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The Sports Report: Lakers' road winning streak goes to 11

Email sent: Dec 7, 2019 7:29 am

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The Sports Report

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

Lakers

The Lakers continued their stampede through the Northwest Division with a 136-111 win in Portland. They finished 3-0 on their trip with wins over the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and the Trail Blazers, and have won 11 consecutive road games.

Only two seasons in Lakers history have had longer road winning streaks — the 1972-73 season when the Lakers won 12 consecutive road games, and the 1971-72 season, when the Lakers won 16 road games in a row.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James left the game with a little more than three minutes remaining, with Davis having scored 39 points — all in the first three quarters — and James having scored 31.

Portland entered the game having won four of five, but dropped to 9-14, while the Lakers improved to 20-3, the best in the Western Conference.

The Lakers’ defense was solid, but it was their offense that buried the Trail Blazers. They made 61.9% of their shots in the first half, and nine of 13 three-pointers. That helped create a 15-point cushion at halftime.

The Lakers return home to play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday before leaving town again for a five-game trip that begins Wednesday.

Clippers

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their 14th straight victory, a 119-91 rout of the Clippers.

Antetokounmpo, on his 25th birthday, made 11 of 20 shots and recorded his 21st double-double of the season.

“I was 25 once, but I wasn’t that good,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after joking that he wanted to see Antetokounmpo’s birth certificate.

Antetokounmpo left the game with Milwaukee ahead by 36 with 8:56 to play. The Bucks (20-3) led by as many as 41 and extended their longest winning streak since winning 16 consecutive games over two seasons in 1973.

Rivers pulled all of his starters out of the game with the Bucks leading 101-67 with 9:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. The group exited to the chant of “Overrated! Overrated!” from the Milwaukee crowd.

Kawhi Leonard had 17 points and Paul George added 13 for the Clippers (16-7).

KINGS

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers – a 2-1 loss – kicked off a brutal upcoming and potentially season-defining schedule for coach Todd McLellan and company.

It was the first of a 32-game stretch in which the team will play 21 times from home. After this weekend’s back-to-back in Edmonton and Calgary, there is a six-game Eastern Conference trip later this month, a back-to-back in San Jose and Vancouver after Christmas, and a five-game swing through the Southeast before January’s All-Star break, and a four-game trek to the Northeast Corridor weeks later.

A four-game home stand around New Year’s represents the Kings’ only consecutive home games from now until late February. And if they can’t keep from repeating the type of away performance they produced Friday, which dropped the already last-place squad to a league-worst 2-11-1 mark away from Staples Center (where they are 9-6-1), they could find themselves miles adrift in the standings long before then.

“It’s been all over the map,” McLellan said of the Kings’ road struggles. “Earlier in the season, we would start well and then we would give things up late. The last four or five games, we take a bunch of punches, we fall to the mat, then we pick ourselves up and start swinging ourselves.

“Once we fall behind, we’re a hard team to play against. But the starts haven’t been real good.”

DUCKS

Jakub Vrana scored the go-ahead goal less than two minutes into the third period and the Washington Capitals beat the Ducks 3-2.

Travis Boyd and Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored for Washington. Braden Holtby had 24 saves.

Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique scored for Anaheim. Ryan Miller had 33 saves.

The game comes two weeks after the Capitals’ Garnet Hathaway was given a three-game suspension for spitting on the Ducks’ Erik Gudbranson after the players paired off late in Washington’s 5-2 home victory.

Gudbranson and Hathaway squared off twice Friday, with the first confrontation in the second period stopped immediately by referees. They matched up again with 16:54 remaining in the game, with Gudbranson dragging Hathaway to the ice before referees intervened.

USC BASKETBALL

Nick Rakocevic had a tipin in the final second, and USC beat Texas Christian 80-78 after the Horned Frogs came back from an 18-point deficit to tie the score.

Rakocevic, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds, got the game-winning points with 0.2 seconds left on the clock after a miss by Ethan Anderson. TCU got a timeout but then had an inbound infraction and never had a chance to get off a desperation shot.

TCU (6-2) tied the score at 78 on Kevin Samuel’s strong inside move while being fouled with eight seconds remaining. But Samuel missed the go-ahead free throw and Rakocevic grabbed the rebound.

Jonah Mathews had 20 points with four three-pointers for USC (8-2). Onyeka Okongwu added 13 points, and Anderson had 10 points with eight assists.

USC is back home Dec. 15 against Long Beach State. The Trojans then play LSU at Staples Center before a Dec. 29 visit from Florida Gulf Coast, which is coach Andy Enfield’s former team.

UCLA SOCCER

Stanford got a hat trick from sophomore Sophia Smith and outshot UCLA 25-8 to win its way back to the NCAA women’s soccer final with a 4-1 victory over the Bruins. Stanford will play North Carolina, a 2-1 winner over Washington State in Friday’s first semifinal.

“They’re quality players. You’ve got to show up every game,” said senior Kaiya McCullough, who will leave UCLA having never beaten Stanford. “And obviously we didn’t.”

USC FOOTBALL

After making the decision to retain its head football coach, USC has made a move to hold onto offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, whose successful debut with the Trojans has made him one of the most coveted coaches.

USC offered Harrell a new contract on Friday, according to a person familiar with the situation. It’s up to Harrell to decide if he’d like to continue coaching at USC, where he required just one season to transform a moribund offense into one of the nation’s most explosive attacks.

The offer, which is believed to include a sizable raise, comes soon after Harrell, a Texas native, interviewed for the same job at Texas.

PAC-12 FOOTBALL

CJ Verdell ran for 208 yards and broke open the game with two long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, and No. 13 Oregon spoiled No. 5 Utah’s playoff hopes with a 37-15 victory in the Pac-12 championship game.

The Utes (11-2, No. 5 CFP) came into the game hoping to make a case for one of the four playoff spots with a conference title but instead got overmatched by Oregon (11-2, No. 13 CFP) and lost their second straight Pac-12 championship game.

They fell into a 20-0 hole in the first half and then gave up a 70-yard touchdown run to Verdell after cutting the deficit to 23-15, paving the way for the winner of the Big 12 title game between Oklahoma and Baylor to get into the playoff as long as No. 1 LSU beats No. 4 Georgia for the SEC championship.

RAMS

On Oct. 3 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, with his team trailing by a point, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein lined up for a 44-yard field-goal attempt with 15 seconds left.

Zuerlein was no stranger to game-winning kicks: His 57-yard field goal in overtime in last season’s NFC championship game sent the Rams to the Super Bowl.

But this time — after making all three of his attempts earlier in the game — Zuerlein missed wide right. The Rams lost, 30-29, and suffered the second defeat in what would become a three-game losing streak.

On Sunday, the Rams play the Seahawks at the Coliseum, and Zuerlein is expected to once again play a key role in a series that as of late has not been decided until the final possession.

“If it gets brought up and you’re talking about it, obviously you think about it,” Zuerlein said of the October miss. “Otherwise, you just move on and you make your next kick.”

TENNIS

Former No. 1 and 2018 Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki will retire from professional tennis after competing in Melbourne next year.

The 29-year-old from Denmark wrote in an Instagram post on Friday that she wants to start a family with her husband, former NBA player David Lee, and work to raise awareness about rheumatoid arthritis.

Wozniacki said her decision to stop playing “has nothing to do with my health.” She announced in October 2018 that she has rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition that can cause pain and swelling in the wrist and other joints.

“I’ve always told myself, when the time comes, that there are things away from tennis that I want to do more, then it’s time to be done,“ Wozniacki wrote. “In recent months, I’ve realized that there is a lot more in life that I’d like to accomplish off the court.“

YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS MOMENT

What is your all-time favorite local sports moment? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com and tell me what it is and why, and it could appear in a future Sports newsletter.

This moment comes from Mark Powell:

On a Saturday afternoon in early December 1948, while serving in the U.S. Air Force at Fairbanks, Alaska, I tuned the radio (sorry — no TV then) to the USC-Notre Dame football game being held in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Notre Dame was unbeaten and untied and tended to dominate college football in the early years post WWII and, as expected, was favored over a good but not great USC team.

Surprisingly, the score was 7-7 until the final minutes of the fourth quarter when USC scored a touchdown for a 14-7 lead. Bedlam ensued. The radio announcer placed his microphone outside facing the crowd and the roar of 100,000+ people was absolutely deafening and continued for at least five minutes.

This happened 71 years ago and in all of my 91 years I have never before and have not since experienced a vocal expression of that magnitude.

By the way, with all its talent, Notre Dame scored again in the final minute and the game ended in a 14-14 tie.

Today's local major sports schedule

All times Pacific

Kings at Calgary, 7 p.m., FSW

Born on this date

1908: Tennis player John Doeg (d. 1978)

1923: Swimmer Alan Ford (d. 2008)

1942: Former Angel Alex Johnson (d. 2015)

1947: Baseball player Johnny Bench

1956: Basketball player Larry Bird

1964: Hockey player Peter Laviolette

1964: Gymnast Vladimir Artemov

1967: Baseball player Tino Martinez

1968: Luger Cammy Myler

1968: Rower Melissa Iverson

1968: Football player Ricky Ervins

1973: Football player Terrell Owens

1974: Swimmer Annette Salmeen

1976: Football player Alan Faneca

1977: Boxer Fernando Vargas

1977: Golfer Luke Donald

1988: Swimmer Nathan Adrian

DIED ON THIS DATE

1969: Baseball player Lefty O’Doul, 71

1984: Race car driver Lee Roy Yarbrough, 46

1994: Hockey player J.C. Tremblay, 55

2005: Football player/coach Bud Carson, 75

And finally

Larry Bird wins the All-Star game three-point contest with his warmup jacket on. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. If you want to subscribe, click here.

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