<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports - [LA FEATURE] SoCal Sports 4 You]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sportsen-usFri, 24 Nov 2017 21:53:31 -0800Fri, 24 Nov 2017 21:53:31 -0800NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Chargers' Mike Williams Avoids Season Ending Injury]]>Fri, 24 Nov 2017 17:11:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chargers-mike-wms.jpg

On a warm Thanksgiving afternoon the Los Angeles Chargers captured their second straight dominating victory over  the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Rookie wide receiver Mike Williams left the game early in the first half with a right knee injury. At the conclusion of the game, Williams was seen in the locker room on crutches with a knee brace on his right leg.

On Friday, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said the team received "very encouraging news" that Williams did not sustain an ACL injury.

"We have ruled out an ACL injury, so that's good news for Mike," Lynn told reporters. "He's meeting with doctors and trainers. We'll see where it goes from here ... but the ACL has been ruled out. I think we can deal with the rest."

Williams leading up to the game against Dallas, recorded nine receptions for 84 yards. Williams showed real signs of progress after missing the entire offseason, and five regular season games due to a severe back injury.

More updates to come on Mike Williams when they are made available.

The Chargers return to action on Sunday Dec. 3 against the Cleveland Browns at Stub Hub Center.

Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP]]>
<![CDATA[This Thanksgiving, Chargers Thankful for Win Against Cowboys]]>Fri, 24 Nov 2017 03:05:37 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/GettyImages-878078738.jpg

Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry individually had outstanding games, leading the Los Angeles Chargers to a 28-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday afternoon.

Allen finished with 11 receptions for 172 yards and one touchdown on the day.

"We had a great play call. I had a corner route," Allen explained about 42-yard touchdown catch and run. "The two men, they're playing inside and I'm outside. Obviously, that's a good play. Philip [Rivers] threw a great ball. After that, gotta make them miss and get into the end zone. I just know the safety was coming. Once I felt the safety, I broke out I had to get up field really fast. It was a matter of making those guys miss."

Desmond King intercepted a pass intended for Cole Beasley, and ran it back for 90 yard touchdown that sealed the deal in front of 93,015 fans at AT&T Stadium.

The Chargers (5-6) came off an impressive 54-24 win over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday at Stub Hub Center. On a short week, the Chargers traveled to AT&T Stadium and faced the Cowboys (5-6), a team that has struggled offensively without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott. Alfred Morris is the Cowboys' primary running back, and averaged 6.2 yards per carry on the year. Morris had 17 carries a week ago for 91 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles.

At one point in the season the Chargers had the second-worst run defense in the league. That stat was before the return of Denzel Perryman, who debuted in Jacksonville against the Jaguars with 8 tackles.

After a solid opening debut for the Chargers defense, quarterback Philip Rivers kept the opening drive alive with a 46-yard pass to Travis Benjamin for a crucial 1st down. Unable to continue the drive in the end zone, Chargers kicker Nick Novak missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.

Later in the opening quarter, Rivers found Keenan Allen for two bail-out catches, along with Hunter Henry's dynamic catch that kept the drive alive. With Novak out for two series due to a back injury, Los Angeles was unable to convert in the red zone on fourth down.

Outstanding defense by the Bolts allowed the offense to have one more chance before halftime to put points on the board. Rivers, in a series of passes to Allen and Henry, allowed them into the red zone for the third time, which proved to be the charm. The Bolts settled for a 22-yard field goal by Novak for the 3-0 lead late in the second quarter.

The first half was filled with penalties from both the Cowboys and Chargers and a highly contested defensive battle between both teams. Prescott was sacked twice and never got the Cowboys past midfield.

It was the first time the Cowboys have been shut out in the first half in five seasons.

Rivers found Austin Ekeler for a 38-yard catch that set off the drive. Two plays later Rivers found Allen on a skinny post route for the hard-fought first down. Eventually Rivers found Henry in the back of the end zone for the 3-yard touchdown pass and the 9-0 lead midway through the third quarter.

It was Henry's first touchdown since Oct. 8, as Los Angeles is 4-1 this season when Henry gets at least five targets, and 0-5 when he doesn't.

Dak Prescott ran for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a holding penalty by left tackle Tyron Smith. The Bolts defense buckled down and forced Dallas to punt on that drive.

Late in the third quarter, Rivers with great field vision found a sprinting Tyrell Williams for a 27 yard touchdown.

The Cowboys offense looked putrid for three quarters, as the Chargers defense continued to break their spirits. The only bright spot for the Cowboys was a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle by Rod Smith. However, they failed to score on the two-point conversion where Dallas still trailed 16-6 early in the final quarter.

The Cowboys (0-2) are one of three teams (excluding the Chargers) never to beat Philip Rivers, along with the 49ers & Giants (each 0-3).

Philip Rivers completed 27 of 33 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Hunter Henry finished with five receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Hunter Henry finished with five receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.

"We want Hunter involved every week like that," Rivers said. "It just didn't happen on a consistent basis. He was big today, especially early. Everybody contributed. It was a team effort. It's exciting."

Dak Prescott completed 20 of 27 passes for 179 yards and two interceptions in the loss. Morris finished with 9 carries for 36 yards.

The Chargers return home to face the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 3 at Stub Hub Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Roggin's Heroes Thanksgiving 2017]]>Thu, 23 Nov 2017 20:48:36 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/roggins+heros+2017+photo.JPG

They’re the best of the best. Roggin’s Heroes Thanksgiving is back to count the many blessings of Southern California’s top high school football stars.

For the first time, one of our alumni has reached the NFL, making it even more realistic that a future pro could be sitting at this year’s table.

One of our top recruits is San Clemente’s Jack Shippy. He’s a model athlete and a model student. And he just happens to be … a model. 

It’s an unusual occupation for a high schooler. It’s even more unusual when you hear how he landed the job.

Some of these players are former teammates. Some are enemies on the field, even bringing their trash talk to the table.

One has been an actor in commercials, another’s dad is a former star for the LA Rams.

Our group forms a unique football family, gathering for a festive feast at the Four Seasons Westlake Village.

They come from diverse backgrounds but they’re all in search of stardom.

That’s something Olaijah Griffin has dealt with his whole life since his dad, Warren G, is a multiplatinum rapper. Olaijah has certainly emerged from his father’s shadow, growing into one of the top prep prospects in the country.

Admittedly, these young men have plenty to learn. Parents have helped prepare them for the next level where coaches will continue to guide their steps.

But it always helps to have mentors along the way. And tonight, we’ve brought a friend to dinner to share some words of wisdom they’ll remember for a lifetime.

He’s one of the newest inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Chargers legend LaDainian Tomlinson shared his knowledge in hopes of helping these high school stars succeed in college and beyond.

They have plenty to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. And you’ll be grateful after settling in for this second helping of Roggin’s Heroes Thanksgiving.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers vs. Cowboys Thanksgiving Preview]]>Thu, 23 Nov 2017 13:35:10 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-876415546.jpg

If the Chargers want to take the next step towards making the NFL Playoffs, it all starts on Thanksgiving Day in the "House That Jerry Built." 

The Chargers (4-6) will face the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) in a pivotal game that could catapult the victor to the postseason, and the loser, looking forward to the NFL Draft.

"We are still in the hunt," said Chargers' quarterback Phillip Rivers after his team started the season 0-4. "We're still right there in the division and the wild card which is a good thing."

L.A. is riding high after an impressive 54-24 blowout win over the hapless Buffalo Bills last Sunday at StubHub Center. However, after just three days of rest and preparation, they traveled across the country to face the reeling Cowboys.

Dallas is coming off a 37-9 blowout loss to their NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles and is still coming to grips with the six-game suspension to star running back Ezekiel Elliot.

In his place, Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have stepped up, combining for 102 yards on 25 carries in the loss to the Eagles. 

On Thursday, the Cowboys will have to skip the mashed potatoes and try and carve through the Chargers defense, which is one of the best in the NFL. 

Led by linebackers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the Chargers defense will put tremendous pressure on Cowboys' quarterback Dak Prescott throughout the day. The bookend linebackers have a combined 19 sacks on the season.

"They have a good quarterback," Chargers' cornerback Casey Hayward said about Prescott. "But we will go in there and play our game [on Thursday]." 

The Chargers and Cowboys will kickoff at 1:30 PM PST from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The game will air live on CBS in front of a national Thanksgiving audience. They game can be live streamed here and on FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Dak Prescott, Phillip Rivers, Dez Bryant, Melvin Gordon, Alfred Morris, Keenan Allen, Nick Novak, Chargers Defense.

Sit: Terrance Williams, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, Antonio Gates, Jason Whitten, Dan Bailey, Cowboys Defense. 

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Chargers: -1 (-115)
Cowboys: +1 (-105)
O/U: 47.5 

Prediction: 28-20 Chargers

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more.

Give it a listen below:

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Sink in Sacramento 113-102]]>Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:25:19 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Kings-Julius-Randle.jpg

On Thanksgiving Eve, the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Sacramento Kings, as Willie Cauley-Stein and Zach Randolph dominated the paint and handed the Lakers their 11th loss of the season, 113-102.

Cauley-Stein took advantage of the Lakers' smaller lineups to the tune of 26 points, which was a new season high for the Kings' backup center. Randolph, meanwhile, did most of his damage in the first half and eventually finished the night with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

On the second night of a back-to-back and on the road, the Lakers let this game get away from them early when they came out cold in the first quarter and allowed their poor shooting affect their defense.

Sacramento finished the first quarter on a 13-3 run and led by 12 points after 12 minutes. From that point forward, the Lakers got stuck chasing the Kings for the remainder of the night and never got close enough to threaten the home team.

Entering the night, all eyes were on De'Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball, as the two rookies had history in the NCAA Tournament. Ball finished the night with 11 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, to go along with four turnovers and one steal. Fox, meanwhile, finished with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and five turnovers.

Head-to-head, Ball seemingly won the matchup of lottery picks, but of course, Fox's team collected the win on the night.

Notes: Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma finished with 17 points, while Kings rookie Frank Mason III tabbed 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds off the bench.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Pull Off 19-Point Comeback, Beat Bulls]]>Wed, 22 Nov 2017 03:10:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Bulls.jpg

It was the worst of halves, and then, it was the best of halves.

On Tuesday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers erased a 19-point deficit and overcame one of the ugliest halves of basketball in recent memory. The Chicago Bulls enjoyed a 56-42 lead at the intermission after the Lakers had committed 13 turnovers in the first two quarters and trailed by 18 points a their lowest point of the first 24 minutes.

LA would commit only one turnover over the final 24 minutes and outscore the Chicago Bulls 61-38 to win by a final count of 103-94.

Everyone in attendance won tacos at the end of the night, and that ugly, putrid first half faded into memory for the smiling Staples Center crowd as it exited to "I Love LA" and streamers falling from the rafters.

From the Lakers' standpoint, the less said about the first half, the better.

"I thought we were pretty bad in that first half," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.

Walton added, "I was shocked we were only down 14 points at the half, to be honest. I said, 'We are lucky to be down 14 right now the way we played and the good news is we have plenty of time to come back.'"

The Lakers turned the game around in the third quarter but only after the team came out of the locker room flat, dug the ditch deeper to 19 points and Walton called a timeout only 96 seconds into the second half.

Following the timeout, the Lakers went on to a 30-14 run and entered the fourth quarter miraculously only trailing by three points. The atmosphere inside the arena had changed, the ball game had changed, and the momentum appeared to be entirely on the Lakers' side.

Julius Randle, in particular, had energized the crowd and brought electricity to the court, as the backup forward scored his first eight points of the game in the third quarter. Randle would finish with 10 points and 10 rebounds to claim a double-double on the night, but the bulk of the 22-year-old's contribution arrived in the second half and in that vital momentum-shifting third quarter. In the second half, Randle's net rating was plus-22 points.

In the fourth quarter, the Bulls initially jumped out to a five-point lead, but the Lakers came back to level the game at 80-80 on a Josh Hart layup set up by Randle. Hart, who is a rookie, also played valuable minutes in the third and fourth quarters and earned due praise from his teammates and coach after the game.

The Bulls, however, went on to score the next seven points, as Walton struggled to make substitutions with only one timeout in the coach's pocket. After Walton made his changes on a dead ball foul, the Lakers immediately went on a 9-2 run and tied the game at 89-89.

From that point forward, the Lakers never looked back.

They went on to win the fourth quarter by a final count of 31-19, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 11 points in the final period to lead the team down the stretch. At one point, Caldwell-Pope scored eight straight points for the Lakers. The Lakers' shooting guard finished with 21 points on the night.

Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball struggled to find his shot in the first half but hit two of his four three-point attempts in the second half. The Lakers' point guard finished with eight points, four assists and 13 rebounds in the victory and was one of the players substituted in when the Lakers made their final push to level the game and ride away to victory.

Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma scored 22 points on the night to lead all scorers, but Kuzma scored 18 of those 22 points in the first half and deserved credit for keeping the Lakers close enought to even attempt a second half comeback. Lukily for the the Flint, Michigan native, his teammates came to life in the second half.

For the Bulls, Denzel Valentine scored 17 points to lead six Bulls scoring in double figures, but Chicago struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm following the halftime break. The Bulls shot 28.9 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from three-point land in the second half after shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 50 percent form beyond the arc in the first half.

For both teams, Tuesday night at Staples Center truly was a tale of two halves.

"It is a learning opportunity for the guys to be down 20 and realize you don't need hero shots," Walton put the comeback in context for the young team. "You just need to tighten down on what we are doing, and you can get back in the game."

With the victory, the Lakers improved to 8-10 on the season and are eighth in the Western Conference. Next, the Lakers travel to Sacramento to face the Kings on Wednesday night before enjoying a Thanksgiving lay-off until Monday, Nov. 27 when the team hits the "road" against the LA Clippers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball, Lakers Host Bulls on Tuesday]]>Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:00:56 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Bulls-11-21-17.JPG

Following up on his second career triple-double on Sunday, Lonzo Ball returns to Staples Center on Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls are bad.

Chicago has started the season with only three wins in 14 games, including only one win in eight road games. However, rookie Lauri Markkanen leads Tuesday's visitors in points, 15.6, and rebounds, 8.0. The 7-footer is averaging 7.0 attempts per game from beyond the three-point line, and the 20-year-old is shooting a team-best 36.7 percent from distance.

"He's really good," Lakers coach Luke Walton, who attended the University of Arizona as an undergraduate, said about Markkanen on Tuesday morning. "One, he's a really intelligent player because he went to (the University of Arizona), so he makes good decisions. But it’s impressive for a rookie to be able to put up numbers that he’s putting up right now and to shoot the NBA three normally takes a little bit of time to get used to, and he's shooting that thing pretty well and consistent right now."

Walton added, "He's going to be a handful for us tonight."

While Markkanen represents the new brand of big man of the NBA, Bulls starting center Robin Lopez still sits in the paint. Lakers center Brook Lopez, who has transformed into a three-point shooting center over the past couple years, is due to reunite with his twin brother on Tuesday night at Staples Center, which always makes for interesting drama.

In addition, the Bulls also feature former Laker David Nwaba, who earned his fairytale call up to the Lakers and the NBA at the tail-end of the 2016-17 season. Nwaba, who is an LA-native, has not featured for the Bulls' past six games and has been sidelined with lingering ankle soreness.

At the moment, the Bulls are starting third-year point guard Jerian Grant alongside Justin Holiday in the backcourt, with Denzel Valentine, Markkanen and Robin Lopez in the front court. Second-year point guard Kris Dunn, though, has claimed the majority of the point guard minutes in each of the Bulls' previous two games despite not starting.

For the Lakers, Tuesday night should be a victory over a team that is head deep in the rebuilding process after trading away Jimmy Butler to Minnesota over the summer. With a victory over the Bulls, the Lakers can improve to 8-10 on the season, which would be good enough for the no. 8 seed in the Western Conference with over one-fifth of the 2017-18 season complete.

Like most rookies, Ball has had an up and down start to his NBA career, but the former UCLA Bruin has already started re-writing history books becoming the youngest player to record a triple-double and the youngest player to record multiple triple-doubles in the NBA. Considering the opposition, Ball recording his third career triple-double on Tuesday would not be shocking. It would still be impressive, though.

Along with Ball, rookie Kyle Kuzma has gained a following and claimed cult status in the team's fan base and even on a national level. At 16.5 points per game, Kuzma leads the team in scoring, and the 21-year-old has recorded four double-doubles in nine games since moving into the starting-five due to a Larry Nance Jr. hand injury.

For the month of November, Kuzma is averaging 18.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Nance, though, is due to return sooner rather than later, as Walton shared that the injured forward returning on Monday against the LA Clippers sounded "reasonable." Whether Nance's return pushes Kuzma back to the bench remains to be seen, but the rookie has done more than adequately during his time in the starting lineup.

Along with Ball and Kuzma, forward Julius Randle continues to make the most of his limited minutes on the court. For the month of November, Randle is averaging 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in only 21.9 minutes on the court. Against Denver, Randle got extra run and played a season-high 32 minutes on the court, which helped the former University of Kentucky Wildcat to a new season high of 24 points, to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.

On Tuesday night, Randle, Kuzma and Ball should again play vital roles for the Lakers, as they look to get their eigth win of the 2017-18 season and move up in the standings. The Lakers and Bulls tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Roggin's Heroes Are Thankful: 2017]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:07:02 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/HEROES_THANKFUL_FOR_1200x675_1100196419614.jpg

Southern California's top high school football players share what they're thankful for on this holiday. Part of the sixth annual Roggin's Heroes Thanksgiving special originally aired November 23, 2017.]]>
<![CDATA[Coming Soon: Roggin's Heroes Thanksgiving 2017]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:03:16 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/RH_THANKSGIVING_DIGITAL_PROMO_1200x675_1100194883528.jpg

They're the best of the best and they're back to make this year's annual tradition the best we've ever had. Roggin's Heroes Thanksgiving gathers the top high school football players in southern California for a night of fun, family and football. Bring your family together and join ours Thursday night after the Giants vs. Redskins.]]>
<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball Gets Triple-Double, Lakers Beat Nuggets 127-109]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 00:14:02 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lonzo-Ball-triple-double-Lakers-7-19-17.jpg

On Sunday, Lonzo Ball collected his second career tripled-double with 16 rebounds, 11 points and 11 assists, along with two blocks, as the Los Angeles Lakers routed the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center, 127-109.

Only eight days earlier, Ball had become the youngest player to ever achieve the statistical achievement, but a poor performance in front of a national audience had pundits declaring the rookie point guard a bust and even suggesting that he may need to lose his starting spot or go develop in the G-League.

Against the Nuggets on Sunday, though, Ball looked like he belonged in the NBA and looked like the player the Lakers ordained the future of the franchise at his unveiling. By halftime, Ball was clearly tracking for the triple double. The Chino Hills native went to the locker room with nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists to his name.

The Lakers also led by 22 points at the break, as the Nuggets had failed to find any rhythm in the first half. Compounding the visitors' woes, Nuggets coach Mike Malone and Nikola Jokic, arguably the Nuggets' best player, both got ejected from the game for arguing calls with the referees.

When four-time All-Star forward Paul Milsap didn't return from the locker room for the second half, the writing was on the wall.  The Nuggets would not be mounting a comeback, and the Lakers went on to cruise to their seventh victory of the season in 17 games.

Ball's 16 rebounds, incidentally, also set a new high mark for most rebounds by a rookie from the class of 2017. As a reminder, Ball is a point guard, but his rebounding has come into greater focus in recent days.

Along with Ball's special night, Lakers forward Julius Randle also scored a season-high and put in his finest performance of the young season. Randle had only appeared for 16 minutes against the Phoenix Suns on Friday. By halftime of Sunday's game, Randle had already logged 17 minutes, during which time the Lakers had outscored the Nuggets by 26 points.

Randle finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the victory and shared locker room honors as the most discussed player for the winning side.

Lakers coach Luke Walton said about his athletic, strong forward, "When he plays like he did tonight, he's as good as anyone in this league."

With the win, the Lakers improved to 7-10. Next, the Chicago Bull come to Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Quote of the Night

Walton answering a question on whether he'd seen the type of media scrutiny Ball faces for any player at his age:

"Not at this young of an age. I played, obviously, with (Kobe Bryant) and it was a zoo everywhere we went. When I coached with the Warriors, it was a zoo everywhere that we went. But never with a young man that is his age have I seen…I mean, he got a haircut and I fielded three questions"

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With Win Over Bills]]>Sun, 19 Nov 2017 16:46:13 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/AP_17324015609675.jpg

The Chargers destroyed the Bills 54-24 in front of 25,015 fans at Stub Hub Center on Sunday afternoon.

Backup running back Austin Ekeler burned through the Bills defense for the 21-yard touchdown, which proved to be the nail in the coffin for Buffalo.

For the Chargers every win is now a must win in order to have an opportunity at the playoffs this season. The Chargers returned home after a crushing 20-17 overtime loss against the Jaguars in Jacksonville last Sunday.

Thursday afternoon quarterback Philip Rivers was medically cleared by an independent specialist to start on Sunday against the Bills. Rivers is most equipped to get the ball into the hands of the offense’s best players — including tight end Hunter Henry. Protecting the football was a key to victory against a Bills tough secondary that is part of authentic turnover defense.

Bills rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman developed a keen offensive flow early in the opening quarter. As Peterman moved the Bills down the field, he threw a costly pass that was intercepted by Korey Toomer who took it 59 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown. On the next drive Peterman threw another interception under pressure to Casey Hayward who returned the ball for seven yards. Unfortunately the Chargers blew a golden opportunity to put more points on the board, as Rivers was unable to move the offense forward on the drive. Nick Novak missed a key 46 yard field goal, as the Chargers still led 7-0.

Peterman was promoted as the starting quarterback by head coach Sean McDermott over quarterback Tyrod Taylor earlier in the week.

The Bills responded back in a major way, as running back LeSean McCoy on two plays was responsible for Buffalo's tying touchdown.

Los Angeles continued to struggle to find their way in the endzone, as they settled for a Nick Novak 34-yard field goal that gave them the 10-7 lead. Novak missed a previous 46-yard field goal attempt earlier in the opening quarter.

Rivers finally found his stride as he connected with a speedy Keenan Allen down the right side for the 21-yard touchdown and 17-7 lead in the second quarter. Casey Haywards second interception of the day, eventually lead to Rivers who found Allen on a hot route for a 2-yard touchdown. The Bolts were far from done, adding insult to injury with a 10-yard Melvin Gordon touchdown run for the 37-7 halftime lead.

The Bills allowed 37 points in the first half were the most Buffalo has allowed, since they gave up 42 to the Seattle Seahawks in 1977.

Novak knocked in a pair of field goal, one just second before halftime, and another early in the third quarter for the Bolts. Benched quarterback Tyrod Taylor entered the game midway through the third quarter hoping to jolt some type of spark in the Buffalo offense, however the Bolts defense shut them down like an old Public Enemy song. Buffalo had to settle for a Stephen Hauschka field goal, as they trailed 40-10 in the third quarter.

The Bolts defense locked in as Joey Bosa sacked Taylor and forced the fumble for Melvin Ingram to score on the 39-yard return for a touchdown.

The only bright spot for Buffalo occurred early in the fourth quarter, as Taylor found a sprinting McCoy on the left side of the endzone for the 2-yard touchdown. McCoy finished with two touchdowns on the day.

Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman finished 6-for-14 for 66 yards passing and five interceptions. Tyrod Taylor completed 13-for-22 for 154 yards passing, and two touchdowns in the loss. Taylor sent a strong message to his head coach regarding his second half performance.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 21-for-33 for 250 passing yards and two touchdowns in the win.

Gordon entered week 11 against the Bills with 2,191 career rushing yards. The total ranked him 12th all-time on the Chargers list. After finishing with 2,271 rushing yards on Sunday, Gordon cracked the top-10 passing Gary Anderson's total of 2,250 rushing yards. Gordon has nine touchdowns on the season.

The Chargers will travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys on Thursday afternoon at 1:30 PM PT on CBS.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kupp's Mistakes Cost Rams in Loss to Vikings]]>Sun, 19 Nov 2017 17:36:30 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-876308234.jpg

The Rams scored on their first drive of the game.

They would not score again.

Latavius Murray ran for two touchdowns and the Minnesota Vikings snapped the Los Angeles Rams four-game winning streak, 24-7, on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Vikings' quarterback Case Keenum got revenge on his former team as he alluded defenders all day long, keeping plays alive with his legs, as he refused to get sacked a single time against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Keenum played two seasons with the Rams in 2015 and 2016, but was benched by then head coach Jeff Fisher exactly one-year ago in favor of rookie Jared Goff. 

On Sunday, the mentor got the best of his former protégé as Keenum outplayed Goff, throwing for 280 yards and a touchdown. 

After back-to-back games with 300+ yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, Goff struggled against the Vikings stifling secondary, completing 15-of-25 passes for 225 yards and no touchdowns in the loss. 

Despite his stats, Goff was impressive, standing in the pocket and delivering dimes under pressure from the Vikings devastating defensive front that put pressure on him all afternoon.

The Rams started faster than the speed of light, as they opened the game on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run from Todd Gurley. 

Minnesota answered to open the second quarter as Latavius Murray bust up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 7-7.

The Rams had a chance to take the lead before the half, but wide receiver Cooper Kupp fumbled the ball on the 1-yard-line, and Vikings' safety Anthony Harris recovered, ending the Rams threat just seconds before they were about to score.

Murray put the Vikings up 14-7 when he opened the fourth quarter with his second touchdown of the day. Murray finished with 95 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams stellar defensive front allowed over 170 yards on the ground.

Once again, the Rams had a chance to tie the game on the ensuing drive, but Kupp dropped a wide-open pass on third down that would have put the Rams inside the red zone. 

Five plays later, Keenum threw a screen pass to receiver Adam Thielen who blew past cornerback Dominique Hatfield and run untouched 65-yards down the field for the score.

Hatfield, a backup for the Rams, only has one tackle on the season, and was only in the game because of a thigh injury to starting cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.

Theilen led all receivers with a game-high six catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. 

Santa Monica kid, Kai Forbath, missed not one, but two field goals for the Vikings before finally converting a 39-yarder that sealed the victory late in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings improved to 8-2 on the season and have now won six consecutive games as they take a stranglehold on the NFC North.

The Rams fall to 7-3, and will likely fall into a first place tie with the Seattle Seahawks who host the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, for first place in the NFC West.

It was the first loss for the Rams on the road this season as they fall to 4-1 away from the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Up Next:

The Rams will return home to the Coliseum next Sunday where they will host the leaders of the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is 1:25PM PST on CBS.

Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rams Revealed: WR Robert Woods]]>Sun, 19 Nov 2017 06:03:17 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams_Revealed_Robert_Woods_1200x675_1099291203517.jpg

NBC LA Sports Reporter Michael J. Duarte interviews Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Robert Woods about playing for his hometown team, his days at USC, and who would play him in the Hollywood movie about the Rams.]]>
<![CDATA[USC Defeats Crosstown Rival UCLA]]>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 23:22:30 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/USCvsUCLA2017.png

Two teams. One City. One champion.

Ronald Jones II rushed for two touchdowns and Sam Darnold ran for one of his own, as the No. 11 USC Trojans defeated crosstown rival, UCLA, 28-23, in the Battle for Los Angeles at the Coliseum on Saturday.

The highly anticipated rivalry featured two of the nation's top quarterbacks in sophomore sensation Darnold and junior Josh Rosen for UCLA.

In front of dozens of NFL scouts, the two quarterbacks did not disappoint as Rosen threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns, and Darnold threw for 264 yards and ran for a touchdown.

"We're not technically battling against each other, because I'm going against their defense," Darnold said. "But I think it's awesome to be able to battle against a great player like Josh."

Darnold, a sophomore from Capistrano, CA, is widely considered by analysts as the consensus No. 1 pick in the NFL draft should he opt to leave USC and declare for the pros.

After the game, Darnold and Rosen met at the 50-yard-line for a hug and a handshake, and then the USC quarterback climbed the ladder to lead the Trojans marching band, sword in hand, as the student section chanted, "One more year!"

"I'm not going to say anything about that," Darnold said when asked what he thought about the students chant. "But it's so cool whenever I get the opportunity to lead the band. Not every college has that kind of tradition." 

USC struck first when they perfectly executed a misdirection play on a punt by the Bruins. UCLA punter Stefan Flintoft kicked the ball down the Trojans sideline, but returner Velus Jones Jr. fooled everyone on the field as he pretended to catch the ball at the 30-yard-line.

Meanwhile, Michael Pittman Jr. actually caught the ball with not a single Bruin player around him as he ran untouched down the sideline for the 72-yard touchdown return.

"That's something we practice each and every year," said USC coach Clay Helton after the game. "I thought Coach Baxter and our punt return team had it set up perfectly and all we needed was a good kick. It was executed well and that gave us an early spark in that game. Really well done by Michael Pittman."

The Bruins responded on the ensuing drive as Rosen picked apart the Trojans' defense, finding Jordan Lasley open in the end zone to complete a seven-play, 80-yard drive that tied the game at 7-7.

Lasley led all receivers in the game, catching 10 passes for a career-high 204 yards and three touchdowns.

The back and forth battle continued as the Trojans answered right back on their next possession. Sam Darnold found Deontay Burnett for a 15-yard strike that put the ball on the UCLA 2-yard line, and USC punched it in one play later when running back Ronald Jones II rushed up the gut for the touchdown.

Jones II had a game-high 25 carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

Darnold put the Trojans in front by two touchdowns when he called his own number in the third quarter, and rushed to the left for the score.

Once again the Bruins responded right away as Rosen found Lasley wide open in the end zone to cap off a 79-yard touchdown drive.

After a UCLA field goal cut the lead to 21-17, the Trojans put the game away when Jones II rushed up the middle for his second touchdown of the game.

Rosen kept the game close as he found Lasley again for the duo's third touchdown of the game as the Bruins cut the lead to 28-23. 

"I really thought we won this game," said Rosen who set a new school record with his seventh 300-yard passing game of the season. "We executed how we want. We were even making field goals. Missed a field goal, two turnovers -- that's what, nine points right there? We lost by five. Another touchdown called back for a chop [block]. It's just frustrating."

After a failed two-point conversion, and a missed onside kick, USC ran the clock out to secure the victory--the third consecutive against the rival Bruins and 16th consecutive win at the Coliseum overall.

The G.O.A.T.

Los Angeles Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant was at the game.

Up Next:

The UCLA Bruins will host Cal next Friday at the Rose Bowl with a potential Bowl Game berth on the line. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30PM PST.

The Trojans will have the next week off as they await their opponent in the Pac 12 Championship game at Levis Stadium on December 1st

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[USC and UCLA Face Off Tonight at the Coliseum]]>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 15:29:15 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/la-coliseum-torch-2.jpg

The USC and UCLA football teams will meet at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday night with the Trojans seeking their second consecutive 10-victory season and the Bruins trying to become bowl eligible.

USC (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12 Conference) clinched a berth in the conference's championship game last Saturday with a 38-24 victory over Colorado. A victory over UCLA would give them sole ownership of the South Division title.

The Bruins (5-5, 3-4) need either a victory over the Trojans or Friday over California in the regular-season finale for their sixth victory to become bowl eligible. UCLA, which was 4-8 last season and failed to qualify for a bowl, has not missed going to a bowl game in consecutive seasons since 1989 and 1990.

USC has won 15 consecutive home games, the nation's second-longest current home winning streak behind Alabama, which has won 18 consecutive home games. The Bruins have lost eight consecutive road games.

Both teams will wear their home jerseys, a tradition that began in 1949, was interrupted twice and revived in 2008 and continued continuously since then with the exception of 2011. The Trojans will wear their cardinal jerseys and UCLA blue.

USC leads the series, 46-31-7, not including victories in 2004 and 2005 that were vacated due to NCAA penalties. The Trojans were 36-14 winners last year. The Bruins have won only four times in the last 18 meetings dating to 1999.

This will be the 12th time in the series 87 games, and seventh time in the past nine years, the game has started at 5 p.m. later.

The start time was determined by ESPN selecting it to air on ABC's "Saturday Night Football," which begins at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST. ESPN and ABC are both owned by the Walt Disney Co. ESPN is among the three rights holders for Pac-12 football games, along with Fox Sports and the Pac-12 Network.

The game will be the final game at the Coliseum for 13 Trojan seniors.

They will be introduced individually prior to the opening kickoff as they run onto the field through the Heritage Tunnel comprised of former USC players.

Those seniors will be joined by three former players turned undergraduate student assistant coaches -- Kenny Bigelow Jr., Kevin Carrasco and Jonathan Labonty -- and possibly some redshirt junior walk-ons who do not plan on returning in 2018.

The game was approaching a sellout as of Friday afternoon, USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone told City News Service.

The winning team will be awarded the Victory Bell, a 295-pound bell originally hung atop a Southern Pacific freight locomotive.

The bell was given to the UCLA Alumni Association in 1939. In 1941, it was taken by a group of USC students who hid it in a variety of locations for more than a year.

Following an intervention by school administrators, the student body presidents of both schools signed an agreement in 1942 providing that the winner of the football game would keep possession for the next year, a tradition that has continued, along with painting the bell's carriage in the school color of the winner.

<![CDATA[Kyle Kuzma Scores 30 Points, Lonzo Ball Walks Past Fight]]>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 21:53:35 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kyle-Kuzma-Lakers-Suns.jpg

Rookie Kyle Kuzma scored 28 of his career-high 30 points in the second half of Friday's game against the Phoenix Suns, but that still wasn't enough for the Los Angeles Lakers to come away with a victory at Staples Center.

"It's cool, but I'm a winner," Kuzma said about his career-high after the game. "I like to win. Stats really don't matter to me. I just try to play hard, and I want to win."

The Lakers dropped to 6-10 for the 2017-18 season after Phoenix won by a final count of 122-113 in a sloppy game featuring 34 turnovers with LA responsible for 19 of those giveaways. Kuzma tabbing a career-high for the second game in succession provided a silver lining, but five losses in their past six games had to have the Lakers worried about starting a skid that could be difficult to stop, especially considering a cold December schedule waiting in the wings.

For the visitors, Devin Booker scored 33 points to finish as the high scorer in the game, but the shooting guard had help from his point guard and the bench. Tyler Ulis scored 15 points and handed out seven assists, while Alex Len scored 17 points and pulled down a monstrous 18 rebounds off the Suns' bench. Also, Dragan Bender hit three of his four three-point attempts off a productive Suns' reserve unit.

For the home team, Brandon Ingram came out aggressive for the second game in a row, but the 20-year-old forward finished with 17 points after scoring 12 in the first quarter alone. Foul trouble hampered the North Carolina native in the first half, but the second-year forward didn't seem to find his spots with as much regularity past the first 12 minutes.

Lakers center Brook Lopez tabbed a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and fellow frontcourt mate Kuzma also tabbed a double-double with 10 rebounds to accompany his team high 30 points. For the rookie, Friday marked the fifth career double-double of the season and fourth time he's hit that statistical mark in the past eight games. Since becoming a starter in Larry Nance Jr.'s absence, Kuzma is 50-50 to record a double-double and 100 percent to score in double figures.

Lonzo Ball, who came into the night sporting a new haircut, finished with six points, six rebounds, six assists, five steals and a block in 38 minutes on the court. Ball made three of his seven shots on the night, and one of his missed shots appeared to be a goal-tending call the refs missed and another miss was a layup that rimmed out.

All-in-all, Ball had a decent night at the office and certainly a better night than two days earlier against Philadelphia, when the rookie missed eight of his nine shots, scored two points and got benched for the entire fourth quarter.

In the closing moments of the game, a small skirmish erupted near the scorers' table and involved several Suns and Lakers' players. Three players earned technical fouls for the pushing and shoving. Meanwhile, Ball earned a fair amount of criticism for looking over at the pushing and shoving, wiping the sweat from his brow and casually walking away from the action, rather than helping his teammates.

"It's the NBA," Ball said when asked about the incident. "People ain't really going to fight, so I ain't trying to get no tech."

Only 16 games into his NBA career, the loss to Phoenix will likely be best remembered as the night Ball learned about his unwritten obligation to stand up for his teammates. If nothing else, Friday's Lakers' loss came with a lesson.

Correction: This article has been corrected to state that Brandon Ingram is a North Carolina native, not a Georgia native.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams and Chargers: Week 11 Preview and Predictions]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:29:56 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-873383992.jpg

The City of Angels has two NFL teams, and they're both headed in opposite directions.  

The Los Angeles Rams are 7-2 and currently riding a four-game winning streak as they sit perched atop the NFC West. After a dominant, 33-7, victory over the Houston Texans, the Rams now have their sights set on old friend Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings. 

Keenum is third in the NFL in QBR rating this season and he's out for revenge against the team that famously benched him in favor of rookie Jared Goff exactly one year ago.

Meanwhile, Goff has also excelled this season, and has posted back-to-back games of 300+ yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Despite not ranking in the top 10 in the league for QBR rating, Goff still has the best QBR improvement over any other quarterback from last season.

Both offenses are rolling right now, but it’s the defenses that will make the biggest impact on Sunday's game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings and the Rams are both ranked in the top 5 in the NFL in points per game allowed by their opponents at 18.3 and 18.0, respectively.  

This should be a close game throughout as the Rams put their undefeated road record (4-0) on the line against the Vikings who have won their last five games overall. Something has to give on Sunday as the immovable object meets the unstoppable force on the gridiron. 

The Rams and Vikings will kickoff at 10:00 AM PST from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The game will air love on FOX and can be live streamed on NFL.com and FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: 

Start: Jared Goff (only if you don't have a better option), Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Todd Gurley, Greg Zuerlein, Rams Defense.

Sit: Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin, Tyler Higbee.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Rams: +2 (+115)
Vikings: -2 (-135)
O/U: 46 

Prediction: 24-21 Vikings

The Chargers limp home to Los Angeles this weekend after a stunning loss to the Jaguars, 20-17, in Jacksonville last Sunday.

Rookie running back, Austin Ekeler, had two touchdowns in the game, and the Chargers led, 17-14, with the ball in their hands and under two minutes left in the game on two separate occasions, but were unable to seal the victory.

After a fumble by Ekeler and an interception by Phillip Rivers in overtime, the Jaguars busted through the door that the Chargers left open for them, and stole the victory at home, sending Los Angeles to a record of 3-6, and a steep climb ahead in the AFC Playoff picture. 

Rivers announced on Monday that he suffered a concussion in the game, and did not practice all week as he went through the NFL's concussion protocol.

However, the team announced on Friday afternoon, that Rivers would indeed start against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, extending his consecutive games started streak to 195 (including playoffs).

Rivers has not missed a start since 2006, and that's bad news for the Bills who made a controversial quarterback change of their own this week as they benched starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman. 

Taylor has only thrown three interceptions in nine starts this season, and led the Bills to a record of 4-2 before losing in blowout fashion in the team's last two games. 

After throwing for just 57 yards and no touchdowns through three quarters in a 47-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, Taylor was benched in favor of Peterman who subsequently led the Bills down the field for their only touchdown drive of the game.

New Orleans rushed for nearly 300 yards in the game, so look for the Chargers to hand the ball off early and often to All-Pro running back Melvin Gordon, as they look to gain most of their yards on the ground.

The Chargers have the worst rushing defense in the league, but linebackers Denzel Perryman, Melvin Ingram, and Joey Bosa know how to get after the quarterback and will be licking their chops at the sight of Peterman behind center.

The Chargers have won four of their last five head-to-head matchups with the Bills.

The Bills and Chargers will kickoff at 1:05PM PST from StubHub Center in Carson, CA. The game can be watched live on FOX, and live streamed on NFL.com and FuboTV

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Chargers Defense.

Sit: Phillip Rivers, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Mike Williams, Nick Novak.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Chargers: -6
Bills: +6
O/U: 41 

Prediction: 24-20 Chargers

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more. 

This week's guests on the show were Rams' wide receiver Robert Woods and Chargers' rookie running back, Austin Ekeler. Give it a listen below:

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Looks to Take Animation World by Storm]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:05:44 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/uspresswire-lakers-kobe-bryant.jpg

Thursday night future NBA Hall of Famer and former Lakers guard Kobe Bryant unveiled another brick from the house of Kobe Inc., an animated feature "Dear Basketball" during the Animation Expo in Los Angeles.

Bryant teamed up with former Disney animator Glen Keane to bring Bryant's letter written to fans before his last NBA game to life. The nearly seven minute animated feature is narrated and executive produced by Bryant, and scored by legendary music leader John Williams.

The film first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, and now looks to be among the Oscar nominations for animated short films. Bryant wanted the film to be unique, therefore meeting several times with Keane as they discussed it being drawn by hand rather than the use of a computer. Bryant wanted everyone to see that greatness was not an overnight process, but developed in time. Keane's famous for his work at Disney where he personally animated characters like "Aladdin," "Pocahontas" and more. The 38-year animator Keane left Disney in 2012 to form Glen Keane Productions.

After Keane called the making of "Dear Basketball" "the most difficult thing I've animated in a long while," likely because of the essence of black-and-white sketches, highlighted only by slight clashes of purple and gold, which are the Lakers' colors. The film magnificently draws you into the mind of the Black Mamba in a refreshing way that allows you to relive his entire career in a matter of moments.

The collaboration of Bryant's vision and Keane's artistry behaves seamlessly as one unit throughout the project. The film is enhanced by the genius scoring of Williams, who Bryant ironically met in 2014. Bryant was intrigued by Williams' dedication to music while capturing every mood of a film. The two developed a great relationship, and one day as a favor to Bryant, Williams took two weeks off from working on "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" to score "Dear Basketball."

It was the first traditionally animated film that Williams has scored in his career. One of the most memorable moments for Bryant was during the process of the making of this film, when he received a surprised call in March 2017 from Williams. Williams happened to be at the Hollywood Bowl one evening conducting his orchestra, and asked Bryant to join him on stage for a live narration of "Dear Basketball." Once Bryant arrived and nearly overcome with emotion, he could not believe his project would be heard before thousands of people.

The experiment was a success, and in true Black Mamba form Bryant rose to the occasion gracefully and closed the deal like a last-second shot on an NBA court.

As one of the greatest basketball players we've ever seen, Kobe Bryant looks to embark on a new chapter, conquering the worlds of tech and film — one project at a time.

Photo Credit: CSNPhilly.com
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<![CDATA[Walton: Lonzo Ball is Lakers' Starting Point Guard]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 04:12:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lonzo-Ball-Lakers-starting-point-guard.png

Lonzo Ball isn't going to the bench, and he's sure as heck not going to the G-League.

"He's our starting point guard," Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton almost struggled at the thought of being asked about Ball possible going to the bench to ease the immense pressure the rookie has been under. "There're no talks as of now of moving Lonzo to the bench."

Walton repeated, almost laughing off the thought, "He's our starting point guard."

As point guards have a habit of "yoyo-ing up and down," Ball's young career has already hit historic highs and bounced off the hardest of wood floors. Ball ended the past week by becoming the youngest NBA player to ever record a trouble-double. Less than a week later, a dud in a nationally televised performance had suggestions floating about sending the kid to the G-League or stripping his starting spot.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers' rookie point guard missed eight of his nine shots and sat the entire fourth quarter as his team fell short in a close game and lost 115-109 to another promising young team in the rebuilding process, the Philadelphia 76ers.

Due in part to Ball's forgettable night but more so to do special performances by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers' process has seemingly advanced past the Lakers' rebuild. While Embiid was posting pictures of Ball stumbling, though, the former UCLA Bruin was already apparently aggressively working on his game.

When Walton turned up at the facility for practice on Thursday, Ball had already arrived early. The coach soon learned that the no. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft had visited the Lakers' facility to shoot the lights out after Wednesday's game and then came back early on Thursday to shoot the lights back on. Evidently, Ball didn't sleep well following the poor outing, and the experience may have changed him.

"His energy seemed a little, not the same playful, joyful Lonzo that he normally is," Walton said on Thursday. "But that could be a good thing, that he's frustrated or mad a little bit."

If fans were disappointed by Ball's performance, his actions suggest no one cared more than the 20-year-old. That, however, does not mean that Ball's confidence is shaken or should be shaken according to his coach.

"I'm not worried about his confidence, no," Walton answered. "He's a confident young man, as he should be. He's very good at the game of basketball. What he's already accomplished in these games, getting a triple-double, average rebounding the way he is against these bigs in this league and the assists he's putting up, that's really impressive for a 20-year-old point guard to do."

Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma, who is seemingly living an inverse existence of entering the league with no expectations and looking like one of the five best players in the draft, shared his support for Ball following the tough night.

"The media and everybody in the county want him to be a Hall-of-Famer right now, or wants to be an All-Star right now, but he's still a rookie," Kuzma stood up for the fellow member of the Class of 2017. "It's tough to play at this level for anybody. There are 10-year vets that play way worse than he does, and nobody talks about it."

When posed with a question inquiring about the impact of the extra pressure that Ball's family publicly welcomed and sought, Kuzma offered an interesting response:

"Could you want through his shoes? Everybody thinks it's easy, but nobody can walk through his shoes, unless you ask him. It's tough. He's in a tough situation, but he's level headed. He even keel, comes in and works every day, so I'm not worried."

When Ball struggled on Wednesday, Jordan Clarkson finished the game for the Lakers. On Thursday, Clarkson offered the soberest of reminders that Ball is only a month into his first NBA season. In fact, the Lakers played their season opener on Oct. 19, so Friday's Nov. 17 game against Phoenix comes less than one month since the rookie played his first NBA game.

Then, Clarkson offered his unique veteran-status wisdom: "You've got to give him some time."

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[What the 'Hekk' Is Going On With the Rams?]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:35:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/GettyImages-457182872.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams sit atop of the NFC West at 7-2, and although many praise the defense, Jared Goff and the rest of the offense, there is one player that is truly the MVP.

Punter Johnny Hekker is one of the most influential kickers in the NFL, a great teammate, a fan favorite and a humble player that doesn't give himself enough credit. Hekker is a three time Pro-Bowl player, coming off the best year of his young career that allowed him to be the highest paid position player.

In 2016, Hekker punted 43 times in the first eight games, 55 in final eight. He averaged over 47 yards per kick. This season, he has only 27 punts and is averaging 47 yards per kick.

Hekker has a unique vibe that connects him with not only his teammates, but Rams fans at games and various Rams community events around Los Angeles.

"I'm just really thankful for the fans and everybody that has stuck with me and supported me throughout the years," a smiling Hekker said. "A guy has some free time enough to interact with fans on twitter, just be a person in the community and show support. To get the notoriety is cool, but I'm just so thankful to my teammates for the production I've had on the field. My teammates are helping me get great production on Sundays. I'm just enjoying the process."

A man that is focused on his craft, was rewarded last September with a huge deal, as general manager Les Snead called Hekker the best punter the league has seen. Running back Todd Gurley refered to Hekker as "clutch," and said "when we need him, he's always there for us."

Hekker goes about his business, appreciative for the compliments, but remains locked in on his job at hand this season.

"I feel my career is young, and I think you have to put in over a decade of work to be considered one of the greats," Hekker explains. "There are a lot of guys around the league that have produced a ton that I look up to. I just do the best I can to enjoy the time with my teammates because those are the guys who help me. Punting is not an individual sport, you don't get attention if you're doing great, you're team has to be doing great also."

A visionary of how to execute the right punt, along with watching hours of film, enables Hekker to seek the right place to aim the ball on Sundays with his leg.

Hekker has been active as the holder for place-kicker Greg Zuerlein, who has made 26 of 27 field goals and leads the NFL with 100 points.

Side Note: Hekker is also a big Kanye West fan, though he admits, West needs to return to the "808s and Heartbreaks" album style of production and rap.

He has a important pre-game ritual, praying with his family for himself and his team. Through hard work, dedication, and being a man of faith, we could see Hekker and the Rams in the Super Bowl sooner than later. 

The Rams face the Vikings (7-2) in Minnesota this Sunday at 10:05 a.m. PT.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Embiid Scored 46, Lakers Fall 115-109 to Sixers]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 01:35:42 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/Joel-Embiid-career-high-46-points.jpg

In the wake of the Los Angele Lakers losing 115-109 to the Philadelphia 76ers, Lakers coach Luke Walton sat at the post game podium deep in the bowels of Staples Center.

"He's a problem," Walton said, referring to Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, who had just put on a career performance in front of the stars sitting courtside and the millions watching the nationally televised game at home.

Embiid scored 46 points, which was a new career-high, pulled down 15 rebounds, handed off seven assists and tabbed seven blocks in 34 and a half breathtaking minutes on the court.

While the talk entering the night may have been about rookies Ben Simmons and Lonzo Ball, Embiid's dominating performance overshadowed everything and everyone else. Simmons ended the night with 18 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and five steals, nearly notching a triple-double. Normally, that stat line would have earned the no. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft the headlines. On this night, though, Embiid owned the court and the evening.

Along with Simmons, Embiid's special night also drafted career nights for Lakers forwards Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Both starts scored career highs. Ingram finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds in the defeat on 11-18 shooting from the field, while Kuzma scored 24 points and pulled down seven rebounds in only 31 minutes on the court.

Ball, though, struggled mightily in front of a national audience yet again. The 20-year-old rookie point guard missed eight of his nine shots and all six of his attempts from three-point land.

"He was having an off night," Walton said about Ball after the game.

Walton added, "He's 20 years old, and he plays the toughest position in the NBA. Ten-year All-Stars have off nights, so of course, our young players are going to have off nights."

Normally, Ball tends to contribute in other areas when his shot isn't falling, but this night, his shot seemed to affect the other parts of his game, and Walton opted to go with Jordan Clarkson to finish the first half and, later, to finish the game.

"Usually, I won't let it affect me," Ball said about his poor shooting after the game. "But tonight, I did. I missed layups, just had a bad night."

Immediately, Ball added that the quick turnaround and a game on Friday offered an opportunity to bounce back and leave this game as a distant memory in the rear view.

With the defeat, the Lakers dropped to 6-9 on the season, while the 76ers improved to 8-6. If Embiid can stay healthy and Simmons can continue to excel at point forward, the Sixers should be a playoff team and a tough out in the postseason.

Next, the Lakers host the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. The Lakers have beaten the Suns in both meetings this season, but Friday will be the first time Phoenix plays the Lakers in LA.

Notes: The Lakers, who are one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the NBA, made 22 of 27 foul shots. Also, the Lakers only turned the ball over nine times to Philadelphia's 16 turnovers. Neither team shot especially well from three-point land, as the Lakers made 3-27, while the Sixers hit 7-32 from three-point land.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Will Philip Rivers Be Cleared to Play Sunday Against Bills?]]>Wed, 15 Nov 2017 21:07:57 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/170*120/GettyImages-873362830.jpg

On Wednesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Chargers and head coach Anthony Lynn delivered an update on Philip Rivers concussion protocol status.

On Monday,  Rivers self reported his health status to the team, a day after the Bolts suffered a tight 20-17 overtime loss to the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

Lynn seemed to be encouraged thus far on the status of Rivers, with the decision on him being cleared to play resting on him passing a series of test.

"He’ll practice today. He'll be limited. And as he gets better, his workload will increase," Lynn said.

Lynn will be given updates on the status of Rivers throughout the week but will leave the decision up the doctors and medical staff.

"I just let the doctors handle it," Lynn said. "And, Philip will be brutally honest with us. I told him to be honest about this injury. He has been so far, and that’s all you can go on."

Backup quarterback Kellen Clemens understands and admires Rivers courage to come forth regarding his injury.

"Concussions, especially the light that’s been shone on it the last 10 years, head injuries and things of that nature need to be taken seriously," Clemens said. "So I admire him for the way that he handled it.”

The Chargers return home to Stub Hub Center to face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at 1:05PM PT.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Inside the Numbers: Lakers Host Sixers Wednesday]]>Wed, 15 Nov 2017 12:02:10 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Sixers-Inside-the-Numbers.jpg

After Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Lakers will be nearly 20 percent through the 2017-18 NBA season, so we thought this was as good a time as any to take a deep dive and launch the first "Inside the Numbers" of the 2017-18 season.

97.2 – The Los Angeles Lakers have an offensive rating of 97.2, which is most easily described as the Lakers average 97.2 points per 100 possessions. That places the Lakers as the third worst offensive team in the NBA. Of course, Lonzo Ball's shooting troubles and the team's overall lack of three-point shooting has contributed to the poor offensive start to the season.

99.7 – While the offense may be far from smooth, the Los Angeles Lakers rank fourth in the NBA in defensive efficiency. The purple and gold have a defensive rating of 99.7, which means the team allows 99.7 points per 100 possessions. While the offensive struggles have been a bit head scratching, the improved defense is probably even more surprising than the offensive struggles. Considering the attention paid to defense in training camp and multiple members of the team stating that the team's focus is on the defensive end of the court, the Lakers ranking ahead of teams like the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs on the defensive side of the ball deserves recognition. The coaching staff believes the offense will smooth out over time, but the strong defensive start has the team believing it will have a chance to compete on a nightly basis no matter the opposition.

30.2 – The Los Angeles Lakers rank dead last in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage at 30.2 percent. Thankfully, the team's defensive improvement, though, also lists the Lakers as the no. 1 team in the NBA when it comes to opponents' three-point shooting percentage, 31.3 percent. Seemingly, the Lakers know they're not a great outside shooting team, as the Lakers average only 24.1 three-point attempts per game, which is the fourth fewest of any team in the Association. The Lakers are dead last in three-pointers made per game at 7.3. For comparison's sake, the Houston Rockets lead the NBA with 44.5 three-point attempts per game and 15.1 three-pointers made per contest. Yes, the Rockets average more than twice as many three-point makes per game as the Lakers. However, the Lakers seem to understand this weakness and instead lead the NBA in points in the paint with an average of 53.9 points in the paint per game.

17.6 – The Lakers rank second in the NBA in turnovers, which is not a compliment. Only the Philadelphia 76ers turn the ball over with greater frequency, at 17.9 turnovers per game. Wednesday's game at Staples Center may be a festive occasion and feature several of the top young talents in the NBA, but the numbers suggest it will be far from the cleanest game of basketball ever played. As a point of explanation, the Lakers and Sixers have two of the three youngest rosters in the NBA. The youngest team belongs to Phoenix, and anyone who watched the Lakers beat the Suns on Monday should understand how young teams can get sloppy.

The Los Angeles Lakers host the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center with the official start time listed as 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time and an expected tip-off time of 7:40 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dave Roberts Finishes 2nd for N.L. Manager of the Year]]>Tue, 14 Nov 2017 15:33:02 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-859551736.jpg

Dave Roberts won't go back-to-back for the Dodgers. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers sophomore manager, Dave Roberts, finished second for the National League Manager of the Year Award as announced by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday. 

Roberts was the reigning National League Manager of the Year winner after winning the award in 2016, and was looking to become the first back-to-back winner since Bobby Cox with the Atlanta Braves in 2004-2005.

Roberts led the Dodgers to the best record in baseball at 104 wins and took them to Game 7 of the World Series where they lost to the Houston Astros.

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo won the award for the first time, receiving 18 first place votes. Lovullo became the fourth straight N.L. Manager of the Year to win the award in his first season with the team.

Roberts finished second with 5 first place votes, 8 second place votes and 6 third place votes. Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black finished third.

Ironically, Roberts and Black, were together during the announcement ceremony. The two N.L. West managers live close to each other in San Diego, and Roberts invited Black over to his home for the announcement. 

Paul Molitor of the Minnesota Twins won the award in the American League.

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Clarkson's 25 Points Helps Lakers Burn Suns 100-93]]>Mon, 13 Nov 2017 21:05:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Suns-11-13-17.jpg

On Monday night, Jordan Clarkson's season-high of 25 points helped the Los Angeles Lakers win, 100-93, in Phoenix and claim their season sweep of the Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Devin Booker scored 36 points and TJ Warren added 23 points, while the Lakers relied heavily on a deep bench showing to finish off the four-game, six-night road trip with a win in Arizona. Two of the Lakers' five scorers in double figures came off the pine, while Julius Randle finished with eight points and eight rebounds in only 19 minutes on the court.

When the game started with the Phoenix Suns scoring the first nine points of the contest, all signs pointed to the four-game road trip ending with a flat performance from the visitors and a blowout defeat penciled into the schedule. Instead, the Lakers scored nine of the next 11 points in the game and ended the first quarter leading by one point, 21-20.

Lakers coach Luke Walton took an early gamble, matching the size of Alex Len with Andrew Bogut, and thankfully for the Lakers, the coach's gamble paid off. Bogut grabbed his 6,000th rebound during an impressive first half contribution that helped the Lakers limit the home team in the paint and on the boards.

As the low score suggested, neither team looked sharp early on, and it was a sloppy first half with the exception of sharp offensive performances by Booker for Phoenix and Clarkson for LA. At the intermission, Booker led all scorers with 22 points, half of Phoenix's 44 tally at the break. Meanwhile, Clarkson had poured in 14 points off the bench in limited minutes.

In the second half, both teams increased the scoring rate, and the Lakers and Suns entered the fourth quarter with the score board flashing a one-point game, 75-74.

With the game winding down, Walton made a second vital decision to stick with Clarkson's hot hand and leave in veteran Corey Brewer, who was having arguably his best game of the season. Brewer eventually finished with 13 points on 5-7 shooting from the field, as the small forward played a slashing game that led to easy and timely buckets on one end and energetic defense on the other.

Riding their bench, the Lakers managed to open up an eight-point lead after Brewer made a three-pointer with just about five minutes remaining in the ball game. Booker and company would battle to cut down the difference down the stretch, but a Clarkson lay-up with 2:43 remaining in the game push the Lakers' lead to 10 points and effectively put the game in the refrigerator.

From that point forward, Brewer stepped up and made two free throws to ice the game, but LA held on for a comfortable seven-point victory. With the victory, the Lakers move up to 6-8 on the season.

Coming Up

Next, the Philadelphia 76ers make their annual pilgrimage to Laker Land on Wednesday, with the Suns bringing their special brand of basketball to Los Angeles on Friday.

If the Lakers win both those games, they would return to .500 on the season with a chance at a winning record on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets on Staples Center. LA will complete its four-game home stand on Tuesday, Nov. 21 with another easily winnable game against the rebuilding Chicago Bulls.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Cody Bellinger Wins NL Rookie of the Year Award]]>Mon, 13 Nov 2017 18:53:16 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cody-bellinger-GettyImages-699492340.jpg

It was unanimous.

Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger was named the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner on Monday, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Bellinger received all 30 first-place votes, becoming the fourth Dodger in franchise history to win the award unanimously, joining Mike Piazza (1993), Raul Mondesi (1994), and Cory Seager (2016).

The award gives the Dodgers back-to-back Rookie of the Year Award Winners, and 18 total in franchise history, nine more than any other team in baseball.

Bellinger played 32 games with the Dodgers this season after he was called up to the Majors on April 25. Bellinger batted .267 with 87 runs scored, 26 doubles, four triples, 39 home runs, 97 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 132 games.

His 39 home runs were the second most in the National League behind only Giancarlo Stanton (59), and the most ever by a rookie, surpassing Wally Berger (1930) and Frank Robinson (1956) who each hit 38.

Bellinger also recorded six multi-home run games, which according to Stats, LLC, were the most ever by a rookie in Dodger history and the third most all-time, trailing just Mark McGwire (1987) and AL Rookie of the Year winner Aaron Judge (2017), who each collected seven multi-homer contests.

Including his record breaking home run season, Bellinger also set Los Angeles (since 1958) single-season rookie records in slugging percentage (.581) and OPS (.933), while ranking among the all-time club rookie leaders in runs (4th), doubles, (T-4th), RBI (2nd), batting average (10th) and on-base percentage (4th).

Bellinger beat out Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell and Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong in winning the award. New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was the unanimous winner in the American League.

Bellinger also won the Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year Award and the MLB Players Choice NL Rookie of the Year Award last week.

Bellinger became the first Dodgers position player to be named to the All-Star Game in his first season, and also participated in the Home Run Derby, losing to eventual winner, Aaron Judge. 

Bellinger was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Hamilton High School in Arizona by the Dodgers.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Wrap Up Road-Trip in Phoenix]]>Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:29:21 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Suns-11-13-17.jpg

Entering Monday night's game in Phoenix on a three-game losing streak should come as no surprise, as the Los Angeles Lakers drew a bad hand from schedule-makers.

Starting out a road trip in Boston, against a team that had won nine games in a row, did not bode well for LA. Following that up with a game in Washington D.C. the next night, against a team that had blown a late lead at Staples Center two weeks earlier, promised to be a tough challenge. A third game in a third different city in only four nights would be tough enough under normal circumstances, but facing the "Greek Freak" and the Milwaukee Bucks on the road spelled out three losses in four nights and a 5-8 overall record for the purple and gold.

After Saturday's defeat in Wisconsin, the Lakers traveled to Arizona and are on the final leg of their road trip, deseperate not to return home winless.

Returning home with four defeats in four road games would be tough to rationalize, even if rookie point guard Lonzo Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double on the road trip. Incidentally, when the Lakers played the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 20, Ball tabbed up 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in what was only his second NBA game. He missed the triple-double by one assist in what went down as the point guard's first NBA victory.

Considering the opposition and the history, Ball could conceivably record back-to-back triple-doubles, which would further cement his already impressive achievement.

The Suns fired their coach one game after the Lakers won that October meeting, and Phoenix went on to win four of five games immediately after the change. However, the new coach bump seems to have settled down with the Suns losing five straight games before finally recording a win over Minnesota on Saturday.

Interim coach Jay Triano has had a notable impact on the Suns' effort levels. With Earl Watson on the bench, the Suns opened the season with a 48-point home loss, and Watson's final game in charge was a 42-point defeat. With Triano, the Suns have won five of 11 games and have not suffered even a 20-point defeat. Clearly, Phoenix is better equipped to compete with its new interim coach guiding the team into battle.

Similarly, Lakers coach Luke Walton has his young team playing energetic defense and exhibiting a competitive spirit that has resulted in the purple and gold being fun to watch. More importantly, the Lakers look like they have a chance to win nearly every time out. The Lakers have not suffered a 20-point defeat through the first 13 games of the 2017-18 season, and the worst blemish of the season came via a 16-point Opening Night loss to the LA Clippers.

While Devin Booker leads the Suns in points and assists, a player to keep an eye on is fourth-year forward TJ Warren. Warren scored 35 points in Saturday's win over Minnesota, and the former member of the NC State Wolfpack scored 40 points in Phoenix's penultimate win. If Warren has a big night, the Suns' chances of getting a win seem to sky rocket. Against the Lakers in October, Warren tabbed 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a game the visitors won by a narrow margin, 132-130.

While Ball deserves his due for leading the Lakers in assists, the Lakers' bench scoring has been an impressive and often overlooked component of the team's competitive start. Jordan Clarkson is averaging 14.8 points per game in only 21.0 minutes off the pine. Clarkson is shooting 50.3 percent for the season and 39.5 percent from three-point range. Considering the limited run Clarkson is getting, his numbers deserve attention.

Also, Julius Randle has been a positive contributor in limited minutes after taking a couple of games to adjust to his new bench role. The bulky forward is shooting 60.4 percent from the field to average 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in only 19.8 minutes per game. Randle's new role seems to require greater use of energy in shorter shifts, but considering his production, one cannot help but wonder how Walton can work to consistently get the former University of Kentucky forward more minutes on the court.

With Larry Nance Jr. out injured, rookie Kyle Kuzma has jumped into the starting lineup and is averaging 37.6 minutes per game over the past five games. Over those same five games, Randle is averaging 20.8 minutes per game. Yes, Kuzma is in the neighborhood of averaging twice as many minutes as Randle on the court. While that balance may seem a bit off, Kuzma has been a bright spot and consistent contributor for the purple and gold early in the season.

Against Milwaukee, Kuzma logged 42 minutes, scored 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

Desperate not to return home empty handed, the Lakers wrap up their four-game road trip on Monday evening in Phoenix with a 6 p.m. Pacific Time tip-off.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Postgame 11.12.17]]>Sun, 12 Nov 2017 17:58:00 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA_Rams_Postgame_11.12.17_1200x675_1094451267525.jpgLos Angeles Rams' players Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, and Robert Woods discuss the team's 33-7 win over the Houston Texans at the Coliseum on Sunday, November 12, 2017.]]><![CDATA[LA Rams Get Revenge on Houston]]>Sun, 12 Nov 2017 18:27:02 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-873360430.jpg

Houston, now you have a problem. 

Jared Goff threw three touchdowns and the Los Angeles Rams avenged the Dodgers World Series loss to the Astros, by defeating the Houston Texans, 33-7, on Sunday afternoon at the LA Memorial Coliseum. 

After a defensive battle in the first half, the Rams (7-2) blew the game open in the second half as Goff threw touchdown passes on three possessions in the third quarter.

The former No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, finished the game 25-for-37 with a career-high 355 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. 

Goff, joined Kansas City’s Alex Smith and New England’s Tom Brady as the only three quarterbacks in the NFL this season with multiple games passing for at least 300 yards, three passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Goff also became the only quarterback in Rams franchise history to accomplish that feat in back-to-back games. 

All Pro lineman Aaron Donald set the tone early for the Mob Squad as he sacked Texans' starter Tom Savage on the team's opening drive, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Matt Longacre on the Houston 20-yard line.

"I just got a one-on-one, I won my one-on-one, and I got to the quarterback," Donald said of his strip sack to start the game. "That's my college quarterback. It's important to give the ball back to the offense and let them keep rolling."

Greg Zuerlein put the Rams on the board with a field goal, and then converted two more in the second quarter to put the Rams up 9-7 at halftime.

Houston's only score in the game came on a 26-yard pitch-and-catch as Savage found Bruce Ellington over the middle and the Texans' receiver scampered 26-yards into the end zone for the score.

"Bruce ran a good route on that," said Savage of the play. "He's been running good routes all season, I wanted to give him a shot. But we lost. So, our performance today was bad."

One week after finding Sammy Watkins open for a deep 67-yard catch in New York, Goff delivered a dime to Robert Woods to start the third quarter as the Rams scored their longest touchdown of the season, and third longest in franchise history, on a 94-yard bomb. 

"I heard the play call, I looked up and checked the coverage and saw a one-on-one matchup," Woods said of the big play. "I ran my route, I felt like I beat the guy, and Jared put the ball on the money. I was able to catch it and run, I saw the end zone and just raced to the end zone."

Following back-to-back three and outs by the Rams defense, Goff found Sammy Watkins on a quick screen, and the former Clemson receiver did the rest, as he ran down the sideline for a 17-yard touchdown.

On the ensuing Texans possession, Savage once again fumbled and the Rams recovered deep in Houston territory.

Faster than you can say "Holy Veteran's Day, Batman!" Goff found Woods again on a dump off out of the backfield, as the former USC Trojan ran 12 yards for his second touchdown of the game.

"When they come they come in bunches," joked Woods of his back-to-back games with two touchdowns. "Back-to-back two touchdown games. Credit to my teammates. We've just been clicking so far."

Woods led all the L.A. receivers for the second straight week, finishing with eight catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the win. 

Todd Gurley did not find the end zone on Sunday, but he did finish with 68 yards on the ground along with six catches for 68 yards.

"We made some adjustments at halftime," Gurley said of the offense in the second half. "We were a little sluggish, but we found some energy in the second half. Everybody was doing their job and that's what it's all about."

Savage finished 18-for-36 for 221 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions in his third start of the season for the Texans. 

"Sure," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said when asked if he felt his quarterback played well. "I haven't done a good job coaching this team this year and that was my message to the team. I have to figure out how to coach this team better and try to get them to play better."

The Rams defense shut out the Texans in the second half, sealing the deal with a late fourth quarter interception by Blake Countess, as L.A. won their fourth consecutive game and first at home since Week 1. 

Kick It Into Gear:

The NFL's leading scorer, Greg Zuerlein finished with four field goals, and set a new career high with 28 field goals on the season and there's still seven weeks to go. Zuerlein has only missed one field goal all year. 

Up Next:

The Rams will travel to Minneapolis next week where they will meet old friend Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings in a showdown of NFC powerhouses. Kickoff is at 10:00AM PST.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Harry How
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<![CDATA[Jaguars Claw Back to Stun the Chargers]]>Sun, 12 Nov 2017 18:20:41 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-873361742.jpg

The Chargers are still the Chargers. 

Phillip Rivers threw a backbreaking interception in overtime, and Josh Lambo kicked the game-winning 30-yard field goal moments later, as the Jacksoville Jaguars clawed back to stun the Los Angeles Chargers, 20-17 at EverBank Field on Sunday afternoon. 

After forcing the Jaguars to punt on their first possession of overtime, Rivers was intercepted on third down by A.J. Bouye, and the cornerback returned it down to the 2-yard line, setting up the game-winning field goal by Lambo. 

Lambo's kick was tipped at the line of scrimmage, but the ball still had enough to just barely sail over the uprights, giving the Jaguars the victory.

Before the the dramatic finish, the Chargers appeared to have secured the victory late in the fourth quarter when Tre Boston intercepted Blake Bortles with 1:48 left in the game. 

One play later, Austin Ekeler fumbled the ball and Jaguars' defensive tackle Malick Jackson recovered it and ran all the way to the end zone for the touchdown. However, after a replay review, Jackson was ruled down after recovering the fumble, negating the touchdown, but setting up Jacksonville nicely on the Chargers 36-yard-line.

As fate would have it, Bortles was again intercepted by Tre Boston three plays later and for the second time in less than a minute, it appeared as if the Chargers defense had stepped up to seal the victory. 

However, Jacksonville still had all three of their timeouts and after forcing the Chargers to punt on a three-and-out, they got the ball back near midfield with 1:08 remaining in the ball game. 

This time, Bortles drove the Jaguars down the field (with some help from a Joey Bosa penalty) and Lambo connected on a 34-yard field goal that sent the game to overtime, ending a wild two-minute sequence in regulation. 

Bortles finished the game 28-for-51 for 273 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, as the Jaguars have won 3-in-a-row for the first time since 2013.

Rivers finished the game with 235 yards and two touchdowns, but his lone interception proved to be the difference in the game. 

Both Rivers touchdowns went to rookie running back Austin Ekeler who finished with five catches for 77 yards and two scores, the first running back to have two touchdowns of 20 or more yards since Jamaal Charles in 2013. 

Corey Grant scored the first touchdown of the game for the Jaguars on a fake punt that he took on a direct snap and ran for 56-yards for the score. 

Former USC Trojans receiver Marquis Lee caught a 6-yard touchdown in the third quarter and then completed the two-point conversion one play later to tie the game at 14-14. 

Coming off their bye week, the Chargers knew they were in for a daunting task facing the NFL's number one ranked defense in Jacksonville. 

Entering the game, the Jaguars were allowing a paltry 14 points per game and featured one of the best secondaries in the league. 

However, the Chargers also have a top 10 defense, and led by former Jaguars coach and current defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, the Bolts kept the vaulted Jacksonville running attack in check, as they held rookie Leonard Fournette, Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon to just 45 yards combined. 

Bradley was fired by the Jaguars just 11 months ago after going 14-48 as head coach. Before the game, many of Bradley's former players and assistants greeted the coach in a reunion on the field. 

Injury Update: 

The Chargers received good news earlier in the week that middle linebacker Denzel Perryman was cleared to play and returned to action on Sunday. Perryman led the game with eight solo tackles. No one else in the game had more than five.

Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns left the game with a right leg injury.

Up Next: 

The Chagers will host the struggling Buffalo Bills next Sunday at StubHub Center as head coach Anthony Lynn faces his former team for the first time. 

Photo Credit: Logan Bowles/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball Becomes Youngest Player To Record Triple-Double]]>Sat, 11 Nov 2017 20:34:56 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lonzo-Ball-triple-double-youngest-player-NBA-ever.jpg

On Saturday night in Milwaukee, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball made history by becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double at 20 years and 15 days, which beat the previous record held by LeBron James at 20 years and 20 days.

Ball started the game by making his first two three-point shots after missing 17 of his previous 20 attempts from distance, which had led analysts nationwide to question his strange shooting stroke. Ball started the season shooting horrendously, but the early makes hinted at a special Saturday night brewing in the beer capital of America for the former UCLA Bruin.

By halftime, Ball already had 11 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, and a first-career triple-double seemed imminent. In addition, the no. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft swiped two steals and recorded a block shot before heading to the locker room. Perhaps most impressively, Ball only had one turnover to his name during the break.

By the end of the third quarter, Ball increased his tally to 13 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.

Before a single minute elapsed in the fourth quarter, though, Ball made history when he collected an air ball tossed up by Thon Maker. With the rebound, Ball officially became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.

The Lakers' previous record for youngest player to record a triple-double was Earvin "Magic" Johnson at 20 years and 75 days, accomplished by the Lakers' legend in 1979. Ball beat Johnson's record by 60 days.

Eventually, Ball finished his historic night with 19 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds, to go along with three steals and three blocks in 38 minutes. When James, who was Ball's favorite player growing up, recorded his historic triple-double, the Cleveland Cavaliers forward was in the second half of his second season in the NBA. 

Meanwhile, Ball had his record night in only his 13th game as a professional.

Though Ball's net rating was a plus-10 against the Milwaukee Bucks on the night, the Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 98-90. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 33 points and 15 rebounds in the win, but this night will likely be remembered for Ball's historic performance far longer than it will be remembered for the Bucks' winning on an early Saturday night in November.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trojans Punch Ticket to Pac-12 Championship]]>Sat, 11 Nov 2017 17:13:04 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-873000108.jpg

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Sam Darnold tossed two TD passes and ran for another , Ajene Harris intercepted two passes, including one he returned for a score, and No. 15 Southern California beat Colorado 38-24 on Saturday to wrap up the Pac-12 South title.

Darnold threw for 329 yards as he improved to 18-3 as a starter. Tailback Ronald Jones II had 142 yards to surpass Mike Garrett for sixth place on the Trojans' all-time rushing list.

Southern Cal (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12, No. 11 CFP) led 27-0 in the third quarter, but needed to weather a late Colorado comeback. The Trojans blocked two field goals to move to 12-0 against the Buffaloes (5-6, 2-6).

Juwann Winfree had a big day for Colorado by hauling in TD passes of 79 and 57 yards. Steven Montez threw for 376 yards.

A pivotal play in the game was when Colorado tried to get something going with about a minute left before halftime and down 14-0. Montez forced a pass to the outside that Harris stepped in front of, tip-toed along the out-of-bounds line and headed into the end zone.

Harris had another interception in the fourth quarter that nearly went for a score. As he was being tackled, Harris pitched the ball to Marvel Tell III, who took it about 27 yards for a TD. The replay booth took a look and ruled that Harris' knee was down before the pitch.


USC: This should please coach Clay Helton — the Trojans turned in big plays on offense, defense and special teams. This should not — a blocked punt that set up a short score by Phillip Lindsay to make it 27-14 in the third quarter.

Colorado: They Buffaloes remain a win away from reaching bowl eligibility for a second straight season.


USC will be trending up after turning in a dominant first half and something less than that in the second.


Colorado linebacker Trent Headley trotted out to the field on senior day, dropped to a knee near his cheerleader girlfriend and asked her to marry him . She said yes.


The temperature at kickoff was 59 degrees. The last time the Trojans played a game in the snow was Nov. 30, 1957, at Notre Dame. ... Trojans PK Chase McGrath missed a 40-yard field goal and an extra point. ... The last time USC blocked two field goals in a game was Nov. 4, 2011, against Colorado.


USC: Closes out the regular season against UCLA at the Coliseum next Saturday.

Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams and Chargers: Week 10 Preview and Predictions]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 18:10:42 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/Bolts+and+Horns+Week+10.png

The Los Angeles Rams are back.

This is meant both figuratively and literally. After a month-long road trip including a visit to London and a bye week, the Rams return to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Sunday in sole possession of first place in the NFC West. 

At 6-2, the Rams will look to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games as they welcome the Houston Texans to Tinseltown.

For L.A. based sports fans, the Sunday afternoon game offers a chance at revenge against the city of Houston after the Dodgers were dealt a heartbreaking blow by the Astros in Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 1.

The Texans are limping into Los Angeles with season-ending injuries to former Defensive Player of the Year, J.J. Watt, and presumed Rookie of the Year, DeShaun Watson. Week 10 won't be easy for new starter Tom Savage, as the NFL's 9th ranked defense will be waiting for him.

On the other side of the ball, sophomore quarterback Jared Goff is coming off a career-best game against the New York Giants and leads the best scoring offense in the NFL with 32.9 points per game.

The Texans and Rams will kickoff at 1:05 PM PST from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Southern California. The game will air on CBS and can be live streamed on NFL.com and FuboTV

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Jared Goff, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Todd Gurley, Tyler Higbee, Greg Zuerlein, Rams Defense.

Sit: Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Texans: +11.5 (+450)
Rams: -11.5 (-700)
O/U: 45.5

Prediction: 28-17 Rams

Meanwhile, the City of Angels "other team," is headed to Florida this Sunday where the Chargers will face the number one ranked defense in the NFL in the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Led by shutdown corner Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars allow just 14 points per game, so Phillip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen will have their work cut out for them if they want to escape the Sunshine State with a victory. 

On the bright side, the Chargers will have middle linebacker Denzel Perryman back on the field for the first time this season. Perryman will lineup alongside Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, adding ammunition to the team's already stout defense.

The Chargers and Jaguars will kickoff at 10:00AM PST from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The game can be watched on CBS, and live streamed on NFL.com and FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry

Sit: Phillip Rivers, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Mike Williams, Nick Novak, Chargers Defense.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Chargers: +4.5 (+190)
Texans: -4.5 (-230)
O/U: 41 

Prediction: 27-24 Jaguars

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more.

Give it a listen below:

Photo Credit: Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Can't Get Over Wizards, Wall]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 18:56:25 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Lakers-lose-to-Wizards.jpg

On Thursday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers gave up nearly 70 points in the first half, as John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards raced out ahead and never looked back to claim a 111-95 victory in the nation's capital.

Wall finished the night with a game-high 23 points to go along with eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and three blocks, while Beal finished with 22 points, six assists and five rebounds in the victory.

Lonzo Ball flirted with becoming the youngest player to ever record a triple-double, but the 20-year-old came up short when his night ended with 10 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in 29 minutes on the court. Ball committed four turnovers and even air-balled a three-pointer late, so this didn't seem like the right time to record a first career triple-double. To help balance the turnovers, Ball did also have two steals on the night.

Still, the Lakers were trailing by about 20 points when Ball would have possibly hit the historic mark, so it would have been odd to celebrate history in the face of overwhelming defeat.

While the Lakers did not give the game away in the first quarter like they did a night earlier in Boston, they did give the game away in the first half. Sixty-nine points in the first half gave the Lakers a mountainous task to come away with their first win of the road trip. Add in that it was the second night of back-to-back for the Lakers, and a second half comeback never seemed likely.

In addition to Wall and Beal, Otto Porter Jr. added 20 points and 11 rebounds, as the Wizards' starting lineup did most of the damage on Thursday night. Starting forward Markieff Morris completed the double-digit scoring log for the Wizards with 16 points. In all, the Wizards' starters accounted for 89 of the 111 points.

The Lakers, on the other hand, finished with seven players scoring in double figures, including all five starters. Usual suspects Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson reached the double-figure mark off the bench, with Clarkson sharing team-high honors with Brook Lopez. Both players scored 15 points, though neither player featured for more than 22 minutes in the game.

With the defeat, the Lakers dropped to 5-7 on the season, while the Wizards improved to 6-5 on the year. Next, the Lakers play in Milwaukee on Saturday, while the Wizards are due to host the Atlanta Hawks on that same evening.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Bellinger, Kershaw and Roberts BBWAA Finalists]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 17:53:50 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*160/BellingerKershawRoberts.jpg

The Dodgers didn't bring home the trophy this season, but they will add some hardware to their shelves this offseason.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America announced all the finalists for their end of the year Awards this week, and three prominent Dodgers are among the finalists.

Cody Bellinger (Rookie of the Year Award finalist), Clayton Kershaw (Cy Young Award finalist) and Dave Roberts (Manager of the Year Award finalist) all have the opportunity to take home some coveted hardware next week.

One year after shortstop Corey Seager won the award, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a chance to go back-to-back in the Rookie of the Year Award race as first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger is the heavy favorite to win the prize.

On Wednesday, Bellinger took home the award for Outstanding Rookie in the National League as voted on by his peers, the MLB players. If that award was any indication, Bellinger should easily defeat Pirates' rookie Josh Bell and Cardinals' infielder Paul DeJong for the BBWA award.

Bellinger belted 39 home runs in 2017 and 97 RBI, the most among all rookies in the National League.

Clayton Kershaw is the betting favorite to win his fourth career Cy Young Award, just ahead of 2016 winner Max Scherzer.

Despite missing two months of the season, Kershaw led the N.L. in wins with 18, and had the lowest ERA in baseball at 2.31. Another thing in Kershaw's favor is that another Washington National, Stephen Strasburg is also a finalist, possibly splitting the vote amongst East Coast voters. 

Finally, Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts is the reigning N.L. Manager of the Year and will look to win his second straight trophy in the category. 

This year's finalists feature all N.L. West managers as Roberts joins Colorado Rockies' manager Bud Black and Arizona Diamondbacks' Torey Lovullo as the favorites this season.

After falling two wins shy of the World Series last season, Roberts led the Dodgers to a Los Angeles franchise record 104 wins, and the best record in baseball in 2017. He guided the Dodgers to Game 7 of the World Series, but lost in heartbreaking fashion in the final game of the season to the Houston Astros.

The 2017 BBWAA Awards will be announced live on MLB Network Monday-Thursday of next week starting at 3:00PM PST. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Say Goodbye to Ethier, Keep Forsythe]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 16:24:50 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/195*120/Andre+Ethier+Last+at+bat.png

When one door closes, another one opens.

It's been less than a week since the Los Angeles Dodgers lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Houston Astros, but the front office is already making plans for the future.

Those plans began earlier this week, when the Dodgers declined the 2018 option on veteran outfielder Andre Etheir, making him a free agent after spending the last 12 years of his career in Los Angeles.

Now before you grab your pitchforks and torches and gather a mob outside Dodger Stadium, fans need to understand that the reason why the team declined the option on the fan-favorite Ethier was strictly for financial reasons only. 

Ethier was set to make $17.5 million for the 2018 season, despite playing in just 38 total games the last two seasons. Ethier's buyout was just $2.5 million, saving the Dodgers $15 million to either re-sign Ethier at a lower price, or go after big name free agents in the offseason like current starter Yu Darvish, free agent Jake Arrieta, or Japanese sensation Shohei Otani.

As much as Dodger fans love the player they affectionately call "Dre," Ethier has been a shell of his former self over the last two seasons, missing the first five months of both the 2016 and 2017 season with injuries.

First, Ethier broke his tibia during spring training in 2016 after he fouled a ball off his shin in a preseason game. Nearly a year later, Ethier missed the first five months of the 2017 season with a herniated disc in his back as well as ankle injuries.

Relegated to rehabilitation for the better part of the last two seasons, Ethier has taken on more of a leadership role in the clubhouse, mentoring Rookies Cody Bellinger and Andrew Toles among others.

On the bright side, despite being riddled with injuries, Ethier made the postseason roster in each of the last two seasons and was a valuable pinch-hitter off the bench.

The 35-year-old left-hander went 8-for-34 with two home runs and four walks in the final month of the regular season, and batted .308 with a home run in 15 plate appearances in the playoffs.

Ethier also drove in the only Dodgers' run with a pinch-hit RBI single in Game 7 of the World Series in what could be his final at-bat in Dodger blue.

If it was his last at-bat as a Dodger, Ethier finishes with a .285/.359/.463 slash line during his 12 years in Los Angeles. Over that time, the outfielder appeared in two All Star Games, won a Gold Glove, and hit 162 home runs.

Ethier's future is now entirely in his own hands. He could return to the Dodgers on a less expensive one-year deal, he could opt for a DH role with an American League team, he could sign with the his hometown team the Arizona Diamondbacks, or he could opt for retirement after injuries shortened his last two seasons.

One player that will be returning to the Dodgers for the 2018 season is second baseman Logan Forsythe. One day after declining the option on Ethier, the team exercised their option on Forsythe.

Forsythe will return for $9 million in 2018 and is projected to be the starting second baseman for the Boys in Blue.

Forsythe had an up-and-down season with the Dodgers in 2017, batting. 224 with 37 home runs, 57 doubles and a career-high 69 walks.

Despite his regular season struggles, Forsythe shined in the postseason, slashing .297/.435/.351 with nine runs scored and nine walks in 14 playoff games. 

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ball Looks to Find Shot Vs. Wall, Wizards on Thursday]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 09:34:26 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Wizards-11-9-17.jpg

After a sloppy start in Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers launched their four-game road trip with a defeat. Thankfully, the Lakers get back on the court the very next night with a trip to the nation's capital on Thursday.

The Washington Wizards should have Thursday's game circled on their calendars because the Lakers handed Scott Brooks' team its first loss of the season in an overtime thriller at Staples Center. Since then, the Wizards have proceeded to lose four of their next six games and settled on a 5-5 start to the season.

The Lakers are at 5-6 after the defeat in Boston, and staying within touching distance of .500 would be a welcome sight for Luke Walton and his staff considering the Lakers are currently starting two rookies and a 20-year-old in Brandon Ingram.

After facing Kyrie Irving on Wednesday night, Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has the unenviable task of picking up John Wall on Thursday. The NBA is relentless, especially for guards, and Ball's education is currently in hyper-drive.

Unfortunately, Ball has been unable to find any shooting rhythm and enters Thursday's game shooting 22 percent from the field and 12 percent from beyond the three-point line over his last four games. Plainly, Ball has been awful from a shooting stand point, especially from distance. On Wednesday in Boston, Ball missed four of his five three-point attempts, meaning the rookie has only converted two of his last 17 attempts from distance entering Thursday's game.

Of course, Ball is not a one-dimensional player, evidenced by the last time the Lakers played the Wizards. In that meeting, Ball missed all five of his three-point attempts and only finished with six points on 2-11 shooting, but the former UCLA Bruin managed 10 assists, eight rebounds, one steal, one block and only one turnover in the overtime victory.

While the assists, rebounds and defense stand out as positives for the rookie, the fact that Ball is not egregiously turning the ball over is probably the most promising sign that the rookie is not in over his head. Over his past five games, Ball is averaging only 1.0 turnover per game, and the Lakers have been competitive in all five of those games.

Wall, who is considered one of the best point guards in the NBA, averages nearly four turnovers per game and is only shooting 28.6 percent from three-point land for the 2017-18 season. So, while Ball's shooting struggles are worth monitoring, perhaps they're a little overblown considering the 20-year-old is only 11 games into his rookie season.

Along with Wall, the Wizards offer a scoring assassin in Bradley Beal. Beal leads the Wizards with 25.4 points per game and scored a game-high 28 points when the Wizards were in LA. The 24-year-old is coming off a series of hot shooting performances that have the no. 3 pick in the 2012 draft averaging 34.3 points over the first four games of November.

On the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers look to get back to .500 against a .500 team with an early tip-off. The Lakers and Wizards tip-off on Thursday evening at 4 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Denzel Perryman's Return Bulks Up Chargers Defense]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 13:24:12 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_23102806359.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers officially announced on Tuesday that middle linebacker Denzel Perryman has been activated from injured reserve.

Perryman will start in his first regular season game of the 2017 season this Sunday in Jacksonville against the Jaguars. He started the regular season on injured reserve, and has been out since suffering a left ankle injury in the Chargers preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks in August.

The injury required surgery and a vigorous rehab assignment in order for Perryman to return on the field this season. Throughout the process, this man of hard work, determination, and faith was supported by his family, friends, and most importantly his daughter.

"My daughter used to tell me every time, 'Daddy, be careful with your leg. Be careful with your leg,'" Perryman said. "That just took my mind off the injury, period."

Perryman being the hard-hitting run stopper, gives the defense more depth in stopping the run along with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram pushing the line hard. It's something defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, gladly welcomes with open arms especially against his former team.

Like Kendrick Lamar, Perryman has loyalty and royalty inside his DNA, and he'll bring all of it on Sunday for his teammates. The Chargers will start him at weakside linebacker, keeping Hayes Pullard in the middle of the defense.

His return will spark the defense, yet it's unknown if he'll be on a snap count this week. Eager to make his return, it's expected that Perryman will improve a Chargers run defense allowing 135 rushing yards a game.

"I may be a little winded for maybe a day," Perryman said. "I give it a day, but I'll be right." 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Lakers Can't Complete Comeback in Boston]]>Wed, 08 Nov 2017 21:00:07 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Celtics.jpg

Kyrie Irving led the Boston Celtics to a 107-96 victory after the Los Angeles Lakers came out flat, fell behind by 21 points in the first half, fought back to within four points in the second half but ultimately could not complete the comeback on the Celtics' famous parquet floor.

The Lakers started the night sloppy, and it killed them.

The Lakers turned the ball over nine times in the first 12 minutes. Two of those nine turnovers belonged to Andrew Bogut, who got the nod ahead of Julius Randle with the second unit. The gamble did not pay off, as the Lakers had a net rating of minus-10 in Bogut's six minutes on the court.

To his credit, Walton adjusted his rotation in the second half after Randle had carried the Lakers back into the game with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in the second quarter.

Bogut did not get off the bench in the second half.

In the third quarter, Brandon Ingram came to life by attacking and scoring the basketball. Ingram had 18 points and four rebounds by the end of three quarters, and the Lakers only trailed by six entering the final 12 minutes in Boston. Unfortunately, Ingram would not score a single point in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers got into a defensive slug-fest down the stretch.

Over the final 12 minutes, the Celtics outscored the Lakers 20-15 with Irving helping finish off the game for the home team. On the night, the 2016 NBA Champion finished with 19 points, only second to stand-in center Aron Baynes, and five assists.

Baynes got the start in place of Al Horford, as the for regular Celtics' center recovered from a concussion. Baynes, who was born in New Zealand and attended Washington State, nearly doubled his previous season high with 21 points on 8-12 shooting in only 23 minutes on the court. The Celtics' center also had three assists and eight rebounds in those impressive minutes when the Lakers were pushing to level the game.

At one point in the third quarter, it seemed like Baynes personally answered every big Lakers' bucket with a score of his own.

Lonzo Ball continued to struggle with his shot, as the rookie missed four of his five three point attempts on the night and failed to hit the target on seven of his 10 other attempts from the field. However, the 20-year-old appeared to grow into the game and finished with nine points, six assists, five rebounds, four blocks, one steal and only two turnovers in 38 minutes.

The Lakers' other promising rookie, Kyle Kuzma, struggled for the majority of the first half but seemed to find a bit of a rhythm before the break, when he finally broke his duck. Kuzma finished with 10 points and six rebounds on the night and also played better in the second half than the first.

One notable difference from recent games was Brook Lopez's three-point shot. The center missed all four of his attempts from distance, and the Lakers missed 19 of the 24 three-pointers they attempted on the night. Boston only shot 38.8 percent from the field and won the game, so this was hardly a beautiful game, but it was entertaining on the whole.

Randle deserved a great deal of that credit. The former Kentucky Wildcat eventually finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and a steal in only 21 minutes on the court. Randle finished the night as the only Lakers' player with a positive net rating.

Jordan Clarkson also continued his hot start to the season, as the longest tenured Laker alongside Randle scored 18 points. Clarkson has now scored in double figures in 10 of 11 games this season, quickly becoming a consistent offensive threat off Walton's pine.

With the victory, the Celtics claimed their 10th victory in a row with Irving getting an early tip for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award. The Lakers, meanwhile, fell to 5-6 on the season with the second night of a back-to-back waiting in Washington D.C. on Thursday night.

Tip-off for the Wizards and Lakers is even earlier than Boston's rivalry game. The Lakers at Wizards tips-off at 4 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Win an OT Thriller in Ill-Tempered Freeway Faceoff]]>Wed, 08 Nov 2017 05:56:06 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/190*120/AP_17312185382742.jpg

Nick Shore scored on a pass from Dustin Brown with 1:09 left in overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night in the first Freeway Faceoff of the season.

Brown also scored the tying goal early in the third period for the Pacific Division-leading Kings, who surged to an 11-2-2 start with an exciting victory in their local derby with the five-time defending division champion Ducks.

Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe also scored for the Kings, and rookie Alex Iafallo had two assists. Jonathan Quick made 33 saves and got an assist on Shore's game-winner.

Rickard Rakell had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who have lost four straight.

Jared Boll ended a 61-game goal drought and Sami Vatanen scored his first of the season for the injury-plagued Ducks in their first game since captain Ryan Getzlaf had surgery on a broken cheekbone, sidelining him for up to two months.

John Gibson made 30 saves for Anaheim before his mask was knocked off by a blow to the head, forcing backup Ryan Miller into the game with 6:53 left in regulation. Miller made nine saves, including a point-saving stop on Tyler Toffoli with 90 seconds left in regulation.

The local rivals played their usual bad-tempered game filled with big hits of questionable legality and several ensuing scrums. Quick even got into it with agitating Ducks forward Corey Perry, trading shoves in a prolonged scuffle that led to roughing penalties for three players.

Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid was given a game misconduct for the worst hit, an open-ice shot that sent Ducks forward Ondrej Kase to the dressing room in the first period with an upper-body injury.

Vatanen scored immediately after the ensuing five-minute power play ended, putting Anaheim up 2-0. After Kopitar scored his team-leading eighth goal, Rakell popped the water bottle off Quick's net with a goal that ramped off Iafallo's stick in the second period to make it 3-1.

Kempe kept it close with his seventh goal in 10 games off a sweet pass from Tanner Pearson. Brown evened it with 14:11 left in regulation, converting Iafallo's setup for the revitalized former Los Angeles captain's seventh goal of the season.

Brown appeared to put the Kings ahead five minutes later after converting a beautiful backward pass from Drew Doughty, but the goal was wiped out when video review determined Doughty had been offside. Los Angeles had yet another goal waved off moments later when Gibson's helmet came off during play, forcing the goalie into the dressing room.

NOTES: Boll opened the scoring by converting a rebound of Brandon Montour's shot for his first goal in 59 games with the Ducks over two seasons. The goal was just the 28th of the hard-nosed enforcer's NHL career, and his first since March 20, 2016, with Columbus. ... The Ducks scratched D Jaycob Megna with Francois Beauchemin returning from a one-game absence. ... Los Angeles swapped Swedish defensemen in its lineup again, scratching Christian Folin and dressing Oscar Fantenberg.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma - Lakers' Yin and Yang]]>Wed, 08 Nov 2017 14:14:19 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Lakers-Lonzo-Ball-Kyle-Kuzma.jpg

At the conclusion of Monday's Los Angeles Lakers practice, the final session ahead of the team's four-game road trip to the East Coast, a local camera man got on the phone. Likely talking to his producer about the video he would be feeding back to the station, the camera man said, "We got Kyle Kuzma and Luke Walton, and I don't know who the first guy was."

That "first guy" was Lonzo Ball.

The "Lonzo Ball era" of the Los Angeles Lakers may require an addendum because right now, it is also the "Kyle Kuzma era" for the purple and gold. At the moment, both names come up in nearly every conversation involving the team.

Twins by NBA birth, Kuzma and "Zo" sit next to each other in the locker room, though that decision came from higher up. The age difference between Kuzma and Ball is two years, three months and three days, but their NBA lives began on the same day, so their experience from Las Vegas to training camp is a shared journey into the unknown.

Notably, the age difference between Ball and Brandon Ingram is a mere one month and 25 days and one extra locker at Staples Center, but Ingram's full season of experience makes him an elder in many ways. Slight as that separation may be, Kuzma and Ball sit on the same eye level and haven't looked back since hitting it off at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Yin And Yang

The two rookies fit together. One is a guard. The other is a forward.

One is a naturally gifted passer leading the teams in assists, while the other is a naturally gifted scorer ranking second on the team despite only making two starts. One passes; the other scores. Undoubtedly, both belong on the NBA court, and both have the Lakers giddy with excitement. Something about Kuzma and Ball fits almost perfectly.

"I just think it's his character," Ball says when asked why he thinks he gets along with Kuzma so well. "Off the court, he's a great person. So, on the court, you know he's going to play hard. You put those two together and [get a] great teammate. Like I said, it started in Summer League and just picked up from there."

Ball expands on why Kuzma is easy to get along with, "He gets along with everybody, including the staff, as well. He's easy to coach. That's why all the coaches like him. He plays hard. That's why we all like him."

Walton echoed the same points about Kuzma almost verbatim a few nights earlier to such an extent that it almost seems like the Ball and Walton took turns reading a scene.

"His personality allows him to kind of fit in," Walton had said about Kuzma. "Vets really enjoy him. Young players get along great with him. He works so hard (that) all the coaches think very highly of him, so I think everyone just likes him and wants him to succeed. He plays really hard all the time. It's an easy way to earn the respect of everyone when you do that."

While both Ball and Kuzma have built strong fan bases inside the Lakers' facility and inside the locker room, they have a competitive relationship that goes beyond the required interaction. The two regularly play out a half court shooting competition after practices, and Tuesday offered rare footage of Kuzma and Ball playing one-on-one behind closed doors.

The trash talk is genuine and clearly nothing new. It's serious, yet friendly. Clearly, these two have a healthy, cocky competition ongoing, filled with talking junk and laughs.

"His answers are short, stout," Kuzma takes that friendly competition in front of cameras and microphones in the team's last public availability before jetting for the duo's first real NBA road trip. "I'm pretty sure you guys don't like his answers...Yea, they're ok, but they're boring."

While Kuzma is far from ebullient himself, the 22-year-old adds another friendly jab at his fellow rookie when assessing his own interview style, "More vibrant than his."

Competing with Ball on a daily basis, though, means striving for greatness. Team president Earvin "Magic" Johnson heralded Ball's arrival by playfully begging the rookie not to take all of his records. If those expectations seem unreasonable, Kuzma's self-imposed expectations appear to have the same goals of finding a home with the basketball gods on Mount Olympus.

"I don't really focus on rookies," Kuzma responds when asked if he compares his stats to his peers in the Class of 2017. "My focus is, one, winning. Two, I try and focus on the top players in the league because that's where I want to be. So, I don't think rookies are a stick point for me to battle with."

Kuzma adds with a matter of fact tone, "I look at guys like (Giannis) Antetokounmpo, LeBron (James) and those guys because, eventually, that's where I want to be."

The former University of Utah Ute is averaging 15.4 points per game, along with 6.3 rebounds per game, but those statistics are flawed, already. Kuzma started the season as a scorer with the second unit, so the forward only pulled down 10 rebounds once during his first eight games of the season. Since moving to the starting lineups, Kuzma has two double-doubles in two starts, as his role requires more attention to the defensive end and the defensive glass.

"We just try to hit you in waves and keep on coming and keep on pressing," Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. described the assault of having three power forwards the caliber of Julius Randle, Nance and Kuzma all available and playing regularly in terms that would make Rza from the Wu-Tang Clan proud.

Nance recently broke his hand and expects to miss a month, which is the reason Kuzma jumped into the starting lineup well ahead of schedule—and ahead of Randle. Now, Kuzma is playing with both the starting unit and the second unit, as the 22-year-old is becoming the first starter substituted off by Walton in order to have the rookie come back and play with the second unit at the start of the second and fourth quarters.

"Obviously, defense is probably where we're going to miss me the most," Nance put on his analyst cap when giving his post-surgery press conference in the hallway leading to the locker room at Staples Center.

Nance added thoughtfully, "If there's a position that we have super depth in, it's the power forward spot."

At this point, one should remind everyone that the rookie got the starting nod over Randle, who has effectively been transformed into an energy player off the bench. Considering Randle is a restricted free agent in the upcoming summer and the team has its sights publicly set on attracting two maximum salary-type players, the likelihood that Randle will still be on the Lakers in one year's time should be considered remote.

As such, trade rumors were due to blossom throughout the cold winter regardless of Kuzma's emergence, but Kuzma likely holding the starting spot for the upcoming month should begin that trade rumor buzz. While Luol Deng told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne that he'd like to be traded on Monday, the market for Deng and his eggregious salary has never existed. The market for Randle, though, does exist and should continue to grow over the next month of consistent minutes with a thinned out field at power forward.

The combination of Randle's contract, his energetic and improved play in a bench role that should appeal to a playoff team and Kuzma's emergence could force trade talk into a frenzy about the time Nance is due to return from injury in December. Since Kuzma is the guy Lakers president Earvin "Magic" Johnson drafted with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, the kid from Johnson's home state is likely here to stay.

Before drafting Kuzma with the no. 27 pick in the draft, the Lakers only saw two workouts. The forward had one outstanding workout in Chicago, and his agent quickly shut down the prospect to likely keep interest high. Then, the Lakers got another look at the kid from Flint, Michigan at their facility, and that workout mirrored the performance at the Draft Combine in Chicago.

"The two workouts we saw were better than any film I saw on him," Walton said about Kuzma immediately after giving the rookie his first start. "We interviewed him in Chicago—loved him. He seemed like a tough, tough kid that had a good energy about him. We were looking for someone that could stretch the floor for us a little bit and put him in the development program and grow him slowly."

Walton added, "Obviously, he's been a lot better than, I think, any of us anticipated, but as a group, we were very excited when he was still there and we had our pick."

Ball's path to the Lakers may seem different from a spotlight and exposure stand point. Ultimately, though, the Lakers also only saw Ball work out twice before drafting him with the no. 2 overall pick: once at the Lakers' facility and once during the home visit to Chino Hills.

Through his first 10 games, Ball is shooting 30 percent from the field, 23 percent from the three-point line and 54 percent at the foul line. Without a doubt, Ball is starting his NBA career with an awful shooting record, but the former UCLA Bruin isn't regularly committing an abnormally high number of turnovers, nor is he failing to impact the game in a positive manner. Ball has three total turnovers over the past four games, and the Lakers have won three of those four contests with Ball having an aggregate plus-minus of plus-50 over those four games. Simply put: the Lakers are better with Ball on the court.

As a reminder, the lone loss was due to Damian Lillard hitting a deep last second three-pointer over the outstretched flag pole arms of Brandon Ingram. Though Ball was nationally scorned for only attempting two shots and being passive in that game in Portland, the rookie seemed content to serve the ball to Lopez and jump start the center's season. Ball was a team-high plus-10 in Portland, and Lopez scored 27 points, which has led to three straight games of the big man leading the team in scoring.

Outside of being able to read a game at a level beyond his years, Ball has been better than advertised on the defensive end of the floor. Ball's defense is an improvement at the position over the previous couple years. Related to that point, the Lakers rank seventh in the NBA in defensive rating after ranking dead last the previous two years and second from last the year before that. That improvement is not all due to Ball, obviously, but his strong defense has helped keep the rookie on the floor at least as much as his passing.

Offensively, the Lakers' style has been significantly impacted by Ball's passing "genius," to quote Walton on the day of the 2017 NBA Draft in June. The Lakers' intentions are to play stifling defense and immediately push the ball on the break. Through 10 games, the Lakers rank third in the NBA in pace and average about five more possessions per game than they did a season ago. Currently, the Lakers play at a faster pace than the Golden State Warriors.

Ball is a genius when it comes to making the early pass and finding the point man to set off a fast break, but his true talent is being a 20-year-old able to contribute to the game by controlling pace, rebounding, defense and setting up scoring opportunities to such an extent that the Lakers can still win against an in-form Memphis team despite the point guard missing seven of his eight three point attempts in the game.

In the win over the Grizzles, a brick-laying Ball craftily managed a net rating of plus-10 in 35 minutes on the court. The Lakers won by five.

Given his athleticism, Kuzma can often be the first man down the floor, and Ball's touchdown throwing ability proved to be deadly during the Summer League. Defenses have adjusted to take away the long ball, but the greater adjustment has come with Kuzma's shift to the starting lineup.

Lopez may be a 7-footer, but the center only averaged 5.4 rebounds during the 2016-17 season in Brooklyn. Lopez has dropped that average to 4.7 rebounds per game through the first 10 games of the 2017-18 season with the Lakers. Assuming Nance's role requires Kuzma to clean up the defensive glass and cover the shot challenging Lopez, which is best illustrated by the rookie power forward pulling 11 of his 12 rebounds off the defensive glass against the Memphis Grizzlies and all 13 of his rebounds off the defensive glass against Brooklyn in his first start.

Like Ball, Kuzma has already displayed an ability to adjust his game in order to have an impact in multiple facets of the game. That's impressive. Even more promising, the rookie forward is shooting 64 percent over the past four games and 47 percent from beyond the three-point line during that same stretch. What makes Kuzma different from Randle and Nance is the forward's shooting ability, which was on full display when Kuzma caught the eye of just about every fan, scout and analyst in the desert en route to being named NBA Summer League Final MVP.

While Summer League is a weird stop in between college and the NBA, both Kuzma and Ball are already showing they belong on the NBA court. Simply, both understand and know how to play the game.

For the Lakers, if 2017 is the start of the "Lonzo Ball era" at Staples Center, it may just as well be the start of the "Kyle Kuzma era" in LA, too. The pair arrived together, fits together and now looks set to stay together for the long haul.

The first multi-city road trip offers a bonding experience for any NBA rookie, and Wednesday's ice cold reception in Boston should be the first of many wintery trips to Beantown for the duo. For Ball and Kuzma, the bond should only grow with time and experience on the court and off it, but the foundation is built on the shared desire to be great and experiencing the work that goes into making that desire into a reality.

"I think it just starts off the floor," Kuzma gives his explanation of why he and Ball connect so naturally. "I feel like if you're close off the floor and you can relate off the floor, it's easier on the court because you can understand where people are coming from and the goals that we each have are pretty similar. So for me and him, we want to be great."

Kuzma adds, "On the court, it's like Yin-Yang pretty much. We have a vibe that goes together."

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Win Again, Beat Grizzlies 107-102]]>Mon, 06 Nov 2017 00:55:42 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-beat-Grizzlies-11-5-17.jpg

On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers built up a 22-point lead before nearly blowing it and beating the Memphis Grizzlies 107-102 to claim the team's third win in the past four games. The Lakers improved to 5-5 on the season and are in a four-way tie for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, though one should keep in mind that the 2017-18 NBA season is not even a month old.

"We're happy with where we're at right now," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game. "To me, the most impressive thing is the effort we're getting right now every single time we play the game."

Brook Lopez led the Lakers' scoring with 21 points, as the center has become a focal point of team's recent run. On this night, the big man hit four of his six three-point attempts and also contributed five assists and two blocks in the victory.

"It's a team thing," Lopez said after the game. "We are moving the ball very well, playing super unselfishly. You see that in our number of assists and our guys putting in double figures. It's really spectacular."

Lopez's five assists hinted at the sharing nature of the Lakers, as the team assists on 25 of 40 made field goals. Lonzo Ball tabbed a game-high nine assists to lead the way. Ball also managed nine points and five rebounds in the victory, but the 20-year-old still struggled to find his range and missed seven of his eight three-point attempts.

With the rookie point guard embodying the Lakers' sharing culture, six different Lakers finished scoring in double figures, with Ball the only starter not to hit the 10-point mark.

Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma made his second consecutive start in place of the injured Larry Nance Jr., and Kuzma recorded his second straight double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds in 38 minutes on the court.

"I play hard, I rebound and of course, I score, so it's pretty natural," Kuzma confidently stated when asked about his double-doubles.

Kuzma's fellow frontcourt mate, second-year forward Brandon Ingram, had a big first half with 18 points, but the 20-year-old former Duke Blue Devil drew a bit more attention in the second stanza. Consequently, Ingram finished the night with 20 points and seven rebounds.

Perhaps, the most impressive performer of the night was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who made a couple big, game-winning plays after the Grizzlies had rallied from 22 points down to cut the gap to only three points with 42.5 seconds remaining.

The Grizzlies had the ball after a flagrant foul was called on Lopez, but Caldwell-Pope came up with a hugh steal before going down on the other end and draining a 19-foot jump shot. The Grizzlies went from possibly leveling the game to trailing by five points, and now, the game clock had wound down to 19.1 seconds.

In effect, Caldwell-Pope's strip and score sealed the Lakers' victory.

"They did have a lot of momentum," Caldwell-Pope admitted after the game. "But that play right there (the steal) and the bucket on the other end slowed that momentum down, and we finished the game up.

The Grizzlies would cut the deficit to three points after a made layup, but Lopez iced the game after he was intentionally fouled.

Grizzlies Stars

Marc Gasol finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the loss, nearly tabbing a triple-double. Meanwhile, Tyreke Evans led all scorers with 26 points. Mike Conley finished the night with 23 points, five rebounds and three assists, with 11 of those points coming in the fourth quarter comeback.

Quote of the night: "He's been watching Disney Channel a lot. Maybe his favorite shows have been coming on." - Lonzo Ball on why he thinks Brook Lopez has been playing so well recently.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[L.A. Rams Rout Hapless Giants]]>Sun, 05 Nov 2017 13:55:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/Rams+Rout+Giants+.png

Don't look now but the L.A. Rams are for real. 

Jared Goff threw a career-high four touchdowns, and the Los Angeles Rams routed the hapless New York Giants, 51-17, in a rainy game at Met Life Stadium on Sunday.

The contest was a classic tale of two teams headed in opposite directions, as the revamped Rams won their fifth game in their last six, and are off to their best start since 2011 at 6-2.

Meanwhile, the G-Men have lost seven of their last eight games and find themselves in the cellar of the NFC East, a whopping six games behind the first place Philadelphia Eagles.

Goff threw three touchdowns in the first half, finishing with 311 yards passing in arguably his best game as a pro. 

Todd Gurley ran for two second half scores as the Rams easily blew out the defenseless Giants on their home turf to move into first place in the NFC West. 

The Rams new and improved offense scored on eight of their first nine possessions, starting with a Goff touchdown to tight end Tyler Higbee after All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald strip-sacked Eli Manning on the Giants first drive of the game. 

Higbee's touchdown made him the ninth consecutive tight end to score against the Giants defense, setting a new NFL record for futility.

After that, the Rams ran away with the game, completing big play after big play, starting with a 52-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Goff to Robert Woods that took place on a 3rd and 33.

On the next Rams possession, Goff unloaded on a deep 67-yard touchdown bomb to Sammy Watkins that put the visiting team up 24-7 halfway through the second quarter.

Rams' place kicker Greg Zuerlein continued his excellent season going a perfect 9-for-9 on kick attempts, including three field goals and six extra points. 

Eli Manning threw for 220 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception in the loss. The lone bright spot for the Giants was an 11-yard touchdown catch by rookie Evan Engram late in the game.

Manning's future in New York could be in peril as the Giants are heading towards a top 5 draft pick this offseason, and a massive rebuild that could take place without head coach Ben McAdoo, who's job is in jeopardy despite leading the team to the playoffs last season. 

Up Next:

After a long road trip that saw stops in Jacksonville, London and New York, the Rams will return home to Los Angeles next Sunday where they will host the Houston Texans at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum at 1:05PM PST.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun]]>
<![CDATA[USC Runs Away From Arizona Late ]]>Sun, 05 Nov 2017 11:16:40 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*127/GettyImages-870372260.jpg

Ronald Jones II scored two fourth quarter touchdowns, and the No. 17 USC Trojans ran away late from No. 21 Arizona, 49-35, on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Jones II finished with 194 yards and three touchdowns and John Houston Jr. intercepted Wildcats' quarterback Khalil Tate to seal the victory in front of 70,225 fans on Homecoming night.

After struggling in the first half, Tate and the Wildcats exploded in the second half as they erased a 22-point deficit, scoring 29 points in the second. Tate finished the game with 146 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and 161 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

His counterpart, Sam Darnold, was 20-for-26 for 311 yards and two touchdowns, as he put the Trojans in the pole position atop the Pac 12 South with the win. USC now only needs one victory in their final two games against Colorado and UCLA to clinch the South, and guarantee a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Levys Stadium on December 1st.

UCS led 21-6 in the first half before Tate sparked a second half surge for the Wildcats that evened the score at 35 after a Zach Green touchdown and 2-point conversion midway through the fourth quarter.

But Jones II responded with reckless abandon as he scampered for 96 yards in the final quarter, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 5:37 remaining, and another insurance touchdown with 3:09 left in the game. Jones surpassed 1,000 yards on the season in the game, and became the first Trojans' running back since LenDale White in 2004 and 2005 to reach the millenium mark in back-to-back seasons.

The Trojans scored a special teams touchdown early in the game, when USC's Jalen Greene returned a blocked punt to the endzone for the game's first score.

Tyler Vaughns and Steven Mitchell Jr. each caught receiving touchdowns in the second quarter as the Freshman Vaughns led the team with four catches for 59 yards.

Despite recording five sacks on Tate, the Trojans' defense struggled with the mobile quarterback, especially late in the game.

Up Next:

The Trojans will travel to Colorado next week where they fill face the Buffaloes in frigid temperatures with a chance to secure their second ever Pac 12 South Title. 

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[World Series Memes: Astros vs. Dodgers]]>Sat, 04 Nov 2017 14:13:06 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/World+Series+Memes+Dodgers+Funny.png

Now that we've all had time to digest the Los Angeles Dodgers devastating loss in Game 7 of the World Series, it's time to look back, reflect, and laugh at one of the most epic and thrilling Fall Classic's in recent memory.

From Chris Taylor's leadoff home run on the first pitch he saw from Dallas Keuchel, to the Astros comeback in Game 2, to the 15-round heavyweight fight that was Game 5, the World Series was a rollercoaster ride for the ages.

After the dust settled, the Houston Astros were champions, winning the first World Series title in their 55-year franchise history. 

Meanwhile, the Dodgers 29-year drought will extend to 30 next season as Los Angeles will look to rebound from a heartbreaking defeat in order to bring Tinseltown a trophy.

Throughout the entirety of the seven-game series, fans took to Twitter to share their favorite moments, jokes, and memes with the rest of the world.

So sit back, relax, grab a cold drink and kick your feet up, as we relive the 2017 World Series between the Dodgers and Astros through memes. 






Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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<![CDATA[Kyle Kuzma, Brook Lopez Blaze Nets 124-112]]>Fri, 03 Nov 2017 23:16:21 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kyle-Kuzma-Lakers-rookie-starter.jpg

On a night when D'Angelo Russell's return to LA dominated the pregame discussion, it was the two pieces that the Los Angeles Lakers got back in the trade for Russell that stole the show and helped carry the Lakers to a 124-112 victory at Staples Center.

Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, who the Lakers selected with the no. 27 pick that previously belonged to the Brooklyn Nets, scored 17 points and pulled down five rebounds before the halftime intermission in the forward's first start for the Lakers.

Kuzma eventually finished with 21 points on 8-11 shooting and 13 rebounds in the victory.

With Larry Nance Jr. fracturing his hand a night earlier in Portland and set to miss roughly 4-6 weeks, Kuzma got the call to start from his coach, and the 22-year-old forward looked more than up for the challenge. So impressive was his performance that one can imagine the Flint, Michigan native becoming the long-term starter for the purple and gold in the front court.

Along with Kuzma, the Lakers also acquired Brook Lopez in the trade that sent Russell and center Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn, and Lopez took the revenge game narrative and ran with it, murdering his former team from beyond the arc. Lopez made five of his first six shots from distance, and followed up on his 27-point night in Portland a night earlier with 34 points and 10 rebounds against the Nets on Friday night.

"Some of those threes, I was yelling at my coaches, 'Why is he shooting that?'" Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Lopez, who finished 6-9 from distance, after the game.  "He made them, so we left him in."

Russell finished with 17 points on 8-24 shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists, but the former Laker simply could not find his range from distance. Russell missed seven of his eight shots from beyond the arc.

Allen Crabbe scored 25 points off the visitors' bench and helped Brooklyn rally in the fourth quarter, but Brandon Ingram seemed to step up late and help put the game to bed. Like his fellow front court starters, Ingram recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds and also shot better than 50 percent from the field.

The Lakers' new starting front line of Kuzma, Ingram and Lopez combined for 73 points on 59.6 percent shooting from the field and 9-14, 64.3 percent from beyond the three-point line.

"I thought the front court did a good job of being aggressive on both ends of the court," Walton said about the new-look front line.

The coach added, "There was a good chemistry out there, surprisingly, with the lineup change happening and getting back at 2 in the morning."

Notes: Rookie Lonzo Ball followed up on his scoreless night with six points, on 3-15 shooting, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and had a game-high plus-22 points. Ball looked to be forcing his shot early in the contest, but the point guard still managed to take care of the ball and committed no turnovers in 29 minutes on the court on the second night of a back-to-back.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Vault: Dodgers 1988 World Series Parade]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 21:12:20 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/VAULT_88_PARADE_1_1200x675_1087638083753.jpg

We're still awaiting the next parade. So we're here to bring Dodgers fans back to the championship days of 1988 with some of the best moments from the World Series celebration.]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Come Up Just Short in Portland 113-110]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 22:30:42 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-at-Blazers-11-2-17.jpg

On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers came back from 18 points down in the unfriendly confines of the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, but ultimately, Damian Lillard's late, deep three-point shot sunk LA 113-110.

Lillard finished with a game-high 32 points after hitting his game-winning shot with only 0.7 showing on the game clock. Long-armed Brandon Ingram had forced the Blazers' point guard to about 30 feet away from the basket, but the Oakland native made the incredibly difficult shot look easy.

Lakers coach Luke Walton managed to get rookie Kyle Kuzma a clear look at a potential game-tying three pointer, but the forward's shot came up just short. Kuzma finished with 22 points on 10-17 shooting from the field on the night, which was the 22-year-old's best offensive outing as a professional. He's only played eight games, so one would expect Kuzma will break that record in days, rather than weeks or months.

Related to that point, starting forward Larry Nance Jr. broke his hand during Thursday's game, as reported by the team. Hands play a rather important role in basketball, so Nance expects to miss time, and Kuzma's start to the season makes him the most obvious candidate to assume a starting role for the Lakers. The 27th over all pick in the 2017 NBA Draft is widely conidered the steal of the summer, and a start at this stage of his career could turn permanent if Kuzma continues to show maturity well beyond his experience.

In the defeat, center Brook Lopez also had his best game as a Laker with 27 points on 9-15 shooting, as the Lakers' big man had a field day against Portland's smaller line ups. 

In terms of game flow, the visitors fell behind early and trailed by 16 points at the end of the first quarter after giving up 41 points over those first 12 minutes. However, LA picked up its defense and managed to cut the deficit to only four points by halftime, showing inspired fight back in front of a national television audience.

About three and a half minutes into the second half, the Lakers had managed to level the score at 68-68. Three minutes later, the Lakers led by six points, but the Blazers and Lakers stayed within touching distance for the remainder of the contest until Lillard's impossible shot dropped with 0.7 seconds remaining in the game and Kuzma's shot hit the front of the rim at the buzzer.

Next, the Lakers return home for a Friday night date with D'Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets.

Notes: Lonzo Ball only attempted two shots in 28 minutes, as the rookie went scoreless and only managed four assists and three rebounds. While Ball did not have a poor game, as he only committed one turnover and played hard defense evidenced by his two blocks and one steal, he definitely did not have a great game.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Reflects on an 'Incredible Season']]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 08:27:33 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869170328.jpg

Members of the Los Angeles Dodgers thanked fans for their support during a season to remember that ended Wednesday in disappointment.

The Dodgers dropped Game 7 of the World Series to a talented Houston Astros team in a dramatic post-season match-up between baseball's two best teams.

Below, a look at how players and other members of the Dodgers organization thanked fans, who will be looking ahead to spring training. 

Other Los Angeles teams joined in, congratulating the Dodgers on their historic season.

Even an old rival had some kind words.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodger Blues: Fans Watch as Dreams Turn to Game 7 Nightmare ]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 07:12:53 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869193854.jpgDodgers fans waited for the Game 7 comeback, but it never happened. The thrill of a World Series turned to nine innings of frustration Wednesday Nov. 1, 2017 at Dodger Stadium as the Houston Astros ended up celebrating in front of a deflated crowd.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[After Season of Magic, the Wait Continues for Dodgers Fans]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 12:19:20 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869217282.jpg

Instead of a parade, Dodgers fans will have to turn their thoughts to another spring training at the end of a season that was supposed to be LA's year.

And, it was -- right up until the early innings of Game 7. There would be no comeback, which seemed entirely possible in a post-season full of surprises and dramatic back-and-forth thrill-ride games.

The boys in blue, who had the best record in Major League Baseball, never threatened Wednesday in a Game 7 World Series loss to the Houston Astros.  Houston jumped on starter Yu Darvish, acquired at the trade deadline for just this situation, and left the home side frustrated.

Fans who thought they would be watching a parade through the city streets this week will have to turn their thoughts to next spring, again. On a day the team's fans thought they would finally get the sweet taste of 1988, the last time the Dodgers won a World Series, they instead got the bitter taste of 1978, the last time they lost it.

"I'm more heartbroken over this loss than I was over my last relationship," Dodger fan Jess Bishop said.

"Heartbroken" was a word that came up constantly in the Dodger corners of Facebook and Twitter after the 5-1 loss.

Some fought back real tears.

"Houston deserves this," said Rene Lopez of Pomona, choking up. "It was a great baseball series and that's all I can wish for."

Fans did their best to stay optimistic but the Dodgers made it hard, falling behind 5-0 in the opening innings and never getting close.

"I smell a comeback!" one person shouted during the fifth inning at Tom's Urban, a sports bar in downtown LA.

But the comeback never came.

Sasha and Ryan Mendeville from nearby Torrance were still glad they got tickets and went to the game.

"We don't regret it," Sasha said. "This is history and we're huge Dodger fans."

Joanne Lopez-Rojas, 71, said she was going to "cry and stop on the way home and have a drink."

She and her husband Delfino Lopez-Rojas, 71, are retired restaurant owners from Ventura who watched the game at Tom's Urban.

Joanne had her face painted. One side was white with colorful flowers painted in celebration of the Day of the Dead -- the Mexican holiday where people celebrate loved ones who have died -- but her right cheek had the Dodgers logo: the linked blue letters LA.

Now both cheeks were likely to be streaked with tears.

It was a far cry from Wednesday afternoon, when the city was buzzing with excitement and bursting with joy at the thought of a Game 7 in town.

In the city's Solano Canyon neighborhood, which leads into Dodger Stadium, houses had shed their Halloween decorations overnight in favor of Dodgers signs, flags and other memorabilia for Tuesday's game.

Public relations professional Ross Goldberg of Westlake Village flew his 22-year-old son, Josh, out from the East Coast, where he recently graduated from Georgetown University, to see the game.

"Tonight is the biggest game in the history of baseball in Los Angeles," said Goldberg. "It's not just a matter of waiting 29 years. You don't know if this will ever happen again."

On Wednesday night, the city desperately hoped it would, someday, happen again.

"I'll survive," Lopez-Rojas said. "They'll be back. They'll be back. I'll be a fan forever."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Discuss World Series Defeat]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 04:47:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Raw_Interview_1200x675_1086941251556.jpg

It was a devastating loss for the Los Angeles Dodgers as they were defeated by the Houston Astros 5-1 on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 in the 2017 World Series. After a roller coaster ride through the season to the series, Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Chris Taylor and Justin Turner discuss the team's defeat and where they will go from here.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame After World Series Loss to Astros]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 00:32:20 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Postgame_After_World_Series_Loss_1200x675_1086832195680.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Brandon Morrow, Chris Taylor, and Kenley Jansen discuss the devasting Game 7 loss to the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium in the World Series.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Dealt Crushing Defeat in Game 7 of World Series]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 00:33:07 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869166702.jpg

It seemed like it was destiny.

Game 7. Winner take all.

Hosted at Dodger Stadium for the first time in history.

Yu Darvish on the mound, ready for redemption.

Everything seemed like it was preordained to end the 29-year World Series drought for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

There was just one problem and it wasn't Houston who had it.

Darvish allowed five runs in the first two innings and the Los Angeles Dodgers lost the World Series to the Houston Astros, 5-1, on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.

No, the Dodgers didn't win the World Series. They didn't exorcise the demons that have hovered over Chavez Ravine since 1988.

But they did provide the backdrop for a magical season, filled with impossible moments and indelible memories, the lasting of which, will hurt the longest, that of the Houston Astros celebrating on the field at Dodger Stadium. 

Maybe that's a good thing.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals remember all too well how it felt to lose a Game 7 of the World Series on their own field and they used those images as fuel to inspire a spectacular 2015 season that ended in a World Series title.

It's an understatement to call Game 7 anything else than what is: a crushing disappointment for a team that came so close to climbing the mountain top, but on the flip side, it's hard to hate the Houston Astros.

Houston's wait for a World Series championship was longer than that of Los Angeles.

Entering the game, the Astros had the third longest championship drought in baseball at 55 years long. They had never won a World Series title in their franchise history.

So as the tears flowed on the faces of thousands of fans who watched the game from Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston, it was hard not to reflect on what that city has been through since Hurricane Harvey ravaged it at the end of August.

As the Dodgers quest for a title now enters into its 30th season, they can find solace in losing to a worthy opponent that was every amount their equal on the field of play, in one of the most epic World Series we've ever seen.

When it's all said and done, we'll remember baseballs disappearing at a record pace, Cy Young Award winning pitchers dissolving under the bright lights, managers twisting and turning with every decision they made, and 55,000 hungry Dodger fans screaming, their faces turned pale after another postseason disappointment.

Some of the Dodger players stood on the rail of the dugout and watched the postgame ceremony for the Astros on the field. After the seven-game series they just went through, it's hard to fathom how they could still stand, let alone watch something so heartbreaking.

In a solemn locker room hours after the season ended, there were hugs and handshakes, goodbyes and farewells, as well as vows to return to the game's biggest stage.

The Dodgers thirty-year thirst for a title will remain, at least for one more year, but for fans in Los Angeles there are silver linings to look at as your heart takes time to heal from this painful defeat.

This team showed heart throughout the entirety of the postseason. When they fell behind early, they fought back. When they looked down for the count, they got off the mat and punched back.

After losing leads in Games 2 and 5, they never relented, fighting until the final out, battling until the bitter end, until the world finally came crashing down around them.

This rollercoaster ride of a World Series was difficult, it was emotional, it was gut wrenching, but one thing is for certain.

The Dodgers will be back. 

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eerie Silence Falls Over Dodger Stadium After Defeat]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 01:32:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Eerie_Silence_Falls_Over_Dodger_Stadium_After_Defeat.jpg

An eerie silence fell over Dodger Stadium as the Boys in Blue were defeated by the Houston Astros for the 2017 World Series title. Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at 11 on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Darvish, McCullers to Duel in Historic Game 7]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 09:56:10 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17301804812280.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers will face the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium Wednesday night in a Game 7 that will decide what has been a thrilling World Series that provided home runs, close games and comebacks.

The Dodgers are seeking their first World Series win since 1988 -- which was also the team's last World Series appearance. The game marks a significant moment in Dodgers history as the only Game 7 ever played at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers defeated the Minnesota Twins in seven games in the 1965 Series, but that deciding game was played at Metropolitan Stadium south of the Twin Cities. 

Sandy Koufax pitched a three-hitter in that game, striking out 10, in a 2-0 victory over the hosts. 

In a fashion typical of this year's series, the Dodgers tied the best-of-seven series at three games a piece Tuesday with a 3-1 victory as four relievers shut out the Astros over the final 4 1/3 innings, limiting them to two hits, and Joc Pederson hit a solo homer in the seventh inning for an insurance run.

Yu Darvish will pitch for the Dodgers Wednesday against fellow right-hander Lance McCullers Jr.

McCullers was the winning pitcher and Darvish the loser in Houston's 5-3 victory in Game 3 Friday at Houston. McCullers allowed three runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking four, before being relieved by right-hander Brad Peacock, who held the Dodgers hitless over the final 3 2/3 innings.

The 24-year-old McCullers, seen throwing in the Dodger Stadium outfield after Tuesday night's game, said he "wasn't very sharp" Friday.

"I knew that early, though, so I knew it was going to be a grind for me pretty much the whole outing, which it was," McCullers said. "This is a very good-hitting team. They're patient but yet they'll make you pay for mistakes. So I have to go out there and ... just execute my game plan and I need to execute a little better in certain spots."

McCullers spent the 2014 season, his third as a professional, with the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League, then an Astros Class-A affiliate. McCullers was 3-6 with a 5.47 ERA for Lancaster. He made his major league debut the following season, going 6-7 with a 3.22 ERA for Houston.

McCullers' father, Lance Sr., pitched for four teams in the majors from 1985-92.

Darvish allowed four runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings, the shortest outing in his major league career, which began in 2012.

If it was the regular season, I probably would've (kept) going," Darvish said through a translator. "I wouldn't say it was the worst outing I ever had."

The Dodgers lost three Game 7s in best-of-seven series when they were based in Brooklyn, all to the New York Yankees. The Dodgers defeated the Yankees, 2-0, in Game 7 of the 1955 Series on Johnny Podres' eight-hitter to win their only World Series championship when they were in Brooklyn.

This will be the 39th time a best-of-seven World Series has been extended to a final game, including 1912, when eight games were played because of a Game 2 tie. The home team has an 18-20 record in Game 7, but has won nine of the past 11, beginning with the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982.

This will be the third time a World Series will conclude at Dodger Stadium. It happened previously in 1963, when the Dodgers swept the Yankees, and in 1978, when the Dodgers lost to the Yankees in six games. This will be the first time either team has played in November. This is the sixth Series to extend into November, including each of the last two.

Tuesday marked the second Game 6 to be played at Dodger Stadium. The other was in 1978 when the Yankees defeated the Dodgers 7-2 to win their second consecutive World Series title. The Dodgers swept the 1963 Series from the Yankees, their only World Series sweep.

It was the first time the Dodgers have played a World Series game on Halloween and the fifth all-time.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum]]>
<![CDATA[Special Coverage: Dodgers Return to World Series]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 05:37:06 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/parallax-GettyImages-8660330941.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Fans React to Devastating Loss in World Series]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 01:37:51 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Fans_React_to_Devastating_Loss_in_World_Series_1200x675_1086851139736.jpg

Game 7 of the 2017 World Series left Dodgers fans stunned, sad and disappointed. Although some fans were sharp-tongued and voiced concerns over certain players, many remained hopeful and look forward to next year. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 11 on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[True Blue Dodgers Fans in Photos]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 03:35:51 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/true-blue-dodger-fans.jpgDodger fans are partying like it's 1988, when the team last played in a World Series. Click here to see how fans are celebrating the team's historic season and postseason run.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Luis Zavala Tapia]]>
<![CDATA[This Astros Fan Got It Right]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 06:21:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Astros_Fan_at_The_Pantry_Dodgers_World_Series.jpg

Whatever happens in Game 7, Dodgers and Astros fans can agree it has been one a heart-pounding and thrilling World Series. Jonathan Gonzalez reports for Today in LA from The Pantry in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday Nov. 1, 2017.]]>
<![CDATA[The View From the Owners' Seats at Dodger Stadium]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 05:56:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/The_View_From_Owners_Seats_at_Dodger_Stadium.jpg

Owning a Major League Baseball team comes with perks, like really good seats. Mario Solis reports for Today in LA on Wednesday Nov. 1, 2017.]]>
<![CDATA[Thanks to a Rules Change and 104 Wins, LA Is Home for Game 7]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 05:36:56 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-868777338.jpg

All you fans who hated the rule that linked the All-Star Game to home-field advantage in the World Series, guess what?

This is your year.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are set to host the Houston Astros in Game 7 on Wednesday night, thanks to a change that went into effect this season.

Now, teams earn the right: Los Angeles posted the most wins in the majors, so the all-or-nothing matchup is at Dodger Stadium.

"The home-field advantage, having the last at-bat, it's definitely huge. Especially in this Series, you see how many times it's gone back and forth, so to be able to have that last at-bat is huge," Dodgers star Justin Turner said.

No more giving home field to the league that wins the All-Star Game. This summer, in fact, the AL won 2-1 at Miami on Robinson Cano's home run in the 10th inning -- under the old rules, this Game 7 would've been at Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros.

It was a concept that drove many fans crazy. Any method would be better, they argued -- alternating sites like the old days, best interleague record, coin flip, anything.

But that's the way it had been since a 2002 fiasco in Milwaukee when the AL and NL both ran out of pitchers after 11 innings and the game was declared a 7-7 tie.

In that span, the American League went 11-3 in All-Star play. The edge and the ability to use the designated hitter helped a little, maybe -- of those 11 times they had home field, AL clubs won six titles.

Before this season, that provision was scrapped. As part of the new labor deal between owners and players, World Series home field goes to the team that wins the most games in the regular season.

The Dodgers won 104, including a major league-high 57 at home, and those victories added up to a final game at their place. Houston won 101, and matched Cleveland for the most road wins with 53.

"We feed off the crowd, for sure. Especially at home," Los Angeles leadoff man Chris Taylor said. "We feel we have a huge home-field advantage."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Photo by Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Larry Nance Jr. Talks NBA Tanking Culture]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 16:03:10 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Larry-Nance-Jr-tanking.jpg

Larry Nance Jr. has had an odd start to his NBA career, to say the least.

The recently engaged 24-year-old, who dressed up as a Wyoming Cowboy on Halloween by simply sporting a gray sweatshirt paying homage to his college days, decided to open up about the experience of being on an NBA team addicted to the tank, i.e. losing on purpose for draft picks—commonly referred to as "Tanking."

"You know, we kind of knew, hovering over us was, 'We have a top pick. We kind of...no, we really want to keep that,'" Nance answers when asked the what he thinks the biggest difference between the 2016-17 Lakers and the 2017-18 Lakers is. The Lakers had just dropped the hammer on the Detroit Pistons to the tune of a 113-93 demolition job, and Nance is a thoughtful speaker when provided a topic of interest.

"Now this year, we don't have a pick, so we have nothing to lose, nothing to fall back on," Nance continued the talk. "So, it's all out, see how many wins we can get."

Of course, Nance is quick to deny any thought of throwing games or losing on purpose. No, the tanking culture is far more nuanced and perverted than that.

"It's weird. You know what I mean?" Nance says, as he begins to explain what he, in fact, means. "Because as competitors, you try to win, you want to win every single time on the court, but meanwhile, in the back of your mind, every time you're off the court, every time you see on Twitter, every time we won, people are like, 'What are you doing! You're messing up our...we need Lonzo (Ball)!' And it's like 'What? This is so reversed from what it's supposed to be.' It just makes it really hard to kind of focus on the task at hand when that's hanging above you."

What is sad, of course, is that Nance entered the NBA in 2015, along with no. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell. Their first season in the league was Kobe Bryant's final season and, historically speaking, the worst season the Lakers' franchise has ever witnessed—Minneapolis or Los Angeles. As a reminder, that 60-point game was only the Lakers' 17th win out of an 82-game season.

That season cost Byron Scott his coaching position with the team, and in came Luke Walton to man the sidelines.

"First year, I was trying to learn Byron's system. And then the next year, I was trying to learn Luke's system. This year, it's my first year of a set system," Nance says with comfort in his tone. "I kind of know what I'm doing. 'B.I.' (Brandon Ingram) kind of knows what we're doing. And obviously, Julius (Randle) and 'JC' (Jordan Clarkson), those guys have been here longer than I have."

It is at this point that one cannot help but be slightly alarmed that Nance views 25-year-old Clarkson and 22-year-old Randle as the veterans because they are currently the longest tenured Lakers, going way back to 2014.

Over the most recent summer, the new Lakers' front office of Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Rob Pelinka got lucky in the lottery and secured the pick that landed Ball and made Russell history. With the Lakers losing their no. 1 pick regardless of their record in the 2018 NBA Draft, Nance is in his first year playing for a team where fans don't openly scold victories and celebrate losses.

"This is the first year I'm out of it!" Nance exclaims gleefully. "So, I can't wait. My attitude is great. I'm loving this new style of, 'Hey, let's win these games and let's not have a lottery pick.' I love it!"

Nance elongates the middle word, as he repeats, "I love it."

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 6]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 23:38:06 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Postgame_World_Series_Game_6_1200x675_1085968963963.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Justin Turner, Austin Barnes, Clayton Kershaw, Charlie Culberson, Cody Bellinger, Tony Watson and Yasiel Puig discuss the Dodgers Game 6 win in the World Series to force a Game 7 at Dodger Stadium.]]><![CDATA[Lakers Beat Pistons on Halloween]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:48:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-beat-Pistons.jpg

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers played on the same night as the LA Dodgers for the third time during the World Series, and finally, both of LA's teams won on the same day.

The Dodgers secured Game 7 with a 3-1 Game 6 victory at the start of the second half of the Lakers versus Pistons' game, and a loud roar went through the arena as the in-arena scoreboard announced the Dodgers' victory at Staples Center. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss dressed in a Dodgers' jersey exemplified that the heart of LA's sports fan was about three miles away at Dodger Stadium, and so, the Dodger victory finally cleared the nerves to focus on the Lakers' lead. 

By the time the Dodgers clinched a Game 7, the Lakers led by 13 points due to an impressively balanced offensive performance against a team that had beaten the LA Clippers and Golden State Warriors before entering Staples Center. A win over the Lakers would have resulted in a clean sweep of the Pistons' Pacific Division road trip.

When the confetti finally settled at Staples Center with the Lakers claiming a convincing 113-93 victory, LA had seven players score in double figures, and Brook Lopez was the only starter not to hit that mark. The big man finished his night with eight points in 21 minutes.

Larry Nance Jr. recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Julius Randle put together an incredibly efficient performance with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists in only 17 minutes on the court. Randle actually finished as the leading scorer for the winning side, though rookie Kyle Kuzma added 16 points in the win, and four other players tabbed at least 13 points: Brandon Ingram; Nance; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope; and Lonzo Ball.

"They dominated us," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said after the game. "Their energy, they were better at both ends. They played harder. They played sharper. It was a humbling experience, I think, for our guys. It certainly was for me. I think they absolutely dominated the full 48 minutes. They won all four quarters."

Along with the offense clicking, the Lakers' defense also came through by not fouling the Pistons all night long. Detroit didn't shoot its first free throw until the fourth quarter and only attempted three foul shots on the night, which was a Lakers' record according to Spectrum SportsNet.

The Lakers' defense ranked 11th over all in defensive rating entering the night, and the purple and gold held the Pistons, who were the top team in the Eastern Conference entering the night, to only 93 points on 43.6 percent shooting from the field.

"It's not easy to play like that," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game. I think as part of this process of growing and the journey that we are on, you have to learn to really embrace and enjoy how hard it is to play like that."

The coach added, "I don't think we are going to play that great every night, obviously. That was really night as far as putting all of that stuff together, not for 48 minutes, but for most of the game. It shows that our team is capable of being a very good basketball team when we are really playing together and playing for each other and playing hard."

On this night, simply, the Lakers outplayed the Pistons, evidenced by LA outscoring Detroit in every quarter of Tuesday's contest. 

Next, the Lakers play in Portland on Thursday, but before that, the Dodgers play Game 7 on Wednesday night at Chavez Ravine.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Defeat Astros to Force Game 7 of World Series]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:09:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-868805680.jpg

One more win.

The Houston Astros were 12 outs away from winning their first World Series in team history. 

The Dodgers had other ideas.

Chris Taylor hit a game-tying double, and Joc Pederson hit his third home run of the World Series as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Houston Astros, 3-1, on Halloween night to force a Game 7. 

In what started out as a trick, quickly turned into a treat, as the Dodgers erased a one-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning by scratching two runs across by the skin of their teeth, off future Hall of Famer, Justin Verlander.

After five dominant innings to start the game, Verlander allowed a leadoff single to Austin Barnes, and then hit Chase Utley on the foot with a changeup, to put the first two runners on base with no outs.

Four pitches later, Chris Taylor doubled down the right field line to tie the game and send the Chavez Ravine crowd into a Fright Night frenzy!

"I was just focused on staying short and finding a way to put the ball in play," said Taylor of his game-tying RBI after the game. "He's [Verlander] got electric stuff. So I wanted to be as short as possible, not try to do too much or overswing. And find a way to get the bat on the ball and hope for the best."

One batter later, Corey Seager knocked in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right field that scored Utley from third.

At 38-years-old, Utley became the oldest player in World Series history to score the go-ahead run since Enos Slaughter in 1957.

Verlander would escape the inning, but it turned out to be his last of the game, as he exited the contest for a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh.

"We had nine outs left and we were down. It's no more complicated than that," Astros' manager A.J. Hinch said of the decision to take out Verlander. "I thought he was good, especially early. I thought he was obviously cruising. He had the one hiccup in the middle of the game, but that was about it."

Verlander took the loss—his first as a Houston Astro—allowing two runs on three hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in six strong innings.

Entering the game, Verlander was 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP in 10 starts (5 in the postseason) with the Astros.

Joc Pederson added an important insurance run when he homered off Joe Musgrove for the second time in three games in the bottom of the seventh.

"I don't think it's hit me yet," Pederson said of the home run. "I think you dream about that as a kid. You kind of black out in a situation like that."

Pederson sent a four-seam fastball into the left field pavilion to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

Pederson, who was sent down to Triple-A in August, only had two home runs in 43 games for the Dodgers in the second half of the season. He now has three in the World Series alone, joining Duke Snider, Reggie Smith, and Davey Lopes as the only Dodgers to do it.

"I guess that was the first time being demoted," Pederson said about being sent down to the Minors in early August. "The league showed me a lot, the stuff I needed to work on. So, yeah, it was very humbling, and I needed to go learn how to hit, basically. So I've still got a lot of work to do, but it's encouraging to see some of the process and all the hard work turn into some results in the game."

George Springer turned Dodger Stadium into a House of Horrors earlier in the game, when he homered off Rich Hill to give Houston a 1-0 lead.

The homer was Springer's fourth of the World Series, tying Lenny Dykstra for the most by a leadoff hitter in the history of the Fall Classic.

Springer also joined Gene Tenace (1972) as the only players in World Series history to hit four game-tying or go-ahead home runs as he silenced the Dodgers crowd, sending their spirits crashing back to earth, if only for a fleeting instant.

Hill did not factor in the decision, but pitched well in his final start of the season. The left-hander allowed one run on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts in just 4 and 2/3 innings.

Kenley Jansen redeemed two earlier defeats in the series, by not allowing a hit in two shutout innings to earn the save. 

The two total home runs in the game extended the World Series record to a whopping 24 hit in a single Fall Classic. 

Andre Ethier made a pinch-hit appearance in the seventh inning, and set the Dodgers all-time franchise record with 50 postseason games played.

The Dodgers will look to become just the 21st team in World Series history to come back from a 3-2 deficit to win the Fall Classic.

Wednesday will mark just the 39th time in the 113-year history of the World Series that the Fall Classic will be decided by a Game 7. 

Suprisingly, in those games, the home team has only won 18 times.

Up Next:

The two most exciting words in sports will occur on Wednesday as Dodger Stadium will host the first ever Game 7 in the park's 55-year history. RHP Yu Darvish will seek redemption when he heads to the mound for the Dodgers opposite RHP Lance McCullers for the Astros. First pitch is scheduled for 5:20PM PST.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[After Record Heat, World Series Weather Is Here for Game 6]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 13:22:24 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-866023726.jpg

Forget last week's record World Series heat. Tonight's Game 6 will be played amid decidedly cooler temperatures.

One week ago today, the Dodgers won the first game of the World Series as temperatures soared to 103 in the hottest fall classic game in history.

But what a difference a week can make. With the Dodgers facing possible elimination against the Houston Astros, the intense heat wave that accompanied the series opener has given way to scattered drizzle, low temperatures and low, gray clouds covering most of Los Angeles.

As day broke Tuesday morning, Marina del Rey and other parts of the Southland experienced a light downpour, with temperatures hovering in the 60s. Some patchy rain could return after midnight, but it's unlikely there will be any rain as the Dodgers and Astros square off just after 5 p.m.

That's also good news for the trick-or-treat crowd, as kids and some adults hit the streets for Halloween. But it may be a bit brisk in the low 60s for scantily clad revelers at West Hollywood's annual Halloween Carnaval.

Last Tuesday, the temperature was so extreme for the first game of the World Series that the Dodger Stadium scoreboard couldn't show the triple digit temperature -- the readout has room for only two digits.

According to a baseball historian, only four other World Series games have been played in temperatures hotter than 90 degrees. There was some speculation the intense heat helped batters hit a string of home runs during the two first games of the series played in Los Angeles.

But that's all changed as midday temperatures in downtown Los Angeles adjacent to Dodger Stadium were at about 66 degrees. Forecasters expect similar weather through much of the week, with low clouds, low temperatures and occasional light rain.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Host Streaking Pistons on Tuesday]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 09:35:28 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Pistons-preview.jpg

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers play on the same night as the LA Dodgers for the third time during the 2017 World Series. So far, the LA's basketball team is winless, while the Dodgers are 1-1. Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons would appear to be as good a night as any to go two-for-two on one of those days where yelling any succession of three-digit-numbers would work as a traffic report.

Downtown LA is going to be mayhem on Tuesday evening. Dodger Stadium's first pitch for a must-win Game 6 of the World Series is 5:20 p.m. Staples Center's start time for the Detroit Pistons versus the LA Lakers at 7:30 p.m.

NBCLA.com/sports has everything you need on the Dodgers' front, so this is the story of the 5-2 Detroit Pistons, with three wins in four road games and three wins on the bounce. These Pistons enter Staples Center with wins over the Golden State Warriors and the LA Clippers in their rear view mirrors. Beating the Lakers would complete their Pacific Division road trip with a perfect 3-0 record.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has Detroit playing winning basketball with balance. Four Pistons average scoring in double figures. Telling of the new style of the team, big man Andre Drummond sits at the bottom of that scoring list at 12.9 points per game. Avery Bradley's addition adds a two-way player and the third man behind the scoring leaders of Reggie Jackson and Tobias Harris.

In his second season on the Pistons, Harris leads the team in scoring, 20.9 points per game. The 25-year-old small forward scored in double figures in all seven of Detroit's games, and the three occasions where Harris hit over 25 points this season, the Pistons are 3-0. Harris is clearly a key threat, but Bradley proved to be the deciding factor on both ends of the win over Golden State.

Meanwhile, Jackson is a lethal scoring point guard sure to give the Lakers fits. Tuesday night at Staples Center is no easy task for the home team, which has four defeats in six games to start the season, but Ingram's defense on Harris should be worth watching perhaps even more closely than Ball trying to stop Jackson or getting outmuscled by Bradley.

"He just turned 20," Lakers coach Luke Walton said with a smirk about Ball at Lakers' practice on Monday, as a reminder that the Lakers' point guard has a great deal of development to undergo.

The Pistons will be a challenge for the Lakers' defense; only, the Lakers have been a decent defensive team thus far, ranking 11th overall in the NBA. Through six games, the Lakers are tied with the Clippers and San Antonio Spurs in defensive rating. The Lakers have been awful, terrible, disastrous and worse on defense for years, so seeing the club jump up to 11th in terms of defensive ranking is worthy of celebration—even if the season is only six games old for the purple and gold. Part of what made the Lakers so awful to watch in recent years was the inability to stop the opposition in any way, but that appears to be changing.

"I feel like guys are taking it a little more personally just because we were terrible in defense last year," sixth-man Jordan Clarkson gave his take on why the Lakers have improved on that end of the court.

Of course, the defensive improvements have Walton pleased, which he admitted at Monday's practice in El Segundo, after the coach gave the players a day off following a back-to-back.

"Defensive is what wins championships, and until we get good at that, that's the most important thing that we're going to focus on," Walton said.

On the opposite end, though, the Lakers rank 29th in offensive rating, but Walton pointed to the new makeup of the team and the young age of his players to explain why the team is second from the bottom on the offensive end of the court. The coach, though, seems elated at the effort being put forth by his players and even commended his guys for coming out with energy following an off day on Sunday.

According to Clarkson, he ended up at Ball's 20th birthday party at a Dave & Busters on that rare Sunday off day. As Clarkson tells it, LaMelo Ball, Lonzo Ball's younger brother and top high school basketball prospect, was beating him up pretty bad to the tune of $200.

"Melo was actually whooping my ass in the little basketball game," Clarkson said, referring to the popular arcade game Pop-a-Shot. "He hit me for like $200."

Incidentally, "Melo" Ball was also at practice watching from above on Monday, which is a pretty good school day for the kid with dreams and ambitions of playing in the NBA like his older brother. Beating a professional basketball player at an arcade game involving basketballs and shooting following by watching professional basketball players practice behind closed doors is a pretty good couple days of home schooling, one would imagine.

By the time the media got into the facility, the news of the day was that Kyle Kuzma sitting out a bit of practice with a sore hip, but Walton attributed that more to the rookie's aggressive style of play. This didn't appear to be any major concern, and Kuzma was watching from the sidelines, smiling from time to time when the team was doing conditioning and concentration drills, so it would appear that the team's story checks out.

Walton also made sure to clarify that the loss in Utah was not Ball's fault, despite the 20-year-old claiming responsibility for the defeat. Both Walton and Clarkson said that they respected the accountability that Ball took for his mistakes, but the coach made it clear that putting the 15-point loss on a couple bad decisions from the rookie point guard would be incorrect.

"That's how I was brought up, so I'm not going to change," Ball explained that he had always shouldered defeats. "It's a team game. We all play for each other. So obviously, we win and lose as a team, but I like to take the blame when we lose."

Ball added, "That's just what my dad taught me. When I started at six (years old), he's coached me the same way my whole life."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[House Gets a Dodger Blue Makeover for World Series]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 07:20:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/10-31-2017-dodgers-house-roof-1.JPG

Hector Arias is the artist behind a big blue Dodgers makeover in South Los Angeles.

Arias painted an entire South LA house in a Dodgers theme, celebrating the team's return to the World Series for the first time since 1988. The house features a giant mural of slugger Justin Turner. There's a Dodgers logo on the roof.

The house was purchased by a realty company. Before the site is developed, it was turned into the temporary Dodgers art piece.

"We just kind of made it fun Dodger house for the whole community to enjoy," said Arias. 

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Magical Season Comes Down to a Must-Win Game 6]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 05:38:54 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-861498908.jpg

The Dodgers were baseball's best team during the regular season, piling up 104 wins, blasting 53 homers in June and finishing up a 43-7 run in August. Now, they're one loss away from being eliminated in their first World Series appearance since 1988.

After riding high in summer, the Dodgers are hoping to avoid a Halloween nightmare in Game 6. Rich Hill will face Astros' ace Justin Verlander Tuesday night in a must-win World Series game for Los Angeles. The pitching match-up is a rematch of the Game 2 starters. Neither figured in the decision in Houston's 7- 6 11-inning victory Oct. 25.

All that early success could be wiped out with four defeats in October, leaving the Dodgers without the title they so desperately crave and last won 29 years ago.

"It would certainly be disheartening and disappointing," manager Dave Roberts said Monday. "At the outset, our goal was to be the last team standing and we still have that opportunity."

Los Angeles trails the Astros 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

"Right now, we're not thinking of the alternative," Roberts said.

The Dodgers won their record fifth consecutive NL West title before rolling past Arizona in the NL Division Series and the defending World Series champion Cubs in the NL Championship Series.

But that's nothing to hang their hat on.

"At the end of the year, if all you've won is the NL West and you still didn't reach the World Series or win the World Series, you didn't reach your goal," outfielder Andre Ethier, the longest-tenured Dodgers player, said on the eve of Game 1.

Ethier cautioned his teammates: "We haven't achieved anything, we haven't won anything. All we did was won the NL West and that doesn't mean anything."

Winning 100-plus games doesn't guarantee anything, either. Heading into opening day this season, 16 teams had posted that many wins since the 21st century began. Just two went on to win the World Series: the Cubs last year and the Yankees in 2009.

As for the others, they're better remembered for losing than winning.

The Mariners tied a major league record by winning 116 games in 2001. But Ichiro Suzuki and his teammates didn't get past the ALCS, bowing in five games to the Yankees.

The great Orioles teams of the late 1960s and early 70s had dominant pitching to go with an offense powered by Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell. They won 109 games in 1969 only to lose to the Miracle Mets in the World Series. They followed up with 108 victories in 1970 and beat Cincinnati for the title. But in 1971, despite notching 101 wins and having four 20-game winners on the mound, the O's failed to defend their title, losing to Pittsburgh in seven games.

Bash Brothers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire powered Oakland to 104 wins in 1988, only to lose to the Dodgers in the World Series. The Athletics rebounded the following year with 99 wins and beat the Giants in the earthquake-interrupted Series before racking up 103 wins in 1990 and getting swept by the Reds in defense of their title.

The Dodgers had many milestone moments during the regular season. Alex Wood began the season 10-0, the first Dodgers starter to do so since Don Newcombe in 1955. Cody Bellinger, a favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, hit for the cycle on July 19, the ninth player in franchise history to accomplish the feat. Closer Kenley Jansen was undefeated.

By early August, the Dodgers had gone 43-7 for the best 50-game run by a major league team since the 1912 Giants.

They coasted for much of the season, with their lead stretching to a whopping 21 games on Aug. 23.

It was enough for them to survive a woeful September stretch in which they dropped 16 of 17, including a major league-worst 11 in a row.

But the turning of the calendar has brought mixed results.

Jansen has a blown save and a loss in this World Series. Ace Clayton Kershaw, so outstanding in a Game 1 victory, couldn't hold a four-run lead in Game 5 and allowed the Astros to tie the score on a walk, two hits and a three-run homer. Houston eventually won 13-12 in 10 innings to move within a victory its first championship.

This year, with a pair of 100-win teams in the World Series for the first time since 1970, someone is likely to end up being forgettable.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Leaders, Baseball Fans Still Simmering Over Racist Gesture]]>Mon, 30 Oct 2017 23:38:37 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-864805996.jpg

The Dodgers are back in Los Angeles following their three-game road trip against the Houston Astros, and fans are still simmering over one Astros player's racist gesture.

With the Boys in Blue back in town, many Dodger fans and California leaders are airing their anger over what they see as a weak punishment for Astros player Yuli Gurriel, who was seen pulling the sides of his eyes while apparently mouthing, "Chinito" - a Spanish slang term translating roughly to "little Chinese boy" - after hitting a home run off the Dodgers' Yu Darvish, who is Japanese.

"I can't believe someone who is a professional player would actually do something like that," said Dodger fan Suzy Copado. "You don't do something like that."

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Gurriel for five games without pay, but the punishment does not start until next season, with Gurriel allowed to continue playing in the World Series.

"We expected Major League Baseball to really step up and have consequences and accountability, and that didn't happen," said California Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who believes Gurriel should have been suspended for Game 5.

Fans need to know how offensive and painful Gurriel's gesture was, said Karin Wang, with Asian Americans Advancing Justice. "I remember growing up in the Midwest and getting that and knowing instinctively that there is something wrong and terrible about that," Wang said.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice is inviting Major League Baseball and the Astros to reach out to them to learn more and to help educate the league about racial sensitivity.

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 5]]>Sun, 29 Oct 2017 23:57:58 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Postgame_World_Series_Game_5_1200x675_1084265539539.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Ross Stripling, Brandon Morrow, Austin Barnes, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner discuss the team's heartbreaking loss in Game 5 of the World Series and facing elimination now in Game 6.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Face Elimination After Heartbreaking Loss to Astros]]>Sun, 29 Oct 2017 23:59:17 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-868017136.jpg

Houston, the eagle has landed.

Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Brian McCann all homered as the Houston Astros rallied from not one, but three different deficits to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 13-12, in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday. 

In the final game of the season at Minute Maid Park, the Astros and Dodgers put on a home run derby for the fans as they stood toe-to-toe, trading blows, in what will go down in history as arguably the greatest World Series game of all-time.

In what should have been a low-scoring matchup of two Cy Young Award winners, was instead a heavyweight fight, as both teams came out slugging, with the prospect of facing elimination in Game 6 looming like a spider above its web.

"These are hard-fought games," said Astros' manager A.J. Hinch after the victory. "These are just two really good teams, just throwing haymakers at each another trying to outlast each other."

In what now feels like a distant memory, the game began deep in the heart of Texas, when Dallas Keuchel was as wild as a steed on Sunday, as he walked two of the first batters he faced to load the bases in the first inning.

Logan Forsythe delivered the first blow for the Dodgers as he hit a two-run single to left field to give the Dodgers an early 2-0 lead. 

Four pitches later, Forsythe was caught in a rundown, but first baseman Yuli Gurriel threw wide of second base, allowing Forsythe to slide in safely and Hernandez scored from third to open up a 3-0 lead.

Austin Barnes added a run in the top of the fourth, and chased Keuchel in the process, as he hit an RBI single to right field that scored Forsythe. 

In likely his last start of the 2017 postseason, Kechuel failed to get out of the fourth inning, allowing four runs (three earned), on five hits, with two walks and four strikeouts in 3 and 2/3 innings. 

However, just as it appeared Houston was dead on arrival, the game turned on a dime, as Kershaw served up a slider to Gurriel for the game-tying three-run home run. 

After the home run, Kershaw became the first pitcher in postseason history to allow eight home runs in a single postseason.

Knocked down, but not out, the Dodgers responded with a three-run blast of their own off the bat of rookie Cody Bellinger.

Bellinger crushed a 2-2 curveball from Collin McHugh just over the wall in right-center for his third home run of the postseason as he became the youngest player (22 years, 108 days), to homer in the World Series in Dodgers franchise history.

Like the great freight train that lies above the centerfield wall, Jose Altuve roared to life as he unleashed upon a 94MPH four-seam fastball and dumped it into the Phillips 66 station in center field for the game-tying home run.

Kershaw had another one of his paltry and peculiar postseason performances as he surrendered a four-run lead for just the second time in his career, the first being in Game 1 of the 2014 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. Since 2012, the Dodgers were 49-1 when Kershaw was handed at least a four-run lead.

Kershaw left the game with the lead, but it didn't last long as he allowed six runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts in just 4 and 2/3 innings.

It was the first time since 2010 the three-time Cy Young Award winner had more walks than strikeouts in a start.

Los Angeles took the lead for the third different time in the top of the seventh when George Springer attempted to make a diving catch in centerfield on a ball hit by Bellinger.

Springer missed the ball by about a foot and it bounced past him, rolling all the way to the wall as Bellinger stood on third with an RBI triple. 

Houston would fight back with a left hook to L.A. in the bottom half of the seventh as Springer redeemed himself by parking a ball on the railroad tracks in left field for a monster 448-foot home run that tied the game.


"I've been in the game a long time, I don't think I've seen someone remedy a mistake faster than what Springer did tonight," said Hinch. "He dove, he tried to make an athletic play, small desperation, trying to keep his body in front of it if he could somehow not catch it. And then feels like the worst feeling in the world. He feels like he made the mistake of a lifetime. And one pitch later he hits a homer."

Three batters later, Carlos Correa delivered what was thought to be the knockout blow for the Astros with a two-run home that crashed into the Crawford Box in left field for the 11-8 lead.

Corey Seager helped the Dodgers chip away at the lead with an RBI double in the top of the eighth, but the run was wiped away as Brian McCann hit the 21st home run of the series in the bottom half of the inning, as Houston thought they had squashed any hopes of a comeback.

They were wrong. 

The Dodgers received a standing eight count, but they rose off the mat and refused to go down without a fight. 

Yasiel Puig crushed a two-run home run into the Crawford box that cut the lead to 12-11 with one out in the top of the ninth. 

Three batters later, after a double by Barnes, Chris Taylor tied the game with a clutch, two-out, RBI single and the game headed to extra innings.

Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless 9th inning, and retired the first two batters he faced in the 10th, but after hitting McCann with a 95MPH cutter on the hand, and walking Springer, he surrendered the game-winning single to Alex Bregman and the Astros walked-off for the win.

"He's Alex Bregman," said Hinch matter of factly. "I think he understands exactly what he does well, which he did from day one. And I think being calm in the moment is innate. I think he understands, has a confidence level, has an awareness. Even like the awareness to beat them with a single. He's not trying the theatrics and dramatics, trying to hit a ball out of the ballpark, like he did last night. He's just trying to get a good single and get a good pitch to hit."

Both teams combined to hit a total of seven home runs in the game, and set a new 113-year World Series record with 22 combined homers in the series with at least one game still left to play.

In total, both teams combined for 25 runs on 28 hits, with five ties, and five lead changes in a 5 hour and 17 minute marathon ride that marked the second longest game in World Series history.

"I think this whole series has been an emotional roller coaster," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "It's the two best teams playing for a championship. And these are two teams that play 27 outs, like we've talked about. So you're not going to expect those guys to lay down. And obviously you saw what our guys did tonight, and competed until the last out."

Houston now finds themselves on the precipice of history as they are one win away from earning their first championship in their 55-year history. The third longest drought in the Majors.

Up Next: 

It's do-or-die for the Dodgers in Game 6 at Dodger Stadium as Justin Verlander starts against LHP Rich Hill in a rematch of Game 2 with first pitch scheduled for 5:20PM PST. 

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Chargers Failed to Capture Win in New England]]>Sun, 29 Oct 2017 18:01:16 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/186*120/GettyImages-867901426.jpg

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady protected his home with one thrown touchdown and kicker Sean Gostkowski made timely field goals for the 21-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Patriots entered the game without linebacker Donta Hightower, yet struggled against a tight Chargers defense that prevented the Patriots from entering the end zone for three quarters.

Los Angeles had five games this season decided by five points or less.

The Chargers came in committed to the run game and attempted to be effective in that area against a New England Patriots team that ranks dead last against the pass, giving up a league-worst 310.3 yards per game. The Bolts have not been successful this season unless they have ran the ball 25 times a game. Although Los Angeles ranks 31st in rushing, the key continues to be Melvin Gordon's running attack on opposing defenses.  

Los Angeles offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt decided to mix it up early in the opening quarter, as quarterback Philip Rivers moved the ball through the air and on the ground confusing the Patriots defense.

After a key block by tight end Hunter Henry, Rivers found Melvin Gordon ran for a 87-yard touchdown, as the Chargers set the tone with a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter. Gordon has accounted for 75 percent of the team's rushing attempts this season.

Brady fired back as he stayed cool under pressure as he continued to move the chains in spite of the stingy Bolts defense. Thirteen plays later on the drive, Brady found a wide open Rob Gronkowski for their only opportunity in the end zone for the tying touchdown.

Early in the second quarter, Joey Bosa sacked Brady that ultimately killed the Patriots drive. Bosa said earlier in the week, it would be an honor for him to sack Brady. Bosa has the most sacks in 20 games in NFL history. The Chargers are tied for third in league with a total of 24 sacks through eight games.

However the Patriots defense picked up the slack for their offense, as Travis Benjamin made a terrible decision that forced a safety, and gave Brady the ball back with a new series of downs.

Just a week ago Benjamin set the tone on a 103 yard kickoff return against the Broncos in Los Angeles.

Mike Patricia's defense squashed any opportunities for the Chargers to find an offensive rhythm in the first half. Brady picked apart the Chargers defense slowly as they settled for two field goals by Stephen Gostkowski for a 15-7 halftime lead. Brady also utilized his running game between Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis who combined for 120 yards in the first half alone.

Rivers came into the game just 22 completions away from surpassing Warren Moon, yet had only five completions in the first half.

The Los Angeles defense continued to apply pressure on Brady who was unsuccessful in finishing drives and that cost touchdown opportunities throughout the afternoon. New England settled for another field goal by Gostkowski in the third quarter. Preventing New England from entering the end zone is never an easy task, yet the talent of the Bolts defense stood tall in many crucial situations in this game.

The Bolts had another opportunity to score, when Rivers found an elusive Travis Benjamin who scooted down field for the touchdown. However due to an offensive pass interference call on Tyrell Williams, the touchdown was negated. On the very next play, Rivers under pressure attempted to pass to Williams who dropped the ball that set up a fourth down punt in the third quarter.

Yet early in the final quarter, Rivers found Benjamin on a go route for the 24-yard touchdown and trailed 18-13. The Bolts were unsuccessful in completing a two point conversion.

A late fourth quarter drive by Brady set up a huge Gronkowski catch which proved to be winning drive for New England. Brady is having his best start in eight weeks finding wide receivers Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks and tight end Rob Gronkowski who have combined for 13 touchdown receptions.

Brady completed 32 of 47 passes for 333 yard in the victory. Gronkowski caught five receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown.

Philip Rivers completed 17 of 30 passes for 212 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Melvin Gordon finished with 14 carries and 132 yards rushing in the loss. Gordon also had one reception for seven yards in the loss.

The Chargers three game winning streak is snapped as they fall to 3-5 on the season heading into the bye week.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Joey Bosa of LA Chargers Sets A Record]]>Sun, 29 Oct 2017 17:47:03 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/176*120/GettyImages-867859944.jpg

Despite the Chargers 21-13 loss handed to them by the Patriots on Sunday, defensive end Joey Bosa made history at Foxboro Stadium. Bosa set an NFL record for the most sacks made through the first 20 games of his career.

Bosa picked up his 19th career sack on quarterback Tom Brady, breaking the previous record of 18.5 sacks held by Aldon Smith in 2012.

When asked earlier in the week about facing Brady, Bosa said it would be an honor to sack him if he got the opportunity.

The second year player has 8.5 sacks through eight games this season. Bosa finished with 10.5 sacks last season after missing four games.

The Bolts were one of only two teams in the NFL with three players who had recorded at least five or more sacks: Melvin Ingram with 8.5 and Chris McCain with 5 and Bosa.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Get Even, True-Blue Fans Celebrate]]>Mon, 30 Oct 2017 08:00:29 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodger_Fans_in_Houston_Celebrate_Game_4_Win.jpg

True-blue fans at Minute Maid Park are pumped about the Dodgers beating the Astros in Game 4 and tying the World Series. Alysha Del Valle reports from Houston on the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 4]]>Sat, 28 Oct 2017 22:11:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Postgame_World_Series_Game_4_1200x675_1083817027746.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen discuss the Dodgers crucial Game 4 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the World Series.]]><![CDATA[Lakers Lose in Utah After Slow Start]]>Sat, 28 Oct 2017 20:01:16 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Lose-to-Jazz-10-28-17.jpg

On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered defeat for the second night in a row and for the fourth time in six games since the start of the 2017-18 NBA season.

This time, the Utah Jazz offered the lesson on the court with a 96-81 victory that began with a dominating first quarter that set the tone for the contest. The Jazz led wire-to-wire, and the first nine minutes of the game effectively featured Utah digging a giant hole and immediately shoving the Lakers into it.

Nine minutes into Saturday's game in Salt Lake City, the Lakers had only seven points and trailed by twice that figure. By the end of the first quarter, the Lakers trailed by 15 points and only had 16 points on the board. On the night, Utah's defense held the Lakers under 20 points for three of the four quarters, and a strong shooting night from Ricky Rubio helped Utah cruise to victory.

Rubio finished with 21 points on 6-13 shooting, including the Spaniard hitting four of his seven three-point attempts. In all, Utah played a balanced game with five players scoring in double figures, while the Lakers only managed double-figure contributions from two players on the night.

One of those two players was second-year forward Brandon Ingram, who scored 16 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, including 1-2 from three-point land. The lanky forward used all of his length to aggressively get to the rim and toss up skillful lay-ups over the likes of Rudy Gobert or simply slam dunk when the French center was not in the vicinity.

The other Laker to score in double-figures was Jordan Clarkson, who continued his hot start off the Lakers' bench. The Lakers' sixth man scored 15 points in only 20 minutes on the court and shot better than 50 percent from the field in the process. Clarkson looked dangerous through out the contest, but that early hole served as a handicap too great to overcome for the purple and gold.

The Lakers' starting backcourt of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Lonzo Ball particularly struggled, as the pair combined to hit only five of their 21 field goal attempts, including Caldwell-Pope missing all five of his long-range attempts. Ball actually managed to his three of his six attempts from three-point land, but the rookie point guard missed all four of his other shots and finished with more turnovers, five, than assists, four.

Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell outplayed Ball on the night, as the no. 13 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft finished with a game-high 22 points in 27 minutes, which set a new career-high for the 21-year-old out of the University of Louisville.

Also, Jazz power forward Derek Favors managed a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in a typically solid performance that helped Utah improve to a 3-3 record, with all three of those wins coming at home.

Next, the Lakers host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Rally Late to Even World Series With Astros]]>Sat, 28 Oct 2017 23:01:43 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/joc-pederson-GettyImages-867639810.jpg

Two more wins.

Cody Bellinger had a pair of doubles, and Joc Pederson hit a three-run homer, as the Los Angeles Dodgers evened the World Series at 2-2, after coming from behind to defeat the Houston Astros, 6-2, in Game 4 on Saturday night.

After his four-strikeout performance in Game 3 on Friday, Bellinger got off the mat and put the Dodgers on his back in the crucial Game 4 at Minute Maid Park.

"I felt good today. Made some adjustments pregame, and like I said, I hit every ball in BP today to the left side of the infield," said Bellinger following the win. "I've never done that before in my life. Usually I try to lift. I needed to make an adjustment, and saw some results today."

The soon-to-be announced N.L. Rookie of the Year broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth with an RBI double to left-center that scored Corey Seager from second base. 

"Yeah, sigh of relief," said Bellinger after struggling in the first three games of the series. "I hit it and I was just hoping that it faded into the wall, just so he didn't catch it. Luckily it did. I don't know what I did, I just had a super sigh of relief, that's for sure."

Bellinger became the ninth Dodger in franchise history to record two doubles in a World Series game and the first since Orel Hershiser did it in Game 2 of the 1988 Fall Classic.

"For him to really keep that calmness about him says a lot about the makeup of the player," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts of Bellinger. "There's certain players that just have that innate ability to be in that spot, to want to be in that big spot. And Cody, you can see the heartbeat is really good."

At 22-years-old, Bellinger became the youngest player in World Series history to collect multiple doubles in a single game. 

Three batters later, Austin Barnes drove home a vital insurance ran with a sac fly to right field that scored pinch-runner Charlie Culberson.

Two pitches later, Joc Pederson broke the game open with a three-run home run to right field and the Dodgers took a commanding 6-1 lead.

Before the bats came alive, it was an old fashioned pitcher's duel between Alex Wood and Charlie Morton.

In his second career postseason start, pitching for just the second time in 32 days, Wood had a no-hitter through 5 and 2/3 innings--the longest no-hit bid in Dodgers franchise history--before George Springer stepped into the box for the third time in the bottom of the sixth.

"Yeah, once I was heading into the 5th, I kind of thought about it a little bit," Wood said of his no-hit bid. "It's been a whirlwind of emotion for me. Kind of caught up to me between innings there. I believe in fate, and I believe everything happens for a reason. And a lot of things, my parents got engaged on this date almost 30 years ago. My best friend's eight-year anniversary of his accident, getting paralyzed, my fiancée's birthday today, I always truly believe in God's timing. And I'm just happy it went the way it did."

Five pitches later, the no-hitter was gone, the shutout was gone, and at the time it appeared that the Dodgers dreams of their first World Series title were dashed as Springer crushed a curveball into the Crawford Box in left field for the first run of the game.

"You can't really control -- none of us can really control that," Wood said of Springer's homer ending the no-hit bid. "And plus if we're going to hand the ball over, it's nice to hand it over to Brandon Morrow in that situation; he's been unbelievable."

Springer became the first Astro in franchise history to have multiple home runs in the World Series, and now has five hits in the Fall Classic, tied for the most in Houston history.

Thankfully, it didn't take the Dodgers too long to answer as Bellinger drove a double into the gap in left-center in the top half of the seventh.

Two batters later, Logan Forysthe brought home Bellinger with an RBI single to left field and the Dodgers had the equalizer.

Forsythe's single snapped a 1-for-17 streak with runners in scoring position in the World Series for the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, in his fourth postseason start, Charlie Morton was masterful, allowing just one run on three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in 6 and 1/3 innings.

"Charlie had done his job," said Astros' manager A.J. Hinch. "He'd had a little trouble in the 6th, and then obviously was misfiring a little bit in the 7th. In these type of games when it doesn't work out, you obviously look the out at what could have been. Charlie hadn't pitched that deep into the games much of the season and done his job, that's what I was telling him."

It was the first time in World Series history that both starting pitchers allowed just four baserunners or less in a single game.

The game fell into the hands of the bullpens, a clear advantage for the Boys in Blue who sported the best bullpen in baseball all year long.

Brandon Morrow, Tony Watson, and Kenley Jansen combined to allow just one run over 3.1 innings, whereas the Astros bullpen imploded, allowing five runs in 2.2 innings of relief.

Morrow's appearance was his 11th this postseason, setting a new Dodgers franchise record.

Jansen surrendered a two-out home run to Alex Bregman in the bottom of the ninth, but by that point the outcome was no longer in doubt.

The victory guaranteed the Dodgers would return home to Los Angeles for at least a Game 6 on Tuesday night at Chavez Ravine as it's now a best-of-three series for the trophy.

The Astros lost for the first time at home this postseason, as they fell one win shy of setting a new MLB record at 8-0 at home in the playoffs.

In the last 112 editions of the Fall Classic, when a series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 goes on to win the World Series 66 percent of the time, with the home team in Game 5 winning 59 percent of the time.

Up Next:

It will be an encore performance of aces in the pivotal Game 5 as Clayton Kershaw will head to the mound against Dallas Keuchel at 5:20PM PST.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Kenley Jansen Named 2017 NL Reliever of the Year]]>Sat, 28 Oct 2017 18:31:57 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jansen-GettyImages-825380802.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers' Kenley Jansen has won the National League Reliever of the Year award.

Jansen was given the honor Saturday before Game 4 of the World Series against the Houston Astros.

The right-handed closer completed the 2017 regular season with 41 saves on the way to securing a 5-0 record, 1.32 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 109 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings. Jansen was a key player for the Dodgers, which had one of the best seasons in franchise history. The team recorded 104 wins and returned to the World Series for the first time in nearly three decades.

Jansen's counterpart with the Boston Red Sox, Craig Kimbrel, won American League honors.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Astros' Yuli Gurriel Suspended for Five Games Next Season]]>Sat, 28 Oct 2017 13:22:09 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*122/AP_17301036179166.jpg

Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros has been suspended for five games next season for making a racist gesture at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the penalty Saturday, a day after Gurriel's actions during Game 3.

Manfred said he didn't think it would be fair to penalize the rest of the Astros by suspending Gurriel during the World Series. Manfred said he understood other people might take a different view.

"There is no place in our game for the behavior -- or any behavior -- like the behavior we witnessed last night," Manfred said. "There is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behavior acceptable. Mr Gurriel, to his credit, quickly realized that his behavior last night was wrong. He expressed remorse. I met with him today, he reiterated that remorse, and he has assured me that he will be offering a private apology to Mr. Darvish."

Gurriel will miss the first five games of the 2018 season and will not be paid during his suspension. He also will undergo sensitivity training in the offseason.

Manfred added that he was "impressed" in his conversation with Darvish by the pitcher's desire to "move forward." 

Gurriel released a statement after the commissioner's announcement.

"During last night's game, I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible," Gurriel said. "I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it. I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect. I would also like to apologize to the Dodgers organization, the Astros, Major League Baseball and to all fans across the game."

Gurriel made the gesture after he had just smacked a home run off a struggling Darvish, who didn't make it out of the second inning. TV cameras showed Gurriel seated on the back of a dugout bench and gesturing toward the Dodger's right-hander, who was born in and started his professional baseball career in Japan.

Gurriel also appeared to mouth the word "Chinito," which is translated as "little Chinese boy." Gurriel, who is from Cuba, also played in Japan for one year.

During Friday's post-game interviews, both players spoke about Gurriel's actions.

"In Cuba and in other places, we call all Asian people Chinese," Gurriel said through a translator. "But I played in Japan and I know [that is] offensive, so I apologize for that."

Darvish called the actions "disrespectful."

"He made a mistake," he said. "He'll learn from it. We're all human beings."

In Houston's team statement, the organization expressed support for the decision to suspend Gurriel.

"The Houston Astros were surprised and disappointed by the behavior displayed by Yuli Gurriel during last night's game," according to the statement. "The Astros and Major League Baseball pride ourselves on the diversity of our sport and in showing great respect to all cultures represented by our players, front office staff, fans and members of the media. 

"Yuli has always demonstrated respectful behavior and is extremely remorseful for his actions. Appropriately, Yuli has apologized for his gesture. He had no intention of offending anyone, but now recognizes the perceived offensiveness of his actions."

The Japanese American Citizens League issued a statement Friday, condemning use of the gesture.

"Ignorance cannot be used as an excuse as by its very nature racism is always based in ignorance," the JACL statement said. "If the intent was not to offend, the gesture should never have been made."

The statement continued, "Some may say because this is the World Series, serious disciplinary action should not be administered. However, because this is the World Series and the world is watching MLB's response to this racist gesture, a strong message must be given that this is unacceptable."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Need Alex Wood 'to Go Deep' Against Astros]]>Sat, 28 Oct 2017 11:58:59 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/228*120/10-28-2017-wood-morton-dodgers-astros.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to even the World Series at two games apiece Saturday night at Houston's Minute Maid Park after a 5-3 loss Friday put history on the Houston Astros' side. 

Of the 88 previous times a World Series has been 2-1, the team leading the series has gone on to win 57 times, or 64.8 percent. However, three of the last four teams leading 2-1 have lost. The teams leading 2-1 are 44-44 in Game 3. Of the 44 teams who led 2-1 and won Game 4, 37, or 84.1 percent, have gone on to win the series. 

The Dodgers will send left-hander Alex Wood to the mound against Houston right-hander Charlie Morton. Unlike the Dodgers' Game 2 starter, Rich Hill, who was replaced after four innings, or Game 3 starter Yu Darvish, who lasted a career-low 1 2/3 innings, Wood "is going to have to go deep," manager Dave Roberts said. 

"We've just got to go out there and pitch well out of the gate," Roberts said after Friday's game. "Obviously this crowd is into it, very educated, very enthusiastic. They've got some confidence over there, that team. And it's up to us, up to Alex to go out there and set the tone, get a quick first inning."

In his only appearance of the 2017 postseason, Wood retired the side in order in the first, then allowed two solo homers in second and allowed three runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings in his first career postseason start and was charged with the loss in a 3-2 defeat to the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Oct. 18. 

"I felt really comfortable in Chicago," Wood said before Friday's game. "If you can feel comfortable there, you can feel comfortable anywhere. So I'm really excited about the opportunity tomorrow."

Wood had a career-high 16 victories and a career-low 2.72 ERA in the regular season. In his lone start against the Astros, he pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed three hits, striking out four and walking one in the Atlanta Braves' 4-0 victory at Minute Maid Park on June 25, 2014.

Houston was 70-92 in 2014. It was 101-61 this season, one victory short of the team record.

Morton is 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA in three starts during the 2017 postseason. He was the winning pitcher in Houston's 5-0 pennant-clinching victory over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, allowing two hits, striking out five and walking one in five innings. 

This is Morton's first season with the Astros after spending the first nine seasons of his career in the National League.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Batter Up: It's Time to Take Our Dodgers History Quiz]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 04:44:16 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/AP5210060165.jpg

If you know your Dodgers history, we have a quiz for you.

The quiz above includes questions dating back to the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, so think back -- way back, to the franchise's roots before the team moved West.

Let's turn back the clock and revisit some of the great moments and names in Dodgers history.

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<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 3]]>Fri, 27 Oct 2017 23:37:19 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Postgame_World_Series_Game_3_1200x675_1083438659881.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Logan Forsythe, Cody Bellinger, and Austin Barnes discuss the Dodgers struggles in their 5-3 loss to the Astros in Game 3 of the World Series.]]><![CDATA[Raptors Claw Past Lakers 101-92]]>Sat, 28 Oct 2017 01:06:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-vs-Raptors-Oct-27-17.jpg

On Lonzo Ball's 20th birthday, the Los Angeles Lakers took a 17-point first half lead against the Toronto Raptors before losing by a final count of 101-92, with LA-native and Compton High School graduate DeMar DeRozan leading all scorers with 24 points on an eventful night.

In the first quarter, the purple and gold looked worth their weight in gold, with the home team assisting on eight of 12 made field goals, holding the Raptors to 8-21 from the field and taking a seven-point lead. Helping the Lakers' cause, the Raptors looked sluggish and missed eight of night three-point attempts.

In the second quarter, the Lakers continued to turn the screws on the Raptors to the tune of a 17-point lead when Brandon Ingram converted a layup with 3:56 remaining in the first half.

At that point, the visitors seemingly found smelling salts that brought the Raptors back to life, like an NBA version of Jurassic Park. Toronto finished the half on a 15-4 run to trail by a modest six points at the imtermission.

Only, the start of the third quarter featured more Raptors hunting in packs and Lakers failing to ward off the attacks. Four minutes into the second half, the Raptors tasted their first lead of the game. In a span that lasted fewer than eight minutes of game time, the visitors had benefited from an 18-point swing.

Lakers coach Luke Walton saw the changing scenery and pulled out his starters earlier than usual because of the Raptors beating them down the floor and getting easy buckets. 

Thankfully for the coach, his bench players continued to step up with Julius Randle serving as the embodiment of playing with energy, as the 22-year-old forward led the second unit charge. On the night, Randle finished with a team-high 18 points in fewer than 24 minutes on the floor.

"He's done a much better job of attacking the rim, whether it's on a roll, or it's on penetration," Walton said about Randle's recent play. 

Inspired by Randle, the second unit, which featured rookies Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart playing integral roles, battled to keep the game level at 83-83. Considering Walton had called on his backups earlier than usual in the third quarter, the coach thought his reserves needed a rest with about six and a half minutes remaining in the ball game.

When Walton called on his starters, the score was level at 83-83.

From that point forward, the Raptors led wire-to-wire. DeRozan scored the next six points and the Raptors outscored the Lakers' starters 8-0 before Walton called timeout with 3:43 remaining in the game.

The coach had seen enough. He benched all five of his starters and put in a uit consisting of Randle, Kuzma, Hart, Corey Brewer and Jordan Clarkson to finish the game.

Facing an eight-point hole and limited time on the clock, the second unit managed to cut the different down to six points with 1:26 remaining before Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry craftily dribbled his way into a mismatch with Randle. On the perimeter against the bulky forward, Lowry drained a 27-foot three-pointer to put the visitors up by nine points with a shade over a minute remaining.

Valiantly, the Lakers fought back to cut the difference to five points with 31.1 seconds remaining, but it was too little, too late at that advanced stage. The veteran Raptors took care of the basketball and claimed a 101-92 victory when the final buzzer sounded.

While the Raptors are expected to be one of the top teams in the East and the Lakers are projected to be one of the worst teams in the West, Friday night seemed like a game the Lakers gave away.

"Tonight, we kind of let one go," Ball said after the game. "We just have to get into the film room, learn from it and move on."

Next, the Lakers play on a back-to-back in Utah on Saturday night.

Notes: Kuzma recorded the first double-double of his career with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Lakers missed 20 of their 23 three-point attempts on the night, along with seven free throws. Also, the Lakers committed 21 turnovers compared to only 14 turnovers by the Raptors.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gurriel's Racist Gesture Overshadows Astros Win ]]>Sat, 28 Oct 2017 06:57:22 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Yuli+Gurriel+Racist+Gesture.png

The Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-3, in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night, but it was a racial gesture made by one of the players that overshadowed the celebration at Minute Maid Park. 

Gurriel put the Astros on the board when he hit a home run off Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish to start the second inning. After his home run trot around the bases, Gurriel returned to the dugout and appeared to make a racial gesture while mocking the Dodgers' pitcher. 

Fox cameras caught Gurriel sitting on the bench and using his fingers to pull the sides of his eyes while appearing to say the word, "Chinito," a commonly used slang term in Spanish which literally translates to "little Chinese boy," and is commonly used in Cuba to refer to Asian people.

Gurriel said he knows the term is disrespectful and that it would offend Japanese people because of his time in the Japanese baseball league in 2014.

"In the moment, I didn't want to offend him or nobody in Japan because I have a lot of respect for them and I played in Japan," he said, adding that, "I didn't mean to do it."

After the game, Darvish was angry about the gesture.

"It's disrespectful," said Darvish of the gesture, adding that he believes MLB should discipline Gurriel. "He made a mistake. He'll learn from it. We're all human beings." 

Gurriel, who is Cuban, is no stranger to Japan and Japanese culture, as he played baseball in the country in 2014. After the game, Gurriel apologized, but added he didn't even know he had made the gesture until he was told by teammates later in the game.

"I didn't try to offend nobody," Gurriel said in Spanish through a translator. "I was commenting to my family that I didn't have any luck against Japanese pitchers here in the United States."

"I apoloize. I meant no disrespect," he continued. "I didn't even realize I did it until someone pointed it out. I meant no disrespect."

During his postgame press conference after the game, Astros' manager A.J. Hinch said that Gurriel is "remorseful," and expects his first baseman to release a statement. 

Gurriel's home run was his 17th hit of the postseason, the most by a Cuban-born player in a single postseason in MLB history. 

It's unfortunate, that in what should have been a night of celebration for the 33-year-old first baseman, is instead clouded by an insensitive gesture that just so happened to be caught on camera.

After the game, Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred, said that the league intends to speak to Gurriel before Game 4 on Saturday in Houston.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Astros' Gurriel Makes Racist Gesture Toward Darvish]]>Sat, 28 Oct 2017 12:39:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-864805996.jpg

Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros has been suspended for five games next season for making a racist gesture at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the penalty Saturday, a day after Gurriel's actions during Game 3.

Manfred said he didn't think it would be fair to penalize the rest of the Astros by suspending Gurriel during the World Series. Manfred said he understood other people might take a different view.

Gurriel will miss the first five games of the 2018 season and will not be paid during his suspension.

In a statement Saturday, Gurriel apologized for the gesture, saying it was "indefensible." 

"During last night's game, I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible. I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it," the statement read in part. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Houston, We Have Liftoff! Astros Defeat Dodgers ]]>Fri, 27 Oct 2017 23:38:21 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-867249560.jpg

Houston, we have lift off.

The Astros scored four runs off Yu Darvish in the second inning and went on to defeat the Dodgers, 5-3, in Game 3, to take a 2-1 lead over Los Angeles in the World Series.

Deep in the hart of Texas, Darvish wilted under the bright lights of the Fall Classic as he was dismantled by the Astros in the second inning. 

Yuli Gurriel led off the inning with a home run blast that tore through the roof, igniting the hungry Houston crowd.

The next four Astros all reached base before MVP candidate Jose Altuve dealt a blow as fatal as the fang of the most venomous viper, with a two-out double off the column in left-center, giving Houston a 4-0 lead as Darvish left the game.

"Four runs in any game is big. Four runs in the World Series is huge," said Houston manager, A.J. Hinch. "To get that kind of momentum started, get the crowd into it, have a lead puts a ton of pressure on the other dugout."

Darvish was unable to escape the second inning, allowing four runs on six hits with one walk and zero strikeouts in 1 and 2/3 of an inning, the shortest start of his MLB career.

Over that span, the Japanese right-hander threw 49 pitches, and only one of them was a swing and miss by an Astros' hitter. It was the first time in Darvish's career he did not record a strikeout.

"I think there was one swing-and-miss when he was out there," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "The fastball command wasn't there, and the slider was backing up. So he just really didn't have the feel and couldn't get any type of rhythm going."

Gurriel's homer was his 17th hit of the postseason, setting a new MLB record by a Cuban-born player, surpassing the former mark of 16 by Bert Campaneris.

After he was handed a 4-0 lead, Astros' starter Lance McCullers Jr. promptly walked the first three batters he saw in the third inning, before getting double play off the bat of Corey Seager that scored the first run of the game for the Dodgers.

"I was not really able to locate pretty much anything. So in the third inning I just wasn't making my pitches," McCullers said. "After a big four inning from the guys, you don't want to change your approach for the team because that's the easiest way to get in trouble. That was a big inning for us."

It was definitely not the Dodgers night as a swinging bunt off the bat of Evan Gattis in the bottom of the fifth turned into an errant throw into right field and the Astros extended the lead to 5-1.


With their spirits down, but not broken, the Dodgers scratched two more runs across in the top of the 6th after a leadoff walk to Seager was followed by a double down the left field line for Justin Turner.

Puig brought home Seager with an RBI fielder's choice, and Turner scored on a wild pitch, to cut the Astros lead to 5-3.

McCullers Jr. left the game midway through the inning, allowing three runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts in 5 and 1/3 innings.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers were unable to get any closer as Houston relief pitcher Brad Peacock showed off his feathers, throwing 3 and 2/3 hitless innings of relief to earn the save--the first of his career.

"I just had a save in the World Series," an ectsatic Peacock said after the game. "It's unbelievable, man. I'm never going to forget this, ever. It's been a lot of fun this year."

The lone bright spot of the game for Los Angeles was the pitching heroics of Kenta Maeda in relief. Maeda threw 2.2 scoreless innings in replace of Darvish, extending his postseason shutout streak to nine innings.

"He kept us in the ballgame and gave us a shot to win," said catcher Austin Barnes of Maeda. "He did an unbelievable job. He threw the ball really well. We just have to score some more runs."

When a World Series has been tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the championship 65 percent of the time, but only once in the last four years.

Houston improved to 7-0 at home this postseason, becoming just the second team in Major League history to start the playoffs undefeated at home through the first seven games.

Up Next:

The Dodgers will look to even up the series on Saturday as LHP Alex Wood makes his second start of the postseason against RHP Charlie Morton for the Astros. First pitch is scheduled for 5:20PM PST.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Yearbook Photos: Dodger Players With SoCal Roots]]>Fri, 27 Oct 2017 14:46:43 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers-local-players1.jpgBefore they were Dodgers playing in the World Series, they were fresh-faced teenage baseball stars making their mark in Southern California.]]><![CDATA[Photos: Houston's Minute Maid Park, Inside and Out]]>Fri, 27 Oct 2017 05:34:21 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/234*120/10-26-2017-astros-minute-maid-2.jpgThe World Series shifts to Houston and Minute Maid Park. Take a look at some of the quirks of the retractable roof ballpark in downtown Houston.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[What to Know About the Home of the Houston Astros]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 13:13:16 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/GettyImages-664240628.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers left for Houston Thursday to prepare for Game 3 of the World Series and a much different atmosphere.

The series shifts from the league's third-oldest stadium located on a hill northeast of Los Angeles' downtown area to a 21st Century retractable roof ballpark in the shadow of downtown Houston's high-rise buildings. 

Like many Major League Baseball stadiums, Minute Maid Park has its share of oddities, quirks and signature features. For example, there's a replica of a mid-1800s locomotive and, when the stadium's roof is closed, an enormous glass wall beyond the short left-field wall (the foul pole is just 315 feet from home plate). It will all be part of the setting for the next three games of the World Series, beginning with Friday's tilt at 5:09 p.m. PT.

Below, a few things to know about Minute Maid Park. 

Location: The east side of downtown Houston.

Previously Known As...: The Ballpark at Union Station, Enron Field, Astros Field. 

About Its Predecessor: It was a futuristic first-of-its-kind marvel in its day, but the Astrodome became obsolete by the 1990s.

First Game: The first regular-season game featured the Astros and Phillies on April 7, 2000. Philadelphia won, 4-1.

Playing Surface: Natural grass

Weather or Not: Minute Maid Park features a retractable roof, which can be closed or opened in about 12 to 20 minutes. 

Seating Capacity: 41,000

Design: The stadium echoes design elements found in Houston's historic Union Station, which is one of the ways through which fans can enter the stadium. The station's lobby is the official team store. Arches, columns and other station features are found throughout the ballpark.

Field Measurements: Left field - 315 feet, left-center - 362 feet, center field - 409 feet, right-center - 373 feet, right field - 326 feet. Keep in mind that the eight home runs in Wednesday's Game 2, played at the more expansive Dodger Stadium, broke the record of seven in Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants.

Home Run Alley: Located in left-center field, this porch-like structure includes a classic gasoline pump that keeps track of Astros' home runs.

Out of Left Field: There's a lot going on beyond the short left-field wall. One of the first things you'll notice is the giant retractable wall with 50,000-square-feet of glass. It provides a view of the Houston skyline and natural light, even when the roof is closed.

Railroad Ties: In another nod to Union Station, a replica of a 19th Century locomotive and coal tender runs along an 800-foot track in front of the glass wall and above a seating area.

Mascot: Orbit, a green outer space-theme creature with antennae that extend into baseballs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[He's Outta There: Fan Hops Into Houston Astros' Bullpen]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 10:21:52 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-25-2017-dodgers-fan-bullpen.JPG

A wild night at Dodger Stadium included extra innings, a World Series-record eight home runs and a bullpen altercation that resulted in a fan's arrest.

The man hopped over a railing and into the Houston Astros bullpen Wednesday night during Game 2 of the World Series. Video showed the man, sporting a Dodgers jersey and backward cap, jump out of the stands and into the bullpen during the 10th inning of the extra-inning thriller.

He appeared to be shouting at a bullpen security guard before climbing over the railing. The man was immediately grabbed by security, who took him to the ground as members of the Astros converged around him.

The man was later arrested for battery of a police officer/security guard and field intrusion during the game, both of which are misdemeanors, according to police. No further details were released.

The Astros won, 7-6, tying the series at one game apiece.

Photo Credit: Hershel]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrities in the Stands: Dodgers World Series Edition]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 04:46:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869177734.jpgHollywood celebrities show off their Dodger blue.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Quiet Wizards, Win 102-99 in OT]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 03:23:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lonzo-Ball-10-25-17.jpg

From extra inning to overtime, Wednesday night in Los Angeles was anything but average.

Fewer than 3.5 miles separate Dodger Stadium from Staples Center, as the LA Dodgers lost in extra innings of an outrageous back-and-forth Game 2 of the World Series, while the Los Angeles Lakers launched their late comeback to push their game into overtime before eventually walking away victorious against John Wall and the Washington Wizards.

These were two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum.

For the Dodgers, Wednesday night could be the last home defeat of the season. For the Lakers, the win over the Wizards served as the first home victory of the NBA season and the Lonzo Ball era in Los Angeles.

The hype entering Staples Center arose from Wizards center Marcin Gortat taking to social media to target Ball with Wall, the latter of whom is considered one of the top point guards in the league. Gortat said Wall would "torture" Ball for 48 minutes, so of course, Wednesday's game went 53 minutes, and Wall didn't have one of his best showings of the season against the rookie with a target the size of his father's mouth on his back.

Still, the message out of the Lakers' camp was that targeting any member of the team would not be welcomed behavior.

"I did bring up in shootaround today that look, it's nothing personal, but we defend each other, so if people want to talk about our players, we should be offended, and we should go into that game telling ourselves, 'That's not alright. We're not going to stand for that.'"

When approached on the subject following Wednesday's victory, Ball gave due credit to his teammates playing as a unit and answered that he felt his locker room cohabitants had his back "100 percent."

Whether or not it was spurred by the Wall versus Ball talk, the Lakers played their best game against what is probably the strongest opposition they've faces thus far—no disrespect to the LA Clippers.

"Tonight was probably our best defensive game all year," Ball concluded.

With the Lakers trailing by six points with 1:35 remaining in regulation, the Lakers stepped up. Brandon Ingram finished the sequence with a big time bucket after Lakers coach Luke Walton called an isolation drive. Ingram missed his shot, but the lanky forward got his own rebound and scored the put back with minimal time left on the game clock. And so, the game went into overtime.

There, Julius Randle continued to play as an athletic undersized center, and the Wizards failed to exploit their size advantage on the offensive end, thanks largely to Randle's defensive flexibility. Randle continues to adjust to a new non-starting role, but the bulky forward is finding solace in the fact that his coach continues to trust him late in close games.

"All our guys should know this: if they're in there and they're playing really hard, and they're playing the way we want them to play, the way they're competing, I've proven I'll leave you in," Walton said in response to a question about Randle starting games versus finishing them. "You're going to finish games for us."

In the extra period, Ball notched two more assists to make it back-to-back 10-assist games for the 19-year-old, and the former UCLA Bruin once again flirted with a triple double: six points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, one steal, one block and only one turnover.

Ball, who only made two of his 11 field goal attempts on the night, said after the game, "It would be a lot easier to win if I make some shots, but I'm going to rebound, I'm going to try to defend every time I can, and I'm going to try to find the open man."

While Wall's stat line of 18 points, nine assists, three rebounds and one steal appeared to outshine Ball, the Wizards' point guard turned the ball over four times and shot 7-22 from the field, which wasn't exactly worth writing home about, either.

Most importantly, Ball got the win, as he guarded Wall on the final possession of the game. The Wizards trailed by three points, and Ball managed to do enough to get Wall off target without fouling the 27-year-old former no. 1 overall pick.

With a little help from his friends and another brick from Wall, Ball managed to silence the trash talk without uttering a single word.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 2]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 00:34:29 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Postgame_World_Series_Game_2_1200x675_1081790531873.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Charlie Culberson, Chris Taylor, Corey Seager and Kenley Jansen discuss the Dodgers 7-5 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the World Series.]]><![CDATA[Astros Complete Dramatic Comeback in Game 2 of World Series]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 00:35:41 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-866465268.jpg

We have ourselves a series.

George Springer hit the game-winning home run in the top of the 11th inning and the Houston Astros came-from-behind in dramatic fashion to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-6, in a wild Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

It took eight home runs, four lead changes, and three ties in order for the insanity to end and the Astros to even the best-of-seven series with the Dodgers.

Before Springer became the hero for Houston, three other players held the honor for the Astros over the course of the final few innings.

Houston trailed 3-1 entering the eighth inning, but got within a run when Carlos Correa snapped the MLB record 28-inning scoreless streak by the Dodgers bullpen, with an RBI single to bring the Astros within a run. 

Marwin Gonzalez did the impossible for the Astros when he hit the game-tying home run off Kenley Jansen in the top of the ninth. It was the first blown save of the L.A. closer's postseason career. 

"I'm human," a dejected Jansen said after the game. "The only flat pitch I threw on the entire night was to Marwin and he hit it out. You have to give him credit, he got me."

Gonzalez's homer was the first game-tying home run in the ninth inning or later by a road team in the World Series since Boston's Dwight Evans went deep in Game 3 of the 1975 World Series.

Entering the game, the Dodgers were 98-0 on the season when leading after the eighth inning. They were the only team in MLB without such a loss.

"I'll take Kenley any day of the week with a one-run lead going into the ninth," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts following the loss. "He's been virtually unhitabble. Gonzalez put a good swing on an 0-2 pitch. Tip your hat to him."

Josh Fields entered the game in the top of the tenth, but he was pounded like a wave-beaten rock, as he surrendered back-to-back home runs to Altuve and Correa to start the inning, and then a double to Yuli Guriel, before leaving the game without recording an out.

Altuve and Correa became the first duo to hit back-to-back home runs in extra innings of a World Series game in baseball history, and just the second to do it in the postseason.

"That's incredible game on so many levels, so many ranges of emotion," said Astros' manager A.J. Hinch. "If you like October baseball, if you like any kind of baseball, that's one of the most incredbible games you'll ever be a part of."

The Astros thought they were three outs away from splitting the two games in Los Angeles, but the Dodgers had other ideas as Yasiel Puig led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a home run off Houston closer, Ken Giles.

After a two-out walk to Logan Forsythe, NLCS hero, Kiké Hernandez, tied the game with an RBI single to right field that tied the game at 5-5.

Hernandez's single was the first hit of the game for the Dodgers that was not a home run.

Earlier in the game, the Dodgers thought that déjà vu would give them a 2-0 lead in the World Series as the Dodgers hit a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to break a 1-1 tie for the second game in a row.

It may have been a different day, but it was the same script for the Boys in Blue as Corey Seager broke the 1-1 tie with a dramatic sixth inning home run.

On Tuesday, it was Chris Taylor who worked a two-out walk against Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel in the bottom of the sixth inning to make way for Justin Turner who hit the game-winning two-run home run.

On Wednesday, it was once again Taylor who worked a two-out walk against Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander in the bottom of the sixth inning to make way for the No. 2 hitter in the lineup.

"If I don't give up that two-out walk, and then the subsequent home run, I probably hit for myself and stay in the game," said Verlander. "But when you need offense, especially in the National League, I kind of expected that."

Instead of Turner, it was reigning National League Rookie of the Year Winner, Corey Seager, who took Verlander deep for the go-ahead two-run home run.

At 23-years-old, Seager became the second youngest player in Dodgers' history to hit a home run in the World Series, with only Peter Reiser in 1941, as the youngest at 22 years, and six months.

"Adrenaline takes over and it was really exciting," Seager said of his home run.

The Astros got on the board first as Josh Reddick greeted former A's and Dodger teammate Rich Hill with a leadoff single in the third inning.

After a sacrifice bunt by Verlander moved Reddick to second, he scored two plays later on an RBI single to center field by Alex Bregman that bounced off the cap of Dodgers' center fielder Chris Taylor.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, the ball bounced directly to Joc Pederson in left field and Houston was held to only one run in the inning.

In a season of unlikely heroes, it was forgotten outfielder Joc Pederson that rose to the moment against Verlander on Wednesday.

After struggling in the second half of the regular season, Pederson was sent down to the minors in August, and did not make the NLDS postseason roster.

However, after the back injury to Corey Seager before the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, Pederson was placed on the roster for the second round so that Chris Taylor could play shortstop against right-handed starters.

Pederson had success in Game 3 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field, and remained on the World Series roster over veteran Curtis Granderson.

The move worked as Pederson sent an 88 MPH slider off Verlander into the seats in right-center for the Dodgers first hit and run of the game.

Verlander did not allow a hit through the first 4 and 1/3 innings before the blast by Pederson.

"This was an instant classic, and to be able to be part of it is pretty special."

The home runs by Pederson and Seager was the third time Verlander had allowed multiple homers in a World Series game in his career. Tied with former Dodger Don Drysdale for the most such games all-time.

Entering the game, Dodgers Game 2 starter Rich Hill, had a great track record against Houston as he was 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in six starts against the Astros in his career.

Hill did not factor in the decision on Wednesday, allowing one run on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in four short innings.

Kenta Maeda became the fifth Japanese-born pitcher in baseball history to appear in the World Series when he entered the game for Hill in relief in the fifth inning.

Brandon McCarthy made the first postseason appearance in his 12-year career, but it did not go as well as he may have hoped as he quickly gave up the game-winning, two-run homer to Springer.

Ironically, McCarthy (0-1), was on the 2005 White Sox team that swept the Houston Astros to win the World Series, but on Wednesday, he took the loss in his first ever playoff appearance.

Charlie Culberson made it interesting with a pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the 11th to set the World Series record with eight home runs in a single game.

It was the first loss at home for the Dodgers in the postseason, and just the second win on the road by the Astros.

"These guys, they can do a lot of things, and they fight to the last out," said Roberts. "They play 27 outs. That's the same thing we do. It was one of those games that we just ran out of outs."

The victory also gave Houston their first ever World Series win in franchise history.

"We're not here if Marwin Gonzalez doesn't hit it a home run to centerfield agains the best closer in baseball," said Hinch. "I'm just glad we got to the last out and got the win."

In the 113-year history of the World Series, when the series is tied at 1-1, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the championship 64 percent of the time.

Aces in the Crowd: 

Among the celebrities in attendance for Game 2 of the 2017 World Series were Brad Paisley, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, George Lopez, Mark Wahlberg, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Jason Bateman, Pat Sajak, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Oscar de la Hoya, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Giancarlo Stanton, Michael Bisping, Marian Gaborik, Jeff Carter, Danny Trejo, Michael Peña, Motley Crue, Gerrit Cole and Joey Gallo. 

Up Next:

The Series shifts to Houston for Game 3 as Yu Darvish starts opposite Lance McCullers on Friday, Oct. 27 at 5:10PM PST.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[WATCH: Vin Scully's 1st Pitch Before World Series]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 17:17:15 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Vin+Scully+1st+pitch.png

Win for Vin.

Legendary broadcaster Vin Scully surprised all of Dodger Stadium on Wednesday when he walked out onto the field at Chavez Ravine to address the crowd before Game 2 of the World Series.

Scully told the crowd that he was there to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and that he had been practicing with his wife for a week. However, before anything could go down, Scully said he needed some help.

Scully got some reinforcements right before he threw out the ceremonial first pitch as he called for a catcher, and 1981 World Series MVP Steve Yeager appeared from the dugout and walked out behind home plate.

Just as Scully reared back to throw, he stopped, and said that his arm locked up and he couldn't do it. He needed to go to the bullpen for a left-hander.

Out from the dugout came Fernando Valenzuela and the two-time World Series Champion and Cy Young Award winner took the mound to relieve the Hall-of-Fame broadcaster and threw a strike for the first pitch. 

After the throw, Scully, Yeager and Valenzuela met on the diamond as Scully said to the crowd, "There's one thing you and I did every day before every game. I want you to join me so they can hear it all the way to Houston…" 

"It's Time for Dodger Baseball." 

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Scully Delivers, and Then Calls in a Left-Handed Reliever]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 18:00:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-866416794.jpg

He retired last year after a remarkable and unprecedented 67 years as the Dodger broadcaster.

And at Game 2 of the World Series, Vin Scully was back. This time not in the broadcast booth, but on the pitcher's mound.

"You know what I’m thinking right now?" Scully said while holding a microphone along with a baseball.  "Somewhere up in heaven Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges are laughing their heads off. Look at who’s throwing out the first ball at the World Series." 

Greeted by a standing ovation with fans chanting his name, Scully pointed out for the ceremony to take place, he needed a catcher.

Out came Steve Yeager, a Dodger catcher for 14 seasons and the MVP of the 1981 World Series. Scully said he had been practicing all week in an effort not to disappoint.

"I must warn you Steve … my fastball is the same as my changeup," he said.

But as the 89 year-old Dodger legend started his wind-up … he stopped. Scully, feigning injury, said he needed a left handed reliever to take his place.

Fernando Valenzuela … the phenomenal screwball throwing left hander who sparked "Fernandomania" during his years with the team and its championship runs in ’81 and ’88, popped out of the dugout.

Then, following the ceremonial first pitch, Scully called on the throng at Dodger Stadium to join him in another tradition. In unison, 50,000 voices proclaimed together: "It’s time for Dodger baseball!"

Following Tuesday’s pre-game ceremony, he retired to his seat next to wife Sandy to take in the game.

The Hall-of-Fame announcer and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom first started working for the Dodgers in 1950 while the team was in Brooklyn.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Chargers Capture Their Third Win Over Rival Broncos]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 16:48:06 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/AP_17295860898403.jpg

The Chargers grabbed a 21-0 win over the Broncos on a very hot Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. Besides the victory, the highlight of the afternoon belonged to breast cancer survivors who were were honored before the game by the NFL.

In the final quarter, Philip Rivers found a speedy Travis Benjamin crossing the middle, and ran for a 42-yard touchdown that sealed the victory in front of 25,388 people at Stub Hub Center.

Rivers completed 15 of 26 passes and passed for two touchdowns on the day, and picked up his 100th career win.

The Chargers exhaled a bit and see clearly after their first home win since November 2016. Sunday's win snapped a seven game home losing streak for the Chargers. Los Angeles started 0-4 on the year, and have grinded halfway throughout the tough AFC West division, with a 3-4 record.

The most important focus for the Chargers was to stop the run against their opponents, mainly CJ Anderson and Jamaal Charles for the Broncos. Both Anderson and Charles combined for 49 total rushing yards in the loss to Los Angeles.

The Chargers have allowed 152.5 rushing yards per game, the worst in the NFL. In the season opener against the Broncos, the Bolts allowed 140 yards rushing.

The Bolts have only allowed touchdowns in the red zone approximately 40 percent of the time.

Broncos have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, as they successfully stopped running back Melvin Gordon from scoring on four straight attempts on the opening quarter drive. The Bolts defense forced Denver to punt after a quick three and out, and Travis Benjamin returned a 65 yard kickoff for a touchdown.

Benjamin's punt return was the first since December 12, 2012, when Michael Spurlock returned a punt for 63 yards against the New York Jets.

Quality passes from quarterback Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen that set up the 1-yard touchdown reception to Austin Eckler, for the 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter. It was the Bolts largest lead of the season, along with being Eckler's second career touchdown. Los Angeles has given up 915 rushing yards which is the most in the NFL. Fortunately the defense only allowed 31 yards to the Broncos in the first half.

Los Angeles focused on putting pressure on quarterback Trevor Siemian all afternoon, including two huge second half sacks by Joey Bosa that shut down any momentum any Denver drives alive to score.

With the season still full of optimism for the Chargers, the AFC West is truly up for grabs moving forward.

Both defenses battled it out like an extreme chess match in the movie searching for Bobby Fisher, neither team gave up a major move in the third quarter. The Chargers defense emerged triumphantly, as they stopped the final Broncos drive late in the fourth quarter, keeping the shutout in tact.

The last time the Broncos were shutout in Los Angeles was November 22, 1992, when Tommy Maddox threw two interceptions in a 24-0 loss to the Raiders.

Trevor Siemian completed 22 of 32 passes and threw one interception in the loss.

The Chargers will prepare for the Patriots next Sunday at Foxboro Stadium.

At the end of the first quarter, Las Vegas shooting survivor Johnathan Smith was acknowledged by the Chargers on the jumbotron.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dontrelle Inman Clears The Way for Chargers' Mike Williams]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 16:41:58 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/Dontrelle+Inman+vs+Chiefs.JPG

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Chargers decided to trade wide receiver Dontrelle Inman to the Chicago Bears for a conditional seventh round draft pick.

Inman joined the Chargers in 2014 after spending two seasons with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts. He started all 16 games last season, in total he's played in 41 games and made 23 starts in four seasons. Inman totaled 107 receptions for 1,463 yards and seven touchdowns, along with setting career-highs with 58 catches for 810 yards and four touchdowns.

Inman played in four games this season, and caught two passes. With the addition of healthy rookie wide receiver Mike Williams, it was only a matter of time before Inman would be put on the trading block.

Williams has appeared in the last two games against the Raiders and Broncos for the Chargers. Bolts head coach Anthony Lynn told the media on Thursday, that he looks forward to Williams taking 25-30 snaps this Sunday against the New England Patriots.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Ceremonial First Pitches at Dodger Stadium]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 04:48:40 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869180194.jpgFrom the adorable Kershaw siblings to a determined looking Danny Trejo and the family of Jackie Robinson, we have a collection of some of this season's best ceremonial first pitches at Dodger Stadium.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodger Stadium Tours: See Behind the Scenes]]>Mon, 30 Oct 2017 08:04:14 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodger_Stadium_Tours.jpg

Dodger Stadium is a baseball shrine with plenty to see behind the scenes during a stadium tour. Whit Johnson reports for the NBC4 News at 11 a.m. on Wednesday Oct. 25, 2017.]]>
<![CDATA[After Record Heat for Game 1, More Hot Weather on Deck]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 08:27:57 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-866023624.jpg

Fans endured record heat to celebrate a Dodgers victory in Game 1 of the World Series, and more heat is on the way for Wednesday night's match-up with Houston.

Tuesday's Game 1 was the warmest World Series game on record at 103 degrees. The previous record of 94 degrees was Game 1 of the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees in Phoenix on Oct. 27, 2001. Major League Baseball ordered the roof at then-Bank One Ballpark to be open.

Fans will feel fortunate to find shade Wednesday at wide open Dodger Stadium, where temperatures will be in the high-90s. First pitch is at 5:09 p.m.

Triple-digit temperatures are forecast for parts of Southern California and the risk of fire is extreme. Small brush fires broke out Tuesday in the San Fernando Valley and along a freeway in San Bernardino County. 

Red flag warnings are scheduled to expire Wednesday night. The red flag warnings were scheduled to be in effect everywhere in Los Angeles County, except for the Antelope Valley, and parts of Ventura County until 6 p.m.

Wednesday night's pitching match-up features Rich Hill for LA and ace Justin Verlander for Houston.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[For Dodger Stadium's Peanut Man, It's All in the Wrist]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 06:09:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/10-25-2017-peanut-man-roger-owens-dodgers.JPG

When it comes to chucking peanuts, Roger Owens does it with style.

Owens has been part of the Dodgers game day experience for nearly 60 years. He's the Peanut Man who hurls strikes to fans in the stands with Clayton Kershaw-like accuracy and the flare of Yasiel Puig.

Owens has a variety of styles. His NBA shot looks like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Skyhook. Sometimes, he deftly tosses a bag under one leg.

But his signature move is a behind-the-back toss that Owens makes look easy.

"When it comes behind the back, the power that I get is not in the arm," said Owens, demonstrating in his backyard. "It's the flick of the wrist. It's kind of like a launch pad. When that arm goes behind the back, all the power comes from my wrist."

From there, the bag soars with a lazy arc -- right into the waiting hands of a fan.

Owens started working at Dodgers games in 1958, when the team still played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He was a pitcher at Manuel Arts High School, just south of the stadium, when his father suggested he get a job selling soda at games.

The promising young star with the golden arm soon rose through the ranks.

"I started on soda, worked my way up to frozen chocolate malts, and I got to peanuts before the season ended in the first year," Owens said.

He's been delighting Dodgers fans ever since.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Justin Turner Turns From CSUF Baseball Star to Dodgers Hero]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 00:56:33 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/justin+turner+csuf+uniform.jpg

Justin Turner's former coaches have watched the Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman and team hero go from local star to one of the biggest names in baseball.

Turner, who was born in Long Beach, attended California State University, Fullerton and further developed his knack for baseball by joining the team. With the guidance of his assistant coach Neil Walton and coach Rick Vanderhook, he was later drafted into Major League Baseball.

"It's surreal watching him," Vanderhook said. As a friend of his parents', Vanderhook has known Turner since he was a baby.

Turner's former coach said it really hit him that someone he's coached has advanced to the World Series.

"I'm sitting there with his dad and I look and say, 'Red is batting third for the Dodgers,'" he said. "He just has a feel for baseball, and that's something you can't teach."

The Dodger star's assistant coach had nothing but praise for him.

"He's not just a natural talent, he's working for what he's getting," Walton said.

Aside from his acclaimed plays during games, Turner is recognized for being a professional who spends time offering tips to current players of the CSUF baseball team.

Turner is known to sit and talk to the young athletes, who soak everything in.

"It's big for us," CSUF baseball player Andrew Quezada said. "It gives us hope that we're going to be the next guy."

<![CDATA[Yasiel Puig Breaks Out Blue Streak Hairstyle for Game 1]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 04:58:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-866033354.jpgYasiel Puig went all out from head to toe in Dodger blue for the first game of the World Series. The Dodgers outfielder teased his new haircut on Instagram hours before Tuesday's Game 1, but turned it up a few notches by game-time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 1]]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 22:06:54 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Postgame_World_Series_Game_1_1200x675_1080884291873.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers' players Enrique Hernandez, Yasiel Puig, Cody Bellinger, and Austin Barnes discuss the Dodgers, 3-1, victory over the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series.]]><![CDATA[Turner's Homer Wins Game 1 of World Series]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 17:20:39 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/JTHOMERWS.jpg

Three more wins.

In the hunt for Red October, Justin Turner is King.

Turner hit a game-winning two-run home run off Dallas Keuchel and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Houston Astros, 3-1, in Game 1 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night.

After each team took turns hitting a solo home run, Turner stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on first. The rest, will live on in Dodgers' lore for eternity.

Turner connected on an 87MPH elevated cutter from Keuchel for his fourth home run of the postseason, and the Dodgers never looked back, taking Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.

"I didn't know if it was going to be a home run or not," Turner said as he watched the ball fly off his bat. "I knew I back spun it pretty good. I knew I hit it really high, and I knew it was about 98 degrees outside. So when it's that hot there, the ball does travel a lot better."

The 113th edition of the Fall Classic got off to a hot start, and we're not talking about the 103 degree temperatures on the field at gametime. 

Chris Taylor got the Dodgers' postseason party started when he hit a first pitch, leadoff home run of Keuchel to put L.A. in the lead.

"We knew he liked to get ahead of the count early," said Taylor of his mindset before stepping into the box against Keuchel. "He does a really good job of picking at the corners, and throws a lot of chase pitcehrs. I just wanted to go up there and be aggressive, and try to jump on that first-pitch strike."

The leadoff home run was the first ever in Dodgers' postseason history, and just the fourth leadoff home run in World Series history as Taylor joined Don Buford, Dustin Pedroia, and Alcides Escobar as the only other players to hit a leadoff homer in the World Series. The 447-foot mammoth home run was also Taylor's longest home run of the season.

"He's one of the elite players in the game now," said Kershaw of Taylor following the victory. "You stack him up with other centerfielders in the game. Springer in Houston, all these guys, he's pretty close to up there. It's a testament to him and his work ethic. He's such a great guy. He works so hard and his swing and I'm thankful he's at the top of our lineup."

Alex Bregman tied the game in the top of the fourth inning when he crushed a 93MPH four-seam fastball from Kershaw into the left field pavilion.

"They had two big swings, we had one," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch after the loss. "They had a walk right before one of their big swings and it was 3-1, we get to Game 2. It's no more complicated than that."

The last time Bregman took the field at Dodger Stadium was back in March during the Gold Medal game of the World Baseball Classic in which Team USA defeated Puerto Rico, 8-0, to win their first ever WBC Championship.

Early on in the game, it was a battle of aces as Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel were entrenched in a good old fashioned pitcher's duel.

"Keuchel was really good tonight," added Hinch. "He was just a pitch or two less than Kershaw. He wasn't as fancy with the punch-outs, but take nothing away from those guys, it was a well-pitched game on both sides."

The two Cy Young Award winners took turns allowing one run each until Turner stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth.

Keuchel (0-1), allowed three runs on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts in 6 and 2/3 innings.

In his first World Series start, Kershaw (1-0) was magnificent, allowing just one run, on three hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts in seven dominant innings.

"I felt good," Kershaw said of his start. "It was hot tonight, so warming up, it didn't take time to get loose. I tried to get that first inning under my belt and fortunately I got out of that. Then, CT hitting that home run, the first pitch of the game, it kind of settled us all in a little bit. It was definitely as good a start as we could have hoped for." 

The double-digit strikeouts recorded, was the fifth time in Kershaw's postseason career he's recorded 10 or more strikeouts.

Kershaw beame the second pitcher ever to record 11 strikeouts without a walk in a World Series game, joining fellow Dodger great Don Newcombe in Game 1 of the 1949 World Series.

Kershaw improved to a perfect 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA this postseason in four total starts. He also now holds the Dodgers postseason record for career starts (18), innings pitched (113), and strikeouts (133).

"I don't know if you can decipher between a postseason start and a World Series start, but the adrenaline is more magnified," Kershaw said. "It definitely feels good to say it was the World Series, and it feels good to say we're up 1-0 and now we have to come back tomorrow and do it again."

In Justin Turner's first at-bat of the game, he stepped to the plate with a 34.5-inch bat, an inch longer than he normally uses. He promptly struck out swinging. 

In his second at-bat, with the same size bat, he flied out to left field. Finally, in his third at-bat he went back to his usual 33.5-inch bat for one final shot at Keuchel.

"My first two at-bats I was swinging a bigger bat, and I got beat a couple of times," explained Turner. "So for my third at-bat I said I'm going to switch back to my 33 and a half that I normally use, a little smaller bat. It's a good thing I did, because I didn't get beat a third time."

Turner not only didn't get beat, he beat Houston with one swing, as he broke the tie with his two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth. The two-run bomb gave Turner 26 career postseason RBI, tied with Duke Snider for the most in Dodgers' franchise history.

"One of the best things about being a Dodger and playing in Dodger Stadium is every day when I get to the field, I get to take the elevator down to the first floor and walk through the Dodger museum," Turner said of his name now being mentioned alongside "The Duke." "It's something that I don't take for granted. It's something I feel extremely proud to be able to put on the same uniform as those guys that have their name on the wall, an dit's something that I don't just walk by every way with blinders up. I try to soak it in every chance I get."

Turner has 14 RBI in the 2017 playoffs alone, a new Dodger franchise record for a single postseason.

Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen combined to pitch the eighth and ninth, as the Dodgers' closer recorded his 12th consecutive postseason save, the most ever since saves became an official stat in 1969.

The Dodgers improved to 8-1 in the 2017 postseason with the victory. The winner of Game 1 of the World Series has gone on to win the Fall Classic 63 percent of the time.

This is the second meeting between the Dodgers and the Astros in the postseason with the first meeting occurring in the NLDS in 1981. Nolan Ryan pitched in Game 5, and the Dodgers scored three runs to beat him and later advance to the World Series.

Up Next:

Game 2 of the World Series will feature RHP Justin Verlander in his third different Fall Classic appearance against LHP Rich Hill who will make his first ever World Series start. First Pitch is at 5:09PM PST.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Metro Offering Free Shuttle to Dodger Stadium]]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 18:25:54 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers-express.jpg

Metro on Monday urged World Series attendees to take advantage of free express buses to beat rush-hour traffic.

More buses have been added to the Dodger Stadium Express service, together with a new boarding area at Union Station West near the taxi zone. A dedicated bus lane on Sunset Boulevard should help fans get to the game early.

Service at Union Station begins three hours before game time and runs every 10 minutes. Service from Bay 9 at the Harbor Gateway Transit Center starts two hours before the game and buses will run every 20 minutes. Return service to both location ends 45 minutes after the end of each home game.

Union Station passengers will be dropped off and picked up either behind center field or at the top deck.

Harbor Gateway fans will be dropped off and picked up behind right field.

More information on routes and service is available at metro.net or by calling 323-466-3876 (GO METRO).

Photo Credit: Conan Nolan/KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[World Series 2017 Preview: Astros vs. Dodgers]]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 15:35:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-865576268.jpg

It's time for World Series baseball.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will host the Houston Astros on Tuesday, Oct. 24, in Game 1 at Dodger Stadium in the 113th edition of the Fall Classic. 

Now that the final series of the baseball season is finally upon us, we can take a look at both teams and see how they stack up against each other in a best-of-seven series.

There's little doubt that the Astros and Dodgers were two of the best teams in baseball during the 2017 regular season. Both teams finished with over 100 wins, the first time two teams with 100+ wins have met in the World Series since the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Cincinnati Reds in 1970.

The Astros ran out in front of the pack in April, but the Dodgers caught fire over the summer, and ran away with the best record in baseball, going 43-7 during a 50-game stretch in June and July. 

At the All-Star break, the Dodgers and Astros were the overwhelming favorites to reach the World Series. 

Each team had the best record in their respective leagues at the Midsummer Classic, and were the odds on favorite to represent the American and National League in the World Series.

Houston cemented that standing with an August acquisition of Tigers' ace Justin Verlander. Since the trade, Verlander is 9-0 with a 1.46 ERA in nine combined starts between both the Regular Season and Playoffs. 

Meanwhile, the Dodgers were essentially the best team in baseball from May onward, finishing with the best record in baseball at 104-58, despite a historic losing streak in September that saw the Boys in Blue lose 16 of 17 games at one point.

Tuesday marks the 19th time in Dodgers' franchise history they will be playing in the World Series, and it's a marquee matchup of Cy Young Award winners on slate as Clayton Kershaw squares off with Dallas Keuchel in Game 1.

In our opinion, Game 1 is the key to the entire series. In the previous 112 World Series, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series 63 percent of the time.

The Dodgers will need to capitalize off the momentum of playing at home in the World Series for the first time since 1988, and hold serve in Game 1. If they don't, they could be in trouble as they will have to beat Verlander in Game 2.

After Game 2, the Dodgers have the advantage in the starting rotation as they will throw Yu Darvish to the mound in Game 3, and All-Star Alex Wood in Game 4. Therefore, the first two games of the series are crucial to both teams.

Houston has reached the World Series just twice in their franchise history, and has never won the championship trophy. For a majority of their existence, the Astros were in the National League, and once met the Dodgers in the NLDS in 1981, a series that featured Hall of Famer, Nola Ryan (the Dodgers won in 5).

Both teams stack up similarly on offense and defense, but the edge in the bullpen goes to the Dodgers, and it could prove to be a tremendous advantage in this series.

Los Angeles had the best bullpen in the Majors this season, and have continued that success in the playoffs. The Dodgers' relievers shut out the reigning World Series Champion Chicago Cubs entirely in the NLCS, as the bullpen did not allow a single run in 17 innings. Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen have locked down teams in the 8th and 9th innings respectively, and Kenta Maeda has proved to be tremendous in his role as a reliever after starting for a majority of the season. 

Outside of Astros' closer Ken Giles, Houston has a problem. Manager A.J. Hinch has patched his bullpen together with relievers like Chris Devenski, Will Harris, and Joe Musgrove, but all of those pitchers were roughed up a bit in the ALCS by the New York Yankees. Houston has used starting pitchers like Lance McCullers out of the pen and even though it's worked thus far in the postseason, there's no telling how long that plan will last in the World Series.

We believe that this series could come down to the bullpens and it's because of that we're leaning towards the Dodgers.

Prediction: Dodgers in 6.

All games will be televised on FOX and can be streamed live on YouTube TV.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Julius Randle Improves Attitude, Focus]]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 08:25:42 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/julius-randle-starting.jpg

Competition is healthy, the saying goes.

For Julius Randle, competition has not been a friend of late. Larry Nance Jr. now holds the starting spot Randle has all but demanded for the duration of his young career, while rookie Kyle Kuzma has assumed a far greater role than would have been projected before the former Utah Ute's NBA Summer League exploits. 

After getting pulled out of the game in the season opener and getting an ear full from Lakers coach Luke Walton for not being ready to play, Randle's role plunged to only 13 minutes in the Lakers' win in Phoenix. Trade value talk dominated the social media wires, which is expected regardless of how Randle plays since the power forward is in a contract year, and the Lakers have publicly stated their desire to attract top level free agents.

Against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, though, Randle reverted back to a positive member of the team, despite facing the absurd challenge of guarding All-Star big men DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. While those matchup issues played a central role in LA falling behind by 22 points in the first half, Randle's attitude and energy sustained as he played as the center in the small unit that swung the game back and gave the Lakers the lead down the stretch.

"I thought it was his best game so far," Walton stated the obvious about Randle's Sunday night at Staples Center.

Walton added, "I think he's been a little frustrated that he wasn't starting, and tonight his energy levels just seemed right."

As a coach, Walton is far from aloof and listed the realities that Randle was facing in terms of a contract year, having started essentially his entire life, still being young, and the suddenness of being placed on the bench and unsure of playing time. In those first two games of the regular season and at the tail end of the preseason, Randle looked like a shrinking giant in terms of body language.

On Sunday, Randle often failed because Davis and Cousins are often unstoppable, but the forward's overall energy, attitude and effort were undeniably improved from the first two games of the season. The strong, 6-foot 9-inch ball of muscle said that he focused on having a positive attitude after what has publicly been a tough start to the season for the 22-year-old former Kentucky Wildcat.

"With everything going on, you just try to put yourself in the best position to give your team the best chance to win, so for me, it goes more than just my play," Randle said immediately after Sunday's game. "It's my attitude, along with my effort and how I make other people feel."

Randle's positive attitude builds on itself, as his improved energy increases his value and pushes up his minutes, thus creating less of an emotional burden to keep the forward's spirits down. Randle may not be immediately pushed back into a starting role any time in the near future, but the Dallas native has evidence that he will be trusted with meaningful minutes after playing the entire fourth quarter against the Pelicans.

Randle acknowledged that, to him, finishing games meant more than starting them, and so, perhaps, this particular flash point about Randle's frustrations with not starting may finally die down for a bit.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers World Series Food Items]]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 04:19:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Dodgers+World+Series+Food.jpegAs the Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the next round of the MLB Playoffs, so to did the food items provided by Levy Restaurants at concession stands across Chavez Ravine. Here are the newest food items for the 2017 World Series.

Photo Credit: Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers]]>
<![CDATA[World Series Schedule and Viewing Information]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 22:03:17 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/World+Series+2017+Schedule.png

Welcome to the World Series.

The Dodgers have returned to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1988. The 113th edition of the World Series started at Dodger Stadium for Games 1 and 2, shifted to Houston for three thrillers, and now returns to LA. 

The series will be presented by YouTube TV and be telecast on FOX as well as MLB.TV.

Here is the full schedule for all the games.

Game 1: Dodgers 3, Astros 1 (LA)

Game 2: Astros 7, Dodgers 6 (LA)

Game 3: Astros 5, Dodgers 3 (Houston)

Game 4: Dodgers 6, Astros 2 (Houston)

Game 5: Houston 13, Dodgers 12 (Houston)

Game 6: Dodgers 3, Houston 1 (LA)

Game 7: Weds. Nov. 1 at 4:30PM PST. First Pitch is at 5:10PM PST. (L.A.)

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Fall Classic Will Feel More Like a Summer Scorcher]]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 07:00:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/174*120/GettyImages-484262484.jpg

The first game of the World Series is expected to bring the heat.

Temperatures will be sizzling around game-time at 5:09 p.m. PT Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, when Los Angeles and the Houston Astros will play Game 1 of the World Series. Tuesday's high is expected to top out at 102, but temperatures will slide back into the 90s by early evening.

The hottest World Series game on record is Game 1 of the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees in Phoenix on Oct. 27, 2001. The first-pitch temperature for that showdown in the desert was 94 degrees. Major League Baseball ordered the roof at then-Bank One Ballpark to be open.

The Dodgers are back in the World Series for the first time since winning it all in 1988, when the A's and LA enjoyed relatively mild temperatures. The average high temperature in Los Angeles this time of year is 77.

Both teams scheduled workouts at Dodger Stadium Monday on the eve of Game 1. Excessive heat warnings go into effect to start the week in Los Angeles, where some areas will be under red flag warnings, signaling high fire danger due to heat, dry conditions and strong wind gusts. The warning will be in effect through Wednesday.

The game-time temperature for Game 2 on Wednesday is expected to be in the high-90s.

"The first couple of (NLCS) games here against the Cubs were really hot," Dodgers utility man Charlie Culberson told MLB.com. "I'm from Georgia, I'm from the South. We're used to it. We've played in it. I don't think it's really going to affect us, it's the World Series, it doesn't matter. We'll be ready."

Spending summers in Houston and Los Angeles, the players are used to the heat, but research suggests extreme heat can influence how far a baseball travels off the bat. Dr. Alan Nathan, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, conducted a study that shows a baseball travels 3.3 addition feet for every 10 degrees of added temperatures.

For example, the average high temperature in Los Angeles for late October is about 77 degrees. On a 100-degree day, a ball that would usually be a warning track fly-out might carrying into the outfield stands for a home run.

As for the coldest World Series on record, that distinction goes to the 1997 series when the Florida Marlins visited Cleveland. At first pitch for Game 4, the temperature was 38 degrees. There were snow flurries during the game and ice patches formed on the infield in one of the more bizarre World Series sights.

World Series rosters will be announced Tuesday morning.

Manager Dave Roberts said the Dodgers will keep the same pitching rotation as they did in the NLCS with left-hander Rich Hill starting Game 2 and right-hander Yu Darvish Game 3 following the previously announced Game 1 starter, left-hander Clayton Kershaw.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will start Game 1 for Houston and right- hander Justin Verlander Game 2, manager A.J. Hinch said Saturday following the 4-0 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Corey Seager is Expected to Start in World Series]]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 02:59:23 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Seager+Ready+for+World+Series.png

Guess who's back, back again, Seager's back, tell a friend.

The World Series starts on Tuesday and the Dodgers are confident that All-Star shortstop Corey Seager will be on the 25-man roster released in the morning.

Seager has not played since October 9th in Game 3 of the NLDS when he suffered a lower back strain sliding into second base in the first inning.

The reigning National League Rookie of the Year winner said he experienced pain and tightness the next morning and despite receiving an epidural injection in his back the following day, was unable to recover in time to return for the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs. 

"I missed being a part of the game, being part of that atmosphere, and being with of my teammates," said Seager who stayed in a hotel in Los Angeles while the Dodgers clinched a berth in the World Series at Wrigley Field in Chicago. "It really stung. It wasn't fun being alone in the hotel room watching it."

The fact that Seager was not allowed to travel to Chicago to be with the team during Games 3, 4, and 5 may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise as he was able to rest, recover, and receive daily treatment from trainers and doctors in Los Angeles.

It was back at Dodger Stadium last Wednesday, during Game 4 of the NLCS, that Seager finally started to feel better and was able to resume baseball activities.

"My mobility came back, the tightness went away, and that's when it turned over in my head that I would be able to play," Seager said. "There's one more step, to face live pitching and that's all I need to do."

Seager was a full participant in Saturday's closed workout and Sunday's team workout at Dodger Stadium, and even faced live pitching against Yu Darvish, Josh Fields, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Brandon McCarthy.

On Monday, during the Dodgers' workout in front of the media, Seager faced more live pitching from Dodgers' right-hander Brock Stewart who was recalled from Camelback Ranch in Arizona to help Seager get his "feel and rhythm" back before the World Series starts on Tuesday evening.

"That's always a worry," Seager said of how quickly he might be able to get that back. "Fortunately, or unfortunately, I've had experience with it. You never know how it's going to be, these live AB's are going to be really important for me."

Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts stood behind the cage during Seager's at-bats and afterwards said that he's "very confident," Seager will be ready for the World Series.

"We're very confident," Roberts said. "He said he's felt as good as he has in weeks."

One final box that Seager will have to check is sliding, something that he admitted on Monday that he hasn't done since the injury occurred.

"I haven't slid since it happened," he admitted. "I'm going to probably have to do that today. I've watched the slide over and over, and it wasn't awkward."

There's talk that Seager could be used as a designated hitter for Games 3-5 in Houston, but likely if Seager is able to play, he will start at shortstop.

The only left-handed starting pitcher the Dodgers will face would be Dallas Keuchel in Game 5, and if the Dodgers' opt to start Charlie Culberson at shortstop in that game, Seager could slide into the DH spot.

During Games 3 and 4, against probable right-handed starters Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers, the Dodgers could use either Yasmani Grandal or Austin Barnes in the DH spot, or even Andre Ethier if he doesn't start in left field.

Regardless of what happens, Seager says he's ready to play and do whatever it takes to be part of the Dodgers quest to bring the first World Series back to Los Angeles since 1988.

"I'm good to go for whatever he needs," said Seager. "I'm just glad to be back out with the team and be a part of it. I haven't smiled in a while, so it's nice to smile again."

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Where to Catch the World Series Across SoCal]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 04:20:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/enrique-hernandez-nlcs.jpg

Restaurants and bars across Southern California are hosting watch parties for what is considered one of the biggest sporting events of the year.

Whether you enjoy watching the World Series while snacking on chicken wings, savory appetizers or just a simple glass of beer with a few peanuts, these businesses announced they will act as a space for baseball fans to cheer, jeer and participate in the seventh-inning stretch.

Hooters, Burbank
600 N. 1st Street
Burbank, California 91502

Hooters, West Covina 
3041 E. Garvey Avenue 
West Covina, California 91791

Killarney Pub & Grill
209 Main Street
Huntington Beach, California 92648

Big Wangs, North Hollywood
5300 Lankershim Boulevard
North Hollywood, California 91601

Big Wangs, Hollywood
1562 N. Cahuenga Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90028

Big Wangs, Downtown Los Angeles 
801 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90017

Barney's Beanery, Pasadena
99 E. Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, California 91105

Barney's Beanery, Burbank
250 N. 1st Street
Burbank, California 91502

Barney's Beanery, Westwood
1037 Broxton Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90024

Barney's Beanery, Redondo Beach
100 Fishermans Wharf
Redondo Beach, California 90277

Dirty Bull Tavern
21797 Ventura Boulevard
Woodland Hills, California 91364

Busby's West
3110 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, California 90404

The Greyhound Bar & Grill
5570 N. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, California 90042

Photo Credit: TNS via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[South Bay Lakers Hire Metta World Peace]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 19:26:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Metta-World-Peace-South-Bay-Lakers.jpg

Metta World Peace is back with the Lakers.

On Monday, the South Bay Lakers announced that World Peace would be joining the team as a player development coach. As recently as April, the 37-year-old was still suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers in his second spell with the ball club. At season's end, however, the organization made it clear in no uncertain terms that World Peace would not be welcome back as a player at the start of the 2017-18 season.

In a coaching role, though, the doors were left wide open for the proud Queensbridge, New York native. On the eve of the G-League season, which tips off at the start of November, World Peace officially re-joined the Lakers' organization as a member of Coby Karl's staff.

World Peace has always been a fan favorite and a press asset for his colorful quotes, but his ability to stay in the NBA from 1999 to 2017, with a couple short stints playing in China and Italy is a testament to his work ethic and discipline. Also, World Peace's performance in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals helped solidify him as a local favorite in the City of Angels.

While World Peace joining the South Bay Lakers is a first formal step back into the organization, the next logical step would be a move to the LA Lakers considering the 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year's familiarity with several players and the coach.

Walton and World Peace won a title together as players, and the current Lakers coach's first year on the bench was, seemingly, World Peace's final on the court.

Regardless of what the future holds, World Peace is back with the Lakers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers 'Confident' Seager Will Return for World Series]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 07:53:22 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-856283386.png

An update on the status of Dodger shortstop Corey Seager is expected Monday when Los Angeles and Astros work out ahead of the World Series.

Seager missed the National League Championship Series because of a back injury after hitting .273 and driving in two runs in the three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in a National League Division Series. Seager had the Dodgers second-highest batting average during the regular season, .295, was second in RBIs with 77, and tied for third in home runs with 22. 

Manager Dave Roberts expressed optimism before Sunday's workout that Seager would be able to play in the World Series. 

"We're very confident," Roberts said. "Today he's going to participate like any of our other players (and) take the at-bats off the pitchers as well. That will be another test for him.

"After the workload yesterday, he came in today and said he felt as good as he has in weeks so that was encouraging."

Roberts did not say who the Dodgers would drop from the roster to make room for Seager. 

The World Series rosters will be announced Tuesday morning.

Roberts said the Dodgers will keep the same pitching rotation as they did in the NLCS with left-hander Rich Hill starting Game 2 and right-hander Yu Darvish Game 3 following the previously announced Game 1 starter, left-hander Clayton Kershaw.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will start Game 1 for Houston and right- hander Justin Verlander Game 2, manager A.J. Hinch said Saturday following the 4-0 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Keuchel's 14-5 record was tied for fourth best in the American League. Keuchel limited the New York Yankees to four hits over seven innings and did not allow a run in a 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series Oct. 13.

In his most recent appearance Wednesday he allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings in a 5-0 loss.

Keuchel had two stints on the 10-day disabled list this season because of a pinched nerve in his neck and neck discomfort, sidelining him from May 20- 26 and June 8-July 27.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball Flirts With Lakers' Record, Pelicans Win]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 01:28:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Anthony-Davis-Lakers-Pelicans.jpg

On a night where Lonzo Ball struggled to find his shot and the Los Angeles Lakers came out flat, the home town Lakers still nearly pulled off a 22-point comeback victory against the New Orleans Pelicans. Anthony Davis finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds, and DeMarcus Cousins added 22 points and 11 rebounds of his own in the victory that was anything but straight forward.

The Pelicans led for the first three quarters of Sunday's contest at Staples Center, enjoying a game-high 22-point advantage early in the second quarter. Everything about Sunday's game for the first three quarter felt like it was a blowout in the making, with an unprepared Lakers' team failing defensively and struggling to score consistently.

Then, with about 90 seconds remaining in the third quarter, a makeshift unit that featured Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle and rookie Josh Hart making his home debut cut a 20-point deficit with 1:26 remaining in the quarter to an 11-point disadvantage entering the fourth quarter.

Suddenly, Staples Center was alive, and the Lakers were back into a game that they had no business being in.

"I was going up and down the bench looking for guys that were going to play at that level," Walton explained how he came upon the hodgepodge lineup that worked wonders on the night. "We had some guys tonight I didn't think that were mentally or physically ready for it. So, I kept making subs trying to find a group of guys that were going to compete the way we want to compete. And that was it. That was probably the first time that lineup's ever played together. Honestly."

With Ball and the majority of the starters watching from the bench, the makeshift lineup continued to play stingy, energetic defense which also translated to points on the offensive end. Clarkson, Kuzma and Randle all found their shooting shoes and the trio of bench players contributed three of the four Lakers to score in double figures on the night.

Unfortunately for Walton, Ingram picked up his fifth foul with the Lakers within three points and broke up the unit. The coach put Ball back in the game at that point, with the Lakers leading in a one possession game.

Still, the combination of Kuzma, Randle, Hart and Clarkson kept the Lakers charging forward. The foursome helped the Lakers take a 110-106 lead with 4:16 remaining in the game. When Hart went to the bench with 3:33 to play, the Lakers led 110-108, and the Lakers had incredibly outscored the Pelicans by 21 points while the former Villanova guard graced the court.

Over those final four minutes, however, the Pelicans outscored the Lakers 13-2 and handed the Lakers their second loss of the young season.

Ball finished with eight points, 13 assists and eight rebounds, but his five turnovers and 3-13 shooting hinted that this was not one of his better nights. More telling, the Lakers were outscored by 24 points during the 36 minutes and 24 seconds the 19-year-old spent on the court.

Even on an off night, Ball flirted with history.

After becoming only the third player alongside Michael Jordan and LeBron James to record a game with 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists before their 22nd birthday (since 1983-84) in Phoenix two nights earlier, Ball's 13 assists on Sunday night made him only the third Lakers' rookie to record 13 or more assists. Earvin "Magic" Johnson hit the 13-assist mark twice as a rookie, while Norm Nixon holds the rookie record with 14 assists.

Considering Sunday night was Ball's third ever NBA game and he did not appear to be having an especially strong performance, one would be shocked if the former UCLA Bruin doesn't claim the Lakers' rookie record in the near future and absolutely obliterate the 14-assist mark at some point when Ball and the Lakers' offense clicks for 48 minutes.

Until then, the Lakers continue to face the gantlet of the NBA schedule with John Wall and the Washington Wizards coming to town on Wednesday night.

Notes: Clarkson finished with a team-high 24 points to go along with five assists. Kuzma finished with 20 points and six rebounds in the loss. Randle tabbed 11 points oon 5-6 shooting in 24 minutes. E'Twaun Moore of the Pelicans scored 19 points and converted eight of nine field goal attempts.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Shutout Cardinals 33-0 in London]]>Sun, 22 Oct 2017 12:42:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-865106418.jpg

LONDON (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams will finally have something to celebrate on their long flight home.

Jared Goff ran for a touchdown and threw for another and Greg Zuerelein made four field goals as the Rams won for the first time in three appearances in Britain, beating the Arizona Cardinals 33-0 at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday.

Goff completed 22 of 37 passes for 235 yards with an interception and Todd Gurley ran for 106 yards and a touchdown for the NFC West-leading Rams (5-2). Los Angeles has won five of its first seven games for the first time since 2003 — the last time the Rams finished with a winning record.

Arizona (3-4) heads home with significant questions after quarterback Carson Palmer injured his left arm in the second quarter and did not return.

Palmer, who finished 10 for 18 for 122 yards, was hit by Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree and intercepted with 5:48 remaining in the first half. He was replaced by longtime backup Drew Stanton, who completed 5 of 14 passes for 162 yards and an interception and was unable to close what began as a 6-0 deficit.

Gurley's 18-yard touchdown run immediately followed Palmer's interception, and Goff helped push the Rams' lead to 20-0 after he took a zone-read keeper 9 yards for a touchdown.

Zuerlein, who set a franchise record by making seven field goals in a win against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 1, connected from 23, 33, 53 and 34 yards, and Kupp finished off the scoring by taking a screen pass 18 yards for a touchdown with 3:53 remaining.

Adrian Peterson, in his second game for the Cardinals since being acquired via a trade with the New Orleans Saints, was held to just 21 yards on 11 carries. He ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his debut a week ago, a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Rams had not shut out an opponent since a 24-0 road victory against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 7, 2014, while the Cardinals had not failed to score since a 58-0 loss at Seattle on Dec. 9, 2012.

It was also the second consecutive shutout in Britain after both teams scored in each of the previous 19.


In addition to Palmer, the Cardinals lost two players to injury who later returned: inside linebacker Karlos Dansby (left hand) and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (right knee). Meanwhile, Rams center John Sullivan (left knee) and rookie wide receiver Josh Reynolds (concussion) left the game and did not return.


Cardinals: Will have their bye week before visiting the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 5.

Rams: After a bye week, will visit last year's Twickenham opponents, the New York Giants.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nightmare at Notre Dame, Irish Rout Trojans]]>Sun, 22 Oct 2017 12:48:49 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-864809996.jpg

The Trojans will not be winning a National Championship this year.

The Fighting Irish rushed for 377 yards and No. 13 Notre Dame blew out No.11 USC, 49-14, on Saturday night in South Bend.

After a 45-27 lopsided loss at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum last season, the Irish got payback, outplaying the Trojans in every facet of the highly-anticipated rivalry game.

The Trojans forced a three-and-out to start the contest, but on their first possession on offense, Sam Darnold fumbled, setting up the first Notre Dame touchdown and it was all downhill for USC from there.

Notre Dame led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, but the Trojans opened up the second quarter with a long drive that got all the way down to the Irish three-yard-line.

After running back Ronald Jones II was stopped for a loss of one on third down, the Trojans opted for the field goal, but Chase McGrath missed the easy 27-yarder and the Trojans were still scoreless.

The game went from bad to worse minutes later, as Jack Jones muffed and Notre Dame took over at the USC nine-yard-line. Three players later, Josh Adams easily ran in for the 21-0 lead.

The "Nightmare at Notre Dame" continued as Darnold was intercepted by Nick Watkins on the Trojans' next drive and Irish quarterback Brandon Winbush called his own number as Notre Dame led 28-0 at the half.

The Trojans tried to keep it interesting in the third quarter, as both Steven Mitchell Jr. and Deontay Burnett caught touchdown passed from Darnold, but the USC defense was outmatched as the Irish just kept on finding the endzone.

Darnold left the game in the fourth quarter, finishing 20-of-28 for 229 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for seven yards.

Burnett was the leading receiver in the game with eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.

The USC rushing attack was non-existent on the day as five different players combined for just 76 yards on the ground.

On the flip side, the Fighting Irish dominated the ground attack, rushing for a combined 377 yards.

Adams finished with 191 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries including an 84-yard touchdown burst at the end of the third quarter for the knockout blow.

Winbush, a Junior at of New Jersey, proved to be too mobile for the Trojans as he scampered for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. He also threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns as well.

For the second year in a row, the Trojans now have two losses before November and will most certainly fall down (if not out) of the AP Top 25 rankings on Sunday.

Since the College Football Playoff was created in 2014, no team with two losses made the four-team playoff. 

Up Next:

The Trojans will return home, lick their wounds, and then head to Tempe, Arizona next weekend where they will face Arizona State at 7:45PM PST on ESPN. 

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball Warms Up, Lakers Burn Suns 132-130]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 22:15:50 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lonzo-Ball-Lakers-vs-Suns-10-20-17.jpg

Lonzo Ball recorded his first career double-double and Brandon Ingram set a new career high with 25 points, as the Los Angeles Lakers claimed their first win of the 2017-18 season, a.k.a. "the Lonzo Ball era," on Friday night in Phoenix, 132-130.

As the score suggests, a defensive display, this was not.

Friday's contest in Phoenix pitted two of the three youngest rosters in the NBA in an entertaining show that featured Suns guard Devin Booker flirt with a triple-double, as the 20-year-old finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists on the night.

If Booker flirted with a triple-double, Ball went one step further and made a move when he tabbed 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in his first NBA victory. However, Ball did not seem interested in personal milestones, as the rookie point guard attacked and scored the basketball late in the contest, rather than go hunting for the milestone assist.

Along with Ball's brilliant display, Ingram started the night shooting well and finished with 25 points on 9-14 shooting from the field, which was a dramatic improvement on the 3-15 shooting display the 20-year-old put on only one night earlier.

In all, six Lakers scored in double figures and six Suns scored in double-figures. On Friday night in Phoenix, points were as easier to come by than sun burns in the Arizona desert. The only starter on either team not to score in double figures was Corey Brewer, but the veteran wing player had the tough task of slowing down Booker. Brewer's pesky defense on the Suns' scoring savant helped set the tone for the Lakers in terms of competing for 48 minutes.

Lakers coach Luke Walton called on Brewer to start in place of suspended guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In the Lakers' season opener, Walton had called upon Luol Deng to start, but that experiment did not work according to plan. On Friday, Brewer's energy seemingly helped the young team's focus on the road.

The two teams combined for 39 turnovers, which were split as evenly as possible, so this was not the cleanest of games for either team. When considering the Suns' 20 turnovers matched Booker's age of 20 and the Lakers' 19 turnovers matched Ball's age of 19, the errors made sense.

Still, Friday night in Phoenix offered an exciting shootout where neither team ever got too far out ahead of the other. And the pace of play was lightning fast to allow for big swings in either direction at any moment.

Of course, what would a win be without drama?

This game went down to the final play. After Ball helped the Lakers build a cushion in the fourth quarter, Brook Lopez, who recorded a double-double on the night, helped the Lakers secure a two-possession game with 10 seconds remaining.

Booker hitting a three-pointer four seconds later, though, complicated the Lakers' path to victory and made it a one point game with six seconds to play. Ingram marched to the foul line and split his free throws, so the Lakers could have conceivably lost the game with a Phoenix three-pointer.

After Larry Nance Jr. came up with what appeared to be a game-winning block, a phantom whistle with 3.1 seconds remaining sent T.J. Warren to the foul line with the opportunity to tie the game.

Warren missed the first free throw.

So, the former NC State forward intentionally missed the second foul shot in a desperate attempt to have the Suns control the rebound and tip it in for the tie. Somehow, Warren got his own rebound, but the last second heave did not draw iron.

Ultimately, the Lakers escaped with their first win of the season, and when the dust settled, one could not help but marvel at Ball's sensational game. On a night when Ingram scored a career-high 25 points in his second season, Ball outscored his elder teammate with 29 points and came within one assist of his first career triple-double in only his second ever NBA game.

While it may not be time to start planning the championship parade route just yet, one should imagine it's also also probably not the right move to pile on Ball every time he doesn't have a super star outing.

At 19 and only one day after half the world seemingly wrote him off as a bust, Ball looks every bit as good as advertised by his boisterous father.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kike Hernandez Lives Out Childhood Fantasy With 3 Homers]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 18:19:36 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/enrique-hernandez-nlcs.jpg

When it was over, when Los Angeles had finally secured another trip to the World Series and Enrique Hernandez's three big swings had become a part of playoff lore, the emotional utilityman just wanted to give his dad a big hug. It was one sweet performance for Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw and the rest of the Dodgers.

"As a kid when you dream about being a big leaguer you always dream of getting a big hit in the World Series," Hernandez told NBC4's Fred Roggin. "Right now there's not many words that I can give you to describe what's going on in my head, becuase I truly can't. There's so many emotions going on through my mind."

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series.

"It was amazing," Hernandez said. "This team is awesome."

It sure is.

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff, and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said.

It was Hernandez on Thursday. The 26-year-old Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. He added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in an LCS, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players, who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kiké. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on. All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers. Los Angeles is 6-12 in the World Series, including one victory over New York while the team was still in Brooklyn.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs — matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted." 

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on. The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!" On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts. Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs. 

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year and I'm just super excited."

Photo Credit: TNS via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[After Rollercoaster Season, Dodgers Make World Series]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 10:54:19 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers-GettyImages-852082836.jpg

These aren't your 1988 Dodgers, not even close.

Justin Turner was a 3-year-old then, wondering what all the fuss was about when watching Kirk Gibson's home run on TV at his grandmother's home in Southern California. Clayton Kershaw wasn't even walking yet, much less tinkering with the curve ball Vin Scully called Public Enemy No. 1 the first time he saw it.

This is not 1988 baseball either, which is the biggest reason the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the World Series for the first time in 29 years.

There's a lot to celebrate for a franchise that hasn't had much to celebrate over the last three decades. The Dodgers used a heavy emphasis on analytics and a cutting edge approach to how players play and how pitchers pitch to finally get over the hump.

About the only bittersweet moment is that Scully — who retired last season — will not be in the booth above home plate at Dodger Stadium. At least he's not scheduled to be, though wouldn't it be great to ask the 89-year-old to sit in for, say, an inning for old time's sake?

In case you've forgotten or were too young, this was how Scully described Gibson's iconic home run to win Game 1 in 1988.

"She is gone!" Scully said before pausing for a minute or so to let the roaring crowd tell the story. "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."

Before the Dodgers came to bat in the fateful ninth that night, Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser watched Gibson get mad in the clubhouse as he heard Scully and fellow broadcaster Joe Garagiola talk about how Gibson was not in the dugout and that his legs were so bad there seemed no chance he would make an appearance in the game.

"That was the whole impetus to get him to ice his legs," Hershiser recalled Friday. "He was really mad."

The Dodgers of 2017 didn't need much in the way of the dramatic to get in this World Series, though Turner provided some in Game 2 of the NLCS with a walk off home run. The clinching game was such a lopsided blowout that it was pretty much decided in the third inning when Enrique Hernandez hit the second of his three home runs, a grand slam that put the Dodgers up 7-0 on their way to an 11-1 win.

Yes, Enrique Hernandez, who toiled this season as a part-time outfielder, second baseman, shortstop, first baseman and dugout cheerleader for the Dodgers. He played everywhere and did a little bit of everything before shining in his biggest moment.

It wasn't by accident. There's been a seismic shift in how baseball is played, and the Dodgers have made sure they are in the forefront of it.

This is a team built with the postseason in mind, filled with interchangeable parts and able to match up in almost every situation. Turner — with his flowing red beard and penchant for clutch hitting — is the face of the team, but the stars seem to change with every game.

And they are unlikely stars, to say the least. Chris Taylor wasn't even on the roster when the Dodgers broke camp in spring training, only to emerge as a feared power hitter equally comfortable in centerfield or at shortstop and the co-MVP of the league championship series.

Credit that to a building process and some astute late pickups by Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, and general manager Farhan Zaidi that re-defined what a roster should look like.

"These guys are reinventing the game," said Hershiser, who won two games in the 1988 World Series and now works for the Dodgers as a broadcaster. "They really understand game theory and how to construct a roster and play it on a daily basis. They figured out how to give a team its best chance to win through October."

That best chance got even better with a five-game league championship series win that upped the Dodgers' postseason record to 7-1. The Dodgers are dominating in the postseason like they dominated much of the regular season and with home field advantage will be favored against the Astros.

Vinny was there for the first game. Tommy Lasorda was so intent on seeing his Dodgers win again he traveled to Chicago at the age of 90 for the deciding game. Manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told him the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

No, these aren't the 1988 Dodgers. Thankfully, though, at least one thing hasn't changed in 29 years.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Flashback: What Else Happened in 1988?]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 12:02:31 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/10-23-2017-1988-evans-magic-reagan.jpgThe year was 1988. The Lakers were still in short-shorts and winning championships, a former California governor was in the White House, the Olympics were in Canada and South Korea, and "The Last Emperor" won an Academy Award for Best Picture. And, in October of that same year, the Los Angeles Dodgers were in the World Series and "Red Red Wine" by UB40 was on top of the Billboard Hot 100.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Waking Up in Blue Heaven, Fans Get in Gear for World Series]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 07:05:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/10-20-2017-dodgers-fan-donna-2.JPG

Bleary-eyed Dodgers fans arrived at an El Segundo store before dawn Friday to snag shirts, hats and other items in celebration of the team's first World Series appearance in nearly three decades. 

The Dodgers routed the Cubs 11-1 Thursday night to win the NLCS, 4-1. Hours later, Dodgers fans were in Dick's Sporting Goods in El Segundo to gear up for the World Series. 

"It's been a big thing in our family for 29 years," said Dodgers fan Donna Mae McMahon, of Hawthorne.

McMahon was on a mission. She scooped up caps, shirts and sweatshirts, some of which were for family members, throwing items over her shoulders as she moved rack-to-rack, table-to-table.

The lifelong Dodgers fan's sister lives in Texas, but remains True Blue. She was married the night a hobbled Kirk Gibson smacked a dramatic home run for the ages in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Commemorative pennants, baseballs and license plate frames also were stocked on the shelves. Employees brought out rows of tables to handle all the merchandise. 

Vince Esparza, of Lawdale, wanted anything that said "Dodgers" and "Champions" on it.

"The Los Angeles Dodgers have been part of our family for many, many years," he said.

Celebrations broke out following the victory, including a large group that gathered at Whittier Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue in East Los Angeles. Los Angeles City Hall and the U.S. Bank Tower were among the downtown Los Angeles buildings lit in blue.

The Dodgers will open the World Series Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, facing either the New York Yankees or Houston Astros. Game 6 of the American League Championship Series is set for Friday in Houston with the Yankees leading three games to two.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Return to L.A. After Victory Against Chicago Cubs]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 06:05:04 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dave+dodgers+manager.jpg

The Dodgers made a quiet return to Los Angeles early Friday after a victorious visit to Chicago, where the L.A. team advanced to the World Series after defeating the Chicago Cubs 11-1 on Thursday during Game 5.

The World Series contenders arrived at Los Angeles International Airport just before 3 a.m. after celebrating their win in Wrigley Field's Champagne Room with cheers, applause and excitement.

While fans will have to wait until Friday or Saturday evening to find out who will compete against L.A.'s pride, the Dodgers will rest and practice until Tuesday, when they are scheduled to play on their home turf.

This is the first time since 1988 the Boys in Blue will return to the World Series, causing excitement for a new generation of fans who hope to see a championship in their lifetime.

NBC4's Karla Rendon contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Spectrum SportsNetLA/LA Dodgers ]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Land at LAX, Still on a High From NLCS Win]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 05:37:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/10-20-2017-dodgers-lax-roberts.JPG

After arriving back in Los Angeles, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts reflected on his team's performance hours earlier in the NLCS.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Expect Corey Seager to Return for World Series]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 04:52:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-856283386.png

Corey Seager is expected to be in the Los Angeles Dodgers' lineup for the opener of the World Series after missing the NL Championship Series because of back pain.

Seager, an All-Star shortstop, watched from home as the Dodgers eliminated the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs in Game 5 on Thursday night.

Manager Dave Roberts says Seager is "doing everything he can to get healthy" and the Dodgers "expect him back for Game 1."

As anticipated, Clayton Kershaw will pitch the World Series opener against the Houston Astros or New York Yankees on Tuesday night. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner held Chicago to a run over six innings on Thursday night and will pitch Game 1 on regular rest.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tommy Lasorda: "We Got to Win a Championship!"]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:17:00 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_POST_LASORDA_1_1200x675_1077614147673.jpg

If anyone knows how long it's been since the Dodgers went to the World Series, it's Tommy Lasorda. Fred Roggin caught up with the Dodgers legend in the clubhouse after the team eliminated the Cubs in the NLCS to get back to the Fall Classic.]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Taylor: "I Couldn't Be Happier"]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:15:14 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_POST_TAYLOR_1200x675_1077615171581.jpg

Fred Roggin did what the Cubs couldn't do in the NLCS: stopped Chris Taylor. He only stopped him for an interview... but still. Check out what the Co-MVP of the NLCS had to say after securing the Dodgers first trip to the World Series in 29 years.]]>
<![CDATA[Kenley Jansen: "Wanted this So Badly"]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:12:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_POST_JANSEN_1200x675_1077609027925.jpg

The best closer in the game is a big reason the Dodgers are going to the World Series for the first time in 29 years. Kenley Jansen told Fred Roggin why this moment is so sweet given where they were just one year ago.]]>
<![CDATA[Cody Bellinger: "I'm Trying to Soak it All In"]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:11:07 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_POST_BELLINGER_1200x675_1077615171583.jpg

He's the surefire Rookie of the Year and a big part of the Dodgers first trip to the World Series in 29 years. Fred Roggin caught up with Cody Bellinger in the victorious Dodgers clubhouse after wrapping up the NLCS.]]>
<![CDATA[Andre Ethier: "Can't Wait to See the City Erupt"]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:09:24 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_POST_ETHIER_1200x675_1077608003935.jpg

After 12 years with the Dodgers, Andre Ethier is finally going to the World Series. He talked with Fred Roggin about how special it was to win the NLCS and bring the Fall Classic back to Los Angeles.]]>
<![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw: Enough About 1988]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:07:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_POST_KERSHAW_1200x675_1077609539746.jpg

Clayton Kershaw knows what the World Series means to the city of Los Angeles. After winning Game 5 of the NLCS, he's thrilled to finally stop hearing about 1988.]]>
<![CDATA[Game 5 Hero Kike Hernandez: 'It's Truly Special']]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:48:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_POST_KIKE_HERNANDEZ_1200x675_1077605955918.jpg

He hit three home runs in Game 5 of the NLCS. Dodgers outfielder Kike Hernandez is riding that high right into the World Series.]]>
<![CDATA[Logan Forsythe: "We Have One Goal"]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:02:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_FORSYTHE_POST_1200x675_1077604931960.jpg

In his first year with the Dodgers, Logan Forsythe is going to the World Series. Fred Roggin had time for one question with the Dodgers second baseman after the team clinched the NLCS.]]>
<![CDATA[Austin Barnes: "I Know What it Means to the City"]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 00:46:59 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_AUSTIN_BARNES_1200x675_1077603907778.jpg

Fred Roggin tracked down Dodgers Catcher Austin Barnes during the team's champagne celebration after clinching the NLCS Thursday night.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Clinch NLCS: Inside the Champagne Room]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:53:31 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_DODGERS_NLCS_CLINCH_POST_1200x675_1077603395950.jpg

Fred Roggin went inside the clubhouse into the heart of the Dodgers celebration after clinching the NLCS to head back to the World Series for the first time in 29 years.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Advance to World Series]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 23:54:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Advance_to_World_Series_1200x675_1077599811594.jpgCheck out the behind the scenes footage including interviews with Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig as the Los Angeles Dodgers Advance to their first World Series since 1988.]]><![CDATA[Clippers Crush Lakers on Lonzo Ball's Debut]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 23:00:26 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-beat-Clippers-Lonzo-Ball-Debut.JPG

On a night when the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their first World Series berth in nearly 30 years, the LA Clippers beat up on the Los Angeles Lakers 108-92 at Staples Center, though that final score flattered the level of competition on display in downtown LA.

At one point, the Clippers led by 30 points. Both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan watched the conclusion from the bench. Jordan dominated the glass to the tune of 24 rebounds to go along with 14 points, while Griffin scored a game-high 29 points to go along with 12 rebounds in the win.

LA Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball made his regular season debut, and the rookie only managed to score three points on the night, making one of his six field goal attempts on the night. The rookie acknowledged that he should probably have been more aggressive in looking for his shot, but the 19-year-old still managed to pull down nine rebounds and tallied four assists in his 29 minutes on the court.

"We got blown out, so I didn't play too well," Ball said after the game, making it clear that the loss carried the greatest weight when self assessing his performance.

"I thought he was good," Lakers coach Luke Walton said about his young point guard. "The way he plays the game, it's such a feel thing for him. A couple times, I thought he was out there feeling it out."

Walton added, "Over all, it was a decent game for him."

While Ball may not have been looking for his shot, 20-year-old second-year forward Brandon Ingram was not shy with his shot, as the former Duke Blue Devil attempted 15 shots on the night but only converted on three field goals.

Ingram said after the game, "I think I took every shot that I practice on every practice, just didn't go down the way I wanted it to."

The Georgia native added that he would look to take the same types of shots on Friday night in Phoenix: "If I die away from those shots, that's where you lose confidence."

On the night, new center Brook Lopez led the Lakers in scoring with 20 points and field goal attempts, 19. Lopez, who serves as one of the veterans on the young squad, was complimentary of Ball's resilience following the loss, and the rookie clearly had a target on his back in the eyes of Clippers guard Patrick Beverly.

Beverly said, "I told (Ball) after the game, due to all of the riff-raff his dad brings, he is going to get a lot of people coming at him. I said to be ready for that and I let him know after the game: What better way to start than with 'Mr. 94 feet?'"

"I think what impressed me most was he didn't back down," Lopez said about Ball's debut. "He kept his attitude. He kept his composure. He was good leading the team, and things are only going to go up from here."

Lopez added, "When you look at (Ball's) composure, it's well beyond his years."

For the Lakers, Larry Nance Jr. earned the start at power forward, and Nance finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds to record a double-double in fewer than 30 minutes on the court. Nance in the starting lineup meant that Julius Randle found himself on the second unit.

"I think when he stepped on the court that he wasn't ready to go, like he has been for the past week, so I pulled him out to tell him about it, and I know he wasn't happy with me, but that's my job," Walton explained his decision to yank Randle late in the first quarter and proceed to demonstrably lash out at the 22-year-old power forward.

Walton continued, "It's an adjustment, but it's something that you have to do. When you're coming off the bench, when you get put into the game, you have to be ready to go at that moment. It's not easy, but he can do it. He'll be fine."

Walton's initial assessment focused on the team's defense suffering when the Lakers continued to miss shots. However, the Lakers avoided over fouling, held the Clippers to 40.7 percent shooting from the field and also generally liked the shots they were taking. As would be expected with young teams, the Lakers are not going to get better overnight. This is a process.

Perhaps Ball best explained the mentality of the locker room: "We lost today. Tomorrow, we've got to regroup, come back and get a win."

The Lakers are in Phoenix on Friday night. Tip-off is 7 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Advance to World Series for 1st Time Since 1988]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 00:38:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-863241870.jpg

The iconic words of Vin Scully were first spoken 29 years ago, the last time the Los Angeles Dodgers were in the World Series: "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."

After nearly three decades, the wait is finally over — the Dodgers are going back to the World Series.

Enrique Hernandez hit three home runs, including a grand slam, as the Dodgers punched their ticket to the Fall Classic, defeating the Chicago Cubs, 11-1, in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night at Wrigley Field.

In 1988, the last time the Dodgers went to the World Series, Clayton Kershaw was just seven months old. Twenty-nine years later, he was on the mound when they won the pennant.

"We've heard 1988 for so long in L.A., it feels good to say that we're getting to go to the World Series in 2017," Kershaw said after the victory. "With four more wins, hopefully we get to bring one home."

Kershaw (2-0), threw six innings, allowing just one run on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts in the third potential-clinching start in his postseason career.

In those games, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is a perfect 3-0 when he takes the mound with a chance to advance his team to the next round.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series. I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

Since 2013, Kershaw had only gotten one run of support in four total starts in the NLCS over the course of his career. In his only two starts in 2017, he got 16 runs of support.

"That's a testament to this team and what we stand for," Kershaw said of the support from the offense. "As a starting pitcher, when you get seven runs, your job is to get them back in the dugout as fast as possible."

In order to end the drought, the Dodgers needed to go through the Cubs, the reigning World Series Champions, a team that slayed their own demons only one year prior. Los Angeles wasted little time dispatching the champs.

After a nine-pitch lead-off walk to Chris Taylor to start the game, Cody Bellinger roped a double down the right field line, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

"What [Taylor] has done for our lineup all year long, settling into the lead-off spot, getting on base, hitting balls over the fence. He's a dynamic player and table-setter," said teammate Justin Turner, who was named Co-MVP of the NLCS along with Taylor. "When he goes, we usually go as a team. I think you guys saw that here in the postseason."

One inning later, Hernandez started off the second inning swinging, as he jumped all over a first-pitch fastball from Cubs' starter Jose Quintana, hitting it to straightaway center for a solo home run.

Hernandez wasn't finished. After an RBI single from Turner gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead, Quintana loaded the bases before leaving the game for Hector Rondon.

Once again, the Puerto Rican was swinging on the first pitch, and this time, Hernandez sent a slider into the basket in right-center for a grand slam home run.

"I blacked out," Hernandez said of the fourth grand slam ever hit in Dodgers' postseason history. "I can't even describe it you know. I was thinking the entire game, 'Man, this is unbelievable.'"

Hernandez not only sent the Dodgers to the World Series with his bat, he also became the first Dodger since Adrian Gonzalez in 2013 to hit multiple homers in a postseason game.

"I don't remember much of the game," Hernandez admitted. "The whole game is a blur. I remember the first two, but I definitely don't remember the last one. It's awesome!"

As Wrigley Field fell silent as the shrouded dead, one voice could be heard — that of Hernandez's father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., one year removed from a life-threatening battle with cancer, fresh off an evacuation from his homeland because of Hurricane Maria. Despite it all, he stood and cheered.

He just watched his son have the game of his life, in the biggest moment of his career.

"Honestly, I couldn't wait for this game to end so I could give my dad a big old hug," Hernandez said as he fought back tears. "Everything that he's been through the last year or so, and everything he went through for me to be here on this stage right now means the world to me."

Quintana (0-1) lasted only two innings, surrendering six runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout in his fourth start of the postseason with the Cubs.

"Quintana was a great addition," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon after the game. "[The Dodgers] know what it feels like coming off last year, we were celebrating versus them in this exact same spot."

John Lackey entered the game in the fourth inning for the Cubs and served up a two-run double to Logan Forsythe that gave Los Angeles a 9-0 lead.

The two innings of relief may have been the last ever seen of Lackey as the 38-year-old's contract is up at the end of the season. He could be leaning toward retirement at the end of the year.

"John and I go way back," Maddon said. "John and I were together with the Angels in the 2002 World Series team. So it's really special for me with John. Hopefully it's not his last year, but if it is, having that chance to be with him in that moment is pretty special for me."

Kris Bryant hit his first home run of the postseason in the bottom of the fourth, a laser beam off Kershaw over the scoreboard in left field, for the Cubs' only run of the game.

The Cubs became the first team in Major League history to score all of their runs as home runs in a series that went at least five games.

"Every year is different," Maddon said on why his offense wasn't able to replicate the same success as last year. "We have all these incredible numbers from last year, but every year is different."

Just for good measure, Hernandez hit his third home run of the game off Mike Montgomery in the top of ninth, to put the exclamation point on his historical night. 

"I may have had a great game, but this is not about me, this is about this team," Hernandez said, as his teammates celebrated around him in the winning locker room. "Tonight it was me, but every night its someone different coming up big for us. Luckily enough, tonight it was me."

Hernandez is just the ninth player in MLB history to have three homers in a postseason game, joining like the likes of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols.

Hernandez finished the game three-for-four with three home runs and a league championship record seven RBIs. 

To put that in perspective, the Cubs scored eight runs in the entire series.

"I blacked out and four hours later I had three homers and seven RBI," Hernandez said. "There's a very big God up there that blessed me tonight, and grandpa, I appreciate it because I know you had something to do with it." 

Earlier in the season, Hernandez lost his grandfather and left the team to fly to Puerto Rico to be with his family. 

"Kiké told me before the game, 'Hey, I've got your back tonight,'" Kershaw said. "He said that before I even went out and took the mound. Then he goes and hits three home runs."

Kenta Maeda, Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen pitched the final three innings of the game as the Dodgers bullpen set an NLCS record with 17 scoreless innings of relief. 

"We wanted the defending champs," Jansen said after the game. "We know how much it sucks to lose here and see the fans enjoy it in front of us. We wanted to make a statement. We wanted to come here and we wanted to win in front of them. It's not over yet. Hopefully, we can bring the championship back home."

The Dodgers' pen has a scoreless innings streak of 23, a new MLB postseason record, surpassing the 1977 New York Yankees.

However, the rest of the game was a mere formality as both teams went through the motions before the Dodgers popped champagne — aged 29 years — in the visiting clubhouse.

The victory earned the Dodgers their 22nd National League pennant, the second most in league history behind only their rivals, the Giants, who have 23.

Nearly one year ago, the Cubs clinched their first World Series berth since 1945 against these same Dodgers. That night, as the mob of adoring fans celebrated in Wrigleyville, the Dodgers team buses were unable to leave, so the players had to wait over two hours in the visiting locker room.

During that time, the Dodgers sat and stewed, thinking about this exact moment that could occur one year later, and how great it would be to beat the Cubs on their own field to advance to the World Series.

Revenge is, indeed, sweet.

Up Next:
The Dodgers advance to the World Series, awaiting either the Houston Astros or New York Yankees for Game 1 at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers 101: Who Owns the Team?]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:19:25 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers-owners-GettyImages-565995047.jpg

The Guggenheim Baseball Management group has quickly turned around the Los Angeles Dodgers' fortunes since buying the team from Frank McCourt in 2012.

The group is led by CEO Mark Walter. Ironically, the Chicago native is a longtime Cubs season ticket holder.

Also part of the ownership group, former Guggenheim President Todd Boehly, Texas oil tycoon Bobby Patton and entertainment executive Peter Guber, who also co-owns the Golden State Warriors.

Longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten is the most involved of the group, helping build the day-to-day roster that takes the field. He was president of the Atlanta Braves when they won 14 consecutive division titles.

And of course, we all know Magic Johnson. His effervescent, ever-present smile helps set the mood for the ball club. Magic has proven to be the perfect choice to connect Mark Walter's group to the fervent Dodgers fan base.

Photo Credit: LA Times via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers 101: What's a Bullpen?]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:07:17 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jansen-GettyImages-825380802.jpgThe importance of starting pitching is magnified in the playoffs. Good thing the Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the best rotations in baseball.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers 101: Get to Know the Pitching Rotation]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:18:12 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kershaw-GettyImages-614464538.jpgThe importance of starting pitching is magnified in the playoffs. Good thing the Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the best rotations in baseball.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw Can Send Dodgers to The World Series ]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:13:40 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/Kershaw+Can+Punch+Ticket+to+World+Series.png

There's a man goin' round takin' names.

That man is Clayton Kershaw, and if there's any person on the planet you want on the mound to send your team to the World Series, it's him.

If you had asked Dodgers personnel back in February if they could choose any pitcher to be on the mound in order to punch their ticket to the World Series, all answers would be exactly the same: "Kershaw."

The three-time National League Cy Young Award winner and 2014 MVP won 18 games this season, despite missing nearly two months due to a back injury.

His 2.31 ERA led the league and he still finished with over 200 strikeouts on the season. Kershaw has been the best pitcher in baseball for the last decade, and it really isn't close.

Ah, but here's the rub.

Kershaw has a checkered playoff past, littered with postseason disappointment, seventh inning curses, and the Cardinals and the Cubs.

In addition to those spectacular regular season numbers this year, Kershaw also allowed the most home runs than he ever has before.

For those that believed that was an anomaly, he's allowed another five long balls in just two postseason starts thus far.

Critics will pan that Kershaw is not the same pitcher he was before his back injury in late July. They look at his final starts in the regular season—two of which he allowed just one run—and also his recent string of starts in the playoffs.

However, Kershaw's career postseason ERA is 4.57, it's currently 4.76 after starting Game 1's in both the NLDS and NLCS, respectively. Essentially, he's not far off his playoff average.

Fortunately for Kershaw, his team won both of his starts.

In order for Kershaw to catapult his team to their first World Series since 1988, he will need to have a more dominant performance like he did in Game 2 at Wrigley Field last year.

In that start, Kershaw allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings, leveling the series as it shifted back to Los Angeles.

However, in Game 6, with his team facing elimination, Kershaw got shelled. Allowing seven hits, including two home runs in a 5-0 shutout by the Cubs.

As fate would have it, Kershaw has been on the mound three different times when his team has been eliminated from the postseason, in addition to a handful of other playoff failures that have haunted the future Hall of Fame throughout his career.

Kershaw is synonymous with the Dodgers postseason downfalls over the course of the last decade. Therefore, Thursday's start in Game 5 at Wrigley Field is the absolute best time to remove the proverbial monkey off his back.

Despite the fact that Kershaw may go down as the greatest Dodgers' pitcher of all-time, the foundation of his legacy will be forged in playoff pictures of his six-foot, four-inch frame, hunched over on the mound, head hung low, as he watches a backbreaking home run fly out of the ballpark.

The only way to remove that image from the mind's eye is to put his team on his no-longer-injured-back, and carry them to the World Series. Now is the opportunity to do it.

"We're very comfortable, very confident," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts of Kershaw taking the mound in Game 5. "We expect Clayton to go out there focused. He's going to help us win a baseball game tonight."

The World Series starts in five short days, and if Kershaw does what we all believe he can do, he will be on the mound for Game 1 at Dodger Stadium next Tuesday.

If not, we will be left with another lasting image of a defeated Kershaw in the dugout, after yet another postseason disappointment.

The Cubs' have Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks lurking and Joe Maddon would like nothing more than to unleash them in Games 6 and 7 at Dodger Stadium.

The time is now Dodgers. Not Saturday, not Sunday, but now.

They say that some moments are good, some are great, and some are even worth writing about.

This time tomorrow, I hope to be writing about Clayton Kershaw's pennant winning moment.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Tip-off 2017-18 Season Thursday Night]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:11:00 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Lonzo-Ball-Lakers-vs-Clippers.jpg

The first of eighty-two games and nearly six months of NBA basketball tip-off on Thursday night at Staples Center, when the Los Angeles Lakers host the LA Clippers and launch the 2017-18 regular season for both ball clubs.

The 2017-18 NBA season has finally spread to Los Angeles, which means winter is coming, and Thursday night is when Lonzo Ball introduces himself to a national audience tuning in to watch the birth of a highly publicized career live.

"I feel good, ready to go," Ball, who attended UCLA and had an upbringing in Chino Hills, said on the eve of his regular season debut.

Ball added, "My whole family is going to be there."

The hype surrounding Ball is nothing new, and the Lakers look at the point guard as their great hope. Sophomore Brandon Ingram joins Ball as the second prominent figure on the cover of the Lakers' 2017-18 media guide, signaling the reality that the 2017-18 Lakers are counting on a rookie 19-year-old and a soft-spoken 20-year-old to lead the franchise out of the darkness that took over at the sunset of Kobe Bryant's career.

Following a 26-56 season in his debut season in charge of the team, Lakers coach Luke Walton has the challenge of bringing together a new-look side that does not expect to start any of the five players that started in the 2016-17 season opener against the Houston Rockets.

Of the five starters from a season ago, Luol Deng and Julius Randle are the only two players still on the roster, but neither looks to be in the first-choice five for Walton. Larry Nance Jr. appears to be in line to beat out Randle for the starting power forward position, as Nance has taken the bulk of repetitions in practice and in preseason with sure-fire starter Brook Lopez. Deng could lineup as a starter on Thursday, but that has more to do with a leftover two-game suspension for starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope than Deng cracking the Lakers' rotation.

As a reminder, Deng is due to make $18 million for the 2017-18 season, and the 32-year-old will likely collect his check by sitting on the bench for the bulk of the season, especially considering the emergence of enticing rookie forward Kyle Kuzma.

Of course, the Clippers no longer have Chris Paul or Jamal Crawford, so LA's other team is also going through a transition, but the Los Angeles Lakers have changed far more dramatically from April to October than their crosstown rivals. Starting center Timofey Mozgov and starting point guard D'Angelo Russell got shipped out to Brooklyn, and the Lakers replaced Mozgov with Lopez in the middle and drafted Ball to replace Russell in the back court.

Add Ingram to the starting lineup that includes Caldwell-Pope, Lopez and, more than likely, Nance, and the Lakers have an interesting team that has court balance, even if it is still short on experience. Ultimately, the Lakers are a young, rebuilding team that is selling excitement and entertainment more than it is selling wins or playoffs.

Per Bovada, the Los Angeles Lakers were facing a win-totals line of 33.5 for the season as of NBA's Opening Night, which would be a notable improvement over Walton's first season, but that projection still leaves the Lakers well out of the postseason picture.

But then, that's why they roll the ball out and play the games, because a new season offers a blank slate and new hope to prove the analysts and projections wrong. A season ago, Walton had the Lakers playing playoff-level basketball before the water burst and a slew of injuries sent the season in a tailspin.

Thursday is the start of another season of the "LakeShow," the team's 58th season in Los Angeles, and what better way to begin a season than a rivalry game against the Clippers?

Nance spoke for a city painted purple and gold, "I just can't wait."

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed ]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers 101: Bullpen, Rotation and World Series Format]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 19:43:36 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-862595196.jpg

Getting into the baseball season as the Dodgers make their World Series run? Need a quick primer? We've got you covered.

What is a bullpen?

In baseball, the bullpen (aka "pen") is made up of relief pitchers. To further clarify, a "reliever" is a pitcher who specializes in coming into games already in progress. Relievers can be brought in at any point after the game has started. For example, if a starter gives up too many early runs, a reliever can be used in the first couple innings. Typically, it is expected for a starter to go deep into a game. However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has limited his starters to 5 or 6 innings in order to not overwork them and confirming the confidence he has in his bullpen, considered the best this postseason.

Even within the pen, there are different roles, therefore the terms long relief (when starters are pulled early), middle relief (used a bit later in a game), setup men (brought into a game in the 7th/8th inning) and closers (who close out games that their teams are winning). Kenley Jansen has become the most effective closer this postseason while the biggest bullpen surprise has been Kenta Maeda, who had been a starter throughout his career.

Here are the Dodgers relievers included in the NLCS 25-man roster: Toni Cingrani, Josh Fields, Maeda, Brandon Morrow, Ross Stripling, Tony Watson and Jansen.

What is a starting rotation?

A starting rotation is made up of pitchers designated to begin games on the mound. During the regular season, there are typically five men in a rotation and are given several days off after each appearance; while relievers (called on once games are in progress) are expected to pitch in consecutive games.

Because the importance of pitching increases during the playoffs, rotations are reduced to four men. Ideally, the "ace," or best pitcher on the staff, is ready to open a post-season series. Such has been the case for Clayton Kershaw, who was rested and ready to start the series against Arizona and Chicago. The Cubs, who had to play a full five-game series against the Nationals, were unable to start the NLCS with their top guy, giving the Dodgers an advantage.

The Dodgers post-season rotation is made up of Kershaw, Rich Hill, Yu Darvis, and Alex Wood.

Where and when will the 2017 World Series begin?

If the Dodgers beat Chicago in the NLCS, the 2017 Fall Classic will start in Los Angeles under a 2-3-2, best-of-seven format. The first two games will be played at Chavez Ravine thanks to the Dodgers having the best regular season record with a total of 104 wins. The middle three games will be hosted by the American League champ, with the end of the series shifting back to LA. The first team to win four games will become the 2017 World Series champions, so games 5 through 7 will be played only if necessary.

Here's the schedule:

Game 1, Dodger Stadium, Tue. Oct 24, Time TBD, FOX

Game 2, Dodger Stadium, Wed. Oct 25, Time TBD, FOX

Game 3, @ALCS Winner, Fri. Oct 27, Time TBD, FOX

Game 4, @ALCS Winner, Sat. Oct 28, Time TBD, FOX

Game 5*, @ALCS Winner, Sun. Oct 29, Time TBD, FOX

Game 6*, Dodger Stadium, Tue. Oct 31, Time TBD, FOX

Game 7*, Dodger Stadium, Wed. Nov 1, Time TBD, FOX

*if necessary

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Stave Off Elimination by Defeating Dodgers in Game 4]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 21:48:22 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-862927138.jpg

Put the champagne on ice.

The reigning World Series Champions refused to go down without a fight as the Chicago Cubs held on to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-2, in Game 4 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.

Javier Baez hit two home runs, and Willson Contreras added a mammoth shot of his own as the Cubs managed to stave off elimination, avoiding the sweep, and forcing a game five on Thursday night.

"We don't expect anyone to lay down," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts following the loss. "They're the world champs, and you know they're going to fight to the end."

For the second straight night, the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field and the Cubs go as the wind blows, as Contreras put them on the board first for the fourth consecutive game, when he crushed a 90MPH fastball from Alex Wood, 491-feet onto Waveland Avenue in the second inning.

The monster home run was Contreras' second of the postseason, and the longest ever recorded in Cubs' postseason history.

However, the Cubs weren't finished as two batters later, it was Javier Baez's turn to park a ball onto Waveland when he hammered an 83MPH curveball from Wood down the left field line. 

The home run was Baez's first hit of the postseason, and it broke an 0-for-20 postseason slump for the second baseman, the second longest in franchise history behind only Jimmy Sheckard who went 0-for-21 in 1906.

"I've been trying to get a base hit so hard," Baez said of his slump. "Tonight, I just said to myself, 'not try too much,' and I didn't, and there you have it. I had two good contacts and win the game by one run."

Cody Bellinger responded for the Boys in Blue in the top half of the third inning. Bellinger blasted a 90MPH slider from Jake Arrieta off his own picture on the videoboard in right field, and the Dodgers were on the scoreboard.

"He threw a cutter or a slider and left it up," Bellinger said of his home run. "I just tried to put the barrel on it, and luckily it barely got out."

Baez bashed his second home run of the game in the bottom half of the fifth inning, when he clobbered am 84 MPH changeup from Wood into the left field pavilion.

"His entire game is spectacular," said Cubs' manager Joe Maddon. "When young guys like that really struggle, you've got to stay with him. It was a really good matchup for him tonight. He took advantage of it, give him a lot of credit."

After his trot around the bases, Baez came out for a curtain call, much to the jubilee of the wild and raucous Wrigley Field crowd.

Wood entered the game with a record of 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA against the Cubs this season, but did not make it out of the fifth inning in his first career postseason start.

Wood (0-1) surrendered three runs—all by home run—on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in 4 and 2/3 innings.

"I thought my stuff was pretty good," said Wood following the loss. "Two mistakes early. I gave up two solo shots. Besides that, I thought my stuff was pretty good. It sucks that we took our first 'L' tonight, it was a tough game."

Arrieta (1-1) turned back the clock to his Cy Young Award winning season of 2015 as he kept the Dodgers in check for most of the night.

The Missouri native allowed just one run on three hits with five walks and nine strikeouts in six and 2/3 innings of work.

"I thought the movement on the pitches was spectacular," said Maddon of Arrieta. "I could see the movement from the side. That's what I was basing it off of. More than anything, I'm watching their reaction to his pitches and the swings and misses, the ball was moving that much."

In elimination games, Arrieta is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 29 strikeouts in his career.

Cubs' closer Wade Davis made his first appearance in the series when he entered the game in the eighth inning for a six-out save.

Davis was promptly greeted by Game 2 hero, Justin Turner, who absolutely destroyed a 94MPH fastball that hit the scoreboard above the bleachers in left-center field to cut the Cubs lead to one.

"Unfortunately, we just fell a little bit short tonight," said Turner after the game. "It was well pitched on both sides, they just hit one more homer than we did."

The Dodgers managed to put the tying run in scoring position, but Curtis Granderson and Chase Utley both struck out to end the inning.

"He changed speeds very well and worked both sides of the plate," said Granderson about Davis. "He did everything he needed to in order to make sure his team won tonight."

Davis was able to retire the side in the top half of the ninth, earning his first save of the series, and saving the Cubs season for at least one more day. 

Unfortunately, it took Davis a career-high 48 pitches to do it, making him unavailable to pitch if need be on Thursday in Game 5. 

"Other guys got to do it," said Maddon of who he might use as his closer in Game 5. "We have to be much more offensive. It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

All five runs in the game came via solo home run, and every run the Cubs have scored in the series has come via the home run. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Cubs are the first team in MLB history to have all of their runs in the first four games of a series come via home runs.

The Dodgers led the Major Leagues with 47 comebacks this season, but were unable to complete their fourth consecutive come-from-behind victory on Wednesday night.

The Dodgers will have to wait at least one more day to earn their first World Series berth since 1988, and capture their 22nd National League pennant in the process.

The Dodgers franchise record six-game postseason winning streak was snapped. 

Only one team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, but the Cubs are looking to join the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the second team in history to win four consecutive games to steal a league championship series.

Up Next:

The Dodgers will look to close out the series in Game 5 at Wrigley Field on Thursday as Clayton Kershaw heads to the mound against LHP Jose Quintana. First pitch is scheduled for 5:08PM PST

Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Lakers, Vander Blue Reportedly Agree on Two-Way Contract]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 07:54:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Vander-Blues-Lakers-roster.jpg

A report from Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania stated that the Los Angeles Lakers and guard Vander Blue had agreed terms on a two-way contract, thus handing the free agent shooting guard the final roster position still available for the team.

Blue finished the 2016-17 season as the NBA Development League Most Valuable Player, and the 25-year-old followed up that stellar season with the Lakers' minor league team by helping the Lakers win the 2017 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Entering camp determined to secure a roster spot in the NBA, Blue was dealt a big blow to his NBA dream when the team signed 2015 NBA champion Andrew Bogut to a non-guaranteed contract. The front office and coaching staff quickly began disseminating language that suggested the center had the 15th and final full time roster spot locked up despite not being healthy enough to feature in any of the preseason.

As the team approached the NBA deadline to cut rosters to the required 15 players, Blue got the boot. Less than a week later, though, the Milwaukee native appears to have landed the Lakers' final two-way contract. This is in no way a shock, obviously, as Blue securing this two-way contract was predicted before the start of training camp.

The two-way contract is a new phenomenon in the NBA, as each team is now allowed 15 full-time roster spots, along with two two-way contracts. The two-way contract rules state that a player can spend a maximum of 45 days in the NBA during the G-League season. So, Blue will spend time with his former team, which has re-branded from the LA D-Fenders to the South Bay Lakers.

The Lakers already handed out one two-way contract to guard Alex Caruso following his strong Summer League performance, and Blue looked like the best bet to secure the second of the two-way contracts, given his history with the organization and his performance in Las Vegas.

So, now, the Lakers have filled up their entire roster, and just in time, too. The Lakers tip-off their 2017-18 season on Thursday, Oct. 19, so Blue should be available for practice on Wednesday if the signatures are secured and the paperwork is finalized in time.

Incidentally, starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is suspended for the first two games of the season, while backup shooting guard Josh Hart is listed as day-to-day with Achilles bursitis, so Blue taking part in Wednesday's practice could immediately result in the shooting guard seeing floor time on Thursday--possibly even getting a start.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLCS Game 3]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 23:49:15 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Postgame_NLCS_Game_3_1200x675_1075795011978.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, and Brandon Morrow discuss their Game 3 victory over the Chicago Cubs, 6-1, to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the NLCS.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Take Stranglehold on NLCS, Up 3-0 on Cubs]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 01:15:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-862595196.jpg

Five more wins.

The Dodgers are on the brink of their first World Series berth in 29 years as they defeated the Chicago Cubs, 6-1, in Game 3 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

There's an age-old saying, "Go with the wind," that's exactly what the Dodgers did in Game 3 as the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field throughout the game.

Andre Ethier and Chris Taylor both took full advantage as they each hit home runs and Yu Darvish dazzled over six innings, putting Los Angeles on the cusp of reaching the Fall Classic for the first time since 1988.

In his fourth career postseason start, Darvish started off shaky as he served up a first inning home run to Kyle Schwarber.

The 408-foot blast by Schwarber was his first home run of the 2017 playoffs, and the first pitch he ever saw from the Japanese right-hander in his career.

"The first home run I gave up to Schwarber, after he hit it, the stadium got really excited and I realized I was on the visitor's side," said Darvish. "But I was able to focus after that home run."

Scwarber is now tied with Anthony Rizzo for the most postseason home runs in Cubs' history with six. 

Before the game, Cubs' manager Joe Maddon believed that the key to Chicago's offense would be getting to Darvish early, which they did, to the tune of one run on three hits, but Darvish was able to settle in after that.

Andre Ethier had the answer for the Dodgers in the bottom half of the first inning as he sent an 86MPH sinker ball from Kyle Hendricks off the video screen in right field for his first home run of the postseason, and second in as many years against the Cubs in the NLCS.

"I got a good pitch to hit, and hit it out," Ethier said of the home run that silenced the sell out crowd. "It's just answering. Every time they get something, it's just how we answer. Try to keep them on their heels as much as possible."


Ethier made his first start in left field of the postseason, and his first start since Game 5 of the NLDS in 2015 against the New York Mets.

"Personally, it's just been a battle to get back on the field," Ethier said following the game. "Last year was frustrating, but this was more because I feel like I got myself back. Coming from an injury, and then another five-month break where you're not knowing what's going to happen."

Before the game, analysts questioned Dave Roberts decision to start Ethier in left field due to the fact he hasn't played the field very much in the past two years. 

However, Ethier made Roberts look like a genius on Tuesday as he improved to 2-for-6 with a home run, an RBI, and two walks in his last two playoff starts.

"It's a big honor that Doc would, I guess, trust me, especially how things are going," said Ethier of his manager's confidence in him. "Getting my name called tonight, it's a great thing."

One inning later, Chris Taylor crushed a similar sinker from Hendricks and sent it 444-feet off the roof of the batter's eye in straightaway center for a solo shot that gave the Dodgers the lead. 

The go-ahead home run by the shortstop was Taylor's second game-winning home run of the series as he joined current Washington Nationals' manager Dusty Baker (1977), as the only two Dodgers in history two have two game-winning homers in the same postseason series.

Taylor was not finished, as he would bring home Joc Pederson in the top of the fifth with a triple down the left field line to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

Taylor became just the sixth Dodger player in franchise history to triple and homer in the same postseason game since current teammate, Andre Ethier, did it Game 3 of the NLDS in 2009. 

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Taylor is also the first player in MLB history to homer as an outfielder (Game 1) and as an infielder (Game 3) in the same postseason series.

"To be able to start him in centerfield the first couple games, and then to start him at short and to get on base, to slug, drive runs in, catch the baseball, he's a huge asset for us," said Roberts of Taylor.

Hendricks was unable to recapture his magic from Game 6 of the NLCS last season that saw the Cubs eliminate the Dodgers and advance to the World Series on a shutout performance by Hendricks through 7 and 1/3 innings.

On Tuesday, Hendricks was less than stellar as he allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts in five innings of work.

The play of the game came in the top of the sixth inning.

Yasiel Puig led off the inning on an error by third baseman Kris Bryant and advanced to second base on a single by Ethier.

Maddon brought the hook for Hendricks and inserted right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. who got two outs before loading the bases for Darvish. 

At first, Roberts had pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson in the on-deck circle to bat for Darvish. However, after a short time to reflect, he made the brazen move to keep Darvish in the game and send him to the plate.

"I just felt that we had a two-run lead right there, and Yu was throwing the baseball really well, and I felt he could continue to go and get us outs," said Roberts of his decision. "To feel that I could extend Yu for more than an inning, I just felt that the value of continuing to get outs and to be able to deploy the bullpen later in the game, I just felt that was more of an upside for me."

Shockingly, the move worked, as Edwards walked Darvish on four straight pitches, giving the Dodgers a 4-1 lead.

"I just wanted to do something, draw a walk, maybe get hit by pitch, anything just to score a run," Darvish said of the at-bat. "When I looked back and saw it was a ball, I was really happy."

The bases-loaded walk put Darvish in elite company, joining Philadelphia's Larry Christenson (1977) as the only two pitchers in MLB history to draw a bases-loaded walk in the potseason. 

"Obviously it validates and makes you feel better about the decision," Roberts said. "But you still have to go into that at-bat expecting not to come away with a run right there. But the story of the night, is Yu Darvish."

Ironically, it was Dodgers' pitcher Burt Hooton in that NLCS series in 1977 who walked Christenson.

Darvish did not disappoint on Tuesday as he dominated the Cubs hitters, allowing just one run on six hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in 6 and 1/3 innings of work.

"I feel like I'm pitching better now than before the Tommy John surgery," said Darvish. "But like I said, there is no goal set. I just want to keep pitching better and better."

After losing his first two starts in the postseason with the Rangers, Darvish has won his first two of 2017 with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers added two more runs in the top of the eighth thanks to a swinging strikeout that bounced off catcher Wilson Contreras' right arm and rolled into the visiting dugout. 

The Cubs snaped an 0-for-29 drought against the Dodgers bullpen when Alex Avila led off the ninth inning with a single off relief pitcher Ross Stripling. 

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 0-for-29 streak was the longest hitless streak against a bullpen to start a postseason series in MLB history.

"I guess their relief pitchers have pretty much thrown a no-hitter against us," said Joe Maddon of the Dodgers' bullpen. "They've been pretty good."

Los Angeles remains undefeated in the postseason with a franchise record six consecutive playoff wins and can eliminate the reigning World Series Champions in Game 4 on Wednesday.

"I think that right now we're just laser focused on trying to win baseball games," said Roberts when asked if he's able to appreciate being one win away from the World Series. "Right now, our focus is Jake Arrieta and trying to figure out a way to win a baseball game tomorrow night."

The Dodgers have trailed in all three games of the NLCS and have comeback three consecutive times.

After leading all of MLB with 47 come-from-behind victories in the regular season, the Dodgers have added four more comebacks to their postseason resume. 

Since 1985, the only team in Major League history to overcame an 0-3 deficit and win the series was the Boston Red Sox in 2004 against the New York Yankees. 

Suprisingly, the Cubs are the first team to trail a series 0-3, despite the fact that they scored the first run in all three games, since the Red Sox in the 1990 ALCS against the Oakland Athletics. 

The last time the Cubs were down in a series, 0-3, they were swept by the New York Mets in the 2015 NLCS. The Dodgers have never led an NLCS 3-0 in their history. 

Up Next: 

The Dodgers look for their second straight series sweep as they send Alex Wood to the mound in Game 4 with the World Series on the line. Jake Arrieta will start for the Cubs with first pitch scheduled for 6:01PM PST. 

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball 'Playing For Sure' in Season Opener]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 13:53:40 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Lonzo-Ball-Brandon-Ingram-practice-10-16-17.JPG

After taking the day off on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers met for practice on Monday to gear up for their 2017-18 NBA regular season opener on Thursday.

The moment the practice facility doors opened to external eyes, rookie Lonzo Ball appeared on the court playing in a full court scrimmage and seemingly displayed no signs of an ankle injury that had forced the 19-year-old to miss the final two weeks of preseason.

"I'm playing for sure," Ball said with clear confidence regarding his involvement in Thursday's season opener.

Ball admitted that he was rusty from the time on the sidelines and his coach, Luke Walton, echoed that same sentiment. Both referenced the point guard's passing being a bit off the mark. However, the superstar kid ended his practice with a half-court shooting content, which he won, and sounded downright giddy about his first NBA regular season game.

"I'll be ready for Thursday," Ball said after admitting his rusty return to the practice court.

Walton also looked relieved to have his starting point guard back, but the coach offered a balanced view of his rookie's return on Monday: "Lonzo showed why he's going to be really good, but he also showed that he’s been out for a couple weeks with some of the turnovers he had."

Ball and the Lakers don't have too much time to get their house in order, as the team only has two more practices, on Tuesday and Wednesday, and one final shootaround session on Thursday before the lights come up on the Lakers' 2017-18 season and Ball's NBA career.

For Ball and the Lakers' sake, hopefully, that rust falls off sooner rather than later.

Notes: Julius Randle did limited work, mainly getting shots up. The 22-year-old did not take part in the scrimmage. Randle suffered back spasms during Friday's preseason finale. Rookie Josh Hart strained his Achilles during Monday's practice and was scheduled to go for an MRI later on Monday afternoon. Andrew Bogut practiced but did not take part in the scrimmage. Walton said that the Australian big man's availability is still up in the air for Thursday's season opener.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLCS Game 2]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 21:18:03 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_Post_NLCS_game_2_1200x675_1073994307601.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Logan Forsythe, Curtis Granderson, Chris Taylor, and hero Justin Turner, speak about the team's dramatic come-from-behind walk-off win against the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Win Game 2 of NLCS in Dramatic Walk-Off Finish]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 19:25:26 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-861775246.jpg

Six more wins.

Justin Turner hit a dramatic, three-run, walk-off home run and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs, 4-1, in thrilling fashion in Game 2 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.

Turner hit the second pitch he saw off John Lackey deep over the centerfield wall for the game-winning home run, and sent a sellout crowd of 54,479 into a frenzy as the Dodgers take a 2-0 lead in the series as it shifts to the Windy City on Tuesday.

"I can't even put it into words right now," Turner said after the game. "It's incredible. The most important thing was, obviously, helping us get another win. Hopefully, many, many years from now I'll get to tell stories about it."

Rich Hill and Jon Lester took turns throwing four shutout innings before both teams scored a run in the top of the fifth.

Addison Russell sent an 89MPH fastball from Hill into the short porch in left field for a leadoff homer, and the Cubs led 1-0.

Hill missed his location on the pitch as Dodgers' catcher Austin Barnes clearly wanted the pitch low and outside, but it hung right over the heart of the plate.

"Austin did a great job behind the dish," Hill said of his catcher. "Other than that one pitch to Russell, the ball came out of my hand the way I wanted it to."

In his sixth career postseason start, Hill did not factor in the decision, as he allowed one run on three hits with one walk and a playoff-high eight strikeouts in five innings.

"I wanted to stay out there," continued Hill. "But our bullpen has been doing such a heck of a job, they're the best in the league and they continue to show it." 

Hill has never faced the Cubs—the team that drafted him in the fourth round in 2002—in the regular season, but famously faced them in Game 3 of the NLCS last season when he fired six scoreless innings in a 6-0, Dodgers victory.

"There was a lot of learning for us last year. We had a lot of guys who hadn't been in the postseason," Hill said of what he learned from last season's experience. "Now we get to build off of that experience from last year and use it into this year and continue to keep going."

Jon Lester allowed a leadoff double to Charlie Culberson to start the Dodgers half of the fifth inning, and scored three batters later when Justin Turner knocked in the equalizer with an RBI single to right field.

Culberson was placed on the NLCS roster as a last minute addition after All-Star Corey Seager was unable to suit up due to a lower back injury.

In his stead, Culberson is 2-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI, and a run scored.

Lester did not factor in the decision, allowing one run on three hits with five walks and two strikeouts in 4 and 2/3 innings. It was the first time in 21 career postseason starts that Lester failed to complete at least five innings.

"I thought Johnny Lester, we hung with him as long as we could," said Cubs' manager Joe Maddon. "If we had gotten Jonny deeper into that game, then the bullpen usage could be different."

Lester came into Game 4 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals in relief, and made his start on Sunday on three days rest.

Both bullpens threw three scoreless innings of relief, but the difference in the game came down to both managers and both closers. 

Dave Roberts went to Kenley Jansen in the top of the ninth with the game tied at 1-1. Jansen struck out Kris Bryant to start the inning, but then hit Anthony Rizzo on the hand with a 96MPH cut-fastball, ending the bullpens streak of consecutive batters retired at 24.

"They're just executing pitches and they're ready when called upon and they're competing," Roberts said of his bullpen. "Those guys know exactly what they want to do, and they're going out there and executing."

Jansen would get out of the inning, eventually earning his first career postseason win, and the Dodgers would head to the bottom of the ninth. 

"That was the plan," Jansen said of pitching the ninth despite it not being a save situation. "These guys have been doing a tremendous job in the 8th inning trying to mess up to not let me pitch in the 9th [regular season]. So they've helped keep me fresh. We know that this moment's going to come, and we know that I'm going to throw multiple innings, so I was ready for it."

Instead of opting for closer Wade Davis, Cubs' manager Joe Maddon stayed with LHP Brian Duensing who walked Yasiel Puig to start the inning. 

"I just needed him [Davis] for the save tonight," said Maddon about his decision not to bring his closer into the game. "He had limited pitches. So if we had caught the lead, he would have pitched. That's it."

Two batters later, Maddon went to 39-year-old John Lackey over Davis, despite the fact that Lackey had never made back-to-back appearances in relief in his career. 

"He was going to pitch the next inning, too, and the righties were coming up right there," continued Maddon on why he went to Lackey. "I liked him a lot on the first guy, Taylor."

Lackey walked Chris Taylor before allowing the game-winning home run to Turner. 

"Once that walk occurred, all bets were off against Taylor," concluded Maddon. "Nobody is a great matchup against Turner, so it just did not work out."

After an MLB-best 47 comebacks in the regular season, the Dodgers have completed three comebacks in the postseason, including two straight in the NLCS.

Since the League Championship series expanded to seven games in 1985, only three of the 28 teams that lost the first two games of the series came back to win. The Royals in 1985, the Cardinals in 1985 over the Dodgers, and the Red Sox, who rallied from an 0-3 hole to beat the Yankees in 2004.

History Repeats Itself:

There have only ever been two walk-off home runs in Dodgers postseason history. Justin Turner's on Sunday, and Kirk Gibson's iconic pinch-hit walk-off home run against the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Ironically, (or maybe destiny), Gibson's dramatic home run that immortalized Vin Scully's voice as Gibson limped around the bases occurred exactly 29 years ago today.

"One of my earliest memories was being at my Grandma's house and watching that game and watching Gibby hit that homer," said Turner of hitting his first career walk-off home run of his career 29 years to the date as Gibson's.

Up Next:

The series shifts to Chicago where RHP Yu Darvish will start Game 3 at Wrigley Field opposite RHP Kyle Kendricks at 6:01PM PST.

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bolts Battle Back Against Raiders in Oakland]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 16:13:30 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Melvin+Gordon+Chargers.jpg

The Chargers found a way down the stretch thanks to timely running by Melvin Gordon, and a game winning field goal by Nick Novak for the 17-16 win over the Raiders. 

The Bolts captured their second win of the season, as Philip Rivers took over at his 8 with 4:09 remaining and launched two long passes by Hunter Henry that moved Los Angeles into field-goal range. Head coach Anthony Lynn showcased good clock management skills, keeping the ball in the hands of Gordon five straight times. 

The Chargers running game looked to be more consistent as Melvin Gordon could dominate, as the Raiders have allowed 124 yards rushing per game. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr returned after missing only one game with a fracture in his back. 

The Chargers best defensive duo, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, have been a lot for offenses to handle as they have a combined 13 sacks on the season. 

Chargers Trevor Williams picked off Carr for the 31-yard return. Rivers was unable to find any offensive rhythm in the first half. Nick Novak missed a 48 yard field goal, as the Bolts missed out on a golden opportunity to take a significant lead in the opening quarter. 

Carr lead the Raiders down the field, that set up a 23-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree for the 7-0 lead.

The Bolts defense appeared to be thrown off by Carr's decision to throw the ball.

The Bolts have been outscored 50-7 in the opening quarter this season through six games. 

The Raiders defense neutralized the Bolts offensively, especially during third down conversations in the first half.

However, with under two minutes remaining in the first half, the Bolts offense decided to have a sense of urgency as they capped off an amazing drive with a one yard touchdown by Gordon. 

After a crucial pass interference penalty on Jahleel Addai kept the Raiders drive alive, Carr immediately went into a hurry up offense, that brought Oakland to the 26-yard-line.

A few plays later, Oakland settled for a 44 yard field goal by Giorgio Tavecchio and the 10-7 halftime lead. 

Bolts rookie wide receiver Mike Williams played just three snaps on offense in the first half, and was not targeted.

Williams made a huge catch in the fourth quarter for a 15 yard gain, that later set up a Gordon six yard touchdown run for the 14-10 lead.

After a scoreless third quarter, Oakland took the lead on a 47-yard end-around by Cordarrelle Patterson, but Carr's play was still not enough to carry them to victory. 

Rivers finished 25-for-36 for 268 yards and one touchdown. Gordon ran for 83 yards and currently has seven touchdowns on the season.

Carr finished 21-for-30, for 171 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss.

Photo Credit: Don Feria/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Remain Undefeated on the Road]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 16:03:57 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/185*120/RamsJags.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams scored not one, but two touchdowns on special teams as they came from behind to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-17, on Sunday in North Florida. 

Pharoh Cooper got things started when he returned the opening kickoff 103 yards to help put the Rams in sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

Later in the first half, the Rams blocked a punt and retruned it for a score as they overcame a 14-10 deficit to take a 24-14 lead into the half.

After scoring just 10 points against the Seahawks at home last week, the offense rebounded behind running back Todd Gurley who had 116 yards rushing on 23 carries.

Quarterback Jared Goff was 11-for-21 for 124 yards and a touchdown. Robert Woods led all Rams receivers with five catches for 70 yards. 

Rookie Leonard Fournette set the tone for the Jaguars when he broke open the game with a 75 yard rushing touchdown, his sixth touchdown on the ground this season.

Entering Sunday's game, Fournette had rushed for 465 yards in five games. He finished with 130 yards in the game, giving him a total of 595 yards through six games, just a yard shy of averaging over 100 yards per game.

The Rams remain undefeated on the road this season, improving to 3-0 away from the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Greg Zuerlein's 29-yard field goal with 2:32 remaining in the game, helped seal the victory.

Blake Bortles lost an opportunity to tie the game in the final quarter when he fumbled the ball on one play and threw an interception on the next.

Bortles finished 23-for-35 with 241 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The Rams defensed sack Bortles five times in the game and Nickell Robey-Coleman came up with the interception for the Rams secondary.

Los Angeles is currently on an 11 day road trip as they will remain in Jacksonville this coming week, before they depart to London to face the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.

Photo Credit: Logan Bowles/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ball Girls Who Survived Las Vegas Massacre Return to Stadium]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 20:13:10 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/Zambrana+and+Moore.jpg

Some stories just put things in perspective.

On October 1, 2017, just after 10:00PM PST, a shooter opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, from his perch atop the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Casino.

Over 500 people were injured and 58 people lost their lives in the largest mass shooting in modern American history. 

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the five-time National League West Champion Dodgers had ended their season with the best record in baseball, and were anxiously awaiting to find out their opponent in the NLDS.

Little did the team know, two of their family members were amongst the 20,000 in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. 

Despite never stepping between the baselines, Christina Zambrana, 27, and Amy Moore, 26, both former collegiate softball players, have made a major impact on the Dodgers' 2017 season.

You probably don't know their names or faces, but chances are, if you've been to Chavez Ravine this season, you've seen them sitting on buckets with wearing Dodger jerseys and gloves on their hands.

They are the Dodger ball girls and throughout the season have made multiple highlight reel catches in order to protect fans from oncoming foul balls.

In addition to their duties during the game, they also have formed relationships with the players as they warm up the outfielders between innings. 

One of those players is star right fielder Yasiel Puig. 

Puig has gotten to know Zambrana over the course of the season and often warms up with her in right field. Once he heard that she and Moore were at the concert in Las Vegas, he immediately asked Dodgers officials for her number so he could text her to see if she was alright. 

Puig told NBC4 before Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday that he texted with the girls once he found out about the shooting and they texted him back that they were OK. 

Later, Puig would become the player of the game as he would hit his first career postseason home run and also knocked in the first run with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning. 

Puig is off to a sensational start to his 2017 postseason campaign, but for Moore and Zambrana, they make their postseason debut on Sunday in Game 2.

After the shooting, they were given the NLDS off and will return to Dodger Stadium for the first time to work Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Cubs.

Exactly two weeks to the day their lives changed forever.

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times was the first to write the tale of the ball girls in his column earlier this week.

According to the two girls interview with Plaschke, they literally ran for their lives after they heard the gunshots, hiding under a table, holding each other's hands until they could run to safety.

"We were just running for our lives," Moore told the LA Times. "We knew if we didn't get out of there, we were just going to die." 

The harrowing tale continued as Moore had to drag Zambrana around a metal fence before she was crushed by a herd of concertgoers running for the exits and for their lives.

Later, Moore lost her shoes and Zambrana carried her on her back to safety.

"We thought, 'Is this going to be it?'" said Moore. "It sounded like we were on a gun range. It was right on top of us."

Their story of survival is as horrifying as it is heartwarming. After running for their lives beneath a hailstorm of bullets, the two girls began to help others who had been injured or shot.

"People getting shot all over the place, blood everywhere, I just kept saying, 'C’mon, c’mon, go, go, go,'" Moore said. "It could have been us. It was like we were protected by angels."

Moore comforted victims as they waited for ambulances to arrive, and Zambrana removed her belt and used it as a tourniquet on the wrist of a victim who had been shot.

Puts things in perspective, huh?

While most would assume that baseball is the last thing on the minds of Moore and Zambrana right now, the two girls believe that returning to the baselines of Dodger Stadium is just what they need in order to begin to heal.

"It will be like normal," Zambrana said. "It will be healing."

When they take the field on Sunday, we imagine it will seem almost surreal. From fleeing for your survival, unaware of whether or not you may live or die, to 55,000 screaming fans hinging on every moment of the Dodgers and Cubs as if their own survival was dependent on the outcome.

One thing is for certain, they will be comforted and cheered by both fans and employees alike, for their bravery and courage on that terrifiying night.

Oh, and Yasiel Puig will be their to greet them too. 

"I'm excited to see them again and give them a hug," he said.

In addition to Puig, the team has been excellent in their response to their two family members who survived the shooting. 

Moore and Zambrana are just two of six total ball girls who protect fans from foul balls on the baselines throughout the season, but once the Dodgers heard they were affected by the tragedy, they immediately reached out to them to offer comfort and support. 

According to Plaschke, the team sent out personalized get-well videos from players, autographed jerseys and team gear, even a handwritten letter from Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts.

"They're part of our family," said Dodgers' chief marketing officer, Lon Rosen. "They're important to us, important to our players and fans. We're very excited that they can come back and participate on Sunday."

"We’re not very high on the totem pole," Moore said. "We're only ball girls, some people don’t even know our names. But the support from the Dodgers has been overwhelming."

Moore is excited to return to Dodger Stadium for the NLCS, and is expected to wear her No. 88 jersey, a number that is apropos considering the last time the Dodgers went to the World Series was in 1988.

It will be their first time in front of a large crowd since the shooting occurred, but we have a feeling their bravery and courage, plus the adrenaline of the day, will get them through. 

But at the end of the day, Plaschke said it best:

"They are mourning over the bloodshed they witnessed, keenly thankful for the blessings they have been given and more excited than ever for October baseball and the eternal hope it holds for nine innings of life."

Photo Credit: Jill Weisleder/Dodgers]]>
<![CDATA[LA Lakers Make Cuts, Set Roster for 2017-18 Season]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 05:18:16 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-2017-18-roster.jpg

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that the team had waived Travis Wear, Briante Weber and Vander Blue, sliding the team roster down to 16 players i.e. 15 players on the full team contract and point guard Alex Caruso on a two-way contract with the South Bay Lakers. Approaching Monday's deadline for setting NBA rosters, the team is in compliance with one two-way contract still open.

Andrew Bogut appears to be the non-guaranteed contract that made the cut despite being limited in training camp and preseason, while Blue's future with the organization remains in doubt. The 25-year-old guard has spent three years with the organization as a member of the NBA Development League's LA D-Fenders, highlighted by the natural scorer winning D-League MVP in 2017 and the 2017 NBA Summer League with the Lakers.

Blue was desperate to make an NBA roster, but Bogut's arrival left little chance for the guard to assume a full-time role with the Lakers.

As it stands, the Lakers have Lonzo Ball and Tyler Ennis as point guards, along with Alex Caruso as a point guard on a two-way contract. At shooting guard, the team starts Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, with Jordan Clarkson and Josh Hart filling out the back court. Brandon Ingram projects to start at small forward, with Corey Brewer and Luol Deng available at the position, along with rookie Kyle Kuzma expected to get minutes at the position.

At power forward, Lakers coach Luke Walton has Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and the aforementioned Kuzma, with the coach still searching to find the best fit for the starting role. At center, the team has Brook Lopez projected to start with Ivica Zubac, Bogut and rookie Thomas Bryant all fighting for the reserve minutes with the second unit.

This is your 2017-18 Los Angeles Lakers roster.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Dodgers Announce New Food Items for NLCS]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 02:00:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/265*120/BBQ+Rib+Platter.jpgAs the Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the next round of the MLB Playoffs, so to did the food items provided by Levy Restaurants at concession stands across Chavez Ravine. Here are the newest food items for the NLCS.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Dodgers/Levy Restaurants ]]>
<![CDATA[USC Trojans Survive Scare From Utah]]>Sat, 14 Oct 2017 23:34:12 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Usc+vs+utah+sam+darnold+and+williams.png

The No. 13 USC Trojans escaped with a tight 28-27 win over the Utah Utes in front of 72,382 at the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday night.

USC played their smartest football on the drive in the final quarter, sticking to their running game that led to a dramatic flip in the endzone for the winning touchdown by Ronald Jones. Jones played 13 straight games with a touchdown score. 

The defense was unable to stop two Utah third down conversions, that resulted in a touchdown by Troy Williams. The Utes decided to press their luck and go for a two point conversation that failed. The biggest and most important play of the game by the Trojans defense tonight. 

This was an important game for the Trojans, as it had all implications of who would control the Pac-12 South to represent the division in the Pac-12 championship game in December. The Trojans were off to their best start in five seasons. 

USC holds an 11-5 record over Utah, including 8-1 in Los Angeles, (with wins in the past 7 L.A. matchups). USC won their last 13 home games including demolishing the Oregon State Beavers last Saturday 38-10.

It appeared the Trojans looked to set the tone early offensively, until Darnold fumbled on a hand off as Utah's Bradlee Anae recovered on the 34 yard line. The Trojans held firm against Utah forcing a quick three and out. Once again the Trojans offense continued to be stagnant, as they were unable to score on the following drive. 

The Utes capitalized on the opportunities offensively, as quarterback Troy Williams moved the chains down the field. On a huge third down, Williams threw a pick to USC's Cameron Smith in the red zone. Smith captured his fourth career interception, all four interceptions were against the Utes. After the Trojans begin their next drive, Darnold coughed up his 2nd fumble of the game, and Marquise Blair recovered for the 18 yard run into the endzone. Utah led 7-0 in the first quarter. 

Later in the quarter, Darnold redeemed himself with a 52 yard pass to Tyler Petitie for the tying touchdown.

After a careless holding penalty on Trojans' cornerback, Iman Marshall, the Utes remained alive as Williams failed to find an open target on third down. Utah kicker Matt Gay settled for a 33 yard field good that was no good. 

Later in the second quarter, Darnold continued to get in his own way, fumbling a pass intended for Ronald Jones where Utah recovered.

Several plays later, Williams found a sprinting Damri Simpkins for the 33 yard touchdown pass, as Utes led 21-7 at halftime.  

Between the bad play calling, penalties, and fumbles, the Trojans searched for answers to get back on track, and out of the vortex of negating progress.

It appeared Darnold settled down and found his rhythm, as he drove USC down the field with their best drive of the game late in the third quarter. He escaped two attempted sacks by the Utes and found Petite in the back of the endzone for his second touchdown of the night as they trailed 21-14.

With USC's time running short, Darnold had to pull out all the stops in the final quarter, finding Deontay Burnett for a 16-yard catch for the 1st down. One play later, Stephen Mitchell ran for 20 yard gain, which set up a Darnold pass to Josh Falo for the 4-yard touchdown catch. 

The Trojans continue to control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South and own the tie breaker over Utah.

Watch the video below for the highlights of the game.

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NLCS Game 1 Dodgers Postgame]]>Sat, 14 Oct 2017 23:24:48 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NLCS_Game_1_1200x675_1073590851753.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Charlie Culberson, Cody Bellinger and Austin Barnes speak with Michael J. Duarte of NBC LA after the Dodgers 5-2 victory in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs.]]><![CDATA[LA Rams Alec Ogletree Vows to Lead Defense]]>Sat, 14 Oct 2017 23:23:09 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/LA+Rams+Alec+Ogletree.png

It's been a wonderful weekend for Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Alec Ogletree. 

On Thursday, following a hard fought practice at the Rams facility in Thousand Oaks, California, the team announced that they had signed Ogletree to a four-year contract extension.

Olgetree has been the Rams leading tackler for the past three seasons, with 54 tackles.

Ogletree was drafted by the Rams in the first round of the 2013 NLF Draft out of Georgia and has made his impact on the team each and every year since as he's led the team in tackles eac of his first four seasons.

"Alec has evolved into a true leader of our football team and we are excited to sign him to this extension," Rams general manager Les Snead said. "His teammates voted him as a captain in back-to-back seasons for a reason -- and it's not only because of his production, but his character and resiliency. We look forward to Alec helping our team emerge as a consistent winner for years to come."

His new deal is worth $42 million, and $30 million in guaranteed money. At the beginning of off-season workouts, Ogletree  moved inside as apart of the Rams new 3-4 defense. 

"Besides his athletic ability, his leadership is through the roof," Rams defensive coordinator Wade Philips said. "It's just natural to him. he doesn't go out of his way. He can call all of the signals on defense, make all of the adjustments and all of those things, so they (players) look to a guy like that." 

He has a total of 441 tackles, 5.5 sacks to date, and with those numbers Olgetree only looks to get better with time and experience. 

"It's not just simple, it's a lot that goes into it," Ogletree explained. "Credit to my agent, the Rams for all working to get the job done. I couldn't be more happy that it's done."

Ogletree is known for his tough play on the field, however his leadership qualities have been a gift that has abound towards his teammates. He credits his upbringing and those veteran players that have mentored him along the way. 

"It’s always great to see good people, good players – especially when you look at they invested in him a while in the draft and then you always want to take care of your own," head coach Sean McVay said. "But, since I got here, my exposure to Alec has been one of the more influential players in this locker room. He always goes about his business the right way, he brings people with him. You always talk about what a real true sign of a great leader is – do you bring people with you? It’s not only being a great player, but making people around you better as well. That’s what you see from him."

Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Rally to Defeat Cubs in Game 1 of NLCS]]>Sat, 14 Oct 2017 23:25:22 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-861451854.jpg

7 more wins.

Yasiel Puig had a home run and two RBI as the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied from a two-run deficit to defeat the Chicago Cubs, 5-2, in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. 

The highly anticipated rematch of the 2016 NLCS between the same two teams started off relatively quietly as left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Jose Quintana took turns throwing scoreless innings.

It wasn't until the top of the fourth inning that things took a turn as Wilson Contreas led off with a single to centerfield and Albert Almora Jr. followed with a two-run home run to left field that put the Cubs in front 2-0.

Kershaw became the first pitcher in Dodgers' franchise history to allow five home runs in a single postseason after the two-run shot by Almora Jr.

"Almora put a good swing on a ball," Kershaw said of the home run. "The one I'm really upset about is the 3-1 to Contreras. Solo home runs I've always said you can deal with, but the ones with guys on base are tough." 

The Dodgers got off the mat in the bottom of the fifth inning as Yasiel Puig connected with a four-seam fastball from Quintana for an RBI double to left-center that put L.A. on the board.

Puig might have thought he homered on the play as he immediately flipped his bat, raised his hands and started jogging to first base.

Charlie Culberson—the surprise addition to the NLCS roster after All-Star Corey Seager was ruled out with a back injury—followed with a sacrifice fly that tied the game at 2-2.

Kershaw did not come back out to the mound for the sixth inning, and finished his 20th career postseason appearance with a no-decision. The three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed two runs on four hits, with one walk and four strikeouts in five innings.

"Obviously the spot came up," Roberts said about removing Kershaw when he did. "He was around up near 90 pitches, and I probably had him going out there for Rizzo and then going to have Kenta get the righties after that."

Quintana faced the minimum through four innings, but ran into trouble in the fifth as he also did not factor in the decision.

Pitching on one-day rest after making 12 pitches in relief in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals, Quintana allowed two runs on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts in five innings.

"Emotionally he was pretty much drained at that point," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Quintana in the fifth. "The couple walks were indicators of that, right around 90 pitches after five, that's a pretty heave load. Based on what he's been coming off of the last couple days, I thought it was the right time to get him out."

Quintana gave way for right-hander Hector Rendon who was making his first appearance in the 2017 postseason after he was added on to the NLCS roster earlier in the day for left-hander Justin Wilson.

Rendon did not have time to even catch his breath, as he was immediately greeted by Chris Taylor, who led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a home run to right-center.

The go-ahead home run was Taylor's first career postseason home run, and it came at the perfect time as the Dodgers completed the comeback and took a 3-2 lead.

"I thought I hit it a little bit better," Taylor said of the home run compared to his earlier fly out to the warning track in deep center." I hit them both good, but I had a feeling on that second one."

One inning later, it was once again Yasiel Puig who delivered the death blow for the Boys in Blue.

Puig crushed a four-seam fastball from Mike Montgomery just over the wall in left field to give the Dodgers a much-needed insurance run and a 4-2 lead.

"When I hit it, I think that it's going, but later I see the left fielder say 'I got it,'" said Puig. "I started running, and I think the wind helped me a little bit tonight."

Puig is batting .467 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and six RBI this postseason. The home run against Montgomery, markes his first career home run in the playoffs, snapping a streak of 89 at-bats without one.

"I'm coming here and prepare more this year than any other years here with the team," said Puig. "My teammates helped me a lot this year. I played better this year. I'm so proud of myself and I want to keep going and do the best I can for my teammates and for myself."

The Dodgers added another run on an RBI single by Justin Turner four batters later, and for the second straight game, the Dodgers bullpen pitched four scoreless innings of relief.

Kenley Jansen came out of the bullpen and struck out all four batters he faced for a four-out save and earned his 11th career postseason save (3rd in 2017). Jasnen has appeared in all four of the Dodgers playoff games so far.

The victory for the Dodgers snapped a six-game losing streak in Game 1 of the NLCS, dating backing to 1988, the last time the Dodgers won the World Series.

In the last 31 years, since the NLCS was expanded to seven games, the team that wins Game 1 is 22-9 overall. 

Controversial Call:

A fairly new rule created controversy in the bottom of the seventh inning as it appeared that Kyle Schwarber had thrown out Charlie Culberson at the plate.

However, after review, the umpires reversed the call, stating that Cubs' catcher Wilson Contreas, blocked the plate with his left leg, a fairly recent rule instituted by MLB after Buster Posey famously broke his leg in 2011 after a collision at the plate with Scott Cousins.

After the call was reversed, a heated Joe Maddon immediately got in the face of the home plate umpire Lance Barksdale and was ejected from the game.

"I could not disagree more with the interpretation of that," said Maddon after the game. "The umpires did everything according to what they've been told, but I, from day one, have totally disagreed with the content of that rule."

Up Next:

It's a southpaw showdown in Game 2 of the NLCS as LHP Jon Lester squares off with LHP Rich Hill at 4:38PM PST on TBS.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Looking For Revenge in Rematch With Cubs in NLCS]]>Sat, 14 Oct 2017 19:25:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-861407954.jpg

They say revenge is sweet.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are about to find out if their rematch with the Chicago Cubs will be sweet or sour when they take the field for the second straight season, facing a familiar foe in the National League Championship Series on Saturday.

The rematch has been one year in the making after the Cubs eliminated the Dodgers from the postseason in 2016 with a 5-0 win at Wrigley Field in Game 6 last October.

Redemption is on the line for the Boys in Blue as they embark on their journey to end the team's 29-year World Series drought.

It's not every day you get offered a second chance. Heck, Harvey Weinstein is currently begging for a second chance, but for the Dodgers, that's exactly what they'll get when the square off with the reigning World Series Champion Cubs at Chavez Ravine.

It was not so long ago, that Cubs' manager Joe Maddon was asked about the possibility of his team facing the Dodgers in the postseason. At the time, the Dodgers had the best record in baseball.

"We're not afraid of them," Maddon said at the time. "We think we match up really well with them."

"He got his wish," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts in retort. "He has a lot of confidence in his guys, as much as I have in our guys, so it's going to be a great series."

If you ask any Dodger player whether they wanted to face the Cubs or the Nationals in the NLCS, they will politely give you the political correct response, "It doesn't matter who we face," but for those that are not so tight-lipped, revenge is sweet.

"To be honest with you, yes," said Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen when asked the question of if deep down he and the Dodgers wanted to face the Cubs. "If we want a championship, why not? Take down the champs. That's the team to beat."

The Dodgers hopes of a World Series birth were dashed last fall when Clayton Kershaw gave up five runs including two home runs in the decisive game 6 at Wrigley Field.

"I had one good game and one bad game," Kershaw said of his NLCS experience last season. "They have a very similar team to what they did last year. Lot of familiarities with both of us. There are not going to be any secrets."

The Dodgers remember that defeat well, as they do waiting for two hours after the game ended in the visiting locker room for the party outside to subside so they could take a team bus back to the hotel.

"I would try to walk a few blocks and get an Uber," Kershaw said jokingly if for some reason history repeats itself. "If we lose again, that's probably the best situation."

To make matters worse, the Dodgers flew back to Chicago at the beginning for the 2017 season on the same day that the Cubs received their World Series rings.

Chicago had pregame ceremonies celebrating their first World Series in 108 years, and the Dodgers players had to absorb every second of it from the visiting dugout.

"I was in the clubhouse. It was cold," said Dodgers utility player Kiké Hernandez. "It was an unnecessarily long ceremony. We were inside trying to stay warm."

The Dodgers are rested and have the advantage of setting up their starting rotation, unlike last season.

Kershaw is well-rested and available to start in Game 1 of the NLCS, unlike last season where he had to pitch Game 2 on three days rest.

"We want to win this series. We want to go to the World Series," said Kershaw. "We didn't get to do that last year, and the Cubs were the reason why. No doubt about it, we know that. They were the best team last year, and until somebody beats them, they're the best team so we've got to go get them."

His manager agrees. 

"They're the world champs, the defending champs," said Roberts. "So I guess they say to win a championship, you've got to go through the current champions. So it's going to be a fun series."

Entering Saturday, the Dodgers were the favorites to win the series and advance to the World Series, but those odds changed drastically early on Saturday morning as the team announced that All-Star shortstop Corey Seager would not be on the roster with a lower back injury.

Here are the current odds according to Bovada:

Chicago Cubs +150 (3/2)
Dodgers -180 (5/9)

Here is the full NLCS Schedule:

Game 1: at Dodgers, Saturday, 5:08 p.m.
Game 2: at Dodgers, Sunday, 4:38 p.m.
Game 3: at Cubs, Tuesday, 6:01 p.m.
Game 4: at Cubs, Wednesday, 6:01 p.m. or 5:08 p.m.
Game 5-x: at Cubs, Thursday, 5:08 p.m.
Game 6-x: at Dodgers, Oct. 21, 1:08 p.m. or 5:08 p.m.
Game 7-x: at Dodgers, Oct. 22, 4:38 p.m. 

All Broadcasts on TBS

Prediction: Without Corey Seager, Cubs repeat history and win in six. 

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers to Start Larry Nance Jr. at Power Forward?]]>Fri, 13 Oct 2017 23:10:28 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Larry-Nance-Jr-Laker-vs-Clippers.JPG

"I wouldn't tell you guys anyways," Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton smiled following his team's 111-104 win over the LA Clippers to wrap up the 2017 exhibition season.

Walton was answering a question inquiring if the coach had his starters crystalized in his mind, but the coach contended that the power forward position was still undecided, though he slyly and transparently shared that he had no intention of telling the media, even if he had already decided.

For now, Larry Nance Jr. looks to be in line to assume the starting power forward position in order to balance the front court alongside Brook Lopez. Friday featured Nance starting at power forward for the third straight game. Brandon Ingram at small forward, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard and Lonzo Ball at point guard are all slotted into their positions, as is Lopez at center, so the only question that remains is which player properly fits into the starting power forward role for the purple and gold.

Julius Randle, who left Friday's preseason finale with back spasms, is the other leading candidate to join the starting five, though the coach still placed standout rookie Kyle Kuzma's percentages of beating out his fellow power forwards at 10 percent on Friday morning. More than likely, though, Nance looks to be the coach's favored player for the role.

"It doesn't matter to me," Nance said about getting a starting spot. "I just want to be on the court. I've maintained that from my rookie year to last year and now this year is going to be the same thing. I just want to be on the court. I just want to make a difference in the game."

Nance, though, has not looked entirely smooth, especially offensively, in the starting unit during the preseason.

"I talked to Larry tonight," Walton said after Friday's win. "Larry is very hard on himself when things aren't going well. I don't think tonight was a good example of what it will look like when he plays with that group. He needs to get better at using his emotions, controlling his emotions to give us energy, and I think tonight he let the emotions get the better of him, so it wasn't a great example of what we'll see with that group."

Nance said that he had a couple bad plays in the third quarter, in particular, and dropped his head after turning the ball over three times in the period. The 24-year-old's interpretation of his coach's message was to focus that energy into making plays that erase those mistakes, rather than spiraling into a negative mindset.

"It's definitely something that I notice," Nance said about allowing the mistakes to affect him mentally. "I've got to pull myself out of those little funks that I get in. But at the same time, energy is always there. I put in a whole lot of work, and I am one heck of an offensive player. I just got to have the confidence to show it."

Nance explained that adjusting to the new group of players led to a great deal of jumbled basketball, especially accommodating what he referred to as a "superstar center" in Lopez.

"It's a whole new group of guys. I'm trying to find a rhythm," Nance explained.

The former University of Wyoming Cowboy provided an example of a play when he expected his center to be ready for a dump off for a dunk on the weak side of the basket, which would have been the case with Ivica Zubac or Timofey Mozgov, i.e. tradition centers. Instead, when Nance looked to pass the ball, Lopez was posted on the three-point line and the play broke down. In short, Nance still hasn't adjusted to playing with Lopez and the starting group.

But reading between the lines, Walton still seems like he prefers Nance over Randle alongside Lopez.

With notable frustration in his voice, Nance concluded, "Got a week!"

With preseason over, the Lakers host the Clippers in both teams' 2017-18 regular season opener on Oct. 19, 2017.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[No Lonzo Ball for Lakers, Clippers at Staples Center Friday]]>Fri, 13 Oct 2017 14:37:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lonzo-Ball-Lakers-preseason.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton is listening to his trainers and sitting out Lonzo Ball for Friday night's preseason finale, as the highly touted rookie recovers from an ankle injury that he suffered on Oct. 2 against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.

With Ball sitting out the preseason finale against the LA Clippers, the rookie will effectively go two and a half weeks between his final preseason appearance and the no. 2 pick's regular season debut. At the moment, Ball still expects to start for the Lakers on opening night on Oct. 19, 2017 at Staples Center against the same LA Clippers team the Lakers meet on Friday night.

Walton shared that Ball said he felt good but did have a bit of soreness in the ankle after taking part in practice the night before.

Walton said, "He did more today than he's been doing. It was a normal shootaround for him as far as if he were healthy and playing in tonight's game."

According to Walton, conditioning, timing with teammates and defensive rotations repetitions will be the biggest challenges facing the rookie after missing time in preseason and in practice, but Walton said he was optimistic that Ball would be able to make strides over the upcoming five days of practice.

"We're going to get after it these last five, six days, and (Ball will) be out there going through everything as long as the ankle holds up, and that should be enough time for him to at least get caught up a little bit."

Ball, though, looked to be in great spirits during shootaround and was dancing and enjoying going through shooting drills with his teammates. Along with Ball, Andrew Bogut is also still not ready to play, but the Australian big man also took part in Lakers' shootaround.

In addition, Walton made specific mention of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's upcoming two-game suspension for driving under the influence while he was still a member of the Detroit Pistons. With Caldwell-Pope missing the first two games of the regular season, the coach will be looking to figure out potential combinations that could be utilized in those first two games. However, Walton stated that Caldwell-Pope would start Friday's preseason finale at Staples Center.

Tip-off on Friday is 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Larry Nance Jr. will start at power forward. Nance continues to sit atop of the leader board at practice, and Walton seemingly has a tough decision to make between Nance and Julius Randle for the starting power forward spot. According to the coach, Kyle Kuzma has a 10 percent chance of taking that spot.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Extend Contract With Inside Lineback Alec Ogletree]]>Fri, 13 Oct 2017 04:49:53 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-856371304_master.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams announced Thursday they had agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension with inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, their leading tackler three of the past four seasons.

"Alec has evolved into a true leader of our football team and we are excited to sign him to this extension," Rams general manager Les Snead said. "His teammates voted him as a captain in back-to-back seasons for a reason -- and it's not only because of his production, but his character and resiliency."

Ogletree leads the team with 54 tackles. He was the team leader in the category in 2013, 2014 and 2016. His 2015 season was cut short after four games because of a broken fibula.

Entering Thursday's play, Ogletree had the most "splash play" among NFL inside linebackers since 2014 with 28. A splash play is defined as a play where a batted pass, pass defensed, forced fumble or interception occurs.

The Rams chose Ogletree in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Georgia, the 30th overall selection.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bob Miller Is The King of L.A.]]>Thu, 12 Oct 2017 14:34:52 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Bob+Miller+Statue+announcment.png

The longtime Los Angeles Kings play-by play- announcer Bob Miller was honored on Wednesday by the L.A. City Council as members officially announced that October 11th would forever be "Bob Miller Day" in the city.

Miller spent 44 years as the Kings announcer, and many colleagues, friends and fans showed up to watch this epic moment in L.A. sports history. Amongst those in attendance were Kings president Luc Robitaille, Radio Play-by-Play Announcer Nick Nickson, Radio Analyst Daryl Evans, TV Analyst Jim Fox, and AEG CEO Dan Beckerman. 

After many stories were shared about working with Miller over the years, Miller himself reflected on how important the people he worked with were to him over the last four decades.

"I think one word: loyalty," Miller said. "They have been loyal through some of those lean years, and there were a lot of lean years where we wondered, ‘will we ever win anything? Will we ever win the Stanley Cup?’ And those fans were there night after night, still cheering this team long, and then I was so happy to see them rewarded with the first Stanley Cup, and then the second Stanley Cup, to see the joy that it brought to all of them."

After the ceremony at City Hall, Miller received an official plaque commemorating his 44 years of changing the sports culture for hockey in Los Angeles. 

It was also announced that the Kings would unveil a statue of Miller in front of Staples Center on January 13th in honor of "Bob Miller Appreciation Day" before the Kings-Ducks game. He'll join former Laker play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn as the only broadcasters to have statues erected in their honor.
"There are moments in a person’s career that never enter your wildest dreams," Miller said in a statement. "A statue of me unveiled outside Staples Center is something I never thought of in my life. I wish to thank AEG and L.A. Kings management for this distinction. I am truly honored to be joining some of the great athletes of our time, as well as my good friend, the late Chick Hearn, who 44 years ago recommended me for the Kings job."

Miller will also be honored on Feb. 6 at the 13th annual Los Angeles Sports Awards, with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Rookie Kyle Kuzma Turning Heads]]>Thu, 12 Oct 2017 03:50:51 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kyle-Kuzma-Lakers-preseason.jpg

Being drafted with the no. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Kyle Kuzma flew under the radar of most teams, but the Michigan native made an impression in workouts and in person with Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Rob Pelinka, the front office duo that decided to adorn the 22-year-old with an LA Lakers' jersey.

Kuzma wears the no. 0, which is probably about how much most people in LA knew about the former University of Utah Ute before he stormed through the NBA Summer League en route to the Summer League Final MVP.

Even Lonzo Ball, who played against Kuzma in college, didn't seem to remember anything special about the athletic 6-foot, 9-inch forward in college. With Ball sitting out three of the five preseason games with a mildly sprained ankle, the focus has been back on the court, and on the court, Kuzma is king.

In his first five preseason games, Kuzma has scored at least 15 points in each contest and leads the Lakers in scoring at 19.2 points per game on 56.2 percent shooting from the field. For the past couple years, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. have split minutes at power forward, but with the emergence of Kuzma, that position grows immensely more complicated for Lakers coach Luke Walton.

Kuzma's transition from college to the NBA has been so impressive that one has to truly consider which of Kuzma at 22 years, Randle at 22 years or Nance at age 24 has a brighter future in purple and gold. Yes, Kuzma has been that good since hearing his name called by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Randle is a double-double machine, but he is not a consistent scorer. The former University of Kentucky lottery pick has been tirelessly working on developing a three-point shot and has also rebuilt his shooting form since coming into the league, but during the current preseason, Kuzma has out-shot Randle from beyond the arc despite the rookie failing to hit 30 percent from distance.

In truth, Kuzma has already displayed more three-point shooting ability than Nance and Randle, and the rookie has only been on the team for a few months. Nance may have worked on his shooting range over the summer, but through five preseason games, the Ohio native has only attempted one three-point shot.

Randle is averaging two three-point attempts per game, but he has only made two of his 10 long range attempts.

Of course, Nance is a better defender than Kuzma, and both Randle and Nance are better rebounders than the Michigan kid, but Kuzma is undoubtedly the best scorer of the three, and the level of consistency he has displayed in putting the ball through the hoop has been impressive.

In truth, Kuzma has out performed second-year forward Brandon Ingram, who was expected to take a jump on the offensive end of the court. In four preseason appearances, Ingram has hit the double-digit mark in scoring only twice, and the Georgia native's highest tally is 13 points during the exhibition season. As a reminder, Kuzma scored at least 15 points in all five of his preseason games thus far.

Coming off the bench, the Lakers are looking for Jordan Clarkson to be their sixth man and provide a scoring punch. While Kuzma has assumed that role to a great extent, Clarkson has still managed to score in double figures in four of the five games to average 12.4 points per contest in only 19.6 minutes on the court.

Though Clarkson has not been able to find his three-point shooting touch, the former Mizzou guard, finally, seems to be earning regular trips to the charity stripe. In limited minutes, the 25-year-old has earned 20 free throws over the five contests and made 18 of those unguarded opportunities.

Kuzma and Clarkson together could effectively provide the second unit with two scorers capable of keeping up with most reserve groups in the NBA. In addition, Alex Caruso, who is on a two-way contract with the team, has looked like the most NBA ready point guard on the roster.

Lonzo Ball obviously has the starting spot, but Ball did not look at his best prior to the ankle injury, and Caruso has outplayed Tyler Ennis on most fronts since Ball took on a cheer-leading role on the bench. Caruso looks like he will have a role to play for the LA Lakers, not just the South Bay Lakers, as he joins Kuzma as a Summer League standout carrying momentum forward into the preseason and beyond.

Entering training camp, the discussions revolved around whether Kuzma could crack the rotation. After five games of preseason, the question is not whether or not Kuzma will play but how much he will play.

At this stage, Kuzma seemingly has to play regular minutes when the games count, so Walton will need to open up his calculus books to derive a formula to find the rookie minutes because, well, he deserves them.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LiAngelo Ball Center of Attention at UCLA Media Day]]>Wed, 11 Oct 2017 15:19:58 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_17284470789246.jpg

There's a new Ball on the court at UCLA.

Cameras and cellphones captured the moment Wednesday as LiAngelo Ball walked toward the center of the court at Pauley Pavilion.

The younger brother of Lakers guard Lonzo Ball was making a debut of sorts at UCLA media day. The freshman was not made available to the media but he was there for pictures and practice.

Freshman Chris Smith noticed the hoopla as he walked alongside his teammate and said, with a hand over his eyes: "There's a Ball brother here?" and jokingly looked around.

Ball is sure to be under a microscope and face expectations unlike those faced by most college basketball players.

"It's hard. Obviously, Lonzo sets a very high bar," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. "I will say knowing the family like I know, they're all made that way. They're all made in a championship pedigree. Gelo (pronounced Jello) is not going to be any different than that. He'll figure out his role as he gets into this thing. I know he'll fight and compete and extend his role as much as he possibly can because he's got that championship DNA that I think all of them have."

The Ball family was thrust into a media spotlight thanks to the brothers' outspoken father, Lavar. Lonzo Ball played just one year at UCLA, where the Bruins finished 31-5 and lost to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen. LiAngelo follows this season. Lavar Ball has pulled his youngest son, LaMelo, out of high school and has said he's home-schooling him.

Ball is one of seven freshmen joining the Bruins but clearly is the most heralded because of the name on the back of his jersey.

"I think he has a pretty good head on (his shoulders)," junior Aaron Holiday said. "Obviously, coming in being one of the Ball brothers and his dad, there's a lot going on with him so he's handled himself pretty well, and I think he's good with that."

He's proven to be a reliable shooter in his young career and once had 72 points in a high school basketball game.

"He can shoot it, and we're going to need it," Alford said. "He's lost weight. He's in much better shape. I like the strength he adds. He gives us a different look when you've got maybe speed and athleticism in different areas of our backcourt. Gelo brings a whole different look of someone who is 230-235 pounds. You don't see a lot of guards with that kind of body, so we can post him. He can extend the floor to the NBA 3 with ease. He's like a lot of freshmen right now. As he learns defensively what needs to take place, he's going to be a very valuable piece."

LiAngelo Ball is listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, measurements that were updated in July.

His new teammates have noticed his shooting touch, and in a few weeks, they'll take the new Ball show on the road when UCLA takes a trip to China.

"He's been really well and shoots the ball extremely well," senior center Thomas Welsh said. "That's one thing if you give him space in the corner or wherever it is, he can knock the 3 down. I'm excited to see what he has to bring. All the freshmen have their own flavor and style in the game. Seeing how they all work into the new system will be interesting."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Celebration! Dodgers Win NLDS!]]>Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:23:50 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_DODGERS_WIN_NLDS_1200x675_1068856388002.jpg

Fred Roggin takes you inside the clubhouse for the fun and frivolity after the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks to win the NLDS.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Sweep D-Backs to Advance to NLCS]]>Tue, 10 Oct 2017 08:27:50 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Bellinger+Homers+NLDS+Game+3.png

Eight more wins.

Cody Bellinger and Austin Barnes both homered off former teammate Zack Greinke, and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-1, in Game 3 of the NLDS to complete the sweep of their division rivals. 

The Dodgers didn't greet their old teammate with hugs and handshakes, instead they greeted him with hits and home runs, as Bellinger seemingly did it all for the Boys in Blue on Monday night. 

After a leadoff double to Chris Taylor to start the game, Bellinger brought him home on a fielder's choice groundout to first base three batters later, and the Dodgers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead.

Kendrick Lamar could have done the play-by-play in the top of the fifth as Bellinger's "left stroke just went viral!' when he crushed an 87MPH changeup from Greinke to opposite field for his first career postseason home run. 

Bellinger became the youngest Dodger to hit a home run in postseason history at the age of 22 years and 88 days old, surpassing teammate Corey Seager, who homered last year in the NLDS at the age of 22 years and 163 days.

Daniel Descalso put the Diamondbacks on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning when Yu Darvish hung a slider to the left-hand hitting second baseman and the lead was cut in half, 2-1.

Bellinger did it with his bat and his glove as he made the defensive play of the game when he fell over the railing of the Dodgers' dugout to make a sensational catch in foul territory to end the fifth inning.

Despite throwing 103 pitches through five innings, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo sent Greinke (0-1) back to the mound for the top of the sixth inning, and he was promptly greeted by old batterymate Austin Barnes who crushed a curveball into the left field seats for his first home run of the postseason.

The home run to Barnes would turn out to be Greinke's final pitch of the game, and the postseason, as he allowed three runs on four hits with five walks and four strikeouts in five total innings.

Meanwhile, his counterpart, Yu Darvish, was absolutely filthy through the first four innings for the Dodgers.

The midseason trade acquisition for the Dodgers lived up to his hype as he allowed just one hit—a bunt single—through the first four and 2/3 innings.

After the Descalso homer, Darvish struggled with his command in the top of the sixth, beaning pinch-hitter Christian Walker with a fastball to the head in the top of the sixth inning.

Darvish (1-0) would leave the game immediately after, finishing the best start of his postseason career with one run allowed on just two hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.

With the victory, Darvish became just the fourth Japanese born pitcher to win a playoff game as a starter, joining Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hiroki Kuroda, and Masahiro Tanaka.

In his two previous postseason starts with the Texas Rangers, Darvish had a record of 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA.

The Dodgers bullpen picked up where Darvish left off as Tony Cingrani, Brandon Morrow, Kenta Maeda and Kenley Jansen combined to throw four innings of scoreless relief. 

Kenley Jansen earned his second save of the series as the closer appeared in all three games for the Dodgers of the NLDS.

The Dodgers have won their last eight series clinching games on the road in the postseason and sweep a playoff series for the first time since they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS in 2009 in three games.

Up Next:

The Dodgers will have the next four days off to rest and reset their pitching rotation as they get ready to host the winner of the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals on Saturday in Game 1 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium. 

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

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Flash Gordon Appears at Right Time For Bolts]]>Mon, 09 Oct 2017 12:59:39 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/161*120/Melvin+Gordon+in+New+York.JPG

One of the main factors for the Los Angeles Chargers' first victory of the season against the New York Giants on Sunday was the rugged play of RB Melvin Gordon.

Gordon rushed for 105 yards and racked up 58 receiving yards in the 27-22 win at MetLife Stadium. His 163 yards from scrimmage are the second most he's had in an NFL game. It was the fourth time in his three-year career that Gordon rushed over 100 yards on Sunday. Gordon had not rushed for 100 yards in his last eight games, dating to Nov. 13, 2016.

He ran aggressive and with a purpose, something we didn't see the previous week against the Philadelphia Eagles at Stub Hub Center.

"I was tired and exhausted, but you have to find a way to push through," Gordon told reporters. "I was not trying to get back on this plane with an 0-5 record. That was always on my mind. Regardless of how you feel, you push through it --- because your teammates are depending on you right now. You just run harder."

"Flash" Gordon ran harder as he administer a classic stiff arm to Giants' Jenoris Jenkins while gaining extra yards for a first down that extended the drive. He found his groove in the second quarter and never looked back. Gordon bolted through tackles and made sharp cuts on the field, which we hadn't seen in a couple of weeks.

"Sunday was a statement that proved to ourselves that we have the talent, the team and the ability to push through close games," Gordon said. "We did that today. So now we know we can do it. So when we get back in this situation, we have all the confidence in the world to get through it because we just got through it now."

As Gordon and the running game goes, so do the Bolts as they look to improve and gather more wins this season. With the team having the third toughest schedule in the league, the running is a key component to the success of Philip Rivers, and the offense. Gordon currently has five touchdowns on the season.

"He ran hard, and he always does that," Rivers said. "He obviously caught those two touchdown passes and rushed for over 100 yards."

Gordon and the Chargers will face another test on the road, this Sunday against their AFC West opponent in the Oakland Raiders (2-3).

<![CDATA[Dodgers Seeking Sweep]]>Mon, 09 Oct 2017 11:35:21 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ROGGIN_GAME_3_PREVIEW_1_1200x675_1066519619911.jpg

Fred Roggin is in Phoenix getting you ready for Game 3 of the Dodgers-Diamondbacks as LA looks for the Division Series sweep.]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Turnovers a Problem in Loss to Seahawks]]>Sun, 08 Oct 2017 17:45:47 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Jared+Goff+Rams+vs+Seahawks.png

Turnovers were the difference. 

The Los Angeles Rams turned the ball over five times as they were shutout in the second half, losing to the Seahawks, 16-10, on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. 

Jared Goff's pass with 0:08 seconds remaining in the game bounced in front of Cooper Kupp and the Seahawks defense came up big on the final play, as they did all game.

"We all played so well on defense," Earl Thomas said. "Even when our back was against the wall, we squared up in the red zone. This is the No. 1 offense, and we did a great job."

Entering the game, the Rams were undefeated inside the Coliseum all-time against Seattle, with a blowout win on Oct. 31, 1976 and a 9-6 win in the home opener last season. 

Similar to that game, it was a defensive battle throughout as neither team could score more than one touchdown in the game. 

Blair Walsh converted three field goals, and Russell Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham for the Seahawks only score. 

Wilson was 24-for-37 for 198 yards, a touchdown and an interception on the day. 

Thomas Rawls was Seattle's leading rusher with just 20 yards on the ground and Graham led all receivers on the team with six catches for 37 yards and a touchdown.

Tavon Austin scampered 27-yards for the first score of the game as the Rams went up early. Austin, became the only wide receiver in NFL history to have a rushing touchdown in each of his first five seasons in the NFL.

In his first career start, rookie John Johnson III, intercepted Wilson deep in the Rams territory and returned it 69-yards, setting up a field goal from reigning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, Greg Zuerlein. 

"I broke on the ball as quick as I could and caught it," Johnson III said of his first career interception. "I should have taken it to the house, but it was great to finally get an interception. I hope there's a lot more coming."

Goff was shutout in the second half, going 22-for-47 for 288 yards and two interceptions in the game. Goff also fumbled late in the fourth quarter to set up the Seahawks final field goal. 

Reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week Todd Gurley was held to just 43 yards rushing on 14 carries and had two catches for seven yards. 

Robert Woods led the receiving corps with five catches for 66 yards. 

Despite the fact that both teams were brilliant defensively, the Rams can look at the film and say "so close," in so many situations. 

"I'm extremely concerned about the turnovers," Rams head coach Sean McVay said after the game. "If we don't fix that, it's going to be really tough to win football games. As far as the red zone, it starts with me and I've to make sure that I'm looking at myself critically."

Early in the first quarter, it had appeared that Gurley had reached for the pylon and scored a touchdown, but after replay review, Earl Thomas had kung-fu chopped the ball away, and the play resulted in a touchback instead of a touchdown. 

"I've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball," Gurley said of the frustrating play at the pylon. "I should've just lowered my shoulder. Good thing it did happen so I won't let it happen again. It was a tough one though--tough one to swallow."

The Rams were unable to covert in the red zone as they finished 0-for-4 inside the 20 during the game.

Their final drive of the game in the red zone also nearly resulted in a game-winning touchdown, as Goff's pass went off the fingertips of Kupp who had beaten his man on the route.

"You're expected to make those plays and my expectations are no different," a visibly upset Kupp said after the drop. "I expect to make that play. I can't say anything about whether it was behind me or a one-handed catch, if I'm putting my hands on the ball, I've got to make that play."

Up Next:

The Rams will travel to Florida next week where they will take on the Jekyll and Hyde team that is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kickoff is set for 1:05PM PST and the game will air live on FOX.

Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Trojans Take First Step Towards Running the Table]]>Sun, 08 Oct 2017 14:28:25 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Sam+Darnold+Oregon+State.png

Let's state the obvious, the Trojans need to run the table. 

In the three years since College Football changed to a four-team playoff format, no team with two losses as ever made the final four. 

After a heartbreaking loss on the road to Washington State in Pullman last week, the Trojans now have to complete the daunting task of running the table for the remainder of the schedule in order to have an opportunity to play for a national championship. 

USC took an important first step towards that goal on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as Sam Darnold threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns as the Trojans defeated the Oregon State Beavers, 38-10. 

The Trojans weren't overly impressive in the victory, but they made sure to set the tone early as Darnold found Tyler Vaughns for a 37-yard strike, the freshman's first touchdown of the season. 

Ronald Jones II rushed up the middle for the Trojans second touchdown of the game as USC jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter against the Beavers. 

Despite Darnold turning the ball over twice, the offense had 512 yards, as he distributed the ball to 12 different receivers, finishing 23-of-35 on his pass attempts. 

"I think, honestly, I'm stopping the offense a little bit right now with the way I'm turning the ball over and it's never good, so I just got to be better," Darnold told reporters after the game."

Darnold's struggles are a direct result of injuries on the offensive line as three starters have missed the last two weeks for the Trojans. 

“I can sense defenses are focusing on tendencies of ours,” Darnold said. “Maybe we need to change some play calls.”

Make no mistake about it, the Trojans should have beaten the inferior Beavers, and still have a lot of things to clean up on both sides of the ball if they plan to win the Pac 12 and play in the postseason.

There was a lot of shakeup in the Top 25 rankings as No. 3 Oklahoma was stunned by Iowa State at home, and No. 7 Michigan was also upset at home in Ann Arbor by in-state rival, Michigan State. 

In total, six different teams ranked in the Top 25 lost in Week 6, paving the way for plenty more upsets as the season rolls on. 

The Trojans know every single game is now a "must-win," and will face another tough test next week when previously ranked Utah comes to the Coliseum with potential Pac-12 South title implications on the line.

Moment of the Game: 

Blind Long Snapper, Jake Olson, took the field for the second time this season as he succesfully converted an extra point in the fourth quarter. 

Up Next:

The Trojans will host Utah, who was ranked No. 20 entering the week, but lost to Stanford, 23-20 at home. Utah famously upset the Trojans in Week 4 last season in Sam Darnold's first start of his collegiate career. 

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Dodgers Postgame NLDS Game 2]]>Sat, 07 Oct 2017 22:59:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_NLDS_Game_2_1200x675_1065338435728.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers players Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, and closer Kenley Jansen speak to Michael J. Duarte of NBC LA after the team's 8-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 2 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Take 2-0 Lead Over Diamondbacks in NLDS]]>Sat, 07 Oct 2017 23:30:17 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17281113177919_opt.jpg

Nine more wins.

Yasiel Puig, Logan Forsythe, and Austin Barnes combined for eight hits and the Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five NLDS after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks, 8-5, in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium.

Puig was the star of the show on Saturday night as he flipped his bat, wagged his tongue, and raised his arms, all while the sellout crowd of 54,726 people—the most attended game at Chavez Ravine since 2012—chanted his name.

"Maybe they chanted my name because yesterday in my triple I go out with my tongue, maybe that's why they chanted my name tonight," Puig said following the win. "If you hit, the people will yell your name. If you strike out, who's going to yell your name?"

Puig had a postseason career-high three hits on the night, and is batting .500 with one run, one double, one triple, and four RBI in his last six postseason games.

Arizona carried a big stick, but the Dodgers spoke softly as all of the Snakes offense came via the home run, whereas the entirety of the Dodgers offense came from singles, doubles, and heads up base running.

"I never would have thought we'd be up 2-0," admitted Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts when told the Diamondbacks have six homers to the Dodgers two. "Credit the players, the offensive players, it's trying to use the big playing of the field, get that hit, take that walk if you need to. I think to spoil pitches and to grind, that's when I think we're at our best, but we can homer too."

For the second straight night, the Dodgers collected 12 total hits, and tied a franchise postseason record with four stolen bases on Saturday.

Logan Forsythe had three of those hits, and Austin Barnes had two of his own as the bottom third of the order did most of the damage against the Diamondbacks.

"We've got a lot of good players, and a lot of depth," Roberts said about the 6-7-8 hitters in his lineup on Saturday. "There are so many guys in our lineup that can hurt you. I don't kow many times they were on base, but the 6, 7, 8 spot, those guys were on base all night, being productive, driving runs in."

The game started on the right foot for the Snakes as Paul Goldschmidt put the Diamondbacks in front with a two-run home run off Rich Hill in the first inning.

The 430-foot blast that cleared the Dodgers bullpen, was Goldschmidt's second home run of the postseason as the D-Backs first baseman is batting .357 with six runs, four homers, and 11 RBI in six career postseason games.

"I tried to throw a fastball down and away, and it ran back-middle, he did what he should with it," Hill said of his mistake pitch to Goldschmidt. "I was able to keep the team there with two runs and gave us everything I could for today."

Early in the game, it appeared that Dodgers' starter Rich Hill was getting no love from home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. 

Hill threw a 3-2 curveball to A.J. Pollock in the first inning that appeared to be an easy strike three call, but Cuzzi squeezed Hill, granting Pollock first base, and Goldschmidt followed with the two-run homer.

Hill settled down from there, allowing just the two runs on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts in four innings.

In his frist career postseason start, Robbie Ray struggled with his command, but still had a no-hitter through the first 3 and 1/3 innings unil the Dodgers finally scratched some runs across the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning.

"Robbie's done really well agains us this year," said Logan Forsythe who got the first hit of Ray in the game. "I think at times facing him this year, we've kind of gotten out of the approach and wanted to do too much. That was what we harped on earlier tody and what our plan wanted to be on the field."

Forsythe broke up the no-no with a single to left field, and Barnes followed with a single to right field. Puig added a bloop single to right-center and the bases were loaded for pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer.

Farmer struck out in his first ever career postseason at-bat, but not before Ray threw a wild pitch, allowing the tying run to score.

"Kyle is a great story. First time in the big leagues. Ray's a tough one. I don't know if it was an eight, nine, pitch at-bat, but we ended up scoring a run on a wild pitch," said Roberts of Farmer's at-bat against Ray. "Every time we get Kyle in there, we like him. We liked the at-bat. He just competed right there."

Three pitches later, Chris Taylor picked up his first career postseason RBI, with an infield single to shortstop Ketel Marte and the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead.

"This was a huge win for out team," Taylor said after the game. "It's nice to see the bats get going again and being aggressive and making pitchers work. It's been fun."

One inning later, the Dodgers chased Ray from the game with a four-run fifth inning, as Forsythe, Barnes and Puig all recorded RBI.

Ray (0-1) took the loss, allowing four runs on four hits with four walks and six strike outs in 4 and 1/3 innings.

Ray had been dominant against the Dodgers in five regular season starts, but was forced to start Game 2 on just three days rest after throwing 2.1 innings of relief in Arizona's wild-card win over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.

"I think with the wild-card game, it kind of three things out of whack a little bit," said Diamondbacks relief pitcher Archie Bradley. "You have to win that game to get here. So it's about trying to use this off day now the best we can to get healthy. This series is not over."

The seventh inning continued to haunt the Dodgers in the postseason as Brandon Drury hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer off relief pitcher Brandon Morrow to close the gap to 7-5.

The solo shot to Drury was the first home run allowed by Morrow all season, and just the third pinch-hit hoe run in Arizona's postseason history, as Drury joined Erubiel Durazo and current Dodgers' hitting coach Turner Ward as the only players in Diamondbacks history to do it.

"That's one of the great characteristics of this team. We're a smart, tough baseball team. We feel like we can strike at any time offensively," said D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo. "We're always looking for that moment and that edge. And that's what leads me to think we're going to be okay getting home."

Kenley Jansen entered the game in the eighth inning for a five-out save, his ninth career postseason save and the third in which he had to pitch one inning or more.

"I was told before the game be ready for six outs," said Jansen. "Going into that inning, Doc told me if anybody get's on, he's going to me, and that's what happened. We can't take anything for granted now. We have to continue to make pitches. We just have to continue to put the pressure on them."

The Dodgers have scored 17 runs on 24 hits in the first two games of the series agains their N.L. West rivals and are on the brink of sweeping the series, and celebrating in Phoenix for the second time in four years.

Make Some Noise

Rich Hill was seen in the dugout holding up a cardboard sign that read "Make Some Noise!" in the seventh inning to try and pump up the crowd. 

"I was trying to pump up the crowd. It was a little subdued atmosphere after that home run [by Brandon Drury], and I wanted everybody to get into it a little bit more," Hill said of the sign. "The sign worked for a little bit then I found out it was not allowed in the dugout."

Up Next:

The series shifts to the desert on Monday as old friend Zack Greinke takes on right-hander Yu Darvish in Game 3 at Chase Field.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Allows 4 Homers, But Dodgers Beat D-Backs in Game 1]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 23:51:30 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-858506202.jpg

10 more wins.

Clayton Kershaw allowed four home runs, but the Los Angeles Dodgers held on to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 9-5, in Game One of the National League Division Series on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

A.J. Pollock, J.D. Martinez, Ketel Marte, and Jeff Mathis all homered off the three-time Cy Young Award winner, but Kershaw was able to limit the damage to just solo shots.

"No excuses, I gave up too many home runs tonight," Kershaw said after the game. "Definitely the intensity of playoff games, there is more riding on each pitch. Mentally, for sure, you try to focus that much harder every single pitch and just let the moment try to take over."

The knack on the former MVP has always been his performance in the postseason. Entering the game, in 15 career playoff starts, Kershaw is 4-7 with an ERA of 4.55.

Kershaw has still yet to master how to extend his dominant regular season starts into the postseason, but his teammates had his back in Game 1, making sure it didn't matter.

"You couldn't ask for a better start. I think we really had quality at-bats the whole night all the way through," said Kershaw of the Dodgers' offense. "All the guys just doing what they do all year. JT is as clutch as they come and put a great swing on a ball."

Justin Turner broke the game open with a three-run home run in the top of the first inning off Snakes starter Taijuan Walker for his third career postseason home run.

"When you get in those situations and they've got to make pitches, you just try not to do too much and make sure you get a good pitch," Turner said of his home run in the first inning. "Luckily, I didn't miss it."

Walker allowed a total of four runs in the inning after surrendering an RBI double to Yasiel Puig, and needed 48 pitches to finish the frame in his first taste of the postseason.

Needless to say, he did not return for the second inning, making his start the shortest postseason start against the Dodgers since Ron Darling also pitched just one inning for the New York Mets in Game 7 of the 1988 NLCS.

"I have no regrets whatsoever," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said of starting Walker in Game 1. "He was a clear-cut choice. We held him back off the Wild Card roster for the potential of this happening. He just never got into a rhythm."

Pollock put Arizona on the board in the top of the third inning when he smoked a 93 MPH fastball from Kershaw into the pavilion in left-center.

The Dodgers were able to add three important insurance runs in the bottom of the fourth as Corey Seager, Turner, and Puig all added RBI singles off Zack Godley.

Godley was considered to be the starter for Game 1 of this series by Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo, but instead came into the game in relief, likely making him unavailable for Game 4 in Phoenix on Tuesday.

"He gave us five good innings," Lovullo said of Godley. "He did enough to get us back into the game. Gave us a chance to play catch up, and that's what we ask our relievers to do. It was a new role for him."

With Walker and Godley out for that game, Lovullo could start left-hander Patrick Corbin in Game 4.

Signs of fatigue started to show in the sixth inning as Kershaw allowed a solo shot down the left field line to Martinez, and then back-to-back homers by Marte and Mathis in the bottom of the seventh. 

"I just didn't have much left," admitted Kershaw following the game. "Hopefully, when you give up hits, maybe one or two stay in the ballpark. But tonight it didn't seem like that was going to happen. Obviously a frustrating way to end it, but thankfully, we had a big lead."

Kershaw (1-0), allowed four runs on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in 6 and 1/3 innings of work. He left with the lead, but his seventh inning struggles continue to hang over his postseason legacy like an impenetrable cloud. 

Despite the four home runs allowed, Kershaw earned his first ever postseason victory at Dodger Stadium in his career, spanning over 16 playoff starts.

"As great of a pitcher and career that he's had, that's surprising," said Roberts after hearing it was Kershaw's first postseason win at Dodger Stadium. "I'm glad that I was pat of his first postseason home win."

Turner finished the game with five RBI, tying a Dodgers postseason record shared by Pedro Guerrero and Davey Lopes. 

"This is what we've been waiting for all year," Turner said after the game. "In the playoffs, your numbers don't matter. It's about doing whatever it takes to win a ballgame."

Turner has reached base safely in 16 of his last 17 postseason games, and is batting .357 with nine runs, six doubles, one triple, three homers and 17 RBI in that span.

Brandon Morrow recorded four outs in relief, passing the baton to closer Kenley Jansen who closed the door on the D-backs in the ninth inning.

"He's earned these high-leverage opportunities," said Roberts of Morrow who started the year on a minor league contract and rose through the ranks to become the Dodgers' setup man. "He's one of the leaders in the pen. So it's a great story, and he's got big stuff. I'm happy he's on our side."

The Dodgers tied a postseason record with two triples in the game.

The Dodgers have never faced a divisional opponent in the postseason since the Wild Card format was introduced in 1995, and snapped a six-game losing streak against the Snakes dating back to Aug. 29.

Stars Alligned

Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda, Will Ferrell, Rob Lowe, Tom Hanks and Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully were just some of the celebrities in attendance for Game 1. 

Up Next:

Game 2 of the best-of-five series is a marquee matchup of left-handers as Rich Hill takes the mound against All-Star Robbie Ray. First pitch is scheduled for 6:08PM PST. 

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Announce 25-Man Postseason Roster]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 17:22:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/Dodgers+Postseason+Roster.png

It's time for Dodger Playoff Baseball.

On Friday the Los Angeles Dodgers will embark on a new journey: the postseason.

After 104 wins, and finishing the marathon regular season with the best record in baseball, the Dodgers square off with the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks in a best-of-five NLDS series.

The team announced on Friday morning before Game 1, the 25-man roster that will battle the Snakes with a trip to the NLCS on the line.

Here are the players that made the cut for the postseason.

Starting Pitchers:

Clayton Kershaw
Rich Hill
Yu Darvish
Alex Wood

Relief Pitchers:

Pedro Baez
Tony Cingrani
Josh Fields
Kenley Jansen
Brandon Morrow
Ross Stripling
Tony Watson
Kenta Maeda 


Austin Barnes
Yasmani Grandal
Kyle Farmer 


Cody Bellinger
Logan Forsythe
Corey Seager
Justin Turner
Chase Utley 


Andre Ethier
Curtis Granderson
Kiké Hernandez
Yasiel Puig
Chris Taylor

There are not a whole lot of surprises on the postseason roster, but the biggest of all is the inclusion of struggling pitcher Pedro Baez.

After a 2.95 ERA through the first half of the season, Baez eclipsed a 20.77 ERA in September and was booed repeatedly at home by Dodger fans.

Fans were hoping that Baez would be left off the roster with rookie Walker Buehler or burner Tim Locastro taking his place.

However, speaking to the media before Game 1, Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said that Baez's body of work was behind his decision to include the Dominican right-hander on the roster.

"Ultimately, Pedro has been a big part of what we've done all year," Roberts said. "I trust him. Arguably, he's been our high-leveraged reliever outside of Kenley all year. So, I just think that makes sense.

We'll see.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Postseason Menu: See the Lineup of Concoctions]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 10:09:24 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-07-2017-dodger-food-donut-cheeseburger.JPG

A special game deserves some special eats.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will face the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of a National League Division Series Friday at Dodger Stadium. The concession stands at Dodger Stadium will roll feature a special menu for the postseason.

Here's a look at what's on that menu:

  • A BBQ Rib Platter, smoked baby back ribs slathered in blueberry bacon barbecue sauce
  • The Chicken Waffle Sammy, a Belgian waffle, with spicy crispy chicken, candied smoked bacon and maple syrup
  • The Donut Bacon Double Cheeseburger, two all-beef patties, American cheese, candied smoked bacon, maple syrup, blackberry jam on a glazed doughnut
  • Carnitas Waffle Fries, crispy waffle fries topped with smoked pork carnitas, pico de gallo, avocado crema, salsa verde and jalapenos
  • Cheet-O-Lote, roasted sweet corn on the cob slathered in chipotle- lime mayonnaise, dusted with Flamin' Hot Cheetos, cotija cheese and tajin seasoning
  • The Ice Cream Chicken Sandwich, a glazed onion-grape jam-filled doughnut, spicy crispy chicken, candied bacon and vanilla ice cream

As for the game, the Dodgers are seeking the first of seven postseason victories needed to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1988. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw will pitch for the Dodgers against Arizona right-hander Taijuan Walker. Kershaw was 18-4 with a 2.31 ERA during the regular season and 2-0 against the Diamondbacks. Walker was 2-0 against the Dodgers.

The Dodgers lost the regular-season series, 11-8, dropping the final six games. The defeats came during the Dodgers' winningest season since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, with 104 victories as they claimed a fifth consecutive NL West Division title.

Arizona was 93-69 to finish second in the division. It advanced to the division series with an 11-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies in the National League wild-card game Wednesday.

The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Don Newcombe, a member of the Dodgers 1955 World Series championship team.

The national anthem will be sung by 16-year-old Isabela Moner, who starred in the 2014-16 Nickelodeon series "100 Things to Do Before High School."

Game 2 of the best-of-five series will be played Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. All potential postseason games at Dodger Stadium through the National League Championship Series are sold out.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Feast Your Eyes on the Stacked Dodger Stadium Food Lineup]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 11:13:23 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/thumb-dodgerburger.jpgNew Executive Chef Ryan Evans has a new lineup of food items at Dodger Stadium for 2017. Check out some of the standouts.

Photo Credit: Michael Duarte]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Cody Bellinger Wants His Own Postseason Memories]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 05:28:18 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/174*120/GettyImages-842315148.jpg

Although Cody Bellinger is making his playoff debut this week for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 22-year-old rookie is already a veteran of ticker-tape parades.

Bellinger's father, Clay, played only four major league seasons, but three ended in the postseason with the Yankees -- and two concluded with championships. In some of Cody's earliest memories, he is a wide-eyed kid sitting in a car alongside his parents while cascades of paper and cheers pour down into Manhattan's metal canyons.

"I definitely remember the World Series parades," Bellinger said Wednesday in the Dodgers' clubhouse. "I remember being there. I remember (the games) more because of the videos."

Bellinger's rookie season in Los Angeles has already been indelible, and he heads into the NL Division Series against Arizona on Friday night shouldering none of his teammates' baggage from these 104-win Dodgers' recent playoff failures. With Bellinger's 39 homers and left-handed bat in the heart of their order, the Dodgers have a different, more dangerous look than the previous incarnations of the team that has fallen short of the World Series in four straight postseasons.

"He's just been impressive because he's just kept going," Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "He hasn't slowed down. A guy gets called up, and he gets on fire and you're kind of like, `All right, we'll see how long this lasts.' He just hasn't stopped. He's the real deal."

To earn his own parade memories down Sunset Boulevard or Figueroa Street, Bellinger must extend the extraordinary season that has left him all but certain to be the Dodgers' second straight NL Rookie of the Year.

"I've dreamed about it for a long time," Bellinger said. "It's weird. I've always seen commercials for the postseason, but now I'm actually in it. I'm going to do what I can to help them win, (but) we're going to stay the same. Everybody is doing the same thing they did for 162 games. There's just going to be a little more excitement and adrenaline in the air."

While Bellinger's ordinary build belies his extraordinary power, the first baseman and outfielder will be no surprise to the Diamondbacks or any other opponent. He set the NL rookie record and finished second in the league behind only Giancarlo Stanton in homers, connecting every 12.3 at-bats, while ending up sixth in slugging percentage (.581) and eighth in extra-base hits (69).

He isn't worried about being a target under the October spotlight, and his coaches and teammates don't expect postseason pressure to affect a player who began 2017 as a humble prospect simply hoping for a September call-up.

"He just stayed the same guy he was in spring training, when we were all over him, telling him to go do stuff for us," said Andre Ethier, whose locker is next to Bellinger's stall at Dodger Stadium. "You never really saw him get too excited, or ride the success too high. I don't think that's in his personality, but like with anything, sometimes having that success and getting those things sometimes can lead you in a wrong direction."

For the son of a big-leaguer, Bellinger was raised in remarkably normal circumstances. His father became a firefighter after his big league career, and he still works in Gilbert, Arizona, when he isn't pitching to his precocious son in the Home Run Derby.

Bellinger really is humble and unaffected, according to his fellow Dodgers -- and they're trying to keep him that way.

"Andre always makes me feel like a rookie," Bellinger said. "No matter what I do, I'm always getting the smack talked about me. But it's all fun and games, and I'm still a rookie, so I deserve it."

Bellinger debuted with the Dodgers on April 25 and excelled within his first week, eventually leading the Dodgers in RBIs (97) and runs (87). Nobody has ever hit more homers than Bellinger in his first big league season -- not even Aaron Judge, who hit four last season before his current record-setting rookie campaign.

Bellinger batted .250 with five homers in September, ending the season in a 9-for-48 dip. His power numbers slipped during the second half of the longest season of his baseball life, but the Dodgers are confident he still has more big hits in him, particularly if he maintains the plate discipline so important to postseason success.

"I think Cody's temperament, mindset definitely plays in the postseason," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Denis Poroy/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Face Depleted Arizona Pitching Staff in Opener]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 07:14:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-06-2017-kershaw-walker-dodgers-1.jpg

Taijuan Walker will start Arizona's NL Division Series opener against the Dodgers after the craziness of the Diamondbacks' wild-card game depleted their pitching staff.

Manager Torey Lovullo announced his choice Thursday at Dodger Stadium for the game Friday night against Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw. Lovullo told Walker of his decision only a couple of hours before announcing it.

"I was ready," said Walker, who wasn't on the wild-card roster. "I was prepared. They told me to be ready for either Game 1 or Game 2."

Walker is stepping up to make his playoff debut after presumptive starter Robbie Ray was forced to throw 2 1/3 innings in the Diamondbacks' wild 11-8 victory over Colorado on Wednesday night. Ray had to come on in relief after ace Zack Greinke couldn't get through four innings against the Rockies.

Walker was in the clubhouse, pacing back and forth while the Diamondbacks held off the Rockies.

"It was a wild one, so I'm still trying to recover from that," Walker said with a laugh, recalling Arizona's celebrations. "But I'm ready. I've done my research. I've faced them a couple of times this year, so they've seen me, too. I think it should be a pretty good matchup."

Walker went 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA in 28 starts during his first season with Arizona. The right-hander has been a solid rotation starter for the Diamondbacks, who acquired him last November in a trade with Seattle including Jean Segura.

Lovullo didn't announce a starter for Game 2 on Saturday. Ray says he feels fresh after his relief appearance and would be glad to pitch Game 2.

Greinke is expected to pitch Game 3 in Arizona on Monday. He spent three seasons with the Dodgers, winning 51 games before taking that mammoth $206.5 million contract with the Diamondbacks.

Rich Hill is slated to start Game 2 for the Dodgers. Yu Darvish is expected to pitch Game 3, and Alex Wood will pitch Game 4 if necessary, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Thursday.

Hyun-Jin Ryu won't be on Los Angeles' division series roster because he isn't comfortable in a relief role, Roberts said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Honor Slain Employee in Season Opener]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 03:55:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/190*120/Kings+Honor+Chrissy+Duarte.png

The night started on a somber note, but ended on a high note.

Tyler Toffoli took a two-on-one pass from Jeff Carter for the final goal, and the Los Angeles Kings won the season opener, 2-0, over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at Staples Center.

"I thought we were pretty sharp. I think we had a lot of chances and we were moving the puck pretty well," Toffoli said. "When we needed Quickie [Jonathan Quick], he came up huge. Like I said, we were sharp in the first game and we have to move on now and start thinking about San Jose."

Tonight’s win marks the first Kings win in their home opener since the 2011-12 season. It is their first home opening win at Staples Center since a 3-1 win over Atlanta Thrashers, that begin the 2010-11 season. 

Jonathan Quick was absolutely outstanding at goal, as his superb play kept the Kings lead in tact for the remainder of the game. Quick made 35 saves to grab his 45th career shout out. 

"He’s unbelievable," Kings forward Trevor Lewis said about Quick. "He made a couple of high-level saves there again and he does it every night. We see it every day at practice and it’s almost like you get used to it. It’s nice to have him back."

Like the previous night in San Jose against the Sharks, most of the Flyers scoring opportunities came in the third period, but they were never able to find the back of the net.

Despite outshooting the Kings 17-5 in the final period, the Flyers were unable to find the crease as they were shoutout less than 24 hours after a 5-3 win over the San Jose Shars in their season opener.

The Kings set the tone as they dominated the first period of play, despite neither team scoring a goal.

Trevor Lewis scored the Kings' first goal of the night in the first period off the clever assist from Nick Shore and Kyle Clifford for the 1-0 lead in the first period.

With 1:45 left in the second period, Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim was called for high-sticking. The penatly proved costly as the Flyers were unable to find the equalizer before the intermission.

"I thought I could play a lot better, and I should have felt more comfortable in the third with my feet under me," Sanheim said post game. "I need to play more of my game and make plays. I wish I could have done that early, but obviously, with it being my first game I was a little hesitant early and I wish I could go back and tell myself to get a lot more comfortable and start getting up the ice and playing my game."

The Kings secured their first victory of the year and now travel up north to San Jose to face the rival Sharks on Saturday night. 

Michal Neuvirth had a fantastic game at goal in a losing effort stopping 25 shots on the night for the Flyers. 

Moment of Silence

The Kings and Staples Center observed a moment of silence before the game for the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting. They included 22-year-old Christiana Duarte, who started work with the Kings this summer as a fan service associate.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Would Kneel During Anthem]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 03:44:35 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-kneel-National-Anthem-protest.jpg

If Kobe Bryant was still a player, he wouldn't stand for all the outrage over protests that have recently dominated headlines. He'd kneel.

On the Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, Bryant said he'd "kneel" during the national anthem, a step no NBA player has taken thus far and a step that would violate the NBA's rule requiring all players to stand for the national anthem. The NFL has no such rule.

Bryant is no stranger to voicing his personal opinion when it comes to matters of social injustice. After a grand jury chose not to indict any officers in the death of Eric Garner in 2014, Bryant led a demonstration where his teammates at the time joined in by wearing black shirts with white lettering that read, "I can't breathe," during warm ups. The quote was a reference to the words Garner said to police officers before his death. Only one teammate at the time did not don the shirt, Robert Sacre, but similar demonstration took place on other NBA teams back in 2014.

For the 2016-17 season, the Los Angeles Lakers locked arms to show solidarity with those kneeling for racial equality and social justice, while also being mindful of not disrespecting the American flag or those most closely associated with it. For the second year in a row, the team has taken to locking arms with the same goals, which is still short of what Bryant says he would do if he was still a player.

Bryant's words carry greater weight with today's NBA players and inside the Lakers' locker room in particular. Bryant's public willingness to state that he would take a knee may impact how NBA players choose to demonstrate in the future.

The obvious criticism of the choice to lock arms in showing support for those kneeling is that by failing to drop to one knee in support, inherently, the outward messaging hints that taking a knee is in some way disrespectful or goes too far. If even supporters of the movement cannot take a knee, then how can neutrals support to movement?

More to the point of demonstrations, locking arms as a protest has simply not generated nearly as much attention as taking a knee during the national anthem. Generally speaking, protests are designed to generate attention.

For example, the Lakers have been locking arms for the national anthem for every game since October of 2016. At the one year anniversary of their locked arms protest, most fans of the team did not even realize that the Lakers had been protesting all this time.

Obviously, protesting is a deeply individual action, and there is no authority on what is the right or wrong way to protest. Bryant, though, says he would kneel.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Welcome Back Kicker Nick Novak ]]>Thu, 05 Oct 2017 19:28:37 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17231824834184.jpg

Former Houston Texans kicker Nick Novak was spotted walking around the Chargers facility on Thursday afternoon. As first reported by NBC San Diego's Fernando Ramirez, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn later confirmed Novak's signing, and the release of kicker Younghoe Koo.

Traditionally teams reach out to kickers on Mondays for a Tuesday tryout, but this happened to be a special case for Novak. He spoke with the coaching staff on Wednesday, then took a physical on Thursday and signed on for the rest of the year.

"Nick's been a very accurate kicker in this league for a long time, and he's been here before," Lynn explained. "We're familiar with him, and his experience in big games. As you know, every game we've played so far has been a close game, and every play, every point matters."

The larger question became why release Koo now and sign Novak in Week 5 as opposed to signing him earlier in the season?

"He had the one bad outing in Miami," Lynn said. "Players have a bad day, or a bad game every once in a while. But watching him over the last couple weeks, pregame, in practice, I've seen enough. It was time to bring in someone with a little more consistency."

Though Novak has made many stops in the NFL beginning with the Chargers, Washington, Chiefs, Texans, and now back with the Chargers. Throughout it all he continued to live in San Diego, and now feels there is a greater energy by playing for the Bolts now.

"I take a lot of pride in wearing the lightning bolt, and the name on the back of the jersey," Novak said. "Like I said, I just want to be a good teammate. It's great to play."

Novak's signing could be just the jump start that the Bolts need to get into the win column on Sunday against the New York Giants at Met Life Stadium.

The 10-year veteran is excited to be back with his team, and told reporters that he feels great and he's ready to go.

Novak gave great praise to Koo, who was seen giving his former teammates hugs and high fives as he exited the locker room.

"Koo's a very talented kicker," Novak said. "He's got a live leg, and a lot of talent."

Lynn also added that he thought Koo was a young talented kicker who could have longevity in this league.

"A lot of rookies get cut early in their career, and then come back and play for a lot of years," Lynn said.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip]]>
<![CDATA[Tyrell Williams is the Spark the Chargers Need]]>Thu, 05 Oct 2017 18:59:56 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17274816774991.jpg

Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams clearly had his best game of the 2017 season last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Chargers lost 26-24 to the Eagles at Stub Hub Center, yet Williams had a spectacular 75-yard reception, and finished with five receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown.
"Definitely it felt good personally to get going personally, especially getting that first touchdown (of the season)," Williams said.

He posted a breakout season in 2016, catching 69 passes for 1,059 yards, and seven touchdowns.

In October 2016, Williams had his first career game with over 100 receiving yards against the Oakland Raiders. He finished the game with five receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown in the Chargers' 31-34 loss.

The journey for Williams wasn't always a smooth one, as he signed with the San Diego Chargers in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. On Sept. 9, 2015, he was waived, and three days later he was signed to the Chargers practice squad. His ridiculous belief in self, execution of work ethic and timing paid off as Williams is a huge target for Rivers passes on Sundays as one of the starters.

Although Williams is third among Chargers wide receivers, when in full motion he's a hard target to track down and neutralize. Last Sunday he was the second target next to Keenan Allen, especially in the second half as quarterback Philip Rivers began to spread the ball around. As part of a high-octane passing attack, the Chargers have a solid weapon in Williams, with Keenan Allen, tight end Hunter Henry, and speedy receiver Travis Benjamin can all give defenses nightmares on any given Sunday. Williams is a unique route runner who can block very well and create opportunities not only for himself but for his teammates.

"Blocking well, and make sure I can run and make the right plays is going to be key (moving forward)," Williams explained.

The question remains what made week four such a special breakout week for Williams. Has he hit stride? Head coach Anthony Lynn certainly thinks this could be another break out year for the Salem, Oregon, born receiver.

"He's running after the catch, he's running by defenders down the field," Lynn said about Williams. "I like what I saw last week, he's blocking on the perimeter. He had a complete game and I expect him to continue that going forth. I think the (groin) injury he had in the off season may have slowed him down."

Williams tenacity for the game could spark the rest of the Chargers offense in a mode they will need for the next several weeks.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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<![CDATA[Lynx Capture 4th Title With 85-76 Win Over Sparks in Game 5]]>Wed, 04 Oct 2017 18:34:53 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17278059806227.jpg

Sylvia Fowles had 17 points and broke her own WNBA Finals record by grabbing 20 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Lynx to their fourth championship in seven years with an 85-76 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Maya Moore had 18 points and 10 rebounds and hit a huge runner with 26 seconds to play, Lindsay Whalen had 17 points and eight assists and Seimone Augustus added 14 points, six assists and six boards to help the Lynx move into a tie with the Houston Comets for most titles in league history.

Candace Parker had 19 points, 15 rebounds and five assists for the Sparks, who were looking to become the first repeat champions in 15 years. Chelsea Gray had 15 points and eight assists, but Nneka Ogwumike fouled out with 5:29 to play and finished with 11 points. Los Angeles turned it over 17 times.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone]]>
<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball Hurt, Kyle Kuzma Impresses Again in Lakers' Loss]]>Tue, 03 Oct 2017 04:00:20 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Lonzo-Ball-10-2-17.jpg

On a Monday night when an utterly meaningless game of preseason basketball somehow meant even less in the grand scheme of life and death, the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Denver Nuggets for an exhibition game of round ball.

Despite the world outside draggin' hearts down, Basketball wouldn't back down.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, neither would the Nuggets, as Denver won by a final count of 113-107. A retooled Denver squad now brought in four-time All-Star Paul Milsap, and the forward displayed his toughness with a strong rejection of Julius Randle early in the game.

Still, Randle finished with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes, and Lakers coach Luke Walton pointed to Randle as showing the biggest improvement of any player from the first game to the second.

"Indiviually, he had the biggest jump from last game to this game," Walton said before focusing on Randle's vocal attitude on the court, in particular when it came to help side defense.

The current version of the Lakers is in its infancy, and Walton is treating the entire preseason as a training camp for the team to work on learning defense, which remains a tough task, and building an offense around the talents of rookie Lonzo Ball. Luckily, Walton's offensive philosophy favors moving the basketball, which is Ball's natural inclination as a point guard.

Unfortunately, Monday kept piling on the bad news.

Ball tweaked his ankle just before halftime and limped back to the locker room ahead of the intermission. Though he came back out and started the third quarter, the former UCLA Bruin didn't appear to be moving too comfortably. Ultimately, the Lakers pulled Ball, sat him for the fourth quarter and sent the kid to receive treatment on what was officially diagnosed as a mild sprained ankle.

"If he can't practice, he can't be out there on the court with the guys," Walton said, hoping his starting point guard would not miss any practice time. "The way we want to play, it's going to slow down that process."

Walton added, "I got a little nervous when I saw him go down. I don't like to do that, but it was my natural reaction."

"Sprained ankle, but I'll be alright," Ball said, after limping to the podium following his Staples Center debut.

While Ball's ankle drew due attention, even that minor injury failed to distract from the Lakers' undeniably promising rookie, Kyle Kuzma. For the second game in a row, Kuzma led the team in scoring, this time scoring 23 points—11 of which came during a fourth quarter comeback that cut a 22-point Nuggets' fourth quarter advantage to only six points.

The fans in attendance came to life late and generated an incredible playoff-like atmosphere to assist in the Lakers' comeback, highlighted by the crowd rising to its feet after Kuzma scored with just under a minute remaining in the game.

Ultimately, the Lakers proved they still have a long way to go, as the next possession effectively sealed the game and handed the Lakers their second defeat of preseason. Kuzma's stock, though, keeps rising with every minute on the court.

Notes: Singer Tom Petty passed away on Monday, and the confirmation of his death arrived during the second half othe Lakers' game. After the game, the Lakers played "American Girl" as fans exited the arena. 

Nuggets: Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic and Juan Hernangomez led the Nuggets to victory. Harris, who led all scorers with 25 points, and Jokic, who scored 16 points, grabbed a couple boards and handed off a trio of helpers in 23 minutes, joined Milsap, Wilson Chandler and Emmanuel Mudiay in a starting lineup that outscored its opposition by 15 points on the night. Denver could be good, but the Lakers still aren't in a position to serve as any sort of meaningful test of a team's fortitude.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Zubac and Bogut Connecting in Croatian]]>Mon, 02 Oct 2017 03:43:51 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ivica-Zubac-Croatia-Lakers.jpg

When Andrew Bogut signed with the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of training camp, 20-year-old center Ivica Zubac should have heard alarm bells.

The Croatian started 11 games in his rookie season and showed promise after the team had shifted into development mode late in the season. During exit interviews, Zubac expressed a desire to continue showing improvement over the summer and fight for a starting spot over Timofey Mozgov. Before those battles ever took play, though, Mozgov was traded for center Brook Lopez in a deal best known for shipping D'Angelo Russell to Brooklyn.

Given Lopez's offensive skill, Zubac looked in line to be the backup center, but an awful showing at the NBA Summer League even brought that role into question.

"He was disappointed," Lakers coach Luke Walton spoke about the young center's dismal performance in the Las Vegas tournament. "Obviously, we were disappointed. I had to sit down and talk with him."

After the Summer League concluded, Walton worried that Zubac may not be able to keep up with the up and down style of play the Lakers intended to play, and so, the message was clear: focus on diet and improve mobility. A couple months later, the 20-year-old Croatian surprised his coach and came into camp carrying only eight percent body fat. Nearly a week after training camp opened, Walton noted the improved movement, and the coach no longer worried about his center keeping up with the pace of play.

"I was not frustrated, but I was not happy about my play," Zubac said about his Summer League performance on Sunday. "I knew what type of player I am; I knew what I can do, how I can help the team. I was just working on the things I needed to improve, and it paid off, and I just continued where I left last season."

Zubac added, "I work whole summer [sic] and (it) really paid off. I feel much better. The game is much slower. It's nothing like Summer League. Summer League was just up and down the whole game. This is much slower pace and fits me."

Still, Bogut's arrival promised stiffer competition for playing time and possibly even pushing the young center out of the rotation, so how did Zubac receive the Aussie's arrival?

"Another guy who I can learn from," Zubac offered his mature view. "Brook (Lopez) is a great offensive center, one of the best in the league. There's so much I can learn from him. And bringing in Bogut, who was one of the best defensive centers in the league last couple of years, it's great. I can learn so much from him. He already help [sic] me a lot. He speaks Croatian, so it's much easier for me. It's great. I know I'm going to fight for my minutes every time I'm on the court or in practice, so I'm just looking for way [sic] I can learn from them."

In a basketball sense, Zubac understands the advantages of playing with a veteran like Bogut. In a human sense, Bogut provides an ear that can understand the young center playing over 6,000 miles from home in his native tongue, as well as a voice that can better explain minor technical nuances of the game that may be slightly getting lost in translation.

"It's great," Zubac beams with joy and shares that he and Bogut have 95 percent of their conversations in Croatian. "I have somebody who understands me, finally!"

While Zubac may have been half joking with that line, he quickly adds, "It's so much easier, and [I] think sometimes it's hard to catch up in English like when a coach is trying to explain something and to have (Bogut) to help me and say that in Croatian really helped me a lot."

Though Bogut is Australian, his parents are Croatian, and the Aussie spends at least a few weeks every summer in the Balkans. He may not have studied the language formally, but Bogut speaks Croatian in daily conversations with his family. Zubac rated the Aussie's fluency at a nine out of 10, though Bogut disagreed with that sentiment, sharing that his family often laughs at his poor grammar.

"My grammar is horrible," Bogut responded when told of Zubac's high rating.

The Aussie added about his new teammate, "His English is very good, but sometimes he doesn't understand things as much as he would like, and sometimes when you hear it in your native tongue, it kind of clicks in a little more. So, whenever I can help him in that sense, it's no problem."

Bogut, who only took part in his first contact practice in eight months on Sunday following a drawn out visa process that forced the Australian to Vancouver for a few days, is already taking Zubac under his wing. On the court and off it, Bogut expressed a desire to help the player, who is 12 years his junior, that will most likely be the most direct competitor in practices and for playing time. For Walton, both veteran centers fit the profile of guys Zubac can learn from and both guys offer the type of veteran leadership that can help Zubac grow his game on the practice court.

Zubac echoed Bogut's sentiment, "I can understand whatever (the coaches) say, but sometimes it's much easier to hear some tiny details, to hear in Croatian. Like I said, (Bogut)'s one of the best defensive centers and he's playing my position, so every practice, he's showing me something new."

Curiosity and desire are a large part of the learning process, and Bogut has displayed a genuine interest in improving on both ends. Already, Zubac has asked Lopez to show him a spin move the former Nets center used regularly a season ago, while Bogut spoke of showing Zubac little defensive tricks that come with spending a dozen years in the NBA. After all, Zubac was only eight years old when Bogut was drafted no. 1 overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005, so the 2015 NBA champion knows a thing or two about playing defense in the NBA.

Could the shared language be a coincidence or did the Lakers tell Bogut that part of his job would be to serve as a translator for Zubac when they signed him?

The Aussie center laughed at the question, "I would've asked for more money if it was."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers End Season on High Note With Win Over Rockies]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 15:13:17 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Corey+Seager+Breaks+Out+as+Dodgers+End+Season+on+High.png

104 Wins. Is that good?

The Los Angeles Dodgers completed the regular season on a high-note, defeating the Colorado Rockies, 6-3, on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field. 

Corey Seager had three hits to break out of a funk and the Dodgers got RBI doubles from Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson.

At 104-58, the Dodgers finished tied for the second-most wins in franchise history with the 1942 squad (104-50) in Brooklyn. The '53 team went 105-49.

Colorado wrapped up the regular season 87-75 for its best mark since 2009, which was the last time the team went to the postseason before clinching the second NL wild-card spot Saturday.

The Rockies travel to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks in a one-game playoff on Wednesday. The winner will meet Los Angeles in Game 1 of an NL Division Series on Friday at Dodger Stadium.

Up Next:

The Playoffs! The Dodgers will face the winner of the one-game wild card match between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies

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

Photo Credit: Russell Lansford/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Shock Cowboys at AT&T Stadium]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 14:39:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Rams+Shock+Cowboys.png

Todd Gurley can help make Jared Goff's second go-round in the NFL much more enjoyable than the first.

What better way for the Los Angeles Rams running back to show it than to lead a win over last year's dynamic rookie duo of Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and 2016 NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott?

Gurley scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 53-yard catch-and-runwhile generating 215 total yards, Greg Zuerlein kicked a career-high seven field goals and the Rams beat the Cowboys 35-30 on Sunday.

Gurley finished with 121 yards rushing and 94 receiving as the Rams overcame two first-half touchdowns from Elliott the day before a federal appeals court hearing related to the star running back's blocked six-game suspension over a domestic incident in Ohio.

"Me being able to step up takes a lot of stress off everybody, and we obviously have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things, just being able to have diversity on offense," Gurley said.

The Rams (3-1) rallied from 11 points down late in the first half and matched their start from a year ago, when they went 1-11 the rest of the way as Goff, the No. 1 overall pick, was sitting and later lost the first seven starts of his career.

Goff showed more poise in first-year coach Sean McVay's offense, throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He has seven TD passes and one interception this season.

The Cowboys (2-2) are already a loss shy of their total from last season when Prescott, the 135th pick in Goff's draft, was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for the top-seeded team in the NFC.

And Prescott is already one interception away from last year's total of four after a play that was originally ruled a fumble was changed to a diving pick by linebacker Mark Barron at the Dallas 29. Zuerlein's sixth field gave the Rams 19 straight points and a 32-24 lead.

"We're not going to lose confidence," Prescott said. "We feel like we're getting better. Even in a loss, we're going to find a way to get better."

Dallas held the Rams to 131 yards in the first half, but the absence of All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) showed up after halftime. After punting on their first possession of the second half, the Rams scored five straight times, including Gurley's long TD catch.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, punted on their first three possessions of the second half after scoring on all four first-half drives. Prescott's interception came on the fourth possession after halftime against a defense led by former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips.

"Just had little corrections we had to fix here and there," said All-Pro Aaron Donald, who had Prescott wrapped for a sack in the first half before losing his grip as Prescott ducked and spun away on an 18-yard throw to Dez Bryant. "Once we did that we were solid."

Prescott was 20 of 36 for 252 yards with three touchdowns, including a 10-yarder to Elliott. Bryant had five catches for a season-high 98 yards.


Gurley had 30 touches: 23 carries and a team-high seven catches. Receiver Tavon Austin had six carries for 48 yards and at one point had 40 yards rushing to Gurley's 41. "Tavon, I guess he's the mini-running back now and I'm the mini-receiver," Gurley said.


Elliott had 85 yards on 21 carries for his third straight sub-100-yard game, matching the longest such streak from last season. Backup Alfred Morris had the longest Dallas run of the season and longest of his career, a 70-yarder to set up Elliott's second TD. The 1-yard plunge came after a review overturned a touchdown. Both times, Elliott took the ball to his mom in a field-level suite behind the end zone. Morris had 76 yards.


Terrance Williams dropped a potential tying 2-point conversion pass on the third try midway through the fourth quarter after Prescott's 28-yard scoring toss to James Hanna got Dallas within 32-30. Center Travis Frederick was called for holding when Prescott ran in the first attempt. Dallas got another shot after a defensive holding call.


Zuerlein said he never before had more than five field goals in a game at any level. The sixth-year pro had five in a 22-7 win over Denver in November 2014. He had a 44-yarder on the final play of the first half, and the long was from 49.


Rams: Will be in first place for first meeting next Sunday with Seattle, winner of three NFC West titles in the past four seasons.

Cowboys: Green Bay returns to Arlington next Sunday after beating the top-seeded Cowboys on their home field in a divisional playoff last January.

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball Debuts, Lakers Lose Preseason Opener]]>Sat, 30 Sep 2017 22:00:50 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lonzo-Ball-9-30-17.jpg

ANAHEIM--The Honda Center was packed, which was a far cry from the sparse spattering of fans that had turned up a season earlier.

"To me, it feels right," Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton said about the crowd, following his team's 108-99 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves to start the preseason. "I mean, that's what it's supposed to be like."

Walton added, "I was shocked last year."

The sellout 18,000 fans braving the Orange Country freeways on Saturday night came to see the new face of the franchise, 19-year-old Lonzo Ball. The former UCLA Bruin and Chino Hills native lived out his dream when he heard his name called out by Lawrence Tanter, the Lakers' long-time P.A. announcer.

"It felt great, especially when they called my name and stuff and all the fans were cheering and stuff," Ball said after the game. "That's what you dream about as a kid. It was finally here. That was a great moment, but at the end of the day, now I have a job to do."

On what in many ways felt like his first day on the job, Ball finished the night with five points, eight assists, seven rebounds, two steals and three turnovers. On occasion, the mistakes came from the kid looking to pass the ball when he had an open shot.

"He's so unselfish that sometimes he has good shots for himself and he tries to get someone else a shot," Walton said about his rookie point guard. "We want him taking those (shots)."

While Ball filled up the box score, the Lakers' defense looked suspect, especially in the first half, and the Timberwovles enjoyed 61 points in the first half. Long Beach native Shabazz Muhammad, who also attended UCLA and was rumored to be a player the Lakers were interested in over the summer, led the Timerwolves' effort on the night. Muhammad finished with 22 points to lead all scorers and also added six rebounds in the win.

For the Lakers, Kyle Kuzma stood out, as the rookie forward finished with a team-high 19 points on 9-12 shooting, to go along with five rebounds. The Flint, Michigan native continued to impress fans and quickly became a crowd favorite on Saturday night, drawing loud choruses of "Kuuuuuuuuz" after made baskets.

With Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague joining Karl-Anthony Town and Andrew Wiggins, the Minnesota Timberwolves are projected to be a playoff team at the least, so there was no shame in losing to Minnesota for the young, developing Lakers.

"We've got to get in much better shape for the way we want to play," Walton shared his thoughts from the preseason opener. "I felt like fatigue was a factor when we had breakdowns."

The coach added, "We've got a couple weeks to where we want to be."

After the game, the coaching staff expects to work late into the night cutting up and analyzing game footage to package up and show the players. The Lakers will hold practice on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. in El Segundo.

Monday, the Lakers look to get their first preseason win against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.

Notes: Prior to the game, Ball was in the locker room listening to music off his phone with fellow rookie Josh Hart dancing. The artist of choice was Lonzo Ball.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Clinch Home Field Throughout Entire MLB Postseason]]>Sat, 30 Sep 2017 20:24:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Kershaw+Final+Start+of+Regular+Season.png

How does Game One of the World Series at Dodger Stadium sound?

Yasiel Puig hit a two-run home run and the Los Angeles Dodgers erased a three-run deficit to defeat the Colorado Rockies, 5-3, and clinch home field advantage throughout the entire postseason on Saturday night at Coors Field.

By virtue of the Dodgers win and the Cleveland Indians loss, Los Angeles (103-58) is guaranteed to have the best record in all of baseball for the 2017 season regardless of the outcome of Sunday's final game.

It was an uphill climb for the boys in blue in Game Number 162 as Clayton Kershaw got himself behind the eight ball in the second inning after allowing a solo home run to Carlos Gonzalez and RBI hits to Jonathan Lucroy and Charlie Blackmon.

Trailing 3-0, the Dodgers began to chip away at the lead as they scratched a run across on an RBI fielder's choice by Chris Taylor in the top half of the third inning.

"It was a free RBI," said Taylor with the infield playing back. "I was not trying to do too much, just put the ball in play."

After a six-pitch fourth inning for Kershaw, the Dodgers took their Cy Young winner off the hook for the loss when Yasiel Puig put the punctuation mark on the comeback with a two-run shot off German Marquez in the top of the fifth inning.

In his final start of the regular season, Kershaw allowed three runs on seven hits with no walks and two strikeouts in four tune up innings.

"I felt good, but a lot of hits and mistakes," Kershaw said of his final outing. "It's a good team obviously, but I felt like I battled through this one."

Kershaw will start Game 1 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium on Friday at Dodger Stadium, and stated his case for his fourth Cy Young Award as he finished the season with a record of 18-4, an ERA of 2.31, a WHIP of 0.95, 202 strikeouts with 30 walks in 175 innings pitched.

"I'm just trying to get ready for Friday," Kershaw said of focusing on his Game 1 start of the NLDS. "I think every year we're going to win the World Series, and this year is no different. It's just a matter of winning 11 games now."

Puig wasn't finished as he scored both the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh, and an insurance run in the top of the ninth courtesy of an RBI double by Chase Utley.

Puig finished the night, 2-for-2 with a home run, a walk, a hit by pitch, two RBI and four runs scored.

Utley was replaced for a pinch runner, and Tim Locastro, who had to stop painting his parent's basement on Thursday in order to fly to Denver and join the Dodgers, stole his first base of his MLB career when he took third on Colorado closer Greg Holland.

Locastro has still yet to have his first big league at-bat, but is still being considered for a possible postseason spot as a pinch runner off the bench.

All-star closer Kenley Jansen celebrated his 30th birthday on Saturday, and he celebrated with a four-out save, his 41st of the season, tying Holland for the most in the National League.

The Dodgers set a franchise record for wins in a season since they moved to Los Angeles with 103, surpassing the 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers who went 102-60.

"It's been a great regular season, it really has," added Kershaw of breaking the L.A. record for wins. "It's been the best I've ever been a part of. No one else other than Chase [Utley] has ever been on a team that won 100 games before. Nobody else in this clubhouse. It just feels like you're going to win every time you take the field."

Rain Delay?

The first pitch of the game was pushed back nearly 30 minutes for an apparent "weather delay" despite not a cloud in the sky or a raindrop falling on the field. 

"There's different stories with that one," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts on the delay. "I didn't see any rain. By coincidence that final score of the Brewers and Cardinals game pushed the start of our game back by 20 minutes."

Kershaw was upset after the game that the start was pushed back, but would not speak any more on the subject. 

Up Next:

The Dodgers will have a bullpen game on Sunday as all hands will be on deck in the final game of the regular season. Tyler Anderson will start for Colorado with first pitch scheduled for 12:10PM PST.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski]]>
<![CDATA[Sparks Beat Lynx, Move Within Win of Consecutive WNBA Titles]]>Sat, 30 Sep 2017 06:31:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/193*120/AP_17273125768881.jpg

Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike came up big to move the Los Angeles Sparks within one win of repeating as WNBA champions.

Ogwumike had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Parker had 13 points and five steals to help the Sparks beat the Minnesota Lynx 75-64 in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals on Friday night.

"Good players have to make big plays," Sparks coach Brian Agler said. "Tonight was our night."

The Sparks had double figures from four of their five starters, with Odyssey Sims scoring 16 points and Chelsea Gray adding 14. The bench produced 11 points.

The Sparks have taken a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five game series and can become the first team since Los Angeles in 2001-02 to win consecutive WNBA titles.

The Lynx face elimination on Sunday. A win would push the series to a fifth and final game at Minnesota on Wednesday.

Maya Moore led Minnesota with 16 points, all of which came in the second half. She picked up her third foul in the second quarter and fouled out with 37 seconds left.

Sylvia Fowles added 15 points for the Lynx. Starters Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus were held scoreless on a combined 0-for-6 shooting.

"It's hard to win a WNBA Finals game without your star players," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. "In the series, we've seen the team that has the stars that outplay the other stars wins the game. We do find that important.

"However, I'm really appreciative of the group that was in there battling and giving us a chance to win the game. Our defense gave us a chance for sure. We had a rookie point guard in there (Alexis Jones). We had to go small. I have an appreciation for what that group did to give us a chance to be in the game."

The Sparks led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but the Lynx pulled within one in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles held on, outscoring Minnesota 17-7 after the Lynx got within 58-57.

"We were able to get stops on the defensive end. They are a great team," Parker said. "They hit some big shots down the stretch. We just wanted to make things tough for the big-time players. We didn't let them get a lot of second-chance opportunities."

The first two games came down to the final seconds. This was another close one, but the Sparks never trailed.

For the second straight game, Parker was held scoreless in the first quarter and had just five points by halftime. The Sparks built an 11-point lead in the first quarter, but led just 32-26 by halftime.

Ogwumike was whistled for her third foul with 8:18 left in the third quarter and played through it in 29 minutes.


The Sparks left the court before the national anthem in silent protest. The Sparks did the same in Games 1 and 2 at Minnesota and were booed when they returned to the court. They were not booed in Los Angeles.


The Sparks outrebounded the Lynx 34-27 after making a concerted effort for a better performance on the glass. Parker didn't have a rebound in the first half of Game 2. She finished with seven rebounds. Ogwumike had a team-best 10. For the Lynx, Fowles had a team-high 11 rebounds, but no other starter had more than three.

Minnesota's Rebekka Brunson, who averaged 6.7 rebounds in the regular season, finished with just two. Moore had three rebounds.

"By getting to the ball before we did," said Moore, explaining the Sparks' dominance on the glass. "Rebounding is sometimes about luck, but 99 percent is about effort. That's definitely not a secret about winning championships. You get extra possessions with rebounds. It's something we know we have to get done. Something we can do because it's been our identity all year."


The Sparks can hoist the trophy in Los Angeles with one more win. They won last year in Minnesota.

"I think this team is mature enough to realize how important it is to play possession by possession," Parker said. "We can learn from our experiences in the past. We're mature enough to know you can't go out there and try to swing for the fences and hit the home run.

"We could've come home 0-2 or 2-0. Nothing is guaranteed. I think that's the way we're going to approach it. They're a team that plays well when their backs are against the wall."


Magic Johnson, co-owner of the Sparks, attended the game. So did musician Snoop Dogg.

Fowles was named to the All-WNBA first team with 39 of 40 votes for 195 points. Parker was also on the first team with 137 points, along with Moore (127). Ogwumike and Gray were on the second team.


The Sparks can clinch the WNBA championship with a win in Game 4 Sunday at Staples Center.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[No. 16 Washington State Shocks No. 5 USC ]]>Sat, 30 Sep 2017 01:21:04 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/218*120/USC+shocked+by+Washington+State.png

Mike Leach pulled off the upset.

Sam Darnold couldn't get anything going on offense and the No. 4 USC Trojans fell to the No. 16 Washington State Cougars, 30-27, on Friday night in Pullman.

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk outplayed the Heisman hopeful, throwing for 340 yards and two touchdowns in front of a packed house on ESPN.

Falk threw bookend touchdowns to Tavares Martin Jr. and Jamal Morrow as the Cougars upset the Trojans for the first time ever when USC was ranked in the top 5, and the first time at home since 2002.

The loss shouldn't come as a surprise to many Trojans fans as USC has been flirting with fire for weeks, allowing all four of their opponents to stick around until late in the game, and needing a crucial fumble on the goalline to Texas in double overtime.

Nonetheless, this was a classic "trap game" for the Trojans. USC was coming off a short week after playing Saturday at Cal. They had to travel on the road to Pullman to face an undefeated Washington State team in a primetime game for the Cougars fans.

On top of it all, the Trojans were riddled with injuries, including three starters on the offensive line, which included center Toa Lobendahn and starting wide receiver Steven Mitchell.

Darnold was either on the run or on his back for a majority of the night, as the sophomore quarterback finished 15-for-28 for 164 yards and an interception. He did rush for 32 yards and two scores, but fumbled on the final offensive play of the game to seal the victory for the Cougars. 

Darnold did it himself for the Trojans first touchdown of the game. After a nine-yard scamper on a broken play setup first and goal from the four-yard line, Darnold kept it himself for the score.

The Cougars would answer after Luke Falk found his favorite target Tavares Martin Jr. for a 28-yard catch and score that put Washington State back up 10-7.

The Trojans would respond a few minutes later thanks to the return of running back, Ronald Jones II.

Jones II ran untouched 86-yars for the touchdown to put the Trojans up 14-10.

Washington State would score just before the half on a delayed draw from Morrow, and then they took the lead in the fourth quarter when Falk shoveled it to Morrow for the score. 

Darnold's magic would last a little bit longer as he found Tyler Vaugns on a 4th and 13, and again on a 26-yard strike to the right corner of the goaline to give the Trojans first and goal from the one-yard-line.

Two plays later, Darnold would run into the endzone for the game tying touchdown, but Washington State would go ahead on a field goal and Darnold's luck ran out as he fumbled on second down on the ensuing drive. 

"I didn't play my best," a visibly upset Darnold told reporters after the game. "I have a lot to learn."

The loss snaps the Trojans 13-game winning streak, which was tied with Oklahoma for the longest in the country. 

Entering the game, Washington State was 0-for-15 against ranked opponents at home. 

Up Next:

After the toughest stretch through the first five games in all of college football, the Trojans will be heavy favorites against an unranked Oregon State team at home on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 1:00PM PST.

Photo Credit: William Mancebo/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rockies Rout Dodgers to Inch Closer to Postseason]]>Fri, 29 Sep 2017 19:44:21 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Rockies+Rout+Dodgers+.png

Mile High Massacre.

The Dodgers got off to a rocky start in their final series of the regular season as the Colorado Rockies routed Los Angeles, 9-1, on Friday night at Coors Field.

Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story all homered for the Rockies as Colorado continues to fight for the second wild card spot in the National League.

The Rockies bushwhacked the boys in blue right out of the gate as Arenado, a popular pick for N.L. MVP, hit his 37th homer of the season to give Colorado an early 1-0 lead.

Arenado is batting .307 with 37 home runs, 130 RBI, and 100 runs scored with two games left in the season.

Two batters, later, it was Mark Reynolds turn to join the Mile-High Club as he crushed a 91MPH fastball from Hyun-Jin Ryu

Another MVP candidate, Colorado leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon, stated his best case for MVP as he also hit his 37th home run of the season in the bottom of the second inning.

Blackmon is a lock to win the N.L. batting title with an average of .329 on the season. His 37 home runs are the most among leadoff hitters, and 103 RBI set a new MLB record for most runs knocked in by a leadoff hitter. He has also scored 137 runs from the top spot in the lineup.

Ryu (5-9), did not make it past the second inning, as the Korean left-hander allowed five runs on six hits with just one walk and one strikeout in two short innings.

Rookie Walker Buehler took over on the mound in the third and fourth innings, and looked impressive for a short stint, hitting triple digits on the radar gun with his fastball.

Unfortunately, as the Story goes, sometimes you can overstay your welcome and that's what happened to Buehler as Story took him deep on a 98MPH fastball to opposite field for his 24th home run of the season.

The rout was on from there and Colorado coasted to their fifth consecutive victory over the Dodgers, and 87th overall as they lowered their Magic Number to clinch the postseason to a single game.

Chad Bettis (2-4) got the win, allowing just one run on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts in seven strong innings.

The Dodgers Magic Number to clinch home field advantage throughout the World Series (should they advance that far) is still one game as both the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros won earlier in the day.

Up Next: 

Clayton Kershaw will make his final start of the regular season and punctuate a potential fourth Cy Young campaign as he heads to the mound against RHP German Marquez. First pitch is 5:10PM PST.

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

Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Jared Goff Looks to Be a Star At Jerry's World ]]>Fri, 29 Sep 2017 17:17:00 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jared-goff-GettyImages-851115586.jpg

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff continues to look impressive every week, especially coming off a solid victory over the San Francisco 49ers last Thursday. Goff is responsible for the team being the highest scoring offense in the NFL in three games.

Los Angeles averages 35.7 points per game so far this season.

The Rams have been tested weekly, however head coach Sean McVay has not only made the environment better for Goff but has simplified the offense, which has paid dividends.

This will be Goff's first experience playing at AT&T Cowboys Stadium, known as Jerry's World, on Sunday. It's a big stage to play on and he'll have to drown out being in that atmosphere to focus on a victory.

"It's my first time playing there and I'm excited," Goff said. "I've heard all about it. I heard it's awesome, heard the fans are great and we're excited to get out there. Will be a good challenge for us, but a fun one and one we're going to be ready for."

Last season he started seven games, lost all seven and threw five interceptions under former head coach Jeff Fisher. This season under McVay, Goff has a renewed confidence and playing with control and poise in order for him to make his throws to the right target, keeping drives alive. A major reason for Goff's success this season has been the offensive line.

"They (offensive line) haven't gotten any credit and it's been mainly them. With (RB) Todd (Gurley's) production, I know Todd would say the same thing he's been running well but he ain't running anywhere without any holes," Goff explained. "He's not catching the ball out of the back field and (WR) Robert (Woods) and (WR) Sammy (Watkins) and (WR) Cooper (Kupp) and (WR) Tavon (Austin) and all the guys we got aren't catching the ball - if we don't have time. So, yeah, they've done a tremendous job so far."

The most interesting angle of this game is the dynamic friendship between Goff and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Both have shown a mutual respect toward each other, despite where both were drafted and their results from season one until now.

"You get picked No. 1 for a reason and he's had a lot of success early this year, so he's good," said Prescott of Goff. "He's slinging the ball and he's got some great weapons and he's doing a great job."

Prescott who was drafted 135th, has taken the Cowboys to higher heights, while Goff continues to desire taking the Rams in the same direction. The two quarterbacks met at the Manning Camp a couple of years ago.

"I know Dak, he's tremendous," Goff said. "I don't care what you say about who he's got around him, he's done a tremendous job. Hell of a player, hell of a person, leads those guys. He's done a great job and a guy that, being in my own class, you see him and you're like, you tip your hat to him."

The maturation of Goff is happening on a weekly basis, and some who labeled him a potential bust are dialing back and eating their words now. It also helps that GM Les Snead made sure to surround him with quality weapons on offense, which is something he didn't have last season. The team offensively seems more organized than before under McVay.

"We're very grounded and understand we need to get better, but we believe in each other," Goff said. "I think that's the biggest part of it. I believe in Sammy, Sammy believes in me and vice versa with every receiver on the team and the O-line, and I think that's the most important thing. I think you can build that confidence through, like I said, success on the practice field and success when communicating and stuff like that."

If Goff can pull out a victory on Sunday against the Cowboys, he'll be a star quicker than many anticipated. With that win, it could set the tone for the rest of the Rams' season that may surprise many critics and fans alike.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>