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The Sports Report: Raiders win their Las Vegas debut

A Las Vegas Raiders fan takes a selfie outside Allegiant Stadium before Monday's game.
A Las Vegas Raiders fan takes a selfie outside Allegiant Stadium before Monday’s game.
(Associated Press)

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

Dylan Hernández on the Raiders: Los Angeles’ football team is 2-0.

So are the Rams.

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In retrospect, however, the story on Monday night wasn’t how the Raiders downed the New Orleans Saints, 34-24.

In fact, the story wasn’t even here, not in this empty stadium, where they played for the first time.

More telling was what happened outside their new hometown.

“Amazing,” Kyle Collins said.

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Collins is the general manager of Tommy Rocker’s Mojave Beach Grill, which stands fewer than two miles from Allegiant Stadium.

The restaurant was at capacity of 160 patrons for the viewing party it hosted for the game in which Derek Carr passed for three touchdowns.

There weren’t any television monitors in the parking lot, but a crowd gathered there too, where five canopies and a beer stand were set up.

“It’s not even people from Las Vegas,” Collins said when reached by phone at the restaurant.

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So the Raiders have done it again. They have abandoned not only one, but two markets, and convinced their fans there to follow them.

This time, into the desert.

And that’s with newly opened Allegiant Stadium closed to fans for the entirety of their maiden season in Las Vegas because of COVID-19 protocols.

Twenty-six years after they traded the Coliseum in L.A. for the Coliseum in Oakland, approximately 15% of their season-ticket holders are from Southern California, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

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For the game, Carr was in complete control for most of the night, completing 28 of 38 passes for 282 yards. Darren Waller caught 12 of the passes for 103 yards as Carr’s most trusted option.

Carr engineered four straight scoring drives in the second and third quarters to turn a 10-0 deficit into a 24-17 lead.

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LAKERS

Dan Woike on the Lakers: Alex Caruso sat inside an auxiliary room, an enclosed rectangle dubbed “the penalty box” by some NBA staffers. He had an ice pack on each knee, and as he looked at his phone he jokingly moped about missing the first bus back to the Lakers’ hotel.

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Later Sunday night across the hall in a practice gymnasium, Anthony Davis would sit and answer questions about the biggest shot of his life, the open three-pointer from the wing that beat the buzzer and the Nuggets in one swish, giving the Lakers five chances to win two games on the way to the NBA Finals.

It easily could’ve been Caruso in that room, sitting in front of everyone while LeBron James hung out stage right, sending out tweets talking about how clutch you came up.

But Caruso’s shot late in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals was just a little short. Maybe a hair left.

That it didn’t go in? That doesn’t matter. That Caruso, in his first NBA season without any two-way caveats, played more hellacious defense and, when the moment called, he called for the ball and took it?

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That’s what matters.

“To be honest,” James said, “when he makes shots, it’s extra credit.”

Long before the Lakers got to the bubble, it was clear how important Caruso had become.

In the 18.4 minutes per game he played in the regular season, the Lakers were 9.8 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents. That was best on the team, better than James (8.5) and Davis (8.5).

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And in the playoffs, the Lakers’ best defensive lineups largely have been with Caruso on the court, with only Markieff Morris having a better individual defensive rating.

“We know what we’re going to get out of him every night,” James said. “It’s not about him making shots. We know he’s going to defend and he’s going to play at a level that he’s capable of playing at, and we all know that once he checks into the game every single night. We know what to expect out of him.”

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How the Lakers pulled out Game 2 win in the last 20 seconds

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If only they’d been at Staples: Five takeaways from Lakers’ Game 2 win

Helene Elliott: No silver linings for Nuggets, only more work to catch Lakers

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
All times Pacific
No. 1 Lakers vs. No. 3 Denver

Game 1: Lakers 126, Denver 114
Game 2: Lakers 105, Denver 103
Game 3: Tonight, 6 p.m., TNT
Game 4: Thursday, 6 p.m., TNT
Game 5*: Saturday, 6 p.m., TNT
Game 6*: Monday, Sept. 28, TBD, TNT
Game 7*: Wed., Sept. 30, TBD, TNT

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DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The case for Mookie Betts as the 2020 National League MVP doesn’t begin with the numbers. Those are nice. Betts was tops in the majors in bWAR and tied for first in home runs after Sunday while supplying plus defense and elite baserunning for the team with the best record.

Their argument starts with the unquantifiable. It starts with his leadership and work ethic, with his selflessness and willingness to become an unofficial hitting coach for teammates. It starts with plays like the one he made in the seventh inning Saturday against the Colorado Rockies.

The Dodgers were leading 5-1 when Rockies reliever Mychal Givens tried picking off Betts at second base. The throw was wild and bounced to center field. Betts scampered to third base, and he didn’t stop. He sprinted home once he saw that the center fielder still had the ball as he rounded third base and beat a relay throw with a headfirst slide.

He caught the Rockies napping and energized his dugout in an empty stadium late in a game that didn’t matter much in the standings with a combination of intelligence, feel and hustle few players have.

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“You got [Mike] Trout, but I just don’t see anybody else in that category,” manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s one of the better plays you’ll ever see.”

“Like, who does that?” pitcher Clayton Kershaw wondered.

ANGELS

Mike DiGiovanna on the Angels: Jared Walsh was a 39th-round pick in 2015, a college first baseman who gradually rose through the Angels’ farm system and arrived in Anaheim without the hype or seven-figure signing bonus attached to younger teammate Jo Adell, a first-round pick who signed for $4.377 million in 2017.

“I’ll never forget it: $3,000,” Walsh said, when asked how much he signed for out of Georgia. “It paid for an offseason full of workouts, so it went to good use.”

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Walsh isn’t the most highly touted first-year player in his dugout — that honor clearly belongs to Adell, the five-tool outfielder — but he’s the only one who might garner American League rookie of the year votes.

Walsh continued a torrid three-week stretch with his first career grand slam to lead the Angels to an 8-5 victory over the Texas Rangers in Angel Stadium on Monday. Since the start of September, Walsh is batting .375 (24 for 64) with an AL-leading .844 slugging percentage and 1.238 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

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Deadline to indict Eric Kay in Tyler Skaggs case delayed as plea bargain is discussed

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CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: Coach Anthony Lynn reiterated Monday that Tyrod Taylor will remain the team’s starting quarterback, if he’s fully healthy.

Even with Justin Herbert’s performance Sunday, Lynn explained that his reasoning is as simple as reading the numbers on a scoreboard.

“I know what to expect from him and what he’s going to get done,” Lynn said. “If Tyrod can’t go and we have to go with Justin, I am perfectly content with that. I know we can win with either quarterback.

“But the veteran quarterback right now gives us the best chance to win. It’s not like we won the damn game [Sunday]. We lost last time I checked.”

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Taylor was unable to play in a 23-20 overtime loss to Kansas City after he experienced trouble breathing before the game.

NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

CONFERENCE FINALS
EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat

Game 1: Miami 117, Boston 114 (OT)
Game 2: Miami 106, Boston 101
Game 3: Boston 117, Miami 106
Game 4: Wednesday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 5: Friday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 6*: Sunday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 7*: TBD

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*-if necessary

NHL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE


STANLEY CUP FINAL
All Times Pacific

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars

Game 1: Dallas 4, Tampa Bay 1
Game 2: Tampa Bay 3, Dallas 2
Game 3: Wednesday, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Game 4: Friday, 5 p.m., NBC
Game 5: Saturday, 5 p.m., NBC
Game 6*: Monday, Sept. 27, 5 p.m., NBC
Game 7*: Wed., Sept. 29, 5 p.m., NBC

*-if necessary

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WNBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE


Semifinals
All times Pacific

No. 1 Las Vegas Aces vs. No. 7 Connecticut Sun

Game 1: Connecticut 87, Las Vegas 62
Game 2: Today, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Game 3: Thursday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 4*: Sunday, TBD
Game 5*: Tuesday, Sept. 29, TBD

No. 2 Seattle Storm vs. No. 4 Minnesota Lynx

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Game 1: Tonight, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Game 2: Thursday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 3: Sunday, TBD
Game 4*: Tuesday, Sept. 29, TBD
Game 5*: TBD

*-if necessary

Today’s local major sports schedule

All times Pacific.

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

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

Angels at San Diego, 6 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1905 — Willie Anderson wins the U.S. Open for the fourth time in five years, beating Alex Smith with a 314-total.

1911 — Cy Young, 44, beats the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0 for his 511th and final major league victory.

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1927 — Gene Tunney wins a unanimous 10-round decision over Jack Dempsey at Soldier Field in Chicago to retain his world heavyweight title. The fight is marred by a long 10-count in the seventh round. Dempsey knocks Tunney to the mat, but Dempsey doesn’t go to a neutral corner. The referee doesn’t start counting until four or five seconds after Tunney is down. Tunney regains his feet and goes on to win.

1969 — San Francisco’s Willie Mays becomes the second major league player to hit 600 homers. His two-run shot off Mike Corkins gives the Giants a 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

1974 — The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos are the first teams to play to a tie, 35-35, with the newly instituted overtime rule in effect.

1984 — Mississippi Valley State’s Willie Totten passes for 526 yards in a 49-32 victory over Jackson State. Wide receiver Jerry Rice has 285 yards receiving.

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1985 — San Diego’s Lionel James becomes the 16th NFL player to rush and receive for 100 yards in the Chargers 44-41 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. James gains 127 yards on the ground and 118 yards receiving.

1987 — The 1,585-member NFL Players Association goes on strike after the New England-New York Jets Monday night game.

1991 — Miami coach Don Shula gets his 300th career victory in the Dolphins’ 16-13 win over Green Bay.

1996 — New England’s Bill Parcells (100-78-1) becomes the 22nd NFL coach to win 100 regular-season games as the Patriots edge Jacksonville 28-25.

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2002 — New England’s Tom Brady completes 39 of 54 passes for 410 yards and throws touchdown passes to four different receivers as the Patriots post a 41-38 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

2007 — Graham Harrell of Texas Tech completes 46 of 67 passes for 646 yards, the fourth-best total in major college history, in a 49-45 loss to Oklahoma State.

2007 — Kentucky’s Andre Woodson sets a major college record for consecutive passes without an interception, breaking the mark of 271 held by Fresno State’s Trent Dilfer.

2012 — Cobi Hamilton of Arkansas has 10 catches for a Southeastern Conference record 303 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-26 to Rutgers.

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2012 — Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke smashes NCAA Division I records by throwing for 730 yards. He completes 55 of 79 attempts without being intercepted and leads the Monarchs back from a 23-point, third-quarter deficit to a 64-61 victory against New Hampshire.

And finally

In the movie “42", the “Do you think God like baseball?” scene. 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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