<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports - [LA FEATURE] SoCal Sports 4 You]]>Copyright 2018http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sportsen-usSun, 16 Dec 2018 16:45:09 -0800Sun, 16 Dec 2018 16:45:09 -0800NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[LeBron and Lonzo Each Get Triple-Double in Win]]>Sat, 15 Dec 2018 21:11:03 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/LeBron+vs.+Hornets.png

Double Triple-Doubles. 

LeBron James and Lonzo Ball each had a triple-double, and the Los Angeles Lakers stung the Charlotte Hornets, 128-100, on Saturday night at the Spectrum Center. 

James finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists, and Ball had 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, as they became the first Lakers duo since Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar on Jan. 22, 1982 against the Detroit Pistons to each have a triple-double in a game.

"We just tried to do a little bit of everything to help our team win," said James. "We're one in the same when it comes to our playmaking ability. We're always looking for our teammates. Anytime you can put yourself in the conversation with Laker history, and all guys who have come through this franchise, it's pretty special."

The last time it occurred in the NBA was in 2007 when Jason Kidd and Vince Carter each had a triple-double for the New Jersey Nets. 

"I know it's not easy," joked head coach Luke Walton of the accomplishment. "There have been a lot of good players in Lakers history and I figured Walton (Luke) and Kobe (Bryant) would have done it a few times."

The Lakers essentialy led from wire-to-wire, as they opened the game up in the second half, taking a seven-point lead into the lockerroom, and turning it into a 30-point lead by the end of the third quarter. 

James was particular unstoppable when penetrating to the hoop, helping the Lakers outscore the Hornets 40-17 in the third quarter, as he did not need to play in the fourth quarter.

"We pride ourselves on not losing two in a row," said James after the team lost to the Houston Rockets two nights prior. "We had a tough one in Houston. We knew they [Hornets] played last night and took a bad hit late in that game, and we just to hit them again. We started from the start to the finish."

Ball played into the fourth quarter to earn his third career triple-double of his career, finishing 7 of 11 from the field, with five steals, helping hand the Hornets their worst loss of the season on the second night of a back-to-back.

"They told me at the start of the fourth they wanted me to get it and I got it for them," Ball said of the triple-double. "It's a dream come true."

James noticed the stellar play of his point guard and admitted the team goes as Lonzo goes.

"He's the head of the snake," said James. "It was a great game for him."


Javale McGee had 19 points and three blocks despite being sick with the flu, and Kyle Kuzma had 14 points in the victory. 

"You can't let little things like the flu keep you from doing your job," said McGee, who admitted he had gotten IVs before the game. "I just wanted to make sure I gave it my all."

Malik Monk led the Hornets with 19 points off the bench and rookie Miles Bridges chipped in a career-high 17. 

Kemba Walker, who scored 60 points earlier this season, had an off-night, shooting 2-for-13 from the field for just four points. 

"He's had a couple of nights where he has struggled shooting the ball but he'll continue to shoot. We trust him," Borrego said. "His confidence is still there. I think he'll kick it back into gear real soon. He's having to work a lot out there. The way teams are guarding him and the way he's having to defend. For whatever reason he just hasn't seen the ball go through the net right now. "

TIP-INS

The capacity crowd of 19,461 fans was the largest to ever see an NBA game at the Spectrum Center, a fact easily attributed to LeBron James and the Lakers.

UP NEXT

The Lakers won't have time to catch their breath as they fly to the Nation's capital to face the Washington Wizards on Sunday night at 3:00PM PST. 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

All quotes courtesy of Spectrum Sports Net. 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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<![CDATA[James Harden Drops 50 on Lakers in Loss]]>Thu, 13 Dec 2018 20:10:14 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/LeBron+vs.+Rockets.png

Failure to launch.

The Los Angeles Lakers missed 12 free throws, as they were grounded by the Houston Rockets, 126-111, on Thursday night at the Toyota Center. 

James Harden had a triple-double, dominating the game with 50 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Harden also shot a season-high 19 free throws, and made 18 of them, more than the entire Lakers team combined.

"It was a good test against a good team. Unfortunately, we didn't pass the test," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton following the loss. "We gave up way too many free throws, 18 of those to Harden. We missed wide open threes, and wide open free throws. You can't win like that."

LeBron James led the Lakers with a team-high 29 points, and Kyle Kuzma chipped in 24.

"We gave up too many offensive rebounds for second chance points," said James on why the Lakers lost. "What we didn't want to do was put James on the free throw line, and he got there 20 times."

The Lakers simply had no answers for Harden in the game, and down the stretch, as the leading scorer in the league helped Houston erase a two-point deficit in the fourth quarter, turning it into a 12-point lead in less than five minutes.

At one point, Harden went on a 9-0 run by himself, sinking three free throws and back-to-back three pointers before Lakers head coach Luke Walton was forced to call a timeout.

"It started with fouling, giving up free throws, those are easy points for him," said Walton of the game-changing run by Harden. "You hit three late and all of a sudden you're in a rhythm. That's what happened. That whole thing started with giving him three free throws at the end."

The Lakers were 15-for-27 (55 percent) from the free-throw line and committed 13 turnovers. They were also outscored 27-to-9 in the game on second chance points.

"We gave up 27 second chance points," added Walton. "Can't win on the road doing that. We didn't help ourselves." 

Chris Paul had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Rockets, and Clint Capela had 16 points and 14 rebounds.

The Lakers are now winless in two matches against the Rockets this season after losing 115-124 to Houston at Staples Center in October. 

Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo famously got into a fight in that game that led to suspensions for both players. 

Brandon Ingram (ankle) and Rajon Rondo (hand) did not travel with the team to Houston.  

TIP-INS

Lakers: Kuzma received a technical foul in the first quarter for arguing about a foul call. ... Brandon Ingram missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... Kuzma had 24 points to give him 20 or more points in a career-best six straight games.

Rockets: Brandon Knight played in his first game since Feb. 15, 2017, after recovering from surgery to repair a torn left anterior cruciate ligament. He came in with about four minutes left in the first quarter and played about four minutes with one assist and one rebound. ... James Ennis sat out with a strained right hamstring. 

UP NEXT

Lakers: Visit Charlotte on Saturday night.

Rockets: Visit Memphis on Saturday night.

HIGHLIGHTS

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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<![CDATA[Phil Jackson Surprises Lakers at Wednesday's Practice ]]>Fri, 14 Dec 2018 01:42:18 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/Phil+Jackson+visits+Lakers.png

The Zen Master has returned.

Phil Jackson, the 11-time NBA Champion as a head coach, will not be gracing the Los Angeles Lakers sidelines anytime soon. However, as the team climbs its way back into championship contention, the NBA legend returned to the team he helped guide to five titles on Wednesday afternoon.

Jackson was spotted at the team's practice facility in El Segundo during the team's shootaround before heading out on a four-game road trip. According to reports, it was the first time in more than two years Jackson had visited the facility.

Despite the lengthy absence, ut shouldn't come as that big of a surprise that Jackson was spotted around the Lakers. Not only did he coach the Lakers from 1999-2004 and again from 2005-2011, but he famously was engaged to Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss until they announced their split in December of 2016.

Jackson is also good friends with Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson, as well as Kurt Rambis, the team's current senior basketball adviser.

Additionally, Jackson was the coach and mentor for current Lakers head coach Luke Walton, who played for Jackson in nine of his 11 years as a player in the league.

"I have not talked to Phil today, no, but if that's him, I'll head upstairs," said Walton when asked by the media on Wednesday if he'd seen or spoken to Jackson yet. "…Even the one year I semi-retired, Phil's someone I like to stay in constant communication with."

One player that might have avoided Jackson is Lakers superstar LeBron James. It's unknown if Jackson spoke to James, but the two have a somewhat contentious relationship after Jackson referred to James and his longtime friends and business parnters as a "posse." James said he was offended by the comments.

Jackson was last in the league as the President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks. The 73-year-old signed a five-year, $60 million contract in 2014, but was fired after just three seasons.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Sign Former Foe in Joe Kelly]]>Thu, 13 Dec 2018 03:26:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Joe+Kelly+signs+with+Dodgers.png

The Dodgers have made a free agent signing.

No, it's not the big fish in Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but the Dodgers have reportedly signed right-handed relief pitcher Joe Kelly to a three-year deal worth around $25 million.

Kelly is a familiar face to Dodgers fans after he famously broke the rib of shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the first game of the 2013 National League Championship Series while a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ramirez, the Dodgers best hitter at the time, would be forced to miss most of the series and the Cardinals went on to win in six games.

More recently, Kelly dominated the Dodgers during the 2018 World Series with the Boston Red Sox, throwing six shutout innings against Los Angeles, as Boston went on to win the series in five games.

Overall in the 2018 postseason, Kelly was outstanding, allowing just one earned run in 11 and 1/3 innings pitched against the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, and Dodgers.

However, Kelly has also been widely inconsistent over the course of his career and struggled down the stretch of the 2018 regular season with the Red Sox. 

The right-hander had a 4.39 ERA during the regular season and went wild in the waning months, as he allowed 4.6 walks for every nine batters he faced.

Despite his inconsistency, the Dodgers liked his power arm as Kelly is consistently clocked around 99MPH with his fastball. Los Angeles expects him to slot into a setup role in front of closer Kenley Jansen.

As we reported earlier, the Dodgers were heavily interested in Kelly as well as other right-handed relievers like David Robertson and Cody Allen.

Now that the Dodgers have signed a relief pitcher, they could turn their attention to a starting pitcher, catcher, or second baseman. The team is rumored to be in discussion with the Cleveland Indians on two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, as well as Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.

It's unknown if the Dodgers are finished with the construct of their bullpen after the Kelly signing, but they're definitely not done making moves, and another reliever could come via trade down the road.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Chargers Visit the Chiefs: What's at Stake on Thursday Night]]>Wed, 12 Dec 2018 13:13:33 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1030080780.jpg

The Kansas City Chiefs are missing their star running back, likely without his backup and could have their top two wide receivers hobbled or shelved for their crucial AFC West showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night.

They still have Patrick Mahomes, though.

And they're still playing the Chargers.

Yes, the Chargers (10-3) are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, having won three straight and nine of 10 to close within a game of Kansas City (11-2) in the division race.

But the Chargers also have had about as much luck against the Chiefs as the Redskins have had with quarterbacks this year, losing nine straight and many of them in lopsided fashion.

That includes this season's opener in Los Angeles, when Mahomes announced his arrival to the NFL with his first four touchdown passes in the Chiefs' 38-28 victory at StubHub Center.

"We're familiar with this group, but they do so many things. It's never easy going up against Kansas City," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "Go back to September. You can go back to last year, to 2017, when we lost to those guys twice -- same things. They are just really good."

The Chiefs have continued to play at a high level despite some personnel challenges.

Running back Kareem Hunt was released nearly two weeks ago because of off-the-field issues, and new starter Spencer Ware hurt his hamstring last Sunday against Baltimore.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is likely to miss Thursday night's game with a lingering foot problem, and speedster Tyreek Hill is nursing wrist and heel injuries, but has insisted all week that he'll be ready.

"One thing we have been talking about all season long, you never know when your number is going to be called, so it is important that you are ready," Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. "It's all hands on deck. When it's all said and done, we go out and play."

Besides, it's not as if the Chargers haven't had injury issues of their own.

Running back Melvin Gordon is expected to be a game-time decision after spraining his right knee against Arizona and missing the past two games. His primary backup, Austin Ekeler, is likely out after hurting his neck and sustaining a concussion in last week's win over the Bengals.

"I've been grinding hard to get back," Gordon said. "I know Coach (Lynn) is trying to be careful and doesn't want me to further hurt myself or things like that. So we'll see where that goes."

If he's unable to play, rookie Justin Jackson would get his first NFL start.

"What is it, Week 15 in the NFL? These things happen," Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. "We'll see who shows up Thursday and go from there."

As the Chiefs and Chargers prepare to meet, here are things to know:

DIVISION RACE

The Chiefs can clinch their third straight AFC West title and a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win. But even with a loss, the Chiefs would hold the tiebreaker over the Chargers by virtue of their better division record. Los Angeles needs a win to clinch its first postseason trip since the 2013 season.

"Both teams are going to be all hyped up and ready to go," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who is 11-3 against the Chargers in his career.

BERRY'S BACK, MAYBE

There have been signs this week that Chiefs safety Eric Berry will make his season debut against the Chargers. Berry sustained a season-ending injury in last year's opener, then hurt his heel early in training camp.

"It is killing him not to be out there," Reid said, "but at the same time, you want to be smart with it. I know he would like to play in the game."

RIVERS RUNS THROUGH IT

Mahomes has been getting all the attention, but Chargers counterpart Philip Rivers has been nearly as good this season. He already has 29 touchdown passes, five shy of his career best, and his interception rate is the lowest of his career.

But Rivers also has struggled against the Chiefs, throwing 14 interceptions during the Chargers' nine-game losing streak. "He's a guy who can make all the throws," Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller said.

BENJAMIN'S DEBUT

The Chiefs hope wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was cut by the Bills and signed with Kansas City last week, will be active for the game. Benjamin would provide a big body on the outside and some additional depth with Watkins likely to be out.

SHORT WEEK

Both teams dismissed the challenges of playing on a short week, especially given how well they know each other. But the Chiefs also were at home Sunday, and the Chargers will be traveling across two time zones to Arrowhead Stadium, one of the toughest venues in the NFL.

"We have a lot to prepare for," Lynn said, "and like I said, it's going to be more of a mental week. So we have to find ways to get that done."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Place Backup Running Back, Corner on Injured Reserved]]>Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:56:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-856383644.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams have placed running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Dominique Hatfield on injured reserve.

The NFC West champions also promoted rookie linebacker Trevon Young from the practice squad to the active roster Tuesday.

Brown injured his collarbone earlier this month. He has spent four seasons as Todd Gurley's backup, racking up 264 yards from scrimmage this year.

Hatfield will need surgery after injuring his ankle Sunday. The Los Angeles native played extensively on special teams during his second season with the Rams.

Young was a sixth-round pick out of Louisville. He has played in two games for the Rams, and he recovered a fumble against San Francisco.

The Rams (11-2) host defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia (6-7) on Sunday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James and Other Lakers Discuss Dwyane Wade's Legacy After His Final Game in LA]]>Tue, 11 Dec 2018 06:17:07 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_vs._heat_final_1200x675_1394577987648.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Tyson Chandler discuss the legacy of Dwyane Wade on the NBA after defeating the Miami Heat 108-105 on Monday night at Staples Center.]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Turn Focus to Possible Playoff Preview Vs. Chiefs Thursday]]>Mon, 10 Dec 2018 21:32:04 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1070861756.jpg

Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers didn't have much time to celebrate reaching double-digit wins for the first time in nine seasons.

While most teams get 24 hours to savor a victory, the Chargers spent about 24 minutes to revel in their 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals before preparations began for Thursday's pivotal AFC West matchup at Kansas City.

"I heard some of the guys going back to the facility right now, get in a cold tub, start that. Start watching tape. We have to get going, start shifting gears and hurry," quarterback Philip Rivers said after the game.

Los Angeles (10-3) goes into the game one game behind the Chiefs (11-2). A win would clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2013 while also keeping its hopes of a division title and possible top seed in the AFC alive.

Even if the Chargers won, Kansas City would hold the tiebreaker based on a better division record. The Chiefs end the season at Seattle and hosting Oakland while the Chargers wrap up with a home game against Baltimore and a trip to Denver.

Kansas City, which has already secured a postseason berth, would clinch the division with a win.

Coach Anthony Lynn is keeping the same preparation plan that he used for last year's Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas. The Chargers ended up winning that game 28-6.

Monday was a walkthrough and Tuesday will be non-padded before the team travels to Kansas City on Wednesday.

"One of the biggest things about this week is recovery, getting guys to recover and play fast and physical and how you handle that and we always struggle with doing too much and not doing enough. Same thing with X's and O's," Lynn said.

"That's kind of what we're doing right now. We're working to get that balance as best we can and go out and play a football game."

About the only benefit preparation-wise is that it is a division game. However, the Chiefs have won the past nine in the series.

"I think mentally with a team being in the division, and again, there will be some wrinkles that they'll have and wrinkles that we'll have, but at least we know personnel-wise who we are playing," Rivers said.

"Schematically, for the most part, we know what their base stuff is and they know what our base stuff is. It's not a matter of, 'Gosh, we need to dig into this opponent and figure out who they are.' Now, you still have to get all of your preparation in, in a short period of time, but I think that can get done."

The biggest concern going into the week is the status of running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Gordon, who is fourth in the league in yards from scrimmage per game (125.5), has missed the past two games because of an MCL sprain to his right knee. Ekeler is in the concussion protocol after reporting symptoms during the walkthrough. Ekeler, who had 66 yards on 15 carries against Cincinnati, was hit in the head by Clayton Fejedelem on an onside kick and also suffered a pinched nerve in his neck.

Lynn said not having a full-speed practice to evaluate Gordon is a bit of a concern, but that the same cuts and moves Gordon would make on the practice field can also be done on the side.

If Gordon and Ekeler are unable to play, rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome would be the running backs. Jackson had 63 yards in the Dec. 2 win at Pittsburgh. Newsome has appeared in only seven games — mostly on special teams — and has only five carries.

The Chargers' biggest worry defensively is trying to contain quarterback Patrick Mahomes and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Mahomes passed for 256 yards and four touchdowns while Hill scored three touchdowns in a 38-28 win in the regular-season opener on Sept. 9.

Hill has seven touchdowns — five receiving and two on punt returns — in five games against the Chargers.

"They're a different team and different players, but we're a different team too," safety Derwin James said. "Every week Mahomes is getting better too. He's making some crazy throws. You know what type of guy you are getting this week."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Hang on to Beat the Heat in Wade's Final Game in LA]]>Tue, 11 Dec 2018 00:59:48 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/LeBron+and+Wade.png

It was over in a Flash. 

LeBron James scored 28 points and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat, 108-105, in Dwyane Wade's final game in Los Angeles.

"There's only one building that could have embraced that moment and that's the Staples Center," said James. "It was a great game and the atmosphere was unbelievable."

The final duel between longtime friends, James and Wade, went to LeBron, as it has for most of their 15-year friendship.

"I didn't even know that we were tied 15-15 coming into today's game," James said talking about the two storied rivals head-to-head record which will finish 16-15 in favor of LeBron. "It's a storybook. We've got great writers here in Hollywood and I don't even know if they'd be able to write this one."

Both teams took turns trading knockout blows down the stretch with Wade and James guarding each other on the team's two possessions. 

"It was how it was supposed to end," said James. "Us matched up for the final two possessions, him guarding me on the one end and I'm guarding him on the other end."

James headed to the free throw line with 22.5 seconds remaining in the game, and the Lakers holding tightly on to a 106-105 lead. 

James made the first of two as Wade sidled up to him before the second.

"Bro, just miss it so I can shoot the game-winner," Wade said he told LeBron after the game. "Me and you. One on one. Just let me shoot it and go for it."

Of course James didn't miss the second, and knowing Wade wanted to go to his left for a stepback, game-tying three on the other end, LeBron clamped down on his friend and forced him to shoot a tough, fadeaway three-pointer that clanked off the backboard, sealing the victory for the Lakers. 

"He knows my tendencies and I know his tendencies," said James. "I knew he likes to go left, he knew it, he was like 'Why the hell did you do that and take away my left?' We've been watching eachother for a long time and we know eachother even better than we know ourselves."

Immediately after the buzzer went off, Wade ran to the baseline to embrace James where they exchanged jerseys and tears on the court.

James and Wade have been friends since they were both taken in the top five of the 2003 NBA Draft. They would later become teammates in Miami between 2010 and 2014 as they won two NBA Titles and appeared in four consecutive Finals.

After the 2016-2017 season, Wade joined James in Cleveland with the Cavs, where they coined the term "peanut butter and jelly" for the duo, before Wade was traded back to Miami in February of this year.

Before the game, James called the game "bittersweet" and said outside of Kobe Bryant, Wade was his favorite player to compete against on the court.

"I just wanted to enjoy the competition for the last time," said Wade.

Wade intends to retire after this season, but that didn't stop him from playing 33 minutes off the bench, finishing with 15 points and 10 assists.

Wade showed flashes of his younger self throughout the game, including driving past Lakers center Tyson Chandler for a layup at the start of the fourth quarter.

"Flash comes out every now and then," joked Chandler of the play. "He's still even at this age one of the top players in the league."

LeBron had some highlight reel moments of his own, including a halfcourt alley-oop pass to Lonzo Ball that put the Lakers in front, 67-65, midway through the third quarter.

James finished with 28 points and 12 assists, and scored in double figures for the 900th consecutive game.  

Kyle Kuzma had a game-high 33 points, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 11 off the bench.

"I've been more aggressive and have more opportunities to score," said Kuzma of his offensive surge. "I'm looking to facilitate opportunities. I got back to a rebounding mindset."

Justice Winslow led the Heat with a team-high, and career-high 28 points off the bench. 

"The ball finds you, but at the same time, I caught myself running after the ball a couple times," said Winslow of how he was able to stay hot. "Staying aggressive and staying with it. Just getting better every day, and it was a lot of fun out there tonight. I just wish we would have got the win."

TIP-INS

Heat: Hassan Whiteside missed his third straight game. He is away from the team for the birth of his child. ... Josh Richardson (right shoulder) started. Tyler Johnson (bruised left hip) was available, but didn't play.

Lakers: Brandon Ingram missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle. He won't be re-evaluated until Saturday before the Lakers play at Charlotte that night. The wingman is LA's third-leading scorer. ... Rajon Rondo had fluid drained from his right hand Sunday, possibly signaling a delay in his return from a broken hand. The veteran point guard has been out for 3 ½ weeks. ... A star-studded crowd gathered for Wade's final game, including Denzel Washington, Kate Beckinsale, Will Ferrell, Kevin Costner, Jessica Alba and Rams stars Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks.

WADE TRIBUTE VIDEO

Staples Center sent Dwyane Wade out in style with a tribute video during a timeout in the first quarter. 

UP NEXT

Heat: At Jazz on Wednesday.

Lakers: At Rockets on Thursday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Chargers Take Sunday Game 26-21 Over Bengals]]>Mon, 10 Dec 2018 05:59:33 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/12.09.18_Chargers-Bengals.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers had every reason to be susceptible to a trap game against Cincinnati.

The Chargers were coming off an emotional, come-from-behind victory against Pittsburgh last Sunday and a key AFC West showdown at Kansas City was fast approaching.

Sunday's 26-21 victory over the Bengals was not one of Los Angeles' best-played games of the season, but it does improve the record to 10-3 going into Thursday night's game against the 11-2 Chiefs for the division lead.

"Everyone wanted to talk about Pittsburgh and if it wasn't Pittsburgh then it was Kansas City. This team was dangerous and we got out of there with a win," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.

The Chargers scored touchdowns on their first two drives and then got four field goals from Michael Badgley — including a team-record 59-yarder — to deal the Bengals (5-8) their fifth straight loss.

"We did enough to win. Shoot, they all count the same. We found a way to win, in a different way," said Philip Rivers, who was 19 of 29 for 220 yards and a touchdown.

The Chargers had 160 yards of offense on their first two drives — which ended in a Keenan Allen 14-yard TD catch and 5-yard score by Austin Ekeler — but had 128 the remainder of the game. Three of the last eight drives started at or inside the Chargers 7.

Ekeler rushed for 66 yards on 15 carries with Melvin Gordon missing his second straight game due to a knee injury. Allen had five receptions for 78 yards and has a touchdown in five straight games.

"Sometimes you just have to play complementary football. Defensively we stopped them when we needed to," Lynn said. "Offensively we started out, but then slowed down and kicked field goals the rest of the day."

Cincinnati had good field position for most of the day with an average drive start of its 35. Joe Mixon had 111 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Jeff Driskel, who was making his second straight start since Andy Dalton's season-ending thumb injury, was 18 of 27 for 170 yards and a touchdown.

"The decisions I made today didn't work out. We didn't get to make the break. This or that decision put us in situations, whether it's fourth down and we've got to make the stop, the 2-point (conversion) and so forth, those things today, we didn't get to make the breaks," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

Cincinnati got within two points at 14-12 late in the first half on a pair of field goal by Bullock — one came after an apparent TD run by Driskel was overturned by replay — and Driskel's 5-yard TD pass to John Ross (the 2-point attempt was no good). The Chargers, though, would take a 17-12 lead when Badgley made his 59-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

The Chargers led 23-15 late in the fourth quarter when Mixon scored from a yard out. The 2-point attempt, which would have tied the game, failed when Driskel was sacked by Darius Philon.

BIG OVERTURN

Driskel appeared to score a touchdown with about five minutes remaining in the second quarter on a 1-yard scramble that would have brought the Bengals within four, but replay overturned it saying he was short of the goal line.

In the past, quarterbacks were safe to go head-first and not be considered to be giving himself up, but that was changed this season.

"He dove forward to the goal line and as soon as his knee hit the ground, he was ruled to have given himself up. The ball was short of the goal line," referee John Hussey said after the game.

The overturn meant the ball was spotted inches short of the goal line and brought up fourth-and-goal. Bengals guard Alex Redmond was then called for a false start and Cincinnati had to settle for a Bullock 23-yard field goal that cut the Chargers' margin to 14-6.

BIG LEG BADGLEY

Badgley, who had the winning field goal last Sunday at Pittsburgh, now has the longest field goal in Chargers history.

The Chargers attempted a Hail Mary with a second remaining, which resulted in Rivers being sacked, but Bengals defensive end Jordan Willis was called for a false start, which brought out Badgley, who said he was very confident about making it.

"You got to go out there with that kind of confidence. If you're going out there thinking you're going to miss it you probably shouldn't be kicking it," said Badgley, who is 14 of 15 on field goals since joining the Chargers last month. "But going out there, it was a way for us to steal momentum from them at the end of the half, go into the second half with more points. It was definitely good for us to get those points at the end of the half."

The former team record was a 57-yarder by Nate Kaeding at Tampa Bay on Dec. 21, 2008.

UP NEXT

Bengals: Host Oakland next Sunday before concluding the season with two straight road games.

Chargers: Travel to Kansas City on Thursday night in a matchup of two of the top teams in the AFC.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Maul Grizzlies in Memphis]]>Sun, 09 Dec 2018 15:37:47 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_18343084629939.jpg

The Lakers had all the grit and grind they needed against the Grizz.

Six different players scored in double figures, as the Los Angeles Lakers mauled the Memphis Grizzlies, 111-88, on Saturday night at FedEx Forum. 

LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma each scored 20 points apiece, as the Lakers led by as many as 29 points in the game.

Both teams were playing on the second night of back-to-backs, but it was the visiting Lakers that brought all the energy and effort early, stealing the Memphis motto, "Grit and Grind," from the home team Grizzlies.

"Defense and energy," said James of how the Lakers were able to beat the Grizzlies. "I don't know how we had energy coming off that back-to-back where we gave a lot last night in San Antonio, and they took it from us, but we found it. It was a good win for us in a place where they've been playing extremely good basketball."

The Lakers outrebounded the Grizzlies 57-36, including 19 offensive rebounds in the rout.

"It seemed like he [Tyson] was around every offensive rebound and defensive rebound," said James of teammate Tyson Chandler who had 14 rebounds. "At halftime we were up 36-11 on rebounding. That means we were defending and we were cleaning the glass."

Wayne Selden led the way for Memphis with 17 points off the bench. Mike Conley had 12 points, and Marc Gasol and rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. each had 11.

For the second consecutive night, James nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Josh Hart had 16 points in his second start in place of the injured Brandon Ingram. JaVale McGee had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Lakers led by 23 points at the half, and unlike Friday night in San Antonio, they kept their foot on the gas, extending the lead to 29 in the third quarter and clamping down in the fourth quarter, holding the Grizzlies to just 88 total points. 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Svi Mykhailiuk combined to hit seven three-pointers and 27 points.

The Lakers improved to 5-1 on the second night of back-to-back games this season. 



Photo Credit: Brandon Dill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Allow 44-Point 4th Quarter, Fall to Spurs]]>Fri, 07 Dec 2018 20:44:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/Spurs+defeat+the+lakers.png

I must break you.

The San Antonio Spurs scored 44 points in the fourth quarter, as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 133-120, in their fourth and final installment of the season on Friday night at AT&T Center.

DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 36 points and added nine assists, as he led San Antonio down the stretch scoring 11 points in the fourth, helping them take the season series from the Lakers, three games to one.

"We didn't do a good job staying in front of ballhandlers in the pick and roll," said Kyle Kuzma who had 27 points and eight rebounds. "DeMar DeRozan was able to get smaller defenders on him, made incredible shots, tough fadeaways, he's an incredible player and he's going to do that time to time."

LeBron James had 35 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds in defeat.

"They hit a rhythm and we couldn’t stop them," said James matter of factly from a chair in the visiting hallway after his locker was devastated by rain and a leak in the ceiling during the game. "They started running a lot of screen and rolls, and setting really good screens and they were hitting shots or rolling to the basket and making and-ones."

The Lakers led by as many as 15 points in the first half, and 12 in the fourth quarter, but their spirit was broken down the stretch as San Antonio caught fire from beyond the arc, and the LA defense seemingly didn't have an answer.

"Give San Antonio a lot of credit," added Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "They played well. They made shots, they made plays. I thought we played well enough to win that game for three quarters, and then they just took over in that fourth."

San Antonio's bench led the charge as they outscored the Lakers 54-26. Eight different players scored in double-figures for the Spurs, including four different players off the bench. 

Patty Mills and Jakob Poeltl each had 14 off the bench, Davis Bertans had 13 points including four three-pointers, and Marco Belinelli had 13 points and three three-pointers. 

The Lakers appeared to be on the precipice of evening the season series with San Antonio after scoring 72 points at the half, the second most they've scored all season, and the most points allowed in a half by the Spurs this year. 

LeBron James nearly had a triple-double at the break with 24 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds, but he was mostly held in check in the second half. 

Lonzo Ball had 13 points and 11 assists, and JaVale McGee had 12 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.

"We broke down in the fourth and we let one slip away tonight," said Ball after the loss. "We couldn't guard the pick and roll, that's what it came down to."

James and Ball became the first Lakers duo to each have 10+ assists since Kobe Bryant and Paul Gasol did it on March 30, 2013 against the Sacramento Kings. 

"You can pass the ball all you want, but if your teammates don't score, you don't get the assists," said Ball of the accomplishment. "Guys were running the lanes and hitting their shots, that's how we got to those numbers."

Things only will get tougher for the Lakers as they have to face the tough Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night on the second of a back-to-back.  

"We got another one to play tomorrow against a very good Memphis team," said James. "We let this one get away from us, but it's a 48-minute game and it happens. We need to learn from it and get ready to go [tomorrow]."

TIP-INS

Lakers: James was listed as rookie in the game notes. . Rajon Rondo missed his 10th straight game following right hand surgery, but is nearing a return. Rondo worked out on the court prior to the game with teammates Isaac Bonga, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Ivica Zubac.

Spurs: Belinelli became the first player in league history with at least 50 3-pointers for nine different teams. . Pau Gasol, who missed his 17th straight game with left foot soreness, was walking without a boot. There is not timetable for his return. . Bertans has made 200 career 3-pointers.

UP NEXT

Lakers: At Memphis on Saturday night.

Spurs: Host Utah on Sunday night.

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

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Darren Abate
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<![CDATA[Chargers Won't Overlook Wounded Bengals]]>Wed, 05 Dec 2018 23:34:37 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/phillip+rivers+35355.jpg

The Chargers overcame a 16-point halftime deficit to defeat the Steelers 33-30 in Pittsburgh for only the third time in franchise history.

Now they’re “on to Cincinnati,” as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would say.

The Bengals (5-7) have underperformed this season and have been hit by the injury bug, something past Chargers teams know all too well.

In September, they put tight end Tyler Eifert on IR with a broken ankle, and in late November they added quarterback Andy Dalton to that list with a thumb injury. This week they also sent receiver A.J. Green to IR with a toe injury.

"This is the NFL,” explained head coach Anthony Lynn, “Guys have pride. They're NFL players. You have to prepare for them like everybody else whether they're in it or out of it. This team is dangerous because this team needs to win out to get in as a wild card, probably. Their playoffs basically start this week.”

After they face the Bengals, the Chargers will have a short week before they face division-leading Kansas City Chiefs, one of the best teams in the NFL and one-game ahead of the Bolts in the AFC West race.

 

“We can’t look forward because that is how you lose games,” said cornerback Casey Hayward. “We have to make sure we are disciplined because those guys (Cincinnati) are pros and if we sleep on them they will beat us. We will focus on KC next week.”

The Chargers defense will be facing quarterback Jeff Driskel who had a decent game in a loss last Sunday to the Denver Broncos. He passed for 236 yards and threw one touchdown and one interception. They also have to deal with a two-headed monster at running back in Joe Mixon and Giovanni Bernard, who are both dangerous running and receiving the ball. Even without Green the passing game is explosive with John Ross, who ran a 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine, and Tyler Boyd, who is 62-yards away from 1,000 yards on the season.

“They still have a dangerous offense,” said safety Derwin James. “We have to be careful to not underestimate these guys because they will come in here and hit us in the mouth. We need this W to continue on our mission.”

The Bengals defense is lead by a combined $110 million defensive linemen in Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, who both signed huge contract extensions before the season started. Both are disruptive players that can stop the run and are good at getting after the passer. They have a combined 14 sacks this season. They also have a rookie stud safety in Jessie Bates, a tackling machine that leads the team in tackles with 87. Even though this is statically one of the worsts defenses in the league – they give up a league-high 30.9 points a game -- they still have playmakers who will take advantage of a mistake.

“This is the team that we have a lot of respect for,” explained quarterback Philip Rivers. “As you hear me say every week, it's the NFL. This is a defense that we have respect for and we know that AFC North is a tough division. They're physical; they fly around and are competitive. We'll have to rise to the challenge on Sunday."

NUTS N’ BOLTS

 • Injury report: Did not practice: tight end Sean Culkin (back), running back Melvin Gordon (knee). Limited practice: cornerback Trevor Williams (knee), NT Brandon Mebane (not injury related). Full: RB Austin Ekeler (ankle), C Mike Pouncey (ankle).

• Nose Tackle Brandon Mebane missed the last two weeks because he was attending to his infant daughter, who was born with a heart condition. He is back at practice and Coach Lynn said they will ease him back, but that Mebane being back was, “the highlight of my day.”

• Melvin Gordon did some work on the side, but did not practice. Coach Lynn said they will monitor him the rest of the week and if they can see him change direction and protect himself during team workouts he might let him play on Sunday.

• Cornerback Desmond King won the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his 73-yard punt return for a touchdown to tie the game up against the Steelers.

]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James and Lakers Teammates Discuss 4th Quarter Domination]]>Thu, 06 Dec 2018 00:08:04 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_vs_Spurs_1200x675_1390142531642.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Tyson Chandler, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball discuss LeBron's 20-point fourth quarter performance as he led the team to victory over the San Antonio Spurs.]]><![CDATA[LeBron Explodes in 4th Quarter as Lakers Beat Spurs]]>Thu, 06 Dec 2018 00:08:56 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/177*120/Lakers+Lose+Brandon+Ingram.png

Third time's a charm.

LeBron James dominated the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied late to defeat the San Antonio Spurs, 121-113, on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

James scored 20 of his 42 points in the final frame, helping guide the Lakers back from a nine-point deficit.

"We were down eight," said James of when he decided to take over in the fourth quarter. "Once I got in, it was just a matter of me trying to make plays and see what happened."

San Antonio held an eight-point lead in the fourth before James scored nine straight points. LeBron recaptured the lead for the Lakers when he drove the lane, spun, and put enough English on a layup for an and-one to give LA a 96-95 lead.

James finished with 42 points, five rebounds and six assists. It was his third 40-point performance since donning the purple and gold. 

"Have you watched LeBron play before?" asked a perplexed Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich when asked why James was so difficult to guard in the fourth. "He is LeBron James. That's what makes him difficult to guard."

It was the third meeting between the two Western Conference teams with San Antonio winning the first two matchups earlier in the season in October.

"They've had our number up until this point," said James. "They beat us the first two games and beat us on our home floor. We've been playing so well at home we wanted to continue that."

Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan combined for 63 points and LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 21 for the Spurs in the loss.

"It got away from us in the fourth quarter," said DeRozan following the loss. "The Lakers hit seven threes. They got on a roll. Even though we were scoring, going back and forth, back and forth, we couldn't get those critical stops when we needed them and that kind of killed us in the last couple minutes of the game."

Lonzo Ball had 13 points and nine assists for the Lakers, and added a highlight reel dunk in the first quarter.

Ball weaved his way through traffic and threw down a one-handed slam with 5:24 remaining in the first quarter, prompting Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich to take a timeout.

The sophomore point guard has been more aggressive lately and its showed as the Lakers have won four straight.

"Whenever Luke puts me out there I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team win," said Ball. "I've had the ball in my hands more, trying to initiate the offense, try and get guys in the right spot, and make sure we don't lose leads."

Kyle Kuzma had 22 points for the Lakers and Kentavius Caldwell-Pope finished with 12 points off the bench.

"It's not so much him [LeBron] being the closer, it's everyone being the closer," said Kuzma of the team's fourth quarter. "He's a willing passer, so everyone has an opportunity to close the game. Everyone stepped up and made plays in the fourth quarter."

However, it wasn't all roses for the Lakers, as forward Brandon Ingram sprained his left ankle in the first quarter and did not return to the game. X-rays taken after the game were negative.

"It will be evaluated tomorrow," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "There is no timetable or anything like that yet. But he said they got him pretty good."

The fourth and final meeting between the Spurs and Lakers will take place on Friday night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

TIP-INS

Spurs: Longtime Lakers big man Pau Gasol didn't get to play against his old team. He is out with a stress fracture in his left foot.

Lakers: Ingram had played at least 25 minutes in every game since he returned from a four-game suspension for fighting in Los Angeles' home opener. 

UP NEXT

Spurs: Host the Lakers on Friday.

Lakers: Visit the Spurs on Friday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[WATCH: Lakers Lonzo Ball With One-Handed Hammer Dunk]]>Wed, 05 Dec 2018 21:14:13 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*125/GettyImages-1067075898.jpg

Lonzo is ballin'.

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball put San Antonio center Jakob Poeltl on a poster when he threw down a one-handed slam in the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

Ball weaved his way through traffic and delivered a one-hnaded hammer dunk with 5:24 remaining in the first quarter. Seconds later Gregg Popovich immediately took a timeout with the game tied at 16-16.

Ball finished the dunk, but almost botched the dismount as he stumbled upon landing.

The sophomore point guard has been more aggressive lately and its showed as the Lakers have won three straight.

The video of the dunk is below:

If you can not view the embeded video, scroll down and click "VIEW FULL MOBILE SITE" below.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[New LA Angels Manager Finalizes Coaching Staff]]>Mon, 03 Dec 2018 16:38:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Brad-Ausmus-LA-Angels-Coaching-Staff.jpg

Los Angeles Angels manager Brad Ausmus has finalized his first coaching staff, including a hitting coach and a pitching coach in their first major-league seasons in their jobs.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler announced the staff Monday.

The Angels' hitting coach is Jeremy Reed, the club's minor-league hitting coordinator for the past two seasons. The Halos' pitching coach is Doug White, who spent the past six years in the Houston Astros organization.

Josh Paul returns for another season as the Angels' bench coach after spending last year under manager Mike Scioscia.

The staff also includes outfield/first base coach Jesus Feliciano, infield/third base coach Mike Gallego, assistant hitting coach Shawn Wooten, hitting instructor Paul Sorrento, catching coach Jose Molina and bullpen coach Andrew Bailey.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Agree on 4-Year Deal With Manager Dave Roberts]]>Mon, 03 Dec 2018 10:34:44 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/robertsgiantsap.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed on a four-year contract with manager Dave Roberts, which would keep him at the helm of the team through 2022.

Roberts just finished his third season as the Dodgers' skipper during which he led LA to its second straight World Series. Los Angeles lost in five games to the Boston Red Sox in October. The Dodgers lost the 2017 World Series in seven games to the Houston Astros.

He has led the Dodgers to seasons of 91, 104 and 92 wins, and is 287-200 overall.

"Keeping Doc as our leader on the field was a top priority this offseason and now that we've accomplished that we are excited to collectively shift all of our focus to doing all we can to bring a World Championship to our passionate fans," Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations, said in a statement Monday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Brian Witt]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Pull Off Comeback, Beat Steelers 33-30 on Late Field Goal]]>Sun, 02 Dec 2018 21:01:48 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Chargers-beat-Steelers-12-2-18.jpg

Michael Badgley kicked a 29-yard field goal on the final play to lift the Los Angeles Chargers to a 33-30 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

Badgley initially missed a 39-yard kick but Pittsburgh was called for offsides. Badgley's ensuing 34-yard attempt was blocked, but the Steelers were again flagged for jumping across the line of scrimmage before the snap. He drilled his third attempt at the game-winner, and the Chargers gleefully declined another Pittsburgh penalty while they poured onto the field in celebration.

Philip Rivers completed 26 of 36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns for Los Angeles (9-3). Keenan Allen caught 14 passes for 148 yards and a score and Justin Jackson ran for 63 yards and a touchdown in place of injured starter Melvin Gordon. Desmond King added a 73-yard punt return for a score as the Chargers erased a 16-point halftime deficit.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 281 yards and two scores for the Steelers (7-4-1), who have lost two straight and are now clinging to the AFC North lead over surging Baltimore. Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for a season-high 154 yards and a touchdown. James Conner added 60 yards rushing and two touchdowns before leaving in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.

Rookie Jaylen Samuels replaced Conner and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass with 4:10 remaining that tied the game at 30, leaving Rivers ample time to one-up Roethlisberger, a fellow member of the vaunted 2004 draft class that includes New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Rivers calmly led the Chargers 64 yards in 11 plays, including a 12-yard pass to Allen on third-and-4 at the Pittsburgh 34 that pushed Los Angeles close enough to win in the Steel City for just the fourth time in 19 tries while giving the Steelers their first two-game losing streak of the season.

Roethlisberger publicly tweaked Brown following a loss to Denver last week, though the star wide receiver stressed he knew it was nothing personal. It certainly didn't seem to have an impact on their play. Roethlisberger hit Brown for a 9-yard gain on Pittsburgh's second play from scrimmage and again for 46 yards on the following snap, a strike that set up the first of Conner's two 1-yard touchdown runs in the opening quarter.

The Steelers seemed poised for another masterful December performance. Pittsburgh came in 18-3 in December since 2013, the best mark in the NFL over that span.

The Chargers, however, responded thanks in part to a questionable non-call by the officials. Rivers hit a streaking Travis Benjamin for a 46-yard touchdown to get Los Angeles on the board, a play that began with Chargers right tackle Sam Tevi standing up and shuffling his feet backward an instant before the ball was snapped. It marked the second time this season Los Angeles benefited from a non-call on what appeared to be a pre-snap penalty. The Chargers scored a touchdown in Cleveland in October on a play in which left tackle Russell Okung moved before the ball was hiked to Rivers.

A beautiful 28-yard dart from Roethlisberger to Brown pushed Pittsburgh's lead to 23-7 at the break but Los Angeles ripped off the next 23 points thanks to a bit of luck some dynamic playmaking.

Allen caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rivers late in the third quarter on a play in which Pittsburgh defensive backs Sean Davis and Joe Haden collided going for the ball, which popped up in the air and landed in squarely in Allen's hands.

King then dashed 73 yards on a punt return, with Allen pulling in the 2-point conversion that tied the game at 23.

Los Angeles — which managed just two yards rushing in the first half with Austin Ekeler filling in for Gordon — then turned to Jackson. The rookie seventh-round pick used his quickness to squirt through Pittsburgh's defensive line, and his 18-yard burst up the middle gave the Chargers a 30-23 lead.

INJURIES

Pittsburgh WR Justin Hunter, given a spot on the game-day roster over rookie James Washington, left in the first half and did not return after injuring himself while diving for a Roethlisberger pass in the end zone. ... Steelers WR Ryan Switzer was taken to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion after taking a vicious hit by Los Angeles linebacker Jatavis Brown in the fourth quarter.

UP NEXT

Chargers: Host Cincinnati next Sunday.

Steelers: Travel to Oakland to play the Raiders next Sunday. Pittsburgh hasn't won in Oakland since 1995.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Beat Lions 30-16, Clinch NFC West Title]]>Sun, 02 Dec 2018 15:52:25 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/AP_18336715853381.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams returned to their lockers in the Motor City, where NFC West championship shirts and hats were waiting to be worn.

The victors, though, refuse to be spoiled by this accomplishment.

Todd Gurley ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns to help the Rams overcome a sputtering start to beat the Detroit Lions 30-16 Sunday and clinch the division title for a second straight season.

"We're not satisfied yet," said defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who had two sacks and forced a fumble. "But we're headed in the right direction."

The Rams (11-1) moved a step closer to earning home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs, taking a one-game lead over New Orleans after it lost to Dallas on Thursday night. It is a cushion Los Angeles needs because its only loss was against the Saints last month.

"We're in a position right now that we feel good about," coach Sean McVay said. "If we take care of our business, all the rest of that stuff takes care of itself."

The Lions (4-8) have lost five of six since a surge of success gave them a winning record in late October.

"I'm extremely tired of losing," center Graham Glasgow said.

Detroit's defense held Los Angeles' high-powered offense in check for three quarters, giving the slumping team a shot to potentially pull off a stunning upset. The Lions, though, failed to make the most of the opportunity because their offense struggled to move the ball and score.

Donald helped seal the win by forcing Matthew Stafford to fumble midway through the fourth quarter. The star defensive tackle had two strip-sacks in his last game on Nov. 19, a 54-51 win over Kansas City.

"He held the ball and was loose with it," Donald said. "I just took advantage."

Donald has an NFL-high 16½ sacks this season, and the Rams say he should be an MVP candidate.

"He's unlike anything I've ever seen," quarterback Jared Goff said of the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year.

Linebacker Samson Ebukam recovered Stafford's fumble at the Detroit 24 and Gurley scored on a 13-yard run three snaps later, giving the Rams a 23-13 lead.

Goff, perhaps rusty coming off a bye week, was off the mark on many passes and lost a fumble to help keep the game close. His lackluster performance led to Los Angeles settling for Greg Zuerlein kicking three field goals. Goff was 17 of 33 for 207 yards with a tiebreaking, 8-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods late in the second quarter. Goff also threw an interception on an overthrown pass in the second quarter and lost a fumble in the third quarter.

The Rams were able to lean on Gurley, who has a single-season franchise record with 15 rushing touchdowns. The star running back also caught three passes for 33 yards.

Stafford was 20 of 33 yards for 245 yards with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tackle Taylor Decker, who faked the Rams out by blocking for a moment before releasing into the flat where he was left wide open. Decker's touchdown pulled Detroit within three points late in the third quarter.

The Lions had a chance to cut its deficit to three again late in the game, but Kenny Golladay couldn't get both feet in the end zone on a pass from Stafford and they had settle for Matt Prater's third field goal.

SAVVY MOVE

Gurley converted a third down late in the game, and after breaking free, he chose not to score to run more time off the clock and force Detroit to take timeouts. It proved a good move because Gurley ran for a 2-yard score with 1:54 left and the Lions were left with no timeouts on their final drive. That ended with Troy Hill intercepting a pass in the end zone with 12 seconds left.

"I wanted to waste some time," Gurley said.

SUH OR BOO?

Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh played against Detroit for the first time and made six tackles.

"I got a warm welcome back," he said.

Detroit drafted Suh No. 2 overall eight years ago and he left for Miami as a free agent in 2015. After the Dolphins cut him earlier this year, he signed a one-year deal with the Rams.

When he played for the Lions, the fans would say his last name after he made a play. When his name was announced after his first tackle Sunday, the crowd seemed to jeer him.

"I don't believe it was a boo," Suh said.

STILL COOKING

Los Angeles receiver Brandin Cooks, who had four receptions for 62 yards, became the first player in NFL history with 1,000 yards receiving in three straight years with three different franchises. He helped set up a field goal that gave the Rams a 13-3 halftime lead.

Cooks surpassed 1,000 last year with New England and in 2016 with New Orleans. Cooks also had a 1,000-yard season with the Saints in 2015.

INJURY REPORT

Rams: RB Malcom Brown left the game with a shoulder injury. CB Aqib Talib played for the first time since going down with an ankle injury in Week 3.

Lions: LB Devon Kennard went out with a hip injury.

UP NEXT

Rams: Play at Chicago on Sunday night.

Lions: Play at Arizona on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Eclipse the Suns]]>Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:20:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/186*120/AP_18336824063246.jpg

Tyson Chandler got a little sweet revenge against his former team. 

Chandler grabbed 11 rebounds and the Los Angeles Lakers eclipsed the Phoenix Suns, 120-96, on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.

For the second straight game, the Lakers went down double-digits early, but rallied in dramatic fashion for their second consecutive blowout victory at home. 

The Suns started the game on a 25-8 run, as the Lakers sleepwalked through the first quarter after playing a span of four games in six days. 

"We came out really sluggish with 8-10 turnovers in the first quarter," said Lakers guard Kyle Kuzma who scored a game-high 23 points. "The second unit really brought the energy and got us back in the game and when the starters got back in we got back to it."

After they woke up, the Lakers went on 53-21 run during a 40-point second quarter that gave the Lakers a 61-46 lead at the break.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drained a corner three at the buzzer to give the Lakers the 15-point halftime advantage. 

The Lakers picked up where they left off in the second half, following their 40-point second quarter with a 34-point encore performance in the third.

LeBron James finished with 22 points, six rebounds and eight assists as he shut the door on the Suns with an emphatic two-handed slam that put the Lakers back up by 15-points.

"I think we are just getting better every game," James said after the victory. "Every game is a learning experience for us. It’s just fun to win. We learn from our mistakes when we lose and we learn from our mistakes when we win. We know what is winning basketball for us, which is defending and sharing the ball.”

The team only cruised from there, extending the lead to 33 points in the fourth quarter as former Sun, Michael Beasley scored 14 points off the bench.

"It was an early game. We came out flat," said Beasley after the win. "Coach got on us in the first quarter and we responded well. We played as a team, and played defense, and that translated on the offensive end."

Josh Jackson, Trevor Ariza, and Richaun Holmes each had 13 points for the Suns. Veteran Jamal Crawford had 13 points off the bench.

"Trevor Ariza did a heck of a job," said Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov We basically mirrored LeBron’s minutes with Trevor and he did his best to kind of limit his productivity.”

Chandler, who played the last three and a half seasons with the Suns, dominated the glass against his former team, grabbing a game-high 11 boards, as the Lakers outrebounded the Suns, 54-38. 

"I still got love for a lot of those guys over there," said Chandler of his former team. "Those are young guys that I was mentoring. That doesn't just click off. But when you're on the court there's that competitive edge, and they're no longer your teammates. But afterwards, I got love for those guys, I want to see them grow. I'm just happy we won."

Los Angeles outscored the Suns in the paint, 62-48, in their third consecutive victory at home.

"I think it was a combination of things," Suns forward Josh Jackson said of the differential in the paint. "Our shot selection was iffy down the stretch which opened up transition points for them. We were turning over the ball a little bit so they got out and they were running a little bit. I think they were a little bit tougher than us today. I think we brought it from the gate and we were the aggressor, but it didn’t last throughout the game."

Rookie Moritz Wagner scored the first points of his NBA career in mop-up time in the fourth quarter, hitting two three-pointers for a total of 10 points.

"My teammates and the crowd were nuts.," said Wagner of the reaction when he scored his first points. "It's pretty cool the way they reacted. It's fun. It's been awhile. It's a very cool moment for me."

The Lakers will look to extend their winning streak to four when their four-game homestand comes to a close on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs.

TIP-INS

Suns: T.J. Warren missed his second straight game with ankle soreness, but Kokoskov doesn't think it's serious. Jackson started for the second straight game in Warren's place. ... Ariza, who spent two seasons with the Lakers from 2007-09, attended Westchester High School near the Lakers' training complex before going to UCLA. He got a warm ovation from Lakers fans, many of whom would love to land his services as a 3-point shooting specialist for their team.

Lakers: Tyson Chandler had three points and 11 rebounds while facing the Suns for the first time since leaving Phoenix one month ago and signing with Los Angeles as a free agent. Chandler was an early mentor to Ayton.

BOOKER DOWN

Devin Booker scored six points before leaving with a strained left hamstring in the second quarter. Booker hurt his leg while chasing a loose ball out of bounds, going immediately to the locker room.

Booker missed three games in October after straining his left hamstring in the Suns' first game against the Lakers. He was returning Sunday from a one-game absence due to an injured left toe after stubbing it on his hotel bed during the Suns' trip to Los Angeles to play the Clippers last Wednesday.

Kokoskov had no immediate update on Booker's condition afterward.

UP NEXT

Suns: Host Sacramento on Tuesday night. 

Lakers: Host San Antonio on Wednesday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
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<![CDATA[Fury Gets Up After Knockdowns, Wilder Scores Split Draw]]>Sun, 02 Dec 2018 02:06:00 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1067398914.jpg

Tyson Fury dominated long stretches of his heavyweight title bout against Deontay Wilder with shifty technique and graceful defense.

He still ended up flat on the canvas in the 12th round, his eyes rolling backward while Wilder celebrated above him.

Fury somehow gathered his wits, rose and made it to the final bell. That's when both hulking men heard a verdict that didn't satisfy them, but nearly guaranteed a rematch of this exciting showdown.

Wilder and Fury fought to a split draw Saturday night, with Wilder retaining his WBC heavyweight title after knocking down his British challenger twice.

"One hundred percent we'll do the rematch," Fury said. "We are two great champions. Me and this man are the two best heavyweights on the planet."

Wilder (40-0-1) floored Fury (27-0-1) in the ninth and final rounds, yet Fury clearly outboxed Wilder for large portions of their meeting at Staples Center.

Fury appeared to be on his way to a decision victory when he came out for the final round — and a minute later, he looked totally finished when Wilder put him on his back with a right-left combination. Yet Fury rose, summoning strength at the critical moment of his comeback from a 2 ½-year ring absence amid bouts of drug abuse and depression.

"I hope I did you all proud after nearly three years out of the ring," Fury said. "I was never going to be knocked out tonight. I showed good heart to get up. I came here tonight and I fought my heart out."

While Wilder kept his belt, Fury remained the unofficial lineal champion of the heavyweight division by virtue of his victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.

Judge Robert Tapper scored the fight 114-112 for Fury, while Alejandro Rochin favored Wilder 115-111. Judge Phil Edwards and The Associated Press scored it a 113-113 draw, with Wilder's knockdowns compensating for Fury's superior technique.

"We gave each other all we've got," Wilder said. "We're the best in the world. The respect was mutual."

While both men thought they won, neither was overly upset by the verdict in front of a frenzied Hollywood crowd. They embraced warmly and immediately talked about a rematch in the spring.

"When you get two warriors, you get a great fight," Wilder said. "That's what we proved tonight, and I'm ready to do it again."

The bout was a rare meeting of two unbeaten heavyweight stars in their apparent primes, with both fighters putting aside caution and the typical squabbles over money or belts to stage one of the most compelling matchups in the glamour division's recent history.

And the fighters delivered, each in his unique way. The 6-foot-9 Fury spent nearly every moment of the fight nimbly avoiding Wilder's punches in a masterful display — except for the two moments when the 6-foot-7 Wilder viciously knocked him to the canvas.

A punch to the top of Fury's head shockingly put him down in the ninth, but he bounced up quickly.

With just two minutes left in the fight, Wilder buckled Fury's knees with a right hand and knocked him senseless with a perfect left on the way down.

Even though Wilder made a throat-slashing gesture and mouthed "It's over," Fury beat the count and went back to work.

Wilder failed to win for the first time since his semifinal bout at the Beijing Olympics, and he failed to knock out his opponent for only the second time in 41 career bouts. Yet the Bronze Bomber showed remarkable resourcefulness and power, avoiding what would have been a decision loss with those two knockdowns.

"We're both warriors, but with those two drops, I think I won the fight," Wilder said. "I came out slow. I rushed my punches. I didn't sit still. I was too hesitant. I started overthrowing the right hand, and I just couldn't adjust."

Fury responded admirably to a big step up in competition after a lengthy absence and two warmup bouts, but Wilder got him in just enough trouble to earn a draw.

Staples Center had a frenzied atmosphere after the high-energy introductions, but the fighters settled into a technical bout early. Fury used his twitchy movement and near-constant feints to disrupt the rhythm of Wilder, whose trademark looping punches rarely found their mark.

Fury struggled to generate consistent offense until a strong sixth round, likely costing himself early rounds. The Englishman made Wilder miss constantly, particularly ducking under Wilder's big right hand with grace.

Fury was elusive and creative in the seventh and eighth rounds, and Wilder appeared to be out of answers.

But early in the ninth, Fury went down when he absorbed a shot to the top of the head from Wilder.

The punch wasn't the biggest of the fight, but Fury was stunned — and he responded by getting up and raising his aggression in an exciting round.

Fury went right back to work in the next two rounds, and a decision appeared to be in reach. But Fury went down again — and nearly everybody thought it was for good.

The fight attracted the celebrity attention expected in Hollywood from actors and athletes alike. Everyone from Chadwick Boseman, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Shaquille O'Neal to boxing stars Gennady Golovkin and Mikey Garcia gathered for the marquee heavyweight bout.

On the undercard, Jarrett Hurd defended his WBA and IBF 154-pound belts with a fourth-round stoppage of Jason Welborn. Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) overcame early trouble and floored the English challenger with one devastating right to the body.

Cuba's Luis Ortiz knocked down Travis Kauffman three times before stopping him late in the 10th round, and British heavyweight Joe Joyce improved to 7-0 with a first-round stoppage of Joe Hanks.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron talks leading Lakers to 2nd half comeback over Mavericks]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 23:51:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_vs._Mavs_2_1200x675_1385636931765.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, and Tyson Chandler discuss how the Lakers erased a 15-point deficit to come-from-behind to defeat the Dallas Mavericks on the second night of a back-to-back.]]><![CDATA[LeBron Leads Comeback as Lakers Defeat Mavericks]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 23:52:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Lakers+and+Mavs+II.png

It was a rough night for the state of Texas. 

LeBron James scored 28 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a 15-point deficit to defeat the Dallas Mavericks, 114-103, on Friday night at Staples Center.

Dallas started out hot, outscoring the Lakers 32-22 in the first quarter. Los Angeles trailed by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, but mounted a comeback on the Mavericks in the second half.

LeBron took responsibilty for the team's slow start, calling himself "horrendous," after committing four turnovers and two fouls in the first few minutes of the first quarter. 

"That was all my wrongdoing," said James after the game. "I wasn't as engaged as I should have been to start the game, and it resulted in us not having a very good first quarter at all."

James came back into the game in the second quarter, renergized and refocused as he helped guide the Lakers to a second half comeback.

Six different players scored in double-figures for the Lakers as they pulled away late in the game with a 15-3 run that included nine points by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. 

Caldwell-Pope and Tyson Chandler each had 13 points off the bench for the Lakers. 

Brandon Ingram scored 19, Kyle Kuzma chipped in 15, and Lonzo Ball had 10 points, but most of his imprint was on the defensive end as he recorded five steals.

"I was just trying to play with energy like I always do," said Ball of his defensive effort. "I'm the first guy when it comes to defense because I pick up [full court] most of the time. I just try to play with energy and the other guys usually follow." 

Los Angeles recaptured the lead, 61-60, midway through the third quarter and never looked back, outscoring the Mavs, 61-45, in the second half.

"We got down early and wasn't playing defense," continued Ball. "We picked it up on defense, got a lot more physical and took them off their spots and got back in the game."

James finished with 28 points, five rebounds and four assists. 

"I hit the reset button," said James of why he played better in the second half. "I'm my own biggest critic. I know what kind of first quarter I had and it resulted in us playing poor basketball. I just hit the reset button and knew I was going to be much better."

Harrison Barnes had a game-high 29 for the Mavericks. Dennis Smith Jr. chipped in 13, and Rookie of the Year candidate, Luka Doncic finished with just six points, despite averaging over 19 on the season.

"They made a run, which is going to happen in an NBA game," said Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle following the loss. "It was a combination of second shots and turnovers that really hurt us. Unfortunately, our bad stretches were longer than our good stretches. It's a disappointing loss."

Dallas was assessed four technical fouls in the game, including three in the fourth quarter, and point guard J.J. Barea was ejected late in the quarter after picking up his second technical foul.

It was the second meeting at Staples Center in less than a month with the Lakers defeating the Mavericks in exhilarating fashion, 114-113, on Halloween night.

The Lakers have now won four consecutive games over the Mavericks.

R.I.P. 41

During the game, Texas resident, George Herbert Walker Bush, who was the 41st president of the United States, died at the age of 94.

Bush passed at 10:10 p.m. Friday night, according to a statement from family spokesman Jim McGrath. 

Star-Studded Night

Boxer Evander Holyfield, reality star Dr. Drew Pinksy, Rapper Macklemore, singers Lionel Richie and Miguel, as well as actors Adam Devine, Andy Garcia, Will Ferrell and Jack Nicholson were all spotted at the game. 

TIP-INS

Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. scored 13 points and Wesley Matthews added 11. DeAndre Jordan had 12 rebounds and eight points. ... Dallas started 3 of 6 on 3-pointers and then went 3 of 21 from beyond the arc the rest of the half. ... The 27 3-point attempts in the first half was a season high, surpassing the 26 the Mavs had on Oct. 20 against Minnesota. ... Barnes is averaging 17 points against the Lakers in the first half of games this season.

Lakers: Tyson Chandler (13 points, 12 rebounds) also had a double-double while Lonzo Ball added 10 points. ... Los Angeles had 11 turnovers in the first half, marking the 11th time this season it had 10 or more in the first 24 minutes. ... Kuzma scored 13 points in the third quarter, which is his second most in a quarter this season. He had 14 in the second quarter against San Antonio on Oct. 22.

UP NEXT

Mavericks: Remain in Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Sunday.

Lakers: Host Phoenix on Sunday afternoon to cap a stretch of three home games in four days.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James' Favorite Denzel Washington Movies]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 21:08:47 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/DenzelLakersList.png

King Kong, ain't got anything on this list.

Academy Award winning actor, Denzel Washington, visited the Los Angeles Lakers facility recently as part of the team's "Genius Series." 

The idea, which is the brainchild of Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, is a series of lectures where guest speakers visit the Lakers to address and help inspire the team.

Well on Wednesday, it was Washington's turn and after the talk, a hyped up LeBron James listed his favorite films that Washington has starred in.

James listed "Man on Fire," and "He Got Game," as his top two, followed by "Remember the Titans" and "John Q." A member of the media suggest "Training Day," to which James agreed was in the top five as well.

"Who could forget about him? Alonzo. Of course," said James. "So, there's so many. So many."

Sure, LeBron's list was spur of the moment and off the top of his head, but his rankings (in our opinion) are questionable at best, and it got us thinking: What are Denzel Washington's greatest movies?

So without further ado, here is our list of Washington's Top 10 best films:

(Honorary mentions to "The Hurricane," "He Got Game," "The Manchurian Candidate," "Philadelphia," and "Antwone Fisher.")

10. American Gangster
9. Training Day
8. Unstoppable
7. Courage Under Fire
6. Inside Man
5. Devil in a Blue Dress
4. Malcolm X
3. Crimson Tide
2. Fences
1. Glory



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James and Lakers Discuss Victory Over Pacers]]>Thu, 29 Nov 2018 23:19:21 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_vs_Pacers_1200x675_1384543811649.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram discuss the Lakers, 104-96, victory over the Indiana Pacers.]]><![CDATA[Lakers Beat Pacers, 104-96]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 05:19:24 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/LakersvsPacers.png

"Now, boys, don't get caught watching the paint dry."

After surrendering a 24-point first quarter lead, the Lakers returned to life, bouncing back with a 104-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday Night at Staples Center.

LeBron James led all scorers with 38 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. He scored 12 of those 38 points in the final five minutes of the game as the 14-time All-Star took over down the stretch.

"That's been one of the challenging things I've been battling with since the season started," said James of when to take over and when to defer to his teammates. "How much do I defer and allow our young guys to try and figure it out and how much do I try and take over games? Tonight was one of those instances they looked at me and they wanted me to close the game."

The Lakers got a pregame speech from Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington on Wednesday, and then went out and played an inspired first half of basketball, leading 38-15 after the first quarter.

"We were very physical," said James of the first quarter surge. "We made them start their offense outside the timeline. Even when we made mistakes, we got back and got mulitple blocks. It was a good first quarter for us."

The 38 points tied a season-high in the first quarter for the Lakers, and the 15 points allowed was a new season-low (previous low was 16 points against the Utah Jazz on 11/23).

Staring at a 24-point deficit on the road without their best player, Indiana did not wave the white flag, and continued to chip away at the lead, trailing by just six points at halftime.

"You just can't dig a hole for yourself and not come in here ready to play and not come out with a sense of urgency this time in the season," said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan. "I don't care where you are--on the road or at home--I don't have any words for that start.

The Pacers completed the comeback with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter when Tyreke Evans drained a three to give Indiana a 69-66 lead.

"Our main goal was to come out with energy, make a lead and contain it," said Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis of the second half. "It's tough to come back in 38 minutes, you have to burn a lot of energy."

The Lakers' struggles could directly be attributed to their three-point shooting as they started the game 3-for-5 before missing their next 10 shots from beyond the arc.

Josh Hart provided a spark off the bench, scoring 13 points as they Lakers came roaring back to get the win. Brandon Ingram had 14 points.

"It's a game of runs," said Hart. "We just focused on getting stops and converting on the offensive end. Nobody was panicking. Nobody was doubting."

Sabonis led the Pacers with a team-high 20 points and 15 rebounds. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 14 points.

Pacers All-Star, Victor Oladipo, did not play in the game and has missed the team's last six contests with a right knee injury.

TIP-INS 

Pacers: Oladipo scrimmaged in half-court work before the game, but couldn't return. He could go through a full practice Friday. ... Indiana fell short of its eighth road victory already this season. Only Toronto and Utah have more.

Lakers: Lonzo Ball had two points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes while playing through an ankle injury. Ball sprained his ankle in LA's loss at Denver on Tuesday, but made good on his vow to play through it. ... Lance Stephenson played five scoreless minutes. He played in all 82 games last season for the Pacers in his second stint with the club, averaging 9.2 points. ... Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points.

UP NEXT

Pacers: At Sacramento on Saturday night.

Lakers: Host Dallas on Friday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Despite Magic Johnson's Denials, LeBron James Has Ignored Play Calls in Past]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 05:24:07 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/LeBron+and+Luke+Walton.png

Much ado about nothing?

On Wednesday, a report from ESPN Basketball writer Brian Windhorst stated that LeBron James had been ignoring the play calls of Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton. 

Ordinarily, a report of a team's star player intentionally ignoring the orders of his head coach is enough to cause a rift within any sports organization.

So on Thursday, Lakers team president Magic Johnson publicly shut down that report in an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio:

"Brian got it wrong," Johnson said. "This is all about making sure that they can say something on ESPN and everybody can just talk. We have a system that the ball moves around, a lot of pick-and-roll plays. If you watch us play, the ball is not in LeBron James’ hands all of the time. It can’t be, because you want to pass it around, you want to get into your pick-and-roll plays. But hey, we’re the Lakers. People are going to be talking about us. But that’s not how it’s going right now."

Johnson is correct that the Lakers have a system that moves the ball around, but he was incorrect when he said 'Brian got it wrong.'

Late in the game of the Lakers 104-108 loss to the Orlando Magic, I witnessed firsthand what appeared to be Walton trying to get James attention for a play call, and instead James running his own play.

This doesn't appear to breaking news, or deliberate disobedience on the part of James. Plenty of stars in every major sport might ignore or change a play call if they see something differently on the court or field of play. 

Also, as the team's primary ballhandler in the past, James has done this frequently throughout his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat. In fact, James famously told former coach David Blatt he wouldn't run his out of bounds play before hitting a buzzer beater in Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs in 2015.

According to Windhorst's report:

"The scouts also have noticed that when James is running the point, he rarely looks toward the bench to receive play calls from coach Luke Walton. Even when he has seen them, the scouts say, he ignores them and runs the play he prefers. Walton has adjusted, and now when James is running the show, Walton will typically just let him call the game. This probably shouldn’t be considered a slight — it’s just James being James."  

We understand how the optics of the report look, and the reason why Johnson would publicly shoot it down, but honestly this seems much ado about nothing.

Everytime the Lakers go on a losing streak or struggle, reports of Walton being on the hot seat will inevitably arise, but as long as the Lakers continue to play winning basketball, there will be no cause for concern in LaLaLand.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Acquire Relief Pitcher From Braves]]>Wed, 28 Nov 2018 16:54:48 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers-acquire-relief-pitcher.jpg

The Dodgers have acquired left-handed pitcher Adam McCreery from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for cash.

McCreery made his major league debut on Aug. 9 at Washington in his lone appearance with the Braves last season.

He split the majority of the season between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was a combined 2-5 with a 3.62 ERA in 42 games. He struck out 71 batters in 54 2/3 innings while limiting hitters to a .242 average.

The 6-foot-9 lefty from La Verne, California, was originally selected by the Angels in the 2014 first-year player draft. The 25-year-old pitcher is 8-10 with nine saves and a 3.42 ERA in 133 relief appearances for six different teams in the Angels' and Braves' organizations.

To create room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated relief pitcher Pat Venditte for assignment.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Denver Dominates Los Angeles, as Lakers Lose by 32]]>Tue, 27 Nov 2018 21:16:16 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Denver+Dominates+Lakers.png

Maybe it was the altitude.

Paul Millsap and Jamal Murray each had 20 points as the Denver Nuggets dominated the Los Angeles Lakers, 117-85, on Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center.

It was an ugly night all around for the Lakers as LeBron James finished with just 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting.

As a team, the Lakers shot 5-for-35 from beyond the arc for a paltry 14 percent.

"When you’re 5 for 35 you’re not winning any games like that," said James of the team's atrocious three-point shooting. "It’s just that simple."

Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with a team-high 21 points.

"I'm just playing more under control right now," said Kuzma. "I'm remaining aggressive, but also looking for my teammates more. I'm trying to be a better overall player."

With the tsuris, three-point troubles, and lack of defense, the Lakers had no chance against the Nuggets, and the problems only compounded when point guard Lonzo Ball left the game in the second quarter with a left ankle sprain and despite playing a few minutes in the third quarter, was unable to continue in the game.

"He sprained his left ankle pretty good, but wanted to give it a go," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton of the injury. "But the way he was moving out there, we didn’t feel like it was right to leave him out there on the court, so we got him out quickly."

Los Angeles trailed by 26 points midway through the fourth quarter, so Walton waived the proverbial white flag and emptied his bench with back-to-back home games upcoming on Thursday and Friday.

"I thought we got tired. We played a great pace early in the first quarter, but it didn’t carryover. I don’t know if we just didn’t adjust to the altitude," said Walton. "Not sure what it is, but a lot of those possessions, we had a lot of guys sucking for air."

Malik Beasley had 20 points off the bench for the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic added 14 points and Juancho Hernangomez had 12 for the Nuggets, who won their fourth in a row.

Thankfully for Los Angeles, Tuesday night was the one and only game at the mile-high altitude of Denver this season. 

"At shoot around this morning we got up and down and tried to get our lungs used to being up here," said Walton. "Every team has to deal with it that plays here, so it can’t be an excuse for us."

The 32-point victory was the largest over the Lakers in Nuggets franchise history, surpassing a 29-point win in 1993.

TIP-INS

Lakers: G Rajon Rondo remains sidelined with a broken right hand — he's missed the last six games — but is making progress. He has been cleared to take part in non-contact basketball activities.

Nuggets: G Gary Harris missed a second consecutive game with left ankle soreness. Torrey Craig again started in his place. ... Millsap also had 11 rebounds, giving him his fourth double-double of the season. ... Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders watched the game from courtside seats. 

UP NEXT

Lakers: Opens four-game homestand against Indiana on Thursday night. 

Nuggets: Kick off a five-game road trip at Portland on Friday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boxer Deontay Wilder Honors Firefighters, Gives Away Free Tickets]]>Tue, 27 Nov 2018 19:17:20 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Boxer_Deontay_Wilder_Honors_Firefighters.jpg

Boxer Deontay Wilder honors first responders for their work fighting California wildfires. Mario Solis reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Nov. 27, 2018.]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings, AEG Announce $100K Donation for CA Wildfires]]>Sun, 25 Nov 2018 18:27:03 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Kings-donate-wildfires-1059418906.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings and their parent company AEG Sports announced Sunday they had made a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross to assist with its response to the California wildfires.

"The recent fires have caused our community and our state incredible and unimaginable damage," AEG President and CEO Dan Beckerman said.

"We are making this donation to the America Red Cross in honor of the first responders and all who have been impacted."

The Kings have set up a page on their website, LAKings.com/firerelief, for fans to make donations to the Red Cross.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Philip Rivers Sets 2 Completion Records, Chargers Win 45-10]]>Sun, 25 Nov 2018 17:51:29 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Philip-Rivers-NFL-completion-record-11-25-18.jpg

Philip Rivers tied the NFL record for consecutive completions and set marks for the most to start a game and the highest percentage in a game as the Los Angeles Chargers rolled to a 45-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

The 15-year veteran completed his first 25 passes and was 28 of 29 for 259 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters. It was also his 11th straight game with multiple TD passes.

Rivers completed 25 straight passes in the first 2½ quarters, tying Ryan Tannehill's mark from 2015. The Dolphins QB completed his last seven passes against the Tennessee Titans in on Oct. 18, 2015, and then his first 18 the following week against the Houston Texans.

"It was an efficient day to say the least. There were so many guys making catches but it was a fun day," Rivers said.

Rivers — who said he did not know he was near Tannehill's record — tied the mark with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen midway through the third quarter. He had his only incompletion on the next possession when he was rushed and was unable to connect on a short pass to Austin Ekeler.

Rivers did break Mark Brunell's record for completions to start a game. Brunell had 22 straight for the Washington Redskins against the Houston Texans on Sept. 24, 2006. Rivers' 96.8 percent accuracy surpassed Kurt Warner's 92.3 percent, which was set in 2009 when he went 24 of 26 for Arizona against Jacksonville.

The Cardinals (2-9) jumped out to a 10-0 lead with scores on their first two possessions before the Chargers (8-3) scored touchdowns on six of seven possessions.

Mike Williams and Melvin Gordon each had two touchdowns while Ekeler and Allen also scored. Gordon, who came into the game sixth in the league in rushing, had 61 yards on 10 carries before suffering a knee injury during the third quarter.

Ekeler accounted for 103 yards from scrimmage (35 rushing, 68 receiving).

"He was hot. Guys were getting open and separating and making catches," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "We played a complete football game. It started off slow but we made adjustments and guys responded."

Josh Rosen, who grew up nearby in Manhattan Beach and played at UCLA, was 12 of 19 for 105 yards with a touchdown and interception. David Johnson had 17 carries for 63 yards. The Cardinals had 108 yards of offense in the first quarter but just 41 the rest of the game.

"We talked about coming in here on the road, starting fast. I thought we did a great job of doing that, taking the first drive down and scoring, and from that point, the wheels just sort of fell off a little bit," Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said.

Arizona took the opening kickoff and took the lead when Larry Fitzgerald caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Rosen. It was his first career catch at StubHub Center, the 41st different stadium where Fitzgerald has a reception. The Cardinals extended the lead on a 30-yard field goal by Phil Dawson.

The Chargers seized momentum with a 28-point second quarter. Williams drew Los Angeles within 10-7 with a 9-yard catch in the corner of the end zone less than a minute into the quarter, and Gordon gave them the lead seven minutes later on a 28-yard run.

Gordon capitalized on Derwin James' interception with a 5-yard TD, and Williams added his second score when he caught a 2-yard pass from Rivers with 16 seconds left in the half.

Rivers was 19 of 19 in the first half for 187 yards. According to SportRadar, the last perfect first half with 15 or more attempts was by Warren Moon, who went 16 of 16 for Seattle against Oakland on Nov. 1, 1998.

BOSA BREAKS OUT

Defensive end Joey Bosa, who returned last week after missing the first nine games with a bone bruise in his left foot, had two sacks and five tackles.

"I felt more confident knowing I went through 31 plays last week," Bosa said. "It felt amazing to get a sack. It's been too long between sacks. It was fun."

INJURIES

Cardinals: Linebacker Josh Bynes suffered a thumb injury during the second quarter. Wilks said the injury is not considered to be serious.

Chargers: Gordon did not return after his knee injury. Lynn said he hopes to know more on Monday, adding: "Hopefully what happened is not serious. His durability has been pretty good this season."

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Return home to face Green Bay next Sunday.

Chargers: Travel to Pittsburgh next Sunday for a prime-time game.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Discuss Second Loss to Magic in a Week]]>Sun, 25 Nov 2018 16:30:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_vs._Magic_1200x675_1380150339913.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players Lance Stephenson, Javale McGee, Lonzo Ball and LeBron James discuss the team's 108-104 loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.]]><![CDATA[Magic Cast Spell on Lakers]]>Sun, 25 Nov 2018 16:31:43 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/162*120/AP_18329778011271.jpg

Now you see it, now you don't.

The Los Angeles Lakers showed up for the first quarter, but vanished for the remaining three, as they lost for the second time in eight days to the Orlando Magic, 108-104, on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.

Nikola Vucevic cast a spell over the Lakers defense for the second straight game, scoring 31 points with 15 rebounds and 7 assists in the victory.

"He's just had our number this year," said LeBron James of Vucevic. "That's all you can say. He's a very good player that does it both on the inside and the outside. He's just had our number."

In two total games against the Lakers, Vucevic has 67 points and 18 rebounds.

"I got going early in the game, so I just wanted to keep being aggressive," said Vucevic. "Whenever I got in a good position, I tried to score. I had it going. It was a great win for us, especially after we beat them at home a week ago."

Los Angeles fell in Orlando last week, 117-130, in one of their worst performances of the season. Similar to Sunday, the Lakers came out hot, and held a 31-15 advantage after one quarter.

However, the next three quarters were a defensive disaster as the Magic put the Lakers in a trance for the final three frames, scoring 105 points.

It was déjà vu all over again on Sunday as the Lakers jumped out to a 29-19 first quarter lead before the defense disappeared again the remainder of the way.

"We tried to be super aggressive attacking the rim and trying to find a rhythm," said Kyle Kuzma who had 13 points in the first quarter for the Lakers.

Orlando outscored the Lakers 89 to 75 in the final three quarters as they improved to 10-10 on the season.

"It was the second and third quarters why we lost tonight," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "It was a disappointing loss. We've got to get back to battling with the basketball.

Aaron Gordon had 17 points and D.J. Augustin added 12 points and nine assists for the Magic.

"It was a great team win," said Gordon after the game. "We responded well after the slow first quarter. I have a lot of family here, so it's good to get a win for them."

LeBron James led the Lakers with 24 points. Lance Stephenson scored 13 points off the bench. 

"Defensively we broke down, and the energy level was lower than our expectations," said LeBron of the loss. "They took advantage of that today."

JaVale McGee had 12 points and a season-high seven blocks in the contest.

The Lakers led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but trailed by 16 in the third quarter.

James and the Lakers tied the game with just over a minute remaining, but Magic guard Terrence Ross got to the rim to break the 104-104 deadlock after James missed a step-back 3-pointer.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed another 3 on the ensuing Lakers possession, and Gordon got a dunk on the runout to cap off their second straight upset win in the series, sending Los Angeles to 11-8 on the season.

"We had good energy and got some stops. We got out in transition and started making some shots and erased the deficit," said Lonzo Ball of the comeback. "Unfortunately, we just fell a little short."

Los Angeles shot 20-of-31 from the free throw line, for a paltry 64.5 percent. 

The loss snapped the Lakers six-game winning streak at Staples Center against the Magic. 

TIP-INS

Magic: Jonathan Simmons chipped in with 10. . Coach Steve Clifford has not decided whether F Wes Iwundu will remain in the starting lineup when Jonathan Isaac is no longer playing on a minutes restriction. Isaac had six points and five rebounds against the Lakers in his third game back after missing six games because of an ankle injury. "You can't coach like that in this league," Clifford said. "The challenges of the day are the only things I am worried about."

Lakers: JaVale McGee finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks. McGee and New Orleans C Anthony Davis are the only players in the NBA with at least five blocks in four games this season. . Lance Stephenson had 13 of the Lakers' 21 points off the bench, but Los Angeles was outscored there by 21 points. . Lonzo Ball had nine points and 10 assists, his second game this season with double-digit assists

UP NEXT

Magic: At Golden State on Monday.

Lakers: At Denver on Tuesday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[USC Keeping Coach Clay Helton Despite 5-7 Season]]>Sun, 25 Nov 2018 15:58:07 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-884144544.jpg

Although Clay Helton has lost the support of a sizable portion of Southern California's fan base, athletic director Lynn Swann still believes.

Helton will remain USC's head coach despite presiding over the Trojans' first losing season since 2000, Swann announced Sunday.

Swann secured his coach's future one day after the Trojans finished 5-7 with a narrow loss to Notre Dame. Despite widespread dissatisfaction with Helton among USC's boosters and fans, Swann is staying with the coach who got a contract extension through 2023 from Swann just nine months ago.

"I am a strong advocate of consistency within a program, sticking by a leader, supporting them and helping them and their team improve," Swann said in a statement. "One season does not define a coach."

Helton is 32-17 in his first head coaching job, which began midway through the 2015 season. His Trojans won the Rose Bowl two years ago to cap a nine-game winning streak, and they won the Pac-12 title last season.

But USC lost five of its final six games this season, capped by back-to-back losses to archrivals UCLA and Notre Dame. Helton survived it on the strength of his previous success, his clean program at the scandal-plagued school and Swann's desire for continuity.

"We see top programs across the country have down years and the fans want to change coaches," Swann said. "In fact, it happened a few years ago with (Saturday's) opponent, but that administration remained committed to their head coach, who made some key changes, worked hard to fix things and got his team to improve markedly. That will happen here at USC."

Swann's decision extends the unlikely reign of the genial longtime assistant coach atop the West Coast's most storied college football program. Helton was the Trojans' offensive coordinator when he was abruptly promoted to head coach after Steve Sarkisian was fired following a series of alcohol-related misbehaviors.

Helton immediately brought stability and professionalism to a program that had been repeatedly rocked by turmoil ever since Pete Carroll's departure six years earlier. His 21 victories in his first two seasons were the most by a coach in USC history.

Yet Helton has never won over a significant portion of USC's fans, who feel his two years of success rested on the shoulders of the Trojans' formidable raw talent base and the brilliance of quarterback Sam Darnold. The Trojans' second-half collapse without Darnold this season seemed to confirm those beliefs for many boosters, but Swann chose stability over another round of tumult for his department's marquee program.

"We acknowledge and understand our deficiencies in areas that include culture, discipline, schemes, personnel and staff," Swann said. "We agree that changes need to be made, and they will. "

The Trojans' slide culminated in a 24-17 loss to the No. 3 Fighting Irish at the Coliseum on Saturday night in their annual intersectional rivalry game. USC largely played well for Helton in season finale, but failed to gain bowl eligibility — an unthinkable failure at the Pac-12's glamour school, which has had only four losing seasons since 1961.

A banner advocating for Helton's firing was flown over the Coliseum before the Trojans faced Notre Dame. Helton was booed while he left the Coliseum field after the loss, but he responded with the school's signature "Fight On" gesture.

After the game, Helton said he expected to return for another season.

"We understand that championships are what is expected and deserved at USC," Helton said Sunday. "I have met with Mr. Swann and discussed changes and improvements that will be made moving forward. Our staff, our players and I will work tirelessly this offseason to produce a disciplined football team that executes at a championship level. I truly believe that with the continued development of the talent we have on this team, the best is yet to be. Our number one goal is to win championships and we will not be satisfied with anything less."

Swann repeatedly backed Helton publicly during the season despite the unusual nature of their partnership. Swann inherited Helton when he took over his alma mater's athletic department in July 2016, but the new AD still gave a lucrative extension to Helton last February.

The Trojans had won their first 19 home games during Helton's tenure before losing their final three in a row before dwindling crowds at the Coliseum, which is undergoing an expensive makeover this year to entice donors and fans to buy season tickets and suites.

Helton's Trojans lost eminently winnable home games against Arizona State and California over the past five weeks before a 34-27 loss last weekend to a rebuilding two-win UCLA team in Los Angeles' annual crosstown showdown.

USC won't play in a bowl game during a season without an NCAA postseason ban for the first time since 2000 — the final season of coach Paul Hackett's tenure before Carroll took over.

Helton, brought to USC by Lane Kiffin as quarterbacks coach in 2010, first led USC to a win in the Las Vegas Bowl in late 2013 during a one-game stint after interim head coach Ed Orgeron left the program when Sarkisian was hired as Kiffin's full-time replacement — a fairly typical development in this school's tumultuous post-Carroll era.

Helton transformed the program's culture by emphasizing a quaint devotion to faith, family and football.

But results matter most at a program of USC's stature, and Helton is 12-13 in games with any starting quarterback other than Darnold, who took over in the fourth game of the 2016 season.

Helton took away play-calling responsibility from offensive coordinator Tee Martin during the season, and an overhaul of the offensive coaching staff seems necessary with these Trojans mired in 83rd in the FBS in total offense, 91st in scoring and 108th in rushing offense. New quarterback J.T. Daniels had a fairly unimpressive freshman season despite extensive attention from Helton, a former quarterbacks coach.

Major improvement could be tough next year no matter who's calling the plays. USC opens against Mountain West power Fresno State, and its conference schedule includes Washington and Oregon after the Trojans missed both power programs this season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Provides Scare But Can't Take Down 12-0 Notre Dame]]>Sat, 24 Nov 2018 20:56:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Notre-Dame-USC-11-24-18.jpg

Ian Book passed for 352 yards, Dexter Williams went 52 yards on a go-ahead touchdown run and No. 3 Notre Dame completed an unbeaten regular season and likely secured a spot in the College Football Playoff with a 24-17 over longtime rival Southern California on Saturday night.

Chris Finke caught an early TD pass for the Fighting Irish (12-0, No. 3 CFP), who showed playoff-level tenacity in rallying from an early 10-point deficit, their largest of the season. Tony Jones Jr. then took a short pass 51 yards for a touchdown with 3:09 to play to finish off Notre Dame's 10th perfect regular season since 1945, the first since 2012.

Notre Dame is all but certain to be chosen for the four-team playoff, and this win could keep the Irish away from powerhouse Alabama in the first postseason game.

Williams rushed for 97 yards as the Irish overcame a slow start in the 90th edition in this famed intersectional rivalry. Notre Dame didn't score until Finke's TD catch shortly before halftime, but the Irish ran off 24 consecutive points and shut out USC in the second half until Tyler Vaughns' TD catch with 48 seconds to play.

J.T. Daniels passed for 349 yards for the Trojans (5-7), who will stay home for the bowl season after their first losing season since 2000. Vaughns caught 12 passes for 120 yards in what might have been the final game for coach Clay Helton, who is under pressure after the Trojans lost five of their final six games in a dismaying collapse.

After USC won eight straight over Notre Dame in the 2000s, the Irish have claimed the Jeweled Shillelagh in six of the last nine meetings in this classic college football matchup. Notre Dame is the first road team to win in the series since 2012, when the Irish also completed an unbeaten regular season with a victory at the Coliseum.

Only four USC teams have finished with losing records since 1961, but this clearly talented group gave a tough game to the powerhouse Irish, who faced their first double-digit deficit of the year when USC went up 10-0 in the second quarter. The Trojans' 289 yards in the first half were 64 more than the Irish had allowed before halftime all season.

Notre Dame had only trailed twice at any point beforehand in their perfect season, but Williams bounced his 52-yard go-ahead run down the USC sideline shortly after halftime.

Justin Yoon set a Notre Dame record with his 58th career field goal late in the third, putting the Irish up 17-10.

Although Jones' late rumble to the end zone clinched the expected result for Notre Dame, the Trojans were competitive with an elite opponent despite the roiling subplot of their coach's future.

Helton won the Pac-12 last season and the Rose Bowl just two years ago, but a large portion of the Trojans' fan base is publicly agitating for the dismissal of the coach, who got a contract extension through 2023 just nine months ago.

When Helton's face appeared in a recorded announcement on the scoreboard in the first half, he was booed by a portion of the Coliseum crowd of 59,821 — the smallest for the Notre Dame-USC game in Los Angeles since 1960.

But USC got a 14-yard TD run on its opening drive by Vavae Malepeai, who missed the second half with an injury. When Michael Brown hit a field goal early in the second quarter, Notre Dame faced its first double-digit deficit of the year.

The Irish offense finally scored 2:20 before halftime, capping a difficult 64-yard drive with Book's 24-yard throw to Finke, who hadn't caught a TD pass since the season opener against Michigan.

USC's 10-7 halftime lead could have been much larger, but receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Amon-Ra St. Brown both fumbled after catches in Notre Dame territory.

THE TAKEAWAY

Notre Dame: The Irish showed resilience throughout their cross-country odyssey of a season, and narrowly beating an inspired USC squad is nothing about which to be ashamed. They'll be glad to have the test as they head toward a two-game shot at their first national championship since 1988.

USC: The Trojans showed up well for Helton despite the bleak circumstances, but were undone again by turnovers, penalties and poor play after halftime. USC athletic director Lynn Swann is expected to announce Helton's future soon.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame expects to get an invitation to the four-team playoff, hopefully to face Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

USC's worst season in 18 years is over.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Trolls Teammate Moe Wagner After Ohio State Crushes Michigan]]>Sat, 24 Nov 2018 17:59:03 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/171*120/GettyImages-461467036.jpg

It's a bad day to be a Michigan fan. 

If the Wolverines stunning, 62-39, loss to Ohio State that knocked them out of the College Football Playoff wasn't enough for Michigan fans, Ohio's greatest son has decided to throw some salt on the wound. 

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, an Ohio native, and therefore an Ohio State fan, tweeted at his teammate, Moritz Wagner, after the blowout loss on Saturday afternoon.

"Somebody please go check on my teammate Moritz Wagner!!! I don't believe he's doing so well right now. Someone please call 911," wrote James in the social media post, but without using the letter "M," for Michigan.

The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted James out of High School, but he has repeatedly said that if he had gone to college, he would have gone to Ohio State. James frequently visits the university, and has been seen on the sidelines wearing a No. 23 Ohio State jersey during some of College Football's biggest games, including the 2015 National Championship game. 

Meanwhile, Michigan has lost to their greatest rivals for seven consecutive seasons. To put that in perspective, the last time Michigan defeated Ohio State, James had just completed his first season with the Miami Heat, and had yet to win an NBA Championship.

Since then, James has won three titles and played for the Heat, Cavaliers, and now Lakers. Needless, to say it's been a long time since the Wolverines tasted the sweet sensation of victory over the hated Buckeyes.



Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Lakers Talk About Thanksgiving Hangover, Beating Jazz]]>Fri, 23 Nov 2018 23:23:36 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_Beat_Jazz_1200x675_1379145283887.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram discuss their sluggish and sloppy performance in their 90-83 victory over the Utah Jazz on the day after Thanksgiving.]]><![CDATA[Thanksgiving Hangover? Lakers Survive Jazz]]>Fri, 23 Nov 2018 23:24:36 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/Lakers+Beat+Jazz.png

Maybe it was the tryptophan.

LeBron James scored 22 points and the Los Angeles Lakers survived a sloppy game, defeating the Utah Jazz, 90-83, on Friday night at Staples Center. 

"First of all the first game after a road trip is always tough, and even more so, the first game after Thanksgiving is even tougher," said James. "We need to clean up some of our passes...and we'll get better with that."

The Thanksgiving hangover was evident early as both teams got off to a slow and sluggish start, as they went into the intermission tied 38-38. The 76 total combined points was among the lowest scored in a half in the NBA this season. 

The 90 points the Lakers scored was a season low, with their previous low 107 points. However, they held Utah to just 83 points, their lowest total allowed this season.

"You're not always going to shoot the ball well," said point guard Lonzo Ball. "The offense ins't always going to be clicking, but you always can play defense, regardless of what happens. That's what we did today and pulled out a good win."

The low-scoring affair was sloppy from start to finish as both teams combined to commit 43 turnovers.

"It was not a pretty win, but we won it with our defense tonight," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton.

Two days after committing 15 turnovers in a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lakers turned the ball over a season-high 24 times in their first game back from a three-game Eastern Conference road trip. They managed just 10 assists in their win over the Jazz.

"I don't think we have an excuse for it," said Brandon Ingram of the season-high 24 turnovers. "I think it was one of those nights where we didn't take care of the basketball."

Both teams combined to shoot 11-for-46 (23 percent) from beyond the arc. 

James finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Brandon Ingram had a game-high 24 points for the Lakers, and JaVale McGee had 12. No other Laker scored in double figures. 

"Maybe it was Thanksgiving," joked Ingram. "Everyone was a little overweight probably, everyone except for me. I don't know. I really can't pinpoint it, but we picked it up on the defensive end and that helped us out."

Joe Ingles led the Jazz with 16 points and eight rebounds. Rudy Gobert chipped in 13 points and seven rebounds, and Alec Burks had 17 points off the bench in the loss. 

Jazz star Donovan Mitchell left the game in the second quarter with rib contusion and did not return to the game.

"He's our leading scorer and it impacts the game, but it's not a crutch or an excuse," said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder over losing Mitchell. "I like the fact we kept competing. Joe [Ingles] had an excellent game attacking. Alec Burks got to the rim. Other guys just have to pick it up."

The Lakers victory snapped a six-game losing streak against the Jazz overall, with their last win coming on April 13, 2016, the infamous Kobe Bryant 60-point performance in his final NBA game.

The Lakers have won seven of their last eight games, and are 9-2 in their last 11 games. They sit a game out of first place in the Western Conference.

"Everyone loves instant oatmeal, but greatness is not appreciated that way," concluded James. "You have to work through your habits and get better and better every month, and so far we've done that this season."

TIP-INS

Jazz: Mitchell was 2 of 9 and committed two turnovers before his injury. ... Rudy Gobert had 13 points and seven rebounds. 

Lakers: Josh Hart played 14 scoreless minutes despite a strained tendon in his left ankle. ... After returning at 4 a.m. Thanksgiving morning from a trip to Florida and Cleveland, Los Angeles has begun a stretch with six of seven at Staples Center. ... JaVale McGee had 12 points, and Ball added nine points and 10 rebounds. 

UP NEXT

Jazz: At the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Lakers: Host the Orlando Magic on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Admits He Wanted JaVale McGee to Join Lakers After Playing Against Him in NBA Finals]]>Fri, 23 Nov 2018 20:23:17 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/LeBron+and+JaVale+McGee.png

He might be the steal of the offseason. 

Lakers center JaVale McGee is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Los Angeles, but there's one person who isn't surprised by the Big Man's numbers this season. 

LeBron James revealed earlier this week that he lobbied the Lakers front office to sign the 30-year-old center as a free agent this offseason because of his recent history of playing against him in the NBA Finals.

"I played against him in the last two NBA Finals and I wanted him on this team because I know what he brings," James told the Associated Press. "It's his energy, his energy level, his ability at the rim. If you don't have that on your team, you're not going to have much, man. You need to have people with high IQ, which he's got. That's why I wanted JaVale to be part of this team."

McGee is having his best NBA season for the Lakers, averaging career-highs in points (13.4), rebounds (6.6), assists (1.1), field goal percentage (63.7%), and free throw percentage (66.7%).

He currently ranks third in the NBA in blocks, fifth in field goal percentage, and 19th in offensive rebounds. With those stats, its' easy to see why McGee is considered to be one of the seals of the offseason.

"He's been great," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton of "The Big Daddy Wookie." "He's been professional. He's taking care of himself. He's vocal in the locker rooms and the huddles, he's been producing for us, obviously his shot blocking has been a big part of us having some success on defense. We're very pleased with JaVale." 

McGee admits he's grown and matured as a player after winning back-to-back championships with the Golden State Warriors. The 7-foot center out from Michigan had a lot of options in free agency, but admits that when the King calls and says he wants to play with you, you take note. 

"He could have said 'get anybody,'" said McGee. "It's just a reassuring feeling, a confidence builder I guess, knowing that you're going into a situation wanted as an option, like you're really wanted. That's pretty dope."

McGee has been an anchor on defense and is a big part of the reason why the Lakers are three games above .500 for the first time since 2013. Now, with the addition of veteran center Tyson Chandler, McGee will be able to continue to grow and learn from one of the best defensive centers in the game.



Photo Credit: Ronald Cortes/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Roggin's Heroes Thanksgiving 2018]]>Thu, 22 Nov 2018 20:29:16 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Roggins-Heroes-thanksgiving-2018.JPG

They’re the best of the best. Roggin’s Heroes Thanksgiving is back with the seventh helping of a holiday tradition.

Pull up a chair and join us at the StubHub Center to count the blessings of Southern California’s top high school football stars.

A handful of our alumni have reached the NFL. Our next generation is hungry to fulfill their dreams but they’re even more hungry when it comes to devouring the holiday feast.

Kayvon Thibodeaux wasted no time tackling the turkey. The big defensive end is the top prospect in the nation and has college coaches licking their chops.

It’s a fun and festive atmosphere around our table, even when the guys start bringing up the times they’ve played each other on the field.

There were big hits, big scores and a big scene when one star told another, “wish you the best.”

Some of the country’s best have gathered around our table. But none of them would be here without a strong support system.

Family is the foundation that’s prepared these young men for the bright lights of college football.

When those lights shine on Ryan Hilinski, he’ll be thinking of the brother that helped pave the way for his career. Tyler Hilinski took his own life earlier this year but Ryan’s hope is to give everything he has to make big brother proud.

The boys might have thought the turkey was the main course. But the biggest item on tonight’s menu is an extra large helping of wisdom.

Since we’re at the home of the Chargers, it’s only fitting that Coach Anthony Lynn stops by the shares his experience.

Their minds are unshakably focused on football. But the two-time Super Bowl winner tells them why going outside the game could help them succeed inside the lines.

One more course. It’s time for dessert! And time for a few of these guys to start piling on.

They have plenty to be thankful for this holiday.

And you’ll be grateful after watching our festive football family on Roggin’s Heroes Thanksgiving.

]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Claims Victory in Return to Cleveland]]>Wed, 21 Nov 2018 21:11:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/LeBron+Lakers+in+Cleveland.png

Who says you can't go home?

LeBron James scored 32 points in his return to Cleveland, as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from behind to defeat the Cavaliers, 109-105, on Wednesday night at Quickens Arena.

James was welcomed back to "The Land" as a hero, receiving a standing ovation during pregame introductions, and when he first touched the ball after tipoff.

"We recognize the fact that certainly this is a big night for the city of Cleveland," said Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew, "Because a hero has come back."

The Cavs also paid tribute to their King with an emotional video during a timeout in the first quarter.

"It was crazy. Especially when he first came out," said Lakers poing guard Lonzo Ball who scored 15 points with 7 rebounds and six assists. "The energy in the building was crazy. The video was great. I'm sure he was glad to be back home."

However, after the game tipped off, James was the enemy, and the lowly Cavaliers fed off the energy of the crowd, and played inspired basketball in what was arguably their best performance of the season so far. 

Cleveland did not commit a single turnover in the first half, and led by as many as 11 in the second quarter.

"I didn't feel like we had enough energy," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "We only forced three turnovers, and zero in the first half. That's not who we are. They had 20 more possessions than we did."

After a 10-0 run put them in front by nine late in the fourth quarter, James and the Lakers rallied, and roared back into the lead thanks to some late free throws. 

"I'm happy how and proud how we fought in the fourth quarter," continued Walton. "Where we had been blowing leads prior, we came back. We got stops when we needed and got out and ran with a small group."

The Cavs had a chance to tie late, but Kyle Korver missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 17 seconds left and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made four free throws in the final 15 to seal it for Los Angeles.

"We got Tristan Thompson off the offensive glass down the stretch," said Caldwell-Pope about the difference in the final few minutes. "They got me open on out of bounds plays. I want to take those shots. I'm shooting 94 percent from the free-throw line for a reason."

But the night was all about James, as he finished with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists in his first game back in his hometown since signing with the Lakers in free agency. 

So on the night before Thanksgiving, Cleveland said thanks to the Northeast Ohio son, the one who ended the city's 52-year championship drought in 2016.

"To come here tonight and go out and hear the fans reception," said James after the game. "In my 11 years playing here, I just tired to be the best basketball player, the best role model, the best leader I could be on and off the floor, and lead by example and they showed their appreciation. It was a great moment."

Former Laker, Jordan Clarkson, led the Cavaliers with 20 points, Cedi Osman had 18, and rookie Collin Sexton finished with 12 for Cleveland who fell to 2-13 on the season.

TIP-INS

Lakers: Coach Luke Walton is impressed with James' knack for blocking out external distractions. "The great ones have that ability," he said. "When they're on the basketball court nothing else matters, other than what they're trying to do. Their focus level seems to somehow get higher with the louder the noise gets. I don't know how. I don't know why."

Cavaliers: Did not commit a turnover in the first half. ... Starting G George Hill missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right shoulder sustained on Nov. 4. Hill has ramped up his on-court workouts in recent days and could be back soon. ... Drew said he was unaware of Smith's comments accusing the Cavs of "tanking." Drew believes his team is playing hard, and promised to nothing but coach his team to win. "To coach to lose, I don't understand that, I don't know how to do that," he said. "I don't know how anybody can do that. That's something I would never, ever do."

UP NEXT

Lakers: Host Utah on Friday.

Cavaliers: At Philadelphia on Friday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Watch: Cavaliers Give LeBron James Emotional Tribute Video]]>Wed, 21 Nov 2018 18:46:50 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1064165774.jpg

LeBron, this is for you. 

LeBron James returned to his Ohio roots on Wednesday night as an opponent of the Cavaliers for the first time in five years.

Unlike his return eight years prior as a member of the Miami Heat, James returned to Cleveland as a champion, as Ohio's native son that returned "The Land," back to the Promise Land.

Now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, James received a standing ovation during pregame introductions, the first time he touched the ball, and then again during a first quarter tribute video played at Quickens Arena during a timeout in the first quarter.

The video showed highlights of James second stint of his career in Cleveland, championship moments, and his work in the community with his I Promise school.

"Thank you for what you did on the court," the titles of the video read. "But we all know it's bigger than basketball."

Knowing LeBron, he loved the recognition of his school and his off the court work in the community, as he is very proud of both efforts.

On the court, the worst team in the NBA (the Cavaliers), played near-perfect basketball in the first half, and led the Lakers 52-49 at halftime. They did not commit a single turnover in the first half, the first team in the NBA to do that this season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jason Miller
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<![CDATA[LeBron James Returns to Cleveland as Champion, Not Villain in First Game as Laker]]>Wed, 21 Nov 2018 12:39:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Lebron+Returns+to+Cleveland+as+Laker.png

The air was heavy, heaving with hatred. 

And when LeBron James skipped onto the Quicken Loans Arena floor on Dec. 2, 2010, with his Miami teammates, scorned Cleveland fans aimed their fury at one of their own, the kid from Akron who was shaken by the experience. 

James was profanely taunted, booed and mocked. It was vile. It was personal.

Eight years later, he'll feel loved. 

James returns to Cleveland on Wednesday night for the first time since leaving as a free agent last summer and signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. He's coming back to a city still grappling with losing him again and wondering what might have been had the world's best all-around player stayed. 

But unlike his previous comeback, the 33-year-old is coming home to be saluted for what he did during 11 years with the Cavaliers. 

He revived a franchise, lifted an entire region and brought a championship. 

"It's going to be fun," said Cavs forward Kyle Korver, who spent two seasons with James. "LeBron had an incredible run in Cleveland. He touched Cleveland. He touched Akron. Us as individuals, we were all fortunate to get some time with him. I think hopefully he feels that. I think it's going to be positive overall, and it should be." 

Early in the game, the Cavs will show a video tribute of the franchise's career leader in virtually every statistical category. 

The images will capture his stirring run in Cleveland — the buzzer-beating shots, the iconic chase-down block on Golden State's Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, James' teary reaction to winning an NBA title and the parade celebrating the city's first sports championship in 52 years.

There will also be reminders of his immense impact off the court, including the opening of his I Promise School in Akron, an elementary school for at-risk kids. 

But he's keeping his perspective on this Thanksgiving week homecoming.

"I don't try to put too much into it," he said Sunday night in Miami after scoring 51 in a win over the Heat. "I will see some familiar faces. I'll think about some of the good. I'll think about some of the bad. I'll think about some of the great times that I had with the franchise, obviously. And then once the tip-ball gets going, it'll be time to go to work.

"It'll be good to see some of my family that's going to come to the game, see some of my friends as well, and get the thing going."

On that cold December night in 2010, James wasn't sure what to expect months after his "taking my talents to South Beach" announcement had incensed Cleveland fans, driving some to burn his jersey.

More frightening was the reception James received in his first game back.

Security was beefed up to unprecedented levels, but nothing could shield James from the vicious words. There were chants of "Ak-ron hates you" and "Scott-ie Pipp-en" and fans held up signs calling him a traitor, liar, sellout and worse while a national TV audience watched an ugly divorce played out in real time. 

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had fueled the disdain in a letter written to Cleveland fans on the night James announced he was joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

But while the negativity crashed down upon him, James, as is usually the case, soared. He performed his pregame chalk-toss ritual and then dropped 38 points on the Cavs in Miami's 118-90 rout that galvanized the Heat and teased two future titles.

James passed on a chance to apologize for his leaving afterward, and there seemed to be no chance for reconciliation with Cleveland or its fans.

That, of course, changed four years later when he forgave Gilbert, came home and carried the Cavs to the title he had promised to deliver.

In 2010, he came back a villain. Now, he's a champion — Cleveland's own.

James said he isn't sure what kind of reaction he'll receive, but he's confident it won't be anything like before.

He's changed. The city is different, thanks in part to him. His second stint with the Cavs may have ended earlier than anyone in Cleveland wanted, but anger has been replaced by appreciation.

"I think whatever happens, happens," he said. "But I will be in uniform, I will be there and I will be trying to get a victory. That's what's most important."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams v. Chiefs: Emotional Tributes and Dramatic Moments]]>Tue, 20 Nov 2018 08:30:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-1063593444.jpgEven before kickoff to the third-highest scoring game in NFL history and one of this season's most anticipated match-ups, there was something special about Monday night at LA Memorial Coliseum.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Outlast Chiefs, 54-51, in Epic Shootout on Monday Night Football]]>Tue, 20 Nov 2018 09:59:35 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Rams+and+Chiefs+MNF.png

Best regular season game ever?

In the highest-scoring game in "Monday Night Football" history, the Los Angeles Rams outlasted the Kansas City Chiefs, 54-51, at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Jared Goff ended the back-and-forth battle between the two 9-1 teams when he threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Everett with 1:49 remaining for the go-ahead score. 

"It was a crazy game," Goff admitted. "It seemed like at the end whoever had the ball last would win. It was back-and-forth the whole game. There were times we thought we had all the momentum, and there was times it was the other way around and we had to claw back. It felt like a college game. It was fun."

Before that however, the 105-point game that featured a combined 1,001 yards, lived up to all the hype as both high-octane offenses put on an old fashioned shootout display for the ages.

"It was a whirlwind," said Rams head coach Sean McVay. "I feel like I might need a couple of beverages to relax tonight, but it was great. This is what you love so much about the game."

Two of the top front runners for NFL MVP, the Nos. 1 and 2 in total passing yards this season, somehow managed to surpass the shootout that many expected. 

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes was 33 for 46 for a career-high 478 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions in a losing effort. 

"We can learn from this," said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. "We can't give up 21 points on turnovers. Have to take care of the football. We created some turnovers and points, (but had) too many penalties. We'll heal up and get set to go for stretch run."

Jared Goff was just as sharrp, completing 31 of 49 passes for 413 yards and no interceptions, but two fumbles and a rushing touchdown in the first NFL game to ever feature two 50-point performances.

"I'm sure it was historic, but ultimately coming out on top is the biggest thing," Goff said. "I'm just happy to get away from that game with a win."

The game featured 14 total touchdowns, but it all started when Los Angeles scored on the opening drive. Goff delivered a dime to Robert Woods in the left corner of the end zone to complete the seven-yard touchdown strike.

The second touchdown of the game featured Goff finding wide-receiver Josh Reynolds, who stepped into the starting lineup for the injured Copper Kupp.

"Josh stepped up big again," said Goff of his new slot receiver. "Seems like every time we need it he does. He was huge today. Just seeing his progression and the player he's starting to become is really exciting."

Mahomes and the Chiefs responded in lightning-quick fashion as they completed a 75-yard touchdown drive in just four plays as the sophomore quarterback found Tyreek Hill for a 25-yard reception. 

After both teams exchanged field goals, Goff fumbled on his own 20-yard line, handing the Chiefs excellent field position and a chance to take the lead.

One play later, Mahomes found running back Kareem Hunt on a screen pass that the Ohio native took to the house for a 17-16 Kansas City lead. 

The Rams got a game-changing turnover of their own a few minutes later when reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald, recorded a strip sack on Mahomes that was recovered by linebacker Samson Ebukam who ran it to the house for the defensive touchdown. 

"He got two touchdowns. I haven't even got one in five years," said Donald of Ebukam. "When you have a team like this, anyone can make the big plays. He's a heck of a football player. He's always flying around."

If once wasn't enough, two times was twice as nice as Donald opened up the second half with another strip sack of Mahomes that was recovered by the Rams in Chiefs territory.

"I was just making my plays when they presented themselves and tried to put my team in a position to win," said Donald of the two strip sacks. "There was a lot of ups and downs, but to pull it off is definitely a good feeling."

Goff turned the turnover into a touchdown when he ran up the middle for a seven-yard scoring scamper that put the Rams back in front, 30-23. 

Mahomes answered right back with a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. The touchdown pass was Mahomes' fourth of the night, and the sixth time he's thrown four or more touchdowns in a game this season. 

"It's always fun to play against real good teams," Mahomes said. "You get to go out there and have fun, but it's the same as when we played New England. You can't make mistakes against great teams. You need to limit your mistakes, but be aggressive."

The only other quarterback in NFL history to have more games with four or more touchdowns was Peyton Manning (9) in 2013.

After another field goal by Greg Zuerlein put the Rams back in front, Ebukam scored his second defensive touchdown of the game when he intercepted Mahomes on the ensuing drive, and dragged the young quarterback into the end zone for the score.

"The last time I had two touchdowns was in high school when I was a running back," joked Eubkam, who scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career. "God blessed me. The ball rolled my way and I just took it and ran with it."

The Chiefs responded with 14 unanswered points after a 73-yard bomb to Hill from Mahomes and a defensive touchdown for Kansas City, in which Allen Bailey sacked and stole the ball from Goff, walking in for the go-ahead score.

The Rams responded in kind with a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped off with a touchdown pass from Goff to tight end Gerald Everett. The entirety of the drive took 89 seconds.

After the Chiefs answered again on a 10-yard touchdown reception from Mahomes to Chris Conley, the Rams went down the field and took the lead right back when Goff found Everett again for a 40-yard scoring strike.

The Chiefs had two opportunities to tie or take the lead, but Mahomes was intercepted on back-to-back drives, first by former teammate and Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters, then a game-ending interception by LaMarcus Joyner.

"You're going to have ups and downs in a game and you just keep trusting the process," said Peters of his interception. "The best thing about this is that I got to see my teammates and I got to see my old coaches and stuff."

The game featured six lead different lead changes, and the Chiefs set an NFL record for the most points by a losing team with 51.

The victory for the Rams snapped a six-game losing streak to the Chiefs, all of which came when the Rams were in St. Louis. 

The last victory by the Rams over the Chiefs was on Sept. 25, 1994, ironically when they were still known as the Los Angeles Rams.

Rams head coach Sean McVay is undefeated against AFC teams (8-0) in his short tenure with the Rams.

The game was originally scheduled for Mexico City in an international showdown, but the NFL moved the game to Los Angeles after field preparations at the Estadio Azteca were not up to par.

"It was a 16-round fight," Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman said. "You're talking about a Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis type of fight. Two great teams. Two great opponents. Two great coaches." 

LA Together
Despite the wildly entertaining football game between two of the NFL's top teams, the theme of the night was "LA Together," as the Rams dedicated the game to the first responders and the victims of the California wildfires and the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting in Thousand Oaks.

Karen and Jordan Helus, the wife and son of Ventura County sheriff's deputy Ron Helus, who was killed in the shooting, lit the Coliseum torch in his honor before the game.

During timeouts, firefighters and police officers were honored for their life-saving actions, and players even wore LAFD and LAPD hats on the bench between plays.

The 77,000 fans in attendance were given rally towels that read "LA Together" upon entrance to the Coliseum, and they spun them in the air proudly throughout the back-and-forth battle.

Up Next:
The Rams will get a much deserved bye week and will be back in action on Dec. 2 in Detroit to face the Lions. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. PT on FOX.



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[LA Rams Bring 'LA Together' to Honor Tragedy Victims and First Responders]]>Mon, 19 Nov 2018 18:39:51 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Ramsfunraising-3.JPG

In the past two weeks, 12 victims were killed in the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks, and hundreds of people lost their homes in the Hill and Woolsey fires. That’s why the Rams decided to honor the victims at Monday’s Football game calling it "LA Together."

Rams fans, first responders and victims of recent tragedies were on the Rams’ guest list in Monday’s game.

"This is a 100 percent dedicated to the first responders and to the victims and those affected by the recent tragedies," said Ronalee Zarate-Baayani, Chief Marketing Officer for the LA Rams.

To make the game more memorable, the coliseum torch will be lit by the son and wife of Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who was the first officer to enter the Bordeline Bar and was killed by the shooter.

The Cal Lutheran choir also be paid tribute to Justin Meek, a victim at the Borderline shooting.

"We have a Cal Lutheran choir singing the national anthem and right behind them will have a couple of hundred folks, first responders and folks from the LA community that will be holding a field level size American flag,” Baayani said.

Proceeds from a game raffle will benefit the fire and shooting victims and more money will be raised through an online auction, featuring signed game jerseys and specially designed hats that players and coaches wore at the game. 

Fans will also be receiving rally towels that say "LA Together,” and once inside, they were able to write messages of hope and support on a large banner that will be given to the city of Thousand Oaks.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[After Whirlwind Week, Rams Ready for Clash With Chiefs]]>Mon, 19 Nov 2018 08:44:41 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_18315826759232.jpg

This was a respite for the Los Angeles Rams but certainly no vacation.

The team kept its plans to train at the Air Force Academy and stay at the posh Broadmoor Hotel in the Rocky Mountain foothills even after the NFL moved their Monday night showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs to the Los Angeles Coliseum because of a frayed football field at Mexico City's Azteca Stadium. The primary benefit shifted from altitude acclimation to getting away from the wildfires back home and doing some midseason team bonding.

"It's been a little bit wild for sure, but with that being said, there's a lot more people dealing with a lot worse than what we're dealing with right now," quarterback Jared Goff said. "We're the lucky ones and we're having a good time out here in Colorado."

The deadly Woolsey Fire that surrounded the Rams' training complex back home affected some players and coaches directly and some indirectly.

"I personally wasn't affected, but I look at my teammates as family," Ndamukong Suh said. "So, we all have to deal with it in some form or fashion."

The trip to Colorado also allowed the Rams (9-1) to do some midseason bonding, something tight end Rob Gronkowski said helped the Patriots refocus down the stretch last season after they spent a week at the academy ahead of their game against the Raiders in Mexico City.

Rams coach Sean McVay said he reached out to Patriots coach Bill Belichick for some tips about how they handled the week away in the Rocky Mountains.

"Anybody like a Bill Belichick, if they're able to give you a perspective, it'd be silly not to listen and try to apply it," McVay said.

The Rams arrived home over the weekend after what was actually a business trip.

"The Broadmoor's great. I haven't played any golf," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "I've got a lot of friends here, but I haven't really seen anybody because we've been working. It's a work trip ... we're getting ready to play a game."

McVay said training in Colorado won't be a waste even though the game now will be played at sea level.

"With all the things going on right now, I think there's some guys that, at the time, wouldn't have been able to get back into their houses," McVay said. "There's a lot of things that we were doing here. One of them was, obviously, to get ready for playing in the elevation and different things like that. It does still serve you well to train in these environments.

"So, it'll help us out. Then really, we looked at it as another chance to kind of get away before the bye week, continue to connect as a team where there's not any real distractions."

That bonding may be the ultimate benefit of their brief trip.

"If anything, the last week has really made you appreciate the perspective that this gives you," McVay said. "What's so special about football is the brotherhood that you share with the teammates, the coaches, the rapport and just the camaraderie. There's nothing like it.

"To be able to go through some of these things, to also know that when you're going through real life adversity outside of football, that you have a support system, you have people that care about you unconditionally -- that's what's real."

McVay said he took in the picturesque mountains, the fresh air and the amenities of the Broadmoor, but "I really haven't had a chance to get out and explore. We're in the midst of game planning and things like that, but I know our players have enjoyed it.

"They got a chance to go to the Nuggets-Rockets game the other night. I think it's been a great getaway for the team to be together and kind of bond."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Flub Big Time in Loss to Denver]]>Sun, 18 Nov 2018 16:13:13 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/Phillip+Lindsay+Run+in+Carson.JPG

A really good way to make your football coach mad at you is to get called for a whole bunch of penalties.

A really good way is to make your football coach incredibly mad at you is to get called for a whole bunch of penalties, turn the ball over too many times, make mistakes on special teams, and keep a team you should beat handily in the game far too long.

The Chargers did all that and it cost them in a 23-22 loss to Denver in front of a largely orange crowd at StubHub Center. The Bolts were penalized 14 times for 120 yards.

Penalties short-circuited a pair of first quarter drives that got to the Red Zone but ended with Michael Badgley kicking field goals of 46 and 45 yards as the Chargers took a 6-0 lead. Their defense force a 4th down at midfield but, just like last week in Oakland, the punt unit was fooled by a fake. Punter Colby Wadman threw to Andy Janovich for a 1st down and on the next play rookie running back Phillip Lindsay blasted 41 yards for a TD and a 7-6 Broncos lead.

Rivers led a drive that ended with a 4-yard TD pass to Keenan Allen that gave the Chargers a 13-7 lead at the break. They got the ball to start the 2nd half and scored again, this time with Rivers finding Antonio Gates for a 6-yard score. Badgley missed his first PAT as a Bolt so the lead was 19-7.

Then a turnover started turning the tables. Rivers tried a quick pass but threw it right into the face of linebacker Von Miller, who returned it inside the 20-yard line. Three plays later Imperial product Royce Freeman scored from the three to make it a 19-14 game.

In the 4th quarter the Broncos took the lead back when Lindsay took a wildcat snap and ran in from the two. The 2-point conversion was no good but the Broncos, who to that point had half as many offensive yards as the Chargers, had a 20-19 lead.

Badgley hit a 30-yard field goal to give the Chargers the lead back and then the Broncos let the game slip away. On 3rd and 7 from midfield tight end Jeff Heuerman dropped a wide open pass that would have extended the drive and put Denver in field goal range.

For some reason the Chargers tried a pass on 3rd and 7 after the 2:00 warning. It fell incomplete, giving the Broncos plenty of time to put together a drive. Keenum hit Courtland Sutton for a big gain to the 16 yard line and was able to clock it with three seconds left.

Brandon McManus nailed a 34-yard field goal to a massive roar in Carson that gave the Broncos a 23-22 win.

Denver improves to 4-6 while the Chargers slip to 7-3. Next week the Bolts host the Cardinals, another team with a losing record, before their trip to Pittsburgh against the 1st place Steelers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Scores 51 Points in Return to Miami]]>Sun, 18 Nov 2018 18:26:14 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/LeBron+Scores+51+against+Heat.png

LeBron James scored 51 points against his former club and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat 113-97 on Sunday night.

James had 19 points in the first quarter to set the tone, the Lakers led by as many as 21 and never trailed.

"I'm very happy with our defense tonight," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "That's more of the trend we've been doing of late as opposed to that second, third and and fourth quarter in Orlando."

The 51 points were a season high for James, and the most he's scored against Miami; he had 47 against the Heat twice. His last shot was a 32-footer with 16 seconds left, capping the 13th 50-point game of his career — including playoffs — and he threw the ball skyward at midcourt when time expired.

"From the jump ball he was going," added Walton. "He was in attack mode. When players are as good as LeBron and they're having a night, they make it look easy."

It was James' first time winning against Miami since he left the Heat after the 2014 NBA Finals. He was 0-4 when facing the Heat since; his teams were 0-7, when including the three Cleveland-Miami games that he sat out for various reasons.

Wayne Ellington scored 19 points for Miami (6-10), which has dropped four straight home games and is off to its second-worst start in the last 12 years. The Heat were 5-11 at this point of the 2016-17 season, the only other time they've been worse after 16 games in that span.

Josh Richardson scored 17 points before getting ejected in the fourth quarter after throwing one of his sneakers about 15 rows deep into the crowd, while he was arguing about what he thought should have been a foul call that didn't come his way. Tyler Johnson also had 17 points for the Heat, while Rodney McGruder added 14.

Goran Dragic missed the game for Miami because of a right knee problem, one that will be further evaluated Monday. Dwyane Wade missed his seventh consecutive game for the Heat because of the birth of his and wife Gabrielle Union-Wade's daughter; it's possible that Wade returns to the Heat this week.

Miami hasn't forgotten James, obviously — he still gets loud cheers when introduced in his former home arena — but just in case anyone in attendance needed a reminder of what's in his skillset, he put on a show. He made eight of his first nine shots and had the whole arsenal working; dunks in transition, stepback 3-pointers, turnarounds from the baseline.

"Just give him the ball and get out of the way," said teammate Kyle Kuzma who scored 15 points of his own. "He can score with the best of them. He could probably average 40 if he wanted to."

But the biggest shot for the Lakers might have come from Brandon Ingram with 3:46 left. Miami had clawed within eight and the shot clock was about to expire on the Lakers, but Ingram connected on a long jumper from the left wing to make it 104-94. 

From there, the only drama was whether James would get 50. And he did. 

"I felt pretty good," admitted James. "I think we were all shell-shocked from Orlando from that cross country flight and getting in late to Orlando and the time difference. I was able to get some good rest last night and I felt pretty good about today's game."

TIP-INS

Lakers: This game is part of a long weekend of sorts in Miami for the Lakers, who arrived Saturday night after playing in Orlando and aren't scheduled to fly to Cleveland until Tuesday. ... Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 19 points, Kyle Luzma scored 15 and Ingram finished with 13.

Heat: The last time Miami lost four straight at home was early in the 2014-15 season, which was actually a five-game slide. ... Miami had the rare five-shot possession in the third quarter, with three missed layups and a missed jumper, all of them rebounded by the Heat, before Ellington made a 3-pointer. ... The Heat fouled 3-point shooters twice in the first half, after doing so only twice — total — in the season's first 15 games. 

CONSISTENT LEBRON

Whenever James changes teams — Cleveland to Miami in 2010, Miami to Cleveland in 2014, Cleveland to the Lakers this past summer — the same thing always happens: His new team starts 9-7. The Lakers surely hope the other thing that happens when James changes teams holds true, since the 2010-11 Heat and 2014-15 Cavs both went to the NBA Finals.

HEAT HELP

James Johnson played for the first time this season after finally being declared good to go following offseason sports hernia surgery. He had four fouls in the first half and finished with eight points. 

UP NEXT

Lakers: Visit Cleveland on Wednesday. The Lakers are 2-11 in their last 13 trips to Cleveland.

 

Heat: Host Brooklyn on Tuesday. The Heat defeated the Nets 120-107 in Brooklyn last week.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Addresses Those Carmelo Anthony to Lakers Rumors]]>Sun, 18 Nov 2018 07:08:31 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/LeBron+and+Carmelo+Anthony.png

Could Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James join forces in LaLaLand?

The possibility of a Banana Boat reunion between the two longtime friends seems to be growing stronger by the day, as Anthony looks for an amicable resolution to his short stint with the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets announced earlier in the week that their "Anthony Experiment" had reached its expiration date, and the 34-year-old forward would not be a part of the team moving forward.

Despite the fact that the Rockets have yet to release Anthony, rumors are still running rampant that ten-time All-Star could join a contender like the Lakers, Warriors, or Sixers, by Christmas.

Anthony could be waived or released immediately, but he can't be traded until after the Dec. 15th trade restriction deadline, so its conceivable the Rockets will wait until then to see if they can get an asset in return for the third overall pick out of Syracuse. 

Anthony has struggled to find a home in recent years. After a rough stretch with the New York Knicks and team President Phil Jackson, Anthony was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. Things didn't work out in OKC, so the Thunder traded Anthony to the Atlanta Hawks, who then bought out his contract, clearing the way for him to sign with another Banana Boat buddy in Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets.

Now that he's burned through one Banana Boat buddy already, Anthony just has two left, and if he doesn't join Dwyane Wade in Miami, then LeBron James seems like the obvious choice.

James reportedly was interested in Anthony joining the Cavaliers last season before he was traded to the Thunder, and was asked about his friend joining the Lakers after the team's loss to the Orlando Magic on Friday night:

"I have no idea," James said. "That's not a question to ask me. Right now we don't even have a roster spot open, but that's not a question for myself."

While James is correct, there currently is not a roster spot available; it would be fairly easy to waive an end-of-the-bench player in order to sign Anthony. Michael Beasley or even Ivica Zubac could be an option in that scenario. 

However, adding to the Lakers offense does not appear to be an immediate need. It's defense they're lacking. Once they added a defensive stopper in the middle in Tyson Chandler, the Lakers ran off four straight wins. Adding Anthony would seemingly negate that addition. 

Shaquille O'Neal believes that Anthony would be a great fit with LeBron and the Lakers because it would take the pressure off of him, and he could find his "spots" on the court.

However, Anthony is primarily an isolation player that requires the ball in his hands and he creates for himself off the dribble. If the last two reigning NBA MVP's Russell Westbrook, James Harden and a future Hall-of-Fame point guard in Paul, couldn't help Anthony find his "spots," its doubtful James will be able to.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Defense Disappears in Orlando]]>Sat, 17 Nov 2018 19:10:21 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Lakers+Lose+to+Magic.png

Now you see it, now you don't.

The Lakers' defense disappeared in Florida as Los Angeles lost to the Orlando Magic, 130-117, on Saturday night at the Amway Center.

After an inspirational start put the Lakers in front by eight points, Orlando went on a 10-1 run to start the second quarter and never looked back.

"I thought we came out ready to play tonight," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "I really liked our first quarter. Our intensity, our focus."

The Lakers came out flat to start the second half, and trailed by 21 points in the third quarter before ultimately waving the white flag, and inserting their bench for the better part of the fourth quarter. 

LeBron James led the Lakers with 22 points in the loss. As a team, Los Angeles had 14 turnovers.

"After the first quarter we were pretty bad defensively," conceded James. "We had a lot of breakdowns. That's uncharacteristic of us as of late. Credit to Orlando, they took advantage of us."

D.J. Augustin destroyed the Lakers with 22 points and seven assists. Nikola Vucevic scored 36 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

Six different players scored in double figures for the Magic as they scored a season-high 130 points. 

Evan Fournier had 15 points and Terrence Ross scored 13 for the Magic, who have won four of five.

The 130 points were also the most allowed by the Lakers in regulation this season. They allowed 143 points in an overtime loss to the Spurs in San Antonio. 

"For some reason, our defense failed us," admitted Walton. "We've been getting a lot better defensively, and we played a good first quarter defensively. Maybe different rotations? We just weren't comfortable with the new guys. I don't know what the reason was, but we never recovered from that."

Lakers first round draft selection (No. 25 overall) Moritz Wagner out of Michigan made his NBA debut late in the fourth quarter.

"It was fun," said Wagner after the game. "I was just trying to get a rhythm and try and get reps."

The loss snapped the Lakers four-game winning streak as they fell to 8-7 on the season. In LeBron's first year with the Miami Heat and return to the Cavs, both teams also started 8-7 before eventually ascending to the NBA Finals.

TIP-INS

Lakers: Lonzo Ball is shooting 51.3 percent (19 of 37) from 3-point range, but just 17.8 percent (five of 28) in road games. ... Three Lakers reserves reached double figures, led by Stephenson's 19 points. Josh Hart had 13 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 10.

Magic: Jonathon Isaac had four blocks in the first half, including two against James. ... The Magic and Lakers have split the season series seven years in a row. This was their first meeting this season.

UP NEXT

Lakers: At Miami on Sunday night. 

Magic: Host the New York Knicks on Sunday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Beats USC, 34-27, in Riveting Rivalry Game]]>Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:41:37 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UCLA-beats-USC-Nov-17-18.jpg

Joshua Kelley rushed for 289 yards on 40 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead UCLA past USC 34-27 on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

The junior rushed for the third-most yards in school history and the most by a Bruins back against the Trojans. Gaston Green had the previous mark with 224 yards on 39 carries in 1986.

Kelley's 55-yard touchdown up the left sideline with 10:39 remaining gave the Bruins a 28-27 lead. JJ Molson then added a pair of field goals to extend the margin for UCLA (3-8, 3-5 Pac-12).

USC (5-6, 4-5) mounted one final drive and got to the UCLA 29 but JT Daniels' fourth-down pass was incomplete with 32 seconds remaining.

Wilton Speight completed 13 of 22 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score as UCLA broke a three-game losing streak to its crosstown rival.

Daniels threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns as he completed 20 of 34 passes while Michael Pittman Jr. had 106 yards on seven receptions. The Trojans were 4-2 at midseason but have dropped four of their last five.

After USC scored on a 46-yard field goal by Michael Brown on its opening possession, UCLA would score touchdowns on its first two. Speight threw a perfect 33-yard pass to Theo Howard that the junior receiver was able to haul in near the back of the end zone while being covered by Iman Marshall.

Speight then got his first collegiate rushing touchdown on a 4-yard scramble to extend the Bruins' lead to 11. The key play of that drive was a 59-yard gain by Kelley down the left sideline to the USC 9.

The Trojans would take back momentum with a couple big plays on special teams. A 44-yard touchdown by Amon-Ra St. Brown from Daniels drew them within 14-10 late in the first quarter. The TD came right after Erik Krommenhoek got a first down on a direct snap off a fake punt.

USC's punt team then gave it the lead early in the second quarter when Jake Russell blocked a Stefan Flintoft punt at the UCLA 5 and Devon Williams ran it in.

The Bruins answered right back with a Kelley 1-yard score but the Trojans would lead 24-21 at halftime after Velus Jones caught a receiver screen, got a pair of blocks from Pittman and went 45 yards.

A Brown 22-yard field goal midway through the third quarter gave USC a six-point lead.

THE TAKEAWAY

USC: For the second straight game, the Trojans and Daniels struggled during the second half. Clay Helton's future as coach could be precarious with the late-season collapse and bowl hopes hanging by a thread.

UCLA: Kelley, who is in his first season at the school after transferring from UC Davis, has six 100-yard games this season and is the first Bruins running back since Paul Perkins in 2015 to go over 1,000 yards.

UP NEXT

USC: Closes out the regular season hosting No. 4 Notre Dame.

UCLA: Ends its season on Saturday against Stanford.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' LeBron James Discusses Passing Wilt Chamberlain]]>Wed, 14 Nov 2018 23:41:00 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LeBron_Passes_Wilt_1200x675_1371157059700.jpgLos Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James discusses passing legend Wilt Chamberlain for 5th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.]]><![CDATA[LeBron James Moves to No. 5 on NBA's All-Time Scoring List]]>Wed, 14 Nov 2018 23:56:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/LeBron+Beats+Blazers.png

Move Over Wilt the Stilt, the King has passed you.

LeBron James scored 44 points and surpassed Lakers legend Wilt Chamberlain for fifth place on the NBA's All-Time scoring list, as Los Angeles defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 126-117, for their fourth consecutive win, on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

There was cause for celebration at the sold out arena, not because of LeBron, but because the last time the Lakers had defeated the Trail Blazers at Staples Center was February 22, 2013. The victory snapped a nine-game losing streak at home.

In easily his best game as a Laker, LeBron dominated both ends of the court, as the King clamped down on the Blazers backcourt and nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 44 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two blocks. He also went 5-for-6 from beyond the arc.

James scored 28 of his 44 points in the second half and vaulted past Chamberlain's 31,419 points on that three-point play with 3:55 to go. LeBron finished a memorable night with 31,425 points, and fell just short of the 75th triple-double of his career.

Afterward, James praised Chamberlain as "One of the most dominant forces we ever had in our game, along with Shaq. One of the greatest Lakers to ever play the game. A 100-point scorer. One of the greatest scorer-rebounders to ever play this game."

But the kid from Akron will never let it get to his head. 

In fact, he will donate his jersey and the game ball to his I Promise School back in Ohio. 

"Anytime my name is mentioned with some of the greats to play this game, I always think back to my hometown, where I come from, how far I've come," James said.

LeBron's best series came with 2:32 left in the third quarter. Nik Stauskas went up for a wide-open dunk, but was rejected by James on a devastating block that sent both players to the floor.

"LeBron, it was a dominant performance," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "(Scoring) 44 points on 19 shots, that doesn't happen too often. When he's hitting his 3s and putting his head down, he's tough to stop."

James got back up, ran the length o the court, spun past Al-Farouq Aminhu and laid up a one-handed finger roll.

In their last meeting, the Lakers snapped a 16-game losing streak to the Trail Blazers with a 114-100 win at the Moda Center.

The Lakers have gone toe-to-toe with the Trail Blazers three times in their first 12 games of the regular season, but won't play Portland again until the final game of the regular season on April 9, 2019.

Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 31 points and 11 assists. C.J. McCollum scored 23 points. 

Javale McGee scored 20 points, Brandon Ingram had 17, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 off the bench.

There was bad news on an otherwise triumphant night: After the game, Walton revealed that Rajon Rondo broke his right hand, apparently while making a steal in the fourth quarter. The veteran point guard will be sidelined for at least a few weeks, and starter Lonzo Ball's so-far moderate workload is likely to increase.

"It's tough," James said. "He's one of our captains, one of our leaders. I know he'll get right to it with his rehab, but it's next man up."

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Lillard played without restrictions after missing practice to rest his right knee. ... Portland's four-game winning streak ended, but the Blazers are still on top of the Northwest Division. ... Jusuf Nurkic had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Al-Farouq Aminu scored 18 points.

Lakers: The 6-foot-5 Josh Hart blocked a dunk attempt by the 7-foot Nurkic in the first quarter. ... Michael Beasley didn't play, but the veteran was back in uniform after missing several recent games for undisclosed personal reasons. He hasn't played since Oct. 25.

HEAVY HITS

The Blazers delivered two hard fouls against James in the fourth quarter, both requiring him to spend an extra moment recovering. McCollum floored James with a foul that was upgraded to a flagrant foul with 4:38 left, and then Nurkic appeared to use his two fists to make a crybaby gesture when talking to officials about it.

"LeBron carried them," Nurkic said. "When he's making shots, outside shots, he's tough to handle." 

UP NEXT 

Trail Blazers: At Minnesota on Friday night. 

Lakers: At Orlando on Saturday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Lakers to Donate to Wildfire and Thousand Oaks Shooting Victims]]>Wed, 14 Nov 2018 23:43:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Lakers+Donate+to+Victims.png

After a tough week in Southern California, the Los Angeles Lakers are joining the relief efforts.

One week after a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks claimed the lives of 13 people, and wildfires ravaged the southland destroying hundreds of homes and claiming lives, the Lakers are doing their part.

The team announced on Wednesday, that they will donate $100,000 to the American Red Cross to directly help victims of the Woosley Fire, and an additional $50,000 to the Conejo Valley Victims Fund for the families of the 12 victims whose lives were taken in the shooting.

However, the $50,000 donation is not the only thing the Lakers have done to bring awareness and help the victims of the shooting. On Sunday, ahead of their win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Lakers were pregame t-shirts that said "Enough" across the chest, and had all 12 of the victims names on the back.

The team also announced that they will set up a blood drive at all home games for those that were injured in the Thousand Oaks shooting.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez]]>
<![CDATA[Japanese Sensation Shohei Ohtani wins AL Rookie of the Year]]>Mon, 12 Nov 2018 16:10:12 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Shohei-Ohtani-AL-Rookie-of-the-Year-2018.jpg

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has been voted American League Rookie of the Year after becoming the first player since Babe Ruth with 10 homers and four pitching wins in the same season.

Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. was an overwhelming pick for the National League honor, easily beating Washington outfielder Juan Soto.

Ohtani, a 24-year-old right-hander who joined the Angels last winter after five seasons with Japan's Nippon Ham Fighters, received 25 first-place votes and four seconds for 137 points from the Baseball Writers' Association of America in balloting announced Monday.

A pair of New York Yankees infielders followed. Miguel Andujar was second with five firsts and 89 points, and Gleyber Torres was next with 25 points.

Ohtani was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 51 2/3 innings in 10 starts, limited by a torn elbow ligament that required surgery on Oct. 1 and likely will prevent him from pitching next year. As a designated hitter, he batted .285 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs and a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances. He became the first player with 15 homers as a batter and 50 strikeouts as a pitcher in the same season.

Ohtani is the first Japanese player to win the honor since Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.

Andujar hit .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBIs in 149 games. The 23-year-old third baseman set a Yankees rookie record with 47 doubles, three more than Joe DiMaggio in 1936, and tied the AL rookie mark for doubles set by Boston's Fred Lynn in 1975.

Torres, 21, began the season at Triple-A after missing the second half of 2017 with a torn ligament in his non-throwing arm. The second baseman made his big league debut April 22 and hit .271 with 24 homers and 77 RBIs.

The 20-year-old Acuna received 27 first-place votes and three seconds for 144 points. Soto got two firsts and 89 points, and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler was next with one firsts and 28 points.

Acuna started the season at Triple-A and made his debut on April 25, the youngest player in the majors then at 20 years, 128 days. The Venezuelan hit .293 with 26 homers, 64 RBIs and 16 steals with a .917 OPS. He set a Braves record with eight leadoff homers this season and tied a franchise mark by homering in five straight games from Aug. 11-14.

Soto debuted on May 20 at 19 years, 207 days, although in a quirk the Dominican is credited with a home run from five days before his debut — he went deep on June 18 against the New York Yankees in the completion of the May 15 suspended game. Soto hit .292 with 22 homers, 70 RBIs and a .923 OPS.

Buehler, a 23-year-old right-hander, was 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 23 starts and one relief appearance.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrity Fans in the Stands: Los Angeles Lakers Edition]]>Wed, 12 Dec 2018 06:27:25 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/220*120/12-12-2018-celebrity-lakers-sandler-union-richie.jpgThe seats at Staples Center have a star-studded history when the Lakers are in action. Check out some of the celebrity fans in the stands who have cheered on the Lakers through the years.

Photo Credit: AP/Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' LeBron James and Tyson Chandler After Win Over Hawks]]>Sun, 11 Nov 2018 22:18:54 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_vs_Hawks_1200x675_1367984707942.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players LeBron James and Tyson Chandler discuss the team's 107-106 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that included James' go-ahead dunk and Chandler's game-winning block in the final seconds.]]><![CDATA[Lakers Survive Attack From Hawks]]>Sun, 11 Nov 2018 22:35:12 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/195*120/LEBRON+JAMES+DUNK+HAWKS.png

The block heard round the world.

Tyson Chandler blocked Trae Young's floater at the buzzer, and the Los Angeles Lakers survived an attack by the pesky Atlanta Hawks, 107-106, at Staples Center on Sunday night. 

Atlanta led most of the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, but after two missed free throws with 19 seconds remaining, LeBron James soared through the air for the putback dunk that gave the Lakers the lead.

"All of a sudden, the beast comes out of nowhere for the win," Chandler said.

LeBron led all scorers with a game-high 26 points, as Los Angeles won their fifth consecutive game against the Hawks dating back to the 2015-15 season.

Plucked from the last-place Phoenix Suns just a few days ago, Chandler has played a key defensive role in his first three games with his new team, helping them win three straight for the first time this season.

With the game clock winding down, Young called for a pick, and then drove past defender Brandon Ingram where it appeared he had a wide open layup. 

However, at the last second Chandler came up and blocked Young's shot as time expired. 

"I seen they went to the pick-and-roll first and then he called for the iso," said Chandler of the final play. "My guy went to the corner and I was studying the clock. When I see him [Young] go, I knew he had to commit. So I commit."

Chandler's finished the game with three blocks and his defense also helped the Lakers prevail in wins against Minnesota and at Sacramento after having his contract bought out and coming to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Following their 101-86 victory over the Kings on Saturday night, the Lakers struggled with the lowly Hawks all night long.

"Give Atlanta credit--they're a scrappy team," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton.

Taurean Prince led Atlanta with 23 points, Kent Bazemore had 21, and rookie Trae Young flashed some moments of greatness with 20 points. 

"It was a battle for sure. The way the whole game went, back and forth," Young said. "They made a lot of plays, we made a lot of plays. I feel like I could have done a little bit more to help get my team the win."

The Hawks trailed by nine to start the fourth. Their first three baskets in the fourth came on 3-pointers by Prince (two) and Young (one).

Kyle Kuzma had 18 points for the Lakers, who have won five of six overall. 

TIP-INS

Hawks: They haven't beaten the Lakers at Staples Center since March 4, 2016. ... Prince was called for a flagrant-1 foul on James in the first quarter. ... C Dewayne Dedmon wasn't with the team while awaiting the birth of his first child.

Lakers: James earned his 768th career victory, overtaking Reggie Miller for 21st on the NBA's all-time victories list. ... They've won five in a row against the Hawks and are 24-5 against them at home since 1991.

MOMENT OF SILENCE

The Lakers had a moment of silence to honor the 12 people killed in the bar shooting in Thousand Oaks earlier in the week. Public address announcer Lawrence Tanter read each name and both teams wore T-shirts with "Enough" on the front and the victims' names on the back, something started by the Bucks and Clippers a day earlier.

UP NEXT

Hawks: Visit Golden State on Tuesday.

Lakers: Host Portland on Wednesday. The teams split their first two meetings.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Honor Victims of Thousand Oaks Shooting]]>Sun, 11 Nov 2018 20:29:15 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Enough+shirts+Lakers.png

The Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks honored the victims of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks by wearing black t-shirts that said "Enough," during pregame warm ups on Sunday night at Staples Center.

On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, just over an hour after the Lakers finished off a 114-110 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, a gunman entered the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks and opened fire on patrons.

The senseless mass shooting killed 13 people, including the shooter, and added the peaceful community just north of Los Angeles to the long list of communities who have been ravaged by gun violence in our country. 

To honor the victims of the shooting, the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks wore black shirts that said "Enough" across the chest, and had the 12 victims names spelled out on the back.

The Lakers were just one of many sports franchises to honor the victims of the mass shooting. On Saturday afternoon, the Clippers wore the same shirt ahead of their game with the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center.

At the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Rams held a moment of silence for the victims before their game against the Seattle Seahawks, and Rams offensive lineman, Andrew Whitworth donated his paycheck to the victims families.

 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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<![CDATA[Chargers Win Ugly in Oakland]]>Sun, 11 Nov 2018 16:41:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/Ingram+Celebrates+Oakland.JPG

The Raiders defense played arguably its best game of the season against the Chargers. Problem is their offense played one of its worst games of the season in yet another Oakland loss.

The Bolts beat the Raiders 20-6 in the Bay Area in a game that almost didn’t happen outdoors.

Wildfires in Northern California made the air quality in Oakland unhealthy by the Air Quality Index so the NFL considered moving the Chargers-Raiders game to Dallas.

The league decided things would be OK so, even though the Raiders handed out masks to fans who wanted them (ventilation masks, not the ones Raiders fans usually wear), the game went on as planned.

The first quarter was unremarkable. The only points came on a Daniel Carlson field goal that gave the Raiders their only lead at 3-0. In the second quarter, Oakland was closing in on another score when quarterback Derek Carr was sacked by Melvin Ingram. the ball came out and Corey Liuget returned it to the Raiders 40-yard line.

The Chargers only got three points out of it on a Michael Badgley field goal. Then the Chargers finally got something to click.

Philip Rivers capped a 91-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen just before halftime to put the Chargers up 10-3 at the break. They got the ball to start the third quarter and struck again.

Oakland dialed up a blitz but Rivers caught them in it, swinging a quick pass to Melvin Gordon, who made Gareon Conley miss in the open field and was gone on a 66-yard TD joyride. That score basically put the game away.

The teams traded field goals and the Raiders failed to get into the end zone for the second straight game. Oakland has not scored a touchdown in nine straight quarters.

Oakland falls to 1-8 and, with the Chiefs improving the 9-1, the Raiders are mathematically eliminated from winning the AFC West.

The Chargers are 7-2 and they will face the Broncos for the first time this season when Denver heads to StubHub next week.

]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron, Lakers Conquer Kings ]]>Sun, 11 Nov 2018 06:13:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/192*120/LeBron+in+Sacramento+against+Kings.png

In the city of Kings, only one ruled them all. 

LeBron James scored 25 points and the Los Angeles Lakers shut down the high-octane offense of the Kings, 101-86, on Saturday night in Sacramento.

Both teams had impressive victories over the Minnesota Timberwolves in their last game, but the effects of playing just one night prior, compared to two full days of rest showed on the court, especially in the second half.

Sacramento defeated the T-Wolves on Friday night at Golden 1 Arena, whereas the Lakers last played on Wednesday, when they beat Minnesota, 114-100 at Staples Center.

The well-rested Lakers jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half, and extended it to 20 in the second half before finally closing out the Kings in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. 

The Lakers biggest weakness through the first 11 games of the NBA season has been their defense, but led by veteran Tyson Chandler, Los Angeles held an opponent under 100 points for the first time this year. 

Entering the game, the Sacramento Kings were the the fourth highest scoring team in the NBA, averaging close to 118 points on the season, but the Lakers held them to over 30 points below their average.

Sacramento has now lost three of their last four games, whereas the Lakers are winners of four-of-five after starting the season 2-5.

A lot of pregame hype surrounded the battle between Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox who were selected No. 2 and No.5 in the 2017 NBA Draft, respectively.

However, the real battle on the court became a battle between James and Fox, as each player led their team in scoring.

Fox had a team-high 21 points with seven rebounds and two assists. James matched the youngster with 25 points, seven rebounds and two assists. 

TIP-INS

Lakers: The previous low by a Lakers opponent this season was 110 points. ... Ball missed all six of his 3-point attempts, most of them wide open. ... There were plenty of Los Angeles fans in the stands, and several "Let's Go Lakers" chants in the fourth quarter.

Kings: Sacramento's 44 points in the first half matched a season low. ... The Kings had scored 100 or more points in each of their seven previous contests. ... Sacramento is now 2-1 in the second game of back-to-back contests this season.

UP NEXT

Lakers: Return home to host Atlanta on Sunday.

Kings: Conclude a four-game home stand on Monday by hosting San Antonio, which has won 14 straight against Sacramento.

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

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Players Talk About Tyson Chandler and Win Over Wolves]]>Wed, 07 Nov 2018 23:57:48 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_vs._Wolves_1200x675_1364907075857.jpgLos Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart talk about the impact of veteran Tyson Chandler in their win over the T-Wolves on Wednesday, November 7, 2018.]]><![CDATA[Lakers Learn From Loss in Minnesota, Beat Wolves in LA]]>Thu, 08 Nov 2018 00:25:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/KAT+dunks+on+Lakers.png

They learned from last time.

LeBron James scored 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-110, avenging a loss from last Monday in Minneapolis. 

After suffering their worst first quarter deficit in franchise history in a lopsided loss at the hands of the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers rebounded against the T-Wolves, closing out the fourth quarter, a weak spot for the team all season. 

The first half started as a three-point shootout as the Lakers were 8-of-14 (57%) from beyond the arc, and the Timberwolves were 11-for-17 (65%) from downtown themselves.

All five starters for Minnesota reached double-figures before the half.

Minnesota finished with a franchise record 20 three-pointers in the game, and the Lakers finished with 15.

Following election night, the sports dopersters would lead you to believe that the Lakers were heavy favorites, especially considering the Timberwolves were winless on the road this season. 

Minnesota put up fight, leading the game by as many as nine points, and trailed by just one point with eight seconds remaining when Derrick Rose's three-pointer fell short.

Rose finished with a game-high 31 points and Jimmy Butler had 24 points.

Josh Hart finished with 21 points and was 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and Kyle Kuzma had 21 points. 

Kuzma's fourth 3-pointer put the Lakers up 111-104 with 1:51 to play, but Rose promptly hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the Wolves. After Chandler twice extended the Lakers' ensuing possession, Kuzma hit one of two free throws with 9.5 seconds left.

In his first game with his hometown Lakers, center Tyson Chandler had two points, and nine rebounds including two enormous offensive boards in the last minute. He then contested Derrick Rose's final 3-point attempt, forcing a miss that essentially sealed the win.

"You can tell he's a young-old guy that's happy to be back home, and he played with a lot of energy tonight," said Rajon Rondo, who was thanked by Chandler for vocally directing him around the court.

Rose then missed his last 3 under heavy defensive pressure from Chandler, and Hart hit two free throws to seal it. Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau thought Rose deserved a foul.

"They're not going to give me that call," Rose said with a shrug. "They haven't been giving me that call, so I've just got to get used to it."

The Timberwolves fell to 0-7 on the road this season.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Butler converted a four-point play to tie it at 94 with 7:44 to play. ... Thibodeau used the same starting lineup from Monday's loss to the Clippers.

Lakers: James fell just shy of his 75th triple-double, but scored nine points in the fourth quarter. ... Chandler grew up in several parts of California before moving to Compton, where he starred at Dominguez High School and became the No. 2 pick in the 2001 NBA draft. ... Chandler backed up JaVale McGee, who had 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

GOOD STARTS

Minnesota came out in an offensive groove during its second straight game at Staples Center following Monday's loss to the Clippers. All five Wolves starters reached double figures in the first half while hitting 66 percent of their shots. Rose and Wiggins hit three 3-pointers apiece and all five starters contributed to an 11-for-17 performance beyond the arc, tying the franchise record for 3s in a first half.

But the Lakers didn't get humiliated in the first quarter, as they did last Sunday in their loss to Toronto. Hart hit four 3-pointers in the first half, and Kuzma hit a buzzer-beating 3 to limit Minnesota's lead to 67-65.

BAD BOARDS

Minnesota was outrebounded 47-40, and it was most glaring in that final minute. "Very, very frustrating to know we were that close, and all we have to do is rebound the basketball," Butler said. "But that's been the story for us so far. We've been right there. We've been outrebounded. We have to figure out a way to go get the ball."

UP NEXT

Timberwolves: At the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. 

Lakers: At the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[19-Year-Od Tanner Gray Becomes Youngest NHRA Season Champ]]>Sun, 11 Nov 2018 05:43:47 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-943736742.jpg

Tanner Gray became the youngest NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season champion Saturday by qualifying at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.

The 19-year-old Pro Stock driver from New Mexico has seven victories this season. In the Countdown to the Championship, he has two wins and has topped the points throughout the playoffs.

"It has been a heck of a year," Gray said. "It started out pretty slow and I wasn't quite sure it would end up here. About midseason we were able to find something, and everything seemed like it started clicking from there. We did so much testing at the beginning of the season and it really paid off. It was like a light flipped and everything started coming together. We had a strong running going there for a little bit and came into the Countdown and executed on race day really well."

Jeg Coughlin Jr. took the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock qualifying with a 6.510-second run at 211.49 mph in a Chevrolet Camaro.

Leah Pritchett topped Top Fuel qualifying, Ron Capps was the fastest in Funny Car, and Matt Smith led the Pro Stock Motorcycle field. Pritchett ran a 3.631 at 332.84, Capps powered his Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.848 at 331.53, and Smith, had a 6.754 at 201.10 on an EBR.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Friedman: Machado's Lack of Hustle Not a Secret]]>Wed, 07 Nov 2018 04:28:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Machdo+No+Hustle+.png

Andrew Friedman knew he was getting a player who didn't hustle all the time when he traded for Manny Machado. Still, the Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations was willing to acquire the four-time All-Star infielder because his good points outweighed the bad.

"He got booed in Baltimore three weeks before we traded for him," Friedman said Tuesday at the general managers' meetings. "It's not like it was a secret. I think it's never a fun thing to watch, at least from my perspective and vantage point, but I do think it's important to dig further into that, and I think there are times when guys do that and they don't really care. And I think there are other times where guys do it and they really do care, and by care I mean the effort they put into their work, the type of teammate they are, and Manny checks all those boxes."

Machado is among the top two free agents on the market along with outfielder Bryce Harper after a 3½ -month stay with the Dodgers. The 26-year-old was acquired from the Orioles in mid-July and took over the shortstop job that opened when Corey Seager tore an elbow ligament in late April that required season-ending surgery.

Machado hit .273 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs in 66 games, and the Dodgers won their second straight NL pennant. He hit .227 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 16 postseason games, including .182 (4 for 22) with three RBIs in the five-game World Series loss to Boston.

He kicked Milwaukee first baseman Jesus Aguilar near the ankle as he jogged out a groundout during the NL Championship Series, leading to a $10,000 fine, and was criticized for a pair of hard slides into Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia, prompting Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich to call Machado "a dirty player."

Machado stood at home plate watching a fly ball in Game 3 that bounced off a wall and became a 368-foot single, spiked Boston first baseman Steve Pearce in Game 4 and fell to a knee striking out against Chris Sale in Game 5, ending the Dodgers' second straight World Series loss. 

"So would I rather see more effort as I'm watching? Of course. I think anyone would say that," Friedman said. "But I think that in and of itself isn't as critical of a dynamic as it would be if he didn't care, if he didn't put in the work, didn't put in the effort, and that in our 3 1/2 months of being around him was really strong." 

Friedman would not say how he would fill the void if Farhan Zaidi, the Dodgers general manager and No. 2 baseball operations official for the past four years, left for San Francisco.

"We'll talk about that if it happens," Friedman said.

Hours later, the Giants announced Zaidi as their new president of baseball operations.

Friedman said he is confident the Dodgers will reach a new agreement with Dave Roberts, their manager for the past three seasons. 

"The conversations have been pleasant and they have been ongoing," Friedman said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rival Giants Hire Farhan Zaidi Away From Dodgers]]>Wed, 07 Nov 2018 04:19:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Farhan+Zaidi+Giants.png

Former Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi is the new president of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants announced the hiring Tuesday night and planned a formal introduction at AT&T Park on Wednesday, a day before they hold a public celebration of life for late Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.

Baseball executives are meeting this week for the GM meetings in Carlsbad, California, and Giants CEO Larry Baer knew it might take this long to find the right person to push the department in a fresh direction.

Zaidi just completed his fourth year as GM for Los Angeles. His Dodgers won a sixth straight NL West title and lost in the World Series each of the past two seasons.

"We set out to find one of the best minds in baseball and Farhan's many accomplishments and expertise exceeded our expectations," Baer said. "Farhan is widely viewed as one of the top executives in our industry and we are thrilled to have him lead the next chapter of Giants baseball."

In November 2014, the Canadian-born Zaidi departed his job as assistant GM of the Oakland Athletics to lead the Dodgers under Andrew Friedman. Zaidi earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998 and a PhD in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 2011.

So, Zaidi brings more of an analytical emphasis and strength. The Giants sought to upgrade their baseball operations department and take a "fresh approach," as Baer put it.

"I am delighted to return to the Bay Area and to join one of the most storied franchises in the game," said Zaidi, who turns 42 this coming Sunday. "I have watched the Giants from afar and I have great respect for the organization's culture and many accomplishments. I am excited about this new opportunity and I'm looking forward to getting right to work."

Zaidi is expected to have the flexibility to hire someone as GM under him. He spent 10 seasons with Oakland and received plenty of responsibility on Billy Beane's staff, such as playing a key role in the acquisition of Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes before the 2012 season.

The Giants dismissed GM Bobby Evans in September. San Francisco — which won World Series championships in 2010, '12 and '14 — went 73-89 in 2018 and went a majors-worst 5-21 in September to miss the playoffs for a second straight year and third in four seasons.

With the A's, Zaidi's areas of expertise included providing statistical analysis for evaluating and targeting players in the amateur draft, free agent and trade markets. He also worked on arbitration cases, minor league contracts and worked closely with coaches to analyze data from advance scouting reports.

Zaidi previously served as business development associate for Small World Media, the fantasy sports division of The Sporting News, and also worked as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.

The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the hiring Tuesday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Release Kicker Caleb Sturgis]]>Mon, 05 Nov 2018 11:00:30 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Caleb-Sturgis-GettyImages-1033320098.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers announced Monday they are releasing kicker Caleb Sturgis. 

The Bolts’ beat the Seahawks 25-17 Sunday. However, Sturgis missed an extra point on the first touchdown. After that, the Chargers failed a 2-point conversion attempt.

Sturgis also missed a field goal in Sunday's game, becoming the first kicker in the NFL to miss a PAT and a field goal try in three consecutive games since Jim Breech in 1979.

NBC Sports reports Sturgis missed two games and sat out the bye week with a quad injury. 

Rookie kicker Michael Badgley was added to the Chargers active roster.

The Chargers are in the top AFC Wild Card spot with a 6-2 record. Next week they head to Oakland to face the Raiders.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Loss Not 'Drastic' Enough for Walton ]]>Mon, 05 Nov 2018 06:07:23 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Luke+Walton+After+Lakers+Loss+to+Raptors.png

Was this "drastic" enough?

Just days after Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson, chastised his head coach Luke Walton in a private meeting, he changed course on Sunday telling three writers from the L.A. Times that Walton would "finish the season, unless something drastic happens."

Less than 30 minutes after the words came out of Magic's mouth, the Lakers got ran out of the gym by the Raptors in a historically bad first quarter the likes of which Los Angeles had never seen before.

The Raptors outscored the Lakers, 42-17, in the first frame, the worst margin of deficit in franchise history, dating back to the shot-clock-era, which began in the 1954-55 season.

Entering the game, the Lakers had never trailed by 20 or more points at any point during the season, let alone after the first 12 minutes of the game.

"That's a good team, and boy were they ready," said Walton of the Raptors hot start. "I don't know if we were tired from our game last night or what. They jumped all over us. They got in a rhythm and it made it tough to stop after that."

The 14-point loss was the worst defeat of the season for the new-look Lakers, but it's probably not enough for Magic to hand Walton a pink slip.

After snapping a 16-game losing streak to the Portland Trail Blazers in Rip City on Saturday night, the Lakers arrived back in Los Angeles in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, the Raptors arrived on Friday night after scorching the Suns in Phoenix. They practiced on Saturday, but were ready, rested, and chomping at the bit to attack the lifeless Lakers as soon as the ball was thrown into the air.

"In the first quarter we came out sluggish, just like a back-to-back," said LeBron James after the loss. "We got in late and they put it on us. Second, third and fourth, we played Lakers basketball."

The Lakers outscored the Raptors in each of the next three quarters, but the uphill climb was too much to overcome after the lopsided first frame.

After the game, Walton said his team would not use the tired legs from the night before as an excuse, but that's precisely the excuse that will keep him in his current position for the time being.

Magic's pregame words to the press were not necessarily a ringing endorsement of Walton moving forward, and his tepid vote of confidence that he'll last the season should be quelled.

Johnson should not be making proclamations as to Luke's job either positively or negatively. Simply put, he should state that Luke is the coach and that he supports him up until the day he isn't. Saying that Luke's job is safe barring something unforeseen is only going to throw fuel on the fire, and Johnson knows that.

During the game, when the Lakers got off to the sluggish start in the first quarter, fans began to boo and groan as the Lake Show went lethargic on offense compared to the Raptors who were getting everything and anything they wanted on the court.

At one point, fans began to directly point the finger at Walton, yelling, "Come on, Luke! What are you doing?" with some fans even encouraging Johnson to fire Walton at halftime.

ESPN radio host and famous orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Robert Klapper, who is frequently a participant in the Lakers pregame show, actually called for former Cavaliers coach and LeBron favorite, Tyronn Lue, to takeover in a since deleted tweet. 

However, the tweet began a thread of comments from fans on Twitter debating who would be the best coach to replace Walton.

Some voiced their support for Lue, a former Laker, who knows how to coach LeBron as well as the ins and outs of the Lakers organization and championship culture. 

Others wanted Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, who was fired by the Milwaukee Bucks last season, with current ABC broadcasters Marc Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy getting votes as well.

For now, it seems like Walton's job is safe and this loss can be chalked up to a sluggish start after the second night of a back-to-back. The 38-year-old will now have two full days to prepare for Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves on Wednesday, a team that just beat them in Minnesota last week.

Another lopsided loss and we might reach the realm of "drastic" for Walton and Johnson.


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<![CDATA[Lakers Players React After Rout by Raptors]]>Sun, 04 Nov 2018 22:41:25 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_Raptors_1200x675_1361939523703.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram, react after they were run off the court by the Toronto Raptors, 121-107, on Sunday, November 4, 2018 at Staples Center.]]>
<![CDATA[Toronto Raptors Rout Lakers, 121-107, After Worst 1st Quarter in Franchise History]]>Sun, 04 Nov 2018 23:04:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/Lakers+Routed+by+Raptors.png

This one was ugly.

The Lakers came out flat on the second night of a back-to-back and the Raptors took advantage, routing Los Angeles, 121-107, on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Less than 24 hours after they snapped a 16-game losing streak against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Lakers got run out of the gym to start the game, trailing by a franchise record 25 points at the end of the first quarter.

Toronto led 42-17 after one, and never looked back, leading by as many as 31 at one point in the second quarter. The 42 points were the most allowed by the Lakers this season, and their 17 points were the fewest they've scored this season.

Toronto systemically took apart the Lakers on both ends of the court with precision passing, tenacious defense, and without the help of Kawhi Leonard who did not play in the game because of injury.

"In my experience, unfortunately, most of the time when a player like Kawhi sits out, that team ends up winning," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "There's a sense of freedom and joy that comes when a top player like that is out. We tried to explain that that's part of how this works, but it doesn't seem like we took that to heart."

Serge Ibaka led the Raptors with a career-high 34 points on 15-of-17 shooting in just 25 minutes. 

Ibaka outscored the Lakers by himself in the first quarter, and he didn't miss a shot until the third. He beat LA inside and outside on the way to the biggest offensive game of his career.

"I was just focused," Ibaka said. "I knew Kawhi was out tonight, so I just wanted to go out there and do my best."

With the Lakers' small lineups struggling to contain Ibaka early on, he became the first player to start a game 14 of 14 from the field since Shaquille O'Neal did it in February 2006, according to the NBA.

"That's pretty cool," Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. "The best thing is he's doing it with some real good composure. He's getting in there and taking his time. He's using his size, his power, and using pretty good footwork, so it's something we can go to."

Kyle Lowry added 21 points and 15 assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors, who haven't lost to the Lakers since 2014.

LeBron James scored 18 points for the Lakers in the loss and Kyle Kuzma led the team with 24 points.

"They've been playing like they're the best team in the Eastern Conference so far," said James, who finished with 18 points and six assists. "They just came out and hit us right in the mouth, and it's going to be very hard to make a game of that when you're trying to expend so much energy to get back into it."

It was the worst loss of the season for the Lakers, and their first double-digit loss of the year. Overall, Los Angeles has lost eight consecutive games to Toronto and are 2-11 in their last 13 games since 2014. 

TIP-INS

Raptors: Leonard has sat out three of his first 10 games with Toronto, missing two games last month to manage his workload coming back from last season's injury struggles. He injured his foot late in the Raps' win at Phoenix on Friday night. Nurse doesn't know whether Leonard will play Monday at Utah. ... OG Anunoby took Leonard's spot in the starting lineup and contributed seven points.

Lakers: Starting with their fourth-quarter slump in Portland, the Lakers were outscored 75-34 in a 21:16 stretch spanning the two games. ... Fans at courtside included Denzel Washington, Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Ariel Winter, middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and UFC featherweight title contender Brian Ortega, who will fight Max Holloway for the belt in Toronto on Dec. 8. 

BYE KAWHI

Leonard sat out with soreness in his left foot, depriving Lakers fans of their only look at the superstar before he could become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Lakers would love to sign a second superstar like Leonard, who grew up in the Inland Empire area, one hour east of Los Angeles.

BAD START

The Lakers' first quarter was shockingly bad. Toronto took a 41-10 lead with 2:21 still remaining in the first quarter, and Ibaka outscored the Lakers 20-17 in the opening period. Ibaka went 11 for 11 in the first half, while Lowry had 12 assists as the Raptors hit six 3-pointers and forced nine turnovers.

UP NEXT

Raptors: At Utah on Monday night. 

Lakers: Host Minnesota on Wednesday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Saints Hand Rams Their First Loss of the Season]]>Mon, 05 Nov 2018 00:31:03 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/11.4.18_Rams-Saints.jpg

Michael Thomas caught a late 72-yard touchdown reception and then celebrated with a cellphone in a throwback to another famous New Orleans play, and the streaking Saints handed the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season with a 45-35 win on Sunday.

Drew Brees passed for 346 yards and four touchdowns in New Orleans' seventh straight win, and Thomas finished with a club-record 211 yards receiving. But what happened after their last connection of the day really stole the show in a wild shootout between two of the NFL's best offenses.

Thomas' long TD came on a pivotal third-down play with about four minutes to go, when the Rams seemed to expect the Saints to run a play closer to the first-down marker. Thomas ran free behind Marcus Peters, caught Brees' long throw virtually in stride and ran straight to the goal post, where he got out an old-school flip phone — reminiscent of Joe Horn's Sunday night TD celebration in 2003.

Like Horn, Thomas was penalized, but the Rams never threatened after that.

P.J. Williams, credited with causing two turnovers in New Orleans' previous victory at Minnesota, broke up a fourth-down pass intended for Brandin Cooks, virtually sealing the result. The former Saints receiver, who caught six passes for 114 yards and a TD, fell to his knees in frustration.

Thomas, who caught 12 passes, eclipsed Wes Chandler's club record of 205 yards receiving against Atlanta in 1979.

New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara scored three times, twice on runs and once on a 16-yard catch-and-run — all in the first half.

The Rams (8-1) very nearly pulled off an extraordinary comeback in the Superdome, where the crowd was revved up after New Orleans (7-1) raced to a three-touchdown lead late in the first half.

Los Angeles rallied to tie the game at 35 with 21 unanswered points in just less than 21 minutes off the clock, starting with Greg Zuerlein's 56-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

Receiving the kick to start the third quarter, Los Angeles put together an 11-play touchdown drive capped by Malcolm Brown's 18-yard catch and run in which the running back hopped over safety Marcus Williams along the sideline and kept his balance long enough to reach the ball across the goal line.

After another field goal cut New Orleans' lead to 35-27, the Rams forced a second straight punt and tied the game on Cooper Kupp's 41-yard catch and run along the left sideline.

The Saints regained the lead on Wil Lutz's 54-yard field goal, and then forced the Rams' first punt of the game with about five minutes left.

Brees threw three touchdowns passes in the first half, when the Saints scored 35 points.

Both teams scored touchdowns on each of their first two possessions, starting with Kamara's 11-yard run and Todd Gurley's 8-yard score.

Gurley's score have him a TD in a club-record 12 straight games, passing Hall of Famer Elroy Hirsch.

The tenor of the game changed when outside linebacker Samson Ebukam stripped New Orleans running back Mark Ingram and defensive Aaron Donald recovered on the Saints 22. But four plays later, Johnny Hekker was ruled down just short of the first down marker on a fake field goal. The Rams challenged, but the call stood, and the Saints marched back down the field, scoring on Brees' quick hit over the middle to rookie Tre'Quan Smith from 4 yards out.

That was the first of three successive touchdowns for New Orleans.

After Zuerlein missed a 51-yard field goal attempt, the Saints scored on Brees' 13-yard pass to Ben Watson with just more than a minute left in the second quarter. Shortly after, Alex Anzelone's diving interception of Jared Goff's pass over the middle set up Kamara's short TD run with 26 seconds to go in the half.

Goff passed for 391 yards and three TDs.

INJURIES

Rams: Edge pass rusher Matt Longacre was being evaluated for a concussion during the second quarter.

Saints: Ingram had his arm looked at after his fumble but returned.

UP NEXT

Rams: Host Seattle on Sunday.

Saints: Visit Cincinnati on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rivers, Gordon Lead Chargers Past Seahawks 25-17]]>Sun, 04 Nov 2018 17:07:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/11.4.18_Chargers-Seahawks.jpg

Philip Rivers made his 200th consecutive start and kept the Los Angeles Chargers surging at the midpoint of the season, surviving a late rally by Seattle's Russell Wilson.

Rivers threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns, Melvin Gordon added 113 yards rushing and the Chargers won their fifth straight with a 25-17 win over the Seahawks on Sunday.

Rivers threw touchdown passes of 12 yards to Tyrell Williams and 30 yards to Mike Williams, and let the Chargers defense stymie Russell Wilson until the final minutes. Seattle had won four of five following a 0-2 start.

Desmond King provided the deciding points for Los Angeles (6-2) by stepping in front of Wilson's pass for David Moore and returning it 42 yards for a touchdown with 6:44 remaining to give the Chargers a 25-10 lead.

Wilson managed to make the final minutes nervous for Los Angeles.

Wilson hit Nick Vannett on a 6-yard TD with 1:50 remaining to cut the Chargers' lead to one score. Seattle got the ball back with 1:24 left at its own 22 and after two completions and a roughing the passer penalty on Melvin Ingram, the Seahawks were at the Chargers 44 with 50 seconds left. Wilson scrambled for 16 yards to the Chargers 28 and, after a spike, Seattle had 30 seconds left.

Seattle (4-4) got a break when Michael Davis was called for pass interference in the end zone on the final play of regulation against Tyler Lockett, putting the ball at the 1 for an untimed down. Seattle's J.R. Sweezy was called for false start backing the play up to the 6, and Wilson's final attempt for David Moore in the back of the end zone was partially tipped by Jahleel Addae and fell incomplete.

Wilson was 26 of 39 for 235 yards, and threw a 10-yard TD pass to Jaron Brown on Seattle's opening drive.

Rivers became the fourth quarterback in league history to start 200 straight games, joining Brett Favre, Eli Manning and Peyton Manning. Favre started an NFL-record 297 straight times in the regular season. This wasn't like his 2010 performance in Seattle when Rivers threw for 455 yards, but he made key throws at important times, especially in the first half. The Chargers averaged 10 yards per play in the first half and scored touchdowns on three of their five possessions, the last one taking just 55 seconds to find the end zone on a 30-yard catch-and-run by Mike Williams.

Gordon averaged 7.1 yards per carry and ran through huge holes in the second half. His 34-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter gave him 34 TDs in his past 36 games after going scoreless in his first 14 games.

Seattle also didn't have answers for Keenan Allen, who had 124 yards on six receptions.

INJURIES

Carson didn't play much after the first quarter, spending most of the time on the sideline with a wrap on his upper left leg due to a hip injury. Carson had 40 yards on eight carries before going to the bench. ... Seattle played the second half without starting strong safety Bradley McDougald due to a knee injury. He had been questionable on the final injury report. ... Guard D.J. Fluker suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter.

REMEMBERING PAUL

Seattle played a lengthy tribute video honoring owner Paul Allen who died on Oct. 15 due to complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. They also had a moment of silence for Allen and had the "12 Flag" that's raised before every game lowered to half-staff.

Seattle also had logos added to the field reading "PGA" similar to the patches the team had added to its uniforms.

KICKING WOES

Chargers kicker Caleb Sturgis might be looking for a new job after missing two extra points and a 42-yard field goal attempt. Sturgis is the first kicker with a missed extra point and missed field goal in three straight games since Raiders kicker Jim Breech in 1979.

UP NEXT

Chargers: Travel to Oakland to face the Raiders.

Seahawks: At NFC West foe Los Angeles Rams.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Scores 28 points, Lakers Defeat Blazers]]>Sat, 03 Nov 2018 21:04:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Lakers+Beat+Blazers+in+Portland.png

LeBron James had 28 points and seven assists and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 114-110 Saturday night.

Rajon Rondo gave the Lakers a huge lift off the bench, finishing with 17 points and 10 assists in 25 minutes.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum each scored 30 points for Portland.

The Lakers used a 16-0 run in the third quarter to take a 17-point lead. Josh Hart hit a 3-pointer with 9:44 left that gave the Lakers their biggest lead at 95-75, forcing a Portland timeout.

And the timeout might have been just what Portland needed to get back into the game.

The Blazers went on a 22-8 run, cutting the Lakers' lead to six points with 3:34 left after a layup by Jusuf Nurkic. 

Sloppy play once again came back to hurt the Lakers in the fourth quarter, but the Blazers couldn't get much closer as James and JaVale McGee made crucial baskets in the final two minutes. 

Portland shot a 6 for 35 (17 percent) from beyond the arc.

The Lakers had seven turnovers in the fourth quarter and finished with 20 overall, but they survived their mistakes. 

The Lakers sped to a good start, but the Blazers quickly regained control. Turnovers and second chances fueled a 17-2 run by Portland in the first quarter.

The Lakers bench helped get Los Angeles back into the game in the first half and outscored the Blazers subs 51-26.

TIP-INS 

Trail Blazers: Blazers head coach Terry Stotts says it's hard to get a handle for where his team really is on the defensive end due to the league's uptick in pace and scoring so far this season.

"It's hard to get a handle around the league where defense is," Stotts said. "The numbers say we're 11th but it doesn't feel like it, but we are. I think this season has to settle in to see where we are with it. Unless you hold a team to 80 or 90 you'll always find things you have to get better at."

Lakers: Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler will join the Lakers once he clears waivers after agreeing to a contract buyout. A person with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed the buyout plan to The Associated Press on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Suns had not yet revealed it publicly. 

While Lakers head coach Luke Walton dodged direct questions about the move, Stotts likes what Chandler brings to the table for the Lakers. Stotts coached Chandler in Dallas in 2011.

"I like Tyson Chandler," Stotts said. "Great teammate, obviously that was a few years ago but he impacts the game at the defensive end. He's a great locker room guy, great teammate. He's all about winning. So, any team that has Tyson is going to be better for it." 

UP NEXT

Lakers: Home against Toronto Raptors on Sunday. 

Trail Blazers: Home against Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Expected to Sign Center Tyson Chandler]]>Sat, 03 Nov 2018 17:48:29 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/Tyson+Chandler+Lakers.png

Tyson Chandler is going home.

The Phoenix Suns are buying out Chandler's contract, a move that will allow the 18-year veteran — once he clears waivers — to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. A person with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed the buyout plan to The Associated Press on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Suns had not yet revealed it publicly.

The New York Times first reported that Chandler and the Suns were agreeing on a buyout. Chandler was in the final season of his four-year deal with the Suns, and was due to make about $13.5 million this season. 

The 36-year-old Chandler played his high school basketball in Compton, California, just a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles. With the Lakers, he'll likely be the backup to JaVale McGee.

Chandler was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft, but has never played for either the Clippers or the Lakers. Chandler wound up debuting with Chicago, and has also played with New Orleans, Dallas, New York and Charlotte before joining the Suns in 2015. 

Chandler has seven appearances with the Suns this season, all backing up No. 1 overall draft pick Deandre Ayton. Chandler has averaged 3.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in about 13 minutes per game this season. 

He helped Dallas win the 2011 NBA title, and was an All-Star in the 2012-13 season. He's also been a teammate of new Lakers star LeBron James before — as part of USA Basketball's team that won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. And he's appeared in 1,086 games, which is 10th most among all active NBA players.

The Lakers were playing at Portland on Saturday night. Phoenix next plays Sunday, at home against Memphis.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Send Qualifying Offers to Grandal and Ryu]]>Sat, 03 Nov 2018 03:39:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Ryu+and+Grandal+offers.png

It's decision time for two Dodgers. 

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, and starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, each received qualifying offers of $17.9 million on Friday for next season.

The qualifying offer is similar to the franchise tag in the National Football League. A team is able to offer a one-year contract (at a predetermined salary based on the mean of the top 125 players) and is given draft pick compensation should the player decline the offer.

Most free agents who believe their market value is greater than $17.9 million (we're looking at you Bryce Harper) will naturally decline the offer.

However, others whose value took a hit over the course of the season, often times take the offer like Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson did in 2016 after an injury-plagued season in 2015. That same year, Zack Greinke turned down a qualifying offer and nearly doubled that amount in average annual salary in his new deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers had a deadline of 5:00PM EST on Friday to make the offers, and only Grandal and Ryu were given them. Outside of those two, only five others received offers across the league (Harper, Patrick Corbin, A.J. Pollock, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel).

Most of those are players are expected to reject the qualifying offers, but Grandal's situation is more complicated.

Grandal's offense is elite. Each and every year he leads the National League in home runs at his position, but his defense has been less than stellar. For the second postseason in a row, Grandal lost his starting job to Austin Barnes in the playoffs.

Grandal made $7.9 million in 2018, so an extra $10 million on top of that for 2019, is a significant pay raise. However, Grandal might be frustrated with losing his starting job in the playoffs the last two years, and could seek a deal with another team for less money, just for more playing time. My guess is he declines, and receives a comparable offer on a longer deal.

Ryu made a base salary of $7 million in 2018 with a signing bonus of $833,333. It's surprising the Dodgers made him a qualifying offer considering how injury prone he's been for the last few seasons. If Ryu was smart, he would take the offer. However, after a sensational end to the season and a string of postseason starts under his belt, it's possible he thinks he can make more on the open market and declines. 

Both players have 10 days to accept or decline the offers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Walton on Hot Seat After Meeting with Magic]]>Sat, 03 Nov 2018 01:03:01 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/Luke+Walton+Hot+Seat.png

This one we saw coming. 

After a 2-5 start to the NBA season, it was only a matter of time until Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton was officially put on the proverbial "hot seat."

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, that time has come after Lakers President Magic Johnson reportedly "admonished" Walton in a private closed door meeting after a tough two-week start to the season.

Before the season began, Walton was the betting favorite in Las Vegas to be the first NBA coach to be fired this season.

Ironically, that honor went to LeBron James former coach, Tyronn Lue, who was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers just six games into the season.

Now, Lue is the odds on favorite to replace Walton should the Lakers chose to fire him.

Lue started his career with the Lakers from 1998 to 2001 and is a favorite of James after the duo won the NBA Championship in 2016 together.

If you haven't read the report, Wojnarowski and McMenamin detail an organization that is frustrated with the team's 3-5 start to the season, and with Walton's inconsistent lineups that have created "discontent among some of the veterans" on the team.

As for now, James does not appear to be one of the veteran's upset with Walton's rotations as he continues to preach patience after the difficult start to the season.

At 3-5, the Lakers are off to the worst start to a team with LeBron James on the roster since his rookie season with the Cavaliers. James is no stranger to making coaching changes as he famously had David Blatt ousted after reaching the NBA Finals in his first year, and also questioned Erik Spoelstra in Miami after a slow start in his first season with the Heat.

What makes Friday's report by Wojnarowski and McMenamin somewhat surprising is that Johnson himself told reporters at a press conference six weeks ago that Walton would not be in the hot seat if they got out to a bad start to the season, saying emphatically, "Don't worry about if we get out to a bad start. We have seen that with LeBron going to Miami, and we have seen that when he came back to Cleveland. He is going to struggle because there are so many new moving parts. But eventually we are going to get it, and we are going to be a really good team."

Walton himself addressed the rumors at practice in El Segundo on Friday morning saying that he has a "great relationship with management" (meaning Johnson), and that he doesn't believe he is "going anywhere."

One thing that does not bode well for Walton's tenure as head coach is that he was hired in 2016 by former general manager Mitch Kupchak and president Jim Buss, the brother of Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss.

Walton was hired originally as a young up-and-coming head coach to lead a budding team, and help develop its inexperienced core in the wake of Kobe Bryant's retirement. Walton is not a handpicked coach by Magic Johnson, who is a vocal supporter of legendary coaches like Phil Jackson and Pat Riley. Even as a player in his heyday, Johnson was very picky with who he wanted to coach the Lakers.

The Lakers take the court again on Saturday night in Portland against the Trail Blazers before hosting the red-hot Toronto Raptors at Staples Center on Sunday.

Needless to say, if the Lakers continue to struggle on the court, Walton will not be long for the job, and Lue will be at the top of the rumor list to replace him.



Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw Will Stay in LA, Agreeing to Three-Year Deal With Dodgers]]>Fri, 02 Nov 2018 13:07:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1052854412.jpg

One of the Dodgers' biggest offseason questions was answered Friday when pitcher Clayton Kershaw signed a new deal, choosing not to opt out of his contract and remain in the city where his big league career began 11 seasons ago.

The team and three-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a three-year, $93 million deal with incentives.

Kershaw could have tested the free agency market by opting out of his contract with the Dodgers, which had two years and $65 million remaining. Opting out would have allowed him to negotiate with other teams, or re-negotiate with the Dodgers.

The decision was expected Friday after the team and Kershaw extended the deadline earlier this week. The 30-year-old pitcher has spent his entire 11-season career in Los Angeles, and the front office made it clear it wants him to remain the face of the franchise.

The seven-time All Star, who has 318 career games with the Dodgers, made 26 starts last season, going 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA. 

Kershaw wasn't able to rewrite his postseason legacy of struggles, giving up three home runs Sunday in the Dodgers' loss to the Red Sox in the deciding Game 5.

The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA in the postseason. In two straight World Series, he's 1-2 with an ERA of 5.40. Four of his six postseason starts in elimination games have ended in losses, including Sunday's 5-1 defeat.

More Decisions to Come

Other offseason question marks include Manny Machado. He was the Dodgers' splashy acquisition, brought in midseason from Baltimore to help them win their first World Series since 1988 after shortstop Corey Seager got hurt.

Instead, they lost the Series to Boston 4-1 and watched the visiting team celebrate a championship at Dodger Stadium again. Machado was hitless in four at-bats and struck out three times, including making the final out Sunday.

"Everybody will have their opinions on things," Machado said. "The only thing that matters is these 25 guys in here."

Corey Seager is expected back next spring, while Machado is not. He will join Washington's Bryce Harper as the biggest names on the free-agent market.

Manager Dave Roberts is expected to receive a long-term contract extension, having led the team to three straight NL West titles and two World Series appearances in his short tenure.

Kenley Jansen is preparing for heart surgery in November. Jansen was part of the bullpen that contributed to the Dodgers' losses during the World Series. Ryan Madson, the 38-year-old right-hander brought in Aug. 31 to bolster the relief corps, inherited seven runners and allowed all of them to score.

For three Dodgers, the offseason won't begin for another few weeks.

Pitcher Kenta Maeda and utility players Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor will participate during MLB's All-Star tour of Japan from Nov. 8-15.

The Dodgers have never played in three consecutive World Series, but their passel of young stars -- including Cody Bellinger, Seager, Yasiel Puig and pitchers Walker Buehler and Julio Urias -- make it a strong possibility.

"Obviously, there is a lot of talent in this clubhouse and a lot of guys who want to win and are motivated to get better," retiring infielder Chase Utley said. "When you have all those combinations, you're bound to have some success."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LAFC Loses Heartbreaker to RSL]]>Thu, 01 Nov 2018 22:51:07 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Walker+Zimmerman+Shot+LAFC.png

Maybe Clayton Kershaw brought them bad luck. 

The Dodgers star was on-hand for the first MLS Playoff game in Los Angeles Football Club history, but the squad lost on an own-goal by Walker Zimmerman, as Real Salt Lake defeated LAFC, 3-2, on Thursday night at Banc of California Stadium. 

The loss eliminated LAFC from the MLS Cup Playoffs in their inaugural season, as they expansion club fought til the better end, but couldn't find the equalizer against the veteran-laden squad from Utah.

"We built something special," said manager Bob Bradley of the season as a whole. "This season we had enough moments of enough really good football that the vision of what we want to be can be achieved."

LAFC put pressure on their opponents for most of the first half until Damir Kreilach put RSL on the board after a brilliant counter attack.

Right back, Brooks Lennon ran to the corner where he stopped, pivoted on the touch line, and sent a cross into the box to Kreilach who took the pass off his chest and buried it into the bottom left corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.

"It was a cross literally from the touch line. You can't give up goals like that," said Bradley of RSL's first goal. "At that point, I still felt our urgency and intensity and composure to keep playing was still there."

Unless you're the Las Vegas Golden Knights, it's rare for an expansion team in any sport to reach the postseason, let alone host a playoff match.

So LAFC found themselves in uncharted territory, not only playing in a playoff match in their inaugural season, but trailing by a goal against a plucky RSL squad.

LAFC leveled the score at 1-1 when Carlos Vela took a free kick from the right wing and blasted into the box, where center back Danilo Silva got his head on the ball just in front of the six-yard box for the equalizer. 

"Danilo didn't do well on the header, but he makes up for it with the goal there," added Bradley. "At that point we kept giving ourselves a chance to win."

Both teams went into halftime with 45 minutes of playoff action under their belts, but it was LAFC that seized the energy from the crowd and carried over their momentum into the second half, with the early go-ahead goal on a golazo by Christian Ramirez. 

Midfielder Lee Nguyen sent a through ball to Ramirez who sent an absolute stunner from outside the box into the top corner of the net to give LAFC their first lead at 2-1. 

"I was trying to make runs and create space for guys," said the So-Cal native Ramirez of his goal. "It took an own-goal and a wonder goal to take us out. That's how cruel this game is."

As RSL trailed, they were reminded of how they stumbled into the postseason to begin with. After a 3-0 loss to the Portland Timbers in the final game of the season, RSL looked dead in the water until the LA Galaxy gave them a lifeline, losing at home to the Houston Dynamo in the season finale. 

"I didn't see LA losing that game," RSL head coach Mike Petke said. "I thought it was a one in a million chance. With the makeup of our team, we deserved to be in the playoffs and tonight I guess we proved it."

So with the full knowledge that they were playing with house money, RSL didn't shy away from the moment, rallying behind Kreilach one more time as he answered three minutes later with the equalizer. 

Kreilach did his best impression of Daniel LaRusso in Karate Kid as he "Crane Kicked" the goal from beyond the box for an amazing volley that tied the game at 2-2

"When this moment was the best option to do this, and luckily the ball was in the goal," said the Croatian striker. "Tonight was a great performance."

RSL took the lead on an own-goal by LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman. Forward Jefferson Savarino sent a shot on net from the right corner of the box that deflected off the face of Zimmerman and into the net for the heartbreaking difference maker. 

"It went off my face and into our goal," said Zimmerman. "I had no idea it was coming. I didn't really see much of it, and obviously it bounced the wrong way."

Despite the loss, the atmosphere inside Banc of California stadium was electric as supporters cheered non-step for their new team.

"The atmosphere in here every night is awesome," said Bradley of the stadium they call "The Banc." "They stand and sing from the beginning until the end. We have the best situation in the league."

The game was marred by some of those supporters however as fans threw cups of ice and beer onto the field at RSL players including goalkeeper Nick Rimando. 

Earlier in the season, the MLS and LAFC implored fans to stop the "puto" chant directed at the opposing keeper. Fans obliged throughout the season, but the defamatory chant returned for the playoff match.

"There was a really good discussion after the chant happened and that got taken care of immediately," said Bradley. "Tonight, some of that we don't need. Moving forward they know that we love them, we'll play for them, we will give our hearts to them, they will give our hearts to us, and we'll have to make sure it doesn't cross the line."

Real Salt Lake last won the MLS Cup in 2009, and Thursday marked their first playoff win since 2013. 

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Photo Credit: LAFC
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<![CDATA[Kershaw Spotted at LAFC Match as Free Agency Looms]]>Thu, 01 Nov 2018 19:59:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/KershawatLAFC.png

If Clayton Kershaw is leaving Los Angeles, he sure has a funny way of showing it. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers ace was spotted at the MLS Playoff match between Los Angeles Football Club and Real Salt Lake at Banc of California Stadium on Thursday night. 

Kershaw attended the match with teammate Joc Pederson, and was sporting a fresh haircut and shave after the Dodgers were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox in the World Series at Dodger Stadium on Sunday night. 

After the Major League Baseball season ends, Kershaw usually heads back to his home in Dallas where he spends the majority of the offseason. 

However, Kershaw is poised to make one of the biggest decisions in his professional career as he has until Friday at 1:00PM PT to decide whether or not he's going to opt-in to the final two years of his contract, or opt-out and become a free agent. 

On Wednesday, the Dodgers extended the deadline for Kershaw's decision until Friday, potentially as a sign that both sides are trying to work out a deal to keep Kershaw in Dodger Blue. 

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, and general manager Farhan Zaidi held a press conference on Thursday morning to discuss the offseason, and said that conversations with Kershaw were "ongoingly pleasant."

Kershaw can opt out of the last two years and $65 million of his contract to become a free agent for the first time in an 11-year big league career spent entirely with the Dodgers.

If he chooses free agency, Kershaw could negotiate with any team, including the Dodgers.

"He's made as much of an impact as you can on an organization in terms of the success we've had," Friedman said Thursday. "Not just on the field but from a culture standpoint in terms of bringing up young pitchers and emulating the work ethic, the drive."

Kershaw signed a $215 million, seven-year contract in January 2014 that calls for salaries of $32 million next year and $33 million in 2020. He was 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA this season.

The Dodgers and Roberts discussed a contract extension going back to spring training without reaching a deal. Roberts has said he expects to be back next year.

"It wasn't an issue at all to kind of table it and pick it up when we were done playing," Friedman said.

Both Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi expressed support for Roberts, who got booed during the World Series for some of his on-field decisions.

"We both feel very strongly that those strategic decisions are the result of a process," Zaidi said. "We believe and we continue to have full confidence in his process. I also think when you start putting the microscope on little individual decisions it's also taking credit away from the other team. The Red Sox were a terrific team."

Zaidi said Roberts' coaching staff will be brought back next season.

The Dodgers dropped under the luxury tax threshold this year after paying nearly $150 million over the previous five seasons, although Friedman wouldn't say if Los Angeles plans to be under next year's $206 million threshold.

"There's no question that we have plenty of resources to win a World Series next year," he said. "The talent on hand and the flexibility to do that I think is definitely there."

Earlier this week, MLB.com reported rival San Francisco was interested in talking to Zaidi about a job in its baseball operations department. Zaidi previously spent a decade working in Oakland's front office before joining the Dodgers four years ago.

"I'm not going to comment on that," he said. "Right now my focus is on the Dodgers until you guys tell me otherwise."

The team's top free agents are:

— Manny Machado. The shortstop was acquired from Baltimore in July and played outstanding defense. But he hit .182 in the World Series and drew ire for his admitted lack of hustle and overly aggressive base-running that earned him a $10,000 fine from Major League Baseball.

"It wasn't a great look," Friedman said. "I don't think it got to the fact that he didn't care. I think he did care and his teammates really liked him and respected him."

Corey Seager continues recovering from Tommy John and hip surgeries, and the Dodgers expect him back at short in time for opening day.

— Hyun-Jin Ryu. The 31-year-old South Korean pitcher has spent his entire five-year MLB career with the Dodgers. The left-hander was 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA in 15 regular-season starts and spent time on the disabled list with a groin injury. He stumbled in the NL Championship Series and World Series.

— Yasmani Grandal. The catcher went 4 for 29 with 15 strikeouts in the postseason. He struggled defensively in the NLCS and was replaced by Austin Barnes.

The remaining free agents are relievers John Axford, Daniel Hudson and Ryan Madson, and second baseman Brian Dozier.

"I'm sure there will be some turnover," Friedman said. "How much it's tough to say right now."

The Dodgers got one bit of business completed Thursday night, agreeing to terms with David Freese on a one-year contract after the club option of $6 million was declined.

The 35-year-old infielder joined the team in August after a trade from Pittsburgh.

Freese was 8 for 22 with two home runs, six RBIs and a walk in 14 postseason games while platooning at first base. He hit .385 in 19 regular-season games with Los Angeles.

With Chase Utley having just retired, Freese could fill his veteran leadership role in the clubhouse.

Also Thursday, the Dodgers acquired infielder Justin Yurchak from the Chicago White Sox for left-handed pitcher Manny Banuelos.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[ Dodgers Bring Back David Freese on One-Year Deal]]>Thu, 01 Nov 2018 19:47:03 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/David+Freese+Returns.png

The Dodgers have made their first offseason move, agreeing to terms with infielder David Freese on a one-year contract.

The team announced the deal Thursday night after the club option of $6 million was declined. The Dodgers will pay Freese a $500,000 buyout in addition to his new $4.5 million deal.

The 35-year-old former World Series MVP joined the team in August after a trade from Pittsburgh.

Freese was 8 for 22 with two home runs, six RBIs and a walk in 14 postseason games while platooning at first base.

He hit .385 in 19 regular-season games with Los Angeles.

With Chase Utley having just retired, Freese will fill his veteran leadership role in the clubhouse.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrate Día De Los Muertos With the Los Angeles Kings]]>Thu, 01 Nov 2018 10:01:29 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-450396406.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings will celebrate Día de Los Muertos Night on Thursday at Staples Center during their game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The team will be kicking off their first Spanish-language radio broadcasts since the 1997-98 season. It is the first of 10 that will be broadcast in Spanish on ESPN Deportes.

"As our game grows it is important we continue to reach as many fans as possible and this new partnership with ESPN Deportes is a tremendous opportunity to help introduce hockey to a new audience," said Kings President Luc Robitaille. "I was a player with the Kings when we broadcast games in Spanish. It is exciting to have this opportunity again."

Limited ticket packages, including a discounted ticket and a Kings Día De Los Muertos T-shirt are available at LAKings.com/diadelosmuertos

According to the Kings senior director, communications and heritage, the Kings will revisit the amount of Spanish-language radio broadcasts in future seasons.

Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, is celebrated from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 in Mexico and Latin America in remembrance of those who have died.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LAFC Asks Fans to Break Out the Black Gear for First Playoff Game]]>Thu, 01 Nov 2018 06:01:53 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Laurent-Ciman-leaving-LAFC.jpg

The Los Angeles Football Club is asking all its fans to dress in the team's black gear Thursday night for the Major League Soccer expansion team's first playoff game.

The team held several events in the city this week to promote what it has dubbed "Blackout LA."

The knockout round game against Real Salt Lake at the 22,000-seat Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park will be sold out, a team official told City News Service. A limited amount of tickets remained available Wednesday afternoon.

LAFC sold out all 17 of its regular-season games at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC was 2-0 against Real Salt Lake in the regular season, winning 5-1 on March 10 in Sandy, Utah, and 2-0 on Aug. 15 at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC finished third in the Western Conference with 57 points and a 16-9-9 record. Real Salt Lake was sixth with 49 points and a 14-13-7 record.

If LAFC wins, it would play host to Seattle Sounders FC in a two-game Western Conference semifinal beginning Sunday at Banc of California Stadium.

The first team in professional sports to ask fans to all wear the same color to a game were the NHL's Winnipeg Jets in 1987, who asked fans to dress in white for what it called a "Whiteout."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Halloween Postgame]]>Wed, 31 Oct 2018 23:26:36 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_Halloween_Postgame_1200x675_1358859843807.jpgLos Angeles Lakers guard LeBron James and center JaVale McGree (dressed as the Grinch) discuss the team's win over the Dallas Mavericks on Halloween night.]]><![CDATA[Los Angeles Lakers Halloween Costumes]]>Thu, 01 Nov 2018 02:19:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*122/GettyImages-1053315528.jpg

Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story.

The Los Angeles Lakers celebrated Halloween night with a win over the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center, 114-113, but they also celebrated with some creative costumes that had their teammates in tears.

As the Lakers players arrived at Staples Center before tip-off on Wednesday night, many made their locker room entrance in costumes that embraced the Halloween spirit.

LeBron James arrived first, and kicked off the Halloween holiday by bringing back one of the greatest movie villains, Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th.

Adding to the fright fest, James had an axe in hand, and slashed it at the cameras waiting outside the Lakers locker room. 

Another Lakers player trying to put the scare in everyone at Staples was guard Lance Stephenson, who sported an all black outfit complete with some Satanic Joker mask.

I asked Stephenson after the game where he got the mask and what it was from, and he said he didn't know, but he knew it was terrifying.

Next up was 7-foot center, JaVale McGee, who rocked a custom-made Grinch costume that he said came courtesy of his agent and NBC Universal, just in time for the new Grinch movie that is in theaters now.

Notice the fanny pack he's wearing as well.

All teammates agreed that the most creative costume of the night went to guard Josh Hart, who visited Staples Center all the way from Scranton, PA, dressed like Dwight Schrute from the hit NBC TV Show, The Office.

Earlier in the day, Lonzo Ball dressed up as Batman at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, even doing his best Christian Bale impression as he greeted teammates like Brandon Ingram.

 

Ball was joined by teammates Ivica Zubac, who dressed as Frankenstein, and Sviat Mykhailuk, who dressed as a demonic clown, as the trio led kids on a trick-or-treat trail through the team facility.

Outisde of the Lakers, there was some other NBA players getting in the Halloween spirit as Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, fresh off his NBA record 14-three-pointers, dressed as Jackie Moon from the Will Ferrell movie Semi-Pro.

Indian Pacers guard Victor Oladipo rocked a Black Panther costume for his team's game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Tell us what you think of all the Halloween costumes in the comments section below.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Lakers Put Scare in Staples Center, Hold on to Defeat Mavericks, 114-113, on Halloween Night]]>Wed, 31 Oct 2018 23:27:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/LeBron+James+vs.+Mavs.png

LeBron James walked into Staples Center on Halloween dressed as Jason from the "Friday the 13th" movies. Five hours later, he saved the Los Angeles Lakers from a horrifying ending. 

The four-time MVP scored 29 points and made the game-winning free throw with 2.1 seconds left Wednesday night as the Lakers held on for a 114-113 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

"I don't like the way we closed out the game, but for the majority of the game we played well," James said. 

Los Angeles led nearly throughout and was up 111-98 with 3:42 to go before the Mavericks went on a 15-2 run to pull even. Luka Doncic tied it at 113 with 7.2 seconds remaining on a jumper from the corner, but on the next trip down the floor James was fouled by Wesley Mathews while shooting a jump shot.

James missed the first free throw but made the second. J.J. Barea missed a 3-pointer for Dallas as time expired, and the Lakers (3-5) stopped a two-game skid.

"NBA games are never over and you have to play the game a certain way," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "If you mess with the game, the game will mess with you and I thought we did that a little bit. Hopefully we can learn the same lesson even if it was a win." 

JaVale McGee added 16 points and 15 rebounds, Kyle Kuzma scored 18 and Brandon Ingram had 17 for the Lakers. 

Matthews led Dallas with 21 points and Harrison Barnes scored 19. The Mavericks (2-6) have lost five straight.

"I love the fight. Our first quarter was very disappointing but we battled back," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We were able to get stops in the fourth quarter and we were getting some momentum on offense."

The Lakers scored the first eight points and led by 18 in the first quarter as they went 15 of 23 from the field and made six 3-pointers.

Dallas trimmed the margin to 66-59 by halftime. Matthews' driving bank shot pulled the Mavericks to 70-64 before the Lakers went on a 17-4 run — which included 10 points by James — to open their largest lead at 87-68 with 4:40 remaining in the third. 

The closest the Mavericks got in the first eight minutes of the fourth was 98-90 with 8:12 left.

Two nights after saying he needed to be more "engaged" in the game, Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball had a bounceback night with 14 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds.

"I'm just trying to have energy from the jump," said Ball following the win. "That's the key, to be locked in for 48 minutes and play as hard as I can."

ROAD WOES

The Mavericks, who dropped to 0-5 on the road, are one of seven teams in the NBA without a win away from home. They have lost 10 straight road games dating back to last season. 

TOUGH START, BETTER FINISH

Doncic, the second pick in the 2018 draft, said before the game that he grew up idolizing James. The teenager from Slovenia, who scored 31 points Monday night at San Antonio and is averaging 20.4 points per game, might have been in awe a bit during his first game against James as he missed his first six shots.

Doncic was able to shake off the slow start, though, as he made his final five shots from the field and finished with 14 points. James gave Doncic his jersey after the game.

TALE OF TWO HALVES

The Lakers held the Mavericks to 37 percent from the floor in the first and third quarters (17 of 46), but Dallas shot 65 percent (26 of 40) in the second and fourth.

"The first and third quarters defensively we were pretty good and then we had two awful quarters. It is just about getting better with those things," Walton said.

TIP-INS

Mavericks: DeAndre Jordan had 12 rebounds and 10 points. ... Barea (15 points) and Dwight Powell (12) came off the bench to score in double figures. ... The Mavericks were 14 of 19 from the field in the second quarter. ... G Devin Harris (left hamstring strain) missed his seventh straight game.

Lakers: Have won three straight against the Mavericks. ... McGee also had five blocked shots, making it his first game with at least 15 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks since Jan. 14, 2012, with Washington. The last Lakers player to accomplish that was Pau Gasol on Jan. 20, 2014, at Chicago. ... Kuzma scored 11 points in the first quarter. ... The 38 points were a season high for a first quarter. ... F Michael Beasley missed his second straight game due to personal reasons.

UP NEXT

Mavericks: Host New York on Friday.

Lakers: At Portland on Saturday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers, Kershaw Extend Deadline On His Option Decision]]>Thu, 01 Nov 2018 10:31:36 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/uspresswire-dodgers-clayton-kershaw.jpg

Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers want some more time to consider their possible future together.

The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner and the team have agreed to extend the deadline on his option decision by 40 hours until 1 p.m. PDT Friday.

The team made the announcement a couple hours before the initial 9 p.m. PDT deadline Thursday.

Kershaw can opt out of the last two years and $65 million of his contract to become a free agent for the first time in an 11-year big league career spent entirely with the Dodgers.

He was 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA this season. The left-handed ace spent time on the disabled list for the fourth time in five years, too.

The Dodgers lost in the World Series for the second straight year, falling 4-1 to Boston on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: CSNPhilly.com]]>
<![CDATA[Butler Shoots Timberwolves Past Lakers]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 19:02:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers+Lost+To+TimberWolves.png

Jimmy Butler hit five of Minnesota's eight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to finish with 32 points and help the Timberwolves hang on to beat LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers 124-120 on Monday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns pitched in with 25 points, a season-high 16 rebounds and four blocks for the Timberwolves, who played some clutch defense just in time to fend off a late push from James. The four-time MVP had 10 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter after missing his first five shots of the night.

James added 10 rebounds and seven assists on the 15th anniversary of his professional debut. With the Lakers trailing 119-117 inside the 2-minute mark after Brandon Ingram blocked Butler's shot, however, James dribbled at the top of the key with Towns guarding him and lost the ball into the backcourt.

Ingram came back strong from his four-game suspensionwith 24 points for the Lakers. Kyle Kuzma, after scoring 11 points in the first five minutes, had only eight more over the rest of the night.

Josh Okogie, starting at shooting guard for Minnesota in place of the injured Andrew Wiggins, had a career-high 17 points.

Anthony Tolliver was perfect on four shots from the floor for the Timberwolves, including a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter for a 96-94 lead. Butler's back-to-back swishes from behind the arc pushed the lead to 114-107. He added one more to make it 122-117, before a corner miss by James.

The Lakers went with a new starting lineup to maximize their length, sliding the 6-foot-9 Ingram back to the shooting guard spot and flanking James with the sharpshooting Kuzma at power forward. They entered the night with a league-leading 22 percent of their points coming on fast breaks, and the pace from both sides was predictably fast. The teams combined for 23 turnovers and 15 steals in the first half, plus four technical fouls.

The Wolves were ahead by as many as eight points early, but while their arms were plenty active on blocks and deflections, they don't have a defense strong enough yet to build a comfortable lead. Butler grabbed a rebound of Kuzma's missed 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter and dished to Jeff Teague, who took the risk of another pass to Taj Gibson and watched the big man drop in a layup at the buzzer for a 66-all tie.

TIP-INS

Lakers: Backup forward Michael Beasley was away from the team to tend to a personal matter. He has only appeared in three games, logging a total of 10 minutes. He's with his seventh different team in his 11th NBA season. ... The largest lead for the Lakers, 90-85, came on Lance Stephenson's 3-pointer with 3:28 left in the third quarter.

Timberwolves: Wiggins took part in the morning shootaround but was held out for the third straight game with the strained right quadriceps that stopped his consecutive regular-season games played streak at 243.

UP NEXT

Lakers: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

Timberwolves: Host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Familiar Feeling at Dodger Stadium: Game 5 of the World Series in Photos]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 05:50:37 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*125/AP_18302105390686.jpgDodgers fans had to watch another team celebrate a World Series victory on their home field for the second consecutive years.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[The Wait Continues for Dodgers and Their Fans]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 05:56:15 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/170*120/AP_18302163240393.jpg

Another year, another World Series celebration at Dodger Stadium by a team that wasn't the Dodgers.

It was almost too much to take for Los Angeles fans who watched the Boston Red Sox take the series in five games Sunday by winning 5-1, the same score of the Houston Astros' series-clinching win a year earlier.

"It sucks a lot," said fan Brian Beck, who sat in the stands through both the Red Sox and the Astros' celebrations. "It's one of the worst experiences as a fan ever."

The Dodgers have now gone three decades without a World Series title, a span where other LA teams including the NBA's Lakers and the NHL's Kings have won multiple championships.

Dodgers fan Glenda Morales looked dejected as she walked out of the stadium with her daughter, but insisted the feeling would pass, and so would the long championship drought.

"I'm not hopeless, I'm hopeful," Morales said. "It'll happen."

Fans held on to a sliver of hope when Sunday began, with Clayton Kershaw, long the Dodgers' best pitcher and a widely beloved figure in Southern California, on the mound for Game 5.

It didn't last long as Kershaw gave up a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, and the Red Sox took a lead they would never give back.

The stadium's many Boston fans, including famous ones such as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, sounded as loud as a home crowd by the final innings.

Dodgers fans stood and shouted for a rally one last time in the eighth inning when down 5-1, but many headed to the exits once it ended.

Some stayed until the bitter end, and after.

"We want a full dose of disappointment to fuel our rage against the people responsible for not getting us through the series," said Scott White.

He suggested that Mike Scioscia, a former Dodger who recently stepped down as manager of the Angels, might be brought in to turn things around.

"He needs to come back home and teach these guys how to play Dodger baseball," White said.

White said he feared his Dodgers were turning into the NFL's Buffalo Bills, who went to the Super Bowl for four straight years in the 1990s and came away with zero championships.

Despite the sad scene on the field, many in Dodger blue said they didn't regret coming.

Beck said while watching the loss was one of his least favorite experiences, being at the World Series with his sons was one of his best.

Chris Ellis, a Dodgers fan who lives in Vancouver, Canada, flew down for Saturday and Sunday night's games, both rough losses. Yet he said he had no regrets.

"We lost to the Red Sox. So we lost to the best," Ellis said. "It's sports. You win, you lose. But the World Series is a bucket-list thing."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Players Discuss Disappointing Result to Red Sox in 2018 World Series]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:28:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/World_Series_Game_5_1200x675_1355699267880.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Matt Kemp, Max Muncy, Rich Hill, Brian Dozier, Chase Utley, Kenley Jansen, Yasiel Puig and Manny Machado discuss the Dodgers second straight disappointment at Dodger Stadium after losing the 2018 World Series to the Boston Red Sox.]]><![CDATA[True Blue Dodgers Fans in Photos]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 04:56:24 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1054783046.jpgDodgers fans show off their true blue pride.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Rich Hill Says President's Focus Should Be On Nation]]>Sun, 28 Oct 2018 19:08:02 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/hill_0.jpg

Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill didn't appreciate President Donald Trump's tweet criticizing manager Dave Roberts for taking him out of Game 4.

Hill told reporters on Sunday that he believes the president's focus should be elsewhere.

"There was a mass shooting yesterday," the pitcher said. "The focus, in my opinion, of the president is to be on the country, and not on moves that are made in a World Series game."

Hill was referring to the massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday that left 11 dead.

Hill was pulled by Roberts on Saturday night with one out and a runner on in the seventh inning after six scoreless innings. Hill was eventually charged with an earned run allowed by the bullpen.

"Big mistake!" Trump tweeted.

Roberts was heavily criticized by Dodgers fans and others for his pitching decisions after LA lost 9-6 on Saturday to leave them trailing Boston 3-1 in the best-of-seven Series.

"There's a lot of thoughts and opinions that people don't have all the information, which is commonplace these days," Roberts said Sunday. "It's noise and I really haven't paid too much attention to it."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: NBC Sports - Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Lose World Series for Second Straight Year]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:33:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Kershaw+World+Series+Game+5.png

Disappointment at Dodger Stadium…again.

At the end of the baseball season Clayton Kershaw retires to his ranch in Dallas, Texas where he rests and reflects on the previous campaign.

Last winter, Kershaw had to reflect on a season that came agonizingly close to a World Series title. 

Kershaw pitched four scoreless innings of relief in a 5-1 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 7, and watched from the Dodgers dugout as the visiting team celebrated on the mound that the former MVP calls home.

Over the course of the next year, the sting of that loss did not abate. It stayed with Kershaw throughout the 2018 season. A year that featured a tough start as the Dodgers fell 10 games below .500 on May 14, only to fight and claw their way back to their sixth straight division title.

Kershaw knows the disappointment well, he's often been the guy on the mound when his team's been eliminated before, but this time the heartbreak feels like a punch in the gut.

After using the disappointment of last year as a spur all season long, Kershaw returned to the Fall Classic, with a chance to rewrite history as well as his own legacy.

Instead, he reopened the narrative that he wilts under the pressure of the postseason, in what could have been his final game in a Dodger uniform.

"I'm disappointed. Yeah, just disappointed, I think," said Kershaw who has three days to decide if he's going to return to the Dodgers or opt-out of his contract and become a free agent. "There's only one team that can win and we know that, but it just hurts worse when you make it all the way and get second place. So having done that two years in a row now, it doesn't make it any easier."

Kershaw surrendered home runs to Steve Pearce, Mookie Betts, and J.D. Martinez as the Boston Red Sox won their ninth World Series title in team history, 5-1, over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium. 

"I made a few mistakes tonight and sometimes you just wish they'd find a gap or find a single or something like that. And instead, they went over the fence tonight," said Kershaw. "That's the story of the game."

The real story of the game begins one year prior, when the Dodgers dropped a heartbreaking Game 7 to the Houston Astros on their home soil. 

The Dodgers knew the only way to rebound from that Game 7 loss was to win the World Series the following year. They battled through injuries, through heart conditions, and a rollercoaster ride of a season, just for the opportunity to salve their regret.

Only they didn't seize it for the second year in a row.

"That one really hurt," closer Kenley Jansen said of the 2017 World Series loss. "It motivates you to get back here and we did. This one hurts too. At the end of the day we're still human and it's going to hurt. This loss is what will keep me going and will make me better."

The game began with a familiar script: 

A first inning homer off Kershaw, and a Red Sox lead that they would not relinquish.

Steve Pearce, the World Series MVP, continued his hot hitting from Game 4, when he crushed a 91 MPH first pitch fastball from Kershaw over the wall in center field for a two-run homer in the first inning.

"You've got to strike early on that guy," Pearce said of his first inning homer of Kershaw. "You saw how he settled in in the middle innings. And, yeah, just to be able to get my pitch and not miss it, and give us an early lead, that was big for our club."

Entering the game, the Red Sox were a perfect 9-0 when scoring first in the postseason. They improved to 10-0 after the victory, tying their 2004 team as the only two teams to have a perfect record in the postseason when striking first.

David Freese gave the Dodgers life when he cut the lead in half with his second leadoff homer of the postseason.

"I knew Freese wanted to hit the ball to the right field, and he's a really good October hitter," said David Price who surrendered the homer. "He has been for every team he's been on at this stage, winning the World Series MVP, whenever they played Texas, '11 or '12, I don't know what year it was, but he swings the bat well."

Los Angeles had an opportunity to tie the game when Freese hit a flyball to right field in his second at-bat that J.D. Martinez lost in the lights. The ball bounced behind him, and Freese ended up on third with a one-out triple.

However, Justin Turner and Enrique Hernandez were unable to get him home, as they grounded out and flied out, to strand Freese on third and end the inning.

"We could’ve done more and won the championship, but it got out of our hands," said Yasiel Puig following the loss. "We practically gifted it to Boston, who is a great team. We did things we shouldn’t have done. We made bad decisions. We did bad things on the field that gave them an easier victory."

Mookie Betts added an insurance run for the Red Sox when he broke out of an 0-for-13 slump and hit his first postseason home run off a slider from Kershaw in the sixth inning.

"I tried to keep it at two [runs] as best I could," said Kershaw. "And then the homers got to me there at the end. I didn't make a whole lot of adjustments, just some bad pitches in there."

Martinez, another American League MVP candidate, followed an inning later, with a solo shot to dead-center off Kershaw, and the Red Sox prepared the champagne, as they opened up a three run lead with three innings remaining.

"I never knew there were so many Red Sox fans here," Martinez said of the reaction he received from the sea of red mixed in with the Dodger blue after his home run.

Kershaw suffered the loss for the second time in the series, surrendering four runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts in seven innings.

"You have to give credit to the Red Sox," a disappointed Kershaw said after the game. "They're a great team. They won, I think, 108 games in the regular season. They beat two teams that also won a hundred games in the postseason. And then beat us four games to one."

Pearce hit his second homer of the game, and his third in the last two games to go with seven RBI, when he hit a solo shot off reliever Pedro Baez in the eighth inning.

Predictably, Pearce was handed the World Series MVP trophy after the game, and soaked in the moment on the field as fans from Fenway Park that traveled all the way to California began chanting his name and singing "Sweet Caroline."

"Best feeling in my life," said Pearce after the game. "This is what you grow up wishing that you could be a part of something like this.This has been a lifelong journey. And to be here right now is a dream come true."

As one pitcher yielded to his postseason narrative, another one rewrote it, as David Price outdueled Kershaw, allowing only Freese's leadoff homer in the game.

"David pitched a great game and I got outpitched," admitted Kershaw about his counterpart.

Pitching on three days rest from his victory in Game 2 of the series, Price once again shut down the Dodgers lineup, allowing just one run on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts in seven superb innings.

"However many times I've failed in October, however many times I failed in the regular season or against the Yankees, my confidence was never altered," said Price. "I always had belief in myself and my abilities. To be able to come through on this stage and in October for myself and for my teammates, I know I can do it now. And it's always a good feeling to have."

Price won his third straight start of the postseason on Sunday, and became the first pitcher in MLB history to beat Cy Young winners in the finale of an LCS and the World Series in the same year.

"I hold all the cards now," Price told the media after the game about his postseason narrative. "That feels so good. I can't tell you how good it feels to hold that trump card. And you guys have had it for a long time. You've played that card extremely well. But you don't have it anymore, none of you do, and that feels really good."

The 2018 Dodgers were defined by inconsistency, an inability to hit with runners in scoring position, and struggles against left-handed pitching. All three of those blemishes befell them in the World Series.

Similar to the 2017 World Series, the Dodgers held leads in three of the five games in the series, including two games they lost. Last year, the Dodgers led Games 2 and 5 against the Astros, only to relinquish leads on late-inning rallies by their rivals.

The Red Sox came-from-behind twice in the series, and relinquished only one lead, on an errant throw by Ian Kinsler, in Game 3. Other than that, they refused to go down without a fight.

You can't same the same about the Dodgers.

Los Angeles has found themselves in a 3-1 deficit in the World Series five different times in their franchise history, they have lost in five every single time.

On their journey to their fourth World Series crown in the last 15 years, the Red Sox could do no wrong.

They finished with 108 wins and the best record in baseball. They beat up on the rival Yankees in the ALDS, dethroned the champs in Houston in the ALCS, and then dispatched of the two-time NL pennant winners in five games in the World Series.

For Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, once a member of the Boston Red Sox when they broke the curse in 2004, he suffered the sting of defeat on the game's greatest stage for the second year in a row, bombarded by questions about his in-game decisions, and left to rethink them in another offseason full of regrets.

"It's not easy. It hurts. It's disappointing. All that," said Roberts after the loss. "Obviously I understand my job is to ultimately lead us to a championship, and we haven't accomplished that yet."

Somewhere in the visitor's clubhouse, soaked in champagne and beer, was Red Sox manager Alex Cora, celebrating in that exact location within the confines of Dodger Stadium for the second straight year. 

After serving as a bench coach for the the Houston Astros in 2017, Cora knew what it took to win it all, and brought Boston back to the Promised Land. As a player, Cora won the championship with the Red Sox in 2007, and on Sunday became the first manager from Puerto Rico ever to win a World Series.

"As a player I was just utility guy, last year I was a bench coach. This feels better," said Cora. "Ironic enough, we win it here. So it goes full circle."

As for Los Angeles, only the 1936 and 1937 New York Giants know the sting of having lost back-to-back World Series on their home soil.

Now the Dodgers join them.

 

 

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Stay Perfect in Wild Win Over Packers]]>Sun, 28 Oct 2018 15:44:35 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/173*120/Gurley+vs.+Packers.JPG

Since Sean McVay took over in 2017 not many people have known what to do with the Rams offense. They led the NFL in scoring a year ago and started Sunday’s game against the Packers averaging 33 points a game this season.

For a half, the game plan Green Bay put together was flawless. For another half, Los Angeles was as unstoppable as we’ve seen it. Of course, so was Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, so we got to watch a treat right before Halloween.

In a game where offenses and defenses played equally well it came down to special teams and the Rams were better. Two big mistakes in the 4th quarter cost the Pack in a 29-27 loss.

Rodgers led a pair of scoring drives in the first half to put the Packers up 10-0. For most of the opening 30 minutes the Packers kept the Rams off-balance. L.A.’s best offensive play was arguably a fake punt where punter Johnny Hekker threw a 12-yard pass to defensive back Sam Shields to keep a drive alive. They were right back out there to punt again after three straight incompletions.

It was Hekker doing his usual job that helped put the Rams on the board. He stuck a punt down at the Green Bay 1-yard line and running back Jamaal Williams was stuffed in the end zone by linebacker Mark Barron for a safety. L.A.’s offense finally contributed at the end of the half with Jared Goff hit wide receiver Josh Reynolds for a 1-yard TD that sent the game to halftime with Green Bay up 10-8.

Mason Crosby hit a 53-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 13-8 and then the Rams got cranking thanks to a heavy dose of Todd Gurley. The running back who is on a pace to flirt with the NFL single-season touchdown record (31 by LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006) took a short pass from Goff and ran 30 yards for a touchdown. Gurley also caught the 2-point conversion and L.A. had its first lead of the day at 16-13.

On their next drive Goff hit Reynolds again, this time for a 19-yard score, and it looked like the Rams were going to run away with it. Instead Aaron Rodgers started doing Aaron Rodgers things.

On 3rd and 10 with L.A. having all kinds of momentum the future Hall of Famer had a defender grabbing onto him threw a 41-yard dart to Davante Adams and two plays later running back Aaron Jones broke loose for a 33-yard TD run that cut the lead to 26-20.

On their next possession Rodgers hit a wide-open Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who had cornerback Marcus Peters beat, for a 40-yard TD and a 27-26 lead. After that the fireworks ceased for a bit.

They picked up again late in the 4th quarter. On 3rd and long Aaron Donald broke through to sack Rodgers and force a pun, which J.K. Scott only sent 25 yards downfield to the Green Bay 40. One long run by Gurley set up Greg Zuerlein for a 34-yard field goal to put the Rams back on top 29-27.

With about 2:00 to play Rodgers had a chance to lead a game-winning drive. He never got the chance. Ty Montgomery fumbled the kickoff at his own 21 and the #Rams recovered to ice the game and move to 8-0.

Next week things don’t get any easier for them when they head to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the Saints.

]]>
<![CDATA[This Could be Clayton Kershaw's Last Game as a Dodger]]>Sun, 28 Oct 2018 15:40:15 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Kershaw%27s+Final+Game+as+Dodger+World+Series.png

The final Kershaw Day?

The Los Angeles Dodgers are one loss away from their second straight World Series elimination on their home turf. 

The only other team to experience such heartbreak in front of their fans? The 1936 and 1937 New York Giants at the Polo Grounds.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw knows that disappointment firsthand. He's been on the mound in games that have ended his team's season short of a World Series title, and he's been on the mound in elimination games that have extended the season as well. 

Kershaw pitched four scoreless innings in Game 7 of the World Series last year, and then watched from the Dodgers dugout as the Houston Astros celebrated their first championship on Los Angeles soil.

Less than one year later, Kershaw is on the precipice of experiencing that same pain and disappointment, as he takes the mound on Sunday in what could be the final game of the MLB season and the final game of Kershaw's career as a Dodger.

Should Kershaw decide to opt out of the final year of his contract after the season, he would become an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team of his choosing as he enters the second half of his career. 

Kershaw's Hall of Fame legacy is already cemented, but his postseason legacy is another story altogether. One of the greatest left-handers ever to take the mound, Kershaw has a 4.28 career postseason ERA and has had as many nightmarish games in the playoffs than he's had "vintage Kershaw" games. 

"I don't really care about legacy," Kershaw said during his pregame press conference before Game 4. "I don't really care what people think of me or perceive of me. Game 5 is very important to win the World Series, and I'm looking forward to pitching that game and hopefully putting us in a great spot going back to Boston." 

On Sunday, in Game 5, fresh off one of the greatest bullpen collapses in World Series History, Kershaw will try and bring his team back from the brink, and extend the series to Boston. 

If Kershaw struggles, and the Dodgers are eliminated again, forced to watch their opponent celebrate on their own field as they host the coveted prize that Los Angeles has sought for 30 years, then it's possible the three-time Cy Young Award winner signs elsewhere as he chases a championship.

If that happens, then he will be haunted by the "what if's" for the remainder of his career. 

What if Kershaw wasn't lit up in Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS in St. Louis against the Cardinals and the Dodgers forced a Game 7?

What if Kershaw never surrendered that back-breaking homer in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS when Matt Adams erased a two-run lead with a three-run homer?

What if Kershaw had command of his curveball in Game 6 of the 2016 NLCS against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field?

What if Kershaw didn't surrender not one, but two, four-run leads in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston?

If this is in fact the last time we see Clayton Kershaw pitch at Chavez Ravine in a Dodgers uniform, then fans will remember one of the greatest regular season pitchers they've ever seen.

But they'll also remember the multiple chances they had to win a World Series title, all placed in the steady hands of their future Hall of Famer, only to see the trophy slip through his grasp, time and time again.

First pitch of Game 5 at Dodger Stadium is scheduled for 5:15PM PT and will be broadcast live on FOX.



Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 4]]>Sun, 28 Oct 2018 00:12:23 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/World_Series_Game_4_1200x675_1355128899562.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Rich Hill, Manny Machado, Kenley Jansen, Ryan Madson and Justin Turner discuss the team's heartbreaking loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the World Series.]]><![CDATA[Red Sox Rally to Stun Dodgers in Game 4 of World Series]]>Sun, 28 Oct 2018 00:13:06 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Red+Sox+Rally+to+Beat+Dodgers+in+Game+4.png

The Boston Red Sox are one win away from being crowned World Series Champions. 

Mitch Moreland hit a three-run homer in the seventh, and Steven Pearce hit a game-tying home run in the eighth, as the Boston Red Sox rallied from a four-run deficit to stun the Los Angeles Dodgers, 9-6, in Game 4 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night. 

"It is a tough loss," admitted a shell-shocked Dave Roberts after the loss. "Any loss in the World Series is difficult, but obviously, now we're in a situation where it's do or die. To their credit, they fought back and won a baseball game."

Undaunted after an 18-inning marathon in Game 3, unworried about a four-run deficit in Game 4, the Red Sox continued to prove why they are considered the best team in baseball, as Boston compiled big hits like trick-or-treaters compile candy.

Before Boston broke out the bats against a bullpen meltdown of epic proportions, Game 4 began as an unlikely pitcher's duel between left-handers Eduardo Rodriguez and Rich Hill. 

Both starters took turns throwing five shutout innings before Yasiel Puig broke the game open with a three-run blast in the bottom of the sixth that put the Dodgers up 4-0. 

"Puig gave us the lead and a nice cushion," said Machado who was on third base at the time. "We just weren't able to close it out. That's part of the game."

Puig's blast sparked the Dodgers sellout crowd, and awoke an anemic offense that had been silent for the better part of two games.

Both teams struggled offensively from the start, a likely hangover from the physical and emotional toll from the seven-hour and twenty minute game just hours earlier.

Before the sixth inning, both teams were a combined 0-for-12 with men on base, and 4-for-46 in the last two games overall.

"We had no energy, actually none whatsoever," admitted Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It had to do with Rich Hill, the way he was throwing the ball. Obviously the big swing by Yasiel. But one thing about our team, we keep playing."

Christian Vazquez broke up Hill's no-hitter in the fifth inning after he roped a line-drive single into left field.

Hill, the second oldest pitcher to ever start a World Series game, became a part of some not-so-super World Series trivia when he became the first pitcher since 1968 to hit the opposing pitcher in the Fall Classic. Hill hit Rodriguez with an 86MPH fastball to leadoff the third inning.

Outside of that, Hill was outstanding in his third career World Series start, allowing just one run, on one hit, with three walks, and seven strikeouts in 6 and 1/3 innings. 

"This is a tough loss," admitted Hill. "You have to give credit to Boston for the way they came back. Things work out for a reason. It's a really difficult loss. We have an uphill battle."

Hill has allowed a run in each of his three World Series starts in his career, bringing his Fall Classic ERA to 1.80.

"He did everything to put us in a position to win a baseball game," Roberts said of Hill. "We've got to do a better job of picking him up."

Unfortunately for Hill, he was unable to get out of the seventh inning, and it was disastrous for the Dodgers.

Hill issued a leadoff walk to Xander Bogearts before striking out Eduardo Nunez for the first out of the inning. Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts didn't want Hill to face Brock Holt, so he went to the left-hander Scott Alexander in the bullpen. 

Alexander was tasked with one job: to get Brock Holt out. Instead, he walked him on four pitches. Roberts went to Ryan Madson after that.

Alex Cora countered with back-to-back left-handed pinch-hitters and Mitch Moreland kicked off the comeback with a three-run moon shot off Madson to cut the lead to one.

"So we got that chance right there. And I saw him throw a couple of changeups to Jackie up in the zone. I decided, why not sit on that one first pitch?" said Moreland of his first-pitch assault of a Madson changeup. "And when he threw it, I saw it pretty good, and put a good swing on it."

The Red Sox became the first team in World Series history to hit two pinch-hit home runs in a single series, and have hit two in four games. They hit only two pinch-hit homers in the entirety of the regular season.

"The manager didn't believe in pinch-hitting early in the season," joked Cora when asked why the Red Sox only had two pinch-hit homers in the regular season and two already in the World Series. "I thought pinch-hitting was a tough spot, a tough at-bat, but obviously we're in the National League, and we have to do that."

Moreland's blast came with two outs, and the Red Sox have now scored 17 of their 23 runs in the World Series with two outs.

"There's only two teams left in the Big Leagues right now, and both teams are going to fight till the end," continued Cora. "Sometimes in October we talk about mechanics and how you feel at the plate and all that, and sometimes it's will. And you will yourself to do great things. And it started very simple. A few good at-bats and then the big swing, and we kept rolling and we didn't stop playing."

Meanwhile, Madson's miserable World Series continues. Madson has inherited seven runners so far in the World Series and somehow eight have scored.

"This is not the first home run I've given up in the World Series," said Madson, who made his 57th postseason appearance in the game. "It's never fun, but you just keep pitching and give the team as much as you can."

He's surrendered eight runs while he's been on the mound, but yet Moreland was the only one he's been responsible for in his three appearances in the World Series.

"You have to be your best against that lineup and I wasn't," said a resigned Madson of his difficult World Series. 

In a moment of déjà vu, Dave Roberts brought in closer Kenley Jansen in the eighth inning of a one-run game for presumably a two-inning save.

For those that forgot, Roberts made the same move in the eighth inning of Game 3 on Friday night, and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit the game-tying homer off him. 

Well, lightning struck twice on Roberts and the Dodgers, as Jansen surrendered the game-tying homer to Pearce less than 24 hours later. 

"One bad pitch yesterday and one bad pitch today and they made me pay," said Jansen of the back-to-back blown saves. "We have another game tomorrow and we still have a chance."

Jansen has now blown saves in back-to-back World Series games, becoming the second pitcher in MLB history to allow a game-tying homer in consecutive games of a World Series since Arizona's Byung-Hyun Kim did it in Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 Fall Classic.

Roberts managerial decisions will surely be questioned for years to come as his team's latest bullpen meltdown felt forseeable and predictable, as he put his team on the precipice of their second straight World Series let down.

Even President Trump weighed in on Roberts as he tweeted his hot take from the comfortable confines of the White House in Washington D.C.

"I'm happy he was tuning in and watching the game," said Roberts of the President's critique of him. "I don't know how many Dodger games he's watched. I don't think he's privy to the conversation. That's one man's opinion."

After Brock Holt hit a one-out double in the top of the ninth, Rafael Devers knocked in the go-ahead run with a single up the middle and the Red Sox completed the comeback. 

"We were scuffling bad. And it kind of took a big hit from one of our guys to get everyone going, and obviously that was Mitch Moreland tonight," said Holt. "And after he did that, I think everyone kind of loosened up, and we started putting together good at-bats. And thankfully we did."

The last time the Red Sox rallied from three runs down in the World Series was against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Many fans might remember that game for Carlton Fisk's dramatic "fair or foul," home run in the 12th inning.

Pearce, a 35-year-old veteran, became the latest hero in Boston's decorated postseason history when he cleared the bases with a double in the gap that put the Red Sox ahead 8-4. 

"He's a good at-bat. He doesn't expand. He stays in the zone and able to go the other way," said Cora of Pearce. "Like today he was out in front of the first one, then gets a fastball and shoots it the other way. He's a complete player. He's a complete hitter. Very mature. The moment, it's not too big for him."

Pearce joined elite company after the game when he became the third Red Sox player in team history to homer and drive in at least four runs in a World Series game. The other two players to do it? Carl Yastrzemski (1967) and David Ortiz (2004).

Enrique Hernandez kicked off the Dodgers half of the bottom of the ninth with a two-run homer that cut the lead to 9-6, but Cody Bellinger flied out to end the game with the tying run in the on-deck circle in Yasiel Puig.

Game 5 is on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, where three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw takes the mound looking to avoid the Dodgers becoming the first team to lose back-to-back World Series on their home field since the New York Giants in 1936-37.

The Red Sox will counter with Game 2 starter David Price, who will take the mound on three days rest, looking to close out the Dodgers and secure Boston's ninth championship in franchise history.

Only six teams have ever comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series, with the 2016 Chicago Cubs the last team to win three straight elimination games in their quest for a title.

Up Next:

David Price will face off with Clayton Kershaw in Game 5. First pitch is scheduled for 5:15PM PT. 

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Emotional Ceremonial First Pitches at Dodger Stadium]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 06:05:00 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_18302007496167.jpgFrom the adorable Kershaw siblings to a determined looking Danny Trejo and the family of Jackie Robinson, we have a collection of some of the best ceremonial first pitches at Dodger Stadium.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Do Dodgers Now Have Advantage in World Series?]]>Sat, 27 Oct 2018 15:28:48 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/220*120/Dodgers+Red+Sox+Game+4+Preview.png

Let's play two.

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the war of attrition over the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series. The longest game in postseason history featured 17 pitchers and a combined 44 total players. 

After a seven-hour and 20-minute marathon ended with the Dodgers walking off to a 3-2 win, and back in the series overall after falling into an 0-2 hole, most people believe that the advantage is now firmly in the hands of the Boys in Blue after Boston was forced to burn through three different starting pitchers and their entire bullpen in Game 3.

However, that's exactly what baseball wants you to think. 

Game 3 ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and a little over 12 hours later, Game 4 will begin. After starting right-hander Rick Porcello, using David Price on one day rest, and throwing expected Game 4 starter Nathan Eovaldi in six innings of relief (97 pitches), the Red Sox are choosing to start left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez in Game 4.

Rodriguez appeared in relief in Game 3, making only six pitches, so he shouldn't be that tired for Game 4. The Red Sox are making history by starting Rodriguez, as he will become the first pitcher to start a World Series game after appearing in the previous game in a relief role since Firpo Marberry did in 1924 for the Washington Sentators.

Hill has been solid as a rock this postseason, allowing just three runs in two starts with a 2.61 ERA. Last year in the World Series, Hill made two starts against the Astros, and surrendered just two total runs, lowering his World Series ERA to 2.08. 

Hill hasn't pitched since Game 6 of the NLCS, when he threw an inning of relief in a loss. Before that, he last started Game 4 of that series on October 16, giving Hill 10 days of rest between starts.

With Hill ready and rested, and Rodriguez coming off an appearance in Games 1 and 3, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts believes the Red Sox left-hander might not go to deep into the game. Therefore, Roberts went against his traditional all right-handed lineup against a southpaw starter like he did in Games 1 and 2, and instead is starting two of his top power hitters in Max Muncy at second base and Cody Bellinger in center field.

If the Dodgers are able to jump on Rodriguez early, and Hill finds a rhythm with his curveball, Los Angeles could be looking at a level series with their ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound in Game 5.

But as we saw in Game 3, baseball is unpredictable. Everything we thought we knew goes against the grain. The Dodgers were leading Game 1-0, with four outs remaining and All-Star closer Kenley Jansen on the mound. 

Despite an up-and-down regular season, Jansen had not allowed a run in the postseason leading up to the World Series. Game over, right? Wrong.

Jackie Bradley Jr. tied the game with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth and the winds completely came out of the sails for the Dodgers. That would bode well for Boston who took the lead in top of the 13th inning with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound. Game over, right? Wrong.

Los Angeles tied the game in the bottom of 13th on an error by veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler. The bizarre series kept the extra innings affair going and the Dodgers eventually walked it off on Muncy's homer in the 18th.

The Dodgers became the first team to win a World Series game after trailing in the 11th inning or later. Again, everything we thought we knew we didn't.

It would be the most baseball thing ever for both teams to be feeling the physical and emotional hangover of the marathon game just a few hours earlier, and Eduardo Rodriguez and the Red Sox to throw up zeroes while the fresh and rested Rich Hill shows signs of rust.

The Red Sox are hoping for that outcome and are looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, with a chance to win their fourth World Series in the last 15 years on Sunday against Kershaw.

Nonetheless, if the Dodgers are able to get to Rodriguez early, and force Red Sox manager Alex Cora to burn through his already depleted bullpen again, then we can hit the proverbial reset button on the World Series and watch in awe as it becomes a best-of-three with a Cy Young winner taking the mound in every game. 

First pitch of Game 4 is scheduled for 5:09 PM PT and will be broadcast live on FOX.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 3]]>Sat, 27 Oct 2018 02:07:33 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/World_Series_Game_3_1200x675_1354624067564.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Walker Buehler, Joc Pederson, David Freese, Manny Machado, and Yasiel Puig discuss the team's dramatic, exhausting, exhilarating, and thrilling walk-off win over the Boston Red Sox in the longest game in World Series history.]]><![CDATA[Celebrities in the Stands: Dodgers Edition]]>Sun, 28 Oct 2018 18:17:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/10.28.18_Dodgers-Matt-Damon.jpgHollywood celebrities show off their Dodger blue.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Beat Boston in Longest Game in World Series History]]>Sat, 27 Oct 2018 02:13:58 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/Max+Muncy+World+Series+Walk+off.png

Baseball is unpredictable. 

With the Dodgers backs against the wall, they somehow fought back. 

Max Muncy hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 18th inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Boston Red Sox, 3-2, in the longest game in World Series history. 

"This was a gut-wrenching game for both sides," said Muncy following the win. "This is one of those games that whoever came out on top is going to have a lot of momentum going into tomorrow. This was an extremely long game, 18 innings. A lot of pitchers were used. Every position player was used. Injuries on both sides. Their guys are banged up, our guys are banged up. It's one of those things when you're able to come out on top from a game like this, you have to feel it gives you a little momentum going to the next one."

Boston still leads the series, two games to one. 

Muncy took a 90MPH cutter from Nathan Eovaldi to opposite field in left-center to end a marathon game that saw both teams burn through 18 pitchers and 27 position players (both postseason records), in a seven-hour and 20-minute affair.

"I fell behind 3-0 and just wasn’t able to execute my pitch," Eovaldi said of the homer to Muncy. "It’s difficult. When you go that far, you want to come out on top. He was clutch right there. It’s frustrating." 

Before that, Eovaldi pitched six innings of relief, allowing no runs, while throwing 97pitches. Oh yeah, and he pitched in Game 1 and Game 2 in Boston. 

"When he came in, I asked him, 'How do you feel?' He's like, 'Let me finish it,'" said Red Sox manager Alex Cora of Eovaldi after the 17th inning. "So his stuff was still good. The last out, Turner, that was good. And then Muncy put a good swing on it, and hit it out of the ballpark."

The exhausting and exhilarating game began as a pitcher's duel between former Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and rookie Walker Buehler. 

With Sandy Koufax watching from behind home plate, Buehler, the 24-year-old rookie, became just the second youngest Dodgers pitcher in postseason history to have a scoreless start since Johnny Podres threw a complete game shutout in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series at 23 years old.

"It's pretty cool, but at the same time, this is something I've probably pictured for a long time," said Buehler of his start. "I'm just glad it worked out the way it did. It's a pretty special moment for me."

The Dodgers took the lead in the third inning when Joc Pederson crushed a first pitch changeup from Rick Porcello into the Boston bullpen.

The longball snapped an 0-for-24 slump by Dodgers hitters against the Red Sox dating back to the fourth inning of Game 2. 

The story before Game 1 was all about All-Star pitchers in Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale. In Game 2 it was all about Cy Young Award winner David Price dominating the Dodgers lineup. Yet in a series that has featured three different Cy Young Award winners, and a seven-time All-Star, it was the unassuming rookie with the famous last name that became the first to pitch into the seventh inning. 

Against the best team in baseball, on the biggest stage the sport offers, Buehler surrendered just two hits, and retired the last 14 batters he faced as he struck out seven over seven scoreless innings. 

"I think that certain people can handle a moment like this and understand what was at stake tonight," said Roberts of Buehler. "We needed his best effort. And we needed him to go deeper than their starter, log some innings. And some guys run from it. Some guys can't answer the bell. But this guy, he's got an overt confidence, a quiet confidence, a little combo. But he's got tremendous stuff. And he lives for moments like this."

If writing his name in Dodgers history wasn't enough for Buehler, he also joined elite company as he became the second pitcher to have at least seven strikeouts, two or fewer base runners and not allow a run over seven innings since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

"His stuff is amazing," Cora said of Buehler. "We were putting good at-bats early on, and all of a sudden he started throwing cutters and changeups, and he was able to keep us off balance. For him to go seven at this stage, they needed it and he did an outstanding job."

After Buehler's dominant performance, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wanted just one man to pitch the final two innings of the game: All-Star closer Kenley Jansen.

"We felt that in a must-win game to go to Kenley for two innings, we liked that," said Roberts of his decision. "That was the plan." 

Maybe he should have rethought that decision. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. took Jansen deep with two outs in the eighth inning for the game-tying homer. 

"It didn't work out," admitted Roberts of the blown save by Jansen. 

Bradley Jr.'s homer was the 14th allowed by Jansen during the 2018 season, he had never allowed more than six in any previous season.

The game would head to extra innings where the Red Sox threatened to take the lead in the top of the 10th. 

Pedro Baez walked J.D. Martinez, and Ian Kinsler entered the game to pinch-run for him. After a single by Brock Holt put runners at the corners with out one, Eduardo Nuñez hit a fly ball to centerfield that appeared to be deep enough to score the tying run. 

But Cody Bellinger had other ideas as the center fielder threw a cannon to catcher Austin Barnes who tagged out Kinsler just before the plate, keeping the score tied at 1-1. 

"I thought for sure that game wasn’t going to end," Bellinger said after the threw out Kinsler at home. "I thought we’d have to wake up in the morning to finish it. I'm just glad Max Muncy hit that home run so we can go home and sleep."

Both bullpens continued to throw lights out, but with two of the best teams in baseball battling head-to-head, a game with a razor-thin margin of error was bound to come down to one fatal mistake. 

Ironically, it came down to two, as both teams scored on bizarre errors in the 13th inning.

Brock Holt led off the inning with a walk. One pitch later, Holt stole second on a ball in the dirt, and he scored on dribbler back to the pitcher that turned into disaster for the Dodgers. 

Nuñez, who broke Game 1 open with a three-run homer, hit a little nubber back to reliever Scott Alexander, but first baseman Max Muncy was charging in on the play, so second baseman Kiké Hernandez had to hustle to cover first base. 

Alexander threw underhand to Hernandez, but he slipped on the base and the ball flew over his head, allowing Holt to score from third and the Red Sox to finally take their first lead of the game, more than five hours after the first pitch had been thrown.

"It was a flukey thing," Clayton Kershaw who had to enter the game as a pinch-hitter in the 17th inning said of the 13th. "It was in no-man's land with that grounder. It seems fitting for this game. Both were just really weird plays."

Less than a week away from Halloween, it's fitting that the 13th inning proved to be the most bizzare for both teams. In fact, it's a surprise a black cat didn't run onto the field or a witch fly overhead on her broomstick.

The Dodgers half of the unlucky 13th inning began with Muncy staring at 101MPH fastballs from Eovaldi. Eventually, he worked a walk, putting the tying run on base.

After a flyout from Machado, Bellinger hit a fly ball in foul territory down the third base line that Nuñez dove into the seats to catch. Muncy wisely tagged on the play, and found himself in scoring position with two outs. 

Yasiel Puig followed with a groundball up the middle that Ian Kinsler backhanded for what appeared to be the final out of the game. But Kinsler's throw went wide at first base, allowing Muncy to score on the error and tie the game. 

Both teams squandered numerous chances with the former Dodger, Eovaldi, holding the team that drafted him back in 2008 in check for seven innings until Muncy's big blast in the bottom of the 18th. 

Muncy's walk-off homer was his first career walk-off hit of any kind, and the first walk-off home run in the World Series for the Dodgers since Kirk Gibson's legendary longball in Game 1 of the 1988 Fall Classic. 

"Obviously there's not many words I can use to describe that," Muncy said of his walk-off homer. "The feeling was just pure joy and incredible excitement. That's about all I can think of because it's hard to describe how good a feeling it is." 

Boston's loss snapped a five-game road winning streak dating back to the AL Division Series against the New York Yankees. 

Up Next:
Rich Hill will get the ball in Game 4 as the Dodgers look to even the series, with the Red Sox starter still to be determined. First pitch is scheduled for 5:09 p.m. PT.

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Image
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Hand the Ball to Rookie Walker Buehler in Game 3]]>Fri, 26 Oct 2018 16:16:40 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Walker+Buehler+World+Series+Game+3.png

From spectator to starter, Walker Buehler has gone from irrelevant to important.

A year ago, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler was watching the first two games of the World Series at Dodger Stadium with his sister.

He sat in the loge section at Dodger Stadium behind home plate as the Dodgers took Game 1 against the Astros, only to lose Game 2 in disastrous fashion after the Astros came-from-behind in the top of the ninth off closer Kenley Jansen. 

On Friday night in front of a frantic and anxious sellout crowd, the 24-year-old rookie will take the ball and toe the rubber with the Dodgers hopes of a World Series title hanging steadily on his shoulders.

Buehler was in the visiting dugout at Fenway Park for the first game of the World Series, but he was on a flight home during the second game in order to rest and prepare for his crucial start in Game 3.

Buehler has been through it all during the arduous course of his rookie campaign. He started the season in the minor leagues, he broke a rib, he went back to the bullpen, only to return as starter and set the world on fire down the stretch.

His astounding month of September led to the Dodgers pulling him from his scheduled start on the final game of the season so that he could pitch in a winner-take-all Game 163 for the National League West Division.

He was sensational in that start, but struggled in his first two appearances of the postseason: losses in Game 3 of both the NLDS and the NLCS against the Braves and Brewers.

Despite his struggles in those games, Buehler was handed the ball again in a must-win Game 7 in Milwaukee. After a first inning homer to future MVP Christian Yelich, Buehler settled in, and dominated the Brewers lineup over the next four innings.

"Any time you're in situations like that," said Buehler, "The more you can get there and live it yourself, it does nothing but help you."

Buehler will look to turn his Game 3 troubles around on Friday as he pitches for the first time in the World Series. The team has dug themselves an 0-2 hole, and now call upon their young ace to get them back into the Fall Classic.

"I don't think anybody wants to be there," Buehler said of being down two games. "But I think of the 30 teams that could be in a situation like this, we probably know how to handle it in that top echelon. It is what it is, and now it's time to get back to where we need to be."

The Red Sox will have counter with a Cy Young Award winner in right-hander Rick Porcello, their second consecutive Cy Young Award winner in a row, and potentially the third if Chris Sale wins the award this season.

Porcello appears on eight days rest, and gives the Dodgers an opportunity to stack their lineup with left-handed power hitters Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, and Cody Bellinger. 

Yasmani Grandal, the much maligned catcher that lost his starting spot during the NLCS because of some defensive mishaps, will return to the starting lineup for Game 3 with the possibility of taking Porcello deep, and a stronger arm to throw out the speedy Red Sox runners.

When Buehler takes the mound on Friday, he will be the youngest pitcher to start a World Series game since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. Ironically, the Dodgers lost the first two games of that series in New York to the Yankees, and then won Game 3 at home in Los Angeles with Valenzuela on the mound.

They would go on to win the next three games after that, and defeat the Yankees in six games, the last time the Dodgers dug themselves out of an 0-2 hole to win the World Series. 

Once again, here's hoping history repeats itself. 

Game Three of the World Series starts at 5:09PM PT from Dodger Stadium and can be seen on FOX.



Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Lobster Pizza, Fries on the Dodgers' World Series Menu ]]>Fri, 26 Oct 2018 10:31:24 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/1981026-dodgers-food.jpgSeveral special food items at Dodger Stadium for the World Series will offer a nod to Boston with lobster pizza, esquite lobster fries and a clam chowder bowl.

Photo Credit: Whitney A. Irick ]]>
<![CDATA[True Blue Fan Swims in Dodgers Hats]]>Fri, 26 Oct 2018 05:23:31 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/True_Blue_Fan_Swims_in_Dodgers_Hats.jpg

Employees at the Lids hat store know him by name. Video broadcast Friday Oct. 26, 2018 on Today in LA.]]>
<![CDATA[From Holland to LA: Dodgers Fans Travel Thousands of Miles]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 10:00:29 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/From_Holland_to_LA_Dodgers_Fans_Travel_Thousands_of_Miles.jpg

Amsterdam to Toronto, then Toronto to LA. That'sthe route the Mollenkramer family traveled for thousands of miles to see their beloved Dodgers. Toni Guinyard reports for Today in LA on Friday 26, 2018.]]>
<![CDATA[How This Dodgers Fan Ended Up With Five Game Balls]]>Fri, 26 Oct 2018 05:22:09 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Meet_the_Dodgers_Fan_With_Five_Game_Ball.jpg

A San Dimas season ticketholder shows off the five game balls he caught from Manny Machado. Video broadcast Friday Oct. 26, 2018 on Today in LA.]]>
<![CDATA[World Series Photos: Dodgers Come Up Empty in Boston]]>Thu, 25 Oct 2018 05:04:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1053068846.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 2]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 22:13:05 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/World_Series_Game_2_1200x675_1352578627727.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players David Freese, Austin Barnes, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Matt Kemp discuss the Dodgers 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the World Series to fall into an 0-2 hole in the Fall Classic.]]><![CDATA[LeBron James Finally Gets First Win With Lakers]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 20:30:51 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LeBron-James-Lakers-win-in-Phoenix.jpg

LeBron James recorded his first victory as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in Phoenix, as the 33-year-old led the purple and gold to a 131-113 victory over the Suns.

James, who nearly recorded a triple-double despite sitting the entirety of the fourth quarter, finished with 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in 28 minutes on the court.

With the win, the Lakers improved to 1-3 for the 2018-19 season.

In addition to James, Lakers center JaVale McGee had a standout performance and recorded 20 points on 8-13 shooting from the field, including a made three-pointer. More in character, McGee recorded four blocks in 26 minutes on the court.

All five Lakers' starters finished scoring in double figures, and all 10 Lakers to feature on the court recorded at least one assist to highlight the balanced offensive display Luke Walton's men put on in Arizona.

Off the bench, Lance Stephenson continued his strong start to the season with a team-high 23 points, along with eight rebounds and eight assists in 25 minutes. The former Indiana Pacer made 10 of his 14 field goal attempts on the night.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was moved to the bench to provide sophomore Josh Hart a starting spot, was the only other Lakers' reserve to score in double figures on the night.

For the Suns, Devin Booker led the way with 23 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, and rookie Deandre Ayton added 22 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.

Next, the Lakers host the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on Thursday night.

Notes: Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo remain suspended for a brawl involving Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul. Rondo will miss Thursday's game, while Ingram will sit out the next two games.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Lose Game 2, Down 2-0 in World Series]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 22:21:39 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/RedSox+Beat+Dodgers+Game+2.png

Boston has put the Dodgers on ice.

J.D. Martinez knocked in two runs and the Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven World Series. 

After a cold night in Game 1, it was an even more frigid night at Fenway Park in Game 2 as temperatures reached 33 degrees with winds of 8 MPH.

Martinez, the Major Leage leader in RBI this season, drove in the go-ahead runs during a two-out, three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth inning that propelled the Red Sox within two wins of their fourth World Series title in the last 15 years.

"That was huge," Martinez said of the two-out rally in the fifth inning. "That was a great example of just how you grind out an inning, grind out at-bats, finding ways to get guys on and keeping the line moving."

For the second consecutive game, the American League pennant winners displayed an uncanny clutch hitting ability as all four runs in the game were scored with two outs.

Before Martinez became the hero, Xander Bogaerts put Boston on the board in the second inning, when he doubled off the monster for the first hit of the game, and scored two batters later on a two-out, single from Ian Kinsler.

After earning his first career postseason victory in Game 5 of the ALCS, David Price did not allow a hit through the first three innings in Game 2. 

"I just tried to keep it the same. Same as in Houston," said Price of his start on Wednesday. "Don't put any added pressure or anything of that nature. Just go out there and throw strikes and execute pitches and rely on my defense, and that's what we were able to do."

David Freese broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff single to start the fourth inning and Manny Machado followed with a single of his own to put two runners on base.

Yasiel Puig, who arguably could have been the MVP of the NL Championship Series, had the biggest hit of the 2018 World Series for the Dodgers so far, when he laced an RBI single into center field to give the Dodgers their first lead of the Fall Classic.

"That was a tough inning, it could have spun out of control pretty fast," Price said of the fourth. "And it's been one of my Achilles heels especially in the playoffs and even in the regular season, is that big inning. Being able to stop it at two right there after the Puig hit to center, that was big for us."

The Dodgers have struggled with runners in scoring position this postseason, going 18-for-92 in 14 playoff games, but Puig helped change all that by driving in the go-ahead run in the fourth with two outs and a runner on second.

"The difference is they got a big hit when they needed," Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said of the Red Sox compared to the Dodgers with runners in scoring position. "I think that we've had opportunities to do the same thing, we've done the same thing. We didn't get the hits that they got but we had baserunners. And the difference is they got a couple of hits with runners in scoring position and we didn't, and now we're down 0-2."

The lead would be short-lived for Los Angeles as the Red Sox continued to stay hot with runners in scoring position and two outs.

After Ryu retired the first two batters of the fifth inning, Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts hit back-to-back singles to start the rally. Ryu walked Andrew Benintendi to load the bases and then promptly left the game for reliever Ryan Madson.

Madson walked Pearce to tie the game, and then surrendered a two-run, go-ahead single to J.D. Martinez as the Red Sox recaptured the lead, 4-2. Nine of the Red Sox 12 runs in the series have come with two outs.

"I faced him yesterday and it was a very similar situation," said Martinez of his at-bat against Madson. "He was a little wild, and I went up there kind of passive. I said, 'this is the time,' I said, 'trust your eyes.' It wasn't a bad pitch. It was a good pitch. I was just fortunate enough to stay inside of it and dump it in."

Madson saw it slighlty different. "I beat him," he said of the at-bat against Martinez. "He didn't hit it good. I beat him, but he's strong enough to drop it in there in the outfield."

After a fantastic start to the postseason, Madson has inherited five runners in the World Series and each and every one has scored against the right-hander. 

"I really liked him against Pearce," said Roberts of his decision to continue to bring in Madson in high-pressure situations. "In that spot he's done it time and time again for us, but the last couple of nights it hasn't worked out."

Ryu (1-2) lost for the second consecutive postseason start (both on the road), as he allowed four runs on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts in 4 and 2/3 innings.

"There was a moment that I could have ended that inning," said Ryu of the fifth after retiring the first two hitters he faced. "Obviously I couldn't do that. I think if I could have commanded my pitches better there would have been a different result."

In less than a week, Price has gone from playoff flop to World Series hero as his 2018 postseason campaign has changed the narrative of his legacy. 

The former Los Angeles Dodgers draft pick started his postseason career with a record of 0-9 in ten seasons and had never won a playoff game before last Thursday. 

Now, Price has won consecutive postseason starts and has moved Boston two wins away from another title, and Price's first ever championship.

"It's absolutely the reason why I came here," said Price. "This is the biggest stage in baseball. There's no other stage that's going to be bigger than pitching in a World Series game, unless it's Game 7 of the World Series. I'm pumped for myself, pumped for all my teammates and coaches for us to be two wins away, and I'm 2-0 right now in the World Series, that's a good feeling."

The former Cy Young Award winner allowed two runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts in six strong innings for Boston. 

"We had him. We had him on the ropes," Roberts said of Price. "The difference is they got the big hit when they needed and we didn't."

Red Sox relievers Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi, and Craig Kimbrel pitched three scoreless innings, retiring 16 consecutive hitters to end the game.

Kimbrel closed the door for the second consecutive night, earning his sixth save of the postseason. According to STATS, not since Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956 had an AL team retired so many consecutive hitters to finisher a World Series game.

The Dodgers now face an 0-2 deficit in a best-of-seven series for the first time this postseason. The last 10 teams to win the first two games of the World Series and 16 of the last 17, have all gone on to win the title. 

"Historically that's not a good thing, losing the first two, but if we can pickup game three right away, things will change," said Freese following the loss. "We need to win three now. We're down 0-2, we get that. Game 3 is a necessity."

Overall the Red Sox have won 14 of their last 16 World Series games, dating back to a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004. They will head to the West Coast with a five-game road winning streak this postseason.

Up Next:

The series shifts to the sunshine and warmth of Los Angeles for Game 3 as Walker Buehler is expected to start for the Dodgers against right-hander Rick Porcello for the Red Sox. First pitch is 5:09PM PT. 

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Vending Machines Are Giving Out Free Dodgers Swag]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 16:41:02 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/adidas_WorldSeries_LA_Vending_dodgers.jpgAdidas is celebrating the World Series by offering fans in both Los Angeles and Boston with free limited edition memorabilia in vending machines. The colorful vending machines will be open to the public every game day throughout the series. Prizes will be available beginning at 10 a.m. and last through the final out of the game on game days.

Photo Credit: ADIDAS]]>
<![CDATA[Adidas is Giving Out Free Gear During World Series]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 15:53:12 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/8ccf5bf6864f84da581bd98c9e461583.jpg

There's nothing quite like free stuff.

Fans in Boston and Los Angeles have reason to be excited. Not only are their baseball teams facing off the 114th edition of the Fall Classic, but they're also getting an early Halloween treat courtesy of sports apparel company, Adidas.

Adidas has announced that they have installed digital vending machines at two locations in Boston and Los Angeles where Red Sox and Dodgers fans can get free gear during the World Series. 

Tony C's Sports Bar & Grill in Boston and 33 Taps in Los Angeles are the two sports bars where the digital vending machines are located, and fans at each location can receive free prizes such as t-shirts, autographs, and other gear courtesy of Adidas.

According to the company, the prizes will change throughout the game depending on how each game plays out. For example, if Adidas athlete Justin Turner hits a home run, then the vending machine will unlock autographed gear by Turner.

If Kiké Hernandez (another Adidas athlete) makes a diving catch in the outfield, then expect the vending machine to unlock a pair of autographed cleats from the super utility star.

The machines debuted last night and from the photos below, fans were loving it.

 

The amazing idea is meant to promote Adidas' new line of "Splash Pack" cleats that debuted on their website and in stores during the MLB postseason. The cleats are inspired by postgame celebrations like champagne showers, Gatorade baths, and more.



Photo Credit: Adidas]]>
<![CDATA[Dodger Stadium Is All Spiffed Up for the World Series]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 11:29:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/193*120/cover-dodger-stadium-ws-2018.jpgA Game 1 loss wasn't keeping Los Angeles down.The Dodgers and Red Sox squared off in Game 1 at historic Fenway Park Tuesday night.
Game 2 is slated for Wednesday night, with Hyun-Jin Ryu as the starting pitcher opposite Sox's David Price. While the boys in blue are feeling the chill in Boston, crews were keeping Dodger Stadium ship-shape.

Photo Credit: Khallid Shabazz]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Coach Luke Walton Fined $15,000 by the NBA]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 11:04:29 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1052792374.jpg

Lakers coach Luke Walton was fined $15,000 for public criticism of the officiating during Monday night's game against the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA announced Wednesday.

Walton's comments were made to the media following the Lakers' 143-142 overtime loss to the Spurs on Oct. 22 at Staples Center. 

He was infuriated by the officiating which gave 38 free throws to the Spurs and just 26 to Los Angeles, even though the Lakers outscored San Antonio 74-50 in the paint. Walton got a technical foul in the second quarter for protesting a no-call on contact with LeBron James, but his postgame complaints were multifold.

JaVale McGee was fouled out after scoring 16 points, and Ivica Zubac was called for five fouls in less than five minutes. Josh Hart, an aggressive driver to the hoop, wasn't given a free throw in nearly 39 minutes of action.

"I know they're young, I get that," an animated Walton said. "But if we're going to play a certain way, let's not reward people for flopping 30 feet from the hole on plays that have nothing to do with that possession ... and then not reward players that are physically going to the basket and getting hit. It's not right."

The Lakers (0-3) play against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Wednesday.

NBC4's Whitney Irick contributed to this report. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Adam Pantozzi/NBAE/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[World Series Photos: Dodgers Feel the Chill in Game 1]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 06:42:09 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/10-24-2018-dodgers-game-1.jpgWorld Series pageantry was on display Tuesday when the Dodgers and Red Sox squared off in Game 1 at historic Fenway Park.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame World Series Game 1]]>Tue, 23 Oct 2018 23:03:42 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Word_Series_Game_1_1200x675_1351637571559.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers players David Freese, Brian Dozier, Manny Machado, Joc Pederson, Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Kemp discuss the Dodgers tough 8-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2018 World Series.]]>
<![CDATA[Red Sox Knock Out Kershaw, Dodgers in Game 1 of World Series]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 03:37:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Clayon+kershaw+World+Series+Game+1.png

Clayton Kershaw was no match for the best team in baseball.

For the eighth time in his postseason career, Kershaw surrendered five or more runs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers dropped Game 1 of the World Series, 8-4, at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. 

The ghosts of World Series past caught up to the three-time Cy Young Award winner when he got butchered by the Boston hitters in the first inning, allowing three hits and two runs before the Boys in Blue could eve catch their breath.

"I made some mistakes in the zone and they made me pay for it," said Kershaw of his start. "My slider was not very good tonight. All around I wasn't very good tonight."

After a rainy afternoon and evening, the clouds parted just in time for first pitch, where temperatures reached as low as 42 degrees during the game.

The Dodgers last played at Fenway Park in 2010, and their unfamiliarity with its quirks was evident from the get-go.

Boston wasted no time getting on the board first as they came out of the gate firing. 

Future MVP, Mookie Betts, led off the game for the Sox with a popup in foul territory that turned and twisted first baseman David Freese as he tried to chase the ball down. He ultimately overran the ball and it dropped behind him. Suddenly, a routine out turned into a second chance for Betts. 

"It's a hard team to beat no matter what, but yeah you can't give them extra outs either," Kershaw said about the defense behind him.

Betts singled to center field on the next pitch, stole second base on the one after that, and scored the first run of the 2018 World Series on the following pitch, as Andrew Benintendi hit an RBI single to right field.  

"It was important for us to score first and kind of put some pressure on them," Betts said.

Kershaw had gone eight consecutive postseason starts without allowing a run in the first inning, but surrendered two in Game 1 of the World Series.

Matt Kemp cut the lead in half on his first World Series plate appearance, as he sent a 3-2 fastball from Sale into the seats atop the Green Monster to put the Dodgers on the scoreboard.

The Dodgers tied the game in an uncharacteristic way in the top of the third when they worked three consecutive singles off Sale to level the score.

"We were facing a guy who's one of the best of all time," said Andrew Benitendi who had three hits off Kershaw alone. "A lot of guys didn't have experience off of him. We had a good game plan. We tried not to give away at-bats."

Martinez continued to torment Kershaw with an RBI double in the bottom of the third that gave the Red Sox the 3-2 lead. 

After a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier chased Sale from the game, Justin Turner followed with a single to left field and both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Matt Barnes.

A few pitches later, Machado grounded out to second base, scoring the tying run on the fielder's choice. 

Kershaw kicked off the bottom half of the fifth inning with a leadoff walk to Betts, and his third single surrendered to Benintendi, before leaving the game for Ryan Madson. 

"I just felt right there that Madson had a better chance to get those righties and get a punch right there," said Roberts about his decision to remove Kershaw from the game in the fifth. "We had a grounder that we could've gotten out of the inning and Boegarts just beat it out."

Madson thought he was out of the jam after striking out Martinez with the bases loaded and inducing a groundout to short, but Xander Bogaerts beat out the potential double play by a step, allowing the go-ahead run to score. 

"He gets down the line really well. It's probably one of the toughest turns for me just because he's running so hard," said Dozier of the play. "I knew it was going to be close. I tried to put a little extra on it, but Bogaerts just beat it out."

One batter later, Rafael Devers hit an RBI single to right field, and the Red Sox went back up by two, 5-3. 

Kershaw (2-2) did not have his best stuff again in Game 1, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and just five strikeouts in four innings.

"I didn't pitch very well," Kersaw said matter of factly. "I don't think the weather or the stadium had anything to do with it."

Machado hit a sacrifice fly to shave the lead down to one-run, but Eduardo Nuñez hit a backbreaking three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to break the game open for Boston.

"I knew he didn't want me to beat him with a fastball," said Nuñez of the at-bat. "So I wil see all at-bat something soft and he did it twice."

Before Nuñez's homer broke the game open, Benintendi hit a soft fly ball down the left field line that Joc Pederson appeared to be scared to catch. He hesitated right before the ball trickled off his glove, giving Benintendi a double, and another runner on base for Nuñez to knock home.

"I was running in and calling it off," said Pederson of the play. "I was looking at JT [Justin Turner] to visualizer where he was, where the fence was, and I just couldn't get to it."

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, one of the coldest days in World Series history also meant their bats would go cold, as L.A. went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.

Overall, the Dodgers struck out 12 times, as they were neutralized by the Boston bullpen in the late innings of the game. 

Chris Sale completed four innings and was responsible for three of the four Dodger runs, allowing five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in his first start since Game 1 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros.

"That was good stuff today," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Sale. "Stuff-wise, probably the best in the postsewason, and he feels really good, no problems with the belly button."

Los Angeles will now have to defeat former Cy Young Award winner David Price in order to muster a split before the series moves to Tinseltown. 

"We came into this hoping to split," said Dozier. "If we can split here and then go back to LA then I think we're in good shape. Can't lose back-to-back games."

One final note, Lakers legend and Dodgers owner Magic Johnson was at Fenway for the World Series opener, and fans serenaded the basketball great with chants of "Beat LA!" a familar call for the man played in so many finals at the Boston Garden in the 1980s.

Up Next: 

Game 2 will feature another matchup of Southpaws as Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu starts for the Dodgers opposite David Price for the Red Sox. First pitch is 5:09PM PT on FOX.

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[The Best Storylines of the 2018 World Series]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 03:35:22 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/World+Series+Storylines.png

The teams are set for the 114 edition of the World Series. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers will look to exorcise some previous postseason demons when they take on the Boston Red Sox in the Fall Classic. 

Whether you're a diehard fan of either team, a casual fan of baseball, or just simply tuning in for the first time because it's the World Series, we have you covered with the best storylines to watch for:

Kershaw vs. Sale 

Game 1 features a pitching fan's dream, as two of the best to ever toe the rubber face off on Tuesday night. 

Sale and Kershaw are two of the best to ever put on the glove, and have a combined 14 All-Star appearances between them (seven each), the first time two pitchers have met in the World Series with at least 14 combined All-Star appearances since Whitey Ford and Billy Pierce dueled in 1962.

Kershaw ranks first in ERA+ among all active pitchers in MLB history, and Sale ranks ninth, so if you like runs, this might not be the game for you. 

Sale struggled with injures at the end of the season, and lost velocity during his starts in the ALDS and ALCS, respectively. However, after missing his start in the ALCS with a belly button infection, Sale is on nine days rest for Game 1 of the World Series.

Kershaw has been hit or miss in the postseason over his career, and has never pitched at Fenway Park before. He could be dominant, or he could collapse, honestly, it's a coin flip. 

Belli vs. The Belly Button Ring

Dodgers reigning NL Rookie of the Year winner Cody Bellinger turned a lot of heads when he overcame a 1-for-21 start to the postseason with a walk-off hit in Game 4 of the NLCS, and the go-ahead homer in the winner-take-all Game 7 in Milwaukee. 

The 23-year-old slugger won the NLCS MVP, but is not expected to start in Game 1 against Red Sox ace Chris Sale. Bellinger's defense is elite, and when ready, his bat is lethal. Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts won't want to leave him on the bench for long, so it will be interesting to see if he faces Sale at any point in the game.

Meanwhile, Sale hasn't been himself this postseason, and missed his last start in the ALCS against the Houston Astros because of a stomach infection caused by a belly button ring.

Sale hasn't pitched in nine days, and whether or not he's fully healthy and his velocity is back will be a storyline to follow.

Boston vs. Los Angeles

Despite the baseball rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers being relatively new (the last time the two teams met in the World Series was 1916), the rivalry between the two historic cities runs deep.

The basketball matchup between the Lakers and Celtics goes back decades and thanks to Dodgers owner Magic Johnson and Boston legend Larry Bird, both fan bases will be ready to butt heads during this showdown of two of the most historic franchises in baseball history as both teams have combined to play in 33 World Series overall.

First Time at Fenway Park

For many players on the Los Angeles Dodgers, this is their first time at Fenway Park. Not just this season, but ever! One of those players unfamiliar with Fenway is Game 1 starter Clayton Kershaw, who has never pitched in front of the Boston strong, or seen a ball go over the Green Monster in his career.

Speaking of the Green Monster, a handful of younger players like Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer, all went inside the 37-foot high green monstrosity and signed their names on the legendary walls within. 

Manny Machado Returns to Boston

Similar to a WWE villain when he enters the ring at a sold out arena, former Baltimore Oriole and current Dodgers shortstop, Manny Machado, is expected to be greeted by a chorus of boos when he's announced at Fenway Park. 

Boston is all-too familiar with Machado's reputation, as he famously slid into second base and spiked the back of the knee of Red Sox captain Dustin Pedroia during a game in 2017. 

Machado was hit in the head with a fastball the next day, and then thrown at again by Chris Sale when the two teams met again a month later, prompting a profanity laced tirade by Machado after the game.

Now, wearing Dodger Blue, Machado returns to Boston where the fans and players haven't forgotten what happened. 

David vs. Goliath

It's an unfamiliar feeling for the Boys in Blue, but the two-time reigning National League pennant winners, and six-time NL West Division champions (in a row) are entering their matchup with the Boston Red Sox as the dark horse.

The Dodgers are David in this parable, trying to defeat the giant Goliath, in the Red Sox. Boston has won three World Series championships in the last 15 years, and enter the Fall Classic as the overwhelming favorite after winning 108 games during the regular season.

The Dodgers will look to take down Goliath and in the process, win their first World Series title in 30 years.

Minority Managers and former teammates

For the first time in the 116-year history of the World Series, two minority managers will square off against each other in the Fall Classic. 

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is of Japanese and African-American descent, and is the first minority manager in Los Angeles Dodgers franchise history.

Alex Cora was born and raised in Puerto Rico and is in his first season as manager of the Boston Red Sox.

“This game of baseball, it’s great in any language,” said Dodgers utility man Enrique Hernandez, who is Puerto Rican. “This shows you the game is moving in a great direction.”

In addition to both managers being minorities, they were also former teammates with both the Dodgers and the Red Sox, marking the first time in MLB history that two former teammates face off against each other, let alone teammates of both teams.

A Tale of Redemption

The Dodgers are seeking redemption after a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Houston Astros in seven games in the 2017 World Series.

The Dodgers blew leads in two of the four games they lost, and fell behind 5-0 to start Game 7 at home. There's no worse feeling than losing a Game 7 in the World Series, but to have it happen on your own turf is even tougher.

After a rollercoaster ride of a season that saw the Dodgers overcome adversity and fight each and every time their backs were against the wall, Los Angeles got back to the World Series with a shot at turning the agony of a World Series defeat into the sweet thrill of their first title in 30 years.



Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers vs. Red Sox 2018 World Series Preview]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 03:43:09 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/World+Series+preview.png

The 2018 World Series is a match made in Major League Baseball heaven.

In one corner, you have the Boston Red Sox, the class of the American League, and one of the most historical teams in the sport. 

In the other corner, you have the Los Angeles Dodgers, the powerhouse of the National League the last few years, and the World Series runner ups from a year ago.

The 114th edition of the Fall Classic is the 13th World Series appearance for the Red Sox, who have won the championship three times in the last 15 years.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are seeking their first title in 30 years, as they appear in their 20th World Series in franchise history. 

Despite both teams combining for 33 World Series appearances, they have only met once previously in the Fall Classic, and that was in 1916 when the then Brooklyn Robins lost to the Red Sox in five games. Babe Ruth pitched a 14-inning complete game in the clincher.

So who is going to win this rematch 102 years in the making? Let's break it down in this East vs. West World Series Preview:

Clayton Kershaw vs. Chris Sale

Game 1 features a pitching fan's dream, as two of the best to ever toe the rubber face off on Tuesday night. 

Sale and Kershaw are two of the best to ever put on the glove, and have a combined 14 All-Star appearances between them (seven each), the first time two pitchers have met in the World Series with at least 14 combined All-Star appearances since Whitey Ford and Billy Pierce dueled in 1962.

Kershaw ranks first in ERA+ among all active pitchers in MLB history, and Sale ranks ninth, so if you like runs, this might not be the game for you.

Sale struggled with injures at the end of the season, and lost velocity during his starts in the ALDS and ALCS, respectively. However, after missing his start in the ALCS with a stomach infection, Sale is on nine days rest for Game 1 of the World Series.

Kershaw has been hit or miss in the postseason over his career, and has never pitched at Fenway Park before. He could be dominant, or he could collapse, honestly, it's a coin flip.

A Sundry of Southpaws

Both starting rotations are stacked with left-handers, so expect to see a lot right-handed batters in both lineups throughout the series. 

After Kershaw and Sale, another set of lefties in Hyun-Jin Ryu and David Price are set to battle before two right-handers take the mound in Game 3. The Dodgers will start another left-hander in Rich hill in Game 4, and have three left-handers in the bullpen they can unleash at any time. 

Lots of Offense

Both lineups are lethal and each ranked eighth in their respective leagues in total offense and OPS against left-handed pitching. 

In the postseason, the Dodgers lead the league in home runs with 13, but sport just a .218 batting average compared to .253 for the Red Sox who have hit nine homers in the postseason thus far.

During the regular season, Boston finished ninth in the Majors with 208 home runs, whereas the Dodgers hit a franchise record 235, the most in the NL.

However, Boston led the league in batting average at .268, well above the rest of the teams in the big leagues. The Dodgers ranked 14th in average at .250.

Needless to say, if Los Angeles is able to hit home runs, they will probably win the game, if not, it sways in Boston's favor.

American League vs. National League

Overall, the American League holds the advantage in the World Series with a 65-48 edge. However, the National League has won nine out of the last 17 Fall Classic's since the year 2000. 

The deciding factor in many of these games outside of home field advantage is the use of the DH hitter when the games are played in the American League, and without one when played in the National League.

For Games 1 and 2, the Dodgers are expected to have 2018 All-Star Matt Kemp in the DH slot, using the rest of their platoon players as pinch-hitters for bullpen matchups later in the game.

It will be business as usual for Boston as J.D. Martinez will be in the DH spot for the first two games in Boston.

When the series shifts to the National League for Games 3, 4, and 5. The advantage is expected to lean towards Los Angeles who have become masters at moving pieces around and making double-switches all season long.

The Red Sox are expected to move Martinez to the outfield for the games in Los Angeles, and future AL MVP Mookie Betts is expected to play second base, moving Andrew Benintendi to the bench.

Kenley Jansen vs. Craig Kimbrel 

The closer position is solidified for both teams, with Kenley Jansen back to his All-Star form after a perfect record in the postseason. 

You can't say the same for Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who has struggled during Boston's World Series run, with an ERA of 8.44 in 5 and 1/3 innings.

According to multiple reports, former Dodgers and Red Sox closer, Eric Gagne, noticed on television that Kimbrel was tipping his pitches and reached out to Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The issue is apparently fixed, and if so, Kimbrel could also be back to his All-Star form just in time for the Fall Classic.

Who Will Win?

The Red Sox won an MLB-best 108 games in the 2018 season, 16 more than the Dodgers. Los Angeles had an impressive +194 run differential and have played inconsistent all year long.

The series should come down to starting pitching and which team can gain an advantage on their opponent. Oddsmakers have the Red Sox as the heavy favorites however, as Boston is expected to win the World Series in six games.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are hoping history can repeat itself as they went on a similarly magical run to win the World Series in 1988 when they defeated the heavily favorited Oakland Athletics in five games.



Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Make Change to World Series Roster]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 03:45:40 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/Caleb+Ferguson+World+Series.png

Let's play ball.

The venue is ready, the teams are set, and now the rosters are solidified. All that's left for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox is to play ball and allow the chips to fall where they may and a champion will rise.

The final piece of the postseason puzzle was announced on Tuesday morning ahead of Game 1 of the World Series when both teams released their 25-man rosters to the public.

As they've done all postseason, the Dodgers went with 12 pitches and 13 position players. For the most part, they stood pat in how they constructed the team that will face the Red Sox in a best-of-seven series.

All 13 position players remain the same, with the Dodgers having the luxury of being deep enough to essentially assemble two different teams: one against a left-handed starter, and one against a right-handed starter.

As they did before their NL Championship Series with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Dodgers made one move on the pitching side, switching out left-handed reliever Scott Alexander for another left-handed reliever in Julio Urias.

Alexander is back on the roster for the World Series, presumably ready and rested after a 10-day reprieve. However, Urias did not come off the roster. The 22-year-old remained on the team and rookie southpaw Caleb Ferguson came off theroster. 

Alexander hasn't pitched since Game 3 of the NLDS, when he pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the Atlanta Braves.

The move to leave Ferguson off the roster is a surprising one to some, as the 22-year-old has been outstanding out of the bullpen in 2018, finishing the season 7-1, with a 2.35 ERA in 26 appearances.

Ferguson pitched in four games during the NLCS against the Brewers and retired four of the five batters he faced. However, his velocity started to decrease in that series and it's possible, with Ferguson playing longer and deeper into the season than he ever has before, that the front office thought it was time for a more fresh arm.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox also made one change to their roster, adding left-hander Drew Pomeranz to the 25-man roster in place of Brandon Workman. The Dodgers are familiar with Pomeranz from his days as a starting pitcher with the San Diego Padres, but he has not pitched since September 30. 

Game 1 will feature Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale at 5:09PM PT on FOX.



Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[2018 World Series Media Day]]>Tue, 23 Oct 2018 06:31:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/World_Series_Media_Day_1200x675_1350868547818.jpg

Players from both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox speak with the media ahead of the 114th edition of the World Series, featuring a battle of two historic franchises.]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron's Lakers Lose in OT Thriller, Fall to 0-3]]>Tue, 23 Oct 2018 04:44:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/laAP_18296138557691.jpg

LeBron James hit the tying 3-pointer late in regulation. He led a Lakers lineup of three second-year pros and a rookie making his NBA debut to a 142-136 lead with 55 seconds left overtime.

James was then reminded in spectacular fashion that nothing will be easy in this West Coast chapter of his career.

Patty Mills hit a go-ahead jumper with 6.8 seconds left and the San Antonio Spurs kept the Lakers winless with LeBron, rallying from a six-point deficit in the final minute of OT for a wild 143-142 victory Monday night.

James tied it on a magisterial 3 with 2.4 seconds left in regulation, and he finished his second Lakers home game with 32 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds.

But the superstar missed two free throws with 12.8 seconds to play before Mills coolly put the Spurs ahead. James then missed a step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer, thoroughly deflating Staples Center as the Lakers fell to 0-3.

After cooling down, LeBron did not seem discouraged by the Lakers' last-minute failure against a quality opponent — and while Los Angeles was missing suspended starters Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram .

"It's not" discouraging, James said.

"I know what I got myself into," he added. "It's a process. I get it, and we'll be fine. I didn't come here thinking we were going to be blazing, storming right out of the gate. It's a process, and I understand that."

LaMarcus Aldridge had 37 points and 10 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan added 32 points and 14 assists before Mills made the biggest shot. The Australian guard did it while playing Tony Parker's traditional role on a familiar San Antonio play.

"It's always good when you make shots or make an impact," Mills said. "Other than that shot, it was a team victory. It was a gutsy win. Everyone participated."

Kyle Kuzma had 37 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, and Josh Hart added 20 points and 10 rebounds.

James' dramatic 3 from a full step beyond the arc capped the Lakers' improbable rally from an eight-point deficit in the final 1:04 of regulation. The Lakers then took a 142-136 lead late in overtime with huge contributions from unsung rookie big man Johnathan Williams, who played important minutes in his NBA debut after JaVale McGee fouled out.

But the Lakers sputtered and the Spurs rallied. Rudy Gay's 3-pointer cut the Lakers' lead to 142-141, and James missed his free throws before the jumper by Mills, who had 12 points.

"I like the direction we're going in," James said. "Obviously it's not resulting in wins right now, but it's a long process. We had our chances. We was up six with a minute to go, with less than a minute to go, and just couldn't get a stop."

TIP-INS

Spurs: Dante Cunningham had three points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes as a starter. Jakob Poeltl, who started the first two games, didn't play. ... Marco Belinelli scored 15 points in a reserve role for the Spurs, and Rudy Gay had 16 points.

Lakers: Svi Mykhailiuk and Williams made their NBA debuts in the shortened rotation. Mykhailiuk, the Ukrainian rookie out of Kansas, went scoreless in 17 minutes. Williams dunked on a pass from Mykhailiuk for his first basket, and he finished with eight points. ... Before the game, LA assigned German rookie Isaac Bonga to their G League affiliate. ... Celebrities at the game included Natalie Portman; Geri Halliwell and her husband, Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner; boxing champions Terence Crawford and Floyd Mayweather; and Los Angeles Rams Todd Gurley, Ndamukong Suh and Nickell Robey-Coleman.

BANNED BALLERS

Ingram and Rondo began their suspensions stemming from their brawl with the Houston Rockets last Saturday. Ingram got a four-game ban for confronting an official and throwing punches, while Rondo got three games for punching and spitting on Chris Paul.

THE REPLACEMENTS

Kuzma and Lonzo Ball were in the starting lineup in their teammates' absence, and both second-year pros excelled. Kuzma finished one point shy of his career high, while Ball had 14 points, six assists and six rebounds.

"We've just got to get over the hump," Kuzma said. "It'll be a breath of fresh air when we get our first win. The three teams we've played, they've all been together for quite some time. That means something."

UP NEXT

Spurs: Host Indiana on Wednesday.

Lakers: At Phoenix on Wednesday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP
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<![CDATA[Lakers' Ingram Admits 4-Game Suspension Shorter Than Expected]]>Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:35:09 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Brandon-Ingram-10-15-1-Lakers.jpg

Just three games into LeBron James' tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, they were missing two suspended starters when they faced the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.

Although nobody thought James' time on the West Coast would be boring, Brandon Ingram is sorry for his role in getting this season off to a weird start.

Ingram is also grateful he received only a four-game suspension for his role in the Lakers' brawl with the Houston Rockets. The normally mild-mannered forward confronted referee Jason Phillips, shoved James Harden and threw punches at Chris Paul.

"Well, it was better than we expected," Ingram said after the Lakers' morning shootaround. "I'm happy it's only four. But I know I've got to control my emotions a little bit better. ... I thought it would be more than four, but I'm happy that it's at least four."

Rajon Rondo also began his three-game suspension two days after spitting and punching in his altercation with Paul, a longtime rival.

James was a peacemaker in the drama when he pulled away Paul, his good friend. The three-time NBA champion shrugged off any deep analysis of the brawl and his role in it, attributing everything to a temporary flaring of emotions with no bigger significance for his relationship with the Lakers or Rondo.

"All I cared about was trying to get the thing over with so we could get back to the game," James said. "That's all that was on my mind at the end of the day. Just trying to separate the whole altercation, help the referees out."

When asked if his friendship with Paul made it strange to be on the other team during the scrap, James only laughed.

"No, it actually — we're not friends anymore," he said with a smirk.

Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball took the spots of Ingram and Rondo in the starting lineup against the Spurs.

Rondo declined to talk about his role in the scuffle that broke out late in his first home game with his new team. The Lakers already spoke about the conflict in a team meeting, he said.

"Everyone knows who I am on my team, and I think they still respect me for what I do and what I bring to this team," Rondo said.

Ingram was more forthcoming about his actions, which began with his frustration over a foul called against him as he tried to stop an aggressive drive by Harden, one of the NBA's most maddening players to guard.

"It's my full responsibility," Ingram said. "I think I'm the one that caused the action, and I'm going to take full responsibility for every action that I did. One hundred percent that I was wrong for my teammates, but I also stepped up for my teammates, and that's what I want to do 10 times out of 10."

Ingram shoved Harden in frustration — and when he got a technical foul, he got in Phillips' face. Teammates got him away from the drama, but when Rondo and Paul threw down, Ingram ran back down the court and jumped into the fight with punches for Paul, including one deemed by the league to be "extremely aggressive."

Ingram knows he was wrong, but he also doesn't regret everything about it.

"I think I seen five Rockets players and two of our guys," Ingram said. "That's what made me go back. ... It was a physical game. I think all in all, I think if they're going to do a couple of things, we had to have the aggressiveness and the confidence and ability to fight back, so that's what we did."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Ausmus Vows to be Modern Manager for Angels]]>Mon, 22 Oct 2018 17:11:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1052771870.jpg

During 18 major league seasons as a catcher and four more as a manager, Brad Ausmus developed a strong gut instinct about nearly everything that happens on a baseball field.

While spending the past year out of a dugout, Ausmus developed a deeper understanding of how traditional beliefs aren't always correct.

With a sturdy baseball foundation and a willingness to adopt new analytical knowledge, Ausmus was the Los Angeles Angels' ideal choice to take charge as their first new manager of the 21st century.

General manager Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno introduced Ausmus on a sunny Monday at Angel Stadium, formally opening the Orange County club's next chapter after Mike Scioscia's 19-year dugout tenure ended three weeks ago.

"I'm very excited to have an opportunity to lead a club like this with so many great players," Ausmus said after trying on his new No. 12 Halos jersey.

Ausmus was dropped by the Detroit Tigers last fall after four intermittently successful seasons as their manager ended with a wholesale franchise rebuild. He spent the past year working in the Angels' front office, examining every aspect of the organization as an assistant to Eppler.

Ausmus thinks his lack of managerial experience was an asset when Detroit hired him, as he fit into the popular mold of hiring managers shortly removed from their playing days. But he feels better prepared for his second dugout job — partly because he has a newfound appreciation for the role of analytics in the modern game.

"Adaptability is important to the Angels, and part of the reason I came to the Angels was because I needed to adapt," Ausmus said. "Analytics are part of the game. I had an understanding of analytics before I got here. I've been using numbers to create scouting reports since about the year 2000. ... If you use the numbers to make the players and the teams better, that's the important thing. I wanted to find out more about how we can help players on the field be better, how we can make teams win."

The Angels also are changing, with Eppler pushing the organization into modern methods of scouting and analysis to help Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Shohei Ohtani and their teammates.

Eppler praised Ausmus by repeatedly highlighting the importance of communication, adaptability and a willingness to grow. With a lengthy big-league career and a Dartmouth degree, nobody questions Ausmus' baseball credentials or intellectual abilities.

Ausmus realizes he drew many fans' ire in Detroit with decisions — often about pitching — seen as old-school violations of modern baseball thinking.

"The one thing I really enjoyed about being involved with the Angels this past year is I can take the numbers and I can use my playing experience and wrap my brain around it and say, 'OK, how does this apply on the dirt and on the grass?'" Ausmus said. "That's what managers have to do nowadays. They have to take those numbers, understand them — they don't have to write the algorithms, but they need to understand them — and then apply it to the baseball player, to the baseball field. That's the fun part for me. It's easy to derive a number, but it's a lot more difficult to apply the number."

Eppler and Ausmus barely knew each other until last year, even though Eppler grew up in San Diego and Ausmus has lived there for 25 years. Eppler still jumped at the chance to hire Ausmus a few weeks after he left the Tigers.

"Throughout the year, I just learned what kind of person he was and how he connected with people," Eppler said. "A little bit about his demeanor, and then I also got to gauge his intellectual curiosity."

Other teams chased Ausmus this month — including the Cincinnati Reds, who hired David Bell as their manager Sunday.

Ausmus wanted to stay with the Angels, but Eppler put 10 final candidates through a nine-hour interview process. They all completed a two-hour written exam that included specific questions such as "What is the probability of three consecutive strikeouts?"

But Eppler wasn't interested in the answers — three straight strikeouts happen about 1 percent of the time, according to the GM — so much as the intellectual process used by the candidates to come up with those answers. Ausmus didn't recall his exact answer to that question, but he remembered doing some "basic math" and figuring it was below 3 percent.

Apparently his process was close enough.

"We're still grading them," Eppler laughed about the written exams. "It will be four to six weeks, and they'll get the results in the mail."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Get to Know the Projected World Series Starting Pitchers]]>Mon, 22 Oct 2018 09:02:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/10-22-2018-dodgers-red-sox-starters.jpgTwo of the strongest starting rotations in baseball square off when the Dodgers and Red Sox meet in the 2018 World Series.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Works Out at Fenway Park Ahead of World Series]]>Sun, 21 Oct 2018 23:58:49 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1046277080.jpg

Some stand out above the rest.

Clayton Kershaw is a three-time Cy Young Award winner, an MVP, and a seven-time All-Star. He's accomplished so much in his career that he's almost certain to become a first ballot Hall-of-Famer one day. 

However, there is still one thing that has eluded the great Kershaw: a World Series title.

It's the one thing that Kershaw covets most, so it should come as no surprise that the Los Angeles Dodgers ace was spotted alone on Sunday night, working out at an empty Fenway Park, less than 24 hours after he was on the mound when the Dodgers defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 7 of the NLCS.

Kershaw is expected to be named the Game 1 starter on Tuesday, despite the fact he threw 15 pitches in relief in the ninth inning of Game 7 on Saturday.

His last postseason start was in Game 5 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, giving Kershaw five days of rest between starts.

While most other pitchers would probably just opt for relaxation and recovery during their off day, Kershaw chose to take the mound all by himself in the bullpen at Fenway Park to get some work in.

After staying over night in Milwaukee, the team arrived in Boston on Sunday night, and reportedly headed straight to the hotel. Kershaw's dedication to his craft upon visiting Fenway was all on his own accord, as the team is not scheduled to work out there until after media day on Monday afternoon.

It's noteworthy, that Kershaw has never pitched at Fenway Park in his illustrious 11-year career, so more than likely he wanted to gain some familiarity and visualization with the field before the proverbial "World Series Storm" arrives.

The temperature in Boston was in the low 40s on Sunday night, but Kershaw still toed the rubber wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, a Dodgers sweatshirt, a blue bandana, and a sleeve over his left pitching arm.

Kershaw's love of his craft and desire to win a World Series is inspiring, and his work ethic reminds us of another Los Angeles sports legend with an unrelenting drive for greatness: Kobe Bryant.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Red Sox Are Betting Favorites to Beat Dodgers]]>Mon, 22 Oct 2018 13:22:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Dodgers+and+Red+Sox+Odds.png

The Dodgers are the underdogs again.

According to online sports gambling website Bovada, the Boston Red Sox are the betting favorites to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2018 World Series.

Bovada has the Red Sox at -165, meaning you would have to wager $165 to win $100.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are listed at +135, meaning if you wagered $100, you would win $135. 

The odds should come as no surprise to baseball aficionados as the Red Sox were easily the best team in baseball throughout the season, winning an astonishing 108 games.

Not only did they defeat their rivals, the New York Yankees (who also won over 100 games), in the ALDS, they dispatched of the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros in just five games in the ALCS, sweeping the three games on the road in the process.

Before the postseason began, oddsmakers had the Astros as heavy favorite to win the World Series and a lot of people believed that Houston was the best overall team in the postseaon.

For the Dodgers, the role of dark horse is an unfamiliar one as they were the favorites to return to the World Series before the season began, and in each of their first two postseason series.

If the oddsmakers are correct, it would mean the Dodgers would become the first team to lose back-to-back World Series since the Texas Rangers did it in 2010 and 2011. 

Ironically, the Dodgers were also heavy underdogs the last time they won the title in 1988, when they defeated the 104-win Oakland Athletics in five games, thirty years ago this month.

Here are the rest of the odds courtesy of Bovada:

Odds to win the 2018 World Series:

Los Angeles Dodgers +135 

Boston Red Sox -165  

Odds to win the 2018 World Series MVP: 

Chris Sale 11/2

Mookie Betts 6/1

Clayton Kershaw 7/1 

J.D. Martinez 7/1

Manny Machado 8/1

Craig Kimbrel 12/1

Justin Turner 12/1

Kenley Jansen 14/1

Cody Bellinger 15/1

Yasiel Puig 15/1

Andrew Benintendi 17/1

Ian Kinsler 18/1

Xander Bogaerts 20/1

David Freese 22/1 

Steve Pearce 22/1

Chris Taylor 22/1

Matt Kemp 25/1

Max Muncy 25/1

Jackie Bradley Jr. 30/1

Mitch Moreland 40/1 

Eduardo Nunez 40/1 

Brian Dozier 50/1

Yasmani Grandal 50/1

Sandy Leon 50/1

Series Exact Outcome: 

Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 15/1

Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 13/2 

Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 11/2 

Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 5/1 

Boston Red Sox 4-0 10/1 

Boston Red Sox 4-1 11/2

Boston Red Sox 4-2 13/4

Boston Red Sox 4-3 15/4 

Numbers of Games Played in Series 

4 13/2 

5 13/5

6 9/5 

7 2/1



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Keep Winning, Improve to 7-0]]>Sun, 21 Oct 2018 16:01:24 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1052716474.jpg

Todd Gurley scored three touchdowns and Jared Goff threw two TD passes as the Los Angeles Rams took advantage of four takeaways and a blocked punt to beat the San Francisco 49ers 39-10 on Sunday.

The Rams (7-0) intercepted C.J. Beathard twice and recovered two fumbles to give them seven straight wins to open the season for the first time since 1985. The Rams began 6-0 for three straight seasons in 1999-2001 before losing the seventh game.

The 49ers (1-6) made sure that wouldn't happen this year by repeatedly giving the ball away, justifying the decision the NFL made to flex this game out of prime time following the season-ending knee injury to San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Beathard has thrown seven interceptions and lost three fumbles in four starts as the 49ers have committed 14 straight turnovers since their last takeaway on Sept. 30 against the Chargers.

The Rams dominated defensively with Aaron Donald recording four sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery; linebacker Cory Littleton having two sacks and a blocked punt for a safety; and Troy Hill and John Johnson III intercepting passes.

The turnovers set up 24 points for the Rams, who put up the big scoring day despite gaining a season-low 331 yards of offense.

Gurley scored on a 7-yard run in the second quarter after a fumble by Matt Breida and 1-yard run after Johnson's interception in the third. He capped his fifth three-touchdown game of the past two seasons with a 12-yard catch after JoJo Natson had a 36-yard punt return to the 13. Gurley's 14 TDs this season tie Priest Holmes (2002, '04) for the most through seven games in the Super Bowl era.

Goff also threw a 19-yard TD pass to Brandin Cooks in the second quarter.

GIVE IT AWAY

The Niners had a minus-1 turnover margin through the first 14 quarters of the season and are minus-14 over the last 14 quarters, matching a franchise worst with a minus-15 turnover margin through seven games set by the 1980 team. During one particularly rough stretch in the first half, the 49ers had a five-play sequence of lost fumble, fumbled snap, incomplete pass, sack and blocked punt.

INJURIES

Rams DB Troy Hill left in the first half to be evaluated for a possible concussion. ... 49ers S Adrian Colbert was taken off on a cart after injuring his right leg in the third quarter. ... San Francisco LB Reuben Foster left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

STATUES

The 49ers unveiled statues of Joe Montana and Dwight Clark before the game commemorating "The Catch" that launched a dynasty in the 1980s. The statues are 23 yards apart — the same distance that was between Montana and Clark on the game-winning play during the NFC title game win over Dallas on Jan. 10, 1982.

UP NEXT

Rams: Host Green Bay on Sunday.

49ers: Visit Arizona on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBA Announces Suspensions After Lakers, Rockets Fight]]>Sun, 21 Oct 2018 15:03:59 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Rockets-spitting-suspensions-fight.jpg

After a fight that included punches landing and video of a spitting incident on Saturday night, the NBA announced Sunday that Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram would be suspended four games, Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo would be suspended three games and Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul would serve a two-game suspension for their respective roles in the scuffle.

Ingram started the chaotic sequence of events when he shoved James Harden, and the 21-year-old had to be separated from officials in the immediate aftermath of the shove.

With tempers flaring, veterans Paul and Rondo began to get into each other's personal spaces. Then, Rondo allegedly spit on Paul, with film on the internet appearing to show saliva leaving Rondo's mouth in Paul's direction.

The Rockets' guard could be seeing wiping his face before putting his hands in Rondo's face. Rondo, then, proceeded to punch Paul in the face with a strong left hand, and mayhem broke out. Paul proceeded to land a couple of punches in the scuffle.

Ingram, meanwhile, sprinted half the length of the court to come in and throw and, seemingly, land a punch.

In the NBA's press release on the suspensions, the league stated that "Ingram has been suspended for aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden."

The league also said that Rondo had been suspended for "instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at Paul."

The NBA said Paul's suspension was for "poking at and making contact with the face of Rondo, and throwing multiple punches at him."



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Angels Introduce Brad Ausmus as New Manager]]>Mon, 22 Oct 2018 12:35:52 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/10-22-2018-ausmus-angels-1.jpg

Brad Ausmus has been named the Los Angeles Angels' manager.

General manager Billy Eppler on Sunday announced the hiring of Ausmus, who served as his special assistant last season. Contract terms were not released.

Ausmus replaces Mike Scioscia, who left the club earlier this month after 19 seasons in charge. Scioscia is the winningest manager in franchise history.

Ausmus is a former big league catcher who spent four seasons as the Detroit Tigers' manager from 2014-17. The Tigers won the AL Central in his first season but went just 314-332 in his tenure.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[LA's First and Largest Axe Throwing Facility Opens]]>Sun, 21 Oct 2018 01:42:48 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*160/Axes+all+in+a+row.jpg

If darts isn't your thing, try an axe.

Angelenos are now able to try their hand at one of the newest and fastest growing international sports: extreme axe throwing.

LA AX, Los Angeles' first and North America's largest axe throwing facility, opened to the public on Friday, October 5th in North Hollywood and already people are excited.

"At the beginning your nervous," said one patron during the venue's soft opening on October 3rd. "After you throw the axe though, it's exhilarating. It took me a few tries, but once I hit the bullseye, I felt a great sense of accomplishment."

The facility is currently hosting large parties, private events, and walk-ins, and is expected to be serving beer and wine soon. Until November 30, customers are invited to bring their own food while they throw.

Sessions range from a $40.00 private session with one of their coaches, or $25.00 for a one-hour public session. LA AX provides all the equipment, including axes that weigh about three pounds, target boards, and coaches. Customers are encouraged to wear close-toed shoes and must sign a release form before entering. You also must be 21 years or older to enter the facility.

LA AX is located at 7308 Coldwater Canyon Ave, in North Hollywood 91605.



Photo Credit: LA AX]]>
<![CDATA[Read What Dodgers Players Said About Return to World Series]]>Sun, 21 Oct 2018 01:43:40 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1052651438.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers are headed back to the World Series for the second consecutive season after dispatching of the Milwaukee Brewers in seven games.

After the game, we caught up with many of the team's players and coaches as they reflected back on the season, celebrated their monumental achievement, and looked ahead to the World Series against the Red Sox on Tuesday night.

Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts:

Roberts (on advancing to the World Series for the second straight season):

"I can't say enough about our players, our coaches, the front office and most importantly the fans. They supported us through thick and thin and we fed off their support.

Roberts (on winning the NL pennant): 

"Every single person has their finger prints on this season and for us, our goal is to bring a championship back to Los Angeles. Our fans deserve it. We deserve it, and that's our only goal.

Roberts (on winning Game 7 of the NLCS):

"Chris Taylor, Yasiel [Puig], Walker [Buehler], everyone has got their fingerprints on this game and this season and my hat's off to everyone over there [Brewers]."

Roberts (on Yasiel Puig's home run that put the Dodgers ahead by four runs):

"I was praying like heck it had enough backspin to get out of here. Everyone was pulling for Yasiel."

Roberts (on pulling Buehler, pitching Kenley Jansen in the 7th and Clayton Kershaw in the 9th):

"[Ryan] Madson gave us some good innings. I just felt right there, Kenley [Jansen] could bridge that gap and I wanted this moment to be for Clayton [Kershaw]."

Roberts via ASAP Sports (on getting back to the World Series):

"I'm just so proud of our guys for enduring this roller coaster of a season. A lot of people had their hand in this. And for us to just continue to lean on each other, depend on one another and stay the course, it says a lot about the focus, the toughness of this team. Coaches, training staff, baseball ops, scouts, and so many people got us to this point. So I'm just really proud of this entire organization and look forward to giving ourselves a chance to bring the championship back to Los Angeles."

Roberts via ASAP Sports (on Chris Taylor's catch):

"I think that's probably it. You get the MVP in [Christian] Yelich and he's competing and Julio [Urias] leaves a pitch up with two strikes and Yelich puts a really good swing on it. At that point in time I thought the game was tied. But CT [Chris Taylor] gets a great break on the ball, and really a game-saving play. Once the game is tied anything can happen. The momentum shifts. But that was certainly a signature play at the time."

Roberts via ASAP Sports (on returning to Boston for the World Series):

"I'm looking forward to going back to Fenway. Obviously for me personally I have a lot of fond memories of the Red Sox and Fenway Park. To be wearing another uniform going in there playing for a World Series Championship is going to be special for me. But, yeah, I think that the fans -- it's great for baseball. Two storied franchises going head-to-head. It's going to be a great series."

Dodgers Pitching Coach Rich Honeycutt: 

Honeycutt (on how the bullpen performed):

"You can't say enough about these guys all year they battled. Thank goodness we were deep enough to get through some injuries, but now we have some guys healthy and every night they stepped up."

Honeycutt (on returning to the World Series):

"Doc [Dave Roberts] set the tone a couple years ago. We saw it when we went to Washington [in 2016 NLDS]. Team comes first. Everybody is about the team doing whatever it takes. From Rich Hill last night. Woody [Alex Wood]. Kenta [Maeda]. All of our starters doing whatever it takes to help us win and you saw it again with Kersh [Clayton Kershaw] tonight."

Dodgers Utility Player Chris Taylor: 

Taylor (on his leaping catch in the fifth inning):

"I knew it was in the gap and I was just trying to run hard and get to the spot. I had to change my route and go back towards the fence a little bit. I'm just glad I caught it."

Taylor (on returning to the World Series):

"It feels just as sweet as it did last year. Unbelievable. It's been a long road for us and it feels good to get another opportunity. Hopefully, we'll come out on top this time."

Dodgers outfielder and NLCS MVP Cody Bellinger:

Bellinger (on his second inning home run):

"I was looking for a pitch up, two strikes, just trying to put a good swing on it, and luckily it went out of there." 

Bellinger (on playing the Red Sox in the World Series):

"That's going to be a pretty special series."

Bellinger (on advancing to the World Series in each of his first two season):

"It's a blessing to be a part of this team. I had a lot of guys tell me it's not this easy, so I'm enjoying this 100 percent." 

Bellinger (on Chris Taylor's fifth inning catch):

"I think the most important part of the game today was CT's catch in left field. That definitely changed the whole game for us." 

Dodgers Outfielder Yasiel Puig: 

Puig (on his three-run home run in Game 7):

"I never expected that ball to be a home run I was so excited because there was two people on base. Thank God that ball kept going and it was a home run. 

Puig (on playing the Boston Red Sox in the World Series):

"It's an amazing team. The best team in the AL [American League] and the best team in baseball with 108 wins. But now, they're going to face us and the best team is going to win. I still feel that way [about Dodgers winning], but you never know. I've never played in Boston before. It's going to be cold."

Dodgers Game 7 Starting Pitcher Walker Buehler:

Buehler (on if he had nerves before his start):

"There has to be. I think that's the nature of the beast. Third time [third postseason start] is the charm and this being my third time, I think that helped for sure." 

Buehler (on how he felt he pitched):

"I feel good with it. This one worked out a little better than earlier in the series." 

Buehler (on if he was okay coming out of the game in the fifth inning):

"We're 25-men deep and that's how you win in the World Series."

Buehler (on what it's like going to the World Series):

"That's the expectation here every year, obviously it's a little more special for me never being there, but we hope to do this a few more times."

Buehler (on Chris Taylor's fifth inning catch):

"The Taylor catch was unbelievable. I don't know many people who can play shortstop to start the season and then go to the outfield and make that catch."

Dodgers Closer Kenley Jansen:

Jansen (on the season as a whole and returning to the World Series):

"We all stick together. We never quit. We had one goal in mind and we fell short last year. We just kept playing. JT [Justin Turner] went down. Kersh [Clayton Kershaw] went done. Me included went down. A lot of guys went down, but everybody had their fingerprints on this and we never quit and here we are celebrating." 

Jansen (on entering the game in the seventh inning and not pitching the ninth): 

"Before the game Doc had a conversation with me and told me they might go the same route as they did in 2016 [NLDS] against Washington [Nationals]. It doesn't matter if I'm closing or not, just put me in the game when you need me. He brought me in in the seventh I got my job done, Kersh  [Kershaw] picked me up and here we are celebrating."

Jansen (on looking ahead to the matchup with the Boston Red Sox): 

"Play 27 outs. That's the best team in the game right now. We respect that, but we know that we're good. We have to go out there and compete and try and get that championship."

Dodgers Catcher Austin Barnes:

Barnes (on how his season went as a whole and getting back to World Series):

"It's an awesome feeling. This whole year was full of adversity. We were a third place team in September and we never lost faith in us and we want to thank the fans for never losing faith in us either. It was an up and down ride, but we got back and hopefully we're going to win it this year."

Barnes (on Game 7 and how he was able to take over as starting catcher for most of the NLCS):

"Personally I didn't feel great at the plate, but to contribute with my defense and help this team try and win and get to the World Series is all you can ask for." 

Barnes (on how Walker Buehler looked):

"His stuff is unbelievable. He's been pitching big games for us all year. From 163 to Game 7 tonight. All of our starters pitched big games for us."

Dodgers Third Baseman Justin Turner:

Turner (on returning to the World Series):

"This is an unbelievable feeling to be standing here right now. At one point 10 games under .500, at one point in third place in the division in September. We've played with our backs against the wall all season, here we were again tonight, Game 7 backs against the wall again and we found a way to get it done."

Turner (on what he and the team learned from being in a Game 7 in the World Series last season):

"Win every pitch and win every inning. We wanted to get to him [Chacin] early. We knew they were going to run to their bullpen right away. We got behind when [Christian] Yelich hit that solo homer in the first, but we grinded, we saw their bullpen guys in all seven games. We got some big swings by Belli [Bellinger] and by Puig to give us a cushion."

Dodgers Shortstop Manny Machado: 

Machado (on going to the World Series for the first time): 

"This is awesome. There's no better feeling than coming here and winning. We had this goal since I got here and we finally made it here."

Machado (on what his emotions are after winning Game 7):

"It feels awesome. There's no better feeling than winning the pennant. We've worked hard for his. We've got four more games left." 

Machado (on the NLCS series with the Brewers and how the Milwaukee fans treated him):

"We never took anything for granted. We knew we were playing a very good ball club on the other side and it was going to be a grind. We did everything possible: we played the little game, we hit the longball, like we had all year, and we're just happy we came out on top like always."

Machado (on his full count bunt in the second inning):

"You don't really want to know what I really want to say right now. We're trying to do anything to win. He quick pitched me so I'm going to drop one down. I know it was a little ballsy but anything to win. It came out perfect because Belli [Bellinger] came up next and hit that big, big homer to put us on top. I knew Belly was due. He was due for something. I just needed to get on base for him and pass the baton." 

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw: 

Kershaw (on returning to the World Series):

"I appreciate these moments. It's pretty fun. You might never get to do it again. It's hard to take something like this for granted. 

Dodgers relief pitcher Alex Wood:

Wood (on winning the NLCS in seven games):

"It was a total team effort. It's been a really complete series when you put all the games together it was a lot of fun against a really good Milwaukee Brewers team. Thankfully we won Game 7 and will now get ready for the Red Sox here in a couple days." 

Wood (on warming up three times, Kenley pitching the 7th and Kershaw closing):

"You never know what's going to happen in a Game 7. Kenley makes quick work of the inning he threw. Clayton's got the ninth. Then I got up three different times, you never know what's going to happen so you just have to be ready for every minute of the game." 

Dodgers relief pitcher Ryan Madson: 

Madson (on going back to the World Series):

"I'm very lucky to be here and fortunate that they brought me over. I really appreciate it."

Madson (on pitching 1.2 scoreless innings of relief):

"I look around and see Kershaw is out there and Kenley, and they picked my name! It's such an honor. I don't take it lightly. I put everything into every pitch. I take it one pitch at a time, I know it's a cliché, but that's what I do."

Madson (on watching Kershaw pitch the ninth inning):

"I don't think I've ever had a better feeling. When you see Clayton Kershaw in the bullpen with 100 pitches under his belt and ready to go in to the game, I don't think there's a better feeling."



Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers, Rockets Brawl as LeBron Loses Home Opener]]>Sun, 21 Oct 2018 04:00:44 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1052651858.jpg

A fight erupted in the fourth quarter of LeBron James' home debut with the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Saturday, as Chris Paul, Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo were all ejected in a feisty contest that ultimately saw the Lakers fall 124-115 to the Houston Rockets.

The Lakers may be 0-2, but they showed some fight--literally.

 

The fight erupted after Ingram shoved James Harden, with Paul and Rondo getting into a heated discussion that boiled over into punches being thrown by Paul and Rondo. Ingram, who had already received a technical foul, decided to run into the scrum and deliver a punch of his own to guarantee his ejection.

 

The Rockets led 109-108 when the fight broke out, with a shade over four minutes remaining in the game. The ensuing two technical free throws gave the Rockets a crucial three-point advantage, and Houston relied on Harden to outscore the Lakers 15-7 following the fight.

The night, though, started far more positive, with celebrities packing the stands and a crowd charged up during introductions. James and company faced the Houston Rockets' two-headed monster of James Harden and Paul, with James making his highly anticipated regular season home debut dressed in LA's iconic gold jersey.

James scored the Lakers' first two points of the game, but the Lakers had already dug a seven-point hole before the 33-year-old netted his first official basket at Staples Center for the home team.

The first quarter laid the groundwork for Harden's big night, with the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player tabbing nine points in the opening 12 minutes before pouring in 14 points in the second quarter for a halftime total of 23 points. The Southern California native ended the night with 36 points to lead the pack.

Thanks in part to contributions from Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, Rondo and, of course, James, the Lakers nullified the eye-popping output provided by Paul and Harden early. Paul went into the break with 19 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Still, the Rockets never truly pulled away, and the two teams were tied eight times, with 14 lead changes in the first 24 minutes. The Rockets held a four-point edge at the break.

James led the Lakers in scoring at the intermission with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists, while Rondo added nine points, four assists and three rebounds before the break.

The third quarter continued the back-and-forth seesaw of the first half, with six lead changes in the penultimate quarter. Paul took the scoring lead from Harden momentarily, and the former LA Clippers' point guard scored nine points in the period to lead all scorers with 28 points and eight assists with 12 minutes remaining in the contest.

The Lakers, meanwhile, spread the scoring out and had six different players scoring in double figures before the end of the third quarter--led by James' 18 points at that stage.

For the second game in a row, an unlikely opponent off the bench caused damage to LA's hopes of getting its first victory of the 2018-19 season. While Nik Stauskas had killed the Lakers off the Blazers' bench of Thursday, Gerald Green assumed that role for the Rockets.

After three quarters, Green was 5-5 from the field for 13 points in 15 minutes off the Rockets' bench.

The fourth quarter featured the Rockets building a six-point lead almost immediately, but a flagrant foul on James Ennis III for wrapping his arm around Hart's neck helped the Lakers cut the Rockers' momentum on the scoreboard.

Lakers coach Luke Walton pointed to that Flagrant 1 foul as possibly leading to the fight minutes later. Hart, after the game, said he thought that Ennis should have been ejected, and Walton said the same. 

At the five-minute mark, though, the Rockets only led by a single point, but then a basketball game turned into a fight. Paul was ejected from the game with 28 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Ingram hit the showers with 12 points, four rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes, while Rondo left the floor with 13 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.

Down the stretch, however, Harden managed to put the ball in the bucket and claim victory for the visitors. The MVP finished with 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the victory, while James ended his Lakers' home debut with 24 points on 9-22 shooting from the field, five assists and five rebounds.

Notes: Ball finished the night shooting 4-8 from three-point land and 14 points to lead all bench scorers on both teams. With suspensions to Rondo and Ingram likely, Ball should slot into the starting lineup.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Beat Brewers to Advance to 2nd Straight World Series]]>Sun, 21 Oct 2018 16:20:18 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Puig+hits+three+run+homer+in+Game+7+of+NLCS.png

The Dodgers are going back to the World Series.

Christian Yelich hit a first inning homer to give Milwaukee the lead, but the Dodgers responded with home runs by Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig, as they beat the Brewers, 5-1, to win the National League Championship Series four games to three.

Ahead of the winner-take-all Game 7, I wrote that whichever team took a two-to-three run lead would advance to the World Series. As such, when a precious lead is achieved in these do-or-die games, everything else dissolves and as the world appears to steadily slow on its axis, the arduous counting of outs begins.

Saturday morning started with the Dodgers waking up from the nightmares of a Game 7 loss at the hands of the Houston Astros in last year's World Series.

However, the sun would rise, a new day would come, and the opportunity to erase and exorcise some of those demons was at hand.

27 outs left.

After a scoreless first inning from Milwaukee starter Jhoulys Chacin, Yelich put the Brewers in front when he turned on a 98.5MPH fastball from rookie Walker Buehler for a solo shot.

"Yelich clipped me," said Buehler of the homer. "It's a decent pitch. It's hard to hit that ball there. That's why he's a good player."

It was the second home run of the postseason from the presumed NL MVP, and it sent the sellout crowd at Miller Park into a frenzy as Milwaukee was seeking just their second ever World Series appearance, and first since moving to the National League in 1998.

Milwaukee's vaunted bullpen was ready and waiting, so as the Dodgers headed to the plate in the top half of the second inning, they knew they needed to answer the bell and silence the crowd. 

24 outs left.

Similar to a WWE wrestling villain, Dodgers' shortstop Manny Machado led off the second inning to a chorus of boos that drowned out any and all thoughts from players, to fans, to writers on deadline in the press box. 

Just days earlier, when asked why he didn't run out a groundball to first base in Game 2 of the series, Machado told Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal, "I don't hustle. It's not in my personality. I'm not the type of player that's going to be Johnny Hustle."

Whether or not Machado becomes the second coming of Pete Rose (Charlie Hustle not Johnny), is yet to be seen, but Machado did do his best impression of the Cincinnati Reds legend when he took everyone by surprise by laying down a full count bunt for an infield single.

"We're trying to do anything to win," said Machado between champagne showers in the clubhouse following the win. "He quick-pitched me, so I'm going to drop one down. I know it was a little ballsy, but anything to win." 

"Manny Hustle" went from home to first in 3.96 seconds on the bunt single, the fastest he was clocked making that trip all season long.

Not only did Machado wisely play small ball to get something going, but also the move paid dividends when Bellinger followed with a 424-foot home run that put the Dodgers in front, 2-1.

"I was looking for a pitch up, two strikes, just trying to put a good swing on it, and luckily it went out of there," said Bellinger who was named the MVP of the series. "It felt great. I honestly couldn't do it without the guys around me supporting me the whole year it feels pretty special."

Machado believed Bellinger was due, and was ectastic to be on base for the big blast.

"I knew Belly was due. He was due for something. I just needed to get on base for him and pass the baton," he said. "It came out perfect because Belli came up next and hit that big big homer to put us on top."

Bellinger's blast was his first of the playoffs, and fourth of his career after he hit three home runs during his NL Rookie of the Year campaign during the 2017 regular and postseason. 

"I know how lucky I am to go back to the World Series two years in a row and how hard it is," said Bellinger. "So to be a part of this team is pretty special. With that said we still have four more to go."

When Walker Buehler headed back to the mound for the bottom of the second inning, he was clinging to a slim one-run lead and needed to continue to throw zeroes in order to help his team reach the World Series.

The stress and pressure alone is enough to turn any other 24-year-old into a deer in headlights, but not Buehler, not this rookie.

Despite entering the game with a record of 0-1 and a 6.75 ERA in the postseason, Walker Buehler became just the third Dodger rookie to start a winner-take-all game in franchise history, joining Joe Black (Game 7, 1952 World Series vs. Yankees) and Fernando Valenzuela (Game 5, 1981 NLCS vs. Montreal Expos). 

After the home run to Yelich, Buehler was unflappable, surrendering just the one run, on six hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in 4 and 2/3 outstanding innings.

"I just tried to be myself and be a little more creative than I had been and it worked out for us," said Buehler of his start. "This one worked out a little better than earlier in the series."

Buehler exited the game with two outs and the tying run on second base in the bottom of the fifth inning. Julio Urias came on in relief to face Yelich who crushed a 94MPH fastball to left field where Chris Taylor (who started the game at second base) made a leaping catch, falling into the warning track to keep the Dodgers in the lead.

"You could feel the tension in the fans. The tying run on second...it was all built up, and it was so loud in the outfield that communicating with Bellinger was difficult," said Taylor of his game-changing grab. "I knew it was in the gap and I was just trying to run hard and get to the spot. I had to change my route and go back towards the fence a little bit. I was just happy I made the play."

So was everyone wearing Dodger blue. 

"I think the most important part of the game today was CT's catch in left field," said Bellinger. "That definitely changed the whole game for us."

"That Taylor catch was unbelievable," added Buehler. "I don't know many people who can play shortstop to start the season, second base to start the game, and then go to the outfield and make that catch."

12 outs left. Remember to breathe.

As the Dodgers batted in the top of the sixth inning, with the world's best reliever in Josh Hader now out of the game, each pitch seemed to take an eternity. Each runner on base, either a dire threat, or the hope of a city stuck in a 30-year title drought.

Yasiel Puig stepped to the plate, with the knowledge and understanding of all this. Since joining the Dodgers in 2013, he's appeared in more postseason games than any other player in franchise history with 53. He knows how badly the City of Angels wants a championship; he too yearns to host the Commissioner's Trophy himself.

Puig himself proclaimed the Dodgers would win the World Series last season. He did it again after they won their sixth consecutive NL West Division at the end of September. Accurately predicting the Dodgers would dispatch of the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series and eliminate the Milwaukee Brewers in the Leage Championship Series before advancing to the World Series and celebrating in the streets of Los Angeles in November.

So with the weight of that prediction firmly on his strong shoulders, Puig stepped to the plate to stare down Brewers' reliever Jeremy Jeffress, the same pitcher who surrendered the game-winning home run to Justin Turner in Game 2.

Puig swung out of his shoes on a 95MPH fastball to start the at-bat, looked at another for a ball, and then crushed an 83MPH curveball for a line-drive, three-run homer that put the Dodgers ahead 5-1.

"I never expected that ball to be a home run," admitted Puig after the game. "I was so excited because there was two people on base. Thank God that ball kept going and it was a home run."

It was easily the biggest home run in Puig's six-year career, and it sent the crowd from a rabid Miller Park mob, into a silent study hall, and put the Dodgers on the precipice of their 11th World Series appearance in franchise history.

Nine, eight, seven… each out felt like a life-or-death proposition. Each reliever out of the Dodgers bullpen that recorded an out felt the collective exhale of Dodger fans across the globe, and the progressive groans of the Brewers fans in the building.

"We had a hard time getting anything going today, more than one runner on a base in an inning, just couldn't get it going," said Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell. "We weren't able to put together rallies, multiple hits, and get things going. And credit to them for how they pitched tonight."

The team that scored first in the series lost five of the seven games. The team that hit a leadoff home run in the final two games went on to lose the game. Baseball is random, that much we know, and whatever we thought we knew was turned on its head over the span of seven games.

Six, five, four…Kenley Jansen, an All-Star closer that had his season in doubt after an irregular heartbeat sent him to a Denver hospital in early August, mowed down Milwaukee hitters like he was a machine.

"Before the game, Doc had a conversation with me, and told me they might go the same route as they did in 2016 [NLDS Game 5] against Washington [Nationals]," said Jansen. "It doesn't matter if I'm closing or not, just put me in the game when you need me. He brought me in in the seventh, and I got my job done. We just had to play all 27 outs."

Three outs left.

The constant reminder of the mantra, "all hands on deck," was apparent throughout the game as the tantalizing possibility that the Dodgers three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw would ride out of the bullpen on his white horse and send the Dodgers back to the World Series as he did in Game of the NLCS in Chicago last year.

Possibility became a reality when the 2014 MVP ran out of the bullpen to take the mound in the bottom of the ninth with the World Series on the line.

"I look around and I see Kershaw is out there and Kenley, I don't think I've ever had a better feeling," said reliever Ryan Madson who pitched one and two-thirds of scoreless relief. "When you see Clayton Kershaw in the bullpen with 100 pitches under his belt, and ready to go in to the game, I don't think there's a better feeling.

Kershaw started the bottom of the ninth with 44,907 in attendance waiting and praying on bated breath. He faced second baseman Travis Shaw to start things off. Shaw grounded out to second base.

Two outs left.

Next up was Venezuelan powerhouse, Jesus Aguilar, who the night prior had three hits, two doubles and three RBI in Milwaukee's Game 6 win. Kershaw struck him out on six pitches.

One out left. 

Fate inevitably has a way of placing the exact people it wants in the moments that hold the most magnitude. 

So with the Dodgers so close to advancing to the pinnacle series of their sport, it was fitting that someone who once went to the World Series and lost, only to go back and win it the next year, would face the man on the mound hoping to do the exact same thing that the player he was now facing had done.

Former Royals third baseman, and 2015 World Series Champion, Mike Moustakas, stepped into the box. He had singled against Kershaw in Game 1 of the series, but was 0-for-3 against him in Game 5.  Kershaw dispatched of him on six pitches as well.

"I appreciate these moments," said Kershaw after he was mobbed by his teammates on the mound. "It's pretty fun. You might never get to do it again. It's hard to take something like this for granted."

In victory, the Dodgers became the first team since the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals to win a Game 7 of the LCS on the road, and won their 23rd NL pennant, tied with the Giants for the most in NL history.

"I can't say enough about our players, our coaches, the front office and most importantly the fans," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "They supported us through thick and thin and we fed off their support."

The Dodgers were once ten games below .500 on May 16, and last place in the West division, facing the looming possibility that they might not make the postseason, let alone return to the World Series.

Thankfully, the hangover cleared, and the Dodgers returned to their dominant self, finishing 30 games above .500 from that point on, finishing with 92 wins and their sixth consecutive division title.

"This is an unbelievable feeling to be standing here right now," said Justin Turner, whose return to the lineup from a broken wrist suffered in spring training helped complete the turnaround. "At one point 10 games under .500, at one point in third place in the division in September. We've played with our backs against the wall all season, here we were again tonight, Game 7, backs against the wall again and we found a way to get it done."

The role of underdog is unfamiliar for the Boys in Blue, they have always been the Goliath in the proverbial matchup with David. Nonetheless, when they face the Boston Red Sox (108 wins), and the best team in baseball all year long, they will be a substantial longshot.

"It's an amazing team. The best team in the AL and the best team in baseball with 108 wins," said Puig of the Red Sox. "But now they're going to face us, and the best team is going to win. I've never played in Boston before, it's going to be cold."

It was 102 years ago the last time the Dodgers and Red Sox met in the World Series when Boston defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers behind a 14-inning outing by pitcher Babe Ruth in 1916.

"I'm looking forward to going back to Fenway," said Roberts who like Red Sox manager Alex Cora has won both jerseys. "Obviously for me personally I have a lot of fond memories of the Red Sox and Fenway Park. To be wearing another uniform going in there playing for a World Series Championship is going to be special for me. It's great for baseball. Two storied franchises going head-to-head. It's going to be a great series."

The last time Los Angeles won the World Series was in 1988, where ironically, they were the dark horse against the 104-win Oakland Athletics, who had the bash brothers, the best starting rotation, and the best closer in the game.

So maybe it's not a coincidence that on this date, October 20th, 30 years ago, today, the Dodgers defeated the A's, 5-2, to win the 1988 World Series, the last championship they won.

Here's hoping history repeats itself.

Up Next: 

The World Series begins at Fenway Park in Boston on Tuesday night 5:09PM PT. 

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<![CDATA[Dodgers Rely on Walker Buehler With World Series on the Line]]>Sat, 20 Oct 2018 16:23:41 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Walker+Buehler+Game+7.png

A thirty year drought. A World Series hangover. The hopes and dreams of millions.

It now sits shakily in the hands of a 24-year-old rookie.

Walker Buehler was the hero that clinched the Dodgers sixth consecutive National League West title in a Game 163 at home against the Colorado Rockies.

One week later, he was to blame for the Boys in Blue not sweeping the Braves in the NL Division Series after he walked the pitcher with the bases loaded, only to allow a back-breaking grand slam to Ronald Acuña Jr.

He was the man tasked with winning the pivotal Game 3 on his own mound as the NL Championship Series shifted to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he was humbled in that game also as the Brewers shutout the Dodgers, 4-0.

Now, in the most monumental game of the 2018 season, a moment that can help exonerate the demons from a Game 7 World Series defeat at Dodger Stadium, the team turns to Buehler once again.

"Game 7 to go to a World Series, I don't know if it gets more high stakes than that," said a quietly confident Buehler in a gray pea coat and black backpack over his shoulder. "But at the end of the day, it's the same game and the same thing I've go to go do."

Only it's not the same.

Buehler has pitched in high-pressure moments before, a winner-take-all Game 3 of the College World Series at Vanderbilt in 2015, the non-elimination Game 163, and two postseason starts, both losses. 

He admitted after one of those starts he came off the mound in the first inning with his long slender fingers shaking, his heart beating rapidly, the moment and the energy of the crowd too massive to go unnoticed.

Buehler should have been celebrating in the visitor's locker room with champagne and beer on Friday night as the team celebrated a return trip to the World Series. At least that's how they dreamt it up, calling Game 6 at Miller Park a "must-win."

Only it didn't unfold that way. After a leadoff home run by David Freese, Dodgers' starter Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed four consecutive two-out hits in the bottom half of the first inning and the Brewers built up a 4-to-1 lead and never looked back.

That set the table for the do-or-die Game 6, and the biggest moment of the young rookie's career.

"I think it's pretty normal for me now," Buehler said of the pressure. "This is a big one. But at the end of the day it's the same game and the same thing I've got to go do."

A year ago, Buehler did not make the Dodgers postseason roster. After a not-so-stellar September out of bullpen, Buehler was relegated to spectator as he watched the World Series from the stands at Dodger Stadium with his sister who attends USC.

Despite not being on the field with his teammates, he was just as emotionally invested as the rest of them when they watched the Houston Astros celebrate winning a title on their own turf. It was devastating, it was a nightmare that would carry over into the start of the 2018 season.

The demons of that Game 7 are still fresh in the fans and players minds. Buehler knows them well, but will try to join the likes of Fernando Valenzuela, Andy Pettitte, Livan Hernandez, Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis and Madison Bumgarner as pitchers who helped navigate their team to the World Series in their rookie year.

Now it's Buehler's turn to churn through the Brewers lineup and catapult his team back to the championship.

"I think Walker is prepared for this moment," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "As far as his rest, he’s ready to go. And as far as his heartbeat, the weapons, all that stuff, we’re in really good shape with him. He understands the magnitude of this moment, this game, and he’s a good person for us to take the baseball."

Regardless of what happens in the dramatic Game 7 on Saturday night, one thing is for certain, Buehler will be on a short leash. He likely won't get the opportunity to face a Christian Yelich if the bases are loaded, or if he surrenders some early runs or hits, the hook will be quick and swift.

Clayton Kershaw is on standby out of the bullpen. The rest of the Dodgers high-leverage relievers are ready and rested as well. Dave Roberts learned from his first-ever Game 7 experience last season when he left Yu Darvish in the game one batter too late, calling his decision something that he "regrets" even to this day.

However, the Brewers are ready and rested as well, with their best starting pitcher in Jhoulys Chacin ready to take the ball and toe the line. After him, Milwaukee has the best reliever in baseball in Josh Hader available to pitch three innings if necessary.

After the Milwaukee offense sputtered in the final two games at Dodger Stadium, they were unleashed in Game 6 as they scored seven runs on 11 hits. Needless to say, confidence is riding at an all-time high for Craig Counsell's bunch. 

"He's fresh," Counsell said of Hader. "We'll see how it goes, but you'll see him tomorrow."

Yes, we'll definitely see it how goes, as the most exciting two words in sports will be on display:

Game Seven.



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Jockey Valenzuela Pleads Guilty to Domestic Violence]]>Sat, 20 Oct 2018 08:53:29 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/GettyImages-113879989.jpg

Famed former jockey Patrick Valenzuela has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence for slapping his girlfriend at a Southern California restaurant.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the seven-time Breeders Cup winner entered the plea earlier this week, was fined nearly $900 and ordered to take domestic violence recovery classes.

Prosecutors say Valenzuela slapped his girlfriend last month for hugging a bartender at a Carlsbad restaurant.

Valenzuela told the Union-Tribune by phone Friday that he is "very saddened" by the situation and added: "I will continue to strive to be the best person I can be."

Valenzuela had more than 4,300 winning races, including the 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He's struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and lost his California racing license. He last raced in 2016.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Says to 'Expect Greatness' Ahead of Home Debut]]>Sat, 20 Oct 2018 14:12:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LeBron-James-home-opener-2018.PNG

LeBron James makes his highly anticipated regular season home debut on Saturday night at Staples Center, and the NBA superstar spoke with reporters at the team's morning shootaround in El Segundo.

"Hi," James waved and smiled at reporters that had a noticeably foreign accent asking him to say hello to the international audience and tell them what to expect this season. "Expect greatness."

The foreign accent asking a question on Saturday morning provided a window into the international event that Saturday's game at Staples Center has turned into, predominantly due to James' arrival in LA.

The Lakers shared that 250 credentials had been issued for the game from 15 countries and territories. In addition, Saturday's game is expected to reach fans in 179 countries, according to the NBA's communications department.

The buzz around Saturday's game has been impossible to miss. It's the hottest ticket in town, and Staples Center promises to be packed to the brim, with celebrities sparkling courtside.

James, however, says he isn't one to focus on the festive atmosphere.

"I just never been a guy to kind of take a moment in the present," James said. "I think when I'm done playing the game of basketball, [I can] look back on tonight or some of the nights that I've had in my careers and be like, 'That was an unbelievable night' or 'That night was better than other nights.'"

James did acknowledge the excitement surrounded the day, especially from fans and the city. The 33-year-old made a point to set expectations for supporters.

"We're excited to showcase to our fans what we've been working on for the last month." James said. "I can promise to our fans we're not the team tonight we're going to be in January or February, but we will be extremely excited to get out there and play in front of them."

 Asked about what his message is to Lakers' fans everywhere on a day like Saturday, James shrugged his shoulders and smirked, "It's game day."

The Lakers host the Houston Rockets with a scheduled tip-off time of 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Lakers coach Luke Walton said he would stick with the same starting lineup that featured in the team's season opener in Portland.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Brewers Force Winner-Take-All Game 7 After Defeating Dodgers]]>Fri, 19 Oct 2018 21:49:42 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/RyuRockedinNLCSGame6.png

Two words: Game Seven.

Milwaukee had eleven hits and the Brewers defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-2, to force a winner-take-all Game 7 in the National League Championship Series on Friday night.

For the second straight game, Wade Miley started, but this time he stayed in the game and didn't depart after facing one batter, although maybe he should have.

David Freese greeted Miley with a leadoff homer to right-center and the Dodgers darted out to a 1-0 lead before Miley recorded an out.

Freese's homer had an identical trajectory as his first at-bat in Game 2, when Lorenzo Cain leaped over the wall to rob the St. Louis native of a home run. This time however, Cain was unable to get his glove on it. 

"Especially after they jumped ahead on David Freese's homer, I thought it was incredibly important for us to answer back as quickly as possible," said Brewers outfielder Ryan Bruan. "Keep the crowd into it, keep the pressure off of us."

Miley settled in, but the same couldn't be said for his counterpart, as Dodgers' starter Hyun-Jin Ryu was roughed up in the first two innings surrendering four doubles, and five runs before the Boys in Blue knew what hit them. 

"I was trying to get ahead in the counts by using my off-speed pitches, but I left them hanging and obviously I got punished for it," said Ryu after the game through a translator. "I couldn't do my job and maintain the lead and I feel terrible."

Ryu recorded the first two outs of the first, but then allowed four consecutive hits as the Brewers hung four on the Dodgers in the inning.

Jesus Aguilar and Mike Moustakas mashed back-to-back doubles, and Erik Kratz and Orlando Arcia followed with a pair of singles, as Milwaukee leapt out to a 4-1 lead. 

"One [run] would have been great, two would have been awesome, but to put up four right there just gives us a lot of confidence," said Moustakas. "The ability to go throughout the rest of the game, just to keep adding runs on, and trying to build your lead and then turn it over to that bullpen." 

Entering the game, Ryu had never surrendered more than three runs in an inning during the 2018 campaign, in fact, in his last five starts overall, Ryu had only allowed three runs total, but in the biggest start of his five-year big league career, the Korean left-hander allowed four runs in the first. 

"Giving up four runs in the first inning definitely hurt, especially all with two outs," said Ryu. "My job as the starter is to make sure to keep the game close, but I couldn't do that today. I have to learn from this experience and move on."

The three-run deficit was the third consecutive deficit of three runs or more the Dodgers have faced at Miller Park in the series. 

"The excitement, the electricity in that stadium once we had that big first inning, it carried us throughout the rest of the game," added Moustakas. "And you can feel that as a player. You feed off of it. And it was an electric atmosphere in there tonight, for sure."

Despite Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts calling Game 6 a "must-win" with the opportunity to close out the series, and advance to their second consecutive World Series in the process, the third year manager opted to leave Ryu in the game, rather than burn the bullpen early in case of a Game 7.

"There's the thought of trying to go to your pen in the first inning or the second inning, but there's a significant cost potentially for a potential Game 7," said Roberts of his decision to leave Ryu in. "So I just felt that we needed to get some more innings out of Hyun-Jin to keep our highest leverage guys available for a potential Game 7."

So Ryu returned to the mound for the second inning where the carnage instantly continued, as he allowed back-to-back doubles to Christian Yelich and Ryan Bruan and the Brewers built a bulky 5-1 lead.

There's no nice way to put it, Ryu got rocked, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts in just three innings in the loss.

The Dodgers got one back when Freese knocked in a run with an RBI double in the top of the fifth inning. However, with runners at first and second, and representing the tying run at the plate, Milwaukee's favorite villain, Manny Machado, struck out to end the inning.

"You know what? I'm focused on the game," Machado said when asked if the vociferous boos from the 43,619 in attendance bothered him. "Try to go pitch by pitch, drive in runs. Do what we got to do on the field. We didn't execute today."

Despite knocking in the Dodgers first two runs of the game, Freese would leave after the inning as Milwaukee brought in right-handed reliever Corey Knebel, and Roberts opted to move left-handed hitting Max Muncy to first base.

Knebel would later find himself caught in the middle of a monumental chess match that's been played by both managers all series long.

With runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, and Knebel on-deck, Roberts opted to intentionally walk Arcia to force Counsell to either send Knebel to the plate, or replace him with his best pinch-hitter off the bench in Domingo Santana.

Santana initially stepped into the on-deck circle, seemingly insinuating Counsell would go for the knockout blow, but he quickly changed his mind, and sent Knebel to the plate for his first at-bat of the season.

"I had no intention of taking him out," admitted Counsell of Knebel batting after the game. "You're hoping something crazy happens, you're hoping he walks, really. I thought he took a decent swing. And then a not-so-decent swing."

The chess moves managed to work for both teams as Alex Wood easily struck out Knebel swinging, but the Brewers second best reliever threw a scoreless frame in the top of the sixth.

Down the stretch, it was a battle of bullpens, precisely the type of game Milwaukee wanted, and the second-best pen in the National League threw 4 and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to ensure there would be another game played at Miller Park.

"That's our motto down ther:  Anybody, anywhere, anytime, We're ready to go," said Knebel of the Milwaukee bullpen. "So starters get as much as they can done, but you go as long as you can for as long as you can, and come in and finish the rest. That's our job and we did it pretty well tonight."

It's been a while since the Brewers were last in a Game 7, when they found themselves in the American League, facing current division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1982 World Series. Milwaukee lost that game.

For the Dodgers, Game 7 is an all-to-familar feeling and a loss on Saturday could remind them of their reoccuring nightmare of dropping Game 7 of the World Series at home to the Houston Astros.

Up Next:

The do-or-die Game 7 will feature right-hander Jhoulys Chacin for the Brewers and rookie and Game 3 losing pitcher, Walker Buehler, for the Dodgers. First pitch is scheduled for 5:39PM PT. 

 

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Can Wrap Up a World Series Berth With Win in Milwaukee]]>Fri, 19 Oct 2018 10:00:39 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1045758076.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to assure themselves of their second-consecutive World Series appearance when they face the Milwaukee Brewers Friday night at Milwaukee's Miller Park.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will start the Dodgers off against fellow left-hander Wade Miley in a rematch of the Game 2 starters. Last Saturday, Ryu allowed two runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out four and not walking a batter in the Dodgers 4-3 victory at Miller Park.

"I thought we did a nice job against Ryu the first game," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Ryu has gone 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA in five career postseason starts, striking out 21 batters and walking three, limiting opposing hitters to a .231 average.

Miley is making his second consecutive start. On Wednesday, he walked Dodgers leadoff hitter Cody Bellinger on five pitches in the bottom of the first in Game 5 and was later replaced by Brandon Woodruff.

The "plan all along" was to replace Miley with Woodruff after one batter and have Miley start Game 6, confirmed Counsell after the game.

Miley shut out the Dodgers over 5 2/3 innings in Game 2, allowing two hits and striking out three. He did not walk a batter.

Teams with a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven National League Championship Series have a 15-6 series record. Teams trailing 3-2 with Games 6 and 7 scheduled at home have a 4-8 record.

The Dodgers have a 5-1 record when taking a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series. The only loss came in the 1952 World Series when they were based in Brooklyn and faced the New York Yankees.

The Dodgers have held Milwaukee to three runs over the past two games. "We need to score more runs," Counsell said. "I think it boils down to our bats and have better at-bats and just trying to create more pressure on the other team."

Dave Roberts, Dodgers manager, credited his team's lead to its bullpen. Dodgers relievers have allowed three runs in 21 2/3 innings.

"I think for our pen to eat up those innings and put up a bunch of zeros allowed us to stay in games, keep leads," Roberts said, referring to Clayton Kershaw's four-inning stint in Game 1 and Ryu's 4 1/3 innings in Game 2.

The last time the Dodgers made consecutive World Series appearances in 1977 and 1978, they lost to the Yankees.

Milwaukee is coming off back-to-back losses for the first time since Sept. 15-16. Their last three-game losing streak was Aug. 15-18.

The Brewers entered the NLCS with an 11-game winning streak, which they extended to 12 games with a 6-5 victory in Game 1. Since then, Milwaukee has lost three of four games.

If necessary, Game 7 would be played Saturday at Miller Park.

The NLCS winner will face the American League champion Boston Red Sox in the World Series, which will begin Tuesday at Fenway Park. Boston completed its five-game victory over the defending World Series champion Houston Astros Thursday with a 4-1 victory at Minute Maid Park.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Suffers Defeat in Lakers' Debut]]>Thu, 18 Oct 2018 21:36:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LeBron-James-Lakers-Blazers-10-18-18-2.jpg

LeBron James was electric early but eventually suffered a defeat, 128-119, in his Los Angeles Lakers' regular season debut at the hands of Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night.

James eventually finished the night with 26 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and a steal, while Lillard led all scorers with 28 points, six rebounds and four assists. James also had six turnovers, a couple of which featured passes that rolled out of bounds with no teammates close by--clear signs that James and the Lakers are far from a finished product.

With the win, the Blazers extended their home opener winning streak to 18 games, while their head-to-head streak against the Lakers extended to 16 straight wins.

The Portland crowd played its role with "Beat LA" chants sounding out at tip-off, but once the ball was in play, James didn't take long to make his presence felt. Rajon Rondo may have recorded the Lakers' first points of the season, but James made his first basket far more memorable.

James' first basket as a Laker arrived after a steal by the Akron native led to a breakaway slam dunk. James followed up that slam with another emphatic dunk moments later. Both dunks featured emotional outbursts by the 33-year-old.

Riding James' energy, the Lakers jumped out to an early double-digit lead, 25-15.

However, the Blazers refused to get caught up in the sideshow and finished the quarter on a 19-6 run to take a 34-31 lead at the end of the first quarter. James finished his first quarter as a Laker with 13 points on 5-6 shooting, three rebounds, one assist and one steal in nine minutes.

In the second quarter, Nik Stauskas served a reminder that this game was also his debut with a new team. Stauskas made his first six shots, including four three-pointers to launch up to 16 points in the blink of an eye. The no. 8 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft eventually finished the night with 24 points, which only trailed James and Lillard in the game.

Five minutes into the second quarter, the Blazers had jumped out to their own 10-point lead.

Moments later, James picked up his third foul. Trailing by double digits, the $164 million man waved off Lakers coach Luke Walton and stayed on the court in a roll of the dice. Over the following two minutes, before James went to the bench, the Lakers managed to trim an 11-point Blazers' advantage to only four points.

The gamble seemingly paid off.

At halftime, the Blazers held a two-point edge with JaVale McGee and Rondo providing necessary offense in the painted area. From three-point land, the Lakers entered the break without a single make from distance in 12 attempts.

In the third quarter, James deferred to his teammates, and Brandon Ingram took the early aggressive offensive lead out of the locker room. Ingram would eventually finish the quarter with 14 points on 7-14 shooting. Notably, Ingram only attempted one shot in the fouth quarter and ended his night with 16 points in 28 minutes.

The Lakers as a whole, meanwhile, continued to struggle from distance until Josh Hart stepped up and finally ended the drought. In the latter stages of the third stanza, Hart finally broke the Lakers' duck from distance.

The Lakers had missed their first 15 three-pointers on the night, but Hart's make gave the Lakers their first lead of the second half at 85-83. The Blazers proceeded to regain the advantage opened up a six-point advantage until Rondo and Hart made back-to-back three-pointers to close the quarter.

Hart's second three-pointer beat the third quarter buzzer and gave the second string sophomore 15 points on 6-9 shooting from the field, along with three steals in 21 meaningful minutes. Hart's third quarter laid the groundwork for more minutes in the fourth quarter, as the second year guard finished the game with 20 points on 8-12 shooting, along with four rebounds, three steals, two blocks and an assist in 27 minutes.

Entering the fourth and final quarter, the Blazers led, 93-91.

Though Lonzo Ball made his first three-pointer of the season in the first half of the fourth quarter, Stauskas continued his hot shooting and helped the Blazers hold a seven-point lead at the halfway point of the final quarter, entering the home stretch.

A minute later, the "Beat LA" chants returned, and CJ McCollum made only his fourth field goal of the night to open up a 10-point advantage with 5:01 remaining in the game. McCollum eventually finished with 21 points in 31 minutes, and 10 of those points arrived in the decisive fourth quarter.

With five minutes remaining, Stauskas led the Blazers with 22 points, while James led all scorers with 24 points. However, James had cooled off after making five of his first six field goal attempts and had only managed three makes in his subsequent nine attempts tot that point.

Staring at a 10-point deficit and a charged up crowd at the Moda Center, James and the Lakers were facing an uphill climb to sneak a debut victory.

A minute later, the Lakers trailed by 11 points with 4:00 showing on the game clock. Moments beyond the 3:00 mark, the Blazers had opened up a 13-point lead, and time seemed to be running out on a possible Lakers' comeback.

Kyle Kuzma and Hart provided a glimmer of hope when their back-to-back three-pointers cut the Blazers' advantage to seven points with 2:06 remaining in the game. The Blazers gave the Lakers a couple opportunities to get closer, but Hart's three-point attempt missed and Lillard stepped up to make a clutch bucket and pressure free throws down the stretch.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a late three-pointer to bring the Lakers as close as five points with 30.7 seconds remaining, but Lillard didn't have any trouble putting the game to bed from the foul line.

Lillard tabbed 10 points in the final quarter to help lead the Blazers to victory and continued Blazers' dominance of the Lakers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Debut Day for LeBron James with the Lakers in Portland]]>Thu, 18 Oct 2018 12:50:56 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LeBron-James-training-camp-7.jpg

Deep in a playoff run and only one win away from a second straight World Series appearance, the sports gods decreed that baseball would take a break because LeBron James debuts with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

The 2018-19 season finally tips off for James and the Lakers, though the debut curiously arrives two nights after the season officially started, on the road and in a rather hostile environment.

The Lakers have been swept by the Blazers in each of the past four seasons, and the last time the Lakers won in Oregon was way back in March of 2014 in a game that can best be described as a fluke.

Mike D'Antoni coached a team that started Pau Gasol, Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks and Kent Bazemore, with Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, Marshon Brooks and Xavier Henry serving as the only contributors off the bench. That freak game can be described as D'Antoni's greatest coaching performance or the true measure of Gasol's greatness.

Since that miracle March night, the Lakers have lost 15 straight times to the Blazers. So, James has a rare opportunity to immediately turn the symbolic tide for the Lakers with a debut victory in a city that has historically haunted the Lakers.

More than most cities, Portland chants "Beat LA" with conviction, passion and consistency.

While Lakers' fans have permeated every NBA arena, Portland remains one of the few arenas where the home crowd is seemingly always in control of the atmosphere--even when the purple and gold come to visit.

Portland has a team that can start the season in a dead sprint with Damian Lillard coming off an All-NBA First Team selection, C.J. McCollum making an argument to be an All-Star, Jusuf Nurkic possessing a unique skill set and a roster that has retained role players and maintained relative cohesion in the offseason.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are barely learning to crawl with James' arrival serving as a catalyst for massive roster changes. Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee both expect to start on Thursday, and neither of them look like they belonged in Lakers' jersey until preseason rolled around and they took the court--especially former Boston Celtic Rondo.

The additions of Michael Beasley and Lance Stevenson are the equivalent of cooking meat over a fire. If all goes well, the two veterans could turn out to be positive, digestible additions that serve a purpose. If all does not go well, though, the experiment could result in a stomach turning scene that features a heavy dose of regret and a promise never to attempt anything as reckless in the future.

If James is a porterhouse cooked at the finest of restaurants in an upscale Beverly Hills restaurant, Brandon Ingram is a hipster food truck in Silver Lake that is drawing longer and longer lines by the day after being reviewed in the Food section of the LA Times. Ingram's got a special, attractive flavor to his game, and while a great deal can be learned in sports with a hard work ethic, which the Kinston, North Carolina native has plenty of by all accounts, Ingram's natural length cannot be taught.

Fewer than two months past his 21st birthday, Ingram is already the second most important player on a team that can legitimately be considered one of the handful of championship contenders to start the season.

To start the 2018-19 season, the Lakers only trail the Rockets, Celtics and Warriors based on Las Vegas odds. The Raptors and Sixers have longer odds to win a title in 2019 than the Lakers according to oddsmakers.

Beyond James, Rondo's addition seems to be heralded with coaches and teammates fawning over the 2008 NBA champion's mental capacity and leadership on the court.

Rondo's addition not only eased the pressure on Ball not to rush back from offseason knee injury; it also allowed Ball to likely slot into a second unit with fellow sophomore Kyle Kuzma and, probably, Josh Hart. The trio has chemistry on and off the court, and three of the "core four" Lakers playing together on the second unit should be perceived as a positive in the long term.

How, exactly, the Lakers fit together will likely be a work in progress, but the Lakers' greatest assets are depth and youth--apart from James, of course.

Youth, depth and, most importantly, James will be take the court on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLCS Game 5]]>Wed, 17 Oct 2018 19:29:43 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NLCS_Game_5_1200x675_1346917955695.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers players Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Manny Machado, Max Muncy and Yasiel Puig discuss the Dodgers pivotal victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 5 of the NLCS.]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Exorcises Demons as Dodgers Take 3-2 Lead in NLCS]]>Thu, 18 Oct 2018 12:54:25 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Kershaw+Exorcises+Demons+in+Game+5+of+NLCS.png

Chess not checkers.

Craig Counsell sacrificed his knight, Dave Roberts surrendered his pawns, but the Los Angeles Dodgers moved Milwaukee's King into check, defeating the Brewers, 5-2, to take a stranglehold on the NL Championship Series, 3-2, on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. 

Clayton Kershaw re-wrote his postseason narrative as an ace who cracks under pressure, allowing just one-run on three hits, with nine strikeouts, over seven solid innings.

"I don't really think about the one before," said Kershaw who was roughed up to the tune of five runs in three innings in Game 1. "And after this one I'm not going to think about this one, either."

As one King left the mound, for perhaps the final time in a Dodger uniform, all eyes remained on the chess match with World Series stakes between the two managers that have taken baseball fans on an exhilarating and anxiety-inducing thrill ride throughout this series. 

That match may have reached it's apex in Game 5 on Wednesday when Counsell pulled off the ultimate poker move by bluffing his starting pitcher Wade Miley.

On Monday afternoon, ahead of Game 3 of the series at Dodger Stadium, Counsell announced that his Game 2 starter would take the mound again for Game 5 on short rest. 

In reality, Counsell was bluffing, and he went all-in with his chips to see if Roberts would unleash his starting lineup of right-handed hitters against a left-handed starter.

For the most part, that's what Roberts did and so Counsell started Miley for one batter, throwing just five pitches, knowing he had an ace in the hole.

Miley issued a walk to leadoff batter Cody Bellinger and then promptly left the game where he is expected to start Game 6 of the series in Milwaukee on Friday, presumably the plan all along. 

"That's what we were going to do all along," said Counsell of starting Miley but immediately going to right-hander Brandon Woodruff in the bullpen. "Wade is going to pitch Game 6."

In the process, Miley joined Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds in the 2012 NLDS as the only pitchers to start a postseason game and face only one batter.

Milwaukee starting pitchers have thrown just 14 total innings through five games of the NLCS, the lowest total in the history of the League Championship series.

The chess move initially worked as Roberts started right-handed hitters David Freese at first base, Chris Taylor in left field, Kiké Hernandez in right field, and Austin Barnes behind the plate.

"It was very unconventional, but we were prepared for anything," said Roberts. "Our lineup today was different than the other lineup when we faced Miley, so you have to prepare for the unexpected."

By the third inning, Roberts was forced to go to his bench, pinch-hitting Joc Pederson for Freese and rotating his defense all around the diamond.

"They're trying to get matchups, and we're trying to get matchups," added Counsell. "They're a very tough team to get matchups against and we weren't able to give Woody some matchups."

In a reversal of Tuesday night's epic extra-innings thriller, Milwaukee scored first in the top of the third on some puzzling decision making by the Dodgers.

Orlando Arcia hit a one-out single to left field, prompting a rematch between Kershaw and Woodruff, who famously took the three-time Cy Young Award winner deep in Game 1 of the series.

"When he first game in the game, I was just thinking that I have to get Woodruff out," joked Kershaw after the win. "The first inning was strange. There were a lot of challenges. Obviously, I didn't expect Miley to come out after one batter."

Woodruff went to lay down a bunt, but Freese refused to pick up the slow roller along the first base line, opting not to gain an out, instead forcing Woodruff back to the box. Only problem was Kershaw was hesitant to throw anything over the plate after what happened earlier in the series, and he walked Woodruff on five pitches.

One batter later, Lorenzo Cain belted an RBI double off the center field wall and the Brewers took an early 1-0 lead.

The Dodgers would tie the game in the bottom half of the fifth as Chris Taylor single-handedly attempted to jump start the Dodgers offense. 

"I was leading off the inning just trying to find a way to get on," said Taylor. "I knew the way Woodruff was throwing, I wanted to get something going and give us a good opportunity."

Taylor led off the inning with an infield single. Advanced to second on a throwing error by Arcia, promptly stole third without a throw, and then scored on a groundball by Barnes that Woodruff kicked into center field.

"That was huge," said Manny Machado of Taylor's fifth inning. "He brought that energy that we needed. Definitely gave us the momentum we needed and we're going to need that if we want to win."

The Dodgers finished 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position, the most hits in that situation than they've had the entire postseason.

"That's something we've talked about the whole series," said Justin Turner of hitting with runners in scoring position. "They obviously have good arms in their bullpen and it's not easy stuff. I thought we did a lot better job from Austin's at-bat on. The quality of at-bats were unbelievable compared to the rest of the series."

Max Muncy put the Dodgers in front when he surprised everyone by going the other way with a slider to beat the shift and score Turner from second.

Turner started the inning with a leadoff single, and moved into scoring position after Manny Machado was hit by a 95MPH fastball from Woodruff. 

The hit by pitch was likely unintentional because of the situation, but with the all extra antics and "dirty plays," from Machado throughout the series, it would come as a surprise to absolutely nobody if it wasn't.

Yasiel Puig followed with an insurance run that electrified the crowd, and Puig himself, as the Dodgers took a 3-1 lead. 

Puig appeared in his 51st postseason game for the Dodgers, tied with Andre Ethier for the most in franchise history.

"It means a lot," said Puig. "I don't know if Andre played every game, but I haven't played in all 51 games. That makes me really happy to play that much in the postseason."

Turner and pinch-hitter Brian Dozier, both brought home runs in the bottom of the seventh as the Boys in Blue took a commanding 5-1 lead, and a stranglehold on the series.

In the process, Kershaw momentarily exorcised some demons in what could have been his last start for the Dodgers. 

Kershaw is expected to opt-out of the final year of his contract after the season, making him an unrestricted free agent. If the Dodgers were to go on and lose the final two games of the series, Kershaw could have pitched his last game in Dodger blue. 

If so, he certainly left fans with a lasting memory as his curvevall and slider were working all afternoon long as he didn't allow a single Brewers baserunner past the third inning.

"He just came after guys," said Dodgers' catcher Austin Barnes. "He's the ultimate competitor.

Added Kershaw with a wry smile: "Maybe I threw some more curveballs today than I did in Game 1."

The Brewers hit back-to-back doubles off reliever Ryan Madson in the top of the ninth to cut the lead to 5-2, before Roberts brought in closer Kenley Jansen for his third save of the postseason.

The Dodgers are on the precipice of going to back-to-back World Series, something the team hasn't done since losing to the New York Yankees in consecutive seasons in 1977 and '78.

Overall, the Dodgers are 5-1 when taking a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series with their only loss coming against those same Yankees in the 1952 World Series.

Up Next:

The series shifts to Milwaukee where the Brewers are expected to start left-hander Wade Miley in back-to-back games. Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will start for Los Angeles as the Dodgers look to close out the series. First pitch is scheduled for 5:39PM PT on  Friday night on FS1.

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.

 



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers' Manny Machado Fined by MLB for Kicking Brewers' Jesús Aguilar]]>Thu, 18 Oct 2018 12:56:19 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Machado+and+Aguilar.png

Dodgers star Manny Machado has been fined by Major League Baseball for kicking Milwaukee first baseman Jesus Aguilar in the NL Championship Series.

MLB fined Machado an undisclosed amount on Wednesday, a day after the baserunning incident caused the benches to clear at Dodger Stadium and prompted Brewers MVP candidate Christian Yelich to call Machado a "dirty player."

Machado was running to first on a grounder in the 10th inning of Game 4 and Aguilar left his foot partly across the base for a moment after catching the ball. Already out, Machado brought his back foot forward and kicked Aguilar in the back of the leg. 

Machado, whose late slide last year injured Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, has been checked a couple times in this NLCS because of close slides into second.

Machado gave Aguilar a brief hug after hitting a single in the 13th inning. The Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop later scored the winning run, sliding home to give Los Angeles a 2-1 win that evened the NLCS at two games each.

Game 5 in the best-of-seven series was Wednesday.

The players' union declined comment on Machado's fine.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Celebration Time: A Magical Night at Dodger Stadium in Photos]]>Wed, 17 Oct 2018 05:23:39 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1052336328.jpgMore than five hours after the first pitch, Dodger Stadium erupted in a late-night celebration when Cody Bellinger belted a walk-off single in the bottom of the 13th inning to even the NLCS series at two games apiece.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLCS Game 4]]>Wed, 17 Oct 2018 00:27:36 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NLCS_GAME_4_1200x675_1346135107779.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Chris Taylor, Austin Barnes and Justin Turner discuss the team's 13-inning marathon win over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 4 of the NLCS.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Even NLCS 2-2 After Dramatic Walk-off Win in 13th Inning to Beat Brewers in Game 4]]>Thu, 18 Oct 2018 13:00:10 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Machado+Scores+Winning+Run+NLCS+Game+4.png

In the second longest game in NL Championship history, the Dodgers won the war of attrition. 

It took five hours and fifteen minutes, thirteen long and drawn out innings, but in the end, the Los Angeles Dodgers were the last team standing as they beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1, in dramatic walk-off fashion to even the NLCS at two games apiece.

Cody Bellinger beat the shift with a game-winning RBI single to right field that scored Manny Machado from second base and the Dodgers ending the thriller in the Ravine after an ugly offensive game that featured a combined 42 strikeouts.

Both offenses went as cold as the winter sky after sunset, as the Dodgers have scored just two runs in 22 innings at home in the series.

"We've just got to hit better, plain and simple, hit better with runners in scoring position," said Machado of the offensive struggles. "We're leaving too many guys on base. There's one thing we've got to do better when we're in scoring position, a hundred percent."

Nonetheless, all it took was one swing to end the marathon match between the two best teams in the National League with a quick turnaround in Game 5 on Wednesday afternoon. 

Manny Machado started the dramatic series of events off with a one-out single in the bottom of the 13th inning. After an infield fly, Machado took second on a wild pitch by Brewers reliever Junior Guerra. 

A few seconds later, Machado almost stifled the rally when he was nearly picked off at second base by Guerra, but ultimately Bellinger found a hole and Machado was able to slide under the tag at home plate to give the Dodgers the victory.

"Honestly, I was surprised that they were throwing me, I thought they would pitch around me," said Bellinger with first base open and a struggling Yasmani Grandal on-deck. "Once I saw they were attacking me, it was just kind of grind mode and do what you can to put the ball in play and try to end this game."

Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell added: "I thought it was worth the risk of trying to expand to Bellinger, and if the at-bat goes to Grandal, we walk Grandal."

In addition to winning the game with his bat, Bellinger might have also saved the game with his glove, as he flew threw the air like Superman to rob Lorenzo Cain of an extra-base hit in the 10th. 

"I knew I had a shot at it," said Bellinger of the diving stop. "I played right field in the Minor Leagues a lot before I started playing centerfield. It's kind of like riding a bike. I saw it hanging up there, and ran as fast I could and dove for it."

It feels like the first mile of the Los Angeles marathon now, but the Dodgers struck first in the first inning on a two-out, RBI single by Brian Dozier.

Dozier was making a rare start at second base against a left-handed starter, and struck out looking with the bases loaded to end the game a night prior.

"He hasn't played a whole lot in the last few weeks but he's a pro and just really takes good at-bats," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "So for him to spark us and get a point on the board early, that was huge. And just the defense tonight and just the at-bat quality I thought was really good."

Milwaukee starter Gio Gonzalez did not last long in the game, but this time it was unrelated to his pitching performance. 

Gonzalez rolled his ankle after a comebacker by Yasiel Puig bounced off his glove in the second inning, and after making one pitch, was unable to stay in the game. 

Freddy Peralta replaced him and made his first appearance of the postseason on short notice. Despite the lack of time to warm up, Peralta pitched with prodigious precision, striking out six with three walks in three hitless innings.

Peralta became just the second pitcher in postseason history to come on in releif and throw at least three hitless innings with at least six strikeouts, since Pedro Martinez did it in Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS.

Domingo Santana tied the game with his second pinch-hit RBI of the series, when he crushed a curveball from Rich Hill into the right-center gap for an RBI double that scored Orlando Arcia from first. 

Hill did not factor in the decision, allowing one run on three hits with four walks and six strikeouts in five strong innings. 

Both teams emptied their bench, using all of their position players with the Dodgers gutting their entire bullpen.

Los Angeles was 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, left eleven men on-base, and struck out a franchise postseason record seventeen times.

"Late in games like that, guys try to do a little bit too much and expand, and maybe swing at pitches they normally wouldn't swing at," said Turner of the reason behind all the strikeouts. "Everyone wants to get the big hit and be 'the guy.'"

The Brewers didn't fare much better, going 0-for-8 with RISP, stranding ten men on-base with fifteen strikeouts of their own.

In a best-of-seven series in the NLCS, the team with home-field advantage in the final three games has a losing record at 5-6. 

Up Next:

Clayton Kershaw will start Game 5 on Wednesday in what could be his final appearance in a Dodger uniform. Wade Miley will start on three days rest for Milwaukee. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05PM PT.

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Goodbye Angel Stadium?]]>Tue, 16 Oct 2018 20:52:20 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Angels+Stadium+Clintus+McGintus.jpg

The Los Angeles Angels have opted out of their Angel Stadium lease with the city of Anaheim. The Angels informed the city of their decision Tuesday.

The decision means the team and the city will negotiate on a new deal at Angel Stadium, the majors' fourth-oldest ballpark.

The Angels also are expected to explore the feasibility of building a new stadium elsewhere in Southern California.

In a statement, Angels President John Carpino says the team will "look at all our options" for a home.

The Angels opted out of their lease on the final day possible before 2028.

The Angels have played at the ballpark also known as the Big A since 1966. Only Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium are older.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Flickr: Clintus McGintus]]>
<![CDATA[The NBA Returns Tuesday, but All Eyes Are on LeBron and the Lakers]]>Tue, 16 Oct 2018 07:17:37 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LeBron-James-training-camp-5.jpg

The NBA is back.

The Lakers are back.

Sure, opening night of the 2018-19 NBA season doesn't feature the Los Angeles Lakers, but that doesn't mean all eyes aren't on LA. They are. The Lakers have the best basketball player on the planet dressed in a noticeably undersized gold jersey that serves to only further enhance a physique that would intimidate all of Mount Olympus.

With one $164 million stroke of the pen, LeBron James has transformed the complexion of the Los Angeles Lakers, basketball and the NBA like only a superstar of his statuesque stature could.

On the court, the best comparison for James is Earvin "Magic" Johnson, but James plays in a different era and is a different player than the five-time champion. Johnson's not-so-subtle purpose is to bring the Lakers a title in honor of the late Dr. Jerry Buss—Johnson's mentor and longtime owner of the Lakers.

With James, Johnson brought magic back to the Lakers. Now, the Lakers are closer to a title than they've been since Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher were celebrating with an open palm to mark five titles in 2010.

Eight years later, the Lakers look ready to escape out of a black hole that featured a five-year postseason drought.

Now, the games finally count. The Lakers are no longer a lottery team or even a fringe playoff team. With James, the Lakers are a playoff team. However, the Lakers don't enter the season as favorites to win the Western Conference.

The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are clear and away the top two teams in the conference. The Warriors begin their season on Tuesday with a ring ceremony, and the regular season champion Rockets begin their season on Wednesday—both before the Lakers tip-off on Thursday in a tough game against Portland.

The Blazers are a better team, especially at home, than the Lakers on day No. 1 of the season, so a defeat at Portland shouldn't come as a shock or even a setback. Even with James on the roster, the Lakers winning in Portland would be an impressive accomplishment.

On Saturday, the Lakers begin a new era with James taking the Staples Center home court in a game that matters for the first time. The excitement is impossible to contain for the city, and the atmosphere at Staples Center on a regular season night promises to rival, possibly beat the electricity on offer at an October night at Dodger Stadium.

It's James' team now, and the Lakers can be a real problem come playoff time. Regardless of seeding, James on the Lakers makes them an automatic championship contender. Initially, though, the Lakers expect to have defensive deficiencies that will cost the team games.

Offensively, James' addition alone elevates the team, especially in late game situations. Rajon Rondo is one of the smartest NBA minds in the league by nearly all accounts, and Rondo is looking like the likely starter to on opening night.

That convenient decision comes due to Lonzo Ball missing most of preseason and still working on his conditioning. Ball's addition to the second unit, regardless of how ephemeral, only promises even more fluidity for a player like Kyle Kuzma.

Given that the Lakers expect to start JaVale McGee with James and Brandon Ingram in the front court, Kuzma should be the Lakers' stable scoring sixth man. Ball's addition to the second unit—or Rondo's if Lakers coach Luke Walton decides to switch the point guards at any stage during the season—should only improve Kuzma's chances of capturing the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Kuzma may not be the favorite, but if he can provide the scoring punch he routinely administered during his rookie season, the proud Flint, Michigan native should be in the running for the award.

Josh Hart may start, or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may get the starting shooting guard spot. The former is probably a better fit for the second unit than the latter. Hart, to his credit, fits better with both units, but Caldwell-Pope offers far more utility as a starter than coming off the bench. So, Hart playing as a backup that regularly finishes games seems to make the most sense for maximizing the roster.

Michael Beasley and Lance Stevenson are two players than expect to get minutes off the bench, as well, but neither is in the conversation to regularly start for the Lakers because LA is banking on the youth of Ingram, Hart, Kuzma and Ball to develop during the season.

James and Rondo arriving to provide a championship level of leadership and knowledge should only assist that growth process for the individuals and the team as a whole.

To his credit, James looked as strong and sharp as ever in preseason. He  displayed the type of form that should erase enough mistakes to get the team early wins it probably doesn't deserve. Regardless of how the season starts, though, the Lakers have enough talent and depth to make the playoffs, even in a loaded Western Conference.

Once in the postseason, the Lakers have James, so they are automatically championship contenders. Betting on the best player on the planet in a best-of-seven series isn't a bad bet. Yes, the Lakers are back to being championship contenders, and that status should only improve in a year's time when Johnson and James look to use open salary cap space and a playoff tested, developing roster to lure another superstar to LA—with Kevin Durant's name conspicuously floating about.

But the conversation about who will join James can wait for another summer. The superstar's arrival in LA has already propelled the most popular brand in the history of the league back to the forefront of the 82-game NBA drama—and well beyond that point if one considers James' entertainment projects.

On Tuesday, the NBA returns, and this season, the Lakers are back.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Brewers Shut Out Dodgers in Game 3 of NLCS]]>Mon, 15 Oct 2018 21:18:02 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Walker+Buehler+Watches+Homer.png

The sound of silence.

Jhoulys Chacin and the Brewers bullpen converged to throw nine scoreless innings as Milwaukee shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-0, in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium. 

After each team combined to score nine runs in Games 1 and 2 of the series, the trilogy featured a good old fashioned pitcher's duel between rookie right-hander Walker Buehler and Jhoulys Chacin.

Despite getting beat by walks in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Braves, Buehler still issued a free pass to Christian Yelich in the first inning, and he scored three pitches later on an RBI double down the left field line by Ryan Braun.

"I love just the emotion of these games, the adrenaline everyone is able to play with," said Braun of his RBI.

Buehler bounced back with four consecutive scoreless innings before center fielder Cody Bellinger crashed into the wall on a fly ball from Travis Shaw that resulted in a triple for the Brewers second baseman.

Shaw would score two pitches later on a wild pitch and Milwaukee led 2-0 with a rested bullpen ready to shut down the Dodgers. 

"The block tonight with a shot to third base, a backup slider, he just couldn't get around," Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said of the wild pitch. "But that was a tougher play than it seemed, than it looked like."

Shaw is the son of long-time Dodgers reliever, Jeff Shaw, who played for the Dodgers between 1998 and 2001. None of those teams ever made the playoffs, so Shaw told Travis to not take the moment for granted and to remember how special playing in the postseason is before the game. 

Buehler bounced back from his first taste of the postseason in Atlanta, but still was the hard-luck loser on Monday, allowing four runs on five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in seven strong innings. 

"I thought he couldn't command his curveball," Roberts said of Buehler. "I thought there were opportunities to get ahead of hitters with the breaking ball and he was trying but just couldn't really strike it. I thought the fastball had really good life and command all night long. The punch-outs speak to that. And he did enough to a point to keep us in the ballgame."

Orlando Arcia put the finishing touches on Buehler's night with a two-run homer into the short porch in right field to give the Brewers a 4-0 lead. 

"That was my thid at-bat against him, and he pitched me the same sequence," said Arcia. "He started with breaking balls early. I was looking for a fastball that I could put a good contact on and thankfully I was able to get it and put a good drive towards it."

Entering the postseason, Arcia had just three homers in 366 plate appearances. Thus far in the 2018 playoffs, Arcia has 3 homers in just 19 plate appearances, including two against the Dodgers in the NLCS.

"Orlando has always been a guy that you want to put a moment on him, put pressure on him," Counsell said. "Put the spotlight on him. He loves it. And I'm not surprised that he's thriving in playoff atmosphere. He has this love and he's wired the right way for this kind of baseball."

After mounting comebacks in Games 1 and 2, the Dodgers bats went silent in Game 3, and will need to awaken on Tuesday in Game 4. 

Corey Knebel threw 1 and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, and struck out four of the five batters he faced.

Joakim Soria, Josh Hader, and Jeremy Jeffress combined to pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth.

The Dodgers loaded the bases with a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Yasmani Grandal and Brian Dozier struck out in back-to-back at-bats to end the game. 

"We had the right guys in those moments and we just didn't execute," said Roberts. "We were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position."

He's right, Los Angeles was 0-for-10 in the game with runners in scoring position and left eight men on-base.

Three of the Brewers six playoff wins this year have been shut outs, and it's the first time they've pitched three shutouts in their franchise's postseason history, and just the third team in MLB history to do it, joining the 1905 New York Giants and 1966 Baltimore Orioles.

According to STATS, the Brewers became the first visiting team to pitch a postseason shutout at Dodger Stadium since the Philadelphia Philles did it in Game 1 of the 1983 NLCS.

Los Angeles had gone 50 consecutive home playoff games without being blanked, the second-longest streak in major league history behind 61 straight for the Boston Red Sox.

Up Next:

The Dodgers will try to even the series Rich Hill will start Game 4 for Los Angeles, with Milwaukee starting Game 1 starter Gio Gonzalez. First pitch is scheduled for 6:09PM PT.

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Vin Scully Declines Invitation to Return to Broadcast Booth ]]>Mon, 15 Oct 2018 17:10:30 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Vin+Scully+won%27t+return.png

A pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.

Don't expect to see legendary Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully in the broadcast booth during the upcoming three games of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium this week.

During the first two games of the series at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Fox Sports announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz interviewed long-time Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker in the booth during Game 2.

After the interview with Uecker, Buck extended an invitation on national television to Scully to join he and Smoltz when the series shifted to Los Angeles on Monday.

Scully famously told reporters that he had no plans to return to the booth when he retired at the end of the 2016 season, and reiterated that message when asked by the Los Angeles Times if he would join the Fox Sports announcers.

"I don't want to just take a bow," Scully told the Times. "I just don't feel right doing that."

Scully said that he didn't want to interrupt the duo of Buck and Smoltz especially after they had been together calling games all season, stating that they had been doing " a wonderful job."

Scully was the voice of the Dodgers for 66 years before he left the broadcast booth at the end of the 2016 regular season. Scully has returned to Dodger Stadium on occasion to watch a game from a suite, throw out the ceremonial first pitch (as he did in the 2017 World Series), or join fellow legends on the field as he did when his friend, and long-time Spanish language broadcaster, Jaime Jarrin was inducted into the Dodgers ring of honor earlier this season.

So for fans waiting to catch a glimpse of Scully or hear his baritone voice booming over the airwaves once again, they'll have to wait, or simply go back and catch some of Scully's best calls.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Ben Stein Reprises 'Ferris Buehler' Role for NLCS]]>Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:44:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Walker+Buehler+Ferris+Spoof.png

Buehler? Buehler? Buehler?

We all remember the infamous roll call scene from the 1986 classic, Ferris Buehler's Day Off. Ben Stein, plays the role of Buehler's teacher and he goes down the list of last names until he gets to Buehler's and he's not there.

Since berth, Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler has heard the line over and over again. He's embraced the name, and the movie puns that come with it. He even adopted the nickname "Ferris" on the back of his jersey during Player's Weekend this year.

So it came as no surprise, but definitely delight, that Fox Sports brought back Stein to reprise his role ahead of Buehler's start in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.

In the clip shared on their Twitter account, Stein goes down the roll call list of NLCS stars: Yelich, Cain, Kemp, Puig. The clip is pretty funny until Ken Rosenthal makes an appearance with a very dry deadpan rendition of the role of "Cindy," in the original film.

Regardless, it's still worth watching and pretty cool for the 24-year-old rookie Buehler. Enjoy the clip below entitled "Walker Buehler's Play Off."

 

 

If you can't view the embedded video, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers' Pederson Welcomes New Baby During NLCS]]>Mon, 15 Oct 2018 15:26:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/220*120/Joc+Pederson+Has+Baby.png

The Dodgers family just got bigger. 

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson has a roster addition to his family following the birth of his first child.

Pederson and wife Kelsey welcomed a girl named Poppy on Sunday night. The team says she weighs 7 pounds and 11 ounces.

Kelsey is a former Duke Women's volleyball player and the daughter of Apple Chief Operating Office, Jeff Williams. The couple got married in Santa Barbara during the offseason.

The 26-year-old slugger changed his walkup music ahead of Game 3 of the NL Championship Series on Monday night to "Big Poppa" by The Notorious B.I.G. in honor of his daughter. Pederson was batting leadoff for the Dodgers against the Brewers.

Pederson posted a photo of his baby yawning and wearing a tag reading "Hello my name is Poppy" on his Instagram account.

Outfielder Andrew Toles was added to the team's "taxi squad" list for the NLCS against the Brewers in case Pederson needed to fly back to Los Angeles and be placed on paternity leave. 

The birth of their daughter on the team's travel day on Sunday means that Pederson is not expected to miss any time during the best-of-seven series. 

The couple first announced that they were expecting back in July with an Instagram post on the field at Dodger Stadium.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Food Specials for NLCS at Dodger Stadium]]>Mon, 15 Oct 2018 15:01:56 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*144/Milwaukee%27s+Best+Fries.jpegAll of the food items for the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers.

Photo Credit: Dodgers]]>
<![CDATA[Rookie Walker Buehler Looking to Burn Innings for Dodgers in Game 3]]>Sun, 14 Oct 2018 22:19:09 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Walker-Buehler-Dodgers-Brewers-Game-3.jpg

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts came into the postseason willing to let his starters go deeper into games.

He has yet to find someone who can stick around.

Hyun-Jin Ryu lasted 4 1/3 innings in Game 2 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Ace Clayton Kershaw managed just three innings in Game 1.

Now, it's Walker Buehler's turn.

The rookie takes the ball on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, where he was 4-3 with a 1.93 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) during the regular season.

"Obviously threw the ball pretty good at home. But that's what you're supposed to do. You protect your home field," Buehler said Sunday. "Obviously 50,000 Dodger fans behind you doesn't hurt. And sleeping in the same city that you're going to play in and not having to fly anywhere is big."

The teams traded one-run victories in the first two games in Milwaukee, sending the series back to Los Angeles for Games 3, 4 and 5.

Buehler made his postseason debut in the NL Division Series at Atlanta. The right-hander got tagged for five runs in the second inning of a 6-5 loss. He settled down after that in a five-inning outing.

"You could say that there was a little bit of nerves and anxiety, but that happens," Buehler said. "My first time there, I think I handled it fine. My heartbeat, I felt good with. I was more upset about kind of the decision to throw certain pitches."

Buehler has drawn comparisons to Kershaw based on his throwing ability, results and competitiveness. The 24-year-old rookie always projects an image of calm, and he's not one to dwell on a clunker.

"I know what happened and I was there, so I'm more of a positive feedback guy," he said. "The only games I want to watch are the good ones and move forward and stick with what I have."

What Buehler had in the NL tiebreaker game was very good.

He tossed one-hit ball into the seventh inning of Los Angeles' 5-2 victory over Colorado that gave the Dodgers a record sixth consecutive division title. He retired his first six batters in the scoreless outing.

That's the version of Buehler that Roberts wants to see against a Brewers lineup featuring Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and Jesus Aguilar.

But if Buehler doesn't last long, Roberts already knows what he's got in his bullpen.

"Our guys have performed really consistent for me," Roberts said. "We've talked about September 1 started our playoff run, and they've been very successful, giving us a chance to hold our team within striking distance, have given us a chance to win games late."

The Dodgers rallied late in the first two games in Milwaukee, scoring four runs in the eighth and ninth of Game 1 only to lose 6-5 and scoring a combined four runs over the seventh and eighth to win 4-3 in Game 2.

For Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin, Game 3 is a return to the scene of his team's worst loss of the season.

He was charged with nine runs — eight earned — and five hits in a 21-5 rout on Aug. 2. Cody Bellinger hit a grand slam off the 30-year-old right-hander, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings.

"It wasn't my best game there, but during the season you got one or two bad games," Chacin said. "I know people might talk about that a lot. But I'm just going to go out, just try to give my team a chance to win the game and just have fun."

The Dodgers belted six other homers in that game: two each by Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig, and solo shots from Justin Turner and Brian Dozier.

Chacin rebounded on short rest against Colorado in Game 2 of the NLDS, pitching five scoreless innings.

"Jhoulys is a true competitor, and he's out on the mound thinking of ways to beat you," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Sunday. "He's got a number of different tricks in his bag, so to speak, that he goes to get outs, and I enjoy that. It's gamesmanship, it's competitiveness, it's creativity on the mound."

NL MVP contender Yelich returns to his home state looking to be a factor in the series. He is 1 for 8 with two walks in the first two games and hit into a game-ending groundout with the tying run in scoring position on Saturday.

"I'm confident we're going to see a big hit from Christian in the next couple of days," Counsell said.

The Brewers held an optional workout Sunday in Los Angeles.

The off day allowed both managers to reset their bullpens after the teams used a combined 27 pitchers in the first two games. The Dodgers used 14, while the Brewers went through 13.

"Jhoulys is capable of going deep into the game, and that's ideal," Counsell said. "But I think you also have to watch the game and see what's going on. We'll be fresh tomorrow and ready to go, so that's good."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Philip Rivers Leads Chargers to 38-14 Blowout Win in Cleveland]]>Sun, 14 Oct 2018 16:53:18 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Philip-Rivers-Chargers-Browns.jpg

Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes to Tyrell Williams — and the 36-year-old quarterback even threw a block — and Melvin Gordon had three TD runs as the Los Angeles Chargers banged around Cleveland rookie Baker Mayfield and the Browns, 38-14 on Sunday.

Rivers continued one of the best starts of his 15-year career, leading the Chargers (4-2) to their third straight win. Rivers finished 11 of 20 for 207 yards and had only one mistake, an interception midway through the fourth quarter.

The Chargers did most of their damage on the ground with Gordon running for 132 yards and scoring on runs of 4, 10 and 11 yards. They had 246 yards rushing.

"There haven't been too many days where we've run for more than we've thrown," Rivers said with a laugh. "But I'll take them any time we can get them."

Rivers and Williams connected on scoring plays of 45 and 29 yards in the first half, and Gordon's 11-yard run put the Chargers up 35-6.

Mayfield's third start as a pro was a rough one. The No. 1 overall pick was sacked five times, tweaked his ankle when he slid on a sideline marker and threw two interceptions.

"We didn't execute," said Mayfield, who threw a TD pass to tight end David Njoku . "We didn't do our job. We weren't detailed. We didn't do the things that we talked about all week. That's the most disappointing thing. Any time you don't do your job — I'm at fault for the majority of that. I'm going to be very hard on myself but we have to be able to look at this and learn from it."

The Browns (2-3-1) were blown out after playing five tight games — three going to overtime — and showed there's still a long road ahead.

While young QBs like Mayfield, Carson Wentz and Patrick Mahomes may be the NFL's next wave, Rivers is showing that the old guys can still get the job done. He has thrown 15 TD passes with just three interceptions, and he did all he could to block Browns linebacker Jamie Collins to help Keenan Allen pick up a first down despite the Chargers leading 28-6.

"I'm not real comfortable out there," Rivers said. "But I stayed in front and did not get a holding, so that's a positive."

The Chargers weren't surprised by Rivers' effort.

"That's Phil," said Williams, who had three catches for 118 yards. "He's competitive and he's going to stick his nose in there if he gets an opportunity. I'm not surprised at all."

Los Angeles caught a break on Rivers' second TD pass to Williams.

Left tackle Russell Okung clearly dropped back before the ball was snapped. Browns defensive end Myles Garrett stopped, assuming the play would be whistled, and several other players paused while Rivers lofted his scoring pass to Williams.

Williams' first TD catch was more spectacular. Leaping with three Browns defenders around him, he wrestled the ball way from Browns safety Damarious Randall to give the Chargers a 14-3 lead.

OWNER HONORED

Following the game, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn presented a game ball to the family of Alex Spanos, the Chargers owner who died earlier this week. Spanos, who was 95, bought the team in 1984.

JUST FOR KICKS

Lynn was relieved the Chargers' kicking woes did not come into play.

"We made all our damn kicks — all the extra points, all the field goals, so that's an improvement," he said.

Rookie Michael Badgley replaced injured starter Caleb Sturgis and made one field goal and all five extra-points in his pro debut after being signed on Thursday.

Sturgis, who has been dealing with a quadriceps injury, missed a field goal and PAT last week. He also missed two extra points in L.A.'s previous game, and the Chargers came in leading the league with four missed PATs.

BROWNS BLASTED

Cleveland's first five games were decided by four points or less, but Randall wasn't concerned about the lopsided loss.

"Every team goes through a game like that," he said. "I'm honestly glad it happened early in the season for us, where we have time to correct what happened."

THOMAS TRIBUTE

The Browns honored future Hall of Fame tackle Joe Thomas by adding 10,363 — the number of consecutive snaps he played over 11 seasons — to the club's ring of honor. Thomas retired following last season, which came to a premature end for him when he tore his triceps. He grudgingly retired in March.

"I love being in the locker room and the paychecks were really good — but my body just couldn't do it anymore," said Thomas, who wore an orange Mayfield jersey. "If it weren't for that, I would be out there today."

INJURIES

Chargers: DE Christopher Landrum was shaken up in the fourth quarter.

Browns: LB Joe Schobert (hamstring) left in the third quarter, and LB James Burgess (hamstring) went out in the fourth. ... WR Rod Streater suffered a neck "stinger" while covering a punt in the first quarter and did not return.

UP NEXT

Chargers: Play Tennessee in London on Oct. 21.

Browns: Visit Tampa Bay on Oct. 21

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Todd Gurley Runs for 208 Yards, Rams Buck Broncos 23-20]]>Sun, 14 Oct 2018 16:18:08 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-beat-Broncos-Todd-Gurley.jpg

Todd Gurley rushed for a career-high 208 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries and the Los Angeles Rams' celebrated Wade Phillips' homecoming Sunday with a 23-20 win over the reeling Denver Broncos.

The Rams, who had surrendered 31 points in back-to-back games, improved to 6-0 in sending the Broncos (2-4) to their fourth straight loss.

The Broncos pulled to 23-20 on Case Keenum's 1-yard dart to Demaryius Thomas with 1:22 remaining, capping a 77-yard drive that included three defensive penalties.

Rams receiver Robert Woods, however, knocked Brandon McManus' onside kick out of bounds, and the Rams ran out the clock with Jared Goff (14 of 28 for 201 yards) twice taking a knee.

Phillips was the Broncos' beloved bandmaster when they were celebrating their Super Bowl 50 triumph, but his contract wasn't renewed after the 2016 season and he joined Sean McVay in sunny Southern California.

After an overnight snowstorm, the game-time temperature of 25 degrees marked the second-coldest in Denver prior to November in franchise history.

The cold did nothing to slow down Gurley, who scored his 10th and 11th touchdowns of the season.

One was on a 10-yard run that gave the Rams a 13-3 halftime lead, the other, a 1-yard run that made it 20-3 before the Broncos' frenetic comeback attempt fell just short.

Gurley's first score came after a boneheaded move by Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who thought he had a 44-yard TD catch and jabbed a finger in cornerback Troy Hill's face, drawing a taunting foul.

Upon review, Sanders was ruled down at the 1, and the unsportsmanlike 15-yard penalty pushed the Broncos back to the 16.

Instead of an extra point to give Denver a 7-6 lead, McManus ended up kicking a 28-yard field goal to cut Denver's deficit to 6-3.

Sanders later scored on a 22-yard catch to make it 20-10, and McManus' short field goal made it a one-score game with about nine minutes to go.

The Rams countered with Cairo Santos' 21-yard field goal that put the Rams up by 10 with 3:15 left.

Broncos coach Vance Joseph promised changes after Denver's demoralizing 34-16 loss to the New York Jets last week in which they surrendered 323 yards rushing, including 219 to Isaiah Crowell, but those alterations were either cosmetic or schematic — and, ultimately, fruitless.

Max Garcia replaced right guard Connor McGovern, but McGovern came back in and Garcia moved over when left guard Ronald Leary (ankle) got hurt in the third quarter.

If the Broncos had better options, scuffling cornerback Bradley Roby — who again gave up big plays — and left tackle Garett Bolles — who was flagged for his NFL-high sixth holding call Sunday — also might have been benched.

Roby took over Aqib Talib's starting spot when the Broncos traded Talib to the Rams in the spring. Talib is sidelined by an ankle injury. Still, Talib made the trip with his teammates, walking with a boot on his left foot and a crutch under his right arm and was on the sideline during warmups.

SACK ATTACK

Von Miller snapped a three-week sackless streak with 1 1-2 sacks and rookie Bradley Chubb had three sacks.

INJURIES

Rams WR Cooper Kupp was carted off the field after wrenching his left knee when Broncos S Darian Stewart horse-collared him on the Broncos sideline after a 12-yard jet sweep in the second quarter, but he made a surprising return in the second half. OLB Matt Longacre (back) and LT Andrew Whitworth (possible concussion) also left the game.

Broncos DE Derek Wolfe (hamstring) and OLB Shane Ray (ankle) both returned after injuries. Keenum was checked for a concussion, which allowed backup Chad Kelly to take his first NFL snap, a kneel-down just before halftime. S Dymonte Thomas (chest) also got hurt.

UP NEXT:

Rams: Wrap up three-game road swing with a visit to San Francisco.

Broncos: Have a short week to get ready for a game at Arizona on Thursday night.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC Knocks Off No. 19 Colorado, 31-20]]>Sat, 13 Oct 2018 22:51:07 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/USC-beats-Colorado-31-20.jpg

Michael Pittman Jr. caught two of J.T. Daniels' three touchdown passes, and Southern California's defense dominated in a 31-20 victory over previously unbeaten No. 19 Colorado on Saturday night.

Ajene Harris returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter for the Trojans (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12), who have rebounded from back-to-back losses with three straight wins. The defending conference champions asserted their supremacy over the upstart Buffaloes (5-1, 2-1) in the Pac-12 South race while remaining unbeaten at the Coliseum in all 19 games under coach Clay Helton.

Tyler Vaughns also caught a TD pass from Daniels, who passed for 272 yards with two first-quarter interceptions and a handful of missed throws. USC's offense only scored touchdowns in the second quarter, struggled to run the ball and relied heavily on big plays.

None of it mattered while the Trojans' defense limited Colorado's high-powered offense to 265 yards — and a mere 164 in the first three quarters while USC took control with a 28-7 lead.

Laviska Shenault made a 49-yard TD run before injuring his lower leg in the second half for the Buffaloes, who dropped to 0-13 in school history against USC.

Steven Montez went 25 of 46 for 168 yards. Kyle Evans rushed for a 2-yard score with 6:42 to play, and Montez made a 19-yard TD run with 3:32 left.

USC hasn't lost at the Coliseum since Helton got the job midway through the 2015 season, and the Trojans dominated this late-night showcase with defense — and even without injured linebacker Cameron Smith, their leading tackler this season and in each of the past two years.

Colorado's defense picked off Daniels on the game's first play and again later in the opening minutes. But the Buffs' offense had just 30 total yards before Shenault took a direct snap 49 yards untouched for the game's first points early in the second quarter.

USC had zero yards rushing in the first half, but responded to the Buffs' TD with its first scoring drive. Vaughns made back-to-back long catches, including a 27-yard TD grab.

Pittman scored 3:33 before halftime when he came back to get an underthrown pass and eluded the only defensive back near him for a 65-yard TD.

Pittman then capped a four-play drive with a 9-yard TD catch 1:10 before halftime.

Harris put the Trojans up 28-7 when Shenault bobbled a pass right into his arms, and the USC defensive back took it 6 yards for the school record-tying third TD interception return of his career.

THE TAKEAWAY

Colorado: The Buffs missed out on their first 6-0 start since 1994, and the loss exposed several weaknesses on both sides of the ball, from a punchless running game to dismal downfield coverage on long passes. Coach Mike MacIntyre has plenty of work to do before facing an angry Washington team on the road next week.

USC: After taking their lumps on the road in September, the Trojans appear to be improving on both sides of the ball. Their inability to run the ball is alarming, but just about everything else is showing progress — including Clancy Pendergast's solid defense.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Colorado: There wasn't much for voters to like about this performance. The Buffs' stay in the AP Top 25 could be over.

USC: After several weeks without garnering a single vote in the poll, the Trojans should attract some attention heading into their road showdown with Utah, the other top contender for their Pac-12 South crown.

TEX AND KEVIN

The Coliseum held a pregame moment of silence for Tex Winter and Kevin Ellison. Winter played his final season of college basketball at USC, where he learned the triangle offense from his coach, Sam Barry. Ellison played on USC's defense from 2005-08.

UP NEXT

Colorado: At Washington on Oct. 20.

USC: At Utah on Oct. 20.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Crushes Cal 37-7, Chip Kelly Gets First Win With Bruins]]>Sat, 13 Oct 2018 18:31:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UCLA-gets-first-win-vs-CAL.jpg

Joshua Kelley ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns to give coach Chip Kelly his first win at UCLA, 37-7 over California on Saturday.

The Bruins (1-5, 1-2 Pac-12) entered the day one of four winless teams in the FBS as part of their worst start since 1943. But UCLA dominated the trenches against the Golden Bears (3-3, 0-3) to give Kelly his first win as a college coach since leaving Oregon for the NFL following the 2012 season.

Kelley scored on a 5-yard run to cap a 59-yard drive set up by a fumble by Patrick Laird in the first quarter. Then, after Cal finally got on the board with Laird's 1-yard run on the opening drive of the second half, Kelley and the Bruins answered with two straight scoring drives capped by Kelley's 1-yard runs that made it 27-7.

He has been a bright spot in a down season for UCLA, becoming the first Bruins player with three straight 100-yard games since Jordon James in 2013.

Keisean Lucier-South put the capper on the rout with a 38-yard fumble return for a score after one of Cal's five turnovers.

The Bears dropped their third straight conference game after starting the season 3-0 and getting into the AP rankings for the first time since 2015. The offense struggled for any consistency outside of the 75-yard drive to open the third quarter. Cal was stopped twice on fourth-and-short in the second half, dooming any hopes of a comeback.

Brandon McIlwain completed 22 of 40 passes for 168 yards but was held to minus-2 yards rushing, lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions.

THE TAKEAWAY

UCLA: Bruins freshman QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson was very efficient. He completed 13 of 15 passes for 141 yards including one that deflected off receiver Michael Ezeike's hands and right to teammate Caleb Wilson to set up Kelley's first TD. He also did damage with his legs, including a 20-yard run that helped set up one of Kelley's second-half scores.

California: The first-half woes for the Bears could be summed up on a late drive. In the closing seconds, Kanawai Noa tried to fight for extra yards instead of going out of bounds on a sideline catch. That forced Cal to spike the ball on third down at the 15. Greg Thomas came on for a 32-yard field goal and hit the upright after being iced with two timeouts, leaving Cal scoreless at the half.

EMOTIONAL MOMENT

Cal freshman linebacker Chris Fatilua, who suffered a serious spinal cord injury during a swimming accident in June, got a warm ovation from the crowd in his first appearance at Memorial Stadium. He was hurt just before starting his college career.

"There's a lot of emotions that go on, just overwhelming really but just really happy to be out here and be with the guys, just really grateful," he said.

UP NEXT

UCLA: Hosts Arizona on Saturday.

California: Visits Oregon State on Saturday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Turner's Homer Leads Dodgers to Victory, NLCS Even at 1-1]]>Sat, 13 Oct 2018 16:51:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Justin+Turner+Go-Ahead+Homer.png

Justin Turner has a knack for NLCS game 2 moments. 

Nearly one year to the day he hit a walk-off, three-run homer in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, Turner once again provided the magic for the Dodgers.

Turner hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the eighth and the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied from behind to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-3, in Game 2 to even the National League Championship Series at one game apiece.

"I knew he was going to come through," said teammate Chris Taylor who ironically worked a walk ahead of Turner's walk-off homer in Game 2 of the NLCS last year. "He had a tough game yesterday, but we all have faith in him. He's the guy we want up in the big moment."

In the days leading up to the NLCS, the narrative was the Dodgers starting pitching against the Brewers bullpen. There was no regard for Milwaukee starters Gio Gonzalez or Wade Miley.

Maybe it's time to change that narrative.

Miley pitched 5 and 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday, pitching deeper into the game than Dodgers starters Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

"We were in really good shape with the effort that Wade gave us," said Brewers' manager Craig Counsell of Miley. "He pitched beautifully."

The Dodgers simply had no answers for Miley, who by the sixth inning had twice as many hits himself than the Dodgers had collectively. 

But for the second game in a row, the Dodgers scored a bulk of their runs against the highly touted Brewers bullpen, scoring eight of their nine runs against Milwaukee's relievers. 

Orlando Arcia and Travis Shaw both homered for the Brewers as Milwaukee built a 3-0 lead before the Dodgers bats awoke. 

Arcia, who only had three homers all season, took Hyun-Jin Ryu deep in the fifth inning to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead. 

After a single by Miley and a double by Lorenzo Cain, the Dodgers walked soon-to-be MVP Christian Yelich to load the bases for Ryan Bruan.

Another Ryan, Ryan Madson, entered the game and escaped the inning, but not without allowing another Brewers run on a fielder's choice groundout. 

After not allowing a home run to a left-handed hitter in 168 plate appearances during the regular season, Dodgers' reliever Alex Wood has now allowed two homers to left-handers in back-to-back appearances.

After surrendering the game-winning homer to Freddie Freeman in Game 3 of the NLDS, Wood served up a 91MPH first pitch fastball to Travis Shaw to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead. 

The Dodgers rallied in the top of the seventh with an RBI single from Cody Bellinger and a bases loaded walk for Austin Barnes, but pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal killed the rally with an inning-ending double play.

"It was a big at-bat in the game," said Barnes. "I was just trying to stay disciplined."

After an infield single by Chris Taylor kicked off the Dodgers half of the eighth, Turner hit his first home of the postseason on a 2-0 splitter from Jeremy Jeffress that put the Dodgers in front. 

"I was just trying to elevate, get something in the air," said Turner of his game-winning homer. "I know Muncy is on deck behind me with only righties down there, and he's obviously done some incredible things this year. So last thing I want to do is put a ball on the ground.

So I was just trying to get something up, and as soon as I hit it, it felt good. I knew it was a homer, and it's cool to run around the bases and see all your teammates going crazy, jumping up and down waiting for you. That's pretty cool."

Turner's moment of redemption came on the heels of his first ever four strikeout game of his career in Game 1 as he struck out with the tying run on third base to end the game on Friday.

"That was probably the worst game of my career offensively," said Turner of Game 1. "But I think you just shrug it off to be about baseball...but like I said, today was a new day and another chance to go out and win a ballgame."

"He's the glue for our club," added Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts.

Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his second save of the playoffs. 

"It's awesome! We steal one," said Kenley after the win. "That's the plan. We put the pressure on them in Game 3."

The victory snapped the Brewers 12-game win streak.

"It's a huge win for us," said Taylor after the game. "To even the series going back home as opposed to being down nothing to two, can't even stress how big that was. Those last couple innings to be able to battle. We got to that bullpen yesterday and I think it paid off today."

The Dodgers have lost their last 10 consecutive postseason series when losing Game 1, the last time they won a series after dropping the opener was in the NLCS against the New York Mets in 1988, the last time they won the World Series.

Up Next:

The series shifts to Los Angeles where rookie Walker Buehler will start Game 3 against Jhoulys Chacín. First pitch is scheduled for 4:39PM PT on Monday.

 

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<![CDATA[Check Out Chase Utley's Hilarious Retirement Present]]>Sat, 13 Oct 2018 04:28:19 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/192*120/Utley+Rocking+Chair.png

It may not be Father's Day, but the Dodgers got their "Dad" a gift nonetheless.

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley may have played the last game of his career.

The future Hall of Famer did not make the Dodgers 25-man NLDS or NLCS roster, and it's likely if the team advances to their 20th World Series in franchise history, he probably won't be on that roster as well.

Despite the decline of his bat and glove, Utley's mind is still a valuable asset to the Dodgers in their quest for a World Series title. Utley's leadership and dedication to film study has helped not only the younger players on the team, but some of the starting pitchers who may have been tipping their pitches during the season as well.

One of those players is 27-year-old super utility player Enrique Hernandez who affectingly refers to Utley as "Dad," and has carried on the gag that he is Utley's adopted son throughout the 2018 season. 

Hernandez created "Best Dad Ever" t-shirts for Utley this season and continued that mantra with his teammates ahead of the NLCS as they gifted Utley a present he will never forget. 

With Utley off the NLCS roster, he will be watching the best-of-seven series between the Dodgers and Brewers, so the Boys in Blue bought him a custom rocking chair to make sure he's comfortable catching the games.

"The boys in blue made me my own personalized rocking chair. Thanks guys. #AmIThatOld?" said Utley in the caption as he sat in the chair with both the Dodgers and Phillies logos on it as well as his number 26.

 

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<![CDATA[Kershaw Collapses, Dodgers Drop Game 1 of NLCS]]>Fri, 12 Oct 2018 21:11:59 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1052002030.jpg

It was a sloppy start to the National League Championship Series.

The Dodgers committed four errors and Clayton Kershaw only lasted three innings, as the Milwaukee Brewers, defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-5, in Game 1 of the NLCS at Miller Park.

In the shortest start of his 10-year postseason career, Kershaw struggled mightily in Milwaukee, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts in just three innings pitched on Friday night.

"It was a tough one," said a somber Kershaw after the loss. "Obviously, you don't want to get your team off to that start, but it happened and we'll try and win tomorrow."

Kershaw and the Dodgers got off to a great start as Manny Machado hit his third homer of the postseason on a line-drive shot that just cleared the fence in left-center, to give LA a 1-0 lead.

"I've faced him [Gio Gonzalez] quite a bit," said Machado. "In that situation, 2-0, I know he's not going to give me a heater. I thought he was probably going to go to his best pitch and I was sitting on it. That was probably one of my best swings all year."

The solo shot had an exit velocity of 116 MPH, the hardest hit home run of the season by any Dodgers player.

Machado's homer marked the first time the Brewers had trailed in the postseason, but the LA lead would be short-lived, as Milwaukee would tie the game in the most implausible way in the bottom of the third inning.

Batting for himself, Brewers relief pitcher Brandon Woodruff became the first pitcher to homer in Milwaukee history when he crushed a 92MPH fastball from Kershaw 407-feet into right-center for the game-tying home run. 

"First time facing Clayton Kershaw they told me to take the first pitch to get my timing down," said Woodruff of his at-bat. "Just after the curveball, I thought he was going to attack me and I just got lucky and was able to hit it out."

Woodruff, the most improbable of heroes for the Brewers, became the first relief pitcher to homer in the postseason since Travis Wood of the Chicago Cubs in 2016, and only the third reliever to homer in a postseason game all-time, with Rosy Ryan being the other in 1924.

"I knew he could swing the bat a little bit," admitted Kershaw of Woodruff. "I didn't know he could do that, but I knew he could swing the bat a little bit for sure."

Allowing the game-tying home run to the opposing pitcher must have rattled Kershaw as the floodgates opened in a disastrous third inning that will have many former catchers scratching their heads for years to come.

Lorenzo Cain followed with a single, and Kershaw walked soon-to-be MVP Christian Yelich, to put runners on first and second with no outs. A few pitches later, Dodgers' catcher Yasmani Grandal, allowed a passed ball—his second of the game—that allowed both runners to advance.

Following the passed ball, Kershaw thought he had recorded the second out of the inning on a diving stop by David Freese at first base, but Grandal was called for catcher's interference, and the Brewers loaded the bases with just one out.

Hernan Perez followed with a fly ball to shallow centerfield, but Grandal dropped Bellinger's throw to the plate, allowing the go-ahead run to score, and both runners to move up 90-feet as Grandal became the first catcher in MLB playoff history to have two errors and two passed balls in the same game.

"You know, the catcher's interference, that was something that very freak thing, and the relay, it's a play that I know that Yasmani will say he should have made, and just, you know, giving up bases, but pretty uncharacteristic," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "But it's just one of those things that unfortunately didn't make the plays that I know he expects to make."

Kershaw was chased from the game in the bottom of the fourth inning after a walk, two singles, and an error put runners on second and third for pinch-hitter Domingo Santana who promptly laced a two-run single to left field that gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead.

Kershaw exited stage left without recording an out in the inning, and Ryan Braun knocked in Santana with an RBI single, giving the Brewers a 5-1 lead as Kershaw was charged with his fifth run of the game.

Relief pitcher Josh Hader lived up to the hype, as he pitched three scoreless innings of relief for Milwaukee.

"He [Craig Counsell] asked me if I was ready to go out for the third one and I told him 'I'm good. Let's Go!'" said Hader.

After facing big league hitters just three times since May of 2017, Dodgers reliever Julio Urias surrendered a solo shot to Brewers All-Star Jesus Aguilar in the bottom of the seventh to give Milwaukee a 6-1 lead.

The Dodgers refused to go quitely into the Milwaukee night, loading the bases for Machado in the top of the eighth before the Brewers opted for one of their many closers in Jeremy Jeffress for the hold.

Machado greeted Jeffress with a two-run single, and Matt Kemp followed with an RBI single of his own to cut the lead to 6-4, before pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig struck out to end the inning.

The Dodgers cut the lead to one, on an RBI triple by Chris Taylor with two outs in the ninth, but Justin Turner stranded the tying run at third base as he struck out against closer Corey Knebel to end the game.

The Dodgers became the first team in postseason history to have four errors and two passed balls in a playoff game.

"We didn't play clean when he was in the game," said Roberts. "The errors affected the game."

The victory was the Brewers 12th consecutive win as Milwaukee has not lost since September 22nd.

Up Next:

The Dodgers will look to even up the series in Game 2 as another matchup of southpaws is expected when Hyun-Jin Ryu toes the rubber opposite Wade Miley for Milwaukee. First pitch is scheduled for 1:09PM PT.

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Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers NLCS Roster Moves]]>Fri, 12 Oct 2018 16:16:55 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/ScottAlexanderNLCS.png

If it ain't broke don't fix it.

That mantra has been tried and tested, but the Los Angeles Dodgers decided to veer off course a little bit when announcing their 25-man National League Championship roster on Friday morning. 

The Dodgers used 12 pitchers and 13 position players in a four-game series victory over the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. Many believed that the roster was perfectly constructed as it was, and it would simply roll over unchanged into the NLCS matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers. 

On Wednesday, the Dodgers hosted a workout at Dodger Stadium ahead of their Thursday flight to Milwaukee. During a pregame press conference, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was asked what changes, if any, would be made to the NLCS roster. 

Roberts said that there could still be "a couple changes," with many experts looking at LA's all-star right-handed pitcher Ross Stripling as a potential add-on candidate against the vaunted right-handers in the Brewers lineup.

After being sent to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona for the NLDS, outfielder Andrew Toles was part of the workout at Dodger Stadium, and flew to Milwaukee on Thursday. Many believed that it was possible Toles would be added to the roster as a left-handed bat off the bench, or as a potential replacement for Joc Pederson should he go on paternity leave during the series.

However, not a lot of people saw the one and only change the Dodgers made to the roster coming. In a surprise move, the team added 22-year-old left-hander Julio Urias to the NLCS roster, removing veteran left-handed relief pitcher Scott Alexander.

The move came as a surprise considering Urias missed over a year after undergoing shoulder surgery, and only appeared in three games this season. 

The hard-throwing left-hander did not allow a run in those three games, and its possible the front office sees Milwaukee's unfamiliarity with Urias as an advantage for the Dodgers over Alexander. 

"The value of Julio to come in and get one, two, four, or five outs, I think that for us with out bullpen construction, we feel comfortable with that," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. 

Alexander pitched well during the season, going 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA and had three saves in 2018. He made one appearance in the NLDS, and pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Game 3.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee also made only one addition to their NLCS roster, adding relief pitcher Xavier Cedeno and removing outfielder Keon Broxton.



Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers and Brewers NLCS Preview]]>Fri, 12 Oct 2018 15:37:38 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/MachadoandSchoup.png

And then there were two.

It took both teams 163 games, but at the end of the nearly seven-month long MLB season, two teams stood above the rest in the National League: The Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Both teams finished first and second in the national league and have been on a collision course for the championship series ever since they made a multitude of moves at both the non-waiver and waiver trade deadlines in July and August.

In July, the Dodgers acquired Manny Machado, Brian Dozier, and John Axford.

Milwaukee countered with Mike Moustakas, Jonathan Schoop, and Joakim Soria.

In August, the Dodgers acquired David Freese and Ryan Madson.

Milwaukee countered with Xavier Cedeno, Gio Gonzalez, and Curtis Granderson.

Each and every player acquired from both teams has played a pivotal role in the postseason push and the Dodgers and Brewers would not be four wins away from the World Series without them.

The two teams have never met in the postseason, the Dodgers are looking to advance to the World Series for the 20th time in franchise history, the Brewers are seeking their first trip to the Fall Classic as a National League team, and just their second in franchise history. 

The Dodgers are chasing demons after a demoralizing Game 7 loss to the Houston Astros in last year's World Series. They haven't won a championship in 30 years, since Kirk Gibson hit the most historic home run in baseball history in 1988.

After a massive rebuild just three years ago, the Brewers are definitely grateful just to be here, but with the moves they made in the offseason and during the season, they definitely feel like the future is now and they have the opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle in 2018.

Milwaukee might be the more hot team, winners of 11 straight games dating back to September, but the Dodgers have won seven of their last eight games, with their only loss coming in Game 3 of the NLDS on a grand slam from Ronald Acuña Jr.

That is why, despite the history of each franchise (or lack thereof), this NLCS matchup is not the juggernaut versus underdog story many people are making it out to be. No, it's more like a 12-round heavyweight fight with each team trading knockout blows before it ultimately and inevitably goes the distance.

The Dodgers are going to rely heavily on their starting pitching and depth, the Brewers on their vaunted bullpen and MVP candidate Christian Yelich, so without further ado, here is a preview of the best-of-seven NLCS series between the Dodgers and Brewers: 

Starting Pitching

Clayton Kershaw gets the ball in Game 1 of the NLCS opposite former Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez. 

Kershaw's legacy will one day be cemented in Cooperstown, but his postseason demons are still very much alive. Kershaw's postseason ERA is 4.08, and despite throwing 12 shutout innings in his last two playoff appearances, Kershaw will forever be tortured by the blips in his game logs, like the six runs he allowed in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series in Houston, including losing not one, but two different four-run leads in the game.

Meanwhile, Gio Gonzalez is well-rested and ready for his moment in the spotlight after not appearing in the division series against the Colorado Rockies. Gonzalez has made six career postseason starts, sporting an ERA of 4.78.

However, he's had success in his career against the Dodgers, including a victory in Game 3 of the 2016 NLDS at Dodger Stadium where he allowed just three runs in 4 and 1/3 innings in an 8-3 Nationals win.

Needless to say, the Game 1 matchup is definitely an advantage for the Dodgers, as is the starting rotation for the rest of the series. 

The Dodgers have three different starters posting a sub-three ERA (Kershaw 2.73, Buehler 2.62 and Ryu 1.97). Only LHP Wade Miley has a sub-three ERA among the Brewers starting pitchers.

Power Surge

The Dodgers definitely have the big bats in the lineup, leading the National League in home runs this season while setting a franchise record for longballs in the process.

However, the Brewers finished second in the league in home runs and in addition to having the ability to change the game with one swing, they can also hit you to death, keeping their opponent on their toes throughout the game.

Milwaukee's lineup might be better overall than the Dodgers. Lorenzo Cain batted .308 with 37 steals on the season. They have the eventual NL MVP in Christian Yelich who batted .326 with 36 home runs. Jesus Aguilar hit 35 home runs and Ryan Braun, and Mike Moustaks each hit over 20. Not to mention Jonathan Schoop who they acquired from the Baltimore Orioles at the trade deadline.

Outside of Justin Turner, the Dodgers might not have the batting average numbers, but they have the power, with seven different players hitting 20 or more home runs in the 2018 season. 

Miller Park is a hitter's paradise, so expect a lot of home runs in Games 1 and 2 before the series shifts to Los Angeles for three.

Battle of Bullpens 

It goes without saying that both teams have stellar bullpens, but it’s the relief core where the Brewers definitely have the edge over the Dodgers. 

Milwaukee's relievers had the best ERA over the last six weeks of the season, and they relied heavily on them during their NLDS sweep of the Rockies.

Los Angeles' bullpen finished the 2018 campaign with a solid 3.67 ERA good for fifth in the national league, but the Brewers finished with a 3.47 ERA, second in the NL behind only the Chicago Cubs.

Milwaukee's formula over their last 11 games has been simple: get four or five innings from the starter, build a lead, and then turn it over to four dependable arms in the bullpen for the final four or five innings.

That strategy worked to perfection in Game 163 against their NL Central rivals, and against the Rockies in the NLDS. The Brewers built a lead, and then turned it over to their bullpen who had a 1.17 ERA with two wins against the Rockies.

Joakim Soria, Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress, and Josh Hader comprise the lights out relievers, and it's something outside of closer Kenley Jansen the Dodgers will have difficulty combatting.

Jansen finished second in the league with 38 saves this season, and seems to have settled down since his 11-day DL stint in August with a heart issue. Jansen recorded a save in Game 2 of the NLDS and closed out the series in Game 4, but he has allowed twice as many homers (18) this season than any other previous year, and that does not bode well for the right-hander in Miller Park.

Things To Look For 

The Dodgers will try to not let Christian Yelich beat them. Milwaukee's MVP has been a one-man wrecking crew over the last six weeks of the season, and that seems to have carried over into his first ever playoff appearance.

In his last eight games, Yelich is batting .458 with five homers and 17 RBI. He also has dominated Kershaw in their one-on-one matchups this season, posting an average of above .500 and two home runs against the left-hander in two games this year.

Meanwhile, on the Milwaukee side, the Brewers will have their hands full with Dodgers breakout star Max Muncy. Muncy was a castoff two seasons ago, but broke out in a big way with the Dodgers this year after being called up in mid-April because of injuries.

The left-hander bashed 35 homers this season and has already hit two in his first taste of the postseason. So far, the Brewers strategy appears to be to keep him out of the lineup by staring left-handers against the Dodgers. However, Muncy will appear off the bench at some point and it will be interesting to see how Milwaukee manager, Craig Counsell, handles Mad Max.

We all know the names at the top of the lineup for both teams: Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Justin Turner, Manny Machado, etc. However, it could be the bottom of the lineup that makes the difference in the NLCS. 

Brewers catcher Erik Kratz has been a big reason Milwaukee has made it this far, as has Orlando Arcia and Hernan Perez. Arcia has hit .329 over the last two months and if the Dodgers breathe a sigh of relief after getting past the heart of the order, they will be in for a big surprise if they underestimate the back of the lineup.

On the flip side, the back of the Dodgers lineup is lethal. It features super utility player Kiké Hernandez who hit 21 home runs this season, as well as reigning NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, and the man who lead the NL in home runs for catchers in Yasmani Grandal with 24. When a right-hander starts, expect to see Yasiel Puig in the back of that lineup, something that definitely should strike fear in Milwaukee's pitchers.

If the Brewers can get an early lead against the Dodgers starting rotation, it could be an early exit for Los Angeles. However, if the Dodgers can get an early lead against Milwaukee's starters, and force the bullpen to come into the game early and often in the series, the advantage definitely shifts to the more experienced veteran laden team in Los Angeles. Either way, we should be in for an entertaining series. 

Schedule

Game 1: Friday, Oct. 12, in Milwaukee, 8:09 p.m. ET (FS1)
Game 2: Saturday, Oct 13, in Milwaukee, 4:09 p.m. ET (FOX)
Game 3: Monday, Oct. 15, in Los Angeles, 7:39 p.m. ET (FS1)
Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 16, in Los Angeles, 9:09 p.m. ET (FS1)
Game 5*: Wednesday, Oct.17, in Los Angeles, 5:05 p.m. ET (FS1)
Game 6*: Friday, Oct. 19, in Milwaukee, 8:39 p.m. ET (FS1)
Game 7*: Saturday, Oct. 20, in Milwaukee, 9:09 p.m. ET (FS1)
*If necessary

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.73) vs. Gio Gonzalez (10-11, 4.21)
Game 2: Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 1.97) vs. Wade Miley (5-2, 2.57)
Game 3: Jhoulys Chacin (15-8, 3.50) vs. Walker Buehler (8-5, 2.62)
Game 4: TBD vs. Rich Hill (11-5, 3.66)
Game 5*: TBD vs. TBD
Game 6*: TBD vs. TBD
Game 7*: TBD vs. TBD 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[From Castoff to Playoffs: Max Muncy's Power Surge to the Postseason]]>Fri, 12 Oct 2018 05:09:15 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1047293152.jpg

With all the high-priced talent on the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster, Max Muncy had to find a way to stand out. He has done it with his bat, coming from the minors to lead the team in home runs.

He slugged 35 homers in the regular season, propelled by a first-half tear that landed him in the Home Run Derby.

Muncy's three-run drive powered the Dodgers to a win in the opener of their National League Division Series against Atlanta, and they eventually eliminated the Braves in four games.

"The whole experience has been incredible," Muncy said.

Next up is the NLCS against Milwaukee starting Friday, putting Muncy in a best-of-seven series for the first time in his career.

Don't expect him to be rattled, either.

"Starting with game 163 I was kind of nervous, but you look at how everyone else in the clubhouse is walking around handling themselves," Muncy said Wednesday. "There's so much experience there. There's no panic, there's no worry. They're all calm as can be. That kind of resonates through me. If it wasn't for those guys, then maybe it's a different story."

His results seem all the more improbable because Muncy isn't an everyday player. He pops up anywhere from first base to second to third, and occasionally the outfield.

The 28-year-old utility player was a non-roster invitee at spring training. He began the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, shivering in freezing weather during the team's opener at Iowa on April 5.

Less than two weeks later, Muncy was called up by the Dodgers because of injuries. He homered in his second at-bat and kept on going.

"He's just killed it for us," teammate Ross Stripling.

During All-Star weekend, Muncy defeated the Cubs' Javier Baez in the first round of the Derby before losing to eventual champion Bryce Harper in the next round.

After the break, Muncy struggled at the plate, with his average dipping to .183.

"I was just focused on trying to get back to where I needed to be, back to controlling the strike zone, putting good swings on balls," he said.

Buoyed by manager Dave Roberts' unflagging belief, Muncy recovered his stroke and has continued to contribute in big moments. One of his best traits is his discipline at the plate, knowing when to let a pitch go by and when to swing.

"It's just something that I've always had," he said. "It's one of those things where you kind of either have it or you don't."

Stripling faced Muncy back in their high school days in North Texas and later in college, with Muncy at Baylor and Stripling pitching at Texas A&M.

"He was a guy that was always going to command the strike zone and just going to be just an absolute brutal matchup because he spits on good pitches, he commands the zone and puts the bat on the ball and walks," Stripling said after a workout at Dodger Stadium.

"In college he had some power and hit some home runs. He's made some swing adjustments that have maybe created some more power," Stripling said.

A fifth-round pick in the 2012 major league draft, Muncy was released by Oakland in March 2017. He got signed by the Dodgers and sent to the minors, where pitcher Walker Buehler was also in Oklahoma City.

Six months ago in Iowa, Muncy figured Buehler was a lock to wind up in Los Angeles, but wasn't so sure about himself.

Now, the rookie and the seven-year journeyman have created a buzz in the Dodgers' bid to win their first World Series title since 1988.

"I know for both of us to be able to help out this team the entire year the way we have it's just been something that's been very special," Muncy said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Relive the Dodgers Victory Over Braves in the NLDS]]>Thu, 11 Oct 2018 20:31:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1045739644.jpgThe best moments from the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 series victory over the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Taste of the NFL Teams Up With Delectable Manhattan Beach Restaurant to Kick Hunger]]>Thu, 11 Oct 2018 15:52:46 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/GettyImages-1038900456.jpg

A Manhattan Beach restaurant once hailed by the late great LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold is teaming up with the Los Angeles Chargers and LA Rams for Taste of the NFL's Kick Hunger Challenge.

Chef David Lefevre of Manhattan Beach hot spot, MB Post, is fundraising for the Los Angeles Chargers, and Chef Steve Samson of Sotto is fundraising on behalf of the Los Angeles Rams for the Taste of the NFL's Kick Hunger Challenge.

One hundred percent of the proceeds the local chefs raise will go to the Los Angeles Food Bank.

Gold once referred to MB Post as "a restaurant you'd want to cater your tailgate party."

Chef Lefevre gave NBC4 the inside scoop, if you will, with a quick and easy tailgate recipe. Check out the video above, and follow NBCLA on all our social channels for more.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Machado's Homer Lifts Dodgers Into NLCS Again]]>Tue, 09 Oct 2018 00:59:48 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/Manny+Machado+Homers+in+Game+4+NLDS.png

On to Milwaukee.

Manny Machado hit a three-run homer and David Freese knocked in the go-ahead runs as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Atlanta Braves, 6-2, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series to advance to the NLCS.

The Dodgers have won seven of their last eight games overall and advance to their third consecutive NL Championship series.

The Dodgers starting pitchers dominated the first two games of the series as Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw pitched back-to-back shutouts before the series shifted to Atlanta on Sunday.

"It was unbelievable," Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal said of his pitchers in the postgame champagne celebration. "The last time I caught back-to-back shutouts in the playoffs it was against the Cubs. I don't think anyone expected Ryu to do the job he did."

Walker Buehler and Rich Hill struggled with their command in the next two games, but it was Machado's blast, his signature moment so far in a Dodgers uniform, that put the proverbial nail in the Braves coffin.

It was Machado who opened up the scoring with an RBI double in the first inning, and it was Machado again who closed the series with a three-run home run off Chad Sobotka in the top of the seventh.

"It felt great," Machado said of his three-run homer. "I was fighting that whole at-bat. He finally gave me a pitch I can drive and I was able not to miss it. I've been missing my pitches all series."

It turned out to be quite the day for Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, as three of the players he acquired at the non-waiver and waiver trade deadline all played pivotal roles in the close out game.

"The focus in this group, to go to the NLCS three times in a row is special," Friedman said as his players sprayed champagne all over him.

Following a two-out, two-run, pinch-hit single for Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the fourth inning that gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead, reliever Ryan Madson entered the game with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fifth.

Madson, who was acquired on Aug. 31 from the Washington Nationals, promptly induced back-to-back pop ups to end the threat.

"You have to eliminate what's trying to attract your attention: You have the chop, the runners, and you have everything else trying to grab your attention. I know to block it and put the attention on myself and the baseball," said Madson of the moment. "It was so cool. I just value it so much. More than I ever have in my whole career."

Half an inning later, it was the player acquired just hours after Madson that put the Dodgers back in front for good, as David Freese, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the waiver deadline, also hit a two-out, two-run, pinch-hit single to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.

"Pinch-hitting might be the toughest thing to do offensively in the game," Freese said during his postgame press conference. "When you're feeling right, especially pinch-hitting, especially against the stuff that was coming at me, man, you're in a good spot, and if you don't try and do too much, balls can squeak through."

Appearing on just three days rest after allowing three runs in just two innings in Game 1, Braves' starter Mike Foltynewicz pitched much better in Game 4, allowing just one run on two hits with four walks and five strikeouts in four innings.

"He probably had one more inning," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of pulling Foltynewicz for a pinch-hitter in the fourth. "I thought Folty can throw great, and if we never get another chance at this in this game, I'll regret not taking a shot right there to put something on the board."

Dodgers' starter Rich Hill didn't last much longer as the 38-year-old left-hander struggled with his command, and with home plate umpire Tom Hallion's strike zone, as he allowed two runs on four hits with five walks and three strikeouts in four and 1/3 innings.

"It was a great honor to be able to pitch," said Hill. "It was a big team win. The bullpen did an incredible job. Guys picked me up. Manny's home run was huge. Today was kind of a synopsis of the season. Everyone came through and it was awesome to see."

However, it was Machado's defining blow that thrust him back into the good graces of Dodger fans across the globe that will forever be remembered from this game. 

"I can't go 100 for 100 every time," said Machado during the clubhouse celebration. "This was a team effort. Freese came up in a big situation and gave us the lead early on. This is just the beginning of it. We have to keep doing everything as a group and as a team. If we can do that, we're going to go very far."

So it's on to Milwaukee where Los Angeles will face the hottest team in baseball in the Brewers who have won their last 11 contests. 

If the regular season was any indicator however, the Dodgers defeated the Brewers in four out of seven games during the year.

"Three games down, four more to go," said Yasiel Puig between dousing everyone with beer and champagne. "I see you soon Milwaukee. We're going to get you."

Up Next:

Game 1 of the NL Championship Series is expected to feature Clayton Kershaw against likely starter Jhoulys Chacin for the Brewers on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 5:09PM PT.

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLDS Game 3]]>Mon, 08 Oct 2018 00:17:45 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NLDS_GAME_3_1200x675_1339069507985.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Walker Buehler, Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, Justin Turner and Rich Hill discuss the team's 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, and looking ahead to Game 4 on Monday.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Drop Game 3 of NLDS After Acuña's Slam]]>Mon, 08 Oct 2018 00:21:24 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Ronald+Acuna+Jr+Grand+Slam.png

The Brewers swept, the Dodgers did not.

Just hours after the Milwaukee Brewers became the first team to advance to the championship series in the MLB playoffs, the Dodgers blew a chance to join them, falling to the Braves, 6-5, in Game 3 of the NLDS on Sunday.

The Braves broke the game open in the second inning when 20-year-old rookie Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a grand slam with brio against fellow rookie Walker Buehler to give Atlanta an early 5-0 lead.

"I was just focused on the pitch and the next pitch, and I was luckily able to connect," Acuña Jr. said of his grand slam following the game.

The Dodgers could have packed up right then and there and prepared for Game 4 on Monday, but instead they chipped away at the lead, erasing a five-run deficit in just three innings, thanks to home runs by Chris Taylor and Max Muncy in the top of the fifth.

"Even when we got down five to nothing, nobody was worried," said Muncy. "We got it back and we were feeling good about our bullpen versus their bullpen."

Entering the game, Atlanta's best hitter, Freddie Freeman, was 1-for-8 with two strikeouts in Games 1 and 2, but he gave the Braves back the lead against former teammate Alex Wood in the sixth inning.

Freeman ambushed a first-pitch curveball from Wood that he launched 396-feet to right-center for the game-winning home run.

"I didn't know if he was going to throw a first pitch strike, but he struck me out two days ago on the slider and in a big situation," recalled Freeman. "It was 5-5. I thought he would go to his out pitch, and I was kind of looking for something up and he gave me a slider and I was able to get him."

After a five-pitch first inning, Buehler ran into trouble in the bottom of the second.

With runners on second and third and two outs, Buehler intentionally walked Charlie Culberson to load the bases for the pitcher Sean Newcomb.

The decision appeared to be wise at the time, with Newcomb striking out over 70 percent of the time as a hitter this season, however, Buehler walked his counterpart on four straight pitches, giving the Braves their first run of the series on a bases loaded walk.

"At some point maybe I should have tried something else other than the fastball," Buehler said of his four-pitch walk to Newcomb. "I plan on pitching in a lot of playoff games, and this is a good lesson to get out of the way."

Buehler continued to battle his command, falling behind Acuña 3-0, before serving up a 98MPH fastball that the rookie sent into the left field stands for a grand slam.

"It's tough sometimes. Sometimes you just lose it," Buehler said of his command. "I made eight to ten bad pitches in a sequence and this is a playoff team we're facing. They're good. If you make that many mistakes in a row, someone is going to take advantage. I'm proud I found the zone again moving forward, but there's no excuse for the second inning."

Acuña Jr. became the youngest player in MLB postseason history to hit a grand slam at 20 years old, surpassing Mickey Mantle's previous mark at 21 years old.

"I don't recognize him. I wasn't even born then," joked Acuña Jr. when told he surpassed Mantle for the youngest player to hit a grand slam in the playoffs. I guess I have to rank it first of all the moments just because it happened in the playoffs."

Buehler did not factor in the decision, allowing an uncharacteristic five runs on two hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.

Atlanta starter Sean Newcomb would not be long for the game as he exited with two outs in the top of the third inning after walks to Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor.

Kevin Gausman, who was originally expected to start Game 3, entered in relief and surrendered an RBI single to Justin Turner that Acuña overran, allowing Taylor to score from first, and the #Dodgers had cut into the lead, 5-2.

"We've been a part of it before," said Turner, recalling memories of Game 5 of the 2017 World Series last year. "We didn't get too down when we fell behind early. We battled back and got into it, we just fell a little short tonight."

Newcomb also did not factor in the decision, allowing two runs on one hit with three walks and no strikeouts in just 2 and 2/3 innings.

With a primarily all right-handed lineup against Newcomb, the Dodgers were forced to go to their bench earlier than anticipated as Max Muncy pinch-hit for David Freese in the third inning. The move would eventually pay dividends.

The Dodgers continued to chip away at the lead in the fifth inning as Chris Taylor crushed a 2-2 splitter from Gausman into the left field seats for a two-run home run.

"He had that split-finger changeup working," said Taylor of the at-bat. "He left one up and in, and I was able to get a hold of it."

Taylor did not start in Games 1 or 2, but continued his clutch hitting, hitting his first postseason homer since Game 1 of the World Series last year.

One batter later, Max Muncy tied the game with his second postseason home run, and first off a left-hander as he tied the game at 5-5.

"Credit to our guys for fighting back, and there were some big hits in there, obviously, with the Muncy home run and the C.T. homer," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "We had our chances and those guys made some pitches and got out of some traffic, but our guys stressed them, got on base and gave ourselves an opportunity, we just couldn't get that one extra hit."

The Dodgers had their chances to tie or take the lead throughout the later innings, Matt Kemp hit a leadoff double, but was eventually thrown out at home on a fielder's choice groundout. 

With runners at first and second in the top of the ninth with no outs, Muncy, Manny Machado, and Brian Dozier struck all struck out to end the game.

Despite the loss, Los Angeles still leads the series two games to one and can close it out on Monday. 

Up Next:

Rich Hill is expected to start Game 4 on Monday opposite Mike Foltynewicz for Atlanta. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30PM PST. 

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Image
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Pull Off Comeback, Edge Seahawks 33-31 to Stay Unbeaten]]>Sun, 07 Oct 2018 16:09:49 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-comeback-beat-Seahawks-10-7-18.jpg

Todd Gurley rushed for three touchdowns, Jared Goff passed for 321 yards and a score, and the Los Angeles Rams remained unbeaten by holding off the Seattle Seahawks 33-31 on Sunday.

Playing without their top two receivers due to concussions suffered late in the first half, the Rams leaned heavily on Goff, Gurley and wide receiver Robert Woods to escape Seattle and improve to 5-0.

Gurley scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter, and added TDs of 2 and 5 yards in the second half. Gurley's third rushing TD on the second play of the fourth quarter pulled the Rams within 31-30. But new kicker Cairo Santos hooked the extra point attempt and Seattle maintained a one-point lead.

Santos atoned for the miss with a 39-yard field goal with 6:05 remaining to give the Rams a 33-31 lead, capping a 61-yard drive that took 4 ½ minutes.

That still left time for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, but Seattle (2-3) made a pair of critical mistakes after moving into position to win. Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for 44 yards on the second play of the drive to the Rams 32-yard line. But a pair of penalties backed up the Seahawks to the Rams 45. Facing third-and-23, Wilson was pressured from the pocket by Cory Littleton and Seattle punted with 3:38 left.

It never got the ball back.

Gurley had runs of 12, 2 and 7 yards, but was stuffed on third-and-1 at the 42 with 1:39 left. The Rams initially trotted out punter Johnny Hekker, but after Seattle used its final timeout, Los Angeles put the offense back on the field. Goff plowed forward on fourth down to clinch it.

The Rams lost their top two wide receivers when Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp both suffered concussions late in the first half. They turned to the likes of Josh Reynolds, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett to make up for the absences.

And, of course, a whole lot of Gurley on the ground. Gurley finished with 77 yards rushing on 22 carries. Woods had five catches for 92 yards.

Wilson threw for three touchdowns and Seattle had a running back top 100 yards rushing for a third straight game as Chris Carson rumbled for 116 yards. The run game was the foundation for all of Wilson's success through the air as Seattle finished with 190 yards on the ground, including 68 yards and a touchdown from Mike Davis.

With Los Angeles needing to respect the run, Wilson found his shots over the top. The 39-yard TD pass to Lockett in the first half came off play-action, as did the 30-yard TD toss to David Moore in the third quarter. Both times Rams cornerback Marcus Peters was beaten, and the Seahawks got the big plays needed to hang with the Rams. Moore also had a 3-yard TD catch.

INJURIES

Cooks suffered a concussion on a big hit late in the second quarter. Cooks was hit by Tedric Thompson as he came across the field. Most of the hit was with Thompson's shoulder, but there was some helmet-to-helmet impact and Cooks appeared to be immediately knocked out. He jogged off the field on his own but was ruled out early in the second half.

Kupp was also lost with a concussion, although the play he was injured on wasn't obvious. Kupp was in on the desperation throw into the end zone on the final play of the first half, but didn't rejoin his teammates to start the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Rams: Los Angeles is at Denver next Sunday.

Seahawks: Seattle makes the trip to London to face Oakland next Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rivers Tosses 2 TDs, Chargers Beat Raiders 26-10]]>Sun, 07 Oct 2018 15:48:13 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chargers-Beat-Raiders-Rivers.jpg

Philip Rivers threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Los Angeles Chargers to a 26-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

It is the 59th 300-yard passing game of Rivers' 15-year career and his eighth against the Raiders. He completed 22 of 27 passes and had a passer rating of 143.4.

Melvin Gordon had 120 yards from scrimmage (58 rushing, 62 receiving). His 1-yard run during the second quarter gave Los Angeles (3-2) a 17-3 lead at halftime.

Derek Carr was 24 of 38 for 268 yards for the Raiders (1-4). He accounted for Oakland's lone touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard pass to Jordy Nelson which brought the Raiders within 27-10.

He also had a costly interception in the end zone to Melvin Ingram during the third quarter. The Chargers turned that into a 96-yard, eight-play drive to Rivers' 13-yard TD pass to Virgil Green early in the fourth period.

Oakland's Marshawn Lynch came into the game fourth in the league in rushing but was held to 31 yards on nine carries.

The teams traded field goals before the Chargers took control, scoring 23 straight points. Austin Ekeler gave Los Angeles a 10-3 lead in the second quarter when he took a swing pass and went 44 yards for a score.

Gordon's touchdown put the Chargers up by two scores at halftime.

Caleb Sturgis' 30-yard field goal extended the lead to 20-3 in the third quarter.

HOME SWEET HOME?

The crowd at StubHub Center was predominantly Raiders fans, but it didn't matter to the Chargers. The Chargers have won seven of their last eight at their temporary home until the new stadium at Inglewood opens in 2020.

A FIRST FOR INGRAM

Ingram's third-quarter interception was his first in 82 regular-season games. He did have an interception in the 2013 playoffs against Cincinnati.

NEW HOLDER, SAME RESULT

The Chargers signed punter Donnie Jones to be the new holder for Caleb Strugis, but Sturgis still missed an extra point.

Sturgis' PAT attempt after the Green touchdown bounced off the upright for his fourth miss of the season and third in the past two games. The sixth-year kicker has missed four extra points this season, equaling the amount he had over three seasons in Philadelphia from 2015-17.

UP NEXT

Raiders: face Seahawks next Sunday in London.

Chargers: at Browns next Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Falls to 0-5, Worst Start Since 1943]]>Sat, 06 Oct 2018 21:36:25 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UCLA-Chip-Kelly-10-6-18.jpg

Jake Browning is known for his arm, but the Washington quarterback showed that he can be elusive when on the run.

Browning threw for 265 yards and a touchdown, and he also ran for 49 yards and a score to lead the 10th-ranked Huskies to a 31-24 victory over UCLA on Saturday.

"I think that's his game. As long as he is moving up into the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield, we want him to run," Washington coach Chris Petersen said. "He has a feel for it. He's crafty when he runs and we want it to be a part of his game."

Browning, who was one yard off his rushing best of 50 against Montana in 2017, said none of the runs were designed plays. Even though there was immediate talk about next week's game at No. 18 Oregon, Browning was happy that the Huskies were able to get their first win over the Bruins at the Rose Bowl since 1995.

"It feels pretty good to get the win down here. There's always stuff we need to work on, but now we're moving on," said Browning, who completed 18 of 26 passes with one touchdown and one interception.

Browning wasn't the only Huskies player to have success on the ground. Myles Gaskin rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns as Washington (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) held the ball for 38 minutes, 9 seconds.

Aaron Fuller had five receptions for 100 yards, including a 25-yard TD catch in the first quarter that opened the scoring.

The Huskies led 24-7 at halftime but saw the Bruins climb back within a touchdown twice in the fourth quarter. Washington took a 31-17 lead with a 12-play, 81-yard drive that took 6:45 off the clock and ended with Gaskin's 1-yard TD on a direct snap with 3:42 remaining.

"When the game was on the line we made the plays when we needed," Petersen said. "UCLA did a nice job of shortening the game as they got back into it."

Joshua Kelley scored on a 2-yard run with 1:38 left, and the Bruins attempted an onside kick, but Washington recovered and ran out the clock.

UCLA freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson was 27 of 38 for 272 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Kelley finished with 116 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown, becoming the first Bruins running back to have two straight 100-yard games since Paul Perkins in 2015.

The Bruins, who are in their first year under coach Chip Kelly, fell to 0-5 for the first time since 1943. They are 0-2 in the Pac-12.

"We didn't high-five in the locker room and say, 'Hey, we got close against a really good team.' And they are a really good team," Kelly said. "Pete's done a great job with that program, but I'm not a guy that gets solace in 'We were close.' That's not us. Close isn't good enough. Close is bad."

MARATHON DRIVE

UCLA got within 24-17 early in the further on a Caleb Wilson had a 9-yard TD catch to complete a 17-play, 90-yard drive. The last time the Bruins had a 17-play touchdown drive was in 2012 against Houston. They had a 17-play drive that resulted in a field goal against Washington State in 2015.

GOLDEN MILESTONE

Gaskin's touchdown in the fourth quarter was his 50th rushing score and made him the fifth player in Pac-12 history to have 50 or more TDs on the ground.

Oregon's Royce Freeman has the record with 60, followed by Oregon State's Ken Simonton (59), Oregon's LaMichael James (53) and USC's LenDale White (52).

THE TAKEAWAY

Washington: The Huskies' pass defense, which had been the team's strength, struggled against a freshman quarterback. They had not allowed a passing TD since the Sept. 1 opener against Auburn.

UCLA: The Bruins had been outscored 83-31 in the second half in their first four games but showed some progress on Saturday by rallying. It is a sign that Kelly's young team is beginning to show some growth.

UP NEXT

Washington: Travels to No. 18 Oregon next Saturday. The Huskies have won the last two meetings against the Ducks.

UCLA: At California next Saturday. The Bruins have defeated the Bears in four of their last five meetings.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLDS Game 2]]>Sat, 06 Oct 2018 00:00:09 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/2018_NLDS_Game_2_1200x675_1338205251908.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Manny Machado, Justin Turner and Max Muncy discuss the team's 6-0 shutout over the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the 2018 NLDS.]]><![CDATA[Kershaw Throws 8 Shutout Innings as Dodgers Blank Braves ]]>Sat, 06 Oct 2018 00:01:27 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Kershaw+Dealing+in+Game+2+of+NLDS.png

Ace in the hole. 

Clayton Kershaw threw eight shutout innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers blanked the Atlanta Braves, 3-0, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five NLDS series on Friday night.

Perhaps fuming from being passed over as the starter in Game 1, Kershaw pitched the best postseason game of his career as he surrendered just two hits without issuing a walk, to go along with three strikeouts and eight shutout innings, the deepest he's gone into a game in his playoff career.

After allowing a leadoff double to rookie Ronald Acuña Jr. to start the game, Kershaw retired the next 14 consecutive batters he faced, leading the Dodgers to their second straight playoff shutout.

"I think that it was one of the best outings that I've seen," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts of his ace. "He was in complete control."

After being named the Game 1 starter for the last five years, Kershaw took the mound with a chip on his shoulder, after the team opted to start Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu in the opener on Thursday.

"Yeah, maybe. Maybe a tick, for sure," said Kershaw when asked if there was any extra satisfaction in his performance after not starting in Game 1. "But Ryu threw so unbelievable last night that you just want to match him. That's all I was trying to do is try and put our team in a good spot, and you want to defend home field when you have home field obviously. So Game 1, Game 2, game whatever, I'm getting to pitch in the playoffs and I'm excited about that."

Regardless of how you felt about the decision to start Ryu over Kershaw, the results speak for themselves as both pitchers dominated the Braves lineup with back-to-back shutouts in Games 1 and 2.

According to Stats LLC., the only other team to get shutout in their first two postseason games of a series was the 1921 New York Giants against the New York Yankees in the World Series. The Giants went on to win that series in seven games.

In addition, Ryu and Kershaw joined some exclusive company, becoming the first Dodgers duo to pitch seven or more scoreless innings in back-to-back postseason games since Jerry Reuss and Burt Hooton did it in 1981 against the Houston Astros and Montreal Expos.

Manny Machado put the Dodgers on the board with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning, after he was given a green light on a 3-0 fastball from Sanchez.

"If you're going to swing 3-0, you definitely want to hit it like I did, for sure," said Machado. "I just excited we got the lead right away. You know, got the lead for one of the best pitchers in the game in the first inning definitely gives us a boost, gives us the energy moving forward."

The two-run blast was Machado's first as a Dodger in the postseason and just the second of his career (2012 against the New York Yankees).

Yasmani Grandal extended the lead with a solo shot off Braves starter Anibal Sanchez in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. 

"I was just trying to see the ball," said Grandal of his 0-2 homer. "I told myself to get on my two-strike approach and see it as much as I could and react. It just so happened he missed with a fastball in and I was able to hit it out."

In 31 career games against the Braves, including both regular season and Postseason, Grandal is batting .289 with 11 runs, six doubles, seven home runs and 22 RBI.

Sanchez was no match for Kershaw as the 34-year-old allowed three runs on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts in four and 2/3 innings.

"I see the frustration those guys have against this guy," Braves starter Anibal Sanchez said of his teammates facing Kershaw.

After eight shutout innings, Kershaw's night appeared to be over as he headed into the clubhouse between innings. However, Kershaw came back out of the dugout and on to the mound to start the ninth, bringing the sellout crowd of 54,452 to their feet in anticipation of Kershaw going for the complete game shutout. 

Unfortunately for the capacity crowd, the move was simply a ploy to get Braves manager Brian Snitker to go to his bench and waste Tyler Flowers as a pinch-hitter. 

"Yeah, it was the plan all along," said Kershaw of coming out for the top of the ninth. "If Duda had come up, I would have gotten Duda, the lefty there, but the plan all along was if they burned their bench, which is what we wanted to do and Flowers came out, that Kenley had the ninth. And that was the plan all along."

The Dodgers will look to sweep the series on Sunday in Atlanta. 

Up Next:

Rookie right-hander Walker Buehler will start in Game 3 on Sunday opposite right-hander Kevin Gausman at 5:07PM PT at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. 

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw Look to Build on Strong NLDS Start]]>Fri, 05 Oct 2018 12:14:18 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/KershawUnhappy.png

The Los Angeles Dodgers will look at take a 2-0 series lead Friday night when they send lefty Clayton Kershaw to the mound to face the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS.

A Game 2 start is a change for Kershaw, who has been the starting pitcher to open the postseason in each of the Dodgers' last five seasons. 

Kershaw says he accepts the reasons he was given for not starting Game 1 of the National League Division Series. Whether the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner agrees with them may be altogether different.

The Los Angeles Dodgers chose to go with Hyun-Jin Ryu in their series opener against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. Kershaw is set to pitch Game 2 on Friday.

"I wouldn't really consider it a gut punch," Kershaw said Thursday in his first public comments on the topic.

Manager Dave Roberts says he and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt delivered the news via conference call to Kershaw, who has started eight of the Dodgers' past 10 postseason Game 1s.

If Kershaw is miffed, he's keeping it to himself. Roberts says the vibe between the two of them is "great." Kershaw can opt out of the final two years of his contract after the World Series.

"Obviously, it's a huge sacrifice for him," Roberts said. "But to not let it influence his mind or psyche, that doesn't surprise me."

Calling Kershaw "this generation's best pitcher," Roberts reiterated the decision to go with Ryu was that it allows both pitchers to have five days' rest between starts. If Kershaw had gone first, he would be on four days' rest, while Ryu would be on six days' rest for Game 2.

"This year I've pitched with an extra day a lot more than in years past," Kershaw said. "I mean, not necessarily by choice, not that I wanted to do it. We have more off days now during the season, so it kind of worked out that way. But I think I probably would have been fine either way."

Kershaw said he asked Roberts why he wasn't starting and received an answer. However, he declined to share it.

"It wasn't really an agree or disagree type thing, I guess," he said. "They had their reasons, and I accepted them."

Ryu allowed just one runner past first base, struck out eight and didn't walk a batter in his first postseason appearance since Game 3 of a 2014 NLDS.

"He had command to both sides of the plate, command at the secondary," Roberts said. "He was in control. There was a lot of soft contact. He was doing what he wanted to do, missing bats, the no-walk, and really competed well.

"It was good to see, and we needed that one."

Ryu has posted a better ERA (2.81) in his three career postseason games than Kershaw (4.35) in his 24 playoff games. The South Korean was 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA in the regular season. Fellow lefty Kershaw was 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA and a team-high 155 strikeouts.

Ryu had an edge over the final month of the season, posting a 1.88 ERA after overcoming a groin injury. Kershaw had a 3.89 ERA in September.

"Hyun-Jin has had a great season and he's pitched really well for us," Kershaw said.

At 30, Kershaw hasn't shown the same zip with his fastball this season and he's been on the disabled list for three consecutive seasons with back issues.

"I don't really need to prove myself to anybody," Kershaw said. "I want my teammates to want me out there. I think that's the biggest thing."

If the series goes to a deciding fifth game, Roberts would again have to decide between Ryu and the ace that has been the face of the franchise for years.

"It would be one or two of us," Kershaw said, smiling. "We'll see."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Justin Casterline/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Postgame NLDS Game 1]]>Thu, 04 Oct 2018 21:48:15 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dodgers_NLDS_1_1200x675_1337305667887.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers players Manny Machado, Justin Turner and Max Muncy discuss the team's 6-0 shutout over the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the 2018 NLDS.]]><![CDATA[Ryu Dazzles as Dodgers Dominate Braves in Game 1 of NLDS]]>Thu, 04 Oct 2018 21:51:32 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Ryu+Dazzles+in+NLDS+Game+1.png

In Ryu we trust.

Hyun-Jin Ryu threw seven shutout innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Atlanta Braves, 6-0, in Game One of the National League Division Series on Thursday night.

Before the game, three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, sat as austere as guard at Buckingham Palace, with his eager hands across his chest as he addressed the media.

"I don't really need to prove myself to anybody," Kershaw boldly stated. "I just want my teammates to want me out there." 

Kershaw was supposed to start this game. He had started Game 1 of the last six NLDS for the Dodgers and hadn't not been on the mound for the opener of a playoff series since 2009. He said he didn't agree or disagree with the decision necessarily, but you could tell from his face he wanted the ball in this game. 

Instead, Kershaw watched as his teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu did what he's done all season at Dodger Stadium: he put up zeroes.

Ryu had a 1.15 ERA at Dodger Stadium in 2018, a number that was lowered to 1.03 by the end of the game.

Whether you agreed with the choice or not, it was the right call to start Ryu and now Kershaw will head to the hill with an extra day of rest for Game 2 of the series, and a chance to put a stranglehold on the Braves.

"I don't think I need to answer that," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts after the game when asked if he made the right decision to start Ryu in hindsight. "I think we feel pretty good about it. He pitched well...it was good to see and we needed that one."

Los Angeles led the National League in home runs this season and set a franchise record with 235 during the year. That trend didn't change on Thursday as the Dodgers blasted three homers in the game.

A he's done time and time again, Joc Pederson got the Dodgers going with a leadoff homer to start the game. 

Pederson had eight leadoff homers during the season—a franchise record—and has now homered in four of his last seven postseason games. He now has 12 leadoff homers in his career.

"I hit before the game, so maybe I'm just a little fresher," said Pederson when asked why he thinks he has success to start the game. "I got behind 0-2, and I was able to battle and put a ball in the barrel, but I definitely wasn't trying to that, but it was really nice."

Max Muncy cleared the bases with a three-run shot off Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz in the bottom of the second inning that gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

"The Muncy home run hurt," said Foltynewicz following the loss. "Especially after hitting Joc Pederson with strikes, walking Turner and then it was similar to the situation when I faced him during the season. They got their power up and you saw what happened."

The homer was Muncy's first career postseason hit, becoming the fourth Dodger to homer in his first career postseason game joining Tom Wilson (2004), Mike Piazza (1995) and Jim Gilliam (1953).

"This is what everyone dreams of doing," said Muncy about his first career postseason homer. "Getting a big hit in a playoff game, and more importantly, just being in the playoffs. I was definitely a little more exited running around the bases. I was trying to make it feel like a regular game, but there was definitely more in there."

Muncy would finish the game with one home run, three walks and three RBI, becoming just the fourth player ever with three or more RBI and three or more walks in a playoff game joining Eddie Murray (1983), Barry Bonds (2002) and Manny Ramirez (2007). He is the first one to do it in their first career postseason game.

Foltynewicz would bat for himself in the top of the third, but did not return to the mound in the bottom half of the inning, instead replaced by left-hander Sean Newcomb who no-hit the Dodgers through 8 and 2/3 innings on July 29 in Atlanta.

Foltynewicz (0-1) took the loss, allowing four runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts in two innings in his postseason debut.

"I've been thinking about it all night," said Foltynewicz of the Muncy homer after the game. "With two strikes and two outs, for it to all unwind like that really takes the cake. For that to happen and put your team down 4 to 0 in the second inning is not where you want to be, especially opening up a series and then you have to face Kershaw tomorrow."

Kiké Hernandez hit the third home run of the game when he hammered a 1-1 changeup from Brad Bach into left-center to give LA a 5-0 lead.

"My first at-bat I noticed I was too quick," said Hernandez of his game and home run. "Second AB I tried to slow things down and I just missed it. That third AB I was just trying to look for a pitch to hit and he left a changeup out over the plate."

Despite the longballs, the story of the game was all about Ryu as the Korean left-hander dazzled the nearly 51,000 Dodgers fans in attendance with eight strikeouts and no walks over seven shutout innings. 

"Having the fans behind my back definitely helps," said Ryu of his success pitching at home. "I'm happy I was able to keep my promise that I would go full-throttle from the get go. I'm just happy that I was able to do what I did today"

Ryu improved to 2-0 in his postseason career (four starts), in his first MLB Playoff action since 2014, and also recorded his first career postseason hit with a single in the fourth inning.

"Definitely the last three years have been tough," he said through a translator. "But tonight seemed to be the fruition of all that hard work that I put in."

Rookie Caleb Ferguson threw a scoreless eighth inning in his postseason debut.

This is the third meeting between the Dodgers and the Braves in the postseason, with Los Angeles last defeating Atlanta 3-1 in the 2013 NLDS.

The victory was the 18th postseason shutout in Dodgers franchise history.

Up Next: 

The 2014 MVP Clayton Kershaw will take the mound in Game 2 on Friday against Anibal Sanchez for Atlanta. First pitch is scheduled for 6:37PM PST.

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dodgers Food Specials for NLDS at Dodger Stadium]]>Thu, 04 Oct 2018 17:19:21 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*151/RibBundle.jpegAll of the food items for the NLDS between the Dodgers and Braves.

Photo Credit: Dodgers]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Ross Stripling, Chase Utley, Left Off NLDS Postseason Roster]]>Thu, 04 Oct 2018 15:22:53 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Dodgers+NLDS.png

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced their 25-man roster ahead of the National League Division Series with the Atlanta Braves, and some notable names were left off the list.

Hours before the start of Game 1 of the series at Dodger Stadium, the team announced their roster, and All-Star pitcher Ross Stripling as well as future Hall of Famer Chase Utley, were notably absent from the list.

Stripling started the season in the bullpen, but because of injuries early in the season, he ascended to a starting pitching role where he thrived throughout the summer. 

The right-hander was 8-3 with a 2.92 ERA at the All-Star Break and was named to his first All-Star game appearance in July. 

However, Stripling had an injured foot and back in August, and at one point was sent back to the bullpen before struggling in spot starts down the stretch.

Stripling's talents are unquestioned, but with the Dodgers going with four starting pitchers this series and an already crowded bullpen, he really wasn't able to find a home in either spot before the start of the series.

Despite his prestigious and amazing career, Chase Utley is also not on the roster, and since the announcement that 2018 would be his final season in the big leagues, it's possible Utley has played his last game in a uniform.

Other names that didn't make the roster are RHP Josh Fields, LHP Julio Urias, RHP John Axford, ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte, and outfielders Alex Verdugo and Andrew Toles.

Most of those players left off the roster will be sent to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona to "stay hot," whereas others like Stripling, Utley, Fields, Urias, Kyle Farmer, and Rocky Gale will be with the team in the dugout and travel on the road as part of the taxi squad.

The Braves also announced their 25-man roster and injured shortstop Dansby Swanson was one of the more notable players left off the list.

Below is the official tweet from the Dodgers of the 25-man NLDS roster:



Photo Credit: Michael Duarte
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<![CDATA['I'm Going to Go Full Throttle': Ryu Set for Game 1 Start]]>Thu, 04 Oct 2018 04:37:42 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/177*120/GettyImages-1035178278.jpg

These aren't the same Dodgers that won 104 games, ran away in the NL West, and fell one victory short of a World Series title last year.

Example A: After a slow start, they won 92 games and needed Game 163 to earn their sixth straight division title.

Example B: Clayton Kershaw won't be opening the postseason as the Game 1 starter for the first time in six consecutive playoff appearances.

Example C: Kershaw told Hyun-Jin Ryu that the South Korean left-hander was going to take the mound on Thursday night against Mike Foltynewicz and the Atlanta Braves to begin the best-of-five Division Series.

"I'm obviously kind of nervous, but I think it's a good thing," Ryu said through a translator Wednesday.

The Dodgers obviously think flip-flopping Kershaw and Ryu is the right move, with manager Dave Roberts saying it allows both pitchers to have five days' rest between starts. If Kershaw started Game 1, he would be on four days' rest, while Ryu would be on six days' rest.

Kershaw starting the opener has always been the surest sign that it's October. The face of the franchise has started eight of the past 10 postseason Game 1s. He can opt out of his contract after the World Series.

"He obviously wanted to pitch Game 1 and expected to," Roberts said. "But after talking to him and explaining our thoughts, he accepted it and he just said he'll be ready to go for the second game."

Kershaw often has started on short rest in recent postseasons, but the Dodgers don't plan on that this time. Rookie Walker Buehler is set to go in Game 3, having impressed enough to be the heir apparent to Kershaw.

"It doesn't have to all fall on his shoulders like it has in the past," starter-turned-reliever Alex Wood said of Kershaw.

Slugger Matt Kemp added, "We got a lot of guys who can get the job done."

Ryu is eager to make a mark after not pitching in the postseason since 2014, having been injured for most of the 2015 and '16 seasons. He was left off last year's playoff rosters after going 5-9 with a 3.77 ERA.

Still, Ryu has posted a better ERA (2.81) in his three career postseason games than Kershaw (4.35) in his 24 playoff games.

"Finding out that I made the postseason roster, especially not making it last year, was definitely huge for me," he said. "I'm going to go full throttle from the very first pitch in the very first inning."

Ryu was 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA in the regular season. Fellow lefty Kershaw was 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA and team-high 155 strikeouts.

Ryu had an edge over the final month of the season, posting a 1.88 ERA after overcoming a groin injury. Kershaw, also injured this season, had a 3.89 ERA in September.

"I think it's pick your poison between the two of them," Wood said.

If needed, Kershaw could still start Game 5 in Los Angeles on normal rest, so the move allows him to be available twice in the best-of-5 series.

"If we get to that point, then we'll have a discussion," Roberts said.

Like the Dodgers, the Braves aren't the same team they were a year ago.

Atlanta is back in the postseason for the first time since 2013, when they were beaten by the Dodgers in four games.

Under manager Brian Snitker, the Braves went from 72 wins in 2017 to 90 and the NL East title this year, surprising many with the quick turnaround.

"No one really followed us until the end of the season," Foltynewicz said. "Just because we started off hot, no one thought we would continue being that good and we did the whole season."

Led by so-called "Baby Braves" -- 20-year-old left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and 21-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies -- Atlanta has gotten production from veterans Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman as well.

What the Braves lack is playoff experience, especially compared to the battle-tested Dodgers.

"We got a bunch of young guys that they had never experienced September either, having to win and chasing a division," Snitker said, "and then it didn't faze them a bit."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Flashback: What Else Happened in 1988?]]>Thu, 04 Oct 2018 06:02:11 -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 won the World Series and "Red Red Wine" by UB40 was on top of the Billboard Hot 100.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Yearbook Photos: Dodger Players With SoCal Roots]]>Thu, 04 Oct 2018 06:13:26 -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[Dodgers Kenley Jansen NL West 2018 Celebration Interview]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2018 17:47:51 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kenley_Jansen_Interview_1200x675_1334332483933.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen discusses the "bittersweet" journey he personally took this season en route to the team's 6th straight NL West division title.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Yasmani Grandal NL West 2018 Celebration Interview]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2018 17:27:18 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Yaz_Interview_1200x675_1334319171889.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers catcher, Yasmani Grandal, discusses why celebrating the NL West is great, but not the ultimate goal, just how good Walker Buehler is, and why MLB players have so many champagne celebrations.]]><![CDATA[Walker Buehler NL West 2018 Celebration Interview]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2018 17:04:34 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Walker_Buehler_Interview_1200x675_1334306883831.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler discusses his dominant performance on the mound during the NL West tiebreaker, the reaction of the fans, and his accidental F-bomb after the game on live tv.]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Max Muncy NL West 2018 Celebration]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2018 16:56:43 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/MaxMuncy_1200x675_1334300739503.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy discusses his rollercoaster ride of a season, and homering in the NL West tiebreaker off Colorado Rockies starter German Marquez.]]><![CDATA[Dodgers Win 6th straight NL West Title, Advance to NLDS]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2018 18:21:11 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1044340720.jpg

Walker Buehler, you're my hero.

Buehler threw six and 2/3 shutout innings in the biggest start of his career as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Colorado Rockies, 5-2, in the National League West tiebreaker game at Dodger Stadium on Monday.

Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy each hit two-run homers as the Dodgers won their sixth consecutive NL West title, advancing to the National League Division Series where they will host the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

"We're going to beat Atlanta," said Yasiel Puig during the champagne celebration after the game. "No matter who's coming, we're going to the World Series and bring the 2018 championship here."

In just the fourth tiebreaker game in Los Angeles history, and first since 1980, Buehler did not allow a hit through the first five innings before he surrendered a one-out single to Charlie Blackmon in the sixth. 

"He's got a lot of talent," said catcher Yasmani Grandal about Buehler. "We don't have a guy whose throwing 100MPH that can dot. Not too many guys can do that. Not too many guys have a four or five pitch mix and can throw them all for strikes. It's one of the best things I've seen."

Cody Bellinger gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead when he belted a two-run homer off German Marquez into the right field seats in the bottom of the fourth inning. 

Entering the game, Bellinger was 1-for-15 with three strikeouts, and a career .133 OPS against Marquez. Those stats had many fans calling for Chris Taylor to start in centerfield in his place, but thankfully the team went with Bellinger.

One inning later, Muncy hit his team-leading 35th home run of the season when he crushed a 99MPH fastball from Marquez into the opposite field seats in left-center to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. 

"He spun the power," said Muncy. "I thought I was taking too big a swing, so I shortened up when I got two strikes, he threw a fastball on the outer corner and I was able to get my barrel to it."

Muncy's 35 homers are three shy of the National League lead and the left-hander leads all of baseball with a home run every 11.3 at-bats this season.

Muncy's homer marked the Dodgers 235th home run of the season, the most in franchise history, and tied with the St. Louis Cardinals (2000), San Francisco Giants (2001), Atlanta Braves (2003) and Chicago Cubs (2004) for sixth most in MLB history.

Buehler helped his own cause with a two-out insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning that gave Los Angeles a 5-0 lead.

That would turn out to be all the run support the Boys in Blue would need, as Buehler (8-5) allowed just one hit, with three walks and three strikeouts in 6 and 2/3 scoreless innings.

"That's the goal," said Buehler of pitching into the seventh inning. "I got us deep enough into the game to let the bullpen finish it off and that's all you can ask for."

In his last 11 starts to end the season, Buehler is 4-1 with a 1.58 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP.

Marquez (14-11), the reigning National League Pitcher of the Month, brought his swing-and-miss stuff, but took the loss, allowing four runs (two earned), on five hits with two walks and nine strikeouts in just 4 and 2/3 innings.

"Our guys will put it in the rearview for sure," said Rockies manager Bud Black following the loss, as his team now has to fly to Chicago for the Wild Card Game against the Cubs on Tuesday. "The resiliency of this group has been awesome all year."

Nolan Arenado led off the ninth inning with a solo shot off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen for his NL-leading 38th homer of the season and Trevor Story belted his 37th home run of the season as the Rockies went back-to-back to begin the ninth.

"What happened?" Jansen repeated when I asked him about the back-to-back homers. "We're first in the division, that's what happened."

The Dodgers improved to 50-0 in games where they stake a four-run lead this season. They are the only team in MLB not to have suffered a loss when leading by four or more runs this year.

Fan Appreciation

The Los Angeles Dodgers broke Dodger Stadium franchise record for most attendance in a single season with 3,857,500, surpassing the team's 2007 total.

Up Next:

The Dodgers will host the Atlanta Braves for Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. Clayton Kershaw is expected to start, with first pitch yet to be determined.

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page. 



Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez Hates the "I Love LA" Song Ahead of NL West Tiebreaker Game With Dodgers]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2018 13:08:37 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/getty-carlos-gonzalez-rockies.png

"That stupid song."

Carlos Gonzalez became public enemy No. 1 in Los Angeles ahead of the Dodgers and Rockies tiebreaker game to decide the National League West on Monday afternoon. 

Gonzalez, told the Denver Post, that he hates the Randy Newman song, "I Love LA," played after each Dodgers win at Dodger Stadium.

"I try to run really fast into the clubhouse whenever they play that stupid song," Gonzalez was quoted as saying. "I don't want to hear it. Nobody wants to hear it."

The Rockies players and their fans have let it be known publicly that they hate LA, and would love more than anything to defeat the Dodgers on Monday and win their first NL West title in franchise history.

However, the LA fans share the same sentiments for Gonzalez and the Rockies.

Dodger fans loudly booed Gonzalez before his first at-bat of the game on Monday, and organist Dieter Ruehle trolled Gonzalez by playing "I Love LA," on the organ after he struck out in his at-bat.

While the Rockies and Dodgers aren't one of the premier rivalries in the NL West, a little trash talking and denouncing of a national treasure like Randy Newman can go a long way to beginning one.



Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Captivates Crowd in LA Lakers' Debut]]>Sun, 30 Sep 2018 20:37:00 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LeBron-James-debut-Lakers-San-Diego.jpg

LeBron James rubbed his hands in chalk powder at the scorer's table, yelled "Yes!" to ecstatic fans in the first few rows and the Los Angeles Lakers' new era was underway.

Playing in the same arena where Magic Johnson made his regular-season debut for Los Angeles 39 years ago, James captivated the crowd from the start of the Lakers' exhibition opener Sunday night, a 124-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

The opening tip came James' way and he tapped it to fellow newcomer Rajon Rondo, who threw an alley-oop pass to JaVale McGee for the game's first score.

James missed his first shot, a turnaround fadeaway, but then made a no-look bounce pass from about 27 feet out to Brandon Ingram for a dunk. A minute later, James hit a long 3-pointer.

He finished with nine points, three rebounds and four assists in just more than 15 minutes.

Lakers fans hope James' arrival will turn things around after the worst half-decade in the franchise's lengthy history.

He left the Cleveland Cavaliers for a four-year, $153.3 million free-agent deal with the Lakers.

He, Rondo and fellow veterans McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley signed to team with the Lakers' talented young core.

James was the focus on and off the court Sunday night.

He was cheered from the minute he ran onto the court with his new teammates for warmups. He played the first eight minutes before being subbed out.

When he came back in midway through the second quarter, he was greeted by cheers.

As he stood near the scorer's table during a video review, a fan yelled: "LeBron, we love you!" and the superstar responded with a hang-loose sign.

Asked before the game what stands out about James, coach Luke Walton said, "His intelligence. He sees everything. He knows even before drills. He knows where he's going. His work ethic. He's out there pre-practice with the guys, post-practice with the guys. Taking care of his body in the weight room.

"He's the ultimate professional."

The Lakers' regular-season opener is Oct. 18 at Portland. Their home opener is two nights later against Houston.

This was another big night for an L.A. basketball team at San Diego's sports arena.

In 1975, John Wooden coached his final game here, leading UCLA to its 10th NCAA title in 12 seasons. In 1979, Johnson made his NBA debut when Los Angeles beat the then-San Diego Clippers in the season opener. After Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made a buzzer-beating sky hook, Johnson hugged the center like they'd just won the championship. Seven months later, they did win the NBA title.

Johnson is now the Lakers' president of basketball operations and James was the prized acquisition of an offseason roster revamp.

As a kid, Walton used to watch his father, Bill, play for the Clippers, although the Hall of Famer's years in his hometown were largely marred by injuries.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rivers Throws for 3 TDs, Chargers Rally to 29-27 Win]]>Sun, 30 Sep 2018 17:18:43 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chargers-Beat-49ers-Philip-Rivers.jpg

Philip Rivers threw for three touchdowns, Melvin Gordon rushed for 104 yards and the Los Angeles Chargers rallied for a 29-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Caleb Sturgis had three field goals, including one from 21 yards with 7:41 left that gave the Chargers (2-2) the lead, but he had an eventful day with two missed extra points.

Rivers was 25 of 39 for 250 yards. Gordon had his first 100-yard game since last Oct. 29 against New England.

Gordon and Austin Ekeler each caught touchdowns, the first time the Chargers have had two running backs catch touchdowns since Jessie Hester and Darren Sproles did it on Nov. 22, 2010, against Denver.

C.J. Beathard, who got the start for San Francisco (1-3) after Jimmy Garoppolo's season-ending knee injury, was 23 of 37 for 298 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Niners got off to a strong start, taking a 17-6 lead early in the second quarter on an interception return for a touchdown and scores on two of their first three drives.

Antoine Exum put San Francisco on the board 57 seconds into the game when he picked off Rivers' pass intended for Keenan Allen and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.

After Sturgis missed a 54-yard field goal, the Niners extended their lead to two touchdowns when Beathard threw a 2-yard score to Kendrick Bourne.

Los Angeles answered that touchdown with one of its own as Rivers found a wide-open Antonio Gates for a 5-yard score to make it 14-6 after missing the extra point.

Robbie Gould's 21-yard field goal extended the lead to 17-6 before the Chargers rallied to tie it at halftime. Rivers found Ekeler in single coverage on a go route for a 22-yard touchdown and Sturgis made a field goal from 48 yards that was set up by Desmond King's 55-yard punt return.

The Chargers scored on their first two drives of the second half to take a 26-17 lead. Gordon caught a 6-yard TD pass from Rivers and Sturgis made a 25-yard field goal. With 2:50 remaining in the third quarter, Beathard got back on track by connecting with George Kittle for an 86-yard touchdown. Gould's 33-yard field goal gave the Niners a 27-26 lead with 12:39 remaining.

EXTRA-POINT WOES

The Chargers' kicking problems continued with two more missed extra points by Sturgis.

Los Angeles has missed eight PATs since the start of last season, which is the most in the league. Los Angeles has missed 10 extra points since the kick was moved back in 2015 and is one of eight teams in the league to have missed 10 or more.

INJURIES

Niners: Wide receiver Dante Pettis and left tackle Joe Staley suffered knee injuries. Staley's injury meant San Francisco had to reshuffle its offensive line, moving first-round pick Mike McGlinchey to left tackle and putting Garry Gilliam at right tackle.

Chargers: Wide receiver Travis Benjamin, who missed the past two games due to a foot injury, did not play during the second half. He had a catch for 2 yards.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mike Scioscia Steps Down as Angels Manager After 19 Seasons]]>Sun, 30 Sep 2018 22:58:40 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Mike-Scioscia-leaving-Angels-manager.jpg

Mike Scioscia stepped down as manager of the Los Angeles Angels after 19 seasons on Sunday, ending the longest current tenure in the majors with a come-from-behind victory.

He guided the Angels to the franchise's only World Series title in 2002.

The Angels sent him out a winner in his last game, rallying to beat the playoff-bound Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Taylor Ward's two-run, ninth-inning homer.

Scioscia was in the final year of his contract, and his departure had been expected. He said he talked to his wife, Anne, and had made his decision during that time.

The Angels finished 80-82, the first time they've had three straight losing seasons under Scioscia. They haven't won a postseason game since 2009.

Angels owner Arte Moreno thanked Scioscia in a statement and said he will always be part of the franchise's family.

Scioscia deflected questions about the specifics of his departure, repeatedly saying he only wanted to talk about the just-finished game.

"It's been second to none. It's been incredible," he said about his tenure in Anaheim, tears glistening in his hazel eyes.

Scioscia, a two-time All-Star catcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1980-92, thanked his current and former players, coaches and Angels fans.

"I'm really happy, guys," he insisted as his voice broke. His wife stood along the wall in the crowded room. Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun were among the players who sat and listened.

Moreno credited Scioscia for helping the franchise evolve into what the owner called "an elite organization."

"Mike's tenure as manager of the Angels includes six division titles, a pennant, and a world championship that transformed this franchise, and its perception on both local and national levels," Moreno said in his statement.

Scioscia said the success the franchise enjoyed during his tenure wasn't due to him.

"This game is not about the manager, GM or owner," he said. "The game is about the players and it always will be. We had guys that just put it all on the line, whether we were going good or going bad. That's what I'm going to take away."

Scioscia asked, "What's next?" and then answered his own question, saying he and his wife would be going to dinner near their Ventura County home. She indicated there might be a surprise awaiting him and Scioscia joked that they would be joined by 30 of his closest friends.

When he wasn't getting emotional, Scioscia's humor came out.

"I had nothing to do with today, with the lineup or pitching changes," he said. "That's probably why we won."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Force Game 163 with Rockies After SF Sweep]]>Sun, 30 Sep 2018 14:43:33 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/Dodgers+Sweep+Giants.png

Two words: Game 163

The Los Angeles Dodgers forced a winner-take-all Game 163 for the National League West Division after sweeping the San Francisco Giants, 15-0, on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park.

The Dodgers entered the regular season finale tied with the Colorado Rockies in the NL West, but both teams took care of business, winning their respective games to force a do or die for the division on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

Walker Buehler was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday, and instead will pitch in Game 163 against Colorado.

"Walker is going to start tomorrow," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced after the game. "Our goal is to win the division. Right now, he's our best. To win this game, to win the division, it's in our hands at home. That's been our goal from the beginning."

If the Dodgers defeat the Rockies on Monday, they would win their sixth consecutive NL West Division title. Colorado is in search of their first ever NL West title in franchise history.

"It would be huge," Buehler said about helping his team win the division. "That's the goal. It all culminates, but it's still a regular season game. We don't go home if we lose, and we get a day off if we win."

Knowing they needed a win to have a shot at winning the West, the Dodgers made a statement to start the game:

Chris Taylor led off with a walk, Justin Turner doubled and David Freese hit an RBI single as the Dodgers led 2-0 before fans found their seats.

"Our goal is to win every game," said Turner following the win. "That was our mindset going into it."

Two innings later, the Dodgers put the nail in the coffin for the Giants 2018 campaign as they scored seven runs in the inning, capped off by a two-run homer from Brian Dozier.

Max Muncy put the Dodgers up by two touchdowns when he hit his 34th home run of the season into McCovey Cove in the bottom of the fifth.

"It's crazy, it's incredible, it's a dream come true," Muncy said of hitting 34 homers this season, two shy of the NL lead despite not being on the Opening Day roster. "It's something out of a fairy tale. It's something I'm really enjoying."

The "Splash Hit" was the fifth in Dodgers history and the first since Cody Bellinger did it  on Sept. 13 of last season. 

"That's really cool," Muncy said of the splash hit homer. "I had no clue about that."

Austin Barnes added a home run in the eighth inning to make it 15-0.

Rich Hill (11-5) was phenomenal on eight days rest, allowing just two hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in seven shutout innings.

"The curveball has been good the last couple weeks," said Hill of his start. "I think every day is a big game and much more important moving forward. I just stayed ready, and for me, I always want the ball in those big games."

The Dodgers have struggled with runners in scoring position all season, but are 14-for-29 over their last two games. 

Up Next:

Game 163. The Dodgers will host the Colorado Rockies in a winner-take-all game for the NL West crown and the right to host the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS at 1:09PM PST at Dodger Stadium on Monday.

If you can't view the embedded videos, click "VIEW THE FULL MOBILE SITE"  at the bottom of this page.



Photo Credit: Robert Reiners/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[USC Holds Off Arizona 24-20, Ware Runs for 2 TDs]]>Sat, 29 Sep 2018 22:37:36 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/USC-beats-Arizona-Ware.jpg

Aca'Cedric Ware ran for 197 yards and two touchdowns, and Southern California overcame a rash of penalties to hold off Arizona for a 24-20 victory Saturday night.

USC (3-2, 2-1 Pac-12) dominated the Wildcats while building a 24-point third-quarter lead, but lost two fourth-quarter fumbles to let Arizona (2-3, 1-1) back in it. The Trojans also had 18 penalties for 169 yards, including a pass interference call that negated an interception in the fourth quarter.

Arizona's Gary Brightwell scored on a 1-yard run with 1:40 to play, but Lucas Havrisik missed the extra point and USC recovered the onside kick.

JT Daniels managed the Trojans offense well in the first half before the Trojans went stagnant in the second. He completed 16 of 24 passes for 197 yards and lost a fumble to set up Khalil Tate's 32-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Peterson.

Tate threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns, but was limited to 38 yards rushing. J.J. Taylor, who had 284 yards rushing against Oregon State last week, was held to 50 yards on 18 carries.

The Trojans controlled Arizona on both sides of the ball while building a 17-0 halftime lead.

USC racked up 281 total yards in the first half, scoring on Vavae Malepeai's 1-yard run in the first quarter and Ware's 26-yarder in the second. The Trojans stymied the Wildcats' offense, limiting them to 116 yards while intercepting a pass by Tate to set up Michael Brown's 42-yard field goal.

Arizona caught a break when a facemask penalty — USC's ninth penalty of the half — tacked on to a 20-yard completion gave the Wildcats a chance for a field goal with no time on the clock. Marvell Tell blocked Havrisik's 28-yard field-goal attempt, preserving the first-half shutout.

The second half continued the same as the first: Arizona gained 13 yards before punting on its first drive, Ware ripped off a 69-yard touchdown run.

Arizona's offense finally showed some life with Tate connecting on two long throws. The second one, 33 yards to Stanley Berryhill III, cut USC's lead to 24-7.

The Wildcats recovered a fumble at USC's 32-yard line after sacking Daniels early in the fourth quarter and Tate hit Cedric Peterson for a 32-yard touchdown on the next play, cutting the lead to 10.

THE TAKEAWAY

USC had a good rhythm going in the first half offensively, but labored after Ware's second TD run. And those penalties. The Trojans have plenty to clean up in their week off.

Arizona took too long to get going, unable to fight all the way back from a 24-0 deficit.

UP NEXT

USC has a bye week before hosting Colorado on Oct. 13.

Arizona plays at No. 24 California next Saturday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Manny Machado Postgame Celebration Interview]]>Sat, 29 Sep 2018 18:54:05 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Machado_Interview_1200x675_1332978755857.jpgLos Angeles Dodgers shortstop, Manny Machado, discusses knocking in the game-winning run that sent he and the Dodgers back to the postseason, as well as what he's learned about this team as Matt Kemp interrupts the interview with a champagne shower.]]><![CDATA[Clayton Kershaw Postgame Celebration Interview]]>Sat, 29 Sep 2018 18:20:29 -0800https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kershaw_Interview_1200x675_1332970563851.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw discusses his pending free agency (if he opts out of the final year of his contract), going back to the postseason for the sixth consecutive year, and why the 2018 season was the hardest so far.]]>