<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports - [LA FEATURE] SoCal Sports 4 You]]>Copyright 2019http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sportsen-usSat, 20 Apr 2019 19:52:27 -0700Sat, 20 Apr 2019 19:52:27 -0700NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Angels' Ohtani Takes Another Step in Return From Tommy John]]>Sat, 20 Apr 2019 16:49:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels21.jpg

Shohei Ohtani's drives into the seats at Angel Stadium came with an audience Friday, when the Los Angeles Angels' two-way standout took another step toward his return from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani took batting practice with teammates for the first time since the operation, preparing to return to the team this season as a designated hitter. He also threw from 90 feet for the first time, but he is not projected to pitch again until 2020 as he continues with his elbow rehabilitation following surgery Oct. 1.

The Angels have said Ohtani is expected to return to the lineup in May, although a precise date hasn't been announced.

Ohtani says his solo batting practice sessions had gotten lonely. His teammates weren't the only onlookers he was hoping to impress.

"It was more about showing the front office and the medical staff that I am healthy and feeling strong and maybe (I can) make my return early," Ohtani said through an interpreter.

Ohtani was last season's AL Rookie of the Year after hitting 22 homers and posting a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. He says he could be ready to see live pitching in about a week and would like to travel with the Angels to Monterrey, Mexico, for a May 4-5 series against the Houston Astros.

Manager Brad Ausmus was not about to target the international trip for his power hitter's return.

"Would I like to take him to Mexico? If he's ready, I will take him to Mexico," Ausmus said. "But I don't know. I can't answer that."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bellinger, Muncy, Urias Lead Dodgers Past Brewers 3-1]]>Thu, 18 Apr 2019 22:33:24 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-AP_19109105587877.jpg

Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich chatted in the outfield after batting practice ended.

Once Thursday's game started, the bats of the National League home run co-leaders kept the exchange going. Bellinger hit his 10th home run, Max Muncy also went deep, and Julio Urias struck out a career-high nine and allowed one hit in six strong innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 Thursday night to extend their winning streak to five games.

"Just conversations, just talking about baseball," Bellinger said of the dialogue between the two. "He's great on and off the field."

Bellinger drove a 3-2 pitch from reliever Matt Albers (1-1) into the Dodgers' bullpen in right center in the sixth inning.

"It's going to be fun competing against him, hopefully, all year," Bellinger said after Yelich added his own homer and the pair moved into a tie with Oakland's Khris Davis with a major league-leading 10 homers.

Muncy followed Bellinger's drive with a two-run shot that landed in the netting above the Brewers' bullpen in left. That was all the offense Urias (1-1) needed.

"He was great," Bellinger said of Urias, who is headed back to the bullpen after two spot starts against the Brewers. "Spotting every single pitch. Really confident up there."

The Brewers saw a totally different Urias than the one they beat 8-5 at Dodger Stadium six days ago, when he allowed six runs, five earned, on six hits.

"He was really good tonight," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Urias. "Best he's thrown. The differentiation between the fast ball and the change up tonight was very subtle. Those guys weren't taking good swings, weren't getting good looks at it."

Asked where Urias fits into the pitching plans, the Dodgers manager had a quick answer.

"We feel he's a major league starter," Roberts said. "Julio's certainly proved that." Orlando Arcia slapped a single up the middle with two outs in the fifth for the only hit off Urias.

"He just made a lot more pitches," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Outside of (Luis) Castillo's start for the Reds, that was the best anybody has pitched against us this year."

Caleb Ferguson pitched a scoreless seventh. Joe Kelly came on with one out and one on in the eighth and escaped, thanks to left fielder Joc Pederson's throw to plate that beat Hernan Perez' slide home.

Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his sixth save, despite Yelich hitting his 10th homer of the season. Yelich went 2 for 12 with no RBIs, walk or extra-base hit in the three-game series last weekend. He came into Thursday's game, batting .500 with four homers and 11 RBIs during the current homestand. He was 0 for 3 against Urias.

Milwaukee starter Zach Davies allowed three hits over five innings, with three walks and two strikeouts. Twice he stranded runners at third and turned a scoreless tie over to Albers in the sixth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with left hamstring soreness. Brewers: RHP Alex Wilson (1-0, 8.31 ERA, 9 games) is scheduled to come off the paternity list on Friday with a corresponding roster move to follow.

STATS

Urias is the second Dodgers pitcher to allow just one hit and strike out nine or more Brewers in a start, joining Chan Ho Park who did it August 29, 2000, at County Stadium.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling (1-1, 2.92 ERA) comes off his longest career start against the Brewers on Sunday. He allowed one run on four hits over eight innings in a 7-1 win.

Brewers: RHP Jhoulys Chacin (2-2, 6.52) makes his fifth start and second of the season against Stripling and the Dodgers. He went 2 1/3 innings on Sunday and gave up six runs on six hits and three walks.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Aaron Gash/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Mariners Blow 8-Run Lead, Rally for 11-10 Win Over Angels]]>Fri, 19 Apr 2019 01:43:53 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-AP_19109122638848.jpg

The Mariners jumped to an eight-run lead in the seventh inning and then promptly gave it all back to the Los Angeles Angels.

Seattle still pulled out an unlikely victory when Jay Bruce came up with the last big hit in a game chock-full of offensive excellence and regrettable pitching.

Bruce delivered a tiebreaking pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth, and the Mariners blew that enormous lead before rallying for an 11-10 victory Thursday night.

Ryon Healy homered twice and drove in five runs, and Omar Narvaez added a three-run shot as the Mariners snapped their six-game skid even after wasting a 10-2 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh.

"It's not the way you draw it up, but they found a way," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "That seventh inning got crazy."

Servais is understating it. Right after the Mariners scored three runs while batting around in the seventh, the Angels scored seven runs on seven hits while sending 11 men to the plate in the bottom half.

After the Mariners failed to score despite loading the bases with one out in the eighth, David Fletcher hit a tying homer leading off the bottom half for LA.

But the Mariners stranded two Angels in scoring position to end the eighth before rallying against Angels closer Cody Allen (0-1) for their ninth win in 10 road games this season, including six straight.

Mitch Haniger got a one-out single and scored on a bouncing single to left through the Angels' defensive shift by Bruce, who had just gone 1 for 18 on Seattle's winless six-game homestand.

"That was a marathon," said Healy, who hit a three-run homer in the second and a two-run shot in the sixth. "Baseball really shows you every aspect of itself. That was fun."

Kole Calhoun hit a two-run homer and Andrelton Simmons had three hits while driving in two runs for the Angels, who lost their fourth straight in heartbreaking fashion. Los Angeles' six-game home winning streak also ended, interrupting the Halos' best start to a season at home since 1982.

"It's just as frustrating as when a guy hits it over the fence," Allen said of Bruce's modest RBI single. "Our (offense) threw us on their backs tonight and tried to pull us out of a deep hole."

The Angels didn't get back to Anaheim from Texas until 5 a.m. because of weather delays, and they weren't required to report to the clubhouse until two hours before first pitch — yet they still pounded out 16 hits — three more than Seattle. Chris Stratton returned early from Arlington, but yielded seven hits and six runs in five-plus innings of another rough start.

"I hate that I squandered such a great offensive output that we had," Stratton said. "The guys had a tough travel day, and to do that is really impressive."

Narvaez connected in the seventh off reliever Jake Jewell to put the Mariners up 10-2, but the Angels dramatically rallied moments later.

Felix Hernandez gave up four runs while pitching into the seventh, but Peter Bourjos' RBI double chased him. Calhoun then delivered a two-run shot, and run-scoring hits from Simmons, Albert Pujols and Tommy La Stella trimmed the lead to 10-9.

Fletcher tied it with the second homer of his big league career on the second pitch by Anthony Swarzak (2-0), who eventually struck out Brian Goodwin with two runners on to keep it tied.

Roenis Elias pitched the ninth for his third save.

CHASING BABE

Pujols drove in two runs, giving him 1,991 career RBIs. He is one RBI behind Babe Ruth for fifth place in baseball history.

CELT PRIDE

Healy has history at Angel Stadium: Nearly a decade ago, he homered and also struck out seven on this field while leading Encino's Crespi High School to victory in a state championship game.

VISITING EXPERT

King Felix's bullpen couldn't hang on to just his sixth victory at Angel Stadium in his 28th career start. That's the most starts ever made by a visiting pitcher in Anaheim, passing Bert Blyleven's 27. Hernandez also passed Hall of Famer Jack Morris for 37th place in baseball history with 2,480 strikeouts.

TROUT POOL

Mike Trout went 1 for 5 in his fourth straight game as the Angels' designated hitter while returning to full health from a groin injury. He hopes to play center field this weekend.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: Shohei Ohtani will join his teammates for the first time in batting practice before Friday's game. Ohtani has been hitting on the field against a pitching machine for a week. The AL Rookie of the Year is likely to face live pitching next week.

UP NEXT

Marco Gonzales (4-0, 3.19 ERA) looks to continue his strong start to the season for Seattle. The Angels counter with Felix Pena (0-1, 3.65), who hasn't gone five innings in a start this season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Not This Time! Comeback Clippers Get Walloped by Warriors ]]>Fri, 19 Apr 2019 00:18:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/Warriors+Clippers+Game+3.png

The Warriors knew the truth about Game 2.

They should never have lost.

If not for the greatest comeback in NBA postseason history, the Warriors would be up 3-0, and on the precipice of a first-round sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers.

So when the Warriors went up by 31 points with 7:10 left in the third quarter on Thursday—the same lead they lost in Game 2—this time they kept their foot on the gas.

"I think everybody felt like we had that game in hand last game," said Warriors' forward Kevin Durant. " A 30-point lead. Hasn't happened in 30 some years. It's kind of natural and normal for anybody watching that game to kind of relax, right? Even at home. But the players can't do that. I think we did that. I think that was just a smart lesson that we can learn from."

Durant made sure it didn't happen again, scoring 38 points as the Golden State Warriors walloped the Los Angeles Clippers, 132-105, in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series at Staples Center.

"He came out super aggressive, in kill mode," said Draymond Green who finished with eight points and 10 assists. "I think he was due for a game like this. There's been a lot of talk about him and that matchup [with Patrick Beverly]. How many people can stop Kevin if Kevin don't want to be stopped? He showed that tonight."

Durant made his impact felt early and often, scoring 27 points as the Warriors took a commanding 21-point lead at the half. 

"I think Coach [Steve] Kerr came up with some plays for me at the start of the game," said Durant of his hot start. "I think doing that kind of set the tone. Just putting pressure on the defense through post-ups, through dribble handoffs. We was just more patient tonight, to sum it up."

In fact, the Warriors have taken commanding leads in each of the first three games of the series, and have led for 135 minutes of the 144 played in the series thus far.

They led by 19 points in Game 1, 31 points in Game 2, and by as many as 36 points in Game 3.

If not for a lack of defensive focus in the fourth quarter of Game 2, the Warriors and Clippers matchup would look more like a varsity team taking it to their JV counterpart.

"The game got away from us the other night, everybody knows that," said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. "We just had to keep the same mentality and same defensive focus. We have to play the full 48-minutes. We did that tonight."

Stephen Curry added 21 points, and the Warriors set the tone early with 41 points in the first quarter, as they led wire-to-wire for the easy win in Game 3.

"High energy, high focus. We tried to set the tone early in the first six minutes," said Curry of the difference in the in the first quarter. "As much momentum as we lost in the final 16 minutes of Game 2, we got it all back early. Everybody was clicking. Seemed like every possession we knew what we were trying to accomplish on both ends of the floor. Everybody was aggressive, decisive, getting good shots on every possession. Helped that most of them were going in."

Not only was everything going in, but Durant and Curry saw the rim look more like the Pacific Ocean as everything they shot went splash in the first quarter. The Warriors shot 80 percent from deep in the first 12 minutes and 70 percent from the field overall.

"They came ready to play." said the NBA's presumptive 6th Man of the Year Award winner Lou Williams of the Warriors. "We embarrassed them on their home floor that last game. I'm guessing that's how they felt. They made a concerted effort to come back and respond tonight."

A win on Easter Sunday, and the Warriors can send the Clippers to the brink of elimination, and close out the series at Oracle next Wednesday.

Before the game, Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers said he still had nightmares that his team was down by 31 points in Game 2. He admitted that if they went down 31 again in Game 3, it wasn't going to turn out as well.

He was right. 

With the Warriors more focused on not making the same mistake twice, the Clippers comeback fell well short of the miraculous victory they stole in Game 2.

"It's just not very smart to get down by 31 points," said Rivers after Game 3. "Honestly, I don't care who you're playing, if you get down, it's hard. The better the team, it's harder. So to think you're going to do that against them again is fool's gold."

Williams only had 16 points and Montrezl Harrell finished with 15. Ivica Zubac had 18 points and 15 rebounds, and was the only Clippers starter in double figures.

"To say we were embarrassed is accurate. We got beat by 30 points on our home court," said Zubac. "I just have to play harder. I have to do my best every possession and in what I do. I have to be a star in my role whatever it takes. I need to be aggressive as I can be."

The Warriors were definetely the aggressor on Thursday, as they outplayed the Clippers in nearly every facet of the game. They outrebounded the Clippers, 50-43, had more assists, 35-to-21, and had 11 blocks, compared to just two for L.A.

After struggling from the field in the fourth quarter of Game 2, the Warriors shot 55 percent from the field in Game 3, and a scorching, 43 percent from beyond the arc.

Next

Game 4 is set for Easter Sunday at 12:30PM PT.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Todd McLellan Introduced as LA Kings' 29th Head Coach]]>Thu, 18 Apr 2019 06:06:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kingGettyImages-1137791462.jpg

Todd McLellan was peppered with questions about walking into a rebuild with the Los Angeles Kings. The new head coach was adamant: "I chose to come here."

McLellan, 51, was introduced as the 29th head coach in franchise history Wednesday, taking over a team that finished with the second-worst record in the league and its worst season in more than a decade.

He came to LA for three reasons: the people, the plan and the autonomy. He trusts the people in the organization, starting with General Manager Rob Blake, whom he coached in San Jose.

He was impressed by the detailed plan in place, and he accepts the responsibility to make that plan a reality.

"The plan is we've got to become a younger team," McLellan said. "I believe the way the game is played now, we have to look at how we play and make adjustments that way. I think the old dogs have to learn new tricks as well. That's going to be the key — blending the old with the new."

McLellan is familiar with the Kings, having coached in the Pacific Division for 11 seasons with the Sharks and Oilers and making the playoffs in seven of his 10 full seasons behind the bench.

"In some strange way, I feel comfortable being here," McLellan said, pointing to the rivalry between the Sharks and Kings.

Blake said his relationship with McLellan started with their time together with the Sharks.

"It goes back to San Jose days," Blake said. "We had a relationship. I got to see through numerous meetings, through playoff years, through good times, through bad times."

There might be some rough times before the McLellan-led Kings turn the corner, and he was willing to accept that reality. But McLellan believed the issues last season were due to how the team approached a down season.

"It's more of the players giving permission to have the off-year," McLellan said. "That's unacceptable. This team won Cups because of attitudes and character. Not because they were the most skilled."

McLellan said he has heard complaints from veterans such as Drew Doughty, who said he wants a coach who will come in and "kick our ass a little bit."

And he's willing to do that.

"Obviously, there's a clear message and I'm prepared to do that," McLellan said. "I accepted that responsibility when I chose to come here. But that has to be a partnership between player and coach. They have to accept the poking and prodding that a coaching staff is going to do."

Moreover, he said, it's also on the players to do their fair share.

"If the players are making the comments, some of that's on them as well," McLellan said. "They're winners. They've proven they can win. They just need to elevate their standards a little bit more and I have to help them do that."

McLellan noted that the Kings were in the playoffs this time last year. Somewhere between that team and last season's team is reality.

"We're running a marathon and we're at mile one," he said. "That's where the plan starts. We've got a lot of hard work ahead of us."



Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James to Be Executive Producer of Boxing Series]]>Wed, 17 Apr 2019 14:54:23 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1141602188.jpg

LeBron James is getting into the boxing business.

James is an executive producer of "40 Days," a documentary series about the buildup to big fights that will debut with a focus on the middleweight unification bout between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs.

The series is a partnership between Uninterrupted, the platform founded by James and partner Maverick Carter, and DAZN, which will stream the May 4 fight in Las Vegas.

The first episode will debut April 23 on Uninterrupted's channels and DAZN, then on Univision, NBC Sports Network and a group of regional sports networks that includes MSG.

Carter says Wednesday that Uninterrupted has partnered with DAZN, which signed Alvarez to a contract worth at least $365 million, in hopes of reaching a "new audience of global boxing fans that want to see another side to these athletes that has yet to be shown."

The title of the series is derived from the roughly five days of training for eight weeks to prepare for a fight. The second episode is set for April 30.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Torrance Marine to Be Honored at Dodger Game]]>Wed, 17 Apr 2019 11:23:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/GettyImages-1133291636.jpg

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Cameron Huntelman of Torrance will be honored as the Military Hero of the Game Wednesday as the Los Angeles Dodgers play host to the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium to conclude their second homestand of the 2019 season.

Huntelman enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2012. He served in the 3rd Marine Logistics Group in Okinawa, Japan, as a communicator and later as a transportation capacity planning tool operator responsible for troop movement logistics.

Huntelman is the radio platoon sergeant for the 5th Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment Oscar Battery. His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Certificate of Commendations and Meritorious Mast.

Wednesday's 12:10 p.m. start stems from Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, where earlier game times are required on travel days to accommodate teams making cross-country flights. The Dodgers are scheduled to begin a seven-game road trip Thursday in Milwaukee.



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[True Blue Dodgers Fans in Photos]]>Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:52:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/164*120/sandra-zubia-dodgers-fans.jpgDodgers fans show off their true blue pride.

Photo Credit: Sandra Zubia]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrities in the Stands: Dodgers Edition]]>Tue, 26 Mar 2019 08:47:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/10.28.18_Dodgers-Matt-Damon.jpgHollywood celebrities show off their Dodger blue.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[It's NFL Schedule Day: What's Ahead for the Upcoming Season]]>Wed, 17 Apr 2019 18:21:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/190*120/GettyImages-1038901340.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams and Chargers will rack up the miles next season.

Los Angeles' two teams already knew Wednesday morning they'd be traveling to London and Mexico City for two of the league's five international games in 2019.

By Wednesday afternoon, both teams released their 2019 schedules.

Rams

  • Week 1: at Panthers, 10 a.m.
  • Week 2: vs. Saints, 1:25 p.m.
  • Week 3: at Browns. 5:20 p.m., NBC Sunday Night Football
  • Week 4: vs. Buccaneers, 1:05 p.m.
  • Week 5: at Seahawks, 5:20 p.m.
  • Week 6: vs. 49ers, 1:05 p.m.
  • Week 7: at Falcons, 10 a.m.
  • Week 8: vs. Bengals, 10 a.m.
  • Week 9: Bye
  • Week 10: at Steelers, 1:25 p.m.
  • Week 11: vs. Bears, 5:20 p.m., NBC Sunday Night Football
  • Week 12: vs. Ravens, 5:15 p.m.
  • Week 13: at Cardinals, 1:05 p.m.
  • Week 14: vs. Seahawks, 5:20 p.m.,, NBC Sunday Night Football
  • Week 15: at Cowboys, 1:25 p.m.
  • Week 16: at 49ers
  • Week 17: vs. Cardinals, 1:25 p.m.

In addition to home-away match-ups against division foes Seattle, Arizona and San Francisco, the Rams will travel to Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Dallas. Outside of the division, they'll host New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Chicago.

Chargers

  • Week 1 vs. Indianapolis Colts, Sept. 8, 1:05 p.m.
  • Week 2 at Detroit Lions, Sept. 15, 10 p.m.
  • Week 3 vs. Houston Texans, Sept. 22, 1:25 p.m.
  • Week 4 at Miami Dolphins, Sept. 29, 10 a.m.
  • Week 5 vs. Denver Broncos, Oct. 6, 1:05 p.m.
  • Week 6. vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Oct. 13, 5:20 p.m., NBC Sunday Night Football
  • Week 7 at Tennessee Titans, Oct. 20, 1:05 p.m.
  • Week 8 at Chicago Bears, Oct. 27, 10 a.m.
  • Week 9 vs. Green Bay Packers, Nov. 3, 1:25 p.m.
  • Week 10 at Oakland Raiders, Nov. 7, 5:20 p.m.
  • Week 11 vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Mexico City)
  • Week 12 BYE This marks the Chargers’ latest bye since 1990.
  • Week 13 at Denver Broncos, Dec. 1, 1:25 p.m.
  • Week 14 at Jacksonville Jaguars, Dec. 8, 1:05 p.m.
  • Week 15 vs. Minnesota Vikings, Dec. 15, 5:20 p.m., NBC Sunday Night Football
  • Week 16 vs. Oakland Raiders, Dec. 21 or 22
  • Week 17 at Kansas City Chiefs, Dec. 29, 10 a.m.

The Chargers will play home-away divisional tilts with Denver, Kansas City and Oakland. Outside of the division, they play at Chicago, Arizona, Miami, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Detroit and Tennessee, and host against Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota and Pittsburgh.

The Rams are scheduled to face the Cincinnati Bengals at London's Wembley Stadium Oct. 27, and the Chargers will play the Chiefs at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca Nov. 18, the league announced Wednesday morning. 

The games are two of five international match-ups for the 2019 regular season.

The game will be the Rams' third in London since they returned to Los Angeles in 2016 and be considered a home game. The Rams had been scheduled to play in Mexico City in the 2018 season, but the game was shifted to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum following an inspection of the field at Estadio Azteca that determined the playing surface "does not meet NFL standards for playability and consistency," according to the league. 

The Chargers-Chiefs matchup in Mexico City was announced Jan. 21. It is considered a Chargers home game. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Santa Anita to Continue Racing Despite Protests]]>Fri, 19 Apr 2019 01:00:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Santa-Anita-crops.jpg

Santa Anita will continue racing through the end of the current meet on June 23, despite objections from animal rights activists who urged the California Horse Racing Board to shutter the historic track in the wake of 23 horse deaths.

Chairman Chuck Winner said at the racing board's monthly meeting Thursday that he saw no reason to reallocate any of Santa Anita's dates to another track.

Since the Arcadia track reopened March 29, one horse died during a turf race. Overall, 23 horses have died in training or racing incidents since Dec. 26, which resulted in the track closing for most of last month.

Eleven of 20 people who addressed the board during a public comment period identified themselves as animal rights activists, with several quoting statistics about horse deaths from the same website. Some called for a ballot measure next year that would ask California voters to decide on the future of horse racing in the state.

"How many more horses will have to die on your watch before you realize Santa Anita is not safe for horses?" said Kiersten Cluster, who identified herself as co-founder of Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles. "You have the opportunity to end this suffering."

Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, and Tim Ritvo, TSG's chief operating officer, were on hand but didn't speak.

Racing board vice chairman Madeline Auerbach challenged some of the activists' facts involving care of retired racehorses and slaughter, and urged them to become better informed.

One woman who called herself an animal rights activist admitted she had only attended one horse race about five years ago.

"This needs to get closed down," Zafir Molina said. "I know it's difficult to hear."

Cliff Goodrich prefaced his remarks by telling the board he is biased because he loves horses and the racing industry. He is executive director of a group that helps backstretch workers.

"Their solution for change is to shut down the industry. I'm sorry, that's too drastic a step and is ridiculous on its merit," said Goodrich, a former Santa Anita president. "I wish the animal rights lovers would work with us instead of against us."

Many of the activists departed the meeting when the public comment portion ended and weren't present when the board said racing would continue as scheduled.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Benoit Photo via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Angels Shut Out by Rangers]]>Wed, 17 Apr 2019 03:50:47 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-AP_19107108718567.jpg

Mike Minor got to finish what he started, something the lefty never got a chance to do for the Texas Rangers last season in his return to a rotation.

Minor threw a three-hitter for his first career shutout, limiting the Los Angeles to three singles in his 103 pitches as the Rangers got drastically different two-run homers from Joey Gallo and Asdrubal Cabrera in a 5-0 win Tuesday night.

"It's just about pitching," Minor said. "There's no other obstacles in the way. It's if I'm getting guys out and the pitch count is right, then go back out there and pitch."

Minor (2-1), who got his second career complete game in 142 starts, has pitched seven innings in three consecutive starts for the first time since late in the 2014 season with the Atlanta Braves. That was before he missed the next two seasons because of a torn labrum in his shoulder.

After coming back as a full-time reliever for Kansas City in 2017, he signed a three-year deal with the Rangers before last season for the chance to be a starter again. He led them with 12 wins last season, when his longest outing was seven innings and most of his starts were on extended rest, before becoming their opening-day starter this year.

"He was just dominant all the way. He used all of his pitches, kept them off-balance. A lot of weak swings," manager Chris Woodward said. "He made a lot of ugly swings on a lot of their guys, and it was pretty impressive. ... That's our No. 1 right there."

Minor was at 96 pitches after getting the final two outs in the eighth on two pitches. He needed only seven pitches to finish off the first complete-game home shutout for the Rangers since Colby Lewis against Oakland in September 2015.

Asked if he's better now than ever, Minor responded, "Yeah, maybe. I had a really good year in 2013 right before my shoulder started hurting me. I think I have better stuff now than I did back then."

There were also a couple of defensive gems from his teammates.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus made a diving stop up the middle, scooping the ball from his glove to second baseman Danny Santana for the relay of a double play in the sixth. That was an inning after third baseman Cabrera made a sliding grab, then got up and threw leadoff hitter David Fletcher out at first.

Minor struck out seven and walked two. The only time the Angels had a runner reach second base was when Fletcher led off the game with a walk and moved up on a single by Andrelton Simmons, a former teammate of Minor's with the Braves who had two of the hits.

"He always had the potential. I mean, he was dealing with some injuries before," Simmons said. "It looks like he's feeling better now. He pitched phenomenally."

Cabrera put Texas up 3-0 when his deep fly ricocheted of the wrist of leaping right fielder Kole Calhoun and went over the 8-foot wall in the fourth off Jaime Barria (1-1).

"Tried to make a play on the ball, hit the wall, and it popped over. It's kind of bad luck," Calhoun said.

Gallo, who like Cabrera hit his sixth homer, pulled a 439-foot shot that landed on the concourse beyond the lower-level seats to greet reliever Dillon Peters in the sixth and make it 5-0.

NOT AS PERFECT

The only previous complete-game shutout by Texas against the Angeles was Kenny Rogers' perfect game in Arlington on July 28, 1994.

SHORT HOPS

The Angels are 2-14 in their last 16 road games dating back to last September -- a span in which they are 12-2 at home. ... The Rangers have homered in all 10 of their home games, the longest season-opening home HR streak in Texas history. ... It was the second shutout of the season for Texas, both at home after having only one shutout win at home last season. ... Los Angeles was held scoreless for the first time since its season-opening 4-0 loss at Oakland.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: Two-time AL MVP Mike Trout was the DH for the second game in a row in his return from missing three games with a right groin strain. Trout had an infield single in the sixth and has reached base in all 14 of his games, his longest on-base streak to start a season.

UP NEXT

Angels: Matt Harvey (0-1) is still looking for his first win with the Angels. It will be his fourth start and second against the Rangers, who had eight runs and 10 hits in four innings off of him April 4.

Rangers: Lance Lynn (1-1) works on extended six days' rest since he allowed one run and struck out nine over six innings to win at Arizona.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Center DeMarcus Cousins Sidelined Indefinitely After Tearing Left Quadriceps]]>Tue, 16 Apr 2019 17:27:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19106121955315.jpg

DeMarcus Cousins has a torn left quadriceps muscle that will sideline the Golden State center indefinitely, a devastating injury that the Warriors feared was serious when he went down in the first quarter of their first-round playoff loss to the Clippers.

An MRI exam Tuesday morning on Cousins' left leg revealed the tear. The two-time defending NBA champion Warriors said Cousins will begin rehabilitation immediately and updates will be "provided as appropriate."

Coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors' 135-131 Game 2 loss on Monday night that Cousins would be out for a significant period.

Playing in just his second career postseason game after a nine-year wait, Cousins went down in the first quarter in front of the Golden State bench after swiping a ball from Patrick Beverley in the back court. He immediately grabbed at his left quad. Cousins hobbled to the locker room at the 8:09 mark.

Cousins had just returned in January from a nearly yearlong absence following surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon suffered while with the Pelicans last season.

He had two points, two rebounds and an assist in less than 4 minutes Monday. He fouled out of Saturday's 121-104 Game 1 win with nine points, nine rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes.

"I know it's frustrating for him. I've been through something like that, getting hurt, getting all the way back and then getting hurt again, so I know how frustrating it is," Warriors center Kevon Looney said. "He is a resilient guy. He's been through adversity before and I know he's going to bounce back. His spirit is probably low right now, but he's a tough guy and he'll be back better than ever."

Looney picked up more minutes with Cousins' injury and scored a career-high 19 points while making all six of his shots in 19 minutes. Kerr is likely to use a combination of shot-blocking presence Andrew Bogut and Looney going forward this postseason.

Bogut's signing last month for a second stint with the franchise means so much more now. Kerr called him an "insurance policy" and Bogut — who had been playing back home in Australia — has made the most of his chances. He had nine rebounds, three points and a blocked shot in 16 minutes Monday.

He played on the Warriors' 2015 championship team and the 73-win team the following season that lost in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005 out of Utah, Bogut has been open to any role Kerr chooses for him, which now could be starting.

"Obviously, there will be more minutes," he said after the game. "It'll still be matchup dependent, but I anticipate probably starting games, playing the first three or four minutes and then coming out."

Stephen Curry expects the backups to fill the void as the Warriors' depth has done all season, with Jordan Bell also likely to be in the mix.

"Exactly what they've been doing. They've been playing amazing the last part of the regular season and these first two games," Curry said. "... It may look a little different considering the skill and talent and level that Boogie can bring when he's healthy."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Hit 37th Homer to Beat Reds 6-1, Win 3rd in a Row]]>Wed, 17 Apr 2019 00:55:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-AP_19107169438258.jpg

Alex Verdugo carries himself as though he's an everyday player, and lately he's been producing like one.

The 22-year-old outfielder tied his career high with three RBIs and helped the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-1 on Tuesday night for their third straight win.

Verdugo is batting .370 with two home runs and 10 RBIs, having hit safely in six of seven starts this season. He's getting opportunities because of injuries, although he'd prefer they came another way.

"Driving in runs at this level is a big thing," he said. "For me, it's just fill in wherever I go. Control what I can control."

Verdugo is staying patient while waiting his turn at becoming a regular.

"He's just showing glimpses of what he's capable of," said teammate Joc Pederson, who hit a two-run homer for the second straight game. "Not getting consistent at-bats throws a wrench into it, but he's making the most of it."

Verdugo had a two-run double in the seventh inning. He reached on an infield single that scored Corey Seager in the first.

"He brings a lot of energy and skill," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "It's fun to see that youthful enthusiasm and guys rally around him."

Pederson's eighth homer of the season just made it over the wall in right field with two outs in the second, similar to the location of his first career walk-off shot in the bottom of the ninth that rallied the Dodgers to a 4-3 win Monday.

The Dodgers lead the National League with 37 homers, tying the 1956 Cincinnati Reds for fourth-most through 19 games. Los Angeles has gone deep in 17 of 19 games.

The team has homered at Dodger Stadium in 31 consecutive games, one shy of tying the major league-record streak for home games set by the 1999 Colorado Rockies.

The Dodgers rapped out 13 hits. They got to Tyler Mahle (0-1) early, with four runs and eight hits over the first two innings. The right-hander gave up 11 hits in six innings, struck out three and walked none. He was charged with a balk in the second.

Kenta Maeda (3-1) allowed one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked three. The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Mahle to end the fourth.

"It looks like he has made some improvements to his pitching style," Reds star Joey Votto said. "His changeup is improved. He seems to have a much better feel for avoiding damage. He kept us off balance and he seemed to be one step ahead."

Enriqué Hernández stroked an opposite-field RBI single in the second that extended the lead to 4-0.

Votto got his 900th career RBI in the third and struck out twice in four at-bats hitting leadoff for the second time in his career.

Votto's double down the right field line scored Mahle from second and left the Reds trailing 4-1.

Former Dodgers Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp were a combined 1 for 8 with one strikeout.

The Reds have dropped six in a row on the road.

"At some point a lot of guys are going to get hot," Votto said. "We are going to do it all together and we are going to get on a hot streak and get back to .500 and start chasing the playoffs."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: OF-1B Cody Bellinger tested his sore right knee with some pregame running in the outfield. He wasn't in the lineup after being hit by a 95 mph fastball a night earlier but is expected to return Wednesday. His absence ended the club's longest streak of consecutive regular-season games played at 113. ... 3B Justin Turner was given the night off. He fouled a ball off his ankle while working in the batting cage and it caused his left hamstring to tighten up. He should return Wednesday. ... LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (left groin strain) won't need a rehab start before returning to the rotation sometime in the next week.

DODGERS ROTATION

With Ryu's impending return, LHP Julio Urías (0-1, 5.27 ERA) will go to the bullpen after making his start at Milwaukee on Thursday. When LHP Rich Hill (left knee strain) comes back to complete the rotation, RHP Ross Stripling will join the bullpen.

UP NEXT

Reds: RHP Sonny Gray (0-2, 2.03 ERA) makes his 150th career start in the series finale Wednesday. In his three starts this season, the Reds have hit .189 and been shut out twice. They've scored one run when Gray has been in the game.

Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 8.25) makes his fourth start of the season. He has a 1.50 WHIP.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings Hire Former Sharks, Oilers Coach Todd McLellan]]>Tue, 16 Apr 2019 15:48:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-168186730.jpg

Todd McLellan was hired as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, taking over a two-time Stanley Cup-winning franchise that slumped to the NHL's second-worst record this season.

McLellan replaces Willie Desjardins, who wasn't retained after he replaced John Stevens early in the season and did little to halt the Kings' precipitous slide. Although much of the core talent remains from the Kings' championship-winning teams in 2012 and 2014, Los Angeles finished 31-42-9 in its worst season since 2007-08.

The 51-year-old McLellan has ample head coaching experience with two of the Kings' Pacific Division rivals.

He spent seven years as the coach of the San Jose Sharks, making six playoff appearances from 2009-14 and reaching two Western Conference finals while winning the 2009 Presidents' Trophy. The job was his first NHL head coaching gig after serving as an assistant with Detroit's Stanley Cup-winning team in 2008.

McLellan's final playoff series with the Sharks was the infamous first-round series in 2014 in which Los Angeles rallied from a 0-3 series deficit to eliminate the 111-point Sharks. Those Kings eventually won their second Stanley Cup title.

After getting fired in 2015 following San Jose's only non-playoff season since 2003, McLellan spent more than three seasons in charge of the Edmonton Oilers, somewhat reviving the long-struggling franchise.

McLellan led the Oilers to their first 100-point season since 1987 and their only playoff appearance since 2006, but was still fired last Nov. 20 after a 9-10-1 start.

McLellan has 434 career victories behind the bench, ranking 33rd in NHL history and 11th among active coaches. He also was a candidate for the coaching vacancy in Buffalo, but stayed on the West Coast.

McLellan is taking on a rebuilding job with the Kings, who haven't won a playoff series since claiming their second Stanley Cup title five years ago.

Los Angeles was the NHL's second lowest-scoring team last season, managing just 199 goals despite the elite talents of Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter. The Kings' 259 goals allowed were the 10th-most in the league despite the presence of Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goalie Jonathan Quick.

The Kings also had a dismal draft lottery last week, slipping the maximum three places to the fifth overall pick.

The Kings will introduce McLellan at a news conference Wednesday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA's Katelyn Ohashi Looks to Make Final Statement on Floor]]>Wed, 17 Apr 2019 00:56:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ohashi-AP_19102740926906.jpg

Katelyn Ohashi wrote a poem called "Fame " that ends "Not everyone's destiny is going to be the same. Set your own goals and make your own fame."

As the 22-year old UCLA senior gets ready to compete for the final time at the NCAA Championships, she has lived up to her own words with a trio of viral floor routines that have given her an audience outside the world of gymnastics and a platform to speak out on issues of empowerment. The meet begins Friday in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ohashi is ranked first nationally in floor exercise after recording a perfect 10.0 in six meets. She's just the fourth gymnast in NCAA history to have a 10.0 national qualifying score on any event.

For as much attention as Ohashi gets on floor exercise, she is also ranked second nationally on the balance beam and leads a Bruins squad that is the defending national champion and has lost only one meet this season.

"I think I finally have really taken ownership of myself and me as a gymnast," Ohashi said. "It just reminds you that timing is everything. I wouldn't have been ready for all of this last year. I think this being my last year has set me up for a lot of the things I want to do in my future. I've always wanted to have a platform like this. So I think it's really amazing."

She is using that platform to try to spread a message of empowerment for women and to stand with survivors of abuse. It's the theme of her new routine, a reworking of the one that earned her a perfect 10.0 in five of 10 meets and got more than 117 million views on social media , leading to appearances on national morning shows and acclaim from musicians, actors, athletes and politicians.

The routine opens with music from Tina Turner, retains a section from Janet Jackson, and features music and dance moves from Beyonce. The first one featured a medley of songs that also included Earth Wind & Fire, the Jackson 5, and music and dance moves from Michael Jackson.

"That's kind of why we decided to, you know, go through with all the women musicians and who runs the world? Girls. Like, duh, no brainer," she said. "I feel like it is important to have that message in a platform because I'm on a team with survivors and my floor coach is a survivor herself."

The floor coach, Jordyn Wieber, was one of five athletes on the 2012 team who testified they were abused by Larry Nassar, a former doctor for USA Gymnastics who is in prison for sexually assaulting patients.

Ohashi always planned to have two different routines this season. She introduced the new one at the Pac-12 Championships . She earned a 10.0 at the Pac-12 meet and followed that with a 9.95 at the NCAA regional meet.

The change also coincided with the release of the "Leaving Neverland" documentary about Michael Jackson. Ohashi said removing Michael Jackson's dance moves and music was a conscious decision because, "It's about joy and if it makes one person feel uncomfortable then that's never been my goal."

Wieber said it wasn't about whether they wanted to support Jackson's music or not, but more about giving respect to all survivors.

"Katelyn has built this platform for herself where she reaches so many people not just in the gymnastics world but in the entire world. I'm just really excited that she decided to do that," Wieber said.

The music for the new routine was selected by Ohashi, UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field, Wieber and former UCLA gymnast Ariana Berlin. Berlin spliced it all together. It also features a higher degree of difficulty with extra flips on tumbling passes and more intricate choreography, which Ohashi delivers with an energetic flair and enthusiasm that draws roars and appreciative screams from the audience.

Kondos Field and Wieber felt the pressure going into this season of seeing whether Ohashi could live up to 2018, when she became the NCAA floor champion with a routine that had more than 90 million views. UCLA has had many floor routines go viral , but last year was the first time it was done by a junior.

"We've never had to top it so I knew it had to be more exciting and joyful," Kondos Field said. "All the music that we were finding and that she was bringing to me was cool music. It was artistic. It was really great music, but it wasn't joyful on a level greater than she had last year."

Kondos Field, who is retiring at the end of the season, said the whole experience this year has made Ohashi a better person, student and teammate.

"This is a dream come true for a coach to see a student-athlete mature through celebrity," she said. "She has been inundated with media requests and having to keep up with school and having to be a great team player and not being able to be late for work out. And she's maneuvered everything so well like a pro."

It wasn't a dream beginning, however.

Before Ohashi arrived at UCLA in the fall of 2015, she competed for four years at the elite level and won the all-around competition at the America's Cup in 2013. But that was her last major accomplishment on the elite stage as back and shoulder injuries derailed her Olympic hopes.

As bad as the physical injuries were, Ohashi was in worse shape mentally because of the pressures of competition and the coaches. Kondos Field and Ohashi went out to lunch regularly her freshman year. The discussions weren't about routines, but about college life.

Kondos Field also challenged her to use all the time she spent on her phone more productively, like listening to TED talks.

"That is literally when the little bud of a flower started to bloom, and her mind started opening up to things," the coach said.

Ohashi has been outspoken about issues that matter to her. She has used her poetry to shed light on dealing with fame, body image and anti-bullying. Her love of writing came from years of being in elite gymnastics where the only way to express her thoughts was to write in journals.

She has recently discussed body shaming issues on a blog she started with a friend called "Behind the Madness."

Ohashi will be riding the momentum of her notoriety for a while. She will graduate in June with a degree in gender studies. Her immediate post-graduation plans include interning at "The Players' Tribune" and working with women affected by domestic violence.

Ohashi and Kondos Field have received many requests for her time but have put those off until after the season so they won't interfere with her amateur status.

"What other time in life are you going to have 20 girls behind you in everything you do? But if we had another year, would we take it? Most likely not," Ohashi said. "I think we both have given everything to the sport and have made the most out of what we have. It's really cool that we get to walk out together."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Damian Dovarganes/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Bellinger Leaves After Hit on Knee by Pitch]]>Tue, 16 Apr 2019 06:12:29 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Bellinger+two+run+homer+in+Game+7+NLCS.png

Cody Bellinger was drilled on the right kneecap by a pitch in the third inning, forcing the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder out of the game.

Cincinnati's Luis Castillo uncorked a 95 mph fastball that struck Bellinger and knocked him down Monday night.

Fans booed while Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and a trainer rushed out to check on Bellinger. Eventually, he got up and hobbled to first base.

Castillo paused for a while in an attempt to catch Bellinger's eye at first and signal an apology. Bellinger stayed at first until the inning ended two outs later. He was replaced by Alex Verdugo in right.

Bellinger leads the National League with nine homers, 22 runs, 22 RBIs and a .424 batting average.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pederson's HR in 9th Rallies Dodgers Past Reds 4-3]]>Tue, 16 Apr 2019 06:11:51 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers-AP_19106191930105.jpg

Yasiel Puig's homer stole the show early against his former Los Angeles teammates. But Joc Pederson had the last word for the Dodgers.

Pederson hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, pointing into the Dodger dugout and thumping his chest as he left the box, triggering a huge celebration.

His big blow rallied the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds Monday night in Clayton Kershaw's season debut.

"It was a nice outcome," Pederson said. "I got it pretty good."

Raisel Iglesias (0-3) walked pinch-hitter David Freese leading off before Pederson homered over the right field wall. The Reds had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the inning on former teammate Matt Kemp's RBI single with two outs.

"When it comes to in between the lines and winning a ballgame, it doesn't matter who is on the other side," Pederson said of facing his ex-teammates.

Retired broadcaster Vin Scully had Dodger Stadium buzzing with a surprise pregame appearance to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day.

Kershaw then gave Los Angeles a lift, even though the three-time Cy Young Award winner didn't factor into the decision. Kershaw had been bothered by left shoulder inflammation in spring training. The left-hander allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked none.

"For me, it was a success overall," Kershaw said. "Got some swings and misses, got some behind-the-count easy outs. Curveball I thought was a lot better than it had been in rehab starts so I'll take it for the first one."

Closer Kenley Jansen (1-0) got the win after giving up Kemp's go-ahead single.

Puig made his presence felt immediately, hammering a two-run shot — his 50th career blast at Dodger Stadium — in the first off Kershaw that gave the Reds a 2-0 lead. Puig received a mix of boos and cheers.

"There's a lot of emotions on both sides," Kershaw said. "I wish I could have done anything but give up a homer to Puig in his first at-bat, but he put a great swing on the ball. I always feel like that favors the hitter when they know you."

Puig and Kemp are just two of five former Dodgers on the Reds' roster.

"Strange," Pederson said about facing so many ex-teammates. "I got to first base and (Kyle) Farmer was there. Some really close buddies."

The Dodgers lost NL home run leader Cody Bellinger in the third when he got drilled on the right kneecap by a 95 mph pitch from Luis Castillo, who waited to catch Bellinger's eye at first and signal an apology before he resumed pitching.

"He's a very good pitcher," Kershaw said, "but you can't miss by that much, that was really bad."

Bellinger was knocked down and eventually hobbled to first base. He stayed there until Castillo got the last two outs of the innings via strikeout. Bellinger was replaced by Alex Verdugo in right field.

X-rays after the game were negative.

"Still definitely hurts but nothing serious," Bellinger said. "Wake up tomorrow and see how it feels."

Bellinger leads the NL with nine homers, 22 runs, 22 RBIs and a .424 batting average.

His ground-rule double into the right field corner left the Dodgers trailing 2-1 in the first.

Castillo gave up a bases-loaded walk to A.J. Pollock that tied it at 2 in the fifth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Reds: 1B Joey Votto had the night off before striking out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. ... LHP Alex Wood (lower back) joined the team in LA from Goodyear, Arizona, where he has been rehabbing.

Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (left knee strain) makes a minor league rehab start Wednesday at Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He'll toss four innings and 60 pitches, followed by an inning in the bullpen. ... LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (left groin strain) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and felt good.

GOING LONG

The Dodgers have homered in 30 consecutive home games dating to Aug. 21. They are two away from tying the Colorado Rockies' major league mark of homering in 32 straight home games from April 19-July 3, 1999.

LEADING OFF

Curt Casali became the first Reds catcher to start a game hitting leadoff since 1900.

He was hitless with a strikeout in his first three at-bats before doubling leading off the ninth. He scored on Kemp's single.

WELCOME BACK

The Dodgers played a highlight video featuring Puig, Kemp, Farmer and Wood before the game. Puig, Kemp and Farmer doffed their caps in appreciation of the applause.

"These Dodgers fans are special," Kemp said. "Yasiel and I have been here a long time and we know a lot of people out here. They showed mad love. Yeah, it was special, especially being here on Jackie Robinson Day."

Puig said, "There was a lot of fans at the game that were yelling my name. The ovation makes me happy."

HONORING ROBINSON

Scully joined the widow of his friend Jackie Robinson to honor the player who broke baseball's color barrier during Robinson's centennial birthday celebration.

Robinson's 96-year-old widow, Rachel, was joined by the couple's daughter, Sharon, and son, David, on the field. Scully greeted Rachel Robinson with a kiss after being introduced to the crowd, with Scully drawing the loudest cheers in a rare public appearance.

UP NEXT

Reds: RHP Tyler Mahle (0-0, 0.82 ERA) won his only career start against LA at Dodger Stadium last May.

Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (2-1, 4.76) has a 1-1 record with 4.61 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati. He's struck out 16 and walked three.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[How the Clippers Pulled Off the Largest Comeback in NBA Playoffs History]]>Tue, 16 Apr 2019 05:33:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/169*120/GettyImages-1142969480.jpg

Lou Williams led the Los Angeles Clippers to the largest postseason comeback in NBA history.

Landry Shamet hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 16.5 seconds left, Stephen Curry couldn't answer on the other end, and the Clippers somehow rallied from 31 points down on the road to stun the Golden State Warriors 135-131 on Monday night and even their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.

The comeback topped a 29-point rally by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1989 Western Conference semifinals over Seattle.

Curry scored 29 points and put the Warriors up 131-128 with 58 seconds left before Shamet's dagger on a night the two-time defending NBA champions lost DeMarcus Cousins to a leg injury in the first quarter.

"We changed a couple things offensively and defensively in the third on the fly. It worked out for us. But I thought it was our spirit more than anything," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Just every single guy. I loved the end of the game."

Williams tied the game on a jumper with 1:10 to play then Curry immediately answered. Williams scored again at 46 seconds and finished with 36 points and made 8 of 10 free throws in as the teams combined for 64 fouls and 76 free throws attempted.

"When I say we stopped playing, we stopped playing, like defense, offense, execution-wise we were not as engaged as we needed to be," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We got exactly what we deserved. The Clippers were great. They executed, they were hungry, they stayed connected. They were together."

Cousins injured his left quadriceps muscle in the first quarter and was done for the game, but Golden State's depth shined and the Warriors built a 23-point halftime lead they pushed to a 31-point advantage failing to hold off Los Angeles late.

Williams' jumper and three-point play with 5:34 left pulled the Clippers within 120-117 then he rebounded his own miss and scored the putback at the 5:05 mark and cut it to 121-119.

Kevin Durant drove through the paint past Montrezl Harrell for a one-handed jam and three-point play with 2:48 left, then went at Harrell the next time down and was whistled for the offensive foul. Durant fouled out with three straight offensive fouls.

Cousins was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam after the injury in just his second career playoff game following a nine-year wait. The big man returned in January from a nearly year-long absence following surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon.

His status for Game 3 on Thursday at Staples Center is in serious doubt.

Cousins hobbled to the locker room at the 8:09 mark of the first quarter. At the 8 1/2-minute mark Cousins stole the ball from Patrick Beverley in the back court and tried to retrieve the loose ball when went down in front of the Golden State bench and grabbed at his left quad.

LeBron James tweeted prayers for Cousins, who fouled out of Saturday's 121-104 Game 1 win with nine points, nine rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes.

Kevon Looney picked up the bulk of the extra minutes in Cousins' absence and scored a career-high 19 points making all six of his shots but the Warriors had their seven-game postseason winning streak snapped that dated to last year's run to a repeat championship. Durant had 21 points, five rebounds and five assists, Klay Thompson scored 17 points and Draymond Green 14 with nine assists.

Curry followed up a 38-point performance in Game 1 to give him the most 3s in postseason history with another nice showing but Golden State hurt itself with too many miscues.

The Warriors committed 21 turnovers in Game 1, then 22 more Monday -- nine by Durant.

"We let our guard down. We weren't the aggressors anymore. We didn't deserve to win that game," Thompson said.

Los Angeles wanted to do a better job stopping the late bursts each quarter the Warriors had in Game 1, and the Clippers were somehow able to claw their way back.

Both coaches challenged their teams to be more poised in Game 2 following the ejections of Beverley and Durant in the opener. Beverley again pushed the limits but the sides avoided a testy encore, and he fouled out with 4:33 to go to roaring cheers from the sellout crowd. Durant left at 1:21.

DURANT'S APOLOGY

At morning shootaround, Durant apologized for being tossed from Game 1.

The two-time reigning finals MVP has two technicals, and if he reaches seven during the postseason it brings an automatic one-game suspension.

"I don't want to disappoint my coaches and my fan base and owners who expect me to be out on the floor, so I apologize for being thrown out the game," Durant said. "Just keep my mouth shut, just play the game. Simple."

DOC APPRECIATES GOOD DEED

Doc Rivers dropped $2,000 cash on the street in San Francisco earlier in the day -- and offered a pregame "shoutout" to the man with the integrity to return the money.

"Kept walking, didn't know it. The guy tapped me on the back and said, `that's your money,"' Rivers shared. "I don't know a lot of places that that would happen, but it happened today, so whoever that was he could have had free tickets if you hadn't ran away."

TIP-INS

Clippers: Williams scored 17 points in the third to match Chris Paul's postseason franchise record done May 5, 2014, against Oklahoma City. ... The L.A. backups scored another 83 points after getting 65 in the opener. In fact, in Game 1, Harrell (26) and Williams (25) were the first teammates to come off the bench and score 25 or more points in a postseason game since bench stats began in 1970-71, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Warriors: With his 129th career playoff game, Durant passed Kerr for 73rd place on the NBA's all-time list. ... C Andrew Bogut (419) moved by Clifford Ray (411) for sixth place on the Warriors' career postseason rebounds list.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Walk It Off! Dodgers 2019 Walk Up Songs]]>Tue, 16 Apr 2019 19:27:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Dodgers+Walk+Up+Songs+2019.png

Walk it off. 

A player's walk-up music is often one of the most underrated aspects of the game of baseball. In a sport clouded by how much time is wasted, the walk-up song offers an opportunity for a player to not only entertain fans, but also give them a brief glimpse into their personality. 

Every year, NBC LA brings you the walk-up songs for your Los Angeles Dodgers.

Early in the season, it's an afterthought for players, some prefer to keep the same music year-after-year for superstitious reasons—cough, Clayton Kershaw—others, will constantly change their music throughout the season as new music comes out, adjusting to their mood throughout the season.

Most of the 2019 roster changed their music this season, with Cody Bellinger bringing it back to 1976. Others, you've never heard before as newcombers A.J. Pollock, Joe Kelly, and Russell Martin brought new songs to this season.

Courtesy of the Dodgers in-game mix master, DJ Severe, here are the 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers walk-up songs (UPDATED on Aug. 1):

Joc Pederson: "Can't Stop The Feeling!" by Justin Timberlake

Corey Seager: "Take it From Me," by Jordan Davis

Justin Turner: "(Oh no) What You Got" by Justin Timberlake 

A.J. Pollock: "The Chain," by Fleetwood Mac

Cody Bellinger: "Hotel California," by The Eagles

Chris Taylor: "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earle and "Zombie," by the Cranberries

Enrique Hernandez: "La Romana," by Bad Bunny

Max Muncy: "Welcome to the Party" by Diplo, French Montana and Lil Pump, "Hope," by Chainsmokers, and "E.I." by Nelly.

Austin Barnes: "Who? What!" by Travis Scott

Alex Verdugo: "Volver Volver" by Vicente Fernandez

David Freese: "Cochise," by Audioslave

Russell Martin: "Touch the Sky," by Kanye West & "Middle Child," by J. Cole

Clayton Kershaw: "We Are Young" by fun. and "Let You Go" by The Chainsmokers

Kenta Maeda: "Mugenmirai" by Perfume and "Ignition" by R. Kelley

Rich Hill: "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam

Walker Buehler: "Hail to the King" by Avenged Sevenfold

Ross Stripling: "Like I Love You" by Justin Timberlake

Hyun-Jin Ryu: "Korean Monster" by JED

Scott Alexander: "Who Am I" by Snoop Dogg

Julio Urias: "El Sinaleonse," by Banda El Recodo

Kenley Jansen: "California Love," by 2Pac, Roger, and Dr. Dre

Brock Stewart: "Closer," by Kings of Leon

Joe Kelly: "Party Up," by DMX

If you want to listen to any of these songs, we made a Spotify Playlist of them available here: 



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Stadium Reaches Milestone With Completion of Canopy Shell]]>Mon, 15 Apr 2019 21:38:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Stadium-AP_19105797236990.jpg

The stadium that will house Los Angeles' NFL teams has reached another milestone with its opening less than 16 months away.

Officials with LA Stadium at Hollywood Park and representatives from the Rams and Chargers held a ceremony Monday to celebrate the completion last week of the outer shell for the canopy that sits above the stadium's seating bowl, Champions Plaza and performance venue.

The steel roof shell is one of three parts of the canopy. The other two parts are the cables to keep the roof and suspended Oculus scoreboard in place and a single layer of ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluorethylene), which is a lightweight and transparent plastic.

It was also used to construct the roof of US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which hosted the 2018 Super Bowl and this year's Final Four.

"Each time we come here it gets more and more real," Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said. "When the NFL envisioned coming back to Los Angeles, this is what they had in mind — a two-team iconic stadium that anchors a sports and entertainment district."

LA Sports and Entertainment District managing director Jason Gannon said the stadium is two-thirds complete. When it opens, the stadium will measure more than 3 million square feet and will be the largest in the NFL.

"I've seen a lot of NFL stadiums, but this is the largest. It's grand but it's befitting of Los Angeles," said A.G. Spanos, the Chargers' president of business operations. "You need a stadium to match the city."

The seating capacity will be 70,240 but can be expanded to 100,000 for major events. It is already slated to host the Super Bowl in 2022, the College Football Playoff title game in 2023 and the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The Chargers have one more year at Dignity Health Sports Park and the Rams are going into their final season at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Both teams have started to bring their staff to the construction site on a regular basis to begin planning game presentation and other details.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Richard Vogel/AP]]>
<![CDATA[The Best and Worst of Puig in LA Return]]>Mon, 15 Apr 2019 20:50:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*124/GettyImages-1142946149.jpg

It was the best of Puig, it was the worst of Puig, it was the day we celebrated Jackie Robinson, and it was the return of Clayton Kershaw. 

After 45 minutes of waiting for Yasiel Puig, Cincinnati Reds Vice President of media relations, Rob Butcher, sauntered to the podium and tested the audio on the microphone. The words that came out of his mouth next came as no surprise to the Los Angeles media gathered in the Dodgers interview room.

"Yasiel Puig is late. In fact, he isn't even in the building yet," said Butcher. "I don't know what else to tell you folks, I'm sorry."

While Butcher was at a loss for answers, most of the media simply chuckled and smiled. We've seen this before from the mercurial Puig, and we know it's simply part of the performance.

Thirty minutes later, Puig finally arrived, over 75 minutes later to his first press conference back at Dodger Stadium since he was traded to Cincinnati in December of 2018.

When told in Spanish that the media had been waiting for him, Puig shrugged and said, "I was hoping they'd all leave."

Not only did nobody leave, but everyone was fixated on the return of the Wild Horse, the player that captivated Dodger fans for six seasons, but also had us banging our collective heads against the walls throughout the years.

"I'm excited to be here. I miss this place because of all the fans coming every day for six years," said Puig. "I don't know how many people, how many fans have been coming here, but I'm sure when I played here there were more fans than there are now."

Puig said he was "excited to see his old teammates," and minutes later he got his wish as Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen barged into the room and threw a football at Puig. The two embraced and said hello before Puig went back to answering questions about his new teammates.

In what could have been taken as a jab against his former team, Puig praised the newfound camaraderie with his teammates in Cincinnati. No longer is he looked at as the black sheep in the clubhouse, but as a veteran and a leader for many of the younger players in the Reds organization.

He called Joey Votto, "the best guy I've ever met in my life," and spoke highly of Eugenio Suarez and how he's welcomed him to the team since day one.

"That's one of the most beautiful things I have with my new team," Puig said in Spanish. "This support, and to be by each other's side every day and talking in the locker room, on the bus, on the flight, and on the field, off the field, we always have good communication, and that's what makes me not feel as much nostalgia as you might think I would feel for the Dodgers." 

Puig said he might cry if fans chanted his name during his first at-bat. Not only did they chant his name, but they gave him a standing ovation as he stepped out of the batter's box and doffed his helmet to the crowd. 

He then promptly proved why he was such a fan favorite has he crushed an 87MPH slider to dead center for a two-run homer in his first ever at-bat against Kershaw.

"I've never faced him before," Puig said before the game, calling Kershaw, " The best pitcher in baseball now."

Kershaw's best days might be behind him, but his former teammate greeted him with a bang and a bat flip in their first meeting, pointing to his family and friends behind home plate as he rounded the bases and touched home.

He may be with a new team, in a new city, wearing a new color, but for Dodger fans, Puig was home.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Back in LA, Late-Arriving Puig Homers Off Kershaw]]>Mon, 15 Apr 2019 20:04:16 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Yasiel-Puig.jpg

Yasiel Puig was late arriving to Dodger Stadium Monday in his first game since being traded to Cincinnati.

He turned up with a bang once the game began.

Puig hammered a two-run homer in the first inning off Clayton Kershaw, who was making his season debut for the Dodgers. Puig was greeted with a mix of boos and cheers as he rounded the bases to put the Reds ahead 2-0.

The Dodgers honored Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer in a pregame video that highlighted their time in LA. Puig, Kemp and Farmer doffed their caps in appreciation. Wood just rejoined the Reds after being injured.

Puig, from Cuba, awed fans with his cannon of an arm and infuriated management with his inconsistent efforts on the field during his six years with the Dodgers.

He missed receiving his National League Championship Series ring in person from Dodgers owner Mark Walter and other front-office personnel. They presented the jewelry to Kemp, Wood and Farmer during an informal gathering outside the visitors' clubhouse.

"Just the six of us sharing some stories, saying hello and more so us thanking them for what they did to help us accomplish what we accomplished last year and wishing them well," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Asked about missing the gathering, Puig said, "He can send the ring to my locker or give it to me at batting practice. He can give it to me in person, I don't care."

Roberts chuckled when asked if he was happy to be on the other team now when Puig's name comes up.

"Yeah, I am happy," he said, smiling.

Roberts said he and Puig "are good," and they've been in touch via text message and a phone call during spring training.

"This guy did a lot of things in the community and helped the Dodgers do a lot of good things," the manager said. "When he's motivated and incentivized, he's a very good player."

Puig was popular with Dodgers fans for his colorful personality, home-run trots and ability to throw out runners from right field. He made headlines away from the field when his Los Angeles home was burglarized multiple times. At the ballpark, he was benched at times and the team considered trading him long before it did because of his perceived lack of hustle or interest in following orders.

On Monday, Puig showed up 70 minutes late to a scheduled news conference with local media. He took questions in English and Spanish for several minutes when Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen suddenly appeared from behind a wall of TV cameras to greet Puig with a hug.

"Papi," Puig said as the former teammates embraced. Reds manager David Bell said Puig has "absolutely" been punctual with his new team.

"But that wouldn't be the first thing I would talk about," he said. "It would be more about the way he has played the game and the teammate he has been. He has been outstanding. We love having him here."

Puig was part of a seven-player deal with Cincinnati in December that included Kemp, Wood and Farmer. He batted third, just ahead of Kemp, in the opener of the three-game series.

Turner Ward, the former Dodgers hitting coach who is employed in the same role for the Reds, was working in the batting cage when Walter, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, team president Stan Kasten and Roberts walked over to the visitors' clubhouse to present the rings.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sacramento Hires Luke Walton Just Days After He Parted Ways With Lakers]]>Mon, 15 Apr 2019 09:55:26 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/177*120/AP_19100189791724.jpg

The Sacramento Kings hired Luke Walton as their coach Monday, just days after the Los Angeles Lakers parted ways with him following three losing seasons.

Neither the Kings nor Walton waited long following changes that came just after the end of the regular season. Sacramento fired coach Dave Joerger on Thursday following a 39-43 finish that was the best record for the franchise in 13 years, while Walton was dismissed in Los Angeles a day later when he failed to get the Lakers into the postseason in the first year with LeBron James.

Kings general manager Vlade Divac met with Walton on Saturday and the two sides quickly came to the agreement that was formally announced Monday.

The 39-year-old Walton was 98-148 in three years with Los Angeles in his first full-time head coaching job. He was 37-45 this season and was unable to make the playoffs even once.

Walton also has experience as an assistant for Golden State, helping the Warriors win the 2015 title and then leading the team to a 39-4 record, including 24 straight wins to open the 2015-16 season, as interim coach while Steve Kerr was sidelined following complications from a pair of back surgeries.

That performance helped him get the job with the Lakers but he was unable to duplicate that success with a roster with far less talent during his first two years and then again this year, even with James on board.

Walton now takes over an up-and-coming team in Sacramento that features several talented young players acquired by Divac: guards De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, forward Marvin Bagley III and center Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings finished 39-43, nine games out of a playoff spot after being tied for the Western Conference's eighth seed heading into the final game before the All-Star break.

Sacramento had its most wins since going 44-38 in 2005-06 during coach Rick Adelman's final season. That ended a run of eight straight playoff berths and Sacramento hasn't been back to the postseason since for the NBA's longest active drought.

Joerger was the ninth coach since Adelman was fired in 2006 and none was able to post a winning record or earn a playoff berth. In fact, since moving to Sacramento before the 1985-86 season, the only winning seasons for the Kings came in Adelman's eight years at the helm, highlighted by a trip to the Western Conference final in 2002.

Divac is now counting on Walton being the one who can get the team back to the level it reached under Adelman, when the Kings were a contender for several years and played an entertaining brand of basketball.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers, MLB Honor Jackie Robinson's Centennial Year]]>Mon, 15 Apr 2019 22:36:40 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jackie-robinson-day-AP_19106129361527.jpg

Vin Scully joined the widow of Jackie Robinson to honor the player who broke baseball's color barrier during Robinson's centennial birthday celebration Monday night.

Scully greeted 96-year-old Rachel Robinson with a kiss after being introduced to the crowd, with Scully drawing the loudest cheers in a rare public appearance.

He stood behind Rachel with his hands holding her arms during the national anthem at Dodger Stadium. They were joined by Robinson's daughter, Sharon, and son, David, who linked arms with their mother as they walked on the field.

Robinson became the first black player in Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Scully began calling the team's games three years later, and the now-retired Hall of Fame announcer was friendly off the field with the man he called "Jack."

Only 7.7% of current MLB players are black, according to MLB.

"If not for Jackie Robinson, I probably wouldn't be here today playing baseball in the United States," said Cincinnati Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig, who came from Cuba to chase his pro aspirations. "That's the reason we respect this day."

Robinson, who died at age 53 in 1972, would have turned 100 on Jan. 31. His No. 42 was worn by every major leaguer Monday. The number was retired around the league in 1997.

"For me, it's a big opportunity and responsibility that I hold very dear to my heart," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "To put this uniform on today and wear that number today, 42, it's always special."

Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black recalled reading about Robinson as a youngster. "To this day I still read about him," Black said in San Diego. "What a pioneer. What a great example of a human being and what he meant to our country, and in the bigger picture, what he meant for all of us culturally, not only in baseball, but in society."

In Minnesota, Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo started his pregame media session at 3:42 p.m. CDT in honor of Robinson.

"That's probably one of the people in baseball I wish I would've met," he said.

At Dodger Stadium, the pregame ceremonies included 42 current and former Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars. Students from Cleveland Elementary, Washington Middle School and John Muir High — all attended by Robinson while growing up in nearby Pasadena — were on hand.

Robinson's No. 42 was cut into the center field grass. The Robinson siblings each tossed out first pitches. David's was a strike to Roberts, while Sharon's bounced on its way to catcher Russell Martin. Sharon Robinson works as MLB's education programming consultant.

The Dodgers hosted an invitation-only 100th birthday celebration in the Stadium Club featuring a sneak preview of the Jackie Robinson Museum, set to open in December in New York City.

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and former Dodger Matt Kemp, now with the Reds, came out to home plate to pose with Scully and the Robinson family before the game. Missing from this year's LA ceremonies was Don Newcombe, the third black pitcher in the major leagues when he was with the Brooklyn and later Los Angeles Dodgers.

He and Robinson were among the first four black players named to an All-Star team. Newcombe died in February at age 92. Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson hosted more than 75 kids for a screening of the Robinson biopic "42."

"It's tough to watch it," Anderson said. "But it's brave on his part, for him to be that guy to go through that and just be a leader and basically break the barrier. A guy that I look up to and a guy that motivates me."

The Seattle Mariners visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City on a recent road trip.

"It takes a special person, a special man to go about it, to take as much backlash as he did and still did that in a professional manner," Mariners infielder Tim Beckham said. "It speaks a lot about Jackie Robinson."

Major league players made a $100,000 grant to the Jackie Robinson Foundation in honor of his 100th birthday. It helps fund the college scholarship program run by the foundation, which was founded by Rachel Robinson.



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dysfunction in Lakers Organization Runs Deep]]>Mon, 15 Apr 2019 07:21:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Jeanie+Buss+and+Magic+Johnson.png

Earvin "Magic" Johnson put the exclamation point on the most disappointing season in Lakers history when the Hall of Famer abruptly announced in a 45-minute, teary-eyed, impromptu press conference that he was stepping down as President of Basketball Operations.

The bombshell announcement sent shockwaves throughout the locker room, the organization, and throughout the NBA. Nobody saw it coming, even after Johnson candidly admitted he had made the decision to fire head coach Luke Walton, but instead resigned; leaving all the decision-making on his "sister," Jeanie Buss, the controlling owner of the Lakers, and someone Johnson didn't even inform of his decision. 

The emotional announcement was surreal, shockingly candid, and yet cryptic. Johnson cried multiple times, spoke in the third person, rambled, reminisced, preached, mourned, but never quite gave us a clear-cut answer on why he had made this decision, and what it meant for the future of the organization.

Johnson stated that he couldn't be "Magic," while metaphorically handcuffed by the NBA's mandates placed on a high-level executive within one of its teams. He intimated he didn't like trading players or firing people, Magic wanted to be liked, not labeled as the villain. 

Despite his diatribe and list of reasons why he was resigning from a role that seemed tailor-made for him, the real reason for his abrupt departure seemed deeply rooted within a dysfunctional franchise that has assumed the form of a high school clique, rather than the esteemed organization that was the envy of others during the days of Dr. Jerry Buss.

Johnson alluded to the "backstabbing and whispering," that had grown within the organization over the course of two losing seasons, the latter equipped with arguably one of the greatest players in NBA history on the roster.

Critics have come from across the NBA landscape to deliver their two cents on what's become of the Lakers, and the consensus is that they are a poorly run franchise fraught with turmoil, dysfunction, and finger pointing from within. 

"In this job, as a coach in the NBA, you are 100 percent dependent on your circumstances; the strength of your organization, the momentum, the unity, everything has to be in good order," said Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr on Friday when asked about the Lakers. "Because if it's not, as we have witnessed with the Lakers, then there's going to be casualties, and usually the coach is the first one."

Indeed, Walton was the first one on the chopping block once the dust settled, mutually parting ways with the Lakers on Friday, before accepting the head coaching vacancy with the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.

Perhaps Walton will look back and realize he left just in the nick of time.  Walton's exit revealed a lot about the Lakers, and their head coach was only the least of their problems. The Lakers are surrounded by disconnection and dysfunction at every level of the organization.

At the top Buss has tried to keep the Lakers a family run franchise. After Dr. Buss passed, her brother, Jim Buss, ran the basketball operations. After four consecutive losing seasons, he was fired and replaced by her adopted brother in Johnson.

At the hand of the Queen is Linda Rambis, Buss' close friend and advisor, and the wife of another Laker legend, Kurt Rambis. Even their hire of general manager Rob Pelinka stayed within the Laker family as he was Kobe Bryant's—and other longtime Lakers'—agent for over two decades.

Pelinka's former career also points at Buss and Rambis seeking to imitate the success of their neighbors to the north in the three-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Current Warriors' GM Bob Meyers, was a former agent himself, and likely the reason why Buss handpicked Pelinka to work under Johnson as the Lakers' general manager. 

According to sources speaking on the condition of anonymity with NBC LA, when Johnson took over as President of Basketball Operations, he was intent on "doing things differently." Longtime Lakers employees and executives looked to him for leadership and guidance, but outside of wanting to change the way things within the organization were conducted, he offered up no plan or direction on how they would be executed moving forward. 

According to multiple reports, these employees and other executives quickly grew tired of Johnson, and his absence. Sources said Johnson would be gone for weeks at a time, and it became a running joke at the team's facility when Pelinka and others would say: "Where's Magic?" insinuating Johnson was an absentee executive. These and others were only part of the "backstabbing and whispering," Johnson spoke about when he stepped down.

It appears that Pelinka will remain in his role as general manager moving forward, despite the reports that he is not liked around the league, and that other agents and general managers "don't trust him." 

As the Lakers enter into arguably one of the most important summers in their franchise's history, the dysfunction doesn't appear to be on the precipice of being fixed, but merely bandaged over. If the rumors of who the Lakers are meeting with as their next potential coaching candidates are any indication, they are simply looking to appease LeBron James by hiring a coach he has either worked with previously, or is comfortable with.

They'll likely do the same thing with their newly vacant President of Basketball Operations position, either that, or hire another former Laker and member of the "family" to the front office.



Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Alexander Rossi Races to Second Straight Long Beach Win]]>Sun, 14 Apr 2019 18:04:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/long-beach-grand-prix-2019.jpg

Alexander Rossi conquered the streets of Long Beach for the second consecutive year.

Rossi became just the eighth driver to win more than once on the temporary street course through the picturesque downtown. The others? Mario Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Alex Zanardi, Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais, Will Power and Mike Conway.

"This is a special one," Rossi said.

Rossi won the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach from the pole Sunday, same as last year, and had the field covered very early. His margin of victory over Josef Newgarden was more than 20 seconds and the 200th victory for Andretti Autosport across all series.

Rossi was the first driver to win consecutive races at Long Beach since Bourdais won three straight from 2005 to 2007.

Seven drivers won the last seven years, which didn't bode well for Rossi's chances at a repeat. But his Honda-powered Andretti entry was far and above the class of the field and he only relinquished the lead while on pit road.

Newgarden for Team Penske finished 20.2359 seconds behind with a Chevrolet. Graham Rahal was third across the finish line —25.4589 seconds behind Rossi— but lost the podium finish because IndyCar accused him of blocking Scott Dixon on the final lap.

Dixon, of Chip Ganassi Racing, was moved to third and Rahal finished fourth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

"I am not, like, upset about it," Rahal said. "Did I block? Yes. I blocked. You are allowed to make a move in this series. That's allowed. I played the rules as I see them fit."

Dixon said Rahal's error was making two moves, and that had Rahal not defended outside the rulebook, "we would have gotten (past) him, anyway."

Dixon ran second to Rossi for a large portion of the event but dropped out of contention because of a fueling issue during a lengthy pit stop.

HERTA OUT

Colton Herta has had back-to-back bad races since his victory in Texas made him the youngest winner in IndyCar. He had a fuel problem in Alabama last week and crashed out. Herta finished last in the 23-driver field.

It was a flip from the start of the day when Herta, who turned 19 just six days after last month's win, was fastest in the morning warm-up session for Harding Steinbrenner Racing. His crash canceled a promotion by sponsor King Taco, which signed on for Long Beach after his victory because of Herta's tradition of celebrating victories with tacos. If Herta had won Long Beach, King Taco offered free tacos to anyone with a ticket stub.

"The car was so good and I just threw it all away," Herta said. "I feel terrible."

UP NEXT

IndyCar will begin preparations for the Indianapolis 500 with an April 24 test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The session will mark the debut of a deflector designed to offer new protection to the driver in the exposed cockpit. The deflector is scheduled to debut at the Indy 500, but could be ready earlier, when IndyCar races the road course at the speedway on May 11.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Grand Prix of Long Beach]]>
<![CDATA[Stripling, Dodgers End 6-Game Skid With 7-1 Win Over Brewers]]>Sun, 14 Apr 2019 16:45:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers14.jpg

Ross Stripling tossed eight strong innings to rescue an overworked bullpen, Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo homered, and the Los Angeles Dodgers routed the Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 Sunday to snap a six-game skid Sunday.

The Dodgers avoided back-to-back sweeps for the first time since 2017 when they last dropped seven games in a row.

Los Angeles leads the National League with 35 home runs and has homered in 15 of 17 games.

Stripling (1-1) earned his first win in his fourth start of the season. The right-hander didn't record his first strikeout until the sixth inning and instead retired 14 of his first 17 batters on flyouts or grounders.

Stripling allowed one run and four hits, struck out three and walked one.

The Dodgers' rotation has been without Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill since the season began. Hyun-Jin Ryu got hurt earlier in the week when the team lost four straight in St. Louis, putting more pressure on the bullpen. Kershaw is due back Monday and Hill appears to be close behind.

The Dodgers jumped on Jhoulys Chacin (2-2) in the first inning, taking a 2-0 lead on a two-out RBI single by Verdugo.

Pederson homered with two outs in the second, making it 3-0.

The Dodgers tacked on three runs in the third on Max Muncy's RBI single and a two-run RBI single by Chris Taylor that chased Chacin.

Verdugo homered leading off the fifth against Chase Anderson.

The Brewers managed just three hits — a double by Travis Shaw and singles from Chacin and Yasmani Grandal — through the first seven innings.

Milwaukee's lone run came on pinch-hitter Eric Thames' sacrifice fly in the eighth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Brewers: RHP Jeremy Jeffress (right shoulder) could be ready to return by Monday or Tuesday. ... RHP Jimmy Nelson (right shoulder surgery) remains in Arizona rehabilitating and no date has been set for his return.

Dodgers: Hill (left knee strain) will make a minor league rehab start Wednesday at either Class A Rancho Cucamonga or Triple-A Oklahoma City. He'll toss four innings and 60 pitches, followed by an inning in the bullpen. ... LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (left groin strain) will throw a 40-pitch bullpen session Monday. ... C Russell Martin (low back inflammation) has yet to be cleared for baseball activities.

BRING HIM UP

The Dodgers recalled RHP Josh Sborz from Triple-A Oklahoma City in his first major league promotion since being added to the 40-man roster in November. Sborz has made two appearances for OKC this season, tossing four scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and a walk. The 25-year-old was the 74th overall pick by the Dodgers in the 2015 draft out of Virginia.

The team optioned RHP Dennis Santana to OKC. In three games with the Dodgers this season, he went 0-0 with a 7.20 ERA with six strikeouts and four walks.

BREWERS MOVE

Milwaukee acquired catcher David Freitas from the Seattle Mariners for minor league RHP Sal Biasi.

Freitas appeared in one game with Seattle this season, going 0-for-2 with one run, one RBI and a walk on March 28 against Boston. After being optioned to Triple-A Tacoma the following day, Freitas hit .278 with four runs in six games with the Rainiers.

Biasi has made three relief appearances with Single-A Wisconsin this season. He is 1-0 and hasn't allowed a run in four innings pitched, while striking out five and walking two.

UP NEXT

Brewers: RHP Freddy Peralta (1-0, 6.91 ERA) starts Monday at home against St. Louis. He is 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in three career games (two starts) against the Cardinals.

Dodgers: Kershaw makes his season debut against Cincinnati Monday after inflammation in his left shoulder limited him in spring training.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Curry's 38 Points Lead Warriors to Game 1 Win Over Clippers]]>Sun, 14 Apr 2019 00:36:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/CurryClippers.jpg

Steve Kerr preached to the Golden State Warriors to not "take the bait."

The bait being Patrick Beverley. Stephen Curry scored 38 points and made eight 3-pointers to give him the most in postseason history, and the top-seeded Golden State Warriors began their quest for a three-peat by running away from the frustrated Los Angeles Clippers for a 121-104 victory in their playoff opener Saturday on a night tempers flared.

Kevin Durant and Beverley were ejected with 4:41 to go, just 19 seconds after they received double-technicals when Durant stripped Beverley and the Clippers guard fell into the scorer's table. They both became enraged again and official Ed Malloy immediately sent them both to the locker room. Durant high-fived fans as he exited and the home crowd went into chants of "Beat L.A.!"

Durant said Beverley has a "different type of grit" coming from Chicago.

"You know what he's going to bring to the table, just the physicality, mucking up the game a little bit with his physicality, his talking, everything. That's what he brings to each team he plays on. That's his identity," Durant said. "For me, I know that coming into the series. I thought it was fun tonight."

Like Durant, Beverley said he had fun.

"I got pushed, I got up and I got ejected. I guess the refs, I guess he saw something that I don't know," he said. "But that's all right. I give them a lot of credit."

Perhaps this old, heated rivalry still has all the testiness of years past — just with new faces all around.

"Pat's going to talk, and that's legal," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

Curry shot 8 for 12 from deep to pass Ray Allen (385) for career postseason 3s with 386, had a postseason career-high 15 rebounds, seven assists and the 31st 30-point postseason performance of his career.

"To be in the same category and to pass a guy like Ray Allen and all the iconic moments he's had in playoff games and finals games, it's pretty surreal," Curry said. "Definitely honored and grateful for those opportunities. I always joked, if I shoot a lot of 3s I better make a lot of them."

On one of his marvelous 3s, the two-time MVP knocked one down from way back late in the third, nearly did the splits in the air and landed on his back side — still smiling all the while.

These teams are meeting for just the second time in the postseason after the Clippers took a seven-game series in the first round in 2014 when the California franchises had a deep dislike for each other. Game 2 is Monday night back at Oracle Arena.

Draymond Green got Golden State going by making all five of his shots in the first quarter on the way to 17 points to go with seven assists and seven rebounds, while Durant scored 23 points as the Warriors ran their postseason winning streak to seven games.

Montrezl Harrell scored 26 points and fellow reserve Lou Williams contributed 25 points and nine assists as Los Angeles returned to the playoffs after missing last season following six straight appearances.

Beverley, who missed last Sunday's 131-104 loss at Oracle because of a right hip pointer and was booed during pregame introductions, didn't score in the first half and wound up with three points on 1-for-7 shooting, seven assists and seven rebounds. He and Durant received double-technicals with 5 minutes left before they got into it again.

"We took the bait. He took the bait. That's two technicals. You get seven technicals. Your seventh one is a suspension in the playoffs," Kerr said. "He's got four to play with after one game. That's what Beverley does. ... You cannot take the bait. That's a bad trade for us. The Clippers have made a lot of good trades this year. That may be their best."

The Clippers lost their cool on a couple of occasions, and that hurt playing in an already difficult road arena. Danilo Gallinari's technical in the final minute of the second only further fueled the home crowd, and Curry capitalized as the Warriors ran to a 69-56 halftime advantage. "Curry has destroyed us all year," Rivers said.

COUSINS' NIGHT

DeMarcus Cousins fouled out with 7:16 left after scoring nine points in his playoff following a nine-year wait and nearly yearlong comeback from last January's devastating torn left Achilles tendon that required surgery. Cousins, who played his first game of the season Jan. 18 at the Clippers, had nine rebounds and four assists.

POISE

Kerr challenged the Warriors — not to mention himself with a self-acknowledged temper — to be more disciplined yelling at the officials. Green was knocked down by Beverley on a no-call early and argued but avoided a technical. "Fans need to understand, it wouldn't be possible to officiate the games the exact same way in the playoffs as the regular season. The games would take four hours," Kerr said.

The Clippers had their own costly moments arguing. Williams and Rivers also were heated late in the first half about no fouls being called. Rivers received a technical leaving the court at halftime and Klay Thompson shot a free throw before the third quarter began. "All I want is consistency. That's what I got a tech for at halftime," Rivers said, noting Gallinari said nothing offensive to deserve a technical.

TIP-INS

Clippers: The Clippers were 2 of 10 from deep in the first half, when they had only 13 assists. ... Los Angeles, which has lost four straight on the Warriors' home floor, was outrebounded 53-40.

Warriors: Curry notched his fifth career double-digit postseason rebounding game. ... Durant (3,679) passed Dirk Nowitzki (3,663) for 15th place on the career playoff scoring list. ... The Warriors have won seven straight postseason Game 1s and 14 of 15 openers in all — going 16-1 in their first game of a series dating to the 2014-15 season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zlatan Ibrahimovic Scores Twice as Union Lose to LA Galaxy]]>Sun, 14 Apr 2019 00:33:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/ZlatanIbLAGalaxy.jpg

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in the first half and the LA Galaxy beat the Philadelphia Union 2-0 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with a header in the 27th minute for the Galaxy (5-1-0). He drew a penalty five minutes later and converted it into the left corner in the 36th minute. The Swedish forward has six goals this season and 28 in 31 MLS appearances.

Philadelphia went down a man in the 76th minute when Auston Trusty was shown a red card for unsporting behavior.

The Union's Marco Fabian left in the 23rd minute because of a left ankle injury.

Philadelphia (3-3-1) had won three straight and was unbeaten in four.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Shaun Clark/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brewers Hand Dodgers 6th Straight Loss, 4-1]]>Sat, 13 Apr 2019 23:35:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/BrewersPitcher.jpg

Zach Davies is off to a strong start for the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing three earned runs in 17 2/3 innings so far.

After being limited to 13 games because of shoulder and back injuries last season, Davies has helped the Brewers race to a 10-3 mark against National League competition.

He got support from home runs by Mike Moustakas and Orlando Arcia in a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.

"This was more than a steady performance," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "This was Zach at his best and doing what he does really well."

The Dodgers, who dropped their sixth straight, didn't have a hit after pinch-hitter Alex Verdugo's leadoff single in the fifth inning.

Davies and Junior Guerra combined to retire the final 14 batters.

"Just attacking hitters, not shying away from that," Davies said. "Being healthy does help, too."

Moustakas went deep for his first career homer at Dodger Stadium on Caleb Ferguson's first pitch in the second.

Arcia homered off reliever Dennis Santana to begin the fourth, making it 2-0. The Brewers managed nine hits and won their second straight on a night when Christian Yelich was hitless in five at-bats.

Yelich failed to reach base in a game for the first time this season, snapping his 27-game on-base streak. Former Dodger Yasmani Grandal had two hits, making him 5-for-8 in the series. Davies allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked none. Milwaukee turned three double plays.

"It was great," Davies said. "Weak contact, ball on the ground, that is my favorite thing. Getting it hit at a guy was helpful, too."

Davies tried to make a play on a comebacker by A.J. Pollock leading off the game, leaving his ring finger and pinkie on his right hand numb.

"I was just trying to get the feeling back in my fingers after the first couple of pitches and just manage that there didn't get any swelling in there, and stay loose the rest of the game," he said.

Guerra earned his first career save.

Cody Bellinger hit his NL-leading ninth homer in the fourth on his bobblehead night, leaving the Dodgers trailing 2-1. Their 33 homers top the NL.

"We just couldn't build on that momentum," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "We're going to be fine. It'll turn. We've been in this spot many times over."

Travis Shaw's single down the right-field line scored two more runs in the fifth, extending Milwaukee's lead to 4-1. Former Dodger Yasmani Grandal opened the inning by getting hit by a pitch before Moustakas singled and Jesús Aguilar walked to load the bases.

"Obviously, I have been struggling and trying to work through some things, but tonight felt pretty good," Shaw said. "To get another shot with the bases loaded there in the fifth was big."

Ferguson (1-1) started in a bullpen game for the Dodgers, who put Hyun Jin-Ryu on the injured list earlier in the week with a groin injury. They ran through a total of six pitchers. Ferguson allowed one run and four hits in 2 2/3 innings. The left-hander struck out two and walked two.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Brewers: Shaw (right hand) returned to the starting lineup after sitting out Friday. He was hit by a pitch in the second inning Wednesday against the Angels. ... RHP Jeremy Jeffress (shoulder) was set to pitch one inning for Triple-A San Antonio on Saturday night.

Dodgers: 1B Max Muncy returned to the lineup after being out Friday. He took a groundball off his right index finger while playing 2B on Thursday in St. Louis and the finger swelled and blistered.

EJECTED FROM AFAR

Dodgers C Russell Martin was ejected for comments from the bench in the fourth by home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak. C Austin Barnes struck out looking to end the inning, stranding runners on second and third when Martin let loose. "We thought it was off the plate," Roberts said. "That was a big spot."

GOING LONG The Dodgers have homered in 28 straight home games, dating to Aug. 21, which is second-most in MLB history. The record is 32 set by Colorado. Bellinger is a big part of the streak. He's smashed seven homers at home so far this season.

BIRTHDAY BOY

Brewers CF Lorenzo Cain turned 33 on Saturday. He was hitless in four at-bats with a walk.

UP NEXT

Brewers: RHP Jhoulys Chacín (2-1, 4.24 ERA) is 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA in 12 regular-season games (11 starts) at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling (0-1, 3.78) took his first loss in St. Louis after allowing four earned runs on five hits in five innings.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Vela's Late Goal Sends Unbeaten LAFC Past Cincinnati 2-0]]>Sat, 13 Apr 2019 23:36:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/CarlosVelaLAFC.jpg

Carlos Vela and Los Angeles FC are both off to incredible starts to the season.

Although the star forward and his teammates both had to work a little harder to keep it up Saturday night, they got it done in style.

Vela scored his eighth goal of the young season, Tyler Miller earned his third consecutive shutout and LAFC extended its unbeaten start to seven games with a 2-0 victory over expansion FC Cincinnati.

Mark-Anthony Kaye headed home a corner from Vela in the 32nd minute, and Vela scored on a remarkable individual effort in injury time as the overall MLS leaders improved to 6-0-1.

Although LAFC did it with few of its usual offensive fireworks, the club still has an MLS-record 21 goals in its first seven games — a big chunk of those from Vela, who leads the league in both goals and assists.

"I started really well this season, but it's long," Vela said. "I have to keep working every day and show something for my team."

LAFC also has shut out three straight opponents for the first time in franchise history, allowing no goals since March 23.

Miller's shutout streak has reached 325 minutes, and he kept it intact with two saves — including a spectacular one-handed leaping stop on Darren Mattocks late in the first half.

"I don't think we were as sharp as we would like," LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. "Makes for a hard game. (Cincinnati) worked very hard, put a lot into it. The good news is we still got a shutout."

In front of another sellout crowd in its sparkling downtown stadium, LAFC extended its impressive start in the first meeting between MLS' two newest franchises. Cincinnati has two wins out of its first seven MLS games, but gave a stern test to its second-year opponents.

Kaye opened the scoring after a prolonged period of ball dominance by LAFC. Vela's corner went straight to the Canadian midfielder, who headed it home from distance for his second goal of the season.

"They came in with a good game plan to disrupt us, and it wasn't a pretty game," Kaye said.

LAFC only got comfortable after Vela took on two defenders and chipped home a low shot in the 93rd minute. Vela's eight goals and five assists are both tops in MLS, and he added to both totals even with Cincinnati constantly sending multiple defenders at him.

Vela and Diego Rossi were MLS' top two goal scorers entering the weekend, combining for 13 goals in six games. LAFC's two stars combined for 12 shots against Cincinnati, putting five on goal, but couldn't score until Vela connected.

LAFC also won without injured veterans Adama Diomande and Lee Nguyen.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Schwarber Restrained by Teammates After Controversial Call]]>Sat, 13 Apr 2019 16:00:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1142501886.jpg

A controversial call ended Saturday’s game between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels, and outfielder Kyle Schwarber was steamed after the contest.

Schwarber, who was up with runners on second and third with two out, believed he held up his swing on a 3-2 pitch from Angels reliever Cody Allen. The third base umpire did not agree however, calling Schwarber out and ending the game.

That did not sit well with the slugger, and he made sure to get his money’s worth:

Schwarber was restrained by several teammates, including Javier Báez and Jason Heyward, and was taken by teammates from the playing field after the game.

The Cubs and Angels will wrap up their series on Sunday, weather permitting, at Wrigley Field.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Players Talk About Anthony Davis Trade]]>Fri, 12 Apr 2019 23:40:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_Players_Talk_About_Anthony_Davis_Trade_1200x675_1490831427797.jpgLos Angeles Lakers Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart discuss team chemistry amidst the Anthony Davis trade rumors, and Brandon Ingram discusses the initial fear he felt when he found out he had a blood clot in his right arm.]]><![CDATA[Lakers React to Magic Johnson Resignation]]>Fri, 12 Apr 2019 23:52:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_React_to_Magic_Johnson_Resignation_1200x675_1490835523562.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball share their reactions when they first heard that team President, Magic Johnson, had abruptly resigned minutes before tip-off of the final game of the seaosn.]]>
<![CDATA[Fresh Off Loss at Golden State, Clippers Return for Playoffs]]>Fri, 12 Apr 2019 20:25:47 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/DocRiversBBalll.jpg

This is such a different time for the Clippers and Warriors from their days as fierce rivals who swung elbows, tussled and trash-talked at every chance.

Both franchises were finding themselves then, from a testy Christmas matchup in 2013 in Oakland to a chippy seven-game first-round series just four months later that was won by Los Angeles.

Now, they each are more established — the Warriors a dynasty everyone else in the NBA is desperate to dethrone. Doc Rivers has been a constant for the Clippers. Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson for Golden State.

"Totally different. They're the young upstarts now, we're the veteran team," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday.

The teams are meeting in the first round again.

Game 1 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday night at Oracle Arena, where the top-seeded Warriors have home court for the entire postseason — something they didn't have as the Western Conference's No. 2 seed a year ago on the way to a second straight title.

During that 2014 playoff series, recordings of then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling surfaced in which he made racist comments, leading to him being banned by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and forced by the league to sell the team.

"That was the Sterling game. I will never forget that," Rivers said last weekend at Oracle, recalling a 118-97 Game 4 loss.

"Unfortunately, I rightly predicted we'd lose by 50, I think we lost by 40 that game, I don't know how much. The distractions were just overwhelming that night. I'll never forget that whole 48 hours."

This is definitely a new series, and the Warriors like how they have come together from a topsy-turvy season that featured embarrassing losses at home, a rarity in recent years.

"I know the historical connotation, we talk about it and we want to chase it and understand how unprecedented it is what we're trying to do," Curry said.

Here are some things to watch for in the best-of-seven, first-round series:

BEVERLEY'S INFLUENCE: Patrick Beverley missed four games down the stretch and Los Angeles lost all of those. The defensive specialist returned after missing three straight and played 21 minutes in a 143-137 overtime victory against the Jazz in the regular-season finale Wednesday night. The Clippers count heavily on their talented, versatile bench, too. Curry knows he can't let Beverley get under his skin. "Just play basketball, that's what we're out on the court to do," Curry said. "Antics and all that kind of stuff is likely to happen, but nothing distracts me from playing basketball."

HEALTHY STEPH: Curry wasn't even healthy when the 2018 playoffs began. The two-time MVP returned from a left knee injury for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals, missing the entire first round as the Warriors eliminated the Spurs in five games. While he suffered a mild right foot sprain Tuesday at New Orleans, Curry was a full go in practice Friday with no issues. Kerr was committed to not sacrificing the health of his team down the stretch just to secure the No. 1 seed. Now, the Warriors should be well-rested for the playoff opener.

COUSINS' CHANCE: DeMarcus Cousins makes his playoff debut after a nine-year wait, and after returning from a devastating injury — he missed nearly a year recovering from surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon suffered last season with New Orleans. Everybody is eager to see Cousins on the big stage at last. That's why he came to the Warriors as a free agent. "I have worked my butt off for this opportunity for a long time," Cousins said. "It's unfortunate what happened in New Orleans with the injury and everything. I'm excited for this moment. I plan on taking full advantage of it." Cousins made his season debut at the Clippers on Jan. 18 and he has become a significant contributor on both ends. "I just think he fits them better today than the first night that we played them," Rivers said.

DUBS ON D: The Warriors have made strides on defense in recent weeks, with the addition of 7-foot Andrew Bogut off the bench a big help even in limited minutes. "We've been in these types of series before, where it's about the gamesmanship, understanding players' tendencies," Shaun Livingston said.

ORACLE SHINES AGAIN: The Warriors said a ceremonial farewell to Oracle in their final regular-season home game April 7. Now, everybody hopes there are many more postseason games on Golden State's home floor before the franchise moves across the bay to San Francisco and the new Chase Center later this year. "Oracle is special," Curry said. "Not to take it for granted what we've been able to do in the past and what we're doing now. Whoever's in the arena is enjoying the excitement of the game. Those mini runs, we feed off their energy." Los Angeles realizes the challenges of winning in such an imposing venue. "Probably my favorite place to play so far my rookie year, just because of the atmosphere," Clippers rookie Landry Shamet said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Angels' Mike Trout to Miss Series Against the Cubs]]>Fri, 12 Apr 2019 15:11:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1141584544.jpg

Mike Trout has been ruled out for the Los Angeles Angels’ weekend series against the Chicago Cubs after he strained his right groin during the team’s last homestand.

Trout visited Dr. Steve Yoon on Friday in Los Angeles. Angels general manager Billy Eppler said imaging showed a reduced amount of swelling.

"Mike also reports daily improvement," Eppler said in an emailed statement. "He will continue treatment in Anaheim and he will be re-evaluated on Sunday."

Trout first felt discomfort after working out Tuesday. The injury flared up while he was running to second base in the second inning of the Angels’ victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that night.

Manager Brad Ausmus said the team doesn’t think Trout will need a stint on the injured list. He could rejoin the Angels for their next series in Texas.  

"It’s just a matter of how he feels and what the doc thinks," Ausmus said before the series opener against the Cubs.

Trout signed a record $426.5 million, 12-year contract near the end of spring training. The two-time AL MVP is batting .406 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 12 games this year.

The injury means one of baseball’s biggest stars will miss a rare trip for Los Angeles to one of the sport’s iconic venues in Wrigley Field. Trout is 5 for 15 in four career games at Chicago’s longtime home.

"I’ve done this for a couple years now, and I’ve seen some guys who are a cut above, and he is," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Like Barry Bonds was — the same way — Ken Griffey Jr., Trout, his whole game is different. The whole game is different. He’s a game-changer on so many different levels. And he’s one of the nicest guys you’ve ever met in your life."

Ausmus also said he thinks Shohei Ohtani is going to hit off a machine Friday. The 2018 AL Rookie of the Year had Tommy John surgery last October.

Ohtani has been taking batting practice for a couple of weeks.

"It’s a baby step up," Ausmus said.

The 24-year-old Ohtani isn’t expected to pitch this year, but he could return to the Angels’ lineup in May.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[After Three Losing Seasons, Luke Walton is Out as Lakers Head Coach]]>Fri, 12 Apr 2019 13:24:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Sixers-Inside-the-Numbers.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers and Luke Walton are parting ways after three losing seasons.

In an announcement Friday afternoon, the storied NBA franchise said it was a mutual decision between the team and Walton. 

"We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years," said Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka. "We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward." 

The former Lakers forward went 98-148 in his first permanent head coaching job. A former assistant with Golden State, he never led Los Angeles to the playoffs, even with the arrival of LeBron James last summer.

"I want to thank Jeanie Buss and the Buss family for giving me the opportunity to coach the Lakers," said Walton. "This franchise and the city will always be special to me and my family."

Walton leaves three days after the Lakers ended their 37-45 season with the abrupt resignation of president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.

Johnson attributed his decision in part to his desire to fire Walton, who is close to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.

Instead, Pelinka announced the move in a possible sign of his increased power with the Lakers after Johnson's departure.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wieters Leads Cards Over Dodgers 11-7 for 4-Game Sweep]]>Thu, 11 Apr 2019 15:09:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19101740299055.jpg

Matt Wieters drove in a three runs and stole a base for just the third time in six years, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-7 Thursday for a four-game sweep of the NL champions.

Making his first start this season, the 32-year-old Wieters hit a sacrifice fly in the second inning and a two-run double in the fifth that put the Cardinals ahead 8-7.

With runners at the corners in the fifth, Wieters stole second as Matt Carpenter struck out, his first steal since April 27, 2017, and just the ninth of his major league career.

Harrison Bader was hit by pitches with the bases loaded in both the second and fifth innings. He was the first player to force in runs twice in a game while getting hit since Toronto's Reed Johnson on April 16, 2005, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Jose Martinez matched a career high with four hits, including an RBI double off Yimi García in a two-run sixth. St. Louis set a season high for runs and swept the Dodgers in a four-game series for the first time since July 15-18, 2010.

David Freese and Walker Buehler hit solo home runs in the second inning for Los Angeles, and Kiké Hernández homered to cap a four-run third. Giovanny Gallegos (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his first appearance of the season for the Cardinals to win in relief of Michael Wacha, who allowed seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Pedro Báez (0-1) gave up four runs — three earned — and four hits in one inning. Trailing 7-4, St. Louis started to close when Jedd Gyorko singled in a run in the third. The Cardinals' four-run fifth included a run-scoring error by second baseman Max Muncy.

KERSHAW

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to make his season debut on Monday at home against the Cincinnati Reds. The 31-year-old left-hander, troubled by left shoulder inflammation since early in spring training, made his second minor league injury rehabilitation start on Tuesday. He gave up two solo home runs and five hits over six innings for Double-A Tulsa against Springfield. He struck out six, walked none and threw 59 of 81 pitches for strikes. In his first rehab start last week, Kershaw gave up two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City against San Antonio.

MAKING MOVES

Dodgers: Los Angeles recalled RHP Jaime Schultz from Oklahoma City and optioned RHP J.T. Chargois to the Triple-A farm team.

Cardinals: Utility player Yairo Muñoz will rejoin St. Louis as a 26th player for this weekend's series against the Cincinnati Reds in Mexico.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: SS Corey Seager was hit by a pitch by Gallegos in the fourth, left at the start of the bottom half and was diagnosed with a bruised left hamstring

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (1-0, 4.50) is to start Friday against the Reds and RHP Tanner Roark (0-0, 5.79). Wainwright is one win shy of 150.

Dodgers: LHP Julio Urías (0-0, 3.12) is scheduled to start at home Friday against Milwaukee and RHP Corbin Burnes (0-1, 9.90).

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw is About to Make His 2019 Debut for the Dodgers]]>Thu, 11 Apr 2019 11:06:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgeAP_19095056885650.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to make his season debut on Monday at home against the Cincinnati Reds.

The 31-year-old left-hander, troubled by left shoulder inflammation since early in spring training, made his second minor league injury rehabilitation start on Tuesday. He gave up two solo home runs and five hits over six innings for Double-A Tulsa against Springfield.

He struck out six, walked none and threw 59 of 81 pitches for strikes.

In his first rehab start last week, Kershaw gave up two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City against San Antonio.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Honor Broadcaster Ralph Lawler for 40 Years of Service]]>Wed, 10 Apr 2019 20:17:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ralph-Lawler-retiring.jpg

Ralph Lawler called his 3,229th and last regular season game for the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Lawler, who turns 81 on April 21, plans to end his 60-year broadcasting career whenever the Clippers are eliminated from the playoffs, which begin this weekend. He's handled their games for 40 years.

"I love you people," he told the crowd that gave him a standing ovation during a halftime ceremony.

He noted many of them, including comedian Billy Crystal, have been coming since the Clippers played at the old Los Angeles Sports Arena in "the darkest days any franchise could have only imagined. God love you for still being here."

The recently named Hall of Fame broadcaster was joined by friend and former on-air partner Bill Walton to call the game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.

"It's been 20 years or so since we worked together. I got to say two or three words in the first half," Lawler told the crowd. "Reuniting with him has been a special night."

Before the game, the team unveiled an on-court logo honoring Lawler, and the players wore special shooting shirts thanking him.

Team owner Steve Ballmer donned the same black-and-white "Thank you Ralph!" T-shirt over a long-sleeved shirt.

Fans signed an oversized card outside the arena and received Lawler bobbleheads, which recite some of his signature phrases such as "Bingo!" and "Oh me, oh my!"

"This is a night the likes of which I could never have possibly imagined," he said.

The Clippers estimated that Lawler has traveled 1.67 million miles with the team, called games in 91 cities in six countries, talked over 500,000 minutes on the air, and had a career longer than eight NBA franchises.

He's one of a few announcers who have called games in the four major U.S. pro leagues: the NFL's Chargers, MLB's Philadelphia Phillies, NHL's Philadelphia Flyers and NBA's Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers.

He's received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and three Emmy Awards.

Lawler met his wife, Jo, after leaving Philadelphia for San Diego to call Clippers' games and she was a season ticketholder.

The team presented them with a trip to Australia and New Zealand.

The Clippers announced the creation of a scholarship in Lawler's name at his alma mater, Bradley University in his hometown of Peoria, Illinois.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Magic Johnson Through the Years]]>Wed, 10 Apr 2019 06:31:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/4-10-2019-magic-three-lakers.jpgA look at the NBA career and post-NBA life of Magic Johnson. From his spectacular rookie season in Los Angeles to his stunning HIV announcement in 1991 and his life in the Dodgers and Lakers front offices after basketball, Johnson has been a part of some of Los Angeles most memorable sports moments.

Photo Credit: Getty/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Lakers President, Magic Johnson, Announces Resignation]]>Wed, 10 Apr 2019 01:46:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Magic_Resigns_1200x675_1485738563765.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations and Hall of Fame player, Magic Johnson, announces his resignation before the team's final game of the season.]]>
<![CDATA[Magic Johnson's Resignation Overshadows Lakers' Loss]]>Wed, 10 Apr 2019 01:30:58 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Lakers+last+game+blazers.png

The Magic just wasn't there.

In the final game of the season, Magic Johnson's shocking resignation overshadowed a heartbreaking defeat at the buzzer, as the Portland Trail Blazers ended the Los Angeles Lakers season the same way it began: with a loss.

Maurice Harkless hit a corner three-pointer at the buzzer to sink the most disappointing season in Lakers franchise history, 104-101, on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Harkless finished with 26 points to lead the Blazers, but the game was all about Magic.

Just over an hour before tip-off, Johnson dropped a bombshell on everyone by announcing his resignation as Lakers President of Basketball Operations in an impromptu press conference with the media. 

"Today, I'm going to step down as the President," Johnson told a stunned scrum of reporters. "I feel like a monkey has been lifted off my back…I'm free."

All the more surprising, Johnson's announcement came without prior notice to owner Jeanie Buss, general manager Rob Pelinka, head coach Luke Walton—who Johnson hinted he was prepared to fire after the game—or superstar LeBron James.

Johnson had been on the job for just over two years, but had no prior experience as an executive before he took over the role from Jim Buss in February of 2017.

As Johnson left the building just minutes before tip-off, saying "Bye for good this time." The Lakers and lame-duck head coach Luke Walton still had to take the court for the final game of the regular season. 

"We're not going to talk about the Magic message from earlier," said Walton after the game. "I found out the same time you did and we were in here to play and compete for a game."

The Lakers did compete for the full 48 minutes, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finishing the season strong with a game-high 32 points and eight assists. He is now a free agent.

"A lot of ups and downs, but I had fun," KCP said of the season overall. "This might be one of my funniest years. I've been in the league for six years and this might be the funniest season I've had."

Mike Muscala had 16 points, Alex Caruso had 12 points, and 13 assists and JaVale McGee finished with 11. They are all free agents.

"I hope opportunity, positivity, and more basketball," McGee said about what's in his future. "I really appreciate the Lakers giving me the opportunity to play extended minutes and show that I still have it."

Rookie Jemerrio Jones capped off his 10-day contract and short sting of NBA action with the first double-double of is career, finishing the game with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

"I don't know what to tell you about all that, that's between Magic and you all," Jones said when asked for his reaction to Johnson's resignation. "I'm just going to do me. When they give me an opportunity, I'm going to do me, regardless."

Enes Kanter, who is now starting at center in the absence of Jusuf Nurkic had 22 points and 16 rebounds. Damian Lillard had 20 points and Seth Curry had 19 points off the bench.

Portland led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, but the Lakers went on a 9-0 run at the end of the third to recapture the lead.

With less than 30 seconds remaining in the contest, Caruso turned the ball over and Lillard found Harkless open in the corner for the game-winning shot. 

"Mo had been scoring and hitting shots the whole quarter," "He's had a lot of moments when he came up big for us. The way he rose up and took that shot showed a lot of confidence, and you see what the result was."

Los Angeles had 29 assists and shot 35 percent from beyond the arc in the loss. 

The Lakers enter into an uncertain offseason now in upheaval after Magic's abrupt departure leaves this once storied ship rudderless. The Lakers have not made the playoffs since 2013 and have had six consecutive losing seasons since then.

Meanwhile, Portland is headed to the playoffs for the sixth straight season, and wrapped up home court advantage with the victory. They will likely face the Utah Jazz in the first round. 

Notes

LeBron James (groin), Lonzo Ball (left ankle), Josh Hart (knee surgery), Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Reggie Bullock (plantar fasciitis), Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, and Tyson Chandler all missed the game for the Lakers.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Magic Johnson Suddenly Announces He's Stepping Down as Lakers President of Basketball Ops]]>Wed, 10 Apr 2019 01:30:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Magic-Johnson-9-20-18.JPG

Earvin "Magic" Johnson dropped a bombshell on Tuesday night ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers' final game of the 2018-19 season when he suddenly announced that he's stepping down as President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, multiple outlets reported.

"Today, I'm going to step down as the president," Johnson told a stunned crowd of reporters gathered outside the Lakers' locker room.

After saying "I'm free" at one point, Johnson added, "I feel like a monkey has been lifted off my back."

The 59-year-old held nearly an hourlong impromptu press conference where he told reporters that Jeanie Buss, the Lakers' owner, had not been informed of his decision.

"She doesn't know that I'm standing here, because I would be crying like a baby in front of her, even though I'm about to cry right now," a visibly emotional Johnson said.

Johnson, who took over as Lakers president of basketball operations in February of 2017, shared that he felt restrained by his position, citing his desire to be present for Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade's final game, help mentor tennis player Serena Williams, assist in developing Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons and share public support for Russell Westbrook achieving a historic with a 20-rebound, 21-assist, 20-point game.

"I had more fun on the other side," Johnson said.

The man who won five NBA titles as a player shared frustrations regarding multiple tampering investigations by the league office and his inability to mentor young men outside the organization.

Johnson said, "I was like, 'I have a great life outside of this. What am I doing?' So, I'm going to go back to that beautiful life. And I'm looking forward to it."

He added, "I was happier when I wasn't president."

When asked about his message to the fans, Johnson said, "We're heading in the right direction. Just hang in there. Everything's OK."

Later, Buss took to social media and tweeted, "Earvin, I loved working side by side with you. You've brought us a long way. We will continue the journey. We love you."

"There is no greater Los Angeles Laker than Earvin Johnson," the Lakers said in a statement. "We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise – as a player, an ambassador and an executive."

Johnson's greatest achievement as an executive would undoubtedly be bringing LeBron James to Los Angeles on a four-year contract. During his tenure as head of Lakers basketball operations, Johnson oversaw a major overhaul of the roster. Brandon Ingram is the only player on the current roster that was on the team when Johnson took over.

After he completed the press conference, Johnson proceeded to give hugs to media members present, adding with his trademark smile, "This is it for me."



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Hires University of Cincinnati Coach to Lead Its Men's Basketball Program]]>Tue, 09 Apr 2019 09:50:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Cronin_Edited_SideArm.jpg

The longtime head coach at the University of Cincinnati has been named the head men's basketball coach at UCLA.

Mick Cronin agreed to a six-year contract worth $24 million, according to UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero. The school fired Steve Alford in December. Alford led the Bruins' storied program to four NCAA tournament appearances, including three trips to the Sweet 16, but the team limped to a 7-6 start. 

"Mick Cronin is a fierce competitor, and I'm excited to welcome him to Westwood," Guerrero said in a statement. "Mick has built a fantastic program at Cincinnati, backed by integrity and discipline, and he has instilled an undeniable toughness in his student-athletes. I am confident he will build this program the right way and lead UCLA basketball back to national prominence."

Cronin said he was "incredibly humbled and honored" to become the 14th head coach in UCLA men's basketball history.

"UCLA is a very special place with a strong tradition of excellence," he said. "To be able to join such a world-class institution is truly a privilege, and I can't wait to get started in Westwood."

Cronin has a 365-171 record in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach. During his 13-season tenure as head coach at his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, he guided the Bearcats to the NCAA Tournament each of the past nine seasons. He's one of six coaches in the nation to achieve that feat, alongside Mark Few (Gonzaga), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bill Self (Kansas) and Roy Williams (North Carolina).

In 2018, Cronin was named Sporting News National Coach of the Year and was also a semifinalist for the 2018 Naismith Trophy National Coach of the Year award. The Cincinnati native currently has the most NCAA Division I victories (365) among active coaches under the age of 50.

"At UCLA, we expect our coaches to inspire student-athletes to strive for the very best in everything they do -- during a game, in the classroom and out in the community," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. "I have great hopes for Mick Cronin and am confident he understands our values of academic and athletic excellence, recognizing the very high bar set by Coach John Wooden."



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers react to Magic Johnson's resignation before final game]]>Wed, 10 Apr 2019 01:46:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_reaction_to_Magic_and_end_of_season_1200x675_1485739587716.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers players Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, JaVale McGee, and Jemerrio Jones react to the announcement by President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson, that he was stepping down, and reflect on the season as a whole.]]>
<![CDATA[Nipsey Hussle Loved LA Sports and They Loved Him Back]]>Mon, 08 Apr 2019 17:43:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/NipseyHussleBW.png

He stood tall. Silent. Focused. Despite being surrounded by people—including another local hip-hop legend in YG—he stood out amongst the others. There was a lifetime's worth of living behind his eyes. As he once said, "I sleep light, but I dream big, I tend to talk less because I've seen sh--."

This was the first time I met Nipsey Hussle. I suppose it's ironic that I would be introduced to this local icon in my home away from, within the dark familiar corridors of Staples Center, the same halls that will host his public memorial service on Thursday.

Hussle was performing songs from his debut studio album, Victory Lap, at halftime of a Los Angeles Clippers game. An album that would see him go from a zealous underdog to a Grammy nominated hip-hop sensation.  

Nipsey Hussle first came on my radar in 2010, following the release of his Marathon mixtape. There was a track that featured a guest appearance by psych-pop duo MGMT. As a casual hip-hop fan, I loved the blend of rap and soothing beats of "Electric Feel."

At the time, Hussle was an aspiring rapper that had yet to ascend the heights of other West Coast based artists like NWA, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and 2Pac.

Flash forward to the winter of 2017, and a friend and I were driving to the Forum to watch Jay Z's 4:44 tour. On the way, we listened to a podcast and Hussle was the guest. He was promoting Victory Lap, which would be released in February of 2018.

As soon as the album hit all the music-streaming services, I listened to it from front to back for a week straight. It was unlike any other hip-hop album I had heard before. It was rough and raw, but inspirational and encouraging. Hussle didn't just rap about the typical clichés of drugs, violence, money, and women, but he instead stressed the importance of hard work, dedication, and motivation.

Through his music, Hussle preached about the value in giving back to those less fortunate. He wanted the world to know that anyone, from any background, could rise to the top, but once you'd reached the pinnacle of fame and success, what you did with it, was much more worthwhile.

So needless to say, when I saw him in the hallway at Staples Center less than a month later, I was extremely excited to meet him.

"Call me Nip," he said shaking my hand after I awkwardly called him "Mr. Hussle."

Minutes later, as I followed him on to the court, I realized I wasn't the only one excited to see him. An arena that is normally half-empty during intermission was suddenly stocked full of fans, each with their phones out, anxious to catch a glimpse of this rising star. Even the high-powered fans courtside stood up out of their seats and watched, waiting til after the game to stop by the Chairman's room for a drink.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., NFL star JuJu Smith-Schuster, and actors Adam Devine and Billy Crystal all stayed to see Hussle's performance.

Hussle was no stranger to Staples Center. One could argue it was his second home. Whether he hopped up on stage and did a guest performance during a concert, sat in the seats during the Grammys, or was courtside for a basketball game, Hussle was always here.

He was a diehard sports fan and loved his hometown teams. His influence on the Southern California sports landscape reached beyond the scope of a famous fan.

Hussle participated in charity basketball games, refurbished courts in his Crenshaw neighborhood, and even purchased sneakers for an entire elementary school in Hyde Park.

"Growing up as a kid, I was looking for somebody—not to give me anything—but somebody that cared," he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview in 2018. "Someone that was creating the potential for change and that had an agenda outside of their own self interests."

Hussle became that somebody, and his relationship with LA based sports; its athletes, and its teams, is only part of the indelible legacy he leaves behind in the community. 

Hussle was born Ermias Asghedom, and was raised in South Los Angeles. He grew up going to Dodgers and Lakers games, and as he gained fame and notoriety, only the proximity of his seats changed, not his love for our local teams.

Hussle's music has been played at Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, and the Coliseum for years. He regularly rocked a Dodgers hat, and donned a Lakers or Dodgers jersey in his music videos. He sat courtside with his longtime girlfriend, Lauren London, hobnobbed with Denzel Washington, and challenged players to three-point shooting contests (he lost every time).

His impact on Southern California sports and the athletes that started from here was never more evident than the days that followed his sudden and tragic death last Sunday while standing outside the Marathon Clothing store he owned.

Less than 24 hours later, Hussle's name was written on the sneakers of NBA players throughout the league. MLB players changed their walk-up music to his hit songs, local sports teams held moments of silence in his honor, and the tributes only poured in from there.

LeBron James sent out multiple messages on Twitter, posted countless videos of him singing his songs in his Instagram stories, wore a Nipsey Hussle t-shirt to a Lakers game, and then broke down when discussing his passing after the game.

Close friend and former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook paid homage to his close friend by showing up to a game against the Lakers wearing a "Crenshaw" t-shirt, and then became the second player in NBA history to have at least 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 20 assists in a game. After the contest, he dedicated his performance to Hussle.

"That wasn't for me man, that was for my bro, that was for Nipsey," Westbrook said during his postgame interview on the court. "20, plus 20, plus 20. They know what that means. That's for my bro. Rest in Peace, Nipsey."

Reigning NBA MVP and Bellflower native, James Harden, poured in 36 points and 10 assists two days after Hussle's death and he too, dedicated his performance to his late friend.

"He was powerful. Not just to a certain dynamic, or a certain city, but to the world," said Harden after a game in Los Angeles last week. "He was a leader. It's been sad. Not only for myself, but a lot of people are affected by it, and it just doesn't seem real."

It's been over a week since the world lost Nipsey Hussle, and for the city of Los Angeles, we share the same sentiment as Harden, it still doesn't feel real, and maybe it never will, but one thing is for certain, his legacy will live on forever.

Nipsey Hussle's memorial service will take place Thursday morning, April 11, 2019 at Staples Center.

 

If you can not see the embedded images, please click "View on NBC Southern California" at the bottom of this page. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Mike Trout Homers in 4th Straight Game, Angels Beat Rangers]]>Mon, 08 Apr 2019 00:21:16 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-Trout-homers-again-4-7-19.jpg

Texas Rangers relievers found themselves dealing with the wrong kind of buzz Sunday, first from bees in the bullpen and then from the crowd's reaction to another mammoth home run by Mike Trout.

The star slugger went deep for the fourth straight game and the Los Angeles Angels, after waiting out a five-minute delay caused by a swarm of bees, beat the Rangers 7-2.

Trout hit five home runs in the four-game series and became the fourth Angels player to connect five times in one set. The two-time AL MVP went 6 for 11 with nine RBIs in the series. He hit a two-run drive off Kyle Bird in the sixth inning Sunday for a 6-2 lead.

"I've got to keep that same approach and just keep doing my job," Trout said.

Play was stopped in the fifth when bees began flying around the bullpens in left-center field at Angel Stadium. Bird was warming up and kept throwing while swatting away the insects, but his teammates hopped the wall to get away. They ended up standing under what would be the trajectory of Trout's 422-foot shot two innings later.

Many fans cleared out of the area until the bees eventually left.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward didn't realize there was an issue until he looked out to make sure Bird was getting loose, "and there was nobody down there," he said.

Bird might have preferred staying in the bullpen with the bees after leaving a fastball over the middle of the plate to Trout, who became the first player in American League history with five homers in the first four home games of a season.

"He's not missing anything," Woodward said. "Typically, you look at a game and most hitters don't get a lot of pitches. He's getting one or two and he seems to be hitting them out. Hopefully next time we face him it will be a different result."

Brian Goodwin also homered for the Angels, who have won three in a row following a five-game losing streak. Justin Anderson (2-0) threw a scoreless inning in relief.

Joey Gallo hit a two-run homer for the Rangers. Shelby Miller (0-1) gave up four runs on four hits and three walks and hit one batter in two innings.

The Angels scored four times in the second. Jonathan Lucroy had an RBI single, and Zack Cozart was hit by a pitch to tie it at 2. David Fletcher singled home a run and another scored on Tommy La Stella's groundout.

Angels manager Brad Ausmus was pleased his offense was able to get those four runs across without any help from Trout.

"Although I say at times that Trout is going to be the bulk of our offense, on any given day we need six or seven guys in the lineup to contribute to consistently score runs," Ausmus said.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the second when Gallo launched a changeup 441 feet into the stands in right field. It was his fourth home run of the season.

WELCOME ADDITION

Goodwin, who had a solo shot in the seventh, went 2 for 3 with a walk. After being claimed off waivers March 27 from Kansas City, Goodwin leads the team with a .400 batting average (8 for 20) and is "setting the tone for all of us," Trout said.

"Other than Trouty, he's probably swinging the bat the best on the team. And he's a guy we didn't have 10 days ago, so he's been a nice addition offensively, for sure," Ausmus said.

MOVING ON UP

Albert Pujols passed Ichiro Suzuki for 22nd place in career hits with a single in the third inning. Pujols has 3,090 hits in 2,702 games.

"Ichiro had an unbelievable amount of hits, and it seems like every day Albert is passing somebody," Trout said.

CAUGHT BY SURPRISE

Angels OF Justin Upton figured he might miss a couple of weeks at most after injuring the big toe on his left foot when he banged into the outfield wall in an exhibition game, so he couldn't believe it when told the diagnosis of turf toe would keep him out for up to three months.

"I wasn't happy about it, obviously," Upton said. "But nothing I can really do about it at this point except take it and try to get better while I'm down."

Upton, limited to range-of-motion exercises while he remains in a walking boot for the next two to three weeks, joked he had not been in contact with any offensive linemen for rehabilitation tips after sustaining an injury associated more with football than baseball.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 1B Ronald Guzman was placed on the 10-day injured list after sustaining a right hamstring strain Saturday. "I've never had problems with the right leg. It's very rare," Guzman said. Patrick Wisdom was recalled from Triple-A Nashville and is expected to split time at first base with Logan Forsythe, who started Sunday.

Angels: X-rays taken of Cozart's left arm did not reveal any broken bones. ... DH Shohei Ohtani (elbow) will remain in California to continue his rehabilitation. Ausmus did not update a timetable for when Ohtani could make his season debut. ... RHP Nick Tropeano (shoulder) will begin throwing simulated games at the Angels' spring training complex in Arizona.

UP NEXT

Rangers: LHP Mike Minor (1-1, 4.63 ERA) will make his first road start Tuesday against Arizona. Minor threw seven sharp innings in a 4-0 win against Houston on Wednesday.

Angels: RHP Trevor Cahill (0-1, 3.75) starts Monday in the opener of a three-game series against Milwaukee. Cahill will make his home debut for the Angels after allowing one run over six innings in a no-decision at Seattle on Tuesday.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cody Bellinger Crushes 7th HR, Dodgers Sweep Rockies]]>Mon, 08 Apr 2019 00:16:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Cody-Bellinger-Dodgers-4-7-19.jpg

Cody Bellinger has been doing plenty of damage with his bat. He showed his defense is pretty good, too.

The 2017 NL Rookie of the Year homered again and made two big plays in right field, Max Muncy also went deep and the homer-happy Los Angeles Dodgers outslugged the Colorado Rockies 12-6 on Sunday night.

Bellinger had three hits, including his major league-leading seventh home run, and has hit safely in 11 straight games dating to last year. The Dodgers have 24 homers and have connected in all 10 games. They scored 29 runs and swept a series at Coors Field for the second consecutive season.

Bellinger has two more home runs on his own than the Dodgers had through 10 games in 2018.

"He's covering a lot of different pitches, a lot of different zones," manager Dave Roberts said. "He's playing that cat-and-mouse and picking his spots to release that barrel. The numbers speak to it — he's dangerous."

He can also play in the field. In the first inning, Bellinger made a tough catch near the stands in foul territory to end Colorado's bases-loaded threat. In the sixth, he threw out Trevor Story trying to go from first to third on a single by Nolan Arenado.

"If you can get both in one day, it's a huge confidence booster," said Bellinger, who is hitting .455 with 18 RBIs. "I think everyone wants to do that."

Joe Kelly (1-1) pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief to get the win as "Sunday Night Baseball" on ESPN made its first appearance at Coors Field since 2001 with a game that lasted 3 hours, 52 minutes.

Colorado has lost seven of eight since starting the season with two wins. Arenado had three hits and three RBIs and Charlie Blackmon added two hits for the Rockies but committed a pair of embarrassing errors in right field.

"It's rare to see that especially from Charlie because he's steady, dependable," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "So that was a rare occurrence to see that tonight, especially two plays."

Los Angeles scored two runs in the second and four in the third off Chad Bettis (0-2) and led 9-3 when Muncy hit a two-run homer in the sixth.

Bellinger capped a big weekend with a line drive to the second deck in right field. His seven home runs are more than five teams have hit this season — including the Rockies.

"I just feel really good and just trying to stay within myself in the cage and not get too ahead of myself and give in to the hype," Bellinger said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (shoulder inflammation) will likely make his second rehab start Tuesday with Triple-A Oklahoma City or Double-A Tulsa. ... Roberts said LHP Tony Cingrani (left shoulder impingement) stretched his throwing to 120 feet.

Rockies: OF David Dahl left in the third inning. Black told the ESPN broadcast Dahl felt something in his abdomen below his oblique, and after the game Dahl said he felt it on his strikeout in the first inning. "I don't think it's anything too serious," Dahl said. "Right now it's just tight. Iced it a little bit. But I think it's going to be fine. I'm not too worried." ... LHP Tyler Anderson (left knee inflammation) was placed on the 10-day injured list. The team recalled RHP Yency Almonte from Triple-A Albuquerque. Anderson (0-2, 9.00 ERA) struggled in his two starts.

FAN INTERFERENCE

With Bellinger at the plate and one out in the sixth, the game was interrupted by a fan who climbed over the railing in left-center and ran onto the field. He made it to the infield by second base before falling. He was apprehended and walked off the field.

NEW MATH

Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandez took a toss from shortstop Corey Seager for a force at second and started jogging off the field. Problem was, there were only two outs. Hernandez's mental error kept the inning alive and allowed Arenado to score from third.

"He made a joke that he was thinking we get to play two outs an inning in Colorado," Roberts said. "That's not the case, but he backed that play up with a fantastic play off the bat of (Ian) Desmond."

WELCOME BACK

The Dodgers recalled right-hander Dennis Santana from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned righty Brock Stewart to their top farm team. Santana, who made his only major league appearance at Coors Field last season, was one of the last players left off the roster coming out of spring training. He entered with one out in the seventh and hit Mark Reynolds with his first pitch of the night.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-0, 2.08 ERA) opens a series in St. Louis on Monday night. He is 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA in five games (four starts) against the Cardinals.

Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (1-1, 2.31) makes his third start when Colorado begins a three-game home series against Atlanta on Monday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Keep Playing Spoiler as They Silence the Jazz]]>Sun, 07 Apr 2019 23:47:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jazz_vs._Lakers_1200x675_1480153155915.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers players JaVale McGee, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Jemerrio Jones discuss the team's upset victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday, snapping their opponent's seven-game winning streak.]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Continue to Play Spoiler as They Stun Jazz]]>Mon, 08 Apr 2019 01:17:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Alex+Caruso+Against+uUah+Jazz.png

And then there was one. 

In their penultimate game of the regular season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 32 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers stunned the Utah Jazz, 113-109, on Sunday night at Staples Center.

If the playoff-bound Jazz thought that the Lakers were going to lay down and let them walk all over them, they were dead wrong.

"I think that they thought it's going to be an easy game," said Lakers' center JaVale McGee about the Jazz.  "Everyone is out, all the starters, everyone who averages double figures is out. But this is the NBA, just because guys are on the bench doesn't mean they can't get starters minutes and put up starters points. This is the NBA, everyone is good."

Led by KCP and the "G-League All-Stars," the Lakers have turned some heads and shocked some of the better teams in the Western Conference, leading some to ask the question: Are the Lakers a better team without LeBron James and their young stars?

Of course that notion is ludicrous on its face, but since stars like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and James have shut it down for the season, the team is 6-3 in their last nine games. The team was 6-20 with James in their previous 26. 

"It's great to watch the game being played when you have guys out there giving it their all, no agenda other than to win the game," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton. "It's a lot of fun, beautifull really, to watch the game when they are leaving it all on the court."

Not only are they winning, but the "G-League All-Stars," composed of South Bay Lakers standouts Alex Caruso, Johnathan Williams,  Jemerrio Jones, Moritz Wagner, and Isaac Bonga, seem to have a different look and feel on the court than their counterparts did before them.

"We're just playing free," said Caldwell-Pope. "We're just playing. We're playing hard, giving great effort, and not giving up."

Not only are they playing free, but this particular team of guys seems to trust each other, they play loose, and together. They bring energy, effort, and excitement every night, but most of all, they have fun.

The Lakers' roster as it's currently constructed, is a far cry from the one that the team started the season with. Riddled with injuries, the Lakers were only able to dress 10 players on Sunday, and they played only eight of them.

"We're down to only eight players and a lot of those guys are getting opportunities they normally wouldn't get," said Walton. "You can go down the line from [Alex] Caruso, Jemerrio [Jones], J3 [Johnathan Williams], KCP. This is the type of win where we needed everybody and everybody stepped up."

Many names that the casual fan has never heard of were inserted into the starting lineup, with Jones, Muscala, and Caruso, all on the court at the jump. 

"They came up to me and said, 'you're starting tonight,'" said Jones of when he found out he was making his first career NBA start. " I got the bubble guts a little bit, but I was straight with it. I just got to take advantage of it. Everything happened for a reason. I'm just going to take this chance and run with it." 

Caldwell-Pope had a game-high 32 points, Caruso had 18 and 11 assists, and the Lakers surprised a Jazz team that was trying to secure the number five seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a win.

"I wish I was playing like this to start the season," said Caldwell-Pope. "Now we just want to finish strong. We just want to have fun with each other.

The stinging loss snapped Utah's seven-game winning streak, and guarantees they won't have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Not only did the devastating loss keep them out of the four-seed, but thanks to an Oklahoma City Thunder victory earlier in the night, they can still fall to sixth in the Western Conference should they lose out.

"Everybody's talking about how we've won eight, nine in a row or whatever, but that doesn't mean anything," said Jazz' head coach Quin Snyder. "We've tried to talk about playing well and getting better. Hopefully we get better from something like this. Whether it's a seeding situation, or our play, because regardless of where you're seeded, you have to play well and play a certain way to win."

JaVale McGee had 22 points and eight rebounds, Muscala chipped in 16 points, and Williams had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench. 

"I feel like we're playing out there with a little bit of jealousy," said McGee after the win. "We're kind of mad that you guys are in the playoffs and we're not."

Jones, playing on a 10-day contract, had 16 rebounds, the most boards by a Lakers player in their first start in franchise history.

"It's the dog in me, that's what I want to do, and I'm willing to do it," said Jones of the rebounds.

Rudy Gobert led the Jazz with 21 points, Donovan Mitchell had 19, and Georges Niang had 16 off the bench.

"We just have to keep it moving," said Niang after the loss. "We just have to keep improving, win the rest of our games, and do what we have to do. Seeding is important, so obviously the next two games are going to be big for us."

Utah led late in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers went on an 8-0 run, and never trailed again. Leading 110-107, with less than a minute remaining, McGee slammed home an alley-oop by Pope to seal the victory.

The Lakers outrebounded the Jazz, 49-to-33, including grabbing seven more boards on the offensive glass. Both teams struggled from beyond the arc, but the Lakers shot 52 percent from the field.

Most of the current Lakers are fighting for playing time, contracts in the offseason, or just the opportunity to prove they belong in the NBA, but whatever their motivation is, it's working, and they're putting the league on notice. 

Notes and Next

LeBron James (groin), Lonzo Ball (left ankle), Josh Hart (knee surgery), Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Reggie Bullock (plantar fasciitis), Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, and Tyson Chandler all missed the game for the Lakers. 

The Lakers will host the Portland Trail Blazers in the final game of the regular season on Tuesday night at Staples Center.   



Photo Credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trout's Grand Slam Powers Angels Past Rangers, 5-1]]>Sat, 06 Apr 2019 23:18:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1135413820.jpg

Any pitcher who wants a prayer of retiring Mike Trout should throw high fastballs, at least according to the old conventional wisdom on the star slugger.

That's exactly what Drew Smyly threw, and that's exactly what Trout hit 458 feet for the grandest homer yet in his latest power binge.

Trout hit a grand slam for his fourth homer in three days, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Texas Rangers 5-1 on Saturday for their first back-to-back victories of the season.

Trout's fourth-inning drive off Smyly (0-1) cleared the bullpens beyond the left field fence at Angel Stadium. He absolutely clobbered a fastball at the top of the strike zone, taking an eraser to yet another item on the diminishing list of effective strategies to deal with the two-time AL MVP.

"Obviously it's just adjustments," Trout said of his increasing acumen at hitting high pitches after occasionally struggling with them earlier in his career. "I couldn't tell you one thing that I'm doing to hit those pitches. Just getting a good pitch to hit and trying to put a barrel to it, not trying to do too much. If you try to do too much with a pitch up (high), you're not going to hit it. You're going to pop up. So especially with guys on base, you're just looking for something around the zone."

After homering in the Halos' home opener Thursday and adding two more Friday, Trout connected for his first grand slam since 2015 and No. 5 for his career. He has homered in three straight games for the seventh consecutive time in his career; he homered in four straight during May 2017.

"(Smyly) actually represents a pretty good matchup for Trout because of the high fastballs, (but) there's really no great matchup against Trout, especially when there's nowhere to put him," Texas manager Chris Woodward said. "I'm going to have nightmares about that guy."

Trout is off to a dynamite start after cementing his future in Anaheim with a 12-year, $426.5 million contract before the season. He has reached base in all nine games this season, including four times Saturday while boosting his on-base percentage to .553 and his OPS to a whopping 1.476.

Albert Pujols added his 634th career homer in the seventh for Los Angeles. Pujols' first homer of his 19th big league season was his 3,089th career hit, tying Ichiro Suzuki for 22nd place in major league history.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa had an RBI single in the fifth for the Rangers, who couldn't match the Angels' big hits.

Tyler Skaggs (1-1) pitched 6 1/3 innings of five-hit ball in a strong outing for the Angels, earning his first victory since July 25. The left-hander won his third consecutive start against Texas, giving up just two earned runs in 17 1/3 innings.

"Last year didn't end the way I wanted, but I know the caliber of pitcher I am," Skaggs said. "Hopefully this is the first of many (wins) this year."

Smyly stranded six Angels runners in the first three innings, but Trout's slam chased him. Smyly gave up six hits and three walks in his second start for his new team after two years of recovery following Tommy John surgery.

ALBERT AGAIN

Pujols connected on the first pitch of the seventh inning by Adrian Sampson. The three-time NL MVP got his 1,984th career RBI, eight behind Babe Ruth for fifth place in baseball history.

LEADING OFF

David Fletcher had three hits, reached base four times and stole a base in his first game of the season as Los Angeles' leadoff hitter. The spot has been troublesome in recent years for the Angels, but Fletcher is likely to get more chances to claim the role.

"It's tough not to like the things Fletch does," manager Brad Ausmus said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 1B Ronald Guzman left with tightness in his right hamstring after running out his double to the right field wall in the third inning. He will have an MRI exam before Texas decides whether to recall a player from the minors for Sunday's game. "Hopefully it's just tightness," Woodward said. "But it didn't look very good."

Angels: Kole Calhoun ran into the right field wall while attempting to catch Guzman's double, but he stayed in the game after a long consultation with LA's training staff. Calhoun then left in the seventh after striking out three times.

UP NEXT

Late-spring acquisition Chris Stratton (0-1, 8.31 ERA) makes his Angel Stadium debut after getting raked by Seattle in his first appearance for the Halos. Shelby Miller (0-0, 4.91 ERA) will make his second start for the Rangers in the finale of the four-game series.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Roadster Beats Game Winner to Win Santa Anita Derby]]>Sat, 06 Apr 2019 23:03:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Santa-Anita-AP_18098013039687.jpg

At the eighth-pole, Bob Baffert knew he was going to win his record ninth Santa Anita Derby.

The only suspense was with which horse.

Roadster defeated Game Winner by a half-length in the $1 million race on Saturday, giving Baffert a 1-2 finish and the possibility of three horses in the Kentucky Derby.

His other standout, Improbable, is set to run in the Arkansas Derby next weekend.

All 11 races went off without incident at the historic track where 23 horses have died since Dec. 26. Sign-toting protesters gathered outside the gates urging the end of racing; inside, the crowd of 30,713 cheered as Roadster, Game Winner and Instagrand charged down the stretch.

"It was so comforting to see all these fans here and get behind us," Baffert said in the winner's circle. "They know at the end of the day we love our horses. We wake up worrying about them. We go to sleep worrying about them. To me, that's what made this a great day."

It was the smallest Derby attendance since 2016, when 27,821 came out on a rainy day.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Roadster ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.28. It was the slowest winning time since Sir William was clocked in 1:49.40 in 1957.

"This track is deep and slow, but it's safe, and that's what we wanted," Baffert said.

Roadster, a 3-year-old gray colt, needed to finish first or second to earn enough qualifying points for the 20-horse field for next month's Kentucky Derby. He received 100 points for the win and is fourth on the Derby leaderboard.

"I'm proud of him for coming from off the pace like that," said winning owner Peter Fluor of Speedway Stable LCC. "Mike said he's got gears and he showed it."

Roadster underwent throat surgery last summer. He won his first race back on March 1.

"His breathing is not an issue," Baffert said. "Today he passed the test to know he's good enough to go to the big show."

Roadster paid $8.20, $3 and $2.40 at 3-1 odds. Game Winner returned $2.40 and $2.10 as the 1-2 wagering favorite. The Baffert exacta was worth $7.

Game Winner picked up 40 points and is seventh on the Derby leaderboard with 85.

Instagrand paid $2.60 to show. He earned 20 points and is 27th on the leaderboard with 25.

Nolo Conesto was fourth, followed by Synthesis and More Ice.

Improbable is 27th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 25 points, but a win next Saturday in Arkansas would vault him into the field.

That would give Baffert a trio in the Derby for the third time. He also saddled three in 2006 and 1999, but didn't win either time.

Baffert's luck ran out in the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap for older horses.

Gift Box nosed out McKinzie in a photo finish for the Grade 1 race.

In other Derby preps:

—Vekoma won the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes by 3½ lengths at Keeneland.

Ridden by Javier Castellano, Vekoma ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.93 and paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.60 as the 7-5 favorite. The colt earned 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby and is second overall on the leaderboard with 110.

Win Win Win returned $4 and $3.20. Signalman paid $3.60 to show.

Vekoma and Win Win Win are likely assured spots in the 20-horse Derby field. They would be just the second Derby starters for trainers George Weaver and Mike Trombetta, respectively.

A 4-year-old filly named Cathedral Reader was euthanized after sustaining a catastrophic injury in the Grade 1 Madison Stakes at the Kentucky track.

—Tacitus won the $750,000 Wood Memorial by 1¼ lengths at Aqueduct.

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tacitus ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.23. The 5-2 wagering favorite paid $7.20, $4.70 and $3.

Tacitus rallied from 10 lengths back to win the Tampa Bay Derby last month in his 3-year-old debut. He has won three of four career starts, including three in a row for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The colt is a son of 2004 Wood Memorial winner Tapit.

Tacitus earned 100 points for the victory and moved to the top of the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 150 overall.

Tax was second and Haikal took third.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Shock Playoff-bound Clippers]]>Fri, 05 Apr 2019 23:44:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Clippers_and_Lakers_4_1200x675_1474897987914.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers players Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso discussing AC's performance and upsetting the playoff-bound Clippers in the "Battle for LA."]]>
<![CDATA[Trout Homers Twice to Help Angels Snap 5-Game Skid]]>Fri, 05 Apr 2019 23:28:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/MikeTroutAngels.jpg

Mike Trout hit two home runs to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night and snap a five-game losing streak.

Trout — who signed a $426.5 million, 12-year contract before the end of spring training — has homered in the Angels first two home games for the first time in his career.

It is also the 15th multi-homer game of his career. Trout hit a Lance Lynn (0-1) fastball to center field in the sixth inning to give the Angels a 2-1 lead. He added a solo shot to center in the eighth off Jesse Chavez. Five Angels pitchers combined for a season-high 12 strikeouts.

Felix Pena started and allowed one run and four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Justin Anderson (1-0) got the win with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and Cody Allen picked up his second save. Texas scored in the fourth when Joey Gallo homered to tie it at 1.

The Rangers left fielder put Pena's slider over the wall in right for his third homer of the season. Lynn (0-1) went seven innings and allowed two runs and five hits with a walk and five strikeouts. The Angels scored first for only the second time this season. Brian Goodwin doubled to center with one out in the third, advanced to third on David Fletcher's infield single and scored when Troy Calhoun singled to right.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: CF Delino DeShields was in the lineup after being hit in the left hand by a pitch on Thursday. DeShields was sidelined for most of the first two months of last season after suffering a broken hamate bone in his left wrist after being hit by a pitch. Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons did not play after he felt his back stiffen up during the second inning of Thursday's game. Simmons said he got some extra treatment on Friday and that he felt as if he could play.

GOING LONG

Texas, Seattle and the Los Angeles Dodgers remain the only teams to have hit a home run in every game. The eight-game run by the Rangers is the third-longest streak to open a season in club history.

UP NEXT

Los Angeles' Tyler Skaggs (0-1, 3.86 ERA) won both of his starts against the Rangers last season and allowed only one earned run in 11 innings. The left-hander will be opposed by Drew Smyly (0-0, 3.00), who had a no-decision in his first start against Houston on Monday. The left-hander has not started in Anaheim since July 25, 2014, when he was with Detroit.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Caruso Scores 32 as Lakers Upset Clippers]]>Fri, 05 Apr 2019 23:41:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Caruso+Career+High+Against+Clips.png

This is a tale of one city.

It was the best of times (Clippers), it was the worst of times (Lakers), it was the age of Jerry West, and it was the age of LeBron James.

In their final matchup of the season, the lowly Lakers upset the playoff-bound Clippers, and solidified their role as the best basketball team — albeit briefly — in Tinseltown. 

Alex Caruso scored a career-high 32 points, and the Lakers defeated the Clippers, 122-117, in the coveted "Battle for LA," on Friday night at Staples Center. 

"Obviously a game against the Clippers is always exciting because it's the 'Battle for LA'," said Caruso after the game. "It felt good to come out here and split the series two-to-two, instead of give them the season win. 

The Clippers needed a win to have a shot at a 50-win season, and likely looked past the lowly Lakers, who entered the game battered and bruised with a roster full of G-League players. 

The Clippers needed win to keep pace with the Utah Jazz for the fifth seed in the Western Conference, but the upset-minded Lakers had other thoughts in mind, as they knocked the Clips down a game, and created turmoil in the seeding at the bototm of the conference.

"We assumed we were going to win the game," said Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers. "I'm not worried about being ready for the playoffs. We'll be ready for that. We're not playing well right now."

Entering the game, the Clippers were heavy 12-point favorites, but that didn't stop the lottery-bound Lakers from stomping their Staples Center roommates.

"Our season didn't turn out how we wanted to, so why not mess with somebody else's," said Lakers' guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope about upetting the Clippers.

Caldwell-Pope had 25 points, including five three-pointers as the Lakers salvaged some dignity, and dealt the Clippers a devastating blow in their hopes of avoiding the Houston Rockets in the first round of the NBA playoffs. 

"Once we clinched [the playoffs], we took our foot off the gas," said Clippers' guard Lou Williams. "We have a lot of first time playoff guys here. I think myself and Danilo [Gallinari] need to try and do a better job to get the message across to those guys that they have to finish the season as strong as they can."

JaVale McGee had a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Rajon Rondo also had a double-double with 15 points and 12 assists. 

"I just try to take care of the ball, get good shots, and make sure we get back in transition defensively," said Rondo of his effort. 

Entering the contest, the Clippers had won eight of their last 10 games, but now have dropped two straight, and are currently clinging to the sixth spot in the West. They are 2.5 games behind the Jazz (with two to play), and only a half-game ahead of the Thunder and one-game ahead of the Spurs.  

Should the Clippers struggles continue, it's not inconceivable that they could fall all the way into the eighth spot and face the three-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors in the first round. 

Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with a team-high 27 points, and six different players also scored in double figures for the Clips.

"I honestly would rather have the losses happen now than in the playoffs," said Clippers' guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.

The Lakers had won four of their last five before they shut LeBron down for the remainder of the season, but entering the game had lost two in a row, including a lopsided loss to the Warriors a night prior.

The Clippers led by 12 points early in the second half, but the Lakers stunned their co-tenants with eight three-pointers in the fourth quarter as Rondo and Caruso sank three each.

"I was in a groove and got open shots, I was aggressive," said Caruso of his performance. "I once had a game in the G-League last year where I had a 40-ball [scored 40 points]. There was less people watching though."

The Lakers outrebounded the Clippers 55-to-45, and shot a scorching 44 percent from beyond the arc. 

"We deserved to lose," said Rivers matter of factly. "They played harder. Especially when you play a team that has everyone out, and you let it go down the stretch, then you're just asking for the loss. I really believe we deserved to lose the game tonight. It would've been unfair if we had won the game."

The Lakers may have won the battle on Friday, but make no mistake about it, in less than a week's time, the Clippers will be the team to watch in this town, and the Lakers will be away fishing somewhere on an early vacation. 

Notes and Next

LeBron James (groin), Lonzo Ball (left ankle), Josh Hart (knee surgery), Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Reggie Bullock (plantar fasciitis), and Tyson Chandler all missed the game for the Lakers.

Patrick Beverly (right hip pointer) and JaMychal Green (birth of a child) both skipped the contest for the Clippers. 

The Lakers will host the Utah Jazz on Sunday night at Staples Center. 



Photo Credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Muncy, Bellinger, Martin HR, Dodgers Beat Rox]]>Fri, 05 Apr 2019 20:27:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/LaDodgersRockies.jpg

Cody Bellinger couldn't offer up a deep explanation on why the Los Angeles Dodgers are going deep so often.

"Everyone's feeling good," he said.

That's deep enough.

Bellinger, Max Muncy and Russell Martin homered as the Dodgers kept up their longball barrage, beating Colorado 10-6 on Friday in the Rockies' home opener.

After hitting a franchise-record 235 home runs last year, the NL champion Dodgers have connected a whopping 21 times in only eight games this season. They've homered in every game so far. What's more, the 21 homers through their opening eight games are the second-most in major league history behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who had 23 in 2000.

"We have a talented lineup," Muncy said. "We're very deep. On top of that, we're all up there and having fun."

Bellinger hit his sixth of the year, breaking the game open with a three-run drive in the fifth. To think, he didn't hit his sixth homer last season until game No. 41.

"I'm just feeling good and trying to keep it going," Bellinger said.

Muncy finished a double shy of a cycle, walking in the ninth. He can't remember the last time he ever accomplished the feat. "That would've been pretty cool," Muncy said. Trevor Story homered twice for the Rockies. Kenta Maeda (2-0) threw five efficient innings and cruised through a scuffling Colorado lineup. He allowed four hits and his only run on Nolan Arenado's sacrifice fly. Maeda's biggest pitch was a slider in the fifth that Trevor Story took for a called third strike with two outs and the bases loaded. The Rockies were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position against Maeda.

His secret was simple: "Have a strong heart," Maeda said through a translator.

A slow-working Tyler Anderson (0-2) couldn't find his groove in allowing six runs over four innings. Both homers he surrendered were on fastballs. The left-hander is coming off a season in which he gave up 30 homers, tied for the most in the NL.

"They have some guys that are really hot and they stayed hot," Anderson said. "I think really the one that turns it from a day that you're grinding through into a bad day is that Bellinger homer. That was a pretty good pitch that usually in the past he hasn't gotten to that pitch. But he's pretty locked in right now."

Bellinger's drive off Anderson gave him 16 RBIs. In contrast, the Rockies have 22 RBIs as a team. This was the first of 19 games between two teams that needed a tiebreaker last season to decide the NL West crown before the Dodgers prevailed. It's a burgeoning rivalry in the eyes of the Rockies, but not so much to Los Angeles. "They're a good club that I have a lot of respect for," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "But geography plays into a rivalry."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (strained left knee) will throw a 20-pitch bullpen session Saturday. ... Roberts said he was leaning toward LHP Clayton Kershaw (shoulder inflammation) making another rehab start at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Kershaw gave up two runs and struck out six over 4 1/3 innings in a rehab stint Thursday.

KELLY UPDATE

In the ninth, righty Joe Kelly came out of the game after being hit by a comebacker that deflected off his glove and caught him in the right wrist. The X-rays on the wrist were negative. "He'll pick up a baseball tomorrow and see how it feels," Roberts said.

HOME OPENER

The Rockies have now dropped three of their last four home openers. The announced attendance was 48,404. "(The fans) brought it today and we really didn't," Story said.

JANSEN CLEARED

Roberts won't hesitate to use closer Kenley Jansen while in Denver's higher altitude. Jansen had surgery in the offseason to address an irregular heartbeat that surfaced again while in Colorado for a series in August. He didn't travel with the team back to Colorado in September as a precaution. "We feel the heart thing, we have it at bay with the surgery," Roberts explained.

SIGNING

The Rockies announced late in the game they agreed on a minor league contract with LHP Jorge De La Rosa, who turned 38 on Friday.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (0-0, 15.00 ERA) looks to bounce back Saturday against Colorado after a rough opening outing.

Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (0-1, 4.05) is 3-4 with a 4.70 ERA in 11 starts against the Dodgers.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: David Zalubowski/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Angels' Mike Trout Receives Silver Slugger Award]]>Fri, 05 Apr 2019 20:26:39 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/troutusatsi.jpg

Mike Trout was presented with his sixth Silver Slugger award, emblematic of being one of the American League's three best offensive outfielders in 2018, before Friday night's Los Angeles Angels-Texas Rangers game at Angel Stadium.

The award is determined by a vote of major league managers and coaches, who are barred from voting for players on their own teams.

The 27-year-old Trout is tied with Alex Rodriguez as the youngest players to win the award six times. It has been presented since 1980.

In 2018, Trout led the American League in on-base percentage, .460, was third in slugging percentage, .628, fourth in batting average, .312, and tied for fourth in home runs with 39 despite being sidelined for 19 games because of right wrist inflammation, sustained sliding into third base.

He also led the league in walks with 122 and intentional walks with 25.

Trout hit his first home run of the 2019 season in Thursday's 11-4 loss to the Rangers in the Angels home opener.



Photo Credit: Dalton Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Cody Bellinger Is Off to One of the League's Hottest Starts]]>Fri, 05 Apr 2019 08:15:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1140056439.jpg

At 23 years old, Cody Bellinger is already a big-league star. If the start to his third season is any indication, his ascent to superstardom might be happening now.

Seven games into the season, Bellinger is leading the majors in RBI (13) and is tied for the lead in home runs (5). Entering Friday, his 14 hits in 32 at-bats leads the Dodgers and ranks second in the National League.

In the Dodgers' last series, when they took two out of three from the Giants, Bellinger posted four hits in 12 at-bats and five RBI, including a grand slam off Madison Bumgarner in Tuesday’s 6-5 win.

Bellinger, ever humble, described the blast in simple terms.

"I just wanted something over the middle of the plate," he told reporters after the game. "Bases were loaded right there. Just wanted to put the barrel to the ball. I think he left the cutter over the middle of the plate, so just try to swing at it and it went over the fence." 

The lefty credited his hot start to his routine in the batting cage.

"I think it’s the consistency factor of the cagework that the coaches have helped me with that I’m learning, and I’ve been feeling pretty good," Bellinger said.

Bellinger, who played in his 300th career game on Tuesday, is amazed that he has been around this long.

"That’s [crazy] because I felt [my debut] happened yesterday," Bellinger said.
"Feeling good, and just trying to carry it on."

As for the facial hair that Bellinger started growing out in spring training? That just might be his secret weapon.

"I don’t know, I guess I’ve got to keep it," Bellinger said.

Bellinger and the Dodgers visit Colorado Friday to start a three-game series.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Talk About Golden State Warriors]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 22:37:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Warriors_vs_Lakers_1200x675_1473104451672.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players Johnathan Williams and JaVale McGee discuss what it was like going against the three-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and just how good they are as a team.]]><![CDATA[Angels Fans Stoked About Home Opener]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 22:34:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels_Fans_Stoked_About_Home_Opener_1200x675_1473093187869.jpg

Tailgating Angels fans were thrilled for opening day. Vikki Vargas reports for the NBC4 News on Thursday, April 4, 2019.]]>
<![CDATA[Woman is Ultimate Angels Fan]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 22:37:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/angelsfan1.JPG

A woman shows us the gems of her Angels memorabilia collection on opening day. Vikki Vargas reports for the NBC4 News on Thursday, April 4, 2019.]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Make Easy Work of Lakers]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 23:11:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Warriors+Blow+Out+Lakers.png

The envious man grows lean at the success of his neighbor.

The Lakers are growing leaner by the minute, while their neighbors to the north, the Warriors, grow fat with championships.

Granted, the Lakers are one of the most decorated franchises in NBA history, but the Warriors are the dynasty of this decade, and everyone is envious of their success.

Thursday was evidence of this, as two teams headed in entirely different directions met on the court at Staples Center.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 21 points, and the Golden State Warriors made easy work of the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-90. 

The Warriors are currently the number one seed in the Western Conference, and are seeking to win their fourth championship in five years. 

LeBron James knows what it takes to be a champion. He's won the title three times, and has played these very Warriors in the Finals in four consecutive seasons. He signed with the Lakers in the summer of 2018 in the hopes of turning Tinseltown back into Titletown.

However, things haven't gone according to plan in James' first season with the Lakers. The 34-year-old was relegated to cheerleader on Thursday as he sits out the final four games of the regular season.

Without four of their five starters from the beginning of the season, the Lakers had no chance against Golden State, as the Warriors cruised to an easy wire-to-wire win.

"I think the game came too easily for us," said Warriors' head coach Steve Kerr. "In the first quarter we were scoring at well, they couldn't make anything and we got up big."

Despite both Klay Thompson and Steph Curry shooting a combined 6-of-25, the Warriors still went up by 28 points in the first quarter, and led by as many as 34 in the second half. 

"They smacked us in the mouth the first couple minutes of the game," said Lakers' forward Johnathan Williams. "They got up to 10, to 20, to 30, and the next thing we knew, we were fighting for our lives."

Cousins had a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. Curry finished with seven points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. 

"Games like tonight, you have to come out with a good effort in the first quarter," said Curry of the victory. "Find a way to establish your dominance and let that carry the rest of the game."

Kevin Durant had 15 points, Draymond Green chipped in 12, and Quinn Cook added 16 off the bench. 

"They've been playing together for three years now, and winning championships together for three years now," said former Warrior and current Lakers' center JaVale McGee. "Their camaraderie, especially in the starting five is crazy. They have so many weapons in their starting five, it's kind of hard to find any weaknesses." 

Williams led the Lakers with 17 points off the bench. Rajon Rondo finished with 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting.

"We played extremely hard and didn't look up at the scoreboard," said Williams of how the team was able to keep going after going down by such a large margin to start the game. "When you're out there playing, you're not really thinking about the fact that those guys are All-Stars, or my role models, you just go out there and try and beat them because they're not wearing a Lakers jersey."

The Warriors shot 40 percent from beyond the arc, compared to just 22 percent for the Lakers. Golden State has gone 19-5 against the Lakers since 2013.

Passing Wilt the Stilt 

Klay Thompson passed Wilt Chamberlain for eighth place on the Warriors' all-time minutes played list. 

Notes and Next

LeBron James (groin), Lonzo Ball (left ankle), Josh Hart (knee surgery), Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Reggie Bullock (plantar fasciitis), and Tyson Chandler (flu) all missed the game for the Lakers.

Los Angeles will conclude the "Battle for LA," when they take on the playoff-bound Clippers on Friday at Staples Center. 



Photo Credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Roundup: LeBron Wants to Contend, Walton's Future]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 20:41:50 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/LeBron+on+court.png

The Lakers have less than a week left in arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history. 

However, just because the season ends, doesn't mean the Lakers will fall by the wayside. Even after they play their final game of the regular season, the Lakers will likely remain relevant and the main topic of discussion during the NBA playoffs.

The first domino expected to fall is head coach Luke Walton, who will likely fall on the sword for snapping LeBron's run of 13consecutive seasons in the playoffs. 

For weeks, there's been plenty of chatter regarding who could—and should—replace Walton as the head coach,  but on Tuesday Lakers owner Jeanie Buss was asked directly about Walton's future.

Buss appeared on the Sports Business Radio Road Show as a guest and was asked about Walton's future as head coach.

"If he were to be the coach going forward…" began host Brian Burger before Buss cut him off.

"I'm not going to answer that question," said Buss.

Buss went on two say that she believed Walton had done an "incredible job under a lot of challenging circumstances," referencing the injuries all season, and the microscope of scrutiny that the franchise seems to always be under.

Whether or not Luke Walton is manning the sideline next season, this upcoming summer, and the ability for President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka, to land another superstar to play alongside James, is sure to be the biggest mystery of the offseason.

The summer of 2019 will feature some of the most high-profile free agents in NBA history as Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, and Klay Thompson will all be available.

"It's a critical summer for myself," James told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck in an article that was published on Thursday. "Obviously the franchise is going to live forever, but for me personally, it's very critical because I want to compete, and I want to compete now."

For those keeping score at home, that's two uses of the word "critical," and two for "compete." LeBron is sending a direct message to Magic that he better get this summer right, but in case it wasn't delivered, he doubled-down:

"So it's very critical to me and my future," said James using the word critical a third time when asked if the team needs to land another star to play alongside him. "And I'm very positive and very optimistic that Magic and Rob and the franchise will be great."

In case Magic and Rob didn't get the message before, he called them out by name this time.

Last summer, Johnson promised he would land "multiple superstars," over the course of two offseasons, and if he didn't he would step down as team President. 

After landing LeBron James last offseason, he will now get one more chance to land another start to go alongside him, or it's going to be a long year for the Lakers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Gives Up 2 Runs in 4 1/3 Innings in OKC Rehab Outing]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 20:08:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgeAP_19095056885650.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw gave up two runs and struck out six in 4 1/3 innings during his rehab assignment for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday night.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner threw 61 pitches against the San Antonio Missions, a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate.

Oklahoma City trailed 2-0 when Kershaw was pulled in the top of the fifth. He earned a no-decision.

"Good first step and kind of got through everything I needed to, got up to that fifth inning," Kershaw said. "Got some guys on base, worked out of the stretch, did multiple different things. So it was a good day."

Kershaw developed inflammation in his left shoulder early in spring training. The Dodgers hoped the 31-year-old star could be ready for opening day, but they eventually chose to end his franchise-record streak of consecutive opening day starts at eight.

The Dodgers said earlier this week that Kershaw would likely need at least one more rehab outing after this before returning to the NL champions.

"I'd love to pitch the next one for the (Los Angeles) Dodgers, but I also don't want to put the bullpen at risk with a pitch count that's too low," he said.

In the first inning, Kershaw walked leadoff hitter Corey Ray on nine pitches, but he picked him off first. Kershaw fanned Keston Hiura to close out a scoreless inning.

In the second, Tyrone Taylor hit a drive down the left field line that barely stayed fair for a solo homer that put San Antonio ahead.

"He hit a home run, I don't know," Kershaw said. "Yeah, it was good. First pitch, good swing."

An RBI single by Jacob Nottingham made it 2-0 later in the inning. Kershaw threw scoreless innings in the third and fourth. Kershaw has missed playing time in each of the past three seasons due to injuries.

He was sidelined much of 2016 with a back injury before returning to pitch well late in the season and in the playoffs. He also landed on the disabled the past two seasons with recurring back pain.

He went 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA last year, and 2-3 with a 4.20 ERA during the Dodgers' postseason march to the World Series. This was his second career appearance in Oklahoma City, following a game in 2017.

When Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt told Kershaw he hopes to see him again, Kershaw replied, "I hope not."

Kershaw left this appearance with cautious optimism.

"It worked out," he said. "Come out of it feeling good and get ready for the next one."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Dodgers Dreamfield for Children of All Abilities to Open in June]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 11:17:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dreamfield+51.JPG

The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, along with the city of Fontana and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, broke ground Tuesday on the 51st Dodgers Dreamfield in Jack Bulik Park.

Set to open in June, the field marks the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation's second ball park for children who have physical disabilities or special needs, according to a media release. The Dreamfield program began in 2003 with the goal to give children in undeserved communities the chance to enjoy the sport of baseball in their own neighborhoods, according to the LADF's website.

"All kids, of all abilities, should be able to play baseball and softball," LADF Chief Executive Officer Nichol Whiteman said. "They should have a field that they feel they can call their own."

The field is expected to cost of $600,000, the LADF stated. When completed, the park will have enlarged dugouts with rooftops, backstops, player benches, bat racks, bleachers and an LED scoreboard that resembles the one in Dodgers Stadium, the media release states.

"The advantage children have when there is space to play is the lessons they learn and will benefit from later in life," Oscar Delgado, LA84 Foundation vice president, said. "In the coming months, the kids are going to have a place to play that they can enjoy and be healthy."

The 51st Dreamfield will accommodate Little League Challenger Division games for children with physical and intellectual challenges.

Since its inception, $10 million have been invested into the Dreamfield program, the media release states. The Dreamfield planned for Jack Bulick Park is the first step in reaching the program's goal of 75 fields by the Dodger's 75th anniversary, according to the LADF.



Photo Credit: Alex Vasquez KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: LA Angels Debut New Menu for 2019 Baseball Season]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 09:23:44 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/anaheim-split.jpgWhen the Los Angeles Angels take the field Thursday for their home opener versus the Texas Rangers there will be a cornucopia of new food to go along with the stadium staples like hot dogs and nachos.

Photo Credit: Ryan Tanaka ]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers File Lawsuit For Lasorda Bobbleheads]]>Wed, 03 Apr 2019 20:44:37 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Lasorda+Bobbleheads.png

"About the only problem with success is that it does not teach you how to deal with failure. " – Tommy Lasorda

The Los Angeles Dodgers have had plenty of success over the last few years, but the two-time National League pennant winners will now have to deal with a little bit of failure when it comes to their signature bobblehead promotional item.

According to TMZ Sports, the Dodgers were going to honor their Hall of Fame former manager, Tommy Lasorda, with a bobblehead night later in the season.

However, the organization is now suing the promotions company that was tasked to produce the bobbleheads, claiming their order of over 42,000 Tommy Lasorda figurines was never received.

TMZ Sports claims they obtained court documents on Tuesday in Los Angeles where the lawsuit was filed, and that the Dodgers had an agreement with P2 Promotions to make thousands of "100% hand-painted, break-resistant poly-resin," Lasorda dolls.

In the lawsuit, the Dodgers claim they never received the Lasorda bobbleheads and are suing the company for $175,000 for breaking the terms of the contract.

Every year, the Dodgers have 12 bobblehead giveaways throughout the season. The team already handed out a Walker Buehler bobblehead last Saturday, and will give out a Cody Bellinger bobblehead on April 13th.

Reportedly, the Dodgers already have the bobbleheads for eight of the 12 giveaways, and it does not appear as if Plan P2 Promotions was responsible to make any more of the giveaway items, or if the team still plans to have another company make the Lasorda bobbleheads for a later date in the season.

Lasorda is set to turn 92 in September, and managed the Dodgers from 1976 to 1996. He won two World Championships with the Boys in Blue in 1981 and 1988, and was twice voted the National League Manager of the Year.



Photo Credit: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Middle School in Watts Gets 9 New Basketball Courts Courtesy of Clippers]]>Tue, 02 Apr 2019 20:52:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Clippers-LAgenerics.jpg

Students at Charles Drew Middle School near Watts were treated Tuesday to the unveiling of nine new basketball courts and other upgrades to their athletic facilities that were funded by the Los Angeles Clippers and American Airlines.

The Clippers last year opened the first of hundreds of planned public basketball courts across Los Angeles to be renovated over the next three years through a $10 million gift to the Los Angeles Parks Foundation.

The Charles Drew Middle School renovations happened because rapper Stix, who grew up in Watts, persuaded the Clippers to also renovate the facilities at the school, Councilman Joe Buscaino's office said.

"We are here today because of the people who made this happen care for you, love you, bless you. These people want you to succeed," Buscaino told the school's students during a ceremony to celebrate the new facilities.

Buscaino's office said in addition to the nine refurbished courts, an indoor gym and an outdoor track were also renovated along with other upgrades.

The school is located in the unincorporated community of Florence-Firestone, which is just outside Watts.

"This is for ya'all. It's not for me, it's not for us. It's for ya'all," said Stix, whose real name is Brandon Salaam-Bailey.

The cost of the courts and other upgrades was about $200,000, and were the result of a partnership between the Clippers and American Airlines, Buscaino's office said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Westbrook Makes History as Thunder Roll Lakers]]>Tue, 02 Apr 2019 19:52:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/168*120/AP_19093027649234.jpg

Russell Westbrook became just the second player in NBA history to have 20 points, 20 rebounds and 20 assists in a game as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 119-103 Tuesday night.

Westbrook clinched the mark with a rebound in the final minute, drawing a large ovation from the home crowd. He finished with 20 points, 20 rebound and 21 assists. 

Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player to accomplish the feat. He had 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists in a game in 1968.

It looked as if Westbrook's chance at the mark passed by just before the decisive rebound, as the ball bounced off his fingertips and away. But at the other end, he grabbed a miss by Lance Stephenson.

It was Westbrook's 31st triple-double of the season and brought him to within three assists — assuming he plays in each of the last four games — of averaging a triple-double for the third consecutive season.

Westbrook had at least 15 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists for the eighth time in his career, tying Chamberlain for second-most all-time. Oscar Robertson had 14 such games in his career. 

Oklahoma City had struggled in the first half recently, trailing in eight consecutive games entering Tuesday.

The Thunder, despite leading by as many as 11 points early, looked to be heading toward another halftime deficit when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put the Lakers ahead with a 3-pointer late in the second quarter.

But Oklahoma City closed the half with an 11-6 run and took a 59-55 lead into halftime.

Though Westbrook struggled from the field early — missing 12 of his first 14 shots — he was effective on the offensive end from the start, with 10 first-quarter assists.

Westbrook finished 8 of 23 from the field as Oklahoma City won for the third time in its last 10 games. 

Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with 23 points.

The loss was Los Angeles' second in the last six games despite playing with a roster missing its stars. 

TIP-INS

Lakers: Power forward Kyle Kuzma missed his second consecutive game with left foot tendinitis. Kuzma was joined by LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Tyson Chandler as Lakers missing the game due to injury. . Before the game, rapper Nipsey Hussle's music was played in the Lakers' locker room. The musician was shot and killed in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Thunder: Thunder center Steven Adams briefly left the game before halftime after being fouled by Moe Wagner. Adams told trainers he couldn't hear out of his right ear. He shot free throws before heading into the locker room. Adams started the second half. . Earlier Tuesday, the NBA rescinded the technical foul Russell Westbrook received Sunday in a loss to Dallas. It would've been Westbrook's 17th of the season, pushing him one away from a second one-game suspension. . The Thunder have trailed at halftime in 17 of their 20 games since the All-Star break. . Former Thunder guard Alex Abrines, who was released in early February, was at the game as a spectator.

UP NEXT 

Lakers: Host Golden State on Thursday night. 

Thunder: Host Detroit on Friday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lawyer for Man Beaten at Dodger Stadium Says It's Like Bryan Stow's 2011 Attack]]>Tue, 02 Apr 2019 15:13:50 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Parking-Lot-attack-victim-3-30-19.jpg

A 47-year-old man was hospitalized and on life support this morning, four days after he was punched and seriously injured in an assault in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium.

"This tragedy urges the question of, 'what has the Los Angeles Dodgers done since 2011... when another visitor to the stadium, Mr. Bryan Stow, was injured and severely hurt that afternoon?'" attorney Carl Douglas said at a Tuesday news conference. Douglas is best known as one of the defense lawyers for O.J. Simpson. 

Rafael Reyna was hospitalized at County/USC Medical Center after his wife, Christel, said he was punched and suffered a fractured skull as the crowd was leaving the Los Angeles Dodgers' 5-4, 13-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks early Saturday.

She told NBC4 she was on Facetime with Rafael Reyna when she heard a woman yell "Why did you do that?'' as a man approached her husband and cursed at him. Then she heard a crack and the screen went black.

She said her husband has swelling and bleeding on the brain.

She and an adult son have been with her husband at the hospital, but Reyna said she has not told her younger children, ages 11 to 15.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for Reyna. 

Initially, Los Angeles police investigated the incident as an altercation but have now labeled it an assault.

The suspect, who got away, is described as a man in his 20s who might have driven off in a white SUV, possibly a Toyota 4Runner, police said.

The Dodgers security team is working with police and the organization released the following statement Saturday:

"Last night, an altercation occurred suddenly between two men who were leaving the stadium,'' the statement said. "One of the men was injured as a result of the altercation. A witness immediately reported the incident to stadium personnel, and emergency medical technicians were promptly dispatched to provide medical assistance at the scene. The matter is now being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Dodgers are cooperating fully with the investigation.''

In 2011, an attack outside Dodger Stadium left Bryan Stow of Santa Cruz severely brain-damaged.

"I can't believe that it's been eight years since it happened to me that it's happening again," Stow told a Bay Area TV station. "I feel totally sad for him and his family and angry about the people that did this to him."

The two men who attacked Stow pleaded guilty in 2014 and one, Lonnie Sanchez, was sentenced to eight years in prison while the other, Marvin Norwood, received a four-year sentence. The incident prompted increased security measures at the stadium.



Photo Credit: Christel Reyna]]>
<![CDATA[Vegas Likes the Dodgers to Get Back to the World Series, But Should You Put Your Own Money On It?]]>Tue, 02 Apr 2019 10:43:51 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Dodgers+World+Series+Odds.png

Beyond the gleam of a thousand glowing slot machines, and the wafting stench of cigarette smoke, huddled in the corner adjacent to the casino's largest bar, will likely sit the sports book. 

Every year, nearly $5 billion in bets is placed inside these very rooms at sports books across Nevada. According to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, Major League Baseball betting reached an all-time high in 2018, making up over 23 percent of all bets ($1.15 billion).

So it should come as no surprise that in the midst of March Madness and the looming NBA postseason millions of people are drawn to these dark pockets off the main floor, as eager as schoolchildren with a zest for recess. 

The desire to place a wager on their favorite team burns in them like a living coal in the soul, and the oddsmakers know this.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the largest and most global fan bases in all of sports. In addition to their recent string of success—back-to-back National League pennants—and their close proximity to Las Vegas, the lines on LA are often skewed to the house's favor. 

"The big teams such as the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs always seem to take in more money than others, as they have a nationwide fan base," explained Dave Mason, the Sports Book Brand Manager for BetOnline.ag.  "We look at this, but also look at projections, historical information on how we normally get bets on these sort of teams, how much we are currently taking in on them, and adjust the lines from there."

So when the Dodgers opened up as the favorites in the National League to return to the Fall Classic, oddsmakers in Las Vegas were hoping for heavy bets to come down for the Boys in Blue.

The Dodgers opened the season with 1-to-8 odds to make the MLB Playoffs. The line currently stands at -800 that they will make the postseason, and +500 they won't.

For clarity, a gambler would have to wager $800 that the Dodgers will make the playoffs in order to win just $100, provided they do. For those pessimistic Dodger fans out there, a $100 bet that they won't make the postseason would reward you with $500 in winnings if they don't play into October this year.

Those odds are the same as another big market team, the New York Yankees, and are tied with the Cleveland Indians as the second best odds in all of baseball to make the postseason this year (the Houston Astros have the best odds at -1500).

However, making the postseason isn't the only wager you can place on the Dodgers at sports books across the globe. The popularity of the team, and baseball betting in general, has created multiple wagers including total wins and losses, individual awards, and even which manager will be the first to be fired this season.

According to BetOnline.ag, the Dodgers expected win total sits at 93.5 games this season. A $100 wager will pay out $100 based on if the Dodgers win more or less than 93 games, known in sports book lingo as the "over/under." 

For example, the Dodgers won 92 games last season. If they finished with the same record in 2019, the under would win. In 2017, they won a franchise best 104 games. If the current rendition of the Boys in Blue were to repeat that success this year, the over would win.

One of the Dodgers best odds is to win their seventh consecutive National League West division title. They are heavy favorites to repeat as division winners again this year with 2-to-7 odds to win the west. By comparison, you would have to place a wager of $350, in order to win $100 should Los Angeles win the NL West.

Individually, Cody Bellinger has the best odds of any Dodger player to win the 2019 NL MVP at 28-to-1. Justin Turner is second at 33-to-1, and Corey Seager, fresh off two surgeries, is a long shot at 50-to-1. 

Bellinger is off to a great start in 2019 with a .500 batting average with four home runs and eight RBI in just four games. 

Despite starting the season on the injured list, Clayton Kershaw has the best odds of any Dodger to win the 2019 NL Cy Young Award at 12-to-1, but teammate Walker Buehler in his sophomore season is not far behind at 25-to-1. All-Star closer Kenley Jansen is a 50-to-1 long shot to join Eric Gagne as the last Dodger reliever to win the prize.

Finally, and most importantly, the Dodgers are the favorites to win the National League pennant and advance to the World Series for the third consecutive season. 

Behind the Dodgers, the revamped Philadelphia Phillies, who traded for catcher J.T. Realmuto, and won the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, are the second favorites to advance to the World Series, and according to Mason, have the second-highest percentage of wagers currently being placed on them. 

To nobody's surprise, the New York Yankees have the most money being placed on them to win the 2019 World Series, with over 10 percent of all bets currently invested in Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and company to lift the Commissioner's Trophy at the end of the year.

The Yankees are 6-to-1 favorites to the win the World Series, followed by the Houston Astros at 7-to-1, the Boston Red Sox at 15-to-2, and then the Dodgers at 8-to-1 odds.

So whether you plan to place a wager online, or walk into a sports book the next time you're in Vegas, remember how the oddsmakers create the lines, and if you bleed blue, make sure to bet with your head, and not your heart.

What starts out as fun can easily become a problem for some people. Help is available for those with a gambling problem, or who fear they might be in danger of developing one, by calling 1-800-GAMBLER.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw to Make Rehab Assignment on Thursday]]>Mon, 01 Apr 2019 18:52:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kershawus.jpg

Kershaw is getting close.

The Los Angeles Dodgers ace will see his first live-action of the season when he makes a minor league rehab start in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

"He's going to make a start in OKC [Oklahoma City] on Thursday," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts.

The Triple-A Dodgers open their season on Thursday against the San Antonio Missions, the Milwaukee Brewers Triple-A affiliate. 

"He's going to keep his Opening Day streak alive," joked Roberts about Kershaw making nine consecutive Opening Day starts, albeit this one will be with the team's Triple-A affiliate and not the Major League club.

Before the season began, Kershaw was originally slated to make his franchise-record ninth consecutive Opening Day start, but that plan was scrapped after he suffered shoulder inflamtion early in spring training following a bullpen session.

Kershaw has been back on track without pain over the last few weeks, most recently throwing a simulated game on the field at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.

"My takeaway is he got to 3 [innings] and 50 [pitches]. Which is good," said Roberts of the simulated game on Saturday. "I think Clayton is going to poke holes as he does. I thought the breaking ball was good and there was some good sliders in there. I think this is more of trying to build up versus trying to be perfect with his pitch mix. There's definitely room to lock that down, but as far as what we wanted to accomplish: go out there, see some hitters, see some swings, it was positive."

Roberts also said that Thursday's start with OKC is the next step in his recovery from the shoulder injury as he slowly builds back up as a starter. 

The manager added that Kershaw could also throw a second rehab start five days later, but that the team will decide whether or not that's necessary, or if he's ready to join the big league club on Friday. 

Asked why he's starting in Oklahoma City instead of Tulsa or Rancho (as he's done in the past), Roberts said that it was a matter of weather and logistics. 

"It's the logistics part of it," said Roberts. "Both teams [OKC and Tulsa] are at home. So now you're trying to play Weatherman a little bit and see what's optimum for him."



Photo Credit: Dalton Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Zlatan Ibrahimovic Scores 2 Goals in Return, Galaxy Chop Down Timbers]]>Sun, 31 Mar 2019 20:37:53 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Zlatan-Ibrahimovic-3-31-19.jpg

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on a pair of penalty kicks to help the Los Angeles Galaxy beat the Portland Timbers 2-1 on Sunday night.

Ibrahimovic capped the scoring in the 65th minute in his return from an Achilles injury in the opener March 2. Midfielder Romain Alessandrini also came back from a hamstring injury sustained in the opener.

The 37-year-old Ibrahimovic told reporters Friday, when asked about his ability to return from setbacks, that he needs, "20 minutes, not more." Turns out, he wasn't far off.

The Swedish forward clanged a remarkable shot off the post in the 16th minute before giving the Galaxy (3-1-0) a 1-0 lead in the 33rd, converting from the spot after drawing a foul on Claude Dielna in the area.

Jeremy Ebobisse side-footed a cross by David Guzman into an empty net from the top of the 6-yard box to make it 1-all just before halftime.

Portland (0-3-1) has conceded 12 goals, while scoring just five.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron-less Lakers Power Past Pelicans]]>Sun, 31 Mar 2019 17:33:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Lakers+and+Pelicans+big+blowout.png

Alex Caruso scored a career-high 23 points in just his 20th NBA game of the season, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the New Orleans Pelicans 130-102 on Sunday night.

JaVale McGee had 23 points and 16 rebounds, and former Pelican Rajon Rondo added 24 points and 12 assists for Los Angeles in a game missing both teams' biggest stars: the Lakers' LeBron James and the Pelicans' Anthony Davis.

Former Laker Julius Randle scored 17 points for New Orleans in 23 minutes before leaving the game to have an X-ray on his left index finger, which the team said came back negative.

Caruso is a two-way player who has spent much of this season in the G League with the South Bay Lakers. Against New Orleans, he had teammates rising off the bench and doing brief celebratory dances as he pulled up decisively and accurately from outside, hitting all four of his 3-point shots. He also had a steal that set up his breakaway tomahawk dunk.

Caruso scored 12 of his points in the third quarter, when the Lakers outscored the Pelicans 44-22 to open up a 105-84 lead.

Christian Wood, acquired recently by New Orleans after Milwaukee placed him on waivers, had 15 points and 11 rebounds, marking the third time in just four games with his new club that he has scored in double digits. He had scored 25 and 23 points in his previous two games.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 19 and Reggie Bullock 18 for the Lakers, who won't be going to the playoffs but have won four of five as they try to build toward next season.

TIP-INS

Lakers: F Kyle Kuzma was ruled out shortly before tip-off. He was added to the club's injury report with left foot tendinitis. Kuzma has played in 70 of 77 games this season. Coach Luke Walton suggested Kuzma would return to the lineup before the end of this season, if cleared. "One of his best attributes is how much he loves to play basketball and compete, so if he can, he'll get out there," Walton said. ... While James has yet to comment publicly about the Lakers' decision to sit him for the final six regular season games to rest his sore left groin, Walton said James would have continued playing if the decision was left up to the player. "He wants to play," Walton said "The medical staff has finally said, 'Look, it's just not worth it anymore. Let's make sure we have a healthy summer.'... His health is the top priority with the fact that we're out of the playoffs." ... C Mike Muscala had 10 points off the bench.

Pelicans: G Frank Jackson missed his second straight game since being diagnosed with a concussion. ... F Darius Miller missed his first game since being diagnosed Friday with a left adductor strain. With his recovery time expected to range between one or two weeks, it's unclear if he'll play again this season. ... G E'Twaun Moore missed his 11th straight game with a bruised left quadriceps.

UP NEXT

Lakers: Visit Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.

Pelicans: Host Charlotte on Wednesday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman]]>
<![CDATA[Father Suffers Skull Fracture, on Life Support After Attack in Dodger Stadium Parking Lot]]>Mon, 01 Apr 2019 19:00:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-Parking-Lot-attack-victim-3-30-19.jpg

A man suffered a skull fracture and is on life support at USC Medical Center after being attacked in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium early Saturday morning, the victim's family told NBC4.

The incident occurred at around 1 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Chris Gomez said, near the end of the Dodgers' extra innings game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The victim was a 45-year-old man, identified by his family as Rafael Reyna, a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The victim's wife, Christel Reyna, told NBC4 that she was on Facetime with her husband when she heard another woman yell, "Why did you do that?"

Reyna said she watched as a man then approached her husband and started cursing at him before she heard the sound of a crack and the screen went black.

"I'm panicked. I'm screaming in the phone and nobody is hearing me," she said. "Nobody is answering me. And I could hear my husband moaning."

Christel Reyna said the couple has three minor children, aged 11, 12 and 13, along with an adult son.

Rafael Reyna was in the hospital in serious condition related to head trauma from striking his head on concrete, Gomez said.

Rafael Reyna at USC Medical Center on life support after suffering a fractured skull

The victim's family has set up a GoFundMe.

If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts a percentage of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges.

No arrests were immediately made and no suspect descriptions were immediately available.

On Saturday night, the LAPD said the incident was being labeled an assault, and was no longer considered an altercation. The Robbery-Homicide division was taking over the investigation, the LAPD said.

The Dodgers issued the following statement Saturday night in response to the incident:

"Last night, an altercation occurred suddenly between two men who were leaving the stadium. One of the men was injured as a result of the altercation. A witness immediately reported the incident to stadium personnel, and emergency medical technicians were promptly dispatched to provide medical assistance at the scene. The matter is now being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Dodgers are cooperating fully with the investigation."

An attack outside Dodger Stadium in 2011 left a Santa Cruz man and San Francisco Giants fan, Bryan Stow, severely brain-damaged. Following that attack, security was stepped up outside Dodger Stadium.

Note: An earlier version of this article identified the victim as a father of three. The family confirmed that the victim has four children, three of whom are minors.



Photo Credit: Christel Reyna]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Will Miss Remainder of Season]]>Sat, 30 Mar 2019 15:03:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/LeBron+Shut+Down+for+season.png

That "thud" sound you hear is the Lakers season coming to an abrupt end.

The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Saturday that superstar LeBron James would miss the remainder of the season in order to ensure his left groin strain, suffered on Christmas Day, will fully heal.

Sure, there're only six games left in the season, and the Lakers were eliminated from the postseason over a week ago. But James has played in three of the team's last four games—all victories—and still appears to be as dominant as ever, and at the very least fans across the country were still coming out to see him play.

After an atrocious month of February, the Lakers opted to place James on a minutes restriction for the remainder of the season, and not play him on the second night of back-to-backs.

Earlier, when asked if he would sit for the remainder of the season, James stated that he would have a discussion between his team and the Lakers' front office, but added that when he's out on the court, he's going to give it everything he's got in order to pay respect to the basketball Gods above.

James has only played in 55 games this season, meaning when all is said and done, he will have missed a career-high 27 games during his 16th NBA season. Despite the lengthy absence off the court, the 34-year-old still averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 rebounds this season, his first with the Lakers.

The Lakers, who have missed the playoffs for the last six seasons, issued a statement by President of Basketball Operations, Earvin "Magic" Johnson and General Manager, Rob Pelinka, on their website on Saturday afternoon: 

"After consulting with our team doctors and medical staff, we have decided to hold LeBron out of games for the remainder of the season. This decision will allow his groin to fully heal, and is best for the future success of both LeBron and the Lakers."

Thus ending a tumultuous first year in Tinseltown for LeBron, in a season which will prove to be both a cautionary tale for future franchises and go down in the history books as a wasted year for one of the best talents the NBA has ever seen.

The organization announced James will still travel with the team on their upcoming two-game road trip to New Orleans and Oklahoma City, and will certainly be in attendance for the team's remaining three (four if you count the Clippers) home games at Staples Center.

With James not on the court, the Lakers are certainly hurting their chances of winning any of their six remaining games, five of which are against playoff teams in the Western Conference. 

Without James, the Lakers will be looking to evaluate their young talent for next season, as well as hopefully falling into the NBA lottery, guaranteeing them at the very least a top-10 pick in this summer's NBA draft.

The extended rest will allow James to get a jump on his offseason entertainment projects, which include multiple television shows and the feature film, "Space Jam 2."

James will also be able to begin courting some of the prized NBA free agents this offseason, including Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and former teammate Kyrie Irving.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Stay Hot in 132-108 Win Over Cavaliers]]>Sat, 30 Mar 2019 15:12:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/AP_19089749733668.jpg

Montrezl Harrell scored 23 points, rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 22 points and eight assists, and the playoff-bound Los Angeles Clippers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 132-108 on Saturday.

The Clippers have won seven of eight and 12 of 14, and they moved within one-half game of San Antonio for the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

JaMychal Green added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who connected on 15 of 33 3-pointers. Los Angeles shot 62.4 percent overall.

Jordan Clarkson scored 26 points in 24 minutes off the bench for Cleveland, while rookie Collin Sexton added 21 points and Cedi Osman had 19. Sexton scored at least 20 points for the 11th time in his past 12 games.

The Cavaliers went just 3 of 23 from the 3-point line.

The game was tied at 48 with less than four minutes to play in the second quarter when the Clippers exploded, finishing the half on a 17-4 run. Gilgeous-Alexander scored six of his 17 first-half points during the run.

The Clippers opened the third quarter by scoring the first eight points.

After falling behind by 23, the Cavs rallied to pull within seven before the Clippers pushed their lead back to 20.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: With Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson both back from injury, coach Larry Drew said before the game he's mixing playing time with his frontcourt. "This has been a problem I haven't had all year long, as far as having all of our bigs. And now having to juggle the minutes between all of our bigs. I can't play them all every night," Drew said. Moments later, Love was scratched with a sore left shoulder. ... G Matthew Dellavedova (concussion) is not with the team on its current trip.

Clippers: Doc Rivers said the team can't be concerned with what playoff seeding it ends up with in the tight Western Conference. "You can't control that. I've been around long enough to know, just play. The basketball gods will tell you where you're playing. Here's the thing you know -- the West is hard. It doesn't matter who you play, it's going to be a hard matchup. So why worry about it?" Rivers said. ... C Angel Delgado was named NBA G League Rookie of the Year.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At Phoenix Monday in the second of their five-game trip.

Clippers: Host the Grizzlies on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Talk About Playing Spoilers and LeBron Meets Billie Jean King]]>Fri, 29 Mar 2019 23:37:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_Hornets_1200x675_1468297795825.jpgLos Angeles Lakers forwards LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma talk about the team playing the role of spoilers against teams fighting for the playoffs, and James discusses what it was like to meet tennis great and Womens Rights activist Billie Jean King for the first time.]]><![CDATA[Lakers Derail Hornets Playoff Hopes]]>Fri, 29 Mar 2019 23:36:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/LeBron+vs+hornets.png

The Lakers are not going to the playoffs.

That hasn't stopped them from playing the role of spoiler to several teams who have their sights set on the NBA postseason.

LeBron James had 27 points and the Los Angeles Lakers upset the Charlotte Hornets, 129-115, on Friday night at Staples Center.

"We would love to see a couple of those guys on the same vacation trips us," joked James after the win. 

Since the Brooklyn Nets officially eliminated Los Angeles from the postseason a week ago, the Lakers have played the role of spoiler to perfection, ending the faint playoff hopes of the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings, respectively. 

On Friday, it was the Hornets turn as the Lakers lacerated Charlotte's shot at the postseason thanks to a three-point shooting display by the Lakers.

"Every team that plays us gets up to play us and it's nice to return to the favor,"said Lakers' forward Kyle Kuzma on being able to spoil the Hornets playoff hopes. "Those guys were out of the playoffs 10-12 days ago, and then they won four in a row, and now they're back. They tried to give us their best punch, so it was nice to beat them."

Entering the game, Charlotte was 1.5 games behind the Miami Heat for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern conference, but with the loss, they fall two full games back of the last spot with seven games left to play.

The Hornets led by as many as nine points in the first quarter, but the Lakers quickly closed the gap thanks to the energy of Lance Stephenson off the bench.

"I tried to grab as much rebounds as possible and push the ball on the fast break," said Stephenson. "When you rebound like that it can get you going, and it definitely got me going."

Lance and his air guitar drained a trio of three-pointers as he finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. 

The Lakers went up by 20 points after a 14-4 run to start the third quarter and cruised to victory the remainder of the way. 

"I think defensively we just couldn't get stops," said Hornets' head coach James Borrego. "They got the shots they wanted, they made threes. Guys we wanted to run off the line, they got shots. You've got to give the Lakers credit, they made shots tonight."

James had a game-high 27 points and nine assists, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 25 points and six three-pointers, and Kyle Kuzma had 20.

"When you move the ball and share the ball, it creates a lot of good energy, and everybody feels a pretty good rhythm," said James of the Lakers' offense that finished with 34 assists. "It's very infectious. It can lead to some great things offensively."

Kemba Walker led the Hornets with a team-high 24 points, Dwayne Bacon finished with 21 and MIles Bridgers had 17 as Charlotte's four-game winning streak was snapped. 

"We can't keep this one in front of us," said Bacon about the loss and needing to win every game to have a chance at the playoffs. "If we do that at Golden State, we might be out of it after the first quarter. We've got to come in with out mindset to defend, get out there and get stops, get easy buckets in transition, and stay locked in."

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle), Josh Hart (knee surgery), Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Reggie Bullock (plantar fasciitis), and Tyson Chandler (flu) all missed the game for the Lakers. 

Los Angeles will travel to New Orleans where they will face Anthony Davis and the Pelicans on Sunday.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Josh Hart Done for Season With Right Knee Injury]]>Fri, 29 Mar 2019 18:24:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/apimages-lakers-joshhart.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury.

The Lakers announced the decision Thursday.

The second-year pro has missed four straight games and five of the last seven with right knee tendinitis. He had an ultrasonic debridement procedure on his right knee patellar tendon on Thursday morning.

Hart is expected to return to basketball activities in about 12 weeks, the Lakers said.

Hart is averaging 7.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game as a key part of Los Angeles' young core, which has been besieged by injuries. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are already out for the season.

The Lakers (33-42) will miss the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Airline Offers to End Divisive Plan to Change Coliseum Name]]>Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:23:23 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/182*120/LA+Coliseum+Aerial.JPG

United Airlines is offering to withdraw from a divisive $69 million deal to rename Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. 

The airline wrote to the University of Southern California on Friday after criticism that putting a corporate name on the stadium is disrespectful to its history as a memorial to soldiers who fought and died in World War I.

The name change announced in August is part of USC's extensive, $270 million overhaul of the nearly century-old landmark.

United Airlines California President Janet Lamkin says in the letter that the company saw the deal as a way to partner with USC in modernizing the iconic facility.

"From United’s perspective, the agreed-upon new name is the key provision of our sponsorship Agreement with USC, underscoring our deep commitment to the community and its cherished institutions," she said in the letter. "However, some in the community, including members of the Coliseum Commission, have raised concerns over changing the name of the Coliseum – and raised doubts about USC’s ability to honor all of the obligations and commitments under our Agreement, including the name change.

"If USC is not in a position to honor the terms of the Agreement, including in particular the name change, United would be amenable to abiding by the wishes of the community, stepping away from this partnership with USC, and mutually terminating the Agreement." 

The Associated Press has requested comment from USC.

The coliseum has hosted two Olympics and been home to major sports teams. The Los Angeles Rams are playing there until the team's new stadium opens in Inglewood.

"Unlike other modern sports venues, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is not just a stadium -- it is a war memorial," Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn wrote in the Los Angeles Times this week. "Removing `Los Angeles' and replacing it with a corporate sponsor insults the memories of those the Coliseum was intended to honor."

Hahn is the current president of the governing Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, a city-county-state authority that several years ago gave long-term control of the stadium to USC, which has used it as its home football field since it opened in 1923.

"It's a real slap in the face to the 116,000 killed in World War I," said Stephen Peck, a Vietnam War veteran and president of the nonprofit U.S. Vets. "If someone wanted to buy the naming rights to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, it would cause an uproar. This is no different."

Purchasing the Coliseum's naming rights would help finance upgrades to the facility and create "a better experience for students, fans, athletes and the community," United Airlines said in a statement.

"These improvements were also intended to ensure that an institution that was dedicated to the memory of Los Angeles veterans would remain a source of pride for future generations of Angelenos," the statement said.

The Coliseum hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics and will see the games again in 2028. It's the temporary home of the NFL's Rams since their return from St. Louis and is a past home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the former Los Angeles Raiders and the UCLA Bruins. It hosted the 1967 AFL-NFL Championship -- retroactively termed the first Super Bowl -- and Super Bowl VII in 1973.

Its rich history of non-sports events includes John F. Kennedy accepting the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination, Pope John Paul II celebrating Mass, a rousing speech by Nelson Mandela, and numerous concerts by artists from Bruce Springsteen to the Rolling Stones.

"Throughout it all, Los Angeles has never broken faith with the Coliseum's dedicatory purpose," Hahn wrote. "We've never messed with its name, which resides in the National Register of Historic Places. Until now."

The university said in a statement Thursday that its contract to improve and operate the Coliseum through 2111 included a naming sponsorship as long as the words "Memorial Coliseum" remained in the new name.

"The university's commitment to veterans is longstanding and this naming rights agreement provides an investment to make sure the historic venue is preserved for future generations and continues to honor veterans," it said.

USC, which honors a service member as a "Hero of the Game" during home games, is massively renovating the stadium while retaining its architectural style, including the distinctive peristyle, or row of columns, topped by the Olympic torch.

Two years ago, the California World War 1 Centennial Task Force held a ceremony at the peristyle to mark the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into the conflict, which is also recalled in a monument in nearby Exposition Park honoring the "Rainbow Division," which the Army assembled from units across the U.S. to send to France.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Boxer Plants a Kiss on Unsuspecting Reporter, and Now She Has Allred in Her Corner]]>Fri, 29 Mar 2019 04:14:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/boxer-reporter-kiss.PNG

A reporter surprised by a boxer's kiss planted during an interview now has attorney Gloria Allred in her corner, and she says she's trying to make it clear that what happened is not OK. 

Jenny SuShe, who covers sports and entertainment for Vegas Sports Daily, was wrapping an interview with boxer Kubrat Pulev after a fight in Costa Mesa. 

Toward the end of the interview, he kisses her. 

"So if Tyson Fury gets through Tom Schwartz do you think you should have a shot?" she asks. 

After answering "yes," he grabs her by the chin, and plants a kiss on her mouth.

In the video, she laughs and says, "OK." As she's pulling the camera down, she says "Jesus Christ." 

In the social media flurry following the release of the video, with some even calling Pulev the "R. Kelly of Bulgaria," some argued that it was inappropriate to treat a reporter this way. 

Pulev took to Twitter to have his own, tweeting that "Jenny" is his friend, and that there really was nothing to it. 

SuShe clearly did not feel this way, according to a series of retweets, and the decision to lawyer up with Allred. 

"I did not encourage, nor consent, to Mr. Pulev grabbing my face, kissing me, or grabbing my backside," SuShe said at a news conference. "I was there at the event, covering the match as a professional member of the press."

Reporters asked where the line is in situations where, like Pulev, he may consider the reporter a friend.

"Even if it were a situation where he was her friend, which he was not, he would still need permission to kiss her on the lips," Allred said. "A woman has the right to consent or say no. She was doing her job."

Other media outlets reported that Pulev was to be suspended. 

NBC4 reached out to California State Athletic Commission. A spokesperson would only say the incident was under investigation. 



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Opening Day 2019]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 19:02:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Opening_Day_2019_1200x675_1467340355982.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Enrique Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, and Cody Bellinger discuss the Dodgers dominating 12-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks that saw them hit an MLB record eight home runs on Opening Day.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Shatter Baseball's Home Run Record on Opening Day]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 20:34:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/169*120/GettyImages-1133302366.jpg

The ball was flying, Randy Newman was playing, and there was an electric feeling in the air as baseball returned to Dodger Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

From the moment the all-encompassing C-17 flew over the giant unfurled American flag at Dodger Stadium, as direct and unwavering as the path of a homing bird, the sellout crowd of 53,086 in attendance knew it was only a matter of moments until they heard the immortal words of Vin Scully usher in another year of Dodger baseball.

What they didn't know was that they would witness history on a day that literally could not be any more different than Opening Day nearly one year prior.

Clayton Kershaw took the mound a year ago for a franchise record eighth consecutive Opening Day start. He would throw six innings of one-run ball, with his only blemish being a solo home run that wrapped neatly inside the right field foul pole like a prized bow on your favorite Christmas present.

Joe Panik's solo shot would prove to be the only run—and only home run—in that game, as the Dodgers were held scoreless on Opening Day for the first time since 1997. 

What a difference a year makes.

Facing a familiar foe in former teammate Zack Greinke, the Los Angeles Dodgers belted a franchise-record eight home runs on Thursday to shatter the all-time MLB record of six, set by the 1988 New York Mets and the Chicago White Sox, who tied the record on Opening Day last season.

"I don't know if the balls are juiced, or the ball was carrying today, but the ball was going far. We were all wondering if that was a record," said second baseman Enrique Hernandez, who hit two of the eight home runs himself. "Now that I know that it is, that's cool. We're definitely off to a better start than last year."

Joc Pederson also blasted two homers, and Corey Seager, Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, and Max Muncy all received an invitation to the home run party as the Dodgers dominated the Diamondbacks, 12-5, on Opening Day 2019.

"It was fun," said Muncy of the victory. "I know people knocked us last year saying the only way we can score runs is off home runs, but if that's the only way we can do it, we might as well do it a lot."

Los Angeles led the National League in home runs last season with 235, and they set a NL-record with seven different players each with 20 homers or higher. Needless to say, hitting a franchise-record eight home runs in one game felt as familiar for the Dodgers as reciting the alphabet, and it was business as usual in the clubhouse after the game.

"We can enjoy right now, but we have to come back tomorrow and play again," said Pederson who finished 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs and four RBI. "It was a solid day for everyone. We saw the ball really well and put some good swings on it. We have a high-powered offense, and that's what we're capable of."

If you thought the Dodgers offense had enough firepower last year, they now have an offensive arsenal equal to that of a destroyer, as they hired three new hitting coaches in the offseason, led by a 32-year-old cutting edge swing guru named Robert Van Scoyoc.

Van Scoyoc has never been a hitting coach at any level, and didn't even play baseball beyond college, but he's helped turn the swings of Chris Taylor, and J.D. Martinez around in recent years.

Van Scoyoc and friend Craig Wallenbrook are responsible for the popularity of the new "it word" in baseball: launch angle. Tolling away for years in Santa Clarita, the duo developed an analytical approach to figuring out a player's launch angle and how to maximize the most angle from a swing by keeping the bat through the zone as long as possible. It's now become a mainstay in front offices across Major League Baseball.

"Robert and Brownie [Brant Brown], their strengths are mechanics and swing paths, and stuff like that," said Pederson who has been working with Van Scoyoc throughout the spring. "If you get in a good routine with them, dialed in, and work on consistency, and getting off a good swing, then you're going to have success." 

Cody Bellinger, the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner, is counting on that success. After clubbing a team-high 39 homers in his rookie campaign, Bellinger took a step back last season with just 25 home runs in nearly 90 more at-bats.

"They're getting me back to basics," Bellinger said of his work with Van Scoyoc and Brown. "I understand what I'm doing every day and making minor adjustments throughout my base that I have, and I'm just understanding my swing better."

If the Dodgers new hitting strategy remains successful, they can surpass the New York Yankees record of 267 home runs set last season as easily as the turn of a hand or the flick of a wrist.

As ball after ball was sent skyrocketing into the Chavez Ravine stands, the celebrations became commonplace, the cheers more incredulous, but the belief that this newest rendition of the Boys in Blue could possibly be the team that breaks the championship curse were confirmed.

"I think it's time we end that little drought," said third baseman Justin Turner a few days earlier of the now 31-year stretch without a World Series title.

It may just be game 1 of 162, but it felt different this year, and that means something for the hopes and dreams of a city in waiting.



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Go Blue! Dodgers Sink D-Backs 12-5 With Historic 8 Homers on Opening Day]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 16:20:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1133306902.jpg

Power surge! Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez each hit two of the Los Angeles Dodgers' eight home runs, which set a major league record for opening day and tied the franchise record for any game, during a 12-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.

Hernandez, Austin Barnes and Corey Seager all homered in the fourth inning to chase Arizona ace Zack Greinke.

Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Hernandez then homered in the seventh for the power-packed Dodgers, whose pursuit of a third straight NL pennant got off to a thrilling start.

Adam Jones and Christian Walker went deep for the Diamondbacks, but their pitching staff's eight homers allowed also set a franchise record.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland A's Shut Out Angels 4-0, for Halos' 6th Straight Opening Day Loss]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 16:02:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-1133302186.jpg

Reigning homer run champion Khris Davis went deep for the second time this season, Marcus Semien added a solo shot and the Oakland Athletics beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-0 on Thursday for their first win after a pair of losses to Seattle last week in Japan.

Mike Trout singled and walked going 1 for 3 in his first game since signing a $426.5 million, 12-year contract, and manager Brad Ausmus lost his Angels debut after taking over for Mike Scioscia.

Stephen Piscotty added an RBI double as the A's backed Mike Fiers (1-1), who lost in Japan last week in his first opening-day start.

Fiers allowed one hit, struck out two and walked three in six innings. Three relievers completed the three-hit shutout that breezed by in 2 hours, 18 minutes.

Trout drew the trainer and Ausmus out in the eighth after he made a hard slide into second and jarred his right leg.

Albert Pujols went 0 for 3 with a strikeout as he began his 19th season. Pujols has 633 career homers and is back at 39 after season-ending left knee surgery in August and a right elbow procedure in September to remove bone spurs,

Angels starter Trevor Cahill (0-1) allowed four runs and six hits over six innings against his former A's club.

Chad Pinder followed Jurickson Profar's second-inning triple with a sacrifice fly to put his team ahead.

The Angels have won five straight series from the A's, who are coming off a 97-win season and returned to the playoffs last year for the first time since 2014.

TROUT'S MILESTONE

With his seventh start in center field on opening day, Trout became the first Angels player to do so at the position. Tim Salmon holds the franchise record for most starts at any spot with 11 consecutive starts in right field from 1993-2003.

ROBINSON REMEMBERED

Late Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who attended high school in Oakland, was remembered with a tribute on the big screen before the game.

STRATTON'S NEW TEAM

New Angels fifth starter Chris Stratton stayed in the Bay Area after being traded by the Giants late Tuesday, joining his new Los Angeles teammates for a dinner Wednesday night.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney will see a doctor after feeling something in his elbow during a bullpen session earlier this week. Heaney, who had Tommy John surgery in 2016, had been experiencing discomfort in the elbow and missed a week earlier this month. "I'm a little concerned," Ausmus said. ... DH/RHP Shohei Ohtani hit on the field for the first time Wednesday since Tommy John surgery Oct. 1.

Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea played catch on flat ground from 90 feet Monday and Wednesday and is scheduled to do so again Friday in his throwing progression as he works back from shoulder surgery. A 12-game winner before September shoulder surgery, Manaea pitched a no-hitter against Boston on April 21. He is expected to be out until around the All-Star break. ... New INF Kendrys Morales was available off the bench after arriving in time for first pitch following his trade from Toronto a day earlier. To clear roster room, INF Franklin Barreto was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

Angels: RHP Matt Harvey makes his Angels debut after signing an $11 million, one-year contract in December.

Athletics: New RHP Marco Estrada (0-0, 5.40 ERA) pitches in front of the home fans for the first time after giving up two homers in his initial A's start, a no-decision during last Thursday's 12-inning loss to Seattle in Japan.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Go Halos! Celebs Rooting for the Angels]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 15:29:15 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-102818652.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Scenes From Opening Day at Dodger Stadium]]>Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:38:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1133282895.jpgDodgers fans dressed in blue gather Thursday afternoon for a rite of spring -- opening day at Dodger Stadium. Coming of a second straight World Series appearance, the storied franchise opened the season against the rival Arizona Diamondbacks.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Everything You Need to Know Before Dodgers Opening Day]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 05:26:51 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/193*120/Opening+Day+Dodgers+2018.png

Happy Opening Day!

The Los Angeles Dodgers begin their elusive quest for their first World Series title since 1988 when they open up the 2019 season against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers have won a franchise record six consecutive National League West Division titles and are the reigning back-to-back NL pennant winners.

After finishing third in the NL West last season, the Diamondbacks made some drastic changes to their roster, trading away superstar Paul Goldschmidt, and losing outfielder A.J. Pollock and pitcher Patrick Corbin to free agency.

Pollock joined the Dodgers, and Corbin signed with the Nationals in the offseason, so Arizona is expecting some of their young prospects to take major steps in their maturation this season.

The Dodgers will be greeted in Game 1 of 162, by old friend and former teammate, Zack Greinke, who makes his second Opening Day start for the Diamondbacks, and first since 2017. 

For the first time in eight seasons, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw will not start on Opening Day as he begins the year on the injured list. In his place, is Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Korean left-hander who is the longest tenured starting pitcher on the team outside of Kershaw. 

The stadium gates will open to fans at 10:00 a.m. PT and pregame entertainment will begin at the same time. If you're heading to the ballpark, you'll want to find your seats by 12:30 p.m. PT when an Opening Day pregame ceremony will begin in earnest. 

The ceremony will celebrate the life and legacy of former Rookie of the Year, four-time All-Star, and 1956 National League Cy Young and MVP Award winner Don "Newk" Newcombe, who passed away at the age of 92 on February 19. The players and coaches will all wear a No. 36 memorial patch in Newcombe's honor. All proceeds of the team's 50-50 raffle will be donated to help support the baseball programs at Morningside, Inglewood, Dominguez, and Centennial High Schools.

The ceremony will be followed by the national anthem at 12:57 p.m. PT, which will be performed by Chief Warrant Office 2 (CW2) Jeff Smith, a commander and conductor of the 300th Army Band in Los Angeles.

During the anthem, the U.S. Army's Golden Knights Parachute Team will parachute into the stadium for a must-see moment, as a giant American flag is unfurled in center field. Additionally, there will be a flyover by the 452nd Air Mobility Wing from March Air Reserve Base and the end of the anthem. 

The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown at 1:00 p.m. PT by a surprise guest, and the game is expected to start immediately after at 1:10 p.m. PT.

The game will air nationally on ESPN, and locally on Spectrum SportsNet LA. If you do not have Spectrum SportsNetLA, and the game is blacked out in your area, you can live stream the game here.

If you'd like to try and get out of work or school and attend Opening Day at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers have you covered with this courtesy note:



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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<![CDATA[Dodgers 2019 Promotional Schedule]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 06:11:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869193008.jpg

It's time for Dodger baseball.

Not only does that mean our national pastime returns just in time for warmer weather to reach the Southland, but it also means a plethora of promotional and giveaway items courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers and their sponsors.

In total, the 2019 Dodgers promotional schedule features 53 games with either a promotion, a giveaway item, or a themed event night.

Throughout the season, fans will receive 12 bobblehead giveaways, multiple Friday Night Fireworks nights, as well as Sunday afternoon's traditional "Kids Run the Bases."

In addition to hosting multiple national holidays throughout the year like Mother's Day (May 12), Memorial Day (May 27), Father's Day (June 16), Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day (September 2), per tradition, the Dodgers will also host Jackie Robinson Day on April 15 in which all fans in attendance will receive a free No. 42 Jackie Robinson jersey. 

The first themed event will be Opening Day on Thursday, March 28th, and will feature pregame entertainment and a ceremony. On Saturday, the first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a Walker Buehler bobblehead. 

Here is the full promotional schedule for the 2019 season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Will New Dodgers Make the Difference in 2019?]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 05:32:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/New+Dodger+AJ+Pollock.png

It's been said that we meet the people we are supposed to in life when the timing is right.

For the 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers, they're hoping that a few new people will be the difference in finishing the season as the runner-up, and hoisting the first championship trophy at Chavez Ravine in over 30 years. 

As the calendar changed from 2018 to 2019, and the sting of a second straight World Series defeat began to dissipate, the new year brought some new faces to the Boys in Blue.

However, nothing comes without a price, and the exchange for an infusion of new blood did not come without a hefty price. As one door opened for a few familiar faces, another one closed as many fan favorites were sent packing either via trade or free agency. 

As Manny Machado, Yasmani Grandal, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig walked out one door, A.J. Pollock, Joe Kelly, and an old friend in Russell Martin all entered the fray through another.

How the new pieces will fit with the old, and replace the ones that left will be a big question entering the 2019 season.

Grandal provided plenty of pop last season with an NL-leading 24 home runs and 68 runs batted in. By comparison, Russell Martin only hit 10 long balls in 90 games with the Toronto Blue Jays. Will the duo of Martin and Austin Barnes be able to make up for the loss in the lineup of Grandal?

Puig and Kemp combined for 44 home runs and 152 RBI in 2018, and the Dodgers hope that their productivity can be replicated by the often injured outfielder A.J. Pollock, who signed a five-year $60 million deal in the offseason. Pollock probably won't be able to put up those kinds of numbers on his own, so the organization is praying for a breakout rookie year by Alex Verdugo.

Finally, the Dodgers fixed a glaring hole in the back end of their bullpen as they bolstered the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen by signing Los Angeles native Joe Kelly as a free agent.

Kelly gave the Dodgers fits in the Fall Classic with the Red Sox last October, throwing six shutout innings in all five games of the World Series. Despite his dominance when the lights were the brightest, Kelly struggled in the second half of the regular season, and the Dodgers are hoping those struggles are permanently behind him, as Kelly comes back to pitch in the National League for the first time since 2014.



Photo Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Meet the New Faces of the 2019 Dodgers]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 09:50:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/A.J.+Pollock.pngMeet the new players on your 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers

Photo Credit: Rob Tringali/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Begin Season With 3 Glaring Questions]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 01:19:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Muncy+Questions.png

Before we begin, I have a few questions.

One of the main reasons the Dodgers have won a franchise record six consecutive NL West titles is due to depth and consistency. Each and every year, the Dodgers have been able to confidently rely on the production of some of their biggest stars. Even when those stars get hurt, the Dodgers seemingly always have someone on the depth chart to step up and fill the void.

If Los Angeles has their hearts set on a seventh straight division crown, they will need that same level of consistency this year from players whose productivity could be in question entering the 2019 season.

Here are the three players with the biggest questions surrounding them as the season begins:

Corey Seager

 

Two-time All-Star shortstop and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year winner Corey Seager returns to the Dodgers this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and arthroscopic hip surgery during the 2018 calendar year.

One major surgery is enough cause for concern, but two serious surgeries definitely have fans wondering if Seager will return to the same level of play as he did in his first two years in the big leagues.

The front office slow-played Seager out of the gate, and he didn't get his first taste of Major League action until last week as the Cactus League came to its conclusion.

In just 17 plate appearances during spring training, Seager had only two hits and three strikeouts to go with a .182 batting average.

Seager is expected to be ready for Opening Day, but surely he'll show some signs of rust after not competing in nearly a year. 

Chris Taylor

 

After a breakout year in 2017, including a leadoff home run in Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros, utility player Chris Taylor struggled at the plate last season.

The Virginia native had a slash line of .288/.354/.496 in 2017 with an OPS of .850. Taylor saw his numbers dip in nearly every offensive category in 2018 (.254/.331/.444), including a NL-leading 178 strikeouts. Taylor toyed with his swing throughout the year, but never was able to completely regain the stroke that saw him once win the NLCS MVP.

In the offseason, the Dodgers hired Taylor's personal swing coach, Robert Van Scoyoc, as their new hitting coach, in the hopes of helping Taylor find his 2017 form.

With the second base job available following the retirement of Chase Utley and the departure of Brian Dozier in free agency, Taylor had every opportunity in spring to win the starting job.

However, Taylor continued to struggle in spring, batting .214/.411/.701 with a team-leading 20 strikeouts (tied with Max Muncy). Taylor lost the starting job to the hot-hitting Kiké Hernandez and is now back in a familiar place as a utility player off the bench.

Max Muncy

 

"Mad Max" Muncy was the surprise of the 2018 season as the Dodgers once again unearthed a diamond from the rough (or Triple-A Oklahoma City).

After two seasons with the Oakland Athletics, Muncy was given a chance with the Dodgers in the minor leagues in 2017. Due to injuries, he was called up early in 2018, and quickly ascended to one of the best hitters on the team.

Muncy shattered his previous career-high of three home runs by hitting 35 dingers for the Dodgers in 2018. Muncy easily led the team in home runs and also hit the first World Series walk-off home run since Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, when he put the exclamation mark on the longest game in MLB postseason history with a walk-off home run in the 17th inning to beat the Boston Red Sox in Game 3.

However, like Cody Bellinger before him, most people believe a natural regression will take place for Muncy in 2019. Whether that's due to the league and teams having more video to watch, or pitchers figuring out how to get him out, Muncy furthered those fears by struggling in spring training, batting .196/.281/.294 with no home runs and a team-high 20 strikeouts.

Whether or not "Mad Max" will be able to replicate his success from the previous year is another major question entering the 2019 season.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[The Dodgers Five Biggest Breakout Candidates ]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 02:11:19 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/5+Breakout+Candidates+for+Dodgers.png

Everyone has the ability to transform themselves like the caterpillar emerging from its cocoon. 

Each and every year, the Dodgers are the factory that takes emerging talent and transforms them into superstars. 

Not only do the Dodgers possess two of the last three National League Rookie of the Year winners (Walker Buehler finished third in 2019), but they operate like the American Idol of sports: taking an unknown player and developing them into an impact star at the Major League level.

In 2017, it was Chris Taylor that opened people's eyes. In 2018, it was Max Muncy that was on nobody's radar before the season began.

Sure, we expect a certain level of success from the team's best players like Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, and Clayton Kershaw, but what about the lesser known players that might make the difference between going deep into the postseason, or missing the MLB playoffs altogether?

These unearthed gems could be stuck in the minor leagues, recently claimed off the waiver wire, or even a prospect that is just waiting to tap into his potential. With that said, here are five players that could have breakout years for the Boys in Blue.

Enrique Hernandez 

Enrique Hernandez arguably had the best spring of any Dodger, batting .278/.344/.500 with three home runs and 11 RBI in just 20 games.

Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts declared Hernandez his every day second baseman and the Puerto Rican utility player now has an opportunity to have a breakout season in 2019.

Austin Barnes


Another player with an opportunity to win the starting job this spring was catcher Austin Barnes. After the departure of Yasmani Grandal to the Milwaukee Brewers in free agency, the Dodgers traded for a familiar face in veteran Russell Martin.

However, Martin struggled with some minor injuries early in spring, and Barnes proved he has what it takes both offensively and defensively to win the starting catching job entering the regular season.

The California native batted .289/.396/.489 with two home runs and 12 RBI this spring. Barnes will split time behind the plate with Martin, but if he continues his hot-hitting into April, he could win the starting job permanently.

Alex Verdugo

 

The Dodgers have had a top three finalist for NL Rookie of the Year for the last three seasons, including back-to-back winners in Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger in 2016 and 2017. This year, don't be surprised if outfielder Alex Verdugo finds himself smack in the middle of the Rookie of the Year discussion come September.

After trading away two outfielders in Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, Verdugo will finally get his chance to play in the big leagues as he makes his first Opening Day roster in 2019.

The left-handed hitting Verdugo batted .250/.298/.365 in spring with seven RBI. Verdugo has batted over .300 in back-to-back seasons with Triple-A Oklahoma City, and will certainly have some opportunities at the plate with the Dodgers.

Julio Urias


Less than two years removed from season-ending shoulder surgery, the biggest surprise of the 2019 season could be 22-year-old pitcher Julio Urias.

The Mexican native had the best spring out of any of the Dodgers starting pitchers, posting a 2.31 ERA with 11 strikeouts in four Cactus League games. Urias ended his preseason with four perfect innings against the Angels on Tuesday.

Urias was originally expected to begin the season in the bullpen, but due to injuries, he could find himself in the starting rotation until Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill are able to return. 

Dustin May

 

Walker Buehler rose to ascension in 2018, but it's another lanky right-hander that could steal the spotlight in 2019.

Redheaded wunderkind Dustin May was a popular name in trade talks last season, and has impressed everyone through spring training. It's unlikely May makes an impact on the Major League roster this season, but with enough injuries to the starting rotation, May might see his opportunity come sooner, rather than later.

May has terrific stuff with an electric fastball and scintillating slider (not to mention his pinpoint precision accuracy). The former third-round pick in 2016 likely won't be on the big league roster any time soon, but is a surefire candidate for a September call up.



Photo Credit: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw's Health Could be Biggest Concern for Dodgers]]>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 20:30:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Clayton+Kershaw+Health+2019.png

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me…

All right, I'm no Nina Simone, but the Los Angeles Dodgers are feeling good.

Following back-to-back National League pennants, the Boys in Blue are back to continue that elusive quest for their first World Series championship since 1988.

Spring Training has come and gone, the preseason Freeway Series has past, and in a little over 24 hours, it will once again be time for Dodger baseball.

Despite many of the same faces on the roster, things will look slightly different for the Dodgers in 2019. For one thing, the man who has been on the mound for the frst game for the last eight consecutive seasons will not be there this year. 

Clayton Kershaw's franchise record of eight straight starts on Opening Day will come to an end, as he gives way to another long tenured Dodger in left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Kershaw has spent time on the disabled list (now the injured list) in four straight seasons, and before he could even throw a pitch in a Cactus League game he developed shoulder inflammation and was shut down for a few weeks.

Kershaw has dealt with back and bicep issues in the past, but the shoulder soreness was something new for the 31-year-old veteran who signed a new three-year, $93 million contract extension in the offseason.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner received an anti-inflammatory injection in February, and since then has appeared to be on the road to recovery. Kershaw pitched to prospects in a simulated game at Angel Stadium on Monday before the second game of the Freeway Series with the Halos.

According to Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts and longtime pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Kershaw walked away from the sim game with no issues, and has cleared the latest hurdle in his recovery as he gets built back up to start.

"It was a good step," Kershaw told reporters after the sim game on Monday. "I threw all my pitches and felt good."

Despite being headed in the right direction, Kershaw will begin the season on the injured list, and there is still consternation that his shoulder could be a lingering issue throughout the season.

The Dodgers certainly have the starting pitching depth to recover from another Kershaw injury this year, but will absolutely need him in October.

Needless to say, all eyes will be on Kershaw when he returns to the mound as fans have their fingers crossed that he can remain healthy and return to form.



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[4 to Watch: Happy Opening Day! Here's What's Going on in LA Today]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 06:23:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869193008.jpg

Happy Opening Day! There are tons of deals, new faces and parking restrictions you need to know about when heading to the stadium. Scroll down to find out. 

Looking for complete Dodgers coverage? Visit SoCal Sports 4 You.

Everything You Need to Know Before Dodgers Opening Day 2019

From when they won their first title to the time of today's ceremonial first pitch, here's what you need to know for Opening Day.

Doughnut Giveaway: Eagle Rock Shop Giving Away 100 Dodger-Themed Doughnuts to Customers in Team Gear

Grab your hat and jersey and go line up at this shop to get a free blue doughnut.

Be Aware of These Parking Restrictions Near Dodger Stadium on Opening Day

Before you head out to the stadium, take a look at the parking restrictions to be enforced to avoid traffic. 

Meet the New Faces of 2019 Dodgers

This season, a couple of familiar rivals joined the team as free agents in the offseason, and an old friend came over in a trade. Meet the new players on your 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Opening Day: LA Shop Giving Away 100 Dodger-Themed Doughnuts]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 05:55:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/190327-dodger-donuts.jpg

Opening Day is here, and so is your chance of getting free doughnuts that show your Dodger spirit.

Colorado Donuts in Eagle Rock, the home of the world's first blue dough Dodger donuts, is giving out free donuts to the first 100 people that show up wearing Dodger gear at the shop.

Although the shop opens at 4 a.m., the giveaway will begin at 6 a.m. sharp. 

Grab your hat, jersey and anything Dodger blue to show your spirit.



Photo Credit: Colorado Donuts
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<![CDATA[Be Aware of These Parking Restrictions Near Dodger Stadium on Opening Day]]>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 08:54:43 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/dodger-stadium-generic.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers open the 2019 season at home Thursday against Arizona. With the start of baseball season, parking restriction will be enforced to avoid traffic delays near the stadium north of downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles police issued the following information about temporary tow-away and no parking restrictions. These rules will be enforced between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

 

  • Avenue of the Palms (Stadium Way) between Scott Road and Academy Road
  • Academy Road between Morton Avenue and Stadium Way
  • Scott Avenue between Boylston Street and Elysian Park Drive

 

Click here for information about parking options at Dodger Stadium and other transportation options. Details about the Dodger Stadium Express can be found here

]]>
<![CDATA[Jazz Blowout LeBron-less Lakers]]>Wed, 03 Apr 2019 19:52:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/Lakers+lose+to+Jazz.png

Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Derrick Favors scored 20 and Joe Ingles nearly posted his first triple-double to power the Utah Jazz over the depleted Los Angeles Lakers 115-100 on Wednesday night.

Jae Crowder scored 16 points and the balanced Jazz, with seven players in double figures, won for the eighth time in nine games. 

Six weeks ago, Ingles went public with the news that his 2-year-old was diagnosed with autism. Since then, he has been a vocal advocate for autism funding and awareness. This game was dubbed Autism Awareness Night and it included a $1.2 million check from the Jazz and their sponsors presented at halftime to aid the cause. Vignettes of Ingles and son Jacob were featured on the Jumbotron during timeouts.

On the court, Ingles provided plenty of helpers as well. His 14 assists were a career high and he had 11 points and nine rebounds. When he left the game with more than two minutes to play, he received a standing ovation. Then the crowd booed and chanted, "We want Joe!" 

Kyle Kuzma paced the Lakers with 21 points after a four-game slump in which he shot just 32.9 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from 3-point range. JaVale McGee had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Alex Caruso and Mo Wagner each added 13 points.

Los Angeles had won consecutive games for the first time since January but wasn't competitive from the start without LeBron James in this one. James sat out after he had 23 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds in a 124-106 win Tuesday night against Washington. He had his eighth triple-double of the season (81st of his career) in Sunday's victory over Sacramento, but he's been dealing with a swollen knee and sore groin.

Only 4½ games separate the third and eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race, and the Jazz are right in the middle of that pileup.

Meanwhile, the Lakers were eliminated from postseason contention last week, and it showed on the court.

Utah's offense featured an abundance of movement and screens, while the Lakers spread the floor and often went with isolation plays. The result was 33 assists for the Jazz and a 58-38 advantage in points in the paint. 

After leading by seven at halftime, Utah interspersed precision pick-and-rolls with transition opportunities to boost the advantage to 20 in the third quarter.

The Jazz often turned Lakers missed shots — and there were plenty as Los Angeles shot 38 percent — into quick-score opportunities as Utah tallied 16 fast-break points to two for the Lakers. 

TIP-INS

Lakers: Josh Hart, Mike Muscala and Tyson Chandler missed the game, while Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have both been ruled out for the remainder of the season. ... After coach Luke Walton was whistled for a technical foul in the third quarter, Rajon Rondo sat in a courtside seat — not on the Lakers bench — and took off his shoe while Ricky Rubio shot the free throw. 

Jazz: Ingles, Donovan Mitchell, Ekpe Udoh, Ricky Rubio and Gobert all custom ordered autism awareness shoes from Kickstradomis with the name Jacob inscribed on each pair. ... Ingles got a technical foul in the second quarter and then promptly made a 3-pointer and driving layup. ... Crowder and McGee got tangled under Utah's basket midway through the third quarter. Crowder got a technical for a push. 

To learn more about how you can keep your child with autism safe, please visit the website below:

www.safety.com/autism-safety/

UP NEXT

Lakers: Return home to play Charlotte on Friday night. 

Jazz: Host the Washington Wizards on Friday night in the third game of a four-game homestand.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer]]>
<![CDATA[Angels' Upton to Start Season on IL With Toe Injury]]>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 02:01:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers-angels-AP_19084033339661.jpg

Angels outfielder Justin Upton will open the season on the injured list because of a sore right big toe.

Manager Brad Ausmus announced the injury Tuesday. He says Upton has "turf toe" and that no timetable has been determined for his return. Upton was injured in Sunday's exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he bumped into the left field wall while chasing a flyball.

Upton had just returned after missing most of spring training because of right knee tendinitis.

Ausmus said Peter Bourjos will likely see more playing time until Upton returns, but he is still waiting to solidify a plan moving forward.

Upton, 31, hit 30 home runs with 85 RBIs over 145 games last season, his second with the Angels.

The Angels also announced Tuesday that right-hander Jaime Barria will start the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. Barria was 10-9 over 26 starts as a rookie last season, posting a 3.41 ERA.

 

The Angels also got closer to a final bullpen with the announcement that left-hander Dan Jennings had been released.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Top Angels 9-2 in Spring Finale as Upton Heads to IL]]>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 01:20:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Bellinger+two+run+homer+in+Game+7+NLCS.png

The spring training finale showed just how much the Los Angeles Angels could miss slugger Justin Upton.

The outfielder will begin the season on the injured list with a sore right big toe, manager Brad Ausmus announced Tuesday. Not long afterward, the Angels were held hitless for four innings by starter Julio Urias as the Los Angeles Dodgers cruised to a 9-2 victory.

Ausmus said Upton has "turf toe" and no timetable has been determined for his return. Upton was injured in Sunday's exhibition game against the Dodgers when he bumped into the left-field wall while chasing a flyball.

The Dodgers used a seven-run second inning to take control. Cody Bellinger hit a three-run homer, his team-leading fourth of the spring, and Joc Pederson had a two-run double.

Angels starter Patrick Sandoval, a replacement on the mound after Jaime Barrios was sent to Triple-A Salt Lake, gave up all seven second-inning runs on three hits and five walks. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings, throwing 43 pitches.

The Dodgers finished the spring with a 14-15 record, while the Angels went 15-16.

Urias, expected to start the fifth game of the season against the San Francisco Giants on Monday, finished the spring with a 1.72 ERA over 15 2/3 innings. He pitched in just three regular-season games and seven postseason games last year after undergoing shoulder surgery in June 2017.

"The fastball location was there today and had been missing the last two outings, so that's something that makes me happy," Urias said through a translator.

Urias had four strikeouts and completed the spring with 15 strikeouts against three walks.

"That's impressive, to come back like that and throw that hard," Angels slugger Mike Trout said. "I saw one pitch, but he was keeping everybody off balance. He looked good and when he dropped down he was 96 (mph), too, so he has good stuff."

Trout grounded out in his only plate appearance and finished the spring batting .292. Baseball's new $426.5 million man said the Angels are going to have to bide their time until Upton returns.

"It's tough to lose a guy like that to start the season," Trout said. "We have to overcome it and another guy has to step up. That's it."

Upton had just returned after missing most of spring training because of right knee tendinitis.

Ausmus said Peter Bourjos will likely see more playing time until Upton returns, but the manager is still waiting to solidify a plan moving forward.

Upton, 31, hit 30 home runs with 85 RBIs in 145 games last season, his second with the Angels.

NOTES: The Angels released left-hander Dan Jennings and will begin the season with all righties in their bullpen. . The Dodgers are still deciding on their final roster spot, which will be a member of the bullpen. Manager Dave Roberts said the last addition will have to have the ability to pitch multiple innings in an outing. . The Dodgers will use both Austin Barnes and Russell Martin at catcher, with Roberts saying Barnes will start four of the first seven games. . Despite being sent down by the Angels on Tuesday, Barria will be back "at some point soon," Ausmus said. . AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani will move from hitting in the batting cage to taking batting practice outdoors as early as this week as the Angels' star continues to progress from Tommy John surgery last year.

UP NEXT

The Angels begin the season Thursday at Oakland with Trevor Cahill making his second career start in an opener and doing it against his former team. It will be his first start in Oakland as a visitor.

The Dodgers open the season Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks with Hyun-Jin Ryu on the mound, the first time since 2010 that Clayton Kershaw has not pitched the season opener.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Discuss Win Over Wizards and Lance Stephenson's Ankle-Breaker]]>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 00:45:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Wizards_vs._Lakers_1200x675_1465530435741.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players Rajon Rondo, LeBron James and JaVale McGee discuss the team's 124-106 win over the Washington Wizards and Lance Stephenson's ankle-breaking play on Jeff Green.]]><![CDATA[LeBron Leads Lakers to 2nd Straight Win]]>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 00:46:19 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1138537395.jpg

Abracadabra, LeBron made them disappear.

LeBron James finished with 23 points and 14 assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers vanquished the Washington Wizards, 124-106, for their second straight win on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers had no issues on the offensive end of the floor, grabbing a five-point first quarter lead and never looking back as they went up by as many as 19 in the second half. 

"We don't like the way we played tonight," said Washington coach Scott Brooks of the Wizards' performance. "We put our heads down when the shots didn't fall, and when you also don't get back on defense, that's a bad combination."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with a team-high 29 points. Four of the five Lakers starters finished in double-figures with Kyle Kuzma contributing 15 points. Mo Wagner had 11 off the bench.

"We know if we were healthy, what we would have been," said Caldwell-Pope about what the Lakers season might have been if it had not been derailed by injuries. "Unfortunately, injuries got the best of us. But we're still going out and having fun."

JaVale McGee completed his third straight double double with 20 points and 15 rebounds. In his last three contests, McGee has 70 points, 49 rebounds, and 15 blocks. 

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with a game-high 32 points. Jabari Parker (18) and Bobby Portis (10) were the only other wizards to score in double figures.

"We've got to get some of these wins, even if they don't mean anything," Beal said after the team's fifth straight loss.

Los Angeles shot 54 percent from the field, dished out 37 assists, and outrebounded the Wizards 52-to-39.

"It starts defensively," said Lakers' point guard Rajon Rondo. "If we're taking the ball out of every time, we're not going to get 30 assists, but tonight we were able to get some stops and get out in transition and guys were open in the lane."

The Lakers recorded back-to-back victories for the first time since Jan. 17th.

"It's been difficult knowing that mathematically we're not going to be in the postseason," said James after the victory. "That's like March Madness for college kids for me. But when I suit up, it's all business. I never change my approach, and I try to go out and make every play."

Lance made em' dance


Lance Stephenson sent the Lakers' bench into a frenzy when he broke the ankles of veteran forward Jeff Green in the first quarter with a wicked crossover

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Josh Hart (right knee), and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.  

The Lakers will host travel to Utah on Wednesday for the second night of a back-to-back against the Jazz at 7:30PM PT. 



Photo Credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Clinch Playoff Spot, Beat Timberwolves]]>Tue, 26 Mar 2019 21:07:59 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Clippers-clinch-playoffs-3-26-19.jpg

Danilo Gallinari scored 25 points and the Los Angeles Clippers clinched a playoff spot Tuesday night with a 122-111 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Coach Doc Rivers' club is back in the postseason after falling short last year. Los Angeles finished 42-40 last season, missing the playoffs after making it for six straight years — four under Rivers.

The Clippers (45-30) became the fifth Western Conference team to secure a postseason berth.

Lou Williams added 20 points off the bench for the Clippers, who outscored Minnesota's reserves 53-25. Williams had 45 points the last time Los Angeles played at Target Center.

The Clippers have won six in a row, the longest active streak in the NBA, and 10 of 11 overall.

Los Angeles led by 25 before Minnesota trimmed the deficit to 104-98 in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Karl-Anthony Towns. It was the closest the Wolves had been since the first quarter.

Towns led Minnesota with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins scored 22 and Dario Saric added 18.

Montrezl Harrell helped the Clippers pull away after the Timberwolves got within single digits late in the game. Ten of his 18 points came after Minnesota made it a six-point game in the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles, which entered as the second-most accurate 3-point shooting team in the NBA, thrived from deep. The Clippers shot 16 for 32 from downtown. Gallinari hit a team-high six 3s, which matched his season high.

Minnesota was once again short-handed, as several key players — including Derrick Rose, Robert Covington and Jeff Teague — have been shut down for the remainder of the season.

TIP-INS

Clippers: G Landry Shamet did not play due to an ankle injury. Shamet is averaging 11.2 points per game since he was traded to the Clippers in early February. Rivers said Shamet would've played if it were a playoff game. . Garrett Temple scored 15 points, his highest total since he was acquired by the Clippers in early February.

Timberwolves: F Taj Gibson missed his third straight game with a calf injury. . Towns didn't convert his first field goal until there was 4:53 remaining in the third quarter. Before that, he was 0 for 7 from the floor. . Towns' double-double was his 50th of the season. . Minnesota was 20 of 33 from the free throw line.

UP NEXT

Clippers: At the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.

Timberwolves: Host the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers to Play Angels at Dodger Stadium for the First Time in 2019]]>Tue, 26 Mar 2019 12:08:11 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/AP_19085112379727.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers will play at Dodger Stadium for the first time in 2019 Tuesday night, facing the Los Angeles Angels to conclude the Freeway Series and spring training play.

The teams split the two games at Angel Stadium, with the Angels winning 8-4 on Sunday and the Dodgers 8-7 on Monday. The Angels lead the series that began in 1962, 70-51, with five games ending in ties.

Both teams will begin regular-season play Thursday -- the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Angels at Oakland.

U. S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Anthony Jimenez will be honored as the Military Hero of the Game. Jimenez is a recruiter for Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. He joined the Navy in 2001 after graduating high school. His assignments included six years in the submarine force on the USS Nebraska.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Score 5 Runs in Seventh to Steal Second Game of Freeway Series]]>Tue, 26 Mar 2019 05:52:21 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/AP_19085112379727.jpg

Kole Calhoun is ready for the season to start, as he showed on offense and defense in the second game of the Freeway Series.

Calhoun hit a home run and a double, but the Los Angeles Dodgers scored five times in the seventh inning of an 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in their exhibition matchup Monday night.

The right fielder also threw out Joc Pederson trying for a double and said he is right where he wants to be with his preparation.

"Going into the season feeling good," Calhoun said. "It's been a good spring. Spring, sometimes it can get kind of long out here, and we're ready to play somebody for real."

Calhoun homered on the first pitch from Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda. The Angels went up 3-2 in the third inning when Mike Trout hit a bloop single to score Calhoun after his stand-up double.

Calhoun has been attempting to use more of the field to get the most out of his bat. His second home run of the spring went over the wall in left-center, and his double was well struck to right.

That approach could help boost Calhoun's production. Despite hitting 19 home runs for the second straight season last year, his batting average dropped to .208 with 18 doubles -- his lowest output in both categories since becoming a regular in 2014.

"I think that's a goal in general, not just for me but for a lot of people, is be able to use the whole field," Calhoun said. "Nice to be showing up with it right now."

Maeda said through a translator he was "50 percent happy" with his final tuneup after giving up three runs and five hits in three innings. The outing was as much about getting into the repetition that comes with the regular season as it was about being at his best, he explained.

"It's my first time pitching at a 7 p.m. game, so getting my routine back in, figuring out what to do when was one of my (goals)," Maeda said.

Noe Ramirez started for the Angels, who used their bullpen to get through the game. Ramirez threw a hitless inning.

The Dodgers were able to get their third win in the past 20 preseason games at Angel Stadium thanks to a scoring outburst in the seventh. Jeter Downs, Cody Bellinger and Matt Beaty all drew bases-loaded walks, and Connor Wong hit a two-run single.

Jared Walsh had a bases-loaded triple in the ninth to shave the Angels' deficit to 8-7, but Parker Curry struck out Matt Thaiss and got Tommy La Stella on a grounder to end the game.

NOTES: Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (shoulder) threw two innings under simulated game conditions. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said he was "very encouraged" by how Kershaw looked, but the next step in his progression won't be determined until after he throws a bullpen and four-inning simulated game during the upcoming week. ... Dodgers RHP Walker Buehler will start against Arizona on Sunday after throwing 60 pitches during a four-inning simulated start Monday. ... Angels LF Justin Upton will undergo an MRI on his sprained left big toe. Manager Brad Ausmus said Upton was feeling sore after sustaining the injury Sunday and did not know if he would be available for the season opener Thursday at Oakland. ... Angels LHP Andrew Heaney (elbow) threw 20 pitches off the mound. Ausmus said Heaney will throw off a mound again Wednesday, barring any setbacks.

UP NEXT

The Freeway Series concludes Tuesday with the Dodgers putting LHP Julio Urias up against RHP Jaime Barria for the Angels.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Gymnastics Ohashi Takes Michael Jackson Out of Routine]]>Mon, 25 Mar 2019 19:17:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Katelyn-Ohashi-UCLA-3-25-19.jpg

UCLA senior and gymnastics viral sensation Katelyn Ohashi changed her floor routine for the Pac-12 Championships.

She removed music from Michael Jackson following the release of "Leaving Neverland," the documentary in which two men claimed Jackson sexually abused them as children, Ohashi told ESPNW in an interview.

With her new routine, Ohashi scored a perfect 10 again.

Ohashi's perfect 10 floor routine during a Pac-12 meet in January earned more than 43 million views on UCLA Gymnastics' Twitter account, 36 million views on UCLA Athletics' YouTube and more than 117 million views across various platforms, according to the Pac-12.

During that lauded viral routine, Ohashi performed complex choreography to various Michael Jackson songs including "Remember the Time" and "The Way You Make Me Feel."

"The goal of my routine is pure joy, and after the documentary, not everyone was feeling that way, and you can never discredit someone's feelings," Ohashi said.

Ohashi added music from Janet Jackson, Tina Turner and Beyoncé instead in her final Pac-12 event, in a nod to female vocalists.

"I think a different style of dancing," Ohashi said about the routine. "I had done Michael Jackson the last two years, so this showcases a different style of dancing for me. It's a more pop style of dancing."

Ohashi added, "I hope that by changing my routine, I can be remembered for being more than a gymnast. It's about understanding issues and having a bigger platform than just the sport."

Ohashi scored a perfect 10 Saturday when she debuted her new routine in her final Pac-12 appearance, tying fellow Bruin Kyla Ross for first place at the Pac-12 Championships. UCLA Gymnastics claimed back-to-back Pac-12 championships over the weekend, and Ohashi was also named the conference's Specialist of the Year.

With the win, Ohashi and the Bruins qualified for the NCAA Gymnastics Championships, where she expects to perform her new routine again. The full competition schedule can be found here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Big Names Deliver in Angels' Exhibition Win Over Dodgers]]>Mon, 25 Mar 2019 08:08:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/168*120/AP_19084079579564.jpg

Mike Trout enjoyed a little pregame celebration and then went right back to work.

Trout had an RBI double in his first home game since signing a record contract and agreeing to spend 12 more years with the Los Angeles Angels, who beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 in an exhibition game Sunday night.

Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer in the first game of the annual preseason Freeway Series between the teams separated by 35 miles on the I-5.

Trout got several large ovations from the Angel Stadium crowd after an energized pregame rally outside the stadium to herald his $426.5 million commitment to stick with the Angels for what he says will be the rest of his career.

The seven-time All-Star then doubled to left field off Ross Stripling in the third inning, driving in Jonathan Lucroy with the Angels' first run.

Pujols cracked his third homer of the spring in the fourth inning off Dylan Floro. The three-time NL MVP begins his 19th big league season next week with 633 homers, sixth-most in baseball history.

Stripling yielded one run in three innings of three-hit ball for the Dodgers, who will have the versatile right-hander in their rotation to start the season. With Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill unable to pitch next week due to injuries, Stripling will get the Dodgers' second start of the year against Arizona on Friday night.

"It's nice to have some definitive answers," said Stripling, who made 21 starts and 12 relief appearances last season. "It's pretty crazy. The first thing that comes to mind is I'm proud of being the first guy they call on when stuff hits the fan. It's important, and something I don't take lightly."

Felix Pena started for the Angels and racked up nine strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings of three-hit ball.

Max Muncy shook off a quiet spring with early back-to-back doubles, driving in Corey Seager in the first inning for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers tied it with three runs in the seventh, including Cody Bellinger's two-run single.

Trout agreed to stay with the Angels in part because of his respect for the talent rising through their farm system. Angels fans got a good look at one of those elite prospects when Brandon Marsh made a diving catch in center field and smacked a two-run single in the eighth.

NOTES: Angels LF Justin Upton exited with a sprained left big toe in the first inning after running into the wall while chasing Muncy's first double. Upton barely played in spring training due to knee tendinitis. ... The Dodgers signed RHP Justin Grimm to a minor league deal before the game. The former Cubs reliever spent spring training with Cleveland. ... Hill is wearing a brace to stabilize his strained left knee, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. Hill is expected to be out one more week.

UP NEXT

The Freeway Series continues Monday in Anaheim with RHP Kenta Maeda taking the mound for the Dodgers and right-handed reliever Ty Buttrey starting out for the Angels.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Exhaustion and Elation: The 2019 LA Marathon in Photos]]>Mon, 25 Mar 2019 07:38:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/marathon-3.jpgIn the closest men's race in the event's history, Elisha Barno passed fellow Kenyan John Korir in the final 200 yards to win the 34th annual Los Angeles Marathon. It was just one of many memorable moments for participants, who took on the stadium-to-the-sea challenge.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Barno of Kenya, Merachi of Ethiopia Win LA Marathon]]>Sun, 24 Mar 2019 13:18:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/175*120/AP_18077656322245.jpg

John Korir thought he was going to join his brother as a winner of the Los Angeles Marathon. But the Kenyan saw his chances of victory on Sunday pass him by within view of the finish line.

Elisha Barno of Kenya passed his countryman with 150 meters to go for the closest finish in the race's 34-year history. Barno — who won the race for the second time in three years — crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 46 seconds and beat Korir by seven seconds.

Askale Merachi of Ethiopia won the women's division in 2:24:12, setting a race record.

"It wasn't an easy race," said Barno, who finished third last year. "I saw the pace was high late but I held back a little. I decided to push the last couple kilometers."

It was a slow pace with a dozen runners in the lead pack until mile 17. It went down to a three-man pack of Barno, Korir and Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico a mile later before Korir broke away. Barno was in third with two miles to go before passing Barrios and catching Korir.

Korir said he began to falter with a mile to go and had nothing left at the finish.

"The race was good, but I didn't know he was behind me the last mile until he passed me," Korir said.

Barrios was third in 2:11:59 and defending champion Weldon Kirui finished fifth (2:13:25). Tyler McCandless of Boulder, Colorado, was the top American finisher, in 11th place at 2:14:57.

McCandless, who said he was surprised by the slow pace, said the stadium-to-the-sea course served as good preparation for next year's Olympic marathon trial in Atlanta.

"This course is quite similar, which is one of the reasons why I picked to run this race," McCandless said. "It is a good simulation with a hilly, challenging course and how the competition might play out."

Merachi beat Cynthia Jerop of Kenya by 1:43. She bested the race record, set by Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia in 2006 (2:25:10) by nearly a minute.

Merachi and Jerop broke away from the pack at the midway point before Merachi took control over the last six miles.

It is the first marathon victory for the 32-year old Ethiopian. Her previous best was second at last year's Duluth Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota.

"The course was wonderful. I practiced well," said Merachi, who set her personal best by nearly six minutes. "About 33 kilometers I figured out it was time to go and win the race."

Lucy Karimi of Kenya was third (2:26:16). Lindsey Anderson was the top American, finishing in sixth at 2:34:45.

It was only the second marathon for Anderson, who competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Twin Falls, Idaho, native retired for six years to start a family before returning to competitive running.

"It was a pleasant surprise to come in and finish as the top American," Anderson said. "I wanted to run conservative at the beginning and respect the course. The second half of the race I just wanted to see if I could keep moving and start picking off people, which I did."

The winners received $23,000. Organizers said nearly 24,000 runners competed on the 26.2-mile course, which for the 10th year began at Dodger Stadium and ended near the Santa Monica Pier.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ducks Swallow Anteaters, UC Irvine Falls to Oregon in NCAA Tournament]]>Sun, 24 Mar 2019 21:31:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UC-Irvine-loses-to-Oregon-3-24-19.jpg

Ehab Amin sparked Oregon out of a long drought to start the second half and the Ducks became the lone double-digit seed to advance to the Sweet 16 by beating UC Irvine 73-54 on Sunday night.

Payton Pritchard led 12th-seeded Oregon (25-12) with 18 points, Louis King added 16 and Amin had 12 points and three steals. The Ducks have won 10 straight after a lackluster start to the season and will play top-seeded Virginia in the South Regional semifinal on Thursday.

After going more than seven minutes without scoring to start the second half and squandering all of a 12-point lead, Oregon used a 15-3 run to take control and end a 17-game winning streak for the 13th-seeded Anteaters (31-6).

Amin started it with a 3-pointer and caused two turnovers. Pritchard scored seven points in the spurt, and the game quickly turned into a laugher with Kenny Wooten getting a block on one end and an alley-oop on the other to make it 68-49 with just more than two minutes to play.

Robert Cartwright scored 14 points and Evan Leonard added 11 for UC Irvine, which came into the game with longest active winning streak in the nation.

The Anteaters looked like an entirely different team coming out of halftime starting with a 3-pointer by Cartwright on the opening possession. That started a run of 14 points in a row that put UC Irvine ahead 37-35 on a layup by Cartwright.

The Ducks missed their first 11 shots from the field and committed four turnovers before finally breaking through on Amin's 3-pointer that ended a drought of 7:32. Amin then drew a charge, and King followed with another 3 that put Oregon up 41-37 midway through the half.

Wooten capped the 15-3 burst with an emphatic dunk that made it 50-40.

The Ducks jumped on top early and used a 10-1 run featuring an emphatic slam by Wooten to take a 27-16 lead. They led 35-23 at the break.

BIG PICTURE

UC Irvine: The most successful season in Anteaters history has come to an end. They set a school record for wins, won the Big West Tournament title and got the first NCAA Tournament win in school history. They put up a good fight against the more talented Ducks but ultimately fell short.

Oregon: After stumbling along at 15-12 late last month following a three-game losing streak, the Ducks look like the team ranked 14th in the preseason poll. With Pritchard as the floor leader, Amin providing energy and Wooten patrolling the inside, they are back in the Sweet 16 two years after making a Final Four run.

BLOCK PARTY

About the only thing going well for the Ducks during that second-half drought was Wooten's defense. He had two impressive blocks at the rim against Jonathan Galloway and Cartwright to prevent Oregon from falling even further behind. He finished the game with six blocks and had 10 overall on the weekend.

UP NEXT

Oregon advances to play Virginia on Thursday in the Sweet 16 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Snap 5-game Losing Streak]]>Sun, 24 Mar 2019 22:22:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/AP_19084104684566.jpg

Youth is wasted on the young.

Kyle Kuzma scored 29 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 111-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night at Staples Center.

The game featured two teams that are on the outside looking in when it comes to the NBA Playoffs, but both teams have bright futures ahead if they can keep their young core intact.

So imagine for a second that you're a highly acclaimed NBA General Manager. You have your pick of jobs, and these two teams are at the top of your list.

Both teams have a core of talented young players you can build around.

The Kings have forward Marvin Bagley III, and guards Bogdon Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox.

The Lakers' core consists of forwards Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram, and guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart.

Which franchise would you choose? 

If Sunday was any indicator, it's the Lakers, and three of their four young stars weren't even on the court, whereas all the young royals were available for the Kings.

"We're both young talented teams," said Kuzma of both young cores. "We have a lot of great talent here, we just have to stay healthy. Give them a lot of credit, but I want to see what next year looks like when guys are hopefully fully healthy."

Without Ingram, Ball, and Hart, Kuzma scored 21 points in the third quarter, and finished with 29 points, tied with LeBron James to lead all scorers. 

"I got out in transition a little bit more than in the first half," Kuzma said of the third quarter in which he made 7 of 8 shots, including five three-pointers. "My shots went in and I just trusted my form in the first half and stayed with it in the second half." 

James, under contract for the next three years, recorded his eighth triple-double as a Laker, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

"When I'm on the floor I have to play my game no matter what our circumstances are," said James. "I've always respected the basketball Gods, and when I'm on the floor I've to play as hard as I can or do something to affect the game. Not cheat the game. If I'm in uniform and on the floor I've got to try and make things happen."

JaVale Mcgee followed up his career-best performance with another double-double, 17 points and 14 rebounds.

"I'm just trying to stay in the right places and my teammates are finding me," said McGee of his terrific two-game stretch. "I'm focusing on getting on the offensive boards and it's really working for me."

The quartet of Bagley III, Bogdanovic, Hield and Fox combined for 69 of the Kings 106 points. Bagley led the way with 25 points and 11 rebounds.

"I feel pretty good," said Bagley III who missed 17 total games this season. "It's just about finishing off these last few games we have strong and leading that into next season."

The Lakers led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, but the Kings came roaring back and cut the lead to two, with just over six minutes remaining in the game.

Los Angeles was able to hold on down the stretch, thanks in part to their free throw shooting as the team shot 20-for-24 from the charity stripe for an 83 percent clip.

"We just closed the game down the stretch," said Kuzma of the final few minutes "We didn't have too many turnovers at the very end. We got rebounds, and we made our free throws."

Sacramento had 13 steals in the game compared to just four for the Lakers. They also had less turnovers than the Lakers who had 20 turnovers to the Kings seven.

Los Angeles won the season series three games to one, with the only loss coming on a three-point buzzer beater by Bogdanovic on Dec. 27, 2018.

"They had our number this season," said Kings' head coach Dave Joerger. "They're awfully long and do a great job against us, but I was proud of our guys tonight. We didn't let go of the rope."

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Josh Hart (right knee), Reggie Bullock (plantar fasciitis) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.   

The Lakers will host the Washington Wizards on Tuesday at 7:30PM PST.



Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Mike Trout Says He's 'an Angel for Life' With $426.5 Million Contract]]>Sun, 24 Mar 2019 18:16:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Mike_Trout_Presser_Highlights_1200x675_1464049219683.jpg

Mike Trout smiled into the postcard-perfect Orange County sunlight and said exactly what every Los Angeles Angels fan has spent years hoping to hear.

"I know there was a lot of talk about going back East, but I enjoy every minute being here," Trout said Sunday. "This is my home. I love it. It never crossed my mind that I wasn't going to be an Angel for life."

The crowd around the main entrance to Angel Stadium burst into raucous cheers, and so did Trout's dozens of teammates and coaches in the audience below the podium.

The $426.5 million, 12-year contract for the two-time AL MVP is an extraordinary reward for a singular homegrown talent who never wanted to leave. After returning from spring training with their franchise cornerstone firmly in place, the Angels paused on the final weekend before the regular season to celebrate Trout being home to stay.

"I want to bring a championship back to Anaheim. Let's go, baby!" Trout said.

Trout got the biggest contract in North American sports history last week, securing his future with the Angels instead of waiting to entertain offers from the Phillies, Yankees or any other likely suitor when he reached free agency in two years. The native of southern New Jersey has been linked to Philadelphia for years, but Trout remained devoted to the organization that drafted him in 2009 and fostered his development into a superstar.

"He was born an Angel, and he was raised an Angel, and he represents this organization better than anybody," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said. "He'll be the first player to go into the Hall of Fame like that for the Angels."

Eppler said the parameters of Trout's long-term deal have been on his mind ever since he got the job in late 2015. The Angels have been talking about getting a deal done since 2017, and their talks with agent Craig Landis picked up last month when everyone decided a quick agreement could wipe out two years of uncertainty.

With remarkably little drama, Trout and the Angels got it done.

"It's a historical contract," Eppler said. "But as far historical contracts go, it was a pretty smooth one."

Eppler was 100 miles outside Phoenix on a flight back to spring training last week when Landis texted him with confirmation that Trout wanted to be "an Angel for life." Unlike last winter, when he got the news that Shohei Ohtani had chosen the Angels, Eppler didn't fall out of his chair this time.

"I was wearing a seatbelt," he said.

Angels owner Arte Moreno had a one-hour, heart-to-heart conversation with Trout early in the negotiations. Moreno emerged with a measure of confidence that Trout was willing to tie his future to the franchise, even though the Angels have yet to win a playoff game during Trout's career.

Moreno believes Trout's commitment will help the Angels' pursuit of teammates to help him in their World Series quest.

"He told us this is where he wanted to be, and we really wanted to make that happen," Moreno said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James and Lakers discuss win over a young Kings team]]>Sun, 24 Mar 2019 23:50:24 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kings_vs._Lakers_2_1200x675_1464140867762.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and JaVale McGee discuss their victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, March 24, 2019, and how they need to 'respect the basketball Gods' the rest of the season.]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Win Fifth Straight, Beat Knicks 124-113]]>Sun, 24 Mar 2019 12:28:44 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/clippers+knicks.jpg

Danilo Gallinari scored 26 points to extend the best scoring streak of his career, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the New York Knicks 124-113 on Sunday for their fifth straight victory.

Lou Williams had 29 points and fellow reserve Montrezl Harrell added 24 to provide their usual potent play off the bench for the Clippers, who began play tied with Oklahoma City and Utah for fifth place in the Western Conference.

Gallinari made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:12 remaining to make it 106-104, then hit a pair of free throws before Williams made another 3 to push it to 111-104 with 3:01 to go. The Clippers then pulled away from there to win for the 10th time in 11 games.

Gallinari, the Knicks' first-round pick in 2008, has scored 20 or more in his past nine games.

Emmanuel Mudiay had 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Knicks (14-60), who dropped their fourth straight to secure the second 60-loss season in franchise history. Former Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Already without a couple of injured starters, the Knicks lost their past two lottery picks during the game. Kevin Knox sat out the second half with a sprained right ankle and Frank Ntilikina missed it because of a sore groin. Ntilikina had just returned Friday from a groin injury that had sidelined him nearly two months.

Still, the Knicks battled back from double-digit deficits in both halves before the Clippers' finishing surge.

Knicks coach David Fizdale said the focus for the Knicks was getting off to better starts than they had recently, and it appeared they were on their way to failing that mission when the Clippers bolted to an 8-0 lead. But they cut it to 29-24 after one quarter, and after Los Angeles pushed the lead to 14 in the second on Harrell's follow shot, surged into the lead before the Clippers took a 60-59 edge into the half.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Starting F Landry Shamet limped off early in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury and did not return. ... Patrick Beverley scored 12 points.

Knicks: New York remained without Dennis Smith Jr. (sore back), Noah Vonleh (sprained right ankle) and Allonzo Trier (strained left calf). ... New York had lost its past three games by 36, 21 and 18 points.

HIGH NOON

The Clippers were the third straight West Coast team with a noon tip for a weekend game at Madison Square Garden. Sacramento won here on March 9 when it was opening a road trip and the Lakers lost on March 17. Doc Rivers brought up the difficulty of the start time for his team even before taking any questions, and was asked if it's unfair to make a team play at what feels like 9 a.m.

"Yeah, it is unfair," he said. "But who cares, we're going to show up and we have to play."

STRONG SHOOTING

Jordan came in shooting 70 percent this season on free throws, a remarkable improvement after he shot under 45 percent during his 10 seasons in Los Angeles and teams would sometimes foul him intentionally.

"I didn't teach him well enough, clearly," Rivers said, praising Jordan's improvement but joking that "I've already told him we're fouling him the first four times" because they didn't believe he could be as good as his stats say.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Seth Wenig/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Anze Kopitar's Shootout Goal Puts Kings Past Ducks 4-3]]>Sun, 24 Mar 2019 06:44:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/AP_19083157719385.jpg

Amid every disappointment in an otherwise miserable season, at least the Los Angeles Kings rule the Freeway Faceoff.

Captain Anze Kopitar scored the only goal in the shootout, and the Kings beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on Saturday night for their third win this season over their local rivals.

Carter Rowney put the Ducks ahead with a short-handed goal midway through the third period, but Carl Grundstrom tied it for the Kings with 3:53 left in regulation.

Kopitar then made a one-handed drag move to beat Ryan Miller in the second round of the shootout, and Jonathan Quick stopped all three Ducks shooters.

Although the Kings are likely to finish in last place in the Western Conference, they've already won the season series against their rivals for the first time since 2012-13, with one more meeting still to come on April 5.

A 15th-place team beating a 14th-place team typically wouldn't be much cause for celebration, but the Staples Center crowd relished a rare chance to cheer.

"Yeah, I think there is a little bit of extra buzz in the building when we play them," Kopitar said. "So to get out on top, it feels good."

Kyle Clifford and Jeff Carter also scored for the Kings, who have won back-to-back games after losing 16 of their previous 18. Quick made 17 saves for Los Angeles.

Cam Fowler and Rickard Rakell also scored, while Miller stopped 26 shots for the Ducks, who avoided official playoff elimination by earning a point. Anaheim had won seven of its previous 11, but got off to a slow start on tired legs in its third game in four nights.

"We have a good feeling within the team and a good structure, but there's not too many games left," Rakell said.

The 140th Freeway Faceoff carried little of the past editions' stakes or tension. Southern California's NHL teams are the dregs of their conference, and they will miss the playoffs in the same season for the first time since 2004.

Los Angeles and Anaheim have made a precipitous tandem decline after an exceptional seven-year stretch from 2011-18 in which the Kings won two Stanley Cup championships and made three Western Conference finals, while the Ducks won five straight Pacific Division titles and made two conference finals.

"It is a good rivalry," said Kings coach Willie Desjardins, who has never lost to Anaheim. "Both teams have had a lot of history and a lot of pride, and whenever they play, as the game goes on it definitely gets more heated."

Carter put the Kings ahead 2-1 late in the second period, scoring his 12th goal. Late in the least productive season of his 14-year NHL career, the 34-year-old Carter has scored goals in back-to-back games after playing 20 without a goal since Jan. 15.

Rakell tied it in the final second of the period when he popped the puck into the air and swatted it home on an exceptional play that began behind the Kings' net. Rakell's goal-scoring struggles were a major factor in Anaheim's midseason collapse, but the former All-Star is finishing strong with 11 points in 12 games.

Rowney put the Ducks ahead in the opening moments of a Los Angeles power play on a pass from Derek Grant, who jumped on Drew Doughty's turnover. Los Angeles evened it when Tyler Toffoli carried the puck in on Miller and Grundstrom tapped it in.

NOTES: Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf and forward Nick Ritchie sat out with upper-body injuries. ... LA hadn't won back-to-back games since Feb. 5-7. ... Ilya Kovalchuk and Dion Phaneuf were healthy scratches for the Kings. Kovalchuk is frustrated by his lack of consistent ice time, but the Russian star says he is determined to live up to the three-year contract he signed with the Kings last year. ... Kings F Brendan Leipsic sat out with a lower-body injury that will keep him out for "a few days," coach Willie Desjardins said Friday. ... Ducks D Jacob Larsson missed his third straight game with a charley horse.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UC Irvine Dubs Assistant as its Own 'Sister Jean' in NCAA Tourney]]>Sat, 23 Mar 2019 23:12:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UC-Irvine-NCAA-Tournament-2019+%282%29.jpg

When UC Irvine made the NCAA Tournament, coach Russell Turner believed his team had many of the same ingredients that fueled Loyola of Chicago's surprising run to the Final Four last year.

The Anteaters had an experienced team with a gaudy record but was missing only one ingredient: the good luck charm that provided inspiration for the Ramblers.

With no elderly nun with an engaging personality hanging around at a public school like UC Irvine, Turner got creative.

"They had a secret weapon that everyone remembers in Sister Jean and that we also have a secret weapon that no one knows about, and it's Uncle Blaine," Turner said. "It was a play on words, you know, as a way to entertain the crowd, but Blaine is special for our team and our staff."

"Uncle Blaine" is UC Irvine assistant coach Blaine Taylor, who won 380 games and made six tournament trips as head coach at Montana and Old Dominion and four more as an assistant at Stanford before joining the Anteaters in 2016.

After getting the nickname on Sunday, Taylor has heard from many old friends, amused that the 61-year-old basketball lifer is being compared to a 98-year-old nun. He was sent a picture of him and Sister Jean that he proudly showed off in the locker room on Saturday as the 13th-seeded Anteaters (31-5) prepared for their second-round game in the South Region against No. 12 seed Oregon (24-12).

"Maybe I'm a little bit of a good luck charm. I've been to lots of these tournaments," Taylor said. "If someone feels a little luckier or someone can show them what's around the corner down the trail, that's kind of a compliment. It's been kind of a fun thing for us to joke around about."

Sister Jean Delores Schmidt became a national sensation last March as she watched from a wheelchair as the Ramblers ran through the tournament as a No. 11 seed and went all the way to the national semifinals before losing to Michigan.

The team's chaplain, unofficial scout and eternal optimist was a natural on TV. She joked that she gave up losing for Lent, had a bobblehead made of her and even got to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Cubs game.

That's a high bar for Turner to meet but one his players believe he can achieve.

"I would agree with it," guard Evan Leonard said of the comparison. "I'm not sure if he would. He has a great personality. The lady last year also had a great personality as well. It's a great nickname for him."

The Anteaters have a long way to matching the run Loyola made last year. They got off to a good start with the 70-64 upset of fourth-seeded Kansas State on Friday and are the lowest remaining seed in the tournament.

They are underdogs again in the second round against Pac-12 tournament champion Oregon but bristle at the Cinderella label.

"We don't see ourselves that way," guard Robert Cartwright said. "But we understand that might come with our seeding. But we look at ourselves as a high-level team that can compete with pretty much anybody, and that's what we're going to continue to show hopefully throughout the rest of the season."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Defeats Tennessee 89-77 in Women's NCAA Tournament]]>Sat, 23 Mar 2019 13:03:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_19082709667746.jpg

UCLA put a rapid end to Tennessee's 38th consecutive appearance in the women's NCAA Tournament, blunting a second-half comeback bid and using an impressive performance by Michaela Onyenwere to secure an 89-77 opening-round victory Saturday.

After squeezing into the tournament with an at-large bid, the No. 11 seeded Lady Volunteers erased a 17-point deficit before losing in the first round for only the second time in school history. The only other time it happened was in 2009 against Ball State.

Tennessee is the lone program to compete in every NCAA Tournament since the event was first held for women in 1982. The Lady Vols finished 19-13, failing to reach 20 wins for the first time since 1975-76.

Onyenwere had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the No. 6 seed Bruins (21-12), who will next face host Maryland on Monday.

After going up by 16 early in the third quarter, UCLA fell behind 65-62 with 5 minutes left in the game and forged a tie at 70 with 3:34 remaining before rattling off 10 straight points.

Onyenwere began the spree with a layup and Kennedy Burke made successive layups before Japreece Dean sank two free throws. A layup by Onyenwere capped the run and made it 80-70 with 1:22 to go.

Rennia Davis had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Vols and Kasiyahna Kushkituah added 16.

The Bruins raced to a 25-8 lead and shot 10 of 20 from the field during a 28-point first quarter. Tennessee went 10 for 30 from the field and had nine turnovers in a first half that ended with UCLA up 44-32.

After Onyenwere scored the first two baskets of the third quarter, the Lady Vols went on a 20-4 run to pull even at 52. Kushkituah and Mimi Collins each scored six points in the surge and Westbrook had five.

Tennessee found the lane open in the fourth quarter and exploited the weary UCLA defense for a variety of layups and short jumpers. But the Bruins made up the difference on the other end during the pivotal 10-0 run.

BIG PICTURE

Tennessee: It was a very difficult season for the rebuilding Lady Volunteers, who at least kept alive their streak of making the NCAA Tournament. Next season, coach Holly Warlick will work on getting the Lady Vols deep in the bracket.

UCLA: The Bruins showed resilience when it mattered after falling apart in the second half. They will need a complete game to get past Maryland, a Top-10 program with far more talent than Tennessee.

UP NEXT

With a victory Monday, UCLA will reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth year in a row.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers cope with playoff elimination]]>Sat, 23 Mar 2019 00:29:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nets_vs._Lakers_1200x675_1463586883848.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players JaVale McGee, LeBron James, and Rajon Rondo discuss being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after their 111-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, and what they can do for the final 10 games of the season.]]><![CDATA[Lakers Officially Eliminated from NBA Playoffs]]>Sat, 23 Mar 2019 00:30:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/184*120/AP_19082127745244.jpg

The inevitable has happened: the Lakers have officially been eliminated from the postseason.

JaVale McGee scored a career-high 33 points, but it was not enough, as the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Brooklyn Nets, 111-106 on Friday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers were in fourth place in the Western Conference on Christmas Day, but after LeBron James missed the next 17 games with a left groin strain, the Lakers sank out of the playoff picture and were never able to climb back into the hunt.

The Lakers have lost five consecutive games and 12 of their last 14 overall, making Friday's loss more of a formality than a surprise. The team has been in "tank mode" for the month of March, and have been closer to a lottery pick than they have a playoff spot.

"We've been struggling in March," said Lakers' point guard Rajon Rondo. "It's been pretty bad. We just focus on trying to win, playing with pride, and trying to get a W."

A lot was made before the game about the return of former Lakers' guard D'Angelo Russell to Staples Center. 

Russell was drafted by the Lakers with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, but was traded before the 2017-2018 season after Magic Johnson took over as team president.

"This is definitely where I started," said Russell, who was iniatially upset about Johnson's comments that he was not a leader after the trade was finalized. "It's definitely a place that gave me an opportunity. Not many guys started somewhere and then that was forgotten throughout their career. You know, Chauncey Billups, the [Steve] Nashes of that group, so I'm trying to consider myself one of those guys."

The trade allowed Johnson to draft point guard Lonzo Ball and clear enough cap space to sign LeBron James this past summer. Most people thought the decision to trade Russell was smart at the time, but with the Lakers spiraling back into mediocrity and Russell leading the Nets to the playoffs, many question the decision in hindsight.

While it seems obvious on paper: would you rather have LeBron James and Lonzo Ball or D'Angelo Russell? The answer might not be so cut and dry.

James is a declining asset, whereas Russell's stock is on the rise. Ball has missed significant time with ankle injuries over the last two seasons, and thus far has not lived up to his pre-draft hype. 

Of course, Friday was not the first time Russell had faced his former team, but it did mark the first game against the Lakers where he was an NBA All-Star and the leader of a playoff-bound team.

Additionally, Russell was coming off a career-high 44 points, and led one of the largest comebacks in NBA history as he helped the Nets erase a 28-point deficit to rally to beat the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

"That was huge," Russell said of the back-to-back wins against the Kings and Lakers. "We knew how big these games were for us. With our record and where we are in the standings...we went out there and handled business."

Russell finished with less than half that total on Friday, scoring 21 points and dishing out 13 assists against his former team, but perhaps there was a hint of poetic justice in the fact he was able to eliminate the team that shipped out of town from playoff contention.

"Sounds good on paper, but at the end of the day, we're not playing them," Russell said about mathematically elminating the Lakers. "We're not competing against them for seeding, so the win is good enough."

The reigning NBA three-point Champion, Joe Harris, drained six three-pointers in the contest and finished with a team-high 26 points.

"That's my job," Harris said of his six triples. "That's what i'm out here to do. I'm happy to get a couple of shots to fall early and allowed my rhythm to be there. It gave me a little more confidence and taking a couple more aggressive looks."

Jarrett Allen had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and DeMarre Carroll chipped in 15 points.

"It was not Picasso out there by an means; it wasn't beautiful," said Nets' head coach Kenny Atkinson of the victory. "Give the Lakers credit. Obviously they got LeBron James out there, they're very talented. It was good to close it out, it wasn't easy."

McGee led the Lakers with 33 points, 20 rebounds (12 offensive) and six blocks, becoming the first Lakers player to post a stat line like that since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it with the Purple and Gold in 1978.

"I've always loved blocking shots, but I think I had 12 offensive rebounds, that might be a career-high for me," said McGee of his career night. "Everybody was focusing on LeBron and he was setting it up for me to be succesful out there."

James finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds. Kyle Kuzma had 18.

"It's been a tough season for all of us," James said. "It's not what we signed up for. Throughout the year, things happen. Suspensions, injuries, and us just not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes. You don't even try to wrap your head around it. You just keep playing and try to get better and go from there."

With James back on the court following a scheduled off day in Milwaukee on Tuesday, the Lakers were in the game from start to finish.

"We gave ourselves a chance to win tonight," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton. "I thought we did a lot of things to a level that when you do, you will win NBA games at home...I give our guys a lot of credit for coming and competing like that again tonight. Unfortunately, it ended up in a loss again."

The back-and-forth battle featured 16 ties and 23 different lead changes before Brooklyn held on to the victory and swept the two-game seasons series with Los Angeles.

The Lakers trailed by just three points with thirty seconds remaining in the game, but James slipped along the baseline and fell out of bounds causing a turnover. The Nets would seal the game with free throws from there. 

The Lakers have missed the playoffs in six consecutive seasons, but this year will mark the first time LeBron James will not be in the postseason since 2005.

"I've played a lot of basketball over the last 16 years," said LeBron as he faced the idea of not playing in the postseason. "For me to be able to go into an offseason as healthy as possible it gives me a lot of time to recalibrate my body, recalibrate my mind as well, and get ready for next season."

The Lakers missed the playoffs that year as well, their first without Shaquille O'Neal and Phil Jackson after a reign of four straight NBA Finals appearances. Ironically, current Lakers head coach Luke Walton was in his sophomore season with the Lakers at the time.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Josh Hart (right knee), Lance Stephenson (left toe) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.

The Lakers will host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Gallinari Scores 27 as Clippers Edge Cavaliers 110-108]]>Fri, 22 Mar 2019 21:16:49 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/195*120/GallinariClippersBall.jpg

The Los Angeles Clippers' latest victory in a torrid March came the hard way.

While happy to leave town on a high note, coach Doc Rivers knew his team caught a break Friday night in a 110-108 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers that was in doubt until Jordan Clarkson's 3-point attempt from the top of the key hit off the back rim as time ran out.

"We were supposed to foul on that last play, but didn't," Rivers said. "And we just got lucky they missed the shot."

Danilo Gallinari led Los Angeles with 27 points. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 16, while Lou Williams had 15 for the Clippers, who are 9-1 this month and closing in on a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles, which began the night eighth in the conference, hung on in the final seconds after leading by six points with just under two minutes to play.

Patrick Beverley split a pair of free throws with 6 left, giving the Clippers a two-point lead. Clarkson took the inbounds pass and dribbled as the clock ticked down.

"I thought it was in," he said. "It happens. It's part of the game. I was open and we got a good shot."

Kevin Love scored 22 points for Cleveland, which trailed 94-83 early in the fourth quarter. Clarkson and rookie Collin Sexton each had 20. Cleveland trailed 108-102 with just under two minutes to play, but baskets by Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. cut the lead to two with 37 seconds left.

Beverley missed a 3-pointer, but the Clippers grabbed the rebound and Landry Shamet made one of two free throws with 13 seconds to play. Love scored in the lane with 10 seconds left to cut the lead to one before Beverley's free throw. Los Angeles didn't lead until early in the third. Beverley's tip-in midway through the period broke a 73-all tie. The Clippers play their next three games on the road, including a meeting with Milwaukee, which has the league's best record.

"We treat every game as a business trip," Beverley said. "You can have fun in the summertime. Right now, we're going for the highest seed we can get."

Cleveland scored 40 points in the first quarter. The Cavaliers had won four straight at home, including victories over Detroit and Milwaukee. The Pistons were playing without Blake Griffin, while Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out for the Bucks. Sexton had scored more than 23 points in seven straight games, surpassing a mark for rookies last accomplished by Tim Duncan in 1998.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Gallinari scored 11 of the team's 24 points in the first quarter. ... Montrezl Harrell took an elbow in the face from Sexton in the first quarter, but remained in the game and scored 14 points. ... Shamet had 15 points.

Cavaliers: G Matthew Dellavedova missed his eighth straight game with a concussion. ... Nance, who missed five games with a bruised rib before returning Wednesday, was hit in the chest taking a charge in the second quarter.

TOUGH WEEK

Love didn't play Monday after taking a hard fall last Saturday. He returned Wednesday, but banged heads with Milwaukee's Eric Bledsoe. Love's problems continued in the second quarter when he was hit in the groin area by Gallinari's forearm.

The five-time All-Star spent a couple of moments on the floor in pain, but stayed in the game.

"I've got to be a little bit more lucky, I guess," he said. "Even tonight, I got hit in a spot you don't want to get hit. I'm still here. I feel good."

COACHING LOOP

Rivers has kept in contact with Tyronn Lue, who was fired as Cavs head coach on Oct. 28. Lue, an assistant on Rivers' staff in Boston, has attended a few Clippers' practices.

"He wants to get back in and he deserves to be back in," Rivers said. "He's feeling great. He wouldn't tell you this, but maybe this happened at the perfect time for his health."

Lue missed several games last season because he wasn't feeling well. He coached Cleveland to the NBA title in 2016 and three straight NBA Finals appearances.

BIG WIN

Rivers was in a good mood during his pregame press conference after UC Irvine upset Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament. His son, Spencer, played seven minutes for the winners. "OK, what do you guys want to talk about, the Anteaters?" Rivers said as he walked into the interview room.

UP NEXT

Clippers: Visit New York on Sunday.

Cavaliers: Visit Milwaukee on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: David Dermer/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Angels, Dodgers Fans Will Get to Games Easier This Season]]>Sat, 23 Mar 2019 09:36:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-to-Long-Beach-2-25-19.jpg

It's going to be a lot easier for baseball fans to see their favorite teams this year in Southern California. 

Both the Angels and the Dodgers announced partnerships on Friday to make fan commutes easier as baseball season makes its return this spring.

Right after signing center fielder Mike Trout with the largest contact in sports history, the Angels are teaming up with Metrolink to cut down traffic and parking trouble around their stadium in Anaheim during games.

"The Angels Express" makes it cheaper for fans to travel by metro. One round-trip ticket is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and disabled travelers or those receiving Medicare, $4 for kids aged 6-18, and free for children under 5.

"In this way, we have a fixed reduced fare for everybody who takes the service," said Paul Gonzales, a spokesman for Metrolink. "Normally, when you go from a point to a point, you pay a are based on that distance."

The transportation service begins on Monday when the Angels take on the Dodgers. Fans can use their tickets by taking the Metrolink's Orange County Line train, which starts at the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Station.

Express tickets can be purchased through the Metrolink app or in-person at select Metrolink stations. The service will only be provided for the Angels' home 49 games this season that start at 7:07 p.m.

Meanwhile, starting on March 26, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will continue to transport Dodgers fans to and from their home stadium with their own express service.

Any ticket holders can ride the "Dodger Stadium Express" for free. Fans will be picked up by a bus services at Union Station every 10 minutes or the Harbor Gateway Transit Center every 20 minutes.

At Union Station, buses will begin their pickup 90 minutes before the game begins and end 45 minutes after it ends. For Harbor Gateway, buses will arrive two hours before starting time and run until 45 minutes after regulation.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[No. 13 Seed UC Irvine Upsets Kansas State 70-64]]>Sat, 23 Mar 2019 01:45:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19081713256145.jpg

UC Irvine got back-to-back 3-pointers from Evan Leonard to spark the deciding run in a 70-64 upset over Kansas State that marked the Anteaters' first NCAA Tournament victory in school history.

The Friday victory was the 17th consecutive for UC Irvine, which lost 57-55 to Louisville in 2015 in their only NCAA appearance.

Leonard and Max Hazzard each scored 19 points to send UC Irvine (31-5) into the second round of the South Region for a matchup against either Wisconsin or Oregon.

One year after making a run to the Elite Eight, the fourth-seeded Wildcats (25-9) had a short stay in the tournament as they struggled to decipher the Anteaters zone defense and missed star forward Dean Wade, who was sidelined by a foot injury. Kamau Stokes led Kansas State, the co-champions of the Big 12, with 18 points.

Despite that, Kansas State led by four points midway through the second half before the two long shots from Leonard turned the tides with a streak of 12 consecutive points. Robert Cartwright added another 3-pointer and Leonard made three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer to make it 59-51.

The Wildcats cut the deficit to two points, before Hazzard hit a corner 3 with 1:25 to play to make it 66-61 and then struck a pose to the delight of the Anteaters fans who made the trip up from Orange County.

Cartier Diarra hit a 3 for Kansas State off a tip pass from Xavier Sneed and the Wildcats had a chance to tie or take the lead but Barry Brown Jr. threw a pass away with 38.8 seconds to play.

The Anteaters then sealed the game at the foul line.

BIG PICTURE

UC Irvine: Despite getting blown out early last season at Kansas State, the Anteaters were a confident team coming into this game thanks to 30 wins and the long winning streak. They used two big runs to stay close in the first half and forced the Wildcats into 11 straight misses to end the half. Hazzard's buzzer-beater tied the game at 30 at the break.

Kansas State: Wade's injury had a big impact on the Wildcats, but they managed the long tournament run last year with him mostly as a spectator because of an injury. What hurt more was an off-night from leading scorer Brown. He played only 5:45 minutes in the first half after committing two quick fouls and didn't make his first basket until early in the second half. He finished with five points on 2-for-9 shooting.

DRAWING CONTACT

Stokes drew fouls on 3-point shots three times in the game for the Wildcats. He drew two in the first half against Eyassu Worku, drawing the ire of Anteaters coach Russell Turner. Stokes then drew another in the second half against Robert Cartwright that had Turner complaining to the official instead. Stokes made seven of the nine free throws on those fouls.

Stokes then committed a foul on a UC Irvine 3-pointer, sending Leonard to the line for three shots late in the first half.

UP NEXT

UC Irvine advances to play the winner of the game between Oregon and Wisconsin.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodger Stadium Menu Gets Vegan, Gluten-Free Update]]>Fri, 22 Mar 2019 11:44:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodger+stadium+food+03-21-19.jpgThis upcoming baseball season, the Los Angeles Dodgers Stadium food menu is getting an update.

Photo Credit: Kim Baldonado]]>
<![CDATA[Who Should Start Opening Day for Dodgers?]]>Thu, 21 Mar 2019 19:36:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Kershaw+Not+Opening+Day.png

You can't wipe away eight years in 180 minutes.

Let's face it, eight years is a long time.

That's 2,922 days, 70,128 hours, it's enough time to watch two World Cup and Olympic cycles or a young teenager blossom into an adult.

Things have changed a lot in eight years. Lost was the biggest show on television, Kesha was the hottest thing in music, and nobody had heard of an app called "Instagram."

Laws have changed, policies have changed, even presidents have changed, but over that time one thing has remained constant: Clayton Kershaw taking the mound on Opening Day for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But as the age old adage goes: all good things must come to an end.

Kershaw's franchise record of eight consecutive Opening Day starts will end next week when the Dodgers open their 2019 campaign at Chavez Ravine against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A month ago, Dodger fans were simply ho-hum when Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts announced Kershaw would be the Opening Day starter for the ninth consecutive season, another Spring, another Game 1 start for the three-time Cy Young Award winner.

However, things can change a lot in a month, and after suffering left shoulder inflammation following an early bullpen session, Kershaw was shut down for three weeks putting the possibility of extending his streak in jeopardy.

As Kershaw finally began throwing again last week, rumors and rumblings of whether or not he would be able to make his Opening Day start began to spring up like mushrooms in a forest. 

Most fans were afraid that Kershaw's injury was more severe than the team was letting on, and not only would he miss Opening Day, but perhaps significant time with a serious injury.

Some believed that as long as Kershaw could still throw his curveball and slider with effectiveness, he would be on the mound on Opening Day. Whether that meant as an "Opener," (as the Tampa Bay Rays have transformed into a team philosophy), or simply as an abbreviated start as part of a long-term build up, the hope that Kershaw could pitch on March 28th was still alive. 

Earlier this week, Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts crushed those idle hopes like empty shadows, when he announced that not only would Kershaw not start on Opening Day, but he would begin the season on the newly renamed, "Injured List," a place the Southpaw has spent signficant time on for four straight seasons.

"I'm disappointed," Kershaw said of not being able to toe the rubber on Opening Day. "Being out there on Opening Day is special and I don't take that for granted. I love being out there. What it signifies, being part of the Dodgers' history, it's not lost on me. I love doing that, but when you get super realistic about it, it's just one game."

Kershaw received an anti-inflammatory injection in February and took three weeks off to rest and recuperate before being slowly built back up last week. He threw a 22-pitch simulated inning on Wednesday, facing live hitters in Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, and David Freese.

Roberts said Kershaw will next appear in the preseason Freeway Series against the Anaheim Angels, where he is expected to pitch two innings in the second game of the series on March 25.

"I haven't' had a spring training yet," Kershaw said on Wednesday. "I got to go through it all. It's tedious and boring, but hopefully it pays off with a healthy season. It's better to miss a little bit at the beginning than any time at all during the rest of it."

Kershaw will need to go from two innings, to five or more innings and 100 pitches. Therefore, it is a realistic expectation that Kershaw could miss the first two-to-three weeks of the season before he's ready to come off the injured list and make a start. 

"I think it [the Opening Day streak] is definitely a feather in Clayton’s cap," said Roberts. "But it’s not just about making an Opening Day start to add to your streak. It’s about being healthy and giving your team a chance to win. He’s in support of it. We are as well because we do have to take the long view and do what’s best for the player.”

Kershaw's absence on Opening Day means an opportunity for someone else in the Dodgers' rotation to head to the hill for the first game of the season. Who should start, and who will start are two separate questions, but here are the top candidates to fill the already larger than life shoes of the former MVP:

Walker Buehler

In many people's eyes, Buehler has already ascended into the ace role for the Dodgers. Buehler finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting last season, and allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the World Series last Fall.

However, Buehler has been slow-played this spring, and made his first Cactus League appearance on Tuesday. Despite the surefire fodder from fans for Buehler to start on Opening Day, that possibility was eliminated by Roberts on Monday.

Julio Urias

If the decision was based on talent and recent performance alone, then 22-year-old Julio Urias should be the Opening Day starter. The Mexican native looked downright filthy in four Cactus League starts, allowing just four hits with no losses to go with a 2.31 ERA.

However, the front office never planned for Urias to start the season in the rotation, and he will be on an innings limit in 2019 after undergoing should surgery in 2017. Urias was supposed to start on Wednesday against the Cubs, but instead came out of the bullpen where he is expected to being the 2019 campaign. 

Ross Stripling

The 2018 All-Star pitcher will once again prove his big league value as he moves from the bullpen back into the starting rotation. The reliever/starter hybrid role has made Stripling not only a sought after commodity by other teams, but an irreplaceable asset on the Dodgers.

"With Clayton not being able to start the season as a starter, Ross will start," announced Roberts on Tuesday.

Stripling has been strong this spring, allowing just four earned runs in four Cactus League starts to give him a 2.70 ERA. He will certainly be considered for Opening Day, but is more than likely seen as a back of the rotation starter.

Kenta Maeda

If the Dodgers were starting the season in Japan this week like the Mariners and Athletics, then perhaps Kenta Maeda would start Opening Day. After ending the season last year in the bullpen, Maeda has moved back into the starting rotation for 2019 and has allowed just three runs in ten Cactus League innings this spring.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Outside of Kershaw, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu is the longest tenured Dodger staring pitcher. After accepting the Dodgers qualifying offer over the winter, Ryu is likely entering into his final season with the Dodgers.

Compared to the other aforementioned options, Ryu has been the most consistent this spring, allowing just two runs in four Cactus League starts and sporting an ERA of 1.80. After starting Game 1 of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves last season, he's certainly proven he can pitch in big games at home.

Ryu's last start was on Thursday against Milwaukee, so the Korean lines up perfectly to make the start on March 28.  

Rich Hill

Similar to Ryu, Hill is another strong candidate to start on Opening Day. At 39-years-old, Hill is the senior on the staff, and entering the final year of his contract with the Dodgers.

Hill has allowed six runs (four earned) in four Cactus League starts this spring and has an ERA of 3.27. He's thrown the ball well and feels like he's in a much better spot to start the season this year than in previous years.

"I feel like this spring training I've thrown the ball well," said Hill after his last start against the Brewers. It's much, much better than spring trainings before. I fee like I'm in a good spot."

Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said on Tuesday that Hill would certainly be considered, and lines up well for Opening Day if he throws a final tune-up start on Saturday in Arizona.

"It's out of my control," Hill said about the possibility of him starting Opening Day. "Clayton is obviously one of the best pitchers we've seen in the last decade. I can't really get that far ahead and think about that. I'm only focusing on tomorrow and getting ready for the next outing."

Tell us who you think should start Opening Day in the Twitter Poll below.

 

If you can not view the poll or the pictures, scroll down and click "View Full Mobilie Site or View on NBC Southern California" below.



Photo Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Great Odin's Raven! Ron Burgundy is Going to Call the Kings-Sharks Game]]>Thu, 21 Mar 2019 11:22:37 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-51033798.jpg

By the beard of Zeus! The legendary onscreen anchorman Ron Burgundy will be live in the booth to call the Los Angeles Kings game as they face the San Jose Sharks Thursday. 

That's the San Jose Sharks, not San Diego, where the fictional movie character hails from. 

Kings broadcasters Alex Faust and Jim Fox will be joining Will Ferrell's movie character come-to-life in the Fox Sports West booth 7:30 p.m. PST at the Staples Center. 

Don't act like you're not impressed. 

Burgundy will begin broadcasting in the second period, according to the NHL.

This isn't the first time Ron Burgundy has provided his sterling insight beyond the "Anchorman" films. He has his very own podcast, and has even broadcast out of a metal case of emotion while on air -- that translates to elevator.  

And for those skeptical of the anchorman's sports knowledge, fear not. Ferrell actually studied at USC, and graduated with a degree in sports information. 

You stay classy, Los Angeles. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Mike Trout Agrees to Historic 12-Year Contract With Angels]]>Thu, 21 Mar 2019 03:09:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels-Mike-Trout-3-20-19.jpg

Widely considered the greatest player of his generation, Mike Trout has likely secured the greatest contract in the history of North American professional sports.

Trout, 27, has agreed to terms on a 12-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels, the team announced via social media on Wednesday.

While the Angels didn't specify how much Trout would make, his 12-year contract was reportedly set to be worth $430 million, which would instantly take the top spot for a contract in the history of North American sports.

The seven-time All-Star, two-time American League Most Valuable Player and six-time Silver Slugger Award winner was drafted by the Angels 25th overall in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft and will be under contract with the Angels until the age of 40.

The right-handed center fielder made his MLB debut in 2011 and won the 2012 Rookie of the Year award for the American League.

On average, Trout would earn an average of about $35.8 million per year under the reported figure, which would beat the previous MLB record for annual average of $34.4 million by former Dodgers' pitcher Zack Greinke.

In total, the reported figure would top the Philadelphia Phillies' $330 million deal with Bryce Harper from earlier in March.

In 2018, soccer players in Europe earned annual salaries that top Trout's reported deal, according to Forbes: Lionel Messi earned $84 million; Neymar earned $73 million; Cristiano Ronaldo earned $61 million in salary in the same year. Russell Westbrook in the NBA is signed to a five-year $205 million contract, which averages out to $41 million per year.

While other players may earn more money on an annual basis, no other North American sports contract has ever been worth a figure that rivals $430 million.

"This is an exciting day for Angels fans and every player who has ever worn an Angels uniform," Angels owner Arte Moreno said in a statement announcing the agreement. "Mike Trout, an athlete whose accomplishments have placed him among the greatest baseball players in the history of the game, has agreed to wear an Angels uniform for his entire career."

"This is where I wanted to be all along," Trout said in the statement released by the team. "I have enjoyed my time as an Angel and look forward to representing the organization, my teammates and our fans for years to come. I want to thank Arte and Carole Moreno for their efforts. Their leadership and commitment to winning played a key role in my decision. Thanks also to my teammates, coaches, John Carpino, Billy Eppler and his Baseball Operations staff, the entire front office and Angels fans for all their support. It has made a tremendous difference not only for me, but for my family as well!"

The Angels plan to hold a press conference at Angel Stadium on Sunday to discuss the signing.



Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Angels Are Looking to Build a Contender With Team's Cornerstone in Place]]>Wed, 20 Mar 2019 10:44:43 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/170*120/GettyImages-1040458840.jpg

The Los Angeles Angels are about to make Mike Trout the highest-paid athlete in North American team sports history. Once his contract is signed, the most productive baseball player of his generation will get $432 million to stay in Orange County through 2030.

This franchise's cornerstone is cemented in place. It's time to construct a championship team on top of that cornerstone, and the Angels plan to continue the work all summer long.

Trout's record commitment sent a jolt of optimism through the Angels this week as they completed their preparations in Arizona. The homegrown two-time AL MVP has given an unequivocal vote of confidence in the notion that Los Angeles will be a World Series contender again soon.

The Angels aren't among the favorites this season, not while Shohei Ohtani recovers from Tommy John surgery and Albert Pujols spends another expensive year attempting to recapture his youth. But with a retooled pitching staff and moderate lineup additions, the Angels expect progress after finishing with three consecutive losing records for the first time since 1992-94.

Los Angeles has made incremental improvements to nearly everything about the franchise during general manager Billy Eppler's three years in charge. The latest big change is in the dugout, where manager Mike Scioscia's 19-year tenure has ended and Brad Ausmus has replaced him.

Ausmus and a completely revamped coaching staff will bring a new perspective. Yet the Angels are in even bigger need of consistent health after two straight injury-plagued years, particularly on the mound.

If Ausmus makes an impact and his pitchers stay healthy, Trout could lead a quick revival in the Angels' fortunes. It might not be enough to get past Houston or even Oakland in the AL West, but Trout believes the Angels are on the right path.

Here are more things to know about the Halos:

1-2 PUNCH: The Angels made their biggest offseason additions to a starting rotation that has been decimated by injuries. Former Mets ace Matt Harvey and veteran starter Trevor Cahill will be counted on for durability and consistency while the rest of the rotation falls in line behind them. Cahill will start on opening day, while the 29-year-old Harvey is showing signs of continuing the career revitalization that began last season in Cincinnati. The Angels are long overdue for a little bit of pitching good fortune, and maybe Harvey and Cahill will provide it.

ON HIS WAY: Ohtani won't be ready for opening day, but the AL Rookie of the Year is on track to return to the lineup as the Angels' designated hitter early in the season. Nobody has put a timetable on the Japanese star's return, but he will impact the playing time of the 39-year-old Pujols, who must stay in shape to play first base.

HISTORY ON DECK: Speaking of Pujols, he starts the season sixth in baseball history with 633 homers. Willie Mays is fifth with 660. Pujols is coming off another offseason surgery, but he hopes to improve on his 19 homers and career-low 64 RBIs last year. He still has three seasons remaining on his 10-year, $240 million contract.

NEW FACES: Harvey and Cahill are important, but the Angels also added Cody Allen, Cleveland's career saves leader, to anchor an inconsistent bullpen that could feature several new arms, depending on who sticks on the roster. The Angels' biggest position player additions were slugging first baseman Justin Bour and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, the immediate starter behind the plate.

ROOKIES TO WATCH: For the first time in years, the Angels might actually have a couple of these. Eppler's farm system is headlined by Jo Adell, the 19-year-old outfielder who suffered a weird leg injury during a spring training game. He'll be back on the fast track to the big leagues this summer alongside right-hander Jose Suarez, shortstop Luis Rengifo and UCLA product Griffin Canning, who looks ready to help the major-league staff soonest of all.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Angels' Pitcher Trevor Cahill Will Face His Former Team on Opening Day]]>Wed, 20 Mar 2019 08:43:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/161*120/AP_19063790151164.jpg

The last time Trevor Cahill made an opening day start, he was pitching for the Oakland Athletics. Now Los Angeles Angels manager Brad Ausmus has named Cahill as the opening day starter for the March 28 game in Oakland against the A's.

This is Cahill's first season with the Angels. He was 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) for the Athletics last year. It will be Cahill's second opening day start -- he also did so in 2011 for the Athletics.

"Any time you can pitch the first game of the season, it's special," Cahill said. "I think the biggest thing is, as we all know, it's one of many and not worth any more than any of the other ones. My goal is to go out there and pitch like I normally do and don't try to do too much."

The rest of the Angels' rotation will be Matt Harvey, Felix Pena, Tyler Skaggs and Jaime Barria, Ausmus said.

"We're kind of juggling with injuries and weren't sure and ultimately, I thought Cahill was the best fit," Ausmus said.

Cahill played for the A's from 2009-11 and again last season.

"It'll be weird going back there. I've never played there as a visitor," Cahill said. "I went there one time with the Royals two years ago but I was on the DL. That's the only other time I've been in the visitor's clubhouse. It'll be fun. Day game, too, which is weird. I have to make sure I don't assume it's a night game. I've done that before."

Some of the other Angels have had to deal with minor injuries this spring. Harvey was slowed because of a glute strain while Skaggs has been dealing with left forearm fatigue. Another candidate, Andrew Heaney, was expected to open the season on the injured list because of inflammation in his left elbow. Cahill has been healthy.

"That plays into it somewhat," Ausmus said. "He's made a start there before. It does line up Harvey for opening day in Anaheim."

The Angels' home opener will be April 4 against the Texas Rangers.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bucks Beat LeBron-Less Lakers Handedly ]]>Tue, 19 Mar 2019 20:22:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*123/GettyImages-940319776.jpg

On a starless night in Milwaukee, the Bucks proved they were the better short-handed team. 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a season-high 35 points, but the Los Angeles Lakers lost their fourth consecutive game, 115-101, to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night at Fiserv Forum.

Both teams went to battle without their superstars. The Lakers were without LeBron James, who missed the contest with a sore left groin, and Milwaukee was without MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed the contest because of a right ankle sprain.

Each team was undermanned, but the Bucks played with just eight players, and proved that without their biggest star, they were still the more-balanced team.

Khris Middleton led the Bucks with a team-high 30 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.

Former Laker Brook Lopez had 28 points, nine rebounds and five three-pointers. Nikola Mirotic chipped in 23 points. Milwaukee had 15 three-pointers in the game.

Caldwell-Pope nearly had 15 three-pointers by himself as the Lakers' sharp-shooter knocked down eight long balls in the game.

"We've seen him do that before," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton of KCP. "We've seen him shoot the ball like that in practice, he's a very skilled shooter. It's a lot of fun when he's having a game like that."

"It felt like everything I threw up was going to go in," said KCP of his hot-shooting.

Kyle Kuzma had 17 points. Reggie Bullock had 13 points and Rajon Rondo also had 13 points to go with his 10 assists.

"We fought and hard played hard with the cards we were given," said Kuzma. "That's all you can ask for."

Milwaukee led for most of the game, taking the lead early in the first quarter and never looking back. The Lakers tied the game at 56-56 late in the second quarter, but the Bucks extended the lead to 23 in the second half, thanks to blistering shooting from beyond the arc.

The Lakers clawed back and cut the lead to five midway through the fourth quarter, before the Bucks pushed the lead to double digits.

"KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] had a great game, other guys did some of the little things to give us a chance to at least stay in the game," said Walton. "That's a good team, they have the best record for a reason."

The Bucks have their sights set on a home-court advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs as they possess the league's best record at 53-18.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are on an elevator headed down to to the basement as they fell to 31-40, nine games below .500, and an idential record to which they had at this point last season without James on the roster.

Notes and Next

LeBron James (groin), Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), Lance Stephenson (illness) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.  Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle), Sterling Brown (wrist), and Malcolm Brogdon (plantar fascia) all missed the game for Milwaukee.

The Lakers head back to Los Angeles where they will host old friend D'Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UC Irvine Among Nation's Hottest Teams in NCAA Tournament Field]]>Tue, 19 Mar 2019 18:27:02 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UC-Irvine-NCAA-Tournament-2019.jpg

UC Irvine is out to prove that it is more than a team with one of college basketball's most unusual mascots.

The Anteaters, who face Kansas State on Friday in San Jose, are one of five teams in the NCAA Tournament field to have 30 or more wins this season. The Big West champions and No. 13 seed in the South Region are 30-5 and have 16 straight wins, the third-longest current winning streak in Division I.

"I don't think anyone will take us lightly with those 30 wins next to our name and with the type of win streak that we have," coach Russell Turner said. "Sometimes that is what you need a little bit, for someone to look past you."

Turner has a roster with experience and a strong lineage. Four of his players have fathers or grandfathers who played in the NBA and the NCAA Tournament.

Big West Tournament MVP Max Hazzard, whose grandfather Walt played and coached at UCLA, is one of four seniors. The roster also includes senior Spencer Rivers, the son of Clippers coach Doc Rivers, freshman JC Butler and redshirt freshman Collin Welp.

Hazzard leads the team in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game. Welp, a redshirt freshman and son of the late Christian Welp, is averaging 8.9 points per game and has come on as of late. He scored 23 points in the Big West championship game against Cal State Fullerton.

Doc Rivers said Turner has long been regarded in NBA circles as a good coach. Turner was an assistant coach for six seasons at Golden State before coming to UC Irvine.

"A lot of the guys in the NBA look at Russ, know what type of coach he is and want our kids playing for him," Rivers said. "He's a good coach and a good guy. He makes them better and that's all you can hope for."

Turner said players with distinctive lineages may be savvier when assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a program.

"They all want the opportunity to assert those own games," he said. "That's not easy when it's done in the shadow of a well-known parent. But the guys who want it are very committed."

Butler, a freshman whose father, Caron, played 14 seasons in the NBA, said this is the first time he has played with other sons of famous players and that being with players who have the same experiences has made the adjustment to college easier.

The Anteaters are one of the toughest defensive teams in the nation. They are third in Division I in total rebounds (1,411), fifth in field goal percentage defense (38.0 percent) and ninth in rebound margin (7.3).

UC Irvine, which has wins this season against Texas A&amp;M and Saint Mary's, is familiar with Kansas State. The Anteaters played the Wildcats last season but lost.

Jonathan Galloway, the three-time Big West Defensive Player of the Year, thinks that playing in San Jose and knowing the Wildcats is an advantage.

"We had a good game plan against them but couldn't execute," said Galloway, who is averaging 7.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. "They are a great team overall but we have to make them uncomfortable on defense. We know we will have our hands full but we will be ready."

Hazzard also thinks playing in California will be an advantage.

"I thought we could have been a higher seed but at the end of the day I like the matchup," Hazzard said. "We beat some good teams and we're a confident group right now."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Blake Bortles Signs With Rams to Back Up Jared Goff at Quarterback]]>Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:51:58 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bortlesafcchamp2018.jpg

Quarterback Blake Bortles has agreed to a one-year deal to become Jared Goff's backup with the Los Angeles Rams.

Bortles joins the Rams after spending his first five NFL seasons as the up-and-down starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who chose him with the third overall pick in 2014.

Bortles passed for 17,646 yards with 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions with the Jaguars. He led Jacksonville to two playoff victories after the 2017 season before losing the AFC title game.

In February 2018, Bortles agreed to a three-year, $54 million contract extension through 2020 with Jacksonville. The Jags released him last week after signing Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.

Bortles is expected to replace Sean Mannion as Goff's backup with the NFC champions.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Mike Trout and the Angels Are Close to Historic Deal: Report]]>Tue, 19 Mar 2019 13:30:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/173*120/GettyImages-1035799644.jpg

The Angels' Mike Trout is close to signing the largest contract in North American sports history, according to reports.

The ESPN report, citing sources familiar with the negotiations, said the 12-year deal is worth more than $430 million. The same figure was reported by the Los Angeles Times, which also cited sources familiar with the deal. The Associated Press reported that it would be the largest deal in North American sports history.

NBC4 has not confirmed details of the deal.

The 27-year-old center fielder, who has won two AL MVP awards, would pass up the previous record average of $34.4 million signed by former Dodger Zack Greinke when he joined Arizona. It also passes the $330 million deal reached earlier this year by the Phillies and Bryce Harper.

As for whether it's the most lucrative contract in the world, that's difficult to determine. Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi earned $84 million from the Spanish club in 2017-2018, according to Forbes, but specifics of his deal are not known. Cristiano Ronaldo, now with Juventus, earned $61 million last season with his former club, Real Madrid, according to Forbes.

Trout's reported deal means the Angels' star will remain in Anaheim through 2030. Trout would set a baseball record for career earnings at about $513 million, surpassing the roughly $448 million Alex Rodriguez took in with Seattle, Texas and the New York Yankees from 1994-2017.

There was speculation during the off-season that Trout, a New Jersey native, would be heading to an East Coast team, likely the Phillies. 

Trout was a first-round draft pick by the Angels in 2009. He made his big league debut in 2011. In his only post-season appearance with the team, the Angels were swept by the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 AL Division Series.

The team won 98 games that season, but went 80-82 last year and fell well short of the playoffs.

Trout has a .307 average with 240 home runs, 648 RBIs, 189 steals and 693 walks in eight big league seasons. He won AL Rookie of the Year in 2012, followed by the AL MVP award in 2014 and 2016. He finished second in MVP voting four times.

The Angel last big money splash was Albert Pujols, who joined the club in 2012 on a 10-year, $240 million contract. Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels for five years and $125 million in 2013. Both players fell short of their production with previous teams.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw Won't Start Opening Day, Ending an 8-Year Streak]]>Tue, 19 Mar 2019 06:50:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1135193109.jpg

Clayton Kershaw won't start for the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day because of the sore shoulder that's slowed him at spring training, ending his streak of pitching eight straight openers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced the decision Monday.

Kershaw has dealt with left shoulder inflammation this spring, and has yet to pitch in a game. The left-hander is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Wednesday, but there are no plans in place after that.

Roberts said it's unlikely Kershaw would open the season on the active roster. Right-hander Ross Stripling will have a spot in the rotation.

The team has not announced a starter for the March 28 opener at home against Arizona, but Roberts did say it will not be Walker Buehler because his rest days don't line up.

Buehler has also had a sore shoulder and is scheduled to make his first Cactus League appearance Tuesday, when he's set to throw three innings against the Cleveland Indians.

Increasingly, it appears left-hander Rich Hill will get the ball against the Diamondbacks on opening day.

"We're kind of honing in on it," Roberts said. "It is kind of the process of elimination. We're not prepared to say who it is, but we're getting pretty close, yeah."

Spring Training Notes

 

  • Stripling pitched 4 2/3 innings Monday night against Texas, allowing two runs and striking out four. 
  • In his bid to make the 25-man roster, Brad Miller came off the bench and homered in the seventh inning of a 3-1 loss to the Rangers. Miller was invited to camp on a minor league contract. "Obviously, his versatility defensively and his ability to take an at-bat, come off the bench, we've seen," Roberts said. "He's been there, he's done that. In the batter's box, he's still doing a lot of things that translate to success in a major league season. It is a good thing that he's made it a little bit more muddy for us."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lou Williams Clips Nets With Game-Winning Three-Pointer]]>Sun, 17 Mar 2019 22:56:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lou-Williams-Clippers-vs-Nets.jpg

Lou Williams continues to prove that he is not only the Los Angeles Clippers' most valuable player, but the NBA's leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.

The veteran guard continued his hot play since the All-Star break, nailing a 28-foot 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer to give the Clippers a 119-116 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night.

Williams' buzzer-beater capped a rollercoaster game where the Clippers squandered two double-digit leads in the second half and the Nets saw an 18-point cushion in the second quarter evaporate before halftime.

"I can't explain that game. It made no sense," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "The game was disjointed and it was a full of runs. The game was won, then it's lost, or tied, and then we made a miracle shot."

The victory was Rivers' 300th as Clippers coach, making him the seventh coach in NBA history with 300 or more regular-season wins with two or more teams.

Los Angeles led 116-106 with 1:02 remaining, only to see Brooklyn score 10 straight points and tie it with 5.3 seconds remaining on DeMarre Carroll's dunk. The Clippers called a timeout to set up the winning shot for Williams, who scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter.

"Fade left, and get a shot at the rim," Williams said of the play. "They put us in a position where we had our backs against the wall. It was a good shot. If I played it straight up, they would have had an opportunity to guard it. I don't think they were worried about that type of shot."

Williams is averaging 20.4 points on the season, but 24.3 this month as the Clippers have won seven of their last eight.

"He's been absolutely amazing. He makes big shots," Rivers said of Williams. "Lou started making them early in the fourth quarter for us. He is one of those guys who is not scared."

Danilo Gallinari had 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Montrezl Harrell added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists.

D'Angelo Russell led the Nets with 32 points and 10 assists, while Carroll scored 22. Jarrett Allen had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

"It was a heck of shot. We definitely didn't want to foul him, because we know how good he is at drawing fouls in those situations," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said of the final play. "I think we forced him into something tougher than normal."

The Nets dominated the early part of the game and led 46-27 with 8:07 left in the second quarter before the Clippers took over, going on a 33-9 run over the final eight minutes to take a 60-55 lead at halftime. Gallinari scored 13 and Harrell added 12 during the run as Los Angeles went 11 of 14 from the field and was 3 of 4 on 3-pointers.

Brooklyn started the game making nearly half its shots from the field, but was 3 of 17 during the Clippers' run.

A 3-pointer by Landry Shamet gave the Clippers an 11-point lead four minutes into the third quarter before the Nets fought back. It was tied at 87 going into the fourth quarter.

"Teams are going to make runs, but we've got to take the same aggressive mentality that we had at the end of the game and bring it throughout the whole game," Carroll said.

TIP-INS

Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie scored 13 points, while Joe Harris and Caris LeVert added 12 apiece. ... It is only the third time in 27 games since Dec. 7 that Brooklyn has had a double-digit lead and lost.

Clippers: Rivers, who was ejected during the third quarter of Friday night's win against Chicago, received another technical with 4:35 remaining in the second quarter. ... This was Shamet's 10th game with four or more 3-ponters. Shamet, who had 14 points, leads NBA rookies with 144 3s.

THE 300 CLUB

Rivers, who had 416 wins with the Celtics, joins Phil Jackson (Bulls and Lakers), George Karl (Sonics and Nuggets), Dick Motta (Bulls and Mavericks), Don Nelson (Bucks, Mavericks, and Warriors), Pat Riley (Lakers and Heat) and Lenny Wilkens (Sonics, Cavaliers and Hawks) as coaches with 300 or more regular-season wins with two or more teams.

UP NEXT

Nets: Travel to Sacramento on Tuesday. The Nets beat the Kings by 29 in the first meeting.

Clippers: Host Indiana on Tuesday. The Pacers have won the last five in the series.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dominic Thiem Tops Roger Federer to Claim 2019 Indian Wells Crown]]>Sun, 17 Mar 2019 22:14:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Thiem-Federer-Indian-Wells-2019.jpg

Dominic Thiem edged error-prone Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to win the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, denying Federer a record sixth title in the desert.

Thiem trailed 4-3 and 5-4 in the third set before breaking Federer with a forehand winner to go up 6-5. Thiem served out the two-hour match Sunday that ended with another error from Federer, a forehand dumped into the net.

Federer was in the final for the third straight year and lost for the second year in a row. He was beaten in a third-set tiebreaker by Juan Martin del Potro last year. Federer won his 100th career title in Dubai recently.

Thiem had lost in his previous two ATP Masters 1000 finals. But the 25-year-old Austrian's solid serve held up against Federer as it had throughout the tournament.

Thiem was broken just four times out of 61 service games in the tournament. He didn't lose serve during his semifinal win over Milos Raonic, facing only one break point in that match.

Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu upset Angelique Kerber 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win the women's title.

Thiem and Andreescu earned $1.3 million each.

Federer and Thiem had split their four previous meetings, but Federer had won both of their hard-court matches without dropping a set.

He cruised through the first set in 36 minutes while getting broken for just the second time during his run to his ninth appearance in the final. But Federer broke back in the next game and served out the set.

Thiem earned the only break of the second set in the fourth game, going up 3-1. Federer won just two more games in the set.

Both players were on serve in the third set until Thiem collected the only break. Federer tried consecutive drop shots that Thiem retrieved for crosscourt forehand winners before the Austrian hit a winning forehand to lead 6-5.

Federer won just one point on Thiem's serve in the final game.

Federer advanced to the final after rival Rafael Nadal withdrew before their semifinal match because of knee pain.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[18-Year-Old Bianca Andreescu Upsets Kerber to Win Indian Wells]]>Sun, 17 Mar 2019 22:13:52 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Bianca+Andreescu-Indian-Wells-3-17-19.jpg

Bianca Andreescu had thought herself a champion many times.

Now it's true.

The 18-year-old Canadian, who practices visualization every morning, upset three-time major champion Angelique Kerber 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, becoming the first wild-card winner and second-youngest to claim the title in tournament history.

"The fricking champion of Indian Wells," Andreescu said. "It's crazy."

She overcame nerves, fatigue, arm and leg issues in the final set to earn the first title of her fledgling career.

Roger Federer chased a record sixth title in the desert against Dominic Thiem in the men's final later.

Andreescu won on her fourth match point when Kerber netted a backhand. She broke Kerber three times in the third set, rallying from a 3-2 deficit to take four of the final five games.

Andreescu dropped her racket near the baseline and fell on her back, her legs in the air as she covered her face in disbelief. After getting up and exchanging kisses with Kerber, the teen bent down and kissed the sunbaked hard court and dropped to her back again, her arms and legs splayed, before grabbing her head.

"This moment has become a reality so it's really, really crazy," Andreescu told the crowd before speaking a bit of Romanian.

Born in Canada, she later moved with her parents to Romania, where she first started playing tennis.

Kerber was the last of five seeded players that Andreescu knocked off in her seven matches.

"When she had the chances, she just go for it," Kerber said.

The Canadian followed in the footsteps of Naomi Osaka, who was a little-known 20-year-old when she won the title last year. Osaka used it as a springboard to win titles at the U.S. and Australian opens while ascending to the No. 1 ranking in January.

"No pressure," Andreescu said, joking.

She's projected to rise 36 spots to No. 24 in the WTA Tour rankings on Monday.

Kerber, ranked eighth, remains without a title since winning Wimbledon last year.

She was a crowd favorite, with fans waving Canadian flags and chanting "Let's go, Bianca! Let's go" in the second set.

They clearly enjoyed Andreescu's fearless style of play. She alternately outpunched opponents from the baseline, tossed up high-arching shots and unleashed well-time drop shots — usually during the same point.

A smiling Andreescu was quick to correct a reporter.

"It's not moonballing," she said. "It's just hitting heavy to her backhand with more spin. We're not under 12 here."

Her most dominant win during the 12-day tournament came in the quarterfinals, a 6-0, 6-1 rout of two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza. In all, the teen knocked out four Top-20 players.

Leading 2-1 in the third, Andreescu took a medical timeout and had a trainer massage her tight right shoulder and arm.

Kerber won the next two games, breaking Andreescu to go up 3-2.

Appearing tired and nervous, Andreescu called for her coach, who urged her to make Kerber play every point.

She did just that.

Andreescu won the next three games, ripping off powerful forehands while winning nine straight points during one stretch, including a 40-love service game.

"I just fought till the end because physically I wasn't feeling too well," she said.

The trainer reappeared again to ice Andreescu's cramping legs.

The teen had three match points on her serve before trying one of her patented drop shots. Kerber raced to get it and sent a forehand down the line to get to deuce.

The German led 40-add on Andreescu's forehand error before the teen made a low-percentage attempt at a drop shot. It landed in the net, leaving Kerber trailing 5-4.

"At the end I was not able to take my chances, but she did," Kerber said.

Andreescu bounced back, putting away a smash to set up her fourth match point before Kerber's backhand error ended it after 2 hours and 18 minutes.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Puts on Show, But Lakers Lose to Knicks]]>Sun, 17 Mar 2019 12:55:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Lakers+LeBron+Knicks.png

There's nothing like the bright lights of New York City to bring out the best in you.

LeBron James put on a show, scoring 33 points, but the Los Angeles Lakers inexplicably lost to the New York Knicks, 124-123, on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. 

If the Lakers are intentionally seeking a lottery pick, they certainly played the part on a Sunday afternoon in New York, as they led by double-digits with three minutes remaining before a shocking collapse handed the Knicks the win. 

Los Angeles led 122-111 with just over three minutes remaining in the game, but the Knicks stepped up their defense on LeBron, and closed the contest on a 13-1 run to steal the victory, and guarantee a season sweep against the Lakers. 

"We didn't close possesions. We made them miss and they got rebounds," James said to the media about the Knicks late rally. "We didn't make enough shots obviously down the stretch. We had all the chances in the world to win the game, but they made the plays down the stretch and won the game."

After over 45 minutes of brilliant basketball with a lot of ball movement and unselfish play, the Lakers seemed to settle for isolation ball with LeBron down the stretch, including the final possession of the game. 

"I think the last 3 minutes of the game we got real stagnant," said Lakers' forward Kyle Kuzma of the lack of ball movement. "I think that's the biggest thing [on why they lost]."

With the shot clock turned off, and the Lakers down by a point, LeBron dribbled at the top of the key until the game clock went under ten seconds and then he made his move. James drove to his left, but his final shot was blocked by Mario Hezonja to seal the victory for the Knicks.

"I was looking for a good look, and it was good D [defense] by Mario," said James of the final shot. 

His coach, Luke Walton, was criticized for not calling a timeout and drawing up a play, but after the game, the Lakers leader said the result would have been the same regardless.

"It doesn't really me matter if I draw up a play and call a timeout, because the play is going to be get the ball in the hands of LeBron," said Walton.

The Lakers have had a lot of head-scratching losses this season, but getting swept by the NBA's worst team is simply inexcusable. 

After sitting out the team's last game against the Pistons on Friday, James put on a show at the Garden on Sunday. 

James finished with eight assists, but none was better than this no-look bounce pass to Johnathan Williams early in the game. 

Late in the game, as the Lakers momentarily appeared to be pulling away, James threw down a rim-rattling hammer dunk on a breakaway that brought the Knicks crowd to their feet

Kyle Kuzma had 18 points and eight assists, Reggie Bullock had 14, and JaVale McGee chipped in 12. 

"We got the ball in our best player's hands and we tried to make him make the right decisions," Kuzma said of the final play of the game. "We just try and live with it."

Both Williams and Alex Caruso scored 12 points off the bench, but the 25-year-old out of Texas A&M easily had his best defensive game of the season with five steals and three blocks. 

"AC came in and played with great energy. He does all the little things for us," said Lakers' point guard Rajon Rondo, who finished with five rebounds and five assists. "He's very active. I thought he was going to have to leave in an ambulance today. He took a lot of falls, but that's how he plays the game. He plays hard and you want a guy like that on your team."

Similarly to the Lakers, the Knicks are limping into the final few weeks of the season with nothing but the hope of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft to keep them excited about the future. 

Nevertheless, that didn't stop the Knicks from stealing a win from the jaw's of defeat and snapping a nine-game losing streak in the process. 

Emmanuel Mudiay led the Knicks with 28 points and eight assists. Damyean Dotson had 25 points, Kevin Knox finished with 19, Mario Hezonja added 17, and DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 17 rebounds as all five starters scored in double figures for New York. 

Thanks to Jordan, the Knicks outrebounded the Lakers, 45-35, including 35-20 on the defensive end. 

The Knicks success could be credited to the Lakers paltry defense with allowed New York to shoot nearly 60 percent (58) from the field for the game.

New York also shot over 46 percent from beyond the arc, compared to just 26 percent for Los Angeles. 

The Lakers may have been a bit fatigued down the stretch as they were playing their fourth consecutive game on the road and third game in four days with a lot of travel in between.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), Lance Stephenson (illness) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries. Dennis Smith Jr. did not suit up for the Knicks.

The Lakers will travel to Milwaukee where they will face the team with the NBA's best record in the Bucks. Tip-off is Tuesday at 5:00PM.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig]]>
<![CDATA[UC Irvine Routs Cal State Fullerton to Win Big West Title]]>Sun, 17 Mar 2019 06:57:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/174*120/AP_19076240231727.jpg

UC Irvine coach Russell Turner told his team throughout the week that he didn't want to leave any doubt that they were the best team in the Big West Conference this season.

On Saturday night, the Anteaters showed that and then some as they dominated Cal State Fullerton 92-64 in the tournament final. The 28-point margin is the largest in a Big West title game.

"We wanted to make a statement with our performance," Turner said. "I'll say I'm not surprised with the outcome. You don't expect to come in shooting 60 percent, but I thought it was possible. We had a mature team expecting a great performance."

The Anteaters (30-5) are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history. Their previous trip was in 2015.

Max Hazzard and Collin Welp led UC Irvine with 23 points apiece as it made 61.8 percent of its shots from the field.

Hazzard made five of UC Irvine's 10 3-pointers as it led for almost the entire game and was up by 32 midway through the second half. Welp, a redshirt freshman, came off the bench and set a career high in points.

"I have a lot of confidence in my ability to shoot. It felt good going in early," said Hazzard, who was selected as the tournament MVP.

Robert Cartwright and Even Leonard each scored 10 points for UC Irvine, which has won 16 straight and is the first Big West school to reach 30 wins since UNLV went to the Final Four in 1990-91 and finished 34-1. It was 34 of 55 from the field, including 10 of 14 on 3-ponters. The 71.4 percent accuracy rate on 3s is a tournament single-game record.

While the Anteaters were lighting it up from beyond the arc, Fullerton struggled. The Titans missed their first eight 3-point attempts, were 2 of 13 in the first half and 5 of 21 for the game.

Kyle Allman Jr. led the third-seeded Titans (16-17) with 16 points and Austen Awosika added 13.

"We ran into a buzz saw. The way they shot tonight, they would have beat the Lakers. They were ready for their moment," Cal State Fullerton coach Dedrique Taylor said.

The Anteaters took control early, scoring 11 straight points to burst out to a 13-4 lead with 16:21 remaining in the first half. Hazzard scored nine points during the run, all on 3-pointers.

A 3-pointer by Welp with 15:13 left put UC Irvine up by 12 (22-10) and kept the margin in double digits for the rest of the game.

The Anteaters led 42-24 at halftime and kept extending their lead.

BIG PICTURE

Cal State Fullerton: The Titans won last year's tournament final against Irvine, but could not do it two years in a row. They are 3-3 in the final and have lost 10 of 11 in tournament games where they are matched up against the top seed.

UC Irvine: The Anteaters might have bragging rights as the best team in California this season. They have the most wins of any of the state's Division I teams.

LETDOWN

Cal State Fullerton guard Khalil Ahmad scored 60 points in the first two tournament games, but he was held to six points by UC Irvine and was 1 of 9 from the field.

HE SAID IT

"I knew after Hazard made the first two (3-pointers) that we would be in for a long night. On a night like tonight, it is their night and you appreciate it. They were the better team tonight." — Taylor on UC Irvine.

UP NEXT

Cal State Fullerton: There is a possibility the Titans could be invited to the College Basketball Invitational.

UC Irvine: Finds out its NCAA Tournament destination Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[USA Basketball Draws Turkey, Czech Republic, Japan in World Cup]]>Sat, 16 Mar 2019 20:23:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Team-USA-basketball-World-Cup.jpg

USA Basketball still doesn't know which players will be wearing the red, white and blue this summer in China.

Their first three opponents, however, are finally set.

The Americans' quest for an unprecedented third consecutive FIBA World Cup championship will start against the Czech Republic, followed by games against Turkey and Japan later in the group stage. The draw for the 32-team tournament was held on Saturday in Shenzhen, China, which will be one of the sites for the event that starts on Aug. 31.

"We are ready for the world," said Yao Ming, the best Chinese player ever, the longtime Houston Rockets star and one of the global ambassadors for the World Cup.

In basketball-crazed China, they will indeed be ready to host.

But it remains to be seen if anyone will be ready for the U.S. And the Americans know they will get everyone's best shot.

"We know that everybody's going to want to take out the USA, so we've got to come bring it," said New Orleans star Anthony Davis, who plans to play for the U.S. this summer.

The U.S. is the top-ranked team in the world and coach Gregg Popovich — taking over for Mike Krzyzewski, whose run as head coach ended with three Olympic gold medals and the last two World Cup championships as well — will head to China with a roster filled by NBA talent. Reigning NBA MVP James Harden says he wants to play, and he's among 15 current All-Stars who are in the U.S. player pool for this national team.

"As a basketball player, that's one of the highest points you can get for basketball," Harden said. "Obviously, you've got the NBA and you have winning a championship and all that good stuff, but with this, you're not just playing for your respective cities or where you're from, you're playing for an entire country you represent. So, it's pretty awesome to be a part of it."

Popovich, the longtime San Antonio coach, acknowledged that the World Cup has been on his mind — even in the midst of an NBA playoff push.

"We'll face three well-coached teams and a variety of playing styles," Popovich said. "Selecting and preparing the USA team in a short amount of time will be a challenge and repeating as gold medalists for a third straight FIBA World Cup is something everyone associated with the USA team will embrace."

Turkey is the second-ranked team in Group E, USA Basketball's group. It was known Friday, a day before the draw, that Turkey had to be in the same group as the Americans because of the way that other teams from the Americas were placed into pods. So Ersan Ilyasova, who plans to play for Turkey, knew long before the rest of the group was picked that his country will face a serious challenge.

"In my experience, the World Cup is not about the first round — it's all about the second round," Ilyasova said. "It's not going to be easy. But it's going to be fun."

Second-ranked Spain will meet Puerto Rico, Iran and Tunisia in the group stage. Third-ranked France drew the Dominican Republic, Germany and Jordan as its early opponents.

Spain won the World Cup in 2006, led by Pau Gasol — and he's hoping to play for his country this summer as well.

"That was probably one of the best moments of my career," Gasol said. "So if we have a chance to go for it this summer, we will."

Host China is in the easiest group, Group A — where no team is currently ranked higher than No. 20. The Chinese are paired with Venezuela, Poland and Ivory Coast. The toughest group, on paper, looks to be Group H where No. 6 Lithuania, No. 11 Australia, No. 23 Canada and No. 37 Senegal will vie for two spots in the second round.

At stake for teams in the World Cup: The Naismith Trophy, which longtime NBA star Kobe Bryant brought onto the stage Saturday and handed to Yao for safekeeping, as well as a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. There will be 12 teams in the Olympic field — host Japan is one, and seven other nations will directly qualify from the World Cup.

The other four will reach Tokyo through qualifying tournaments over the next year.

The U.S. will be the favorites at the World Cup. Bryant said he expects competition to be stiff.

"It's a greater sense of honor to be playing for your country," Bryant said. "When you start out the game, you hear your national anthem being played, you see everybody in the arena with their flags representing their country and color, it's just such a great honor to be a part of that. It's extremely special."

The group phase lasts through Sept. 5, and all three U.S. games in that round will be played in Shanghai. Second-round games will be played from Sept. 6-9, quarterfinal matchups are on Sept. 10-11, the semifinals are on Sept. 13 and the championship game is in Beijing on Sept. 15.

The groups:

Group A: Venezuela, Poland, China and Ivory Coast.

Group B: Argentina, Russia, South Korea and Nigeria.

Group C: Spain, Puerto Rico, Iran and Tunisia.

Group D: Serbia, Italy, Philippines and Angola.

Group E: USA, Turkey, Czech Republic, Japan.

Group F: Greece, Brazil, Montenegro, New Zealand.

Group G: France, Dominican Republic, Germany, Jordan.

Group H: Lithuania, Australia, Canada, Senegal.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nadal Withdraws, Sending Federer to Final at Indian Wells]]>Sun, 17 Mar 2019 10:02:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rafael-Nadal-withdraws-Indian-Wells.jpg

Dominic Thiem outlasted Milos Raonic 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 6-4 on Saturday to reach the BNP Paribas Open final after Roger Federer advanced when Rafael Nadal withdrew because of a knee injury.

A somber Nadal announced his withdrawal a couple hours before he was scheduled to take the court at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

"I warm up today in the morning, and I felt that my knee was not enough good to compete at the level that I need to compete," he said.

Federer was warming up on another court at the same time as Nadal and figured the match was on. However, Nadal soon texted him it wasn't going to happen.

"It's a big letdown," said Federer, who came on court in khaki shorts and a gray cardigan to address fans. "I know the anticipation is there from the crowd and also us players. I'm excited to be in the finals but not this way."

The 32-year-old Spaniard's right knee flared up in the second set of his 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2) victory over Karen Khachanov on Friday in the quarterfinals. He twice called for a trainer, who applied tape just below Nadal's knee. It was obvious that Nadal's movement was hampered.

Nadal said he won't play again until the Monte-Carlo Masters on clay in mid-April.

"I don't have doubts today that I will be ready for Monte Carlo," he said.

It would have been the 39th career meeting between Nadal and Federer, who seeks a record sixth title at Indian Wells and the 101st in his career on Sunday.

"I know every one we have now could be our last," Federer said. "It's a special rivalry, maybe the most special with Rafa and Novak (Djokovic)."

Sunday's women's final features 18-year-old Canadian wild-card Bianca Andreescu against two-time major champion Angelique Kerber.

Thiem reached the semifinals via walkover after Gael Monfils withdrew from their quarterfinal with a strained left Achilles.

Against Raonic, Thiem earned the only break of the third set in the fifth game. He led 5-3 and served it out, winning on his second match point with a backhand volley.

"The only break point I had to save was in the last game, and that was what I wanted to do, to play my service games well and not let him have too many chances," Thiem said.

Thiem and Federer have split their four previous meetings, with only one going three sets. Federer won the last time they played at the ATP Finals in London in November.

"It's always something special to play him," he said.

Thiem has never won a Masters 1000 title, losing in two previous finals.

Knee problems have dogged Nadal for years, and they cut short his 2018 season after the U.S. Open in September. He was forced to quit two sets into his semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro.

Nadal choked up discussing his withdrawal last fall, and he appeared near tears on Saturday.

He admitted that he sometimes is sad because he feels at a disadvantage against his opponents due to his continued knee issues that force him to limit his practice and playing time.

Then he gathered himself, saying, "It's not the moment to complain much. With all this stuff, I still where I am today."

The year began promisingly enough. Nadal didn't drop a set in reaching his fifth Australian Open final, where he lost to Djokovic. He's ranked No. 2 in the world and has a match record of 11-2.

"Still tough because I felt more or less OK during this beginning of the season in terms of my knee," he said. "Now it starts the process that I have to decide what direction we have to take to recover well and to recover as soon as possible."

Even with all of his injuries, Nadal indicated he has no intention of giving up playing on hard courts, the surface for two of the four Grand Slam events.

"My goal is to play on all the surfaces," he said.

With time to fill before the women's and men's doubles finals, Djokovic and Pete Sampras teamed for a one-set doubles match against John McEnroe and tournament director Tommy Haas. Comedian Jon Lovitz served as chair umpire.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Ingram Has Surgery, Plans to Be Ready for Next Year]]>Sat, 16 Mar 2019 11:43:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/BI+and+Hield.png

Lakers forward Brandon Ingram is expected to be ready for next season after undergoing surgery on his right arm.

Ingram had thoracic outlet decompression surgery Saturday, the Lakers say.

Ingram was declared out for the season earlier this month after he was diagnosed with deep venous thrombosis. A blood clot caused shoulder pain for Ingram, who averaged a career-best 18.3 points and 5.1 rebounds this season.

Ingram's surgery was performed at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

The Lakers say he is expected to make a full recovery before the start of his fourth NBA season in the fall.

Ingram was the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft out of Duke. He turns 22 in September.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pistons Handle LeBron-less Lakers 111-97]]>Fri, 15 Mar 2019 21:08:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/187*120/AP_19075014610069.jpg

Andre Drummond had 19 points and 23 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons took advantage of LeBron James' absence, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 111-97 on Friday night.

The Lakers, who have fallen well off the pace in the Western Conference playoff race, have been managing James' minutes, and he sat out this game entirely. Los Angeles played at Toronto the previous night. 

The Lakers were also without Lonzo Ball (left ankle), Tyson Chandler (neck), Brandon Ingram (right arm) and Lance Stephenson (toe), but they trailed by only four in the third quarter before Detroit went on a 13-0 run to make it 73-56. Reggie Jackson started that stretch with two 3-pointers and a jumper. 

The Pistons were coming off losses of 28 and 34 points to the Nets and Heat, but the win Friday put Detroit percentage points ahead of Brooklyn for the No. 6 spot in the East. Langston Galloway scored 23 points and Jackson had 20 for the Pistons. 

STILL THE STAR

James hadn't missed an entire game since Feb. 2. He didn't suit up for this one, but there was certainly a buzz among the fans behind one of the baskets when he emerged around the midway point of the first quarter and walked over to the bench to join his team. He went back toward the locker room at the start of the fourth. 

TIP-INS

Lakers: Rajon Rondo had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Pistons: Drummond is four rebounds away from posting a sixth straight season with at least 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Only seven players have accomplished that: Wilt Chamberlain (10 years), Bill Russell (10), Bob Pettit (nine), Elvin Hayes (seven), Walt Bellamy (six), Dwight Howard (six) and Jerry Lucas (six).

UP NEXT

Lakers: Visit the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Pistons: Host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' 'Get-Back Coach' Ted Rath Charged With Sexual Battery]]>Fri, 15 Mar 2019 14:08:50 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_991260261184.jpg

Ted Rath, the Los Angeles Rams' director of strength training and performance, is on a leave of absence after being arrested and charged with three misdemeanor counts of sexual battery.

The Rams confirmed Rath's leave of absence Friday.

"We are aware of the charges filed against Ted Rath," the team said in a statement. "We take these allegations very seriously. Once the charges were filed, we decided Ted would take a leave of absence from the team as this matter works its way through the justice system."

Along with his responsibilities in strength training, Rath gained minor fame last season as the so-called "get-back coach" assigned to make sure Rams head coach Sean McVay doesn't step too far onto the field while coaching on the sideline.

Rath was arrested and released on bail Jan. 15, five days before the Rams beat New Orleans in the NFC championship game, according to Ventura County Sheriff's Department spokesman Eric Hatlee.

Rath didn't travel with the team to New Orleans or to the Super Bowl. The Rams said the coach was recovering from an injury at the time.

In a team statement issued Friday, the Rams said they "are aware of the charges filed against Ted Rath. We take these allegations very seriously. Once the charges were filed, we decided Ted would take a leave of absence from the team as this matter works its way through the justice system."

Rath's attorney, Vicki Podberesky, pleaded not guilty on his behalf Friday morning. She says they will go to trial if necessary to prove Rath is not guilty.

"Mr. Rath takes these allegations very seriously," Podberesky said in a statement. "Ted is a man who has led a law-abiding life. He is a husband, a father and a dedicated family man. He has the utmost respect for women and would never intentionally act in a manner that was demeaning or otherwise inappropriate. We intend to defend this matter to the fullest extent possible in a court of law, and we believe that after there has been a full vetting of the facts of this case Mr. Rath will be shown to be not guilty of these charges."

Hatlee didn't immediately have any details of the misdemeanor charges against Rath.

Rath joined the Rams in 2017 after serving as an assistant strength coach with the Dolphins and Lions. He is married with three children, according to the Rams.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrity Fans in the Stands: Los Angeles Lakers Edition]]>Fri, 15 Mar 2019 11:06:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/231*120/2-11-2019-lakers-fans.jpgThe seats at Staples Center have a star-studded history when the Lakers are in action. Check out some of the celebrity fans in the stands who have cheered on the Lakers through the years.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron and Lakers Lose to Raptors]]>Thu, 14 Mar 2019 19:49:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/LeBron+Lakers+lose+to+Raptors.png

Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points, Norman Powell had 20 and the Toronto Raptors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-98 on Thursday night. 

LeBron James scored 29 points and Alex Caruso had a career-high 16 for Los Angeles. The struggling Lakers lost for the sixth time in seven games, further denting their fading playoff hopes. 

Pascal Siakam scored 16 points and Marc Gasol added 15 to help Toronto win its ninth consecutive meeting with the Lakers, extending a franchise record. The Raptors have not lost to the Lakers since Nov. 30, 2014. They also set a franchise record with their 20th victory of the season against a Western Conference opponent.

Rajon Rondo scored 13 points but the Lakers failed to win back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 15 and 17, when they beat Chicago and won at Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles overturned a 20-point deficit to win at Chicago on Tuesday night, snapping a five-game losing streak. The Lakers kept it close through three quarters against Toronto, the Atlantic Divison leaders, but couldn't hang on in the fourth as the Raptors outscored them 21-14. 

Toronto guard Malcolm Miller, who played 24 minutes in a G-League game earlier Thursday, made two 3-pointers in the final quarter.

The Raptors were without guard Kyle Lowry, who sat because of a sire left ankle, and forward Serge Ibaka, who began serving a three-game suspension for throwing a punch at Cleveland's Marquese Chriss on Monday night. 

Powell made all three of his 3-pointers in the first and scored 12 points as Toronto led 33-25 after one.

Alex Caruso scored 14 points for Los Angeles in the second and James had a huge two-handed slam. Leonard replied with 10 points for Toronto, including a buzzer-beating 3 that gave the Raptors a 65-54 lead at halftime. With James on the bench, Toronto outscored the Lakers 14-2 over the final 3:05. The Lakers ended the third with a 7-0 run, and trailed 90-84 heading to the fourth. 

TIP-INS

Lakers: Los Angeles has not won consecutive road games since victories at Miami on Nov. 18 and Cleveland on Nov. 21. ... C Tyson Chandler missed his fifth straight game because of a sore neck, and G Lance Stephenson sat for the sixth time in seven games because of a sprained toe on his left foot. ... Kyle Kuzma shot 3 for 11 and scored seven points. ... James missed three straight free throws in the fourth. 

Raptors: Gasol started in place of Ibaka, and Jeremy Lin started in place of Lowry. ... Toronto signed F/C Eric Moreland to a 10-day contract. ... The Raptors are 10-0 against Pacific Division opponents. 

UP NEXT

Lakers: At Detroit on Friday night.

Raptors: At Detroit on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teenagers Stand Out, Shake Up Tennis at Indian Wells]]>Wed, 13 Mar 2019 16:03:59 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Andreescu-Indian-Wells-2019.jpg

A couple of teenagers are shaking things up at the BNP Paribas Open.

Bianca Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian, routed two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza 6-0, 6-1 in 52 minutes Wednesday to reach the semifinals.

Miomir Kecmanovic, a 19-year-old Serb ranked 130th in the world, became the first lucky loser to reach the quarterfinals at Indian Wells since 1990 when Yoshihito Nishioka retired in the second set.

The kids are all right, indeed.

Andreescu won the first nine games against Muguruza. The 20th-seeded Spaniard called for her coach trailing 4-1 in the second set. He urged her to "change something."

"I felt like every time I was trying something different she was coming up with better shots," Muguruza said. "She was keeping her high level all the time."

Andreescu broke Muguruza at love and then served out the match after a deuce game, hitting consecutive forehand winners.

Andreescu has been stretched to three sets just once, in the first round. She then beat 32nd-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, Stefanie Voegele and No. 18 seed Wang Qiang before taking out Muguruza in her Indian Wells debut.

Andreescu is the third wild card in tournament history to reach the semifinals. Serena Williams was the last in her return to the desert in 2015.

"It's incredible what I've achieved the last couple months," Andreescu said in an on-court interview. "I'm beyond grateful."

She was runner-up at Auckland and made the semifinals in Mexico before coming to the desert.

Kecmanovic is making history of his own.

He became the first lucky loser to reach the quarterfinals since the tournament achieved Masters 1000 status in 1990. The 27-year-old Serb got into the main draw when Kevin Anderson withdrew before his opening match with an elbow injury.

"It will be funny that somebody other than Novak is still in," Kecmanovic said of top-ranked Djokovic, his famous countryman who was upset on Tuesday.

Nishioka retired after losing the first set 6-4, having first sought treatment on court.

Kecmanovic got another dose of luck when he received a wild card for next week's tournament in Miami.

"I'm going to get a ticket because this is just nice," he said, joking about buying a lottery ticket.

Kecmanovic next plays 13th-seeded Milos Raonic, who beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-3.

Rafael Nadal defeated qualifier Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-4 and remains on track for a potential semifinal against five-time champion Roger Federer in the bottom half of the draw. The top half was rocked by the upsets of Djokovic and No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev.

"The difference between players is not huge. It's small gaps," Nadal said about the upsets. "Is true that for the last 10 years didn't happen very often."

Krajinovic hadn't dropped a set in winning his first three main-draw matches after two wins in qualifying to get into the $8.3 million event. But he couldn't overcome Nadal, who lost his serve just once in the 1½-hour match in sunny and windy conditions.

"Probably played a little bit worse today than yesterday," Nadal said. "Maybe because of the conditions."

Next up for Nadal is the winner of a fourth-round match between John Isner and Karen Khachanov.

Federer took on Kyle Edmund and Philipp Kohlschreiber, who knocked out Djokovic, played Gael Monfils later Wednesday.

The upsets weren't limited to the men's draw. Naomi Osaka, the world's top-ranked woman, also lost in straight sets a day earlier.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boatwright Leads USC Past Arizona 78-65 at Pac-12 Tournament]]>Wed, 13 Mar 2019 15:56:28 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-898609476.jpg

Southern California's up-and-down season will continue.

Arizona may have reached the end of an era.

Bennie Boatwright had 22 points and 11 rebounds, helping USC roll over Arizona 78-65 in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday.

"We're seniors and we wanted to make sure the guys came out and played as hard as they can," Boatwright said. "This is our last go-around and we want to go as far as we can. They made shots, but we kept playing hard throughout the game."

The eighth-seeded Trojans (16-16) started slowly, but went on 18-2 runs in each half to earn a spot in Thursday's quarterfinals against top-seeded Washington.

Derryck Thornton scored 12 points and USC shot 48 percent to bounce the ninth-seeded Wildcats from the Pac-12 tournament after losing to them in the title game a year ago.

Arizona's difficult season may have come to an end with its first opening-round Pac-12 exit since 2010.

The two-time defending champion Wildcats (17-15) continued to be embroiled in a recruiting scandal and struggled on the court, punctuated by their lopsided loss to the Trojans.

Unless Arizona gets an invite to a smaller tournament, it will not play a postseason game for the first time since 1983-84, Lute Olson's first year as coach.

The school also must decide the fate of coach Sean Miller. He has repeatedly been linked to the recruiting scandal and will be subpoenaed in a federal trial next month.

Miller stuck to his stance of not commenting on questions concerning the scandal or his job, saying "No" when asked if he thought this was his last game at Arizona.

"Our room for error was so slight that it really stole our confidence to some degree and didn't allow us to be maybe the best overall team that we could have been," Miller said.

The Wildcats dug a big early hole, fought back by halftime and fell behind by double digits midway through the second half. Ryan Luther scored 16 points and Brandon Williams 13 for the Wildcats, who went 5 for 22 from the 3-point arc.

The Trojans closed out a disappointing regular season with four straight losses and seven in nine games.

Arizona ended with a similar thud, losing to rival Arizona State for its ninth loss in 10 games.

USC won the teams' lone meeting this season, rolling over the Wildcats 80-57 at home.

The Trojans got the Pac-12 tournament off to a slow start before going on an 18-2 run to go up 23-12.

"They were playing really hard and when you do that, you disrupt a lot of things," Arizona's Ira Lee said.

But instead of racing off to another rout, USC started sputtering, allowing Arizona back in it. The Wildcats went on a late 13-3 run and tied it at 40-all by halftime. Arizona made 13 of 26 first-half shots after shooting 28 percent the first game against USC.

USC took control midway through the second half, using with another 18-2 run to go up 63-45.

"I thought defensively we picked it up and we were able to challenge most of their shots and rebound the basketball," USC coach Andy Enfield said.

BIG PICTURE

USC has another chance to extend its season after shutting down Arizona

Arizona was out of sorts for long stretches in each half and could face a long offseason if it doesn't get a postseason bid.

UP NEXT

USC moves on to face top-seeded Washington the quarterfinals.

Arizona waits to see if it will get an invite to a smaller postseason tournament.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CBS and NBC Swap Super Bowl Telecast Years in 2021 and 2022]]>Wed, 13 Mar 2019 16:03:28 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19007154235920.jpg

Super Bowl telecasts by NBC and CBS will swap years in 2021 and 2022.

The switch means both networks can pair other major sporting events with the NFL championship, traditionally the year's highest-rated program.

CBS, which carried the game this year, will now do the 2021 Super Bowl from Tampa, Florida. That will give the network the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four in a two-month span. It also gives CBS two Super Bowls in three years; it did the game from Atlanta in February.

NBC, meanwhile, gets the 2022 Super Bowl from Los Angeles, and the network then will televise the Winter Olympics from Beijing. It had both the NFL title game and the Winter Games in 2018.

Fox has the 2020 Super Bowl from Miami.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Roger Steinman/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Djokovic, Osaka Both Upset at Indian Wells]]>Tue, 12 Mar 2019 21:24:40 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Naomi-Osaka-Djokovic-Indian-Wells-3-12-19.jpg

It was a tough day for seeded players at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday, with Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, the world's top-ranked players, ushered out in the desert.

Djokovic and Philipp Kohlschreiber resumed their third-round match that was suspended because of rain a night earlier. The unseeded German knocked off the five-time tournament champion 6-4, 6-4.

Osaka lost to Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-1 in just over an hour in the fourth round of the first title defense of her career.

"She sort of came out there really aggressive," Osaka said. "She sort of knew what she wanted to do more than me."

Since Osaka won the title at Indian Wells a year ago, she won the U.S and Australian opens. Her triumph in Australia made her No. 1 for the first time, but her time at the top has been rocky. Osaka fired her coach and lost in the first round in Dubai before taking on a new coach, Jermaine Jenkins, who came on court during the match.

"It's always a bit tricky whenever you change someone in the team, but I feel like for a first tournament we did really well," Osaka said. "We communicate well, so I think that's a really big plus. I don't think it's going to be difficult."

On Tuesday, the 23rd-ranked Bencic served and returned better.

The bottom half of the men's draw still includes No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal and fourth-seeded Roger Federer, both of whom breezed to victory.

Djokovic owned an 8-1 record against Kohlschreiber, who beat a No. 1 player for the first time.

Kohlschreiber liked the weather — sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s — much better than the cold and rain on Tuesday night.

"I liked my chances more at night against Kohlschreiber, but it wasn't to be last night," Djokovic said. "Completely different conditions today. I congratulate him for playing tactically really well and getting me out of my comfort zone. He deserved to win."

The 35-year-old German started thinking he had a chance early in the first set when he survived a handful of break points on his serve.

"I would say after 3-all in the first set I felt like getting closer to the set, holding my service games, which is not easy against Novak, because he's such a great returner," Kohlschreiber said. "I know from that point on it's gonna be a very interesting match."

Djokovic was just 1-for-5 on break-point opportunities. Kohlschreiber converted three of his four chances.

Next up for Kohlschreiber is Gael Monfils, who owns a 13-2 record against the German.

Djokovic remains alive in doubles with partner Fabio Fognini. Djokovic returned about an hour after his loss for their match.

"When I hit a good return, I was wondering why this didn't happen in singles," he said.

Also ousted were No. 6 Kei Nishikori, No. 10 Marin Cilic and No. 14 Daniil Medvedev.

Nadal eased by 25th-seeded Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-1, while Federer defeated Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4.

In women's fourth-round matches, No. 2 Simona Halep lost to Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 and No. 7 Kiki Bertens was beaten by 20th-seeded Garbine Muguruza 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.

Venus Williams reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Mona Barthel.

"I haven't played that much, so I wanted to make it count," said Williams, who expects to play about 12 tournaments this year. "I need to do what I want, and what I want is to play the tournaments I want to play."

Bianca Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian, beat 18th-seeded Wang Qiang 7-5, 6-2.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Scores 36 as Lakers Snap Losing Streak]]>Tue, 12 Mar 2019 21:05:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/162*120/GettyImages-1135426700.jpg

In the house that Jordan built, LeBron James was King.

James scored 36 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 123-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at the United Center.

"I definitely recognize the greatness that Mike [Michael Jordan] had in this city," said James of playing in Chicago. "Everytime I play here I look in the rafters and look at his jersey retired."

Los Angeles trailed by as many as 20 points in the first half, but they rallied in the second half with an offensive explosion to defeat the lowly Bulls.

The Lakers laid an egg in the first quarter. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Lakers fell apart, scoring just 16 total points in the frame, trailing the Bulls, 34-16, after one.

Led by the second unit, the Lakers exploded in the second quarter, scoring 39 points and cutting the Chicago lead to just five at the break.

"We got defensive stops. We made some shots," James told reporters of the second unit that got the Lakers back in the game. "We were very in-tune with what we needed to do defensively and our second unit guys came in with a lot of energy and effort."

If the second quarter was good, the third quarter was even better, as the Lakers scored 43 points, and ended the quarter on a 27-5 run to take a 14-point lead into the final frame.

The Bulls cut the Lakers lead to four points in the fourth quarter, but James made sure the Lakers walked away with the victory, sinking a three-pointer, and finishing a fast break with Josh Hart with a highlight-worthy reverse dunk from a pass off the backboard. 

Thanks to James, the Lakers were able to pull away from there, and cruised to their first victory since they defeated the Pelicans, 125-119, on Wednesday, February 27.

"He wants to win. He's one of the great winners our league has ever seen," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton. "He did a really nice job of helping us get a win tonight."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope sparked the second unit with 24 points, six rebounds, and four three-pointers off the bench. Kyle Kuzma had 21 points.

"Anytime you get a win in this league, especially after the drought we were in, losing five straight, it feels good," said Kuzma. "We started having fun tonight. Everybody just had joy for the game. We were happy for each other. It felt like everyone got shots tonight."

Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee both had double-doubles, with Rondo scoring 14 points and dishing out 10 assists. McGee scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. 

All five starters scored in double figures for the Bulls, as Robin Lopez led the way with 20 points. Otto Porter Jr. had 19, Kris Dunn 18, Ryan Arcidiacono contributed 14, and Lauri Markkanen finished with 11 points.

The Lakers bench outscored the Bulls bench 33-to-25.

Andre Ingram, the 33-year-old sophomore who was signed to a 10-day contract on Monday, played two minutes, attempting one field goal, but received a standing ovation from the Chicago crowd at the end of the third quarter. 

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), Lance Stephenson (illness) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries. 

The Lakers will travel to Canada where they will take on the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors at 5:00PM PT on Thursday.



Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Legend of Andre Ingram Grows]]>Tue, 12 Mar 2019 17:26:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-944509682.jpg

Andre Ingram is joining LeBron James.

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed G-League star Andre Ingram to a 10-day contract, the team announced on Monday. 

Fans might remember Ingram from last season, when the 33-year-old made his NBA debut in the final two games for the Lakers.

Now in his sophomore season, Ingram is back with the Lakers after a long stint with the organization's G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. 

Ingram is the G-League's all-time leader in three-pointers and has played in the lower league for 11 seasons.

In two games with the Lakers last season, Ingram averaged 12 points, three rebounds, and 3.5 assists. Ingram is expected to be in uniform and ready to take the court as the team opens up a five-game road trip in Chicago on Tuesday.

The Lakers' roster is now at 17 players, and the move makes it unlikely the team will add any free agents for the remainder of the season like Carmelo Anthony or Marcin Gortat.



Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Ross Porter: The Voice of CSUN Baseball]]>Tue, 12 Mar 2019 14:32:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROSS_PORTER_FEATURE_1200x675_1456220227967.jpg

One of the best-known broadcasters in Southern California hasn't gone silent, you just have to listen for his voice. Feature on Ross Porter originally aired on Going Roggin March 9, 2019.]]>
<![CDATA[Angels' Shohei Ohtani Gets Raise to $650,000 from $545,000]]>Mon, 11 Mar 2019 21:29:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Shohei-Ohtani-home-runs-vs-Texas.jpg

Shohei Ohtani got a modest raise from the Los Angeles Angels after winning the AL Rookie of the Year award, agreeing to a one-year contract that boosts his pay to $650,000 from last year's minimum of $545,000.

Los Angeles announced agreements Monday with 22 players not yet eligible for arbitration. Ohtani has a split contract with a salary of $272,500 while in the minor leagues.

The 24-year-old two-way star went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts as a pitcher and played 104 games overall as a rookie, hitting .285 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs. He had surgery Oct. 1 to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament, and the Angels think the earliest he could be ready to hit in games is in May. He isn't expected to pitch this year.

Ohtani left the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Central League after the 2017 season and signed with the Angels for a bonus of $2,315,000. He will not be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2020 season.

He will earn considerably more than Tampa Bay pitcher Blake Snell, last year's AL Cy Young Award winner. The Rays renewed his contract Sunday for a salary while in the majors of $573,700, a raise of $15,500 and a figure $18,700 above the major league minimum, which rose to $555,000.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Re-Sign Pass Rusher Dante Fowler Before Free Agency]]>Sun, 10 Mar 2019 23:37:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dante-Fowler-Rams-re-sign-3-10-19.jpg

Linebacker Dante Fowler has re-signed with the Los Angeles Rams, passing up a shot at unrestricted free agency to stay with the NFC champions.

The Rams announced a deal Sunday night to keep Fowler, but didn't disclose the terms.

The Rams acquired Fowler in a trade with Jacksonville on Oct. 30, and the edge rusher played a significant role in Los Angeles' run to the Super Bowl. The 2015 No. 3 overall pick had two sacks in the regular season and 1 ½ more in the playoffs while creating consistent pressure on quarterbacks.

Fowler would have been one of the top pass rushers on the market, but he clearly enjoyed his experience in Wade Phillips' defense after an up-and-down career with the Jaguars.

Fowler, a St. Petersburg native and University of Florida star, had spent his entire life in Florida before the Rams traded a third-round draft pick this year and a fifth-round pick in 2020 to acquire him. Fowler immediately took to his new team, embracing a pass-rushing role in Phillips' 3-4 defense and fitting in quickly with his new teammates.

Rather than chasing free-agent riches, Fowler decided to extend his West Coast stay for at least another season — and he may have decided several weeks ago.

"We'll be ready next year," Fowler said immediately after the Rams' 13-3 loss to New England in the Super Bowl last month.

After going 13-3 and reaching their first Super Bowl in 17 years, the Rams have already addressed two of their biggest offseason concerns before free agency opens.

Los Angeles signed six-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle on Friday, likely replacing Lamarcus Joyner with one of the top available talents. Weddle is returning to his native Southern California to join Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and John Johnson in the Rams' secondary.

Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and cornerback Sam Shields also are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. The Rams haven't ruled out bringing back both veterans, and Suh took a likely discount a year ago for the chance to earn his first career playoff victories by signing with Los Angeles.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vela Shines as LAFC Continues Hot Start With 4-1 Win Over Timbers]]>Sun, 10 Mar 2019 23:32:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Carlos-Vela-LAFC-3-10-19.jpg

Carlos Vela scored and had three assists and Adama Diomande added a goal and an assist to help Los Angeles FC beat the Portland Timbers 4-1 on Sunday night.

Jordan Harvey's low cross split a defender and goalkeeper Jeff Attinella before Christian Ramirez tapped in a sliding finish from point-blank range to give LAFC (2-0-0) a 2-1 lead in the 45th minute.

Attinella made a diving, one-handed stop of a shot by Diego Rossi from near the spot that deflected out of bounds but Mark-Anthony Kaye headed home the ensuing corner kick by Vela to open the scoring in the 14th minute.

Jeremy Ebobisse put away a perfectly placed free kick by Diego Valeri, slipping a diving header just inside the post to make it 1-1 in the 29th.

Latif Blessing's pass led Vela toward the corner of the 6-yard box where, as the defense closed, he rolled a cross to Diomande for the empty-net finish in the 65th minute. Then, about three minutes later, Diomande fed a streaking Vela on the right side who flicked a left-footer inside the far post to cap the scoring.

Diego Chara, who was shown a yellow card in the 35th, received a red card in the 72nd minute for Portland (0-1-1).

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Serena Williams Retires Due to Viral Illness, Out of BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells]]>Sun, 10 Mar 2019 17:28:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1134988640.jpg

Serena Williams' return to tennis after a five-week break ended early with her retiring from the BNP Paribas Open because of a viral illness on Sunday.

Williams raced to a 3-0 lead over two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza in their third-round match before dropping six straight games and the first set, 6-3.

"By the score, it might have looked like I started well, but I was not feeling at all well physically," Williams said in a statement distributed by tournament officials.

During the changeover between sets, Williams called for a trainer. She went back out and lost the first game of the second set. The match was soon declared over and Williams walked off the court.

"Before the match, I did not feel great and then it just got worse with every second; extreme dizziness and extreme fatigue," Williams said. "I will focus on getting better and start preparing for Miami."

Muguruza is the only player to have beaten both Serena and Venus Williams in tournament finals.

"It's really a weird feeling because I don't feel like I won the match point and well done, good match," Muguruza said. "It was just like, 'Man, we'll play next time.'"

The Spaniard credited Williams for being "very dominating" from the start of the match.

"I had to adapt a little bit my position in the court, the way I was hitting, and it took me a few games to kind of do it," Muguruza said. "Once I did it, I felt much more comfortable."

Williams was playing her first tournament since the Australian Open in late January, when she lost in the quarterfinals.

After a first-round bye in Indian Wells, she beat Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-3 on Friday night.

It's the second time in four years that Williams has withdrawn from the tournament. She returned to the desert in 2015 after a 15-year boycott. That year she reached the semifinals before withdrawing against Simona Halep. She missed 2017 because of pregnancy.

Earlier, Roger Federer beat Peter Gojowczyk 6-1, 7-5 in the second round.

Federer saved six of seven break chances against the German after losing just two points on his serve in the first set.

Federer has reached the final of the desert tournament in his last four appearances, winning two years ago. In all, he owns five titles at Indian Wells. He won his 100th career title in Dubai last week.

Halep, the No. 2 seed, needed nearly two hours to beat qualifier Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the third round.

Kozlova led 6-5 and was within two points of winning the first set before Halep forced a tiebreaker in their first meeting. Halep dominated the tiebreaker, urged on by a large contingent of Romanian fans at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Other seeded men's winners were: No. 6 Kei Nishikori, No. 10 Marin Cilic, No. 14 Daniil Medvedev, No. 22 Kyle Edmund, No. 25 Diego Schwartzman and No. 32 Guido Pella.

No. 16 Fabio Fognini and No. 20 David Goffin were beaten.

On the women's side, No. 7 Kiki Bertens and No. 18 Qiang Wang advanced.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Talks About Young Lakers Getting Opportunities]]>Mon, 11 Mar 2019 06:11:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Celtics_vs._Lakers_1200x675_1455239747570.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Mo Wagner, and Alex Caruso discuss getting the opportunity to play after injuries have riddled the Lakers roster this season.]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Notches Triple-Double in Loss to Celtics]]>Sat, 09 Mar 2019 22:37:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/LeBron+and+Kyrie.png

Oh, what could have been.

Six months ago a late season matchup between longtime rivals the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers looked great on the NBA docket. 

The matchup of two of the NBA's premier franchises was not just a big box office draw, but it could have been a potential NBA Finals preview after LeBron James joined the Lakers in the offseason.

Instead of the renewal of two old rivals, the matchup was a lopsided battle between two teams headed in different directions.

James recorded a triple-double, and Kyrie Irving scored 30 points, as the Boston Celtics blew out the Los Angeles Lakers, 120-107, on Saturday night at Staples Center. 

"They made timely shots," said James after the loss. "We cut it to single digits in the fourth quarter, but we gave up an offensive rebounds. Kyrie [Irving] hit a bg three and that was a tough blow for us."

Nearly a decade ago, these two teams met in the NBA Finals, when Kobe Bryant triumphantly led the Lakers to a Game 7 victory over "The Big Three" of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.

Despite being the most historic rivalry in the NBA, the two teams had trouble conjuring up the memories of NBA Finals of old. Mostly because the Lakers limped into the game bothered by a plethora of injuries.

"It puts everything in perspective," James said of the injuries to his teammates. "Our league is all about wins and losses, but when injuries happen it puts things in perspective. On the flip side, you just don't take an opportunity for granted when you do get on the floor, because it could be taken away from you and your season could get shutdown like BI's [Brandon Ingram] instance and like Zo's [Lonzo Ball] instance."

The shorthanded Lakers were without Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Lonzo Ball (ankle), Kyle Kuzma (ankle), Lance Stephenson (illness), and Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness).

Meanwhile, Boston was back to full strength and appears poised to make a run at the Eastern Conference. After losing their first four games after the All-Star Break, the Celtics have cruised to victories in four of their last five including a blowout win over the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. 

"We just want to play well and everybody has to step up and it starts with me and my energy out there and my spirit," said Celtics' star Kyrie Irving of the way the team's played as of late. "We weren't doing that throughout the season consistently and now it's more important than ever for us to have connectivity and be together."

The lackluster Lakers are headed in the opposite direction. Losers of five in a row, and seven of their last eight games, L.A. is close to entering the lottery, a prospect that everyone in the organization would have laughed at when James first announced he was coming to Tinseltown last July.

"I didn't expect to be out five and a half weeks at a crucial point in our season," said James of the disappointing season. "We also didn't expect our other brain of the team, Rajon Rondo, to be out at the same time. I think it just took a hit on our team at a critical point and time."

Before the game, Luke Walton and the Lakers announced James would be on a minutes restriction for the remainder of the season, so it was no surprise when he headed to the bench every time the Lakers got close.

Boston led by just one after the first quarter, but with James on the bench for most of the second, the Celtics took a 10-point lead into halftime. 

"The only thing we did yesterday was play one-minute quarters so we could close them out better," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens of the way his team closed out the half. "I don't think we have done a good job of that this year. It's something we need to improve upon."

LeBron was back on the court to start the second half, and Los Angeles cut the Celtics lead to four points in the third quarter, but Walton sent LeBron back to the bench, and Boston's lead immediately ballooned to 17 points by the end of the third quarter.

"I thought we played with purpose at the end of the third quarter," said Celtics forward Gordan Hayward. "I thought we worked to get the best shot available and it showed on the scoreboard."

Irving, who could have been holding an audition for Lakers' fans, led the Celtics with 30 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five three-pointers.

"We had to battle and keep Bron [LeBron James] out of the paint, make those other guys beat us and I think we did a good job of tha tonight," said Irving of his performance. "We have one more game on Monday and then we are going to get out of here."

LeBron's former teammate in Cleveland when the Cavaliers won the Finals in 2016, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, and after a rekindling of their friendship in 2018-2019, many believe that Kyrie could join the Lakers in free agency.

If he was auditioning, Irving certainly should get the part, as he single-handedly dominated the Lakers during stretches throughout the game, proving why he's one of the top ten players in the league. 

"I thought he was really good tonight," Stevens said of Irving. "The third quarter, when they made their run, I thought he obviously steadied us and scored in so many different ways. Scored off the pass, scored off the drive, and did his thing and stopped runs. He pushed it out and gave us a little bit more cushion in the fourth."

Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris each scored 16 points, and Gordon Hayward had 15 points off the bench. Six different players scored in double-figures for the Celtics.

"I think I've been aggressive in each of the games and I've definitely made winning plays for our team," said Hayward. "The thing that I'm most aware of is we've won all those games."

James led the Lakers with the 80th triple-double of his career, scoring 30 points, dishing out 12 assists, and grabbing 10 rebounds in just 28 minutes of action.

"I do like the way we played," said James. "I thought we shared the ball, for the majority of the game, I thought we defended."

Mo Wagner scored a career-high 22 points in his first start of the season, and Johnathan Williams had 18 points off the bench for L.A.

"I wouldn't say I was nervous, but it was a good anxiety," Wagner said of the first start of his career. "I was happy obviously to hear my name, and check my first start off the list."

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Kyle Kuzma (ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), Lance Stephenson (illness) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries. 

The Lakers will travel to Chicago where they will take on the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at 5:00PM PT.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]]>
<![CDATA[Brandon Ingram Out for Season With Deep Venous Thrombosis]]>Sat, 09 Mar 2019 13:42:51 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1046864630.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram will miss the rest of the season after being diagnosed with a deep venous thrombosis in his right arm.

The Lakers announced their decision on the former No. 2 overall draft pick Saturday.

Ingram has missed the Lakers' past two games after he reported shoulder pain following a morning shootaround last Monday. Lakers coach Luke Walton said earlier this week that Ingram had pain whenever he attempted to lift his arm.

A deep venous thrombosis is a condition caused by a blood clot, frequently accompanied by swelling and pain in a limb. The condition usually occurs in legs, but can occur in the upper body.

Blood clots have affected several prominent athletes including Chris Bosh and Serena Williams in recent years. Bosh eventually retired due to blood clotting issues, but many other athletes have continued to play.

Inram is averaging a career-best 18.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game along with 3.0 assists.

The lanky swingman's chemistry with LeBron James has improved markedly over the course of the season despite several weeks of trade rumors linking Ingram and the rest of the Lakers' top young players to a deal for New Orleans superstar Anthony Davis. Ingram particularly excelled after the All-Star break and the trade deadline, averaging 27.8 points in his six most recent games.

But injuries have played a major role in preventing the Lakers from developing any consistency during James' first season alongside their young core.

Los Angeles might be without Lonzo Ball for the rest of the season due to a sprained ankle. Ball hasn't played since Jan. 19, and Walton said Friday that the point guard is "not close" to returning despite an initial diagnosis of his injury suggesting he would be back by now.

Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers' second-leading scorer with 18.8 points per game, also is out this week with a sprained ankle.

The Lakers (30-35) are in 10th place in the Western Conference heading into their rivalry meeting with Boston on Saturday night. They trail San Antonio by 6 1/2 games for the final playoff spot, meaning James likely will miss the postseason for the first time since 2005.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Welcome to the World of Esports: Here's Your Primer]]>Wed, 06 Mar 2019 11:37:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ESports+Promo+Saturday_THUMB.png

[[506685721, BL]]
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Sign Veteran Safety Eric Weddle to 2-Year Deal]]>Sat, 09 Mar 2019 16:31:52 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/EricWeddleRavens.jpg

Veteran safety Eric Weddle agreed to a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams on Friday, returning to his native Southern California to join the defending NFC champions' secondary.

The Rams also released starting linebacker Mark Barron, continuing a shuffle of veteran personnel after going 13-3 in the regular season and reaching the Super Bowl last month.

Weddle joins the Rams after a 12-year pro career with San Diego and Baltimore, where he spent the past three seasons. The six-time Pro Bowl selection was released Tuesday after starting all 16 games last year for the Ravens, who elected to get younger.

The 34-year-old Weddle is a year older than Rams coach Sean McVay, but he could be exactly what Los Angeles' secondary needs. He is nearly certain to take the starting job held by Lamarcus Joyner, who is expected to leave as a free agent.

Joyner was a starter for the past two years, but Weddle is widely regarded as one of the NFL's best free safeties. The heavily bearded veteran didn't have an interception last season for just the second time in his career, but he made 68 tackles on the Ravens' stellar defense and played an important leadership role in Baltimore, just as he did in San Diego.

Weddle is also durable, starting all 16 games in nine of the last 11 seasons for the Chargers and Ravens. He adds even more experience to the Rams' secondary alongside 33-year-old cornerback Aqib Talib and two-time Pro Bowl selection Marcus Peters.

Talib is second among active players in career interceptions with 35, while Weddle is ninth with 29. Promising two-year pro John Johnson is the Rams' other starting safety. Weddle grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, one of Los Angeles' outer suburbs, before starring at Utah and joining the Chargers as a second-round pick.

Barron started 12 regular-season games and all three playoff games for the Rams last season, making 74 combined tackles. The seven-year pro was the seventh overall pick by Tampa Bay in 2012, and he joined the Rams in a trade during the 2014 season.

Barron has been a starter for the past four seasons for the Rams. He was about to enter the fourth season of a five-year, $45 million deal. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, edge rusher Dante Fowler and cornerback Sam Shields also are expected to hit unrestricted free agency this month. The Rams haven't ruled out bringing back all three veterans.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Nick Wass/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Thorough Exam of Santa Anita Racing Surface Begins]]>Sun, 10 Mar 2019 00:21:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Sta-Anita-sunset.jpg

With races suspended indefinitely in response to a spate of horse deaths at Santa Anita, a renewed effort began Thursday to inspect the racing surface, while park operators worked to evaluate safety procedures and protocols.

Santa Anita officials on Tuesday announced that they had retained the park's former track superintendent, Dennis Moore, to inspect the racing surface. The announcement came hours after a 4-year-old filly named Lets Light the Way was injured during training and had to be euthanized, becoming the 21st horse to die at the track since Dec. 26.

On Tuesday night, track officials announced an unprecedented suspension of all racing and training activities at the park in response to the deaths. Following the heavy rain that fell Wednesday, Moore and Mick Peterson of Racing Services Testing Lab began an effort Thursday to do "additional testing of the track to ensure track consistency and uniformity for both training and racing," according to Santa Anita officials.

"At the same time, Santa Anita is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of all existing safety measures and current protocols," according to a track statement.

According to track officials, Moore and Peterson asked track workers to begin "harrowing and aerating the track which has been saturated due to recent rains."

Moore and Peterson told track officials they do not have a timetable for when the testing will be completed.

Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of track owner The Stronach Group, said Wednesday: "As horse lovers first and foremost, we are deeply saddened by the losses experienced over the past several weeks. The loss of one horse is one too many. While we can't prevent every injury, we can't overemphasize that the health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority.

"The track will be closed for live racing and training until our outside experts confirm the soundness of the track and let us know that it is safe to resume racing," Ritvo said.

Late Thursday, Santa Anita officials announced that the inner training track at the facility will reopen Friday morning, noting that none of the horse deaths have occurred on that track. Moore and Peterson inspected the inner track and will monitor its condition when horses begin using it. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert hailed the decision to open the training track. ``Like all athletes, horses need to stay active, so this is a good decision for their overall health since it allows our horses to get out of their stalls and keeps them moving to aid their digestion,'' Baffert said in a statement released by the track. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that the track's tentative plans don't call for racing to resume until at least March 28.

Track officials have not confirmed that report. Moore was Santa Anita's track superintendent until he retired in December. He is now track superintendent for Del Mar and Los Alamitos race tracks. The suspension of racing means some critical races that had been set for this weekend have been scrubbed and will need to be rescheduled.

Santa Anita was set to have five stakes races Saturday, including the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, in which Game Winner -- who is undefeated in four starts and was named last year's champion 2-year-old colt -- was set to make his first 2019 start as he prepares for the Kentucky Derby.

Game Winner's stablemate, Improbable, is undefeated in three starts and was also set for his 2019 debut in the same race for trainer Bob Baffert. Other stakes races that had been set for Saturday were the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes and the China Doll Stakes.

One stakes race -- the Santa Ysabel Stakes -- was set for Sunday. Some animal-advocacy groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have called for a halt to racing at the track and for investigations into the trainers and veterinary records of the horses that have died.



Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Sunshine, Saguaros and Spring Training: Dodgers in Arizona]]>Thu, 07 Mar 2019 07:23:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_19055809375763.jpg

If you’re seeking an escape from Southern California’s rainy weather, do as baseball players do and head to the Arizona desert for spring training.

Fifteen Major League Baseball teams spend more than four weeks in the sunny Phoenix area this time of year for practice, games and interaction with fans on an up close and personal level you won’t find during the regular season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox share the Camelback Ranch facility in Glendale, Arizona. More than a dozen perfectly groomed fields cover the pristine grounds, which include walking trails, a 5 acre lake, and Instagram worthy photo opps you won’t find in LA.

As for the Angels, Tempe, Arizona is their spring training home. Fans are greeted by the team’s giant halo logo at the entrance to Tempe Diablo Stadium. Once inside, you’ll find a picturesque view of one the Twin Buttes, which rises above the left field wall.

Spring training games are a great way to enjoy America’s favorite pastime. Ticket prices are cheaper than regular season, optional seating on grassy berms gives families room to spread out, and smaller stadiums mean better views for everyone.

Morning practice sessions are open to the public and free. Fans can get right up to the field fence to hear the crack of a bat and watch the players workout. It’s also a great place for kids of all ages to seek autographs as players walk on and off the practice fields, so don’t forget to bring a baseball or glove.

If you do show up empty handed, it’s a good excuse to buy new gear and souvenirs. There are team stores at each location.

4 Fun Facts To Know Before You Go

  • Players start their workouts between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Arrive close to 9 a.m. when gates open if you want to score a good spot for autographs.
  • Parking at Camelback Ranch is plentiful and free. It’s almost too good to be true. Parking at Diablo Stadium is $5.
  • Phoenix is a quick one hour flight away. If you prefer a road trip, pack some snacks and settle in for a five to six hour drive.
  • If you’re the only one in the group who doesn’t enjoy baseball (say it isn’t so), nearby Old Town Scottsdale is filled with shops, restaurants and plenty of western wear and folklore to keep anyone entertained.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[An Emotional LeBron James Reflects on his Idol After Passing Michael Jordan in Career Points]]>Thu, 07 Mar 2019 07:03:28 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LeBron_Passes_MJ_1200x675_1453579331851.jpg

An emotional and still-stunned LeBron James reflects back on his boyhood idol Michael Jordan, after passing him in career points in the Lakers, 115-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets.]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Passes Michael Jordan as Lakers Lose to Nuggets]]>Thu, 07 Mar 2019 00:41:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LeBron+Passes+Jordan+in+Loss+to+Nuggets.png

LeBron James passed Michael Jordan for fourth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list, but it was all downhill after that.

Will Barton scored 23 points and the Denver Nuggets dominated the shorthanded Lakers, 115-99, on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

Following three straight losses to the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, and L.A. Clippers, the Lakers appear to have accepted their fate on missing out on the postseason.

The Lakers were without starters Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram for the game against the Nuggets, with James seemingly on a slight minutes restriction. 

James played 31 minutes (he averages 36) in the lopsided loss, scoring 31 points in the defeat.

"At the end of the day we're still struggling and I hate that for our franchise, for our fans, and for myself," James said after the loss.

The only excitement and climatic moment in the game was when James finally surpassed Jordan with 5:38 remaining in the second quarter. After tying "His Airness," on a fadeaway jumper seconds before, James drove the lane for a left-handed layup that moved him into rarefied air.

"Of all the things in my career, this ranks right up there with the top," said James of his accomplishment. "I wanted to be like MJ. I didn't know how it was going to happen. A couple teammates asked me how would I like it to be, and I said: 'either a fadeaway in the post or an off two-feet, lean-in, tongue out, dunk off the break."

Denver led wire-to-wire, extending the lead to 23 points in the third quarter, but behind rarely used players Mo Wagner, Alex Caruso, and Johnathan Williams, the Lakers roared back in the fourth quarter. 

"LeBron and the G-League Group," as we'll affectionately call the unit that made the comeback, cut the lead to two, 87-85, midway through the fourth quarter. 

"I loved it," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton about the effort from that unit. "We're looking for guys that are going to play the way we need to play. There's a certain way to play this game. The respect you show for the game. We found it in the second half with a group consisting of guys: J3 [Johnathan Williams], AC [Alex Caruso], Moe [Moritz Wagner], and Josh Hart."

However, Los Angeles would not get any closer as James was pulled from the game with five minutes remaining and the Nuggets leading by nine. 

All five starters scored in double figures for Denver with Barton leading the way with 23.

"I wanted to lead by example tonight and come out and just play with a lot of energy," said Barton. "You saw I was trying to be everywhere, whether it was rebounding, getting a couple assists, trying to defend, and tonight my shots went in."

Gary Harris scored 19, Paul Millsap had 16, Jamal Murrary added 19, and Nikola Jokic had 12 points, 17 rebounds, and eight assists.

"It's always nice to win the game," said Jokic who helped snap Denver's three-game losing streak. "We were playing to win the game, of course. We relaxed again, so that's not a good thing. We had a 23-point lead and the [Lakers] came back. I think we need to close the games and not have that kind of interesting finish."

Los Angeles was led by James who had a game-high 31. JaVale McGee had 16 points, and Alex Caruso chipped in a career-high 15 off the bench.

"All of us are young and have relentless energy," Caruso said of the unit that consisted of many of his South Bay Lakers teammates. "We fly around, we hit people, we're out there playing as hard as we can. Playing with guys like Rondo and LeBron, it's really easy. Just set screens and shoot when you're open."

The Lakers shot 52 percent from the free throw line and 22 percent from beyond the arc. 

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain),Kyle Kuzma (ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.

The Lakers will host the Boston Celtics on Saturday at 5:30PM PT. 



Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Passes Michael Jordan on Scoring List]]>Thu, 07 Mar 2019 04:36:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1133923291.jpg

Move over, Michael. The King has taken your throne. 

LeBron James surpassed Michael Jordan for fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list with a left-handed layup in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar scored his 32,293rd point on a driving layup in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets, getting fouled in the act and hitting the ensuing free throw.

"I haven’t been staring him down for a while, actually. I kind of just take all accomplishments as they come," James told reporters at Wednesday's shootaround. "Anytime I’m in the breath with any of the greats, obviously MJ being a guy that I looked up to my whole life, the guy I admired when I was a kid, it’s going to be pretty cool [passing him]. I don’t know how I’m going to react in the moment but I think at some point I’ll be able to appreciate it. Just knowing where I come from and knowing that it’s so much bigger than just me.

"So many other kids look up to me for inspiration. When I was a kid their age, I needed inspiration, and MJ was that inspiration, along with some other people. Sometimes I have no idea how I’m even in this position to be able to play the game that I love, play at a high level and be linked with some of the greatest to ever play this game; obviously MJ being out of this world."

James sat for the remainder of the first quarter, but went back to-work on the offensive end in the second quarter. A few quick buckets and James had suddeny tied his Airness before a left-handed layup in the lane that fell through the hoop for a milestone basket and an "and-one." 

Here's the link to the video of LeBron's basket that surpassed Jordan. 

James surpassed his boyhood idol for fourth place on the list and now trails three former Lakers' legends in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st), Karl Malone (2nd), and Kobe Bryant (3rd).

The Lakers and the NBA celebrated James' accomplishment during a timeout after he passed Jordan, by showing a video tribute of James' scoring accomplishment on the video screen. 

Prior to the game, James could hardly contain his excitement for the soon-to-be historic milestone, but tweeting this before the game.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Scenes From Spring Training: Baseball Gets Personal]]>Thu, 07 Mar 2019 13:58:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_19055809342581.jpgIt's that time of year when the beloved game of baseball is at its most personal level with fans.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Still Not Ruled Out as Dodgers' Opening Day Starter]]>Wed, 06 Mar 2019 20:58:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KERSHAW_OUT_KNBCQATA_1200x675_1448330307670.jpg

Clayton Kershaw has not yet been ruled out for opening day by the Los Angeles Dodgers despite all the time he's missed at spring training with a sore left shoulder.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Wednesday that, for now at least, Kershaw remains scheduled to start March 28 for the two-time defending NL champions even though it seems unlikely based on the progress the three-time Cy Young Award winner would need to make in the next few weeks.

"I don't think we've made that decision yet and I know that Honey (pitching coach Rick Honeycutt) has mapped out where we need to be, so right now we're not ready to make that decision," Roberts said. "We're just right now in a day-to-day with Clayton and trying to keep him in a positive state of mind."

Kershaw played catch with teammate Rich Hill on Tuesday's off day and lined up down the right-field line with fellow pitchers Wednesday as several played catch. Kershaw's partner was bullpen catcher Steve Cilladi.

Although Cilladi did not crouch, Kershaw went into his unique windup before several throws, raising his hands over his head and pausing his leg in mid-motion. Kershaw repeatedly backed up, eventually throwing from more than 75 feet, before moving closer to Cilladi and increasing the velocity on his throws.

Afterward, he flashed a thumbs-up to an observer and gave Cilladi a fist bump.

Prior to the afternoon throwing session, Roberts said: "The distance is increasing a little bit and most importantly, the intensity. So, for him to ramp up that intensity and recover the next day and still feel good, that's a good thing for us."

As for when Kershaw will throw off a mound, Roberts said: "We'll know more each day. We don't have a day right now."

CATCHING ON

After several days of practice and Cactus League inactivity because of a sore lower back, veteran catcher Russell Martin started hitting and caught Walker Buehler's bullpen.

"Today is the first day I took some swings and I just got done, so it felt pretty good," Martin said. "Obviously, it wasn't max effort, but it was definitely positive."

Martin progressed from dry swings to hitting off a tee to soft toss.

"So far, so good," he said. "We are taking it slow and trying to be smart about it."

Martin's training room treatment has consisted of stretching, strengthening and "getting some range of motion and strength in that new-found range of motion, and hopefully, that will keep me on the field," he said.

Roberts said: "It is kind of a day-to-day thing — depending on how Russell feels and the training staff — whether we get him some at-bats on the other side (in minor league games) or just jump him right in and DH or just kind of throw him in the fire. Russell, as a veteran player, knows exactly what he needs to do to get ready, so even a week down, I don't think it will impact him too much."

NOTES: Buehler has not appeared in a Cactus League game. Roberts said the right-hander is likely to throw live to hitters on Saturday. ... SS Corey Seager, completing his recovery from Tommy John surgery on May 4 and arthroscopic hip surgery on Aug. 7, was not in camp because of "a little kind of a sickness, a little bug," according to Roberts. Because of that, Seager's planned appearance in a minor league game Thursday is doubtful. ... Roberts and his staff will start to make cuts in the coming days, sending players to the minor league side. Position players will start to play in back-to-back Cactus League games, and starting pitchers will begin to throw increased innings in those games.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[LA Galaxy Sign US Midfielder Joe Corona From Liga MX]]>Wed, 06 Mar 2019 19:07:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Joe-Corona-LA-Galaxy-3-6-19.jpg

The LA Galaxy have signed American midfielder Joe Corona.

The Galaxy announced a permanent deal Wednesday for Corona, who won the Liga MX title last season with Club America.

Corona was on loan from Club Tijuana, but the Los Angeles native has played sparingly with Xolos this season after returning. The 28-year-old Corona has played professionally in Mexico since 2010 while also making 23 appearances for the U.S. national team.

The Galaxy had roster room for a significant player after buying out the contract of Mexican star Giovani Dos Santos last week.

Corona could play for the Galaxy as early as this weekend at FC Dallas. The Galaxy won their season opener last week, 2-1 over Chicago.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Men's Team Eyes Galaxy's 16-Year-Old Efrain Alvarez ]]>Wed, 06 Mar 2019 13:32:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/169*120/AP_19065730148500.jpg

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter is monitoring Efrain Alvarez, the 16-year-old midfielder who had an assist in his LA Galaxy debut last weekend and is eligible to play for both the Americans and Mexico.

Alvarez, who turns 17 on June 19, was born in Los Angeles to Mexican parents. He played for the U.S. under-15 team in 2016, Mexico's under-15 team in 2017 and for Mexico's under-17 team last year. He has not played for the senior team for either nation.

"We want to create an environment that players want to be in," Berhalter said at a news conference Wednesday. "We want to create a playing style, a team spirit that players want to be a part of, and if we do we're confident that we can get players like that and we can keep players like that in our program."

Alvarez entered in the 68th minute Saturday and fed Daniel Steres for a header that tied the score in the 68th. The Galaxy went on to beat the Chicago Fire 2-1 in their opener behind an 80th-minute goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"It would be great that he continues to chip away and get playing time and now can be a consistent performer for one of the top clubs in MLS," Berhalter said. "And we'll be there watching the whole thing, and when he's doing what we expect him to do, there'll be an opportunity for him with the U.S. national team."

Hired in December, Berhalter had an all-Major League Soccer roster when he coached the Americans' wins over young Panama and Costa Rica teams early this year. He will have Europe-based players available for the first time when the Americans play exhibitions against Ecuador at Orlando, Florida, on March 21, and Chile in Houston five days later.

He said top young American players who have established themselves with clubs, such as RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams, will not play at the Under-20 World Cup in Poland, where the U.S. opens against Ukraine on May 24. At around the same time, the senior national team will gather for training ahead of its CONCACAF Gold Cup opener on June 18. Josh Sargent and Tim Weah also appear likely to be with the senior team.

"We looked at the U-20 roster and there's not that many overlapping players," Berhalter said. "There's some guys that just it's not realistic to expect that they're going to play in the U-20 World Cup given what stage they are in their development."

The Gold Cup will be the first competitive games for the U.S. since the October 2017 loss at Trinidad and Tobago that ended the Americans' streak of seven straight World Cup appearances. Berhalter said players reporting after European club seasons will be given a bit of a rest ahead of the Gold Cup.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers and Cody Bellinger Agree to a One-Year Deal]]>Wed, 06 Mar 2019 11:50:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Bellinger+two+run+homer+in+Game+7+NLCS.png

Cody Bellinger and the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a one-year contract that pays a $605,000 salary in the major leagues, a $20,000 raise from last year.

A unanimous pick as NL Rookie of the Year in 2017, the outfielder/first baseman hit .260 with 25 homers and 76 RBIs last year, down from a .267 average, 39 homers and 97 RBIs in his debut season.

His salary would drop to $292,500 this year in the unlikely event he is sent to the minor leagues.

Bellinger has one year, 160 days of major league service and likely will be eligible for free agency after this season. He would be eligible for free agency following the 2024 season -- falling 12 days shy of being eligible after the 2023 season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Anita Cancels Races Indefinitely After 21st Horse Death]]>Wed, 06 Mar 2019 01:02:52 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Sta-Anita-sunset.jpg

Santa Anita has canceled racing indefinitely to re-examine its dirt surface after the deaths of 21 horses in the last two months.

Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that racing won't be held this weekend, when two major races were scheduled: the San Felipe for 3-year-old Kentucky Derby hopefuls and the Santa Anita Handicap for older horses.

Ritvo wouldn't speculate on when training and racing would resume. After this weekend, races were to be run again starting March 14 at the storied racetrack that will host the Breeders' Cup world championships for a record 10th time this fall.

"In whole, we feel confident in the track and we're just being very proactive," Ritvo said. "We want to do all the testing that needs to be done. When we believe we're in good shape, we'll start to train over it again."

The Daily Racing Form first reported the cancellation.

The latest fatality occurred during training on Tuesday, when a 4-year-old filly got injured and was euthanized.

"Obviously, one horse is too many," Ritvo said. "The recent rash is just horrible. We need to definitely take a step back and evaluate everything."

Santa Anita received 11½ inches of rain and had unusually cold temperatures in February, but it's unclear whether track conditions played a role in any of the fatalities.

The National Weather Service was forecasting 1 to 2 inches of rain in Los Angeles County starting overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday.

"We think that (rain) could definitely contribute even though our experts are telling us not," Ritvo said. "The tracks out here are built not for weather like that."

Ritvo said officials are "a little bit concerned" with the latest impending storm and how the dirt surface can change from muddy to fast in a short time.

Besides re-examining the dirt track, Ritvo said all racing protocols would be looked at.

"We won't rush it," he said. "Everybody takes a deep breath."

Ritvo was uncertain whether the San Felipe and Santa Anita Handicap would be rescheduled.

"Those are huge races," he said. "We hope so."

Seven deaths have occurred during races on the dirt oval at Santa Anita since the track's winter meet began on Dec. 26. Five have occurred on the turf course and nine came during training on dirt. The highest-profile horse to be euthanized was Battle of Midway, winner of the 2017 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. The 5-year-old bay also finished third in the 2017 Kentucky Derby for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The horse suffered injuries during a workout on Feb. 23.

Last week, Santa Anita was closed for two days while the dirt surface underwent extensive testing and was declared fit for racing.

Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally said 4-year-old filly Lets Light the Way "took a bad step or something" on Tuesday.

He said the injury was a shattered sesamoid in her right front leg. Sesamoid bones provide anchor points for the two branches of the suspensory ligament. The bones are under stress each time a horse takes a step. Lets Light the Way was X-rayed and later euthanized.

"I think the weather has a lot to do with it," said McAnally, whose wife, Debbie, owned the filly.

"Santa Anita has been a wonderful track, and they've done all kinds of tests," McAnally said. "I don't know what else they could do. It's a fluky thing."

Also Tuesday, Vyjack was pulled up after completing a five-furlong workout, according to trainer Phil D'Amato. The graded stakes-winning 9-year-old gelding was taken off the track in a van. But D'Amato told the Daily Racing Form that Vyjack "took a couple of funny steps" and was OK.

The number of deaths has drawn both concern and criticism. A handful of animal-rights activists gathered outside Santa Anita's main gate on Sunday, carrying signs and shouting.

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk agreed with the track's decision to close.

"This was the right thing to do," she said in a statement. "The track should remain closed until the California Horse Racing Board dumps the drugs entirely, or injured horses whose soreness is masked by legally allowed medication will continue to sustain shattered bones. PETA renews its call for a criminal investigation into the trainers and veterinarians who may have put injured horses on the track, leading to their deaths."

Ritvo said, "The first and most important thing is the health and welfare of the horses and jockeys."

In 2017, 20 deaths occurred among a total of 8,463 starts over a span of 122 racing days at Santa Anita, according to the most recent figures compiled by The Jockey Club. That's a rate of 2.36 deaths per 1,000 starts.

There were 1.61 deaths per 1,000 starts in the U.S. in 2017, according to the most recent figures from the Equine Injury Database, compiled by The Jockey Club. That was a slight increase in the rate of fatal injury compared with 2016, when there were 1.54 deaths per 1,000 starts.

The deaths were more frequent on dirt surfaces (1.74 per 1,000 starts) than on turf (1.36).

Santa Anita was closed for two days last week while the dirt surface was tested.

Mick Peterson, a soil and safety expert brought in from the University of Kentucky, proclaimed the track "100 percent ready" to resume racing.

Peterson said radar verified that all of the silt, clay and sand, as well as the moisture content, were consistent throughout the track. Its dirt surface was peeled back 5 inches and reapplied.

Since Peterson's comments, two horses have died, including McAnally's filly. The 86-year-old trainer is one of the most respected in horse racing and has won three Eclipse Awards as the nation's outstanding trainer.

Lets Light the Way had one win in four career starts and earnings of $18,500, according to Equibase. She last raced Feb. 2 at Santa Anita. McAnally purchased the filly for $15,000.

The other death occurred Saturday during the third race when 4-year-old filly Eskenforadrink was in the lead. Jockey Geovanni Franco pulled her up with an injury to her front leg. The filly was taken off the track and was later euthanized.

Track officials announced Tuesday that a former track superintendent is returning immediately to Santa Anita as a consultant on site as "a precautionary measure with regard to the condition of the one-mile main track." The consultant, Dennis Moore, worked in Arcadia from 2014 until retiring Dec. 31. He currently holds the same position at Del Mar and Los Alamitos racetrack in Orange County.

In 2014, Moore oversaw a major renovation of the dirt surface using sand that was dug up in the coastal suburb of El Segundo for construction projects at Los Angeles International Airport. The sand was screened for foreign materials and large rocks.

At the time, track officials said the reddish-brown sand would ensure balanced drainage during periods of wet weather and a consistent, safe cushion for horses year-round. That's important at Santa Anita, which added several additional weeks of racing to its schedule after the closure of Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California, in December 2013.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James and the Lakers talk about Loss to Clippers all but ending their playoff dreams]]>Tue, 05 Mar 2019 01:14:29 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Clippers_vs._Lakers_1200x675_1452189251794.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Radjon Rondo, and Josh Hart dissect the team's loss to the Clippers, and reflect on the season as their chances of making the NBA Playoffs appear to be over.]]><![CDATA[Lakers Lose to Clippers, Cutting Playoff Chances ]]>Tue, 05 Mar 2019 01:13:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1133721557.jpg

The Clippers are the best basketball team in Los Angeles. 

After the Clippers victory over the Knicks on Sunday, point guard Patrick Beverly emphatically stated that the "Clippers are the best team in L.A." He backed those words up on Monday night.

Beverly was tasked with the assignment of guarding LeBron James for most of the night, and scored 13 points of his own, as the Clippers defeated the Lakers, 113-105, on Monday night at Staples Center.

Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with 23 points. Lou Williams had 21 off the bench, and six different players scored in double figures.

"This is a critical time to win games, and we're locked in," Williams said. "Tonight I felt particularly good about our focus."

The loss puts the Lakers six games behind the Clippers in the Western Conference standings, and the Lakers fell to 5.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the eighth and final playoff spot with just 18 games remaining in the season.

"You keep playing to the end and see what happens," said LeBron James. "I've been talking about it for a while now. Everyone has been talking about the postseason, (but) we should be worried about each and every game and how we can continue to get better with our process and get better with our team."

Meanwhile, the Clippers appear poised for another playoff appearance after missing out on the postseason last year. The Clippers are in the midst of a rebuild, but don't tell that to their organization. 

"We’re going for it!" Clippers' owner Steve Ballmer emphatically stated. Prior to the season, Ballmer acknowledged the team was going through a rebuild, but promised they would still be "competitive." Needless to say they've exceeded expectations.

After stripping down their core players from the best five-year run in franchise history (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan), the Clippers find themselves in seventh place in the West, and just a half-game out of sixth.

LeBron James led the Lakers with 27 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Rajon Rondo had one of his best games of the season, notching a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. 

"The ball bounced my way," said Rondo, who recorded the 32nd triple-double of his career. "I tried to come in with energy, made a couple shots, guys made shots for the assists, and as far as rebounding, I was just trying to get to the right spot at the right time and grab some boards for the bigs."

Rondo joined Mark Jackson as the only two players in NBA history to record a triple-double with five different teams in his career. 

"Doing it for five different teams is a testament to my teammates," said Rondo. "I've taken care of my body, been a professional and tried to be productive when I'm on the court."

Kyle Kuzma had 13 points, but left late in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Josh Hart chipped in 17 points off the bench. No other Laker scored in double figures. 

"There are days I wake up and feel good, and some days I wake up and it doesn't feel good," said Hart. "It all depends on the day, today it felt good, but my job is to go out there and play as hard as I can with whatever I can."

The Lakers got out to a great start, scoring 34 points in the first quarter. They extended their lead to ten in the second quarter before the Clippers came charging back to take a 61-57 lead into the half.

The Clips scored 35 points in the second quarter as the Lakers defense surrendered nine free throws and 12 points to Gallinari.

It was the Clippers turn to go up double-digits as they led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter.

"It felt like in the second half when we missed a lot of those wide-open shots, that kind of deflated a lot of that energy," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton. "In the third quarter when they put up 30 points on us. They are in the top eight for a reason. They made plays down the stretch and got to give them credit."

One sequence early in the fourth was particularly telling, as Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell drove the lane for an uncontested dunk to put the Clips up ten. James was upset at the defense on the play and yelled at Kuzma.

"I think that was due to a lack of communication," said Rondo of the play. "It wasn't there on a couple possessions. They rolled down the lane for a dunk. It's a good team. I don't want to take any credit away from those guys, but we came up short today."

Seconds later, James made an errant pass that was intercepted by Williams. Rather than rush back down the court for one of his signature chase down blocks, James stood and watched. Williams missed the layup, but no Laker was in sight and Williams grabbed his own miss and laid it in for a 12-point lead.

"That was a sequence. But it wasn't just that," said Hart of the lack of hustle by his teammates on that play. "It's from the first play of the game to the last play of the game. We can't take plays off. In games when you're not making shots, those things are amplified. We have to do the little things."

Those two sequences felt like a microcosm of the Lakers last 20 games, if not the entirety of the season as a whole. Fans definitely noticed, as the sold out Staples Center crowd booed loudly at the Lakers throughout the game.

The Clippers would cruise to victory from there as Harrell and Beverly waved their arms at the crowd as the final buzzer sounded.

"Like I said about us being the best team in LA," began Beverly during his postgame comments. "A lot of people didn’t believe me...That’s fine. Women lie. Men lie. Numbers don’t."

Chasing Air Jordan

James finished with 27 points and is now just 12 points behind Michael Jordan for fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

It's Their Galaxy 

LA Galaxy legends Robbie Keane and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sat courtside for the game.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Lance Stephenson (left toe sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries. Luc Mbah a Moute and Wilson Chandler missed the contest for the Clippers.

The Lakers will host the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on Wednesday night at 7:30PM PT.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Roundup: Shaq, MJ, Melo, and Snoop]]>Mon, 04 Mar 2019 16:26:44 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/223*120/Lakers+News+LeBron+tongue+out.png

The soap opera that is the 2018-2019 Los Angeles Lakers continues to slug along as we enter the stretch run of the season.

Here's the latest news, updates, and rumors surrounding the Lakers to start off your week:

Battle for LA

Following another baffling loss to one of the league's worst teams in the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers remain 4.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the 8th seed in the Western Conference, and five games behind the L.A. Clippers for the 7th seed.

Thankfully, the Lakers kick off their week with a matchup against those same Clippers at Staples Center on Monday.

The game is a must-win for the Lakers if they want to make one final push for the playoffs in the Western Conference. A win, would mean gaining a full game on their co-tenants, and a loss could seal their playoff-less fate for good.

The Lakers will be without two, and possibly three key contributors for the game, as point guard Lonzo Ball continues to remain out with an ankle injury, and Lance Stephenson will miss his third consecutive game with a sprained toe. Veteran center Tyson Chandler is questionable with neck stiffness.

All eyes will be on LeBron James during the game on Monday, as he currently sits in fifth place on the All-Time NBA scoring list, just 39 points behind No. 4 Michael Jordan.

We all know the GOAT debate in the NBA between James and Jordan continue to dominate the water cooler talks at offices across the country, but James passing Jordan in scoring could certainly be a notch in his belt for when he retires and the discussion advances.

Shaq Sounds Off 

Speaking of James, former Lakers' legend Shaquille O'Neal came to his defense in his podcast (or Shaqcast) on Monday when it came to the way James seemingly calls out his teammates both on the court and off. 

O'Neal stated: "What the hell are you supposed to do?" when it came to calling out teammates who are playing not up to par, and said that he used to do that stuff all the time in his playing days, "Why do you think Kobe and me had beef?" 

O'Neal said that initially, teammates get "mad" when you confront them about how they're playing, but eventually, they are going to play hard. Despite Shaq being on LeBron's side when it comes to his leadership tactics, not everyone agrees with him. 

Fox Sports personality Colin Cowherd sounded off on his morning television show on Monday saying that LeBron is a "lousy leader" this year

Snoop Dogg Selling Lakers Seats for $5

Shaq and Cowherd weren't the only ones to sound off about the Lakers over the weekend. Longtime Lakers' fanatic, and LA native, Snoop Dogg, offered his two-cents on an expletive-filled viral rant following the Lakers loss to the lowly Suns on Saturday.

In the NSFW video, Snoop says the Lakers should fire head coach Luke Walton, and get LeBron some help (putting it mildly). Snoop called the supporting cast around LeBron "goofballs," and said he would sell his box seats to the Lakers for the remainder of the season for the low price of $5.

"I got a booth for the next two, three years," said Snoop in the profanity-laced tirade. "This year, y'all can have it. Five dollars for the [expletive] booth to the Lakers games. Five dollars is the price. Anybody can have it, all the homies, hit me up, blow me up right now."

Carmelo Anthony Not Coming to L.A.

Since the day the Houston Rockets announced they were moving on from Carmelo Anthony, rumors of his eventual landing spot with the Lakers spread like wildfires.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers and Carmelo Anthony had been talking about a possible contract for the remainder of the season.

However, after losing seven of their last ten games, both parties have placed those talks on pause as the possibility of making the playoffs continue to fade after each game.

The Lakers were initially waiting for the NBA's March 1st deadline to see if any players would come available via buyout that could help Los Angeles make one final push. Outside of Pau Gasol (who signed with the Milwaukee Bucks), Anthony appeared to be the best player still out there.

However, now that it appears the Lakers won't be making the playoffs, those minutes that could have gone to the 34-year-old Anthony, might be better suited for some younger players on the team's G-League affiliate the South Bay Lakers.

Now it's possible should the Lakers go on a winning streak that talks could continue with Anthony, but the team's biggest flaw continues to be defense, not offense. Regardless, it does not appear that Anthony makes a lot of sense for the Lakers at this point and time, and players like Marcin Gortat or Greg Monroe, who could help protect the rim on the defensive end, might be more apropos should the Lakers make one last push for the postseason.

The Lakers will tip-off at 7:30PM PT tonight against the Clippers at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Raises $3 Million For Charity]]>Mon, 04 Mar 2019 00:52:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Kareem+Auction+for+Charity.png

The man known for his skyhook might now be known for his philanthropy.

Los Angeles Lakers' legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be walking around a lot lighter after he auctioned off four of his six NBA Championship rings on Sunday. 

Jabbar put 234 memorabilia items up for auction with the entirety of the proceeds going towards his charity, the Skyhook Foundation, whose mission is to give children in poor communities access to better educational opportunities.

According to ESPN, the auction raised nearly $3 million dollars, and all of it is going to the kids.

"When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room, or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple: Sell it all," Jabbar said when he first announced the auction.

"Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold playing celebrating something I did a long time ago, I'd rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future. That's a history that has no price."

Each of Jabbar's four championship rings sold for over $245,000 with his 1987 Championship ring selling for a whopping $398,937.50, the highest of all the items.

In addition to his championship rings, Jabbar also sold signed items like the basketball from his final regular season game, and three of his Most Valuable Player trophies.

Current Lakers' superstar LeBron James was so impressed by Abdul-Jabbar's generosity that he posted the news on Instagram with the caption: "INCREDIBLE!"



Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[LAFC Opens Season With Late Goal to Win 2-1 Over Sporting KC]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2019 21:33:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/188*120/LAFC-wins-home-opener-2019.jpg

Adama Diomande scored in stoppage time to help LAFC beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on Sunday night in the MLS opener for both teams.

Diomande, who came on in the 59th minute, cut back to evade a defender at the top-left corner of the box and blasted a rising shot into the net in the fourth minute of injury time.

Krisztian Nemeth gave Sporting KC a 1-0 lead in the 16th. He tapped it to Johnny Russell who passed it back to Nemeth for the one-touch finish from near the spot.

Eduard Atuesta, from near midfield, perfectly placed a long, arcing pass to Diego Rossi on the left side. He cut to the middle, past defender Graham Zusi, before bending a low shot past the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Tim Melia, just inside the far post, to make it 1-1 in the 47th minute.

Sporting's Roger Espinosa, who received a yellow card 31st, was shown a red in the 84th minute.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kidd and Lue Are Favorites to be Next Lakers Coach]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2019 20:05:58 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869931860+%281%29.jpg

Most people expect that Luke Walton's days as the Lakers head coach are numbered. 

At this point, the question is not whether or not Walton will be fired, but if he will survive the season or not.

Las Vegas has their thoughts on who should be the next Lakers head coach, and now you can wager on which coach will suit up on the sidelines for LeBron and the Laker Show next season.

The favorites are two former point guards, including one who not only used to play for the Lakers, but won two championships with Los Angeles in 2000 and 2001, and then again as a coach of LeBron in Cleveland in 2016.

Lue was fired by the Cavaliers earlier this season and LeBron immediately tweeted out his support for his former coach by saying: "You know how to contact me if you need me."

Lue currently has an informal role with the Los Angeles Clippers. 

The other overwhelming favorite is future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd who has had brief stints as head coach of the Nets and Milwaukee Bucks in recent years.

Behind Lue and Kidd is NBA commentator Mark Jackson, and former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel.

Other notable betting choices are former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tim Thibodeau, 11-time NBA Champion Phil Jackson, and a handful of college coaches including Coach K, Rick Pitino, Jay Wright, Bill Self, and Tom Izzo.

Here are all the odds (Courtesy of Betonline.ag) for the next Lakers head coach including current team President Magic Johnson: 

Jason Kidd +300
Tyronn Lue +350
Luke Walton +400
Mark Jackson +500
Brian Shaw +600
Frank Vogel +700
Kevin McHale +700
Tom Thibodeau +700
Juwan Howard +1000
Coach K +1600
Rick Pitino +1600
Jay Wright +1600
Bill Self +1800
Magic Johnson +3300
Phil Jackson +3300
Tim Izzo +3300



Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Kenley Jansen Takes Mound, Pitches Scoreless Inning]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2019 19:01:20 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kenAP_19044844238047.jpg

Kenley Jansen's numbers are down, but in a good way.

His fastball velocity has dipped for now, but he figures it will return. And besides, he said, "The radar gun is overrated."

The most important figure is 25 — the number of pounds the Los Angeles Dodgers closer lost in the offseason — which he says is why he feels like he's in better shape overall.

Jansen pitched his first Cactus League inning on Sunday, retiring the Texas Rangers on 12 pitches.

Jansen threw 10 strikes, getting one strikeout, and pitched around an error. His fastball topped out at 92 mph, about 3 mph slower than his usual high.

"The normal me in spring training," Jansen said. "Sometimes the radar gun can get you in trouble. I learned my lesson last year. I wasn't ready. Next thing you know, the ball didn't have life (out of my hand)."

Jansen said he's focusing more on his legs, and "not trying to muscle the ball." He credited pitching coach Rick Honeycutt for the change in philosophy.

"He's the best. He makes it so much easier for us," Jansen said.

Jansen had surgery in November to correct an irregular heartbeat that sidelined him last August before he returned late in the season. He had a similar procedure in 2012.

Now 31, he decided to shed some weight because of the heart problem and his career-high 3.01 ERA. Since joining the Dodgers in 2010, his ERA is 2.20.

"I feel great. I'm proud of myself. I want to play this game for a long time," Jansen said. "I had a great offseason, working out, losing all this weight. It paid off today."

Manager Dave Roberts said Jansen will next work in a game on Wednesday. Jansen doesn't expect this spring to be much different than his usual approach to getting ready.

"I usually try to get 8-10 innings," he said.

NOTES: Roberts said SS Corey Seager is doing well in his continued rehab from elbow and hip surgery that caused him to miss the 2018 season. "Right now, he's in as good a spot as we could have hoped," the manager said. Seager, the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year, played in an intrasquad game, getting four at-bats. He also took some ground balls and ran the bases. ... Clayton Kershaw played catch on Sunday, "ramping up the intensity," Roberts said. The manager said the Dodgers ace is back on track after cutting a workout short early last week with left shoulder discomfort. ... Walker Buehler had his first bullpen session on Sunday as the Dodgers continue to carefully monitor his workload. The right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015, threw 160 innings as a rookie last year between the regular season and his start in Game 3 of the World Series.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LAFC Starts Season by Targeting Anti-Gay Slur During Goal Kicks]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2019 18:14:39 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LAFC-Anti-Gay-slur-3-3-19.jpg

The Los Angeles Football Club announced it will have an improved and heavier security presence to combat an anti-gay slur that is sometimes shouted by soccer fans during goal kicks at stadiums throughout the world beginning with Sunday's season opener.

The improved security effort includes staff members trained and dedicated to exclusively dealing with this issue, according to Seth Burton, LAFC's vice president of communications.

Any fans identified as participating in offensive chanting or other prohibited acts will be removed from the stadium permanently. Season ticket holders will have their membership revoked, Burton said.

LAFC, its 3252 Independent Supporters Union and GLAAD are joining forces in an effort to ensure what the Major League Soccer club describes as "an inclusive, welcoming and safe experience for all fans" at the team's games at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC created a video that will be played before and during matches in an effort to ensure that everyone who attends a match will have a safe, fun experience free of homophobia, transphobia, racism or sexism.

In the video, coach Bob Bradley and several players in different languages offer a message that reads, "Our club is for everyone. Stand with us, shoulder to shoulder, to create the best atmosphere in MLS. Stop the hateful chant during goal kicks. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and discrimination will not be tolerated in our stadium. Together, let's win in the stands."

Anti-gay slurs on goal kicks began at Banc of California Stadium during the first game on Apr. 29, 2018. The following day, LAFC announced fans who shouted the slur would be ejected from the stadium and have their season tickets revoked.

"Last season, we were disappointed and upset that the chant resurfaced at our stadium,'' LAFC President and co-owner Tom Penn and Jimmy Lopez, president of the 3252, said in a joint statement released Sunday.

"We pledged at that time to take steps to eliminate the chant from our games, and we are thankful to work with GLAAD and our fans and Supporters to hold each other accountable. We believe that our more robust and educated security presence will help create an experience we can all be proud of."

The slur made "LGBTQ and ally fans" feel "less than" welcome at LAFC games, said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, which bills itself as the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer media advocacy organization.

"With this new campaign, the LAFC has raised the bar for inclusion and we hope that other teams nationwide and Major League Soccer will follow their lead by taking proactive steps to create safe and inclusive stadiums."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Dominate Knicks in 128-107 Victory]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2019 18:45:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Clippers-beat-Knicks.jpg

Landry Shamet's mind was blank. His teammates were feeding him the ball and setting screens and the rookie took full advantage in his ninth game with the Clippers.

He scored all of his 21 points on 3-pointers, Danilo Gallinari added 20 and Los Angeles routed the Knicks 128-107 on Sunday, sending New York to its 50th loss of the season.

"It was just free-flowing and the ball was going in," Shamet said. "They were telling me constantly to keep shooting."

Shamet and Gallinari combined for 27 of the Clippers' 38 points in the first quarter when they raced to a 38-20 lead.

"It's tough to play defense against shooters and two or three at the same time is tough," Gallinari said.

Shamet scored 18 of his 21 points in the opening 12 minutes. Shamet, acquired from Philadelphia last month in the Tobias Harris trade, tied the franchise record for threes in a quarter (six) and a half (seven).

His seven 3-pointers set a franchise rookie record for 3s in a single game.

"We all know our roles since the trade," Shamet said. "I feel like we all play very well together and take ownership."

Damyean Dotson scored 17 points, Noah Vonleh added 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Mitchell Robinson had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, the worst team in the Eastern Conference at 13-50. Only Phoenix, the West's worst team, has lost more games (51) this season.

"We've got a lot of young guys who are still learning the game, who are still learning how to compete," injured center DeAndre Jordan said. "We have a great coach in Fiz who's teaching them the right things and how to work in this league. It's a great culture."

The Clippers led 82-46 at halftime, the second-most points in the first half in franchise history and the most in any half since a club-record 87 on April 14, 1987, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's nice to be able to take care of your business early and spread minutes around," Shamet said. "That's valuable, especially in a back-to-back."

The Clippers tied a franchise record with 14 3-pointers in the half and their nine 3s in the first quarter set a franchise record for the most in any quarter.

"When he (Shamet) gets it going they see it and they made sure he got the ball," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

The Clippers' 38-point lead in the second quarter was their largest of the game.

"We were in mud," Knicks coach David Fizdale said. "No matter who I put out there they were just heavy-legged and just really out of it mentally. It was a total lack of competitive preparation."

With most of the Clippers' starters resting in the fourth, Montrezl Harrell scored 10 of his 18 points. Lou Williams added 18 points. Ivica Zubac had 11 rebounds and Patrick Beverley added 10 rebounds.

The Knicks outscored the Clippers 61-46 in the second half when they were in catch-up mode.

"I wanted to see what kind of spirit we'd come out with and if we could just set the goal to win the second half," Fizdale said. "We did that."

TIP-INS

Knicks: Jordan (sprained left ankle) missed his fourth straight game. He's day-to-day. Jordan is averaging 11.8 points and 12.0 rebounds in eight games with New York since being traded by Dallas on Jan. 31. Jordan, who spent 10 years with the Clippers, watched from the bench and smiled when Clipper Darrell shouted, "Hey, I paid my money and I want to see DeAndre Jordan!"

Clippers: They scored 38 points in the first quarter, just off their season high of 42 for a quarter against Boston on Feb. 9. ... They improved to 10-1 vs the Knicks dating to the start of the 2013-14 season. ... LA has won 17 of its last 19 matchups with New York at Staples Center, its best record against any opponent at home over the last 20 years.

COMING BACK

Jordan's biggest adjustment to playing in New York City?

"I had to buy a coat," he said. "Other than that, it's OK."

Even though he didn't play, Jordan said it was "awesome" being back at Staples Center for the first time against the Clippers since his initial trade to Dallas.

"I had a lot of great times here," he said. "I grew up here."

UP NEXT

Knicks: At Sacramento on Monday in the second game of a back-to-back.

Clippers: Play their Staples Center co-tenant the Lakers as the visiting team on Monday in their second back-to-back in a week.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vegas Has LeBron James, Lakers Missing Playoffs]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2019 16:28:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Lakers+Playoff+Odds.png

Things are not going well for the Lakers.

Losers of six of their last eight games, the Los Angeles Lakers dysfunction on the court is evident, and Las Vegas oddsmakers have taken notice.

Before the season began, LeBron James and the Lakers were -450 (according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) to make the NBA Playoffs. That means that you would have to bet $450 in order to win $100.

At the time, those odds were 12th best in the NBA, and fifth best in the Western Conference behind only the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Utah Jazz. 

Since the moment LeBron's agency, Klutch Sports, announced that the three-time NBA Champion, and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player was taking his talents to Los Angeles, the playoffs seemed inevitable.

In fact, it wasn't whether or not James and the Lakers would make the playoffs, but whether or not James' streak of eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances would extend to nine. James has also made the postseason in 13 straight seasons. 

However, after a rollercoaster season filled with a litany of injuries, including a groin strain to James that cost him a career-high 18 missed games, the Lakers chances of even making the playoffs have gone from a guarantee to a quandary.

At the end of February, after a home win against the New Orleans Pelicans seemed to momentarily right the ship, the Lakers odds to make the postseason were +200 (according to Bovada).

That meant, that a bet of $100 on the Lakers making the NBA playoffs would win you $200 if they indeed rallied to finish in the top eight in the Western Conference.

Now, after back-to-back losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and the lowly Phoenix Suns, the Lakers odds of making the playoffs have come tumbling down. Turns out Vegas thinks like the rest of us: if you lose to the worst team in the NBA (in a game you trailed by 19 in the fourth quarter), you don't deserve to make the postseason.

Los Angeles is currently 4.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, a standing currently held by their co-tenants the Clippers. The Lakers are currently 10th in the West, and are actually closer to 13th (just 2.5 games ahead), then they are to the Playoffs.

As of Sunday, the Lakers odds to make the postseason are +600 (according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). If you're an optimistic and hopeful Lakers fan looking to cash in, a $100 bet will win you $600 if the Lakers pull off a miracle and make the postseason.

That miracle will begin on Monday when they face the Clippers at home in a must-win matchup. A win there means gaining a full game on their quest to make the playoffs, and hopefully the momentum could carry them forward into a run for the ages.

If not, there's always next season.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Faint Playoff Hopes Eclipsed by Suns]]>Sat, 02 Mar 2019 22:32:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_19062118909704.jpg

Stick a fork in them.

Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton combined for 51 points and the Phoenix Suns scorched the Los Angeles Lakers, 118-109, on Saturday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Day-by-day, game-by-game, the Lakers season seemingly is going down in flames.

"Obviously we needed this game," LeBron James told reporters in the locker room after the loss. "We wanted to play well. At times we played well. It's just unfortunate with the opportunity we've had, we haven't been able to seize the opportunity." 

The day after Christmas, the Lakers were in fourth in the Western Conference, and just 2.5 games behind the Golden State Warriors after blowing them out at Oracle Arena.

Since that day--which coincided with LeBron James' groin injury that saw him miss a career-high 18 games--the Lakers have been in a free fall, tumbling into 10th in the West, and now in grave danger of missing the playoffs.

"We have to pick up our effort on the defensive end if we plan on making this playoff push," said Lakers' center JaVale McGee was a perfect 10-for-10 from the field. "We need to sit back and put into perspective what's at hand, Me personally, I haven't had a long summer in a while, and I don't want to have a long summer. Everyone needs to put it all out there and leave it all out there on the court."

After the loss to the Suns, the Lakers are 4.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the 8th and final playoff spot with just 19 games remaining in the season.

"We can't keep looking at the standings, the standings are going to be what they are no matter what," James said. "I've never been a guy to look that the standings. You just have to go out there and do your job and see what happens after that."

The Lakers biggest problem since the turn of the new calendar year has been defense, among the league's worst in opponent's points per game, Los Angeles struggled on the defensive end once again, allowing the Suns to score 66 points in the first half, and 119 for the game.

"Third quarter we allowed them to jump on us," said James. "They got up double digits. It wasn't there throughout 48 minutes all night. That's the frustrating part of it all."

For most of the game, the Lakers looked lost and disinterested. Their energy level was low, and their sense of urgency and defensive intensity was lacking.

"The tell tonight was our effort to chase down those rebounds, to chase down loose balls, and to be the aggressor," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton after the loss. "That's why we ended up with a loss tonight."

Less than 24 hours earlier, after one of their best performances of the season through the first 46 minutes of the game, the Lakers inconsistency continued to rear its ugly head, as the team has played up or down to the level of their competition throughout the entirety of the season.

"We get up for the great teams and play down to the level of the other teams. That's not a recipe for sucess," said a frank and candid Kyle Kuzma. "We have to figure out a way to play for one another. We're losing to teams we shouldn’t lose to. We've lost to every bad team in the league, and that's unacceptable. Obviously, there's something wrong with this team."

After an atrocious first three quarters, the Lakers trailed by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter, but responded with a 21-to-6 run to get within three points with just over a minute remaining.

"We need to be a lot better," said Walton. "I'm happy with the fight that we showed in the fourth quarter, but that's the desperation we need to start the game with."

Unfortunately for the Lakers, the game may have come down to their Achilles' heel: free throws. 

Phoenix made six straight free throws in the final seconds, and James missed two crucial gimmes when they game was still within reach.

"That's frustrating for me personally on how I'm shooting free throws," said James. "For the individual part of it, that's frustrating for me. I definitely could have played a lot better throughout the whole game."

Overall, the Suns made 34 free throws to the Lakers 15. Los Angeles shot 65 percent from the charity stripe, and missed eight free throws in total.

The Suns shot a blistering 52 percent from the field, and were led by rookie, and first overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft Deandre Ayton, who finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Booker had 25 points and five three-pointers. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 14 points and Josh Jackson chipped in 16 off the bench.

James led the Lakers with 27 points, 16 assists, and nine rebounds. Brandon Ingram continued his unconscious stretch of scoring with 25 points. Kyle Kuzma had 13 points, and JaVale McGee had one of his best games with 21 points.

"I thought JaVale was great," Walton said of McGee. "He was playing with energy. The group as a whole didn't have it. Until the fourth quarter we didn't engage ourselves."

Surpassing the Mamba

LeBron James surpassed Lakers' legend Kobe Bryant for fifth place on the NBA's all-time career field goals list during the game.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) did not play in the game. Lance Stephenson missed his second straight game with a sprained right toe.

Los Angeles will host their Staples Center co-tenants, the Clippers, on Monday night in what is certainly a "must-win" game against the team their chasing.

All quotes courtesy of Spectrum SportsNet.



Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri/AP]]>
<![CDATA[UC Irvine Wins Big West Crown, Beats UC Riverside 68-47]]>Sat, 02 Mar 2019 22:02:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UC-Irvine-file-photo.jpg

Evan Leonard scored 14 points and Collin Welp added 13 more off the bench as UC Irvine cruised to its 11th straight win Saturday night, a 68-47 victory over UC Riverside that clinched the Big West Conference regular-season crown.

The Anteaters will be the No. 1 seed into the conference tournament.

UC Irvine built a nine-point lead by intermission and limited the Highlanders to just 20 second-half points.

Jonathan Galloway grabbed 11 rebounds and Elston Jones grabbed another 10 off the bench for the Anteaters (25-5, 13-1). UC Irvine shot 26 of 55 from the field (47.3 percent), including 4 of 19 from distance.

Dragan Elkaz scored 12 points off the UC Riverside bench, with Callum McRae adding 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. The Highlanders were 18 of 45 from the field, including 6 of 17 from deep.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Galaxy Unveil Statue for David Beckham]]>Sat, 02 Mar 2019 20:06:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/David_Beckham_Statue_1200x675_1451188803765.jpg

The L.A. Galaxy unveil a statue of former professional soccer player David Beckham outside of Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA. Beckham talks about the statue and the special day for him.]]>
<![CDATA[Another Race Horse Dies at Santa Anita Days After Track Reopens]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2019 20:08:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Santa-Anita-reopen-2-28-19.jpg

Despite demonstrators calling for Santa Anita Park to be shut down in the wake of 20 horse deaths since Dec. 26, racing resumed at the venerable track Sunday, one day after the latest fatality.

The start of a nine-race card went off as scheduled at 1 p.m., a couple of hours after animal-rights advocates gathered outside the facility to protest the rash of fatalities.

Racetrack officials announced later Sunday that Thursday's scheduled slate of races were canceled due to heavy rain expected in the Southland on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Live racing will return with an 11-race card on Friday, with first post time at 12 noon," officials said, adding that Santa Anita would remain open for training every day this week.

The abnormal amount of rain that has fallen over Southern California this winter has been mentioned as a possible factor in the upsurge in horse deaths, with close to a foot of rain falling in February alone.

Eskenforadrink, a 4-year-old filly who was the even-money favorite in Saturday's third race, suffered an injury to her right front ankle during the race and had to be euthanized, racing officials said.

It was the first injury suffered by a horse at Santa Anita since the park re-opened Thursday after it was closed for two days of soil inspection last week.

"Certainly (horse) racing has risks, as racing does in virtually any sport," Rick Arthur, medical director of the California Horse Racing Board, told City News Service after confirming the thoroughbred's death Saturday.

Arthur said a necropsy will be performed on Eskenforadrink, who was bred in Kentucky but pent her racing career in California.

A necropsy is conducted for every racehorse who dies at a California track, but Arthur said it was too early to say if the track played a role in the injury.

"These are thousand-pound animals going close to 40 miles per hour," Arthur told the Los Angeles Daily News last week. "So if you don't have a consistent surface, it can be hazardous.

"We've put a lot of effort into safety and had a very, very good year last year," Arthur said.

"We've clearly taken a step back and hopefully it's a blip on the radar because of the weather. That's our expectation, but no matter what it is, we're going to make it better."

Park officials said late Wednesday that analysts conducting tests of the racing surface had declared it ready for reopening. Mick Peterson of the University of Kentucky, who evaluates the track's soil on a monthly basis, said the track was

"100 percent ready" for racing to resume.

"The ground-penetrating radar verified all of the materials, silt, clay and sand, as well as moisture content, are consistent everywhere on this track," Peterson said.

"This testing ensures all components, the 5-inch cushion, pad and base are consistent and in good order."

Peterson expressed dismay when he learned of Eskenforadrink's death Saturday, according to Bloodhorse.com.

"When I heard about (the incident Saturday), my response was, 'What the hell do we do?'" Peterson said. "This is where my data needs to go back to Rick Arthur, the CHRB needs to sit down with the track management, and we need to work on it. Even if we were having a good year, we need to look at what we need to do better."

Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, issued a statement Tuesday saying "we consider the safety and security of the athletes, both equine and human, who race at our facilities to be our top priority."

"All industry stakeholders, including our company, must be held accountable for the safety and security of the horses and we are committed to doing just that."

Mike Marten, public information officer with the CHRB, told City News Service that research does not show an increase in fatalities during rainy season.

"While inclement weather poses additional challenges for track maintenance, historical records do not show significant seasonal differences," Marten said.

During the same December-to-February period a year ago, 10 horses died at Santa Anita, in 2016-17 there were eight and in 2015-16 there were 14, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Santa Anita averaged more than 55 horse deaths per year from 2008-18, according to data from the California Horse Racing Board -- a total of 553 deaths in all.

"The number of fatalities at Santa Anita Park this year has been unusual," said Marten, who noted that the board's most recent annual report --written before the recent upsurge in Santa Anita deaths -- cited progress in reducing racehorse deaths overall in the state.

"Admittedly, even one death of a racehorse is too many, but it is a sign of progress that the industry is finding solutions to a problem that for far too long has perplexed all of us who care deeply about the safety and welfare of horses," CHRB Chairman Chuck Winner stated in the report. "Equine fatalities in California horse racing have been reduced by nearly 60 percent over the last 13 years, with much of that decrease in the last year alone."

The report cited several factors for the improvement, including long layoffs and histories to identify at-risk horses.

On Friday, People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals called on the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office to launch "an immediate investigation into the deaths of 19 Thoroughbred horses used for racing in just the first eight weeks of the Santa Anita racetrack's current season. The horses sustained broken bones while racing or training, and PETA believes that they likely had undisclosed injuries that were masked by medications given to keep lame and unfit horses competing, and that while the drugs may be legal, racing injured horses likely violates state anti-cruelty laws."

PETA called on the CHRB to investigate the trainers of all the horses who died in the last two months and review all veterinary records. 

"Twenty dead horses is 20 too many, and the only responsible action is for the track to close right away and stop this spiral of deaths," PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said in a statement released Saturday. "The California horse racing board and Santa Anita must do this now, and law enforcement must begin an immediate investigation of trainers and veterinarians to find out whether injured horses were being forced to run. Virtually every thoroughbred who races in California is given phenylbutazone, a strong anti-inflammatory drug, 24 hours before a race, and this can mask injuries. Whether there was an issue with medication or the weather-or both-it's clear that no horse should be on that track."



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Galaxy Give David Beckham a Statue]]>Sat, 02 Mar 2019 20:16:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/David+Beckham+Statue.png

"Becks" has been immortalized.

The Los Angeles Galaxy paid tribute to a global soccer icon on Saturday, when they unveiled a statue in honor of David Beckham inside the newly built Legends Plaza outside Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly StubHub Center). 

Beckham was born and raised in London's East End, where he regularly played football in the streets in Ridgeway Park. He grew up a loyal supporter of Manchester United, and eventually signed with the team as a trainee in July of 1991.

He made his first appearance with the club's first team in September 1994, and remained with the team until 2003. Beckham then joined Real Madrid for five seasons before transferring to the LA Galaxy in 2007.

"If you had turned to me when I first joined the Galaxy and said 'one day you'll have a statue in front of the stadium' I would have just laughed," said Beckham. "It's a very special day."

In his six seasons with the Galaxy (two on loan to AC Milan), Beckham helped hoist two MLS Cups.

"I'm truly grateful to the Galaxy for putting me in this status," continued Beckham. "To get something like this, I feel truly honored."

Beckham said he went from a boy with a dream to play for Manchester United, to a man with a dream to one day get a statue, and thanked the city of Los Angeles for making his dreams come true.

"When I first moved to LA, people told me: 'LA is a place where dreams come true.' Well, LA, today a dream came true," said Beckham to the crowd and fans in attendance during the ceremony, which took place just a couple hours before the Galaxy's home opener against the Chicago Fire. "I know how important getting a statue is. It really means so much to get one here, in a place I call home. I feel very special today."

Numerous former players and teammates of Beckham were on hand for the ceremony including Cobi Jones, Mike Magee, Mauricio Cienfuegos, and Robbie Keane.

"I hope I see you all here next year for my statue," joked Keane. 

Later at halftime, Beckham joined Jones, Cienfuegos, and the late Dougie Hamilton, as he was inducted into the LA Galaxy's Ring of Honor.

During both ceremonies, the Galaxy played a tribute video of Becks, featuring guest appearances by Snoop Dogg, Landon Donovan, Bruce Arena, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Beckham's children, and the great Kobe Bryant.

"When my kids came on the screen, that kind of sent me over the edge. It's an emotional day," said Beckham who was joined by his parents, and his famous wife, Victoria Beckham, a member of the band the Spice Girls. "Unfortunately, my kids couldn't be here because school is more important, but at some point the kids will be here to see what Dad's created and I'm sure they'll be very proud of that."

The statue, which was designed and created by Julie and Omri Amrany, the owners of the Fine Arts Studio of Rotblatt Amrany and Timeless Creations, Inc. They also designed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's statue in Star Plaza outside Staples Center.

The statue depicting Beckham's likeness is of the great right-winger taking a free kick, his trademark move that spawned the film "Bend it Like Beckham" in 2002. 

"I'm pretty happy with it," said Beckham after viewing the statue for the first time. "I wish I had that size legs when I was playing, to be honest, I might have had a little bit more power."

The Galaxy went on to defeat the Fire, 2-1, in the match, with Ibrahimovic scoring his first goal of the 2019 MLS season.



Photo Credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Players Talk About Loss to Bucks, Giannis]]>Sat, 02 Mar 2019 01:04:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Bucks_vs_Lakers_1200x675_1450994243829.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram talk about the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, plus a guest appearance by Giannis]]><![CDATA[LeBron, Lakers Run Out of Gas Late as Bucks Beat LA]]>Sat, 02 Mar 2019 01:05:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/AP_19061162015568.jpg

Fear the Deer.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 16 points and 15 rebounds, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 131-120, on Friday night at Staples Center.

LeBron James played 39 minutes, his sixth consecutive game with 37 or more minutes, and finished with 31 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds in the loss.

"It's win or lose. That's it," said James after the loss. "Obviously, you want to build, but it's win or lose in that particular moment. I'm a guy who lives in the present."

Despite the lopsided final score, the Lakers appeared to be in the driver's seat for most of the game. Los Angeles led at the half, and built a 12-point lead midway through the third quarter.

"I thought against one of the best teams in the league, we really played well," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "And then for some reason we kind of fell apart at the end there."

The Lakers were riding high off the momentum of their victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, and came out with the intensity, urgency, and energy needed to keep pace with the NBA's best team.

Brandon Ingram started the game 8-for-8, and finished with 31 points and eight rebounds, he also had one memorable highlight worthy dunk over an old friend.

Ingram posterized his former teammate, Brook Lopez, when he drove the lane for a one-handed slam in the third quarter.

"I would have rather got the win," Ingram said about his dunk over Lopez after the game. "I'm just continuing to be aggressive. It's been fun for me to get out on the floor and just be aggressive and go at my defener all the time, rebound the basketball and enjoy playing with my teammates."

Two days after playing just 24 minutes in Sacramento, Giannis was on the court for 32 minutes on Friday, and helped lead a 12-0 run at the end of the third quarter to erase the Lakers large lead.

"I think we have patience," said Giannis of the comeback. "Offensively, we were trying to find the best man available and that was Eric [Bledsoe] down the stretch. Defensively, we were just covering one another...that's why we were able to make a run."

Los Angeles fought hard in the fourth quarter, as the back-and-forth battle that featured 20 different lead changes came down to the wire. 

The Lakers trailed by three with 1:54 left, but turned the ball over on the inbounds pass and Malacom Brogdon sank a three to put Milwaukee up six. Seconds later, after another turnover, Eric Bledsoe sank a three-pointer to put the Bucks up nine, all but sealing the Lakers fate. Milwaukee closed the game on a 15-2 run over the final two minutes.

"We just had a couple turnovers. That inbounds really hurt us. Brogdon hit a big three," said Lakers' forward Kyle Kuzma who had 12 points. "Then Bledsoe hit that three, and that mentally depleted us."

Bledsoe finished with a team-high 31 points and nine rebounds. Brogdon had 21, Khris Middleton chipped in 18, and Lopez had 11. Seven different players scored in double figures for Milwaukee.

"It was another great fourth quarter and we're continuing to grind and find a way to win a game on the road when I don't think we were at our best," said Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer. "I think the Lakers had something to do with us not being at our best, but obviously an impressive finish by Eric Bledsoe individually."

After starting the game 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, Rajon Rondo hit four three-pointers, and finished with 20 points. 

"Offensively, it's not the problem," said Rondo. "It's continous defensive woes that we're having. Give them credit. They made shots. They're a very deep team, but at the same time, when it counted most, we didn't get stops."

The Lakers are among the league's worst in defense over the last 15 games. They allow over 122 points per game (30th) and over 20 fast break points to their opponents. The Bucks had 20 on Friday.

The Bucks bench outscored the Lakers 34-21. Los Angeles was improved from the free throw line, shooting 83 percent.

For the second straight game a fan hit a half-court shot, but the Lakers were unable to secure the win after the big basket that takes place between the third and fourth quarters.

On Wednesday, a fan sank the shot and took home a check for a cool $100,000. On Friday, the jackpot was only $25,000, but still a hefty prize for the attendee. The Lakers fell to 8-2 in games a fan sinks the half-court shot promotion.

Milwaukee has won four consecutive games against the Lakers, and seven games overall. They clinched a playoff spot with the victory.

"I didn't know we made the playoffs, that's amazing," said Giannis when he was told. "It's still 20 games left and we have momentum going. Guys keep taking it step by step, game by game, getting better and trust one another. We just need to keep winning games."

Both teams were playing the front end of a back-to-back, and will meet again in a rematch in on March 19 in Milwaukee.

Play of the Game:

Brandon Ingram, who was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field for 16 points in the first half, put Bucks' forward Nikola Mirotic through the spin cycle and drove baseline for the reverse one-handed slam.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) did not play in the game. Lance Stephenson sat out with a sprained right toe.

Los Angeles will travel to the Valley of the Sun for the second night of a back-to-back in Phoenix on Saturday.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[Vegas Likes Machado ... But Loves Harper]]>Thu, 28 Feb 2019 19:06:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/Machado+Hat+Padres.JPG

Manny Machado makes the Padres a better ball club. The question is, how much better?

Las Vegas sports books keep tabs on how many games they think each Major League team will win every year. So what did the Machado signing do for the Padres 2019 win total in Sin City?

“Right now it’s around 78.5 at most books,” said Dylan Elder, Founder and C.E.O of Monster Roster, an online betting site that uses an algorithm to determine sports outcomes. “You can get it at 78 at a book or two but that’s only a two win jump from where it was pre-signing.”

The previous number of 76 might have been made with an inkling that San Diego would become Mannyworld and that anticipation contributed to the smaller increase. Still, since Vegas usually moves numbers based on where it thinks the money will go (Read: fans going crazy) so staying at 78.5 wins is a shade surprising.

“A two win jump is somewhat surprising to me given that Machado’s been a four-to-six WAR (Wins Above Replacement) player his career,” said Elder.

The Padres, traditionally not on the national radar, have seen a substantial amount of money move on them since signing Machado.

“Absolutely. The Padres are now an interesting team,” said Elder. “Baseball has been such a regionalized sport the last 10-15 years I think the Machado signing has put the padres on the map and made casual baseball fans more likely to bet the over on the Padres because of this signing.”

For comparison the Phillies signing Bryce Harper increased their expected win total by four. That’s because Philadelphia is closer to contending right now than the Padres are and because right now Phillies fans are losing their collective minds.

As it stands now 78 wins is probably a good goal for a Padres team that only won 66 a year ago. In 2020, though? It’ll be a pennant race or bust for the Friars.

]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Vs. Giannis: Lakers Host NBA's Best Friday Night]]>Fri, 01 Mar 2019 14:44:59 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lebron-lakers-3-1-19-5.jpg

LeBron James was dancing, smiling, gesturing, high kicking and doing celebratory mid-air butt bumps Friday morning, as the Los Angeles Lakers went through their ritualistic pregame shootaround at the team's training facility in El Segundo.

After battling for a badly needed victory on Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, James and the Lakers face opposition that has been routinely crushing spirits and turning smiles upside down all season long.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the front runner for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award, along with Houston's James Harden, and the Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the NBA through 61 games of an 82-game season.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are the 10th best team in the Western Conference through 61 games, and with only 21 games remaining, the purple and gold cannot afford any more home defeats, even against the best team -- and player -- in the league.

As a point forward, Antetokounmpo has obviously drawn comparisons to James.

"If you just look at every single year, how he's been able to evolve as a player -- obviously, his physique has evolved; his mental approach has evolved and the franchise has evolved," a shirtless James said about the Bucks' star Friday morning in El Segundo.

James added, "Greatly appreciate to see someone that gives their all to the game, and I think when you do that, the games automatically gives back to you."

Antetokounmpo, 24, is a decade younger than James, 34, but the "Greek freak" is a special player pegged to one day take over the mantle of the best player on the planet. James, of course, has held onto that crown in recent years and appears to be in no rush to relinquish that title.

"He's one of those guys where it's a five-man job," Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Antetokounmpo Friday morning. "He's too good to guard by yourself."

Defense has continued to be a cause for concern for the Lakers as they desperately make their playoff push. Since James returned from a major groin injury, the Lakers' defensive rating ranks 24th out of 30 teams.

The Bucks, meanwhile, have the best defensive rating in the NBA.

Another major issue for the Lakers has been turnovers and, in particular, opponents scoring points off the LA's mistakes. Over the past 10 games, which is when James returned from his injury, the Lakers have been giving up 19.1 points to opponents off turnovers, which ranks 25th in the league.

Essentially, teams are getting easy buckets off LA's errors, and the Lakers simply cannot afford to shoot themselves in the foot considering they are already trailing in the race for the playoffs.

While Friday's game is vital to the Lakers staying in the race for the playoffs, the Lakers' best chance to qualify for the postseason would require the team to gain momentum. A win against the Buck surely wouldn't hurt morale in El Segundo.

After the Bucks on Friday night, the Lakers face the Suns in Phoenix in a game LA should win Saturday night, before returning home to face tough tests against the LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics.

A five-game road trip follows the game against Boston, so winning at home, regardless of the opposition, is of the utmost importance for a Lakers' team that is three games out of the playoffs in the west.

A win Friday night against Milwaukee may ultimately still not be enough to get the Lakers back into the postseason, but a win against the best team in the NBA would almost certainly help the team gain momentum and confidence ahead of a crucial stretch of the season.

Also, Antetokounmpo facing James head-to-head alone is worth the price of admission, as one can't help but feel like a torch is in the process of being passed.

Notes: Walton said he's start with the same starters as last game, which featured a return of Rajon Rondo to the starting lineup. Lance Stephenson was limited in his movement, but Walton said he would rely on his medical staff to make the decision on Stephenson's involvement Friday night. Lonzo Ball, who was expected scheduled to be evaluated on Thursday and to return soon, will be reevaluated for an ankle injury and bone bruise in a week's time, the team said on Thursday.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed/NBCLA]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Lonzo Ball Out Another Week With Ankle Injury]]>Fri, 01 Mar 2019 14:04:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Lonzo+Ball+Lakers.png

Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball needs at least one more week to recover from his bone bruise and sprained ankle.

The Lakers' medical staff evaluated the point guard Thursday.

Ball has missed 14 consecutive games since Jan. 19, when he sprained his left ankle in a collision with Houston's James Harden. The Lakers projected Ball would miss four to six weeks, and he will pass six weeks this weekend.

The Lakers plan to re-evaluate Ball in one week, the team says. They are 5-9 in his absence.

Ball is averaging 9.9 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds while playing strong defense in his second NBA season.

Rajon Rondo returned to the Lakers' starting lineup Wednesday in their 125-119 victory over New Orleans.

Lakers' head coach Luke Walton announced at a morning shootaround on Friday, that Rondo would start later that night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on January 07, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agre]]>
<![CDATA[Hands' 3-Pointer Propels UCLA Past USC 93-88 in Overtime]]>Thu, 28 Feb 2019 23:52:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ucla-AP_19060167256492.jpg

Clinging to a one-point lead in overtime, Kris Wilkes was about to put up a shot for UCLA. Southern California's defense collapsed on him and he spotted Jaylen Hands.

Wilkes sent a touch pass to Hands, who hit a deep 3-pointer that beat the shot clock with 22 seconds remaining and helped UCLA defeat USC 93-88 on Thursday night for its third straight win.

"That was a great shot," Wilkes said. Hands said, "There was two people on him so it was a really good pass."

Hands had 21 points and 10 assists to lead the Bruins (16-13, 9-7 Pac-12), who gained a split in the crosstown rivalry after losing 80-67 last month. They moved into fourth place in the league standings.

"We've had some up and down patches during the last 16 games but we've kind of got things a little more figured out now," interim Bruins coach Murry Bartow said.

Wilkes and Jules Bernard added 16 points each, Chris Smith had 13 points, and Moses Brown had 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Bruins in their last regular-season home game. Wilkes didn't practice the previous two days because he was ill and nearly didn't play. Bennie Boatwright had 25 points and a career-high 15 rebounds playing a game-high 40 minutes for the Trojans (15-14, 8-8).

"We was talking about how we were in shape before the game, but man, that was intense," he said.

Jonah Mathews added 17 points. USC tied its season high with 19 3-pointers on 50 attempts and had a season-best 28 assists.

"On paper, you're supposed to win those games," Mathews said, "but yeah, that's basketball."

The Bruins outscored the Trojans 11-6 in overtime when UCLA never trailed.

USC closed to 89-88 on Boatwright's seventh 3-pointer of the game, but the Trojans never scored again. Hands' 3-pointer went in from the top of the key and Bernard hit 1 of 2 free throws to finish it off.

"That spot right there has been pretty darn good to him the last three games," Bartow said of Hands. Hands scored all of his 27 points in the second to lead UCLA over Oregon 90-83 last weekend after the Bruins trailed by 19 points in the second half. He had seven 3-pointers in the half.

"Our team has been playing really good lately," Hands said. "We haven't had any letdowns in spirit or belief in ourselves."

Neither team led by more than four points over the final 7:05 of regulation. The game was tied three times in the last six minutes, including 82-all on Smith's jumper with 1 minute to go.

Boatwright and Hands each missed 3-pointers. Elijah Weaver grabbed the rebound of Hands' miss and called timeout with 18 seconds to go. Boatwright missed a potential game-winning 3 at the buzzer to force overtime, with Bernard grabbing the defensive rebound. "Unfortunately this year the ball hasn't bounced our way at the end in quite a few of those games," USC coach Andy Enfield said. "If those balls go in, we have a different record."

In the extra session, Bernard hit a jumper and David Singleton made the Bruins' 10th 3-pointer of the game for an 87-82 lead. Boatwright and Shaqquan Aaron each missed 3-pointers before Weaver hit one to get the Trojans to 87-85. Tied 51-all, the Bruins outscored USC 11-2 to take a 62-53 lead, their largest of the game.

But USC clawed back, making seven 3-pointers over the final 10 ½ minutes, including four by Boatwright. He came into the game having hit 19 3-pointers in his three previous games. Nick Rakocevic was held to six points — well below his 15.1 average — while in foul trouble and had nine rebounds for USC. He fell on the baseline and grabbed his right knee early in the second half, but returned to play without pain, Enfield said.

Boatwright's 3-pointer put USC ahead by four, but the Trojans missed all seven of their field-goal attempts to end the first half. Bernard's 3-pointer gave UCLA a 41-38 lead at the break.

BIG PICTURE

USC: The Trojans are in a funk with two road games left in the regular season. They want to finish among the top four in the Pac-12 to earn an opening-round bye in the league tournament, which represents their only chance to make the NCAA Tournament.

UCLA: The young Bruins are maturing at the right time, having won four of five going into their last road trip of the regular season. They also are angling to avoid playing an opening-round game in the league tourney next month in Las Vegas.

PORTER JR. HURT

USC's Kevin Porter Jr. sustained a right ankle sprain and is day-to-day. The freshman scored 10 points.

DEFENSE NEEDED

As solid as Hands is offensively, his defense needs work. He didn't start in overtime because Bartow wanted to stick with the five players who got a key stop on Boatwright's 3-point attempt. "He's catching the eyes of the NBA because he's got speed, he can pass, he can distribute," Bartow said of Hands. "Defensively, we need him to be better and he knows that. That's where he's got to grow a little bit more." Hands said, "I have to get better on that end."

HE SAID IT

"I'm proud to be their coach right now. It may not last much longer." — Bartow.

UP NEXT

USC: Visits Utah on March 7 and Colorado the next day to close the regular season.

UCLA: Visits Colorado on March 7 in its next-to-last regular season game.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bobby Knoop Retires From Angels After 53 Years in Baseball]]>Thu, 28 Feb 2019 13:34:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/angels-ap-image-knoop.jpg

Longtime Angels player and coach Bobby Knoop has announced his retirement after 53 years in baseball.

Los Angeles shared the news in a release Tuesday.

The 80-year-old Knoop was one of the Angels' first recognizable figures, earning the club's MVP award four times in its inaugural decade. The second baseman played for the Angels from 1964-69, making an All-Star team and winning three Gold Glove Awards as part of a double-play duo with Jim Fregosi.

Knoop later worked for Los Angeles as a minor league manager, big league base coach and an interim manager for two games in 1994.

He has been an infield instructor with the Angels since 2013. He also played for the White Sox and Royals, worked as a major league coach for the White Sox and Blue Jays and was briefly a scout with the Rockies. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File/George Brich]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma Talk Win Over Pelicans]]>Thu, 28 Feb 2019 01:11:21 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Pelicans_vs._Lakers_1200x675_1449687619633.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma discuss their victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, and a series of four consecutive dunks that changed the momentum in the fourth quarter.]]><![CDATA[Lakers Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With Win Over Pelicans]]>Thu, 28 Feb 2019 01:12:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/LeBron+James+Pelicans.png

The Lakers have a pulse.

LeBron James scored 33 points and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans, 125-119, on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

Defense was neither team's strong suit as the two teams matched up for the second time in five days.

"We knew playing New Orleans that we owed them a little revenge after they killed us there," said Lakers' forward Kyle Kuzma.

The game also marked the first time James and Pelicans' All-Star Anthony Davis took the floor opposite each other since "The Brow," requested a trade at the beginning of February. Despite not being moved at the deadline, most NBA experts still believe Davis will be dealt in the offseason either to the Lakers or the Celtics.

Before the game, Davis received a boisterous ovation from Lakers fans during player introductions. 

Despite the ovation from the fans pregame, Davis did not see the court in the fourth quarter, due to a team-mandated minutes restriction, and scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds in just 20 minutes of action.

"It's tough not being out on the floor," said Davis. "Especially in crunch time situations. We battled and hit some tough shots near the end."

Former Laker Julius Randle continued to give his old team fits as he led New Orleans with 35 points. In three games against the Lakers this season, Randle has 80 points.

"I just tried to be aggressive from the start," said Randle. "Regardless, I missed some easy shots early I wish I didn't miss. Just be aggressive and get it going."

The Lakers led by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter, but the pesky Pelicans refused to go away, chipping away at the lead and keeping it close every time L.A. went on a run.

"We just found a way to hang around," said Pelicans' head coach Alvin Gentry. "We had our opportunities, but we couldn't make open shots. LeBron did what LeBron does."

The highlight of the game came midway through the third quarter when the Lakers slammed home four consecutive dunks to ignite the raucous crowd. Kyle Kuzma started the dunk barrage with back-to-back slams before a timeout from the Pelicans.

After the timeout, James received a pass from Rajon Rondo streaking down the lane for a one-handed slam, and the Lakers stole the inbounds pass, finding Kuzma streaking into the paint for another one-handed jam that sent Staples Center into a sea of jubilation.

"Do [Rondo] hit me streaking, with Do's quarterback skills and my wide receiver skills, I was able to get one down the miller," said James of his dunk in the sequence. "Those four dunks were more than eight points. It just shifted the momentum of the game and shifted our intensity. That sequence was pretty good."

However, Darius Miller drained a three-pointer with 1:38 remaining to put the Pelicans within one, 118-117, but after a layup for Brandon Ingram, James drained a one-footed, fadeaway three-pointer from the corner to ground the plucky Pelicans once and for all.

Ingram finished with 23 points, Kuzma had 22 points, Reggie Bullock added 14 and Rondo had 11 with 16 assists, as all five Lakers starters scored in double figures.

"I played a lot of minutes," joked Rondo who started the game for the first time since Feb. 7 against Boston. "When we take pride in defense and get stops, we are able to get out in transition and create mismatches in transition and get open looks."

Jrue Holiday had 19 points and 10 assists for New Orleans, and Frank Jackson chipped in 15 points off the bench.

"Frank's situation is going to be similar to most young guys. He's going to have good games and bad games," said Gentry of Jackson. "I think for us, we have to continue to put him out there...he's getting better in those areas."

The Lakers kept their playoff hopes alive with the victory, but still remain three games behind the Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot. New Orleans continues to fade in the loaded Western Conference and now find themselves in 13th place, seven games out of a playoff spot.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) did not play in the game. Lance Stephenson limped to the locker room early in the fourth quarter and did not return. He was diagnosed with a sprained toe on his left foot and X-rays were negative.

Los Angeles will host the Eastern Conference leading Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tied in Pac-12, USC and UCLA Meet With Tournament Implications]]>Wed, 27 Feb 2019 18:19:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-913952204.jpg

Jaylen Hands wouldn't change a thing in this rockiest of seasons for UCLA. Not even losses to Belmont and Liberty that contributed to the firing of coach Steve Alford.

After many starts and stops, the Bruins appear to be on the upswing behind the sophomore guard's leadership, along with sophomore Kris Wilkes and freshman Jules Bernard.

"We couldn't get to where we are right now without the downs and ups we had," Hands said. "Hopefully, we keep turning up."

Their next test comes against Southern California on Thursday.

The crosstown rivals are tied for fifth in the Pac-12 standings with identical 8-7 records. Their overall records are the same at 15-13 with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Neither team's resume is impressive enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament, leaving the conference tournament as their only route. The top four seeds receive opening-round byes for next month's Pac-12 tourney in Las Vegas, giving the Trojans and Bruins plenty of incentive beyond bragging rights for the game at Pauley Pavilion.

"It's a big game for us because of the Pac-12 standings, trying to get that bye," Hands said.

Even a fifth-place finish for either team would mean they would face last-place California in the opening round. The Golden Bears are 0-15.

Last month, the Trojans beat the Bruins 80-67 at Galen Center in a loss that came nearly three weeks after Alford's firing that left the young team foundering.

"It's getting later in the year where I think they're starting to figure it out a little bit more," interim UCLA coach Murry Bartow said.

UCLA comes in having won two in a row and three of four.

Hands was hot for UCLA in its 19-point comeback win over Oregon last weekend. He scored all of his 27 points in the second half, including 13 in his team's 17-0 run that resulted in a 90-83 victory. The Bruins scored a season-high 62 points in the final 20 minutes.

"The best part was the crowd," Hands said. "Kris raised his hands up and everyone started yelling, Jules started clapping, Jalen Hill started clapping. That was the most memorable part."

When he returned to practice this week, Hands said, "I still noticed I was shooting great."

USC has an explosive offensive player in Bennie Boatwright, who has made 19 3-pointers in his last three games. He made 10, tying a Pac-12 record, in a win at California on Feb. 16.

Nick Rakocevic leads the league with 13 double-doubles this season and is the league's third-leading rebounder.

"Boatwright is just going off right now. Rakocevic has hurt us," Bartow said. "They've certainly got our respect."

The Trojans are 2-4 in their last six, and struggling with leadership issues that previously dogged UCLA.

The Bruins have ridden a roller coaster this season, digging double-digit holes for themselves in multiple games. Besides their 19-point deficit against Oregon last weekend, they trailed the Ducks by 17 last month and won on the road. They were down by 22 points against Utah and lost on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at home two weeks ago.

UCLA trailed USC by 26 points in the second half on Jan. 19 before losing. Now the Bruins get a rematch on their court.

"It's going to be a lot more comfortable," said Bernard, who had a career-high 20 points against Oregon. "We were away last time. Our crowd does a lot for us. Thursday is going to be a lot of people. If we have that same energy, not only on the bench and the players, but also in the crowd, I think they could push us forward."

UCLA guard Prince Ali has missed two straight games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He remains day-to-day.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>