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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. We’re back from break! Did I miss anything while I was gone?

LAKERS

The Lakers had two guards go down in the second quarter in a game in which LeBron James produced a triple-double, but only Avery Bradley was unable to return after suffering a sprained right ankle during their 106-99 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers said X-rays on Avery’s ankle were negative.

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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope rolled his left ankle on a drive in the second quarter. He went to the locker room, got the ankle re-taped, and he returned to play in the second half in place of Bradley.

Bradley had stolen the basketball and then turned it over heading toward the Lakers’ basket. As he jumped around, Bradly rolled his ankle and had to be helped to the Lakers’ locker room.

The Lakers remained undefeated against teams with records below .500 this season behind James’ 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. The Lakers also tallied 20 blocks — Anthony Davis finished with eight, JaVale McGee had six and Dwight Howard had five.

Davis also scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds and and Alex Caruso finished with 13 points to help the Lakers win their fifth consecutive game.

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CLIPPERS

The Clippers forgot how to play defense over the holidays, it appears. After they got booed during a 140-114 home loss to Memphis on Saturday, they got off to a horrible start against the New York Knicks, giving up 45 points in the first quarter.

But, propelled by a 47-point second quarter, the Clippers continued to torch New York’s defense in the third quarter before holding on late for a 135-132 victory at Staples Center.

A day after center Montrezl Harrell questioned his team’s desire after Saturday’s loss while noting he did “my job day in, and day out,” he backed up his words with a 22-point first half that helped the Clippers survive a disastrous defensive performance in the first quarter. Harrell tied his career high with 34 points while adding six rebounds and was part of a bench unit that scored 85 points — the most ever in a game in Clippers franchise history.

The Clippers (26-12) shot 54%, including 56% from beyond the three-point line, to hold off New York (10-26) in a shooting contest. The Knicks made 57% of their shots, including 52% from deep. Marcus Morris led all scorers with 38 points.

Highlights from the Clippers’ win over the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Without Kawhi Leonard, who missed his 10th game as part of the team’s load management strategy to limit his workload, the Clippers started a big lineup with four players 6 foot 7 or taller to challenge a long Knicks roster. But neither the Clippers’ bitter taste since allowing a season-high 140 points against Memphis, nor the revamped lineup, could keep the Knicks from scoring 45 points, the most allowed by the Clippers in a first quarter this season. New York made 76% of its shots and led by 16 points entering the second quarter.

The Clippers scored 47 in the second quarter, while holding the Knicks to 24, to lead 76-69 at the half. It was the highest-scoring quarter by the franchise since March 7, 1986 and was fueled by Lou Williams’ career-best five three-pointers and 18 second-quarter points. He finished with 32 points and nine assists.

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NBA Western Conference playoff standings

(top eight teams make the playoffs)

1. Lakers, 29-7, .806, —

2. Denver, 24-11, .686, 4.5 GB

3. Houston, 24-11, .686, 4.5 GB

4. Clippers, 26-12, .684, 4 GB

5. Utah, 23-12, .657, 5.5 GB

6. Dallas, 22-13, .629, 6.5 GB

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7. Oklahoma City, 20-15, .571, 8.5 GB

8. San Antonio, 14-20, .412, 14 GB

9. Memphis, 15-22, .405, 14.5 GB

10. Portland, 15-22, .405, 14.5 GB

11. Minnesota, 14-21, .400, 14.5 GB

12. Phoenix, 14-22, .389, 15 GB

13. Sacramento, 13-23, .361, 16 GB

14. New Orleans, 12-24, .333, 17 GB

15. Golden State, 9-28, .243, 20.5 GB

VIKINGS-SAINTS

Hours after the postseason of 42-year-old Tom Brady came to an abrupt end, the same happened for fellow future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, 40, whose team was beaten in overtime Sunday before a stunned and yelled-out crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Kirk Cousins, who had an abysmal record in big games, came through in a huge way for the underdog Minnesota Vikings, throwing a four-yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph in the back corner of the end zone in overtime to seal a 26-20 win in an NFC wild-card game.

“No. 8!” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said in the raucous and cramped visitors locker room, summoning his quarterback into the cheering scrum of purple-clad players. “How’s it feel to win a playoff game, baby?”

A gleeful Cousins accepted the game ball, then addressed his teammates, punctuating his message with a pumping fist.

“That’s how we’ve won all year — team, right?” he said. “You held them to 20 points, men. You gave us a chance at the end. But I’ve got three words for you.” He then invoked his jugular-bulging catchphrase from his Washington Redskins days. “YOU LIKE THAT?”

Even though his team lost, Saints reserve quarterback Taysom Hill was stupendous. An incredibly versatile player who steps in for Brees at various points, he had a 50-yard completion — the longest pass play of the game — caught a 20-yard touchdown pass, and ran four times for 50 yards, earning a first down on each carry.

Hill was one of the few offensive weapons who was effective against an otherwise smothering Minnesota defense. Brees was sacked three times after being sacked just 12 times in 11 games during the regular season. The Vikings got a strong push up the middle to get to him, their strategy in light of the ability of Saints tackles to secure the edges.

SEAHAWKS-EAGLES

After Jadeveon Clowney knocked out Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks knocked off the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wilson threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf, Marshawn Lynch had a rushing score and the Seahawks beat the Eagles 17-9 in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs.

Making his first career playoff start, Wentz lasted two series before exiting with a head injury following a helmet-to-helmet hit from Clowney.

Forty-year-old Josh McCown stepped in, becoming the oldest quarterback to make his playoff debut. But he couldn’t lead the Eagles into the end zone.

Wilson threw for 325 yards and led the team with 45 yards rushing. Metcalf had seven catches for 160 yards.

NFL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Divisional Round

Saturday

Minnesota at San Francisco, 1:30 p.m., NBC

Tennessee at Baltimore, 5:15 p.m., CBS

Sunday

Houston at Kansas City, Noon, CBS

Seattle at Green Bay, 3:30 p.m., FOX

Conference Championship

Sunday, Jan. 19

TBD at TBD, Noon, CBS

TBD at TBD, 3:30 p.m., FOX

Super Bowl

Sunday Feb. 2

TBD vs. TBD, 3:30 p.m., FOX

UCLA BASKETBALL

A dominant third quarter helped the Bruins prevail in a battle of unbeaten teams Sunday at Pauley Pavilion as No. 10 UCLA ended No. 18 Arizona’s 19-game winning streak with a decisive 70-58 victory. The Bruins (14-0, 3-0 Pac-12) extended their home winning streak to 12 games.

UCLA scored 31 points in a tied first half and followed it with 28 points in the third quarter. The Bruins are the first team to score more than 60 points against Arizona (13-1, 2-1 Pac-12) this year. The Wildcats, averaging 45.4 points allowed per game while getting off to the best start in school history, led the nation in scoring defense entering Sunday.

Junior Michaela Onyenwere led the Bruins with 18 points and 13 rebounds while Chantel Horvat played a season-high 24 minutes and tallied her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

USC BASKETBALL

Isaiah Stewart scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Quade Green added 14 points and Washington routed USC, 72-40.

USC freshman Onyeka Okongwu had 12 points and nine rebounds, but was the only Trojans player in double figures. The Trojans (12-3, 1-1) had their seven-game win streak end thanks to a terrible night of shooting. USC shot 20% from the field and was just two of 15 on 3-pointers. The lack of shooting from the perimeter allowed Washington’s zone to be even more effective in clogging the paint.

DUCKS

Adam Henrique had two goals and an assist, Ryan Getzlaf got the deciding goal in the fifth round of the shootout and also had three assists, and the Ducks beat the Nashville Predators 5-4.

Daniel Sprong had a goal and an assist, and Cam Fowler also scored to help the Ducks end a three-game losing streak. John Gibson made 22 saves.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Columbus at Kings, 7:30 p.m., FSW

BORN ON THIS DATE

1920: Baseball player Early Wynn (d. 1999)

1921: Golfer Cary Middlecoff (d. 1998)

1926: Boxer Kid Gavilan (d. 2003)

1926: Former Dodger Ralph Branca (d. 2016)

1936: Tennis player Darlene Hard

1937: Football coach Lou Holtz

1946: Former Ram Harold Jackson

1951: Baseball player Don Gullett

1957: Golfer Nancy Lopez

1960: Golfer Paul Azinger

1961: Football player Howie Long

1962: Football player Sean Landeta

1964: Football player Charles Haley

1982: Basketball player Gilbert Arenas

AND FINALLY

Golf tips from Nancy Lopez. 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

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