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Column: Lakers need Russell Westbrook to be dominant


Anthony Davis chose his words carefully.

“Umm…” he started.

Davis had been asked about what Russell Westbrook could do to more often be the player who scored 18 points in the third quarter of the 106-100 defeat to the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, the version of him that carried the Lakers to a comeback victory over the Detroit Pistons two nights earlier.

“He’ll figure it out,” Davis resumed.

Davis paused for a beat, then addressed the heart of the matter.

“You know, I think the difference is both games there’s no [LeBron James],” Davis said. san jose mercury sports just need to figure out a way where he does that no matter who’s on the floor.”

James served a one-game suspension in the nationally televised game Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Westbrook’s offensive outburst in Detroit came after James was ejected for hitting Isaiah Stewart in the face.

More than a month into the season, Westbrook remains the most perplexing figure on an unevenly constructed team that is now 9-10.

He is both a source of concern and optimism, his five turnovers in the opening half eliciting pessimism and backing the belief these Lakers were doomed upon their inception and his 31-point, 10-assist, 13-rebound triple-double offering a tantalizing possibility of what they can be if he learns to co-exist with their two other superstars.

How Westbrook played could be directly linked to how the Lakers played. He played an uninspired first half and they were behind 10-0 less than two minutes into the game and by as many as 25. He dominated the third quarter and at one point erased the entire deficit.

Asked how he committed only one turnover in the second half against the Knicks, Westbrook remarked, “It’s funny you mention turnovers. I haven’t heard you ask me that question for five games. You know why?”

Because he was taking care of the ball?

Westbrook, who turned the ball over a combined 12 times in his previous four games, flashed a wide smile.

He said he and the Lakers are still in the early stages of learning about each other.

“It’s a process for everybody, including myself, just the pace, the speed,” Westbrook said.

He has warned his new teammates the tempo is about to increase.

“As the season goes along, I tell the guys, for me, my pace picks up,” he said.

Coach Frank Vogel said he’s started figuring out what unlocks Westbrook.

“There are certain sets that we are looking at, certain spacing alignment, whether to bring a big to the ball, keep him iso on the wing,” Vogel said. “There’s a few plays that we run in the middle of the floor that he seems to have good rhythm with.”

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook and New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) vie for a rebound as Knicks’ RJ Barrett (9) watches during the first half Tuesday in New York.

(Jim McIsaac / Associated Press)

Davis is imploring Westbrook to maintain his trademark attacking mindset, regardless of the situation, regardless of who is on the court with him.

“He has to be himself,” Davis said. “I tell him before every game, ‘Be nobody but yourself. That’s why we brought you here.’”

As hard-headed as Westbrook looks from the outside, Davis described him as being overly accommodating of his new teammates.

“A lot of times, he tries to go passive and starts passing the basketball and looking for other guys, which is great, but it kind of takes him out of rhythm,” Davis said. “He can do the same looking for guys while being aggressive.”

Which is what he did in that third quarter. In addition to making seven of 10 shots in the period, he also registered three assists.

Davis observed that Westbrook’s turnovers are a byproduct not of being overly attack-minded, but of not being attack-minded enough.

“When he goes and looks to pass and [isn’t] looking at the rim, that’s where a lot of his turnovers come from, him not being aggressive,” Davis said.

Westbrook said he was upbeat about how his on-court communication with Davis was improving.

Playing with James could be the greater challenge.

The best quarter the Lakers have played this season might have come earlier on this trip in Boston, when James foreclosed homes for sale tulsa from an eight-game absence because of a strained abdominal muscle.

With James as the team’s primary ballhandler, the Lakers built a 38-30 lead in the first quarter. But Westbrook disappeared and he never made his presence felt in the game, finishing with only 12 points.

What Westbrook, James and Vogel must figure out is whether the version of Westbrook who controlled the game in the third quarter Wednesday can share a stage with James and thrive without the ball always in his hands. Davis thinks he can. He better be right. Whether this season can be salvaged depends on it.


USC coaching search: Matt Campbell, Kyle Whittingham reportedly heating up as candidates

The USC coaching is reportedly heating up with several candidates "moving up" in the mix, including Iowa State's Matt Campbell and Utah's Kyle Whittingham, according to the LA Times. Campbell has a shot at filling LSU's vacancy as well as the Tigers have narrowed their list of finalists to three, per reports.

Campbell, who's under contract at $4 million through 2028, is in his sixth season at Iowa State and has failed to meet preseason expectation this fall at 6-5 overall, this coming after an impressive 2020 campaign. Campbell has always managed to do more with less, so it would be intriguing to see what he could do with an elite roster in a fertile recruiting area like California.

Prior to his time with cnb routing number california Cyclones, Campbell made a name for himself at Toledo where he had four winning seasons and won nine games three different times.

"After doing some reconnaissance, I am confident in saying that USC has interest in Campbell," LA Times reporter J. Brady McCullough wrote this week.

Asked about the USC opening last month, Whittingham declined to speak on the situation.

“I never make any comments on any job speculation, one way or another,” Whittingham said. ““Why speculate on speculation? It doesn’t make sense. That seems to be the safest route to go.”

Whitingham is 142-69 overall with the Utes and has finished inside the top 25 seven times. Utah clinched the Pac-12 South this season and beat third-ranked Oregon, 38-7, san jose mercury sports week to move closer to a possible New Year's Six appearance. reports Campbell, Baylor's Dave Aranda and Cincinnati's Luke Fickell are at the top of the Trojans' target list (VIP). Another name to surface this week is former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who nows coaches the defense with the Dallas Cowboys.

According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, a "trusted Hotline source" told him the Trojans could pursue Quinn. Wilner reports that Quinn's past experience on the West Coast and his ties to former USC national champion head coach Pete Carroll make him at least viable candidate if USC wanted to go that direction. Quinn held assistant jobs with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in the past.

Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reported earlier this month the Trojans were gunning for several big names.

“Much in the same way that (LSU athletic director Scott) Woodward covets (Jimbo) Fisher, it’s safe to project that USC AD Mike Bohn would like to lure Luke Fickell to Los Angeles. Bohn hired Fickell at Cincinnati, and along with the hottest coach in the market, there’s some important familiarity,” Thamel wrote in a coaching search bit. “(Bohn hired Jon Embree at Colorado and he went 4-21, which will make a leader risk-averse.) The issues with Fickell’s courtship are Cincinnati’s chances to make the College Football Playoff, which would make a hire virtually untenable, and Fickell’s deep Midwest roots. 

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Any courtship of Fickell would involve a plan for his family, as he and his wife, Amy, and six kids are grounded in Cincinnati. Regardless, USC will aim high with established boldfaced names like Matt Campbell, James Franklin and Dave Aranda as potential targets.”

Riley Gates contributed to this report.


More dangerous than ever, ‘trench monster’ Nick Bosa records two sacks

But he got his own “B.S. sack” Sunday when he chased Trevor Lawrence out of bounds, giving the Jaguars’ rookie a shove just before he left the field.

“I’ll take it,” Bosa said subsequently. The sack, the second of his two fourth-quarter sacks, brought his season total to a career-high 10. That means through 10 games, Bosa has surpassed his total from 2019 (nine), when he was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.

“I think I’ve definitely improved a lot,” Bosa said of his evolution as a pass rusher. “I think I’m starting to get the hang of just how to really get sacks. My rookie year, I was just out there rushing, trying to win every time. It worked well, but now I’m really getting the hang of how the sack leaders do it. They go out there with a plan and know when their opportunities are going to come and they’re ready for it.”

That sound you hear? That’s the groaning of offensive coordinators around the league. Bosa is just starting to get the hang of things?

In particular, the seven remaining offensive coordinators on the elmira savings bank ithaca ny hours schedule have to be regretting their timing. Because, after early stumbles, the 49ers’ defense is starting to look awfully familiar.

In the past two games, the 49ers have yielded just 20 san jose mercury sports and a combined 478 yards, and just 52 and 54 yards on the ground.

“I attribute it to everybody kind of locking in, coming together, playing for one another,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “The mentality is to get the ball back for the offense. The biggest difference of why you see us dominating teams is we’re winning the turnover battle. That’s always a plus.”

Not surprisingly, the motor behind the resurgence is Bosa. Fully recovered from last year’s ACL tear, he’s explosive and dangerous.

“I definitely feel like I’m san jose mercury sports better than I ever have, which — coming off an injury — is great to be able to get to this point,” Bosa said. “It’s san jose mercury sports credit to our training back home and all the work that me and my brother (Joey Bosa) put in in the offseason.”

To a man, the defense attributes its improvement to winning the turnover battle, which the 49ers did again Sunday, with two takeaways.

“It kind of flips the momentum of the game,” Bosa said. “And when they don’t go your way, it kind of snowballs. … I just rush the passer. I don’t look too much behind me. But I know when we’re getting there and it’s because the guys behind us are covering.”

Defensive back Josh Norman, who forced a fumble Sunday, is one of the guys behind Bosa. Free hacked credit cards with money 2017 calls the defensive linemen “the trench monsters.”

“I feel like I’m one of those guys san jose mercury sports I’m coming downhill and getting fumbles,” Norman said. “I like to be a part of them because they make our job so much easier.”

Unlike earlier in the season, the 49ers’ defense is making the most of the opportunities presented.

Bosa was surprised he had any opportunities left Sunday. With the game so out of hand, he thought he might be subbed out.

Instead, he remained in the game and got two sacks.

“It’s the NFL and we’ve got to go end it,” he said. “Got to be ready.”

Bosa looks as ready as ever.

Ann Killion is a columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @annkillion


SAN JOSE – The Sharks only have a few more days to decide — or announce — how they want to handle Evander Kane’s potential return to the organization after his 21-game suspension comes to an end.

According to Sharks coach Bob Boughner, though, inserting Kane back into the lineup right away is not an option.

Kane did not participate in training camp and hasn’t practiced with the team all season. Two days after the season started, Kane was suspended for violating the NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 Protocol, extending his time away from the team on the ice to over two months.

Kane’s suspension officially ends after the Sharks play the Blackhawks in Chicago on Saturday, and general manager Doug Wilson hasn’t given any indication as to how he plans to handle the situation. The Sharks’ next game after Saturday is Monday in New Jersey against the Devils.

Having Kane play right away, though, is “not realistic,” Boughner said.

“That’s why players come to camp,” Boughner said Wednesday morning before the Sharks host the Ottawa Senators. “It’s a couple-week process where you play preseason games and play inter-squad games, you get body contact, you get pushed around and that’s really what the next phase of the training would be.

“As far as I know, that hasn’t happened. So, realistic? No.”

Per the NHL and NHLPA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, a newtown savings bank holiday hours has to give consent if the club wishes to have him play with its minor league team to improve conditioning. Any conditioning loan could not last for more than 14 days, per the CBA.

In 2018, Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals spent 16 games away after a suspension but did not play any AHL games before his return to how can i pay my sprint cell phone bill online NHL.

Wilson was suspended for 20 games by the NHL for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis forward Oskar Sundqvist in a September 2018 preseason game. But Wilson had his suspension reduced to 14 games by an independent arbitrator, and by the time the arbitration process was complete, Wilson had already served 16 games. He immediately returned to the Capitals’ lineup, but he at least had the benefit of a training camp.

In January 2019, Austin Watson, then with the Nashville Predators, was suspended indefinitely without pay as part of the NHL’s substance abuse program. Watson, now in his second season with the Senators, did not practice with the team for over two months as he missed 27 games. He played in two AHL games before he returned to Nashville’s lineup in April.

Kane, 30, has never played an AHL game and it is unclear if he will do so next month.

The Barracuda, after its game Saturday in Ontario, is not scheduled to play again until Dec. 4 in Abbotsford. The team is holding practice in San Jose from Monday until Thursday next week before they depart for British Columbia.

Beyond his conditioning, though, Kane would also have to get his timing back and learn the nuances of the Sharks’ system, which has been tweaked since the end of last season. Kane’s last NHL game was on May 12 as the Sharks missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

“No doubt it’s going to be tough for someone just to jump in and play at a high level,” Sharks winger Andrew Cogliano said Wednesday morning, adding that if Kane plays in the NHL right away. “as an athlete, a professional, he’s going to have to make it work and get up to speed pretty quickly.”

It’s likely the Sharks have explored other options regarding Kane if they no longer want him with the team.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman mentioned on Toronto radio Tuesday that he “heard” the Sharks would be willing to retain some of Kane’s salary to help facilitate a trade.

But a deal could still prove to be extremely difficult considering the size of Kane’s contract, which carries an annual cap hit of $7 million for three more seasons after this one. There’s also the question of whether Kane is a negative presence in the locker room, and whether other teams would be willing to assume that potential risk.

The Sharks could also just pay Kane what he is owed and ask him to stay away from the team for the rest of the season and revisit the situation then. Or, they could place him on waivers. In which case, if he is not claimed by another team, he would be assigned to the Barracuda.

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Voiding Kane’s deal is not an option right now. A contract can only be terminated if the player does something to violate it, and that hasn’t been the case so far.

In any case, the Sharks have said since the start of training camp in September that their focus is on the players that they have in their room.

With Kane away, the Sharks had a 9-8-1 record and were in fifth place in the Pacific Division before Wednesday’s game. That’s an improvement over the 7-9-2 record they had after 18 games last season when they played all but four games away from home.

“We’ll see what happens,” Cogliano said. “I know it’s a story. I know a lot of things are going on, but there’s so much in the NHL that you have to be thinking about in terms of yourself on a game-by-game basis that I think that’s all we’re focused on at that point. Those decisions are really not ours.”

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