James has a triple-double, Lakers throttle Kings 129-113
SACRAMENTO (AP) — The Lakers say they are fully prepared for the steady stream of tributes for Kobe Bryant that they will surely see the rest of the season.
LeBron James welcomes it, calling it a therapeutic and needed part of the Lakers’ healing process.
James had another triple-double despite an off-night shooting, Anthony Davis scored 21 points and Los Angeles thumped the Sacramento Kings 129-113 on Saturday, its first win since Bryant’s death.
“It’s never going to feel normal. It’s never going to feel the same,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “But we got our first win since this happened. There’s going to be a lot of important steps for us along the way and this was definitely one.”
James had 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds while helping Los Angeles end a two-game skid. James shot 6 of 15 and missed three of four 3-pointers but made up for it with his 11th triple-double of the season and the 92nd of his career.
The Lakers were playing the second half of a back-to-back, one night after an emotional 127-119 loss to Portland at Staples Center in their first game since Sunday’s helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.
During the first timeout less than four minutes into the game, a video of both Bryant and Gianna playing basketball was shown on the giant scoreboard as members of both the Lakers and Kings watched. The numbers 8 and 24 flashed on the court as Bryant’s voice echoed through the building.
Tributes continued to play throughout the game as fans – many wearing Bryant’s jerseys – repeatedly chanted his name.
“We’re prepared for it. We understand it and we hope it happens every night just because of the legacy that he’s left behind,” James said. “We’re prepared for it as a team, as an organization and we’re going to continue to get through it. It’s our obligation just to go out and play the game, have that winning mentality because that’s what he would want.”
Mitchell, No. 4 SDSU rally to beat Utah State 80-68
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Moments after San Diego State retired Kawhi Leonard’s jersey at halftime, and with the No. 4 Aztecs trailing Utah State by eight points, coach Brian Dutcher joked with the NBA superstar.
“Kawhi was near the bench at the start of the second half and I said, ‘Go get a uniform on, Kawhi, we might need you,’ ” Dutcher said. “And he told me, ‘Hey, just win the game.’ And I said, ‘Yes sir. OK, we’re going to win the game.’ ”
The Aztecs did just that.
With Leonard watching from one baseline, another guy from Riverside, Matt Mitchell, scored 24 of his season-high 28 points in the second half — including three straight 3-pointers — to help rally SDSU to an 80-68 victory Saturday night and remain the nation’s only undefeated team.
“What a great night for an Inland Empire kid to have a great game, Kawhi Leonard jersey hanging,” Dutcher said after the Aztecs extended the nation’s longest winning streak — and the longest in school history — to 23 games. “Matt stepped up and did it with Kawhi sitting there courtside watching him play.”
With Mitchell turning red-hot, the Aztecs turned a 41-31 deficit into a 68-58 lead in a span of 13 minutes.
“There’s definitely significance there,” said Mitchell, a junior forward. “Me having a big night and Kawhi’s big night, I feel like that’s very special and I’m happy I was able to show up tonight. At the same time, it’s a team sport and my teammates found me tonight, and on another night it would be another one of my teammates.”
Mitchell spent one season at Riverside’s King High — Leonard’s alma mater — before transferring.
Mitchell scored 11 points in four minutes for SDSU (23-0, 12-0 Mountain West). His third straight 3-pointer, with 13:16 to go, gave SDSU a 50-49 lead.
Yanni Wetzell then had a steal and layup, and Mitchell made two free throws to extend the lead to five.
Utah State (17-7, 6-5) ended a two-minute scoring drought on Sam Merrill’s 3-pointer. Utah State tied it at 54 on Merrill’s jumper, but Mitchell hit two free throws to give SDSU the lead.
Wetzell later hit a 3, and Mitchell hit a jumper to just beat the shot clock, and then drained a 3 for a 66-58 lead.
The comeback sent the sellout crowd of 12,414 into a frenzy, just like in 2010-11, Leonard’s second and final season at SDSU.
“Matt was rolling. He’s a hard guy to guard,” Dutcher said.
“He got us going and he willed us to the win tonight,” guard KJ Feagin said.
Mitchell “just took over the second half, He is a very, very good player,” Utah State coach Craig Smith said. “When he starts to get going like that he is a load, a mismatch nightmare. He is so quick, yet so powerful.”
Malachi Flynn and Feagin scored 13 each and Wetzell had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Jackson wins MVP as Ravens take 3 awards; Harbaugh top coach
MIAMI (AP) — Lamar Jackson’s stunning season not only earned him The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player Award, but he won it unanimously.
That’s right: The second-year quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens joins Tom Brady as the only players to receive every vote for MVP.
Jackson drew all 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league. Baltimore’s All-Pro set an NFL record for yards rushing by a quarterback (1,206) and led an offense that compiled more yards on the ground (3,296) than any in league history. The Ravens won their final 12 games of the regular season to finish at 14-2, the league’s best mark.
Jackson had a powerful message for kids who have been told they should change positions on the field and who face criticism and doubters.
“Make those people eat their words,” he said. “It feels good when you can make those people eat their words because they’re so negative. How are you going to wake up and be so negative about somebody who’s not negative toward you or don’t do anything wrong? Don’t worry about what they say. Do you. Stay focused because you want to be great, and you’re going to be great. Just do you.”
Brady was also an unanimous MVP in 2010. And like Brady, Jackson’s special season did not include a championship.
“I’m still young,” Jackson said. “I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’m not really trying to dwell on what I just did. If I win a Super Bowl, you’ll probably see a lot more emotion.”
The Ravens were big winners at NFL Honors on Saturday. John Harbaugh won coaching honors, and his offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, took best assistant coach honors.
Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill earned the Comeback Player award by one vote over Jimmy Garoppolo, who will quarterback the 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl. New Orleans’ Michael Thomas took top offensive player honors, while New England’s Stephon Gilmore grabbed the defensive player award.
Rookie honors went to 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa and Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, the top overall pick in last April’s draft.
Edge rusher Calais Campbell of the Jacksonville Jaguars won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
PGA Tour remembers Kobe Bryant with 16th-hole pin position
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The PGA Tour joined players with a 16th-hole tribute to Kobe Bryant on Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, using his two Lakers uniform numbers to cut the final-round pin position on the stadium par 3.
The pin was placed 24 yards from the front edge and 8 yards from the left edge, putting it in the back left corner of the green on the rowdy hole that holds more than 20,000 fans.
Bryant, daughter Gianna and seven others were killed a week ago in a helicopter crash in California.
“That came from the the tour,” said Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of competition. “We thought it would be a nice tribute, the right thing to do, the class thing. … The Thunderbirds (tournament organizers) and everyone have been on board. I’m glad we did it.”
Third-round leader Tony Finau and fourth-ranked Justin Thomas have donned Bryant jerseys on the hole. Finau birdied it Friday and Saturday wearing a yellow No. 8 Lakers jersey.
“I’m a huge Kobe fan, huge Lakers fan my whole life and, obviously, tragic news, but I think as we look forward we can honor what he’s done,” Finau said.
Thomas has worn a white No. 33 Lower Merion High School jersey, selecting it over a Lakers jersey that he also brought from his collection.
“It’s not just for him and Gigi, it’s for everyone that lost their lives and their families,” Thomas said. “Just for me, he had such an impact on me and he was such a person that I looked up to and tried to kind of have my mental approach like that, I felt like it was very fitting.”
Miller makes 46 saves as Ducks defeat Kings 3-1
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ryan Miller still can come up with big games when called upon.
The 39-year old backup goalie for Anaheim made 46 saves to lead the Ducks to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
“It felt good to get in there and see some pucks. I felt like I have been playing the game I have been striving for,” Miller said. “I’ve been learning the past couple years what the deal is.”
The 46 saves are the second-most the 17-year veteran has made in a regulation win. It is the 42nd time he has made over 40 saves, but only the 19th in which his team has won in regulation.
The victory is the 384th of Miller’s career, which is the most by an American-born goaltender. It also puts him one away from tying Mike Vernon for 15th on the NHL’s career wins list
“I’m just trying to enjoy the time I get in the net. Tonight was exciting with the family in town. It was an opportunity for everyone to feel good,” Miller said.
The only goal Miller allowed came with 2:39 remaining in the second, when Tyler Toffoli’s slap shot from the right circle on the power play trickled under his legs.
Even though Miller faced a lot of shots, he didn’t face many odd-man rushes or rebounds where he was under pressure.
“He had to come up with a couple big saves but it never seemed like we were under stress,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. ” As many shots as they had tonight I did like where they came from for the most part. We were able to keep them from the outside and keep the red zone clear.”
Max Jones, Derek Grant, Jacob Larsson scored for the Ducks, who have won four of six. Anaheim has taken two of three in this year’s Freeway Series.
Baffert earns 3,000th win with Thousand Words at Santa Anita
ARCADIA, (AP) — Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert got his 3,000th career victory when Thousand Words won the $100,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Saturday.
Thousand Words won by three-quarters of a length in the Grade 3 race named for Baffert’s late client. The colt ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.64 at Santa Anita to earn 10 points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard that determines the 20-horse field for the race in May.
Baffert also won the Lewis Stakes for a record eighth time.
“I had a feeling it was going to happen in this race,” he said about his 3,000th victory. “The first 50 wins were probably the hardest, 100 were life-changers. I feel very blessed and fortunate that I’ve been able to last in this business and do so well after coming from the quarterhorse business.”
Dale Baird holds the career wins record by a trainer with 9,445.
Thousand Words paid $3.20, $2.60 and $2.10 as the 3-5 favorite in the field of six 2-year-olds. He was purchased for $1 million at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale and is unbeaten in three starts.
“He ran very well,” winning jockey Flavien Prat said. “He put me in a good spot and he was comfortable down there. He took the dirt (in his face) well and when I asked him to run, he really accelerated.”
Royal Act paid $8.60 and $4.40 at 18-1 odds in his first start on dirt. He earned four Kentucky Derby qualifying points. High Velocity, also trained by Baffert, returned $2.40 to show. He received two Derby points.
The victory, worth $60,000, increased Thousand Words’ career earnings to $211,000.