Discover more from The Morning Column presented by The Sporting Tribune
Lakers swept by Nuggets, LeBron considers future
The Lakers are swept in the Western Conference Finals by the Denver Nuggets as LeBron James thinks about retirement.
Good morning and welcome to The Morning Column presented by The Sporting Tribune. Please subscribe if you haven’t done so already. It’s free and will be delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. OK, let’s get to it!
1. Lakers swept by Nuggets, LeBron considers future
The Lakers are swept in the Western Conference Finals by the Denver Nuggets as LeBron James thinks about retirement, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Mark Medina.
Even as he felt fatigued, nursed various ailments and faced relentless competition, LeBron James began a potential close-out game the same way he did throughout this turbulent season. James left nothing unturned with still dominating the game, delaying Father Time and inspiring the Lakers.
As those elements became more exhausting, painful and stressful, James ended a close-out game the same way these Lakers often experienced throughout the 2022-23 campaign. Father Time eventually caught up. The Lakers failed to execute in key moments. And they walked away frustrated with the results.
The Lakers experienced a 113-111 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday at Crypto.com Arena, an outcome that ensured more than just the Nuggets sweeping the Lakers and advancing to the NBA Finals in franchise history. It also brings up conflicting developments surrounding their star player. He posted 40 points while shooting 15-for-25 from the field, 4-for-7 from deep and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line along with 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals. But the game ended with James missing a baseline jumper and a shot in the paint on the Lakers’ final two possessions. And afterwards, James suggested he may have to ponder what his own future looks like following his 20th NBA season.
2. Austin Ekeler to stay with Chargers after incentives are added to contract
Chargers and running back Austin Ekeler agreed to add incentives to his contract that will see him return to the team, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Fernando Ramirez.
The Los Angeles Chargers will have Austin Ekeler play out the final year of his contract as he has agreed to add about $2 million worth of incentives to his contract, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The terms of the incentives are unknown, but it seems like Ekeler and his representatives are satisfied with the terms that he will play with the team this season.
Ekeler and his team requested a trade when free agency began in March because they felt the running back was underpaid. He is set to make a base salary of $6.25 million this season, which is eighth in the NFL.
The running back produced two strong seasons in a row for the team. He rushed for 911 yards, added 647 passing yards, and scored 20 touchdowns in 2021.
3. It’s another LAFC, Galaxy rematch in the U.S. Open Cup
LAFC will host the LA Galaxy Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 in the 19th El Tráfico since 2018, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Chandrima Chatterjee.
Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup game is the 19th version of El Tráfico since LAFC joined MLS in 2018. It’s also the second-consecutive year that the Open Cup’s Round of 16 pits them against each other. In fact, no two MLS teams have played against each other more in that time. They’ll face one another at least 4 times this year, maybe as many as 8 times. They may know each other better than any other team does, but the gap between the two has never felt greater.
LAFC are at the top of the Western Conference standings with 25 points, the most by any defending MLS champion after 12 matches, battling in multiple competitions with their eyes on trophies. Meanwhile, LA Galaxy are at the bottom of their conference with 9 points, one of their worst starts in club history, battling on multiple fronts within their team and against fans who have lost faith in their club. LAFC are a team built from talent that is learning to spread their individual glory in favor of broader team gains. LA Galaxy are a team with individual strengths, but collective failure, still learning to work towards a singular goal (pun intended).
4. Bosa, Mack look to continue building on-field bond
Chargers pass rushing duo of Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa expect big things from each other in 2023, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Fernando Ramirez.
After the disappointing playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Khalil Mack recalled that he and Joey Bosa turned to each other and said, "Man, just give me one more."
The Chargers had just blown a 27-0 lead to the Jaguars and bounced out of the playoffs. It is not something either player has thought about much since the game ended and they flew home.
"Like I said, I really haven't thought about it that much," Bosa explained. "If you're not motivated to win and to play, then this is the wrong job for you. If you need to be digging into some dark past to motivate you for tomorrow, then you're already lost, I think."
It happened over four months ago, and while it was disappointing, the pass-rushing duo is looking toward the 2023 season.
"It's one of those things," Mack said. "Me and Joey [Bosa] were talking about it; it was like a bad dream, like a nightmare. Waking up from it and just putting in the work to make sure that it doesn't happen again."
5. Martinez slugs 2 homers, Dodgers down Braves 8-6
The Dodgers got back on track Monday night, using 8 runs to overcome a rough start from Gavin Stone and defeat the Braves 8-6, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Holdenn Graff.
After a slight rain delay to begin the evening in Atlanta, the Dodgers were able to stay locked in and top the 6 runs put up by the Braves. Gavin Stone took the mound for Los Angeles in what was only his second start of the season.
He would quickly allow the Braves to grab a 4-0 lead courtesy of a Sean Murphy single and an Eddie Rosario three-run home run. However, J.D Martinez, Max Muncy, David Peralta, and Freddie Freeman (a 3-run blast) would propel the Dodgers to a 6-4 lead and have them up 2 in the top of the fifth. Despite the 4 runs allowed by Stone in the first, he settled down nicely and only allowed one more run before being removed from the game after 4 IP.
Mookie Betts would add on a run with a single and J.D. Martinez would blast his second home run of the game in the 7th to help Los Angeles put away the Braves 8-6 in game 1 of the three-game set.
6. The Sporting Tribune on Television
The Lakers were eliminated in the Western Conference Finals, but The Sporting Tribune’s Mark Medina and Arash Markazi made the rounds on TV during the series, appearing on CBS, FOX, KCAL and Fox Sports 1.
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.
6:30 p.m. – Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels – $6
7:30 p.m. – LA Galaxy at LAFC – $67
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
6:30 p.m. – Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels – Bally Sports West
7:30 p.m. – LA Galaxy at LAFC – Golazo
10. The Arash Markazi Show presented by The Sporting Tribune
The crew talks about the Lakers being on the brink of elimination and what their future looks like if their season comes to an end this week. Do the Lakers have the foundation for a championship team in place?
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.
Thank you for reading. Please click below to subscribe to The Morning Column presented by The Sporting Tribune. It’s free and will be delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.
That’s it for today. Talk to you tomorrow!