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The Sports Report: Lakers, Dodgers win their playoff games

Anthony Davis passes around Jimmy Butler during the first half of Game 4.
Anthony Davis passes around Jimmy Butler during the first half of Game 4.
(Associated Press)

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

Tania Ganguli on the Lakers: LeBron James’ shouts could be heard all the way to the top of the nearly empty arena.

“WOOO! WOOO! WOOO!”

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Anthony Davis had just made a three-pointer to give the Lakers a nine-point lead with 39.5 seconds remaining. He was shouting too, but it was James’ voice that carried as the Lakers’ socially distanced fan section erupted in cheers.

In Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night at AdventHealth Arena, the Lakers found a way.

The Lakers had just enough to come out ahead, 102-96, and take a 3-1 series lead over the Heat.

James led the Lakers, finishing with 28 points, eight assists and 12 rebounds, while Anthony Davis scored 22 points with four assists and nine rebounds. Both James and Davis made eight of 16 shots attempted.

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There would be no repeat domination from Heat star Jimmy Butler, who was guarded by Davis. He scored 11 points in the first quarter, making his first five shots, and then didn’t make another field goal until the fourth quarter. After a 40-point triple-double in Game 3, Butler finished with 22 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds in Game 4.

It was another sloppy game for the Lakers, who committed nine first-half turnovers, five by James. It was part of why they couldn’t pull away from the Heat despite Miami’s low shooting percentages.

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Bill Plaschke: LeBron James shows up in crunch time to push Lakers to verge of title

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Anthony Davis is disruptive force on defense in Game 4 win

Photos: Lakers vs. Heat, NBA Finals Game 4

NBA FINALS
All times Pacific
Lakers vs. Miami

Game 1: Lakers 116, Miami 98
Game 2: Lakers 124, Miami 114
Game 3: Miami 115, Lakers 104
Game 4: Lakers 102, Miami 96
Game 5: Friday, 6 p.m., ABC
Game 6*: Sunday, 4:30 p.m., ABC
Game 7*: Tuesday, 6 p.m., ABC

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*-if necessary

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DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The groundball ricocheted off the end of Cody Bellinger’s bat and up the middle, slowly sneaking through the infield before San Diego Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth smothered it with a dive.

But it was too late. Bellinger sprinted through first base to complete a 71.4-mph infield hit as the Dodgers’ fourth run in their slow-moving 5-1 win over the Padres in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday. Bellinger turned to his excited dugout and shook his hands, the team’s celebration for when they reach base on a hit they didn’t barrel up.

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It wasn’t the kind of hit that will appear on highlight reels, but it was the kind the Dodgers need to win a World Series.

The Dodgers understand the challenge playing the remainder of the postseason at Globe Life Field presents. The ballpark is a cavernous, home run suppressor. According to ESPN’s park factors, it was the most difficult ballpark to hit a homer in for the 60-game regular season. To score runs, the team that hit the most home runs per game in major league history during the season, had treated home runs as bonuses. Relying on them would lead to losses. They needed to put the ball in play and string together hits.

For five innings Tuesday, there wasn’t any hit stringing, or any hits at all. Six Padres pitchers, five relievers after starter Mike Clevinger’s early exit, had combined to hold them hitless but couldn’t keep them off the board. The Dodgers scored in the fifth inning on an error. Then came the barrage.

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14 photos from Dodgers’ win over the Padres in Game 1 of the NLDS

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Dodgers newsletter: Prediction — Dodgers over Padres in five games

Dodgers-Padres schedule
All times Pacific
All game at Arlington, Texas
Dodgers are home team for Games 1, 2 and 5

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Game 1: Dodgers 5, San Diego 1
Game 2: Tonight, 6 p.m., FS1
Game 3: Thursday, 6 p.m., MLB Network
Game 4*: Friday, 6 p.m., FS1
Game 5*: Saturday, 5 p.m., FS1

*-if necessary

USC FOOTBALL

Ryan Kartje on USC football: The last glaring question facing USC ahead of its restart was answered Tuesday, as Alijah Vera-Tucker announced he will opt back in to anchor the Trojans’ offensive front this season.

One of the Pac-12’s best-graded linemen last season, Vera-Tucker announced less than a month ago he would sit out the upcoming season to focus on the 2021 NFL draft, leaving USC without its prospective left tackle and drastically shorten its depth up front. But when the Pac-12 last month solidified plans to play a seven-game, conference-only season this year instead of next, that calculus apparently changed.

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“The opportunity to rejoin my teammates, represent the Trojan family, continue to advance my degree, and compete for a Pac-12 championship this season is something I cannot pass up,” Vera-Tucker said on social media. “I’m eager to lead my teammates down the tunnel of the Coliseum next month to show the college football world that the Trojans are ready to play.”

KINGS

Jack Harris on the Kings: The Kings selected Quinton Byfield second overall in the NHL draft Tuesday, making the 18-year-old one of the important picks in franchise history.

The last time the Kings picked this high, they got Drew Doughty and four years later won the Stanley Cup for the first time. The expectations for Byfield — an Ontario, Canada, native who was the 2019 OHL rookie of the year, recorded 143 points in 109 games over the last two seasons with the Sudbury Wolves and became the highest drafted player of color in NHL history — will be almost as high.

Scouts love Byfield’s skating ability and physically imposing two-way game. At the junior level, he was already overpowering opponents. And many evaluators believe there’s a lot more physical development in store as he works toward reaching the NHL.

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“Byfield is a big kid,” Kings director of amateur scouting Mark Yannetti said before the draft. “And he’s a lot differently built now than he was last year.”

As expected, the New York Rangers made 18-year-old center Alexis Lafreniere the No. 1 pick.

Tim Stuetzle, another 18-year-old center whom the Kings strongly considered taking at No. 2, went third to the Ottawa Senators. Yannetti called the Byfield-Stuetzle decision the hardest the Kings had to make in his 13 years with the team.

With the sixth overall pick, the Ducks chose Jamie Drysdale, an 18-year-old defenseman from Canada.

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At the start of the draft, held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he expected next season to begin on Jan. 1, 2021.

MLB PLAYOFFS

All times Pacific
NL Division Series

Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins
all games at Houston
Atlanta is home team in Games 1, 2, and 5

Game 1: Atlanta 9, Miami 5
Game 2: Today, 11 a.m., MLB Network
Game 3: Thursday, 11 a.m., FS1
Game 4*: Friday, 11 a.m., FS1
Game 5*: Saturday, 1 p.m., FS1

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AL Division Series

Houston Astros vs. Oakland A’s
all games at Los Angeles
Oakland is home team in Games 1, 2, and 5

Game 1: Houston 10, Oakland 5
Game 2: Houston 5, Oakland 2
Game 3: Today, 12:30 p.m., TBS
Game 4*: Thursday, 12:30 p.m., TBS
Game 5*: Friday, 12:30 p.m., TBS

Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees
all games at San Diego
Tampa Bay is home team in Games 1, 2, and 5

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Game 1: New York 9, Tampa Bay 3
Game 2: Tampa Bay 7, New York 5
Game 3: Today, 4 p.m., TBS
Game 4: Thursday, 4 p.m., TBS
Game 5*: Friday, 4 p.m., TBS

*-if necessary

WNBA

Breanna Stewart scored 26 points, and the Seattle Storm won their second WNBA championship in three season, sweeping the Las Vegas Aces with a 92-59 rout Tuesday night.

It’s the fourth title in franchise history for the Storm, who also won in 2004, 2010 and 2018. Seattle had pretty much the same core group that won the 2018 championship back for this year, led by Stewart, Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd. The Storm joined Minnesota and Houston as the only franchises to win four championships.

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Seattle has now won a record 11 games in a row in the WNBA Finals, dating to the team’s first championship in 2004. Bird has been a part of all of them. The veteran guard, who turns 40 next week, was once again a catalyst for the Storm. She finished with five points and seven assists. She finished the finals averaging 11 assists in the three games.

The 26-year-old Stewart set a WNBA record by scoring more than 20 points for the sixth straight finals game. She earned WNBA Finals MVP honors for the second time in her young career, becoming the fifth player to win multiple finals MVPs.

WNBA FINALS

All times Pacific
All games at Bradenton, Fla.

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

Game 1: Seattle 93, Las Vegas 80
Game 2: Seattle 104, Las Vegas 91
Game 3: Seattle 92, Las Vegas 59

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

San Diego vs. Dodgers, 6 p.m., FS1

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LAFC at Colorado, 6 p.m., YouTube TV, 710 ESPN

Portland at Galaxy, 7:30 p.m.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1916 — Georgia Tech, coached by John Heisman, beats Cumberland 222-0 in the most lopsided college football game in history.

1945 — The Green Bay Packers score 41 points in the first quarter in a 57-21 win against the Detroit Lions.

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1962 — Judy Kimball wins the LPGA championship with a four-stroke victory over Shirley Spork.

1967 — Tulsa wide receivers Ricky Eber and Harry Wood have the best day by a receiving duo in college football history. Eber has 20 receptions for 322 yards and three touchdowns, while Wood grabs 13 passes for 318 yards and three scores in Tulsa’s 58-0 win over Idaho State.

1970 — Willie Shoemaker wins his 6,033rd race to pass Johnny Longden as the winningest jockey. His first race was won on April 20, 1949.

1984 — Walter Payton breaks Jim Brown’s career rushing mark of 12,312 yards and Brown’s career mark of 58 100-yard rushing games in a 20-7 victory over New Orleans. Payton breaks the record on Chicago’s second play from scrimmage in the second half.

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1985 — Lynette Woodard, captain of the women’s basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, is chosen to be the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.

1992 — Chris Kontos scores four goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning win their NHL debut, 7-3 over the Chicago Blackhawks.

1995 — Coach Eddie Robinson gets his 400th victory as Grambling beats Mississippi Valley State 42-6.

2000 — Zamir Amin of Menlo College sets an NCAA all-divisions record, passing for 731 yards in the Division III school’s 37-32 loss to Cal Lutheran. Amin, 39-of-66 with four TDs and three interceptions, breaks the mark of 716 set by David Klingler of Division I-A Houston against Arizona State on Dec. 2, 1990.

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2001 — San Diego’s Rickey Henderson becomes the 25th player with 3,000 hits with a bloop double in a 14-5 loss to Colorado.

2001 — Barry Bonds wraps up his record-breaking season with his 73rd homer and shatters the slugging percentage record that Babe Ruth had owned for 81 years. He finishes with a slugging percentage of .863, easily surpassing the mark of .847 that Ruth set in 1920.

2006 — Denis Hopovac’s fifth field goal of the game, in an NCAA record-tying seventh overtime, gives North Texas a 25-22 victory over Florida International. The other two seven-overtime games involved Arkansas — against Mississippi in 2001 and Kentucky in 2003.

2007 — Houston’s Kris Brown becomes the third kicker in NFL history to hit three field goals from beyond 50 yards in a game. His last is a career-long, 57-yard game-winner in a 22-19 victory over Miami.

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2011 — The Minnesota Lynx beat the Atlanta Dream 73-67 to complete a three-game sweep of the WNBA championship series.

2012 — Drew Brees finishes 29 for 45 for 370 yards with four TD passes and an interception in New Orleans’ 31-24 win over San Diego. Brees breaks the NFL record by throwing a touchdown pass in his 48th straight game. His 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson eclipses the mark of 47 consecutive games set by Johnny Unitas from 1956-60.

2017 — Backup Khalil Tate rushes for 327 yards, an FBS record for a quarterback, and accounts for five touchdowns to help Arizona hold off Colorado 45-42.

2017 — No. 21 Florida sets an NCAA record by scoring in its 366th consecutive game. The Gators get on the scoreboard with Eddy Pineiro’s 25-yard field goal in the second quarter of a 17-16 loss to LSU. That breaks the previous mark set by Michigan (1984-2014).

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2017 — Alex Ovechkin scores four goals to become the first player in 100 years with back-to-back hat tricks to open a season, and the Washington Capitals beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-1.

And finally

Rickey Henderson 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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