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The Sports Report: Clippers stay alive with Game 5 victory

Patrick Beverley, right, jokes with Paul George before he attempts technical free throws after suffering a flagrant foul.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: For five weeks, there had been one missing piece to this city’s celebration as its basketball team pushed through its first postseason in a decade.

When the Phoenix Suns closed out the Lakers to win their first-round series, it happened in Los Angeles. Then they swept the Nuggets in Denver. It was why when the Suns entered Game 5 of this Western Conference finals Monday leading this best-of-seven series 3-1, fans twirled orange promotional towels inside Phoenix Suns Arena and yelled until players leaned only inches from one another, straining to hear.

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This wasn’t just a chance to witness the Suns’ first Finals berth since 1993. This also was about celebrating a funeral — waiting for the postseason’s most resilient team to finally be killed off.

Patrick Beverley, right, jokes with Paul George before he attempts technical free throws after suffering a flagrant foul.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

At halftime, on a stage in the arena’s corner, Alice Cooper gripped a microphone with his black batting gloves and altered the lyrics of one of his trademark songs in hopes of conjuring last rites:

“So long Nuggets, goodbye Lakers, bye-bye Clippers, we ain’t finished.”

Instead, it was music to the Clippers’ ears, the last three words the soundtrack to a playoff run that isn’t over yet, despite long odds and few available bodies.

Facing their third elimination game of this postseason, they are, again, not finished yet. Behind Paul George’s playoff career-high 41 points, with 13 rebounds and six assists in 41 minutes, the Clippers’ 116-102 victory cut Phoenix’s advantage to 3-2 entering Wednesday’s Game 6 at Staples Center.

“If they were going to finish this series off, they were going to have to work for it,” George said. “We weren’t going to back down. We weren’t going to throw in the towel. Fact of the matter is, they got to beat us. It’s one game for us, and it’s one game for them.”

A day that began with the Clippers learning that starting center Ivica Zubac, who had averaged 14 points and nearly 14 rebounds in his last three games, could not play because of a strained ligament in his right knee ended with the 7-footer gingerly jumping as George and Reggie Jackson combined for 18 of the Clippers’ 25 fourth-quarter points.

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————

Bill Plaschke: Clippers have the will to survive, find way to beat Suns in Game 5

Lonzo and LaVar, Swaggy P and B-Diddy: Drew League is back and all’s right in SoCal

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DODGERS

Mookie Betts celebrates after leading off the game with a home run.
(Associated Press)

Mike DiGiovanna on the Dodgers: The Dodgers do not question the legitimacy of the San Francisco Giants, who have played far too well for too long to think they are some kind of fluke.

Nor are they troubled by the fact that the Giants entered a two-game series in Chavez Ravine with the best record in the major leagues and, with the San Diego Padres, pose a serious threat to their National League West supremacy.

But the Dodgers still have their division archrivals in their sights and possibly their crosshairs, their 3-2 win over the Giants on Monday night moving them to within 2 ½ games of first place in the NL West as the season approaches the midway point.

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“I just think that we’ve held serve,” manager Dave Roberts said. “To take the surge early, now you’re getting into the summer, when teams start to get taxed more, and it’s more of a grind … that starts to separate the good and bad teams. It’s going to happen this year, in my opinion, big time.”

Closer Kenley Jansen nailed down his 19th save with a scoreless ninth inning, preserving the win for starter Trevor Bauer, but it wasn’t without some drama.

Mike Tauchman opened the ninth with a single to left-center field that Dodgers center fieler Cody Bellinger over-ran. But Bellinger retrieved the ball and fired a strike to second baseman Chris Taylor, whose tag of Tauchman for the first out was upheld by a replay review.

Jansen then struck out Buster Posey and got Alex Dickerson to ground out to second, ending a game in which all five runs were scored on solo homers.

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ANGELS

Shohei Ohtani claps as he crosses the plate after hitting a solo home run.
(Associated Press)

Jack Harris on the Angels: Shohei Ohtani homered in his first at-bat Monday, setting the tone in the Angels’ 5-3 win with a 413-foot home run into the right field bleachers.

It was Ohtani’s 26th home run of the season, tying Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for most in the majors, and his first career hit at Yankee Stadium after he went 0-for-9 in New York in his only previous visit to the Bronx, a three-game series in his 2018 rookie season in which he was booed by Yankees fans who were upset he picked the Angels as his MLB club.

“That definitely sent a message,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It was the right way to start a trip to New York, with him hitting a home run.”

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Ohtani didn’t have another hit on Monday night, but the Angels prevailed anyway, manufacturing four more runs while getting 7 ⅓ strong innings from the bullpen -- led by left-hander José Suarez — after Dylan Bundy got sick in the second inning with heat exhaustion.

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Anaheim has a Plan B for stadium sale. Hometown lawmakers might not be on board

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers will welcome back fans to training camp, which opens July 28 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.

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NFL camps were closed to the public in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spectators will need to pre-register for the free tickets. More information can be found on the Chargers website. All covered seating and observation space will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be room in the bleachers for roughly 1,000 fans.

Gates to the sports complex will open one hour before the start of each practice. Parking will be available at the O.C. Fair and Events Center for $10.

OLYMPICS

Nyjah Huston competes in the men's Street Final during an Olympic qualifying skateboard event in May.
Nyjah Huston competes in the men’s Street Final during an Olympic qualifying skateboard event in May.
(Associated Press)

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David Wharton on skateboarding: When the police show up — which they sometimes do — Nyjah Huston probably looks like any other skateboarder, hanging with friends, grinding rails in the park, doing kickflips off the stairs in front of a library.

His trim build and thin goatee are not so imposing. Maybe the tattoos covering his entire body, creeping up his neck almost to his face, make him seem tougher.

“Cops will sit us down on the curb,” he says. “I’ve never actually been arrested but they’ve put me in handcuffs multiple times.”

They may not know Huston is regarded as the greatest contest street skater of all time. They may not know that prize money and endorsements have made the 26-year-old Laguna Beach resident a millionaire several times over.

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And the trick that earned him yet another X Games title last fall, the Caballerial backside noseblunt to fakie? Doesn’t matter. When Huston hits the streets, which he still does on a regular basis, he becomes just another punk skating on public property where such activity is strictly prohibited.

“That part of skating is never going to change and I don’t want it to,” he says. “It’s the cool part. We’re skateboarders, we have rebellious ways.”

Next month, Huston will play this misfit role on an international stage as his sport debuts at the Summer Olympics. The four-time world champion arrives in Tokyo with a backstory that includes prodigious success and struggle — a difficult childhood, nagging controversy and legal troubles that go beyond curbside detentions. Though he is already famous with skaters and 4.6 million Instagram followers, the Games could make him a crossover star in much the same way that Shaun White became a household name after snowboarding’s debut at the Winter Olympics.

“People think of skateboarding as kids skating at the 7-Eleven down the street,” says Neftalie Williams, a USC postdoctoral scholar and Yale visiting fellow who studies the culture of the sport. “In simple terms, Nyjah is an amazing athlete pushing what we can do and what comes next.”

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SPARKS

The Sparks announced Monday that they waived guard Bria Holmes and terminated the contract of forward-center Kristine Anigwe.

The 6-foot-3 Holmes averaged 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 18.8 minutes while playing in 12 of the Sparks’ 14 games. Anigwe, 6-4, appeared in seven games, averaging 3.9 points and 15.1 minutes.

Anigwe was signed on June 4 under the hardship exception rule after injuries to the sisters to Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.

NHL

Montreal's Corey Perry (94) controls the puck next to Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman (77) in the first period.
Montreal’s Corey Perry (94) controls the puck next to Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman (77) in the first period.
(Associated Press)

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Playoff scoring leader Nikita Kucherov had two goals and an assist and Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 18 saves to outplay Carey Price and lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Kucherov put the defending champs up 3-1 early in the third period with a fluky goal that Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot tried to bat down with his hand before it wound up in the net.

Kucherov scored again at 11:25 of the third, then assisted on Steven Stamkos’ power-play goal that made it 5-1 with just over a minute to go. The Canadiens had not given up a power-play goal in an NHL playoff-record 13 consecutive games.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Tampa.

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NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

All times Pacific

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 2 Phoenix vs. No. 4 Clippers
Phoenix 120, Clippers 114
Phoenix 104, Clippers 103
Clippers 106, Phoenix 92
Phoenix 84, Clippers 80
Clippers 116, Phoenix 102
Wednesday: at Clippers, 6 p.m., ESPN
*Friday: at Phoenix, 6 p.m.

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

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No. 3 Milwaukee vs. No. 5 Atlanta
Atlanta 116, Milwaukee 113
Milwaukee 125, Atlanta 91
Milwaukee 113, Atlanta 102
Today: at Atlanta, 5:30 p.m., TNT
Thursday: at Milwaukee, 5:30 p.m., TNT
*Saturday: at Atlanta, 5:30 p.m., TNT
*Monday, July 5: at Milwaukee, 5:30 p.m., TNT

*-if necessary

NHL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

STANLEY CUP FINALS
All times Pacific

No. 2 Tampa Bay vs. No. 4 Montreal

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Tampa Bay 5, Montreal 1
Wednesday: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Friday: at Montreal, 5 p.m., NBC
Monday, July 5: at Montreal, 5 p.m., NBC
*Wed., July 7: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBC
*Friday, July 9: at Montreal, 5 p.m., NBC
*Sunday, July 11: at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m., NBC

*-if necessary

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1906 — Alex Smith shoots a record 295 to beat brother Willie in the U.S. Open. Alex shoots a 295 at Onwentsia Club Ill.

1933 — Primo Carnera knocks out Jack Sharkey in the sixth round at the Long Island City Bowl to win the world heavyweight title.

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1947 — Betty Jameson wins the U.S. Women’s Open by six strokes over amateurs Sally Sessions and Rolly Riley.

1952 — Louise Suggs beats Betty Jameson and Marlene Bauer by seven strokes to win the U.S. Women’s Open.

1956 — Charles Dumas becomes the first high jumper to clear 7 feet, jumping 7 feet, 5-8 inches in the U.S. Olympic trials at Los Angeles.

1957 — Jackie Pung loses the U.S. Women’s Open when she turns in an incorrect scorecard. Betsy Rawls is declared the winner.

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1958 — Brazil, led by Pele, beats Sweden 5-2 in Stockholm to become the first team to win the World Cup outside its continent. The 17-year-old, coming off a hat-trick in Brazil’s 5-2 semifinal victory over France, scores twice in the final. Pele’s first and memorable goal comes in the 55th minute to put Brazil ahead 3-1. Pele controls the ball in the penalty area with his thigh, flips it over the head of the defender and smashes it past a helpless Kalle Svensson. Pele seals the win with a headed goal in stoppage time.

1969 — Donna Caponi beats Peggy Wilson by one stroke to win the U.S. Women’s Open.

1986 — Argentina withstands West Germany’s comeback to win the World Cup, 3-2 in Mexico City’s Aztec stadium. Argentina takes a 2-0 lead on Jorge Valdano’s goal 10 minutes into the second half. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller score goals seven minutes apart to tie the game in the 81st minute. Four minutes later Jorge Burruchaga scores the game-winner after getting a superb pass from Diego Maradona.

1990 — Dave Stewart of the Oakland A’s pitches the first of two no-hitters on this day, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0. Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers duplicates Stewart’s feat, throwing a 6-0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s the first time in major league history that two no-hitters are pitched in the two leagues on the same day.

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1991 — Britain’s Nick Brown scores a big upset at Wimbledon, beating 10th-seeded Goran Ivanisevic 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in the second round. Brown, at 591 the lowest-ranked player in the men’s championship, posts the biggest upset, based on comparative rankings, since the ATP began compiling world rankings in 1973.

1994 — Martina Navratilova sets a Wimbledon record, playing her 266th match. Navratilova passes Billie Jean King’s record when she and Manon Bollegraf beat Ingelisa Driehuis and Maja Muric 6-4, 6-2 in a doubles quarterfinal.

2001 — Russian swimmer Roman Sludnov becomes the first person to swim the 100-meter breaststroke in under a minute, breaking a world record for the second time in two days at the national championships in Moscow. Sludnov finishes in 00:59.97.

2004 — Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks becomes the fourth pitcher to record 4,000 strikeouts when he strikes out San Diego’s Jeff Cirillo in the eighth inning of the Padres’ 3-2 win.

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2007 — After 16 years in Europe, the NFL shuts down its developmental league.

2008 — Two weeks away from her 20th birthday, Inbee Park becomes the youngest winner of the U.S. Women’s Open by closing with a 2-under 71. Her four-shot victory over Helen Alfredsson, who shot 75, is the largest in the Women’s Open since Karrie Webb won by eight shots at Pine Needles in 2001.

2009 — Indoor tennis at Wimbledon. The new retractable roof over Centre Court is closed after rain halts play during a fourth-round match with Amelie Mauresmo leading top-ranked Dinara Safina, 6-4, 1-4.

2012 — The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency files formal charges against Lance Armstrong, accusing the seven-time Tour de France winner of using performance-enhancing drugs throughout the best years of his career.

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And finally

Fernando Valenzuela pitches a no-hitter. Watch it 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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