Hello one and all, my name is John Cherwa, and I’m guest-hosting this here newsletter for a couple of weeks while Houston Mitchell interviews for the Lakers coaching job.
OK, be honest, did you give up on the Clippers when they were 31 points down to the Golden State Warriors? Wouldn’t blame you if you did. (Some of us may have even switched over to the Dodgers game for a while. Not saying who, though.) Of course, part of that might have been the novelty of seeing the Dodgers on TV.
In the first half, everything pointed to the Clippers recognizing the 107-year anniversary of Edward John Smith’s epic faux pas with their own sporting performance. Now, there is no way you can compare a game with the loss of life that happened more than a century ago. But that tragic night has also become a major part of our lexicon as a synonym for epic failure. And who would have thought it would be the Warriors on Monday night?
Don’t know who Smith is? This is where your teacher tells you to look it up. There’s this thing called, I think, “Google” which can be an aid in research.
Got it, off topic.
The Clippers 135-131 win could be a defining moment in the franchise. Or, if the Clippers get their doors blown off at home the next two games, nothing more than a blip.
That’s why we have beat writer Andrew Greif and here’s an excerpt from one of the versions of the story he filed on the game.
“Twelve years after an improbable playoff upset created a catchphrase, another unlikely — no, unimaginable — comeback was brewing Monday night in Oracle Arena. But instead of roaring as it had 12 years ago, when the ‘We Believe’ Golden State Warriors knocked out the West’s best, the building was hushed.
“The eighth-seeded Clippers, down as many as 31 points in the second half, had come all the way back, and then some.
“Rookie Clippers guard Landry Shamet, off to a dreadful start shooting in his first postseason, rolled off a screen and nailed a three-pointer for a 133-131 lead with 15.9 seconds remaining.
“The Warriors went for the win. All-star Stephen Curry, perhaps the greatest shooter in NBA history, worked Clippers center Montrezl Harrell off the dribble for an opening and got it. Curry, capable of making three-pointers given an eyelash of space, had a clean look.
“Silence no longer filled the arena. Instead, gasps.
“After free throws by Harrell, and a missed heave at the buzzer, the Clippers emerged 135-131 winners after a 31-point comeback that ties this first-round series at one game apiece. It was the biggest point-margin comeback in NBA playoff history.
“’We Believe,’ indeed.
“The comeback was just the latest for a team that has won after trailing by 28, 25 and 20 points this season. The Warriors had won 20 of its last 21 home playoff games. They shot nearly 40% from three-pointers and attempted 14 more free throws than the Clippers.”
For the full story, here’s where you go.
It’s Andrew’s job to give us the facts and our own Helene Elliott to give us her opinion. So here’s here a snippet of how she saw it.
“The Lob City Era gave way to who knows what, a group that played surprisingly well but was shaken up at the trade deadline when Clippers executives, apparently giving up on the season, traded away two starters and started looking toward the future.
“Except these players weren’t ready to give up on themselves, and together Monday night they created the finest moment for a franchise that has had precious few great achievements.
“Down 31 points to the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors, the Clippers didn’t panic, didn’t surrender, didn’t waver.
“Their 135-131 victory before a stunned crowd at Oracle Arena reflected every good thing they’ve shown this season about their character and ability and showed the power of a team against the NBA’s best collection of superstars. They go back to Staples Center with the series even at 1-1 and with the knowledge they can beat the high-powered Warriors.”
For the full column just look here.
Monday’s NBA playoff scores
Clippers 135, Golden State 131 (Series tied, 1-1)
Philadelphia 145, Brooklyn Nets 123 (Series tied, 1-1)
All times Pacific
Orlando at Toronto, 5 p.m., TNT (Magic lead series, 1-0)
San Antonio at Nuggets, 6 p.m., NBATV (Spurs lead series, 1-0)
Oklahoma City at Portland, 7:30 p.m., TNT (Trail Blazers lead series, 1-0)
Clippers playoff schedule
All times Pacific
Game 1: Warriors 121, Clippers 104
Game 2: Clippers 135, Warriors 131
Thursday, 7:30 p.m., at Clippers, TNT
Sunday, April 21, 12:30 p.m., at Clippers, ABC
Wednesday, April 24, TBA, at Golden State, TBA
*Friday, April 26, at Clippers, TBA
*Sunday, April 28, at Golden State, TBA
* if necessary.
For a journalist, Monday’s Dodgers game had some pretty good angles. There was Clayton Kershaw’s umpteenth return from the injury list. And, in a first, Yasiel Puig’s return to Dodger Stadium, but not as a Dodger.
Guess what? By the end of the first inning there was plenty to write about both storylines. But by the end of the game, neither of those angles played into who won the game. (Hint: It was the Dodgers, 4-3.) Here’s Jorge Castillo’s take on things:
“For hours, the cheers and boos and attention were fixated on Yasiel Puig at Dodger Stadium on Monday. He commanded the spotlight in his first game in Los Angeles as a foe. He savored it and performed in it.
“But the loudest roars were unleashed at the end of the night, for Joc Pederson's towering walk-off two-run home run against Raisel Iglesias in a 4-3 Dodgers victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
“The blast came moments after Matt Kemp, one of four Dodgers traded to Cincinnati in December, poked a 94-mph cutter off Kenley Jansen the other way to give the Reds the lead and avoided wasting Clayton Kershaw's impressive season debut.
“In his first start for the Dodgers since Game 5 of the World Series last fall, Kershaw limited the Reds to two runs on five hits over seven innings. He compiled six strikeouts and didn't issue a walk. His only costly mistake came against a familiar face.”
Bill Plaschke decided to focus on Kershaw’s pretty terrific performance, and here’s a little of what he had to say:
“When Clayton Kershaw took the long walk from the Dodgers' dugout to the bullpen to begin warming up for his season debut Monday night, he was surrounded by the strangest of sounds.
“The usual cheering was muffled and tepid. During a moment when he traditionally receives a giant ovation, it was as if fans barely recognized him.
“Soon thereafter, when Kershaw stood on the mound to face the third batter for the Cincinnati Reds, he heard another odd Chavez Ravine noise.
“Fans were cheering for the hitter, because that hitter's name was Yasiel Puig, the former Dodgers hero returning home for the first time since traded to the Reds this winter. It sounded like boos, but it wasn't boos. It was ‘Puiiig,’ and Kershaw was enveloped in it.
“Then it happened. Of course it happened. Puig went deep, a two-run jack, powering a slider over the center-field fence. He flipped the bat. He skipped around the bases. More noise. More ‘Puiiig.’
“At that moment, the motionless Kershaw was as invisible as he has ever been during his 10 years as a Dodger.
“This was his opening day, but there was no welcome back. This was his first start since Oct. 28 of last year, when he allowed three home runs in seven innings to the victorious Boston Red Sox in the clinching Game 5 of the World Series, and fans acted as if it were still that dreary autumn night.
“He was attempting to make a triumphant comeback from a bout with shoulder inflammation, but folks seemed more interested in the return of the other guy.”
Dylan Hernandez checked in with Puig and here’s what he had to say:
“The tradition is as much a part of the Dodger Stadium experience as the wave or the beach balls. When the visiting team scores, the fans boo.
“An exception was made Monday night in the first inning of the Dodgers’ 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, when Yasiel Puig redirected a first-inning slider by Clayton Kershaw over the center-field wall for a two-run home run.
“The celebration was classic Puig.
“He flipped his bat. He pointed to the heavens. He pointed back toward his team’s bench. And upon touching the plate, he pointed into the stands.
“’I was able to put my team ahead 2-0 against Kershaw in my return to Los Angeles,” Puig said in Spanish. “I was very emotional.’
“About the only unfamiliar part of this was the Reds uniform he was wearing.”
Odds and ends
Angels pitchers run into problems fast in a loss to the Texas Rangers. … Todd Gurley's left knee is still a topic, but the Rams back says he's “feeling pretty good.” … Steve Clifford is helping the Orlando Magic turn their defensive vision into reality. … Chargers draft analysis: A replacement at free safety is needed, and maybe a corner. … Don Perry, the L.A. Kings' coach during the “Miracle on Manchester,” dies at 89. … Will Tiger Woods' Masters win be the spark golf needs to diversify? … Dodgers starter Rich Hill will make a minor league rehab start. … Angels starter Tyler Skaggs goes on the injured list with an ankle sprain.
Monday’s scores (read game stories here)
Toronto 3, Boston 2 (Maple Leafs lead series, 2-1)
Carolina 5, Washington 0 (Capitals lead series, 2-1)
Nashville 3, Dallas 2 (Predators lead series, 2-1)
Colorado 6, Calgary 2 (Avalanche leads series, 2-1)
All times Pacific
Tampa Bay at Columbus, 4 p.m., CNBC (Blue Jackets lead, 3-0)
New York Islanders at Pittsburgh, 4:30 p.m., NBCSN (Islanders lead series, 3-0)
Winnipeg at St. Louis, 6:30 p.m., CNBC (Blues lead series, 2-1)
San Jose at Las Vegas, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN (Golden Knights lead series, 2-1)
Today’s local major sports schedule (all times Pacific)
Cincinnati at Dodgers, 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Angels at Rangers, 5 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830
Born on this date
1928: NFL player Dick “Night Train” Lane
1947: NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar