By Don Wanlass, Contributing Writer
The year 2020 has been horrible for sports, shutting down most of the games we watch for amusement every night and on weekends for more than four months while we coped with the coronavirus.
Now that sports have resumed, 2020 could become a golden year for Los Angeles fans, kind of like 1988 when the Lakers and Dodgers both brought have championship trophies.
Of course, you wouldn’t know that by reading social media sites after recent Dodgers and Lakers losses. Apparently some fans stored up an awful lot of venom during those four months they had to find something else to criticize.
Dodger fans are turning on Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger like they are waiver wire acquisitions, not some of the best players in the game.
And Lebron James and Anthony Davis hear it from Lakers fans whenever the Lakers lose, which has been four times since the season restarted July 30.
The Lakers have already clinched the top spot in the Western Conference playoffs. They can’t catch Milwaukee for the best overall record in the NBA, but since everyone is playing in a bubble in Orlando, Florida, there is no sense in playing for a home court advantage that doesn’t exist.
Nobody knows this better than the Lakers, who are just trying to get to the start of the playoffs with as much of their roster intact as possible.
If the Lakers get past the first round of the playoffs they should have Rajon Rondo back to run the second unit when James is catching his breath on the sideline.
Rondo won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 2008 when he was a youngster. He now is one of the steady hands the Lakers need once the playoffs start.
The Lakers are 3-4 since the season resumed. They have looked good in all three wins, victories over the Clippers, Jazz and Nuggets — teams they could face in the playoffs.
Three of their four losses have been blowouts. The game that wasn’t a blowout was a 116-111 loss to the Indiana Pacers Aug. 8.
The Lakers would have won if either Anthony Davis or Kyle Kuzma had played a normal game. Both made only three of 14 shots from the field. Davis scored 8, Kuzma 11.
Only five Lakers scored in double figures led by James’ 31.
They rebounded Aug. 10 to defeat a good Denver team. Davis and Kuzma bounced back with good games, scoring 27 and 25, respectively.
It’s the kind of production the Lakers need, especially from Kuzma, who has seemed lost most of the year trying to acclimate his game with Davis. The Lakers need Kuzma to be their third go-to guy, after James and Davis.
No one else has stepped up to fill that role. If the Lakers are going to win a title — or even make it to the conference finals — Kuzma is going to have to become the consistent scorer he was the last two seasons.
There are many basketball experts who still think the Clippers are a better overall team than the Lakers. With Lebron James and Anthony Davis, the Clippers can match up with James and Davis, and they have two or three other options when they have their whole roster, something they haven’t had since the season resumed.
Backup center Montrezl Harrell hasn’t played since the season resumed. He has been visiting an ill grandmother. Lou Williams has missed most of the games after breaking quarantine.
With Williams and Harrell scoring 35 to 40 points a night off the bench, the Clippers have depth most teams can’t match.
Doc Rivers won a championship with that Celtics team Rondo played on in 2008. He knows what it takes and so does Leonard, who led the Raptors to the 2019 title, which seems a lot longer than 14 months ago.
A seven-game conference finals battle between the Clippers and Lakers would be a great thing to take everyone’s mind off the pandemic.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, seem to be on cruise control. When they hit home runs, they win. When they don’t, they lose.
Playing mostly against the Giants and the Padres so far, they haven’t shown much interest. Bellinger is off to a horrible start with a .167 batting average and one home run.
He and Kershaw both are victims of the modern sports fan’s what have you done for me lately attitude. Kershaw gave up three home runs in his second start of the season and you would think he was clinging to a spot in the rotation.
Kershaw will be fine, people. And so will the Dodgers.
Remember, the last time a season had a major interruption was in 1981, when a player’s strike shut down the game for almost two months. Baseball added an extra round of the playoffs and the Dodgers won the World Series.
2020 could be that kind of year, too.
ODDS AND ENDS: HBO’s “Hard Knocks” debuted Aug. 11 with news that Los Angeles Chargers football coach Anthony Lynn was treated for coronavirus during the off-season. Lynn says he is ready to go for the season. …
UCLA coach Chip Kelly also contracted the illness shortly after soring practice ended
in March. Like Lynn, Kelly is ready to go, but he won’t get a chance after the Pac-12 Conference shut down its fall sports schedule this week. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. …
I feel more sorry for the high school student-athletes then the college players. It will be strange watching high school football next February.
The Los Angeles Galaxy and Los Angeles Football Club will resume their regular seasons on Aug. 22 with a televised match against each other at Banc of California Stadium.
Following the LAFC match, the Galaxy will play the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 26 and the San Jose Earthquakes on Aug. 29, both at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. They will go on the road to play the Portland Timbers on Sept. 2, return home for another Sept. 6 match against LAFC in Carson, then play the Earthquake again in San Jose on Sept. 13.
LAFC will play Real Salt Lake in Utah on Aug. 26, the Sounders in Seattle on Aug. 20, the Earthquake at Banc of California Stadium on Sept. 2, and Portland at home on Sept. 13.
A full schedule will be announced by early September as the league continues to work with infectious disease experts, league and club medical personnel, and government officials in all markets, according to Major League Soccer, which concluded it’s MLS Is Back Tournament Aug. 11, won by Portland, 2-1 over Orlando.
LAFC forward Diego Rossi, who stepped in to fill the hole Carlos Vela’s departure left in the team’s offense, was selected the Young Player of the tournament and also received the Golden Boot Award for being the tournament’s leading scorer.
Rossi, 22, scored seven goals and had three assists in the tournament. For of the seven goals came against the Galaxy in a 6-2 victory in the opening game of the tournament. LAFC was eliminated by Orlando City in the quarterfinals of the tournament.