Lakers confident they can make playoff history
The Lakers beat the odds to make it to the playoffs and West Finals. They will have to make history to get to the NBA Finals.
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1. What happened to LeBron James in Game 2 loss?
The Lakers beat the odds to make it to the playoffs and West Finals. They will have to make history to get to the NBA Finals, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Mark Medina.
It appeared nothing could stop LeBron James.
Not a physical opponent. Not a whistle that he didn’t like. Not even Father Time.
As he tossed and turned in his bed late Saturday night, Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham struggled to shut his eyes completely.
He kept having flashbacks of the Lakers’ loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals earlier that evening. He kept reviewing footage. And he kept thinking about the Lakers hosting the Nuggets in Game 4 on Monday at Crypto.com in a possible elimination game.
Yet, Ham insisted he did not become restless because of the daunting task with overcoming a 0-3 series deficit. Instead, he maintained he stayed up late because he felt empowered about the opportunity.
“When you got work in front of you that you do that you’re excited about, it’s a beautiful thing,” Ham said following practice on Sunday at the Lakers’ facility. “You don’t want to sleep. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Nothing compares to actual mortality, obviously. The Lakers, however, have approached the basketball equivalent of nearly being on their death bed. No NBA team in league history has ever overcome an 0-3 series deficit. Three have forced an actual Game 7 before losing the series. Otherwise, all 149 teams that have faced an 0-3 series deficit have eventually ended their season early.
2. Golden Knights take 2-0 series lead on Stars
The Vegas Golden Knights are two wins away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final after taking a 2-0 series lead on the Dallas Stars, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Steve Carp.
With each passing minute, it looked like the Vegas Golden Knights were going to find themselves tied in the Western Conference Finals Sunday afternoon. They were getting ready to fit Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault with goat’s horns after the two veteran forwards had taken needless penalties in the Dallas Stars’ half of the ice to put their team in a one-goal deficit.
But redemption has a funny way of showing up at just the right moment. For Marchessault, it was with 2:22 left in regulation as he took Jack Eichel’s no-look, behind-the-net backhand pass to score and tie the game 2-2.
Then, in overtime after Knights goaltender Adin Hill robbed Evgenii Dadonov in the first 30 seconds by stopping his game-winning attempt directly in front, Stephenson delivered, beating Jake Oettinger after the struggling Shea Theodore supported the play, took Mark Stone's pass, got off a shot and have Stephenson finish with 1:12 having elapsed to give the Knights a 3-2 win and a 2-0 lead in the series.
Game 3 will be Tuesday night at American Airlines Center where Vegas will have an opportunity to put a stranglehold on the series.
3. Remembering Doyle Brunson
The Sporting Tribune's Norm Clarke fondly remembers the "Godfather of Poker" and Las Vegas legend Doyle Brunson.
Poker icon Doyle Brunson disliked fame so much he walked away from a big payday to protect his family's reputation.
It happened at Binion’s in1972, the third year of the World Series of Poker.
Texas Monthly included the story in an exquisite feature about Brunson about a year ago.
Brunson, who won back-to-back WSOP titles in 1976 and 1977 and was the first player to win a million dollars in tournament play, died last week in Las Vegas. He was 89.
Only eight players were involved in 1972, with a buy-in of $10,000.
"This tournament wasn’t broadcast on cable TV or treated like a sport. It wasn’t even treated like a game,” according to the magazine.
"Texas Hold ’Em, now the most played poker variation in the world, had been in Vegas casinos less than a decade. In 1970 there had been only fifty poker tables in the entire city. This world series was a sideshow meant to drum up business for the casino, and the competitors were as strange as if Mark Twain characters had jumped off the page and found their way to the desert for a piece of the action.”
Brunson was “perhaps the best player in the world, wielding a domineering strategy few had ever seen.”
4. One-on-one with Los Angeles Sparks rookie Zia Cooke
Los Angeles Sparks rookie Zia Cooke scored 14 points in her first career WNBA game and sat down with The Sporting Tribune’s Rey Moralde for an exclusive one-on-one interview.
THE SPORTING TRIBUNE: So how are you doing in general? How are family and friends?
ZIA COOKE: I'm doing pretty good. (My family) has been down here with me. They'll be here for the game on Thursday (against Las Vegas on the 25th) as well so it's good to have 'em with me.
TST: Before your first official WNBA game, how were you feeling before it?
ZIA: A little nervous, just a tad bit nervous. But I just wanted to go out there and make sure I produced. I did feel like I was prepared for sure in the best way to go out there and play.
TST: Definitely prepared because you scored 14 points, all in the second quarter. Did you make a conscious effort to be aggressive going into the game or did you just kind of take what you were given?
ZIA: I'm always aggressive so that's just part of my game. But I did let the game come to me. I just wanted to take great shots and my teammates put me in the best position where I didn't have to take uncomfortable shots. Everything just fell for me.
TST: It's your first win. What did you like best from that game?
ZIA: I think the atmosphere and the crowd; I got a chance to meet Magic Johnson. It was a historic night for BG (Brittney Griner) so that meant a lot as well. And just to have my family in the building.
5. Shohei Ohtani guides Angels to series win against AL central leaders
A flurry of bullpen transactions preceded the game on Sunday, and Shohei Ohtani's exceptional outing helped the Angels secure a 4-2 victory over the Twins.
When Shohei Ohtani steps on the hill in any stadium, the expectations are high.
“Anytime he’s on the field, there’s a chance of something special happening. I mean, that's just how good of a player he is,” said today’s starting catcher, Chad Wallach.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon at Angels Stadium, the two-way superstar made his 10th start of the season against the Minnesota Twins, and in true Ohtani-fashion, his performance did not disappoint as he struck out nine batters and gave up only one run, two hits and three walks through six innings.
Ohtani’s performance on the mound, supported by the bullpen — who only gave up one additional run — and a late jump from the offense, earned the Halos a 4-2 victory against the No. 1 team in the AL Central.
“He’s sharp always. I think he understands how the game is being dictated and makes his pitches when he needs to, as he always does. He has five wins, and he's kept us in every game,” said manager Phil Nevin after the game.
6. The Sporting Tribune on Television
With the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, The Sporting Tribune’s Mark Medina and Arash Markazi have made the rounds on television, appearing on CBS, FOX, KCAL and FS1.
7. Odds and Ends presented by Circa Sports
Here are some odds at Circa Sports if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:
8. Ticket Time presented by TickPick
Here are the “get in” prices for tickets if you’re thinking about going to a game today.
5:30 p.m. – Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers – $194
6:30 p.m. – Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels – $5
9. On the Air presented by The D Las Vegas
Here are the game times and television channels for professional teams in the region today.
4:15 p.m. – Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves – SportsNet LA
5:30 p.m. – Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers – ESPN
6:30 p.m. – Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels – Bally Sports West
10. The Arash Markazi Show presented by The Sporting Tribune
The Sporting Tribune’s Arash Markazi is joined by Brandon Deutsch, Armani Buckets and Jake Dicker to discuss the Lakers Western Conference Finals series against the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat upsetting the Boston Celtics of the Eastern Conference Finals. Could we get a rematch of the 2020 NBA Finals in the bubble?
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show presented by The Sporting Tribune on The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio in Southern California, 98.5 The Bet in Las Vegas and the Hawaii Sports Radio Network 95.1 FM and 760 AM in Hawaii. You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher.
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That’s it for today. Talk to you tomorrow!