Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
From Andrew Greif: Paul George doesn’t know when he’ll be ready to return from his sprained right knee “but I’m gonna do whatever I can do to shorten the process,” the All-Star forward said on his podcast.
His Clippers also are not in any position to make long-term plans – but they’re tying to do whatever they can to extend how long they’re playing, just in case a return is possible.
In their third game since George injured his leg, and with Kawhi Leonard scoring 22 points while back in the lineup after taking an elbow to his face two days earlier, the Clippers pushed past Chicago 124-112 at Crypto.com Arena to keep a tenuous hold on a first-round playoff series.
With two games in Memphis and a third road game in New Orleans coming later this week, the Clippers (40-36) remain in fifth place, half a game behind Phoenix but only one game up on seventh-place, which earns entry into the play-in tournament. Given how densely packed the Western Conference standings remain, there is much work to do. But two games after a forgettable, 21-point blowout loss to New Orleans, the Clippers were instantly rejuvenated by new starter Nicolas Batum, whose efficiency carried over throughout the roster.
Batum will remain the starting forward the rest of the regular season, Lue said, but wouldn’t commit to whether Robert Covington will slide into a backup role. It marked a significant shift, as Marcus Morris Sr. has been a mainstay of the starting lineup since 2021. Lue said he wanted a changed look with George sidelined.
A starting lineup that had dragged in two previous games shot 65% from the field, 59% (16-27) on three-pointers and produced 25 assists against just seven turnovers. Batum made a season-high eight three-pointers and 24 points. He hit three of the triples during a third quarter in which the Clippers pulled away from the Bulls, who had played the night before, by outscoring them by 15.
“I was pretty much wide open on every single shot,” Batum said. “I like to play like that.”
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From Dylan Hernández: LeBron James’ sudden return on Sunday was offset by the loss of the Lakers’ other superstar.
Anthony Davis went missing.
The player who carried the Lakers over their 13-game stretch without James was a complete non-factor in their 118-108 defeat to the Chicago Bulls at Crypto.com Arena.
Davis attempted just eight shots in a loss that ended the Lakers’ three-game winning streak, fewer than five other Lakers, including Malik Beasley and Troy Brown Jr.
With Davis limited to 15 points, little wonder the Lakers were down by 21 in the fourth quarter.
If the last four weeks showcased the best of Davis, Sunday displayed the worst, one of the league’s most dominant forces reverting to his more comfortable role as a passenger in a James-driven vehicle.
Top six qualify for the playoffs. Nos. 7-10 qualify for tournament to determine final two playoff teams.
1. y-Denver Nuggets, 51-24
2. y-Memphis Grizzlies, 47-27, 3.5 GB
3. Sacramento Kings, 45-30, 6 GB
4. Phoenix Suns, 40-35, 11 GB
5. Clippers, 40-36, 11.5 GB
6. Minnesota Timberwolves, 39-37, 12.5 GB
7. Golden State Warriors, 39-37, 12.5 GB
8. New Orleans Pelicans, 38-37, 13 GB
9. Lakers, 37-38, 14 GB
10. Oklahoma City Thunder, 37-38, 14 GB
11. Dallas Mavericks, 37-39, 14.5 GB
12. Utah Jazz, 35-40, 16 GB
13. Portland Trail Blazers, 32-433, 19 GB
14. e-San Antonio Spurs, 19-56, 32 GB
15. e-Houston Rockets, 18-58, 33.5 GB
y-clinched division title; e-eliminated from playoff contention.
Men’s tournament results, schedule
All times Pacific
No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic, 3 p.m., CBS
No. 4 UConn vs. No. 5 Miami, 5:40 p.m., CBS
Monday, April 3
Final Four winners, 6:15 p.m., CBS
All times Pacific
Greenville 1 Regional
No. 1 South Carolina 86, No. 2 Maryland 75
Seattle 1 Regional
No. 1 Virginia Tech 84, No. 3 Ohio State 74
No. 1 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 LSU, 4 p.m., ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN+
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Iowa, 6 p.m., ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN+
Final Four winners, 12:30 p.m., ABC, ESPN+
Who will win the men’s basketball title, Florida Atlantic, Miami, San Diego State or UConn? Vote here and let us know. Results will be in Friday’s newsletter.
From Bill Plaschke: They lost their cornerstone, their shaggy leader, Justin Turner heading off to hated Boston.
They lost their spark, their infield core, Trea Turner fleeing for Philly.
They lost their MVP, their homegrown hero, Cody Bellinger scooting over to Chicago.
They lost their hope, Gavin Lux, knee injury, gone for the season.
They lost their minds, this winter, failing to land any of baseball’s top free agents, bystanders to the San Diego Padres’ impressive shopping spree.
Two years after using this column to predict the Dodgers would be the best team in baseball history, your humble prognosticator would like to tweak that, but only slightly.
This season, the Dodgers could be the most exciting team in club history.
From Dylan Hernández: Would the Angels actually trade Shohei Ohtani this season?
There’s no excuse for a big-market team to deal a star player, but if the Angels had to trade Ohtani, the time to do so was last year.
If they trade Ohtani three months before he becomes a free agent, the Angels would receive just a fraction of the bounty they would have gained by trading him a year earlier.
So why is owner Arte Moreno implying the Angels could move Ohtani this summer?
Say farewell to the vision of a Dodgers-like transformation. Abandon the dream of a better tomorrow. Prepare for the worst.
Moreno is back.
Angels infielder Jared Walsh and catcher Max Stassi will begin season on injured list
2023 MLB season preview: Complete coverage
From Gary Klein: The silence is deafening.
No marquee players acquired by trade. No high-profile free-agent signings. No buzz.
This is not a rebuild for the Rams, or a reboot or remodel.
This is an offseason retreat — though Rams executives insist not a surrender.
“We’re the boring Rams this year,” general manager Les Snead quipped Monday at the NFL owners meetings.
From Jeff Miller: Drue Tranquill just led the Chargers in tackles, finished tied for third in sacks and established himself as a down-in, down-out defensive leader.
Still, coach Brandon Staley said Monday that the allure of free agent Eric Kendricks was too much to pass up.
“He’s one of the most complete linebackers in the last decade,” Staley, speaking at the NFL’s owners meetings, said of Kendricks. “You’re talking about five to seven players that are as complete a linebacker as he is.”
From Samantha Masunaga: Los Angeles venture capitalist Kara Nortman spent eight years researching what she saw as a massive missed opportunity — investing in women’s sports.
Her research led to her involvement with L.A.’s Angel City Football Club, of which Nortman is a co-founder, and now, to a new sports fund called Monarch Collective with investors that include tennis legend Billie Jean King.
The $100-million fund led by Nortman and Miami venture capitalist Jasmine Robinson is focused on investing in women’s sports teams, leagues and related revenue streams, such as media. The idea is to prove that more funding for women’s sports will drive greater returns on investment and spur additional financing.
“This is sort of a joyful way to get people to pay attention to DEI and to put your money where your mouth is,” said Nortman, a former managing partner at L.A.’s Upfront Ventures.
Ricardo Pepi scored on his first touch of the match in the 62nd minute, and the United States beat El Salvador 1-0 on Tuesday night to reach the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals.
The 13th-ranked U.S. (three wins, one draw) extended its unbeaten streak against No. 32 El Salvador (one win, one loss, two draws) to 22 matches since 1992, including 16 wins. The Americans joined Mexico in the Nations League semifinals at Las Vegas on June 15, part of a final four that will include Canada or Honduras along with Costa Rica or Panama.
El Salvador, which needed a win to advance, has lost four straight matches and is winless in six.
Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist in his 700th NHL game and the Colorado Avalanche won their third straight game, defeating the Ducks 5-1. Anaheim, which went 1-6-1 on its eight-game homestand, got its lone goal from Derek Grant. John Gibson made 39 saves. Trevor Zegras suffered a lower-body injury during the second period and did not return
1939 — The barnstorming Renaissance Five beat the NBL champion Oshkosh All-Stars, 34-25, to win the first annual World Professional Basketball Tournament in Chicago. Sports reporters of the day make no mention of the fact that all the Rens are black and the All-Stars are all white.
1942 — Stanford beats Dartmouth 53-38 for the NCAA basketball championship.
1944 — Arnold Ferrin’s 22 points leads Utah to a 42-40 victory over Dartmouth for the NCAA basket championship.
1950 — CCNY beats Bradley 71-68 in the NCAA basketball final to become the only team to win the NIT and NCAA titles in the same year. CCNY beat Bradley 69-61 in the NIT on March 18.
1971 — Gail Goodrich of the Lakers sets an NBA playoff record for most free throws (17) without a miss in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals. Goodrich leads all scorers with 39 points in the 106-98 loss at Chicago.
1972 — Wilt Chamberlain plays his last pro basketball game.
1977 — Marquette beats North Carolina 67-59 for the NCAA basketball title.
1982 — Louisiana Tech beats Cheyney State 76-62 in the NCAA’s first women’s basketball championship. The tournament replaces the AIAW championship which had been held since 1972.
1989 — Southwestern Louisiana pitchers Cathy McAllister and Stefni Whitton pitch back-to-back perfect games against Southeastern Louisiana, a first in NCAA Division I softball history. McAllister strikes out 10 in a 5-0 victory and Whitton has 14 strikeouts in a 7-0 triumph.
1990 — Michael Jordan scores 69 points to help Chicago beat Cleveland 117-113 in overtime and clinch a playoff spot.
1990 — U.S. President George H. W. Bush awards track-and-field star Jesse Owens the Congressional Gold Medal.
1992 — Christian Laettner hits a 15-foot turnaround jumper at the buzzer to give defending champion Duke a 104-103 overtime victory over Kentucky and a fifth consecutive trip to the Final Four.
1992 — Eric Forkel posts a 217-133 victory over Bob Vespi in the title match of the $300,000 PBA National Championship. Vespi’s 133 sets a record for the lowest in tournament final history.
1993 — Teemu Selanne of the Winnipeg Jets scores his 69th and 70th goals of the season in a 3-3 tie with the Kings. Selanne is the eighth player, and first rookie, to have a 70-goal NHL season.
1995 — Michael Jordan, playing in his fifth game in 22 months, scores 55 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 113-111 victory over the New York Knicks.
2005 — 48-year old Fred Funk becomes oldest event winner of the PGA Players Championship.
2006 — Oklahoma center Courtney Paris is the first freshman selected for The Associated Press All-America team in women’s basketball. Paris averaged 21.4 points and led the nation in rebounding (15.1). She is the first NCAA women’s player with 700 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks in a season.
2012 — The NFL’s new rule for postseason overtime is expanded to cover the regular season on a 30-2 vote by the NFL owners. All games that go into overtime cannot end on a field goal on the first possession.
2015 — Breanna Stewart has 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to help UConn rout Texas 105-54, earning coach Geno Auriemma his 100th NCAA Tournament win. Auriemma is the second coach to reach the century mark, joining Pat Summitt, who finished with 112 victories in her career.
2015 — Kentucky escapes with a 68-66 win against Notre Dame to go to 38-0 and advance to the Final Four. Wisconsin tops Arizona 85-78 to reach consecutive Final Fours for the first time.
2016 — Rodney Hood scores 30 points and the Jazz turn Kobe Bryant’s last visit to Utah into the worst loss of his career with a 123-75 victory that matches the Lakers’ largest defeat in franchise history.
—Compiled by the Associated Press
Duke stuns Kentucky on Christian Laettner’s buzzer beater. Watch and listen here.
Until next time…
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