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The Sports Report: Lakers even series with Game 2 win over Rockets

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) celebrates with Anthony Davis.
LeBron James celebrates with Anthony Davis during the second half.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

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

Tania Ganguli on the Lakers: The fourth quarter belonged to LeBron James.

He opened with a driving, twisting dunk, he bullied his way into the paint. He found his teammates for easy score. And when Russell Westbrook thought he had a good look, James smacked the ball so far out of bounds it nearly rolled into an exterior hallway.

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It was a game with dramatic swings for the Lakers, but ultimately they held on to even their second-round series against the Houston Rockets. The Lakers beat the Rockets, 117-109, behind 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists from James, while Anthony Davis asserted himself early and late and finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

The Lakers benefitted from a poor shooting night by Russell Westbrook who scored only 10 points and made four of 15 shots, with only one of the seven three-pointers he took falling.

Losing Game 1 jolted the Lakers awake for Game 2.

Things were rolling right along for the Lakers in the first half. Markieff Morris had become a can’t-miss sharp-shooter, making four three-pointers in the first quarter for 12 points. Rajon Rondo was playing well. Davis imposed his aggressiveness on the Rockets, banging against P.J. Tucker, the 25-year-old role player given the task of guarding him.

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They led by 16 points at the end of the first quarter, and built upon that in the second. With 10:39 left in the second quarter, Alex Caruso got the ball to James after a turnover by Russell Westbrook. James’ alley-oop dunk roused the Lakers’ bench and forced the Rockets to take a timeout. During the break, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope met his teammates in the huddle and shouted: “Do not let up!”

At halftime, the Lakers led the Rockets, 67-51.

They had outscored Houston by 16 points in the paint, by 12 on fast breaks and their bench scored 21 points to the Rockets’ 11.

Whatever happened at halftime changed the complexion of the game.

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The Rockets opened the second half on a 14-0 run before the Lakers scored. They took their first lead of the game, 82-80, with 4:31 left in the third quarter.

But after the Rockets caught up, the Lakers pushed back to even the series.

No. 1 Lakers vs. No. 4 Houston
Second round
All times Pacific

Game 1: Houston 112, Lakers 97
Game 2: Lakers 117, Houston 109
Game 3: Tuesday, 6 p.m., TNT
Game 4: Thursday, TBD, TNT
Game 5: Saturday, TBD, ESPN
Game 6*: Monday, Sept. 14, TBD, TNT
Game 7*: Wed., Sept. 16, TBD, TNT

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*-if necessary

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DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The ball carried and carried, escorted by the hot air, and Matt Kemp flung his bat to watch it travel over the left field wall. It was a sequence the Dodgers had witnessed so often; Kemp clubbing a big, game-changing home run at Dodger Stadium. But that was when he was in their uniform. On Sunday, he wore the Colorado Rockies’ grays.

The dugout down the first-base line erupted once Kemp’s two-run home run off Dodgers left-hander Caleb Ferguson landed to give the Rockies the lead on their way to a 7-6 win.

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For the third straight night, the Dodgers’ bullpen was tasked with keeping the Rockies (20-20) off the board in a close game. For the third straight night, it failed. And Ferguson, so reliable for the season’s first five weeks, was in the middle of the struggles this weekend.

On Friday, he surrendered two runs and got one out in the Rockies’ four-run eighth inning before the Dodgers recovered with five runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead and win the game. The Dodgers, however, couldn’t rebound from his mistakes Sunday. After allowing one home run in his 15 appearances this season, Ferguson has given one up in each of his last three.

With the loss, the Dodgers (30-12) had their unbeaten series streak to begin the season snapped at 14. They’ve lost consecutive games for the third time this season.

SPARKS

Candace Parker scored 24 points with 15 rebounds and Chelsea Gray added 20 with seven assists to help the Sparks beat Chicago 86-80.

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The Sparks (14-5) are a half-game behind Las Vegas for the second spot in the standings. The two teams meet on Saturday.

Chicago jumped out with a 30-point opening stanza and led by eight after one. Los Angeles tightened its defense from there and largely seized control. The Sky (11-9) managed just 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Parker and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, and a tip-in by Gray constituted an 8-0 run for a 69-65 lead late in the third quarter and the Sparks led the rest of the way.

LAFC vs. GALAXY

Kevin Baxter on MLS: Last year LAFC was the best team in Major League Soccer history, breaking the records for most points in a season and biggest goal differential, and tying the mark for most goals.

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This season it’s not even the best team in Southern California. That honor goes to the Galaxy, which Sunday rode a second-half goal from Cristian Pavón, two from Sebastian Lletget and a seven-save night from goalkeeper David Bingham to a 3-0 win, its second over LAFC in 15 days.

Only one other MLS team — Sporting Kansas City in 2018 — has beaten LAFC twice in the same season. The Galaxy have beaten their neighborhood rivals twice in two weeks.

No other team has beaten LAFC as many as three times in the franchise’s short history. The Galaxy have done that four times and now lead it in the Western Conference standings for just the second time since LAFC entered the league.

If that’s not enough, Sunday’s victory was also the Galaxy’s fourth in a row, their longest winning streak in more than a year. And it came in a game in which they were outshot, out-possessed and at times outplayed, especially in a scoreless first half in which LAFC wasted numerous chances.

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CLIPPERS

No. 2 Clippers vs. No. 3 Denver
Second round
All times Pacific

Game 1: Clippers 120, Denver 97
Game 2: Denver 110, Clippers 101
Game 3: Tonight, 6 p.m., TNT
Game 4: Wednesday, 6 p.m., ESPN
Game 5: Friday, TBD, TNT
Game 6*: Sunday, TBD, ESPN
Game 7*: Tuesday, Sept. 15, TBD, ESPN

*-if necessary

ANGELS

Mike DiGiovanna on the Angels: The Angels continued to tap into a sudden supply of late-inning magic, snapping a tie score with four eighth-inning runs for a 9-5 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday in Angel Stadium, completing a four-game sweep of the defending American League champions and extending their win streak to five.

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With the score tied 5-5, Jo Adell led off the eighth with an infield single and took third on Max Stassi’s single to left-center field. Jared Walsh followed with a hard chopper that bounced over the head of first baseman Yuli Gurriel and into right field for an RBI single and a 6-5 lead.

Houston manager Dusty Baker pulled starter Framber Valdez in favor of right-hander Chris Devenski, who walked Taylor Ward to load the bases. Devenski then got ahead of Luis Rengifo with two quick strikes.

But Rengifo, who replaced the injured Franklin Barreto in the sixth inning despite being scratched from Sunday’s lineup because of a left-thumb sprain, drew a walk to force Stassi home for a 7-5 lead. Andrelton Simmons popped out to third for the first out, but Justin Upton ripped a two-run double to left for a 9-5 lead.

It was the Angels’ second-ever four-game sweep of the Astros, with the last one occurring on July 3-6, 2014. It marked their first four-game sweep of any team since 2017 (Seattle, Aug. 10-13).

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RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: The Rams on Sunday completed their roster and added linebacker depth by claiming Justin Hollins off waivers from the Denver Broncos, and also signed 15 players to the practice squad, the team announced.

Hollins, 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds, played under Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley last season as a rookie with the Broncos. Staley was the Broncos’ outside linebackers coach.

Rams roster

Quarterbacks (2): Jared Goff, John Wolford

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Running backs (4): Malcolm Brown, Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Xavier Jones

Receivers (6): Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, Van Jefferson, Nsimba Webster, Trishton Jackson

Tight ends (4): Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt, Bryce Hopkins

Offensive linemen (10): Andrew Whitworth, Joe Noteboom, Austin Blythe, Austin Corbett, Rob Havenstein, Bobby Evans, David Edwards, Brian Allen, Tremayne Anchrum, Coleman Shelton

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Defensive linemen (6): Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Greg Gaines, Morgan Fox, Eric Banks

Outside linebackers (6): Leonard Floyd, Samson Ebukam, Obo Okoronkwo, Terrell Lewis, Jachai Polite, Justin Hollins

Inside linebackers (3): Micah Kiser, Kenny Young, Troy Reeder

Cornerbacks (4): Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, Darious Williams, David Long

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Safeties (5): John Johnson, Taylor Rapp, Terrell Burgess, Jordan Fuller, Nick Scott

Kicker (1): Samuel Sloman

Punter (1): Johnny Hekker

Long snapper (1): Jake McQuaide

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CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers enter Week 1 with 10 offensive linemen, which could represent a measure of protection as it relates to veteran center Mike Pouncey. An undisclosed injury has prevented the four-time Pro Bowl player from practicing. He is trying to come back after missing the final 11 games last season because of a neck injury that required surgery.

The Chargers opted to initially keep four tight ends and no fullbacks, though they added Nabers to their practice squad Sunday. His game-day status could vary from week-to-week, depending on the opponent and the scheme.

Another injury to monitor is the toe problem that slowed running back Justin Jackson toward the end of camp. He was ramping up his activity in practice by the end of last week.

The Chargers will travel to SoFi Stadium on Monday for a practice that is not open to the media.

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Roster

Quarterbacks (3): Tyrod Taylor, Justin Herbert, Easton Stick

Running backs (3): Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Josh Kelley

Receivers (6): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, Joe Reed, K.J. Hill, Jason Moore

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Tight ends (4): Hunter Henry, Virgil Green, Stephen Anderson, Donald Parham Jr.

Offensive linemen: (10): Bryan Bulaga, Trai Turner, Mike Pouncey, Dan Feeney, Sam Tevi, Storm Norton, Forrest Lamp, Tyree St. Louis, Scott Quessenberry, Trey Pipkins

Defensive line (9): Joey Bosa, Justin Jones, Linval Joseph, Melvin Ingram, Isaac Rochell, Jerry Tillery, Cortez Broughton, Uchenna Nwosu, Damion Square

Outside linebackers (4): Drue Tranquill, Kyzir White, Nick Vigil, Emeke Egbule

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Inside linebackers (2): Kenneth Murray Jr., Denzel Perryman

Cornerbacks (5): Casey Hayward, Michael Davis, Chris Harris Jr., Brandon Facyson, Tevaughn Campbell

Safeties (4): Rayshawn Jenkins, Nasir Adderley, Desmond King, Alohi Gilman

Kicker (1): Michael Badgley

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Punter (1): Ty Long

Long snapper (1): Cole Mazza

U.S. OPEN

Helene Elliott on tennis: Novak Djokovic apologized for inadvertently hitting a lineswoman after he struck a ball in anger on Sunday, misconduct that resulted in the world’s top-ranked male tennis player and overwhelming favorite at the U.S. Open being defaulted out of his fourth-round match and out of the tournament.

Djokovic had just lost a game to Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta at Arthur Ashe Stadium when he whacked a ball toward the back wall in frustration. The ball directly hit the lineswoman in the throat, dropping her to the ground in pain as she gasped for air. Djokovic’s horror and dismay were evident as he realized what had happened, and medical personnel rushed to help her.

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The unidentified woman walked off for additional treatment and wasn’t expected to return. Several minutes’ consultation among tournament referee Soeren Friemel, Grand Slam supervisor Andreas Egli and chair umpire Aurelie Torte resulted in Djokovic being defaulted because of “his actions of intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”

Serbian-born Djokovic, who was 26-0 this year, did not dispute the ruling and congratulated Carreno Busta before leaving the court. The rule violation will cost Djokovic the $250,000 he had earned in reaching the fourth round. He’s also subject to a fine.

“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” Djokovic said in an Instagram post. “I checked on the lines person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok. I’m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong.”

Djokovic said he didn’t disclose the woman’s name in order to protect her privacy. “As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being,” he added. “I apologize to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behavior. I’m very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I’m so sorry.”

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HORSE RACING

John Cherwa on horse racing: Los Alamitos had its 25th racing or training death since the race meet started on Dec. 27 when Billy the Hott suffered a catastrophic injury during the eighth race on Saturday night. The 5-year-old gelding was near the lead in a 1,000-yard allowance race when he was pulled up by jockey Barrington Harvey. He was vanned off the course and later euthanized with an unspecified injury.

He was making his 11th start, running in both thoroughbred and mixed races, which includes quarter horses. Billy the Hott had won four of his starts with two seconds, earning $22,525 for trainer Martin Jones. He was owned by Bo Hirsch.

His won his previous race, an allowance, on Aug. 7.

LOU BROCK

Hall of Famer Lou Brock, one of baseball’s signature leadoff hitters and base stealers who helped the St. Louis Cardinals win three pennants and two World Series titles in the 1960s, has died. He was 81.

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Dick Zitzmann, Brock’s longtime agent and friend, confirmed Brock’s death on Sunday, but he said he couldn’t provide any details. The Cardinals and Cubs also observed a moment of silence in the outfielder’s memory before their game at Wrigley Field.

Brock lost a leg from diabetes in recent years and was diagnosed with cancer in 2017.

“I think he led a life that will never be duplicated,” Zitzmann said.

NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

SECOND ROUND
EASTERN CONFERENCE

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No. 1 Milwaukee vs. No. 5 Miami

Game 1: Miami 115, Milwaukee 104
Game 2: Miami 116, Milwaukee 114
Game 3: Miami 115, Milwaukee 100
Game 4: Milwaukee 118, Miami 115 (OT)
Game 5: Tuesday, 3:30 p.m., TNT
Game 6*: Thursday, TBD, ESPN
Game 7*: Saturday, TBD, TNT

No. 2 Toronto vs. No. 3 Boston Celtics

Game 1: Boston 112, Toronto 94
Game 2: Boston 102, Toronto 99
Game 3: Toronto 104, Boston 103
Game 4: Toronto 100, Boston 93
Game 5: Today, 3:30 p.m., TNT
Game 6*: Wednesday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 7*: Friday, TBD, TNT

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* – If necessary

NHL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

All Times Pacific
Conference finals
Eastern Conference

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 6 NY Islanders

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Game 1: Monday, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 2: Wednesday, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 3: Friday, 5 p.m., USA
Game 4: Sunday, noon, NBC
Game 5*: Tuesday, Sept. 15, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 6*: Thursday, Sept. 17, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 7*: Saturday, Sept. 19, 4:30 p.m., NBC

Western Conference
No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 3 Dallas Stars

Game 1: Dallas 1, Vegas 0
Game 2: Tuesday, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 3: Thursday, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 4: Saturday, 4 p.m., NBC
Game 5*: Monday, Sept. 14, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 6*: Wed., Sept. 16, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 7*: Friday, Sept. 18, 6 p.m., NBCSN

*-if necessary

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TODAY’S MAJOR LOCAL SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Clippers vs. Denver, 6 p.m., TNT

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1892 — Jim Corbett knocks out John L. Sullivan in the 21st round in New Orleans to win the first world heavyweight title fought with gloves under the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

1941 — Bobby Riggs beats Frank Kovacs in four sets to win the men’s title in the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association championships. Sarah Palfrey Cooke wins the women’s title with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Pauline Betz.

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1953 — Maureen Connolly becomes the first woman to complete the Grand Slam when she beats Doris Hart, 6-2, 6-4, in the U.S. Open women’s singles final. Tony Trabert wins his first U.S. men’s singles title with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win over Vic Seixas.

1958 — Australia’s Ashley Cooper beats countryman Malcolm Anderson to win the men’s title in the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association championships. Althea Gibson beats Darlene Hard for the women’s title.

1970 — Jockey Willie Shoemaker rides Dares J to a 1½-length victory at Del Mar to become the winningest jockey. Shoemaker’s win breaks the all-time record of 6,033 set by Johnny Longden four years earlier.

1975 — Spain’s Manuel Orantes upsets Jimmy Connors 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 to win the U.S. Open men’s title.

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1980 — John McEnroe beats Bjorn Borg of Sweden 7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4 to win his second straight U.S. Open men’s title.

1991 — Seventeen-year-old Monica Seles beats 34-year-old Martina Navratilova, 7-6 (1), 6-1, to win her first U.S. Open women’s singles title.

1993 — Mark Whiten of the St. Louis Cardinals has the greatest game at the plate in major league history in the nightcap of a doubleheader against Cincinnati. In the 15-2 win, Whiten hits four home runs and drives in 12 runs, becoming the only player to accomplish both feats in one game.

1996 — Mike Tyson needs just 109 seconds to win the WBA heavyweight championship from Bruce Seldon in Las Vegas.

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1997 — In the new Arthur Ashe Stadium court, 16-year-old Martina Hingis and 17-year-old Venus Williams play the youngest Grand Slam final in the Open Era. Hingis wins her first U.S. Open title 6-0, 6-4. Patrick Rafter beats Greg Rusedski, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, to win the men’s crown.

2003 — In the closest 1-2-3 finish in IRL history, Sam Hornish Jr. edges Scott Dixon and Bryan Herta at the finish line to win his second straight Delphi Indy 300. His margin of victory is .0099 seconds, and just .0100 separates first and third place.

2012 — Bob and Mike Bryan beat Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4 to win the U.S. Open men’s doubles title for a record 12th Grand Slam championship. The American twins break a tie with Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde for the most in the Open era, which started in 1968.

2014 — Serena Williams wins her third consecutive U.S. Open championship and 18th major title overall. Williams beats Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 to match Chris Evert’s total of six championships at the U.S. Open. Bob and Mike Bryan win a record-tying fifth U.S. Open doubles championship for their 100th tournament title.

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And finally

Mark Whiten hits four home runs in one game. Watch it 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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