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Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

Warriors miss Kevin Durant, but do they need him?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — Along with the equipment, uniforms, basketballs and the confidence that comes with being up 2-0 in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors brought along another piece of cargo to Portland and it is the heaviest of them all. It didn’t come packed in luggage or a box; instead, it’s just wrapped in a hunch and tied with a question mark, and it is this: When do the Warriors start missing Kevin Durant? [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The back-to-back champs are now 3-0 in these playoffs without their superstar and his aching calf. And 4-0 overall in games in which Durant didn’t finish. That probably says something about the Rockets, and so far about the Trail Blazers — two teams unable to exploit his absence. However, while the (bleeping) Giants — Steve Kerr’s description of his undermanned team — are honorably playing with a sense of urgency, they aren’t buying the notion that they don’t need Durant. It’s an easy trap to fall into, to believe the outside chatter that they’re better off without him. The next two games, both at Moda Center, will either feed that belief or destroy it. Yes, because the Blazers must beat the Warriors four out of five to advance, there’s little to no chance of them denying Golden State a fifth trip to the Finals regardless of whether Durant shows up in this series or not. And that’s good for the visitors, since Durant didn’t make the trip for Games 3 and 4. “There's no mental adjustment,” said Kerr. “You just play. You go out there with what you have, and this is our third game, 3 1/2 games, really without him, and so we're just trying to hold down the fort. Hopefully he continues to progress and he has made progress, but it's a little more serious than we thought at the very beginning. So we'll see where it all goes, but he's in there all day long getting treatment. He's done a great job of committing himself to that process.” There’s a thought that, even if Durant was 80 percent, the Warriors will keep him benched to prevent a chance of re-injury, and that’s a wise decision with wide-ranging ramifications. By protecting Durant’s best interest here in this free agent year, the Warriors score big points with him and his camp less than two months before Durant must make a decision on his future. That said, what are the Warriors doing right to remain unharmed by his absence? The easy answer is they won championships without Durant and so this is more of the same-old, same-old. Except it isn’t. This actually might be more impressive. Understand that Golden State's system had to be changed here on the fly and in the middle of the postseason, not only to compensate for Durant’s 37 points per game in these playoffs, but also his defense. Once Durant was lost late in the third quarter of the fifth game of the second round, Kerr had to reach down his bench and rely on players who weren’t thrust into roles of significance and seldom saw fourth-quarter minutes up until this point. Meaning, Jonas Jerebko, Quinn Cook, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Alfonzo McKinnie have either seen their minutes rise and/or their roles inflated in the process. Of course, most of the burden fell on the proven core: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Each of those four, in his own way, is playing at a premium, even if it’s a small sample size. “That’s what it takes in the playoffs," said Kerr. "You have to have guys playing at a really high level.” Curry seems reborn or at least sprung free of a playoff fog where his numbers and production didn’t match his regular season. He finished strong in a pair of fourth quarters while closing out the Rockets and is the most impactful player in this series so far. He’s averaging 35 points on 51 percent shooting in the three games without KD. It wouldn’t be a stretch to suspect Curry is getting a charge out of this, and his ego, which he keeps hidden, is being fed. Thompson is now clearly the second option, whereas before he was often No. 3 and often only if his shot was falling. The green light never turns yellow without Durant around, like Curry, Thompson is working without handcuffs or a leash. After hitting 20 shot attempts once in the playoffs before Durant’s injury, Thompson is now hoisting 22 a game, good for a respectable 25-point average. The Warriors are constantly feeding him and running screens for him and urging him to take the shot, even if it’s contested. For a player who insists he’ll re-sign with Golden State this summer, Thompson is getting a taste of what life must be like if he played for, let’s say, the Clippers and was the focal point of the offense. “This team's been together a long time and they trust each other,” said Kerr. “When the ball starts moving, that's when we're tough to guard.” Green has never been better this season than in the last few weeks. Recharged after losing weight immediately following the All-Star break and no longer feeling pain in his previously-injured shoulder, Green is menacing on the defensive end where once again he’s guarding all positions except point guard and doing it marvelously. In addition, he’s pushing the ball up court to help Curry and Thompson stay as fresh as possible and directing the offense from the high post. He’s averaging 10 rebounds, 6.5 assists and three blocks without KD. “You know, we can't sit and look over our shoulder and say, `Hey, man, when is K going to be back?’ We just got to play with whatever we got,” Green said. “We got to play and give him an opportunity to get back, and I think that's what really falls on our shoulders. We're a very confident group. Hopefully he's back sooner than later, but as a guy who is in the battle every night, we can't sit and look over our shoulder and wonder when he or DeMarcus [Cousins] is coming back. We have to assume they are not coming back and play with what we got. Obviously, we are hoping that they do. But while they are not out there, we just got to play.” Finally, there’s Iguodala. He stayed hibernated all regular season while averaging career lows across the board. At age 35, it appeared time had finally caught up. Instead, this was a case of a crafty veteran preserving himself for springtime, and with the amount of talent on the Warriors, he could afford to do so. Iguodala had solid moments guarding James Harden in the second round and is among those trapping Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum this round. One of the signature plays of the series was Iguodala coming up with a walk-off strip of Lillard as time expired in Game 2. “You're kind of in awe of it because not many guys can make plays like that consistently,” said Curry. So this is where the Warriors are without Durant and also DeMarcus Cousins. They were good enough to stump the Rockets (again), then proved too much for the Blazers in a pair of home games. Nobody would be shocked if they take a game in Portland or maybe finish the sweep. It’s a luxury that few teams have or could pull off even if they did. This comes from a core that’s been together for six years, a coach pulling the proper strings and a bench that isn’t shrinking in the moment. “We feel like we can still win no matter who is out there on the floor, and that's why we're in the position that we’re in and have won championships with all the injuries and all types of stuff,” said Curry. “We know what the mission is, and we're on it right now.” These Warriors are playing flashback basketball to the time before Durant came aboard — and prepping themselves for next season, when and if Durant jumps overboard this summer. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019
Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 14th, 2019
Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 14th, 2019
Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 10th, 2019

BLOGTABLE: What s most impressive about Bucks?

NBA.com blogtable What impresses you most about Milwaukee’s 8-1 postseason record? * * * Steve Aschburner: The Bucks’ depth. Everyone knows who Giannis Antetokounmpo is. But not everyone notices how frequently this team adds to its leads when Antetokounmpo is on the bench, at least in these playoffs. During the regular season, Milwaukee was 9.7 points better, per 100 possessions, when "The Greek Freak" was on the floor. During this postseason? The Bucks are 10.3 points better when Antetokounmpo sits down. Now, those playoff on/off numbers are 11.4 vs. 21.7, so it’s hard to go wrong either way. Small sample size, but it indicates how well the reserves are playing, how much coach Mike Budenholzer and GM Jon Horst have cultivated this bench and how effectively these guys play in whatever combination they need. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] John Schuhmann: Giannis Antetokounmpo can't not be the most impressive thing about the Bucks, but the most noteworthy aspect of Milwaukee's postseason thus far is the play of their bench. While other teams have been forced to shorten their rotations because some reserves have been disappointing (or downright unplayable) in the playoffs, the Bucks have had some reserves play better than they did in the regular season. George Hill's regular season's contributions were rather minimal, but he was huge in the conference semis, averaging 15.5 points on 62 percent shooting over the Bucks' four wins. Pat Connaughton, meanwhile, has given them some important rebounding and floor spacing. And the Bucks have outscored their opponents by more than 21 points per 100 possessions with Hill and Connaughton on the floor together. Now, they've added more depth with the return of Malcolm Brogdon. Sekou Smith: The most impressive thing about the Bucks' 8-1 postseason run is that, save for Game 1 against the Boston Celtics, they treated each and every other game the same way. They didn't show the Celtics any more respect than they did the Detroit Pistons in that first round sweep. That's the mark of a champion, a team willing to disregard the opposition completely in its quest to win 16 games and bring home a Larry O'Brien Trophy. Like most everyone else, I needed to see if what the Bucks did during the regular season would translate to the postseason. And the overmatched Pistons couldn't provide the evidence needed in the first round. Punishing the Celtics the way they did, though, speaks to me in a completely different manner......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 10th, 2019
Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2019

Raptors go big, earn crucial Game 4 victory to even series

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com PHILADELPHIA — The Eastern Conference semifinals series between the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers has turned into a game of survival. The Raptors prevailed in Game 4, a 101-96 victory that evened the series at 2-2, because Kawhi Leonard continues to play absurd basketball. Sunday's (Monday, PHL time) damage: 39 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, along with the biggest shot of the series so far, a pull-up three-pointer over Joel Embiid at the shot-clock buzzer that put the Raptors up 94-90 with 1:01 to go. Through four games, Leonard is averaging 38 points on a ridiculous effective field goal percentage of 69 percent. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] That effective field goal percentage, with more than half (51-of-89) of his shots having come from outside the paint, is better than anybody in the league shot on at least 300 field goal attempts this season – with the top seven guys being bigs who took almost all of their shots in the paint. "The stuff that he can do to create his own shot," said Sixers coach Brett Brown, "is Kobe-like for me. He's just so gifted in relation to doing that." Nobody else on the Raptors has an effective field goal percentage that even reaches the league average (52.4 percent) in the series. Pascal Siakam (50.0 percent) is the closest, but was clearly suffering from his bruised right calf on Sunday, shooting 2-for-10, including 0-for-7 outside the restricted area. So, with or without a healthy Siakam, Raptors' coach Nick Nurse has been searching for answers – "You're looking for some type of spark," he said pre-game – someone or something he could count on, knowing that Leonard could not beat the Sixers by himself. Patrick McCaw was introduced to the non-garbage-time portion of the series on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), but the big change for Toronto in Game 4 was Toronto playing … big. Since the start of this season, Serge Ibaka has almost exclusively played center. After starting alongside Jonas Valanciunas each of the last two seasons, Ibaka played just 13 total minutes with Valanciunas before the trade deadline. After Valanciunas was dealt to Memphis for Marc Gasol, Ibaka and Gasol played just 31 regular-season minutes together. Through eight playoff games, Ibaka and Gasol were on the floor together for just three total minutes. And through the first three games of this series, they had each shot 6-for-20, with Ibaka registering a minus-17 in his 49 minutes. But with 5:27 to go in the first quarter on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), Ibaka checked in for Siakam instead of Gasol. And it wasn't just about Siakam's injury, because the starting power forward played almost 29 minutes on Sunday, including a couple of minutes in a do-or-die fourth quarter with both Ibaka and Gasol on the floor and Leonard playing the two. When Siakam has sat, the Raptors have typically played Leonard or Norman Powell at the 4. On Sunday (Monday, PHL time), Nurse chose to go big, quite an adjustment to make with the Raptors facing a 3-1 series deficit if it didn't work. "Tonight was one of those nights," Ibaka said, "where we say, 'You know what? Even though we didn't have an opportunity to play together a long time, we're going to just try it out there.' We've been playing basketball for so long. We're just going to try to figure it out and play hard." The two bigs played more than 23 minutes together on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), with almost half of that coming in the fourth quarter, when the Raptors' season was seemingly on the line. The game was tied at 75 entering the fourth and Toronto was down four after the first few Philly possessions. But Nurse stuck with the two bigs and actually played them with Siakam and Leonard for a couple of minutes in that fourth quarter. The risk paid off. Ibaka and Gasol combined to hit three big shots, they spaced the floor well enough to let Leonard do his thing, and the Raptors held Philly to just 5-for-21 shooting in the final period to regain homecourt advantage in the series. "The biggest thing I felt tonight was the rebounding," Nurse said, of the bigs playing together. "It just felt like we were getting pushed around a lot by the glass the last two games. That would happen with our small lineup, they were just throwing it up there and revving their engines and flying to the rim. Tonight we just had more size, that way, and it kind of looked like the rebounds were affected by that." The Raptors' defensive rebounding wasn't any better in the Ibaka-Gasol minutes (when they grabbed 16 defensive rebounds and the Sixers' grabbed five offensive boards) that it was otherwise (19 and six). But it was better than having Siakam on the bench and a smaller power forward on the floor through the first four games (18 18 defensive rebounds, 10 Philadelphia offensive boards). With the rebounding improvement, the Sixers scored just 40 points on 44 possessions with Ibaka and Gasol on the floor together. They scored 56 points on 50 possessions otherwise. On the other end, Gasol (7-for-13) and Ibaka (6-for-12) each made as many shots as they had made through the first three games. It was just enough support for Leonard for the Raptors to get the biggest win of their season. "He's comfortable being a 5," Gasol said of Ibaka. "I'm able to play both positions a little bit. So it's simple. Defensively we mix it up, and the actions that they try to run we just need to figure out, and talk, and communicate and be on the same page, not just the two of us, but the whole team." Philly's output was affected by another ailment befalling Joel Embiid, who felt ill all day and shot just 2-for-7. The Sixers still outscored the Raptors by 17 points in Embiid's 35 minutes, but they were unable to survive the 13 minutes Embiid was on the bench: the Raptors won those handily, 33-11. "We're all going to look at what he shot from the floor, his free throws, whatever," Brown said of his center. "Cut to the chase, go to the bottom line, and look at his plus-minus. Despite him being ill and despite seven shots, or what he shot at the free throw line, and really his free throws were quite good up until the fourth period, he ends up a plus-17. It's just another reminder of how important he is to our team." Maybe that's the big story from this game. But Embiid's plus-17 breaks down to a plus-1 in the 20 minutes he played with both Ibaka and Gasol on the floor, and a plus-16 in fewer than 15 minutes against just one of two. The NBA playoffs are different than the 82-game grind of the regular season. Sometimes, they require something that you've never done before. In Game 4 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the Raptors went big for the first time this season and, as Nurse put it, "did just enough" to get a crucial victory. John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019
Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2019

Bucks respond, play their game in Game 2 win over Celtics

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE – The Stonecutter’s Credo is best known around the NBA as the philosophy and culture of the San Antonio Spurs. The shorthand version – “pounding the rock” – has been embraced as the organization’s mantra across 23 seasons under coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs hold no monopoly, though, on that faith in hammering away a hundred times without results in order, finally, to split open the rock on blow No. 101. It has been in play in both games so far of the Milwaukee-Boston Eastern Conference semifinal series at Fiserv Forum. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] In the opener, the Bucks were relieved to still be within a possession at halftime after bringing none of their usual energy or intensity. Then the Celtics struck their pivotal blow, splitting the stone when they dominated the third quarter 36-21. This time, in Game 2 Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum, the roles were reversed. Milwaukee dialed up everything, threw in a couple of adjustments and still couldn’t get much separation from Boston. Then wham! Again it happened in the third quarter, the Bucks delivering the blow this time, 39-18. One moment, Milwaukee was up 74-71. The next, 98-73. By the end it was 123-102, the best-of-seven series even at 1-1. Games 3 and 4 will be in Boston Friday and Monday (Saturday and next Tuesday, PHL time). Fans watch scoreboards, the equivalent of counting each team’s whacks at the rock. Coaches watch everything else, which is why both Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer and Boston’s Brad Stevens felt Game 2 was won well before it broke open or officially was decided. Stevens wasn’t fooled by the points. He saw how both teams were getting or denying them, and that was enough. “I thought they dominated a lot in the first half and we were lucky to be down by four,” he said. “They owned their space on both ends of the court better than we did. Our reaction to that was to settle on offense, and it led to some run outs. Then it just steamrolled us.” Budenholzer had the all-full perspective. “That’s more what we’re accustomed to seeing," he said. “I liked our spirit, our activity and our competitiveness up and down the roster.” Those things had been absent, or at least in short supply, when Milwaukee lost its homecourt edge in the series on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). That’s why this one turned must-win so swiftly for the East’s No. 1 seed. Mathematically, the Bucks had wiggle room, but going to Boston down 0-2 raised the very real specter of not getting back to Fiserv at all. The Bucks players claimed not to let that bad mojo in, focusing only on the frustration they felt in starting the series with such a clunker. True or not, they fixed what needed fixing. Giannis Antetokounmpo, especially early, tried less often to bust through a wall of Boston defenders. Instead, he gave up the ball to wing Khris Middleton or let guard Eric Bledsoe probe the defense in a more aggressive performance. Antetokounmpo’s teammates did their part in the symbiotic relationship by taking and making the good perimeter looks he earned them by drawing so much defensive attention. With so many dropping – the Bucks were 20-of-47 on three-pointers, outscoring Boston by 30 in that category – there invariably was more space for Antetokounmpo to work. The Greek Freak scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and shot more free throws (18) than the Celtics’ starting lineup combined (11). He wasn’t likely to get the scolding from his older brother Thanasis that he’d gotten in after the first game. Middleton was the one who served notice to the Celtics that their jobs would be tougher, scoring 20 of his 28 points by halftime. Seven of the three-pointers were his, on 10 tries. “We need to get better with that,” Boston’s Al Horford said. Bledsoe forced action and got the better of his matchup with the Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, who, in 48 hours, went from a game worth bronzing to one in need of forgetting. Irving, arguably the NBA’s top shot maestro, scored nine points on 4-of-18 shooting and shouldered a lot of the responsibility after. “I tried to get to my spots but they were really sending guys over every time,” he said. “That’s a sign of respect and I just have to be more efficient in controlling the tempo of the game, the pace, where I want to get to on the floor and making reads better around that mid-range area.” Irving said that Milwaukee’s “frantic” defensive style in Game 2 revved up Boston’s offensive decisions, and not in a good way. When rushed shots missed, the Bucks pounced for run-outs. The Celtics shot 39.5 percent after their 54 percent success in the opener. Budenholzer unleashed that “frantic” defense by having his guys switch their assignments with each screen. That’s not how they played this season, but those who were around in 2017-18 did that sort of stuff under Jason Kidd. It kept the energy level high, even when a pair of Bucks occasionally ran into each other. The Bucks' other adjustment was starting Nikola Mirotic at forward in place of Sterling Brown, the sub who’d been holding injured Malcolm Brogdon’s place. Mirotic scored just nine points, finally hitting a three-pointer after it mattered, but his size was helpful defensively, Budenholzer said. Boston heads home knowing it can advance without winning another game in Milwaukee. The Bucks assured themselves of a Game 5 and have fresher, happier film to study for the weekend games. As a series, this rock feels like it’s going to take a lot more whacks. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2019

Bucks loathe to adjust gameplan after season-long success

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE — Just one game removed from one of the most marvelous seasons of basketball in Milwaukee Bucks history – 60 victories in the regular season, a sweep of Detroit in the first round, the debut of a dazzling new arena – the team is loathe to let all that go and overreact to 48 minutes that didn’t go their way in Sunday's (Monday, PHL time) Game 1 loss to the Celtics. But if they underreact in Game 2 Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum, it will be at their own peril. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Adjustments – from game-to-game, at halftime, even on the fly during live action – are as much a part of the NBA postseason as podium interviews. The reason is simple: Strategic mistakes, small failings and tendencies you can get away with facing teams randomly across a six-month canvas are sniffed out and exploited by an opponent you see as many as seven times in a two-week span. You can stubbornly stick with a pat hand, but most coaches and players would rather change things up to minimize what didn’t work last time and might, if repeated, prove fatal again. The Bucks, though, sounded a little clingy Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in the wake of their 112-90 defeat. Wanting to hold on to everything that worked so well from October until, well, noon on April 28 (April 29, PHL time). “No, no. Definitely not,” forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all year.” You might be inclined to read that quote assuming sarcasm, as in: Oh right, we’re just going to keep doing exactly what got us blown out and stripped of home-court advantage. Sure. After all, Antetokounmpo had one of his worst performances of the season (7-for-21 FGs, a minus-24 rating). But no, the Greek Freak was sincere. “I don’t think there should be no change at all,” he said. “Why should there be a change after a game that we lost, like … we should not be the team that makes the adjustments.” Antetokounmpo was not alone. “The way we’ve been playing all season has been just letting it fly,” center Brook Lopez said. “So even if we miss it 10-out-of-10 times, just keep [shooting].” The Bucks made 13 of their 39 three-point shots Sunday (Monday, PHL time), well off their regular-season rate of 38.2 percent. Lopez was 1-for-4 on three's and 1-for-5 overall, combining with fellow Bucks starters Sterling Brown and Eric Bledsoe to shoot 3-for-17 from the floor. Said Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer: “I think adjustments and all those things are sometimes overrated.” So unless the Bucks are trying to snooker the Celtics with some tweaks they weren’t willing to share, we’ll get to see how that pat hand plays out. Milwaukee did get serious mileage out of its formulas prior to Game 1. Offensively, they’ve surrounded Antetokounmpo with potent three-point shooters, relying on his drives into the lane to draw defenders and offer them unobstructed views from the arc. Defensively, they committed to defending the other guys’ three-pointers, protecting the rim and keeping foes off the foul line. What did that leave? Contested two-pointers and mid-range jumpers – so ugly and out-of-style in the NBA of 2019. It all worked tremendously – until the Celtics shot 15-of-27 on mid-range attempts in their rout. Suddenly, the Bucks’ sagging defense against pick-and-rolls looked as gimmicky and ineffective as that tactic deployed late this season of guarding Houston scorer James Harden from behind. Once the prolific Rockets scorer got over his shock at the unusual method, he was able to pick it apart. Ditto for the Celtics' shooters. Kyrie Irving is one of the most dangerous scorers from any place on the floor but particularly inventing ways to put the ball in the hoop in the mid-range. Celtics veteran Al Horford savored his looks inside the arc, as did Gordon Hayward. The Bucks, meanwhile, were 5-of-12 from mid-range. They try to avoid those shots for the same reasons they encourage opponents to take them. Never mind that the same dynamic was in play in the Houston-Golden State opener later in the day: the Rockets took only four mid-range shots, were 14-of-47 on three's and lost, because the Warriors were 10-of-23 on mid-range attempts and 31-of-53 on two-pointers overall. There is one area in which the Bucks believe they can adjust without, y’know, adjusting. They can play harder. A pervasive lack of hustle and urgency was apparent in real time at Fiserv but was undeniable when Budenholzer and his staff went to “the truth machine” before practice Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). That would be the video the Bucks reviewed before Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) workout. “He chewed us out. And like I say, ‘Film don’t lie,’” Bledsoe said. “It was effort, man. We weren’t playing our game.” Antetokounmpo said he got scolded on that front in a postgame phone call from his older brother Thanasis. “No. 1, I play for my family,” he said. “So when he’s like, ‘C’mon man. Giannis! You’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. You’ve got to still be aggressive. You’ve got to make the right pass,’ it stabs you in your heart. But at the end of the day, I know it’s the truth.” The Bucks appeared a step slow on both ends. It showed when they went after loose balls or closed out on Celtics shooters. And it showed when lollygagging, relatively, in getting to their spots on offense. Boston already was sending extra defenders at Antetokounmpo, and the Bucks not being crisp in their execution never made them pay. “We weren’t as quick in transition,” Lopez said. “Our pace wasn’t great … We can be better at getting it out. Everyone running the floor, finding their spots. Keeping the spacing wide.” It should be noted the Bucks only lost two games in a row one time all season (March 2-4 against the Jazz and Suns). They’re proud of that resiliency. Of course, in the regular season, they only played the same opponent in consecutive games one time (New York, Dec. 26-28, PHL time). The Bucks never had to react after losses to specific things the other guys did. They merely had to be themselves, only better. “Even though we lost the first game, we’re just gonna come out and play our hardest and see how Game 2 goes,” Antetokounmpo said. “If it doesn’t go well for us, then you can think about adjusting. But right now, we’re not adjusting nothing.” Fine. But unless someone rattles Boston out of its comfort zone in the mid-range, Milwaukee’s adherence to its style of play could contribute to its undoing. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2019

Warriors' Zaza Pachulia has Kerr, not critics, in his head

JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer OAKLAND, California (AP) — Zaza Pachulia heard all the negative noise from his Golden State Warriors fans, and he began taking it personally. He was the new guy at the start of this NBA season, the lone non-All-Star in Golden State's decorated starting lineup. He was no Andrew Bogut, the imposing big man he replaced, and fans got nasty with their frustration. Now, Pachulia constantly recalls what coach Steve Kerr preaches: The only thing that matters is how the Warriors feel about each other, not what anyone outside thinks or says. Not that it was easy for Pachulia to ignore the scrutiny. 'That was one of the biggest challenges I've had. I've never been in this situation,' he said on Monday. 'It's a lot of responsibility, I understand it. It was very emotional for me at the beginning. I was kind of taking it very personal. But that's where mental toughness kicks in. 'I'm fortunate I have friends who have been in this situation throughout the league, but most importantly, the biggest help came from my coaching staff.' With Kerr in his ear, Pachulia has made an effort to tune out the critics. As expected, the Warriors have needed time to jell this season, and Pachulia's been at the center of the development. Early on, the center from Georgia took a passive approach, and also found himself in subpar shape. Now he's getting more comfortable, and is emerging at the perfect time. The Warriors are headed into the second half, and Pachulia has found his place complementing Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. Last month, Pachulia had season-bests of 15 points and 14 rebounds in a win at Brooklyn, and he believes that helped him turn a corner. He has four straight games scoring in double figures entering Tuesday's home matchup with Miami after doing so just twice in his first 32 games. In a victory at Sacramento on Sunday, Pachulia made a jaw-dropping, no-look backward heave that was right on target to Curry and led to an easy basket by the league MVP. 'He's tried some crazy stuff before, but he made a good, timely read as the best way to get me the ball,' Curry said. 'It was right on target, one bounce into my lap and I was able to finish it. I'm sure Coach will make sure he's not experimenting too much more with that.' Pachulia's enjoyed being part of the 'fancy stuff' these pass-happy Warriors get up to — Golden State wracks up 30-assist performances at an astonishing rate. 'Zaza's got a little flair to him,' Kerr said on Monday. 'He likes making plays like that. Not that he's constantly making them, but he's got a little of that in him. I know he had fun with that play.' Never before had the big man been part of a team with so many great players, and finding his way with this group made for a daunting adjustment. That core of talent is the reason he chose to join Golden State for his 14th season. 'No disrespect to Dallas, Milwaukee, but we weren't this type of team. No one was expecting a championship from us,' Pachulia said. 'This team is different, right? Let's be honest. So every time you make a mistake on the court, and that's very normal, especially in the beginning, it looks like 10 times, 100 times worse. 'Fans are spoiled here because of the types of seasons they had — last year, where they broke the record even though they lost in the Finals, it was amazing. The year before they won the championship, so they were feeling really comfortable with the players and the personalities they had.' For Pachulia, the improvements have come from focusing on the small things — such as minor footwork adjustments and working to better defend the perimeter. That has come with a willingness to learn. 'The thing that I'm most proud of in watching him this year is his growth. I'm talking about a guy who's played a lot of basketball,' Warriors assistant coach and defensive guru Ron Adams said. 'The ability to be coached at his age has really been fun. ... He is one of those lifelong learners.' Still, Pachulia knows the compliments from those around him must be earned. From the basketball-crazed Bay Area fans, too. 'My skin got thicker,' Pachulia said. 'I don't listen to stuff from outside or even if I hear or if I read something, I just let it go very easily. It's not bothering me, because the truth is that Steph or Klay or KD or Draymond or Andre (Iguodala), all these guys, they either like playing with me or they don't. That's what matters. The coaching staff is happy with my presence or not. 'Maybe the first day, you're not expecting any of your teammates to give you some good words. We've played enough games that my teammates have a lot of compliments to say about me. My coaching staff has a lot of compliments to say about me. Those compliments don't come just like that. They are professionals and you get a compliment because you deserve it. That means a lot.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Dustin Johnson puts great year behind him, ready to move on

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer br /> KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — For all his power and athleticism, Dustin Johnson doesn't get enough credit for his remarkable ability to quickly forget the past. That goes for the good times, too. The day after he lost a chance to win the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits by grounding his club in sand without realizing it was a bunker, Johnson was on a boat in the Atlantic throwing down a few beers with his buddies. 'Just kickin',' he said that day on the phone. The morning after Johnson three-putted from 12 feet on the final hole at Chambers Bay to lose the 2015 U.S. Open, he sped off in a golf cart to catch up with Wayne Gretzky and his group at Gozzer Ranch in Idaho. They let him sleep in. Johnson wanted to play. 'I know this much,' Gretzky said. 'If I ever lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, I wouldn't want to skate with a bunch of amateurs the next day.' How does that change after winning the U.S. Open for that elusive first major? And then adding a World Golf Championships title, a FedEx Cup playoff event and winning the money title, the Vardon Trophy and PGA Tour player of the year? Wouldn't that be enough to soak up the greatest season of your career? Not if you're Johnson, who travels through life without a rearview mirror. 'I think I'm pretty good at putting anything behind me,' Johnson said Wednesday on the eve of a new year on the PGA Tour. 'It's already happened. You can't change it. Obviously, good stuff gives you a lot of confidence, but I mean, none of that matters at this tournament. Who (cares) what I did last year?' He at least knows what worked. Johnson started in February to pour extra time into his wedges, and he went on a run last summer that showed — finally — why he is regarded as the biggest talent in golf. Over the last six months, he won three times and finished in the top 10 at all but three of his final 13 events. He arrived on Maui a week earlier to soak up some beach time and get ready for his 10th year on the PGA Tour. Johnson already has 12 victories on the tour, at least one every year except for 2014. Johnson is No. 3 in the world, though close enough to Jason Day that he could overtake him by the end of January with a victory or two. That might be a goal, though he's not consumed enough by the world ranking that he checks it weekly, as the two guys (Day and Rory McIlroy) ahead of him do. Johnson figures it's about winning, and if keeps doing that, it won't be long before he has no one left to chase. There's no need to do the math in the world ranking, either. Johnson is not big on details. 'I'm just trying to go out and do the same things I did last year,' he said. 'I know what recipe works for me to have success.' He makes it sound simple. His driving is an alarming combination of length and accuracy, the latter helped greatly by introducing a fade. He went from one of the worst to one of the best with his wedges, often referred to as the scoring clubs. He wants to hole more putts. Everyone does. Not regarded as a deep thinker on the golf course, that's also one of his greatest assets. A short memory, or even no memory, can be helpful in golf. Johnson showed that at Oakmont last year at the U.S. Open when the USGA said it would wait until after the final round to decide whether he should be penalized one shot for his ball moving on the fifth green. He played the final 11 holes not knowing his score, kept his head down, hit one big shot after another and won by four. It turned out to be a three-shot victory after he got the penalty, and that's as close as Johnson gets to being irritated. 'I was a little bit angry,' he said with a smile. 'You can ask me a thousand times, I still don't think I deserved a penalty. I was in there arguing and finally said, 'Guys, I don't care anymore. I want the trophy, let's go.' It didn't matter.' He stayed at Oakmont so late that he finally got home about 3:30 a.m. to Florida, giving him a few hours on the flight home to reflect. That's about it. That's all he ever needs. Johnson has a reasonable record at Kapalua. Top 10s are not a good measure because the field rarely has more than about 30 players. He won in 2013 in a 54-hole sprint because of high wind, and that really was the closest he came. Johnson is one who typically eases his way into a new year. There is a part of him that can't wait to get started, mainly because that means he is moving on, the only direction he knows. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Will Warriors make another push for 73 wins?

em>NBA.com blogtable /em> Through 35 games, the Warriors are just three games off their 73-win pace from 2015-16. Do you think they will finish below last season’s win total, match last season’s win total or exceed it … and why? strong>David Aldridge: /strong> em> strong>Below. Likely well below /strong> /em>. I get the sense that Steve Kerr believes the pursuit of 73 last season, while understandable and perhaps even correct given the unique circumstances, cost his team a lot of emotional energy going into the playoffs. So I suspect he'll rest a lot of his starters down the stretch in April to make sure they're ready for a long postseason run. I am absolutely sure they will not 'go for it' again just for the sake of chasing the record. strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong> em> strong>Golden State doesn’t want to win 73 games or more /strong> /em>. That 73-9 record – a tremendous achievement last season – wound up getting them mocked as much as anything when they didn’t finish off with the NBA championship. Steve Kerr & Co. don’t need that sort of attention or pressure again, and even the players who pushed last spring to eclipse the 1996 Bulls’ 72-10 mark will want to be smarter and embrace this trendy NBA notion of “rest” as a way to better prep for the postseason. strong>Fran Blinebury: /strong> em> strong>The Warriors will not reach last season’s record of 73 wins because they won’t try. /strong> /em> They saw what the pursuit of history did to them a year ago, wore them down and out and had them physically unprepared to go the distance to win a championship. A year ago Stephen Curry and Draymond Green pushed at Steve Kerr to let them go for the record. This time sanity prevails and will give the key members of his lineup plenty of rest coming down the stretch of the regular season. It’s all about Larry O’Brien Trophy or bust this time around, not chasing records. strong>Scott Howard-Cooper: /strong> em> strong>Below /strong> /em>. I’m saying massive tailspin all the way to 68 or 69 wins. The Warriors went for it last season because Steve Kerr could see his locker room really wanted the record, but that won’t happen again. Kerr made it clear from the first day of training camp that rest would be much more of a priority than a year earlier, and the same locker room is on board. Maybe that changes if they get into the final few weeks and 74 gets the heart pounding, but I doubt it. June would have been the only thing that matters anyway. But after the way the Dubs went down in flames, it matters in a special way for them. strong>Shaun Powell: /strong> em> strong>They'll finish below because Steve Kerr will begin resting players on a rotational basis come late March or early April /strong> /em>. He's already on record saying 73 or more wins means nothing to him and, I suspect, the players as well. It's championship or bust for this team, so expect to see Curry, KD, Draymond and Klay logging heavy bench time in the spring. strong>John Schuhmann: /strong> em> strong>They're not getting to 73 (and they'd probably prefer not to), but I wouldn't say that 70 is out of the question /strong> /em>. The Warriors have four of the 20 best players in the league and could rest one of those four guys every game from here on out and still have more talent their opponent most nights. So, more than any other team we've ever seen, they can make their health and energy in April, May and June their No. 1 priority and still win a lot of games in January, February and March. strong>Sekou Smith: /strong>I'm convinced the Warriors learned a lesson from last season in regards to chasing numbers during the regular season. As fun as it might have seemed at the time, that 73-win chase didn't produce the desired results in the playoffs. em> strong>So I say they finish below last season's win total. Why bother with an attempt at breaking your own record when you can keep your focus on the real prize? /strong> /em> They don't hand out Larry O'Brien trophies for the best team in the regular season. strong>Ian Thomsen: /strong> em> strong>They're going to finish short because winning 73 isn't their goal. /strong> /em>And it should not be. The only thing that matters for this group – and for Kevin Durant in particular – is prevailing in the playoffs. The regular season is very simply a means to that end. strong>Lang Whitaker: /strong> em> strong>Below. And if they accidentally mess around and start winning even more games and look like they’re on track to get near 73, I suspect they might self-sacrifice the effort and start sitting guys down the stretch. /strong> /em> Because if we learned anything from last season, as great as it was for the Warriors to finish with 73 wins, the only numbers anyone cares about is 3-1. And for Golden State, getting back to the Finals as healthy and rested as possible should be the goal. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

5 questions for a new year, starting with Tiger Woods

br /> DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — The new year in golf is consumed by an old topic, this time with a twist. Instead of wondering when (or if) Tiger Woods will play, the question now is how will he play? And here's another question: Who ever imagined a time when the guys he beat for so many years would be rooting for him to play better? 'I think we've proved that golf does not need Tiger to be successful,' Brandt Snedeker said last month in the Bahamas. 'That being said, golf is better when Tiger is around. I don't think we need Tiger necessarily any more. We all want Tiger. I think golf is a better product, it's better TV and I want to see Tiger play again. It's fun. You see the crowds he brings and he still has an innate ability to do something only a couple of guys can do.' No one commands attention like Woods. The biggest problem for golf might be battling the perception that it matters only when Woods is playing. Compared with last year, that's a nice problem to have. There remains a battle for supremacy, minus any talk about a 'Big Three.' Europe has to face a Midwestern crowd, this time in the Solheim Cup. Two of the majors are going to courses that have never held one — Erin Hills for the U.S. Open, Quail Hollow for the PGA Championship. The first tee shot of the year is Thursday. Answers to a few topics will take months to sort out. TIGER WOODS By most accounts, Woods made a successful return in the Bahamas, except for the one that matters. He finished in 15th place out of 17 players and 14 shots out of the lead. But it was a start, and a healthy one. The best bet is that Woods will return at Torrey Pines at the end of the month, and with each event, the measure will shift form his health to his score. Jack Nicklaus is mostly curious about his motivation, and he speaks from experience. Nicklaus won his 16th and 17th majors at age 40, and he refers to his final major in the 1986 Masters as 'an accident in many ways.' 'It's really difficult when you've had as much success as I had over a long period of time to charge your batteries, day after day, and go back out and say, 'Man, I want to do this again.' That's what he's going to have to do,' Nicklaus said. 'Whether he can do that or not, I don't know. That's going to be the question.' THE BATTLE FOR NO. 1 Jordan Spieth started last year at No. 1, won three times and fell to No. 5. Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy were separated by 0.76 points of their world ranking average going into last year, so some movement was inevitable. Day has been at No. 1 since the end of the March, and while there is slightly more separation at the top, there are a half-dozen players or more who could end 2017 at No. 1. McIlroy came on strong at the end of the year. Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open and was the PGA Tour player of the year. Henrik Stenson won his first major and became a threat every time he teed it up. Hideki Matsuyama ended last year by winning four of his last five tournaments. A different player has finished No. 1 for the eighth consecutive year. Odds are this will be the ninth. MAJOR MYSTERIES No one knows what to expect at the U.S. Open for the second time in three years. The USGA took golf's second-oldest championship to Chambers Bay in the Pacific Northwest in 2015, and now heads to Erin Hills in the middle of Wisconsin. The last time the U.S. Open went to two courses in a three-year span that had never held a professional major was Hazeltine (1970) and Pebble Beach (1972). Then again, Pebble had been around since 1919 and hosted the U.S. Amateur four times. Erin Hills opened in 2006. The PGA Championship is going to Quail Hollow, the North Carolina club's first time holding a major, though it has held the Wells Fargo Championship since 2003. CUPS RUNNETH OVER The Americans will be going for a third straight victory in the Solheim Cup when it goes to Iowa this summer. Nothing brings out passion in team golf quite like the United States vs. Europe. The Presidents Cup also holds some intrigue. The International team has lost six straight times and has won only once since the Presidents Cup began in 1994. More pressure would seem to be on U.S. captain Steve Stricker, not only because the Americans haven't lost since 1998, but because he is the likely Ryder Cup captain for 2020 at Whistling Straits in his native Wisconsin. Speaking of Ryder Cup captains, expect the next American skipper to be named next week. But those matches are two years away. WHAT WILL PHIL DO NEXT? Phil Mickelson was runner-up at a major for the third straight year since his last victory, which was the 2013 British Open at Muirfield for his fifth major. The focus, as always, will be whether Lefty can complete the career Grand Slam at the U.S. Open. At age 46, and having gone through two hernia operations in the offseason, it would seem a victory anywhere would suffice. Mickelson, however, shouldn't be ruled out after last year. He made 10 birdies in a Ryder Cup singles match against Sergio Garcia. He shot 267 at the British Open, matching the fourth-lowest score in major championship history. Just his luck, he got only a half-point against Garcia, and he was runner-up at the Open. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Hottie Showdown: Pretty Boy Luis Hontiveros or Tough Guy Next Door Tony Labrusca?

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Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2016

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Category: newsSource:  filipinoexpressRelated NewsOct 8th, 2016

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