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The Sports Report: Can the Lakers rebound from a meltdown in Phoenix?

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James passes around Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) passes around Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) during Game 5 of their first-round playoff series Tuesday in Phoenix.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Iliana Limón Romero, filling in for Houston Mitchell, who’s on vacation (probably recovering from a Dodgers loss by watching Brady Bunch reruns). Let’s get right to the news.

Dan Woike on the Lakers: LeBron James glared quickly over at the Lakers’ bench, where Anthony Davis wore a T-shirt honoring Kobe Bryant instead of a uniform.

Andre Drummond had just worked for an offensive rebound and, in the tightest of quarters, fired a pass
off James’ knees, and the Phoenix Suns were heading the other way.

After Game 4, James spoke about his broad shoulders. During Game 5, he spent more time shaking his head in shock and disbelief to how things could go so wrong so fast.

The Lakers lost 115-85 Tuesday night, a disastrous effort and performance in the series’ biggest game to date.

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“We got our ass kicked,” James said. “Just that simple.”

Bill Plaschke on the Lakers: He stumbled. He fumbled. He threw a pass into the seats. He clanked shots off the iron. He failed to attack. He could not inspire.

This is the night that a rejuvenated LeBron James was supposed to ignite greatness.

It was, instead, a night where an aging LeBron James elicited only pity.

This was going to be the game where James proved he could still single-handedly carry a team to a critical playoff victory.

This was, instead, the game that showed he may never be capable of such singular heroics again.

Lakers-Suns schedule for first-round playoff series.
(Tim Hubbard / Los Angeles Times)

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: LeBron James was bent over, his chest heaving, injured teammate Anthony Davis by his side, the two of them talking on the court at the end of another dismal quarter that had left the Lakers down by 29 points entering the fourth quarter.

James held a towel with both hands on his hips. Davis was next to him wearing a mask, his night never getting started because his groin injury kept him out of Game 5 on Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns.

The two of them made eye contact and started their signature handshake, slapping hands several times before they went their separate ways, with the Lakers’ season on the brink of ending and their aspirations of repeating as NBA champions in jeopardy.

James went and sat at the end of the bench while Davis left the court and walked to the locker room before the fourth quarter started.

Then, with 5 minutes 30 seconds left in what became a 115-85 beat-down by the Suns, James got out of his seat and walked to the Lakers’ locker room to join Davis.

They had plenty to talk about with the Lakers now trailing the best-of-seven series 3-2 and needing a victory in Game 6 on Thursday night at Staples Center to extend their season and force a deciding game on Saturday afternoon here.

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CLIPPERS

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul George stands by the bench celebrating a basket
The Los Angeles Clippers’ Paul George stands by the bench celebrating a basket made by a teammate during Game 4 of a first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Sunday. The Clippers won 106-81.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: Tyronn Lue was his typical, composed self Sunday night after his team’s second consecutive road victory tied its first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks 2-2 — until the final seconds of his postgame videoconference.

Raising his right hand into a fist, the coach of the Clippers thumped a table.

“Clipper fans, if you’re listening, we need” — bang! — “your energy” — bang! — “come Wednesday,” Lue said. “We’re ready, baby.”

The call to action ahead of Wednesday night’s Game 5 at Staples Center generated hundreds of shares on social media.

DODGERS

St. Louis Cardinals' Paul Goldschmidt runs to first after hitting an RBI double
The St. Louis Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt, second from left, runs to first after hitting an RBI while Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher David Price, left, and catcher Will Smith, second from right, watch Tuesday in Los Angeles.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The stage was set for those in attendance at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night to witness what they had seen only on television last season. Up came Mookie Betts with two on and two out in a one-run game in the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, looking to at least extend the game, if not author the kind of signature moment he made a regular occurrence in front of cardboard cutouts in 2020.

For a split second, as his line drive soared to the left-field corner, it looked as if Betts finally had delivered another one. But, in keeping with Betts’ frustrating season, left fielder Tyler O’Neill tracked it down and made a catch at the warning track, topping the Cardinals’ impressive defensive showing in a 3-2 win over the Dodgers.

It was the Dodgers’ 13th one-run loss this season, the most in the majors. They remain without a walk-off win 55 games into the season after producing two in 60 games in 2020 and 12 in 162 games in 2019.

The Dodgers (32-23) tapped David Price as the opener for their bullpen game after he was effective in the role twice over the last two weeks. Ideally, manager Dave Roberts said, Price would pitch three innings before passing the baton to the rest of the relief corps.

Bill Shaikin on the Dodgers: Mike Marshall, who set a major league standard for endurance during an iconoclastic but award-winning career, died Tuesday, the team said. He was 78.

The Dodgers said he died in Zephyrhills, Fla., where he resided. The team did not announce a cause of death.

In 1974, as the Dodgers’ top relief pitcher, he appeared in 106 games, still the major league record. He pitched in all five games of the World Series that year, including a memorable pickoff of Herb Washington, the track star the Oakland Athletics signed for the sole purpose of pinch-running.

ANGELS

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tony Watson throws to a San Francisco Giants batter
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tony Watson throws to a San Francisco Giants batter during the ninth inning Tuesday in San Francisco.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

Jack Harris on the Angels: The Angels didn’t need Shohei Ohtani on Tuesday night.

They had another pitcher who shined playing both ways.

In an 8-1 rout of the San Francisco Giants, Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney did more than just toss 6 ⅓ strong innings, giving up one run while striking out seven batters.

In his first two trips to the plate, batting eighth in the lineup during a National League game with no designated hitter, Heaney had a single in the third inning and a walk in the fourth, contributing to his team’s offensive outburst in both frames as the Angels earned a two-game series split at Oracle Park.

TENNIS

Naomi Osaka reacts dduring a match
Naomi Osaka reachts during a U.S. Open match September 2020.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Helene Elliott on tennis: Naomi Osaka needs help, not condemnation.

She needs empathy, not iron-fisted Grand Slam tournament executives threatening to bar her from tennis’ most prestigious events.

Osaka’s disclosure she has suffered bouts of depression since she defeated Serena Williams in an emotionally charged 2018 U.S. Open final blew wide the prison doors for those who endure mental health issues in silence for fear of being judged weak or flawed if they reveal their struggles. Her withdrawal from the French Open on Monday and her decision to step away from competition for an unspecified amount of time were strong declarations she’s ready to start healing, a tough but necessary step.

You can also listen to Elliott discuss Osaka’s exit and conversations it sparked about athletes’ mental health on The Times daily podcast here.

SOCCER

Chelsea's Christian Pulisic
Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is among the young stars helping lead the U.S. men’s national soccer team.
(Adam Davy / Associated Press)

Kevin Baxter on soccer: Alexi Lalas knows a turning point when he sees one.

It happened in his first national team start, at the Coliseum against a Mexican team that had lost only one of its previous 26 games against the U.S. But on that day, the 20-year-old Lalas helped the Americans gut out a 2-2 draw, starting a streak that would see them lose just one of eight games with Mexico.

“I was right there in that shift,” Lalas said. “It was kind of the start of that generation that didn’t accept that we should continue to be inferior to Mexico on the field, that we should continue to lose.”

By the time a teen-aged Landon Donovan made his international debut nine years later — also against Mexico at the Coliseum — the pendulum had swung back and the U.S. was inferior once again. Donovan changed that, with his game-winning goal beginning a roll that would see the U.S. go 9-2-2 in its next 13 games with Mexico, its most successful stretch ever in the cross-border rivalry.

Now another group of young Americans is poised to flip the script anew in this week’s Nations League in Denver. If both teams win their preliminary matches Thursday — the U.S. against Honduras and Mexico over Costa Rica — they will meet for the 71st time in Sunday’s championship game. The U.S. heads into the semifinals with perhaps the deepest and most talented collection of young players in its history. Nineteen of its 23 players are with top-division teams in Europe, where nine of them appeared in at least 30 league games this season. Twelve of those European-based players are under the age of 24.

NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

FIRST ROUND

All times Pacific

WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Utah vs. No. 8 Memphis

Memphis 112, Utah 109
Utah 141, Memphis 129
Utah 121, Memphis 111
Utah 120, Memphis 113
Today: at Utah, 6:30 p.m., NBATV
*Friday at Memphis, TBD, TBD
*Sunday: at Utah, TBD, TBD

No. 2 Phoenix vs. No. 7 Lakers

Phoenix 99, Lakers 90
Lakers 109, Phoenix 102
Lakers 109, Phoenix 95
Phoenix 100, Lakers 92
Phoenix 115, Lakers 85
Thursday: at Lakers, 7:30 p.m., TNT
*Saturday: at Phoenix, TBD, TBD

No. 3 Denver vs. No. 6 Portland

Portland 123, Denver 109
Denver 128, Portland 109
Denver 120, Portland 115
Portland 115, Denver 95
Denver 147, Portland 140 (2OT)
Thursday: at Portland, 5 p.m., TNT
*Sat., June 5: at Denver, TBD, TBD

No. 4 Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas

Dallas 113, Clippers 103
Dallas 127, Clippers 121
Clippers 118, Dallas 108
Clippers 106, Dallas 81
Tonight: at Clippers, 7 p.m., TNT
Friday: at Dallas, TBD, TBD
*Sun., June 6: at Clippers, TBD, TBD

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Philadelphia vs. No. 8 Washington

Philadelphia 125, Washington 118
Philadelphia 120, Washington 95
Philadelphia 132, Washington 103
Washington 122, Philadelphia 114
Tonight: at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., NBATV
*Friday: at Washington, TBD, TBD
*Sunday: at Philadelphia, TBD, TBD

No. 2 Brooklyn vs. No. 7 Boston

Brooklyn 104, Boston 93
Brooklyn 130, Boston 108
Boston 125, Brooklyn 119
Brooklyn 141, Boston 126
Brooklyn 123, Boston 109
Brooklyn wins series, 4-1

No. 3 Milwaukee vs. No. 6 Miami

Milwaukee 109, Miami 107
Milwaukee 132, Miami 98
Milwaukee 113, Miami 84
Milwaukee 120, Miami 103
Milwaukee wins series, 4-0

No. 4 New York vs. No. 5 Atlanta

Atlanta 107, New York 105
New York 101, Atlanta 92
Atlanta 105, New York 94
Atlanta 113, New York 96
Today: at New York, 4:30 p.m., TNT
*Friday: at Atlanta, TBD, TBD
*Sunday: at New York, TBD, TBD

*-if necessary

NHL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

FIRST ROUND
All times Pacific

East Division
Pittsburgh vs. NY Islanders

New York 4, Pittsburgh 3 (OT)
Pittsburgh 2, New York 1
Pittsburgh 5, New York 4
New York 4, Penguins 1
New York 3, Pittsburgh 2 (2OT)
New York 5, Pittsburgh 3
New York wins series, 4-2

Washington vs. Boston

Washington 3, Boston 2 (OT)
Boston 4, Washington 3 (OT)
Boston 3, Washington 2 (2 OT)
Boston 4, Washington 1
Boston 3, Washington 1
Boston wins series, 4-1

Central Division

Carolina vs. Nashville

Carolina 5, Nashville 2
Carolina 3, Nashville 0
Nashville 5, Carolina 4 (2OT)
Nashville 4, Carolina 3 (2OT)
Carolina 3, Nashville 2 (OT)
Carolina 4, Nashville 3 (OT)
Carolina wins series, 4-2

Florida vs. Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay 5, Florida 4
Tampa Bay 3, Florida 1
Florida 6, Tampa Bay 5 (OT)
Tampa Bay 6, Florida 2
Florida 4, Tampa Bay 1
Tampa Bay 4, Florida 2
Tampa Bay wins series, 4-2

North Division

Toronto vs. Montreal

Montreal 2, Toronto 1
Toronto 5, Montreal 1
Toronto 2, Montreal 1
Toronto 4, Montreal 0
Montreal 4, Toronto 3 (OT)
Montreal 3, Toronto 2 (OT)
Montreal 3, Toronto 1
Montreal wins series, 4-3

Edmonton vs. Winnipeg

Winnipeg 4, Edmonton 1
Winnipeg 1, Edmonton 0
Winnipeg 5, Edmonton 4 (OT)
Winnipeg 4, Edmonton 3 (3OT)
Winnipeg wins series, 4-0

West Division

Colorado vs. St. Louis

Colorado 4, St. Louis 1
Colorado 6, St. Louis 3
Colorado 5, St. Louis 1
Colorado 5, St. Louis 2
Colorado wins series, 4-0

Vegas vs. Minnesota

Minnesota 1, Vegas 0 (OT)
Vegas 3, Minnesota 1
Vegas 5, Minnesota 2
Vegas 4, Minnesota 0
Minnesota 4, Vegas 2
Minnesota 3, Vegas 0
Vegas 6, Minnesota 2
Vegas wins series, 4-3

SECOND ROUND

East Division

New York Islanders vs. Boston

Boston 5, New York 2
New York 4, Boston 3 (OT)
Thursday: at New York, 4:30 p.m., NBCSN
Saturday: at New York, 4:15 p.m., NBCSN
*Monday, June 7: at Boston, TBD, TBD
*Wednesday, June 9: at New York, TBD, TBD
*Friday, June 11: at Boston, TBD, TBD

Central Division

Tampa Bay vs. Carolina

Tampa Bay 2, Carolina 1
Tampa Bay 2, Carolina 1
Thursday: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., USA
Saturday: at Tampa Bay, USA
*Tuesday, June 8: at Carolina, TBD, TBD
*Thursday, June 10: at Tampa Bay, TBD, TBD
*Saturday, June 12: at Carolina, TBD, TBD

West Division

Colorado vs. Vegas

Colorado 7, Vegas 1
Today: at Colorado, 7 p.m., NBCSN
Friday: at Vegas, 7 p.m., NBCSN
Sunday: at Vegas, 5:30 p.m., NBCSN
*Tuesday, June 8: at Colorado, TBD, TBD
*Thursday, June 10: at Vegas, TBD, TBD
*Saturday, June 12: at Colorado, TBD, TBD

North Division

Winnipeg vs. Montreal

Today: at Winnipeg, 4:30 p.m., NBCSN
Friday: at Winnipeg, 4:30 p.m., USA
Sunday: at Montreal, 3 p.m., NBCSN
Monday: at Montreal, TBD, TBD
*Wednesday, June 9: at Winnipeg, TBD, TBD
*Friday, June 11: at Montreal, TBD, TBD
*Sunday, June 13: at Winnipeg, TBD, TBD

*-if necessary

THIS DATE IN SPORTS HISTORY

1896 — Hastings, ridden by H. Griffin, edges Handspring by a neck to capture the Belmont Stakes.

1908 — Royal Tourist, ridden by Eddie Dugan, posts a four-length victory over Live Wire in the Preakness Stakes.

1909 — Joe Madden, ridden by Eddie Dugan, wins the Belmont Stakes by eight lengths over Wise Mason.

1935 — Babe Ruth, 40, announces his retirement as a player.

1947 — After a six-year layoff, 13-year-old Honey Cloud wins the second race at Aqueduct. His jockey, Clarence Minner, takes his first ride in 10 years.

1985 — Nancy Lopez beats Alice Miller by eight strokes to win the LPGA championship.

1991 — Andrettis finish 1-2-3 in the Miller 200 at Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway in Milwaukee. Mario Andretti finishes third, his son Michael wins the race and his nephew John finished second.

1996 — Annika Sorenstam closes with a 4-under 66 to win her second consecutive U.S. Women’s Open. Sorenstam’s 8-under 272 is the best ever in the Open.

2002 — Annika Sorenstam matches the LPGA record for margin of victory in a 54-hole event while winning the inaugural Kellogg-Keebler Classic. Sorenstam finishes at 21-under 195 to win by 11 strokes.

2005 — Jockey Russell Baze records his 9,000th career victory aboard Queen of the Hunt in the eighth race at Golden Gate Fields.

2007 — Daniel Gibson scores a career-high 31 points as Cleveland beats Detroit 98-82 to advance to the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers are the third team to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a conference finals, joining the 1971 Baltimore Bullets and 1993 Chicago Bulls.

2008 — Pittsburgh outlasts Detroit 4-3 in three overtimes of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. Petr Sykora scores at 9:57 of the third overtime ending the fifth-longest finals game in NHL history.

2010 — Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers loses his bid for a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning on a call that first base umpire Jim Joyce later admits he blew. First baseman Miguel Cabrera cleanly fields Jason Donald’s grounder to his right and makes an accurate throw to Galarraga covering the bag. The ball is there in time, and all of Comerica Park is ready to celebrate the 3-0 win over Cleveland, until Joyce emphatically signals safe.

2011 — Dirk Nowitzki makes the tie-breaking layup with 3.6 seconds left, and the Dallas Mavericks roar back from 15 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Miami Heat 95-93 and tie the NBA finals at one game apiece. The Mavs outscore the Heat 22-5 down the stretch and pull off the biggest comeback win in an NBA finals since 1992.

And finally

Former Laker Shaquille O’Neal didn’t hold back after the team’s ugly loss to the Suns that gave Phoenix a 3-2 series lead.

“They played soft, they played with no heart, they played with no pride and they played with no sense of urgency,” he said.

Watch more of Shaq’s NBA on TNT postgame analysis 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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