The Sports Report: Lakers have plenty to say after losing opener
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
From Dan Woike: If deciding whether to start Russell Westbrook was Darvin Ham’s first big test as Lakers head coach, picking up the pieces after wild postgame comments is certainly the second.
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With the Clippers up next in a 10-game gauntlet to start the season, Westbrook and LeBron James put some of the Lakers’ uncomfortable truths squarely in the spotlight.
First, after the team’s 123-109 loss to the Warriors in the opener, Westbrook said his hamstring injury was “absolutely” related to coming off the bench in the team’s preseason finale.
“I’ve been doing the same thing for 14 years straight. Honestly, I didn’t even know what to do pregame,” Westbrook said. “Being honest, I was trying to figure out how to stay warm and loose. For me, obviously the way I play the game, it’s fast-paced, quick, stop-and-go. And I just happened to, when I subbed in, felt something.
“Didn’t know what it was, but I wasn’t going to risk it in a preseason game. But definitely wasn’t something I was used to. Wasn’t warm enough.”
The comments cast doubt on the viability of bringing Westbrook off the bench to run the team’s second unit, an option that Ham and Westbrook discussed during the summer.
“I thought he was solid,” Ham said of Westbrook’s play against Golden State. “A couple of possessions I wish we could get back. But overall I thought he was solid.”
With the media room still buzzing after Westbrook’s postgame interview, James made it clear he wasn’t interested in sugarcoating truths about the Lakers’ shortcomings.
Like they did in five of their six preseason games, the team struggled badly from three-point range, missing a combination of contested and wide-open three-point shots.
“I think we’re getting great looks and I think there also could be teams giving us great looks. I mean, to be completely honest, we’re not a team that’s constructed of great shooting,” James said. “And that’s just what the truth of the matter is. It’s not like we’re sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team.
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From Andrew Greif: The Clippers’ starting point guard for Thursday’s season opener against the Lakers?
Coach Tyronn Lue wouldn’t say.
But his biggest concerns entering a season in which the Clippers haven’t ducked championship expectations? He let those be known before Wednesday’s final preseason practice, and each was a variation on the theme of self-inflicted mistakes, from protecting the basketball, to setting aside personal pride.
“Just making the easy, simple plays is one thing that concerns me right now,” Lue said. “Just, you know, taking care of the basketball.
“And then two is, like I’ve said, sacrifice, guys understanding that we have a deep team, we have Kawhi [Leonard] and [Paul George] back. Guys who played a big role for us last year offensively, you know, like Reggie and Marcus, Zu had more touches, Luke Kennard did a great job. … You might not get the same touches, you might not get the same minutes, so just having the sacrifice and understanding that, we got one common goal, that’s to win the game, and try to win a championship.”
GALAXY vs. LAFC
From Kevin Baxter: No two MLS teams met more often this season than LAFC and the Galaxy, who will face off for the fourth time Thursday in the Western Conference playoff semifinals at Banc of California Stadium. But the last meeting was in July, and though everything about this game will be different, LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said nothing has really changed.
“It’s still the same game. It will still be a close game. It will still be a hard-fought game,” Cherundolo said after training Tuesday. “You’ll see much of what we’ve seen in the past.”
You will see different people doing it though. During the past four months, LAFC added five key players, including Welsh captain Gareth Bale, iconic Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini and designated players Denis Bouanga and Crisitian Tello while the Galaxy acquired midfielders Riqui Puig, Gastón Brugman and defender Martín Cáceres.
From Ben Bolch: It’s a rare fall Saturday for Zach Charbonnet when games are watched, not played.
The star running back reclines contentedly on a leather sofa inside the living room of his Westlake Village home. A French Bulldog splayed in his lap drifts to sleep, ignoring the bedlam on the large-screen television. As usual on his trips home from UCLA, the Heisman Trophy candidate is upstaged by the star of the house.
Bella Hall is discussing her greatest loves. They include steak, pool parties, the Backstreet Boys, Disneyland and her favorite Halloween candy, Laffy Taffy. The 16-year-old has an opinion about everything. She interjects herself into nearly every conversation, especially those involving her half-brother.
“Let the people of the world know I love Zach,” she tells a visitor, rocking back and forth as she speaks, a playful smile splitting her face.
Watching from the other side of the room, Charbonnet quietly takes it all in with a grin and an occasional high-pitched laugh.
Bella was among the reasons one of the nation’s top running backs traded in the Big House for the loud house, transferring from Michigan to UCLA before last season so he could marinate in every delightful decibel on almost weekly trips home.
“It was a really big part,” Charbonnet said of Bella and his other siblings. “I wanted to be closer to family, especially my second time around.”
From Jeff Miller: The tumultuous start to J.C. Jackson’s time with the Chargers will press on Sunday when he returns to the field against Seattle.
Coach Brandon Staley said Wednesday the team plans to keep the struggling cornerback in the starting lineup after Jackson was pulled after the second quarter Monday in a 19-16 overtime victory over Denver.
“There’s a reason why we went and got this guy, because we believe in him,” Staley said. “Just because it hasn’t started, you know, in a Hollywood fashion doesn’t mean it’s not going to end that way.”
NFL reader Q&A: Trade for Christian McCaffrey? How healthy is Justin Herbert?
From Sarah Valenzuela: Hitting coach Jeremy Reed and assistant hitting coach John Mallee will not be returning to the Angels in 2023, the team said Wednesday. Mike Gallego will also not be returning as the third base coach, said a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The moves mark the first changes of Phil Nevin’s coaching staff for next season. More coaching staff changes will likely occur, as they typically do for any new manager. The Angels did not provide further updates on other coaches.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1923 — Zev, winner of the 1923 Kentucky Derby, beats England’s Papyrus, winner of the 1923 Epsom Derby, in a $100,000 match race at Belmont Park. The race, the International Special, marks the first time an English champion is sent to the U.S. to race. The race is so popular that it is broadcast on the radio, a first.
1944 — Michigan State and Maryland attempt one pass, the fewest in college football history. The Terrapins threw the pass, while the Spartans did not attempt a pass and Michigan State wins the game 8-0 in College Park, Md.
1963 — Clem Daniels of the Oakland Raiders rushes for 200 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-26 victory over the New York Jets.
1968 — American Dick Fosbury using his unconventional technique wins the men’s high jump gold medal at the Mexico City Olympics; “Fosbury Flop” becomes accepted as the most efficient technique.
1972 — The Buffalo Braves score an NBA record 58 points in the fourth quarter, but still lose to the Celtics at Boston Garden, 126-118.
1976 — The Philadelphia 76ers acquire Julius Erving from the New York Nets for $3 million.
1984 — Rueben Mayes of Washington State rushes for 216 yards and scores four touchdowns to overcome a 28-7 halftime deficit and lead the Cougars to a 49-42 victory over Stanford.
1994 — George McCandless, 83, becomes the oldest harness driver to win a pari-mutuel race when he guides Kehm’s Scooter to victory in the fourth race at Freehold (N.J.) Raceway.
2004 — Just three outs from getting swept in the AL championship series three nights earlier, the Boston Red Sox finally beat the New York Yankees, winning Game 7 in a 10-3 shocker to become the first major league team to overcome a 3-0 postseason series deficit.
2010 — Vancouver enforcer Rick Rypien is suspended indefinitely, pending a hearing, for grabbing a fan in the Canucks’ loss in Minnesota on Oct. 19. The NHL later sentences Rypien to a six-game suspension.
2012 — Kasey Carrier of New Mexico sets a Mountain West Conference record 338 yards rushing and has three TDs in a 28-23 loss to Air Force.
2013 — Tim Cahill scores the fastest goal in MLS history, and the New York Red Bulls beat the Houston Dynamo 3-0. Cahill puts New York ahead 8 seconds into the game. The previous fastest goal in MLS history was Dwayne De Rosario’s score 11 seconds into a 2003 game.
2016 — Nneka Ogwumike’s short jumper with 3.1 seconds left gives the Sparks a 77-76 victory over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx for their first title in 14 years in the deciding game of the WNBA Finals.
Compiled by the Associated Press
The Sparks win the 2016 WNBA title. Watch and listen here.
Until next time…
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