The Sports Report: Lakers lose to Toronto Raptors
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Dan Woike on the Lakers: The Lakers began the final two weeks of the regular season in a fight they thought they had avoided, the prospect of a play-in tournament an increasingly frightening possibility. They had just suffered a shameful loss to the Sacramento Kings, who beat them without two of their best players and another scoring just two points.
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And they had just learned that yet another of their key pieces, Dennis Schroder wouldn’t be available, forcing the Lakers to lock in a little more, to play a little sharper and a little harder Sunday night as they make a real push for the postseason.
A response was required. The one issued was a surprise.
Kyle Lowry, the guard they decided not to trade for, ran up the sideline letting out a Ric Flair “Woooo” after a bucket. The Raptors bench bounded with life and energy. And the Lakers, well they were just kind of there, a passive participant in their own demise.
After leading by 12 early – maybe they were mad – the Lakers just looked bad, falling behind by as many as 21 and greeting the deficit mostly with a shrug.
That the score tightened at times almost irrelevant. That the Lakers, a team that won a title on the backs of chemistry and effort, played for so long without either, is very much a problem.
The 121-114 loss Sunday, their sixth in their last seven games, dropped the Lakers into a three-way tie with Dallas and Portland. And LeBron James was forced back to the locker room in the fourth quarter, unable to return because of his sore right ankle.
The Lakers were as disjointed as ever, now playing without their point guard. Just last week, Schroder told German media members that he was unsure about taking a COVID vaccine. Sunday, he landed on the league’s health and safety protocols, meaning either he or a close contact had tested positive for the virus.
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Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: For the last two weeks, as their frustration mounted and the losses stacked, the Dodgers have looked around wondering when the tide would turn for longer than 24 hours. They’ve waited to catch the breaks and explode for runs and breathe not only a sigh of relief but replenish their lungs with a string of wins.
Sunday’s 16-4 thumping of the Milwaukee Brewers, an outburst that kept them from a demoralizing four-game series sweep, may be the spark.
Matt Beaty and AJ Pollock, the Nos. 6 and 7 hitters in the Dodgers’ lineup, fronted the offensive charge at American Family Field as the Dodgers avoided their first four-game losing streak since July 2019.
Both players clubbed grand slams in the first two innings. Pollock added a three-run home run and finished with eight RBIs. Beaty collected seven RBIs in the first four innings. They became the first Dodgers teammates to ever have at least seven RBIs in a game.
Chris Taylor went three for three with a walk, hit by pitch and five runs, becoming the first Dodger to score five runs in a game since Shawn Green had six in Milwaukee in May 2005. Justin Turner, Will Smith and Gavin Lux each collected two of the Dodgers’ 18 hits. Lux, the No. 8 hitter, drove in the 16th run as the Dodgers tallied double-digit runs for the first time since April 16.
“That was what we’re used to today,” Beaty said. “So, that was a lot of fun.”
One blowout win can’t mask Dodgers’ very real issues with their bullpen and defense
Jack Harris on the Angels: Kyle Seager fielded the soft ground ball, fired an easy throw to first base, and extinguished the Angels’ final hope on Sunday afternoon in a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
The Angels’ most worrisome moment, however, took place about three hours earlier, when two-way star Shohei Ohtani was hit in the elbow by a pitch during the first inning.
It was a 93.4-mph fastball from Mariners starter Justus Sheffield that clipped Ohtani on his throwing arm, striking his oversized elbow pad as he unsuccessfully tried to lean back from the plate.
Ohtani immediately yelled as the ball struck him, and briefly went down to one knee. He was evaluated by trainers for several minutes and ultimately stayed in the game, taking three more at-bats and finishing the day with two stolen bases.
But his scheduled pitching start for Monday night is in question. Manager Joe Maddon said after the game it was too early to know how Ohtani’s status might be affected.
“He’s sore, he’s being looked at right now,” Maddon said. “I don’t know how sore it’s going to be tonight or tomorrow morning. So that’ll be something we have to look at … He might say, ‘Man, I feel great. There’s no stiffness at all.’ Or, if it is stiff, then we’ll have to make an adjustment.”
Brad Smith scored one goal and assisted on another, Raúl Ruidíaz scored twice, and the Seattle Sounders stymied Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and the Galaxy in a 3-0 win on Sunday night.
Seattle remained unbeaten on the young season, getting a pair of goals three minutes apart in the first half and keeping Chicharito from continuing his early-season scoring barrage.
It was Seattle’s goal-scoring sniper who gave the Sounders the early advantage in the 20th minute, when Ruidíaz volleyed a cross from Smith past Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond.
Three minutes later, Smith completed a terrific build up by the Sounders following up his initial shot that was saved by Bond for his second straight game with a goal. Smith had Seattle’s only goal in its 1-1 draw with LAFC last week.
Ruidíaz added a second goal late in second-half stoppage time, giving him four goals on the young season.
Hernández had five goals in the first two games for the Galaxy, scoring a pair in their opening 3-2 victory over Inter Miami and following up with a hat trick in last week’s 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls. Hernández was just the second player in league history to have five goals in the first two games of the season, joining former Houston star Brian Chang.
Seattle was determined not to let Chicharito have the same influence. Hernández had just one shot and never found himself open in a scoring position. The Galaxy had just two shots on goal in the match.
John Cherwa on horse racing: The morning after the Kentucky Derby is normally when thoughts turn to winning the Triple Crown. The winning trainer tries to temper expectations while at the same time making everyone believe that it‘s a possibility.
Bob Baffert has had that conversation six of the seven times a horse he trained won the world’s most recognizable race. Last year, the Derby was the second race in the Triple Crown, so there was no such talk.
But Sunday morning, outside Barn 33 on the Churchill Downs backside, Baffert was more about the past than the future. He didn’t even commit to sending Medina Spirit, winner of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby, to the next stop on the Triple Crown road — the Preakness Stakes in two weeks at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. But the smart money is on his presence.
“Can he win the Triple Crown?” Baffert asked rhetorically. “I don’t know, but he’s the Derby winner and that’s all that matters.”
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1902 — Alan-a-Dale wins the Kentucky Derby by a nose over Inventor, giving jockey Jimmy Winkfield his second straight Derby victory. Winkfield is the last black rider to win the Kentucky Derby.
1941 — Whirlaway, ridden by Eddie Arcaro, has an easy start to the Triple Crown with an eight-length victory over Staretor in the Kentucky Derby.
1952 — CBS is the first network to televise the Kentucky Derby, with Hill Gail winning by two lengths over Sub Fleet. Jockey Eddie Arcaro wins a record fifth Derby and Ben A. Jones wins a record sixth for a trainer.
1969 — Jockey Bill Hartack wins his fifth Kentucky Derby. His victory aboard Majestic Prince tie Eddie Arcaro’s record. Majestic Prince overtakes Arts and Letters at the mile pole and holds on by a neck.
1980 — Genuine Risk, ridden by Jacinto Vasquez, becomes the second filly to win the Kentucky Derby, beating Rumbo by a length.
1981 — The Boston Celtics wipe out an 11-point deficit in the second half to beat Philadelphia 91-90 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals and become the fourth NBA team to recover from a 3-1 deficit.
1986 — The 54-year-old Bill Shoemaker wins his fourth Kentucky Derby, riding long-shot Ferdinand to a last-to-first dash for a 2¼-length win over Bold Arrangement.
2001 — Dallas, with an 84-83 win over Utah, becomes the sixth NBA team to win a five-game series after trailing 0-2. The Mavericks rally from double-digit deficits in all three wins, including 17 in Game 5.
2003 — Funny Cide becomes the first gelding since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929 to win the Kentucky Derby.
2007 — Golden State is the first No. 8 seed to capture a best-of-seven playoff series with a 111-86 victory over the NBA-best Dallas Mavericks in Game 6. The Warriors are only the third eighth seed to upset the No. 1 and the first since the opening round went from best-of-five to the current format.
2008 — Big Brown, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, scores a 4 3/4-length victory in the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown is the first horse since the filly Regret in 1915 to win the Derby after just three career starts and the second to win from post position No. 20.
2012 — LeBron James scores 32 points and Miami takes a 3-0 series lead, sending New York to an NBA postseason-record 13th straight loss, 87-70. The Knicks break the record set by Memphis from 2004-06.
2014 — California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, pulls away down the stretch for a dominant win at the 140th Kentucky Derby. The 5-2 favorite stretched his winning streak to five and Art Sherman becomes the oldest winning Derby trainer at 77.
2014 — Marian Gaborik scores with seven seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and then scores 12:07 into the extra period to lift the Kings to a 3-2 win against the Ducks in the opener of the first playoff series between the Southern California teams.
Ferdinand wins the Kentucky Derby in 1986. Watch it here.
Until next time...
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