The Sports Report: Clippers back in familiar playoff territory

Clippers guard Paul George argues with an official during the second half.
Clippers guard Paul George argues with an official during the second half of a 117-111 loss to the Utah Jazz in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals on Thursday.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Austin Knoblauch, filling in for Houston Mitchell, who’s on vacation (probably making twirling throws in his backyard while wearing a Mookie Betts jersey). Let’s get right to the news.

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: The Clippers had enough to withstand one run Thursday. It was the second that ended their night. Now, a team that has fallen behind two games to none already once in this postseason and lived to tell about it, returns to Los Angeles facing a similar hole.


Will the second time end their season?

“We’re bound to get hot,” Clippers guard Reggie Jackson said.

Predicting what will happen in a series that has defied easy description could be a foolhardy task. Utah won this second-round series opener despite once missing 20 consecutive shots. In Thursday’s Game 2, a 117-111 Jazz victory, the Clippers unraveled and steadied themselves with equally shocking speed. Trailing by 21 in the third quarter after allowing a 24-5 run by Utah, having exhausted nearly every defensive strategy and seen them all backfire against Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, the Clippers finally found their zone, and not in a metaphorical sense.

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard shoots over Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale.
Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard shoots over Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale during the first half of Game 2 on Thursday.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Two defenders moved around the three-point arc, with three teammates behind them, and the shifting shape generated confusion instead of open shots for the Jazz. Mitchell, after 27 points in the first half, had just three in the third quarter. The Clippers began a 22-6 run, and with 6:55 to play in the fourth quarter, Jackson — whose offense had lifted his team just as their defense began to find its footing — drilled a three-pointer for a 101-99 lead, the Clippers’ first of the game.

“I think we found something that we liked,” Jackson said of playing zone. “We had to switch something up. It helped us out some.”


Helene Elliott on the Clippers: Venting his frustration after the Jazz had given up a 21-point lead over the Clippers and fell behind by two points near the middle of the fourth quarter Thursday, Utah guard Donovan Mitchell took a detour on the way to his team’s huddle and suddenly kicked out his right foot, flipping up the seat of an innocent chair along the sideline.


Kicking a hard, metal object might not have been the best idea for a player who missed the last 16 games of the regular season and the opener of Utah’s first-round playoff series against Memphis because of a sprained right ankle. Especially since Mitchell had been limping at times during a 117-111 Utah victory, including after a late-game collision with Clippers guard Paul George.

Not to worry, Mitchell said. “I got hit and it hurt. I’m fine now. I walked in here,” he said during a postgame media session at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. “If you want me to sprint for you, I can. I’m good.”

No one took him up on that. Yet at the pace he’s going, the Jazz will leave the Clippers in the dust and sprint into the Western Conference finals.

Yes, the Clippers faced a 2-0 deficit in the first round against Dallas and developed a strong enough backbone to rally and win the series in seven games. Come crunch time, they inflicted the damage for once, instead of being reduced to crumbs.

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

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Mookie Betts, left, crosses home plate past Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings.
Mookie Betts, left, crosses home plate past Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings after hitting a leadoff in the first inning of the Dodgers’ 6-3 win Thursday.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: Mookie Betts’ performance Thursday at PNC Park, an all-around rendition that served as a reminder of his elite skill-set during a relatively disappointing season, began in the first inning, when it was still sunny and muggy, inside the batter’s box.

He swatted the third pitch of the game, a 2-0 fastball from Mitch Keller, over the wall in left-center field to give the Dodgers a prompt lead in a rain-shortened, series-sweeping 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was Betts’ sixth home run this season and first in 75 plate appearances. He hadn’t homered since May 18. On Sunday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts predicted Betts would homer “in the next few days.”

“I’ve been working a lot, as always,” said Betts, who finished two for four with a walk. “I feel like I’ve been pretty close here lately and I’ve been hitting the ball harder more consistently. I don’t know about a home run, but I do feel like I’m swinging the bat a little bit better.”

Betts then took his act to right field. It was bumpy initially. He fumbled a hit from Erik González in the second inning that allowed Phillip Evans to score from first base, just beating his throw, to tie the score. Betts quickly rebounded.


Former Major League Baseball player Glenn Burke sits in a Castro District restaurant in San Francisco in 1993.
(Mark Hundley / Associated Press)

Andrew Maraniss on baseball: On a Florida beach vacation with my family last week, I was under orders not to check my phone too much.

But I sneaked a peak last Friday afternoon and was heartened to see a tweet from a Bay Area sportswriter sharing the news that the Oakland A’s have renamed their annual Pride Night after Glenn Burke, the former Berkeley High baseball and basketball standout who went on to become the first openly gay Major League Baseball player with the Dodgers and A’s in the late 1970s.

This is a well-deserved posthumous honor for Burke, recognizing his unique contribution to the game and the enduring significance of his story. But as appropriate it is for the A’s to celebrate Burke, it also raises the question: Why didn’t the Dodgers do it first?

The Dodgers selected Burke in the 1972 MLB draft. The Dodgers invested in his development and a minor league career in which he hit above .300 four times and set stolen base records in two leagues. Longtime Dodgers player and coach Junior Gilliam shared the organization’s high opinion of their speedy and powerfully built outfield prospect: Burke had the potential, Gilliam said, to be the next Willie Mays.

Burke would not come close to living up to those lofty expectations, but he did start two games for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew in the 1977 National League Championship Series against the Phillies, and started Game 1 of the ’77 World Series at Yankee Stadium. He was a popular player in the clubhouse at a time when the roster was loaded with All-Stars. He is even credited with inventing the high-five as a Dodger.


Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford fakes a pass during minicamp in Thousand Oaks on Tuesday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Gary Klein on the Rams: Sean McVay did not waste any time.

To start a news conference following the Rams’ final offseason workout on Thursday, McVay took issue with published reports about comments he made earlier in the day, saying they were not a slight toward former quarterback Jared Goff.

After the Rams’ NFC divisional-round playoff defeat by the Green Bay Packers, the Rams traded Goff and two first-round draft picks to the Detroit Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

At a Los Angeles Super Bowl Organizing Committee news conference at SoFi Stadium, McVay was asked what he thought about Stafford.

“I think I’ve been very happy,” McVay said. “Everybody says, ‘Man, you just seem like you’re in a better mood this offseason,’ and I said, ‘Damn right I am.’”


Associated Press on the Sparks: Tina Charles had 20 points and 10 rebounds to pass Lisa Leslie for second on the WNBA’s double-double list, helping the Washington Mystics beat the Sparks 89-71 on Thursday night.


Charles, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, has 158th double-doubles — one more than former Los Angeles star Leslie. Minnesota forward Sylvia Fowles is the leader with 169.

Ariel Atkins scored 18 of her 23 points in the first half, Theresa Plaisance added 11 points, six rebounds and four blocks, and Myisha Hines-Allen scored 10 points for Washington (4-5). Atkins was 7 of 10 from the field, but the rest of her teammates combined to shoot 23 for 61 (37.7%).


Mike "Zappy" Zapolin sits with NBA champion Lamar Odom.
Lamar Odom, right, found treatment for his mental health with help from Mike “Zappy” Zapolin. Their journey is documented in “Lamar Odom Reborn.”
(Lamar Odom Reborn)

Victoria Hernandez on boxing: Lamar Odom has been training until 3 a.m. most nights to prepare for his exhibition boxing match against pop star Aaron Carter, but he feels “really good” after finding a strategy to combat his post-traumatic stress disorder.

October will mark six years since Odom was in a coma, when he suffered 12 strokes and six heart attacks after taking a lethal combination of cocaine and alcohol amid other substances and was found unconscious inside a Las Vegas brothel. In 2017, he met psychedelic consultant Mike “Zappy” Zapolin after a friend attended a screening of Zapolin’s 2016 documentary “The Reality of Truth,” which chronicles his own journey to find internal peace through psychedelics. Zapolin created a formula for Odom’s healing journey that consisted of microdoses of ketamine, an ibogaine treatment and daily meditations.

This process is shown in the documentary, “Lamar Odom Reborn,” which was released last month. The events of the film take place in 2018, but its release was ideal for the spring of 2021 after the pandemic shutdown caused depression and anxiety to skyrocket.


“During the pandemic, I wish we had more of [the treatments] on every corner, we could hand them out for free,” Odom said in a phone interview with The Times from Atlantic City, where he’s set to fight Carter on Friday night. “During this pandemic, everyone’s been in jail for a year and a half. A lot of us aren’t built to be in prison.”


Associated Press on the Olympics: Brisbane, Australia, could be officially named host of the 2032 Summer Olympics when the IOC meets in Tokyo next month.

IOC president Thomas Bach said after an executive board meeting Thursday that Brisbane can be awarded hosting rights at a July 21 meeting ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

The Australian city’s victory already looked certain after it was named the preferred candidate in February without a formal opponent.


Associated Press on college football: The College Football Playoff announced Thursday that it will consider expanding from four to 12 teams to settle the national championship, with six spots reserved for the highest-ranked conference champions and the other six going to at-large selections.

The CFP’s surprising announcement outlined a plan that would triple the number teams that enter the postseason with a chance to win it all.


Even if the format is adopted — no earlier than this fall — there was no indication in the proposal about when an expanded playoff could be in place. The soonest would seem to be for the 2023 season, but it is probably more likely to be after the 2026 season.


All times Pacific


No. 1 Utah vs. No. 4 Clippers
Utah 112, Clippers 109
Utah 117, Clippers 111
Saturday: at Clippers, 5:30 p.m., ABC
Monday: at Clippers, 7 p.m., TNT
*Wednesday, June 16: at Utah, TBD, TNT
*Friday, June 18: at Clippers, TBD, ESPN
*Sunday, June 20: at Utah, TBD, TBD

No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets
Phoenix 122, Denver 105
Phoenix 123, Denver 98
Today: at Denver, 7 p.m., ESPN
Sunday: at Denver, 5 p.m., TNT
*Tuesday: at Phoenix, TBD, TNT
*Thursday, June 17: at Denver, TBD, ESPN
*Sunday, June 20: at Phoenix, TBD, TBD


No. 1 Philadelphia vs. No. 5 Atlanta
Atlanta 128, Philadelphia 124
Philadelphia 118, Atlanta 102
Today: at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Monday: at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m., 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
Milwaukee 86, Brooklyn 83
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


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
New York 6, Boston 2
New York wins series, 4-2

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

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)
Vegas 6, Colorado 3
Vegas wins series, 4-2

North Division

Winnipeg vs. Montreal

Montreal 5, Winnipeg 3
Montreal, 1, Winnipeg 0
Montreal 5, Winnipeg 1
Montreal 3, Winnipeg 2
Montreal wins series, 4-0

All times Pacific


No. 1 Vegas vs. No. 4 Montreal

Monday: at Vegas, 6 p.m., NBCSN
Wednesday: at Vegas, 6 p.m., NBCSN
Friday: at Montreal, 5 p.m., USA
Sunday: at Montreal, 5 p.m.: NBCSN
*Tuesday: at Vegas, 6 p.m., NBCSN
*Thursday: at Montreal, 5 p.m., USA
*Saturday, June 26: at Vegas, 5 p.m., NBCSN

No. 2 Tampa Bay vs. No. 3 New York Islanders

Sunday: at Tampa Bay, Noon, NBC
Tuesday: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Thursday: at New York, 5 p.m., USA
Saturday: at New York, 5 p.m., USA
*Monday: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBCSN
*Wednesday: at New York, 5 p.m., NBCSN
*Friday, June 25: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBCSN

*-if necessary


The NFL released its 2021 preseason schedule Thursday. It starts with the Hall of Fame game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 5 and wraps up with a slew of games Aug. 27-29.

2021 NFL preseason schedule
(all times PDT)

Pro Football Hall of Fame game
Aug. 5
Pittsburgh vs. Dallas (Fox), 5 p.m.

Aug. 12
Washington at New England, 4:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 13
Tennessee at Atlanta, 4 p.m.
Buffalo at Detroit, 4 p.m.
Dallas at Arizona, 7 p.m.
Aug. 14
Miami at Chicago, 10 a.m.
Denver at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
New Orleans at Baltimore, 4 p.m.
Cleveland at Jacksonville, 4 p.m.
New York Jets at New York Giants, 4:30 p.m.
Cincinnati at Tampa Bay, 4:30 p.m.
Houston at Green Bay, 5 p.m.
Kansas City at San Francisco, 5:30 p.m.
Seattle at Las Vegas, 6 p.m.
Chargers at Rams, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 15
Carolina at Indianapolis, 10 a.m.

Thursday, Aug. 19
New England at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 20
Kansas City at Arizona (ESPN), 5 p.m.
Cincinnati at Washington, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 21
Buffalo at Chicago, 10 a.m.
New York Jets at Green Bay, 1:25 p.m.
Baltimore at Carolina, 4 p.m.
Atlanta at Miami, 4 p.m.
Detroit at Pittsburgh, 4:30 p.m.
Tennessee at Tampa Bay, 4:30 p.m.
Houston at Dallas, 4 p.m.
Indianapolis at Minnesota, 4 p.m.
Las Vegas at Rams, 7 p.m.
Denver at Seattle, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 22
New York Giants at Cleveland, 10 a.m.
San Francisco at Chargers, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 23
Jacksonville at New Orleans (ESPN), 5 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 27
Indianapolis at Detroit, 4 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Carolina, 4:30 p.m.
Philadelphia at New York Jets, 4:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Kansas City, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 28
Green Bay at Buffalo, 10 a.m.
Baltimore at Washington, 3 p.m.
Chicago at Tennessee, 4 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Houston, 5 p.m.
Arizona at New Orleans, 5 p.m.
Rams at Denver, 6:05 p.m.
Chargers at Seattle, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 29
Jacksonville at Dallas, 10 a.m.
Miami at Cincinnati (CBS), 1 p.m.
Las Vegas at San Francisco, 1 p.m.
New England at New York Giants, 3 p.m.
Cleveland at Atlanta (NBC), 5 p.m.


1898 — Willie Simms becomes the only African American jockey to win the Preakness Stakes when he rides Sly Fox to victory and the only one to have won all three Triple Crown races. Simms’ other Triple Crown wins: Kentucky Derby (1896, 1898), Belmont Stakes (1893, 1894).

1919 — Walter Hagen wins the U.S. Open with a one-stroke playoff victory over Michael Brady.


1919 — Sir Barton, ridden by Johnny Loftus, captures the Belmont Stakes to become thoroughbred racing’s first Triple Crown winner.

1921 — Grey Lag, ridden by Earl Sande, wins the first Belmont Stakes run counterclockwise. Previous Belmonts were run clockwise over a fish-hook course that included part of the training track and the main dirt oval.

1938 — Ralph Guldahl wins golf’s U.S. Open for the second straight year by beating Dick Metz.

1949 — Cary Middlecoff wins the U.S. Open by beating Sam Snead and Clayton Heafner.

1955 — Nashua wins the Belmont Stakes with Eddie Arcaro in the saddle. It’s the sixth Belmont victory for Arcaro, tying Jimmy McLaughlin’s record.

1977 — Seattle Slew, ridden by Jean Cruguet, runs wire to wire in the Belmont for a four-length victory over Run Dusty Run and the Triple Crown.

1978 — Nancy Lopez shoots a record 13-under par to win the LPGA Championship by six strokes over Amy Alcott.


1982 — Larry Holmes stops Gerry Cooney in the 13th round for the WBC heavyweight title at Las Vegas.

1984 — The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-102 in Game 7 to win their 15th NBA title.

1990 — Nolan Ryan, 43, pitches the sixth no-hitter of his career as the Texas Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 5-0. Ryan becomes the first to pitch no-hitters for three teams and the oldest to throw one.

1994 — For the first time in 11 years, the United States loses in the women’s world basketball championships. Guards Hortencia and Paula combine for 61 points, and Brazil stuns the defending champions 110-107 in the semifinals.

2006 — Se Ri Pak beats Karrie Webb on the first playoff hole to win the LPGA Championship. Pak atones for a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole in regulation that set up the playoff.

2006 — Rafael Nadal wins his second consecutive French Open, beating Roger Federer in four sets. Nadal spoils Federer’s bid for a fourth consecutive Grand Slam championship and extends his record clay-court winning streak to 60 matches.


2011 — Texas A&M sweeps the men’s and women’s titles at the NCAA outdoor championships, becoming the first school to post dual three-peat champions. Villanova’s Sheila Reid becomes the first woman to win the 1,500 and 5,000 meters at the same NCAA meet.

2012 — Rafael Nadal wins his record seventh French Open title, returning to Roland Garros to defeat Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. It’s Nadal’s 11th Grand Slam title, tying him on the all-time list with Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg, who won six French Open titles.

2012 — The Los Angeles Kings win their first NHL championship, defeating the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

2017 — Rafael Nadal wins his record 10th French Open title by dominating 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the final. No other man or woman has won 10 championships at the same major in the Open era, which began in 1968.

And finally

Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts made an amazing double play against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. Watch it here.

Until next time...

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