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The Sports Report: Lakers take their ‘LeBron James gets fouled a lot’ case to NBA

LeBron James
LeBron James
(Associated Press)

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

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: The Lakers have presented a case to the NBA that their star, LeBron James, is not nearly getting his fair share of free throws even though they are positive the hard-charging forward is getting fouled plenty by the Denver Nuggets in their Western Conference finals playoff series.

James shot just two free throws during the Game 3 defeat to the Nuggets on Tuesday night at AdventHealth Arena. And those two free throws came after Denver guard Jamal Murray was called for a flagrant foul for an elbow to James’ jaw.

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He has shot 10 free throws total in the three games of the best-of-seven series that resumes Thursday night with Game 4 and the Lakers leading 2-1.

“We’re dealing with the fouls through the proper channels with the league,” coach Frank Vogel told the media via videoconference Wednesday after practice. “I think he’s gone to the basket very aggressively, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

In 13 playoff games, James is averaging 6.6 free throws per game, making 72.1% of them. He’s averaging 25.9 points per game, 10 rebounds and 8.8 assists.

The Lakers have had their share of issues with the referees in this series against the Nuggets.

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Dwight Howard has been called for two technical fouls, one each in Games 2 and 3, and Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy was called for a technical foul in Game 2.

Vogel was asked about his team’s composure considering the Lakers have been hit with three technical fouls.

“I don’t have any comment publicly about it at this time,” Vogel said.

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As the Lakers began to prepare for Game 4, LeBron James texted his teammates in a group chat that an announcement was coming shortly from a Kentucky grand jury regarding Louisville police officers that were involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor.

Danny Green said it was “disappointing” to hear charges had not been filed against the police who killed Taylor during a drug raid of her home and that prosecutors said that two officers who fired their weapons at the Black woman were justified in using force to protect themselves.

Green said the response he saw from his teammates was that “nobody was really happy” to hear that only officer Brett Hankison, who has been fired, was charged by the grand jury with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into the home of Taylor’s neighbors during the raid that took place on March 13. Each wanton endangerment charge carries a sentence of up to five years.

“It was disappointing,” Green said on a video call with reporters. “I guess in a sense something was done, but it wasn’t enough. Most guys thought it was definitely not enough. We’re still — it’s a tough one. It’s a tough one. But we’re still trying to make the proper steps, trying to…”

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Green, who will play Thursday in the series the Lakers lead 2-1 despite being listed as probable with a left ring-finger injury, said the Lakers still needed time to process things and decide what steps they should take next.

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: Denver 114, Lakers 106
Game 4: Thursday, 6 p.m., TNT
Game 5: Saturday, 6 p.m., TNT
Game 6*: Monday, TBD, TNT
Game 7*: Wednesday, TBD, TNT

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DODGERS

Jack Harris on the Dodgers: This time, the first inning troubles weren’t Julio Urías’ fault.

For the first time this season, someone else started on his day to pitch.

Urías was originally slated to start in the Dodgers’ 6-4 loss to the Oakland A’s on Wednesday. But hours before the game, the team announced the left-hander would be shifted to the bullpen instead, throwing bulk relief innings in the team’s continued effort to prepare for all postseason potentialities.

Joe Kelly instead began the game, allowing three quick runs to put the Dodgers in a hole that would take all night for them to dig out of.

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Unburdened by his season-long first-inning struggles, Urías gave his offense the chance to do it.

Upon entering the game in the third, the 24-year-old retired 12 of his first 13 batters. He struck out five men over his first four innings. Only in the seventh did he get into trouble, allowing the A’s to score on two hits and a walk. Yet, he responded in the eighth, completing his six-inning, one-run outing with a four-pitch frame.

In what could be his final appearance of the regular season, Urías produced the start-to-finish dominance for which manager Dave Roberts has yearned. More importantly, he might have added another option to his team’s not-yet-finalized playoff pitching plans, giving his skipper perhaps one more card to play for when the stakes really start to rise.

The Dodgers know Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler will pitch Games 1 and 2 in next week’s opening best-of-three wild card round, though they haven’t decided on the order yet. If the series reaches a decisive third game, however, the club’s choices are far more varied.

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They could start Urías, who lowered his ERA to 3.27, or opt for Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin. Depending on how the series unfolds, a bullpen game including some mixture of those three might not be out of the question either.

Only one thing is clear: At least two of Urías, May and Gonsolin will come out of the bullpen if they are to pitch in that opening round. And entering Wednesday, Urías was the only member of that trio yet to make a relief appearance this year.

“We don’t know how it’s going to play out, as far as the postseason,” Roberts said pregame, describing Wednesday’s late pitching change as a way “to give Julio an opportunity to potentially pitch out of the ‘pen. To feel it more recently is a good way to prepare.

“For him to go out of the ‘pen and see the rhythm of that is only going to be beneficial.”

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ANGELS

Maria Torres on the Angels: Before Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton and Anthony Bemboom clubbed second-inning homers on the way to the Angels’ 5-2 victory at Petco Park, Manny Machado gave the groups of San Diego Padres fans gathered on the rooftop decks of two high-rise buildings overlooking the stadium something to celebrate.

The Padres third baseman clobbered a two-out double in the first inning, his hit glancing off the left-field wall to breathe life into an offense that was neutralized by the Angels’ maligned pitching staff a night earlier.

The fans — among the fortunate few across the country able to watch live baseball from venues adjacent to MLB ballparks — might as well have been bellowing “M-V-P!” from their posts roughly 1,000 feet away, as they did in a later at-bat. Machado scored within moments on Eric Hosmer’s two-run homer, which gave the Padres a 2-0 lead. It was the 43rd time in 56 games that Machado had crossed home plate. He entered Wednesday’s game ranked among the top 10 in runs.

It wasn’t enough to lift a Padres team that fears it lost starter Mike Clevinger, their big trade deadline acquisition, for the postseason. Clevinger pitched the first inning Wednesday but left the game because of biceps tightness that had caused him to skip his previous start. The Padres were awaiting MRI results after the game.

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CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: Rookie Justin Herbert will make his second career start Sunday for the Chargers as Tyrod Taylor continues to recover from a medical accident.

Taylor was unable to play last weekend after difficulty breathing following a pregame injection that inadvertently punctured his lung. A member of the team’s medical staff erred during a procedure meant to help Taylor manage pain from a preexisting rib injury.

“There [were] complications with the shot,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “… I know it wasn’t intentional. Everyone makes mistakes. Can’t explain it. Just what happened.”

The NFL Players Association has been involved in the situation throughout and is conducting an investigation.

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Taylor, a captain this season, was on the practice field Wednesday with his teammates but not participating in any physical activity. He will remain out indefinitely, the exact timetable for his return depending on the severity of the new injury. A medical source said a typical recovery in such situations takes “weeks not months.”

GALE SAYERS

Sam Farmer on the death of Gale Sayers: Gale Sayers, whose brief but brilliant football career was immortalized both in grainy NFL footage and on the silver screen, has died. He was 77.

Sayers died Wednesday, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which inducted him even though he played only seven seasons with the Chicago Bears before a devastating knee injury led to his retirement. He suffered from dementia in his later years.

“Gale was one of the finest men in NFL history and one of the game’s most exciting players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Gale was an electrifying and elusive runner who thrilled fans every time he touched the ball. He earned his place as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

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Nicknamed “The Kansas Comet,” Sayers was a central character in the 1971 movie “Brian’s Song,” and was played by Billy Dee Williams. The tearjerker told the story of the brotherly bond between Sayers and fellow Bears running back Brian Piccolo, played by James Caan. Their friendship transcended race.

In a 2010 Sports Illustrated story, Sayers said more people approached him about the movie than about his football career.

“That’s fine,” he told the magazine. “I’ll never, ever forget Brian. That part of my life will be with me forever.”

GALAXY

Albert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach scored second-half goals and Real Salt Lake beat the Galaxy 2-0 on Wednesday night.

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Real Salt Lake (4-4-5) ended a three-game home losing streak. The Galaxy (4-5-3) lost 2-0 to Colorado on Saturday — their first defeat since July 18 — and are winless in three.

Rusnak scored on a penalty kick in the 65th minute. Seven minutes later, Kreilach’s sixth goal of the season came from the top of the 18-yard box on a cross from Rusnak.

The Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget missed wide off a set piece in the 15th minute. Cristian Pavon’s shot hit the crossbar in the 22nd. Lletget missed again from the center of the 6-yard box in the 80th.

David Bingham had four saves for the Galaxy.

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LAFC

Bradley Wright-Phillips scored twice to move into fifth place on the MLS career list and Los Angeles beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 6-0 on Wednesday night.

Wright-Phillips scored on a spinning right-footed half-volley from the center of the area in the fifth minute and put away a bicycle kick from the top of the 6-yard box in the 11th to give LAFC (5-5-3) a 3-0 lead. His second goal gave him 115 in his MLS career, moving him past Ante Razov into fifth.

Dejan Jakovic headed home a corner kick by Brian Rodríguez to open the scoring just 1:35 in, the fastest goal in franchise history. It was Jakovic’s second career MLS goal and first since May 26, 2012.

LAFC became the fastest team in MLS history to score four and five goals. An own goal by the Whitecaps made it 4-0 in the 14th minute and Diego Rossi gave Los Angeles a 5-0 lead in the 33rd.

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Another own goal by Vancouver (5-8-0) capped the scoring in the 68th.

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: Miami 112, Boston 109
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: Tampa Bay 5, Dallas 2
Game 4: Friday, 5 p.m., NBC
Game 5: Saturday, 5 p.m., NBC
Game 6*: Monday, 5 p.m., NBC
Game 7*: Wed., Sept. 29, 5 p.m., NBC

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*-if necessary

WNBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

Semifinals
All times Pacific

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

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Game 1: Connecticut 87, Las Vegas 62
Game 2: Las Vegas 83, Connecticut 75
Game 3: Today, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 4: Sunday, TBD
Game 5*: Tuesday, TBD

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

Game 1: Seattle 88, Minnesota 86
Game 2: Tonight, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 3: Sunday, TBD
Game 4*: Tuesday, TBD
Game 5*: TBD

*-if necessary

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TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

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

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

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1950 — Philadelphia’s Russ Craft has four interceptions to lead the Eagles in a 45-7 rout of the Chicago Cardinals. Chicago quarterback Jim Hardy sets an NFL record by throwing eight interceptions.

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1953 — Rocky Marciano knocks out Rolando La Starza in the 11th round at the Polo Grounds in New York to retain his world heavyweight title.

1967 — Jim Bakken of St. Louis Cardinals kicks an NFL-record seven field goals to give the Cardinals a 28-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

1971 — The World Hockey Association announces its formation with 12 teams to start play in 1972.

1974 — Detroit’s Al Kaline doubles down the right-field line off Dave McNally of Baltimore in the fourth inning for his 3,000th career hit.

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1993 — Juniata’s women’s volleyball team ends Washington’s NCAA-record winning streak at 59 matches.

1994 — Washington ends Miami’s NCAA-record home winning streak at 58 with a 38-20 victory against the Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl.

1995 — Europe rallies to upset the United States and win the Ryder Cup, 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y. Europe takes seven singles matches to win its first Ryder Cup since 1989.

1998 — The NBA, through its 86th day of the lockout, announces the cancellation of 24 exhibition games and indefinite postponement of the start of training camps.

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2001 — Green Bay’s 37-0 shutout of Washington ends the Redskins’ NFL record of scoring in 231 consecutive road games.

2004 — The Atlanta Braves clinch their 13th consecutive division title, winning the NL East with an 8-7 victory over the Florida Marlins. The Braves’ record streak of division championships began with the 1991 NL West title and excludes the 1994 strike-shortened season.

2006 — The Europeans turn the Ryder Cup into another rout, winning 18 1/2-9 1/2 and making history as the first European team to win three straight times.

2006 — Washington’s Mark Brunell breaks the NFL record for most consecutive passes completed in a single game when he connects on his first 22 throws in a 31-15 win over the Houston Texans.

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2006 — Brett Favre throws three TD passes in Green Bay’s 31-24 at Detroit, giving him 402 for his career. He and Dan Marino are the only players with 400 or more.

2011 — Dwayne De Rosario scores the quickest hat trick in MLS history, leading D.C. United to a 4-1 victory over Real Salt Lake. De Rosario scores on a header in the 22nd minute, gets his second in the 27th and converts a free kick in the 31st.

2012 — Russell Wilson throws a disputed 24-yard touchdown to Golden Tate on the final play, and the Seattle Seahawks rally to beat the Green Bay Packers 14-12. Wilson scrambled from the pocket and threw to the corner of the end zone as the clock expired. Tate shoved Green Bay’s Sam Shields out of the way, then wrestled with M.D. Jennings for possession. It’s called a touchdown, and after a long review the ruling stands.

2013 — Skipper Jimmy Spithill and defending champion Oracle Team USA extend their winning streak to seven to force a winner-take-all America’s Cup finale against Emirates Team New Zealand.

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And finally

Al Kaline gets his 3,000th hit. 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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