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He makes us go : Green elevates Warriors to 3-0 series lead

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — There is nothing Draymond Green failed to do Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) when he helped push the Blazers to the edge and the Warriors to the verge. Here is the checklist of his duties: Dribbler, pace-setter, rescuer, shooter, director, shot blocker, shot-caller and the one that probably escaped most witnesses, psychiatrist. Yes, Dr. Dray suddenly offered his services and sofa when poor Jordan Bell blew a breakaway dunk during a critical moment, just as the Warriors were in the process of flipping an 18-point deficit during their 110-99 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. [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] Bell immediately hung his head as he returned downcourt, and seconds later at the next timeout, he slowly headed toward the Warriors bench with slumped shoulders. But who intercepted him before he could take another step? That’s right, it was Green, famously known for his cool and soothing words in times of crisis. (OK, put the laugh track here.) But seriously … The type of leader every team needs ????pic.twitter.com/Tr3JblKAyX — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 “I knew he wasn’t going to lecture me or anything like that,” said Bell. “He just told me that everybody misses dunks, that I shouldn’t worry about it, that mine happened to be an open one, and to keep my head into the game because I’d get another chance.” Bell paused. “I was down here,” he said, lowering his hand, “and he lifted me up here.” And wouldn’t you know, Bell got that next chance minutes later. This time, the dunk was thrown down ferociously and completed with a chin-up that belonged at LA Fitness. We can give Green credit for the 20-point, 13-rebound, career playoff-high 12-assist triple double, and we can give Green partial credit for that second-chance slam, too. That’s more like it JB ???? pic.twitter.com/JUvMfKQDsl — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 The man was that multi-layered. “I don’t even know what to say about Draymond,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Once again, Green demonstrated his value to the Warriors in these playoffs with a magnificent all-around game. He left fingerprints all over the Moda Center court and various Blazers' efforts. He was there for the Warriors when nothing else worked, and he was there for the Warriors when everything finally began to click and they needed a finishing touch. His desire and will do not show up directly on the stat sheet, yet those elements made the victory possible. The Warriors won for the fourth straight game without Kevin Durant and are one more away from reaching the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year. It makes you wonder: As great as Durant is, would the Warriors be more vulnerable if it was Green who were out with a calf strain instead? That question stands valid because the Warriors lack anyone who does what he does. The energy, intensity, floor direction, ability to defend three and sometimes four different positions, as well as the rebounding were all apparent Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and in heavy doses. They came alongside leadership, evidenced by Green giving Bell a pat on the back during that down moment. Green played Game 3 as a blur, grabbing rebounds, pushing the ball up the floor, creating scoring chances for himself or his teammates and providing help defense that triggered the pace. Green was forceful because Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were 9-for-24 shooting in the first half, at times overwhelmed by the trapping Blazers defense. So Green took it upon himself to make things happen and provide the foundation for a second-half comeback. The Golden State defense held Portland to 13 points in the third quarter, Curry had 11 points in the fourth quarter, and this series simply continued along the same path. “He was the difference-maker,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “His energy, the way he was pushing the ball, he kept them going. He makes his teammates better and defensively he’s all over the place. He impacted the game.” In the third quarter, Green poked the ball loose from Damian Lillard for one of his four steals. At the time, the Warriors were down 12 and in dire need of a jolt. But here’s what was remarkable about the play. Not only did the 6'7" Green stoop and strip one of the NBA's most composed ballhandling point guards (although perhaps not in this series), but he also managed to search for and grab it while it bounced between him and Lillard, then dribbled downcourt without missing a beat. The dexterity, quickness, daring and smarts sets Green apart from others who play his role, or at least try to emulate it. “More than reacting, he acts,” said Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams, who oversees the team’s defensive schemes. “There’s reacting and then there's acting. He’s an actor. He sees things. He’s decisive.” Green is averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and almost 10 assists across the last two games and those numbers barely tell the real story. It’s just heightened because of Durant’s absence. In those two games, the Warriors trailed Portland by 17 and 18 points and Green was the point man on the rally. He says his main purpose is to give Thompson and Curry a breather from the load and responsibility. With the Blazers throwing traps at those two guards to limit their scoring, Green is forcing Portland to pay him respect. He is, in essence, breaking down Portland’s defense by pushing the ball and directing the attack. “I know I have to be more aggressive,” he said. “I think it’s easy to get (Curry and Thompson) to take more shots, but we can’t put that much pressure on them, so I just take it upon myself to get the tempo where I want it and make plays for other guys as well.” It was no coincidence that six Warriors off the bench managed to get at least one basket with Green directing traffic. And Green managed to play such a high-energy game without making constant mistakes; he had only two turnovers in 38 minutes. “He’s playing with force and he’s playing with discipline,” said Kerr. “He’s playing under control. He’s not letting anything bother him, like officiating, bad shots, he’s just moving on to the next play. From that standpoint, he’s as good as he’s ever been.” This is the Draymond Green that makes the Warriors more than willing to put up with the occasional nonsense, mostly stemming from his short temper and low tolerance with the officiating yet also with teammates and coaches at times. The constant technical fouls, the early-season clash with Durant, the high maintenance that often comes with coaching him, those are all part of the package. Taken as whole, that package is more positive than negative. And when there’s no negative, as it’s been through much of this postseason, the package is irresistible. “It’s nothing new; I’ve seen him do this for seven years,” said Thompson. “I’m just so proud of Dray. He makes us go.” There was no more positive reinforcement from Green than when he comforted Bell and told the young player to shake off a missed dunk seen by millions and laughed at by thousands inside Moda Center. Green gave Bell the encouragement needed to forget the embarrassment and maintain composure, which was important because Kerr kept Bell in the game. That set Bell up to gain redemption. And the Warriors, after struggling through a sloppy start, to gain complete control of a series that could end Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in a sweep. “I’m one of the leaders of this team and in those situations you either go one of two ways. You’re either going to do your job and lift everybody up or you’re going to go the opposite way,” said Green. And so Green, with passing, defense and pace-setting, is stamping his signature on this series. His floor direction is flawless. He hasn’t shown the ability to direct the Blazers right out of the playoffs, but that’s perhaps just a matter of time. 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 19th, 2019

UAAP Season 81 Finals: Blessed na nag-UST ako -- Rondina

University of Sto. Tomas prized hitter Sisi Rondina was at loss for words for the touching gesture of the UST alumni, community and supporters to fly in her family to watch her play in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals.     Rondina, who is set to receive her Most Valuable Player award on Wednesday before the pivotal Game 2 of the best-of-three championship series against Ateneo de Manila University, welcomed her family who came from Cebu Tuesday afternoon at the NAIA Terminal 4. UST alumni and supporters chipped in to fund the airfare and accommodation expenses of Rondina’s family. In a separate interview, Rondina admitted that due to her priority of buying a 2-storey house in her hometown in Compostella, she won’t be able to fly her family to Manila to watch her in the biggest stage of country’s premier collegiate league in her swan song.       “Blessed na nag-UST ako and syempre to be part of the UST community. For me, masaya ako kasi first time nilang makapanood dito sa Manila, championship pa,” said a very thankful Rondina, who is also set to claim the 2nd Best Open Spiker award. “Masaya ako syempre kasi ma-a-awardan ako bukas na andoon sila.” The Queen Tigress was grateful for her UST family for the special gift not only to her but also for her teammates Alina Bicar and Dimdim Pacres. Bicar's family flew in from Samar Tuesday morning while Pacres' family landed in Manila in the afternoon a few minutes after Rondina's family's arrival.      “Sobrang thankful ako kasi plano ko talaga na makapanood sila ng live and naisip nila [fans] na papuntahin sila [family ko] dito. And hindi lang ako pati sina Dimdim (Pacres) and Alina (Bicar) [family nila andito rin].” “Mapapasabi ka na lang na ‘buti na lang nag-UST kami’ kasi ‘yung support ng community andoon talaga,” she added. “Sobrang sarap ng feeling na ‘yung mga taong tumulong sayo hindi nagdalawang-isip. Hindi ko alam kung paano ako magpapasalamat.” Rondina promised the UST community that she will play her best to deliver the title and end a nine-year wait. “Syempre I will do my best para sa game namin and syempre para worth it lahat ng efforts nila,” she said.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 14th, 2019

Mentality of giants : Self-belief fueling Klopp s Liverpool

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Like the rest of the soccer world, Juergen Klopp had his doubts. Given the scenario — the big first-leg deficit, the presence of Lionel Messi on the other side, injuries to important players — the Liverpool manager just wasn't sure, deep down, that his team could come back from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals. So he laid down a challenge. "I said to the boys before the game, 'I don't think it's possible, but because it's you I think we have a chance. Because you have the mentality of giants,'" Klopp said, recalling some of his final words before kickoff on arguably the greatest night of soccer in Anfield history. That Liverpool managed to pull off the most unlikely of 4-0 victories in the second leg is a testament not only to the quality of the team Klopp has put together but also the belief he has instilled in a group of players who don't know when they are beaten. They've shown it all season. The late goals — however bizarrely they have come — in wins over Everton, Tottenham and, most recently, Newcastle have kept Liverpool in the Premier League title race with Manchester City to the final weekend. The backs-to-the-wall 1-0 win over Napoli in the final group game in the Champions League, which sent the Reds through courtesy of the head-to-head tiebreaker of goals scored. The mental fortitude to rebound from losing to Real Madrid in last season's Champions League final in the most painful way, certainly for Mohamed Salah after his first-half shoulder injury in that match. So maybe the comeback against Barcelona was natural for this machine that Klopp has created, albeit one that has yet to win a trophy under the German coach. And it feels entirely justified that if Liverpool is to fall short in the Premier League — the team is one point behind City with a game to play — it still has the chance to end the season with some silverware in a competition that has become so synonymous with this storied English club, a five-time European champion. "I am really happy having another chance to get things right," Klopp said, referring to the 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in Kiev. "Last year, we felt we have to go back, we cannot let it stand like this. I am not sure it will happen again, so it's so special." For Klopp, it is a chance to end his six-match run of losses in cup finals stretching back to the 2013 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, when he was coach of Borussia Dortmund. Since then, he has lost two German Cup finals with Dortmund and then three title matches with Liverpool — in the English League Cup (2016), the Europa League (2016), and last year's Champions League. "I know what people say about me and losing finals," Klopp said in one of his many candid moments in a post-game news conference during which he often seemed lost for words. There's certainly no self-doubt among his players. Check out, for instance, Andrew Robertson pushing Messi on the head with two hands while the Barcelona forward was on the ground one minute into the match. This a defender who, in 2017, was playing for Hull but is now one of the most highly regarded left backs in the world. Look at Trent Alexander-Arnold, who — at the age of 20 — had the audacity to pull off a 79th-minute corner routine in which he pretended to walk away from the ball only to spin around and cross for Divock Origi to sweep in the fourth and clinching goal while Barcelona's defenders looked the other way. It was such clear-thinking amid the furnace that was Anfield on Wednesday. And then there's Origi, an afterthought at Liverpool at the start of the season after spending last year on loan at Wolfsburg in Germany before being reportedly close to sealing a loan move to Huddersfield. Now here he is, scoring the late winner against Newcastle on Saturday and adding two more against Barcelona three days later. Salah was out, recovering after a concussion. Roberto Firmino was missing, too, with a muscle strain. And Naby Keita was recently ruled out for the season. Even during the game, Robertson was taken off at halftime with a calf injury and captain Jordan Henderson played on after hurting his right knee in the first half. Henderson was everywhere in the second half, eclipsing more-esteemed Barcelona midfield rivals Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic and helping to nullify Messi as the Argentine dropped deep. "The belief we have in the changing room is amazing," Henderson said. "Look at the supporters and the lads." Indeed, the night ended with Liverpool's players and coaching staff standing arm-in-arm in a line in front of jubilant supporters in The Kop, singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" — the club's anthem. Together, they'll head to Madrid for the final, feeling it's their destiny to win European soccer's biggest prize for the sixth time......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2019

Homa comes full circle and wins Wells Fargo Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Max Homa traded in a shovel for a ladder to get places he always thought he could reach. Two years ago in his second try on the PGA Tour, he made only two cuts the entire season and played only one round on a Sunday. Eight months ago, he was on the verge of going back to Q-school and an uncertain future until closing with four straight birdies to make the cut in a Web.com Tour event that gave him another shot at the big leagues. It made Sunday all that much sweeter in the Wells Fargo Championship. In a three-way tie for the lead, in the final group on the PGA Tour for the first time, with Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia right behind him, Homa outplayed them all with a 4-under 67 for a three-shot victory at Quail Hollow and his first PGA Tour title. "I used to say when I hit rock bottom I found a shovel and kept digging. I went to some low, low places," he said. "I'd use a shovel and dig deeper. I went to some low, low places. I realized in that year or two when I started to play bad that my attitude was going to have to get a lot better. ... I'm very proud I finally found a ladder and started climbing, because it was getting dark down there." Suddenly, the immediate future is bright as can be. He has a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a tee time at the PGA Championship in two weeks at Bethpage Black and a spot in the Masters next year. A former NCAA champion at Cal, Homa has "Relentless" in block letters tattooed on his right forearm. The 28-year-old Californian also has a signed photo from former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who once told him to look at the picture and be reminded to believe in himself. The trophy at his side, Homa's press conference was interrupted for him to take a call from the 91-year-old Lasorda. "I guess my whole world is different," he said. Golf felt so hard for Homa for so many years after he left Cal, and then he made it look so easy in a final round that made him so nervous he wanted to throw up, except when he had his hands on a golf club. He pulled away with two birdies to start the back nine for a four-shot lead. He didn't make a bogey until it only affected the final margin. But it was a one-hour rain delay that tested Homa the most. He was leading by three when he nearly went in the water on the 14th hole and chipped up to 6 feet when the horn sounded to stop play. With time he didn't need on his hands, he called his fiancée and his coach and can't remember what either of them said. And then he returned and buried the putt. Over an hour delay while trying to win for the first time on TOUR. Huge save for @maxhoma23. The lead is still three.#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/F3tvjxRrrm— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 5, 2019 "I knew in the back of my mind if I made that putt, I win this golf tournament," he said. Joel Dahmen, who pushed Homa as hard as any major champion, saved par with a tough chip over the creek for a 70 and finished three shots behind. "I didn't beat myself today, which was kind of the goal," Dahmen said. "Max is playing awesome. He's a good friend. I think we're going to celebrate tonight." Homa effectively sealed it with a perfect play to the green on the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, and a 10-foot par putt on the 17th to keep a three-shot leading playing the tough closing hole at Quail Hollow. He made a 10-foot par there, too, and the celebration was on. Homa finished at 15-under 269. "Over the moon, man," he said before going to sign his card. "It means a lot to do it under pressure, and job security is great. I haven't had that." The victory was worth $1,422,000, about $454,000 more than he had made in his previous 67 starts. Justin Rose (68) finished alone in third and moved ahead of Brooks Koepka to No. 2 in the world. Rory McIlroy was primed to join Tom Weiskopf as the only three-time winners at Quail Hollow, starting the final round two shots behind. He never got anything going until it went the wrong way. He turned a 20-foot eagle attempt into a three-putt par on the par-5 seventh, failed to get up-and-down on the reachable eighth for a birdie, and then went bogey-double bogey around the turn to take himself out of the mix. No one else was much of a threat either, just two guys who had never come remotely close to winning on the PGA Tour. Former PGA champion Jason Dufner, part of the three-way tie for the lead to start the final round, made consecutive bogeys early and had no bearing on the final round. A double bogey on the 18th gave him a 73 and dropped him into a tie for fourth. Rose pulled within two shots with a birdie on the par-5 10th, only to settle into a series of pars. By the time Sergio Garcia reached double digits under par, Homa was well on his way. Homa and Dahmen were at 13 under until Dahmen blinked first. He found a fairway bunker on No. 9, couldn't get to the green and made bogey and dropped another shot on the 11th. Homa, playing behind him in the final group, holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th for a two-shot lead, made birdie from the left rough on the 11th with a 12-foot putt and escaped more trouble off the tee on the 12th with a two-putt from 80 feet. He survived the rain delay, the nervy finish. Homa has endured a lot more than that over the last few years......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2019

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

Heat win back-to-back games, hold off Mavericks

MIAMI (AP) — Goran Dragic had 32 points, Tyler Johnson scored 10 of his 23 in the fourth quarter and the Miami Heat topped the Dallas Mavericks 99-95 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Dragic shot 11-for-15 from the field and 4-of-4 from three-point range. He also got a big offensive rebound in the final minute to extend a possession, and Johnson made a pair of free throws with 29.9 seconds left to give Miami an eight-point lead. Hassan Whiteside scored 13 and Dion Waiters added 12 for the Heat. Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 points for Dallas, which had its season-best three-game winning streak snapped. The Mavericks went 1-for-8 from the field during a late stretch of the fourth quarter and never got the lead again. Wesley Matthews scored 18 for the Mavericks, who got 15 apiece from Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry. Nowitzki made 2-of-3 free throws with 18.5 seconds left to get the Mavs within 95-92. The Heat needed to burn two timeouts before even getting the ball inbounded on the ensuing possession, and Johnson hit two from the line five seconds later to help seal the win. Dragic tied a career-best for shooting percentage when taking at least 15 shots; he was 11-of-15 on two other occasions, both with Phoenix. It was also the fourth time he was 4-for-4 from three-point range in a regular-season game -- he was 5-for-5 once, in a 2010 playoff game with the Suns. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Mavericks: /strong> /em>Nowitzki took Dallas' first four shots. J.J. Barea scored 13 points and has reached double figures in 11 of his 17 games this season. At 32, he's on pace to average more than 12 points a game for the first time. Dallas took only 11 free throws to Miami's 29. em> strong>Heat: /strong> /em>Miami is up to 170 games missed by players for illness or injury this season, most in the NBA. Okaro White made his NBA debut in the first quarter. He was signed to a 10-day deal earlier this week. Wayne Ellington got his 1,000th career rebound and is one three-pointer shy of 500. strong>PROMOTION ISSUE /strong> A fan avoided injury when a door -- depicting a hotel room door -- on a wheeled frame fell over on her during a promotion after the first quarter. The promotion had several fans slide hotel 'keys' into the door, and the one that worked would win a hotel stay. Heat officials said the woman was fine, and the game was delayed a couple of minutes while some cosmetic scrapes to the floor were removed. strong>BOGUT CLOSER /strong> Dallas center Andrew Bogut missed his fourth straight game with a right hamstring strain. He worked out on the court before the game and is improving, though he isn't expected to play Friday (Saturday, PHL time) against Utah. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Mavericks: /strong> /em>Host the Utah Jazz on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Dallas is 0-7 on the second night of back-to-backs this season. em> strong>Heat: /strong> /em>Host the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Miami is 1-1 against the Bucks, with both teams winning at home. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Chile amateur goes from no big victories to Masters

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Toto Gana hit what he described as the 'best shot I've hit in my whole life,' a wedge to 3 feet for a birdie to win the Latin America Amateur Championship and earn a trip to the Masters in April. His best shot produced his biggest trophy. Asked what his greatest achievement in golf was before his victory in Panama, the 19-year-old from Chile said: 'I didn't have any achievements, to be honest. I had won a couple of tournaments at home when I was really, really young.' The Latin America Amateur completed its third year, a stroke-play tournament created by Augusta National, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient to spur growth in that part of the world. It follows the successful launch of the Asia Pacific Amateur. The Asia Pacific Amateur is producing a higher pedigree of champions — Hideki Matsuyama won twice, and the winner last year was Curtis Luck, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. The last two Latin America winners were surprises — Gana and 16-year-old Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica last year. The other winner was Matias Dominguez of Chile, who was a junior at Texas Tech. Gana said the only hard part about his victory was beating Joaquin Niemann of Chile, one of his best friends who won the Junior World in 2015 at Torrey Pines. 'I really never thought I could win this tournament because all the other players have won many other tournaments, very big tournaments,' Gana said in a conference call after his victory Sunday. 'What I did was keep a cool head. When I saw that I had a chance to win, I believed in myself that I could do. And I gave it my all.' Chile will have a player represented at Augusta National for the second time in three years. The only other Chilean player at the Masters was Enrique Orellana, who missed the cut in 1964. Gana has flair, and he showed how much passion he has for golf when explaining how he got started. 'When I was a little boy, 8 years old, my stepfather taught me to play golf on the practice range,' he said. 'When I shot a really nice shot, I never quit.' Gana will be enrolling at Lynn University in Florida. ___ BLOOMING START: Justin Rose played the Sony Open as part of the new 'strength of field' regulation on the PGA Tour that requires players who played fewer than 25 events last year to add a tournament they had not played in four years. Rose was so excited about this year that he might have started earlier if he would have been eligible. He failed to win a PGA Tour event for the first time since 2009. But in a year slowed by injury, Rose geared himself for golf's return to the Olympics and won the gold medal in Rio. That was worth an exemption into the four majors (Rose already is eligible for them), but the PGA Tour did not offer a spot in SBS Tournament of Champions. 'I didn't inquire,' Rose said about Kapalua. 'But in my mind, I was surprised that it didn't count in a way, just because, why wouldn't it? It's a one-off thing.' He thought maybe the tour would only give a spot to Kapalua if the gold medalist was already a PGA Tour member, much like it treated the HSBC Champions early on in its World Golf Championships history. Rose chuckled, however, when he realized his history in Hawaii. 'It's funny enough, I don't have the right to say I should have been at Kapalua,' he said. 'Because I've won six years in a row and I've only been once.' A birdie on the final hole at the Sony Open gave him second place alone, which was worth $648,000. ___ PLAYING TO HIS STRENGTH: Jason Dufner is the defending champion at the CareerBuilder Challenger, where he won last year for the first time since the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill. What changed? Very little. He attributed the drought to a neck and shoulder injury that he suffered at the 2014 Masters. Dufner tried to play through it all year until he was forced to pull out of his title defense in the PGA Championship at Valhalla, which kept him off the Ryder Cup team. Playing with the injury led to bad habits with his swing, which led to bad shots, too many memories of bad shots and eventually shattered confidence. 'People don't realize, once you start playing, you have to redo everything,' Dufner said. 'You see it with a lot of guys coming back. It takes them 6, 8, 12 months. I spent 2015 trying to get back to where I was.' Where he wants to be is one of the top ball-strikers in the game. As for putting? He manages. Dufner has finished no higher than No. 143 in the key putting statistic over the last four years, and while he has to pay attention to his setup, it's not as though he's going to abandon what got him here (his swing) to pour everything into becoming Jordan Spieth. 'I've been putting bad for 17 years,' he said. 'It's tough to change. I can hit it good enough to make up for it. I'll wait for my weeks where I putt good and try to win.' ___ THE RACE TO MEXICO: Mackenzie Hughes won the RSM Classic, and his first thought was going to the Masters. Now that it's beginning to sink, the Canadian rookie has reason to consider other tournaments that were not on his schedule at the start of the season. First up is the World Golf Championship in Mexico. The top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings through the Honda Classic are eligible for the Mexico Championship, and there are only six tournaments between now and then. That's also true for Pat Perez, who tied for third at Kapalua and is No. 3 in the FedEx Cup. Rod Pampling is at No. 6. The other World Golf Championships event in March is based off the world ranking, so those three players have much more to do for them to get into the top 64. One player who might have secured his spot was Kevin Kisner, who shot 60 in the third round of the Sony Open and wound up in a tie for fourth. That took Kisner from No. 51 to No. 41, making it difficult to fall that far in two months. ___ DIVOTS: Justin Thomas moving to No. 8 in the world means that six of the top 10 players are under 30. ... The Golf Writers Association of America has voted former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem for the William D. Richardson Award for outstanding contributions to golf. For the GWAA's award for press cooperation, it was a tie between Ben Crenshaw and Stewart Cink. They will be honored at the GWAA annual awards dinner on April 5 in Augusta. ... The three courses used for the CareerBuilder Challenge — PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus and La Quinta — ranked among the top 10 in easiest courses on the PGA Tour last year. ... The fourth Latin America Amateur Championship will be played at Prince of Wales Country Club next year in Santiago, Chile. ... The European Tour now has eight events in its Rolex Series with China-based HNA Group signing a five-year deal to be title sponsor of the French Open. That will raise the purse to $7 million in line with other Rolex Series events. ___ STAT OF THE WEEK: Justin Thomas hit 34 drives that went at least 330 yards during his two weeks in Hawaii — 20 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, 14 at Waialae Country Club. ___ FINAL WORD: 'If there's no defense, then you ought to be able to make birdies. If there's wind, you ought to be struggling.' — Kevin Kisner. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Federer returns with a win, joins Murray in 2nd round

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer shanked a few shots and was unsettled by how nervous he felt after six months on the sidelines, despite the familiar surroundings at the Australian Open. No other man on tour knows the way around a Grand Slam tournament better than Federer, who is playing in his 69th major and has won a record 17. He served 19 aces and had only one double-fault in a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win Monday over fellow 35-year-old Jurgen Melzer, but dropped serve three times and experienced frustrating moments. 'I was feeling nervous once the match actually started,' said Federer, who hadn't played at tour level since Wimbledon after taking time off to let his injured left knee heal. 'In the warmup ... I felt fine. Then I hit four frames in a row. It was like, 'Whew, it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be.' 'I struggled for a while to find that groove, that rhythm.' Federer had surgery on the knee after a semifinal exit at the last Australian Open and missed the French Open, ending his streak of 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. He returned for Wimbledon, reached the semifinals, then didn't play again in 2016. In November, he fell out of the top 10 for the first time in 734 weeks. The 17th-seeded Federer wasn't the only highly-ranked player to find the going tough Monday. Stan Wawrinka, the U.S. Open champion, was pushed to five sets. So was No. 5-seeded Kei Nishikori. Angelique Kerber, defending champion and ranked No. 1 at a major for the first time, had some nervous moments in her 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Lesia Tsurenko. Kerber won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last year, beating Serena Williams in the final after saving a match point in the first round. After wasting a match point before her serve was broken as Tsurenko rallied to win the second set, Kerber said her mind raced back 12 months. 'When I lost the second set, and I had match point, I was thinking about my match last year in the first round,' she said. 'First rounds are always tough.' In his first Grand Slam match with the elevated status of having a knighthood and the No. 1 ranking, Andy Murray berated himself when he made mistakes and frequently yelled during a 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Illya Marchenko. In other words, nothing much has changed. The five-time finalist comfortably navigated what he hoped was the first step to a drought-breaking Australian Open title. Murray has lost four of the last six finals in Melbourne to six-time champion Novak Djokovic. Gaining the top ranking and receiving the civic honors doesn't change anything for Murray, who said he faces 'the same pressure, same expectations. I've never won here — I'm going to try to change that this year.' Wawrinka, who made his Grand Slam breakthrough in Australia in 2014, narrowly scraped past 35th-ranked Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. In the ninth game of the fifth set, Wawrinka smashed a soft half-volley from Klizan straight back into the Slovakian's body, clipping the frame and just missing his midsection. He stepped over the net and ensured Klizan was OK, then held serve in that game and broke in the next game to finish it off. Nishikori beat Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Joining him in the second round are 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 19 John Isner, No. 23 Jack Sock, No. 27 Bernard Tomic, No. 29 Viktor Troicki and No. 31 Sam Querrey. Also, No. 14 Nick Kyrgios returned from his suspension for underperforming in Shanghai last year and raced through a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Gastao Elias. No. 16 Lucas Pouille was the highest-ranked of the three men's seeded players to lose. Five of the women's seeded players went out, including No. 4 Simona Halep, who lost 6-3, 6-1 to Shelby Rogers in the first match on Rod Laver Arena, and No. 15 Roberta Vinci, who lost to CoCo Vandeweghe. Seven-time major winner Venus Williams beat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (5), 7-5, and 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard continued her recent resurgence by routing Louisa Chirico 6-0, 6-4. Joining them in the next round will be French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 10 Carla Suarez, No. 11 Elina Svitolina and No. 20 Zhang Shuai. Sixteen-year-old Destanee Aiava became the first player born in this millennium to play in the main draw of a major, but the milestone match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Mona Barthel. .....»»

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

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Towns, Rubio lead Timberwolves over Mavericks

em>By Patrick Donnelly, Associated Press /em> MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 34 points and 11 rebounds, Ricky Rubio added 13 points and a season-high 15 assists, and the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped a four-game losing streak with a 101-92 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Harrison Barnes scored 30 points for the Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki had 26, including five three-pointers. Towns hit 15-of-19 shots from the floor as the Timberwolves shot 56.3 percent. Rubio scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including consecutive baskets during an 8-0 run that gave the Timberwolves some breathing room after Dallas had whittled a 21-point lead to 81-77. He hit three free throws with 2:08 to play to give Minnesota a 97-83 lead. Towns got the Wolves off to a fast start, scoring Minnesota's first seven points and 16 total in the first seven minutes. He finished with 20 in the period as the Timberwolves took a 33-14 lead after one quarter. The Wolves shot 65 percent from the field in the quarter. They stretched the lead to 44-23 before the Mavericks responded with a 15-2 run to get back in the game. Nowitzki hit three-pointers on three straight possessions to close the first half as Dallas pulled to 54-46 at the break. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Mavericks: /strong> /em>Dallas had won seven straight against the Timberwolves, including four in a row at Target Center. This was the first meeting of the season between the Midwest Division foes. Nowitzki topped his previous season-high of four three-pointers. The last time he had six in a game was April 1, 2014. Andrew Bogut missed the fourth quarter with an injured hamstring. em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em>Towns scored 20 points in a quarter for the second time in his career. He had 22 in the first quarter against New York on Nov. 30 (Dec. 1, PHL time). Zach LaVine left early in the fourth with a bruised left hip and did not return. LaVine grabbed Devin Harris to get called for a foul, then limped off the court and into the Minnesota locker room. He was replaced by Tyus Jones. Shabazz Muhammad scored in double figures off the bench for the sixth time in his last eight games, finishing with 11 points in 20-plus minutes. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Mavericks: /strong> /em>Dallas plays the Phoenix Suns on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) in Mexico City. em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em>Minnesota hosts the Houston Rockets on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

McIlroy says he resents Olympics for making him choose sides

  DUBLIN (AP) — Rory McIlroy says he resented how the Olympics forced him to decide whether he would represent Ireland or Britain and that it reached a point that it 'wasn't worth the hassle' to compete in Rio de Janeiro. In an interview with the Sunday Independent in Ireland, McIlroy explained why he was so critical of golf's return to the Olympics during a press conference at last summer's British Open. McIlroy, the four-time major champion from Northern Ireland, cited concerns over the Zika virus as his reason not to go to Rio. He told the Irish newspaper that when the International Olympic Committee announced in 2009 that golf would be part of the program for the first time since 2004, 'all of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am.' 'Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to (upset) the most?' McIlroy said. 'I started to resent it. And I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in. That's my feelings toward it. And whether that's right or wrong, that's how I feel.' McIlroy said he sent a text message to Justin Rose to congratulate him on winning the gold medal in Rio for Britain. He said Rose thanked him and asked if McIlroy felt as though he had missed out. 'I said, 'Justin, if I had been on the podium (listening) to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.'' McIlroy told the newspaper. 'I don't know the words to either anthem. I don't feel a connection to either flag. I don't want it to be about flags. I've tried to stay away from that.' McIlroy was among several top stars who opted to skip the Olympics, most citing the Zika virus. He had been scheduled to play for Ireland until announcing in June he would not be going. Jordan Spieth did not announce his decision to miss Rio until a few days before the British Open. McIlroy spoke after Spieth, and the Olympics was brought up again. McIlroy dismissed the notion that he had let down his sport, saying, 'I didn't get into golf to try and grow the game.' He also said that he probably wouldn't watch Olympic golf on TV, only 'the stuff that matters.' 'Well, I'd had nothing but questions about the Olympics — 'the Olympics, the Olympics, the Olympics' — and it was just one question too far,' McIlroy said. 'I'd said what I needed to say. I'd got myself out of it, and it comes up again. And I could feel it. I could just feel myself go, 'Poom!' And I thought, 'I'm going to let them have it.' 'OK, I went a bit far,' he added. 'But I hate that term, 'growing the game.' Do you ever hear that in other sports? In tennis? Football? 'Let's grow the game.' I mean, golf was here long before we were, and it's going to be here long after we're gone. So I don't get that, but I probably went a bit overboard.' McIlroy said Olympic golf didn't mean that much to him. 'It really doesn't. I don't get excited about it. And people can disagree, and have a different opinion, and that's totally fine,' he said. 'Each to their own.' McIlroy, who is to play the South African Open this week, said he has never been driven by nationalism or patriotism because of where he was raised. 'And I never wanted it to get political or about where I'm from, but that's what it turned into,' he said. 'And it just got to the point where it wasn't worth the hassle.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Former No. 1 Wozniacki beats Olympic champion Puig in Sydney

SYDNEY (AP) — Former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki stepped up her preparations for the Australian Open with 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win over Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig at the Sydney International on Monday. Wozniacki, who finished back-to-back years at No. 1 in the rankings in 2010 and '11, has never won a major and is determined to make up for a first-round exit at the Australian Open last year. Puig fought back to win the second set and force a decider but the Rio champion eventually succumbed after 2 hours and 10 minutes. Third-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, last year's WTA Finals champion and a finalist at the Australian Open in 2014, opened in Sydney with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Laura Siegemund, advancing along with No. 6-seeded Johanna Konta and No. 9 Roberta Vinci. Americans Christina McHale and CoCo Vandeweghe had wins over seeded players, with McHale beating No. 4 Kateryna Bondarenko 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Vandeweghe leading 6-2, 4-0 when No. 8 Elena Vesnina retired from their match. Australian hope Sam Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, had another first-round defeat, losing 6-3, 6-1 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 63 minutes. On the men's side, fifth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4, Matthew Barton beat Kyle Edmund 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) and Daniel Evans had a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Thiago Monteiro. At the Hobart International, Andrew Petkovic opened with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Nicole Gibbs and No. 11 Johanna Larsson beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1. Lucie Safarova also advanced, while former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone lost to Jana Jett and No. 7-seeded Kristina Mladenovic was beaten by Elise Mertens. At Auckland, New Zealand, seventh-seeded Steve Johnson overcame an early struggle in a match of contrasting styles to beat Stephane Robert of France 6-4, 6-3 in the opening round of the ASB Classic. Johnson struggled to bring his heavy serve to bear at the start of the match and quickly found himself a break down at 3-1 in the first set. He also took time to find his feet against Robert who troubled him with his softer groundstrokes, deft touches and his thread-the-needle passing shots. 'At the start of the year you don't have much momentum and you try to figure out your game again and how everything works,' Johnson said. 'He came out and played a great game. 'I was in a lot of games on his serve in the first so I just sort of hung around and then fortunately got a break in the second and held onto my serve.' The match pivoted on eighth game when Johnson was finally able to draw level on his sixth breakpoint chance. He then began to serve more confidently, taking the ninth game with his sixth ace of the match and breaking Robert again to end the set. Sixth-seeded Feliciano Lopez rebounded to beat No. 1,035-ranked local wild-card entry Michael Venus 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Also advancing were Jiri Vesely, who won his only ATP title to date in Auckland in 2015, and Robin Haase. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Former No. 1 Wozniacki beats Olympic champion Puig in Sydney

SYDNEY (AP) — Former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki continued her preparations for the Australian Open with 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win over Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig at the Sydney International on Monday. Wozniacki, who finished back-to-back years at No. 1 in the rankings in 2010 and '11, has never won a major and is determined to make up for a first-round exit at the Australian Open last year. Puig fought back to win the second set and force a decider but the Rio champion eventually succumbed after 2 hours and 10 minutes. Third-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, last year's WTA Finals champion and a finalist at the Australian Open in 2014, opened in Sydney with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Laura Siegemund, advancing along with No. 6-seeded Johanna Konta and No. 9 Roberta Vinci. Americans Christina McHale and CoCo Vandeweghe had wins over seeded players, with McHale beating No. 4 Kateryna Bondarenko 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Vandeweghe leading 6-2, 4-0 when No. 8 Elena Vesnina retired from their match. Australian hope Sam Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, had another first-round defeat, losing 6-3, 6-1 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 63 minutes. On the men's side, Matthew Barton beat Kyle Edmund 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) and Daniel Evans had a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Thiago Monteiro. At the Hobart International, Andrew Petkovic opened with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Nicole Gibbs and No. 11 Johanna Larsson beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1. Lucie Safarova also advanced, while former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone lost to Jana Jett and No. 7-seeded Kristina Mladenovic was beaten by Elise Mertens. At Auckland, New Zealand, seventh-seeded Steve Johnson overcame an early struggle in a match of contrasting styles to beat Stephane Robert of France 6-4, 6-3 in the opening round of the ASB Classic. Johnson struggled to bring his heavy serve to bear at the start of the match and quickly found himself a break down at 3-1 in the first set. He also took time to find his feet against Robert who troubled him with his softer groundstrokes, deft touches and his thread-the-needle passing shots. 'At the start of the year you don't have much momentum and you try to figure out your game again and how everything works,' Johnson said. 'He came out and played a great game. 'I was in a lot of games on his serve in the first so I just sort of hung around and then fortunately got a break in the second and held onto my serve.' The match pivoted on eighth game when Johnson was finally able to draw level on his sixth breakpoint chance. He then began to serve more confidently, taking the ninth game with his sixth ace of the match and breaking Robert again to end the set. Jiri Vesely, who won his only ATP title to date in Auckland in 2015, advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Horacio Zeballos, while Robin Haase beat New Zealand qualifier Finn Tearney 6-4, 7-5. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 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

Wizards withstand Wiggins' 41 to tame Wolves

WASHINGTON (AP) John Wall a season-high 18 assists and scored 18 points to help the Washington Wizards beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-105 on Friday night for their ninth straight home victory. Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins had 41 points on 16-of-30 shooting after scoring eight points in a loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Bradley Beal had 22 points for Washington, and Marcin Gortat hit all nine of his field-goal attempts and scored 19 points. The Wizards have won 10 of 15 overall. Karl-Anthony Towns added 18 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which has dropped six of its last eight Gorgui Dieng added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Zach Lavine had eight points on 3-of-14 shooting. After Wiggins gave Minnesota its first lead since early in the fourth quarter, 101-99 with 2:50 left, Otto Porter Jr. tied it with a jumper, and Wall scored on two fast-break layups to make it 105-101 with 140 left. Wiggins' dunk pulled the Wolves within two, but Beal made a 3-pointer. Wiggins hit another jumper, and Gortat's layup gave Washington a five-point lead with 48 seconds left as Washington scored on five straight possessions. Nobody scored again until Wall hit two free throws with 8.3 seconds left. The Wizards opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run to take an 89-85 lead. Minnesota trailed 66-52 early in the third, but Wiggins (16 points in the quarter) sparked a comeback that saw the Wolves hit 15 of 23 shots and score 37 points in the period to lead 85-80 entering the fourth. The Wizards shot 55 percent (22 of 40) in the first half, including 7 of 13 from 3-point range. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Motiejunas' new mission with the Pelicans: Get Davis open

em>By Brett Martel, Associated Press /em> METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Donatas Motiejunas, the Pelicans' new seven-footer, might sound delusional to more cynical NBA observers. Two of the first topics Motiejunas discussed after his first practice with the Pelicans on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) were the health of his back and the Pelicans' playoff prospects, offering rosy outlooks on both fronts. 'I'm going to prove it when I get on the floor,' Motiejunas said when asked about fighting the perception that he's been damaged goods since back surgery near the end of the 2014-15 season. 'I don't see an issue to fighting through this.' The versatile Lithuanian, who has left and right post-up moves, hits about 31 percent of his three-point attempts and draws praise for his passing ability, also sees himself as a boost to the Pelicans' playoff chances. New Orleans is eight games below .500 (14-22), but sat just two games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot heading into Wednesday night's (Thursday, PHL time) NBA slate. When Motiejunas was asked whether he saw his stint with the Pelicans, which will pay him a pro-rated veteran minimum of about $600,000, as an audition for when he becomes a free agent again next summer, he answered by talking about team goals. 'I'm here to help the team win. I'm not here to look at my personal stats,' Motiejunas said. 'If this team is going to make the playoffs and I'm going to help them, it's going to put my value up regardless.' Motiejunas later added, 'As long as we're going to stay healthy, this team right now can make a big push.' A handful of teams expressed interest in signing Motiejunas, who has played four seasons in the NBA with Houston, averaging 7.8 points and four rebounds. They were all offering about the same pay because most teams at this point in the season are restricted to paying the NBA minimum for new free-agent acquisitions. Gentry said the Pelicans had internal discussions about trading for Motiejunas last year and were pleased to be able to get him now in a low-risk, free-agent deal. Gentry said the presence of Anthony Davis and up-tempo, evenly spaced offense the Pelicans run appealed to Motiejunas. 'The opportunity to play alongside a great player — obviously it makes the game easier,' Gentry said. 'The system that we run is something that was appealing to him.' And for New Orleans, having a big-man with passing skills and shooting range helps Davis because he 'can take away some of the potential double-teams' that Davis might otherwise see. Indeed, Motiejunas said his mission is to help Davis 'get wide open shots.' 'I'm a creator,' Motiejunas said. 'I can take the ball to the paint, force the defense to collapse on me and dish the ball to [Davis], and without a lot of energy waste he can get an easy bucket.' The Pelicans have used a smaller, quicker lineup recently with the 6’11” Davis at center. It has paid off in the form of five victories in seven games. Gentry said Motiejunas will likely play center, but his ability to run and pass means a lineup shift, with Davis moving back to power forward, should not disrupt the rhythm with which New Orleans has played lately. Davis agreed, saying Motiejunas has 'a high basketball IQ, but the thing that stands out to me the most is his ability to pass. ... It gives me another opportunity to get out on the floor and roam, step out and shoot the ball, or be able to attack more.' As a restricted free agent last offseason, Motiejunas signed an offer sheet from Brooklyn worth about $36 million over four years. Houston initially sought to match it, but ultimately allowed the 26-year-old to become an unrestricted free agent after negotiations broke down, in part because of the player's history with back injuries. He played in only 37 games last season, but also only missed one regular season game after Feb. 27 and played in five playoff games. Motiejunas said he's been working out on his own in Vancouver the past five months and is in 'really good shape.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Last words, parting shots

Filipino athletes and sports personalities not only produced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in 2016, they also provided those who cover them with quips that left a lasting impression in the year that has just ended......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2017