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The Sports Report: Playoffs continue for Lakers, start for Dodgers

Magic Johnson
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

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

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: The uber-competitive Pat Riley that Magic Johnson knows from winning four championships when Riley was the coach of the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s is the same man who helped rebuild the Miami Heat into a contender for the 2020 NBA title.

The driven Riley that Johnson knows, who became one of the best executives in the NBA, winning two championships with LeBron James when he called Miami home from 2010 to 2014, is the same Riley who’s pulling for the Heat to defeat James in the NBA Finals.

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“Pat is a competitor, so he wants to win,” Johnson said. “I think now even more so because you got the Lakers team he used to coach and you got LeBron, a guy you won two championships with in Miami. But we have to remember that by nature he’s such a competitive guy. Even if it wasn’t us, he would want to win so bad.”

Johnson, who recruited James to win a title while he was the Lakers’ president of basketball operations for a little more than two years, wants to see James realize the vision the two shared. He also yearns to see owner Jeanie Buss follow in the giant footsteps of her late dad, Jerry Buss, and bring home a championship.

And, of course, to do it in honor of Kobe Bryant after the Lakers legend’s stunning death this year.

“I want it for Jeanie because I want her to make her father proud, make the fans proud, herself proud as one of the first women in sports to win a title,” Johnson said. “And then LeBron. For him to say, ‘Hey Earvin, I’m taking this leap of faith that you guys are going to do what you say you are going to do to put the proper pieces around.’ I want it for him too because I think that he has got us back to where we belong as an organization and fans can be proud of the things that he’s promised, to get us here to the championship, and let’s see if he can deliver the championship. It would be a great story.

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“Also too, we have endured over the year. They can make Dr. Buss happy in heaven and make Kobe happy in heaven too. They are probably sitting down trading notes right now — and Chick Hearn is in the middle of it as well.”

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LeBron James says Erik Spoelstra deserves more credit for Heat success

NBA FINALS
All times Pacific
Lakers vs. Miami

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Game 1: Wednesday, 6 p.m., ABC
Game 2: Friday, 6 p.m., ABC
Game 3: Sunday, 4:30 p.m., ABC
Game 4: Tuesday, 6 p.m., ABC
Game 5: Friday, Oct. 9, 6 p.m., ABC
Game 6: Sunday, Oct. 11, 4:30 p.m., ABC
Game 7: Tuesday, Oct. 13, 6 p.m., ABC

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DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The Dodgers lost one of the 20 series on their 60-game regular-season schedule. If they lose one in October, that rampage they completed Sunday — most runs scored, second-fewest runs allowed, highest winning percentage by any team since 1954, an eighth consecutive National League West title — will become a footnote in another failed attempt to win the World Series.

Those are the stakes. This expanded 16-team postseason format didn’t appropriately reward the Dodgers’ dominance in a season played without fans and with a possible COVID-19 outbreak looming every day while players and coaches addressed social issues beyond baseball. Too many teams qualified. The three-game wild-card series added a layer of unprecedented variance. The randomness of the playoffs was amplified. But it’s the same for every club and it doesn’t change this fact: The Dodgers are the overwhelming favorites to win their first championship since 1988. Anything short of reaching that peak would be a massive disappointment.

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“It’s kind of World Series-or-bust every year,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “This year, I think, certainly would be more special if it could even be possible. But we’ve all gone through a lot. The whole industry has.”

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‘The glue’ of the Dodgers, Justin Turner yearns to win a World Series title

Dodgers must contend with the unhittable ‘Airbender’ pitch of Brewers’ Devin Williams

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Dylan Hernandez: People-pleasing Dave Roberts knows Dodgers fans need a World Series title to be happy

Wild-card round schedule
All times Pacific

No. 1 Dodgers vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Brewers
Game 1: Wednesday, Milwaukee (Brent Suter) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler), 7 p.m., ESPN, AM 570
Game 2: Thursday, Milwaukee (Brandon Woodruff) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), TBD, ESPN or TBS, AM 570
Game 3*: Friday, Milwaukee (TBD) at Dodgers (TBD), TBD, ESPN or TBS, AM 570

*-if necessary

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NFL

Sam Farmer on the NFL: The NFL news out of Tennessee on Tuesday — that three Titans players and five other members of the team tested positive for COVID-19 — quickly morphed into a test of the league’s flexibility, creativity and resolve.

It was a code red for a league that had enjoyed three uninterrupted weeks of football, a somewhat surprising development in a sport where social distancing is impossible and players are not sequestered.

Both the Titans and the Minnesota Vikings, who played each other Sunday, announced they were immediately suspending all in-person activities at their facilities this week in an abundance of caution.

But time is of the essence, because both teams need to practice and prepare for their Sunday games. The Titans host Pittsburgh in a showdown of undefeated teams and the Vikings play at Houston, with each team looking for its first victory.

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First of all, there are no tidy solutions for moving Minnesota’s game at Houston, so it’s a particularly good thing that no Vikings have tested positive so far.

There is more wiggle room with Pittsburgh-Tennessee. The league’s first choice, of course, is to keep the game on the schedule for Sunday. But how much time do the Titans need to adequately prepare? In these high-intensity weeks, every lost minute counts.

There is the possibility the game could be played Monday night. The league has made those moves before when games have been disrupted by hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters.

MLB PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE


Wild-card round
All times Pacific
American League

No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays vs. No. 8 Toronto Blue Jays
Game 1: Tampa Bay 3, Toronto 1
Game 2: Today, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m., TBS
Game 3*: Thursday, at Tampa Bay, TBD

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No. 2 Oakland A’s vs. No. 7 Chicago White Sox
Game 1: Chicago 4, Oakland 1
Game 2: Today, at Oakland, noon, ESPN
Game 3*: Thursday, at Oakland, TBD

No. 3 Minnesota Twins vs. No. 6 Houston Astros
Game 1: Houston 4, Minnesota 1
Game 2: Today, at Minnesota, 10 a.m., ESPN2
Game 3*: Thursday, at Minnesota, TBD

No. 4 Cleveland Indians vs. No. 5 New York Yankees
Game 1: New York 12, Cleveland 3
Game 2: Today, at Cleveland, 4 p.m., ESPN
Game 3*: Thursday, at Cleveland, TBD

National League

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No. 2 Atlanta Braves vs. No. 7 Cincinnati Reds
Game 1: Today, at Atlanta, 9 a.m., ESPN
Game 2: Thursday, at Atlanta, TBD
Game 3*: Friday, TBD

No. 3 Chicago Cubs vs. No. 6 Miami Marlins
Game 1: Today, at Chicago, 11 a.m., ABC
Game 2: Thursday, at Chicago, TBD
Game 3*: Friday, at Chicago, TBD

No. 4 San Diego Padres vs. No. 5 St. Louis Cardinals
Game 1: Today, at San Diego, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Game 2: Thursday, at San Diego, TBD
Game 3*: Friday, at San Diego, TBD

*-if necessary

WNBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE


Semifinals
All times Pacific

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

Game 1: Connecticut 87, Las Vegas 62
Game 2: Las Vegas 83, Connecticut 75
Game 3: Connecticut 77, Las Vegas 68
Game 4: Las Vegas 84, Connecticut 75
Game 5: Las Vegas 66, Connecticut 63

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

Game 1: Seattle 88, Minnesota 86
Game 2: Seattle 89, Minnesota 79
Game 3: Seattle 92, Minnesota 71

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TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Lakers vs. Miami, 6 p.m., ABC

Milwaukee at Dodgers, 7 p.m., ESPN, AM 570

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1916 — The Boston Braves snap the 26-game winning streak of the New York Giants with an 8-3 victory in the second game of a doubleheader.

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1927 — Babe Ruth hits his 60th home run of the season in the eighth inning off Tom Zachary to lead the New York Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Washington Senators.

1939 — Fordham participates in the world’s first televised American football game. In front of the sport’s first live TV audience, the Rams defeats Waynesburg College, 34-7.

1972 — Roberto Clemente hits a double against New York Mets left-hander Jon Matlack during Pittsburgh’s 5-0 victory at Three Rivers Stadium. The hit is the 3,000th and last for the Pirates’ star, who dies in a plane crash during the offseason.

1984 — The Los Angeles Rams set an NFL record with three safeties in a 33-12 victory over the New York Giants. Two of the safeties are on blocked punts in the end zone.

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1992 — George Brett becomes the 18th player to get 3,000 hits in the Kansas City Royals’ 4-0 win over the California Angels.

1995 — Prairie View A&M sets the college football record for consecutive losses with a 64-0 loss to Grambling State. It is the team’s 51st straight defeat, an NCAA record for any level.

2006 — John Carney of the Saints becomes the third kicker in NFL history with 400 career field goals with 31-yarder in the first half of New Orleans’ 21-18 loss to Carolina.

2006 — Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts becomes the second-fastest quarterback to throw 250 touchdown passes in his career, doing it in 132 games. Only Dan Marino (128) reached that number faster.

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2007 — Detroit scores an NFL-record 34 points in the fourth quarter of a 37-27 victory over Chicago. The Lions combine with Bears for 48 points — also a league record.

2007 — Brett Favre passes Dan Marino to become the NFL leader in career touchdown passes, throwing Nos. 421 and 422 in Green Bay’s 23-16 victory over Minnesota.

2012 — Europe wins the Ryder Cup with an historic comeback from a 4-point deficit to beat the United States. Martin Kaymer delivers the Europeans finish with 14½ points while the Americans had 13½. The Americans had a 10-4 lead midway through matches. But the Europeans rally to win the final two, then built on the lead by winning the first five matches the next day.

2012 — Greg Zuerlein of St. Louis converts all four-field goal attempts (58, 48, 60, 24 yards) in the Rams’ 19-13 win over Seattle. Zuerlein becomes the first kicker in NFL history to convert a 60-yard field goal and a 50-yard field goal in the same game.

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2015 — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agrees that the NCAA’s use of college athletes’ names, images and likenesses in video games and TV broadcasts violate antitrust laws but strikes down a plan to allow schools to pay players up to $5,000.

2017 — Russia and China are among nine countries suspended from weightlifting for a year in an attempt to combat an epidemic of doping. The decision by the International Weightlifting Federation follows the retesting of anti-doping samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Also suspended are Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Turkey, and Ukraine.

2017 — Troy’s defense forces four turnovers and the surging Trojans upset No. 25 LSU 24-21. Troy is the first team from outside the Southeastern Conference to win in LSU’s Death Valley since UAB in 2000.

2017 — Seventh-ranked Georgia hits a big milestone as a program, notching win No. 800 with a 41-0 rout of Tennessee.

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2017 — Notre Dame reaches 900 wins with a 52-17 win over Miami (Ohio).

And finally

Roberto Clemente gets his 3,000th hit. Watch it here.

George Brett 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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