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It was a heavyweight title fight without a ring, a slugfest that left both sides exhausted and spent. And those were just the fans.
In two short years the cross-town rivalry between the Galaxy and LAFC has become the best in U.S. soccer – and arguably the most passionate in Southern California in any sport. And Thursday’s first playoff game between the teams didn’t disappoint.
If anything it took the emotion up a notch with the teams combining for five second-half goals in a wild Western Conference semifinal won by LAFC, 5-3.
The win was LAFC’s first in six games against its neighbor and it sends it on to Tuesday’s conference final with the Seattle Sounders. The Galaxy, meanwhile, goes home, its first visit to the postseason in three years over after two games.
“We all knew that it was our time. It had to be the Galaxy,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said.
Carlos Vela, the team’s MVP candidate, score twice in the first half and Adama Diomande, playing his first game in a month, came off the bench to score twice in the final 31 minutes.
“Today was a big night for us,” Vela said. “I want to win the MLS. We [took] one step. We want more.”
The Galaxy got a goal and an assist from captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who may have played his last game in MLS. Ibrahimovic’s contract expires at the end of the year and, at 38, he has hinted he may be headed back to Europe.
“The whole season was like this. We scored a couple of goals but we conceded many more. That’s not how you win,” Ibrahimovic said. “That’s not the way you win championships. I think we should be disappointed.”
Is he coming back?
“We’ll see what happens.”
The Clippers scored the game’s first 14 points, overcame their own mistakes in the second quarter and received career-best performances to easily put away the Golden State Warriors, 141-122.
Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points and his nine assists tied a career high to blow up the festivities during the Warriors’ opener in their new stadium. It came four months after Leonard, then with the Toronto Raptors, wrecked the final game in their old Oakland home, Oracle Arena, by leaving with a championship trophy.
Patrick Patterson made a career-high six three-pointers to score 20 points for the Clippers.
Center Ivica Zubac, whose impact was limited to eight points and nine minutes in Tuesday’s season-opening victory over the Lakers, scored eight points in the first quarter, feasting on pick-and-roll passes from Leonard, and wound up with 16 points to go with 10 rebounds.
“One of our best players is sitting in street clothes still,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, “so clearly we’re going to get better when Paul [George] comes back. But we can’t wait either. To win the West, you have to win games.”
The Lakers had a scrimmage Thursday that allowed Rajon Rondo to test the sore calf that kept him out of the season opener Tuesday against the Clippers, but a decision on whether he plays tonight will be decided shortly before the game against the Utah Jazz.
Rondo said he “felt OK” during and after the intrasquad scrimmage.
“It’s how I recover, the tightness of my calf, how it feels in the next 24 hours,” Rondo said.
Coach Frank Vogel said Rondo looked “really good” and “fresher than everybody else” during the scrimmage. Vogel also said Rondo had a “bounce in his step” while on the court.
Breaking down the on-field matchups for USC (4-3, 3-1) and Colorado (3-4, 1-3) for the game Friday at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo., at 6 p.m. PDT. (TV: ESPN2, Radio: 790.)
USC cornerback Olaijah Griffin vs. Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. Shenault had the makings of a first-round NFL draft pick before injuries slowed him down this season. But the top Colorado wideout appears to be healthy again, just as USC’s top corner also returns with a clean bill of health. After dealing with back issues, Griffin made his eagerness to return known, especially with a huge test like Shenault on tap. This should be one of the better cornerback-receiver battles in the conference this season.
USC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
All times Pacific. Radio: 790 KABC
USC 31, Fresno State 23
USC 45, Stanford 20
at BYU 30, USC 27 (OT)
at USC 30, Utah 23
at Washington 28, USC 14
at Notre Dame 30, USC 27
at USC 41, Arizona 14
Tonight at Colorado, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Nov. 2 vs. Oregon, 5 p.m., Fox
Nov. 9 at Arizona State, TBD
Nov. 16 at California, TBD
Nov. 23 vs. UCLA, TBD
UCLA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
All times Pacific. Radio: AM 1150
at Cincinnati 24, UCLA 14
San Diego State 23, at UCLA 14
Oklahoma 48, at UCLA 14
UCLA 67, at Washington State 63
at Arizona 20, UCLA 17
Oregon State 48, at UCLA 31
UCLA 34, at Stanford 16
Saturday vs. Arizona State, 4:30 p.m., Pac-12 network
Nov. 2 vs. Colorado, 6 p.m., Pac-12 network
Nov. 16 at Utah, TBD
Nov. 23 at USC, TBD
Nov. 30 vs. California, TBD
Alex Pietrangelo and Robert Thomas scored goals in a two-minute span of the second period and the St. Louis Blues came back to beat the Kings 5-2.
Brayden Schenn scored twice, including an empty-netter, and Vince Dunn also scored for the Blues, who went 3 for 4 on the power play against a Kings penalty kill that had stopped 16 of their previous 17 attempts. Jaden Schwartz and Colton Parayko each had a pair of assists for the Blues and Jordan Binnington made 33 saves.
Jeff Carter and Alex Iafallo scored for the Kings and Jonathan Quick made 30 saves.
Denis Gurianov ended a personal scoring drought with two goals in the first period and the Dallas Stars beat the Ducks 2-1. Gurianov hadn’t scored in 26 games since his first NHL goal on Nov. 18, 2018.
The Ducks pulled within 2-1 on a power-play goal by Max Comtois at 4:31 of the second period. The puck came to him in front of the goal and he settled the puck from a skate to his stick for his first goal this season, the third of his career.
It was only the second Ducks goal in 26 power plays this season.
John Gibson stopped 27 shots for Anaheim.
The Angels officially introduced Joe Maddon as their new manager on Thursday.
Eight days after agreeing to an three-year contract that will pay him $12 million to manage the Angels, Joe Maddon stood on a dais in the middle of the diamond at Angel Stadium and told the assembled group of former Angels, current players and team employees and sponsors that he did not intend to be idle during future playoffs. The Angels last won a postseason game in 2009 and have only played three meaningful games in October since.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it: . . . My goal is to be playing,” Maddon said of the postseason. “I don’t like watching this crap on TV right now. I don’t like it. It’s much more fun to be involved. Much more fun to be under the scrutiny, much more fun to be second-guessed than to not.”
Although major league records were set for home runs and strikeouts again in 2019, Maddon hopes an emphasis on contact, baserunning and defense — and effective pitching — will produce a more exciting brand of baseball.
“I want us to reestablish our identity here,” Maddon said. “While we’re playing the analytical game, I want us also to play the Angels’ game.”
Bill Plaschke on the Angels: On a makeshift stage set directly on top of the mound where Tyler Skaggs threw the final pitches of his life, the Angels tried to move on.
Under a blinding midday sun Thursday, they joyfully announced longtime former coach Joe Maddon as their new manager.
“I’m really excited to start a new era in Angels baseball,” owner Arte Moreno said.
Standing in front of the visitors’ dugout with the news conference completed and shadows approaching, Moreno turned somber.
“Somewhere hopefully, there will be a conclusion where they can rest more peacefully, everybody,’’ he said. “It’s a tough deal.”
And so on a day in which they hoped for a home run, the Angels remained stuck in a rundown.
The party to celebrate the hiring of Maddon, 65, a former Angels lifer who led the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series championship in 108 years, could mark the first steps in their journey back toward greatness.
The Houston Astros fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman after an investigation with Major League Baseball concluded that he directed inappropriate comments at female reporters during the team’s postgame clubhouse celebration Saturday.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the decision to fire him was made “unilaterally” before MLB made any recommendations on discipline.
In an Sports Illustrated article published online Monday, Taubman was alleged to have repeatedly shouted at three female reporters, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so [expletive] glad we got Osuna!”
Taubman was referring to Roberto Osuna, the Astros’ closer. The team traded for Osuna last season as he completed a 75-game suspension for allegedly assaulting the mother of his child months earlier. One of the women Taubman yelled at was wearing a purple bracelet for domestic violence awareness. She also regularly tweeted phone numbers for domestic violence awareness hot lines when Osuna pitched.
Shortly after the article appeared on Sports Illustrated’s website, the Astros asserted Taubman’s behavior was misconstrued and accused the reporter, Stephanie Apstein, of fabricating the story. On Thursday, the Astros apologized in a statement before Luhnow conducted a news conference at Nationals Park.
“Our initial investigation led us to believe that Brandon Taubman’s inappropriate comments were not directed toward any reporter,” the statement read. “We were wrong. We sincerely apologize to Stephanie Apstein, Sports Illustrated and to all individuals who witnessed this incident or were offended by the inappropriate conduct. The Astros in no way intended to minimize the issues related to domestic violence.”
WORLD SERIES SCHEDULE
All times Pacific. All games on Fox.
Game 1: Washington 5, at Houston 4
Game 2: Washington 12, at Houston 3
Game 3: Today, Houston at Washington, 5 p.m.
Game 4: Saturday, Houston at Washington, 5 p.m.
Game 5*: Sunday, Houston at Washington, 5 p.m.
Game 6*: Tuesday, Washington at Houston, 5 p.m.
Game 7*: Wednesday, Washington at Houston, 5 p.m.
TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE
All times Pacific
Utah at Lakers, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, ESPN, 710 ESPN
USC at Colorado, 6 p.m., ESPN2, 790 KABC
BORN ON THIS DATE
1904: Golfer Denny Shute (d. 1974)
1912: Kings, Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke (d. 1997)
1917: Baseball executive Lee MacPhail (d. 2012)
1923: Baseball player Bobby Thomson (d. 2010)
1939: Basketball player Zelmo Beaty (d. 2013)
1940: Basketball coach Bobby Knight
1948: Wrestler Dan Gable
1948: Basketball player Dan Issel
1948: Basketball player Dave Cowens
1950: Football player John Matuszak
1954: Hockey player Mike Eruzione
1958: Swimmer Kornelia Ender
1971: Baseball player Pedro Martinez
1993: Golfer Xander Schauffele
DIED ON THIS DATE
1910: Golfer Willie Anderson, 31
1973: Distance runner Abebe Bikila, 41
1995: Tennis player Bobby Riggs, 77
1999: Golfer Payne Stewart, 42
2013: Former Lakers player/coach Bill Sharman, 87
Miracle on Ice, 35 years later, with Mike Eruzione. Watch it here.
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