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Dodgers lose as Cubs throw a combined no-hitter

Daily News - 1 ora 44 min fa

LOS ANGELES ― The season of the no-hitter came to Dodger Stadium.

The Chicago Cubs beat the Dodgers 4-0 on Thursday night, as Zach Davies and three relievers combined on the seventh no-hitter of the 2021 season. It was the 10th no-hitter thrown against the Dodgers since the franchise relocated from Brooklyn in 1958.

Davies threw six innings and struck out four batters. Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel threw the final three innings, respectively, each walking one batter along the way. The Dodgers drew eight walks in all but never threatened to score. Even their hardest-hit outs – three balls left the bat faster than 100 mph – were of little strain on the Cubs’ defense.

Coincidentally, the Cubs were the last team to hold the Dodgers without a hit. Jake Arrieta completed the task on Aug. 30, 2015 at Dodger Stadium.

The 2021 season is not yet halfway over, yet the seven no-hitters match the most thrown in any year since 1900.

“How we lost it, getting no-hit at home, is obviously frustrating for everyone,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “As an offense, earning eight walks was certainly a positive. Walking more than striking out over the course of a night is positive. Overall, we didn’t do a good job of executing a game plan. We know Davies. We’ve seen him.”

The Dodgers (44-31) suffered their fourth consecutive loss before the announced crowd of 52,175. Their offense had been slumping recently, scoring only seven runs en route to a three-game sweep at the hands of the San Diego Padres before returning home Thursday.

For a team with ambitions of defending its World Series title, however, this was a new low.

“I don’t think they were very good as a whole,” outfielder Mookie Betts said of the Dodgers’ at-bats. “We mixed in a couple. As a whole, I don’t think we had very good at-bats. You have to tip your cap to the Cubs for pitching a great game.”

Betts returned to the Dodgers’ lineup after missing Wednesday’s game due to illness. The Dodgers’ 75th game of the season was only their 10th with Betts, Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy in the same lineup. On this night, injuries were no excuse.

Davies, a 28-year-old right-hander, kept the Dodgers off-balance with his usual assortment of sinkers, changeups, cutters and curveballs. He threw 94 pitches, none faster than 88 mph.

“Concentrating on every pitch, knowing that even though I walk a guy here and there, getting the next hitter is important,” Davies said. “Just staying mentally prepared and locked in is key, especially against a club like the Dodgers. The defense always shows you that they’re there for you, and they’ll take care of everything you throw at them.”

Chafin said “the whole bullpen” had no idea a no-hitter was in progress when he entered the game. He did not realize the significance until he saw a graphic on a television screen in the visitors’ clubhouse displaying the record for no-hitters in a season.

“I would’ve thrown the same stuff anyways,” Chafin said. “I go out there with my approach, and that’s what it’s going to be regardless.”

The game ended when Kimbrel struck out Bellinger, Albert Pujols and Will Smith after walking Chris Taylor to begin the ninth inning.

Dodgers starter Walker Buehler pitched well enough to win on a typical night. He allowed only one run over the first five innings, a first-inning home run by Javier Baez. The Cubs did not get another hit against Buehler until Anthony Rizzo blooped a single into right field in the fourth inning.

The 1-0 score held into the sixth inning. Kris Bryant led off with a walk. Buehler recorded the next two outs, and got ahead of catcher Willson Contreras, but paid dearly for a fastball down the middle of the plate. Contreras slugged it over the left-field fence for his 13th home run of the season, giving the Cubs a 3-0 lead.

Buehler finished the inning but was replaced by David Price to begin the seventh. All three runs he allowed scored as the result of home runs. The right-hander struck out six batters and walked two.

“A couple mistakes in there,” Roberts said of Buehler, “but to go six innings and to give up three runs – it sounds like I keep saying it every night where one of our starters gives us a chance to win – we’ve got to find a way to hold up our end, to score some runs.”

With Price on the mound, the Cubs nearly turned the game into a blowout.

Jason Heyward reached on a throwing error and went to third base on an infield single by Eric Sogard on first. Cubs manager David Ross then made the debatable decision to replace Davies with pinch hitter Jake Marisnick, ending Davies’ bid for a complete game no-hitter.

The decision paid off. Marisnick delivered a run-scoring single, giving the Cubs a 4-0 cushion. Price hit the next batter, Joc Pederson, and was quickly replaced by right-hander Phil Bickford. Price faced four batters in all and did not record an out.

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Bickford inherited a bases-loaded, no-outs situation but impressively worked out of the jam without allowing a run. He struck out Bryant, then retired Baez on an inning-ending double play, recording two outs on five pitches.

The seven no-hitters this season do not include a seven-inning complete game performance by Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner in April. The Braves did not record a hit against Bumgarner in that game, which was shortened to seven innings because it was part of a doubleheader.

The game ended with the Cubs streaming out of the first base dugout, joining Contreras and Kimbrel in a group hug on the mound.

For the Dodgers, bouncing back from a no-hitter is no different than any other defeat, Betts said.

“We play 162 games,” he said. “You’re going to have games like this throughout the year. You wake up tomorrow and play another game.”

Man leads police on pursuit on LAX runway

Daily News - 2 ore 2 min fa

A man was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday, June 24, after breaching a fence and leading police on a pursuit.

The man, driving a four-door car with what appeared to be the letters “SOS” written on the hood, breached a fence at the FedEx cargo facility near the 5900 block of West Imperial Highway, according to reports from the scene.

The man led police on a brief pursuit on the runway before being taken into custody. The man’s name was not immediately released.

A portion of the runway was closed as Los Angeles Airport Police officers investigated, CBS2 reported.

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Te’a Cooper scores a career-high 26 to lead Sparks victory

Daily News - 2 ore 7 min fa

The Sparks used their signature defensive intensity and avenged their blowout loss two weeks ago to the Washington Mystics with an 89-82 victory Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Along with their stellar defense, they got impressive offensive nights from guard Te’a Cooper and forward Amanda Zahui B.

Coming off the bench, Cooper led the Sparks (6-7) with a career-high 26. Zahui B. bounced back after a couple tough outings with 17 points and five rebounds while helping to contain the WNBA’s leading scorer, Tina Charles.

Guard Leilani Mitchell led the Mystics (7-7) with 26 points. Charles matched her season scoring average with 25 points while securing 10 rebounds.

Los Angeles started the game with length to combat Charles and company, giving center Kristine Angiwe her first start of the season. After the Sparks fell behind 8-0, coach Derek Fisher summoned Cooper off the bench just three minutes into the game.

She delivered.

The second-year player notched eight points in the first quarter alone to bring the Sparks within striking distance at 23-17 before rallying for a 32-21 second quarter and a five-point halftime lead.

Washington came committing just the third-most turnovers in the league at 12.2 per game, but the Sparks created 33 points off 21 Mystic turnovers.

The Sparks also blocked six shots, three from Zahui B., including a possible game-tying three from Charles. The Sparks crowd rocked after the block and subsequent shot-clock violation.

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Both teams played short-handed. The Mystics had five players injured while the Sparks were without Nneka and Chiney Oguwmike. Kristi Toliver left the game in the fourth quarter after taking a shot to the face and did not return.

Since the teams met two weeks ago, they’ve trended in opposite directions. Before Thursday, the Sparks had lost four of their last five while the Mystics were on a three-game winning streak.

More to come on this story.

Whicker: It’s Ivica Zubac’s turn to set tone for Clippers, masters of Game 3

Daily News - 2 ore 26 min fa

If there is a road to the NBA Finals for the Clippers, it runs through the paint.

They bounced back Thursday night for various reasons, one of which was the inexplicable stupor of the Phoenix Suns, who didn’t seem aware of the Clippers’ Game 3 resurrections. The Clippers were quicker to the loose balls and the rebounds throughout this 106-92 win, even though they had their usual spasm of turnovers, and in the end, Reggie Jackson again made all the shots that mattered.

But the Clippers also decided to make the game difficult for Suns center Deandre Ayton, who had played unfettered basketball through the first two series and the first two games of this one. And they did that by playing center Ivica Zubac, the victim of the new 6-foot-8-and-under basketball ethic in recent games.

Zubac got to the foul line eight times and made seven of those shots in the first quarter, which was seven more than Phoenix managed. That helped the Clippers lead by eight.

In the third quarter, Zubac made an extraordinary catch on a lob pass to get back to the foul line, and then he got a dunk off Paul George’s pass, which resulted in a 66-56 lead.

Overall Zubac had 15 points in 32½ minutes, 10 free-throw attempts, two blocked shots and 16 rebounds. Ayton shot 9 for 13 from the field, which is almost myopic for him, and had 18 points and nine rebounds.

If the center matchup is that close, that’s a big win for the Clippers, and if you like plus-minus, Zubac was plus-28 and Ayton was minus-25.

He might not play 32 minutes in the next two games, for all we know. He also got criticized for being on the wrong side of Ayton during the last-second “Valley-Oop” that gave Phoenix Game 2, although the surgical accuracy of Jae Crowder’s pass was the real problem for the Clippers.

But in this game, Zubac fought Ayton on the lobs from Chris Paul and Devin Booker, and he pushed the future All-Star out of comfortable spots.

“That combination of Zu and Pat Beverley is unbelievable,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Starting them together has been a big change for our defense. Pat can come from behind and block your shot. I’m happy for those guys to finally get their moment. For them not to play that much in the first two series, and then come in there and play like this, is unbelievable.

“We just haven’t played big in a long time, so Zu had to get his rhythm. He got a better feel for the game as it went along.”

Beverley’s presence allowed Lue to relieve George of the defensive burdens outside, especially when Beverley and Mann could check Paul and Booker. It also became easier when Cam Payne, the backup point guard who has been an insoluble problem so far, turned his ankle. That meant Paul had to play nearly 39 minutes in his first game after he entered the COVID-19 protocols, a sight that was so encouraging to the Suns that they spent much of the second half watching him instead of moving.

Paul was 5 for 19 from the field. Booker, who broke his nose when he was head-butted by Beverley in Game 2, was 5 for 21 and had to fight foul trouble. Rest assured that Booker will not be wearing a plastic face shield as a preventive measure whenever his nose heals. He was visibly uncomfortable with it. Maybe the Clippers should ask Sacramento to enforce a mask mandate for Game 4.

The Suns were 10 for 32 from the 3-point line, shot 38.9 percent overall, got outrebounded by nine, had only 10 fast-break points, shot 11 fewer foul shots than the Clippers, and probably played their worst game of the postseason so far.

Again, this is likely an aberration. If not, the Clippers can tie the best-of-seven series on Saturday night and reinforce what seems a bottomless belief system.

With injured All-Star Kawhi Leonard sitting in a Staples Center box, the Clippers got their usual variety pack of contributions. Marcus Morris got a special commendation from Lue for playing almost 24 minutes on his bad knee. Luke Kennard hit two 3-pointers, including a corner shot that stopped a Phoenix run and pushed a seven-point lead back to 10.

When Booker’s drive cut L.A.’s lead to 89-83 and then the Suns got it back on a backcourt violation, Beverley perked up with a steal and a fast-break pass to Jackson. Paul responded with a missed 3-pointer, again with little help from teammates, and Jackson nailed another 3-pointer for an 11-point lead.

The Clippers were out of danger, having learned again that their safe space is in the paint.

Ousting Toshiba Chairman, Foreign Investors Score Breakthrough in Japan

NY Times - 2 ore 30 min fa
While Japan’s corporations have long resisted the entreaties of activist shareholders, Toshiba had come under intense pressure after a series of scandals.

Gabby Thomas runs world-best 200 at Olympic Trials

Daily News - 2 ore 37 min fa

A few minutes after New Balance’s Gabby Thomas opened the Olympic Trials 200 meters first round Thursday night with a world-leading 21.98, she paused for a moment to reflect on what had just happened.

“It’s surreal,” Thomas said.

She could have just as easily been talking about her drama-filled past year.

Only a few weeks ago, her Olympic season was threatened by a nagging hamstring injury. Then three weeks ago, an MRI found a tumor on her liver. The tumor turned out to be benign and eventually the hamstring healed.

And on a warm evening at Hayward Field that previewed hotter times and temperatures in the coming days, the Harvard graduate stamped herself not only as a favorite to make Team USA on Saturday but contend for a medal in Tokyo next month.

“I’m not surprised but it’s a great feeling,” Thomas said. “Especially at the Trials.”

While Thomas might not have been surprised by her time, the race opened a lot of eyes in Tracktown USA given the company she now keeps.

The mark, run with just a 0.7 m/s tailwind, well below the 2.0 allowable limit, is the fastest by an American since 2017 and placed Thomas 10th on the U.S. all-time list. The women above her on that list have won a combined 36 Olympic medals, 24 of them gold.

The time is all the more impressive when considering Thomas slowed at least 10 meters from the finish line, her victory and advancement to Friday’s semifinals well in hand.

“I still have more left,” Thomas said.

Jenna Prandini, the former Oregon star who now races for Puma, had Thursday’s second-fastest qualifying time at 22.14. Allyson Felix, the 2012 Olympic 200 gold medalist and three-time world champion in the event, advanced with a 22.56.

Thomas wasn’t the only athlete putting up big numbers on the first night of the Trials second half.

Five women broke the 60-foot barrier in the shot put, led by adidas’ Jessica Ramsey, who launched a Trials record 66-feet, 1/4-inch throw to become only the fourth American woman to crack 20 meters. The throw, the second best in the world this season, broke the meet record of 65-6 set only minutes earlier by Raven Saunders of Nike.

New Balance’s Emma Coburn set a Trials record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at 9 minutes, 9.41 seconds. Joining the 2017 world champion on Team USA will be runner-up Courtney Frerichs, the 2017 Worlds silver medalist, at 9:11.79.

But the real drama came in the battle for third place. Leah Falland, a former NCAA champion at Michigan State, was with Coburn and Frerichs in a breakaway group that had opened up a 20-meter gap on the rest of the field with two laps to go. But Falland tripped on a hurdle, crashing to the track.

She regained her composure and still seemed set to claim third place, sitting on Tracksmith’s Val Constien with 200 ago. But Falland struggled on the final water jump and then faded to ninth in the homestretch. Constien held on for third in 9:18.34.

Thomas, inspired by a younger brother with autism, studied neurobiology, global health and health policy at Harvard. She still managed to find time to become the first Ivy League sprinter to win an NCAA title, capturing the 2018 indoor 200.

After graduation, she relocated to Austin, where she trains with coach Tonja Buford-Bailey, a former Olympic medalist in the 400 hurdles, and is a graduate student in epidemiology at Texas.

Thomas gave the Trials a hint of Thursday’s race with an 11.00 clocking in her 100 first-round heat. She later ran a wind-aided 10.95 in the semis and then placed fifth in the final (11.15).

“I was nervous going into it,” she said of Thursday’s heat. “I had good success in the 100 for me. I had high expectations. I wanted to compete for a good lane in the semis. I wasn’t expecting the time but I’m happy with it.

“It’s a testament to how hard I’ve been working. I feel super encouraged and motivated to do even more.”

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Thomas was reminded that she shut it down early Thursday but declined to speculate how much faster she could run in the days ahead.

“I don’t chase times,” she said. “I chase medals. I want to be on that podium for that gold medal.”

OLYMPIC TRACK AND FIELD TRIALS

When: Friday

Where: Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon.

Finals: Men’s discus, 3,000-meter steeplechase

TV: NBC (5 p.m.)

What to watch for: With American record holder Evan Jager out with a foot injury, the steeplechase is wide open. Keep an eye on Sean McGorty, Jager’s Bowerman Track Club teammate. McGorty was the last qualifier out of the heats after having to stop to put a shoe back on after getting flat-tired by a rival.

Arlington baseball edges Hart to grab a spot in Division III regional final

Daily News - 2 ore 49 min fa

RIVERSIDE – Jake Khasaempanth had enough left in the tank to get four outs in the last inning.

Jack Kleveno drove in an early run, and Khasaempanth made it stand up with a three-hitter as Arlington baseball defeated Newhall Hart 1-0 in a CIF Southern California Regional Division III semifinal game.

“I’m dead tired but it’s good. It’s good to get the win,” said Khasaempanth, who finished on 113 pitches.

Khasaempanth struck out eight and made a key defensive play in the seventh inning to help secure the win for Arlington (23-12 overall), which moves on to play San Diego Granite Hills in the championship game  Saturday.

“Jake continues to give us stellar performances and there have been times we haven’t hit for the guy, but he practically got four outs in the last inning and we’re really happy for him,” Arlington coach Tim Kleveno said.

Massimo Vega started for Hart (22-4) but pitched only one inning after experiencing tightness in his back. He allowed a leadoff triple to Arlington’s Jayden Sanchez and Kleveno’s RBI single among four hits in the first inning and did not return after getting three outs.

Jake Villar entered and pitched six shutout innings to keep the Indians in the game, scattering just three hits before completely quieting Arlington’s bats over the final two innings.

“(Vega) wasn’t cutting loose (and) was holding back a little, so we brought in Jake and he pitched his butt off. He was spinning his breaking ball (but) the other guy (Khasaempanth) did a good job,” Hart coach James Ozella said. “(Khasaempanth) threw some in the dirt and we chased. He mixed it up and was sharp.”

Khasaempanth, who last started for Arlington in the Lions’ 2-0 loss to Long Beach Millikan in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title game, gave up only three singles over the first four innings before getting 1-2-3 frames in the fifth and sixth.

“His slider sits 81-82 (mph) and it’s the best pitch. Guys think it’s a fastball and it just drops off,” Jack Kleveno said. “When Jake’s slider is going you know it’s going to be a good day.”

The 6-foot-2 junior right-hander got a swinging third strike from Hart’s Robert Plante to start the seventh inning, but the ball skipped away from Kleveno and Plante reached first base.

Hunter Pohl struck out swinging for the first out before pinch hitter Zachary Kukreja worked a walk to put two runners on.

Tyler Vannix followed with a sacrifice bunt down the line that Khasaempanth sprinted to grab bare-handed. The pitcher picked the ball up cleanly and whipped a side-arm throw to first base that beat Vannix by a half step for the second out.

“He had to make a great defensive play in order to get to that bunt – Tyler is a very good bunter – and his throw was on the mark,” Ozella said.

With runners at second and third after the bunt, Khasaempanth went to a quick 0-2 count against Hart’s No. 9 hitter Kyle Thompson before getting a swinging strike to end the game.

“I feel tired. It was challenging at the end but I just had to attack,” Khasaempanth said.

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It’s the second time an Arlington pitcher has tossed a three-hitter this week. Sophomore Andrew Rudd hurled a shutout in the Lions’ 7-0 win over San Diego Point Loma in the regional quarterfinals on Tuesday.

“(Rudd) did a great job on only 88 pitches. He was commanding,” Khasaempanth said.

It’s the second loss in a semifinal this postseason for Hart, which lost 2-1 to Millikan in the CIF-SS Division 3 semifinals.

“We lost in the semis on a great defensive play from Millikan’s shortstop, and it took another great play to beat us here,” Ozella said. “It’s a tough loss and it’s tough to lose a game when it matters. It hurts.”

Montreal Canadiens headed to Stanley Cup Final for first time since 1993

Daily News - 3 ore 20 min fa

MONTREAL — Artturi Lehkonen scored 1:39 into overtime, Carey Price stopped 37 shots and the Montreal Canadiens advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 28 years following a 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

Cole Caufield and captain Shea Weber also scored, and the Canadiens eliminated the Golden Knights in Game 6 of their semifinal series. Considered mere afterthoughts after entering the playoffs with the worst record, Montreal has won 11 of 13 since falling behind 3-1 to Toronto in its first-round series.

Montreal will make its playoff-leading 35th Stanley Cup Final appearance with a shot to add to its 24 championships. The Canadiens will face the winner of the semifinal series between the defending champion Lightning and New York Islanders. Game 7 is at Tampa Bay on Friday.

The Golden Knights, making their third semifinal appearance in four seasons of existence, fell short of returning to the championship round since their inaugural campaign in 2018, when they lost to Washington in five games. They were undone by a sputtering offense which managed just nine goals against Montreal following a 4-1 series-opening win, and an anemic power play that went 0-of-17 against the Canadiens.

The game was decided off a faceoff in the Montreal end, and after Price held his ground to stop former

Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty set up in the left circle. Montreal’s Nick Suzuki gained the Vegas zone and slipped a pass to his left to Lehkonen, who lifted a shot beating Robin Lehner high on the short side.

Lehner stopped 29 shots.

The Golden Knights twice erased one-goal deficits. Reilly Smith scored 48 seconds after Weber opened the scoring. Alec Martinez tied it again 68 seconds into the third period by converting a rebound after Price was unable to glove Alex Pietrangelo’s shot from the top of the right circle.

Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer turned to Lehner for a second straight time in Montreal, and with the team traveling cross-country for the second time in three days.

Lehner provided Vegas a much-needed lift in stopping 27 shots in a 2-1 overtime win in Game 4 to even the series at 2. Fleury gave up three goals on 25 shots on Tuesday in making his 16th start this postseason.

It marked an unlikely end for a Golden Knights team that finished the regular season with a 40-14-2, record and matched the President’s Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche with 82 points. Vegas overcame adversity in its first two playoff rounds. The Golden Knights squandered an opening-round 3-1 series lead to Minnesota, before winning Game 7. Vegas then fell behind 2-0 in the second round to Colorado before winning the next four games.

In Montreal, it suddenly it feels like 1993 all over again, when a veteran-laden, defense-first team with a star goalie in Patrick Roy made a surprise run and beat the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings in five games to win Montreal’s 24th Stanley Cup.

Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson, who was playing for Edmonton at the time, sees various similarities.

“There’s always differences as well,” he said earlier in the day. “But I remember playing against that team, and it was just a tough, stingy team to play against. And that’s what we want to be every night.

Though considered underdogs throughout the playoffs, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin this week said his offseason vision in building the team with a strong defense was better suited for the playoffs than the regular season. Montreal was affected by injuries and a late-season coronavirus outbreak in closing the year 0-3-2 for a 24-21-11 finish.

The Canadiens then opened the playoffs rallying from a 3-1 first-round series deficit against Toronto, before sweeping the Winnipeg Jets in the second round. The Canadiens once again faced adversity in opening the semifinals with a 4-1 loss at Vegas before regaining their defensive-smothering and quick-strike transition offensive identity to win four of the next five.

They’ve played with an unflinching focus, and overcome missing interim coach Dominique Ducharme, who has spent the past four games in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

Montreal becomes just the sixth Canadian-based team to reach the final since 1994, and first since the Vancouver Canucks lost to Boston in seven games in 2011.

The Canadiens also clinched their berth on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, the Quebec nation’s cultural holiday, and equivalent to the Fourth of July in the U.S.

The area around the Bell Centre was buzzing more than two hours before faceoff, with security officials barring fans from the arena side of St. Antoine Street where players enter. A large crowd of fans were instead limited to watching behind a permanent barrier on the other side of the street. With only 3,500 fans allowed to attend due to COVID restrictions, there were far more people packing the plaza outside the arena.

On the advice of Montreal police, the Canadiens had the fans stay inside the building well after Lehkonen scored.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN?

The Canadiens top-four defensemen might have a new nickname.

Assistant coach Luke Richardson, who played defense over 21 NHL seasons, was discussing Ben Chiarot’s value to the team when noting his 6-foot-3, 225-frame and hard-hitting meshes well with Montreal’s other top-three blue-liners, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and Joel Edmundson.

“He is a horse,” Richardson said of Chiarot. “Those four Clydesdales play a lot, and they play heavy.”

Biden Administration Backs Oil Sands Pipeline Project

NY Times - 3 ore 25 min fa
The administration urged a court to throw out a challenge brought by tribal and environmental groups, backing a pipeline that would carry Canadian oil across Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Resilient Clippers top Suns in Game 3, cut series deficit in half

Daily News - 3 ore 31 min fa

LOS ANGELES — That never-say-die energy is strong with the Clippers, who recovered from the sting of Tuesday’s heartbreaking last-second loss in Game 2 of their first Western Conference finals with a 106-92 victory on Thursday night that cut Phoenix’s leads in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.

It also snapped the second-seeded Suns’ nine-game playoff winning streak and improved the Clippers’ postseason record to 9-1 … in Games 3-7, that is.

They are, of course, 0-6 in Games 1-2.

But the feeling-out part of this series is over and the Clippers are in their happy place, as Coach Tyronn Lue might call it.

“It’s just a chess match,” Lue said before tip-off on Thursday at Staples Center, where a crowd of 17,222 saw the Clippers spoil Chris Paul’s return from the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. “When you’re able to come through for your team and your team has full trust in you in the playoffs, it means a lot. I think I have our guys in the locker room, I think I have their attention as far as just being able to make adjustments, seeing what I see and trying to execute. That’s all you can do.

“We knew we didn’t play great in either of the two games in Phoenix, and in Game 2 we didn’t play really good at all and had a chance to win the game. We’re in a good space right now, and we understand that we kind of gave one away, but we’ve got to be ready for Game 3.”

With Kawhi Leonard relegated to fan status, taking in the action from the stands with family, the Clippers gave their superstar something to cheer about – and more time, potentially, to return from the sprained right knee that has sidelined him for five consecutive games now.

After an offensively drab opening half Thursday, when the Clippers shot just 36.6% but trailed just 48-46 – the door was left open if the hosts could just get something going offensively.

Terance Mann took the wheel again, looking a lot like the guy who scored 25 of his 39 points in 20 second-half minutes to close out top-seeded Utah at Staples Center less than a week before.

The second-year wing scored 10 points in the quarter and eight of the Clippers’ first 10 to kickstart the Clippers’ third-quarter charge, as L.A. retook the lead 56-53 and yanked momentum back in their direction.

Over the course of the next few minutes, George fed Zubac for a backboard-rocking dunk, the Clippers defended, dove and forced jump balls and George hit a couple of 3-pointers – including squaring up to bank in a shot from 46 feet away as the quarter expired, a make that made it 80-69 entering the final period.

The Suns trimmed the lead to 89-83, but Reggie Jackson – the Clippers’ dependable bailout artist – scored five quick points to push the advantage back to 11 and force Suns coach Monty Williams to call timeout.

Jackson and Patrick Beverley turned and basked in the adulation of enthusiastic fans who had been forced to watch most of the season on TV, barred from Staples Center because of local coronavirus guidelines.

They were back Thursday and on their feet in the fourth quarter as the Clippers held off the Suns, thanks to a few more big buckets from Jackson (23 points) and a couple from Beverley (eight) – their efforts and Mann’s (12), Ivica Zubac’s (15 and 16 rebounds) complementing 27 points from Paul George, who also grabbed 15 rebounds and recorded eight assists in 43 minutes.

Five Suns scored in double figures, led by Deandre Ayton’s 18 points. Paul finished with 15 points and 12 assists.

The Clippers – who have rallied to win their previous two series after falling behind 2-0 in both, something no other NBA team had ever done in one postseason – have a chance to tie this series in Game 4 on Saturday night at Staples Center.

Zubac had the best start for L.A. on Thursday, almost as if he was fired up after watching footage of Ayton’s game-winning “Valley-Oop” over him a few too many times between games.

His early aggression was rewarded with a double-double before halftime, when he already had 11 points and 12 rebounds – making him the first Clipper to post a double-double in the first half of a playoff game since DeAndre Jordan did it in April 2017.

Zubac also visited the free-throw line eight times (and made seven of his foul shots) in his 16 first-half minutes – more than in any one game all postseason.

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Two games removed from his 40-point triple-double, Booker started 0 for 6 from the field and appeared to be pestered not just by Beverley on Thursday, but also by the mask he was wearing to protect the three stitches on his nose that were the result of a third-quarter collision with the Clippers’ guard in Game 2.

L.A. finished the first quarter with a 29-21 lead – the Clippers’ largest advantage so far this series. It was short-lived, though. The Suns needed just about five minutes to tie it at 33-33, on their way to a 48-42 lead before the end of the period.

The Clippers played a perfectly tidy first quarter, without a turnover. Then they had four points and four turnovers in the first six minutes of the second quarter (three of them by Rajon Rondo), when the Suns’ 14-4 Suns run put them ahead, 35-33.

Stagnant offensively, the Clippers shot just 15 for 41 (36.6%) in the first half and got outscored 27-17 in the second quarter, trailing 48-46 at halftime.

More to come on this story.

Confident in Its Impunity, the Myanmar Junta Ignores Diplomacy

NY Times - 3 ore 35 min fa
The generals who seized power five months ago have shown no inclination to heed international pleas to reverse themselves, even as Myanmar slides into a failed state.

Suns lose sparkplug Cam Payne to injury in loss to Clippers

Daily News - 3 ore 37 min fa

LOS ANGELES — Imagine saying as recently as two years ago – when Cameron Payne was sniffing around for a two-way contract with the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers – that he might be a lynchpin for a Western Conference finals team.

The story of Payne’s ascendance as a scrappy sixth man for the Phoenix Suns is one of the most improbable origin stories on a team making an improbable title run: an oft-injured 2015 draft pick whose career had all but flatlined before the Suns picked him up for an 8-0 run in the Florida bubble last summer. This postseason, Payne has truly raised his game.

Only now, the Suns might have to imagine playing without him.

Payne exited the first half of Game 3 on Thursday night after just four minutes, going 1 for 4 from the field with two points and an assist. A left ankle injury sent him back to the locker room in the first half; by halftime, the Suns said he would not return.

As the team’s nine-game playoff winning streak ended, Coach Monty Williams said postgame that he didn’t have much additional information on the injury.

“He tried to come back,” Williams said. “(The ankle) just wouldn’t allow him to go back out on the floor.”

For Phoenix, any moment to lose their top backup point guard would be inopportune, but especially just as it seemed the team was finally ready to get healthy. The Suns weathered a two-game absence from All-Star Chris Paul (COVID-19 protocols) to take a 2-0 lead, thanks much in part to Payne’s starts in Paul’s place.

Even casual viewers of the NBA playoffs had seen signs of Payne’s impact: He’s become the team’s fourth-leading scorer this postseason (11.8 ppg), and the top playmaker outside of stars Paul and Devin Booker. While he’s a respectable 3-point shooter, he’s even better as a quick-stepping driver to the basket, tying the Lakers’ and Nuggets’ defenses in knots with his speed during the first two rounds.

The cruel part for Payne is that his injury comes on the heels of a coup-de-grace: In Game 2 of the conference finals, he scored 29 points with nine assists to help the Suns earn a last-second victory in Phoenix. It was a career postseason best in both points and assists for Payne, who had never scored 20 or more in a playoff game.

“He’s made a lot happen for us while he’s been out there,” Booker said. “I hope he’s in good health.”

One of the biggest downsides for the Suns was that Payne’s absence meant that Paul, who is getting his game wind back, had to play for longer stretches during the second half. Paul (15 points on 5-for-19 shooting with 12 assists) ended up playing nearly 39 minutes in his return to the floor as the Suns flirted with a second-half comeback that was ultimately snuffed by Reggie Jackson.

Williams downplayed the long-term concerns, saying Payne might be able to return for future tilts.

“It’s one game,” said Williams, who has a way of framing challenges in Zen fashion. “We hope Cam can get back.”

In land of Reagan, Mike Pence defends his Jan. 6 actions while lauding Trump’s years in office

Daily News - 3 ore 40 min fa
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Attendees photograph former Vice President Mike Pence as he waves during his entrance to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence waves to the audience following his speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Governor Pete Wilson attends a speech by Former Vice President Mike Pence at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Executive Director John Heubusch, left, shakes hands with former Vice President Mike Pence after Pence’s speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence shakes hands with attendees after his speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Thursday, June 24, 2021. This was part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, a new forum for leading voices in the conservative movement to address issues facing the future of the Republican Party. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

  • Approximately 30 protesters, mostly with Indivisible Ventura and some Donald Trump supporters, gathered for a peaceful protest at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum at the corner of Madera and Presidential Dr., prior to Mike Pence’s speech, on Thursday, June 24. 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Approximately 30 protesters, mostly with Indivisible Ventura and some Donald Trump supporters, gathered for a peaceful protest at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum at the corner of Madera and Presidential Dr., prior to Mike Pence’s speech, on Thursday, June 24. 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Approximately 30 protesters, mostly with Indivisible Ventura and some Donald Trump supporters, gathered for a peaceful protest at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum at the corner of Madera and Presidential Dr., prior to Mike Pence’s speech, on Thursday, June 24. 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Approximately 30 protesters, mostly with Indivisible Ventura and some Donald Trump supporters, gathered for a peaceful protest at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum at the corner of Madera and Presidential Dr., prior to Mike Pence’s speech, on Thursday, June 24. 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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SIMI VALLEY — With the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol still fresh in the minds of many, former Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday, June 24, told a sold-out crowd of 820 guests at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Thursday, June 24, that there was more at stake on that day than just his own party’s fortunes: It was the democratic foundation of the nation itself.

Pence, contemplating a run for the presidency in 2024, stoically defended his four years of buoying the policies of President Donald Trump — as well as the history-making moment when he broke from the chief executive’s wishes — while seeking to carve out his own vision of the future of the Republican Party.

It’s a path that has met with heckling in some stops on Pence’s recent speaking tour, facing catcalls from Republicans still simmering from his official actions on Jan. 6. Despite calls from Trump and his supporters to do “the right thing” and reject the Nov. 3 general election results that would place President Joe Biden in the White House, Pence said he had no choice but to embrace the directives of the Constitution. He followed through to oversee Congress’s certification of the nation’s vote.

Pence faced a much more reverential audience at the resting place of Reagan on Thursday night. The crowd greeted Pence with a standing ovation. Meanwhile, outside the entrance of the library and museum, about three dozen protesters — some anti-GOP and some Trump supporters — gathered in the late afternoon to demonstrate.

“I understand the disappointment many feel,” Pence said. “I can relate. I was on the ballot. There’s more at stake than our party and our political fortunes in this moment. If we lose faith in the Constitution, we won’t just lose elections, we’ll lose our country,” he said.

The uprising continues to dominate Washington politics. Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out plans to launch an investigation into the seizing of the Capitol by Trump supporters by a select committee in the weeks ahead.

Many in the audience Thursday wanted to hear Pence talk about his actions on that day — and he obliged, aiming to dispel Trump’s notion that he had the authority to reject what the former president declared a stolen election, despite a series of legal decisions to the contrary.

“The Constitution provides the vice president no such authority,” he said, adding that “no one person can choose the American president. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone.”

He wasn’t going to be the person who changed that, Pence said, even if the president demanded it.

Pence, meanwhile, lauded Trump’s years at the nation’s helm while slamming Democrats as radicals trying to defund police and dismantle conservative policies on immigration, national defense and abortion.

“We made America great again in just four years,” said Pence, who also launched salvos at President Joe Biden’s first 155 days in office.

Paying homage to Reagan, he painted Republicans as a last line of defense in defending the Constitution, aligned with traditional conservatism,  a strong defense, a strong free market, traditional family values  and repudiation of abortion.

But, he said, in the post-Trump era, Republicans must push forward on a new set of priorities — what he called a New American Agenda. “Border security is national security,” he said, while boosting “patriotic:” education, keeping a wary watch on China and branding the GOP, “the last line of defense to our Constitution and American heritage of freedom.”

Pence’s visit was part of the Library Foundation’s Time for Choosing Speaker Series, which taps high-profile conservative thinkers on a range of topics. A list of presidential hopefuls are set to appear at the Reagan to speak in the coming months.

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Pence’s speech Thursday came on the heels of Paul Ryan’s in May, when the former speaker of the House urged fellow conservatives to reject the politics of Trump, whose tenure, he said, came to “a dishonorable and disgraceful end” on Jan. 6.

Pence has his work cut out for himself as he competes for visibility and donor money, amid a slate of potential Republican hopefuls, including former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pence, the former governor of Indiana and member of the House of Representatives, reportedly did not make the top tier of presidential contenders in a Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll published in March. The top contender? Trump himself.

But that did not deter a crowd eager to hear him.

“I’m interested in what he has to say about Jan. 6,” said David Gates, as he awaited the speech.

“He was a loyal vice president, not just a vice president in name only… I don’t think he ever wavered,” Gates said.

But would he support him in a presidential run? Likely not, Gates said, preferring Haley over Pence in 2024.

Others in the crowd, including Trump supporters, said they wanted “to hear Pence’s vision” for the future, as they lamented what they said was Biden’s dismantling of Trump policies.

Robin Ahn said it was a rare “opportunity” to hear Pence speak in person, lauding his role in leading the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

“I’ve seen him, and I liked him,” Ahn said.

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Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin ‘trying to stay positive’ easing back into routine

Daily News - 4 ore 1 min fa

LOS ANGELES ― Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior recently referred to Tony Gonsolin as a “wild card.” Last season, the 27-year-old pitcher was a down-ballot National League Rookie of the Year candidate and started three playoff games as the Dodgers marched to a championship. This year, his health has been a major question mark.

Gonsolin is scheduled to make his fourth start of the season Friday after missing two months with a right shoulder injury. It’s tough to know what to expect from the 27-year-old right-hander.

In his June 9 debut, Gonsolin walked five batters and didn’t make it out of the second inning in Pittsburgh. He threw 81 pitches in his second outing, but his command was an issue; Gonsolin completed just 3⅔ innings in an eventual victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Gonsolin also lasted 3⅔ innings in his last start, Sunday in Arizona, and was removed after throwing just 46 pitches. Afterward, Manager Dave Roberts said Gonsolin’s workload was limited as a precaution because of soreness in his shoulder.

“It’s definitely been up and down,” Gonsolin said of his season to this point. “I’m trying to stay positive with everything.”

To that end, Gonsolin’s between-starts bullpen session Wednesday was encouraging. Soreness wasn’t a factor. His command has improved with each outing, and Roberts sounded optimistic Thursday that Gonsolin’s velocity will rebound after taking a small dip Sunday.

It would help the Dodgers immensely if Gonsolin can re-discover his pre-2021 form. They survived the month of May by using a bullpen game in place of a fifth starter, effectively holding Gonsolin’s seat for him rather than giving the job to veteran David Price or acquiring a starter from outside the organization.

That caught even Gonsolin by surprise.

“A little bit for sure,” he said. “I see myself as a starter long term. (The Dodgers’ patience) definitely helped me. It just shows the confidence the organization has in me.”

Gonsolin said he will take extra precautions with his shoulder between starts from now on. The Dodgers will expect up to 60 pitches from him Friday, Roberts said – a conservative goal, one that reflects a workload in progress.

INJURY UPDATES

Shortstop Corey Seager might not need a minor league rehabilitation assignment before he is cleared to return from a fractured right hand, Roberts said. Seager is still targeting a return sometime in early July.

In the meantime, the Dodgers are proceeding cautiously with the reigning World Series MVP, who has yet to progress to facing live pitching because of lingering soreness in his right hand. Roberts said the fracture has not completely healed.

“We learned that you can have a setback until it’s completely healed,” the manager said. “Where we are in the season, we have time to make sure that he is 100 percent ready so he doesn’t have a setback. He’s just going through his progression and just kind of letting time take care of itself. We’re not pushing the swing because we’re trying to have him end on a net positive each day with that.”

Reliever Scott Alexander (shoulder) threw 15 pitches, 11 for strikes, in a one-inning rehab appearance with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The left-hander allowed a run to score on a pair of singles and a wild pitch. He recorded two outs via ground balls and another on a flyout.

Right-hander Corey Knebel has progressed to throwing on flat ground up to 150 feet, Roberts said. He is still targeting a return in late August.

JOC-ULAR MOMENT

In a pregame ceremony at home plate, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw presented Cubs left fielder Joc Pederson with his 2020 World Series ring. Third baseman Justin Turner, center fielder Cody Bellinger, left fielder AJ Pollock and Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman were also present for the ceremony.

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Pederson, who signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Cubs in January, received a standing ovation as he held the ring aloft before the Dodger Stadium crowd.

Pederson played a variety of roles for the Dodgers following his 2014 debut. He appeared in all six World Series games last October and batted .400 (4 for 10) with a home run, the culmination of his seven major league seasons.

“Joc’s meant a lot to the organization,” Roberts said. “Obviously the relationships that he’s had, the relationships he will continue to have, playing well on the biggest of stages and helping us win a championship. He made our ballclub better being a part of the organization. The fans really related to Joc and the stuff that he did on the field, the energy on the field, and the things he did off the field. Some were documented. A lot of it wasn’t. He was one of the really, really good Dodgers.”

Public to be allowed back into L.A. County courthouses with social distancing dropped

Daily News - 4 ore 4 min fa

Los Angeles County courthouses will reopen to the general public on Monday, June 28, for the first time in more than a year as court officials loosen up COVID-19 restrictions.

Individuals will no longer be required to schedule appointments to attend hearings, obtain court documents or conduct other courthouse business, officials said. The appointment-only system had been in place since June 2020.

Social-distancing requirements inside courtrooms will be lifted, but individuals must still wear face coverings such as masks.

“This is a huge step forward in our rise from the pandemic,” Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said.

Last week, the state lifted most of its pandemic restrictions, allowing individuals to shed their masks and businesses to return to full capacity.

However, state courts took a more cautious approach, waiting for guidance from the California Division Of Occupational Safety & Health.

Throughout the pandemic, court officials developed more online and remote access for hearings. Also, the limited court access delayed both criminal and civil cases.

Even after next week’s reopening, some of the remote hearing options will remain available to defendants as a more affordable alternative to in-person hearings, Taylor said.

Judge Taylor did encouraged individuals to schedule appointments for picking up court documents at the clerk’s office to reduce lines.

The courts will longer allow members of the public to tune into court hearings online through live audio streams, a method used during much of the pandemic to keep the public from crowding into courtrooms.

In its decision to scrap that program, officials mentioned “widespread breaches by the public in a recent court proceeding (that) highlighted the need to return to in-person, open courtroom proceedings.”

On Wednesday, Britney Spears testified at a virtual Los Angeles County court hearing as the pop singer seeks to dissolve her court-appointed conservatorship.

Audio recordings are banned from state courts, unless allowed by a judge, and audio from Spears’ testimony was widely circulated online without the judge’s specific permission.

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Hong Kong Readers Scramble to Preserve Apple Daily's Legacy

NY Times - 4 ore 24 min fa
Apple Daily, a pro-democracy news outlet, is the biggest casualty yet in Beijing’s campaign against Hong Kong’s once freewheeling news media. Its million-copy final edition sold fast.

Pence, Diverging From Trump, Says He Was ‘Proud’ to Certify Election

NY Times - 4 ore 53 min fa
In a speech, former Vice President Mike Pence went the furthest he has gone yet in distancing himself from Donald Trump and the Capitol riot. But he still praised the former president and his agenda.

简报:《苹果日报》停刊对香港意味着什么;迈阿密公寓倒塌至少99人失踪

NY Times - 5 ore 11 min fa
美国禁止进口部分新疆太阳能产品;菲律宾前总统阿基诺三世去世;巴西新冠死亡人数突破50万;纽约州暂停朱利安尼律师执照;加拿大再次发现数百具原住民儿童遗骸……这里是今日要闻。

Report: Mavericks preparing to hire Lakers’ Jason Kidd as next head coach

Daily News - 5 ore 17 min fa

The Dallas Mavericks appear to be moving quickly to hire Lakers assistant Jason Kidd as the franchise’s next coach.

According to an ESPN report, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is on the cusp of hiring Kidd, 48, to lead Dallas after a pair of first-round playoff exits. In bringing back the point guard who helped win the franchise’s only championship in 2011 as a player, the Mavericks hope to maximize their success with budding star Luka Doncic.

This, of course, would take a meaningful assistant away from a championship-winning Lakers staff that has been intact for the last two years. Kidd is widely credited with helping shape the Lakers’ offense, as well as connecting with the team’s biggest stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Kidd’s time with the Lakers served him, as well. He has been a head coach twice before, for a single season in Brooklyn (44-38) and for the better part of four seasons in Milwaukee (139-152). Kidd has a 9-15 playoff record as a coach, advancing to the second round just once in three appearances. But Kidd has credited his time as a Lakers assistant under Frank Vogel for helping him learn both tactics and patience.

“I would love to have another opportunity at it,” Kidd told The Undefeated in May. “Being here with Frank, understanding his strengths and watching him and how he handles different situations, is a big key that I’ve learned. Patience, communication is really key to understanding where everybody stands. Not just your top players, but the end of the bench.”

Kidd is considered one of the best point guards in NBA history, ranks second in career assists (12,091) and was a 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee.

He’s been mentioned for several head coaching openings, most notably in Portland where Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said he hoped the team would hire Kidd; he bowed out of the search a day later.

In one of the few instances where an outgoing coach publicly endorsed a successor, Rick Carlisle (who has been hired in Indiana after resigning from his role in Dallas) said he thought Kidd and Doncic would be a natural fit, according to ESPN.

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“My hope is that Jason Kidd will be the next coach of the Mavs because he and Luka have so many things in common as players,” Carlisle told ESPN. “I just think that it would be a great situation for Luka, and I think it would be an amazing situation for Jason. I’m the only person on the planet that’s coached both of those guys and that knows about all of their special qualities as basketball players. To me, that just would be a great marriage, but that’s just an opinion.”

The Lakers have similarly been effusive in their comments about Kidd, who they acknowledged would be a likely candidate for head coach openings. While Kidd was hired to the staff at the behest of Lakers management rather than Vogel’s choosing, Vogel insisted earlier this month that Kidd had been a great addition to his L.A. staff.

“It’s been wonderful,” Vogel said. “Jason has become one of my closest friends, you know, really a trusted advisor on my coaching staff and someone that has just been integral to our success in the last two years. He should be at the top of everybody’s list that has an opening in the NBA.”

The Mavericks are also reportedly preparing to hire Nike executive Nico Harrison and promote executive Michael Finley to prominent roles in the front office.

As the Pace of Vaccinations Slows, Biden Makes a Personal Appeal

NY Times - 5 ore 30 min fa
The Biden administration is shifting its strategy from mass vaccination sites to a more localized effort, deploying top officials to canvass and knock on doors.