The Sports Report: Minus five key players, Clippers fall to the Suns

Clippers guard Amir Coffey shoots over Eric Gordon in the second half.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

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

From Broderick Turner: The Clippers’ injury report listed Kawhi Leonard as out with right knee inflammation, the sixth consecutive game the All-Star forward has missed, which led to Coach Ty Lue being asked if his best player’s injury could bleed into the playoffs.

“No, not at as of right now,” Lue said before the Clippers ran out of steam during their 124-108 loss to the Phoenix Suns in a rematch Wednesday night at Arena.

The Clippers have two regular-season games left before the postseason starts on April 20, so at some point they hope to be whole with Leonard back in the lineup.


They were nowhere near that in this back-to-back game against the same Suns the Clippers beat in Phoenix on Tuesday night.

The Clippers had to make it happen without Paul George (left knee soreness), James Harden (right foot inflammation), Russell Westbrook (left hand contusion) and center Ivica Zubac (left ankle inflammation).

Clippers look ahead to playoffs after win over Suns that encapsulates their season

So, it was left up to starters Amir Coffey, P.J. Tucker, Mason Plumlee, Terance Mann and Bones Hyland to hold it down.

“They competed, they scrapped, they played hard and had a chance,” Lue said. “Then down the stretch the game got away from them. Couldn’t make a shot. I think the guys got tired. I think Bones played the whole second half, along with Brandon (Boston Jr.). But overall, I thought they did a good job.”

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From Jack Harris: Dino Ebel waved his arm. Shohei Ohtani churned his legs.

For a brief moment, as Ohtani barreled toward the plate, trying to score a tying run from first base, it seemed like the Dodgers’ two-way star would make it.

Instead, in the defining moment of the team’s 3-2 loss at Target Field on Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins’ defense turned a picture-perfect relay play.


“That’s as clean as it gets,” said Ebel, the Dodgers’ third-base coach. “They made a perfect throw.”

When the juggernaut Dodgers (10-5) lose games this year, it likely will often be because they get beat on the margins.

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José Caballero homered, Tampa Bay scored two runs on a wild pitch in the first inning, and the Rays wrapped up their road trip with a 4-2 victory over the Angels on Wednesday.

Zack Littell gave up just one run despite giving up six hits and three walks while pitching into the fifth inning for Tampa Bay, which won four of five after losing the first game of the trip at Colorado last week.

Jo Adell homered and Zach Neto had an RBI single for the Angels, who have lost three of four. They have also lost three of their first four series this season after closing out this 2-4 homestand.

Mike Trout doubled, singled and walked after homering in each of his previous three games, but he finished the game in the on-deck circle when Mickey Moniak struck out with a runner on base. Moniak and Angels manager Ron Washington were visibly furious about two called strikes earlier in the at-bat, with Washington stepping onto the field to voice his displeasure.

“I don’t know if it was a consistent issue throughout the day,” Washington said. “When you got two strikes, you got to try to battle. But I do think in that ninth inning, he must have had a flight that he was missing, because that’s exactly the way he called the game. He called that game like he had somewhere to go. Didn’t take into account that we’re fighting to try to win a game. I thought he had somewhere to go, ’cause that was ridiculous.”

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Angels box score

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From Mike DiGiovanna: One of the most celebrated players in Angels history is so estranged from the club that he believes there is only one possible path toward reconciliation:

“If they sold the team,” Rod Carew said on Wednesday.

The Hall-of-Fame first baseman, now 78, is so fed up with the Angels — namely owner Arte Moreno and team president John Carpino — that he considered asking Major League Baseball if he could order the removal of all references to him in the stadium, including his retired No. 29, any murals and video clips, and the statue of his daughter, Michelle, who was 18 when she died of leukemia in 1996.


“I was going to put it in my backyard,” Carew said of the bronze bust of his daughter and her pet dog, which was dedicated as part of the Michelle Carew community courtyard in 1999. “But it’s about the fans seeing those things and saying, ‘Oh, he was here once,’ so I decided against it.”

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From Ryan Kartje: After seriously considering another trip to the transfer portal, standout defensive tackle Bear Alexander says he’s staying at USC.

“I’m not crystal clear on all of the noise or what any of this portal mess is about,” Alexander said Wednesday on social media. “I’m here to finish what I started and that’s chasing a natty here at USC with my teammates #FightOn.”

That didn’t appear to be the plan Tuesday, as word spread of Alexander’s intention to enter the portal a second time after one season at USC. Schools like Texas already were circling. But by the next morning, Alexander’s plans had changed.

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From Thuc Nhi Nguyen: Freshman guard Isaiah Collier is planning to enter the NBA draft, ESPN reported Wednesday, leaving USC‘s roster almost completely bare as new head coach Eric Musselman takes over.

Even before Musselman’s hire, Collier’s return seemed unlikely as he was projected as a first-round draft pick. The 6-foot-5 point guard was the No. 1 overall recruit and averaged 16.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while being named to the Pac-12 all-freshman team. The speedy guard was considered a potential No. 1 pick early in the season before suffering a broken hand that kept him out for four weeks, which coincided with a six-game losing streak for the Trojans.

Without Collier, USC is set to lose its top nine scorers and 10 of the 11 scholarship players who saw significant minutes. Harrison Hornery, who averaged 3.3 points per game in 26 appearances, will be USC’s leading returning scorer. The Trojans may also be without any incoming freshmen as all three of the program’s high school signees asked out of the national letters of intent and opened up their recruitment after the coaching change.

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From Sam Farmer: Rory McIlroy is a green jacket away from a career grand slam, something only five players have done in the history of golf. But each year, the Masters has eluded him. He has seven top-10 finishes in the tournament, including second in 2022, yet each year has been denied.

Maybe he’s trying too hard.

“This golf course gets you to chase things a little more than other golf courses if you make a bogey or get yourself out of position,” said McIlroy, 34, among the favorites in the 2024 Masters, which begins Thursday. “Because it always tempts you to do something you think you can do.”


It’s important to remember, he said this week, that the Masters is a 72-hole golf tournament and you cannot win it from the first tee shot.

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1936 — The Detroit Red Wings win the NHL Stanley Cup with a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

1963 — Milwaukee Braves future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn beats NY Mets, 6-1 for his 328th win; most by a left-hander in MLB history.

1965 — Jack Nicklaus shoots a record 271 and wins the Masters golf tournament by nine strokes over Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

1966 — Jack Nicklaus wins his third Masters and becomes the first to win in consecutive years as he shoots a 70 in an 18-hole playoff to beat Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer.


1966 — Emmett Ashford becomes first African American major league baseball umpire.

1976 — Ray Floyd shoots a record-tying 271 to win the Masters by eight strokes over Ben Crenshaw.

1981 — Larry Holmes beats Trevor Berbick in a 15-round unanimous decision to retain his world heavyweight title in Las Vegas.

1982 — Craig Stadler beats Dan Pohl in a sudden-death playoff to take the Masters.

1983 — Spain’s Seve Ballesteros wins the Masters by four shots over Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw.

1989 — Ron Hextall scores his second career goal and becomes the first goalie to connect for a playoff goal, and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 8-5.

1993 — Bernhard Langer of Germany wraps up his second Masters title with a 20-foot eagle putt on No. 13. Langer posts a four-stroke win over Chip Beck with an 11-under 277.

2004 — Phil Mickelson’s agonizing pursuit of a major ends at the Masters when he makes an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, ending a spectacular back-nine duel with Ernie Els.


2007 — Roberto Luongo sets an NHL record for saves in a first career playoff start, making 72 in Vancouver’s 5-4 quadruple-overtime win over Dallas.

2010 — Phil Mickelson wins his third Masters title, shooting a 5-under 67 to pull away for a three-stroke win over Lee Westwood.

2014 — Stephen Curry has 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and Golden State clinches a playoff berth with a 112-95 win over the Lakers. The Lakers set a franchise low with the 54th loss of their miserable season. The 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers lost 53 times in their 72-game season. These Lakers would finish 27-55.

2021 — 85th Masters: Hideki Matsuyama become first Japanese male to win a golf major; hangs on to beat American Will Zalatoris by 1 stroke.

Compiled by the Associated Press

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