 12 points to go along with his 11 rebounds off the bench, as well. The bench outscored the starters 56-40.

However, the broken record inside the Lakers' locker room after the game sounded out the same word: "defense." The coach pointed out that Wednesday night was the first game the Lakers had won where they did not score 100 points.

Walton said, "All we talked about pregame was defense. That's it. Defense. Win or lose, let's get better. They were good tonight."

Notes: Jimmy Butler scored 40 point when these two teams played at Staples Center on Nov. 20. On Wednesday, Butler finished with 22 points on 4-18 shooting, including a potential game-tying air ball in the final minute. The Lakers committed 23 turnovers in the win but managed to get extra possessions by out-rebounding the Bulls 60-46. LA is now 10-10 on the season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Was Jeff Fisher Justified in Eric Dickerson Ban?]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 20:49:55 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Fisher+justified.png

They say there are three sides to every story:

Your side, my side, and the truth.

Such is the case in the ongoing spat between Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and Hall of Fame former running back Eric Dickerson.

Dickerson played five seasons with the Rams from 1983-1987 where he averaged over 111 yards per game and became a local legend in the Los Angeles community.

As we reported on Monday, Dickerson revealed that Fisher had called him and told him he was not welcome on the Rams' sidelines during games.

Dickerson told Fox Sports Radio, that the call came after the former Rams running back had requested sideline passes for some friends for the team's Nov. 20 home game against the Miami Dolphins.

Dickerson had been critical of the team in the preceding weeks on Fred Roggin's radio show and Fisher told him that his comments had made the players uncomfortable and that he was denying his request for sideline passes because of it, a fact that Fisher acknowledged in his post-practice press conference on Tuesday:

"He was voicing his opinion, which he has every right to do," Fisher began. "And then immediately after, wanted things from the organization—and it doesn't work that way. You can have it one way or the other, it's just simple."

Dickerson says the call went like this:

"I see a 314 number calling in. So I get on the phone and say hello. He says, 'Hey, Eric, this is Jeff Fisher.' I said, 'How you doing, Jeff?' He said, 'I just wanted to call you. I want to tell you a few things here. I don't have time for this, but I'm going to tell you. You're not going to be talking about the football team, talking about our team, talking about my coaches, expecting to get things from this football team. We're not going to give you anything. We're not going to support you in anything. As long as I'm here as coach, we feel uncomfortable with you coming on the sideline. The players are uncomfortable with that. So as long as I'm head coach here, I'm just going to let you know it's not going to happen."

The truth of the ever-evolving feud between former player and current coach lies in between both parties' respective stories of how the conversation unfolded.

Dickerson has been vocal in the media of the Rams, Fisher, the players, and the coaching staff this season. He has repeatedly criticized the play of the offensive line, the uninspired play calls from offensive coordinator Rob Boras, and Fisher's decision not to start No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff for the first nine games of the season.

So despite those very public claims, the question remains: should Dickerson receive "favors" from the Rams organization because of his Hall of Fame standing as a player, or is he not allowed to have his cake and eat it too?

There's no doubt that Dickerson is one of the most loved and revered figures in Los Angeles sports and he has every right to voice his opinion about the team and their performance on the field, but, as head coach of the team, Fisher too, has every right to respectfully decline his request for sideline passes for his friends after he was critical of him, his coaches, and his players.

Fisher's number one priority is to make sure his players and coaches are prepared to perform at their best on the field and that distractions don't hinder them from doing their job. It's hard to tell them to stop listening to the news or the radio when members of the media including former players are talking about them, but he can control whether one of those people are standing feet away from them come game day. 

In Fisher's defense, he never "banned" Dickerson from the sideline and has said publicly this week that he is "always welcome" on the team's sideline. The issue at hand is whether the team should accommodate Dickerson's request for sideline passes from his friends and where the line gets drawn for future favors down the road.

Fisher felt that after being so critical of his players and coaches, that it was better Dickerson and his friends were not on the sidelines and instead offered them a catered luxury suite.

"I opened everything to Eric," he said. "I wanted him to know that we would provide anything for him that he needed."

Fisher also made the argument that if Dickerson wanted to be critical of the organization publicly, that he should see what's going on behind-the-scenes at practice, team meetings, and walkthroughs. He mentioned that other famous Rams alumni like Jackie Slater and Jack Youngblood have attended practices and former Titans running back Eddie George who played for Fisher, has frequently attended meetings with the team whereas Dickerson has not.

"I'd welcome him in the building. I'd love to have him come in. I'd love to have him come to practice. I'd love to have him come in the meetings," Fisher said of Dickerson. "Eddie George has been in my meetings more than Eric Dickerson has. I'd love to have him here."

The probability of that ever happening appear to be slim as Dickerson has now publicly stated that he will never again attend a Rams game at the Coliseum as long as Jeff Fisher is head coach.

"I want to go to a football game as much as I want to tie a bloody steak around my neck and jump in the Pacific Ocean butt naked," Dickerson said on Fox Sports Radio.

It's a shame that the Rams' myopia didn't factor into their decision to decline Dickerson's sideline passes. It's also a shame that Dickerson revealed the contents of a private conversation between he and Fisher for public consumption, and it's a crying shame that it happened after the Rams lost back-to-back games and got embarrassed in New Orleans, 49-21, by the Saints.

On Wednesday, Fisher said that Rams' chief operating office Kevin Demoff has reached out to Dickerson and welcome him back into the Rams family, but Fisher has not spoken with him or heard his name since Tuesday. 

"No, it's the first time I've heard his name since yesterday, not a word," Fisher said when asked if there's been any new developments or contact with Dickerson. "It's all about the Patriots now."

At this point, it appears the relationship with Dickerson and the team is beyond repair as E.D. continues to rage war on social media between the fans and Fisher.

In the meantime, Fisher himself has bigger fish to fry (pun intended), as his team travels to Foxborough to face Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

It appears that Fisher's future won't lie in the court of public opinion, or based on the hurt feelings of Dickerson, but rather, how the final few weeks unfold on the field.

At 4-7, the team's losing record will carry more weight on whether or not Fisher remains the coach of the Rams next season. The development of Jared Goff, how the defense performs, and how Fisher handles the pressure of the next month will all determine his future in Los Angeles. 

Despite the now public spat with Dickerson and the team's record, Fisher has done a credible job in transitioning the team through the relocation process. He led the organization as they moved halfway across the country, had OTAs in Oxnard, training camp in Irvine, practices in Thousand Oaks, and games across the globe including London this season.

Fisher has not had a winning record in his five seasons with the Rams, but he was also without a franchise quarterback, something the team believes they now have in Goff. 

Fisher has the faith of his team, but the organization's hand might be forced when it comes to the faith of the fans, especially in light of the Dickerson situation. 

Rams' owner Stan Kroenke will need to have the excitement of the city and fanbase at an all-time high when the team moves into their new stadium in Inglewood in 2019. It's possible that Fisher may get a longterm extension in the offseason with one-year out clauses for the team until that time comes, but for now, all eyes will be on Fisher as he leads the team to New England.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[I Miss Him: Barkley Reveals He and Jordan No Longer Friends]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:16:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jordanbark.jpg

NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley gave an interview on the Dan Le Batard radio show this week where he explained, despite a recent photo that had been making the rounds, he and once close pal Michael Jordan have not buried the hatchet.

Barkley said a recent pic taken by TNT colleague Kenny Smith mistakenly spread the belief the two had made amends from a long-running feud. But Barkley recalled it as a brief, awkward encounter at a public event they just both happened to be attending.

"I love Michael. I miss Michael's friendship. He was a great friend to me for a long period of time. And I love him and miss him like a brother. But we just happened to be at the same place so we took a picture together," Barkley said. "We are not back to where we use to be."

Barkley explained Jordan holds a grudge for criticism Barkley levied at him as owner of the NBA Charlotte Hornets. Barkley said Jordan surrounded himself with 'yes' men who wouldn't challenge some of his questionable personnel decisions. 

"Some people, when you're their friend, expect you to have their back no matter what. And part of my job sucks some times when I have to criticize people I like or a friend," Barkley said. "He took it personally and got really angry. And I haven't really spoken to him in years."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Serena Williams on Sexism: Being a Woman Is Not a 'Flaw']]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 10:26:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/serenaserena.jpg

Serena Williams served up another ace. Only this time it was in the form of an open letter about sexism and wage disparity between males and females in sports.

The letter, initially written for Porter Magazine’s 'Incredible Women of 2016' issue, was reprinted by The Guardian on Tuesday. Williams dedicated it to “all incredible women who strive for excellence” as she wrote about gender discrimination in sports that she and other women face.

"When the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts," Williams wrote. "I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you."

The gender wage gap in professional tennis has been a topic of conversation this year. The New York Times reported in April that last year, Roger Federer received $731,000 for defending his title at the Western & Southern Open. At the same tournament, Serena Williams received $495,000 for defending her respective title. It was just one of many instances in which the compensation disparity was evident.

Williams has made it clear on many occasions that she wants to be the “best tennis player in the world,” not “the best ‘female’ tennis player in the world.” In her letter she pointed out how descriptions tend to exclusively gender-mark women. While people call her one of the greatest “female” athletes, they do not similarly say LeBron James or Tiger Woods are considered some of the greatest “male” athletes. Instead, they are just considered great athletes.

“As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success,” Williams wrote, “One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw.”

Former professional tennis player Ray Moore brought sexism in tennis to light earlier in the year with his controversial comments about how female tennis players “ride on the coattails of men” and how they should thank prominent male tennis players like Federer and Nadal “because they have carried this sport.”

But despite ongoing ignorance in the sport Williams closed her letter offering encouragement to young women to follow their dreams with resilience.

“We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Audemars Piguet]]>
<![CDATA[2016-17 Lakers Set Up For Hollywood Ending]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 02:19:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Luke-Walton-Lakers-11-30-16.jpg

After Wednesday night's game against the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers will be through 20 games of the 82-game regular season, which translates to just about a quarter of the season.

So, what have we learned?

For starters, the Lakers have been a fun team to follow because they continue to fight and win games they, seemingly, have no business winning. Save for perhaps the overly ambitious expectations that sit inside every NBA locker room at the start of a season, the Lakers have already crushed preseason predictions. Even after Tuesday's loss in New Orleans, LA is on pace to finish with 39 wins.

ESPN had the Lakers winning 25 games and finishing bottom of the Western Conference, which fits in line generally with how experts' predictions have gone in 2016: "Wrong!"

Approaching the quarter mark in the season, LA has been jumping in and out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference and has three times as many wins as last place Dallas. The Lakers may well end up in the lottery and miss out on the postseason, but this team currently looks just as likely to sneak into the playoffs and matchup against the likes of the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs or (fingers crossed) the Los Angeles Clippers.

Who wouldn't welcome a hallway series at Staples Center?

As the Lakers deal with the injury bug with hopes to hydrate and get back on their feet rather than end up on their backs in bed, the reality is that the Lakers are still a work in progress more so than most other teams. A new coach means new systems, roles and methodologies.

Thus far, Lakers coach Luke Walton has been a master motivator in terms of getting effort from his players, as the team is still adjusting to meet the coach's demands with regards to execution.

"When you break down film, you see a lot of mistakes, and as coaches, you're probably nitpicking and it's probably not fair," Walton said before his team started the current road trip. "But there's a lot of stuff we need to clean up and get better at."

Walton spoke in the wake of Sunday's win over Atlanta, when the Lakers had improved to 9-9: "The fact that we're 9-9 now, I think, speaks a lot to the effort our guys are playing with, the trust they're having in each other and not as much on the execution of the plays or getting the defensive schemes down pat, which is where we want to be."

Walton continued, "But in the meantime, if we can keep playing hard and competing, I'm confident that we'll get the more complicated stuff down as well and then, we can make real growth happen, as well."

In short, the Lakers are a work in progress and far from the finished product, even if they do pull off wins on a semi-regular basis.

Over the next 15 games, though, even injuries and inevitable losses cannot hamper the team's long-term growth. These young Lakers have already tasted enough success to continue buying into the coaching staff and playing hard more often than not. Scheduling will play a role in the standings as the season progresses, and the current stretch illustrates that point.

Including Wednesday's game in Chicago, the Lakers play 11 of their next 14 games away from Staples Center. So, the schedule decrees that LA should experience a fair amount of defeats in the coming weeks as road wins in the NBA are tough to come by. And yet, the team should continue to experience growth in terms of understanding what the coaching staff is asking for, beyond the effort.

The other side of that scheduling coin features the Lakers setting up for a fairy tale finish.

Following the All-Star break in the middle of February, LA plays 16 of the final 24 games of the season at Staples Center. Technically, one is an away game against the Clippers, but going to bed at home, going through pregame rituals at the practice facility in El Segundo and mentally getting prepared in the home locker room has value for players. Also, a fair amount of Lakers' fans tend to get into the building for those local rivalry games.

If the start of the season is any indication, Walton should have his team playing hard on a nightly basis at the least. Over time, the execution should improve. As the young team grows more comfortable with the coach's concepts, continues to build chemistry in the systems on both ends of the court and generally improves with much-needed game experience, that final stretch of the season sets the stage for a comeback story that feels all too familiar in Hollywood.

Walton summed up the present reality against the end of season hope: "The effort and the competitiveness has [sic] been off the charts almost every night for our guys, but we need to get the execution up to par with that."

With Walton's assessment in mind, one can easily see the Lakers struggle in the coming months and be counted out before putting together an impressive finish to the season that lands LA a postseason berth. The Lakers have not made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, when Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles and knocked down a couple foul shots to help LA get into the playoffs. The Lakers did not win any games and were promptly swept by the Spurs.

Coming off a franchise worst 17-win season, though, making the playoffs would provide the perfect Hollywood ending for the 2016-17 Lakers. Only, for Walton's Lakers, this season is only the beginning.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CP3 Gives Pierce CPR in Double OT Loss to Nets]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 20:16:35 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/Killer+Kilatrick.png

Things went berserk at the Barclays Center.

Sean Kilpatrick scored a season-high 38 points, Doc Rivers was ejected and Paul Pierce needed CPR from teammate Chris Paul as the Brooklyn Nets overcame an 18-point deficit to shock the Los Angeles Clippers 127-22 in double overtime.

The bizarre game saw eight ties and seven lead changes as the Clippers hit game-tying three-pointers at the end of regulation and overtime to keep the game going.

"We lost respect for the game," head coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the game. "Sometime the basketball Gods will punish you and I think that's what happened tonight."

Pierce played a season-high 29 minutes in place of Blake Griffin, who was given the night off to rest, a surprising move considering the 10-time All-Star had only appeared in two previous games entering Tuesday.

Pierce showed signs of rust against his former team, shooting 1-of-7 from the field and scoring just five points, but it was a failed dunk attempt in the second half that had fans rolling out of their seats.

Paul and Pierce were running a two-on-one break with less than a minute remaining in the first half when the point guard delivered a beautiful behind-the-back pass to Pierce who was wide-open for the dunk.

His teammates rose from their seats ready to celebrate the 39-year-old's hops, but instead Pierce missed the dunk and fell flat on his back on the play. That's when Paul went over to resuscitate his teammate by performing CPR.

Paul on the other hand, did not need any lifesaving as he scored a team-high 26 points recording a double-double with 13 assists.

DeAndre Jordan had his first 20-20 game of the season as the Clippers big man finished with 21 points and 23 rebounds in the loss.

J.J. Redick had 18 points and Austin Rivers scored 15 off the bench including a nine-point flurry in under a minute in the second half.

Kilpatrick led Brooklyn with a career-best 38 points and 14 rebounds, including 20-points in the fourth quarter.

"That's on me," continued Rivers. "We let him go to his strong hand 120 times. That was frustrating."

Brook Lopez had 27 points including four-three pointers that helped seal the victory for the Nets.

Brooklyn was up by three with 13 seconds remaining in the game when Paul hit a three-pointer from the corner to send it into overtime at 107-107. It was the first overtime game of the season for the Clippers.

Things got wild and crazy in the final second of the overtime period as DeAndre Jordan was fouled on a dunk attempt with 19 second remaining in the game.

Jordan made one of the two free throws but Doc Rivers received a technical foul from the bench. Second later, Rivers received a second technical foul and was ejected from the game by referee Ken Mauer, prompting the coach to charge the court and be restrained by players.

"It was the damnedest tech to give at that time," Rivers said. "The referee [Mauer] was away from the play and didn't know what we were talking about. It wasn't even an argument."

Brooklyn would miss three of the next four free throws, giving the Clippers a final chance to tie the game, and Jamal Crawford delivered with a game-tying three-pointer that sent the game to double overtime, the first for L.A. since March 23, 2011.

Mike Woodson took over as coach four the second extra period, but by that time the Clippers were out of gas and were unable to finish the job as the Nets held on for the win thanks to Kilpatrick.

Players of the Game:

Sean Kilpatrick: Career-high 38 points.
DeAndre Jordan: 21 points and 23 rebounds.
Chris Paul: 26 points and 13 assists.

Three Takeaways:

1. Four!!! Los Angeles Clippers can proudly boast they have the top two players with the most four-point plays in NBA history after J.J. Redick converted the 27th of his career midway through the fourth quarter. Redick now ranks second all-time behind teammate Jamal Crawford (49)

2. The Kilpatrick Quarter: Brooklyn Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick caught fire in the fourth quarter as the undrafted sophomore out of Cincinnati scored 20 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter, as the Nets erased a 13-point fourth quarter deficit.

3. You Mad, Bro? Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was ejected in the final seconds of the first overtime after he received back-to-back technical fouls from referee Ken Mauer. Rivers was heated and had to be restrained by players as he charged onto the court after Mauer.

Up Next: 

Clippers (14-5): The six-game road trip continues as L.A. visits Quickens Arena to take on the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.

Nets (5-12):  Brooklyn will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday at the Barclays Center.

Photo Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose Nick Young And The Game]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 20:19:44 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-nick-Young-injury.jpg

On Tuesday night in New Orleans, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered two big losses, though one will be felt far longer than the other. LA lost starting shooting guard Nick Young to an Achilles tendon strain before the team went on to lose by a sizable margin, 105-88, to Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Young's injury is far more concerning, as LA is already without starting point guard D'Angelo Russell while the 20-year-old recovers from a sore left knee. On night one of a daunting four-game road trip that takes place in four different cities over five nights, the already short-handed Lakers lost another key member of the rotation.

After suffering the injury, Young could be heard loudly exclaiming as he hopped towards the Lakers' bench before collapsing at center court in front of the scorers' table. The 31-year-old had to be carried off the court and into the locker room by teammates.

The team announced that Young will get an MRI in Chicago on Wednesday, and judging by Young's reaction and the potential seriousness of the injury, the former USC Trojan does not expect to feature for the Lakers against the Bulls. An official timetable for Young's return should be set following the MRI.

The Lakers also got another injury scare when forward Julius Randle landed awkwardly in the first half. The former Kentucky Wildcat, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Tuesday, limped off the court into a timeout. Randle, who was making a return to the lineup following a hip injury, managed to shake off the second quarter injury scare and provided one of the silver linings on an otherwise bleak night for the purple and gold.

Randle finished with 12 points on 6-9 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds in 22 minutes on the court.

For the Pelicans, Davis torched the Lakers for 41 points in 41 minutes, and the lanky forward also pulled down 16 rebounds. Former UCLA Bruin Jrue Holiday added 22 points in the Pelicans' victory.

Notes: Lou Williams led the Lakers with 16 points off the bench.

UPDATE: According to a couple of reports emerging from inside the Lakers' locker room, Young's injury may not be as serious as originally thought.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Racking Up Mileage on the Road]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:08:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-road-trip-New-Orleans-11-29-16.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers are in New Orleans on Tuesday evening to begin a treacherous road trip that had Lakers coach Luke Walton scratching his head.

"It is a challenge," Walton said on Sunday night when asked about the trip. "We're going from the South to the North, to the North, back to the South. It makes zero sense."

LA plays in New Orleans on Tuesday night before flying up to Illinois for a Wednesday night showdown against Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls. Then, Friday night features a quick trip to Canada to face DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors before Saturday night's Tennessee tango with Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies.

That's two back-to-backs in five nights, which amounts to four games in five nights in four different cities. Including the flight out of LA on Monday afternoon and the flight back to LA on Saturday night, the Lakers are scheduled to fly about 6,700 miles in six days. That adds up to roughly 500 miles more than the distance from Los Angeles to Beijing, China.

Also, LA doesn't exactly get a break following the bumpy plane rides. After four games in five nights in four different cities, the Lakers get home late Saturday night and host the Utah Jazz on Monday night before heading to Houston for a quick Wednesday night contest in the Lone Star State. Following that odd one-game road trip on a Wednesday, the Lakers go back home and play the Phoenix Suns on Friday night and the New York Knicks on a Sunday night before beginning a seven-game cross country road trip that starts in Sacramento and stretches as far east as Brooklyn and as far south as Miami.

Over the next 25 days, the Lakers play 15 games in 12 different cities, not counting LA.

"It's tough," Walton said about the geographic challenges of the upcoming trip. "We'll keep an eye on minutes because of the travel and the minutes and the back-to-back and already being shorthanded. It's the cliché of one game at a time, and that's what we need to do."

The Lakers begin this daunting stretch in New Orleans at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Julius Randle, who celebrates has 22nd birthday on Tuesday, is questionable to take part on Tuesday night due to a hip pointer injury, though the forward is expected back at some point during the upcoming road trip. D'Angelo Russell remains sidelined with a sore left knee that received a PRP injection. LA starts the road trip with a .500 record of 9-9.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Feud With Eric Dickerson Reaches Fever Pitch]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 04:18:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/Dickerson1.JPG

Well is there a welcome mat, or isn't there?

An escalating feud between Los Angeles Rams Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson and current head coach Jeff Fisher has seemingly reached a fever pitch.

It all started a few weeks ago when Dickerson began to criticize Fisher and the team for their up-and-down season, and their reluctance not start No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff at quarterback. 

After the team's groundbreaking ceremony in Inglewood last week, Dickerson said he was told by a friend to expect a call from either Fisher or general manager Les Snead.

The call reportedly came from Fisher, and Dickerson was told he was no longer welcome on the Rams sideline. Dickerson remained mum on who the call came from, and after the Rams embarrassing loss to the New Orleans Saints, 49-21, at the Superdome on Sunday, he spoke publicly about the team's decision on his radio show with our very own Fred Roggin on AM 570 LA Sports. 

"Someone with the Rams called me and told me I'm not wanted on sidelines at games, that what I've said makes the players uncomfortable," Dickerson told L.A. listeners without revealing who called him only saying that it was someone in "upper management."

A few hours later, the Rams Executive Vice President of Football Operations & Chief Operating Office, Kevin Demoff, took to Twitter to quell the notion that Dickerson was banned from the team.

Demoff reiterated that he did not know who reached out to Dickerson, but believed it was a "miscommunication," and that he personally reached out to Dickerson to tell him he was welcome at all games and practices.

Later in the evening, at his weekly press conference, Fisher finally weighed in on the Dickerson ban when asked by a reporter.

"I don't know where that's coming from," Fisher said. "I had a really good conversation with Eric last week. We welcome the alums. We welcome the tradition and the history."

Fisher was then pressed on the topic and asked if Dickerson was still welcome on the Rams sideline.

"He's always welcomed," continued Fisher. "I'd love to have him come in. I'd love to have him come to practice. I'd love to have him come in the meetings. Eddie George has been in my meetings more than Eric Dickerson has. I'd love to have him here."

That last comment, regarding George seemed odd, and a bit of a jab at Dickerson not attending practices and voicing his opinion from afar, but regardless, Fisher seemed to also quiet any rumors that Dickerson was not welcome and openly invited him to games and practices.

Ordinarily, the CFO, COO and Head Coach of an organization publicly stating that Dickerson is welcome would be enough to end the debate, but Dickerson continued to pour fuel on the fire as he went on Fox Sports Radio with host Jason Smith to explain what happened.

"This happened about 10 days ago," began Dickerson. "The conversation was between he [Jeff Fisher] and I. He called me and said 'Look, I just want to call you and tell you that we at the Rams aren't going to have you talking about the team and asking things from the team.'"

Dickerson explained that he had previously asked the team for sideline passes for some friends of his and that Fisher told him they would not grant his request.

"'The players feel uncomfortable with you on the sideline and as long as I'm head coach here, you can come to the games, but you're not welcome on our sideline,'" Dickerson said, quoting Fisher. "I will always be Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams and I have to say what I see."

Dickerson confirmed that Fisher told him Eddie George had come to team meetings and that he was welcome to those meetings and practices as well, but Dickerson put a final exclamation point on the call.

"I told him 'you don't have to worry about me ever coming to a game again,'" sad Dickerson. "I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable, but I told him 'As long as you're head coach, you don't have to worry about me coming to a Rams game ever again.'"

Dickerson said that Fisher tried to walk back his comments and said that Dickerson was welcome at the games and as an alum, the team wanted him a part of their organization and their future.

"I'll watch them from a distance, and I'll always support my football team 100% but I will never be at another Ram game in the Coliseum again as long as he's head coach," Dickerson said emphatically. "I want to go to a football game as much as I want to tie a bloody steak around my neck and jump in the Pacific Ocean butt naked."

It sounds like bad blood is brewing between the greatest running back in Los Angeles Rams franchise history and their current head coach. Dickerson has been retweeting messages of support from hundreds of Rams fans throughout the day and it does not appear like this beef between one of the team's most popular former players and the man at the top will end any time soon.

"I want my team to win, I'm a frustrated fan just like the other thousands out there." Dickerson said. "If you're satisfied with 8-8 you're a loser. He had the nerve to call me and tell me what he did. He doesn't have the right. He hasn't had a winning season with the Rams ever, ever, ever. "

It's safe to say that things in Tinseltown just got worse for the 4-and-7 Rams.

Photo Credit: Michael Duarte/ NBC LA]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Julius Randle - Injury Update]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 14:31:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Julius-Randle-injury-update-11-28-16.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle played through a hip pointer issue in the Los Angeles Lakers' thrilling 101-109 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the 21-year-old forward appeared hampered by the nagging injury.

Since then, he has missed three games and remains questionable to play at the start of LA's upcoming four-game road trip.

"Julius did non-contact stuff, still questionable with hopes that he'll be ready to play at some point on this road trip," Lakers coach Luke Walton provided a brief injury update on Monday.

Walton admitted that the upcoming schedule did not allow for practice time to assess the forward's progress, "He'll have to go to the gym and do some stuff whether it's before a game and really push it and once he's pain free and doing some stuff, we'll get him on the court."

According to Randle, the trickiness of the injury is that it is based in both muscle and bone. The combination led to a slower than expected healing process, but the forward is doing his best to be patient and mature about his recovery.

"I don't have to be pain free," Randle explained that the bone bruise may be more painful but isn't the major concern, as the muscular aspect could have longer effects. "I'm just trying to figure out a way around it. The biggest thing is I don't want it to get worse. It's easy to play through an injury, but I don't want it to get worse. And then, it affect us down in the long run, you know, (if) we're fighting for a playoff spot, we're fighting for a seed and I'm not there because I didn't take care of a nagging injury 20 games into the season."

Randle explained that he feels the pain and discomfort when he makes sharp "game moves" and also when he takes on contact. Given that Randle's game is heavily based on being physical, the inability to handle contact would significantly hamper the forward's effectiveness.

Randle concluded, "I want to play. It's just a process."

Notes: D'Angelo Russell is also out due to a sore left knee, which received a PRP injection. Russell is not in contention to play on the upcoming road trip, but the point guard will travel with the team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Thursday Night Football: Cowboys Go for 11th Straight Win]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:03:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_16330088209607.jpg

Dak Prescott will face as good a pass defense as he has seen all year when the rookie quarterback tries to run the Dallas Cowboys’ winning streak to 11 in-a-row on Thursday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings.

The teams face off on NBC at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Minnesota is coming off a loss to Detroit in the last seconds that was their fifth in six games following a 5-0 start. Prescott, a fourth-round draft pick who has supplanted Tony Romo, threw for a TD and ran for another on Thanksgiving Day.

The Vikings will play without their coach Mike Zimmer. He will miss the game following emergency surgery to repair a detached retina. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the interim head coach.

The Vikings’ defense has allowed 13 TDs through the air and picked off passes 12 times. Against the comparably dangerous Philadelphia defense, Prescott made a couple of shaky throws, including an interception in the end zone. But he also led Dallas back from a late 10-point hole and threw a winning TD pass in overtime.

Minnesota QB Sam Bradford should have an easier time against the Cowboys’ secondary. The sixth-year-player is on pace to blow away his previous best in completion percentage. A 31-for-37 game against Detroit bumped him up to 71.3 on the year and he’s at nearly 80 percent in November.

Four to watch:

Dallas RB Zeke Elliott: Another rookie enjoying a breakout year for the Cowboys; he’ll be leaned on heavily. His next yard will be 1,200 for the season and 200 ahead of the nearest competitor.

Dallas CB Anthony Brown: The rookie cornerback had a howler against Washington, and figures to be targeted heavily by Bradford and top Vikings WR Stefon Diggs. 

Minnesota CB Xavier Rhodes: Leads the Vikings with four interceptions this season, all in the last eight games, including one he took back for a touchdown.

Minnesota DE Danielle Hunter: Has 3.5 of his 7.5 sacks this season in the last three games. He’ll go up against a line that has allowed 15 all year.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Get Last Laugh on Dwight Howard]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 01:33:05 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Hawks-Dwight-Howard.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers' fans had the last laugh on Dwight Howard on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Howard started the game making six of his first eight shots and scoring 13 points in the opening quarter to give the visiting Atlanta Hawks an 11-point lead after 12 minutes. Atlanta had led by as many as 13 points in the opening period thanks to Howard, but Howard would only score six points in the final three quarters.

Once again, the Lakers' second unit came up big as it has been prone to doing this season.

"The energy that the second unit brought on the defensive end in that second quarter changed the outcome of that game," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.

Walton added, "The second quarter stretch is the best we've been defensively, in my opinion, all year long." 

Led by Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson offensively, LA erased the Hawks' double-digit lead and tasted the first Lakers' lead since the team led 2-0 in the opening seconds.

To cap off an eventful second quarter, starting shooting guard Nick Young returned to finish out the half and caught fire. Young hit all four of his three-point shots to enter the locker room as the leading scorer in the game with 15 points. LA managed to hold Howard to zero points in the second quarter and entered the break leading 56-48.

In the third period, the Lakers and Hawks played nearly an even 12 minutes, with the Hawks cutting into the Lakers' lead by a single point. Former Laker Kent Bazemore led the Hawks' assault with 10 points in the quarter to move up to a game high 18 points for the game. He finished with a team-high 21 points.

In the final quarter, the Lakers managed to keep hold of their lead and entered the final stretch leading by 13 points, which was the team's largest lead of the game to that point. The Lakers would extend that difference to 16 points with 5:58 remaining in the game. With five minutes remaining, the Lakers led by 18 points.

On the 100th anniversary of legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn's birth, a night the team celebrated with videos on the big screen, a scholarship presentation at halftime and a key chain giveaway for fans in attendance, the Lakers poetically put the game in the refrigerator: the lights were out, the butter was getting hard, the eggs were getting cool, and the jello was giggling.

Staying true to form, the home fans continued to jeer and harass Howard every time he touched the ball for the remainder of the game, until a chorus of boos showered the most hated former Laker on his way to the bench.

Chants of "We Want Tacos" began to sound out at Staples Center about the time the game went into the refrigerator. Eventually, the Lakers won by a final count of 109-94, and yes, everyone got tacos. The Lakers improved to 9-9 and next hit the road for a daunting stretch of four games in five nights starting with a game in New Orleans on Tuesday night. 

Notes: Nance finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds to record a double-double. Lou Williams led the Lakers in scoring with 21 points. In his first start of the season, Thomas Robinson scored nine points and pulled down eight rebounds. The Lakers were without the injured duo of D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Beat Hawks: Luke Walton Talks Second Unit]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:31:20 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-beat-Hawks-postgame-11-27_1200x675_818762308000.jpg Lakers coach Luke Walton spoke about the impact of the second unit following LA's victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center on Nov. 27, 2016 (Shahan Ahmed)]]> <![CDATA[Miami Crowd Boos Kaepernick]]> Sun, 27 Nov 2016 23:00:07 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/KaepernickDolphins.jpg

Playing in Miami on Sunday just days after getting tangled in a "heated" discussion about Fidel Castro with a newspaper reporter, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick received a "flood of boos" from the South Florida crowd, CSN Bay Area reporter Matt Maiocco tweeted.

Kaepernick's Castro talk began months ago when he flashed a shirt featuring the former leader of Cuba, who passed away late Friday, meeting with Malcolm X. The lettering across the shirt read, "Like minds think alike."

After the 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Dolphins, Kaepernick was asked about some of the statements he made, in which he defended Castro’s record of education in Cuba.

"I said was that I agree with the investment in education," Kaepernick said. "I also agree with the investment in free universal health care, as well as the involvement in him helping end apartheid in South Africa. I would hope that everybody agrees that those things are good things. Trying to push the false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things that he did, it’s just not true."

Kaepernick, who again wore a T-shirt depicting Malcolm X following Sunday's contest, was asked about his shirt selection.

"I’ve worn many Malcolm X shirts," Kaepernick said. "He was a great man, and he lived the life that he talked about. He was someone that truly walked the walk and was a great leader for the African community and someone I admire."

When asked Sunday if he understands concerns that arose with his decision to wear a shirt that portrayed Castro, Kaepernick said, "I can understand the concern. But for me what I said was that was a historic moment for Malcolm."

Kaepernick added, "I’m not going to cut out pieces of Malcolm’s life. In 1960 when they met in Harlem, that was a historic moment. That’s something that I will always be true to, what Malcolm was, what he represented, because I’m not going to cut out history.”

During a conference call earlier this week, a Miami Herald reporter, who is reportedly related to Cuban exiles, questioned the San Francisco signal caller's choice to don the shirt with Castro, to which Kaepernick responded by saying, "I'm not talking about Fidel Castro and his oppression. I'm talking about Malcom X and what he's done for people."

The reporter then condemned Kaepernick for changing the subject of the discussion away from Castro's history of abuses. The quarterback responded by applauding Castro for investing more in education instead of criminal punishment.

Kaepernick answered the jeers Sunday by leading his offensive unit to the end zone on the team's first drive of the game. He finished with 296 yards through the air and three scores to go along with 113 yards on the ground.

CSN's Matt Maiocco contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Eric Espada, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Goff Throws 3 TDs, Rams Lose in Rout]]> Sun, 27 Nov 2016 13:26:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Jared+goff+3+tds+but+rams+lose.png

It was the good, the bad, and the ugly for the Rams on Sunday.

Jared Goff was good, throwing three touchdowns in just his second career NFL start. 

The Rams defense was bad, allowing a season-high 49 points on seven touchdowns and 555 yards of total offense.

And finally, the loss was ugly as the New Orleans Saints took it to their former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as they routed the Rams 49-21 on Sunday afternoon at the Superdome.

Goff got the Rams off to a good start as he threw his first career NFL touchdown pass to Tavon Austin on the first possession of the game to give L.A. a 7-0 lead.

Goff connected with Kenny Britt for a six-yard strike to start the second quarter, and the Rams had a 14-7 lead. Unfortunately, that would be L.A.'s last lead of the game. 

New Orleans outscored the Rams 42-7 over the next three quarters, as they greeted their former defensive coordinator by scoring the most points against him than any other team has this season.

Williams was the Saints coordinator from 2009-2011, but was suspended from the NFL for a year in 2012 after the infamous "Bounty Scandal," in which league investigators discovered that Williams and other Saints coaches were paying players for targeting opponents and injuring them.

Williams was fired by the Saints after he was re-instated, and Sunday marked his first game back in the Big Easy since the bounty scandal unfolded.

Drew Brees carved up his former coordinator like a Thanksgiving turkey as the 16-year, all-pro quarterback threw for 310 yards and four touchdowns against the Rams highly rated defense.

Brees exposed holes in the defense's zone, allowing for multiple big plays down the field that ultimately broke the back of the elite group known as "The Mob Squad" 

Brees now has 30 touchdowns on the season, the ninth time in his career he has reached the milestone, tied for an NFL record with Peyyon Manning and Brett Favre. Brees also threw for over 300 yards for the 103rd time in his career, the most all-time.

Saints' receiver Michael Thomas had eight catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns, and Mark Ingram rushed for a season-high 142 yards and a touchdown. 

Despite the flashes of brilliance, and superb arm strength, Goff had his fair share of mistakes as well as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft had a first half fumble and threw a second half interception as well.

Britt continued to build upon his best season of his career as he caught five catches for 52 yards and a score. Tight-end Lance Kendricks caught four balls for 51 yards and a touchdown. 

Former high school quarterback and all-purpose player Willie Snead had four catches for 36 yards for the Saints, but he also threw for a touchdown when he connected with Tim Hightower on a 50-yard bomb down the field on a trick play in the fourth quarter.

The Rams fall to 4-7 on the season and will now have to win their remaining five games on the schedule to give Jeff Fisher his first winning season as head coach.

Players of the Game:

Drew Brees:  310 yards, 4 TDs
Jared Goff: 214 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Mark Ingram: 142 yards and 1 TD

Three Takeaways:

1. You Always Remember Your First Time: Jared Goff dropped a dime into the hands of Tavon Austin for his first career NFL touchdown pass on L.A.'s first possession of the game.

2. Welcome Back, Williams: Former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams made his return to the Big Easy for the first time since he was suspended by the NFL for a bounty scandal, and his former team embarrassed their old friend as they scored 49 points, the most any team has ever scored on a Rams defense led by Williams.

3. Fire Fisher? Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher now seems destined for another losing season and after a strong performance from Goff, Rams fans took to social media to ask why he wasn't starting all season. Shortly thereafter, the hashtag #FireFisher was trending on Twitter.

Up Next:

Rams (4-7): Things only get worse for L.A. from here as the team travels to New England to take on the Patriots.

Saints (5-6): New Orleans is still in the hunt in the NFC South as they will host the first place Detroit Lions at the Superdome next week.

Please refresh this page for more stats, updates, and player reactions…

Photo Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings Unveil New Statue, Celebrate With Win]]> Sat, 26 Nov 2016 22:50:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*122/LA+Kings+monument.png

Southern California sports fans have a new statute to look at outside Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Kings paid tribute to their 50-year storied history on Saturday when they unveiled a new monument outside the home of the Lakers, Kings, Sparks and Clippers.

The two-time Stanley Cup Champions wanted to pay homage to their rich hockey history in Los Angeles, while simultaneously bridging the gap from the stars of yesteryear, to the heroes of today.

So as a way to say "thank you" to the fans who have supported the Kings since 1967, in the days of Jack Kent Cooke at the Forum of Inglewood, to Anschultz Entertainment Group and their new home in downtown LA, the monument is a representation of it all and a symbol of pride in a city full of champions.

The nearly 12-foot high and 30-foot wide monument made of bronze, granite and glass was constructed as a gift from the Kings organization to the fans and supporters of Southern California hockey. 

The monument is more of a wall that parallels Chick Hearn Court, north of Star Plaza by Lot 1, and features legends of the L.A. Kings throughout the years.

There are six bronze sculptures in the monument and two laser drawn illustrations. From left to right, Kings goalie, Rogie Vachon is laser-etched into the granite backdrop as the image turns into a statute of Jonathan Quick making a save.

In between the next set of sculptures, is a laser-etched image of current Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, passing the puck to a five-player bronze sculpture going through multiple phases of a slap shot.

First, Hall-of-Famer Marcel Dionne, pulls back for the shot as Dave Taylor becomes the first to touch stick to puck. Former defenseman, Robe Blake, is next shown on the follow through as we begin to see a statute of Anze Kopitar with his arms raised high.

The final sculpture is that of former team captain Dustin Brown in that iconic moment from 2012 when he lifted the Stanley Cup trophy for the first time in Kings franchise history. 

A beautiful blue backdrop that looks similar to ice is behind the monument, and to the right is a waterfall cascading down, adding to the ambiance of the monument itself. Around the corner, to the left of the statue are the names of players, coaches, rosters, and donors, etched in granite.

The statue was designed and created by the Amrany family.

After the unveiling, the Kings celebrated on the ice with a victory over the best team in the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1 in overtime, for their fifth consecutive win.

Jeff Carter scored the game-winning goal in overtime as the Kings rallied from a one-goal first period deficit to defeat the three-time Stanley Cup Champions.

The winners of three out of the last five cups scored first on a deflection by Patrick Kane, but Alec Martinez tied the game in the second period before the two teams headed for overtime. 

Not a bad way to celebrate. 

Photo Credit: Michael Duarte]]>
<![CDATA[USC Await Pac-12 Fate After Rout of Rival Notre Dame]]> Sat, 26 Nov 2016 17:34:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/USC+over+ND.png

They say that waiting is the hardest part.

USC scored a touchdown on offense, defense, and special teams as the Trojans dominated the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame 45-27 in the 88th matchup of one of the greatest rivalries in college football.

The Trojans victory over their bitter rivals puts them in position to win the Pac 12 South division, but they will have to wait for the outcome of the No. 22 Utah vs. No. 9 Colorado game on Saturday night to determine their fate. A Buffaloes win, and the Trojans regular season comes to an end. A Buffs loss, and the Trojans will meet the Washington Huskies in the Pac 12 Championship game Friday, Dec. 2 at 6:00PM PST.

"We're going to watch the game together," said QB Sam Darnold. "It's out of our control, but it's defnitely going to be fun to watch and we'll see what happens."

All-purpose star Adore'e Jackson scored in three different ways for USC, as the Heisman hopeful returned a punt, kick and a pass for a touchdown in the game.

Jackson showed why he likely will be a first round talent at the NFL level as he returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter before adding a 52-yard touchdown reception and a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Jackson had nearly 300 total yards of offense in the game and now has 21 touchdowns in his collegiate career.

"Honestly, I was sad because the seniors were leaving, so I was in my feelings a little bit. I'm not going to lie," Jackson said of how he felt before the game. "I was a little emotional before the game, but I wanted to do something for them and make sure they went out with a bang. When I got the ball in my hands I just wanted to make sure I made plays."

Ronald Jones II continued his recent string of rushing success as he broke out a 51-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to give the Trojans a 10-7 lead. Jones II rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown in the victory, the eighth in a row for USC.

JuJu Smith-Schuster had four catches for 23 yards and a touchdown and Sam Darnold was 19-for-29 for 205 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt freshman quarterback improved to 8-1 as the starter and did not commit a turnover in the game.

"Every game it's awesome to have all our athletes out here to make plays," Darnold said. "Whenever guys can make plays when they're called upon, that's truly special."

The game turned on a dime late in the first half when it appeared that the Irish had snapped the ball out of the end zone, granting the Trojans a safety. 

However, referees said that they had not signaled for the start of the play and reversed the call. Notre Dame was allowed to attempt the punt again, and Jackson returned it for a touchdown. On the ensuing drive for the Irish, Kizer threw an interception to Ajene Harris for a pick-six and the Trojans went into the half with a 24-7 lead.

"It was a close game. Rain was coming down, wind was blowing and we were hoping and praying for a big play," said USC head coach Clay Helton. "That was a 14-point swing right before the half and that really was the turning point in the game."

The Trojans must have been hit with the spirit of the holiday season at halftime, as they gifted the Fighting Irish a touchdown to start the second half. After the USC defense once again held Notre Dame to a three-and-out, Jackson fumbled away a punt, putting the Irish deep in Trojan territory.

A few players later, junior DeShone Kizer found his favorite target, sophomore Chris Finke, for a 14-yard touchdown strike. Kizer was 17-for-31 for 220 yards with touchdowns and an interception.

The youthful Irish were led by sophomore Josh Adams who rushed for 180 yards, including a 74-yard scamper in the first quarter that placed the ball on the one-yard line. One play later, Kizer punched it in on a quarterback keeper for the touchdown.

USC ends the regular season with a record of 9-3 and have won eight-in-a-row after starting the season 1-3. Their fate is now in the hands of Colorado as they will either play for a Pac-12 Championship, or a bowl game, the next time they take the field.

Players of the Game:

Adore'e Jackson: Punt, kick, and pass return TDs.
Josh Adams: 180 yards
Ronald Jones II: 134 yards and a touchdown.

Three Takeaways:

1. Rain on my Parade: The last time it rained at the LA Memorial Coliseum for a Trojans home game was on November 27, 2010, also against Notre Dame when the Irish upended the Trojans in the final seconds of the game.

2. Twenty Times Means Something: USC's victory is the 20th time in school history the Trojans have swept rivals UCLA and Notre Dame in the same season.

3. Refereeing just got real: Referee Ron Cherry showed the world that officials aren't exempt to hard hits either when he was drilled by USC linebacker Michael Hutchings after the Trojans sacked the Irish on a third-and-long. The collision was an accident, but Cherry stayed on the ground for quite a while before he was finally taken into the locker room for further testing.

"I want to wish Ron Cherry the best, that was a tough blow and they took him to the hospital. I wish him a speedy recovery," said USC head coach Clay Helton after the game.

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Image]]>