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All set for thriller as Warriors host Thunder

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

 The return to action of both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, after missing a considerable part of the early season with injuries, has taken the Oklahoma City Thunder back to the level they belong.

The Thunder’s current winning run of seven consecutive victories, however, will be put to the test when they visit the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

Both teams are currently playing great basketball, and sharing more similarities than differences.

OKC (12-13) and Warriors have won nine of their last ten games.

Their star players – Durant and Westbrook for the Thunder, and Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – could become favourites for the 2015 All-Star Game.

With Westbrook averaging 27.8 points and Durant contributing 21.5 points per game, the OKC have surged up the standings in the Western Conference.

A month ago, in the first of the four meetings between two of the best Western Conference teams, the Warriors beat OKC 91-86 and went on to remain undefeated in five weeks, building a 16-game winning streak that was only snapped at Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.

Draymond Green told reporters: “Streaks are made to be broken. We can’t expect to win 60 games in a row.”

The Warriors (21-3), the current No 1 team in the league, are favourites to come out with a win on Thursday, but judging by what they showed in the recent games, the OKC are capable of anything.

“They’re a great team and the No 1 team in the West right now. We have our work cut out for us. It should be a fun match-up,” Durant said.

“We’ve just been trying to get better every single day. Defensively we’ve been locking in.”

Reuters

 

December 19, 2014 By : Category : Basketball Zone V English featured 0 Comment

Bryant passes Jordan on scoring list

Bryant passes Jordan on scoring list

Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant passed NBA icon Michael Jordan on Sunday for third on the league’s all-time scoring list – and lifted his Los Angeles Lakers to a victory.

Bryant, a five-time champion in his 19th season, came into the contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves needing nine points to surpass Jordan’s career total of 32 292

He tied and passed the Hall of Famer with a pair of free throws that gave the Lakers a 38-32 lead with 5:24 remaining in the second quarter.

He finished with 26 points, including a go-ahead three-pointer lofted over Andrew Wiggins with 1:02 to play as the Lakers triumphed 100-94.

“I’m just honoured to be here and still be playing,” said Bryant, who was limited to just six games by injury last season. “Careers don’t usually last this long.

“I really, really appreciate the opportunity to be out there playing and performing and doing what I do.”

Bryant, with 32 310 points, now sits behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38 387 and Karl Malone with 36 928 on the all-time list.

Bryant pulled within two points of Jordan with a three-pointer, then nearly passed him with a turnaround jump shot that rattled out of the basket.

“I thought that was the shot,” said Lakers coach Byron Scott, who played his final NBA season for the Lakers when Bryant was a teenage rookie with the club.

“I guess my second choice would be he gets fouled and goes to the free throw line.”

Bryant, known for his ice-cool performances under pressure, admitted he felt a flutter of nerves when he stepped to the line for the potentially history-making free throws.

“You get up there and the crowd’s really waiting to see you score nine points, so don’t ‘F’ this up and completely kill the moment,” Bryant said of his thoughts at the free throw line.

The moment sparked a mini-celebration, bringing cheering fans to their feet as Bryant, 36, was awarded a game ball and congratulated by teammates and opponents.

Kobe’s record passing free throw

Bryant said he was touched that the Timberwolves arranged the little ceremony.

“I wasn’t expecting the Timberwolves organisation to honour me like that,” said Bryant, adding that it was especially gratifying since he’s usually the “villain” on the road.

“That was awesome,” he said. “It felt great to have that.”

He acknowledged the accolades with a smile and a wave before delivering the ball to the sidelines, then patted his heart as he returned to the court to get back to the business of trying to win the game.

Bryant has long been compared to Jordan, but insisted as the milestone approached that he was more concerned with helping the Lakers win than breaking marks set by his idol.

But Bryant acknowledged he was proud of the achievement.

“It’s a huge honour,” he said. “It’s so much work to get to this point. It’s unbelievable. Time has flown by.”

Jordan, now owner of the Charlotte Hornets, congratulated Bryant in a statement, paying tribute to his work ethic and passion for the game.

“I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next,” said Jordan, who won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls.

Former Lakers great Magic Johnson also offered congratulations via Twitter, saying Bryant was among the top five players in NBA history.

“That’s the most important thing to me, playing for the respect of the greats and feeling like I’m part of that culture, part of that brotherhood,” Bryant said.

December 16, 2014 By : Category : Basketball Zone V English featured Tags:
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Clippers hold on to beat Pacers

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Chris Paul tallied 17 points and 15 assists to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to their ninth straight win with a 103-96 victory over the struggling Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

DeAndre Jordan delivered 12 points and 19 rebounds while Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 18 in the victory in front of a crowd of 16 392 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena.

“We are just playing the right way and sharing the ball,” said Paul. “It is not easy on the road, but we pulled it out.”

Blake Griffin scored 17 points with 10 rebounds for the Clippers who kicked off a three-game National Basketball Association road trip with the win.

C.J. Miles led all scorers with 30 points off Indiana’s bench. The Pacers reserves scored 66 points in their sixth straight loss.

Lavoy Allen added 14 points and 13 rebounds in a reserve role and he was joined by Luis Scola, who finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Indiana also suffered a 108-92 loss versus the Atlanta Hawks Monday.

The Pacers had won three straight against the Clippers but two of those victories came last year when they had a healthy Paul George in the line-up.

Behind by 17 points entering the final quarter, the Pacers chipped away at the Clippers’ lead. Miles scored eight points in a 12-4 surge to cut the deficit to 86-77.

With two minutes left in regulation, Allen’s jumper pulled Indiana within two. Crawford answered with a jump shot at the other end, then Miles’ missed shot from beyond the arc. Griffin sank one of two free throws and Indiana couldn’t muster any offence from there.

“It was basically a replay of the first half. The starters come in and get a big lead, and the second unit comes in and loses it. The starters have to hold on, and fortunately, they were able to do it,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

Los Angeles next visits Washington and Milwaukee on their road trip.

The Clippers are playing well at home and on the road, closing out a perfect four-game home stretch at Staples Centre with Monday’s thrilling 121-120 overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns.

AFP

 

December 12, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

LeBron ties record, Cavs win

LeBron James

LeBron James

LeBron James hit a crucial three-pointer with 48 seconds remaining and the Cleveland Cavaliers edged out the Toronto Raptors 105-101 on Tuesday night, extending their winning streak to eight games.

The win not only confirmed the Cavaliers (13-7) as the Central Division leaders ahead of the Chicago Bulls (12-8), but it also marked the day James tied Mark Price for the franchise record for 3-pointers at 802.

“For a guy who came out of high-school, and they said he could not shoot, I have done some work. I have been blessed. My teammates have given me an opportunity to make those shots. It is always great,” said James who poured in a game-high 35 points.

Toronto led by 11 heading to the final quarter, before the Cavaliers bounced back with a 17-4 run midway through the final quarter as Kyrie Irving sealed the victory from the line.

“The way we responded throughout adversity,” James insisted, “it is going to be key for our team for a long time.”

For James, there is still a lot of work to do. “It is good for us. As a young ball club we need this type of challenges. We have a lot of work to do still.”

Kyle Lowry, who was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, had 16 points and a game-high 14 assists, Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross finished with 18 points apiece for the Canadians.

Reuters

December 11, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

Cavaliers, Warriors extend winning streaks

Cavaliers, Warriors extend winning streaks

Dion Waiters

Reserve guard Dion Waiters scored a season-high 26 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers stretched their winning streak to seven games with a 110-88 victory over the shorthanded Brooklyn Nets.

Forward LeBron James totalled 18 points and seven assists as the Cavaliers (12-7) improved to 10-3 against Eastern Conference opponents.

Forward Kevin Love added 19 points and 11 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double and 10th overall, helping Cleveland to a 55-33 advantage on the glass.

- – -

Warriors 102, Timberwolves 86

The Golden State Warriors stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 13 games in a 102-86 defeat of the injury-depleted Minnesota Timberwolves.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each scored 21 points as the Warriors (18-2) added another mark to their historic stretch with their eighth consecutive road victory.

Minnesota (4-16), still without injured starters Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio, were led by rookie Andrew Wiggins’ 21 points but lost their sixth straight game.

- – -

Hawks 108, Pacers 92

The Atlanta Hawks ran their winning streak to seven games, their longest since 2009, with a 108-92 rout of the Indiana Pacers.

Centre Al Horford scored 25 with eight rebounds for Atlanta (14-6), while guard Jeff Teague had 21 points and seven assists. Indiana (7-14) saw their losing streak extend to five games.

- – -

Raptors 112, Nuggets 107 (overtime)

Guard Lou Williams scored the go-ahead basket in overtime and had 26 points overall as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Denver Nuggets 112-107.

The Raptors (16-5), who tied the game at 102-102 on a three-pointer by forward Patrick Patterson to force overtime, led by as many as 17 points before falling behind by five points late in the game.

- – -

Wizards 133, Celtics 132 (double overtime)

Guard John Wall scored 26 points, including 10 in a row in the second overtime, as the Washington Wizards blew a 23-point lead in regulation before rallying in both extra sessions for a wild 133-132 victory over the Boston Celtics.

Wall added a career-high 17 assists while forward Paul Pierce scored a season 28-points against his former team, and centre Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards (14-6).

- – -

Clippers 121, Suns 120 (OT)

Blake Griffin scored 45 points, including the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer in overtime, to lift the Los Angeles Clippers to a 121-120 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Griffin made 14 of 24 shots as the Clippers (15-5) won their eighth in a row. Chris Paul added 20 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.

The Suns, who got a triple-double from guard Eric Bledsoe with 27 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds dropped to (12-10) despite leading 120-116 with 43 seconds left.

- – -

Kings 101, Jazz 92

Rudy Gay scored 29 points and made two key baskets in the final six minutes to help the Sacramento Kings hold off the Utah Jazz for a 101-92 win.

NikStauskas scored a career-high 15 points and also converted a three-point play on a layup and foul shot to highlight a 9-2 late run.

The Kings (11-10) won for just the second time in seven contests.

Forward Gordon Hayward had 19 points for Utah (5-16) who lost their ninth straight.

Reuters

December 10, 2014 By : Category : English featured 0 Comment

Ferwaba in massive youth basketball training

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Over 100 youngsters are attending daily training sessions aimed at equipping them with the basics of the sport at a tender age.

The training held under the auspices of Rwanda Basketball Federation is underway at NPC gymnasium. The national head coach Moise Mutokambali is the main coordinator and he hopes the programme will train potential national team players.

He said on Friday, “We are running this camp to teach these young players the basics of basketball ranging from dribbling, shooting and passing to mention but a few. We want to do this every holiday season so that we follow up on their progress,”

The girls and boys are between the ages of 13-18 years and according to Mutokambali this platform will help him to select the national U-16 and U-18 teams for regional competitions next year.

Rwanda is planning to send a girls’ and boys’ team to next year’s Fiba Africa U-16 and U-18 tournaments.

December 9, 2014 By : Category : English featured Rwanda basketball League 0 Comment

Leonard leads Spurs over 76ers

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 26 points and had a crucial three-point play in the final minute to help the San Antonio Spurs defeat the winless 76ers 109-103, extending Philadelphia’s club-worst losing streak to start the season to 0-17.

The Spurs (13-4) played without stars Tim Duncan (rest) and Tony Parker (shoulder). Even without the duo’s more than 31 points out of the line-up, San Antonio had little trouble dispatching Philadelphia. Aron Baynes scored 15 points and Manu Ginobili and Cory Joseph each added 14 for San Antonio, who won their eighth straight. Leonard also had 10 rebounds while tying a career-high in points.

Michael Carter-Williams had 24 points and 11 rebounds and Alexey Shved chipped in 19 points for Philadelphia.

Philadelphia became just the fourth team in league history to open a season with 17 losses, joining the 1998-99 Clippers (0-17), 1988-89 Heat (0-17) and the 2009-10 Nets (0-18). The 76ers can tie the Nets for the worst start in NBA history on Wednesday at Minnesota with a potential chance to break the record at home on Friday against Oklahoma City.

Denver’s Ty Lawson had 15 points and made a double-pump jumper to beat the shot clock with 29.6 seconds left to boost the Nuggets over the Utah Jazz 103-101.

The game heated up after Arron Afflalo was ejected and the Jazz stormed back from a 22-point deficit to tie the game in the final minutes.

Lawson, who also had 12 assists, made the game-winner from the left wing between two Jazz defenders.

Hayward scored 25 points, Burks had 22 and Burke chipped in 18, but Utah’s losing streak hit six games – the longest skid since March 10-19 last season.

At Washington, John Wall had 18 points and 13 assists as the Wizards made their first seven 3-pointers to beat the Miami Heat 107-86.

The Wizards held the Heat to 2 for 22 from beyond the arc for the game.

Rasual Butler scored 23, and Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who never trailed and led by 21 in the first half and 25 in the second.

Chris Bosh led Miami with 21 points, and Dwayne Wade had 20 in his second game back from an injured right hamstring.

The Los Angeles Clippers downed the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-101 in the most successful road trip in club history after Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick each scored 23 points before sitting out the fourth quarter.

DeAndre Jordan had 13 rebounds and 11 points for the Clippers, who won their fifth in a row following their 6-1 trip and beat Minnesota for the 10th straight time.

Shabazz Muhammad had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

AP

December 3, 2014 By : Category : Basketball Zone V English featured 0 Comment

James, Griffin named NBA players of the week

LeBron James

LeBron James

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, November 24, through Sunday.

James led the Cavaliers to the East’s only perfect record on the week at 3-0. He averaged 25.7 points (second in the conference), 8.7 assists (tied-fourth in the conference), 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals (tied-third in the conference).

James, who shot .500 or better from the field in all three games, recorded two double-doubles, including a 29-point, 10-rebound effort to go with eight assists and three steals as Cleveland topped the Washington Wizards 113-87 on November 26.

Griffin helped the Clippers to a 4-0 week behind averages of 23.8 points (fourth in the conference), 9.8 rebounds (seventh in the conference), and 5.0 assists. All four of the Clippers’ wins came on the road. On November 24, the Clippers topped the Charlotte Hornets 113-92 as Griffin fell one assist shy of a triple double, having finished with 22 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.

Here is a recap of the week for James and Griffin:

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

November 24 v Orlando: Collected 29 points, 11 assists, four rebounds and three steals in a 106-74 win over the Magic.

November 26 v Washington: Tallied 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals in a 113-87 win over the Wizards.

November 29 v Indiana: Posted 19 points and added seven assists in a 109-97 win over the Pacers.

Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers

November 24 @ Charlotte: Tallied 22 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists during a 113-92 win over the Hornets.

November 28 @ Houston: Posted his second double-double of the week with 30 points and 10 rebounds in a 102-85 win over the Rockets.

November 29 @ Utah: Collected 28 points, six rebounds and three assists during a 112-96 win over the Jazz.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Dallas’ Tyson Chandler, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Houston’s James Harden, Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Miami’s Chris Bosh and Portland’s Wesley.

AP

 

December 3, 2014 By : Category : Basketball Zone V English featured 0 Comment

No Cavalier attitude as LeBron James faces toughest test

LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers shoots a free-throw during the second half against the Orlando Magic at Quicken Loans Arena

LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers shoots a free-throw during the second half against the Orlando Magic at Quicken Loans Arena

Nearly a month into his homecoming season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA superstar LeBron James and his new teammates still struggle to discover roles and mesh into a title contender.

The Cavaliers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 106-74 victory over Orlando, but at 6-7 on the season remain very much a work in progress.

“I knew it was going to be the biggest challenge of my career,” James said. “It’s something I was ready for. I accept the challenge.”

James left the Cavaliers in 2010 for Miami and won two NBA titles and lost twice more in the NBA Finals before making his return to his home region last July, joining Australian guard Kyrie Irving and adding star big man Kevin Love to create a new “Big Three” that figured to make Cleveland the team to beat in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

“We’re working on it,” Love said. “It will take time but things will open up. We’ve seen a lot of tough times. We know how to come back and play well.”

Love has found himself shooting twice as many 3-point shots as normal as Brazilian centre Anderson Varejao dominates inside and James and Irving often share the scoring load.

“I’m just trying to find myself in here,” Love said. “There are a lot of times I spot it up on the perimeter but that’s what’s being asked of me. I’ll be happy with it. They seem to go in for me and that’s going to help all of us.

“We need to keep the defense honest. When we do that we’re usually able to score more points.”

Dave Blatt, an American who coached Russia to 2012 Olympic bronze and Maccabi Tel Aviv to this year’s Euroleague crown, is the Cavaliers’ first year coach, stepping into the job before James decided to return.

He has handled slow-starting teams before and recalled James’ first Miami squad only started 9-8 before winning 21 of its next 22 starts.

“My teams have been slow starters. I don’t know if that translates to this situation,” he said. “It’s very much a work in progress. We’re in the first month. There are still a few bumps and glitches ahead.

“On a new team you are always going to have things — rotations, roles more clearly defined. You figure out a little better when the team is more mature. This is the NBA. You always need to win. For us it’s a day-to-day battle and we want to compete.”

James is averaging 25.0 points a game while Irving is netting 21.1. Each is playing about 38 minutes a game with Love at just under 36 minutes a game, all three among the NBA top 10 in playing time as the Cavaliers try to settle on a lineup.

IRVING CONFIDENT

“The most important thing is to keep our heads up and keep working, move on to the next game,” Irving said. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We’ve got to play better at both ends of the floor.

“I’m confident in this team and the people in this locker room. We play with our hearts. Right now we don’t have the luxury of taking plays off or possessions off or letting teams back into games. We have to come out with better fight.”

James’ scoring and shooting percentage are his worst since his 2003 rookie season and it’s the also the worst start for one of his teams since then.

“We’re a very fragile team,” James said. “Any little adversity hits us, we just shell up. That’s something that will come with experience.”

James has noticed downcast body language among his teammates when challenges arise in games.

“I see it. It’s not good. It’s something we have to work on, push forward. It’s something I have to work on too,” James said. “Losing doesn’t help. It zaps the energy from us.

“Being the leader of this team, if I start hanging my head low, it’s going to go to everyone else. They look to me to make a difference and I’ve got to stay positive.”

AFP

November 27, 2014 By : Category : Basketball Zone V English featured 0 Comment

LeBron James scores 29 as Cavaliers snap four-game skid

 LeBron James scores 29 as Cavaliers snap four-game skid

LeBron James scored 29 points and added 11 assists while playing only three quarters Monday as the Cleveland Cavaliers snapped a four-game losing streak by routing Orlando 106-74.

The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, who called his team “fragile” only two nights earlier after a loss at Toronto, netted 22 points in the first half as the Cavaliers improved to 6-7 while visiting Orlando fell to 6-10.

James, who returned to Cleveland after four seasons in Miami that included two NBA titles and two NBA Finals losses, scored 16 points in the first quarter, five of them in a 9-0 run that put the Cavaliers ahead with 26-14.

With James connecting on 7-of-12 shots in the first half, Cleveland stretched the lead to 56-38 at half-time and boosted the margin as large as 26 points in the third quarter, after a dunk-filled 16-2 run, and 33 in the final period.

Anderson Varejao added 14 points and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving each scored 12 for the Cavaliers, who had dropped three consecutive home games.

Victor Oladipo scored 22 points and Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Magic, who scored a season-low point total in losing their eighth meeting in a row to the Cavaliers.

“Your goal should be (allowing) 22 points or under a quarter and we did that,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. “We made some small adjustments but things were looking pretty good so we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel.”

The Cavaliers had not lost six in a row with James on the roster since a six-game skid in late 2007.

AFP

 

November 26, 2014 By : Category : Basketball Zone V English featured 0 Comment