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The Sports Report: Clippers lose wild Game 1 to Jazz

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, rear, guards Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, rear, pressures Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard. left, as he puts up a shot Tuesday in Salt Lake City.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Iliana Limón Romero, filling in for Houston Mitchell, who is on vacation (probably wondering how many players forget to touch first base after hitting home runs). Let’s get right to the news.

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: SALT LAKE CITY — Of the eight teams remaining in these NBA playoffs, none by now is conditioned to overreact less to the first game of a series than the Clippers.

When Dallas couldn’t finish the job in the first round, leading 2-0, then 3-2, the Clippers did, rallying in seven games.

Their recovery skills will be tested again, after Tuesday’s 112-109 loss in the opening game of this second-round series to Utah — a missed opportunity made possible after committing the same sin that they had taken advantage of only days earlier.

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Given a 14-point, first-half lead and a chance to beat the Western Conference’s top seed, the Clippers ran out of energy, and baskets. Given another short turnaround before Game 2 on Thursday, they must summon a more complete game to avoid a second consecutive ominous hole.

“We were the attackers, we were the aggressors,” Clippers forward Paul George said. “We just had a bad third quarter.”

Despite being outscored by 13 in the third, they still had a chance to tie on the final play, only to see Marcus Morris’ three-pointer from the corner enveloped by the right hand of 7-foot-1 Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

Clippers-Jazz series schedule.
(Tim Hubbard / Los Angeles Times)

Bill Plaschke on the Clippers: On the Utah Jazz bench before the fourth quarter of a tie game with the Clippers on Tuesday night, Donovan Mitchell made a bold and blunt prediction.

“They played Game 7 two days ago, it’s all how we start this quarter!” he shouted to his teammates. “They’ll call it quits and get ready for Game 2 if we make them!”

The Clippers’ intensity did not call it quits, but, in the wake of one of the most emotional wins in franchise history against Dallas on Sunday, everything else indeed failed them.

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Their legs quit. Their shooting quit. Their defense quit. And ultimately, the Game 7 hangover gave them a splitting headache that made their final possession a disorganized surrender into a 112-109 loss in a game they could have stolen.

—————

Rudy Gobert, left, and Nicolas Batum speak as members the France national team
Rudy Gobert, left, and Nicolas Batum speak as members the France national team in 2019. Gobert’s Utah Jazz faces Batum’s Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals starting Tuesday night.
(Zhong Zhi / Getty Images)

Greif on the Clippers: Before Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Toronto and the Clippers could reach Nicolas Batum last November, inquiring about the soon-to-be free agent’s services, his first call was from the Utah Jazz.

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It wasn’t surprising that Rudy Gobert, Utah’s 7-foot-1 center, called Batum after his surprising release by Charlotte (Batum learned of it via social media). The friends and teammates on France’s national team are “really close,” Batum told The Times in February, and they share an agent.

“It was like, ‘Yeah, Nico, come on. Come with me, let’s do it together,’” Batum recounted.

Within 24 hours, as contenders kept contacting Batum, the 6-8 forward made his own call — deciding to join the Clippers in hopes of providing a dose of redemption for both a player seeking a career rebound and a franchise in need of stable, veteran voices. He said Gobert was happy for him. Seven months later, that decision has helped the Clippers reach a second-round series against Gobert and the top-seeded Jazz that begins Tuesday in Salt Lake City.

Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chris Taylor, left, tags Pittsburgh Pirates' Ke'Bryan Hayes (13) during the third inning
Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chris Taylor, left, tags the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Ke’Bryan Hayes (13) Tuesday. Hayes slid past the bag and was tagged out to end the inning.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

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Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: PITTSBURGH — The Dodgers reached the 60-game mark, an irrelevant checkpoint made noteworthy after Major League Baseball’s shortened 2020 season, in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Last year, the Dodgers finished their 60-game regular-season schedule 43-17. It was the best winning percentage by a National League club since the 1909 Pirates. Both teams went on to win the World Series. This year, the Dodgers are in third place and eight games worse, sitting at 35-25 after handling a tanking Pirates club light-years from that championship team from more than a century ago.

The Dodgers are looking to capitalize on a weak part of their 162-game schedule to string together victories at a clip similar to last year’s run. Tuesday was their fourth of 15 straight games against teams with losing records. They’ve won 11 straight games against the Pirates and 18 of 20. They’ll have two more chances to pound the last-place Pirates (23-36) at PNC Park before returning to Los Angeles.

“Obviously, we’d like to be leading the standings; we’re not,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Our best baseball, in my opinion, is yet to come. We’re fortunate that it’s 162, but we knew that going into the season.”

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Angels

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) watches his ball after he hit a home run
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) watches his ball after he hit a home run during the first inning Tuesday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Jack Harris on the Angels: The Angels skipped batting practice Tuesday afternoon.

They made an 8-1 win against the Kansas City Royals look like a BP session instead.

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The Angels hit a season-high five home runs on Tuesday night, including four against Royals starter Kris Bubic in the opening four innings en route to a series-clinching blowout in front of 9,387 at Angel Stadium.

Shohei Ohtani opened the scoring with a two-run moonshot in the first, clobbering his 17th of the season a projected distance of 470 feet — the longest of his MLB career, according to the league’s Statcast system.

Max Stassi launched a missile in the third, driving his third home run in the last four days out to left after Ohtani began the inning with a double.

In the fourth, José Igleisas and Justin Upton had solo home runs three at-bats apart, Iglesias lifting a rainbow into the left-field bullpens for his fifth of the season before Upton lined his 14th of the year just over the left-center field wall.

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Taylor Ward tacked on a couple more with a blast to left in the eighth. But by then, the Angels had long pulled away on a night starter Andrew Heaney surrendered just one run in 6 ⅔ innings.

UCLA

UCLA coach Mick Cronin, right, talks to guard Jaime Jaquez Jr.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin, right, talks to guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) during a game at Washington on Feb. 13.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Ben Bolch on UCLA basketball: Any coach would find Amari Bailey tantalizing. The wiry athleticism. The devastating first step that leaves tormented defenders in his wake. Mick Cronin told the high school standout that he’d love to have him at UCLA, but in the meantime the coach suggested that the left-hander work on going to his right more and developing a consistent jumper.

Any coach would find Peyton Watson tantalizing. The ability to get to the rim in a flash. The multiple growth spurts suggesting that at 6 feet 9 he might not be done sprouting. Cronin told the high school standout that he’d love to have him at UCLA, but that he would have to earn a starting spot.

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Any coach would find Will McClendon tantalizing. The unwavering grit. The willingness to play and defend any position. Cronin told the high school standout that he’d love to have him at UCLA, but it would be great if he could learn more about the pick-and-roll play and moving with purpose off the ball.

To be a Bruins basketball recruit means hearing less about how great you are than how far you have to go. Those who require coddling and assurances of a starring role best look elsewhere. The only promises Cronin makes are that you will work hard and get better.

“I mean, it’s what I wanted to hear,” said Bailey, the Chatsworth Sierra Canyon junior guard who might be the best player in his class. “You know, oftentimes you’ll get lured in because programs are telling you what you would like to hear, not what you need to hear, and I just know that everyone on that coaching staff and everyone on that campus has my best interests and I’m thankful to be in an environment like that.”

—————

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Bolch on the Bruins: It’s hard to plan ahead when nearly your entire roster turns over in roughly a year.

That could be the predicament facing coach Mick Cronin next spring, when his UCLA Bruins might have eight or more scholarships available.

Cronin said he prefers as much continuity as possible, a steady stream of returning players girding his team from the sorry seasons that one-and-done mills must occasionally endure when a roster hastily thrown together doesn’t quite work.

Yet a confluence of factors could leave the Bruins susceptible to major roster turnover before the 2022-23 season.

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Rams

DeSean Jackson stretches on Day 2 of the Rams' three-day minicamp.
(Gary Klein / Los Angeles Times)

Gary Klein on the Rams: It’s not that complicated, according to DeSean Jackson.

During offseason workouts, the new Rams receiver has worked to get a feel for new quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Jackson has been one of the NFL’s top deep-ball threats since he entered the league in 2008. Stafford, a 13th-year pro, has one of the league’s strongest arms.

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Jackson said Tuesday that establishing a connection and timing ultimately comes down to communicating and understanding what each player does best. Instructions for both apparently are simple.

“You continue to be great and just throw the ball, and I’m going to continue to be great and just run past everybody and use my speed,” Jackson said, chuckling, during a videoconference with reporters. “I think that’s the good niche about us, we’re just going to be dialed in and just continuously just learn the plays — and once the season starts, we’ll be in rare … form.”

Horse racing

John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit leads the Kentucky Derby
John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit leads Florent Geroux on Mandaloun and Flavien Prat riding Hot Rod Charlie to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs May 1 in Louisville, Ky.
(Jeff Roberson / AP)

John Cherwa on horse racing: Attorneys for Medina Spirit trainer Bob Baffert and owner Amr Zedan filed suit Monday to compel the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to allow further testing on the biological samples taken from the Kentucky Derby winner.

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It is the first of what is expected to be a series of lawsuits over the upcoming months — and possibly years — over who will be deemed the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby.

According to the complaint filed in Franklin (Ky.) Circuit Court, Baffert and Zedan want the KHRC to release what samples it has remaining on the 3-year-old colt for further testing.

After Baffert was informed of the positive test for betamethasone, a legal anti-inflammatory but not on race day, it was requested that a split sample also be tested, as is standard. There is zero tolerance for race-day presence of the drug in Kentucky and many other states, including California. The drug is not considered a performance enhancer.

NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

FIRST ROUND
All times Pacific

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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
Utah 126, Memphis 110
Utah wins series, 4-1

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
Phoenix 113, Lakers 100
Phoenix wins series, 4-2

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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)
Denver 126, Portland 115
Denver wins series, 4-2

No. 4 Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas

Dallas 113, Clippers 103
Dallas 127, Clippers 121
Clippers 118, Dallas 108
Clippers 106, Dallas 81
Dallas 105, Clippers 100
Clippers 104, Dallas 97
Clippers 126, Dallas 111
Clippers win series, 4-3

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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
Philadelphia 129, Washington 112
Philadelphia wins series, 4-1

No. 2 Brooklyn vs. No. 7 Boston

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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

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Atlanta 107, New York 105
New York 101, Atlanta 92
Atlanta 105, New York 94
Atlanta 113, New York 96
Atlanta 103, New York 89
Atlanta wins series, 4-1

SECOND ROUND
All times Pacific

WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Utah vs. No. 4 Clippers
Utah 112, Clippers 109
Thursday: at Utah, 7 p.m., ESPN
Saturday: at Clippers, 5:30 p.m., ABC
*Monday, June 14: at Utah, TBD, TNT
*Wednesday, June 16: at Clippers, TBD, ESPN
*Sunday, June 20: at Utah, TBD, TBD

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No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets
Phoenix 122, Denver 105
Tonight: at Phoenix, 6:30 p.m., TNT
Friday: at Denver, 7 p.m., ESPN
Sunday: at Denver, 5 p.m., TNT
*Tuesday, June 15: at Phoenix, TBD, TBD
*Thursday, June 17: at Denver, TBD, ESPN
*Sunday, June 20: at Phoenix, TBD, TBD

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Philadelphia vs. No. 5 Atlanta
Atlanta 128, Philadelphia 124
Philadelphia 118, Atlanta 102
Friday: at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Monday: at Atlanta, TBD, TNT
*Wednesday, June 16: at Philadelphia, TBD, TNT
*Friday, June 18: at Atlanta, TBD, ESPN
*Sunday, June 20: at Philadelphia, TBD, TBD

No. 2 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks
Brooklyn 115, Milwaukee 107
Brooklyn 125, Milwaukee 86
Thursday: at Milwaukee, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Sunday: at Milwaukee, Noon, ABC
*Tuesday, June 15: at Brooklyn, TBD, TNT
*Thursday, June 17: at Milwaukee, TBD, ESPN
*Saturday, June 19: at Brooklyn, TBD, TNT

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NHL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

SECOND ROUND
All times Pacific

East Division

New York Islanders vs. Boston

Boston 5, New York 2
New York 4, Boston 3 (OT)
Boston 2, New York 1 (OT)
New York 4, Boston 1
New York 5, Boston 4
Today: at New York, 4:30 p.m., NBCSN
*Friday, June 11: at Boston, TBD, TBD

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Central Division

Tampa Bay vs. Carolina

Tampa Bay 2, Carolina 1
Tampa Bay 2, Carolina 1
Carolina 3, Tampa Bay 2 (OT)
Tampa Bay 6, Carolina 4
Tampa Bay 2, Carolina 0

Tampa Bay wins series, 4-2

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West Division

Colorado vs. Vegas

Colorado 7, Vegas 1
Colorado 3, Vegas 2 (OT)
Vegas 3, Colorado 2
Vegas 5, Colorado 1
Vegas 3, Colorado 2 (OT)
Thursday: at Vegas, 6 p.m., NBCSN
*Saturday, June 12: at Colorado, TBD, TBD

North Division

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Winnipeg vs. Montreal

Montreal 5, Winnipeg 3
Montreal, 1, Winnipeg 0
Montreal 5, Winnipeg 1
Montreal 3, Winnipeg 2
Today: at Winnipeg, 5 p.m., CNBC
*Friday, June 11: at Montreal, TBD, TBD
*Sunday, June 13: at Winnipeg, TBD, TBD

*-if necessary

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1888 — James McLaughlin sets the record for wins by a jockey in the Belmont Stakes, six, when he rides Sir Dixon to a 12-length victory. McLaughlin’s record is matched by Eddie Arcaro in 1955.

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1899 — Jim Jeffries knocks out Bob Fitzsimmons in the 11th round in New York to win the world heavyweight title.

1914 — Honus Wagner of the Pittsburgh Pirates becomes the first player in modern baseball to get 3,000 hits.

1934 — Olin Dutra edges Gene Sarazen by one stroke to win the U.S. Open.

1940 — Lawson Little beats Gene Sarazen by three strokes in a playoff to win the U.S. Open golf title.x

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1945 — Hoop Jr. wins the Kentucky Derby, which is run one month after a national wartime government ban on racing is lifted.

1973 — Secretariat, ridden by Ron Turcotte, wins the Belmont Stakes in record time to capture the Triple Crown. Secretariat sets a world record on the 1½-mile course with 2:24, and a record for largest margin of victory in the Belmont, 31 lengths.

1978 — Larry Holmes scores a 15-round split decision over Ken Norton for the WBC heavyweight title in New York.

1979 — Coastal, ridden by Ruben Hernandez, spoils Spectacular Bid’s attempt at the Triple Crown with a 3¼-length victory over Golden Act. Spectacular Bid finishes third.

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1984 — Swale, ridden by Laffit Pincay, wins the Belmont Stakes by four lengths over Pine Circle. Swale dies eight days later.

1985 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scores 29 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 111-100 victory over the Boston Celtics and the NBA title in six games.

1990 — Monica Seles holds off four set points in the first set tiebreaker and goes on to become the youngest winner of the French Open, beating two-time champion Steffi Graf 7-6 (8-6), 6-4. Seles is 16 years, six months.

1991 — In the first all-American men’s final at the French Open since 1954, Jim Courier rallies to beat Andre Agassi 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 for his first Grand Slam title.

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1993 — Patrick Roy makes 18 saves and the Montreal Canadiens capture their 24th Stanley Cup, beating the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 in Game 5.

2001 — Jennifer Capriati beats Kim Clijsters 1-6, 6-4, 12-10 to win the French Open, her second consecutive Grand Slam title.

2003 — The New Jersey Devils end the Anaheim Mighty Ducks’ surreal season, winning the Stanley Cup with a 3-0 victory. Mike Rupp, who had never appeared in a playoff until Game 4, scores the first goal and sets up Jeff Friesen for the other two.

2007 — Rags to Riches, a filly ridden by John Velazquez, outduels Curlin in a breathtaking stretch run and won the Belmont Stakes, becoming the first of her sex to take the final leg of the Triple Crown in more than a century.

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2008 — Ken Griffey Jr. becomes the sixth player sixth player in baseball history to reach 600 homers with a drive off Mark Hendrickson in the first inning of the Cincinnati Reds’ 9-4 victory over the Florida Marlins.

2010 — Chicago’s Patrick Kane sneaks the puck past Michael Leighton 4:10 into overtime, stunning Philadelphia and lifting the Blackhawks to a 4-3 overtime win in Game 6 for their first Stanley Cup championship since 1961.

2013 — Rafael Nadal becomes the first man to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam tournament after beating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the French Open final, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

And finally

The Pirates’ Ke’Bryan Hayes struggled with the basics of base running Tuesday against the Dodgers. He homered to the opposite field during the first inning, hitting the right field foul pole, but it was officially ruled a fly out to the pitcher after the Dodgers challenged the call and video clearly showed Hayes failed to touch first base.

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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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