Lakers play with urgency in win over Trail Blazers, ending four-game losing streak

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersSaturday night would prove him right.The Lakers (25-7) four-game skid came to a close on the road in Portland, as they found a jolt of offensive life for a 128-120 win over the Trail Blazers (14-19).So much of that had to do with the presence of LeBron James, a game-time decision who turned out to have a lot in the tank despite groin discomfort. He played floor general, racking up 16 assists (tied for a season-high) to go with 21 points.But embedded in an emphatic performance by the Lakers offense was an urgency that felt new to a team that hadn’t been sweating its lead atop the Western Conference for many weeks. Threaded through Davis’ lob dunks, Kyle Kuzma’s quick-cutting spins and James’ surgical passes was a drive to climb out of the rut they’ve been in for the last four games.“The players, the coaching staff, everyone that’s involved in this, we’re competitors: We don’t want to lose,” James said. “You just try to make up for it. You have a great opportunity. You have 24 hours, 48 hours or sometimes 72 hours to make amends and be better. And we were better tonight than we were on Christmas.” Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed After lamenting a passive offensive approach against the Nuggets and Clippers, the Lakers aggressively attacked the paint where they scored 60 points. That aggression and paint-touching helped open up other opportunities which they found with accuracy: They piled up 32 assists to just 11 turnovers.It was a rare game in which the play of the bench helped motor the Lakers to victory: They had 72 points from reserves to 39 points from the Blazers bench.Kuzma was the head of that snake, pouring in 24 points, including 20 in the first half. Kuzma’s early energy lifted the Lakers from an early deficit, as he started the game 7 for 9 from the floor. Vogel said Kuzma’s aggression put pressure on the Trail Blazers, fanning the hopes that the third-year forward will emerge as a credible third scoring option for the team night-in and night-out. Related Articles How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs PreviousPortland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside (21) dunks over Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee, right, dunks over Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, shoots in front of Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsPortland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, right, is fouled by Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, front left, drives to the basket around Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, right, dribbles past Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum reacts after making a three-point basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso, right, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard Kent Bazemore during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, center, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside, right, and guard Kent Bazemore, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, left, dribbles past Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis shoots against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, center left, shoots over Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside (21) dunks over Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee, right, dunks over Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)NextShow Caption1 of 13Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee, right, dunks over Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)ExpandPORTLAND — A man known for splicing light-hearted clips into his film sessions took a different tone after the Lakers’ Christmas Day loss. Frank Vogel told his team he was mad.“I started the film session telling them I’m angry and edgy, so just forgive me but that’s just how I am,” he said. “That’s how I was feeling yesterday.”He wasn’t the only one. For the first time in weeks, the Lakers felt the fire of frustration, but were able to harness it in a constructive way. There was something different about that Friday film session and practice, Anthony Davis said — something that gave him a confidence he hadn’t felt in a while.“You want that competitive spirit back, and I think we’ve found that,” he said Saturday morning. “So I’m pretty sure we’ll come out victorious in this game.”center_img Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions After lighting up Portland, Kuzma seemed to understand that responsibility.“It’s not about the points, it’s just the way I played,” he said. “When I’m aggressive, all eyes are on me and it opens it up for other players. Regardless if I’m playmaking or passing to guys, it just opens it up because people are looking at me.”A bench-led stint to close the third quarter gave the Lakers significant breathing room, as veterans Rajon Rondo (15 points) and Dwight Howard (11 points) added some scoring punch. Just as the Blazers notched a momentum play with an and-one for Anfernee Simons, the Lakers seized it back with a bold play: Kuzma launched a pass to Davis across three-quarters of the court, then Davis pivoted to pass to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a buzzer-beating three to push the lead to 10.By early in the fourth with James re-entered, the Lakers were holding the Blazers at arm’s length despite 31 points from Damian Lillard. Fourth-quarter corner threes by Caldwell-Pope (13 points) delivered two more gut punches to the home squad before a dunk by Davis (20 points) with 1:37 remaining all but assured the Lakers’ win.Even though Davis aggravated a nagging shoulder injury during the game, the satisfaction of his guarantee fulfilled helped salve any physical pain.“We kind of figured we’d probably get this one,” he said. “Obviously this is a tough place to play and they have a great team led by Dame and CJ so we know it’s going to be pretty tough but we want to make sure we left this building with a win.It’s not a win the Lakers can celebrate for long: They host the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night at Staples Center. So far they’ve split the season series 1-1.James had an ice wrap around his elbow, which he landed on during the second quarter, and his feet were soaking in a cold tub. But James said he’d play if everything goes right.“I plan on it,” he said. “As long as this ice takes care of its business and I wake up comfortably and healthy, yeah.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Saints’ Sean Payton doubts NFL will investigate James Harrison’s envelope claims: ‘Don’t hold your breath’

first_imgFormer Steelers linebacker James Harrison alleged Thursday that coach Mike Tomlin “handed me an envelope” after he was fined $75,000 for knocking out Browns receiver Mohamad Massaquoi in 2010.Harrison, whose fine was later reduced to $50,000, made the allegation during an appearance on Barstool’s “Going Deep” podcast. His claim has already prompted statements from his agent and the Steelers organization that no such event took place. They’re not the only ones to have responded, either. Saints coach Sean Payton, who was suspended for the entire 2012 season as a result of New Orleans’ Bountygate scandal, said the NFL likely won’t investigate Tomlin based simply off Harrison’s claims.MORE: Tomlin ‘excited’ about having Ben Roethlisberger back at QB”If people are waiting for the league to investigate that, they shouldn’t hold their breath,” Payton said on Baltimore radio station 105.7 The Fan on Thursday. “I think what took place with us back in 2011 in so many ways was a sham, and yet there wasn’t a lot we could do with it. The players were vindicated, but from a league or coaching standpoint, there is no union, there is no represenation.” Payton, of course, is referring to the way the NFL handled its investigation into the Saints’ bounty scandal; the league found New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had instituted a bounty program from 2009 to 2011. He was suspended in 2012 as well before getting reinstated in 2013; he was hired by the Titans the same day as his reinstatement.Four players involved with the Saints scandal — linebackers Jonathan Vilma and Scott Fujita, defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove and defensive end Will Smith — all faced suspensions that were later vacated.”That’ll be something that’s tucked away or under the rug at Park Avenue,” Payton said. “They’ll look into it briefly. … Listen, don’t get me started on that. I lost $6 million in salary. And honestly it was something that I’ll never truly get over because I know how it was handled and how it was run and the reasons behind it. And that’s just the truth.”last_img read more

Two utility workers die after striking buried electrical line

first_imgPELLA, Iowa (AP) — Two workers installing internet cables in Pella died after striking an underground, high-voltage electrical cable. Pella Police Lt. Paul Haase said the workers died Saturday morning after striking the electrical line. Haase said residents nearby reported hearing a loud boom at the time. A third worker for Excel Utility Contractors suffered minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital. The crew was installing internet cables for Pella Fiber. Haase said 35-year-old Genis Urgell Rueda and 20-year-old Nelson Joani Figueroa died. They were both from Richmond, Virginia. People who lived near where the electrical line was struck were evacuated for about an hourlast_img read more