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The Sports Report: Clippers acquire Eric Bledsoe for Beverley, Rondo and Oturu

Eric Bledsoe
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news. The first story happened Saturday, but since we didn’t have an issue Sunday, it’s worth recapping now.

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: With too many guards in their backcourt, contracts on their roster and age amid their rotation, the Clippers on Saturday swung a trade with the hope of solving those problems, in part, by reuniting the team with one of its former draft picks.

The Clippers are trading veteran guards Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo, and center Daniel Oturu, fresh off his rookie season, to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for guard Eric Bledsoe, the team’s 2010 first-round selection, according to a person with knowledge of the trade who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the trade is not expected to become official until Monday.

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The trade involves those players only, the person said, and will not include draft picks.

It is a continuation of the intent that has guided the Clippers’ offseason thus far: turning an aging roster younger in hopes that a mix of core veterans and young, developing role players might extend their ability to compete for a championship once Kawhi Leonard recovers from a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, whether that is late in the upcoming season, or for 2022-23.

Bledsoe is not in the same age bracket as the 19-year-old Keon Johnson or 22-year-old Jason Preston, a pair of guards selected in July’s draft. But at 31, he is durable and more than a year younger than Beverley, and four years younger than Rondo.

The trade could be wind up being relatively low risk. In addition to dumping the expiring contracts owed to Beverley and Rondo off their books, the Clippers aren’t locked in long-term with Bledsoe; only $3.9 million of his $19 million salary next season is guaranteed.

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DODGERS

Mike DiGiovanna on the Dodgers: When the Dodgers departed for a six-game trip to Philadelphia and New York last Monday, they trailed the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants by four games with 50 to play.

When their red-eye cross-country flight lands in Los Angeles following Sunday night’s 14-4 shellacking of the Mets in Citi Field, their fifth win of a grueling trip in which they played 22 hours, 2 minutes of baseball — much of it in scorching heat — and endured 2 hours, 37 minutes of rain delays, they’ll be right where they started, four games behind the Giants, but with 44 games left.

San Francisco kept the Dodgers at arm’s length by winning five of six against Arizona and Colorado. There is still time to catch the Giants, but the Dodgers can’t do it running on a treadmill.

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“We can’t worry about the Giants — we just have to worry about ourselves,” said first baseman Max Muncy, who led a 16-hit attack with a pair of two-run homers to left-center field, giving him 25 homers on the season. “At the end of the season, it’s going to be how it’s going to be.

“These two teams are fighting for first place [in the NL East], and they’re pretty hostile environments on top of that. So it was nice to win a bunch of games and go home on a happy note.”

Max Scherzer overcame a series of defensive lapses to throw six solid innings, giving up two runs and four hits, striking out seven and walking two, to improve to 10-4 with a 2.69 ERA on the season, as the Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the Mets.

ANGELS

Ethan Sears on the Angels: As Reid Detmers walked off the mound after his sixth inning of pitching on Sunday afternoon, he wiped his face with his jersey once, then twice. He looked up the third-base line, in the direction of the bullpen, where Austin Warren was starting to get loose.

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It would not have been hard to argue that Detmers, sitting at 87 pitches, was entitled to a seventh inning of work in the Angels’ eventual 3-1 win against the Astros. But at this point, everyone involved had seen enough to walk away from the afternoon with encouragement about the young left-hander.

In his first two outings, against the Athletics and Dodgers, respectively, Detmers went through ups and downs, not getting past the fifth inning in either game and giving up a total of 11 runs. Facing Houston, a team sitting in first place with championship aspirations, Detmers was smooth and steady, making a lone mistake all game.

“I was just more confident,” Detmers said. “I was landing more of my offspeed stuff for strikes and just getting good contact outs.”

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‘Everything’s getting better’: Angels’ Jo Adell is hitting his stride in second MLB stint

RAMS-CHARGERS

Sam Farmer on the NFL: Hours before the Chargers defeated the Rams 13-6 in a preseason opener, thousands of spectators (official attendance was not announced) streamed into the pristine SoFi Stadium with phone cameras raised and — under the face coverings — mouths surely agape. For many, it had to be sensory overload, with the music pulsing and everything illuminated by the frenetic flash of videoboards.

The Rams and Chargers played their home games here last season, but without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The stadium will play host to the first “Sunday Night Football” game of the season Sept. 12, when the Chicago Bears come to town, as well as Super Bowl LVI on Feb.13.

Friday was the fifth anniversary of the NFL’s first game back in L.A., when the Rams played host to the Dallas Cowboys for a preseason game at an overflowing Coliseum. But Saturday was a completely different experience, with the L.A. teams welcoming fans to their new home, the biggest and most expensive stadium in NFL history. The first phase of the project, which includes the stadium and adjoining YouTube Theater, has a staggering price tag of $5 billion.

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“It’s an indescribable feeling being here,” said Tom Bateman, director of “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams,” which spearheaded a grassroots effort to bring the franchise back from St. Louis, where it played from 1995 to 2015.

“It’s like a dream come true, and I have to pinch myself.

“We’ve been away from the game for a year, so this makes it extra sweet. We’re finally in a stadium that’s built for the Rams.”

LAFC

LAFC was on the wrong end of a big day for Atlanta United star Josef Martínez, who scored his third goal in his last three appearances during a 1-0 win on Sunday.

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Martínez, on a breakaway, ran onto a low cross Ezequiel Barco and put away a one-touch finish from the center of the area in the 47th minute. It was the latest breakthrough performance for the elite goal scorer who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the 2020 season opener. Ten months later, he had to have three surgeries in five days due to scar tissue complications and an infection in the knee.

He made the most of a scoring opportunity against a struggling LAFC (6-8-5) side that has lost three in a row and has extended its franchise record winless streak to six games.

SPARKS

Steve Galluzzo on the Sparks: The mere presence of Nneka Ogwumike on the court Sunday was a big lift for the Sparks, who welcomed their six-time All-Star and leader back with a 75-70 victory over the Indiana Fever in a battle of last-place teams at Staples Center.

The resilient 31-year-old power forward savored every moment on the floor and logged 14:43 of court time in the first half alone as the Sparks built a 12-point lead before cooling off and settling for a 49-46 edge at intermission.

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Ogwumike finished with 12 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes in her first game back from a Grade 2 knee sprain that sidelined her for more than a month. Add in the Olympic break (she was left off the Team USA roster for the third time, then was denied an exemption to play for Nigeria) and the WNBA veteran had not played in 10 weeks.

Although she showed subtle signs of rust, the WNBPA president and 2016 league MVP made an impact far beyond the stat sheet.

UCLA FOOTBALL

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the Bruins: Justin Frye won’t try to fool anyone. The UCLA offensive coordinator and offensive line coach doesn’t mind if everyone knows he wants to run the ball on third-and-short. He’s putting faith in his players to deliver anyway.

“If you really have presence, then Zoe Rose Frye, my 9-year-old daughter, needs to be sitting up in her seat saying, ‘They’re gonna run the ball right there,’ ” Frye said. “And we don’t care, we just do it. We get the job done.”

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With a senior quarterback in his third year as the full-time starter, veteran receivers and tight ends and a deep group of running backs, the Bruins are primed to break out as one of the elite offenses in the Pac-12.

But the group that sets the tone is the offensive line. It returns every player who appeared in a game last season, and as the Bruins approach their season opener, the group of unsung heroes has a message that’s not flashy, just effective.

“It’s all about accountability,” senior Jon Gaines II said. “Doing your job, executing when your number’s called, just honestly, the way football’s played. It’s executing every play and I think that’s something we really want to set the standard for the offensive line.”

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If all goes well, finding UCLA’s football opponents can amount to scheduled success

TENNIS

Helene Elliott on tennis: Roger Federer said Sunday that he will undergo additional surgery on his troublesome right knee, leaving him unable to compete at the U.S. Open this year. Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are tied for the most career men’s Grand Slam singles titles at 20 each following Djokovic’s sweep of the first three Grand Slam events this year.

Federer, who turned 40 on Aug. 8, said in a video released on Instagram that he will be on crutches “for many weeks and then also out of the game for many months.” He said while the process will be difficult, “I know it’s the right thing to do because I want to be healthy, I want to be running later as well again, and I want to give myself a glimmer of hope also to return to the tour in some shape or form.”

He also thanked his fans in advance for their good wishes and promised to update them with the progress of his rehabilitation.

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This year’s U.S. Open will be played from Aug. 30-Sept. 12 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. Organizers have announced that fans will not be allowed to watch the qualifying tournament, but plans are still in place for them to be admitted to the tournament. Fans were barred from the 2020 tournament because of COVID-19 concerns and protocols.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1920 — Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman is hit in the head with a pitch by New York’s Carl Mays. Chapman suffers a fractured skull and dies the next day. It’s the only field fatality in major league history.

1924 — Helen Wills Moody beats Molla Bjurstedt Mallory again, 6-1, 6-3, to win her second straight singles title at the U.S. Lawn Tennis Assn. championships.

1954 — The first Sports Illustrated magazine is issued with a 25-cent price tag. The scene on the cover was a game at Milwaukee’s County Stadium. Eddie Mathews of Braves was swinging with Wes Westrum catching and Augie Donatelli umpiring.

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1970 — Dave Stockton wins the PGA Championship by two strokes over Arnold Palmer and Bob Murphy at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.

1976 — Dave Stockton edges Raymond Floyd and Don January by one stroke to win his second PGA Championship. Stockton hits a par-saving 15-foot putt on the 72nd hole to finish with a 1-over 281 at Congressional Country Club (Blue Course) in Bethesda, Md.

1989 — Tom Drees pitches his third no-hitter of the season for Class AAA Vancouver, leading the Canadians over Las Vegas 5-0 in a seven-inning, first game of a doubleheader in the Pacific Coast League. Drees became the first pitcher in the PCL or the major leagues with three no-hitters in a year.

1992 — Nick Price holds off a comeback bid by Nick Faldo with a 1-under 70 in the final round and captures his first major title with a three-stroke victory in the PGA national championship.

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1995 — Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie shatters Kenya’s Moses Kiptanui’s record in the 5,000 by nearly 11 seconds with a time of 12 minutes, 44.39 seconds at the Weltklasse meet in Zurich, Switzerland.

1998 — Jeff Gordon drives into the record book, becoming the seventh driver in modern NASCAR history to win four straight races as he comes from far back to take the Pepsi 400.

2008 — In Beijing, Michael Phelps touches the wall a hundredth of a second ahead of Serbia’s Milorad Cavic to win the 100-meter butterfly. The win gives Phelps his seventh gold medal of the Beijing Games, tying Mark Spitz’s performance in the 1972 Munich Games. Usain Bolt of Jamaica runs the 100-meter dash in a stunning world-record time of 9.69 seconds for a blowout win that he starts celebrating a good 10 strides before the finish line.

2009 — Usain Bolt shatters the 100-meter world record at the World Championships in Berlin. Bolt finishes with a stunning time of 9.58 seconds, bettering his own record of 9.69 seconds set in last year’s Beijing Olympics.

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2009 — Y.E. Yang of South Korea becomes the first Asian player to win one of golf’s majors with a three-stroke win over Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship.

2015 — Jason Day leads wire-to-wire in the final round at Whistling Straits to close out a record-setting PGA Championship and capture his first major title. The 27-year-old Australian finishes at 20-under 268 to beat Jordan Spieth by three shots. Day becomes the first player to finish at 20 under in a major.

2015 — Brooke Henderson wins the Cambia Portland Classic by eight strokes to become the third-youngest champion in LPGA Tour history at 17 years, 11 months, 6 days.

2018 — The Davis Cup gets a radical makeover beginning in 2019. The top team event in men’s tennis will be decided with a season-ending, 18-team tournament at a neutral site.

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And finally

Michael Phelps wins the 100-meter butterfly at the 2008 Olympics. 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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