Editor’s note: This is the Wednesday, May 17, 2023, edition of the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.
Good morning. You’re tempted to try a version of the Harvard newspaper’s headline after the underdog Crimson rallied to tie Yale in a 1968 football game: “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.” Maybe: “Lakers beat Nuggets 126-132.” Both teams won something last night.
In other headlines:
The Dodgers couldn’t find big hits against Minnesota and cost Clayton Kershaw a win, but they got encouraging news when Walker Buehler said he thinks he can return to pitch in September.
The Angels were beaten in Baltimore as Jose Suarez’s replacement in the rotation was hit hard early.
The NCAA transfer portal has led to important changes on the Long Beach State, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and CSUN basketball rosters.
Jon Wilner reports on a bill in the California legislature that would further shake up college sports by creating revenue sharing between schools and major-sport athletes.
New Sparks forward Dearica Hamby, whose allegations against the Las Vegas Aces were substantiated by the WNBA, said she expects to be ready to play in Friday’s season opener.
“Angel City,” a three-part documentary about the founding and first season of Los Angeles’ women’s pro soccer team, takes on misconceptions about women’s sports, Damian Calhoun writes.
Next week’s LA Grand Prix track and field meet at Drake Stadium will proceed without headliners Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Athing Mu, Scott Reid reports.
The Nuggets’ victory in Denver to open the NBA Western Conference finals was a missed opportunity for the Lakers to steal the first game on the road as they did in their playoff victories over Memphis and Golden State.
But it also should give the Lakers confidence they can get the road win they need as early as tomorrow and can handle the conference’s No. 1 seed.
After beginning the game sluggishly in Colorado’s rarified air and overmatched against the even more rarified Nikola Jokic, and quickly falling behind by 16 points in the first quarter, the Lakers played the Nuggets even-up and then outplayed them to make it a one-possession game late.
Going into the off day, the Nuggets have as much to figure out as the Lakers do.
“Slowing Jokic, a two-time NBA MVP, might prove to be impossible for the Lakers. Or anyone else,” reporter Eliott Teaford writes in the Southern California News Group papers this morning. “But summoning greater energy for Game 2 should be imperative for the Lakers.”
Jokic finished with 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists – accounting for most of the Nuggets’ 15-5 edge in offensive rebounds – and won the anticipated battle with Anthony Davis even though the Lakers center was superb with 40 points and 10 rebounds.
As columnist Jim Alexander points out, making the Nuggets work for the win in a game they led by 21 in the second half isn’t all good news for the Lakers.
“LeBron James played 39:52 (minutes) and Davis 41:50, and accumulated mileage plus altitude plus one day between games does not do the Laker veterans any favors” going into Game 2, Alexander writes.
Catching their breath won’t be the Lakers’ only adjustment, and we saw the beginning of one in the middle of Game 1. After starting with Davis guarding Jokic as coach Darvin Ham had said they would, the Lakers put Rui Hachimura on him beginning late in the third quarter, allowing Davis to roam. That made a difference, Jokic taking only two shots, missing them both, and committing a turnover when matched up with Hachimura in the fourth quarter.
Playing two games in one – 72-54 Denver for the first half, 72-60 L.A. for the second – gives both teams good reason for hope for the next three to six games.
“We’re up 1-0, so that beats the alternative,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, sounding relieved late last night.
The Lakers were closing in at the end, and they should feel the same way.
Dodgers’ Dustin May (4-0, 2.35 ERA in the past month) faces Minnesota’s Sonny Gray (4-0, 1.39 this eason) in the homestand finale (12:10 p.m., SNLA).
Angels’ Griffin Canning faces former Angels minor-leaguer Kyle Bradish in Game 3 of 4 in Baltimore (3:35 p.m., BSW).
Galaxy, hoping it has turned a corner, visits Columbus and tries to reverse a Crew win in Carson earlier this month (4:30 p.m., Apple TV+). Galaxy update.
LAFC will jump to the top of the MLS Western Conference if it wins at home over Sporting Kansas City and Seattle doesn’t beat Austin (7:30 p.m., Apple TV+). LAFC update.
Orange County SC, last in the USL Championship Western Conference, hosts league-leading Sacramento Republic (7 p.m., BSSC, ESPN+).
BETWEEN THE LINES
Kentucky Derby winner Mage is the 8-5 favorite on the morning line for Saturday’s Preakness, with First Mission 5-2. Bob Baffert-trained National Treasure, fourth in the Santa Anita Derby last time out, is the 4-1 third choice and could get the lead from the No. 1 post.
“Jokic is too (fill in the blank).” – Basketball writer Janis Carr (@JanisCarr) looking for the right words to describe Nuggets star Nikola Jokic.
Game over: Aliso Niguel High’s Jake Hinsvark slides past Yorba Linda catcher Caden Maloof and beats a throw after a double by Chase Muirbrook in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Wolverines a 1-0 win in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinal yesterday. Aliso Niguel will face San Marcos in the final Friday or Saturday in Long Beach. Photo is by SCNG contributor Paul Rodriguez.
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