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Durant s injury devastates victorious Warriors as they head home

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com TORONTO — When a superstar crumples to the floor like that, after everything he’d been through, after mustering the will to return to action, after giving his team the lift it so desperately needed in a win-or-go-home game, everything that happens next is muted: The flow of a tense game, the pulsating fourth quarter, even the Warriors’ inspired Game 5 victory in the final seconds. All that’s left is a siren blaring and asking … Why? Why did the Warriors clear Kevin Durant to return to the NBA Finals on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time)? Why did he feel compelled to do so after missing nearly a month with a calf strain? Why did a segment of the basketball populace question the severity of his injury -- and, by extension, his heart -- during the lead-up? And why do the basketball Gods seem to have it in for a two-time Finals MVP and all-time great who put his team first, and possibly just put his career in jeopardy? The Raptors fans who lined up 24 hours early in the rain just to watch on TV outside Scotiabank Arena aren’t shook. The citizens who braced for a championship celebration into the wee hours and now must deal with deflation aren’t shook. Not even the Raptors, who coughed up a six-point lead with 3.5 minutes left and now must fly 3,000 miles for another tip. No, it’s the Warriors who were left dazed and confused despite extending the series to another game with the 106-105 victory, and it was all captured in the quivering voice of team president Bob Myers while revealing Durant suffered an Achilles injury early in the second quarter. “He’s a good teammate,” Myers finally managed to say. “He’s a good person … it’s not fair … he just wants to play basketball and right now he can’t.” No, he can’t, and Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) MRI will determine when that can happen again. Slow-motion TV replays that showed Durant executing a dribble move past Serge Ibaka and then dropping quickly to the floor were not positive. When Durant grabbed his leg on May 8 (May 9, PHL time), he reached high on his calf. This time, he reached low. A segment of the fans initially cheered Durant’s misfortune, and when Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka put them in check, the reaction quickly flipped from insensitive to respectful. But it didn’t matter in the big picture that they applauded Durant. He was helped to the locker room by director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini and Andre Iguodala. Stephen Curry left the bench and walked behind Durant, consoling him. Durant cursed loudly as he reached the tunnel. Then he disappeared from view and later left the arena by crutches right after halftime. In the history of the NBA Finals, there was no tougher scene to witness, no matter the rooting interest. This was a basketball betrayal, pure and simple, that happened to Kevin Durant. But should it have? Plenty of questions now surround the medical protocol used by the Warriors. Durant took part in what was loosely termed a practice for the first time just a day earlier. Was that enough? Did he pass all the stress tests by then? Did the exams and MRIs give a green light? Were the experts fully apprised? And, perhaps most crucially, how much of this Achilles injury could be directly related to the calf injury and should that have been perhaps a larger concern? “He went through four weeks with a medical team and it was thorough and we felt good about the process," Myers insisted. "He was cleared to play tonight, that was a collaborative decision. I don’t believe there is anyone to blame, but I understand in this world that if you have to, you can blame me.” Beyond that, was there any pressure -- either implied or indirectly placed or discreetly suggested -- within the organization for Durant to return and rescue the Warriors? They were down 3-1 without him. Durant is famously sensitive about how he’s perceived, especially regarding his toughness. Maybe he felt pressure himself to quiet the noise and whispers. Complicating matters is his pending free agency. Durant stood to make hundreds of millions on the market this summer, and a torn Achilles, if that’s what the MRI will show, can require a year to rehab. In the moment, Durant's injury had a temporary bonding effect between the two teams; a handful of Toronto players approached Durant before he checked out and both benches appeared equally stunned. “In this league,” explained Lowry, “we’re all brothers, and it’s a small brotherhood and you never want to see a competitor like him go down.” Before the injury, Durant showed flashes of the next-level skills that helped him lead the Warriors to the last two championships. He hit his first two shots, both from deep. He commanded coverage from Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s best defender. He had a presence. This injected confidence within the Warriors, who broke out a nine-point lead with Durant on the floor and seized early command. He, Curry and Thompson were 12-for-19 shooting for 36 points through the early second quarter. With their missing star in the fold for the first time this series, Golden State looked whole again. Once Durant left the floor, the game tightened until the fourth. Leonard (26 points), who shot poorly to that point, made his move, with 10 quick points to send a quake through the arena. Curiously, Raptors coach Nick Nurse called a timeout with his team buzzing and up five with three minutes left. Did that kill the momentum? Curry and Thompson answered with consecutive three-pointers to tie and then take the lead with 56 seconds left. Then, on Toronto’s final possession, Thompson and Andre Iguodala trapped Leonard and forced him to surrender the ball. It found its way to Lowry, deep in the corner. But Draymond Green got his fingertips on the ball, Lowry’s shot was harmless and the buzzer sounded. No confetti fell from the ceiling, no bottles were popped in the home locker room, no trophy was ceremoniously awarded. Curry and Thompson combined for 57 points and took 27 three-pointers, making 12. They’ll need to duplicate that production Thursday (Friday, PHL time) in Oakland and beyond if the Warriors force a seventh game. DeMarcus Cousins was helpful post-Durant and had 14 points. “They’ve accomplished so much over the years and that doesn’t happen just with talent,” Kerr said. “There has to be more that goes into it and it’s that fight, that competitive desire and ability to stay poised under pressure. It was brilliant to watch.” And yet: There was little joy. “It’s hard to even celebrate this win,” said Klay Thompson. “I told the team I didn’t know what to say because, on one hand I’m so proud of them for the amazing heart and grit they showed, and on the other I’m just devastated for Kevin," Kerr said. "So it’s a bizarre feeling that we all have right now.” It’s a reflex to say the Warriors were inspired by Durant and perhaps they were. When he fell, they had their excuse, yet thought otherwise. For them to play the final 2.5 quarters while dealing with a fractured state of mind says plenty about their mental toughness. “It had made it difficult, especially with the start we got off to and Kevin was playing so well, so it was a real shock when he went down,” said Kerr. “So I give our guys credit.” Durant at times became a magnet for his personality quirks and especially his non-commitment regarding free agency; it was even raised by Green when the two infamously clashed on the bench earlier this season. If nothing else, the injury further endeared Durant to the locker room and, in particular, to his fellow MVP. “Everybody gets so wrapped up in chasing championships, but life is more important in terms of caring about an individual and what they’re going through,” Curry said. “And you see the commitment and the challenges and just what has been thrown at KD this whole year, really. He gave us what he had, he went out there and sacrificed his body and we know how that turned out. “When you get to know somebody and see how genuine they are and how committed they are to basketball, you root for those type of guys. All those emotions come into play when you see him go down like that. It’s not even about this series; it’s about long term, his mindset and being able to get back to being the player and the person he has shown consistently over the course of his career.” The Warriors return to Oracle Arena for the final game in the old barn before moving to San Francisco next season, so there is motivation to shut it down in style. Of course, there’s the goal of forcing a seventh game, and finally, to win a title so Durant’s injury won’t be in vain. “We do it for Kevin,” said Thompson. “He wants us to compete and the highest level, and we’ll think of him every time we step on the hardwood. You think of him every time you dive for a loose ball or go for a rebound, because I know him and I know how bad he wants to be out there. I’m going to miss him, man. It’s not the same being out there without him.” 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 NewsJun 11th, 2019

Antetokounmpo learning how to deal with playoff disappointment

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO – Whenever LeBron James struggled through the sort of playoff performance Giannis Antetokounmpo had Sunday (Monday, PHL time), he seemed to want to put it behind him as swiftly as he could. His routine – assuming it wasn’t The Finals, where he got summoned to the podium, win or lose – typically went like this: the door to the Cleveland or Miami dressing room would swing open and there James would be, ready to face the questions, antsy to move on ASAP. Once he ‘fessed up to the shots he’d missed or the plays he’d botched, that was it. Oh, you knew he’d be looking plenty at video of that game in the hours before he played again, as a way to find and fix the flaws. But for public consumption at least, he shed it fast, like an ill-fitting suit. Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ young star, is still learning this face-of-the-franchise and cutthroat competitor stuff. He took his time afterward in the spartan visitors’ room at Scotiabank Arena. [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] There he sat, with his knees wrapped and his feet plunged into an ice bath. The Kia MVP candidate stared at the score sheet that had been handed to him, the one bearing all sorts of dreary news from the double-overtime setback that cut Milwaukee’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1. Antetokounmpo barely looked up as the semicircle of cameras, microphones and reporters around him grew with media people tip-toeing that fine line between giving him some space and blocking out for position whenever he’d finally take their questions. (“Talk,” as we say in the trade). Heck, Antetokounmpo barely looked up when Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer strode through the dressing room and tapped him on his left knee, a little atta-boy bonding near the end of a long, disappointing night. While teammates poked habitually at their phones in the aftermath of Milwaukee’s 118-112 loss, Antetokounmpo mostly let his lie there on the seat next to him. By the standards he set this year as an MVP favorite, he knew he’d had a lousy night. The reporters standing there, like fans everywhere, knew he’d struggled, of course, in ways rarely seen since his first taste of the postseason four years ago. And he knew that they knew, so… “Obviously it wasn’t my best game,” Antetokounmpo said eventually. “I’ve got to be more aggressive… I’ve got to make the right play.” Defensively, Antetokounmpo was pretty much his usual self, grabbing 23 rebounds for the Bucks, challenging Toronto’s players out on the floor and close to the rim, and blocking four shots. Offensively, though, Antetokounmpo was a mess. He scored only 12 points, his fewest in a playoff game since he was first dipping his toe into postseason waters as a 20-year-old back in 2015. Through three quarters, Antetokounmpo had only six points on 3-for-8 shooting. Seven Milwaukee players and five Raptors had outscored him to that point, and he hadn’t earned his way to the foul line even once. What made it all worse was that the game was sitting there, aching to be taken by someone, anyone. Antetokounmpo got himself going a bit in the fourth quarter, making a couple of shots and earning five free throws. But he missed three. Then he went scoreless while playing the entire first overtime. And then he fouled out just 36 seconds into the second OT. He didn’t object, either, when that sixth foul for stepping in front of Toronto’s Pascal Siakam sent him to the side. Antetokounmpo just took it and exited, sealing it as one of those “not your night, kid” hard lessons. Asked about the frustration that Antetokounmpo might have shown to teammates, if not the public, Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe said: “If you don’t feel bad when you play bad, you don’t need to be playing this game. That’s the feeling that drives you to success. I’m happy he’s feeling like that.” Antetokounmpo’s game didn’t just spin sideways on its own. Raptors coach Nick Nurse switched some defensive duties around and assigned Kawhi Leonard – a two-time Defensive Player of the Year with the wingspan, instincts and reflexes to confound any open-court player – as the tip of Toronto’s spear against the Greek Freak. Then, as expected, Toronto sent second defenders at him, the surest way to get the ball out of Antetokounmpo’s hands or force him into difficult shots. So he tried to make the right basketball plays, as they say, and sometimes he did – he dished a team-high seven assists. Sometimes, though, he did not, turning over the ball eight times. For the record, Antetokounmpo has played 31 postseason games in his young career. In the games in which he has scored fewer than 19 points, his team’s record is 3-6. When he scores 19 or more, the Bucks are 14-8. Not to lay it all at Antetokounmpo’s feet. Fellow All-Star Khris Middleton was way off his usual offensive form, missing 13 of his 16 shots. And Bledsoe matched that. Together, those three starters were a combined 11-of-48. The rest of the team shot 50 percent (27 of 54). “We have the utmost respect and belief that the next game is not going to be as bad as [this] was,” said guard George Hill, who scored 24 points off the bench. “But I know it's sitting in their head that they go for a combined 11-of-48 or something like that. We're not worried about it.” Right. Who’s even counting? Budenholzer and his staff are going to have to figure out ways to get scoring opportunities without being stymied by all the defensive traffic. Teammates are going to have to shoot better, to keep those diggers honest in their matchups. And Antetokounmpo is going to need to play more aggressively and take what happened in Game 3 very personally. He wasn’t quite there yet, Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). “Obviously I want to stay aggressive. But we stick to our game plan,” Antetokounmpo said. “Some days I’m going to have a bad night. But my team has to focus on doing their job and I’ll do mine.” Said Brook Lopez, after watching the throng swallow Antetokounmpo on the opposite side of the room: “We know he’s not going to quit or stop playing. He’s going to continue to be him.” As he talked, Lopez’s phone began vibrating next to him. He said it was Bucks GM Jon Horst calling and, in a bit of gallows humor after a stinging loss, joked that maybe he shouldn’t answer. “I don’t know if I should pick up or not,” the Milwaukee center said, “’cause I want to be here tomorrow.” Antetokounmpo has a call to answer now, too. In Game 4, Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). 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 20th, 2019

Stephen bests Seth in Curry brothers backyard basketball showdown

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — For a special moment, Game 2 of the Western Conference finals relocated from Oracle Arena to a backyard court with a hoop in suburban Charlotte, N.C., and every player save for two suddenly disappeared, and 19,595 witnesses were reduced by 19,593, with the remaining pair watching and pointing from the kitchen window. Yes, late-1990s nostalgia intervened in a tight contest between the Warriors and Trail Blazers. It was Curry vs. Curry all over again, an entertaining spectacle for their amused parents yet a tense one for their sons, Steph and Seth, fiercely trying to take down the other. [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] Even if you weren’t there at the Curry household for those brotherhood battles back in the day, couldn’t you just envision how they developed, much as it did on a dramatic Thursday, two decades later on the other side of the country? There was so much riding on those 1-on-1s then, such as a noogie for the loser, the last remaining cookie for the winner, and most certainly bragging rights, at least for the day. This time, the stakes were tame by comparison, just an ordinary game in mid-May that could dictate which brother eventually goes to the NBA Finals and which one sits next to Dell and Sonya in the stands and watches, nothing more or less. “Yeah, sure,” laughed Seth. “Something like that.” OK, perhaps this was huge after all. This was Steph with 37 points and eight assists rallying the Warriors back from 17 points down, only to get push-back from his brother, who played the best game of his NBA career. This was Seth, younger by three years, getting 16 points and four steals in the game -- all four out of Steph's pocket -- to give the Blazers an unexpected lift. The performance earned enough confidence from coach Terry Stotts that he played the entire fourth quarter. Seth was assigned to check Steph, and vice-versa, and it was a family issue played out before the basketball world. It was a thrilling one at that, because at one point you weren’t sure which Curry would get the best of the other. “This was like the coolest experience I think I’ve ever had playing against him,” said Steph. “Every minute he was out there defensively, he was a pest. Made big shots in the fourth quarter. He was amazing tonight.” Seth made all three of his shots in the fourth quarter, all of them on three-pointers, and a few in Steph’s mug. If he wasn’t the Blazers’ best option, at least he was an option, one that the Warriors -- and the other Curry -- had to respect. He helped the Blazers cling to an eight-point lead with four minutes and change left, until the expected happened and those early bragging rights were rudely snatched back. Playing once again without the comfort of Kevin Durant, Steph shot and willed his team to victory and a 2-0 lead in the series, drawing a foul beyond the arc and draining three free throws to put the Warriors up two. Seth had one last answer, a 29-footer that temporarily regained the lead before the Warriors wore down Portland and went home, 114-111, on Andre Iguodala's last-second strip of Damian Lillard. In all, it was a must-see contest … and the game wasn’t too bad, either. “I mean, they’re brothers,” said Lillard. “For me, having my own older brother, I know what it’s like to go against your brother and what it means. They both know there’s going to be conversations about this at some point when this series is over and they’re going to play like it.” Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, there wasn’t much chatter between them; Seth said they were too involved in the game for that. Well, maybe just a touch: “He tried to distract me at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and I knew I had to go back at him to stay focused on what I needed to do,” admitted Steph. There was more of an urgency on Seth’s part to make this game and this drama happen. After his brother and Klay Thompson took turns dropping an avalanche of jumpers on the Blazers in Game 1, Portland needed a new strategy to defend the pick and roll. So they decided to trap constantly, and they needed agile players for that, which meant less time for Enes Kanter and more time for others, including Seth. Of course, there was another reason to play Seth for 29 minutes: Who else knows Steph Curry better than him? “I’ve seen every Warriors game and every Steph game for the past 10 years,” he said. “I feel like I know some things he likes to do, but it wasn’t enough.” That’s true. You can have all the scouting reports and, in this case, all the backyard hoop experience in the world. There’s only so much one can do against a two-time Kia MVP and widely-regarded Best Shooter Of All Time. Still: there were those four steals by Seth, two of them clean picks off Steph, who’s difficult to strip because of his crafty dribble. And those shots against him. Seth was a problem Thursday (Friday, PHL time), and an irritating one. “I felt like he was thinking where I was at times,” Seth said. I was just trying to make it tough on him. He’s going to do what he does, but if you make him work a little more, make it tough on him, that’s all you can ask.” Seth's had the harder road to this point. While Steph became a basketball icon, Seth kept bouncing between teams over five years, never securing the big contract, fighting to carve a spot in the rotation, and finally getting the chance to do just that. Just a few years ago, Seth played for the Warriors’ G-League team in Santa Cruz, in the shadow of his brother, wondering when he’d get his chance to make his own path. “I don’t take this for granted,” he said. “To get to this point and be a contributor, this is what I worked for all those years. I was confident I could be here, and now that I’m here, I will try to make the most of it. I always want the ball and try to be aggressive and tonight when I found the ball in my hands, I was locked in.” This will give Stotts and the Blazers something to ponder as the series moves to Portland, where they’ll try to keep from becoming another piece of Warriors playoff roadkill. Chances are good, then, that Seth’s spot in heavy rotation is safe. “Every time we played them this season, Seth has played great and I think it has something to do with playing his brother,” said Lillard. “This time I thought he guarded Steph well, and Steph is always on the move, out there running around, coming off screens and just looking to shoot the ball. That’s what he does.” Well, there’s one little detail that Lillard left out, one that Steph Curry was too happy to provide: “It worked out perfectly tonight: He played well and we won.” 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 17th, 2019

Harden, Durant both covet championship, mantle of best player

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com Houston -- Steve Kerr’s mind is made up. He’s seen enough. The debate is closed and conquered, the election over and the firm conclusion has been reached, at least from where he stands. Kevin Durant “is the best player in the world, the most skilled player in the world” according to Kerr, who may be biased, but he didn’t sound like it. Kerr said this not once, but four times in the last two weeks, just in case someone didn’t get the message. [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] It’s hard to see where the Warriors’ coach is going wrong. Durant is evidently on a mission to (a) win his third and perhaps final championship with the Warriors, and (1-a) become universally recognized as the singularly greatest force in the league, a distinction that means so much to him. To paraphrase Durant, y’all know who he is by now. Durant is sitting at the mythical 50-40-90 threshold in the playoffs, the benchmark for shooting accuracy and efficiency from the floor, three-point range and free-throw line. He’s averaging 35 points in the postseason, 39 in the last seven games. He has two near-masterpieces, the 50-point closeout of the Clippers in the first round and 46 on the Rockets in Game 3 of this series. He’s making contested jumpers from all over the floor and from all angles. There’s really no defense for him. But when this series is over, James Harden hopes to change the conversation. If he does, that means (a) the Rockets will pull off a stunning comeback from being down two games, and (b) Harden out-dueled Durant in the process. Is either possible? Well, Harden might be the only player qualified to do so, even with a left eye that still looks like the Japanese flag. He managed to minimize if not eliminate that poked eye by chopping down the Warriors and pulling the Rockets within 2-1 of the series. “I was just being aggressive,” he said. “I was in attack mode.” He’s attacking something else. Harden, too, wants exactly the same as his friend and former Oklahoma City teammate. A championship would be his first, so obviously that’s paramount. The mantle of “game’s greatest player” is also desired because Harden believes the last four years bear that out. In that span, he won the MVP award and finished runner-up twice, better than anyone. Of course, the missing prize is the championship, which is the final and most authentic validation, and this season at least he must go through Durant to achieve that. Harden’s postseason hasn’t been as stellar as Durant’s, although perhaps Game 3 marked a shift. Harden scored 41 points and sent the Warriors home on a step-back three-pointer in the final seconds of overtime. He and the Rockets are bringing a fresh sense of confidence and also have Game 4 in their house. Sending this series all square back to Oakland wouldn’t be beyond his or their abilities. “In `Harden World,’ that was good, but he can play better,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. “That’s James. That’s what he does.” There’s a growing sense among the Warriors, and with some justification, that Harden’s bloody eye is no longer an issue. Harden’s vision was pure when it counted two nights ago and every day brings him a step closer to normalcy, if he isn’t already there. “I think he’s good to go,” said D’Antoni. The other concern for Golden State: Harden’s beginning to figure out the rotations and the Warriors’ defensive scheme. They know Harden adapts quickly to defenders and their tendencies because, at this point, he’s seen it all. Harden is a tough cover because of his shooting range and unwillingness to lose confidence after a string of misses, and his craftiness off the dribble while attacking the rim. “He had 41 points and it was a good chess game,” said Andre Iguodala. “He made some really tough shots. Some shots, where you pat him on the butt, and you say ‘helluva shot’. I felt like it was a little bit of cat and mouse. A guy like that -- you can’t stop him one on one. The defense did a good job of helping off and stopping him. We just have to try to make it hard as possible for him.” The nightmare game for the Warriors is Harden hitting enough early baskets and forcing them to double, then finding teammates for open looks that they make, such as Eric Gordon. In that scenario, points would come in an avalanche and place stress on the defense and possibly get key players into foul trouble, most notably Draymond Green and a suddenly-foul-prone Steph Curry. There’s also an intriguing subplot in the works: The Harden-Durant can-you-top-this drama. With Curry and Chris Paul both performing below their standards in this series, the series seems fixated on Harden and Durant and  what they’re capable of doing to the other team and, by extension, against each other. There’s a genuine and hefty amount of respect between the two, who are friends away from the floor as well. Both left OKC and have since generated millions in endorsement money and find themselves near or at the top of the superstar pecking order. Durant has what Harden doesn’t, a championship. But perhaps Harden has what Durant craves, a team to call his own. That would be the only reason Durant leaves the Warriors in free agency this summer, because it’s difficult to imagine him signing with a team that offers a better chance to win championships or make more in salary than the one he’s already on. Durant earned more points with Harden a few days ago when he defended the Rockets guard, saying Harden doesn’t “cheat the rules” when he tries to draw fouls and manipulate the referees. Durant added: “He can do everything. If you’re not focused, he can drive past you, hit you with the shoulder because he’s strong, and finish with either hand. He can shoot floaters now. Obviously the step-back 3-pointer is one of his staples, but I never believed he was just a free throw guy. He can score in a variety of ways.” Harden must prove that in this series. Last season in the Western Conference finals, he turned to vapor as that series stretched seven games. He made just 24 percent from deep and, after Paul suffered a hamstring pull in Game Five, couldn’t handle the load. In the elimination game, he missed 11-of-13 from deep. Durant, meanwhile, was the star and weeks later would clinch another title and Finals MVP award, outplaying LeBron James in the process. So Kerr’s contention about Durant has much weight and credibility. Through three games of this second-round series, there’s been no reason to question the coach’s claim. Only one person can flip that perception and create doubt. James Harden, therefore, has a tough job ahead. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or 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

Kerr keeps Warriors winning with yoga, creative approach

em>By Janie McCauley, Associated Press /em> OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Anderson Varejao lowered his 6-foot-11 frame into a runner's lunge and raised one arm high into the air to add a twist, demonstrating after a recent shootaround the new yoga pose he just learned. Then, he took it up a notch and attempted an airplane balancing pose on one leg with his arms spread wide. The Golden State Warriors have become yogis. Coach Steve Kerr is committed to changing things up, and he gave Golden State a day off from the practice floor one day last week so the players could practice yoga instead. In the middle of a prolonged stretch at home with a more regular routine, the schedule allowed for some improvising. 'I really liked it,' Varejao said. 'I'm going to do more.' Doubt you'll see Draymond Green or Klay Thompson doing downward-facing dog again soon — though Green might be talked into another try eventually. 'I'm bad,' Green said. 'Yoga isn't for everybody. I think it's a great thing, I just don't think my body is made for all of those different positions. I did well at a few of them. It's hard, it's tough. My body really isn't cut out for yoga.' The very next night after the group class, during warmups for a home game with the Pistons, player development coach Bruce Fraser pulled his foot to his opposite inner thigh for an impromptu tree pose. He laughed as an amused Shaun Livingston watched from the baseline. Andre Iguodala is an experienced yogi who can really cat-cow and is considered top on the team, often taking classes. Center Zaza Pachulia also can forward fold with the best of them. They took prominent positions in the class led by Lisa Goodwin, Golden State's director of corporate communications and also a yoga teacher, at a Berkeley studio — a first for Kerr taking the team away from team headquarters for a yoga session. No surprise, two-time reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry can bring it on the mat, too. 'We've had some optional yoga sessions at our facility. This is the first time we took everybody and made it mandatory,' Kerr said. 'It was good.' The temperature was about 92 degrees for the hour-long power vinyasa class, so it was steamy. Everybody was drenched in sweat by the end for final resting pose, or savasana. 'My muscles felt good,' forward James Michael McAdoo said, rubbing his stomach where his core got a workout. 'It was fun. It was hot in there, like working in a sauna. I told our strength and conditioning coach, 'You got to step up your game. Lisa embarrassed us.'' 'It's awful, it's pitiful,' Thompson said of his own yoga ability. 'It's something I worked on and it's something I actually enjoy. More than just being physically challenging, it's an incredible mental workout. It tests your pain tolerance and your ability to push yourself mentally. That's why I like it. It was really good. I think it helped a lot of us — everybody, even the coaches.' Along with the experienced yoga veterans, there were some first-timers. A few found it extremely tough. 'I'm not the most flexible,' acknowledged player development coach Chris DeMarco. Assistant coach Mike Brown described his debut as 'terrible.' 'For me, it was really hard, but it was fun,' he said, later adding, 'I nearly passed out.' Ron Adams, another assistant who focuses on preparing Golden State's defense, happened to work out in the hottest corner of the room for his first time practicing in that high temperature. 'It's such a cleansing exercise,' he said. The Warriors aren't the only ones doing it. Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy has scheduled yoga time for the Pistons, saying: 'It's got its value, no question about it. Would I consider doing it with them? Probably not.' Kerr goes whenever he can fit it in, typically taking an hour-long class during the lunch hour on game days when the schedule — and his body — allows. It's a time he can focus on taking some deep breaths, literally, away from the pressure-packed NBA workload and just be just another yoga student for 60 minutes out of his day. This weekend marks one year since Kerr formally returned to the bench last Jan. 22 against Indiana after a lengthy leave of absence to deal with complications from a pair of back surgeries. Current Lakers coach Luke Walton led the way during a record 24-0 start and went 39-4 before Kerr's comeback on the way to winning Coach of the Year after an NBA record 73-9 finish. While the 51-year-old Kerr still has some discouraging, physically challenging moments dealing with pain and headaches, he considers himself fortunate to be on the sideline doing what he loves. 'I guess normal is a good way to say it. He seems like his old self,' Curry said. 'You know he's been through a lot just physically trying to recover from the surgeries he's had. I can't imagine the frustration, how long it took and things he had to do and all the doctors he's met with. His whole story is crazy. We're obviously happy to have him back but not only that, you see him with energy and his presence like he wants. It's been good to see.' Whether Kerr will take his team back to yoga any time soon, time will tell. The Warriors are at the season's midway point and the 'dog days' of January as Kerr has put it. Golden State was home for all but a night from Dec. 26 until leaving for Houston on Thursday for Friday's game against the Rockets, with just a quick bus ride to Sacramento as the lone road trip in a 10-game stretch during that span. Because there was so much time to practice, the yoga day was a nice change of scenery. 'Just to get away and go do something else,' Green said. 'We're still together doing something productive. But, it's not for me.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Rampant Monaco goes top of league with 4-1 win at Marseille

JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer   PARIS (AP) — Free-scoring Monaco moved to the top of the French league on goal difference by crushing Marseille 4-1 Sunday, tearing the home side apart with lightning counterattacks that took its season's tally to 60 league goals in 20 games. No other side in Europe's top five leagues has scored as many times as Monaco, which plays in a league often known for its tight defenses. This was the eighth time this season Monaco has scored at least four goals, with four of those matches away. 'We wanted to put in a big performance tonight,' Monaco forward Valere Germain said. 'We have quality players and we know we can do something special this season.' Nice, which drew 0-0 at home to Metz earlier Sunday, is in second place. Defending champion PSG is third, three points behind both Nice and Monaco. PSG and Monaco are involved in both domestic cup competitions and the Champions League, while Nice has only the league to play for. Marseille's tactical approach of all-out attack backfired as Monaco's speedy and nimble midfielders, Thomas Lemar and Bernardo Silva, made the most of the space on offer, as did top scorer Radamel Falcao. All three were on target, with Silva getting two and Falcao netting his eighth goal in the past seven games and 17th in all competitions. The 21-year-old Lemar, recently called up to the France squad, scored with a moment of audacious brilliance in the 16th minute. Challenging for the ball with Japanese defender Hiroki Sakai on the left flank, he headed the ball over Sakai, turned and then let the ball bounce before angling an exquisite lob over goalkeeper Yohann Pele. Falcao continued his scoring streak with another excellent finish five minutes later, running onto right back Djibril Sidibe's pass, drawing Pele off his line and feigning to curl the ball around him before dinking it inside the near post instead. Marseille rallied and Portuguese center half Jorge Rolando rose to powerfully head in 19-year-old midfielder Maxime Lopez's free kick in the 29th. But Monaco could have had further goals before the irrepressible Silva started and finished a move, timing his run perfectly to head past Pele from close range just before the interval. Shortly after the interval, Silva smacked a fierce shot in off the crossbar after Pele had saved a shot from Brazilian midfielder Fabinho, who was at the heart of another superbly orchestrated counterattack. 'It's a pleasure to play with great players like Falcao,' Lemar said. 'It helps young players like me.' Marseille lost the corresponding fixture 4-0 in Monaco and it was only slightly better this time. 'They were better than us in every department,' Marseille striker Bafetimbi Gomis said. 'There was a difference in class between the teams and you could see it.' ___ NICE 0, METZ 0 With star striker Mario Balotelli and creative midfielder Younes Belhanda both unavailable through suspension, Nice lacked its usual invention against resilient Metz, which played far better than expected from a 19th-placed team. 'We can live with a point,' Nice coach Lucien Favre said. 'Both teams could have won it.' Having completed his suspension, Balotelli will be back to lead the line against Bastia on Friday, Favre said. Nice striker Alassane Plea went close to scoring midway through the second half, when his angled shot flew just wide of the post. Nice conceded ground to PSG, which won 1-0 at Rennes on Saturday — with new signing Julian Draxler scoring a superb winner on his league debut. ___ CAEN 3, LYON 2 Alexandre Lacazette scored twice to take his season's tally to 15 league goals, but it wasn't enough as Lyon lost ground on PSG. Although fourth-placed Lyon has a game in hand, it is eight points behind PSG after losing for only the second time in 14 games. Croatian striker Ivan Santini starred for Normandy side Caen, scoring a penalty and the winner from a header after creating the first goal when his cross was turned into his own net by Lyon forward Maxwell Cornet. Lyon midfielder Lucas Tousart hit the crossbar with a rasping shot as Lyon went close to equalizing. 'We made too many basic errors,' Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons said. 'We're going to have to play much better if we want to achieve our objectives.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Curry, Durant, Thompson shine as Warriors blast Pistons

em>By Janie McCauley, Associated Press /em> OAKLAND — Klay Thompson returned from a one-game absence for rest and scored 23 points with four three-pointers in another balanced Golden State performance as the Warriors beat the Detroit Pistons 127-107 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Stephen Curry scored 24 points, Kevin Durant had 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds, and Draymond Green dished out 13 assists for his fifth game in the last eight in double digits. Marcus Morris scored 21 points and Tobias Harris had 18 to lead the Pistons, who lost their second straight game. Curry, Durant and Thompson scored at least 20 points in the same game for the 13th time this season. The Warriors notched their NBA-leading 27th game with 30 or more assists. Thompson shot 9-for-15 after sitting out Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) against Miami because he was worn down after playing through illness for two games. 'It's good for me in the long run. It's been a long couple of years,' Thompson said. Ian Clark hit three-pointers 7.9 seconds apart in the final minute of the opening period and finished with 14 points for his second consecutive game in double figures and ninth in all. The Warriors won their seventh straight at home against the Pistons dating to Feb. 27, 2010. It is Golden State's longest home winning streak against Detroit, topping a six-game run from 1974-76. The 21 lead changes in the first half were the most in any half this season, the Warriors said, citing research by the Elias Sports Bureau. Zaza Pachulia had made 19 straight free throws before a miss with 31.8 seconds left before halftime — ending the third-longest streak of his career. strong>BAY AREA FIRE RELIEF /strong> The Warriors, Oakland Athletics and Oakland Raiders presented a $750,000 check to aid victims from last month's deadly warehouse fire. For the presentation after the first quarter of Thursday night's (Friday, PHL time) Pistons-Warriors game, Golden State President and COO Rick Welts was joined by A's manager Bob Melvin, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Trevor Riggen, regional CEO of the American Red Cross. On Dec. 2, 36 people died in the 'Ghost Ship' warehouse fire. Warriors players and coaches pledged $75,000, while the three pro teams in the East Bay said they would match donations up to $50,000 — and more than 3,600 individuals had contributed to the fund as of Thursday, according to the Warriors. The funds are being collected by the City of Oakland and the Red Cross. strong>DAVIDSON COLLEGE REPRESENTS /strong> The Davidson College Chorale, a group of singers from Curry's college, sang the national anthem during its West Coast swing — and the two-time reigning NBA MVP gave the men and women a wave and nod as they cheered when he took the court for pregame warmups. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Pistons: /strong> /em> The Pistons were outscored 41-19 in the third, the Warriors' ninth 40-point quarter. Detroit was outscored 29-2 on fast-break points and shot 6-for-28 from three-point range. em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em> On Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) in Southern California, Thompson will have his jersey retired at Santa Margarita Catholic High — the school's first jersey retirement for basketball. 'It's a huge honor for me,' he said. Golden State is 12-1 vs. the Eastern Conference this season and also won at Detroit on Dec. 23 (Dec. 24, PHL time). Andre Iguodala has gone a career-best five games without a turnover — topping his previous best from Dec. 30, 2014, to Jan. 7, 2015. He leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio. The Warriors announced they had parted ways with former San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr after just having hired him as a consultant 'to advise the organization regarding certain security matters related to the team's ground breaking ceremony occurring in San Francisco next Tuesday.' strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Pistons: /strong> /em> At Utah on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) in the fourth game of a five-game West Coast trip. em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em>Host Cleveland on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in a rematch of the Christmas Day game won 109-108 by the Cavaliers, who visit Oracle Arena for the first time since winning Game 7 of the NBA Finals last June. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Watson and Clemson dethrone top-ranked Tide, 35-31

div>RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer /div> div>  /div> div>TAMPA, Florida (AP) — College football's first national championship rematch was even better than the original, with an incredible twist at the end. /div> div>  /div> div>Deshaun Watson and Clemson dethroned the champs and became the first team to beat Nick Saban's Alabama dynasty in a national title game, taking down the top-ranked Crimson Tide 35-31 Monday night in the College Football Playoff. /div> div>  /div> div>Watson found Hunter Renfrow for a 2-yard touchdown pass with a second remaining to give the Tigers their first national championship since 1981. A year after Alabama won its fourth title under Saban with a 45-40 classic in Arizona, Clemson closed the deal and denied the Tide an unprecedented fifth championship in eight seasons. /div> div>  /div> div>The lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter, but Watson got the ball last. Likely playing in his final college game, the junior quarterback threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns. In two games against Alabama and the most ferocious defense in college football, Watson has thrown for 825 yards and accounted for eight touchdowns. /div> div>  /div> div>Coach Dabo Swinney, the native Alabaman and former Crimson Tide walk-on receiver, has built an elite program at Clemson that was missing only one thing. Now the Tigers can check that box, too. /div> div>  /div> div>'Eight years ago we set out to put Clemson back on top,' said Swinney, who can turn postgame interviews into a rousing sermon. 'We came up a little short last year, but today on top of the mountain, the Clemson flag is flying.' /div> div>  /div> div>After three quarters of vicious hits and tight defense, Tigers-Tide II ended up looking a lot like the first meeting when the teams combined for 40 points in the fourth quarter. /div> div>  /div> div>Clemson took its first lead when Watson found Mike Williams for a 4-yard touchdown a minute into the fourth quarter to make it 24-21. /div> div>  /div> div>The Tigers took a 28-24 lead with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter when Wayne Gallman surged in from a yard out. /div> div>  /div> div>The Tide's offense, which had gone dormant for most of the second half, came to life with the help of a sweet call from newly promoted offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Receiver ArDarius Stewart took a backward pass from Jalen Hurts and fired a strike to O.J. Howard for 24 yards. /div> div>  /div> div>On the next play, Hurts broke free from a collapsing pocket and weaved his way through defenders for a 30-yard touchdown run to make it 31-28 with 2:07 left. /div> div>  /div> div>More than enough time for Watson. /div> div>  /div> div>'I was calm,' Watson said. He said he thought about Vince Young's last-second touchdown for Texas that derailed the Southern California's championship run in the 2005 championship game at the Rose Bowl. He told his team: 'Let's go be great.' /div> div>  /div> div>Watson hooked up with Williams and Jordan Leggett, who made great catches for big gains to get to first-and-goal with 14 seconds left. /div> div>  /div> div>A pass interference on Alabama made it first-and-goal at the 2 with six seconds left. Time for one more play to avoid a game-tying kick and potential overtime. Renfrow slipped away from the defense at the goal line and was alone for an easy toss. It was the walk-on receiver's second TD catch of the night, adding to the two he had last season against Alabama. /div> div>  /div> div>When it ended, Clemson's 315-pound (143 -kilogram) defensive lineman Christian Wilkins did a cartwheel and Ben Boulware, one of the toughest linebackers in the country, was in tears. /div> div>  /div> div>The Tigers had snapped Alabama's 26-game winning streak and beaten a No. 1 team for the first time ever. /div> div>  /div> div>'It's been 35 long years!' Boulware screamed. 'It's coming home baby! It's coming home!' /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Group effort helps Clippers rally past Grizzlies

em>By Beth Harris, Associated Press /em> LOS ANGELES (AP) — Austin Rivers scored a season-high 28 points and helped rally the Los Angeles Clippers from a 12-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 115-106 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for their second win in a row. Jamal Crawford added 22 points off the bench and DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 20 rebounds for the Clippers, who improved to 4-9 in the regular season without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Both injured stars watched from the bench; Paul could return from a sore hamstring this week. Marc Gasol scored 23 points and Mike Conley had 17 points and a season-high 12 assists for the Grizzlies. Memphis closed to 97-96 on seven straight points in the fourth. Jordan missed a pair of free throws but got bailed out by Crawford's three-pointer that kept the Clippers ahead, 100-96. The Grizzlies were limited to two field goals in the final 4:19. They have lost four of their last six games. The Clippers snapped a six-game skid Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) against Phoenix but they were in a close game early against the Grizzlies and fell into a 13-point hole in the second quarter. Memphis led by 12 early in the third before the Clippers engineered a dramatic turnaround. They ran off 11 consecutive points, including seven by J.J. Redick, to close to 73-70. Redick finished with 19 points. From there, Rivers took over. He scored seven in a row before Jordan's three-point play on a dunk and free throw. Crawford had seven of the Clippers' final nine points to give them an 89-85 lead heading into the fourth. Redick scored 10 points during the spurt, which brought the crowd back into the game. Memphis built a 13-point lead in the second when the Grizzlies closed on a 26-13 run for a 63-53 halftime lead. Four players hit three-pointers in that span. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Grizzlies: /strong> /em>C Deyonta Davis (left foot), F JaMychal Green (maxilla fracture), G Chandler Parsons (rest) and F-C Brandan Wright (left ankle) sat out, leaving the Memphis bench thin. Green sustained his facial injury against the Lakers a night earlier. em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em>Paul had a full workout and went up and down the court during practice. Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said if Paul doesn't have any soreness on Thursday he could return Friday (Saturday, PHL time) at Sacramento. Jordan had 20 rebounds for the second straight game. Rookie F Brice Johnson (acute herniated disk in lower back) also played at practice and was moving well. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Grizzlies: /strong> /em> Visit Golden State on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) to conclude a four-game trip out West. They beat the Warriors 110-89 at home on Dec. 10 (Dec. 11, PHL time). em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em>Visit Sacramento on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in their only road game during a seven-game home stretch. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Cheat Sheet: These Recipes From "FOOD Tastings: Holiday Feast" Will Amp Up Your Noche Buena Spread

Check out these cool holiday dish suggestions from the last leg of FOOD Magazine's Food Tastings......»»

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Cheat Sheet: Maximize Any Space With These Expert Tips

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Cheat Sheet: A Five-Minute Workout To Trick Your Body Into Burning More Calories

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Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2016

Cheat Sheet: Your Guide To The Cutest Holiday Decor Themes + Decorating On A Budget

Metro Home & Entertaining Magazine's EIC Anton Barretto schools you on Christmas Decorating 101!.....»»

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Cheat Sheet: Three Day Trips From London That You Must Check Out At Least Once In Your Life

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Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 21st, 2016

Cheat Sheet: Modernize Your Space With These Tips From Interior Design Mavens

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Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2016

Underdogs have big day at African Cup

By Gerald Imray, Associated Press Underdogs had a big day at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt as Uganda won on its return to the tournament after 41 years and Madagascar held Guinea to a draw on its debut on Saturday. Burundi, another African Cup first-timer, pushed mighty Nigeria all the way. Uganda beat two-time champion Congo 2-0 in Cairo to start the second day of action. Both goals came through headers from set-pieces, with Patrick Kaddu scoring from a corner in the 14th minute and Emmanuel Okwi heading in a free kick early in the second half. That put Uganda top of Group A on goals scored ahead of Mohamed Salah and Egypt, who won the opening game against Zimbabwe on Friday. Uganda last played at the African Cup in the late 1970s. After winning on Saturday the players probably didn't mind that their long-awaited return came at a near empty Cairo International Stadium, an illustration of the African Cup's perennial problem with fan attendance when the home team isn't playing. In Alexandria, Nigeria needed Odion Ighalo's late winner four minutes after he came on as a substitute to deny Burundi on its debut. Ighalo pounced on his first chance. The forward slipped in behind the Burundi defense after a backheeled pass by Ola Aina and stroked a right foot shot across the goalkeeper and into the far corner. Three-time champion Nigeria deserved the win on the second half evidence, but not on the first 45 minutes. Then, Burundi was the more adventurous team on the biggest day in its soccer history. Cedric Amissi controlled a long pass superbly but had his shot blocked by Nigeria keeper Daniel Akpeyi. Akpeyi struggled to keep out a powerful long-range free kick by Gael Bigirimana and Frederic Nsabiyumva hit the crossbar with a header. Nigeria, one of the favorites for the title alongside Egypt and Senegal, ultimately prevailed over the tenacious newcomers after some second-half substitutions injected life into the team. "It was a very difficult game," Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel said. "It was tough. We knew that they are a tough team. They can run and run and run." Nigeria tops Group B ahead of Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi. Madagascar also made its African Cup debut straight after in a double-header at Alexandria Stadium on the Mediterranean coast. Sory Kaba gave Guinea the lead after running onto a long pass, pushing the ball past goalkeeper Melvin Adrien, and swerving past him to score in an empty net. Madagascar responded twice in six minutes in the second half. Anicet Andrianantenaina headed in unmarked from a corner. Guinea's defense stood waiting for the offside flag when Carolus Andriamahitsinoro scored from nothing for 2-1. Guinea won a penalty, converted by Francois Kamano, to get a draw. Midfielder Naby Keita came on in the second half to make his return from injury and couldn't connect with a cross in injury time that would have won it for Guinea. Guinea coach Paul Put said his team gave away two "stupid goals." "I hope it's a lesson for the players," he said. Nigeria clicked in the second half against Burundi after Ahmed Musa and later Oghalo came off the bench to lift a team that had struggled in the buildup with a number of players struck down with illness. Coach Gernot Rohr said "half the team" had a fever this week and couldn't train properly. Nigeria also said winger Samuel Kalu was recovering and had been released from the hospital after he collapsed at training on Friday with dehydration. This African Cup has been switched from its regular January-February slot to June and July so it doesn't clash with any European leagues. But that's landed it in the middle of Egypt's sweltering summer. Organizers warned teams that temperatures will rise to 34-38 degrees Celsius (93-100 F) and games will allow for two water breaks during play, in the 30th and 75th minutes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019