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Harden leads Rockets win, Curry OK after scary fall

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots against the Golden State Warriors in the second half during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs 

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots against the Golden State Warriors in the second half during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs

A playoff career-high 45 points by James Harden sparked the Houston Rockets to a 128-115 must-win victory Monday over the Golden State Warriors, denying the Warriors an easy path to the NBA Finals.

The Warriors had a scare and then breathed a sigh of relief after NBA Player of the Year Stephen Curry suffered a bruise to the back of his head after a bad fall in the second quarter but then returned to the game.

Houston got their first win in the series, pulling to 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals and forcing a fifth game Wednesday in Oakland. They snapped Golden State’s six-game win streak.

“We’re going to come out with some great intensity,” Harden said. “They are a tough team and we know we have to work hard.”

Curry called his spill the scariest fall he has suffered in a game, although he added he has been hurt worse and will be ready for game five.

“I will be fine,” Curry said. “I feel pretty good. Just not how I envisioned the game going, disappointed we lost. I came out of that relatively OK and tried to go in there and give my team something.”

Curry passed mandatory NBA concussion tests before being allowed back into the game midway into the third quarter.

“Obviously it’s always scary when a guy hits his neck,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He was up and went back to the locker room. Our doctors cleared him and he’s doing fine.”

While the Rockets prevented a sweep, no team in NBA history has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

“We’re a really good team when we are moving the ball and working together,” Harden said. “We’ve got to do a better job of being consistent.”

Harden made 13-of-22 shots from the floor, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range, and added nine rebounds and five assists.

“He played a hell of a game,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.

The Rockets improved to 4-0 in playoff games when facing elimination, the first team with such a post-season run since the 2006 Phoenix Suns.

“We don’t want to go home,” Rockets centre Dwight Howard said. “We came out and played as hard as we could, left it all on the floor and when you do that, good things will happen.”

The West champion will face the Eastern Conference champion in the NBA Finals starting June 4. Cleveland leads Atlanta 3-0 in the East with game four on Tuesday.

ROCKETS NEVER TRAILED

The Rockets opened a 12-0 lead in the first 3:15 and stretched it to 45-22 after the first quarter.

“The game was won in the first quarter,” Kerr said. “They were more ready than we were. We were on our heels. They were making shots from everywhere. The came out on fire.”

Curry’s severe fall came when he leaped into the air as Houston’s Trevor Ariza went up for a shot. Curry soared over Ariza and fell hard onto the floor, landing on the back of his head and neck.

“That was the scariest one because you are in the air for a long time and you know you’re going to hit the floor,” Curry said.

“It’s a bad feeling. Once the situation changes completely in the air, you see you’ve got no control over yourself. It could have been a lot worse.”

Curry stayed on the court for several minutes before being escorted to the locker room.

“I could hear voices from trainers saying take my time, don’t rush myself getting up,” Curry said. “I was still a little in shock from the feeling of falling. I got back to the locker room and gathered myself and was able to get back out there.”

Curry finished with 23 points, including six 3-point baskets.

The Warriors, seeking their first trip to the NBA Finals since winning the 1975 title, became the first team to lose after making 20 3-point shots, as the teams combined for a record 37 3-point baskets.

The Rockets, who have not reached the NBA Finals since winning the title in 1995, had lost all seven prior games against Golden State in the playoffs and regular season.

Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds while Josh Smith had 20 points for the Rockets and Ariza added 17.

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 24 points while Draymond Green added 21 points and 15 rebounds.

 

May 27, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:,
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James calls on Cavaliers for Finals push

LeBron James

LeBron James

 No matter where the Cleveland Cavaliers play this postseason, four-time MVP LeBron James continues to perform at high level.

He scored 30 plus points in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals at Atlanta Hawks, and has shown no signs of slowing down.

The Cavaliers lead 2-0, and hold home-court advantage as the series shifts to Cleveland on Sunday for Game 3.

Despite playing without the All-Star duo of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, who is battling a knee injury, James has stepped up, covering the missing pieces.

The Cavaliers swept the Boston Celtics in the first round, overcame Chicago in Game 6, and need just two more wins to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007.

Although James doubted his team’s potential to battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy a few months ago, he is a lot more confident now.

Addressing the media on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s Game 3 against the Hawks, James said: “I think with the pieces we had, I felt like, if we continued to get better, we could compete for a championship.

“If we work our championship habits both on and off the floor, we give ourselves the best possible chance to compete. Obviously, I still think that today.”

Unsurprisingly, James remains an all-around weapon for the Cavaliers.

In Game 2, James was one rebound shy of recording a triple-double as a result of his 30 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds.

He has 11 triple-doubles in his playoff career, but has not recorded one since the 2013 Playoffs with Miami.

Should the Cavaliers beat the Hawks in Game 3, they would be in a privileged position to close out the series at home, and set up a highly-anticipated Finals against the Golden State Warriors, who lead their Western Conference Finals 3-0 against the Houston Rockets.

In fact, we could have James versus Curry – two of the best performers in the modern NBA – in the Finals.

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May 25, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

Warriors edge Rockets to double series lead

Klay Thomson #11 of the Golden State Warriors blocks the shot of James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during the second half in Game two of the western conference finals

Klay Thomson #11 of the Golden State Warriors blocks the shot of James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during the second half in Game two of the western conference finals

NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors edged the Houston Rockets 99-98 on Thursday to double their lead in the Western Conference finals.

Curry again came out on top in a duel with James Harden, stifling the Rockets star in the moments before the final buzzer to preserve the win.

They took a two-games-to-none lead over the Rockets in the best-of-seven series, with the winners to take on the Eastern Conference champions in the NBA finals.

Golden State had to battle to the bitter end. Their eight-point lead was trimmed to one after Harden’s alley-oop pass to Dwight Howard with 33 seconds remaining.

After Harrison Barnes missed a reverse layup at the other end, the Rockets raced the ball up the court.

But Harden was double-teamed by Curry and Klay Thompson as the clock ticked down, passing to Howard on the perimeter.

Howard tossed the ball right back, Curry poked the ball away, and the Rockets were unable to get a potential game-winning shot off.

Curry led the Warriors with 33 points, including five three-pointers.

The hosts, who let slip an early 16-point lead to head into halftime tied 55-55, regrouped to take a 77-75 lead into the final period.

They never trailed in the final period, and appeared to be in control when Curry took charge with less than three minutes to play.

After stealing a Trevor Ariza pass, Curry hit a contested step-back jump shot, then drove left and threw a baseline bounce pass to a driving Andrew Bogut, who withstood a push from Howard and made a running shot for a 96-89 Warriors lead.

HARDEN FIGHTS BACK

But Harden’s two free throws, a dunk and two more free throws pulled Houston within 99-96 with less than a minute to go.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he expected every game in the series to be a similar back-and-forth battle.

“We’re right where we need to be,” said Kerr, whose team led the league with 67 regular-season victories.

“We won the two at home. Now we head to Houston. Every game is probably going to be like this.”

The final sequence was the only blemish in an otherwise stellar performance from Harden, who finished with a game-high 38 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

“Just a tough, tough play,” Howard said. “It’s a little frustrating, that last play.”

But he said there was no reason the Rockets couldn’t climb back into the series.

“We’re really confident about what we have going on,” he said. “We let two slip away, now we go back to Houston, take care of business at home.”

Houston centre Howard had 19 points and 17 rebounds, playing 40 minutes despite playing with a strained left knee.

AFP

May 23, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

Cleveland tops Atlanta to open Eastern Conference finals

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks 97-89 on Wednesday to open the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks 97-89 on Wednesday to open the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

With a berth in the NBA championship finals on the line in the best-of-seven series, J.R. Smith set a Cavaliers club record for three-pointers, draining eight from beyond the arc.

His 28 points accounted for all of the scoring by Cleveland reserves.

“I was just trying, if anything, to take good shots,” Smith said. “I got in a rhythm early and just stayed aggressive.”

Smith’s long-range bombs came in bunches, including three in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter as he helped Cleveland build an 18-point lead.

He broke James’s prior Cavaliers record for three-pointers in a playoff game by one. James made three against Washington in game four of the 2006 Eastern conference quarter-finals.

“Those who know J.R. know when he gets hot, he gets smoking hot,” said Cavaliers coach David Blatt.

“He was terrific. Probably overlooked is how well he defended and that he got eight rebounds.”

Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James scored 31 points, pulled down eight rebounds and handed out six assists for the Cavaliers.

He said defence was the key to the victory.

“We’re the number one defensive team in the playoffs. In order for us to win, ultimately we have to defend,” said James, who is playing in his fifth straight Eastern Conference finals after four appearances with Miami.

“Tonight we shot 44 percent from the field, but we defended. We gave ourselves a chance. When you defend at a high level you’re going to give yourself a chance to win every night.”

James has won two titles with the Heat and returned to his home state and first NBA team the Cavaliers, vowing to bring Cleveland a championship.

He sealed Wednesday’s victory with a thundering dunk in the final minute.

Tristan Thompson added 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win and Kyrie Irving had 10 points and six assists in 27 minutes.

BROTHERHOOD

Jeff Teague scored 27 points to lead Atlanta, but the Hawks lost starting forward DeMarre Carroll to a left leg injury in the fourth quarter.

Carroll, who appeared to hyperextend his left knee when he planted his foot to take a shot, crumpled to the floor in pain.

Rival James gave him some encouraging pats as Hawks personnel helped him from the court.

“At the end of the day, we’re all a brotherhood,” James said. “You never want anyone to get injured, even in combat.”

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said Carroll would have an MRI exam on Thursday to assess the severity of the injury.

“At this point, I think the doctors are saying it’s a knee sprain,” Budenholzer said. “We’ll know tomorrow.”

The Cavaliers will try to strengthen their grip on the series in game two on Friday.

The winners of the series will take on the Western Conference champions in the NBA Finals.

Golden State, the best team in the regular season, leads Houston 1-0 in the Western Conference championships.

May 22, 2015 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Players 0 Comment

Rwanda qualifies for Africa U16 Hoops tourney

The U-16 boys team training at Amahoro stadium recently

The U-16 boys team training at Amahoro stadium recently

Rwanda will take part in this year’s Fiba Afro-basket U-16 tournament after close to nine countries have withdrew from the Zone V Basketball championship due next week in Kigali.

Only Eritrea and Rwanda will tussle it out in a two-nation Zone V tournament set to start from May 26-27 following the withdrawal of Burundi, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda who said they don’t have U16 national teams that compete in this tournament.

According to Rwanda Basketball Federation (Ferwaba) Secretary General Richard Mutabazi said early this week that both Rwanda and Eritrea have already booked their places at the continental championship.

The FibaAfrobasket U-16 girls’ tournament is slated for July 16-24 in Madagascar while the boys’ edition will take place in Mali in July.

May 20, 2015 By : Category : English featured Tournament Tags:,
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Espoir retains Basketball league title with three matches to go

Lionel Hakizimana guided Espoir to the league title 

Lionel Hakizimana guided Espoir to the league title

Results

EspoirBBC 68-48 APR BBC

CSK BBC 84-43 Rusizi BBC

30- Plus BBC 50-56 UR- CE BBC

Patriotes BBC 100- 41 Rusizi

Defending champions Espoir basketball club retained the national basketball league title with three matches to the end of the season.

The title was clinched by the Nyamirambo-based club over the weekend when they routed rivals APR 68-48 in a tough game to seal their fourth consecutive title since 2012.

The remaining three matches that Espoir basketball club has to play include; IPRC- Kigali, Cercle Sportif de Kigali (CSK) and Rusizi BBC respectively.

League Standings

PG W/L F Pts For Against AVG

1 ESPOIR BBC 15 14/1 0 29 1074 778 1,38

2 Patriots BC 15 11/4 0 26 1072 773 1,39

3 APR BBC 15 11/4 0 26 994 785 1,27

4 CSK BBC 15 11/4 0 26 1061 879 1,21

5 IPRC-South BBC 16 8/8 0 24 1011 969 1,04

6 IPRC-Kigali BBC 14 9/5 0 23 933 761 1,23

7 RUSIZI BC 16 5/11 0 21 843 1135 0,74

8 UR-Huye BBC 15 4/11 0 19 759 939 0,81

9 30 Plus BBC 16 2/14 0 18 751 1074 0,70

10 UR-CE BBC 15 1/13 1 15 583 1076 0,54

May 20, 2015 By : Category : English featured Tournament Tags:,
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Cavaliers put Bulls on brink of elimination

Cavaliers put Bulls on brink of elimination

Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls shoots over LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first half during Game five in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs 2015

LeBron James didn’t let a sprained ankle slow him down as he played his best game of the postseason, scoring 38 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat Chicago 106-101 in game five of their playoff series.

James, who levelled the series at 2-2 with a buzzer beating jump shot in game four, also tallied 12 rebounds and six assists Tuesday for the Cavaliers who took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.

“I think our coaching staff did a great job putting me in a position to be successful,” said James.

In the late game, Dwight Howard finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds and James Harden had a triple double as the Houston Rockets forced a game six with a 124-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kyrie Irving scored 25 points and guard Iman Shumpert grabbed a crucial offensive rebound in the final minute for Cleveland in the victory.

“We made shots,” said Cleveland coach David Blatt. “Some of the same shots that we were missing in recent games.”

James did not take part in Tuesday morning’s practice, preferring to rest his sore ankle, but he was all business against the Bulls in game five.

JAMES MATCHES JORDAN

James had three steals and three blocks and did not commit a turnover. With this performance, he matched Michael Jordan with his 51st playoff game with at least 30 points, five rebounds and five assists.

James and Irving combined to shoot 23-of-40 from the field. Irving was also playing with injuries that included a sprained right foot and left knee tendinitis.

It is the first time a team in this series has won consecutive games and Cleveland can now wrap up the set and advance to the league semi-finals with a win Thursday in the Windy City at the United Centre arena.

If the Bulls win on home court, game seven would be Sunday in Cleveland.

Chicago guard Jimmy Butler had 29 points and nine rebounds, including a pair of three-pointers late to give the Bulls a glimmer of hope. Guard Derrick Rose finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Chicago head home trying once again to stave off elimination from James, who ended the Bull’s season in three of the past five years.

“I liked the fight that we had to come back,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “But we have to play a lot tougher than we played tonight.”

Forward Pau Gasol missed the game for the Bulls with a hamstring injury. Tuesday’s contest was intense and at times also physical. Forward Taj Gibson was ejected in the fourth quarter after a dust up with Cleveland guard Matthew Dellavedova that led to pushing and shoving by both teams under the basket.

“That’s what happens when you’re in Cleveland,” said Gibson. “I didn’t kick him at all. He just leg-locked me. It got chippy at the end.”

 

 

 

May 15, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

Cavs one win away from East Finals, Rockets win

Lebron James

Lebron James

LeBron James scored a game-high to help the Cleveland Cavaliers win Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday morning, but his defense made the biggest difference.

As former MVP Derrick Rose drove to the basket for a potential game-tying layup with 48 seconds remaining, James sprinted down the court and caught up with Rose to swat his shot out of bounds.

It was James’ third block of the game, to go with his 38 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and zero turnovers.

Eventually the Cavaliers prevailed to a 106-101 win, taking a commanding 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series.

The Cavaliers are one win away from reaching their first Conference Finals since 2009 season when they lost to the Orlando Magic.

Game 5 was a remarkable one for James’ playoff career. It was the first time he had more than 30 points, over 10 rebounds, three blocks, three steals and not single turnover in the same game.

Jimmy Butler finished with 29 points and Mike Dunleavy added 19 for the Bulls, who were missing big man Pau Gasol, who sat out his second straight game with a strained left hamstring.

Chicago also played the final ten minutes without Taj Gibson, ejected for kicking Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova.

Cleveland could wrap up the best-of-seven series with a win in Game 6 on Friday morning at United Centre in Chicago.

In Houston, the Rockets gave themselves a chance to play at least one more postseason game, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 124-103 in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinals on Wednesday morning.

The Rockets controlled most of the contest, trailing only by three early in the game.

Rockets guard James Harden had his first career playoff triple-double.

He finished with with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, giving Houston hope to reaching the Conference Finals for the first since 1997.

Blake Griffin had 30 points and 16 rebounds, and Chris Paul added 22 points and 10 assists for the Clippers.

The Clippers lead 3-2 the best-of-seven series as Game 6 shifts to Los Angeles on Friday morning.

May 14, 2015 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Tournament 0 Comment

All-Star trio rescues Hawks, Curry lifts Warriors

All-Star trio rescues Hawks, Curry lifts Warriors

Jeff Teague

Atlanta Hawks key players stepped up when the team needed them most to tie their Eastern Conference Semifinal series at 2-2 on Tuesday morning, beating the Washington Wizards 106-101.

Hawks All-Star trio of Jeff Teague (26 points), Millsap (19 points, six assists and five rebounds), and Al Horford (18 points and 10 rebounds) came up big, making significant impact to give Atlanta hope for the remainder of the series.

Paul Pierce, who was Hawks villain in Game 3 after hitting a game-winner with a second left, missed a three-pointer with 9.5 seconds remaining as the Wizards tried to tie the contest at 104-104, instead Paul Millsap hit two free-throws to close the game out.

The Hawks stepped on floor on a desperation mood, leading by as many as 14 points, moved the ball incredibly well with 30 assists, prompting coach Mike Budenholzer to was his players “to find a way to do that for more of the 48 minutes.”

“To me, personally, I think this is the best we’ve played all series. Thirty assists, the way we played defense, the way we stepped up, the way we helped each other, the way we moved the basketball, the way we set screens,” Millsap said afterwards.

Bradley Beal finished with a career playoff-high 34 points for the Wizards, who saw All-Star guard John Wall siting out for a third straight game due to a broken left hand.

The Wizards visit Atlanta on Thursday mooring for Game 5 of the best-of-seven series.

In Memphis, MVP Stephen Curry has played the best game of his Western Conference Semifinals campaign, powering the Golden State Warriors when they needed him most to tie the series at 2-2.

Curry finished with a game-high 33 points as the Warriors sealed a comprehensive 101-84 victory at Memphis.

Marc Gasol did everything the Grizzlies needed him to do by scoring a team-high 19 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out six assists, but the game belonged to a desperate Golden State Warriors who led most of the contest, trailing only by two.

 

Warriors host Memphis in Game 5 on Thursday morning.

May 13, 2015 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

Bulls’ Butler named Most Improved Player

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler

 Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player on Thursday after a season that included career highs in scoring, rebounds and assists and a first All-Star nod.

The award is designed to honour an up-and-coming player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons.

The 25-year-old Butler received 92 of 129 first-place votes and 535 total points from a panel of sports media from the United States and Canada.

Golden State’s Draymond Green with 11 first-place votes and 200 points was second in the balloting and Utah’s Rudy Gobert third.

In his fourth NBA season Butler averaged 20 points per game, 15th in the league, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists. His average of 1.75 steals per game was 11th in the league.

He averaged almost 39 minutes on the floor per game in helping the 50-32 Bulls snare the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

He also ranked seventh in the league in free throw attempts with 463 and converted a career-high 83.4 percent from the foul line in 65 games.

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May 9, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment