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The Sports Report: Clippers on the brink of elimination

LOS ANGELES, CA, SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2019 - Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drives past Warrior
Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drives past Warriors guard Klay Thompson during third quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference quarterfinals on April 21.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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 checks his phone to find out why Jeanie Buss hasn’t called him yet.

Clippers

It’s time to face reality. The 31-point comeback by the Clippers in Game 2 was a mirage rather than a symbol of what greatness might lie ahead. Game 5 is Wednesday in the Bay Area and should put the final stopper on the Clippers season. Golden State leads 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

But, hey, it could have been worse. You could have been a Lakers fan.

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Andrew Greif takes us through what is most likely the Clippers penultimate game of the season. Here’s a look at some of what Andrew had to say.

“There was no back-slapping as they left the Staples Center court Sunday afternoon. The window of opportunity to hurt an opponent the caliber of the Warriors is minuscule. And by missing their chances, the Clippers have dug themselves into a hole that appears huge.

“Following a 113-105 loss, the Clippers trail 3-1 in their best-of-seven series. A Wednesday Game 5 at Oakland’s Oracle Arena looms.

“We wish we could get it back,” said JaMychal Green, the backup forward thrust into the starting lineup in place of Ivica Zubac. ‘I don’t know what we’d do differently but, man, we need those possessions, need to get stops and we needed this game.’

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“For stretches, it looked as though it would be theirs, with their changed lineup and youngest players the reasons why.

Patrick Beverley had frustrated Golden State’s Kevin Durant during key moments early in this series, but Green is a half-foot taller and drew the assignment from tip-off Sunday. On offense, he spent most of his time near the three-point line, dragging Warriors center Andrew Bogut out of the Clippers’ driving lanes in the process.”

Clippers playoff schedule

All times Pacific

Game 1: Warriors 121, Clippers 104

Game 2: Clippers 135, Warriors 131

Game 3: Warriors 132, Clippers 105

Game 4: Warriors 113, Clippers 105

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Wednesday, April 24, 7:30 p.m. at Golden State, TBA

*Friday, April 26, at Clippers, TBA

*Sunday, April 28, at Golden State, TBA

* if necessary.

Sunday’s NBA playoff scores

Golden State 113, at Clippers 105 (Warriors lead series 3-1)

Boston 110, at Indiana 106 (Celtics win series 4-0)

Toronto 107, at Orlando 85 (Raptors lead series 3-1)

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Portland 111, at Oklahoma City 98 (Trail Blazers lead series 3-1)

Today’s schedule

(All times Pacific)

Milwaukee at Detroit, 5 p.m. TNT (Bucks lead series 3-0)

Houston at Utah, 7:30 p.m. TNT (Rockets lead series 3-0)

NFL draft

Now, we all appreciate the big-time status of the NFL draft, which starts Thursday at 5 p.m. on the big ABC network. But, here’s my beef. It means that “Jeopardy!” won’t be on at its regular time.

It’s in the midst of this professional gambler from Las Vegas who’s making so much money that he could get his whole extended family into USC or UCLA illegally. Now, according to my channel guide, “Jeopardy!” will air later Thursday night, but it won’t be the same.

Our own Sam Farmer has a story line on the Arizona Cardinals that’s pretty darn interesting, so maybe that will make up for a delayed “Jeopardy!” Either way, it’s a must read. Check out this preview.

“The mystery now is whether the Arizona Cardinals will use the No. 1 pick on [Kyler] Murray — angling for some of that Baker Mayfield magic — and open a defense-heavy draft with a bit of offensive flash.

“If Thursday night’s first round has a pivot point, it’s right at the top. If the Cardinals take Murray, they’ll make history — no team has ever selected quarterbacks in the opening round of consecutive drafts. And if they don’t take him, it likely will prompt a quarterback-needy team to trade into the top five to get him.

“Break out the magnifying glass, because everyone is trying to Sherlock Holmes what the Cardinals are going to do. General manager Steve Keim only fueled the speculation at the scouting combine in February when asked whether Josh Rosen, the No. 10 pick last year, was Arizona’s quarterback.

“ ‘Is Josh Rosen our quarterback?’ Keim said, sounding as solid as quicksand. ‘Yeah, he is. Right now. For sure.’

“Again, a team has never spent first-round picks on quarterbacks in back-to-back drafts, although the Dallas Cowboys did take Troy Aikman first overall in 1989, then used a first-round pick on quarterback Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft three months later.

Rosen was shaky at best last season, but he played behind a patchwork offensive line, had an underwhelming cast of receivers aside from the legendary Larry Fitzgerald — who’s in the sunset of his career — and had to deal with a midseason change at offensive coordinator.”

Dodgers

Let’s look to Dodgers beat guy Jorge Castillo to sum things up perfectly.

“The Dodgers (15-9) concluded a stretch of 17 games in 17 days with a 10-7 record. They’re off Monday before beginning a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field to continue their run of 20 consecutive games against teams in the NL Central, regarded as baseball’s best division this season.”

Now, let’s get to what Jorge had to say about Sunday’s game.

“For the second time in three days, Josh Hader stood on the mound at Miller Park on Sunday a strike away from ending an inning and preserving a tie. There were two out in the top of the ninth. The Milwaukee Brewers’ star left-handed reliever had two strikes on Cody Bellinger. For so long, the result was a given.

“But two days earlier, Enrique Hernandez had bucked the numbers and smashed a go-ahead three-run home run on an 0-and-2 pitch against Hader. The blast proved Hader wasn’t automatic in any situation. There was, however, an additional layer of difficulty for Bellinger. It was a matchup of left-handers and Hader had given up only one homer to a left-handed batter in his career.

“Bellinger slugged one anyway, launching a 1-and-2 slider from Hader beyond the right-field wall for another go-ahead home run off the previously untouchable relief ace in the Dodgers’ 6-5 win.

“The homer, Bellinger’s 11th this season, wrapped up the 23-year-old slugger’s personal skills showcase. Bellinger collected three hits and walked once. He stole a base and was caught trying to steal another. He robbed Christian Yelich, the only player in the National League in his stratosphere this season, of his 14th home run and fifth of the series with a leaping grab at the wall in right field in the seventh inning. He was everywhere for the Dodgers as they won three of four from one of their fellow playoff contenders.

“’He’s just playing incredible baseball,’ Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. ‘All the way, across the board.’”

NHL playoffs

Sunday’s scores (read game stories here)

Boston 4, at Toronto 2 (Series tied 3-3.)

San Jose 2, at Vegas 1 (Series tied 3-3.)

Today’s schedule

(All times Pacific)

Washington at Carolina, 4 p.m. NBCSN (Capitals lead series 3-2)

Nashville at Dallas, 5:30 p.m. CNBC (Stars lead series 3-2)

Odds and ends

Hansel Robles employed as ‘opener,’ Angels hold on to defeat Mariners. … Bob Arum claims Al Haymon will discourage Errol Spence Jr. fight deal with white promoter. … Carlos Vela scores twice to help LAFC’s continued dominance at home. … Ferragamo brothers from Banning High become City Section Hall of Famers.

Today’s local major sport schedule

(All times Pacific)

New York Yankees at Angels, 7 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

Born on this date

1949: NBA player Spencer Haywood

1961: NFL player Jeff Hostetler

1968: NBA player Bimbo Coles

1968: NHL player Zarley Zalapski

1982: Soccer player Kaka

Died on this date

2004: NFL player Pat Tillman, 27

2010: International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch, 89

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email us here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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