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The Sports Report: Lakers end losing streak

Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma (0) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a game-winning 3-pointer.
Kyle Kuzma is congratulated by teammates after hitting a game-winning three-pointer.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Tania Ganguli on the Lakers: Kyle Kuzma had done this so many times before — enough so that his teammates identified him as their go-to if they needed a game-winner.

They had 4.5 seconds to win this game. LeBron James inbounded the ball and with a play to get him open, Kuzma stepped behind the three-point line to take an open shot. It swished through with 0.4 seconds left and Kuzma bounced back down the court as the Denver Nuggets took a time out.

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On the virtual fan board behind the Lakers bench, Kuzma’s mother, Karri, grinned and clapped.

The Lakers (52-18) beat the Nuggets, 124-121, ending a three-game losing streak in the NBA’s bubble.

LeBron James scored 29 points, Anthony Davis scored 27 and Kuzma had 25.

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DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The San Diego Padres headed into Monday’s series opener against the Dodgers with a precarious pitching plan. Light on viable starters, they were intent on a bullpen game, deploying a stream of relievers to face the Dodgers’ potent offense.

That would spell disaster for most bullpens. But most bullpens don’t have the arms the upstart Padres boast. Instead, the Dodgers went silent as six pitchers held them to four hits and three walks in a 2-1 loss.

The Dodgers’ only run came in the first inning on Cody Bellinger’s RBI single off Luis Perdomo, the Padres’ starter. They threatened for more but Bellinger was left stranded at third base and Perdomo escaped a 26-pitch inning having allowed just the lone run.

From there, five Padres relievers kept the Dodgers (11-6) off the board as they left six runners on base and went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

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The offense failed to support another strong outing from Dustin May. The rookie right-hander held the Padres (10-7) scoreless for four inning before Austin Hedges, a .091 hitter to that point, whacked a cutter over the center-field field. The Padres added another run in the sixth inning on Eric Hosmer’s two-out RBI bloop single before May could escape.

ANGELS

Mike DiGiovanna on the Angels: The usually potent combination of power and patience, two of the most sought-after offensive ingredients in today’s game, has not been lethal for the Angels so far this season.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Oakland Athletics, the Angels ranked fifth in the major leagues with 24 home runs and second with 70 walks, but they were in last place in the American League West with a 5-11 record.

It’s almost as if the Angels, who were counting on a highly productive offense to offset some of their pitching deficiencies, are getting too much of a good thing.

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Of the 72 runs they scored in their first 16 games, 45 of them, or 62.5%, came on home runs. Only the New York Yankees, who scored 50 of their first 79 runs via the home run, had a higher percentage (63.3%). Next on the list was the Cincinnati Reds (55.2%).

“Well, that’s just what the game has evolved into — everybody trying to hit home runs,” manager Joe Maddon said on a videoconference call before the game. “Singles aren’t cool. Singles are like pennies. They’ve become obsolete almost.

BASEBALL

Bill Shaikin on baseball: The major leagues might yet play bubble ball this year.

In the wake of coronavirus outbreaks that have interrupted the season for three teams, Major League Baseball is considering whether to move the postseason into a bubble, according to a person briefed on the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

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The league is preparing what the person called “contingency plans for the postseason” but cautioned that none of those plans is guaranteed to happen, with the possibility teams could continue to play in home ballparks. The contingency plans could include a postseason bubble or moving some or all of the postseason to neutral sites with warm weather and relatively low spread of the virus.

The option for neutral sites could be complicated by two factors: one, a comparatively safe zone for the virus in September could turn into a hot spot in October; and, two, as Dr. Anthony Fauci previously told The Times, the onset of flu season adds another risk factor.

“Flu season starts in October,” said Dr. Dena Grayson, a Florida-based pandemic specialist. “Good luck with that.”

CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: In a series of social media posts, Clippers center Montrezl Harrell indicated he has returned to the NBA’s Disney World campus after three weeks away and is in the process of rejoining his team ahead of its playoff push.

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“I’m back!!!!!!!!” Harrell tweeted Monday morning. On Instagram, he posted a video that he’d geotagged at Disney Springs, which is a section of the resort.

A finalist for the NBA’s sixth man award given to the league’s top reserve — after averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game — Harrell left the team July 17 to be with an ailing grandmother. The grandmother later died, according to Harrell’s posts late last month, and Clippers coach Doc Rivers acknowledged at the time that the team had told Harrell to take as much time as he needed.

“This for you MA!!!!!” Harrell tweeted early Monday. “IM DIFFERENT BELIEVE THAT!”

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: As the team begins padded practices this week, there isn’t a ton of intrigue — except for one of the most important jobs of all, left tackle.

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Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins are the top options to protect Tyrod Taylor’s blindside, with the Chargers’ new quarterback projected to aid the effort with his mobility.

Beyond that, there’s the question of No. 1 fullback (Bobby Holly or Gabe Nabers, both undrafted rookies) and No. 3 wide receiver (drafted rookies Joe Reed or K.J. Hill or speedy Darius Jennings).

There also are issues of playing time that need to be sorted out among the linebackers and in the secondary, but those situations could fluctuate throughout the season based on week-to-week schemes.

All of which brings the focus back to left tackle, which, before the first actual practice of 2020, appears to be a two-man race.

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Tevi is the more experienced candidate, entering his fourth season after being a sixth-round pick in 2017. He started 29 games at right tackle the past two years, playing roughly 80% of the offensive snaps.

Pipkins was a third-round pick in 2019, a promising project taken out of little-known Sioux Falls. He ended up having to start three games as a rookie because of injuries.

“He’s a very intelligent young man,” said James Campen, the Chargers’ new offensive line coach. “This kid is sharp. He gets what you’re asking him to do.”

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: Five years ago, he was a wide-eyed rookie trying to make the Rams’ roster as an undrafted free agent.

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Now Malcolm Brown is the team’s oldest and most experienced running back.

After the Rams released star Todd Gurley in March, that left the 27-year-old Brown as the most veteran in a position group that includes Darrell Henderson, 22, rookie Cam Akers, 21, and John Kelly, 23.

Brown chuckled Monday while acknowledging it qualified as a generation gap.

“Definitely,” he said, during a videoconference with reporters. “They always make jokes that I’m the old head in the room and stuff like that.”

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NHL

The New York Rangers won the second phase of the NHL draft lottery, giving them a shot at selecting winger Alexis Lafreniere.

The Rangers were among eight teams that lost in the qualifying round of the playoffs with a chance to claim quite a consolation prize Monday night. The Rangers have the No. 1 overall pick for the first time since 1965 when they selected Andre Veilleux.

The league was forced to make a lot of changes after the COVID-19 pandemic paused the season and the lottery was turned into a two-phase process.

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Helene Elliott analyzes the NHL postseason. Read it here.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

San Diego at Dodgers, 6:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Oakland at Angels, 6:30 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

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Sparks vs. New York, 6 p.m., ESPN2

THIS DAY IN SPORTS

The New York Giants reached the low point of their season on this date in 1951 when they trailed the Brooklyn Dodgers by 13 1/2 games after Robin Roberts of the Philadelphia Phillies shut them out 4-0 at the Polo Grounds.

Roberts, who struck out three and didn’t walk a batter, posted his 16th win of the season.

The next day the Giants began a 16-game winning streak when they swept the Phillies in a doubleheader. After losing to Pittsburgh on Aug. 28, New York won 21 of its 27 remaining games, and finished the 154-game season in a tie for first place with Brooklyn, even though the Dodgers played over .500 baseball for the same period.

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After splitting the first two of a three-game playoff, the Dodgers had a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning at the Polo Grounds, but Bobby Thomson hit a three-run home run off Ralph Branca that gave the Giants a 5-4 win and the National League pennant.

More memorable games and outstanding sports performances on Aug. 11, through the years:

1970 — Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Houston Astros 6-5 and became the first pitcher to win 100 games in both the American and National leagues since Cy Young. Bunning went 8 2/3 innings, gave up 11 hits and struck out five. In nine seasons with the Detroit Tigers, he won 118 games. In the NL, he won 106 including 89 with the Phillies, 14 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and three with the Dodgers.

1974 — Lee Trevino beat Jack Nicklaus by a stroke to win the PGA Championship at Tanglewood Golf Club in Clemmons, N.C. The victory was Trevino’s first PGA Championship title and his fifth major overall. Trevino led Nicklaus, who finished second for the third time in this Championship, by a stroke after three rounds, and he kept the advantage when both shot a 69 in the final round.

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1984 — Sebastian Coe, 27, of Great Britain edged countrymen Steve Cramm when he set an Olympic record in the 1,500-meter run in a time of three minutes, 32.53 seconds before a Coliseum sellout crowd at the Summer Games in Los Angeles. Coe took the lead with 200 meters to go and held off Cramm by seven yards to win his second gold medal in the 1,500.

1985 — Hubert Green beat defending champion Lee Trevino by two strokes to win the PGA Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in suburban Denver. Green started the final round with a three-stroke lead, but he and Trevino were tied after 14 holes. Then Trevino bogeyed Nos. 15 and 17 while Green made pars to take a two-shot advantage. The victory was Green’s second major title—he won the U.S. Open in 1977—and also his last win on the PGA tour.

2002 — Karrie Webb of Australia shot a six-under par 66 in the wind and rain at Turnberry Golf Club in Scotland, to rally from three strokes down and win the Women’s British Open for the third time.

2010 — The Arizona Diamondbacks tied a major league baseball record when they hit four straight home runs in an 8-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Adam LaRoche, Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds and Stephen Drew all hit drives over the fence against starter Dave Bush with one out in the fourth inning.

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2012 — Allyson Felix gave the the United States a 20-meter lead after running the second leg of the women’s 1,600-meter relay, and the team of DeeDee Trotter, Felix, Francena McCorory and Sanya Richards-Ross breezed to a gold medal in a time of three minutes, 16.87 seconds at the London Summer Games. It was the U.S.’s fifth-straight Olympic win in the event, dating back to 1996, and it was Felix’s third gold medal in London— one for the 400-meter relay and the other for her win in the 200-meter dash.

2012 — The versatile Candace Parker, who could play guard, forward and center, scored 21 points to lead the favored U.S. women’s basketball team to its fifth-straight Olympic gold medal with an 86-50 rout of France. The win was the latest in an unmatched run over a 16-year period for the Americans, who had won 41 consecutive games in Olympic competition since taking the bronze medal in 1992.

2016 — Simone Biles soared to the all-around title in women’s gymnastics at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro when she scored 62.198 points, well ahead of silver medalist and teammate Aly Raisman and bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina of Russia. Biles was the fourth-straight American woman to win the all-around, and the fifth overall.

Sources: The Times, Associated Press

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And finally

A look at how Simone Biles won the all-around title in Rio. Watch each routine here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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