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Australian Open quotes: Rafael Nadal says no plans to retire

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal isn't planning to give up tennis anytime soon. Johanna Konta won't take too seriously her dominating win in the Sydney International last Friday. And Sam Stosur, who has never done well at her home Grand Slam tournament, isn't getting too down on herself after her preparation — or lack of it— for Melbourne Park. Following are some thoughts and impressions from players who spoke on Sunday, the day before the start of the Australian Open: ___ RAFAEL NADAL The takeaway: Rafa is not about to call it quits anytime soon. Nadal, a 14-time major winner, is coming off two lengthy injury layoffs last year, including 2 ½ months off after pulling out of the French Open before the third round with left wrist injury and another rest at the end of the season. Just don't ask him if he's ready to pull out a rod and reel, or a 9-iron. 'If I don't believe that I can be competitive, and when I mean competitive, is fighting for the things that I fought for during the last 10 years, I will be probably playing golf or fishing at home,' Nadal said. 'I am being honest ... I am here because I believe ... I can fight for the things that really motivate me.' Given his history with injuries, Nadal was asked if he was playing pain free. 'What do you mean 'pain-free'?' he said. 'I am not injured, no. Pain-free is a long time ago.' ___ JOHANNA KONTA The Sydney-born British player, a surprise semifinalist at Melbourne Park last year, won the Sydney International final against Agnieszka Radwanska last Friday, a victory so dominating that the Polish player, ranked third in the world, said: 'I can't remember playing someone like this on that level, that consistent for the whole match. I couldn't really say that I did something wrong. She was just playing amazing tennis.' Konta said Sunday she's not reading too much into those plaudits. 'Obviously to have beaten a player like Aga, I'm definitely very pleased with the level I played,' Konta said. 'But we all know that it's not a given. It doesn't decide how you will do in the next event. I'm taking it as a positive from the week itself, but I'm looking to, again, work hard here and really try to do the best that I can here.' ___ SAMANTHA STOSUR Competing in her 15th Australian Open, the highest-ranked Australian woman in the draw has never made it past the fourth round at Melbourne Park. Her preparation for her home major wasn't helped with first-round losses at Brisbane and Sydney 'I can't change it, it is what it is,' Stosur said of her early exits. 'I'm not going into my first round freaking out that I haven't had more than two matches. Like I said, I've done everything else that I can. Obviously it would have been really nice to have played more. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in that situation from the first two weeks of the year.' The 18th-seeded Stosur has a tough first-round match against Heather Watson of Britain. ___ SIMONA HALEP The fourth-seeded Halep lost in the first round last year at Melbourne Park. This year she'll have the distinction of opening play on the main Rod Laver Arena on Monday, against American Shelby Rogers. 'I hope is going to be better this year ... it's special to open the tournament on the biggest stadium. I'm not thinking very much at that thing. I just have to go there. I know the opponent pretty well.' Halep beat Rogers in straight sets in the third round at the 2015 U.S. Open in their only previous meeting. ___ TOMMY HAAS The 38-year-old German veteran has said 2017 will be his last year on tour — he's taking over as tournament director at Indian Wells. Haas, who plays Benoit Paire of France in the first round, wants to go out with some dignity after a career of injuries. He has been ranked as high as No. 2, won 15 ATP Tour titles, reached the semifinals of the Australian Open three times and Wimbledon once, and won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. His career has been stalled by injuries since he had shoulder surgery two years ago and right foot surgery in the middle of last year. 'I think it's important to find that right time, or that moment for you when you feel it's over and it's time to do something else,' Haas said Sunday. 'For me it's very important just to be back on tour and back here at the Australian Open. It's been a while since I've played here and I'm excited to get the opportunity to go out on the court one more time and compete.' And to keep playing, hoping that his best is once again around the corner. 'When you are a dreamer, and a lot of us are, you obviously like to play at your best level again, maybe play against some of the top players somewhere on a big stage and play a great matches,' Haas said. 'Maybe get far in a tournament one more time.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

No. 10 Bluejays prey on Providence on the road

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Creighton coach Greg McDermott will get a little extra time to relish his first victory over the Friars in Providence. The 10th-ranked Bluejays were preparing for an unexpected night in Rhode Island's capital on Saturday night after beating Providence 78-64. A snowstorm blanketed the area with up to a foot of snow, and Creighton wasn't optimistic about getting out on time. ''I haven't enjoyed my stays here very much in the past,'' said McDermott, who was 1-6 against the Friars and 0-3 in Providence. ''So I'm going to try to smile a little bit tonight.'' Justin Patton had 20 points and Maurice Watson Jr. scored 11 with 14 assists as the Bluejays (15-1, 3-1 Big East) won in Providence for the first time since 1970. Marcus Foster had 17 points and Khyri Thomas added 16 for Creighton. Emmitt Holt scored 17 points and Kalif Young had nine rebounds for Providence (11-6, 1-3). With a snowstorm dumping 6-12 inches on the area, the Dunkin' Donuts Center was unusually quiet for a visit from a Top 10 team. The early stumble didn't help. PC missed its first six shots before Holt's layup made it 10-2 with 4 minutes gone in the game. The Friars managed to stay within 10 points until there were about 8 minutes left, when Creighton went on a 15-1 run to put the game away. ''I appreciate everyone who came out,'' Providence coach Ed Cooley said. ''I don't think we ever gave the crowd enough down the stretch for them to get us over the hump like they have in the past.'' Providence had won its last five against Creighton, including the 2014 Big East title game. The Bluejays' only victory in Providence was in 1970, when the Friars played on campus. Creighton scored the first 10 points of the game and nursed the lead for most of the first half until two layups by Holt and a jumper by Isaiah Jackson tied it 27-all with 5 minutes before the break. It was 31-31 when the Bluejays scored eight straight points on two dunks by Patton and two layups by Thomas to help them take a 39-33 halftime lead. BIG PICTURE Creighton opened the season with 13 straight wins before losing to then-No. 1 Villanova on New Year's Eve. The Bluejays will have another big test against No. 18 Butler. The Friars had a tough start to Big East play, with games against ranked Xavier, Butler and Creighton among their first four (along with Georgetown). Next up is unranked DePaul. UNDER THE WEATHER I The announced attendance of 8,176 was 4,000 short of a sellout and probably inflated by several thousand no-shows. Both coaches noticed. ''The weather probably helped us a little today. There wasn't as many as we usually see here,'' McDermott said. ''It's one of the places we've never been able to get a win. We came in here with a really good team our first year in the Big East and got pounded.'' Creighton had planned to head back after the game but was making plans to stay. ''Our plane's here ready to go,'' McDermott said, ''but the pilots are putting on the brakes.'' UNDER THE WEATHER II Watson threw up at halftime of Wednesday's game against St. John's and was still feeling the effects of flu-like symptoms late this week. But he played a team-high 36 minutes. ''I'm OK. We got a win. We've got a day off,'' he said. ''It's all in a day's work.'' INJURIES PC point guard Kyron Cartwright left the game with knee tendinitis with 5 minutes left in the first half and the Friars trailing by two points. They managed to tie the game twice before Creighton went on an 8-0 run. Cartwright, who averages 10 points and seven assists, finished with one point and no assists in 12 minutes. ''That's a big blow to your team,'' McDermott said. ''We certainly weren't playing a full-strength team.'' UP NEXT Creighton returns home to play No. 18 Butler on Wednesday. Providence visits DePaul on Tuesday. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Giannis Antetokounmpo named 2019 NBA MVP

By Beth Harris, Associated Press SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks fell two games short of the NBA Finals. They won big at the NBA Awards. A tearful Giannis Antetokounmpo earned Most Valuable Player honors and Mike Budenholzer won Coach of the Year on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in Santa Monica. Antetokounmpo, a 24-year-old forward from Greece, beat out Paul George of Oklahoma City and James Harden of Houston, who won last year. Antetokounmpo was a resounding winner. He received 941 points and 78 first-place votes in the balloting — 165 points more than Harden. Harden finished second with 776 points and 23 first-place votes. "MVP is not about stats and numbers, and obviously James Harden had unbelievable numbers and Paul George also, but obviously it's about winning," Antetokounmpo said backstage. "We created great habits throughout the season and were able to stick by them, and that's why we were able to have a chance in every single game we played and were able to win 60 games." The show had an international flair, with three international players besides Antetokounmpo winning. Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds while earning All-NBA first-team honors this season, his sixth with the Bucks. He led the franchise to the best record in the regular season and the Bucks reached the Eastern Conference finals. Tears rolled down his cheeks as Antetokounmpo thanked his mother Veronica and brothers in the audience at Barker Hanger. He credited his late father for pushing him toward his goals and his teammates and coaching staff for their help. "We started from nothing as a family," he said, "and we are going to be in every stage that we can be as a family." Antetokounmpo said backstage that he had vowed to his family he wasn't going to cry. "When you hear your name up there on the stage and then you realize these years of hard work, what you did in the past, then you start getting emotional," he said. Budenholzer also got choked up while thanking his family after his second coaching honor. He earned the trophy for the first time with Atlanta in 2015. He guided the Bucks to a 60-22 record in the regular season in his first year with the franchise, leading them to the Eastern Conference finals, where they lost to eventual NBA champion Toronto. "What they did on the court this year, including the playoffs, was special," Budenholzer said backstage. "We weren't good enough in the end, but we certainly feel like we have enough talent, we have enough character to be a team that's playing in the finals and winning a championship." Budenholzer also coached Team Giannis in the All-Star Game last season. He beat out Denver's Mike Malone and Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers. Horst was honored in voting by his fellow NBA executives, while the six biggest awards were determined in voting by a global media panel. Lou Williams was voted the Sixth Man of the Year for the second season in a row and third time in his career, tying former Los Angeles Clipper guard Jamal Crawford. The guard won for the first time in 2015 with Toronto. Williams beat out teammate Montrezl Harrell, with whom he formed the highest-scoring bench duo in NBA history last season, and Domantas Sabonis of Indiana. Williams became the career leader in points off the bench during the season. "This one was different because I kind of went into the season wanting this one. In years past I always just played and lived with whatever happened," he said. "I felt like this one was going to be a legacy piece." Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz won Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. The 26-year-old center from France beat out Antetokounmpo and George. "I never thought I would be able to do that when I started basketball playing in France," Gobert said backstage. "I didn't know an NBA player, I didn't know nothing about basketball. I was just having fun." Pascal Siakam of the NBA champion Toronto Raptors earned Most Improved Player. The 25-year-old from Cameroon averaged 16.9 points and started 79 of 80 regular-season games for the Raptors in his third year with the team. Siakam had 26 20-point outings after scoring 20 points in a game only once in his first two seasons. He then scored 32 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Siakam beat out De'Aaron Fox of Sacramento and D'Angelo Russell of Brooklyn. Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks easily won Rookie of the Year. The 20-year-old small forward from Slovenia accepted his trophy from RJ Barrett, who went to the New York Knicks as the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft last week. Doncic was the No. 3 pick last year. The other finalists were Deandre Ayton of Phoenix and Trae Young of Atlanta. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson shared the Lifetime Achievement Award. The former rivals took turns holding their trophies while each other spoke. Bird said the NBA is in good hands with today's talented athletes and he urged them to keep the game the same so it continues on for future generations. Johnson starred for the Los Angeles Lakers and Bird with the Boston Celtics. Mike Conley Jr., newly traded to the Utah Jazz, claimed trophies for Teammate and Sportsmanship of the Year. Conley earned the awards for his 12-year tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies. Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards received the NBA Cares Community Assist honor......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 4 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 105-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2019 NBA Finals on Friday at Oracle Arena: 1. Dynasties eventually become ‘die-nastys’ Will we get one more game at Oracle Arena? The scene of so much Golden State wonderfulness the past five seasons? A building about to be abandoned when the Warriors move from Oakland to a state-of-the-art arena across the Bay? Hold up. Asking one more game out of the Warriors seems a lot at the moment. These guys just suffered their second consecutive home playoff loss by 10 points or more, something that hasn’t happened to this franchise in 50 years. After three straight games scoring precisely 109 points, the Warriors came up 15 short Friday (Saturday, PHL time). They are 0-9 overall this season when held to double digits, and 0-11 in the playoffs during the Steve Kerr era, when they score 94 or fewer. And now they’re on the wrong side of a 3-1 deficit, lacking everything from certain healthy bodies to an edge, a sharpness that was missing in the second half. Granted, Golden State once held a 3-1 edge in a Finals, all the way back in 2016 … when LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers chased them down and became the only Finals team to claw out of such a chasm. The Warriors did the same to Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference finals. So they not only have a blueprint, they have the know-how and an opportunity to do it again. Like Kerr before him on Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) postgame podium, Warriors forward Draymond Green spoke of simply trying to win one basketball game, the next game, as the proper way to dig out of this series hole. But then he dropped his guard and mentioned winning three in a row, something the Warriors have done often. But they’re a whole year removed from doing that in a Finals (last year’s sweep of the Cavs) with a healthy Kevin Durant. This is a more worn-down, tired team. In fact, Game 4 was more than Golden State’s 102nd game of 2018-19, regular and postseason combined. It was the 102nd playoff game of their five consecutive Finals runs, which means they have crammed an extra season-plus into their schedules compared to the underachievers on lottery teams sitting at home. From the looks of it Friday (Saturday, PHL time), these guys are ready to be toppled, like the Lakers in 1989 and again in 2004, like the Heat in 2014 and the Cavaliers last June. The boisterous Raptors fans who staged their takeover of the Warriors’ building after Game 4 were merely mirroring what their favorite team did on the court from halftime on. Golden State could not stop it. Rudy Tomjanovich might still be inclined to scream into the darkness. (“Never underestimate the heart of a champion!”) But pride only takes you so far, and that’s mostly what the Warriors have left. 2. Third quarter? That’s Toronto’s now It took the Raptors more than 18 minutes to score 30 points Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), stymied by the pace of the game and particularly Golden State’s scrappy, hustling defense. Immediately after halftime, it took Toronto only 12 minutes to put up 37. The time of death for Golden State on Friday was immediately after Kawhi Leonard drained consecutive three-pointers – “F-you” shots, teammate Fred VanVleet memorably coined them – that boosted Toronto from a four-point deficit to a 12-point advantage. The Warriors already had played well enough to rightly feel they should have had a bigger cushion; falling behind so rudely seemed to buckle the defending champs. That they feel third quarters are their birthright made the switcheroo intolerable. “We had a big problem with the third quarter in Game 2,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “We had to make some adjustment there to try to combat the way they come out of the half. We made the decision to put Fred in, [first] in Game 3 and then Game 4 again. Mostly it's to try to keep up pace of our offense going. It gives us two point guards out there that can push the ball, get it in and get it going, and it kind of paid off. “I know Kawhi's two big three's to start the half really changed the whole feel of everybody. Everybody was like, ‘Okay, man, we know we are here, let's go,’ and we just kind of kept going from those two three's.” For the Warriors, who have done that to so many others, turnabout was a pain in the rump. “Oh, this sucks,” Draymond Green recalled thinking as Toronto took control of the quarter. “It sucks really bad. You just try and do whatever you can to change it. Get a stop, get a bucket, get some momentum.  Every time we did, they answered.” Green was asked about the difficulty of rattling the stone-faced Leonard with whatever defensive tactic Golden State could muster, and brushed the question aside. “I don't think you're ever going to rattle Kawhi. Not sure we used that word one time in our scouting report, ‘We're going to rattle him,’” Green said. But it’s not just Leonard now. It’s the Raptors. Time after time, whenever Golden State revved up with a couple of scoring possessions, signaling to their fans they ready to make a run, Toronto snuffed it with a three-pointer or a well-executed pick and roll. They’ve got a team of Kawhis-in-training, unflappable lately if not as inscrutable. “Most teams will take cues from their leaders or their star players, so I think that spreads around a little bit,” Nurse said. But he also praised vets such as Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and VanVleet for how steady they’ve been. Now, with the temptation to imagine hoisting a championship trophy, the Raptors might be expected to buy into the stat that, of the 34 teams in The Finals who have led 3-1, 33 of them got their rings. But this team is so focused, so resolute in taking care of business down to the smallest and most mundane task, that all Nurse might have to do is remind them how many aspiring champs won three games in a Finals and still headed into summer empty-handed. (It's 19.) No trophy, no rings. 3. A surge from Serge The chemistry between Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry was evident in their playful banter on the podium Friday night. Each slipped into his role, Lowry as the instigator, Ibaka as the target of his playful jibes. “You joining me?” Lowry asked, as Ibaka got to the podium a half minute after him. “Serge Ibaka, everybody. You all know him. Nice outfit. Worth a lot of money. Is that jacket real leather?” “Yes, it’s real leather,” Ibaka said. "Pants too tight, he can't even sit down,” Lowry said. On court, Ibaka’s defensive impact and 20 points in reserve dampened a lot of Warrior enthusiasm. There are nights when Ibaka comes across like Chief in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a large, lumbering and rather stiff option near the rim with very little to say. Some nights, he even seems to be asleep. But still waters often run deep, too deep for the Warriors in Game 4, it turned out. Ibaka’s here-today, gone-tomorrow shooting touch had him playing in a way that none of Golden State’s three centers – DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney or Andrew Bogut – could match. “Once he gets into the series," Nurse said, "which he did in Game 3 with the blocked shots and the rebounding and stuff, he seems to stay in the series. He usually gives you all of it.” Said Lowry, about knowing when a Serge surge is coming: “He doesn't say anything. When Serge is effective defensively is when he's at his best. I think the scoring just comes. We're going to make sure he gets that pick-and-pop jump shot, he's rolling … When he brings that intensity and that fierceness, it's kind of tough to stop him on both ends of the floor.” 4. Stephen Curry had a bad game One of the most famous pieces of magazine journalism ever was entitled, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” by Gay Talese, a profile written when Sinatra obviously was ill of body and temper, and didn’t even grant Talese an interview. So our headline kind of tells the story as his did: Curry, one of the top five players in the NBA and probably the greatest overall shooter of all time, was not his two-time MVP self. He wasn’t even the Game 3 version (47 points). The Warriors point guard scored 20 fewer points in this one, and was 2-of-9 from three-point range. He missed all five of his shots from the arc in the first half and he picked up some obvious frustration fouls. Curry played 43 of the 48 minutes, and Golden State was outscored by 11 points when he was on the court. “It wasn’t his best game,” Kerr said. Evaluating Curry, for the Warriors, was going to come down to breaking down video and keeping the faith. Evaluating him, for the rest of us, is getting complicated these days by a sense that Curry did not get his due in past Finals – at least in terms of winning the Bill Russell Award as Finals MVP. But that’s no excuse to don rose-colored glasses every time he hits the floor. As scintillating as his performance was in defeat Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) as the Warriors’ only healthy threat, his Game 4 work was raggedy and unproductive. “They have been aggressive all series and trying to take space away from me and Klay,” Curry said. “I missed some shots early that I usually make, especially from the three-point line. But overall, I thought I got good looks.” Every game doesn’t need to be a referendum on the level of Curry appreciation. He might have deserved more consideration as Finals MVP in 2015, when Andre Iguodala snagged it with a strong performance in the clinching game. And even though Kevin Durant was an easy choice in 2017, there were some who felt Curry was more essential (including this voter). In some cosmic and just way, Curry probably should have been recognized with hardware somewhere among the three. But all signs are pointing to Leonard now, so Curry might have to muddle along with "only" those two Maurice Podoloff trophies for regular-season MVP, along with his All-NBA berths and assorted accolades, his ginormous contract and bounty of commercial endorsements, three rings (unless this series turns around) and a better life than most people who’ve ever walked the planet. 5. Durant to play in Game … 8? It’s possible that Durant will come walking through Rick Pitino’s proverbial door and seize what’s left of the championship series by the throat, playing like the two-time Finals MVP he is. Failing that, if there’s a Game 6, maybe that’s the night Durant at least does a Willis Reed impersonation, limping through the Oracle tunnel to a thunderous roar and hitting a couple of early shots to inspire his teammates to something special. (There still, alas, would be a pesky Game 7 for which to account, back in Toronto, likely muddying the drama.) Then again, maybe Durant doesn’t come back at all. For The Finals or with the Warriors, period. Speculation at this point is all over the map. Some think the Warriors planned to hold him out until things got really dire, to buy extra healing time and maybe not use him at all. Others now believe Durant’s rehab process of his strained right calf back-slid to some degree on Thursday, when he participated in a checkpoint workout with the training staff. A few folks think he never was going to return, regardless. After all, the All-NBA forward hasn’t played since May 8 (May 9, PHL time), missing nine fairly important games. This is a league where injuries typically face an “If this were a playoff game, would he play?” threshold. Durant has been nearly as absent from this NBA postseason as LeBron James. Look, all injuries are different, and even the same type of injury can have different timelines with different sufferers. Klay Thompson rushing back from his hamstring issue after skipping only Game 3 is at the crazy-resilient end of the durability scale. Kevon Looney basically rose from the ashes, giving the Warriors a rim runner and 10 points with six rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. He had been ruled out for the rest of the series after suffering a rib cartilage fracture in his crash to the floor in Game 2. After anticipation of Durant’s availability got out in front of his reality for a few days, the chatter is more tempered now. There’s a shrug and a whiff of uncertainty folded into every mention. If Durant had his Thursday workout, he would have played Friday (Saturday, PHL time). If he had a setback … Heck, at this point it might be more pragmatic for the medical peeps to declare him out and let the Warriors who’ve come this far see this through, yea or nay. “As far as KD, there's been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Draymond Green said. “So that's not going to change now. Obviously we hope to have him, but we'll see what happens. We don't make that final call, he don't really even make that final call.  His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great. And if not, you still got to try to find a way to win the next game.” The Warriors had been holding out hope for Durant’s return as if he was their ace in the hole, imagining him with zero rust or rhythm issues once back and no limitations on his gait. But he has passed the “In case of emergency, break glass” point of urgent help possibilities. Now Durant resembles more the keg hanging from a Saint Bernard dog’s collar. It’s a nice idea, but when was the last time one of those dogs saved somebody who literally drank from the little barrel? Toronto is in a foreign land, by NBA standards. But it ain’t the Alps. 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 NewsJun 9th, 2019

Warriors head into Game 3 vulnerable, yet pressure is on Raptors

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. -- The two-time defending champion Warriors will be of divided attention here in the next few days. They’ll be occupied by Game 3 of The Finals … and Game 1 of Kevin Durant’s rehabilitation. The two go hand-in-hand, actually, and hold equal importance. With untimely injuries threatening to delay the Warriors’ third straight title or downright prevent it from happening, the club teeters on edge, unsure whether its next step will be on the gas pedal or a banana peel. Klay Thompson is iffy for Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) because of a gimpy hamstring that cut short his floor time in Game 2, which the Warriors managed to win anyway. He did some light shooting on the eve of Game 3 against the Raptors and, Klay being Klay, counted himself in after three days’ rest. But it’s not really up to him, is it? It’s up to the team medical staff and mostly a tendon that’s moody and doesn’t always cooperate with the human attached to it. And so: This all depends on what side of the bed the hamstring lands on Wednesday morning. Kevon Looney, the fast-developing big man who has been a pleasant surprise throughout the postseason, is done for the summer with a cartilage fracture in his collarbone area. At least in this case, his loss is minimized by the re-emergence of DeMarcus Cousins, back from two months off with a bum quad muscle and feeling frisky about it and his encouraging effort in Game 2. OK, now here’s the elephant in the emergency room: What does the future of The Finals hold for Durant, MIA for roughly a month now, who has been ruled out for Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)? Durant didn’t practice with the team Tuesday morning (Wednesday evening, PHL time), but he did go through an individual workout that afternoon. There is no scheduled team practice on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), the only off-day between Games 3 and 4 at Oracle Arena. Yet all signs point to Durant putting his body through a workout/practice/scrimmage at some point between now and Friday’s (Saturday, PHL time) Game 4 because coach Steve Kerr said the former MVP is “ramping up” his workouts. It’s safe to say the Warriors will be interested spectators for that one, biting their fingernails to the knuckle, although Kerr indicated Durant’s availability for The Finals is more “when” than “if.” That means Durant has given them some reason to feel optimistic about Friday (Saturday, PHL time) if not Game 5 in Toronto. “Klay and Kevin, we’re very hopeful we’re going to get them back out there,” Kerr said. In a worst-case scenario, the Warriors in Game 3 would be without two players averaging more than 50 points combined in the postseason, and their scoring and defensive presence is impossible to replace. That would put them in a tough spot, needing to rely on replacements who aren’t familiar with, or quite capable of, carrying that amount of minutes with impact. Yes, it’s true the Warriors finished Game 2 without either player and managed to win. Yet, no disrespect to the champs, that’s a big chore to do for four full quarters and against a solid defensive team such as the Raptors. Even if Thompson plays, will he be healthy enough to supply the energy and flexibility needed to perform his usual top-notch defense and running through screens for his jumper? “If I can just be out there even at 80 percent, I still think I can be very effective,” he said. “From the progress I've made these last two days, I'm very encouraged that I'll be able to go out there. As long as nothing is torn or really injured, I'm not too fearful of it because, knock on wood, I've been very blessed with not very many traumatic injuries in my career. I don't think this one is of greatest concern. It's just the day and age we live in where little things can just grow to be big problems, but I don't think this will be one of them.” How would a diminished or missing Klay affect the Warriors? Well, Stephen Curry could not afford to be anything less than MVP-ish. He’d see doubles and triples thrown his way by the Raptors and that would cause him to take tougher shots than normal. In that situation, as the Warriors’ only volume scorer and shooter on the floor, Curry could feel overwhelmed and force the issue. Cousins would be required to ratchet up his shooting and intensity on offense, but will he stay clear of foul trouble, which would put a crimp in his playing time? Finally, the Warriors would lean more on Shaun Livingston, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Quinn Cook than normal. Cook made a pair of important shots in Game 2 after Thompson limped off and could be an X-factor, or at least he’d need to be for Golden State’s sake. “Our team is very adaptable,” Kerr said. “We have a lot of versatility. What it requires is bench players being ready to step up, like they always are, and guys just playing hard and playing together. I think you have to be fearless, too, which our team is. You can't worry about anything. You just go out there and play and compete and let it fly and whatever happens, happens.” And then there’s Toronto. A weakened or missing Thompson would be an opportunity they simply couldn’t afford to blow. How many times does a gift present itself in the biggest series of the season? Not often. It must be seized. In such a situation, the Raptors would be wise to occupy Curry and dare others to produce for four quarters. If Thompson plays, they’d be best to take advantage by running him ragged through screens on defense, putting that hamstring to the test. That would be one less player with high defensive credentials for Kawhi Leonard to deal with. Assuming that scoring will be an issue for the Warriors, the Raptors must get a bounce-back game from Pascal Siakam (who regressed from 32 points to 12) and more punch from Kyle Lowry (six baskets total for the series) to make it tough if not impossible for the Warriors to keep up. If the Raptors have any shot at winning this title, they must win at least one game at Oracle anyway, and from a practical standpoint, Game 3 is the most inviting. They may never see the Warriors this vulnerable, this ripe for the taking again. “I think we come into a sense of urgency, period,” said Lowry, “no matter the situation. We want to be the first to four, and every game is an urgent game. You're in the NBA Finals, so it doesn't matter. They still have professional basketball players down there, and they're really talented basketball players. So you still got to be ready to go out there and play your butt off and play hard.” The Warriors do not feel the same level of urgency because they’re not down 0-2, and the next two games are at home, and the core group is championship tested. As they demonstrated in Game 2, they don’t get rattled by tense championship games, even with Thompson and Durant off the floor. They also know, or at least feel strongly, that Thompson and Durant will suit up soon. “If there’s pain, it will be a no-go (for Game 3) because of the position we’re in,” Thompson said. “This could be a longer series, so there's no point in trying to go out there and re-aggravate it and potentially keep myself out of the whole entire Finals instead of just one game.” The Warriors might not get much sympathy from a basketball world that perhaps feel the champs are finally getting their just due. Everyone saw them play the 2015 championship series against Cleveland without Kevin Love and all but one game without Kyrie Irving. In the 2017 Western Conference finals, Leonard, then with San Antonio, went down after lighting it up for most of Game 1. And how can anyone forget Chris Paul missing Houston's final two games of a seven-game playoff series last season? Not saying those were the reasons for three championships in four years; still, all of those misfortunes suffered by others favored the Warriors. But who’s keeping score? “There's a certain amount of luck involved with this, and we know that,” Kerr said. “We have been on both sides of that. Some of our opponents have suffered injuries. We have suffered injuries. It's just part of the deal. You just keep pushing forward.” 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 5th, 2019

Cantlay s past shows why the future of golf is promising

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — To the victor go the social media requests. This proved far more difficult for Patrick Cantlay than his 64 at Muirfield Village, the lowest final round by a winner in 44 years of the Memorial and a performance that suggested his move to No. 8 in the world was about more than any mathematical formula. Cantlay looked at the phone as the PGA Tour social media team tried to explain what it wanted — a short video saying what this victory meant to him. He stretched his arm and struggled to get the right angle while still being able to start the video. Finally, a tour employee held it for him. Cantlay smiled and said all the right things. "First selfie?" someone cracked as he walked off the stage. Cantlay rolled his eyes. He doesn't do social media. Cantlay appears to be anti-social on the golf course, which is misleading. In the absence of cameras and microphones, the 27-year-old from California is smart, honest and insightful with an occasional needle. On the golf course, he has a cold focus with no apologies. He knows how he comes across because when he arrived at Muirfield Village on Sunday, someone jokingly said, "It can't be that bad, can it?" Cantlay could easily fit the description of an old soul on young shoulders — except for his back. It was a stress fracture in his back that kept him out of golf for the better part of three years — two straight years without playing one tournament — and kept him from the pace set by others from his own age group. Jordan Spieth saw it coming. Neither of them had PGA Tour status when Spieth and Cantlay were paired together in the opening two rounds of the 2013 Puerto Rico Open. Spieth got him by one shot each round and went on to tie for second, the important step that led to a PGA Tour card — and victory — later that year. Cantlay, who had won the week before in Colombia on the Web.com Tour, was two months away from one swing that nearly ended his career, a pain he described as a knife in his back. That was the start of back trouble so severe there was no guarantee he would ever return. He was 20 when he turned pro. He was 25 for his official rookie season in 2017 on the PGA Tour. Trying to manage his schedule after not having competed for two straight years, Cantlay played 11 times and still made it to the Tour Championship. "If he had the full year this year, I would imagine he'd have been on the Presidents Cup team, no question," Spieth said at the TPC Boston that year. "He's extremely talented, and he's going to work his way up into the top 10 in the world, in my opinion." And here he is. Predictions are never easy in golf — Cantlay knows that better than anyone — and so where he goes remains a work in progress. It's where he has been that explains why his victory Sunday got so much attention, even if it wasn't worthy of the front of sports pages. Anyone who saw Cantlay play in Ohio eight years ago would have expected a performance like this. His time at Muirfield Village was short. Cantlay received the Jack Nicklaus Award as the best player in college — as a freshman at UCLA — and posed for photos with Nicklaus, then got ready for U.S. Open qualifying at the sectional site filled with PGA Tour players. Cantlay was the only amateur to get one of the 16 spots. Two weeks later, he was low amateur in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, his first tournament against the best in the world. The following week, he set a PGA Tour record for amateurs with a 60 in the second round of the Travelers Championship. He was low amateur at the Masters in 2012. He made the cut at the U.S. Open again at Olympic Club (Spieth was low amateur that year). Much like Spieth, he had a knack for delivering. It was a tournament Cantlay did not win that might be the most revealing. After the stabbing pain he felt at Colonial in 2013, he didn't play for three months as his status on the Web.com Tour money list kept dropping. Cantlay tried to play two more events to stay in the top 25 to earn a PGA Tour card and missed the cut in both, finishing 29th. His last chance was a four-tournament series with a special money list. Cantlay played the first one and finished one shot behind Trevor Immelman. It was enough to get his card, and then he couldn't play again for nearly nine months. Cantlay has been through a lot, but he is still relatively new considering he had to start over. "It really is my third year on tour," he said. "It's just taken me seven years to do it." He ended that first full year with a victory in Las Vegas, and Cantlay was mildly irritated that more wins didn't follow. "Being out for so long and to come back and play really well and win within a year ... I didn't think it would take me this long," he said. "But I've played a lot of really good golf, a lot of really solid golf. And so I think I was closer than it seems. So maybe this one will do it.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

Fatigued Nishikori comes up empty against Nadal in Paris

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Playing two straight five-set matches ahead of his French Open quarterfinal against Rafael Nadal was certainly not the ideal preparation for Kei Nishikori. Already exhausted before setting a foot on Court Philippe Chatrier on Tuesday, the Japanese player was handed a ruthless beating by the 11-time Roland Garros champion. "I mean, that's for sure I played too much hours on the court this week, last week. I played too much," Nishikori said after his 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 loss. In his four previous matches with Nadal on the slow surface, the seventh-seeded Nishikori had managed to win just one set. With the odds stacked against him, fatigue surely did not help his bid to reach the semifinals in Paris for the first time. Before taking on the 17-time Grand Slam champion, Nishikori had played five-set matches against both Laslo Djere and Benoit Paire. His fourth-round victory over the Frenchman extended over two days, meaning he had a day less than Nadal to recover and get ready for their meeting. "He was a little bit more tired than usual, no doubt about it," Nadal said. Nishikori is the best deciding-set player since the beginning of the Open era in 1968. Against Paire, he won his eighth consecutive five-setter. Overall, he has a 23-6 record in five-set matches. This speaks volumes about his fighting spirit, but he now wants to learn to finish off matches quicker. "I think I've got to keep trying, to work, to finish in straight sets," he said. "But that means I'm not, maybe, good enough, tennis-wise, and also mental. I think that's going to be the next step, because I'm always stuck in the quarterfinals in Grand Slams, and I think next goal is to be in semifinal or final." Nishikori was runner-up at the 2014 U.S. Open and reached the semifinals twice at Flushing Meadows, but he never progressed beyond the last eight at the three other majors......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

Patrick Cantlay rallies from 4 back to win the Memorial

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Patrick Cantlay got another handshake with Jack Nicklaus, this time as the Memorial winner. Starting four shots behind, Cantlay closed with an 8-under 64 for a two-shot victory Sunday. It was the lowest final round by a winner in tournament history, and it moved the 27-year-old Californian into the top 10 in the world. Martin Kaymer, trying to end five years without a victory, started with a two-shot lead and never recovered from back-to-back bogeys on the back nine. He shot 38 on the back nine and finished with a 72. Adam Scott was the last player with a chance to catch Cantlay when he ran off three straight birdies to get within two shots, but he narrowly missed birdies on the last two holes and had to settle for a 68. Cantlay first met the tournament host in 2011 when he won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top player in college at UCLA. And he leaned on the advice of Nicklaus going into the final round to relax, enjoy the surroundings and finish it off. "I finished it," Cantlay told Nicklaus as he walked off the 18th green after making an 8-foot par putt that effectively sealed it. Cantlay finished at 19-under 269 and won for the second time in a PGA Tour career that is younger than it seems. A rising star coming out of UCLA — he was low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open and opened with a 60 at the Travelers Championship a week later — he missed two full years with a back injury that nearly cost him his career. He is in his third full year since returning, and a victory over a strong field on a strong course is what long was expected of his skills. And there some atonement at Muirfield Village for Cantlay. A year ago, he took a two-shot lead to the back nine and didn't make a birdie the rest of the way, missing a playoff by two shots. This time, he putted for birdie on every hole on the back nine until the 18th. "Being able to win on this golf course, in front of Jacking, making that putt on the last hole, I can't tell you how good it feels," he said. Scott finished at 17-under 271. Only six other players have had a lower 72-hole score at the Memorial since it began in 1976. One of them is Cantlay, who moves to No. 8 in the world with a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach looming. Cantlay is the only player to finish in the top 10 at both majors this year, leading late at the Masters until two bogeys over the last three holes. Tiger Woods knew he had no chance to win the Memorial from 11 shots behind going into the final round, though he still put on a show and got what he needed out of his final event before the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He went out in 31 and was 7 under for his round through 12 holes until a sloppy bogey on the 14th and a closing bogey for a 67. He wound up in a tie for ninth at 9-under 279. "The goal today was to get to double digits (under par) and get something positive going into the Open," he said. "I got to double digits, I just didn't stay there." Kaymer is five years removed from his last victory at the 2014 U.S. Open and played like he was ready for that drought to end. He stuffed a wedge into a foot for birdie on the third hole, and stretched his lead to four shots by laying up on the par-5 fifth and spinning back a wedge to 6 feet. Cantlay was the only player who looked capable of chasing him and played like he had to. On the fifth, he sent his drive well to the right into the rough. It was on a hill, with a flat enough lie that he had the gallery move beyond the cart path for a route to the green. His 4-iron ran onto the green, setting up a birdie. No matter. For every birdie he made, Kaymer added another. Cantlay rolled in a 15-foot birdie on the par-3 eighth and was walking off the green, while behind him a work was posting another birdie for Kaymer at the seventh. But it all changed. Cantlay closed out the front nine with a 12-foot birdie to get within two, while Kaymer in the group behind chopped his way to a bogey. And then the German blinked twice with bogeys from bunker on No. 12 and with an errant shot from the fairway on No. 13. With two more birdies, Cantlay was on his way. DIVOTS: Nick Price was selected as the Memorial Tournament honoree for 2020. CBS host Jim Nantz was chosen to receive be the Memorial Journalism honoree. ... Matt Minister, the caddie for Cantlay, grew up in the Columbus area and played college golf at Ohio State......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2019

The job’s not done : Raptors reset, as NBA Finals loom

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — The parade that the Toronto Raptors enjoyed last week was an impromptu and quick one. A chance at the real parade awaits. There is a clear back-to-work vibe coming from the Raptors as they get ready for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) in Toronto. There was some reveling late last week for an hour or two after winning the Eastern Conference title, but that feeling is nowhere to be found anymore. [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] “We know that we accomplished some great things,” Raptors guard Danny Green said. “But the job’s not done.” When the Raptors won the East, after the on-court celebrations and a few moments back in the locker room, someone got the brilliant notion to take the silver conference-championship trophy to what’s known as “Jurassic Park” — the outdoor area usually called Maple Leaf Square, unless the Raptors are playing. So, with players flanked by security and Drake — of course — Kyle Lowry carried the trophy out through an arena concourse long after the game was over on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time), past hundreds of lingering fans who tried to get hugs and photos, and the group eventually made their way toward the outdoor stage. Most fans were gone by then, and the party didn’t last long. By Sunday (Monday, PHL time), Lowry had shifted his focus to the finals anyway. “Pretty much,” Lowry said. “It’s a big task at hand. We know we’ve got a good team, and we’ve got to be focused every single possession. They’re all going to be massive in this series.” Handling this moment is sure to be a challenge for the Raptors, since most of the players on Toronto’s roster haven’t been to the finals before. If there is a silver lining there, it’s that Toronto has already dealt with the mood-swing pendulum in these playoffs. The most worried Raptors coach Nick Nurse has been about a game so far this postseason was Game 1 of the East finals at Milwaukee — a game that came a couple days after Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beating jumper hit the rim four times before dropping in and giving Toronto a win in Game 7 of the East semifinals against Philadelphia. “If there was ever a time I thought maybe a disastrous moment could happen, it was then,” Nurse said. “But man, we played great. Totally outplayed them. We played tough. We didn’t win the game but I thought we outplayed them almost all the way through. We just didn’t get the ball to bounce our way. We might have used a couple bounces a couple days earlier. But again, that just showed me our team was capable of kind of keeping their emotions in check.” They’ll need to be that way again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Fred VanVleet doesn’t think it’ll be a problem. “None of us in October and July and June of last year were working out thinking about the conference finals,” the Raptors’ backup guard said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “Obviously, it’s a great accomplishment, and we’re happy to be taking that next step. But you want to win a championship. You want to win the whole thing. It’s not about just making it to the finals.” The arena will be electric for Game 1. Jurassic Park will be rocking yet again. But the quick little trophy parade through the halls and stairwells of Scotiabank Arena — one where Green revealed on his podcast earlier this week that reserve OG Anunoby was inadvertently decked in the eye by a celebrating fan, and where Leonard needed two security staffers to clear his path — will be long forgotten by the Raptors when Game 1 rolls around. “I think everybody understands that,” Raptors center Marc Gasol said. “You get to kind of soak it in and enjoy that moment and after that night, the next morning, it’s on to the next challenge.” Everyone knows what that challenge is, too. The Warriors are coming. “I think along this little playoff run there’s been some critical, critical games,” Nurse said. “There’s been some ups and downs, and again, I know I keep (sounding like a) broken record, but we’re just trying to take what’s in front of us. And right now, it’s Game 1.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2019

Durant travels with the Warriors to Toronto ahead of finals

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant is traveling with the Golden State Warriors to Toronto for the first two games of the NBA Finals, leaving open the chance he could be ready to return from a strained right calf in time for Game 2. [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] Durant, the two-time reigning Finals MVP who has missed the past five games since getting hurt in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against Houston, has already been ruled out for Game 1 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). As of Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), he had yet to do any full-speed work on the court. Warriors spokesman Raymond Ridder confirmed Durant was on the team plane that took off early afternoon West Coast time. The two-time defending champions held an optional practice Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) before traveling. There will be two full days off before Game 2 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), giving Durant time to get further on-court work done that the Warriors would need to see before he is medically cleared. Coach Steve Kerr said Monday (Tuesday, PHL time): "We'll see where it goes from here. This is where the fact that there's a lot of days in between games during the finals helps us, so we'll see.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2019

FRENCH OPEN 19: Serena Williams tries again for 24th major

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Women to watch at the French Open, where play begins Sunday: ___ NAOMI OSAKA Ranked: 1 Country: Japan Age: 21 2019 Match Record: 19-5 2019 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 3 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 — Australian Open (2019), U.S. Open (2018) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-Lost in 3rd Round, 2017-1st, 2016-3rd, 2015-Did Not Play, 2014-DNP Aces: After going only 5-4 on clay last year, heads to Paris with a 7-1 mark on the surface in 2019. ... Withdrew with injuries from tournaments in Stuttgart (abdominal muscle) and Rome (thumb). Topspin: Big hitting carried her to two Grand Slam titles in a row on hard courts. Clay presents different challenges. ___ SIMONA HALEP Ranked: 3 Country: Romania Age: 27 2019 Match Record: 23-8 2019 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 18 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open (2018) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-Won Championship, 2017-Runner-Up, 2016-4th, 2015-2nd, 2014-RU Aces: Among the WTA's top 10 in break points converted and first-serve percentage in 2019. ... Pulled out of Italian Open with hamstring problem, but said she was sure she'd be OK for Paris. Topspin: Tries to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time. Her movement and defense-to-offense skills have carried her to three of the past five finals at Roland Garros. ___ KIKI BERTENS Ranked: 4 Country: Netherlands Age: 27 2019 Match Record: 26-10 2019 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 9 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: SF, French Open (2016) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-3rd, 2017-2nd, 2016-SF, 2015-1st, 2014-4th Aces: Ranks in the tour's top two in aces and service points won this season. ... Hit 20 aces in one match. ... At past three clay events, went semifinals-title-semifinals. Topspin: Has the game and the confidence to go far in Paris. Many in tennis think she is ready to play well deep into the second week at a major tournament. ___ PETRA KVITOVA Ranked: 6 Country: Czech Republic Age: 29 2019 Match Record: 28-8 2019 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 27 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 — Wimbledon (2011, 2014) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-3rd, 2017-2nd, 2016-3rd, 2015-4th, 2014-3rd Aces: Pulled out of Rome with a left calf issue. ... Is third on tour in aces this year, but also has hit by far the most double-faults. Topspin: Since getting to the 2012 semifinals at Roland Garros, only has been past the third round once. Her strong lefty strokes and recent form on clay could mean that changes this year. ___ SLOANE STEPHENS Ranked: 7 Country: United States Age: 26 2019 Match Record: 14-9 2019 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 6 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open (2017) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-RU, 2017-DNP, 2016-3rd, 2015-4th, 2014-4th Aces: Recently hired coach Sven Groeneveld, who has worked with such past French Open champions as Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic. Topspin: Run to last year's final in Paris showed that Stephens is capable of winning a Grand Slam championship on clay to go with her hard-court title from the U.S. Open. ___ ASH BARTY Ranked: 8 Country: Australia Age: 23 2019 Match Record: 24-5 2019 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 4 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, Australian Open (2019) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-2nd, 2017-1st, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP, 2014-1st Aces: After going 1-6 against top-10 opponents in 2018, she is 6-4 in those matches in 2019. ... Played cricket while away from the tour for nearly two years after the 2014 U.S. Open. Topspin: After major breakthroughs at the Australian Open in January and when she collected the title at the Miami Open in March, seems poised to show big improvement on her 2-5 career record at the French Open. ___ SERENA WILLIAMS Ranked: 10 Country: United States Age: 37 2019 Match Record: 7-2 2019 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 72 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 23 — French Open (2002, 2013, 2015), Australian Open (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017), Wimbledon (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016), U.S. Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-4th, 2017-DNP, 2016-RU, 2015-W, 2014-2nd Aces: Back in the top 10 this year after dropping out of the top 400 while away from the tour to have a baby. ... After missing about 1½ years of majors, reached two Grand Slam finals in 2018. ... Pulled out of last two tournaments because of injured left knee. Topspin: Comes to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open. There's also uncertainty about the status of her knee. So while she's always considered a favorite, no matter the site or surface, when she is healthy, it is hard to know what to expect from her this time around......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

McLaren s failed Indy 500 effort was a comedy of errors

By Jenna Fryer, Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The comedy of errors that doomed McLaren's disastrous return to the Indianapolis 500 began months before Fernando Alonso failed to qualify for the race. How bad was it? A week before Alonso's first test in the car, the team realized it didn't even have a steering wheel. McLaren CEO Zak Brown acknowledged Monday the team was woefully unprepared and small oversights snowballed into the final result. Bob Fernley, the head of the operation, was fired hours after Alonso missed the race and Brown returned to England to digest the embarrassment of his venture. Brown on Monday provided The Associated Press a detailed timeline of the bloopers and blunders that led to Alonso missing the race, the last piece the two-time Formula One champion needs in his quest to win motorsports' version of the Triple Crown. "I don't think we came into this arrogant, I think we were unprepared," Brown said. "We didn't deserve to be in the race and it's our own fault. It's not like we showed up and gave our best. We defeated ourselves." The path to missing the 33-driver field began when the car was not ready the moment Texas Motor Speedway opened for the April test. Brown had personally secured a steering wheel the previous week from Cosworth to use for the test, and the mistakes piled up from there. "We didn't get out until midday, our steering wheel was not done on time, that's just lack of preparation and project management organizational skills," Brown said. "That's where this whole thing fell down, in the project management. Zak Brown should not be digging around for steering wheels." A cosmetic issue at the Texas test haunted McLaren deep into last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. McLaren purchased a car from technical partner Carlin, and though the car was orange when McLaren received it, it was not the proper McLaren "papaya orange." It had to be repainted after the test, and that still had not been completed when Alonso crashed his McLaren-built car last Wednesday. The Carlin spare was in a paint shop 30 minutes from the track, more than a month after McLaren complained about the color, and it ultimately cost McLaren almost two full days of track time. The team looked foolish as other teams were able to move into backup cars in mere hours; James Hinchcliffe crashed in Saturday qualifying and was back on track in his spare that afternoon. Carlin was a two-car team when McLaren made its alliance but expanded to three for the Indy 500. Once Carlin took on the extra work, Brown said, the team had few resources to give McLaren. "It was clear they weren't capable of running three cars and serving us," he said. Carlin entrants Max Chilton and Patricio O'Ward were the two other drivers who failed to qualify. McLaren's poor showing is one of the biggest failures in Indy 500 history. Roger Penske missed the show with Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi in 1995, a year after dominating the race. Reigning CART champion Bobby Rahal missed it in 1993, and two-time Indy winner Rodger Ward never got up to speed to make the 1965 field. The McLaren budget for this Indy 500 was strong, every sponsorship opportunity had been sold and the venture was a guaranteed commercial success for McLaren. Brown was somewhat hands-off and focused on the critical rebuild of the Formula One part of the program. He now laments waiting too long to become heavily involved with the Indy 500 effort. He also believes he was too slow in assigning McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran, a former Indy 500 winner, oversight of the program. "I should have been closer to Indy but I could never compromise Formula One," Brown said. "At 9:01 in the morning when we weren't on track at the first test, that's when we failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. We didn't ring the fire alarm quick enough because we could have recovered after the first test. "I am angry at myself because I was uncomfortable all the way up to the first test and I should have followed my instinct to get more involved." Many of the issues were beyond Brown's control. The car had an electrical issue in last month's test at Indy and an employee was taken off the team for the error. Alonso had another electrical issue on opening day for the 500 and the alternator and wiring loom had to be replaced. Alonso crashed on the second day, and McLaren missed all of Day 3 rebuilding the spare from Carlin that was finally the proper shade of orange. Fast Friday showed the car still needed speed, and Alonso went into qualifying on shaky ground. His first qualifying run was sabotaged by a tire puncture — which wasn't detected beforehand because Brown said the team had purchased incorrect tire sensors. Alonso wound up one of six drivers in the "Last Row Shootout" on Sunday and the panicked McLaren team begged and borrowed across the paddock for any assistance available. Alonso went out to practice Sunday with an entirely new setup, but in the frantic changeover a mistake was made in converting inches to the metric system the English team uses and the car scraped and sparked on his first lap. It had to be fixed and Alonso got in just five more laps before rain ended the session. When it came time for Alonso to make his final last-gasp qualifying attempt late Sunday afternoon, the Spaniard was given a car that Brown and de Ferran were concerned might not perform. "Gil and I went to the motorhome and told Fernando: 'We are going to try this, but this could go well or really wrong. Are you comfortable?'" Brown said. "And Fernando said, 'Let's go for it.'" Alonso agreed that he never backed away from the challenge. "We went out with an experiment that we did overnight. We changed everything on the car because we thought that maybe we need something from the mental side different to go into the race with some confidence," Alonso said. "We went out not knowing what the car will do in Turn 1, but you're still flat. So we tried." The new setup and assistance from other teams indeed got the car up to speed, but Alonso was knocked from the field by 23-year-old Kyle Kaiser of tiny Juncos Racing. McLaren discovered after the qualifying run that the car had the wrong gear ratio setup. "We actually had a 229 (mph) car but we had 227.5 gearing, so we beat ourselves again while we almost made it," Brown said. "We really did put it all on the line and you could feel the anxiety. There was some real heroism in that. I don't want the world to think McLaren is a bunch of idiots because while we did have a few, we had some real stars." Alonso has rejected an offer from the team to purchase a seat in the Indy 500 field for him. What's next is a careful lookback as Brown figures out McLaren's future at both the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Series. He still wants to field two full-time entries in the series but isn't sure yet how much of a setback this has been. He believes McLaren will be back next year at Indy for a second chance. "I feel an obligation to the fans and sponsors, we let them down. We didn't fulfill our promise and I think they need more than just an apology," Brown said. "There will be repercussions for those who don't deserve to work for a great team like McLaren. We will look at what we learned here and the list is a mile long. I hope people appreciate that we go for it, we are racers, and Fernando is a star and we are not quitters. We want to come back.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2019

Koepka keeps 7-shot lead at PGA Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Brooks Koepka is on the cusp of some elite company at the PGA Championship — in the record book, not on the leaderboard. He is all alone on Bethpage Black, the public course he has turned into his private playground. Koepka wasn't at his best, particularly with his putter on the toughest scoring day of the championship, and he still kept everyone far enough behind to make the final round feel more like a victory lap. With an even-par 70 that featured a pair of three-putt bogeys, he kept a seven-shot lead and earned another entry in the record book with the largest lead since the PGA Championship switched to stroke play in 1958. No one has ever lost a seven-shot lead in the final round at any major, or even a PGA Tour event. That leaves Koepka 18 holes away from joining Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA in stroke play. He is one round away from becoming the first player to hold back-to-back major title at the same time. Not since Hal Sutton in 1983 has anyone led from start to finish in the PGA Championship. And a third straight year winning a major? Woods and Phil Mickelson are the only players to have done that over the last 30 years. Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only others to win majors in three straight years dating to 1960. Asked if there was any doubt he would win, Koepka said flatly, "No." He is unflappable in speech and on the golf course. Koepka has never bothered to check his heart rate at rest, but he figures it wouldn't be much different from standing on the first tee of a major championship with a big lead and thousands of rowdy New York fans witnessing a master performance. "Every time I set up to a golf shot, I feel like I know what the ball is going to do," Koepka said. "And if I don't, then I guess I'd be nervous. ... I'm trying my butt off, and from there, sometimes you need a little bit of luck. But I'd say I'm pretty flat-lined most of the time, as you can tell." He has all but flattened the strongest field in golf. Koepka was at 12-under 198, the first time this week he did not set or tie a scoring record. "I think we're all playing for second," said Luke List, one of four players tied for second. Dustin Johnson tried to make a run with six birdies, only to stall with five bogeys in his round of 69. No bogey was more damaging than the 18th. A drive into the fairway would have given the world's No. 1 player a reasonable shot at birdie. Instead, he sent it right into bunker, came up well short into the native grass, left the next one in the bunker and had to scramble to limit the damage. That kept Johnson from joining his close friend in the final group. Koepka will play the final round with Harold Varner III, whose week began with plans to play a practice round with Woods on the eve of the PGA Championship until Woods called in sick. Varner birdied the 18th to cap off a bogey-free 67 and lead the group at 5-under 205 that includes Jazz Janewattananond (67) and List, who holed two shots from off the green for a 69. Jordan Spieth did not put any pressure on Koepka at all. Playing in the final group on the weekend for the first time since the British Open last summer, Spieth didn't have a realistic birdie chance until the sixth hole, and he missed that one from 8 feet. He shot 72 and was nine shots behind. Spieth would not speak to a reporter after the round. There was simply no stopping Koepka, who is one round away from a fourth major in his last eight tries and a return to No. 1 in the world. The plan for Sunday was no different from the previous three rounds. "It doesn't really matter. I'm just trying to play good golf," Koepka said. "If I can get off to a good start tomorrow, these first six holes are very scorable. I feel like if you can get 1 or 2 under after six, you're in a good spot." That's what worked on Saturday. Koepka had birdie chances on the opening six holes and converted two of them, from 5 feet on a blind shot up the hill at No. 2, and a gap wedge that landed next to the pin and settled just over 2 feet away on No. 5. His only struggle was missing a 2-foot par putt on the ninth hole for a three-putt bogey, and then missing the 10th fairway to the right to set up another bogey. The most important putt for Koepka was just under 5 feet for par on the 11th, which kept him from three straight bogeys. And then he was back in his groove. List ran off three straight birdies, chipping in from 70 feet on No. 12, holing a 30-foot putt on the par-5 13th and making a 15-foot putt on the 14th. That pulled him within five, but it wasn't long before Koepka birdied the 13th and List began missing enough shots that it finally cost him. Johnson has the most experience and skill among those chasing Koepka, if he even allows there to be a chase. "It's going to take something special to catch Brooks, but it's doable," Johnson said. He then tried to work out the math, and then he stuck to a more practical outlook. "I'm going to need some help from him," Johnson said. "And then I'm going to have to play very, very well.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Nuggets put Blazers on the ropes with series-shifting Game 5 rout

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com DENVER — Two points separated the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers after the first four, grueling games of these Western Conference semifinals. They piled up the same number of three-pointers and free throws as well. The games were that good, that tight, and the difference between the two teams was negligible at best. Then Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) happened. Paul Millsap happened. Nikola Jokic happened. Jamal Murray happened. The manifestation of a Nuggets team that’s been dancing with a destiny that leads to the Western Conference finals, finally happened. Their 124-98 rout of the Trail Blazers in Game 5 at Pepsi Center was the sort of declaration Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been predicting for his team since they were locked into a back-and-forth struggle with the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. [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] They evened the series Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Portland, showing mettle beyond their years by snapping the Trail Blazers’ 12-game home winning streak that dated back to the regular season, with an inspired effort to stave off the certain doom of a 3-1 deficit. Tuesday night’s (Wednesday, PHL time) salvo was a seismic shift in the opposite direction. The Nuggets’ biggest lead was 31 points and their intentions were plain for everyone to see. Millsap roasted the Blazers for 24 points and eight rebounds, dominating while being featured more and executing his considerable advantage in small-ball situations. “The best thing about Paul Millsap is he’s true to himself, he never tries to be something he’s not,” Malone said. “He’s not a rah-rah guy, he’s not a guy that’s going to be screaming and yelling. But I think his calm demeanor has an effect on our group. Young team going through all of this for the first time and when you can look to a four-time All-Star with 90 playoff games under his belt, that’s reassuring. He’s kind of the calm for our team and I think that has a tremendous impact on all of our young players.” Two in particular during this postseason and this series, to be sure. Jokic led the way with 25 points, 19 rebounds and six assists before fouling out late, leaving little doubt as to who deserves to wear the crown as the best big man in the league right now. Murray was splendid again, with 18 points and nine assists, while his backcourt mate Gary Harris chipped in with 16 points and six rebounds. Will Barton and Malik Beasley scored 10 points each off the bench, leading a 33-point bench scoring effort that will need to travel back to Portland for Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) Game 6 if the Nuggets have any chance of winning three straight and ending this series in six games. “We know going to Portland for Game 6 is going to be really tough,” Malone said, referencing his team’s Game 6 struggles in the first round. “Game 6 in San Antonio, we did not come ready to play, mentally or physically. I hope that we have a much different mindset going in to Portland for Game 6.” The Blazers have some serious tweaking to do, in a short amount of time, as well. Their starters didn’t even play in the fourth quarter, Terry Stotts acknowledging that the 30-point hole his team was fighting out of might have been too large, given the circumstances. And the need to preserve the energy of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the crew for what sets up as their biggest game of the season was obvious. “At this point, it’s one game at a time facing elimination,” Lillard said. “We know that we’re more than capable of getting it done in the next game. We don’t feel like we’ve played our best basketball yet, and with our back against the wall, we don’t really have a choice. Our mindset is to just get to the next one, take care of home and make it back here.” Stotts has adjustments to make before Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) as well, after the Nuggets bludgeoned his team in the paint for a 66-44 scoring advantage, while also outrebounding them 62-44. The decision to switch Enes Kanter’s primary defensive assignment from Jokic to Millsap Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), with Al-Farouq Aminu being tasked to try and contain the much bigger Jokic, backfired as Millsap went to work immediately on Kanter. “They just played harder than us,” Kanter said. “I think that was probably … even the coach said, probably this was our worst basketball the last six weeks. Shots didn’t fall in, on defense we weren’t really communicating with each other, we didn’t really trust each other. We’ve just got to learn from this and just go home and take care of home, because right now, that’s the most important game of the year.” The atmosphere Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Moda Center promises to be electric. The Blazers have long enjoyed one of the best home atmospheres in the league. But will it serve as the advantage it has in the past when the Nuggets are fresh off two straight huge wins in this series, the first on that floor? “We have two must-wins,” Stotts said. “Somebody was going to have a must-win after tonight and it’s us. So we have two must-wins ahead of us.” That four-overtime loss in Game 3 Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) could have been the emotional breaking point for the Nuggets. It wasn’t. A school shooting Tuesday morning (late Tuesday, PHL time) in a Denver suburb where Malone lives with his wife and daughters rattled the coach and an entire community. That sort of life-altering event could easily have sidetracked Malone and his team. They persevered. The Nuggets were locked in from the start. When it became clear that the Blazers weren’t going to be able to keep up the pace, they kept pushing until the final buzzer. They understand the opportunity staring them in the face; a conference finals date with the two-time reigning champion Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, who are tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) at Oracle Arena. It’s a wild shift for a team that failed to play its way into the playoffs last year on the final night of the regular season, only to rebound and earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase this season. If the atmosphere for Game 4 or even Game 5 seemed overwhelming, Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) promises to be otherworldly for both of these teams that were previously separated by so little. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 8th, 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

Dolphins Josh Rosen says he can be franchise quarterback

By Steven Wine, Associated Press DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — As he embraced a fresh start Monday, Josh Rosen said all the right things, smiled a lot and even cracked a couple of jokes, such as when he noted the phalanx of photographers nearly drowning out his first news conference with the Miami Dolphins. "These clicks," he said with a chuckle, "are loud." Rosen does attract clicks, which is a big change for a Dolphins team low on star power. It has been so long since they had a Pro Bowl quarterback that Rosen referred to him as "Mr. Marino." Despite a rough rookie season that prompted the Arizona Cardinals to discard him, Rosen still believes he can be a Dan Marino-type franchise quarterback. And he's glad to get an opportunity with the Dolphins, who are eager to stop a revolving door at the position that has gone through 19 starters since Marino's last game 20 years ago. "I couldn't be more excited to be here," Rosen said. "Very rarely do you get a second chance to make a first impression." As for motivation, Rosen's crooked grin grew wider when he was asked about any chip on his shoulder. "I don't think my chip has to grow any more," he said. "I might tip over." He was the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft but became expendable in Arizona last week when the Cardinals used the No. 1 overall pick to select Kyler Murray. A day later, the Dolphins acquired him for two draft picks to become part of their rebuilding effort under first-year coach Brian Flores. "I felt like I got drafted twice," he said. Rosen took no direct jabs at the Cardinals and acknowledged that in Miami he faces a one-year tryout . If he doesn't play well this season, the Dolphins will likely have a poor record and be well-positioned to take a QB early in the first round in 2020. Rosen also acknowledged his image needs work. Doubts about his leadership and personality linger despite efforts by Arizona teammates and coaches to dispel them. He said the issue dates to his years at UCLA. "I didn't have all my answers as perfectly crafted as I do now," he said. "I said some things off the cuff, and people misconstrued them. ... "I think I'm a really good teammate. What I've tried to do is not say or do anything extra, just kind of be me and keep my head down, and eventually the story will straighten out. I think it has for the most part. Time and consistency are the best medicine to cure the narrative." With that in mind, Rosen had answers ready when asked about: — competing for the starting job with another Dolphins newcomer, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. "The timing on whether I play or not is not up to me." — Pro Football Hall of Famer Marino. "Hopefully I can follow in some semblance of his massive footsteps." — his belief that he can become a franchise QB. "I think I'm a good quarterback, and I think I'm a good leader." The Dolphins hope he's right......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2019

Numbers preview: Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Houston Rockets (4)

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com It's time for the rematch. The Houston Rockets wanted another chance at the Golden State Warriors, and they got it. In the Warriors' first two postseasons with Kevin Durant, no team has had them on the ropes nearly as much as the Rockets did in last year's Western Conference finals, when Houston held a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 at home. The Rockets had a 17-point lead in Game 6 and a 15-point lead in Game 7, but couldn't finish the job. Now they have a second chance, as well as a healthy Chris Paul. [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 Warriors have home-court advantage this year, though the Rockets were waiting in the Bay Area while the champs were playing Game 6 in Los Angeles on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Western Conference semifinals. Golden State Warriors (57-25, 4-2) First round: Beat LA Clippers in six games. Pace: 103.1 (3) OffRtg: 120.5 (1) DefRtg: 111.5 (10) NetRtg: +9.0 (5) Warriors postseason notes - General: 1. Have lost more home games (they were 1-2 at home in the first round) than they lost in the last two postseasons combined (19-1). 2. Warriors-Clippers was the most efficient offensive series in the first round, with the two teams combining to score 116.0 points per 100 possessions. 3. Have been at their best in the first quarter, outscoring the Clippers by 31.6 points per 100 possessions, and progressively worse with each ensuing quarter: plus-17.0 in the second, plus-4.4 in the third, and minus-18.5 in the fourth. Warriors postseason notes - Offense: 1. 69.8 percent of their field goals, the highest rate in the playoffs, have been assisted. Rank first in the playoffs in ball movement (376 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and ninth in player movement (11.2 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession). 2. Rank second in both two-point percentage (56.0 percent), three-point percentage (39.9 percent), and lead the postseason in free throw percentage (86.4 percent). 3. Lead the postseason with 16.5 post-ups per game. Have passed out of post-ups 56.6 percent of the time, the highest rate among teams that have posted up more than one time in the playoffs. 4. Have averaged 22.7 drives per game, fewest in the postseason. Warriors postseason notes - Defense: 1. The Clippers saw the second biggest drop in the percentage of their shots that came from the restricted area from the regular season (35 percent, 8th-highest in the league) to the first round (29 percent, 10th). 2. The Clippers scored 1.50 points per possession, the postseason's best rate, on roll-man possessions. 3. The Clippers drew fouls on 9.8 percent of their drives, the second highest rate in the playoffs. They rank second in overall free throw rate (FTA/FGA), averaging 32.3 attempts per 100 shots from the field, though that was right around their league-leading mark in the regular season (32.6). Warriors postseason notes - Lineups: 1. Two lineups - Curry, Thompson, Durant and Green, with either Iguodala or Bogut - both recorded assists on 75.0 percent of their field goals. That is the highest rate among lineups that have played at least 35 minutes together. 2. The Warriors' "Hamptons Five" lineup - Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Durant and Green - has been outscored by 1.2 points per 100 possessions in its 41 minutes. It was a plus-23.9 per 100 in 129 minutes in last year's postseason. 3. The team's best postseason plus-minus belongs to Kevon Looney. The Warriors outscored the Clippers by 87 points in his 108 minutes on the floor and were outscored by 28 in his 180 minutes on the bench. 4. The Warriors have averaged 108.2 possessions per 48 minutes with Looney on the floor. That's the third highest on-court pace mark among players who have averaged at least 15 minutes in three or more playoff games. Warriors postseason notes - Individuals: 1. Andrew Bogut has grabbed 23.7 percent of available rebounds while he's been on the floor, the second-highest rate among players that have averaged at least 10 minutes per game in three or more playoff games. 2. Stephen Curry (12-for-24) is one of two players (Damian Lillard is the other) that have shot 50 percent or better on at least 20 pull-up three-point attempts. 3. Curry has a free throw rate of 42 attempts per 100 shots from the field, up from 21 in the regular season. That's the biggest increase among 46 players with at least 500 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 50 in the playoffs. 4. Kevin Durant leads the postseason in scoring at 35.0 points per game. He had three of the seven highest scoring games in the first round (50 points in Game 6, 45 in Game 5, 38 in Game 3). 5. Durant's nine turnovers in Game 2 vs. the Clippers were the most for any player in a game in the first round. 6. Durant ranks third with 7.2 mid-range shots per game. He's 25-for-43 and the only player that has shot 50 percent or better on at least 20 total mid-range attempts. 7. Curry and Durant are two of four players that have averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game in the postseason. 8. Curry and Durant have shot 36-for-37 (97 percent) and 56-for-59 (95 percent) from the free throw line, respectively. Those are the two best marks among players with at least 20 postseason free throw attempts. 9. Draymond Green is one of three players that have averaged at least seven rebounds and seven assists per game in the playoffs. He has recorded assists on 35.3 percent of his possessions, the fourth-highest rate among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes per game in three or more playoff games. Andre Iguodala has the seventh-highest rate (32.0 percent). 10. Klay Thompson has a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 0.105, the lowest mark among players with at least 50 field goal attempts in the postseason. Houston Rockets (53-29, 4-1) First round: Beat Utah in five games. Pace: 98.7 (9) OffRtg: 108.3 (9) DefRtg: 99.2 (4) NetRtg: +9.1 (4) Rockets postseason notes - General: 1. Outscored the Jazz by 18.0 points per game from three-point range, the biggest discrepancy in the first round. 2. Rockets-Jazz was the least-efficient offensive first round series in the Western Conference, with the two teams combining to score just 103.8 points per 100 possessions. 3. Have been at their best in the first quarter, outscoring the Jazz by 15.3 points per 100 possessions, and progressively worse with each ensuing quarter: plus-13.4 in the second, plus-8.6 in the third, and minus-0.8 in the fourth. Rockets postseason notes - Offense: 1. Have taken 50.1 percent of their shots from three-point range, the highest mark in the postseason by a wide margin, but down from 51.9 percent in the regular season. 2. Rank 15th in the playoffs in ball movement (256 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and last in player movement (10.0 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession), according to Second Spectrum tracking. They also rank last with just 1.2 secondary assists per game. 3. Have averaged 58.8 drives per game, second most in the postseason. Rockets postseason notes - Defense: 1. The Jazz scored less than a point per possession in three of the five games, after scoring less than a point per possession just twice in their final 46 regular-season games. 2. Utah saw the biggest drop in three-point percentage from the regular season (35.6 percent, 10th in the league) to the first round (26.3 percent, 16th). 3. Utah took 77.5 percent of their shots from the restricted area or three-point range, the second-highest rate in the postseason and only slightly lower than that of the Rockets (77.7 percent). Rockets postseason notes - Lineups: 1. Starting lineup outscored Utah by 20.0 points per 100 possessions, the fourth-best mark among lineups that have played at least 35 minutes together (and best among those in the Western Conference). 2. James Harden and P.J. Tucker have played 34.1 minutes per game together, most among two-man combinations. 3. The Rockets have scored 109.1 points per 100 possessions in 113 minutes with Paul and Harden on the floor together, 111.0 per 100 in 68 minutes with Harden on the floor without Paul, and just 80.2 per 100 in 51 minutes with Paul on the floor without Harden. Paul has shot 24-for-46 (52 percent) with Harden on the floor and 9-for-27 (33 percent) with Harden off the floor. 4. Have gotten only six minutes, fewest in the postseason, from rookies or second-year players. Rockets postseason notes - Individuals: 1. Clint Capela is 8-for-19 (42 percent) from the free throw line, the worst mark among players with at least 15 attempts. Chris Paul (15-for-16) has the third best mark. 2. Eric Gordon has scored 0.481 points per touch, fourth-most among players with at least 100 postseason touches. He has shot 18-for-37 (49 percent) from three-point range, the third-best mark among players with at least 25 postseason attempts. 3. James Harden has averaged 27.8 points per game, down from 36.1 in the regular season. That's the second biggest drop among 163 players who have played in at least three playoff games after playing in at least 40 regular season games. 4. Harden has averaged 12.0 isolation possessions per game, most in the playoffs, but down from 16.4 in the regular season. He has scored just 0.88 points per possession on those isolations, the seventh-best mark among players that have averaged at least three isolation possessions per game and down from a league-best 1.11 in the regular season. 5. Harden has taken 115 shots in the playoffs (tied for second-most), 55 in the paint and 60 from outside the paint. None of the 115 have come from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line). 6. Harden also leads the postseason with 27.6 drives per game and 5.4 assists per game off of drives. 7. Danuel House Jr. has recorded assists on just 2.6 percent of his possessions, the lowest rate among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes per game in three or more playoff games. 8. Chris Paul has averaged 2.8 steals per game, most in the postseason. 9. Paul has shot 21 percent from three-point range, the worst mark among players who have averaged at least five 3-point attempts per game. He has taken 38.4 percent of his shots from three-point range, down from 49.3 percent in the regular season. That's the second-biggest drop among 46 players with at least 500 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 50 in the playoffs. 10. Harden and Paul are two of six players that have averaged at least eight points per game on drives and eight points per game on pull-up jumpers. 11. P.J. Tucker leads the postseason with 2.8 catch-and-shoot three-pointers per game. He also leads the postseason with 12 corner three-pointers, having attempted 10 more than any other player. Regular season matchup Rockets won, 3-1 (2-0 in Houston) Nov. 15 (Nov. 16, PHL time) @ Houston - Rockets 107, Warriors 86 Jan. 3 (Jan. 4, PHL time)  @ Golden State - Rockets 135, Warriors 134 (OT) Feb. 23 (Feb. 24, PHL time)  @ Golden State - Rockets 118, Warriors 112 Mar. 13 (Mar. 14, PHL time) @ Houston - Warriors 106, Rockets 104 Pace: 95.9 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes Golden State OffRtg: 111.2 (13th vs. Rockets) Rockets OffRtg: 118.1 (3rd vs. Golden State) Matchup notes: 1. These two teams have split their 18 games over the last three seasons (including last year's conference finals). The Rockets are 7-4 against the Warriors in games Chris Paul has played over the last two years. 2. The 95.9 possessions per 48 that they averaged was the slowest pace that the Warriors played against any opponent this season. 3. Kevin Durant played in the Rockets' three wins, but missed the Warriors' win on March 13 (Mar. 14, PHL time). Stephen Curry missed the first meeting and Andrew Bogut didn't play in any of the four. DeMarcus Cousins started for the Warriors in the last two meetings. 4. The Warriors' lineup of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Durant and Green was a plus-14 in 14 minutes (and had an assist/turnover ratio of 13/2), but they lost both games that the lineup appeared in. 5. 18 different players played for Houston against Golden State this season, but Clint Capela, Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker are the only Rockets that played in all four games. Chris Paul and Eric Gordon both missed the second meeting, and James Harden missed the third meeting. 6. The 33.3 points Harden averaged were the most any player averaged (in at least two games) against the Warriors this season. The 44 points Harden scored in the Rockets' Jan. 3 (Jan. 4, PHL time) win were the most scored in a game against Golden State. 7. Harden took only 30 percent of his shots (23/78) in the paint. That was his third lowest rate against any opponent this season and his 16 restricted-area points were tied for the fewest he had against any Western Conference opponent. His free throw rate against the Warriors (33.3 attempts per 100 shots from the field) was below his average of 44.9. 8. Most assists in a game vs. Golden State this season: Chris Paul (17) on February 23 and Harden (15) in that January 3 (Jan. 4, PHL time) game in which he scored 44 points. That game from Harden was one of seven 40-point triple-doubles in the league this season. 9. Draymond Green had 16 turnovers against Houston, five more than he had against any other opponent this season. 10. The 111 minutes that Andre Iguodala played against Houston were the most he played against any opponent in the regular season. The Warriors were 18.4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor (plus-1.2) than they were with him off the floor (minus-17.2). 11. Klay Thompson was the Warriors' primary defender on Harden (as he was in last year's playoff series) and kept Harden from scoring as much as he usually does, but the Rockets scored 88 points on those 71 possessions (124 per 100). 12. The Rockets scored 99 points on 73 possessions (136 per 100) in which Green was the primary defender on Clint Capela. 13. Austin Rivers was the primary defender on Curry. Eric Gordon was the primary defender on Curry in last year's playoff series. 14. In last year's playoff series, Trevor Ariza was the primary defender on Durant and kept him from scoring as much as he usually did. This year, P.J. Tucker was the primary defender on Durant. 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 NewsApr 28th, 2019

Sleepwalking Warriors snap to behind ultimate weapon Durant

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- The only sound in a basketball game that mimics an alarm clock blaring is the final buzzer, but by then the score is official and it’s too late to wake up. And maybe the Warriors needed seven months and 88 games to recognize this, because when you’ve won three championships in four years and bring four All-Stars in their prime and play nightly against the rank-and-file, there’s a tendency to doze off just to, you know, make things interesting. Well, nap’s over. After Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) 129-110 victory over the Clippers, the buzzer has shifted to the opening tip, and suddenly the Warriors are aware of where they are and who they’re up against and what time it is. [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] At least, those are the signals they’re giving off now, on the eve of the second round of the playoffs, when there is no better moment -- to paraphrase the noted prophet Kevin Durant -- to let folks know who you are. They’ll be led into their next basketball battle by Durant, fresh off a fiddy, which of course is basketball slang for 5-0 points, which finally silenced the Clippers and made the basketball world revisit the belief that the Warriors are not to be denied. This of course will be put to the test by the Rockets, arguably the biggest threat facing the Warriors between now and a June champagne sip. But really, now: If Durant plays like he has the last few games, does it really matter what James Harden and Chris Paul bring in this upcoming best-of-seven? “He’s in a groove right now,” said Steph Curry. “Special to see.” With the exception of last year’s Western Conference finals, when Houston took Golden State to the limit, the Durant Warriors have been one level above all others in the playoffs. The Clippers just took two from them -- despite Durant -- and nobody else claimed more than one victory in a best-of-seven. Overall, excluding that Rockets’ series, the Durants are 32-5 in the postseason, a clean 9-0 in series play. Everything that the Warriors were projected to do once Durant signed up for duty two summers ago has come true. They’re three superstars ahead of good teams and two superstars ahead of very good teams. Right now, they’re alone on the island, the only true great team in the league, even on nights when they don’t play the part. With all due respect to Damian Lillard, no one has has drawn more awe lately than Durant, who’s on pace to cause major problems for whomever crouches in a defensive stance before him. In the last four games, he averaged 42 points on 55 percent shooting, and at times was a singular force against the stubborn Clippers. Remember, Steph Curry is trying to climb out of a fog, stifled and troubled by missed jumpers in the last week and momentarily sidelined Friday (Saturday, PHL time) by a tweaked right ankle, which always causes the Warriors to hold their breath. Klay Thompson, as is his pattern, went ballistic for one game, then was rather tame by comparison in the others. “I just play my game through it all,” Durant said. “I definitely don’t want to go away from my teammates if they’re struggling to shoot the ball. But at the same time, I have to be aggressive and try to win the game as well.” Given how leaky the Warriors’ defense looked and how carelessly they handled the ball, the one constant in the first round was Durant drilling shots from all angles and distances, especially once he confined his chatter to making shots instead of taking them at Pat Beverley, the Clippers’ All-Star instigator. Warriors coach Steve Kerr called it “one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen” and this is someone who rode with Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan. Whether Kerr was simply caught up in the moment, it doesn’t minimize what Durant did to close out the Clippers and what he’s capable of doing against the Rockets. “He's the ultimate weapon because there's no defense for Kevin,” Kerr said. “No matter what anybody does, he can get a good shot. And he knew we needed him badly. And he just took over the game in the first half and set a great tone.” Durant appears to be locked in and on a mission, and if this is his last run with the Warriors, it’s morphing into a gallop. His 50 points Friday (Saturday, PHL time) were a personal playoff high and his 38 in the first half tied Charles Barkley for second on the all-time list. And this came on the heels of the 45 points he delivered in a losing Game 5 effort. “Sometimes you come across special people and it doesn’t matter what defense you send to them,” said Clippers guard Lou Williams. “There is no scheme. There’s nothing you can do with special people. He’s one of them and he showed it. He put them guys on his shoulders. He proved exactly who people think he is, who he thinks of himself, and he did it.” The Warriors finished with the best record in the West this season, almost on reputation or cruise control. Once again, there were lapses that seemed suspiciously like a team bored with the schedule and awaiting a summer coronation. This breezy attitude seeped into the opening round, when the Warriors choked away a 31-point lead and then lost another home game to an eighth-seeded team devoid of All-Stars. This doesn’t happen unless the heavily-favored one-seed is taking their championship rings for granted. “I think I made a joke like this first round felt like it was two months,” said Curry. “It was just the emotional part of it, I mean, losing (DeMarcus Cousins) and a 31-point lead and trying to come back on the road and the mental investment you put into it. We’ve got to be able to flip the switch from one team to the next and that will be the biggest test.” Well, and this might be a stretch, but expect the Warriors to show the Rockets a lot more respect. Deep down, Kerr knows losing a pair to the Clippers was perhaps the face-slap his team needed, and at the right time. The Warriors know any lapse in this series will likely be their last, and a fatal one as well. “We know what Houston's about,” said Kerr. “We know how good they are. We've got to be ready.” There are positive signs beyond Durant. Thompson will be the first line of defense against Harden, the league’s leading scorer this season, and Thompson is coming off a lockdown of Williams, who finally cooled and went 3-for-21 Friday (Saturday, PHL time). This will be of major importance, of course, given Harden’s usage rate and relentlessness. “If you’re not focused,” Durant said, “he can drive past you, he shoots floaters now, he’s a strong finish with either hand and obviously the step-back three-pointers is one of his staples. He can score in a variety of ways so you have to be locked in from the beginning. You’ve got to be ready to play tough all game.” Draymond Green is coming off a triple-double, while the aging Andre Iguodala seems springy and active, usually his profile this time of year. Yes, there’s finally perhaps a sense of urgency or at least an understanding of what’s at stake and more of an emphasis on staying woke for the Warriors. “Obviously we would love to win every series 4-0,” said Durant. “That would be ideal. But we know it’s not really going to happen that way.” Perhaps not. But the Durant Warriors, based on their track record, are convincing enough. 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 NewsApr 27th, 2019

T-wolves' Rubio to miss Nuggets game for personal reasons

em>By Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press /em> MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio will miss the game on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) against the Denver Nuggets, but it has nothing to do with the trade rumors that have surrounded him of late. Rubio left the team on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) for personal reasons and will not rejoin the Wolves until late Sunday or Monday, coach Tom Thibodeau said Saturday after practice. Rubio had to return home to Spain, and his brother posted on Instagram that their grandmother had passed away. Rubio did not play in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) because of tightness in his left hip, but Thibodeau said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) that was not a concern going forward. Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones filled in admirably, helping the Wolves defeat the Clippers, 104-101. Rubio said after the game he was not concerned about the injury, though it did interrupt an impressive run for the pass-first point guard. In his previous five full games, Rubio was averaging 13.2 points and 14.0 assists, looking more like the playmaker he was earlier in his career. 'I'm playing better, feeling better and the results are there,' Rubio said last week after a win over Oklahoma City. 'But I don't want it to be just a four-game stand. I want to be all season long like that. It's hard. We have a lot of games, but my expectations are high and I keep them high because I work hard to do it.' It has taken time for Rubio to acclimate to a new system in Thibodeau's first year as coach, leading many across the league to believe that the sixth-year pro could be traded to make room for Dunn, the fifth overall pick in last summer's draft. Thibodeau has historically preferred a point guard who is more of a scorer than Rubio, a career 37 percent shooter and a 31 percent shooter from 3-point range. But shooting has never been Rubio's strong suit. He excels at getting others involved, playing good defense and controlling the tempo of the game. With the trade deadline less than a month away, and Rubio on a hot streak, trade chatter has expectedly picked up. The Wolves are just 15-28, though they are 9-10 since a 6-18 start. Still, it's clear that they have a lot of improving to do to become a factor in the Western Conference, and Rubio appears to be one of the few assets they are willing to part with that could fetch a decent player in return. ESPN reported that the Wolves and Detroit Pistons had discussions about a Rubio-for-Reggie Jackson trade, but Pistons coach and team president Stan Van Gundy shot that down on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Van Gundy told reporters in Detroit that he texted Jackson to tell him 'this is the crazy season. We're not trading you for Ricky Rubio.' Dunn hasn't been any better as a shooter in his rookie season, making 37.6 percent from the field and shooting a ghastly 27 percent from three-point range. But he had played more than 20 minutes in a game just three times in the previous two months before Rubio's injury on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). 'When you have shorter minutes, you have to try to be more ready,' Dunn said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). 'Try to go out there and impact the game right away. You can get the feel when you have more minutes, but I understand. Ricky's a great player. I'm just trying to learn off him.' Dunn likely will start against the Nuggets, with Jones serving as the backup point guard. Dunn said he has been getting more and more comfortable in his first season and will be ready when Thibodeau calls on him. 'I'm starting to understand who I am as a player (and) what's my role on the team,' Dunn said. 'Just figuring out guys, what's their tendencies and trying to understand coach's philosophy.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2017

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