The Sports Report: Lakers edge the hapless Rockets
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Dan Woike on the Lakers: There’s no way they could’ve known how perfect their temporary championship banner would end up being.
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Long before limited fans were allowed inside the building to celebrate the Lakers’ 2019-20 championship, the organization announced they’d wait to unveil the real golden banner to commemorate their last title.
Its placeholder read “Stay tuned, Lakers family.”
And wouldn’t you know it, even though Lakers fans saw the official banner Wednesday before their regular-season home finale against the Houston Rockets, everyone is still definitely waiting.
For months, any hope of possibly adding another championship banner this year rested on the patience of the believers, everything centered on the hope that not only would LeBron James and Anthony Davis be back on the court — but they would be dominant once again.
But as both players spoke on the floor, helping unveil the final prize from last season’s triumph, they did so again in street clothes, another game the Lakers would have to play without their two most important players.
Like they have been so many times this year, the partial Lakers had to scrap for a win, a Kyle Kuzma layup in the final 20 seconds sealing a 124-122 win. The victory technically keeps the team alive in their quest to become the No. 6 seed and avoid the NBA’s play-in tournament.
Talen Horton-Tucker scored 23 and had 10 assists and Andre Drummond had 20 points and 10 rebounds, with Wesley Matthews getting a game-sealing steal against the 16-win Rockets.
James saw his status for Wednesday’s game with the lowly Rockets tumble from “questionable” to “out” in a matter of hours. And Davis, who played more than 40 minutes in each of the Lakers last two wins, wasn’t available because of a sore groin muscle — an injury he suffered Tuesday.
The team also didn’t have point guards Alex Caruso (sore foot) and Dennis Schroder (COVID-19 protocols). But the news on James seems the most problematic.
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Mike DiGiovanna on the Dodgers: It had been almost a month since the Dodgers strung two wins together, a stretch of futility that seemed unfathomable in early April, when the defending World Series champions bolted out of the gates with 13 wins in 15 games.
Any air of invincibility the Dodgers had was punctured with a 3½-week nosedive in which they lost 15 of 20 games, but with Wednesday’s 7-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners, which completed a two-game sweep in Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers may have regained some of that familiar swagger.
One night after Gavin Lux’s three-run, eighth-inning homer fueled a dramatic 6-4 come-from-behind win, the Dodgers busted open a one-run game with a four-run fifth and rode the dominant left arm of Julio Urias to a convincing win.
It marked the first time since April 16-17 — when the Dodgers completed an eight-game win streak over Washington, Colorado and San Diego — that they won two straight.
“I think the energy, the vibes, everything has been good,” Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock said. “We’re confident. There’s frustration when you’re losing games, but there’s a real belief that it’s gonna turn, and we’re gonna get back on that winning streak.”
Urias rebounded from last Friday’s five-inning, five-run, eight-hit loss to the Angels with a superb seven-inning start, giving up one run and two hits, striking out six and walking one. He retired the first 13 batters he faced and threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of 24 hitters to improve to 5-1 with a 3.26 ERA.
Jack Harris on the Angels: Manager Joe Maddon explained the decision early in the day.
After announcing a batting order Wednesday that didn’t include Mike Trout, David Fletcher or Justin Upton — all given a break ahead of the team’s day off Thursday — Maddon argued it could be “beneficial” for his regulars in the big picture, a two-day rest to recharge their batteries in a long season.
“I just wanted to take advantage of [the day off] tomorrow,” Maddon said before the game, adding: “I just thought, let’s get these guys really well rested up.”
In a 9-1 loss to the Houston Astros later in the night, however, their absences made for a bleak scene.
Behind from the start after the Astros scored three runs in the first against Andrew Heaney, the Angels (16-20) didn’t mount much of a response in front of 13,668 at Minute Maid Park.
Shohei Ohtani was bumped up to the leadoff spot but went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, dropping his on-base-plus-slugging percentage to below .900 for the first time since the season’s opening weekend.
José Iglesias returned from a back injury to muster a couple of singles while batting second, but Jared Walsh and Taylor Ward went a combined 0 for 8 in the Nos. 3 and 4 spots behind him.
J.T. Compher scored three goals for his first career hat trick to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 win over the Kings on Wednesday night.
The victory kept the Avalanche in the hunt for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the postseason. Colorado clinched home ice for the first round and could finish first overall in the NHL by beating the Kings again Thursday night.
The Kings managed just three shots in the first period and 11 through the first 40 minutes. They have lost five straight to Colorado and six of seven overall.
“We need an effort, we need a group of guys that actually care about finishing the season — individual pride,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s not too much to ask a group to work for 60 minutes. We might not have the skill, we may not have the quality of team that our opponent has tonight and the same group tomorrow night. We have a lot more in us than we showed, so it’s pretty disappointing.”
Gary Klein on the Rams: SoFi Stadium is the site for Super Bowl LVI, and the Rams would like nothing more than to be playing in the sport’s championship game in their home stadium on Feb. 13, 2022.
To get there, they must navigate a schedule that begins Sept. 12 with a “Sunday Night Football” game against the Chicago Bears, ends with a Jan. 9 matchup against the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers, and could include three playoff games if they qualify for the postseason.
The NFL, which expanded the season from 16 to 17 games, released schedules on Wednesday.
The Rams, with new quarterback Matthew Stafford, play three of their first four games at SoFi Stadium, which barring a COVID-19-related setback is on track to host fans for games for the first time.
A game-by-game look at the regular-season schedule (times Pacific and subject to change):
Sept. 12: CHICAGO, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 4)
Sept. 19: at Indianapolis, 10 a.m., (Ch. 11)
Sept. 26: TAMPA BAY, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Oct. 3: ARIZONA, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Oct. 7: at Seattle, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 11/NFL Network/Amazon)
Oct. 17: at New York Giants, 10 a.m., (Ch. 11)
Oct. 24: DETROIT, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Oct. 31: at Houston, 10 a.m., (Ch. 11)
Nov. 7: TENNESEEE, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 4)
Nov. 15: at San Francisco, 5:15 p.m., (ESPN)
Nov. 21: Off week.
Nov. 28: at Green Bay, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Dec. 5: JACKSONVILLE, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 2)
Dec. 13: at Arizona, 5:15 p.m., (ESPN)
Dec. 19: SEATTLE, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Dec. 26: at Minnesota, 10 a.m., (Ch. 11)
Jan. 2: at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Jan. 9: SAN FRANCISCO, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Jeff Miller on the Chargers: Coming off an underachieving 2020 season, the Chargers are a popular pick to bounce back and return to playoff contention this year.
On Wednesday, they learned the path before them when the NFL announced its regular-season schedule.
Not surprisingly, for the team that employs young quarterback sensation Justin Herbert, that path will include some national television time.
The Chargers open on the road at Washington on Sept. 12 before returning home in Week 2 to face Dallas in what should be their first SoFi Stadium regular-season date with fans.
A game-by-game look at the regular-season schedule (Times Pacific and subject to change):
Sept. 12: at Washington, 10 a.m., (Ch. 2)
Sept. 19: DALLAS, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 2)
Sept. 26: at Kansas City, 10 a.m., (Ch. 2)
Oct. 4: LAS VEGAS, 5:15 p.m.
Oct. 10: CLEVELAND, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2)
Oct. 17: at Baltimore, 10 a.m., (Ch. 2)
Oct. 24: Off week
Oct. 31: NEW ENGLAND, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2)
Nov. 7: at Philadelphia, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2)
Nov. 14: MINNESOTA, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Nov. 21: PITTSBURGH, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 4)
Nov. 28: at Denver, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2)
Dec. 5: at Cincinnati, 10 a.m., (Ch. 11)
Dec. 12: NEW YORK GIANTS, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Dec. 16: KANSAS CITY, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 11)
Dec. 26: at Houston, 10 a.m., (Ch. 2)
Jan. 2: DENVER, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2)
Jan. 9: at Las Vegas, 1:25 p.m. (Ch. 2)
2021 NFL regular-season schedule: Week-by-week breakdown and TV channels
NFL schedule release highlights plenty of quarterbacks facing old teams
NFL schedule 2021: A first look at the Week 1 games of every team
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1891 — Isaac Murphy wins his second straight Kentucky Derby aboard Kingman. In the stretch, Kingman comes from last in the four-horse field to beat Balgownan by one-half length.
1952 — In an Appalachian League game, Ron Necciai of the Bristol Twins strikes out 27 batters while pitching a 7-0 no-hitter against the Welch Miners.
1958 — Stan Musial gets his 3,000th hit with a pinch-double off Chicago’s Moe Drabowsky at Wrigley Field. The Cardinals win 5-3.
1976 — The New York Nets overcome a 22-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Denver Nuggets 112-106 and win the last ABA championship in six games.
1992 — The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers 5-1 to eliminate the Patrick Division champions in six games and advance to the Prince of Wales Conference finals. It is the first time all four division winners are eliminated in the same round. The Norris Division champion Detroit Red Wings were swept by the Chicago Blackhawks in four straight games, and the Montreal Canadiens, who had won the Adams Division, lost in four games to the Boston Bruins. The Vancouver Canucks, the Smythe Division champions lost to the Edmonton Oilers in six games.
1995 — Team New Zealand’s Black Magic 1 completes a 5-0 sweep in the America’s Cup, beating Dennis Conner’s borrowed boat Young America by 1 minute, 50 seconds.
2005 — Tiger Woods misses the cut at the Byron Nelson Championship to end his record of 142 consecutive cuts made over the last seven years on the PGA Tour. Needing a par on the 18th hole at Cottonwood Valley, Woods misses a 15-foot putt. He taps in for a bogey and a 2-over 72, leaving him at 1 over for the tournament.
2007 — Canada wins hockey’s world championship with a 4-2 victory over Finland. Rick Nash leads the way with two goals as Canada captures its’ 24th world title and first since 2004.
2007 — Rafael Nadal becomes the first player to win the Rome Masters three consecutive times by beating Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 6-2, 6-2. The victory extends his winning streak on clay to 77 matches. By reaching the final, the Spaniard broke John McEnroe’s record for most consecutive victories (75) on one surface.
2012 — Manchester City wins the English title for the first time in 44 years, surging past Queens Park Rangers 3-2 with Sergio Aguero scoring his team’s second goal late in injury time. Aguero scores during the fourth minute of injury time, two minutes after substitute Edin Dzeko made it 2-2. The winning goal snatches the trophy from defending champion Manchester United on goal difference.
2014 — Henrik Lundqvist sets an NHL record with his fifth straight Game 7 victory. He made 35 saves to lift the New York Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins and earn a spot in the Eastern Conference finals. Brian Boyle and Brad Richards score for New York, who rally from a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in the franchise’s 88-year history.
2015 — Derek Stepan scores 11:24 in overtime, lifting the New York Rangers past the Washington Capitals 2-1 and into the Eastern Conference finals. Stepan’s wrist shot from the left wing caps a comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the series. The Rangers become the only team to manage that in successive years, doing the same thing to Pittsburgh in the second round in 2014.
Stan Musial gets his 3,000th hit. Watch it here.
Until next time...
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