The Sports Report: Clippers even series with dominant win

The Sports Report: Clippers even series with dominant win

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

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: The dunk heard across the NBA began Monday with two dribbles and violent intentions.

Standing at the free-throw line, Utah’s Royce O’Neale crouched in front of him, Kawhi Leonard ripped the ball from the right side of his body to his left. By his first dribble, he had a step on O’Neale. By his second, he spotted 6-foot-9 Derrick Favors rushing in front of the rim to help.

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Leonard elevated as if propelled by trampoline, his right wrist hanging over the rim, and Favors, before pushing the ball through with such force it appeared he was trying to end this second-round playoff series right then and there during the second quarter of Game 4.

The restricted-capacity crowd at Staples Center erupted. Favors ducked out of the way. Leonard paused a beat, staring in the center’s direction, before running up court. Across the country, Philadelphia center Joel Embiid stopped what he was saying while eyeing a television monitor and answering a question during his postgame videoconference in Atlanta.

“Oh my God,” Embiid said. “See that Kawhi dunk?”

Kawhi Leonard dunks over Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors late in the first half.

Kawhi Leonard dunks over Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors late in the first half.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

One play rarely changes a playoff series. But it embodied the way this version of the Clippers — the one that topped Utah in a second consecutive rout, 118-104 on Monday, that evens this best-of-seven series at two games apiece — seems to have hit a different gear as it attempts to reach the unprecedented heights of its first conference final appearance.

Leonard and George each had 31 points. George and Leonard have now scored at least 20 points in every game this postseason, joining Jerry West and Elgin Baylor (1962) as well as Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (2003) as the only teammates in NBA history to score at least 20-plus in 11 consecutive postseason games.

Only days after arriving in Los Angeles with a 2-0 lead, Utah returns to Salt Lake City hoping starting point guard Mike Conley, who has missed each game with a hamstring strain, can return and inject scoring and variety into an offense that has been figured out by Clippers coach Tyronn Lue.

For a second consecutive game, the Donovan Mitchell-led the Jazz received precious little from anyone else. The Clippers ran a second defender at Mitchell, the guard with running-back hips and balance, but by the second quarter’s opening seconds, Utah trailed by 20. It was the rare first quarter where the Clippers held an advantage, something they had discussed for days but rarely been able to produce.

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Kawhi Leonard named to NBA all-defense team for seventh time

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DODGERS

Los Angeles Dodgers' Chris Taylor watches his solo home run during the fifth inning.

Chris Taylor homers in the fifth inning.

(Associated Press)

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Bill Shaikin on the Dodgers: Can the 2021 Dodgers repeat as World Series champions, or might they be excused from the playoffs after one round too? You could find reasons to support either proposition in Monday’s 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Dodgers posted their sixth victory in seven games. They joined the San Francisco Giants as the only National League team with 40 wins.

The Dodgers still trail San Francisco by one game, but they have opened a three-game lead on the third-place San Diego Padres. The Dodgers and Padres play three games next week at Petco Park, and whatever urgency there might be in June will not be on the Dodgers’ side.

Will Smith hit a home run, and so did Chris Taylor. The Dodgers won a game in which Mookie Betts, Gavin Lux and Justin Turner were hitless and Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Corey Seager were out with injuries.

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Other than the home runs, though, the Dodgers were one-hit. The Dodgers had two chances with runners in scoring position; they went 0 for 2.

The most pressing concern was Tony Gonsolin, who has made two starts this season and struggled mightily with his control in both.

In his first start, Gonsolin faced 12 batters, walking five and getting five outs. On Monday, he faced 18 batters, walking three and getting 11 outs.

Progress, to be sure, but throwing 81 pitches and failing to survive the fourth inning is problematic.

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As Dodger Stadium returns to full capacity, a final ode to the fake fans

ANGELS

Angels manager Joe Maddon removes Dylan Bundy from Monday's game.

Angels manager Joe Maddon removes Dylan Bundy from Monday’s game.

(Associated Press)

Mike DiGiovanna on the Angels: The spin rates on all five of Dylan Bundy’s pitches — fastball, changeup, curve, sinker and slider — were down Monday night. So was the velocity of the Angels right-hander’s four-seam fastball, from his season average of 91.4 mph to 89.5 mph.

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The crooked numbers on the Oakland Coliseum scoreboard and the unsightly numbers in Bundy’s pitching line were reflective of his diminished stuff.

Bundy was rocked for seven earned runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings, digging an early hole for the Angels in an eventual 8-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics, snapping the Angels’ six-game win streak.

David Fletcher and Jose Iglesias each had four hits to lead the Angels’ 14-hit attack, but their comeback attempts fizzled when Justin Upton struck out with two on to end the seventh and Jared Walsh struck out with two on to end the eighth, both hitters representing the potential tying run.

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MLB crackdown on foreign substances could revive Bubba Harkins’ case, his attorney says

LAKERS

LeBron James won't be wearing this number next season.

LeBron James won’t be wearing this number next season.

(Associated Press)

Dan Woike on the Lakers: LeBron James will continue to chase Michael Jordan’s legacy next season, but he’ll do it without the iconic No. 23 on his chest and back.

The Lakers announced James would change his jersey to No. 6 next season, a return to the number he wore in his seasons with the Miami Heat.

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James originally intended to change jersey numbers after the Lakers added Anthony Davis — who wore No. 23 with New Orleans then switched to No. 3, which he’ll keep — but issues with a league-wide deadline and pre-printed Nike jerseys with James’ name and number forced the delay.

GOLF

Phil Mickelson reads a putt for NFL player Tom Brady.

Phil Mickelson, left, and Tom Brady on the course in 2020.

(Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

Sam Farmer on golf: Phil Mickelson made history three weeks ago, with the 50-year-old becoming the oldest man to win one of golf’s major championships.

In February, at age 43, Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady became the oldest person to play in (and win) a Super Bowl.

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The two are friends and golf partners, and Monday in meeting with reporters before this week’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Mickelson said the seven-time Super Bowl winner has been an inspiration to him.

“I’ve been fortunate to spend time with him, and when I’m around him I learn a lot,” said Mickelson, who was paired with Brady last year in a made-for-TV charity match in which they lost to Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning.

“I learn a lot by just watching and observing the dedication, the hard work. When we would go play at Augusta and he’d stay at the cottages, he would be up hours before we played. He would go to the gym and do a bunch of band work for an hour just getting his shoulders and knees and hips and everything firing and activated.”

WHAT TO DO WITH EVERYTHING OPEN

Some Southern California sports fans and recreation enthusiasts are bound to jump right in. Others will exercise caution. But just about everyone will enjoy an activity on the June 15 statewide reopening, or shortly thereafter, that has been unavailable since the pandemic shutdown began in early 2020.

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Whether it’s taking in a game packed to full capacity at Dodger Stadium, tailgating at a USC or UCLA football game, or joining the thundering herd at the L.A. Marathon, the second half of 2021 promises moments we missed for more than a year.

Steve Henson lists some options for spectators and participants alike.

NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

SECOND ROUND
All times Pacific

WESTERN CONFERENCE

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No. 1 Utah vs. No. 4 Clippers
Utah 112, Clippers 109
Utah 117, Clippers 111
Clippers 132, Utah 106
Clippers 118, Utah 104
Wednesday: at Utah, 7 p.m., TNT
Friday: at Clippers, 7 p.m., ESPN
*Sunday: at Utah, TBD, TBD

No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets
Phoenix 122, Denver 105
Phoenix 123, Denver 98
Phoenix 116, Denver 102
Phoenix 125, Denver 118

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Philadelphia vs. No. 5 Atlanta
Atlanta 128, Philadelphia 124
Philadelphia 118, Atlanta 102
Philadelphia 127, Atlanta 111
Atlanta 103, Philadelphia 100
Wednesday: at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m., TNT
Friday: at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
*Sunday: at Philadelphia, TBD, TBD

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No. 2 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks
Brooklyn 115, Milwaukee 107
Brooklyn 125, Milwaukee 86
Milwaukee 86, Brooklyn 83
Milwaukee 107, Brooklyn 96
Today: at Brooklyn, 5:30 p.m., TNT
Thursday: at Milwaukee, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
*Saturday: at Brooklyn, TBD, TNT

NHL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS
All times Pacific

No. 1 Vegas vs. No. 4 Montreal

Vegas 4, Montreal 1
Wednesday: at Vegas, 6 p.m., NBCSN
Friday: at Montreal, 5 p.m., USA
Sunday: at Montreal, 5 p.m.: NBCSN
*Tuesday, June 22: at Vegas, 6 p.m., NBCSN
*Thursday, June 24: at Montreal, 5 p.m., USA
*Saturday, June 26: at Vegas, 5 p.m., NBCSN

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No. 2 Tampa Bay vs. No. 3 New York Islanders

New York 2, Tampa Bay 1
Tuesday: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Thursday: at New York, 5 p.m., USA
Saturday: at New York, 5 p.m., USA
*Monday: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBCSN
*Wednesday, June 23: at New York, 5 p.m., NBCSN
*Friday, June 25: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBCSN

*-if necessary

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1901 — Willie Anderson edges Alex Smith by one stroke in a playoff to take the U.S. Open.

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1938 — Johnny Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds pitches his second straight no-hit game, defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers 6-0 in the first night game played at Ebbets Field.

1947 — Lew Worsham beats Sam Snead by one stroke on the final hole of a playoff to win the U.S. Open.

1957 — Dick Mayer beats defending champion Cary Middlecoff by seven strokes in a playoff to win the U.S. Open.

1969 — Orville Moody shoots a 281 to beat Deane Beman, Al Geiberger and Bob Rosburg by one stroke and capture the U.S. Open.

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1970 — Shirley Englehorn wins the LPGA championship with a four-stroke victory over Kathy Whitworth in the playoff round.

1980 — Jack Nicklaus wins his fourth U.S. Open with a record 272 for 72 holes.

1985 — Pinklon Thomas knocks out Mike Weaver in the eighth round to defend his World Boxing Council heavyweight title at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

1986 — Ray Floyd, 43, beats Chip Beck and Lanny Wadkins by two strokes to become the oldest golfer to win the U.S. Open. It is Floyd’s fourth and final major victory.

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1991 — Carl Lewis, one jump away from losing his 64-meet winning streak in the long jump, comes through with a dramatic victory when he soars 28 feet, 4¼ inches to pass leader Mike Powell by a half-inch in the U.S. Championships in New York.

1996 — Roy Jones Jr. completes a unique doubleheader, successfully defending his IBF super middleweight title after playing in a pro basketball game. Jones stops Eric Lucas in the 11th round after scoring five points in a United States Basketball League game in the afternoon, helping the Jacksonville Barracudas beat Treasure Coast 107-94.

1997 — Ernie Els wins his second U.S. Open championship in four years, finishing one stroke ahead of Colin Montgomerie. Els has the shot of the day on the 480-yard 17th hole when he hits a 5-iron from 212 yards to just 12 feet on the peninsula green.

2001 — The Lakers beat Philadelphia 108-96 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to complete the best playoff run in NBA history. The Lakers, who finish the playoffs with a record of 15-1, are the first to go through the playoffs undefeated on the road.

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2003 — Jim Furyk wins his first major championship and put his name in the record books, matching the lowest 72-hole score in the 103 years of the U.S. Open. Furyk closes with a 2-over 72 to win by three shots over Stephen Leaney of Australia.

2004 — Detroit beats the Lakers 100-87 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals for the Pistons’ first championship in 14 years.

2008 — Down to his last stroke at Torrey Pines, Tiger Woods sinks a 12-foot birdie putt to force an 18-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate for the U.S. Open. They finish at 1-under 283, the first time since 2004 that someone breaks par in a U.S. Open.

2011 — The Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1972, beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in Game 7 of the finals.

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2014 — Martin Kaymer of Germany wins the U.S. Open after four days of dominance at Pinehurst No. 2. Kaymer finishes with an eight-shot victory over Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton and becomes the seventh player in the 114 years of the U.S. Open to go wire-to-wire.

2014 — The San Antonio Spurs win their fifth NBA championship, beating the Miami Heat 104-87 to win the series in five games.

2015 — Chicago’s Duncan Keith scores in the second period and directs a dominant defense that shuts down Tampa Bay’s high-scoring attack, and the Blackhawks beat the Lightning 2-0 in Game 6 for their third NHL title in the past six seasons.

And finally

The Lakers defeat the Philadelphia 76ers to win the 2000-01 NBA title. Watch it here.

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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.