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The Sports Report: Lakers rout Miami in Game 1 of NBA Finals

LeBron James and Miami's Jae Crowder get tangled up.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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

Tania Ganguli on the Lakers: LeBron James likes to say that sometimes two points are more than two points, when the score comes in an emphatic and demoralizing fashion.

That isn’t how James viewed the Lakers’ dominant, 116-98, Game 1 win over the Heat. It was only one win, he said, stone-faced, after the game. When his teammates celebrated too much at certain points during it, he worked to temper their excitement.

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“I’ve experienced moments in my career, Finals games, where you had all the momentum in the world, it felt like you had the game under control, one play here can change the course of a series or change the course of a game,” James said.

He recalled Game 2 of the 2011 Finals, in which his team, the Heat, had a double-digit lead to the Dallas Mavericks. They eventually lost the game and the series.

“That [stuff] burns me to this day,” James said. “I always talk about the best teacher in life is experience, I’ve experienced a lot.”

James scored 25 points with 13 rebounds and nine assists. Anthony Davis, playing in his first Finals game, scored 34 points with nine rebounds and five assists.

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“First time I’m experiencing this so obviously you want to come out and play well, you want to win,” Davis said. “I had the same thing Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals as well. When the ball gets tipped up all that goes away. But everything leading up to it, you’re very excited, your adrenaline is going early, you’re so excited to be here.”

Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso had plus/minus ratings of positive 20 in the first half.

Miami was led by Jimmy Butler, who shook off an injury just before halftime to keep playing and scored 23 points. More concerning for the Heat were the two starters – Goran Dragic (foot) and Bam Adebayo (shoulder) – who suffered injuries that prevented them from being able to finish the team. Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game that he wasn’t sure what their statuses were moving forward.

The Lakers exposed Miami’s defense, shot better than they had for most of their time in the bubble and rode Davis’s presence inside to total domination.

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Bill Plaschke: Lakers make a Finals statement; this might be over already

Photos: Lakers cruise past Heat in NBA Finals opener

Kobe Bryant’s signature shoes keep his memory close to those in NBA’s bubble

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NBA FINALS
All times Pacific
Lakers vs. Miami

Game 1: Lakers 116, Miami 98
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

*-if necessary

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DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The Dodgers’ pursuit of their first championship since 1988 shifted to another gear Wednesday in a vacant Dodger Stadium against one of the worst teams ever to qualify for the postseason.

The setting for Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card round, a layer added to the 2020 postseason to generate more revenue, against the Milwaukee Brewers was unprecedented. The typical extended pregame introductions, featuring everyone from the clubbies to the manager, were absent Wednesday. The anthem was performed by the stadium organist, but a military flyover didn’t rumble overhead. The only towels being waved were digital animations on screens around the ballpark.

The energy 56,000 people have produced every October in Chavez Ravine was replaced by automated fan noise. But the objective remained the same. Survive until you’re the last team left in the tournament. This year, the routine will take 13 wins.

The Dodgers secured the first one with a 4-2 victory over the eighth-seeded Brewers. Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday at 7:08 p.m. The Dodgers would advance to the National League Division Series in Arlington, Texas with a win.

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Walker Buehler, not Clayton Kershaw, got the start for Los Angeles despite logging just 36 2/3 innings during the regular season after going on the injured list twice with a blister on his right index finger. The Dodgers’ thinking was if Buehler couldn’t pitch deep into the game, they would have a fresh bullpen to take down innings behind him and they could rely on Kershaw to deliver a longer outing in Game 2 on Thursday.

The rationale proved prescient. Buehler was dominant through three innings but surrendered a two-run home run to shortstop Orlando Arcia in the fourth and was pulled after the frame. He allowed allowed three hits, he walked two, and tied a postseason career high with eight strikeouts. He threw 73 pitches.

Julio Urías replaced Buehler and tossed three scoreless innings. Blake Treinen delivered a scoreless eighth. Kenley Jansen worked around a two-out walk in the ninth inning to seal the result.

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Dylan Hernández: Walker Buehler’s blister saga reveals a deeper truth — Dodgers aren’t invincible

World Series quest begins despite the lack of playoff atmosphere at Dodger Stadium

A rejuvenated Clayton Kershaw set to start for the Dodgers in Game 2 vs. Brewers

Brewers reliever Devin Williams and his ‘Airbender’ out for series against Dodgers

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Limited number of fans will be allowed into stadium for the World Series and NLCS

Wild-card round schedule
All times Pacific

No. 1 Dodgers vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Brewers
Game 1: Dodgers 4, Milwaukee 2
Game 2: Today, Milwaukee (Brandon Woodruff) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 7 p.m., ESPN, AM 570
Game 3*: Friday, Milwaukee (TBD) at Dodgers (TBD), 3:30 p.m., ESPN, AM 570

*-if necessary

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ASK DYLAN HERNÁNDEZ

It’s a big month in the Los Angeles sports world. The Lakers take on the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals and the Dodgers open the baseball playoffs against the Milwaukee Brewers. For this special occasion, we are bringing in sports columnist Dylan Hernández to answer your questions. Please submit your comments, questions and thoughts about these playoff runs and Dylan will do his best to answer them. Just click here to ask him a question.

NFL

Sam Farmer on the NFL: Concerned that not all NFL coaches are properly wearing protective face coverings on the sideline, the league now reserves the right to take away draft picks from teams that flout the rules.

In a memo sent Wednesday to all 32 clubs, Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, reminded teams of the importance of adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

“We are only through Week 3 of the season,” he wrote. “If we are to play a full and uninterrupted season, we all must remain committed to our efforts to mitigate the risk of transmission of the virus. Inconsistent adherence to health and safety protocols, such as wearing face coverings and observing physical distancing requirements will put the 2020 season at risk.”

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The memo, obtained by The Times, was sent a day after three Tennessee Titans players and five other employees of the team tested positive for coronavirus. On Wednesday, a fourth player tested positive.

The Titans’ facility is closed, and the NFL announced Wednesday morning that it is rescheduling Sunday’s Pittsburgh-Tennessee game for either Monday or Tuesday night.

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Forced to step up, Jared Goff delivered a near-comeback against the Bills

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Chargers’ Josh Kelley aware he can’t afford to fumble another opportunity

MLB PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE


Wild-card round (best of three)
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: Tampa Bay 8, Toronto 2

No. 2 Oakland A’s vs. No. 7 Chicago White Sox
Game 1: Chicago 4, Oakland 1
Game 2: Oakland 5, Chicago 3
Game 3: Today at Oakland, noon, ESPN

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No. 3 Minnesota Twins vs. No. 6 Houston Astros
Game 1: Houston 4, Minnesota 1
Game 2: Houston 3, Minnesota 1

No. 4 Cleveland Indians vs. No. 5 New York Yankees
Game 1: New York 12, Cleveland 3
Game 2: New York 10, Cleveland 9

National League

No. 2 Atlanta Braves vs. No. 7 Cincinnati Reds
Game 1: Atlanta 1, Cincinnati 0 (13)
Game 2: Today at Atlanta, 9 a.m., ESPN
Game 3*: Friday at Atlanta, noon, ESPN

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No. 3 Chicago Cubs vs. No. 6 Miami Marlins
Game 1: Miami 5, Chicago 1
Game 2: Today at Chicago, 11 a.m., ABC
Game 3*: Friday at Chicago, 11 a.m., ABC

No. 4 San Diego Padres vs. No. 5 St. Louis Cardinals
Game 1: St. Louis 7, San Diego 4
Game 2: Today at San Diego, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Game 3*: Friday at San Diego, 7 pm., ESPN

*-if necessary

WNBA FINALS


All times Pacific
All games at Bradenton, Fla.

No. 1 Las Vegas Aces vs. No. 2 Seattle Storm

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Game 1: Friday, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Game 2: Sunday, noon, ABC
Game 3: Tuesday, 4 p.m., ESPN
Game 4*: Thursday, Oct. 8, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Game 5*: Sunday, Oct. 11, noon, ABC

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

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

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1903 — The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Boston Pilgrims 7-3 in the first World Series game. Jimmy Sebring hits the first Series homer, Deacon Phillippe is the winning pitcher and Cy Young the loser.

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1961 — Roger Maris hits his 61st home run of the season, against Tracy Stallard of the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The blow gives New York a 1-0 victory and eclipses Babe Ruth’s 34-year-old single-season home run record.

1975 — In the “Thrilla in Manila,” Muhammad Ali beats Joe Frazier in 14 rounds to retain his world heavyweight title.

1977 — 75,646 fans come to the Meadowlands to see soccer great Pele play his farewell game. Pele plays the first half with the New York Cosmos and the second half with his former team, Santos of Brazil.

1997 — Kevin Garnett agrees to terms with the Minnesota Timberwolves on the richest long-term contract in professional sports history, a six-year deal worth more than $125 million.

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2004 — Ichiro Suzuki sets the major league record for hits in a season, breaking George Sisler’s 84-year-old mark with a pair of early singles as the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 8-3. Sisler set the hits record of 257 in 1920 with the St. Louis Browns over a 154-game schedule. Suzuki breaks it in the Mariners’ 160th game of the year.

2006 — Joe Mauer becomes the first catcher to win an AL batting title as Minnesota beat the Chicago White Sox 5-1. Mauer, finishing at .347, ends up four points ahead of New York shortstop Derek Jeter.

2006 — Tiger Woods matches his longest PGA Tour winning streak of six at the American Express Championship. Woods finishes with a 4-under 67 for an eight-shot victory. It’s also his eighth victory of the year, making him the first player in PGA Tour history to win at least eight times in three seasons.

2011 — Tyler Wilson throws for a school-record 510 yards and Jarius Wright catches 13 passes for a school-record 281 yards as Arkansas turns an 18-point halftime deficit into a 42-38 victory over Texas A&M.

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And finally

Roger Maris hits his 61st homer in 1961. 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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