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Category: Helene Elliott

Wake-up call: Drew Doughty, Brandon Marshall, Kobe and Shaq

Drew Doughty is face down on the ice as he reaches to break up a play the Calgary Flames' Brandon Prust.

First things first: Rookie defenseman Drew Doughty makes the Kings worth watching. Even though the opponent was the Florida Panthers (now 4-7-1), it was fun to see him make one play after another that for long stretches kept the Panthers from even having shots on goal. At one point in the third period he flew down onto the ice, fully stretched out at precisely the right second, to poke away the puck and shut off the play (see picture above). The 18-year-old Doughty, who was the Kings' first-round pick (second overall) in June's entry draft, also had two assists last night. As Helene Elliott notes in this morning's column, it wasn't a perfect game but ...

The Panthers, near the bottom of the East and in an 0-4-1 slide, were flat. The Kings weren't much better, barely holding on to end their 0-3-2 slide after Nathan Horton's shot deflected off the foot of teammate Richard Zednik and past goaltender Erik Ersberg to pull Florida within 3-2 with 50.2 seconds left.

To the Kings, who are now 4-6-2 and starved for rewards after coming oh-so-close in one-goal losses to the Red Wings, Flames and Ducks on this homestand alone, the victory was a thing of beauty.

Add Kings: Goalie Erik Ersberg played well enough, however, to get a win and is now 1-1 with a 1.61 goals-against average. He made some terrific glove saves in the game that no doubt gives Kings fan hope.

Ducks' turn: The streaking Ducks (8-0-1 in their last nine games) host the Dallas Stars tonight. In Chris Foster's notebook, goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere tells him that you ain't seen nothing yet.

Talking about gloves: If you didn't see last night's game between the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns, then you missed one of the oddest moments this season. Late in the game, Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall scored a TD (the winning one, it turned out) and started pulling something from his pants. It was a black-and-white glove, designed to pay tribute to Barack Obama. That's against NFL rules. No props allowed (remember the popcorn and Sharpie incidents with Terrell Owens?). But there won't be a fine in this case because teammate Brandon Stokley intervened. You can see the the photo here of what Marshall was doing. Nice thought to pay tribute to Obama, but using the gloves to celebrate would have brought a penalty, with the Broncos up by only four. Brian Billick, the former coach of the Baltimore Ravens, was on the Dan Patrick show this morning and said this about Marshall's idea: "If it's going to cost your team, it's a bad idea. If that penalty cost you three points and you lose, that's bad. Billick said there are a number of ways to show your support without putting your team in jeopardy."

Gloves off: Our NBA columnist Mark Heisler takes on the saga of the Lakers in his new book, "Madmen's Ball: The Continuing Saga of Kobe, Phil and the Los Angeles Lakers." In an excerpt, the author writes about the start of Kobe Bryant's and Shaquille O'Neal's last season together. Here is a part of that:

Every day, Black [John Black, Lakers publicist] announced [Kobe] Bryant would only Lakers_3take basketball questions, but it was the reporters' job to ask other questions, and Bryant often answered them. When a CBS producer asked Bryant about that day's events in court, Black lifted her credentials on the spot. After Newsweek's Allison Samuels wrote a tough cover piece, she couldn't even get credentials.

For his part, [Phil] Jackson regarded this as the usual hysteria, like that which he'd turned to his own advantage in Chicago. He jauntily told the press he would show players "how to dodge questions that you guys present," and said Bryant's situation might actually be a "boon" that brought them together. Everyone else in the organization was considering alternative careers.

-- Debbie Goffa

Top photo: Drew Doughty is face down on the ice as he reaches to break up a play the Calgary Flames' Brandon Prust. Credit: Hector Mata / Associated Press

Pop-up photo: Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall starts to pull a black-and-white glove from his pants after an 11-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter of the game against the Browns Credit: Mark Duncan / Associated Press

Kimmie Meissner gets through bumpy practice

Kimmie Meissner performs in this afternoon's Ladies Short Program practice at Skate America. Everett, Wash. -- Kimmie Meissner, still seeking the form that helped her win the 2006 world figure skating championship and 2007 U.S. title, had a rocky session Friday as she practiced for the start of the women's competition Saturday at Skate America.

Meissner, of Bel Air. Md., fell four times in her warm-up and again on a double axel while practicing her long program. She also appeared to be off balance on a couple of landings and touched her hand to the ice on landing a toe jump.

Richard Callaghan, who took over as her coach shortly before the last World Championships, said the process of rebuilding her confidence and her technique continues.

"Since the end of May I think we've had the time to go back and correct some jump techniques and work on the speed of the spins and the jumps," said Callaghan, the coach of 1998 Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski.

"We had to take things apart a little bit, but things have come back together pretty good, I feel. This is the very first time she's shown the long program so she was worried a little bit about that. Her legs were very tight today, so some of the things that happened today I thought were great because she was so tight. There were a few too many mistakes."

If there were a best practice award, it would probably go to Yu-na Kim of Korea, who sailed through her warm-up and routine with an easy grace and solid jumping skills. Kim, the bronze medalist at the last two World Championships, trains in Toronto with coach Brian Orser, the 1984 and 1988 men's Olympic silver medalist.   

More later on the ice dance compulsory dance, the pairs short program and the men's short program, all taking place later today.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Kimmie Meissner performs in this afternoon's ladies short program practice at Skate America. Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images

Practice doesn't make perfect for Mirai Nagasu

Nagasu Everett, Wash. -- Defending U.S. figure skating champion Mirai Nagasu of Arcadia will make her senior-level international debut at Skate America despite a tender right ankle, her coach, Charlene Wong, said after the women practiced Friday at Comcast Arena.

The women's competition will begin Saturday. In Friday's practice, Nagasu performed her long program but left out several jumps. Wong said that was by design.

"She's dealing a little bit with an injury that has actually plagued her for quite some time," Wong said. "There's progress being made, though. She and her parents chose, based on the information they received from the doctors, she chose to do kind of like the swimmers do. When swimmers get an injury, they stay in the water as much as possible. She chose to stay on the ice as much as possible and just abstain from the moves that would aggravate her ankle.

"In the last two or three days, it hasn't really been bothering her that much. I'm happy about that. I'm happy for her because she can skate with a sense of fearlessness."

Wong also said Nagasu is adjusting well to a growth spurt -- she's 5-foot-3 -- and a newly mature body.

"She definitely grew, and she filled out," Wong said. "I'm so excited that she grew. I'm so excited that she's filling out. Personally I don' t really like to see little girls competing against young women, and Mirai now can hold her own physically and also in her emotional production with some of those more sophisticated athletes that we've been seeing the past couple of years."

--Helene Elliott

Photo: Mirai Nagasu carries flowers, her medal and a flag after winning the women's figure skating championship at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul, Minn., in January. Credit: Tom Olmscheid / Associated Press

How about a Kings 'All U Can Win' night?


A visit by the Detroit Red Wings to Los Angeles used to be an automatic sellout, but apparently no more.

The Kings, recognizing that they can't guarantee a playoff spot, have done the next-best thing to woo fans back after five straight non-playoff seasons and while the team continues its perpetual rebuilding process.

The Kings are promoting an "All U Can Eat" value package for Monday's game at Staples Center. The $27 deal includes a ticket and unlimited hot dogs, sodas, nachos, peanuts and popcorn. Note that adult beverages are NOT included.

The last few seasons, watching the Kings was often hazardous to your health. Now, if you get sick, you can blame it on too many nachos.

On a more humanistic note, the Kings also designated Monday as "Hockey Fights Cancer" night. The Kings and Red Wings will wear special helmet decals, and coaches and players will wear special ties to commemorate the event. A number of initiatives to promote this cause will take place during the game.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: With a sellout crowd watching, the Kings Patrick O'Sullivan looks to turn around and shoot the puck against the Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk as goalie Chris Osgood defends in a game last January at Staples Center. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times

Wake-up call: Dodgers, Ducks, flooded dugout, 'Pacman' Jones

Phillie Phanatic

First things first: I'm starting with baseball -- despite Adam (don't call me "Pacman") Jones having gotten into an altercation* (more on that later). The Dodgers are taking on the Phillies in Game 1 at 5:15 tonight on Channel 11 and if the Dodgers pitchers can keep those smart, pesky left-handed hitters in check.... Left-handers seem to be pesky in every walk of life. And, yes, I'm left-handed but throw right and have the rotator cuff surgery scars to prove I did that too much in life. Derek Lowe has the start. Will we see phenom left-hander Clayton Kershaw start one of these games? Tampa Bay Rays take on the Red Sox on Friday.

Off to a good start: TJ Simers launches a few missiles at Philadelphia today, calling it a "dingy city" and its residents "pit bulls running wild." I'll have to ask Assistant Sports Editor Athan Atsales about this. He loves the Eagles and the Phillies. I've been to Philadelphia, but it was years ago. And I loved Phillie Phanatic (see picture above). Athan? 

Cubs are all wet anyway: The smashed water pipe in the Cubs' dugout at Dodger Stadium after their Game 3 loss caused a flood but not much buzz. At least not the same as the buzz caused by the smashing of Sammy Sosa's boom box after the final game of 2004, as the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan points out. Cubs GM Jim Hendry said he didn't know who did it and didn't care. "I have no idea, and I don't have any interest in finding out," he said. "To me, it's not even an issue. Believe me, if I had been in a uniform, it might have been me." The broken water pipe caused the dugout to flood.

He loves trouble: OK, Adam (don't call me "Pacman") Jones was in trouble again* after getting into a fight at a Dallas hotel with his own bodyguard. Jones, who is with the Dallas Cowboys now, returned to the NFL in August after serving a one-year suspension for violations of the league conduct policy. He was told by Commissioner Roger Goodell that further problems could result in a lifetime ban.

Yes, hockey begins: The NHL gets fully underway tonight, and one of the games is the Ducks-Sharks at 7:30 on FSN Prime. Is anyone in in L.A. ready for hockey when the Dodgers are in the playoffs? I am, but I will watch the Dodgers game and pick up the Ducks game afterward. The Ducks' Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne are back and this could be another (happily) long season toward the Stanley Cup. I also hope it's not Brian Burke's last here. Helene Elliott's rankings put them at No. 4. The Kings open on Saturday.

-- Debbie Goffa

*An earlier version, which said Jones was arrested, was based on an early wire story. He was not arrested in the incident.

Photo: Phillie Phanatic. Credit: Chris Gardner / Associated Press

Shea goodbye: Mets will move, memories stay

One view of Shea Stadium.

It was fashionable last week to get emotional over the last days of Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees --like the Montreal Canadiens -- know how to stage a touching tribute. With all that history and the Hall of Fame players they can trot out, how can you miss?

I'd like to take a few minutes, though, to offer a tribute to Shea Stadium on its final regular-season weekend (and maybe final weekend ever if the Mets choke).

Yes, Shea Stadium, with planes flying so low en route to nearby LaGuardia Airport that you could almost see the pilots at the controls.

Unlike Yankee Stadium, visiting Shea left few people misty-eyed. But I'll miss it when it's gone because it was a link to my childhood, to my first steps toward independence.

Shea Stadium was one of the first places my mom would let me take the subway to by myself. From my remote corner of Brooklyn, that meant taking a bus to the LL line, as it was then known, and taking that to Lorimer Street. Then, transfer to the GG to Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights, and transfer there to the 7 train to Willets Point-Shea Stadium.

My friends and I would go during Easter vacation and someone's dad would pick us up after night games. We'd buy cheap seats and try to sneak down to the field level, which didn't happen often.

I learned about impossible dreams by watching the 1969 Mets win the World Series, and about sorrow when Gil Hodges, the Mets' manager and still a hero in Brooklyn from his Dodgers days, died way too young of a heart attack in 1972. I learned about baseball and so much else.

Shea was never a palace, and in recent years it became terribly rundown. But I'll miss it--and for only $869 (plus a $10 processing fee) I'll soon own two seats.

As a kid, I never understood why my parents would sometimes take us for a drive and show us where they used to live or point out empty lots that were sites of relatives' homes or long-gone stores. I think I know now. It's not the bricks or concrete that you miss, it's the connection to the person you once were.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: One view of Shea Stadium. Credit: Nick Laham / Getty Images


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