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The Sports Report: Clippers are eliminated from the playoffs

Chris Paul saunters down the court after sinking a three-pointer in Game 6.
Chris Paul saunters down the court after sinking a three-pointer in Game 6.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: The loss had been decided, their season all but over, and as the end settled in, the Clippers’ stares grew longer.

His arms crossed, his expression flat, coach Tyronn Lue leaned against the scorer’s table inside Staples Center as Chris Paul made a final dagger three-pointer Wednesday.

Kawhi Leonard, joining his teammates on the sideline for the first time in these Western Conference finals, his injured right knee hidden in black pants, looked down the sideline where Paul screamed a cathartic roar inside the arena he once called home.

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And Paul George, the all-star who had played more minutes than anyone this postseason, wiped his brow with a towel in a folding chair along the sideline. He and the rest of the Clippers’ starters had earned a standing ovation with 2:58 to play in Game 6, but they had not earned another chance to continue this team’s defiant, unprecedented playoff run.

To end a Clippers postseason defined by their unwillingness to go quietly, it was Paul who finally dug his former team a trench too deep, then tossed on the dirt for good measure. His 41 points were the catalyst for Phoenix’s series-clinching 130-103 victory to send the Suns to their first NBA finals since 1993 and deny the Clippers the kind of rally that had extended their season during two, previous rounds.

Those comebacks had become so routine, that it didn’t appear over when Phoenix built a 10-point lead with nine minutes left before halftime. It was tied four minutes later.

And it didn’t appear over when their lead was up to 17 with four minutes to play in the third quarter. It was down to seven only two minutes later.

But Paul was indomitable after three previous inconsistent efforts, his seven three-pointers, and 66% shooting overall. He scored 31 of his points in the second half, the kind of performance he had waited 15 years for.

When it was over, it still didn’t feel like it to the Clippers.

“It is a shock,” Lue said. “I think it’s a shock to a lot of the guys in the locker room. It tells you a lot about the team. No matter who’s playing we think we still have a chance.”

Two days after rescuing the Clippers’ season for one more game with a career-high 41 points, George scored 21, “gassed,” after 41 more minutes, Lue said. Marcus Morris, still playing on a left knee not fully healthy, scored a team-high 26.

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SOCCER

Angel City crest
(Courtesy of Angel City FC )

Kevin Baxter on Angel City FC: As a fledgling franchise entering Southern California’s crowded sports marketplace, Angel City faced a challenge when it set out to design a crest that both fit in with the region’s 12 other professional teams yet also represented its own unique culture and ambitions.

“We’re doing something really special here,” said Kayla Green, head of marketing for the women’s soccer team, which will enter the NWSL in spring 2022. “The launch of this team is a true call to action to galvanize our community, fans, players around the world to collectively seek to raise the expectations of this game on and off the field.”

Makes sense as a mission statement. But just try getting all that into the tiny logo that will go on the jerseys, the next logical step in the club’s branding.

Since Angel City’s investors, the largest female-led ownership group in North American professional sports, announced they were forming an NWSL expansion franchise 11 months ago, they have methodically gone about building their team, hiring a sporting director, a vice president of player development and a scouting director. The team has signed sponsors for both sides of its jersey and the sleeve, and will play at Banc of California Stadium.

On Wednesday morning, it added another piece to that puzzle when it unveiled its crest and colors, giving the club a look to go with its socially conscious, barrier-breaking culture.

“Our visual identity,” Green said, “absolutely represents this.”

Angel City crest with explanation
(Courtesy of Angel City FC )

ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Angels: After Shohei Ohtani failed to escape a seven-run first inning, after the game was twice delayed by rain for more than two combined hours, after their lineup recorded nine straight outs between the sixth and eighth innings and their pitching staff sent eight different arms to the mound -- the Angels won.

Somehow.

Jared Walsh delivered the game-saving blast, a ninth-inning grand slam off hard-throwing left-handed Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman to level the score at 8-8.

Luis Rengifo hammered the go-ahead hit, a two-run single off reliever Lucas Luetge to give the Angels their first lead since the top of the first inning.

And it all bailed out Ohtani, who was charged with seven runs after getting only two outs in a calamitous 41-pitch outing.

“It feels good when you get a win like that,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Everybody had part ownership.”

NCAA

The NCAA Board of Directors approved one of the biggest changes in the history of college athletics Wednesday, clearing the way for nearly a half-million athletes to start earning money based on their fame and celebrity without fear of endangering their eligibility or putting their school in jeopardy of violating amateurism rules that have stood for decades.

The decision, expected for months as state after state passed laws intended to render NCAA rules moot on the topic, came on the eve of the market opening Thursday for athletes in a dozen states, including giants like Texas and Florida.

“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said.

The decision effectively suspends NCAA restrictions on payments to athletes for things such as sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances. it applies to all three divisions or some 460,000 athletes.

SPARKS

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the Sparks: The Las Vegas Aces, with their top-ranked offense, found little resistance against the depleted Sparks in a 99-75 victory at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Wednesday.

Reigning MVP A’ja Wilson (17 points, 10 rebounds) and 6-foot-8 Australian Olympian Liz Cambage (13 points, 11 rebounds) overpowered the undersized L.A. frontcourt that called on new addition Lauren Cox for reinforcement.

Cox, who signed with the team in the morning after being cut from the Indiana Fever on Monday, finished with four points and five rebounds in 18 minutes despite never practicing with the Sparks (6-9).

DODGERS

For an update on the allegations about Trevor Bauer, click here. Warning: the article includes graphic details of sexual assault allegations.

STANLEY CUP FINALS

Just when the Montreal Canadiens found another gear to show they can hang with the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final, Blake Coleman singlehandedly kept the series from being tied.

Coleman scored a one-armed, diving buzzer-beater and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was the best player on the ice in making a playoff career-high 42 saves to put the Lightning up two games to none in the final with a 3-1 victory Wednesday night.

The Canadiens outshot the Lightning 43-23 and dominated long stretches of play, but they head home for Games 3 and 4 in Montreal needing to win at least one to avoid being swept by an opponent that can win many different ways.

It was more Montreal’s style of play to give up a ton of shots, rely on goalie Carey Price to bail them out and buckle down with any kind of lead. Days after coach Jon Cooper said, “Part of our success has been trying not to rely on Vasilevskiy,” they did just that in Game 2 of the final, and it worked.

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Kristen Taketa on high school basketball: Coronado High’s basketball division regional championship was vacated and the school has been placed on probation by the California Interscholastic Federation following the tortilla throwing incident after the June 19 game with Escondido’s Orange Glen High School.

“In this instance, there is no doubt the act of throwing tortillas at a predominately Latino team is unacceptable and warrants sanctions,” the CIF said in an announcement Thursday afternoon.

Coronado High is on probation until 2024 and was stripped of its chances to hold postseason games until 2023.

All Coronado High administrators, athletic directors, coaches and student-athletes will be required to take a workshop on sportsmanship, which will include racial and cultural sensitivity training. The administrators and athletic directors also will be required to undergo game management training.

COLLEGE WORLD SERIES

Will Bednar and Landon Sims combined on a one-hitter, Mississippi State scored early and built on its lead, and the Bulldogs won their first national championship with a 9-0 victory over Vanderbilt in the deciding third game of the College World Series finals Wednesday night.

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
Phoenix 130, Clippers 103

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 3 Milwaukee vs. No. 5 Atlanta
Atlanta 116, Milwaukee 113
Milwaukee 125, Atlanta 91
Milwaukee 113, Atlanta 102
Atlanta 110, Milwaukee 88
Today: at Milwaukee, 5:30 p.m., TNT
Saturday: at Atlanta, 5:30 p.m., TNT
*Monday: 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

Tampa Bay 5, Montreal 1
Tampa Bay 3, Montreal 1
Friday: at Montreal, 5 p.m., NBC
Monday, July 5: at Montreal, 5 p.m., NBC
*Wednesday: 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

1859 — Amherst defeats Williams 73-32 in the first intercollegiate baseball game. The game is played by Massachusetts Rules, a wide-open form of the sport commonly known as roundball and Amherst wins by reaching the pre-established score of 65 runs. Amherst exceeds 65-run limit during a 10-run 26th inning.

1903 — Maurice Garin wins the first stage of the first Tour de France bicycle race. Garin finishes 55 seconds ahead of Emile Pagie. The first stage, from Paris to Lyon, is 467 kilometers long, and takes 17 hours and 45 minutes, riding both day and night. Only 37 riders of 60 are able to complete the day’s race.

1920 — Suzanne Lenglen of France becomes the first player to win three Wimbledon titles in one year, taking the singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

1932 — Helen Moody wins her fifth women’s singles title in six years at Wimbledon, defeating Helen Jacobs 6-3, 6-1.

1938 — Don Budge defeats Henry Austin 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 to win the men’s singles title and sweep the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon for the second straight year.

1951 — Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians pitches his third career no-hitter, beating the Detroit Tigers 2-1.

1951 — Beverly Hanson wins the Eastern Open by three strokes over Babe Zaharias in her first start on the LPGA Tour. Hanson is the only golfer to win a tournament in her first professional start.

1961 — Mickey Wright beats defending champion Betsy Rawls by six strokes to win the U.S. Women’s Open.

1977 — Britain’s Virginia Wade wins the singles title on the 100th anniversary of Wimbledon, defeating Betty Stove 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

1990 — Cathy Johnston completes a wire-to-wire performance, beating Patty Sheehan by two strokes to win the LPGA du Maurier Classic.

1995 — The NBA locks out its players at 12:01 a.m., the first work stoppage in league history.

2007 — Cristie Kerr wins the U.S. Women’s Open by making only two bogeys over her final 45 holes. Kerr finishes at 5-under 279 for her 10th career victory.

2011 — The NBA locks out its players, a long-expected move putting the 2011-12 season in jeopardy.

2012 — Spain wins its third straight major soccer title, beating Italy 4-0 in the European Championship final in Kiev, Ukraine. The Spanish, who won the Euro 2008 title and World Cup title in 2010, posts the largest score in a Euro final.

2012 — Tiger Woods wins the AT&T National at Congressional in Bethesda, Md. for the 74th win of his career. That moves him past Jack Nicklaus into second place on the tour list, eight short of Sam Snead.

And finally

Chris Paul makes his first NBA Finals with a 41-point performance. Watch Game 6 highlights 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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