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Five things we learned from Game 1 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 118-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of The Finals Thursday (Friday, PHL time) at Scotiabank Arena ... 1. So much for ‘glad to be here’ If we thought we had learned one thing about the Toronto Raptors when it comes to the NBA playoffs, it was this: They back their way into most series. Losing the opener was a tradition for this franchise -- they were 3-15 in Game 1s prior to Thursday (Friday, PHL time), dating back to their inaugural playoff run in 2000. Nothing shoves a team closer to elimination in a best-of-seven showdown than a lousy start. That’s why grabbing the opener against Golden State was so essential. Had the Raptors squandered their home-court advantage on the first night, we all would be assuming the worst for these Finals in competitive, stylistic and entertainment terms. Only by rocking the Warriors in Game 1 -- and most impressively, by refusing to cough up all of their 12-point lead in the second half -- could the Raptors generate legitimate excitement for Game 2 and beyond. Had we all been honest (and able to pull this off), we would have begun this series by spotting Toronto to a 1-0 lead -- just to handicap the defending champions and force them to show us something they haven’t in their four previous Finals trips. But such a move would have been demeaning, of course, to the Raptors. Instead, coach Nick Nurse and his affable newbies seized early control themselves. How Portland looked in the Western Conference finals, as if the Trail Blazers had maxed out and were just happy to still be involved? Toronto wanted none of that. It found a way to win when Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry were ordinary at best. And now we have a series worthy of the Larry O’Brien Trophy. 2. Triple-doubles continue to decline in value It’s fun as a game progresses to track stats, whether it’s Pascal Siakam’s absurd 11 consecutive field goals or Stephen Curry’s refusal to miss a free throw. We’re always aware of the leading scorer and his growing point total, particularly as it passes the big round numbers (30, 40, 50…). But Draymond Green’s latest triple-double was a reminder that the bar has been set too low for that stat from its inception. Green finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, which makes it a minimalist’s triple-double at best and more of a statistical fluke than an achievement. Ten assists? That’s strong any night. Ten rebounds? Solid, and necessary if no one else on your roster is claiming more than six. Ten points, though? Come on now. Green had a Jason Kidd triple-double, which isn’t mean to disparage the Hall of Fame point guard but speaks to Kidd’s limitations as a scorer for most of his career. Heck, the Warriors’ versatile forward had six turnovers, inspiring the bad “quadruple-double watch” that Kidd sparked on occasion. What Green didn’t do was put the ball through the net effectively, shooting 2-for-9 overall and 0-for-2 on three-pointers. Yes, his value to Golden State usually doesn’t rise or fall on his scoring, but he could have been more helpful in that area Thursday. When Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double in 1961-62 (and cumulatively did it over his first six NBA seasons), he was scoring 30 points per game. When Russell Westbrook matched what had been a rare feat two years ago, he too was up above 30 points nightly. But Westbrook has done it the past two seasons as well, with his scoring average dipping below 23 this season. That would seem to be near the minimum -- say, 20 points -- to gush over a player’s triple-double on a given night. We get it, double figures means 10 or more. But 10 points is no big deal at all in the NBA, so it seems silly to celebrate it when it’s the free rider on the triple-double quirk. 3. Don’t double-dawg dare an NBA player Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted after Game 1 that, by mistake more than by design, his team didn’t defensively do its job well in the early minutes against center Marc Gasol. “Gasol we left a couple times early in the game and didn't rotate, we just gave him a couple of dare shots and he knocked them down,” Kerr said. Daring is not defending, and the Warriors would be well-advised not to do that again to a player as proud and as accomplished as Gasol. He’s struggled at times as a shooter in these playoffs, shooting 34 percent in the Eastern Conference finals while going 2-for-9 on three-pointers in Games 1 and 2 of that series (both losses). It was embarrassing at times to see the affable 7'1" Spaniard miss shots badly, whether he felt that way or not. But Gasol was 10-for-20 on three-pointers entering The Finals, all during the Raptors’ four consecutive victories to eliminate the Bucks. He went 2-for-4 in Game 1 of The Finals, scoring a playoff-high 20 points to help compensate for Leonard’s and Lowry’s muted firepower. Asked about it afterward, on taking such a “dare” personally, the big man shrugged. “If you're open, you got to shoot them. Dare, no dare,” he said. “And then we go from there. If they go in, great. If not you keep taking them with confidence.” That’s speaking truth to a dare. 4. The ratings for Game 1 will soar… … if they can somehow count the number of times the Warriors and the Raptors watch and re-watch the video tape. A big theme heading into this series was the relative lack of familiarity the teams had with each other. Now, that’s a common aspect of The Finals, pitting the champs of opposite conferences and all. But given Golden State’s knowledge of the Cleveland Cavaliers after four consecutive Finals, Toronto is a relative stranger. Beyond that, key players from both sides were absent in the two regular-season meetings. But now they have a whole 48 minutes to dissect, digest and learn from. For the Warriors, who spoke about it the most, they saw things they might not have expected and things they definitely did not like. Such as? Try Siakam’s attacks on the basket (in transition and otherwise), their own inability to be the team that pushes pace and Fred VanVleet as the game’s essential reserve (15 points on a night when his three-point shot was MIA). Green, in particular, sounded as if he was going to binge-watch Siakam’s romp and figure a way to thwart the unorthodox flip shots the forward from Cameroon deployed. “He's become ‘a guy,’” Green said phrasing that as a nod of respect. “He put a lot of work into get there and I respect that. But like I said, I got to take him out of the series and that's on me.” Toronto can make use of the video for as long as the Warriors roster stays the way it is, which means sans Kevin Durant. Which leads into … 5. Who's here (and who isn't)? (And no, we don’t mean LeBron James.) Durant’s continued absence with a calf injury since Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals became an official problem in Game 1 of The Finals (the team’s first loss without him). Questions that had been bottled up for a couple weeks -- What did you miss most without Durant? How might he have changed your offense or defense? -- came spilling out from the large media crew that covers the NBA’s glamour team. Neither Kerr nor his players took the bait, which was smart. Not only would it look like excuse-making (considering how they hadn’t needed those before), it might have opened a crack of vulnerability into something wider and more troublesome. Durant is out for Game 2, but per a Yahoo Sports report is expected back at the series’ midway point (read: Game 3 or Game 4).  “KD's an all-time great player on both ends of the floor,” Curry said, “so I could sit here and talk for days about what he adds to our roster.  We obviously have proven that when he's out we can have guys step up, and that's going to be the case until he gets back.” Rushing him back would seem desperate, something the Warriors aren’t and shouldn’t be. Plus, it is early in a long series. And it really is irrelevant: NBA players and teams’ medical staffs don’t “rush back” anyone these days. Then again, once they’re ready to play -- as Golden State showed in using DeMarcus Cousins in Game 1 -- there’s no sense in letting talent help languish in street clothes. No time too, either. 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 1st, 2019

Durant dazzles against former Thunder team anew

em>By Janie McCauley, Associated Press /em> OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Kevin Durant dazzled against his old team once again with a season-best 40 points, and the Golden State Warriors beat Oklahoma City 121-100 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) despite Russell Westbrook's 21st triple-double for the Thunder. Westbrook had 27 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists in an improved showing from his 20-point outing on 4-for-15 shooting when OKC first faced Durant in the other jersey here 2.5 months ago and watched him dismantle the Thunder from every which way. In his two games against OKC, Durant has scored 79 points on 28-for-50 shooting. He hit seven three-pointers in the first meeting, a 122-96 Warriors rout Nov. 3 (Nov. 4 PHL time), also at Oracle Arena. Durant also had 12 rebounds Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Stephen Curry added 24 points and eight assists, and Klay Thompson had 14 points after he arrived back in the Bay Area just in time to play after a short absence dealing with a personal family matter. This one had tension, which just might be the norm from here on out when Durant faces the Thunder. There were words exchanged and stare downs, and of course a few hard fouls -- then an occasional smile to balance things out, like when Durant missed on a driving tomahawk jam and the ball shot back to midcourt. This atmosphere wasn't that much different from two days earlier when the champion Cavaliers visited Golden State's home floor and left with an embarrassing 126-91 defeat. Enes Kanter added 22 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Thunder, who missed center Steven Adams for a second straight game with a concussion. Tied at 63 after the game was also even at halftime, the Warriors scored eight unanswered points with three’s by Thompson and Durant. Thompson scored five straight points during the exact kind of scoring flurry Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan described before the game as what makes these star-studded Warriors so dangerous. It wasn't that long ago Donovan could only watch as Golden State rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat OKC in the Western Conference finals last season. Westbrook shot just 8-for-23 this time and missed all but one of his six three-point tries, but made 10-of-11 free throws. With 4.4 seconds left in the first half, Zaza Pachulia collided with Westbrook and clobbered the OKC star in the face as the Warriors center went with his man as Kanter set a screen on Andre Iguodala. Westbrook went down and grabbed his face in obvious pain and Pachulia glared at Westbrook as he stood over him. The play went to official review before Pachulia received a flagrant 1 foul, drawing boos from the sellout crowd. Golden State outscored Oklahoma City 37-22 in the third to turn the game into another blowout on the way to wrapping up 9-1 stay in Northern California over the past 3.5 weeks. Durant posted his 11th game with 30 or more points and fifth with at least 30 points and 10 boards. As dominant as KD has been against the Thunder, the Warriors still must go to Oklahoma City on Feb. 11 and March 20 (Feb. 12 and Mar. 21, PHL time). strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Thunder: /strong> /em> Oklahoma City is 5-11 on the road against Golden State and hasn't won on the Warriors' home floor since Dec. 18, 2014. Adams wasn't with the team. em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em>PF David West has a non-displaced fracture of his left thumb and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Golden State was tied at halftime for the first time all season. After out-rebounding the Cavs 58-35, the Warriors led the category 46-36. Golden State committed 13 first-half turnovers and 18 total. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Thunder: /strong> /em>At Utah on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) after a four-day break without a game. em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em> At Houston on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Golden State wrapped up a stretch of more than three weeks at home that included only a bus ride to Sacramento for a lone road game in a 10-game stretch since Dec. 26 (Dec. 27, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Paul gets hurt anew, but Clippers trounce Thunder

em>By Beth Harris, Associated Press /em> LOS ANGELES (AP) — J.J. Redick scored 20 points, DeAndre Jordan had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and the streaking Los Angeles Clippers overcame Chris Paul's injury to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-98 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). The banged-up Clippers tied a franchise record for their best start to a calendar year at 7-0. The team began 1974 with the same mark when the club was located in Buffalo. Los Angeles owns the NBA's longest active winning streak despite being without injured star Blake Griffin. Paul sprained his left thumb in the second quarter of this one and didn't return. Still, the Clippers shot 55 percent and improved to 16-0 when hitting 50 percent or better. They were dominant in the paint, outscoring the Thunder 62-34. Russell Westbrook scored 24 points on 7-of-19 shooting in three quarters for the Thunder, the last team to beat the Clippers, on New Year's Eve, before the calendar turned and their winning streak began. He was the only starter in double figures for Oklahoma City. Jordan had three dunks, including a reverse off a pass from Marreese Speights, in the third quarter when the Clippers stretched their lead to 27 points. Speights finished with a season-high 23 points. Jordan sat out the fourth when Speights dunked and hit two triples. The Clippers outscored the Thunder 24-6, including nine points by Speights and six by Redick, to take a 22-point lead in the second. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Thunder: /strong> /em>C Steven Adams sat out with a concussion sustained in the third quarter at Sacramento on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). The Thunder were coming off a win at Sacramento 24 hours earlier, but fell to 2-6 on the second night of a back-to-back. em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em>G Austin Rivers and Jordan were hit with technical fouls. They'll be expected to donate their fines to a charity of their choosing under a program coach Doc Rivers announced earlier this month as a way to reduce the team's high number of technicals. Paul missed seven games in December and early this month because of hamstring issues. The Clippers went 2-2 against the Thunder this season. G Raymond Felton was 7-of-7 from the floor and scored 15 points. or the second straight game, Jordan missed just one field goal attempt, going 7-of-8. The Clippers scored the most points during their winning streak. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Thunder: /strong> /em>Visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) in the fourth game of their six-game trip. em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em> After two days off, they host Minnesota on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Towns, Rubio lead Wolves to third straight win, top OKC

em>By Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press /em> MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Karl-Anthony Towns had 29 points and 17 rebounds and Ricky Rubio added 14 points and 14 assists to help the Minnesota Timberwolves to their third straight victory, 96-86 over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points and Brandon Rush had 11 for the Timberwolves, who have won three in a row for the first time all season. The improving Timberwolves defense held the Thunder to 38.8 percent shooting and scored 33 points off of 19 Oklahoma City turnovers. Russell Westbrook had 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his 19th triple-double of the season. But he also had 10 turnovers in Oklahoma City's first loss in four games. Enes Kanter had 21 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder. Zach LaVine missed his second straight game for Minnesota with a hip pointer, but the Wolves still managed to shoot 45 percent. Towns made 11-of-17 shots, including a beauty of a scoop with five minutes to go that gave Minnesota a 13-point lead. The Wolves defense had been startlingly poor in its first season under defensive guru Tom Thibodeau, but has shown marked improvement of late. Minnesota entered the game sixth in the league in defensive rating over the previous 15 games, then put the clamps on Oklahoma City to improve to 8-8 after a 6-18 start. Westbrook has been a one-man wrecking crew this season, entering the game as the second player in league history to average at least 30 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds per game through the first 40 games. His 19 triple-doubles are the most in a season since Wilt Chamberlain had 31 in 1967-68. But he made just 7-of-23 shots against the Wolves and was 1-for-10 from three-point range. Rubio tied a franchise record with 17 assists in a win over the Rockets on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL tie), had another 15 assists in the win over Dallas on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) and was at his best in the third quarter on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). He had six points and seven assists in the quarter, scoring or assisting on nine of Minnesota's 12 field goals in the period. He also checked Westbrook for the entire period, helping to hold him to 0-for-7 shooting with five turnovers in 12 minutes. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Thunder: /strong> /em>Westbrook surpassed his triple-double total for all of last season. Victor Oladipo scored 19 points. Kanter hit a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter, just his fifth of the season. em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em> Rubio also had four steals and five turnovers. Rubio's 46 assists over the last three games is tied with Westbrook for the most dimes in a three-game span this season. Towns had his 10th straight double-double and 30th of the season. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Thunder: /strong> /em> Oklahoma City heads to Sacramento for a game Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the second of its six-game road trip. em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em>Minnesota starts a three-game road trip in Dallas on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Steven Adams turns back on New Zealand selection

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand NBA star Steven Adams has turned down the chance to play for New Zealand at the basketball World Cup in China later this year. The Oklahoma City Thunder center was named in New Zealand's initial 25-man squad for the tournament. But he informed Basketball New Zealand through his management Monday that he will not be available. A statement from Adams' agent at the Wasserman Media Group did not give a reason for Adams' refusal but said he would be eager to play for New Zealand in the future. "Steven's support of the (New Zealand team) and his interest in playing for the program at some point down the line is unwavering," the statement said. "While he won't be participating this year with the national team, his plan is to evaluate the opportunity to play in the 2020 Olympics following the upcoming NBA season.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

PBA: Manuel on minutes restriction for Alaska following injury

Finally, Vic Manuel is back and healthy for Alaska. Manuel is active once again following a long recovery from back injury and he made his season debut for Alaska Wednesday in a huge win over Magnolia in the ongoing 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. For his first game of the year, Manuel was good for six points on three out of five shooting. He played less than nine minutes. “That was very intentional that Vic played a little as he did. He’s just working his way back so he’s on minutes restriction,” head coach Alex Compton said of his star forward. “I think his body can handle those minutes right now and hopefully they just keep increasing. We have to make sure we keep him healthy,” he added. In last year’s Commissioner’s Cup, Manuel played perhaps the best basketball of his career, going on a historic scoring run of at least 20 points. Manuel is a little far off from that form yet but Alaska is in no rush. “He’s way too valuable to us to rush him back,” Compton said of Manuel. “He’s just gotta keep doing the work, but it’s great to see him in uniform,” Compton added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

KBA Stars, Thunder All-Stars near PBL playoffs

The Katayama Baseball Academy (KBA) Stars and the Thunder All-Stars continued their surge in the 2019 Philippine Baseball League Open Conference last Sunday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium. Carlos Munoz put up another masterful outing to lead KBA to a dominant 7-1 victory over the Ateneo Blue Eagles to go to 3-0 in Group A of this tournament organized by the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association and supported by the Philippine Sports Commission. "I just told the boys to continue enjoying the game since for some of them like Carlos, they are still just getting back to the game after not playing for so long," said KBA head coach Keiji Katayama. Munoz, a former DLSU Green Batter who is now a full-time banker, put on a show on the mound. In four innings pitched, he struck out five batters while allowing just one run to register his first win of the season. On offense, the second-generation batter had two hits and an RBI as well. Ex-Adamsonian Gerald Riparip also had two RBIs as he and Munoz provided the spark in a four-run fifth inning to deal Ateneo its second straight loss in three games. Later in the day, National Team pitcher Vladi Eguia and the rest of Thunder stifled Rizal Technological University-Alums, 8-1, to continue to sit atop of Group B. Eguia stomped RTU-Alums to the tune of a conference-high eight strikeouts in four innings pitched. RTU-Alums suffered their second straight loss to fall to 1-2. In the first game, the Adamson Soaring Falcons used a six-run fourth inning to escape the RTU Thunder, 8-5. Adamson kept second place in Group A while dropping RTU to 0-3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2019

Ex-La Salle, Ateneo stars lead Katayama to victory in PBL opener

Former DLSU Green Batter Carlos Munoz and ex-Ateneo Blue Eagle Matt Laurel made a triumphant return to the diamond last weekend. Behind the two stalwarts, the Katayama Baseball Academy Stars trashed the young Rizal Technological University Thunder in just five innings, 13-0, during the opening weekend of the 2019 Philippine Baseball League Open Conference. "I made the team because I wanted to give an opportunity to the players who graduated from the UAAP," said KBA head coach Keiji Katayama. In his very first at-bat after a year-long absence from the game, right fielder Munoz slammed a deep home run to right field for a quick 2-0 lead. "I'm happy to have a baseball team with Carlos, Matt, and SJ [San Juan]. I hope they return to the game because they still have a chance to make it to the National Team," added Katayama about having the trio in this tournament organized by the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association with the support of the Philippine Sports Commission. Munoz had three RBIs in the game while ex-UP shortstop Mark Tuballas and former Adamson third baseman Kyle Villafana had three and two RBIs, respectively. UAAP Season 81 Finals MVP Kiko Gesmundo led the pitching staff with three hitless innings while striking out four batters. After their quick game, KBA also played an exhibition contest against South Korean weekend warriors from the Jeju Province. "It's very, very nice because this is a goodwill game," said PABA secretary-general Pepe Munoz. "At first I was unsure about it because we are very busy in trying to fix baseball in the Philippines. Secondly, we don't know them at all. "When they showed up, they were very good. We were hoping to give them a series of games but time would not allow it," he added. Also last Saturday, Jerome Ponce connected on the first home run of the conference that led the way for the Thunder's 8-2 whipping of the Philippine Air Force. National team standout Aids Bernardo pitched all seven innings for Thunder, allowing just seven hits while fanning five Lawins. Air Force bounced back a day later with an 8-3 victory over the UST Golden Sox. In other games, the Adamson Soaring Falcons opened the conference by eking out a 3-1 win over the NU Bulldogs, the IPPC Nationals thrashed the Ateneo Blue Eagles 7-3, and the DLSU Green Batters escaping RTU-Alums 11-6......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2019

Trail Blazers cohesiveness helped them to conference finals

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers faced a number of challenges on the journey to their first Western Conference finals in 19 years. But there was one they couldn’t overcome: The Golden State Warriors. Portland’s run in the playoffs, which captured fans’ imaginations after Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to clinch the opening-round series over the Thunder, ended with a sweep by the defending champions. [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 put together a great season and we put ourselves in position to go to the Finals,” Lillard said. “I think every other team in the league would wish they could be in our shoes; not only making the playoffs but playing for an opportunity to get a chance to go to the Finals. We just ran up on a team who has been there the last four years.” Portland was coming off two straight seasons that ended with first-round playoff sweeps. The team, which had surprisingly little turnover over those years, came into the season unified and determined to take the next step. But before the first game was played, the Blazers were hit by the death of owner Paul Allen after a battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The co-founder of Microsoft was a hands-on owner and a familiar face at the Moda Center, and Portland dedicated its season to him. Injuries would challenge the Blazers down the stretch. Lillard’s backcourt partner CJ McCollum missed 10 games with a knee injury. But it was center Jusuf Nurkic’s injury that caused the most concern going into the playoffs. Portland’s seven-foot big man broke his left leg after crashing awkwardly in an overtime victory at home over the Brooklyn Nets on March 25 (Mar. 26, PHL time). Nurkic was averaging 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds a game and many considered Portland’s playoff prospects dim without him. Fortunately, the Blazers were able to turn to Enes Kanter, who was waived by the New York Knicks following the trade deadline and signed by Portland for the rest of the season. Kanter averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 23 regular-season games with the Blazers, including eight starts. Portland finished 53-29 and clinched the third seed in the Western Conference, earning home court for the first round — and a series with the Thunder. The Blazers wrapped that series up in five games — capped by Lillard’s walkoff three-pointer. But even in the playoffs the Blazers couldn’t escape misfortune. Kanter separated his left shoulder in the final game against Oklahoma City. He was questionable for the conference semifinals against Denver but played, although he often winced in pain. Jonathan Yim, Portland’s video coordinator and player development coach, was in a serious car accident before the series with the Nuggets. The Blazers coaching staff wore bow ties in his honor in Game 2. That series went to seven games, with the Blazers sealing their date with Golden State on Denver’s home court. The Warriors were simply too much for the Blazers, climbing back from double-digit deficits in each of the final three games. Lillard played with separated ribs in the final two. The team’s on-court leader, Lillard averaged 25.8 points and 6.9 assists and earned his fourth All-Star nod during the regular season. He averaged 33 points in the opening round against the Thunder, but his production fell against Denver and Golden State when he was double-teamed. Lillard said the past few seasons of relative stability — after four of Portland’s five starters moved on to other teams in 2015 — have bonded the team. “Each year we’ve come back with the right attitude,” Lillard said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “We’ve been able to stick together through a lot of adversity and I think just what we’ve hung our hats on, what we’ve believed in, our culture, the togetherness, we’ve been able to truly build on that. And I think we should be encouraged.” Lillard could be in line for a hefty raise in the offseason. If he is named to one of the postseason’s All-NBA teams, he’ll qualify for a supermax contract extension worth $191 million. Lillard has two years remaining on his current contract. Asked about the prospects of a big extension, Lillard laughed and said: “I don’t understand why that’s even a question.” Coach Terry Stotts already benefited from the team’s run in the playoffs, signing a multi-year contract with the team that was announced at exit interviews. Terms of the deal were not released. “The guys in the locker room are special, it’s been a special season,” Stotts said. “Always tough to lose the last game of the year, but I couldn’t be more proud of the group that we’ve had.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

Bucks lead East finals 2-0, and now series shifts to Toronto

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry have more than held their own against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton so far in these Eastern Conference finals. Other than some pretty boxscores, the Toronto Raptors have nothing to show for those efforts. [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 supporting cast hasn’t supported much for Toronto, and with what is almost certainly a must-win Game 3 of the East title series looming on Sunday night at home, Raptors coach Nick Nurse is weighing lineup tweaks. Nurse suggested Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) that Serge Ibaka may start at center over struggling Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell may get minutes that would figure to come at Danny Green’s expense. “We’ve got to be better, man,” Nurse said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). “We’ve got to be more physical, we’ve got to hustle more and we’ve got to work harder.” He may as well have punctuated that by adding “or else.” In this playoff format that was put into play in 1984, teams that win the first two games at home of a best-of-seven series have ultimately prevailed 94% of the time. And that’s the luxury Milwaukee has right now, leading the series 2-0 after rallying to win the opener and then controlling Game 2 start to finish. “We can’t rest,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We can’t relax. We can’t assume anything.” So the odds are stacked against the Raptors. Nurse was told the lack of success teams have when down 0-2 in a series, and insisted he doesn’t care. “I don’t really give a crap about that,” he said. “I just want our team to come play their (butt) off tomorrow night and get one game and it changes the series.” Leonard and Lowry are outscoring Antetokounmpo and Middleton 107-77 — which would figure to have been a boon to Toronto’s chances. It hasn’t worked that way. Add up everyone else’s scoring in the series, and it’s Bucks 156, Raptors 96. Rebounding has been one-sided in both games, with Milwaukee controlling things on the backboards. Bench scoring has tilted heavily toward Milwaukee as well. “We’re just trying to be us,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “We’re not playing any differently, regular season or postseason. We’re just trying to go out there and play Bucks basketball. It starts with our defense. Getting stops. Getting out. Playing in transition. Playing with pace. Sharing the ball and being aggressive and attacking the basket.” The Raptors don’t have to look at the history books to know this series isn’t over. All they need to do is recall the 2012 Western Conference finals. Leonard and Green were with top-seeded San Antonio, and Ibaka was with second-seeded Oklahoma City. The Spurs won Games 1 and 2 at home — then lost the next four, and the Thunder went to the NBA Finals. “We have another chance to bounce back on Sunday,” Gasol said. “That’s all that matters right now. That’s all that matters.” Here’s some of what to know before Game 3: QUICK WIT: Leonard, who isn’t the most talkative guy in the league to put it mildly, had a simple answer when asked where the Raptors go from here after the Game 2 loss. “I’m going to Toronto for Game 3,” Leonard said. WE (BARELY) THE NORTH: The series now shifts to Toronto, where the Raptors’ motto is “We The North.” It is, but barely in this case. Toronto is about 430 miles east of Milwaukee by air, and is only slightly north. And it should be noted that Toronto isn’t even the northernmost city that will be playing host to conference final games this weekend — Portland holds that distinction. GREEK FREAKS: Census figures show that at least a quarter-million Greeks live in Canada, and roughly half of those live in Ontario. Antetokounmpo isn’t expecting an overly warm welcome, but has seen a few Greek flags in the crowd on his past trips to Toronto. Antetokounmpo said he’d be touched if they were there Sunday, but isn’t thinking about it too much. “I’m going to try not to focus as much in the people and the Greeks and the population in Toronto,” Antetokounmpo said. “Just focusing on Game 3 and what we’ve got to do.” OFF, WISCONSIN: Including Games 1 and 2 of this series, matchups in Wisconsin are rarely kind to Nurse. He played at Northern Iowa, a conference rival of Green Bay — and his teams went 1-8 in those games, 0-4 at Green Bay’s former home court, the being-demolished Brown County Arena. Nurse said it was a nice place, but wasn’t upset to hear it’s coming down. “There weren’t very many good memories for me,” he said. BREAK FROM DRAKE: At least one Milwaukee radio station is taking this series extremely seriously. WXSS-FM is not allowing any songs by Raptors superfan Drake to be played on its station until the East finals are over. “We’re taking a break from you,” the station wrote in an open letter of sorts to the Toronto native and courtside ticketholder......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Bucks making case as favorites to win title

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com MILWAUKEE -- In the wake of a wire-to-wire, 125-103 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, a question for the group: Shouldn't the Milwaukee Bucks be the favorites to win this thing? No, not the conference finals. At this point, they're obviously the heavy favorite to win the East. Prior to this year, 72 teams had a 2-0 lead in the conference finals, and 67 of them went on to win. But why aren't the Bucks the favorites to win the NBA championship? Is there a case to be made against 1) what was the best team in the regular season and 2) what has been an even better team in the playoffs? [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] Maybe this is a we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it league. How can you pick a team to win a championship when its best player had never won a playoff series prior to this year? Until they lost in five, it was easier to imagine the Celtics, with their talent and with their recent history of playoff success (back-to-back trips to the conference finals), being the team to represent the East in The Finals in the first year A.L. (after LeBron). And then the Bucks outscored the Celtics by a total of 65 points over the last four games of the conference semis. It's similarly difficult to pick against the Golden State Warriors until they actually lose. The two-time defending champs have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Presumably, they'll have Kevin Durant back for The Finals should they finish off the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals. And even without Durant, the Warriors boast the same 2-0 conference finals lead the Bucks currently possess. But the Warriors haven't been as sharp as they were in each of the previous two postseasons. Five of their 10 playoff wins have been within five points in the last five minutes. Last year, only four of their 16 wins were within five in the last five. In 2017, it was four of 16 as well. With the postseason's 10th-ranked defense, Golden State has outscored its opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions over its 14 games. The Bucks have outscored their opponents by more than double that: 15.1 per 100. That feels like the mark of an eventual champion. Through 10 playoff wins last year, the Warriors had outscored their opponents by 9.6 points per 100 possessions. Through 10 playoff wins in 2015, they had outscored their opponents by just 7.7 points per 100. It was only in 2017, when they won their first 15 playoff games in Durant's first season in Golden State, that the Warriors were as dominant as the Bucks have been thus far. At 10-0 two years ago, Golden State had outscored its playoff opponents by 16.5 points per 100 possessions. At that point, the Warriors had the No. 2 offense and the No. 1 defense in the postseason. That's exactly where the Bucks stand after Game 2 on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Milwaukee is a complete team in more ways than one. The defense has been there almost every night. The Bucks have held their opponents under a point per possession (the measure of elite defense) in six of their 11 games and only once (their Game 1 loss to Boston) have they allowed them to score more than what was the league average (109.7 points scored per 100 possessions) in the regular season. Even with the rise in three-point shooting over the last few years, the most important shots on the floor remain those at the basket, and no team has been better at both preventing and defending those shots than the Bucks. After allowing a league-low 29.6 points per game in the restricted area in the regular season, the Bucks have allowed just 22.0 per game in the playoffs. In this series, Raptors drives have been met with a swarm of Milwaukee defenders, making it difficult to either score in the paint or get off a clean pass to an open shooter. After shooting 57 percent in the paint through the first two rounds (in which they faced two very good defenses), the Raptors have shot just 49 percent (36-for-73) in the paint through the first two games of the conference finals. On Toronto's first possession of Game 2, Marc Gasol posted up Khris Middleton after a switch and spun around Middleton for a layup, only to be rejected by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Raptors went scoreless on their first five possessions, had just 39 points on 49 possessions at halftime, and were too far behind for a 39-point third quarter to matter much. "I think the way we played on both ends of the court in the first half," Budenholzer said afterward, "is what we're trying to get to." After a bit of an offensive struggle in Game 1, the Bucks broke out on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). The elite defense led to 28 fast-break points, a size advantage inside led to 17 second-chance points, and six of their nine rotation players scored in double-figures. Three of those six came off the bench. While Toronto coach Nick Nurse has had to both shorten and alter his rotation in these playoffs, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has seemingly found contributors wherever he has turned. George Hill and Pat Connaughton were huge in the Boston series, Malcolm Brogdon didn't need long to find his rhythm after missing the first eight postseason games, and on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), Ersan Ilyasova had what Budenholzer called "clearly his best game of the year," scoring 17 points, drawing three charges, and registering a plus-22 in just over 21 minutes off the bench. The Bucks have the presumed Kia MVP, but their biggest strength in these playoffs has been their depth. Through 11 games, they've outscored their opponents by 12.0 points per 100 possessions with Antetokounmpo off the floor. Unlike his fellow Eastern Conference coaches, Budenholzer has never had to rush his best player back onto the floor. And this team is now 10-1 with Antetokounmpo ranking 40th in postseason minutes per game at 32.3. While the Raptors' offense has struggled to take advantage of the attention paid to Kawhi Leonard, every Bucks rotation player has played with confidence and freedom. "They're not going to let me play one-on-one," Antetokounmpo said after registering 30 points, 17 rebounds and five assists in Game 2. "So this series is not going to be about me; it's going to be about my teammates being ready to shoot, being ready to make the right play." "We try and empower them," Budenholzer said of his team's role players. "We try to play a way where they all feel like they can contribute and do things. Hopefully that's paying off for us." There's no argument to the contrary. But is there an argument against this team being the favorite to win the championship? While it remains difficult to pick against the team that won last year and remains intact, new champions come along all the time, and it's easier to see them in hindsight than in the moment. Of course, as good as they've been playing and as special as this run has felt, Bucks players refuse to get ahead of themselves. "You can't," Eric Bledsoe said. "That's how you lose focus. The biggest thing with this group is just taking a game at a time, and not looking forward to The Finals. Anything can happen. So we're focused on Game 3." "It's a great opportunity that we have," George Hill added, "but it means nothing until we get there." The players have to keep their minds on Toronto. But the rest of us can feel free to envision the future, one that includes an NBA championship. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Bottas takes pole at Spanish GP ahead of Hamilton

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Valtteri Bottas is poised to become a major threat to teammate and defending Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton after clocking a scorching lap at the Spanish Grand Prix to take his third consecutive pole position on Saturday. Bottas smashed Hamilton's track record at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit in qualifying, finishing the 4.6-kilometer (2.5-mile) track in 1 minute, 15.406 seconds to better Hamilton's mark from 2018. More importantly for Bottas' hopes in Sunday's race was the gap of more than half a second over Hamilton's best effort. With Hamilton second on the grid, Mercedes is in great position to extend its record start after the pair swept the top two spots at the first four races. Bottas, who failed to win a race last season, leads Hamilton by one point in the standings after they have alternated places in their run of one-two finishes. "I really enjoyed that adrenaline rush from those laps," Bottas said. "It started well, this season. Just the way I hoped for. I am feeling better and better in the car." Hamilton praised his teammate, who after two years as a second fiddle has emerged as the No. 1 challenger to stopping him from winning a sixth world title. "Valtteri did a fantastic job. He has been quick all weekend," said Hamilton, who took pole in Spain in the previous three years. "I just didn't do the job on my side." Hamilton was quick to add he hoped to celebrate another Mercedes team victory on Sunday, but with him on top. "I'll be giving it everything. Great for the team to have a one-two. If I can reverse it (in the race) I'll be happy." Hamilton will look to turn the tables on Bottas in a race that he has won three times, including the last two years. But Hamilton is getting accustomed to seeing the back of Bottas' car. Bottas won the last race in Azerbaijan from pole position. He was fastest in practice on Friday, and the Finn showed no jitters in qualifying after spinning into gravel in the final practice. Bottas shouted an emphatic "Yes!" over the car radio when he knew the top spot was his after Hamilton came up short on his last run, with some gravel strewn on the course possibly slowing him down. Bottas and Hamilton both said that the 66-lap race could be decided in the opening meters. "The start and Turn 1 will be particularly important," Bottas said. "Tomorrow, Lewis and I both want to win, so I'm looking forward to a hard and fair fight." Hamilton said: "My starts have been decent so far this year, so hopefully that will continue on Sunday as it's not that easy to overtake on this track." Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari will start from third, just in front of Red Bull's Max Verstappen. Ferrari's other driver, Charles Leclerc, will start from fifth. Vettel has yet to top qualifying, and it is clear Ferrari has made up no ground despite bringing a new engine to Spain. Vettel is 35 points behind Bottas in third place. "The car doesn't feel bad, but the car is not quick enough," Vettel said. "We are struggling a little bit to bring it together." Pierre Gasly had the sixth best time in his Red Bull, ahead of Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. Nico Hulkenberg was the only driver to go off the track in an otherwise clean qualifying session. The German ran into the barrier and bent one side of his front wing under his Renault. After hasty repairs, Hulkenberg could not make it out of the first qualifying section, which culls the slowest five drivers. Renault partner Daniel Ricciardo finished qualifying 10th but will have to serve a three-place grid penalty that he carried over for causing an accident with Daniil Kvyat in Azerbaijan. Williams' woes deepened after George Russell lost control during practice before qualifying. Damage from the rear-end impact into the wall required a gearbox change, which incurred a five-place grid penalty. Russell and teammate Robert Kubica were again at the bottom of qualifying with the slowest cars......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 12th, 2019

Thunder stars Westbrook, George undergo surgery

    LOS ANGELES, USA – Oklahoma City Thunder stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George have both undergone successful surgeries to fix injuries ahead of next season, the club announced on Tuesday, May 7 (Wednesday, May 8, Manila time). Westbrook went under the knife to repair a ligament in his left hand and ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 8th, 2019

Rockets physicality puts vaunted Warriors on the defensive

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com HOUSTON — This Western Conference semifinal series is tied at 2-2. Each game has been decided by six points or less. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, perhaps the best shooters in the NBA and among the greatest all-time, each had clean looks at 3-pointers in the final seconds Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) for the Warriors and missed a chance to send Game 4 into overtime. The Rockets won, 112-108. Yes, this is now closer than identical twins and possibly headed to the same finish of a year ago, when the Warriors took out Houston in seven games during the conference finals. And if you look under the hood and examine the parts, you’ll see that in the moments of truth over the last two games that Houston won and created this deadlock. The Rockets were the aggressor, the bully, the chance-taker and ultimately more clutch than the champs. They’re beating the Warriors up inside and out. [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] This doesn’t mean they’ll be the better team at the finish line, whether in six games or seven. But right now, they’ve made this contest closer than most imagined and given themselves a shot in what is now a best-two-out-of-three. “It’s a dogfight, and every possession matters,” said Chris Paul. The Rockets claimed victory Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) because James Harden was aces again, scoring 38 points and becoming more efficient – though, to the horror of the Warriors, he was no longer alone. Suddenly, Harden is getting ample help, and the more his supporting cast grows in confidence, the bigger the task it’ll be for the Warriors to finish the job. Here’s the tale of the tape: The Rockets are punching Golden State in the gut, with forward PJ Tucker delivering the body blows. Tucker is just 6'6", yet brings the temperament of a honey badger in a bad mood when it comes to grabbing rebounds. For the second straight game, Tucker snagged double-figures and been especially menacing on the offensive end; he’s going for seconds and sometimes thirds in heavy traffic and giving Houston additional chances at buckets. It’s not just ordinary rebounds he’s getting, but the most important ones. That hunger has a psychological effect as well, breaking the spirits of the Warriors while rousting the passion in his teammates. The sight of Tucker out-fighting Draymond Green for loose balls and missed shots is an emotional boost and keeps possessions alive. “I’m pleased people get a chance to see Tuck,” said Paul. “Everybody sees players in commercials and all that, but they don’t get a chance to see someone play defense and go after rebounds like him. That energy fuels everyone else. That’s basketball.” Houston has out-rebounded the Warriors in its two straight wins and Green says that can’t continue. “We have to change our mindset,” he said, “and that begins with me. That’s my department. They’re slapping us. It’s an easy correction, and if we correct it we’ll be fine.” Maybe the more disturbing aspect of this series is how the Warriors are also getting out-splashed. It’s not terribly surprising to see the Rockets dropping more three-pointers; after all, they take more than anyone in basketball. Yet, the Warriors just aren’t efficient and that’s especially the case with Curry and Klay Thompson. Harden has made just two fewer three-pointers than Curry and Thompson combined. While Curry seemed to break free of his semi-slump Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) with 30 points, his highest single-game point total of the series, he missed 10 of his 14 shots from deep. And Thompson is trapped in a thicker fog right now; he missed 5-of-6 from deep and delivered a weak 11 points and really hasn’t stepped forward for Golden State all series. The shot selection for Curry and Thompson has appeared wicked and surprisingly reckless at times, especially in the fourth quarter. “I felt we were in a rush a lot tonight with our shots,” said Kerr. “I don’t think we got great shots for much of the night. When you’re not searching for great shots, you’re not going to shoot that well.” With only Durant managing to look efficient from beyond the arc, the Warriors are getting lapped. In the last three games, or once Harden’s poked eye improved, the Rockets have made 18 more three-pointers than Golden State. “Our mentality changed after Game 2,” said Harden. “We’re not going to let up. We’re going to keep coming at you.” There are reasons the Warriors shouldn’t be in a state of panic. The next game is at Oracle Arena. And the two they just lost at Toyota Center they could’ve been won had they made plays at the end. Game 3 went into overtime and Curry missed an uncontested layup in the final 90 seconds of that tight game. And the Warriors had those pair of looks by Curry and Durant in Game 4, the sight of which sent chills through the Rockets. “I thought it was going into overtime,” said Austin Rivers. “One hundred percent. KD got one and I’m like, ‘C’mon man.’ And then Steph got one. We are fortunate.” Paul added: “Going back to the Bay, they’re probably not going to miss those shots.” Besides, Houston was qualified to be the most difficult out for the Warriors to win a third straight title, or at least reach the NBA Finals. After all, the Rockets have Harden and Paul, and their ability to shoot three's means they can seldom be counted out of games even if they’re trailing. A furious rally is always a moment away. Besides, aside from Trevor Ariza, this is virtually the same team that took Golden State to the seven-game limit last year and had to play the final two games without Paul, who had a hamstring pull. “I thought they were great,” said Kerr. “They did what they had to do, win their two home games.” But there wasn’t the scent of concern coming from the Warriors. Perhaps it’s the pride of a team still believing it’s heads and shoulders above the league, or a stern belief that whatever advantages Houston had over the last two games will be snuffed. Durant remains playing at an epic level and the basketball logic says Curry, and perhaps Thompson, will eventually snap out of it, not because the Rockets’ defense will weaken, but because Curry and Thompson have, you know, a track record of excellence. “We know what we have to do,” Kerr said bravely. Perhaps. But for the second time in as many years, the Rockets have the Warriors’ full attention, and Golden State must be near-perfect to prevent from being pushed to the ledge. “What I like is how everybody does their job,” said Tucker. “That makes us ‘us.’ We’re tough. We’re that kind of team.” If the Warriors didn’t know it before, they know that now. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2019

Bucks learn playoff lesson in closing out late Celtics charge

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BOSTON — In snatching a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinals series, the Milwaukee Bucks demonstrated so much of what’s gone right about their season. They also sputtered through a stretch late in the game during which things most definitely went wrong. The list of happy things stretched long: Giannis Antetokounmpo was the best player on the floor and in Kia NBA MVP contention mode as he scored 32 points with 13 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks in Milwaukee’s 123-116 victory over the Boston Celtics Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at TD Garden. Fans and viewers got a glimpse of the Bucks’ scoring potency when, coming out of halftime, they posted the first 40-point quarter of this series. The defense that coach Mike Budenholzer demands was especially evident in limiting Boston to 14-of-36 shooting in the second half. Then there was Milwaukee’s deep rotation and trust in reserves – guards George Hill (21 points) and Pat Connaughton (14) led their bench’s 42-16 scoring advantage. [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 down side came near the end, when Milwaukee’s late-game execution was so poor Budenholzer didn’t even want to talk about it in front of the cameras and microphones afterward. He preferred to wait until Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), when he could directly address his players while they review video of Game 3. “I’ll save it for film tomorrow,” Budenholzer said. “It’s not very smart. It’s not very good. That’s the great thing for coaches … we’ll find more things where we can get better. We just touched on one of them for sure.” What happened was, the Bucks opened a fat lead – 17 points in the fourth quarter – and squandered much of it. They did it in the most damaging way possible, too, by sending a parade of Celtics to the foul line to score with the game clock stopped. With 4:51 left Milwaukee was up 114-97, more than doubling the eight-point edge they held when the final period began. With 1:20 left, that lead was down to 118-111, whittled down by Jaylen Brown’s fast-break layup and the Celtics’ perfect 12-for-12 from the line in that stretch. Many of the fans at TD Garden were heading to the exits, even as the Bucks appeared to be heading for trouble. You wondered if some might wind up knocking to get back in, à la the Miami fans who bailed on the Heat before Ray Allen’s famous three-pointer saved Game 6 of the 2013 Finals. Those late minutes of the fourth quarter seemed to last an eternity, and that was just for spectators and viewers. It felt twice that to the Bucks’ players and coaches. “It was [long],” said Pau Gasol, the veteran All-Star watching these days as an inactive player on Milwaukee’s roster. “But I think it’s part of the growth of this team, learning how to deal with those type of scenarios and situations.” It wasn’t just that the Bucks were burning through their lead. It’s that Boston was energized watching their late scramble pay off. Al Horford sank six free throws in the run; Jayson Tatum, four; and Gordon Hayward, two. “On the road, that gets a little dicey,” Connaughton said. “Whenever a team gets a little life at the end of a game, especially when they cut a [17-point lead to seven], that’s never a fun thing. But I think the way we were able to withstand it and make a bucket here or there to nullify what they were doing at the free throw line was good.” Said Gasol: “The Celtics are trying to rush possessions, trying to rush you into bad decisions. So you have to be patient, hold the ball, understand the possessions and get a good shot. Don’t turn it over. We didn’t do a very good job of that at the end.” Step by step, point by point, the Celtics were gaining hope. So … much … time … left. Gasol’s analysis from the side? “We were very aggressive tonight defensively. And at the end, we weren’t able to turn it down and play smarter. We kept that pressure on, and that led us to commit silly fouls or unnecessary fouls, and put them at the line when we didn’t want them there. The experience in your brain has to tell you to be smarter.” Milwaukee did manage a few high notes during the low period: Hill pounced on an offensive rebound to steal a basket. At 118-105, Antetokounmpo blocked Kyrie Irving’s fast-break layup to save two points and stifle a sure crowd explosion. “I don’t think we were really concerned,” said center Brook Lopez. “We just tried to keep our foot on the gas. Keep that intensity. They drew some fouls and made some free throws. And then they had the little funky 1-3-1 defense, whatever that was. They were trying to trap a little. We’ll look at that [on film].” This is not about nitpicking. This is about focusing on the growth still available to a Milwaukee team with lofty ambitions. Antetokounmpo was special. The Bucks were stingy enough on defense. But when they talked about playing their game for 48 minutes, they should have ‘fessed up on the three-and-a-half of those that nearly bit them. The Celtics ran out of time – only 10.6 seconds remained when they got within five, 121-116. And Antetokounmpo, who missed six of his first 20 free throws, didn’t miss his final pair. The Bucks, in essence, earned the ability to swoon by padding their lead early. But their close out was less than optimal, which is probably not how Budenholzer will put it in closed quarters. “We know they’re not going to quit,” Lopez said. “So we’ve just got to stick with it the entirety of the game. I know it’s a boring answer, but Game 4, we’ve got to do the same thing.” Maybe not exactly the same. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2019

Stats stuffer

OKLAHOMA City Thunder wunderkind Russell Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for the past three seasons in the U.S. National Basketball Association. A 6-foot-3 backcourter, Westbrook is only the second player in NBA annals to register a triple-double for an entire campaign, duplicating the feat of “The Big O” Oscar Robertson, a 6-foot-5 playmaker who turned […] The post Stats stuffer appeared first on Bandera......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 1st, 2019

Blazers aren t worried; Nuggets aren t satisfied

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com DENVER -- Terry Stotts has his schedule locked in through Mother’s Day. Same goes for Damian Lillard. That would take the Portland Trail Blazers’ coach and star point guard through Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal against the Denver Nuggets, themselves hunkered down and prepared to go the distance in this series, if need be. [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’ve only played one game; Game 2 is Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) at Pepsi Center. But both sides seem resigned to the fact that the victor won’t get out of this series anytime soon. The Blazers are undaunted after coming up short in Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) Game 1, when the Nuggets capitalized on 18 Portland turnovers and turned them into 23 points in a 121-113 win. “It’s a seven-game series,” Stotts said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “I think both teams feel like they can play better. I read where coach [Michael] Malone and their players seem to think they can play better. We think we can play better. That’s part of a NBA series." “There’s certainly a lot we could have done better,” Stotts continued. “And when you have a chance to go back and watch it on video, you need that confidence going into the next game. A lot of it was at the defensive end. Offensively, the turnovers were a big concern. Hopefully, we’ll take care of that. But defensively there were a lot of areas we could clean up.” The Blazers had no answer for Nikola Jokic, who played a fantastic all-around game and took advantage of every defender Stotts tried on him. But the Nuggets didn’t fare much better against Lillard, who had his way with them to the tune of a game-high 39 points. “He still had 39 points, so we still have to do a better job and I think we will,” Nuggets guard Gary Harris said. “We just have to continue to stay locked in, continue to come back and get ready and just look at the film and look at the areas we can get better.” So for all the data you want to utilize from their respective first-round series, most simply do not apply this time around. Not only is the style completely different, but also the sense of urgency shifts into high gear, given what’s at stake for the winner. The adjustments, both schematically and emotionally, require work from both sides. “It’s a completely different game and opponent,” Malone said. “From Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan, who are not known as three-point shooters, to guarding CJ [McCollum] and Damian Lillard, who are very efficient three-point shooters. So your mindset has to change there on that alone, the personnel. “But now, I think going into this series, Damian Lillard in the first round, he was averaging 33 pick-and-rollls per game. That’s a crazy number. Your bigs are under constant duress, constant pressure to guard and contain, as are your smalls.” Lillard and McCollum promise to keep the pressure on, like always. Now they have to wipe their own history clean of what worked and didn’t work against the Thunder and focus squarely on the Nuggets. Attacking the perimeter defenders the Nuggets can throw at them might not produce the same results they did against the Thunder. The Nuggets have an assortment of longer and more active defenders they can throw at the guys who power the Blazers’ attack. With only a day between games to make adjustments, mistakes must be kept to a minimum. “Every series is going to be different,” Lillard said, clearly ready to move on from the Blazers’ recent playoff past. “Teams are different. The first round is not the second round. The Thunder are not the Nuggets. So I think your approach … obviously, that’s why you prepare so completely different. But the mentality has to stay the same as far as what we’re trying to get done. Being aggressive, being connected, doing everything together. I think in that way it’s the same. They’re a completely different team. And all that said, we had a chance to win the game … so in the end it’s just one game.” There’s a chance for six more in this series. And both sides seem prepared for as much. 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 1st, 2019

Local Westbrook?

Scottie Thompson never ceases to amaze even the great Tim Cone. On Friday, the sophomore guard was at it again for Ginebra, flashing his usual brilliance that made the greatest PBA coach of all time once again mention him like he's already one of the greats. 'He's a few runs below Sonny Jaworski but I think rebounding they're at par,' Cone said, putting the great Scottie in the same sentence with the Living Legend himself. Cone already once mentioned Thompson in the same sentence as Johnny Abbarientos, another all-time PBA great he had the chance to coach back when he was winning a Grand Slam with the Alaska Aces. With Thompson finishing the Ginebra victory over Blackwater with what has been a usual 13 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists, Cone took his praise to the next level, implying that his prized catch from the 2015 Draft might be the local counterpart of a certain triple-double machine from Oklahoma City. 'I haven't seen a rebounding guard like hime even in the NBA [except maybe] the kid from Oklahoma City, [Russell] Westbrook,' Cone said. While averaging a triple-double at this stage of his career and with a loaded Ginebra lineup might be a stretch for now even for Scottie, Cone believes his young guard might be on the way. It's just a matter of him finding his inner aggressive self to take over the floor more on the offensive side of the ball. 'I don't want to put pressure on Scottie but I think eventually he could end up putting up Westbrook numbers once he learns how to score and he can score,' the 19-time PBA champion mentor said. 'I think that will open up the gate for him [being aggressive],' he added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Baby Falcons rush through Eaglets to regain solo first

strong>TEAM STANDINGS /strong> br /> Adamson 9-1 br /> FEU-Diliman 8-2 br /> NU 8-2 br /> Ateneo 5-5 br /> DLSZ 3-7 br /> UPIS 3-7 br /> UST 3-7 br /> UE 1-9 Just as the defending champions suffered a setback, Adamson High School took care of business and took another step forward in the UAAP 79 Juniors Basketball Tournament. Encho Serrano pumped in eight of his 15 points in the first quarter and the Baby Falcons got the jump on Ateneo de Manila High School for a wire-to-wire 79-73 win on Saturday at the San Juan Arena. The first-year guard had eight points, just one shy of the Blue Eaglets’ total, in the first 10 minutes. He and Jason Celis connived for all but 10 points in Adamson’s 25-point opening salvo. The other Baby Falcons only followed suit and their lead remained above the 20-point marker after three quarters. Still, SJ Belangel kept things interesting for Ateneo and scored 11 of his 18 points in the final frame. However, it all proved to be too little too late as Adamson surged right back onto the league-lead now at 9-1. Little-known Rence Padrigao also made noise with 13 points for the Baby Falcons who once again gained separation from defending champion Nazareth School of National University who lost earlier and slipped to 8-2. On the other hand, the Eaglets’ tough luck against the tournament’s top three teams continued. Their record now stands at 5-5 – with all of their losses coming against the Baby Falcons, the Bullpups, and Far Eastern University-Diliman. In other results, University of Sto. Tomas dashed the playoff hopes of University of the Philippines Integrated School once again via a 93-81 victory. Jan Narvasa and Cris Cansino scored 22 points apiece to lift the Tiger Cubs to 3-7, the same record as the Junior Maroons. BOX SCORES THIRD GAME ADAMSON 79 – Serrano 15, Padrigao 13, Celis 13, Tamayo 6, Agbong 6, Abadiano 5, Umayao 5, Antiporda 4, Beltran 4, Sabandal 4, Santos 2, Desoyo 2 ATENEO 73 – Belangel 18, Manuel 14, Credo 13, Berjay 11, Ildefonso 9, Angeles 4, Salazar 2, Flores 2, Escalona 0, Sotto 0 QUARTER SCORES: 25-9, 46-22, 68-47, 79-73 FOURTH GAME UST 91 – Narvasa 22, Cansino 22, Fornillos 15, Balingit 8, Vince 7, Juan 5, Ratuiste 4, Dela Cruz 4, Villapando 4, Ian 0, Ballada 0 UPIS 83 – Gomez de Liano 27, Santiago 17, Lina 16, Labao Raf 10, Labao Ral 7, Vergeire 3, Tupaz 2, Gregorio 1, Estrera 0, Villa-real 0, Lagahit 0 QUARTER SCORES: 21-16, 47-39, 70-57, 91-83 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Patriots face different Steelers team with healthy Big Ben

KYLE HIGHTOWER, AP Sports Writer br /> FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (AP) — The New England Patriots got a break by not having to face Ben Roethlisberger during their regular-season win over the Steelers in October. The Patriots' coaching staff is expecting to get his best this time around with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake. The 27-16 home loss to New England was the only game the Steelers' 34-year-old quarterback missed due to injury this season. He was away less than a month after undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee Oct. 17. He was also among several Pittsburgh players that sat out the regular-season finale against the Browns to rest. Backup quarterback Landry Jones was serviceable in just his third career start in Roethlisberger's absence. The Steelers outgained the Patriots 375-362, but were 1 for 4 in the red zone and Jones finished with only one touchdown and an interception. Pittsburgh is expecting, and will need a stronger performance from the quarterback position this time around. Coach Bill Belichick said Monday that Big Ben's return makes the Steelers' primary offensive options — running back Le'Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown — only that much harder to contend with. Bell rushed for 81 yards in the first meeting and Brown had seven catches for 106 yards. 'They're a tremendous offense. Kansas City was able to make some plays in the red area, but I mean (the Steelers) could've easily been up in the 40s,' Belichick said. 'They do a lot of things well; can run it, can throw it. Brown's the main guy, but all of the receivers, tight ends, backs, I mean they're all a problem.' The Chiefs may have planted the seed for how to keep Roethlisberger out of the end zone, however. The Steelers were held without a touchdown in Sunday's 18-16 divisional-round win over Kansas City. They also ranked 12th in the NFL during the regular season in red zone efficiency, scoring a touchdown on 59 percent of the trips inside the 20-yard line. They were 0 for 5 in their trips against Kansas City. Roethlisberger had 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions in the red zone in 14 regular-season games. But so far in the playoffs, Big Ben has just two total passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Still, the Steelers coaching staff's trust in him to throw the deep ball is something that will be a point of emphasis this week, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. In particular he said Roethlisberger's calm in the pocket and his offensive line's ability to protect him helps him buy time to improvise. 'If those plays can get extended or prolonged, that's when it becomes really difficult,' Patricia said. 'I think Roethlisberger right now (is) very mobile, very healthy, a guy that showed even again (Sunday night) that just a slight bit of movement or a slight bit of ability to maybe evade the rush, or stand in there just a little bit longer gives his guys enough time to get open in those situations.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017