Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times

The Sports Report: Lakers defeat Nuggets

Email sent: Feb 13, 2020 7:30am

Is this your brand on Milled? You can claim it.

The Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 120-116 and held off the second-best team in the west.
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Los Angeles Times

The Sports Report

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

The Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 120-116 and held off the second-best team in the west, behind only the Lakers. The win gave the Lakers (41-12) a four-game lead over the Nuggets (38-17) heading into the NBA All-Star break.

LeBron James scored 32 points and notched at triple double, while Nuggets guard Jamal Murray led Denver with 32 points as well. Anthony Davis had 33 points, including two threes in overtime. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed nine points and four steals, including one in overtime to ensure the Lakers’ win.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic scored 15 points in the first half, but only seven in the second.

The Lakers placed an emphasis heading into the game on staying focused at a time when many of them had vacation plans already scheduled for the next few days.

The Lakers trailed by 13 in the second quarter with a three-pointer from Monte Morris. They struggled to contain Jokic and the Nuggets bench, which at the time had outscored the Lakers bench 20-10. The Lakers needed a way to get James some rest, and did so at the ensuing timeout. Without James, the Lakers fought their way back.

They went on a 13-2 run before James returned to the game and helped complete the comeback. The Lakers first lead since early in the first quarter came when James hit a jumper to make the score 53-51.

The Lakers held a six-point lead at halftime, that grew as the third quarter opened. But Denver showed just why they are one of the league’s top teams, fighting back to tie the game at 66 with a three from Jokic.

Both teams played to the raucous crowd. They traded flexes and threes. When James broke away for a dunk early in the fourth quarter, the crowd rose in anticipation for what followed.

Western Conference playoff standings

top eight teams make the playoffs

1. Lakers, 41-12, ---
2. Denver, 38-17, 4 GB
3. Clippers, 37-17, 4.5 GB
4. Utah, 36-18, 5.5 GB
5. Houston, 34-20, 7.5 GB
6. Dallas, 33-22, 9 GB
7. Oklahoma City, 32-22, 9.5 GB
8. Memphis, 28-26, 13.5 GB

9. Portland, 25-31, 4 GB of final spot
10. San Antonio, 23-31, 5 GB
11. New Orleans, 23-31, 5 GB
12. Phoenix, 22-33, 6.5 GB
13. Sacramento, 21-33, 7 GB
14. Minnesota, 16-37, 11.5 GB
15. Golden State, 12-43, 16.5 GB

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DODGERS

It took until the final day of the offseason, after a long pursuit capped off by a strange weeklong saga, but the two splashy acquisitions the Dodgers believe will help end their World Series title drought strolled into Dodger Stadium on Wednesday for their formal introduction.

“They look good in Dodger blue, don’t they?” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said as he helped Mookie Betts put on his No. 50 jersey over a black hoodie on a pleasantly sunny afternoon. A few feet away Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, aided David Price, No. 33.

Getting them in Dodger blue was not easy. It took a failed trade that went public and a rush to mend the situation before reporting to Camelback Ranch for spring training this week. In the end, the Dodgers acquired one of baseball’s best players in Betts and a former Cy Young Award winner to bolster their rotation in the 34-year-old Price for the October sprint.

Both were members of the Boston Red Sox club that toppled the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series. They hadn’t been at Dodger Stadium since winning the championship.

“I’d like to celebrate again here, in this jersey,” Betts said, “for sure.”

As it stands, Betts is a one-year rental for the Dodgers. He is slated to become a free agent after making $27 million this season in his last year of arbitration. He was quoted as a member of the Red Sox as saying he is intent on testing free agency, which reportedly factored into Boston’s bold decision to trade its most beloved player. Asked if his plans to reach free agency have changed now that he is a Dodger, Betts declined to comment.

For now, the 27-year-old Betts will bat leadoff, setting the table for the deepest lineup in the National League. He will play right field with Cody Bellinger, the 2019 NL most valuable player, in center field.

“I’ll do my best to keep up with him,” Betts quipped.

Read more Dodgers

Bill Plaschke: Mookie Betts could be missing piece to puzzle to end Dodgers’ title drought

Helene Elliott: The fix is in at Dodger Stadium, but will it be ready for opening day?

Dylan Hernandez: David Price says he’s still got it, but he’ll have to prove it with the Dodgers

Dodgers reportedly alerted Nationals to Astros’ sign-stealing ahead of World Series

Here’s a look at the first Mookie Betts Dodgers bobblehead

MLB announces rules changes for 2020 season

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ANGELS

The lack of remorse displayed by high-profile members of the Houston Astros found to illegally steal signs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons so bothered Angels starter Andrew Heaney that he profanely excoriated them when addressing the situation Wednesday.

“I know how it is,” Heaney said. “You get caught up in something. I’m sure they look back now and say ‘Oh [man], we really took that overboard.’

“But I think that somebody in that locker room had to have enough insight to say this is not OK. . . . Somebody in that locker room had to say, ‘This is [messed] up. We shouldn’t be doing this.’ For nobody to stand up and nobody to say, ‘We’re cheating other players’ — that sucks. That’s a [bad] feeling for everybody. I hope they feel [bad].”

Seven former Astros, including Mike Fiers, the pitcher whose testimony to the Athletic sparked a two-month investigation by MLB , have admitted to wrongdoing. Catcher Max Stassi became one of them on the Angels’ first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. He was called up by the Astros in August 2017 and played with them until he was dealt to the Angels at last season’s July trade deadline. He expressed regret for not trying to halt the operation.

“When you’re a lower man on the totem pole, you just show up and you go out there and play,” Stassi said. “I apologize to all those around the game, the people who were affected by it, the fans, coaches. Especially the kids who look up to us. We’re supposed to set an example and do the right thing. We didn’t do that.”

USC FOOTBALL

The Trojans’ rebuilt defensive staff is officially complete.

After hiring a new defensive coordinator, safeties coach and cornerbacks coach, as well as a new special teams coordinator, USC is working to finalize its staff of football assistants this week by hiring Virginia defensive line coach Vic So’oto, according to a person familiar with the decision.

So’oto, 32, has just three seasons of experience as a full-time assistant, all spent at Virginia. But while So’oto joins a revamped USC staff as its least-experienced hire, the up-and-coming defensive line coach impressed during his short tenure in Charlottesville, helping oversee a Cavaliers defense that finished seventh in the nation in sacks last season.

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RAMS

As he addressed reporters during a news conference Wednesday, Rams coach Sean McVay sat at the far right of a table, his three new coordinators to his left.

But McVay’s decision to overhaul his coaching staff has left him front and center — perhaps more than ever — as the Rams attempt to rebound from a disappointing 2019 season.

After missing the playoffs for the first time in his three-year tenure, McVay did not retain veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Veteran special-teams coordinator John Fassel left to join the Dallas Cowboys staff.

In 2017, the experienced coordinators enabled the then 30-year-old McVay to hit the ground running as the youngest coach in modern NFL history.

Three years later, after sitting out the playoffs, McVay introduced new offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, defensive coordinator Brandon Staley and special-teams coordinator John Bonamego.

Only one of the Rams’ 21 coaches — assistant offensive line coach Andy Dickerson — predates the now 34-year-old McVay with a franchise that wants to put behind 2019 and gear up for 2020 in new SoFi Stadium.

“I’m excited and motivated and, really, I would say more rejuvenated and reinvigorated than I’ve ever been since I first got here,” said McVay, the recipient of a contract extension before last season.

CLIPPERS

Going by the box score alone would not have suggested Tuesday‘s game resulted in a Clippers loss.

Philadelphia won 110-103 despite making only eight three-pointers on 29.6% shooting. The Clippers had been 11-0 when holding opponents to fewer than nine made three-pointers, 16-1 when allowing 10 or fewer and 19-0 when opponents made fewer than 30% of their shots beyond the arc.

The Clippers’ nine turnovers were also the second fewest they committed in a loss this season, and five fewer than their season average.

“I mean, we played well,” All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard said. “We fought to the end.”

But if coach Doc Rivers’ team held onto possessions better than it had in more than two weeks, it squandered its chance to be only the third team to beat Philadelphia on its home court through an offense that relied more on isolation plays instead of passing the ball.

“We played into their hands of playing one-on-one ball,” forward Paul George said. “If we move the ball and kept it hopping, we would have been successful.”

KINGS

Tyler Toffoli and Austin Wagner scored 39 seconds apart in the second period to give L.A. the lead, and the Kings went on to beat the Calgary Flames 5-3 on Wednesday night.

Kurtis MacDermid, Jeff Carter and Sean Walker also scored to help the Kings end a five-game losing streak. Calvin Petersen stopped 35 shots to get his first win of the season in his second start.

Elias Lindholm had two goals and Mikael Backlund also scored for Calgary. Johnny Gaudreau had two assists and David Rittich finished with 28 saves in the Flames’ fourth loss in six games.

Toffoli tied the score 1-1 off a rebound for his 15th of the season just 44 seconds after Backlund had put the Flames ahead.

Wagner then gave Los Angeles the lead for good with his fourth on a breakaway with seven minutes to go in the middle period.

HOCKEY

St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester remained hospitalized and was undergoing tests Wednesday one day after suffering a cardiac episode and collapsing on the bench during a game in Anaheim.

General manager Doug Armstrong said the 36-year old Bouwmeester was unresponsive after collapsing on the bench Tuesday night. A defibrillator was used and he regained consciousness immediately before being taken to hospital in Orange.

“He is doing very well and is currently undergoing a battery of tests. Things are looking very positive,” Armstrong said during a news conference in Las Vegas.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Clippers at Boston, 5 p.m., TNT, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570

Calgary at Ducks, 7 p.m., FSW, AM 830

Washington State at UCLA (men), 8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks, AM 1150

Washington at USC (men), 6 p.m., ESPN 2, 790 KABC

BORN ON THIS DATE

1918: Golfer Patty Berg (d. 2006)

1936: Sprinter Leamon King

1944: Baseball player Sal Bando

1947: College basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski

1971: Hockey player Mats Sundin

1977: Football player Randy Moss

DIED ON THIS DATE

1964: Baseball player Ken Hubbs, 22

2003: Boxer Kid Gavilan, 76

AND FINALLY

Randy Moss gets emotional over his Hall of Fame induction. Watch it here.

Until next time...
That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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