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Cavaliers rout Warriors to trim deficit in NBA Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (left) posts up against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Cleveland, Ohio on June 8.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (left) posts up against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Cleveland, Ohio on June 8.

Smothering defensive work and an aggressive scoring attack inspired by LeBron James lifted the Cleveland Cavaliers back into the NBA Finals on Wednesday with a 120-90 rout of defending champion Golden State.

James scored 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and added six assists while Kyrie Irving netted 30 points, 16 in the first quarter, and had eight assists after producing only 10 points in a 110-77 loss in game two.

“My teammates got me going. They told me to be aggressive and that’s what I was,” James said. “It was just a collective team win.”

But Irving noted how an emotional James told his teammates in a pre-game huddle to “Follow my lead,” and that motivated the Cavaliers, who scored the first nine points, jumped ahead 19-4 and 33-14 and never trailed in the romp.

“Our leader is looking us all eye to eye and telling us, ‘Let’s go to war,’” Irving said. “Just realizing the magnitude of what’s about to happen, going out there and battling, understanding that we’re being led by a great player.”

Despite the humbling defeat, the Warriors remain ahead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with game four Friday at Cleveland and game five back in Oakland on Monday.

PEACHES AND CREAM

“They came out and played like a team with a sense of desperation, like their season was on the line. And we came out and played like everything was peaches and cream,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said. “We got bullied. We can’t get bullied.”

Only three teams in 69 prior NBA Finals have rallied from 2-0 down to win the title, but no team trailing 3-0 has ever won an NBA playoff series.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They just punched us right in the mouth right in the beginning. We were turning the ball over like crazy. Soft. We were extremely soft to start the game. Just a horrible way to start.”

Playing without forward Kevin Love, sidelined by a concussion suffered in game two, the Cavaliers shifted James to power forward and used pressure defence to ignite scoring.

“We were very physical defensively and we were aggressive offensively, attacking the basket, getting out in transition, running the floor,” said Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue. “That’s how we have to play.”

Never before in NBA Finals history had a team won by 30 or more only to lose the next game by 30 or more, but that’s what the Warriors did.

“If you let your guard down and the other team is angry, then you can see this kind of turnaround,” Kerr said.

“This was about one team being emotionally fired up and angry about being down 0-2 and another team being comfortable. It was just the level on intensity they brought. Their aggressiveness was important.”

James was so aggressive that he swatted away a Steph Curry shot after a whistle.

“When you have the greatest shooter in the world trying to get an easy one or trying to get in rhythm, it’s our job to try to keep him out, after the whistle or not,” James said. “That was just my mindset. I didn’t want him to see the ball go in.”

J.R. Smith added 20 points while Tristan Thompson contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who improved to 8-0 at home in the playoffs and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Warriors.

NBA Most Valuable Player and scoring champion Curry managed only two points in the first half and finished with 19 while Harrison Barnes added 18 points and Klay Thompson contributed 10. Curry and Thompson shot a combined 10-for-26.

BIG PUNCH

“They played aggressive defence and they came out with a big punch,” Curry said. “For me to do what I need to do to help my team, I have to play 100 times better than that, especially in the first quarter.

“I’ve just got to be aggressive and play better and be more assertive. There’s a sense of urgency knowing how big game four is and I need to be ready.”

Golden State, which won a record 73 games this season, lost the third game of a playoff series for the fifth consecutive time, falling to 3-5 on the road in this year’s playoffs.

The Cavaliers led 51-43 entering the second half despite shooting only 6-of-27 from the floor in the second quarter as the Warriors went only 2-of-14 from 3-point range.

The Cavaliers began the third quarter with a 19-5 run, James scoring eight points to power Cleveland to a 70-48 advantage, and the Cavs pulled away for good.

 

June 9, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight 0 Comment

Cavaliers look to get tough against wary Warriors in NBA Finals

Cavaliers look to get tough against wary Warriors in NBA Finals

While the Golden State Warriors fight to avoid complacency after two lopsided wins to start the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers hope playing at home will help them find toughness they have so far lacked.

The defending champion Warriors would reach the brink of a repeat crown with a victory Wednesday in the best-of-seven series.

(READ: Warriors halfway to title repeat after routing Cavs)

“We’re feeling confident but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” Warriors star guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s a trap to think we’ve figured things out and that we have the perfect formula to beat Cleveland and they have no chance in the series.”

Only three teams have overcome 2-0 deficits to win the finals — the 1969 Boston Celtics, 1977 Portland Trail Blazers and 2006 Miami Heat — and no team trailing 3-0 has ever rallied to win an NBA playoff series.

“The guys are not discouraged. More (angry) than anything,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We’ve got to be tougher. That’s the main thing. Got to play more physical and live with the results.”

The Warriors beat Cleveland 110-77 in game two, the fewest points allowed by the Warriors in a playoff game since 1975. They have beaten the Cavaliers seven consecutive times — three in last year’s finals, two this season and twice more in the finals.

“I don’t think there’s a hurdle for them at all,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said. “We don’t go in thinking, ‘We’ve beat these guys seven times. We’ve got them.’ That’s not our mindset at all. Once that becomes you’re mindset you will lose. Our mindset is we took care of home court. Now let’s get one on the road.

“At this point, everything you get is really hard and it’s about to get even harder. They will probably play with a little more energy. They will be playing with a sense of desperation.”

Golden State won the first two games by a combined 48 points, the most lopsided start in 70 NBA Finals.

“We understand the situation we’re in. We know we’ve got to play a lot better in order to get this series turned around,” Cavaliers star LeBron James said.

“We’re still here. We have a chance to turn this series around. We have to figure out how we can be better. We’ve got to bear down.”

TURNOVERS DEADLY FOR CAVS

The Cavaliers have to avoid giving the ball away. In two games, they have committed a combined 35 turnovers leading to 51 Golden State points. James has 11 total turnovers.

“Can’t turn the ball over against a great team and expect to win,” James said. “I had a lot of uncharacteristic unforced turnovers. It resulted in them getting some easy baskets.

“We can’t have as many mental lapses. These guys put you in so many mental positions where you have to figure it out and they make you pay for it when you don’t.”

Cleveland’s defenders have had success at times, but lapses in long stretches have led to Warrior runs the Cavs have never been able to match.

“We have to play with some fight and energy,” Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson said. “We have to do whatever it takes to win.”

It’s also a character builder for Golden State, a chance to put a struggling rival on the brink of elimination.

“How we show up in Cleveland will be a big test for us,” Curry said. “They have a great home atmosphere and the way the first two games have gone, you would expect Cleveland to come out with a lot of energy.”

Added Warriors centre Andrew Bogut of Australia: “We still have a lot of work to do in this series. We don’t want to coast into game three on the road.”

CONFIDENT, NOT COMFY

Golden State’s Steve Kerr could become only the second coach in NBA history to win titles in his first two campaigns, matching the feat of John Kundla of the then-Minneapolis Lakers in 1949 and 1950.

But Kerr, who won three NBA crowns with the Chicago Bulls and two with San Antonio as a player, knows James can carry the Cavaliers on his back and has vowed to bring a title to long-suffering Cleveland fans who have lacked a major sports champion since 1964.

“There’s a long way to go so we’re not celebrating,” Kerr said. “We’re confident we can beat anybody, but we’re definitely not comfortable playing against LeBron. He’s one of the greatest players in the history of the game.”

 

June 8, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight 0 Comment

Warriors edge Nuggets in overtime, Spurs still perfect at home

The Golden State Warriors kept their bid for a record-setting NBA regular season on track Wednesday with a 103-96 overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after making a three-point basket against the Dallas Mavericks at ORACLE Arena on March 25, 2016 in Oakland, California.

Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after making a three-point basket against the Dallas Mavericks at ORACLE Arena on March 25, 2016 in Oakland, California.

Stephen Curry scored 31 points and the Warriors overcame a double-digit, second-half deficit to notch a club record 68th win of the season. They have lost only seven games.

Klay Thompson forced overtime with a three-pointer with 15 seconds left in regulation.

He scored 18 points to help the Warriors edge closer to the NBA record 72 regular-season victories posted by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

Golden State need five wins in their last seven games to surpass the record. They finish out the season with home games against Boston, Portland, Minnesota, San Antonio and Memphis, and road games at Memphis and San Antonio.

“I’ve said many times over the years that I didn’t think that record would be broken, and it still may not be,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who played on that 1995-96 Chicago team. “We have a tough finish still to go in the last games.

“To be part of both situations is unreal.”

Gordon Hayward scored 21 points and Rodney Hood added 20 points for the Jazz, who had won eight of 10 games.

The Nuggets are now tied with the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks in a battle for the last two Western Conference playoff berths.

The Jazz were hurt by their performance from the free-throw line, making just 13 of 29 from the stripe.

Hayward gave the hosts an early lead in overtime, but Utah’s offense then succumbed under pressure.

Curry scored six straight points in overtime and Draymond Green added a slam dunk for a 101-93 lead.

SPURS STILL PERFECT AT HOME

While the Warriors continued to close in on the regular-season wins record, the San Antonio Spurs broke one mark set by that Michael Jordan-led Bulls team of 1995-96 with their 38th straight home win of the season without a defeat.

Argentine veteran Manu Ginobili scored 20 points, including nine in the fourth quarter to help the Spurs finish off a 100-92 triumph over the injury depleted New Orleans Pelicans.

The Spurs took control of the contest with a 22-9 scoring run spanning the end of the second quarter and first six minutes of the third.

The Spurs improved to 63-13, matching a franchise record for wins in a season.

The Spurs have won 47 straight regular-season games in San Antonio dating back to last year, the second-longest home winning streak ever behind the continuing 54-game home win streak of the Warriors.

Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green added 16 points each for the Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 11 points. Of 13 players who saw action for the Spurs, 12 of them scored. New Orleans, meanwhile, had just nine players in uniform. Seven of them scored in double figures, led by the 18 points of Alexis Ajinca.

50 WIN RAPTORS

The Raptors notched a milestone victory in Toronto, downing the Atlanta Hawks 105-97 to reach 50 wins for a season for the first time in franchise history.

DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with a game-high 26 points to go with six assists and five rebounds.

“It means everything to me,” DeRozan said. “My whole career, I’ve been through the tough times, now to be called the winningest Raptors of all time and now to break a franchise record three years in a row — it definitely means a lot to me.”

Jonas Valanciunas added 19 points and nine rebounds, while Kyle Lowry, still nursing a right elbow injury, contributed 17 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.

In Minneapolis, Chris Paul scored 20 points, handed out 16 assists and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 99-79 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Clippers won their fourth straight, strengthening their grip on fourth place and the final home-court advantage berth in the Western Conference playoffs.

They are 6 1/2 games ahead of the injury-hit Memphis Grizzlies, who lost 109-105 at home to the Denver Nuggets and are now just two games in front of the Portland Trail Blazers for the fifth seed in the West.

 

March 31, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Teams 0 Comment

Warriors celebrate Curry’s birthday with 60th win

Golden State star Stephen Curry had plenty to celebrate on Monday, pouring in a game-high 27 points on his 28th birthday as the Warriors stayed perfect at home this season with a 125-107 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Alonzo Gee #15 of the New Orleans Pelicans tries to steal the ball from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 14, 2016 in Oakland, California.

Alonzo Gee #15 of the New Orleans Pelicans tries to steal the ball from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 14, 2016 in Oakland, California.

The Warriors improved to 60-6 — becoming the fastest team in league history to reach 60 wins and the first since the 2007-09 Boston Celtics to record 60 wins in back-to-back campaigns.

With 16 games remaining, they continue to chase the record of 72 wins set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

Curry was feted with songs and chants to celebrate his birthday.

But it was Australian big man Andrew Bogut who sparked a third-quarter surge with a rare three-pointer — the third of his career and his first since March 8, 2013 — followed by a blocked shot at the other end.

His efforts ignited a 13-0 scoring run that put the Warriors well on their way to a 49th straight regular-season victory at home in Oakland, California, a streak dating back to last season.

The Warriors secured the Pacific Division title on their day off on Sunday thanks to the Los Angeles Clippers’ loss to Cleveland. They have won back-to-back division titles for the first time since 1975 and 1976.

“It’s a major accomplishment,” coach Steve Kerr said.

JAZZ DOWN CAVS

The Utah Jazz kept up their push for an NBA playoff berth with a 94-85 victory over LeBron James and the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers.

Rodney Hood scored 28 points and Shelvin Mack added 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to lead the Jazz, who were without leading scorer Gordon Hayward who missed the contest with plantar fasciitis.

James scored 23 points and Kyrie Irving added 15 and Kevin Love 12 for the Cavaliers, who had won three straight coming into the game.

Cleveland looked primed to end their road trip on a high note when the raced to an 11-4 four lead courtesy of an alley-hoop dunk from James.

But Utah battled back as Mack drained a three-pointer and French centre Rudy Gobert converted a three-point play to key a 13-2 run that put the Jazz up 19-15.

Cleveland used a 14-3 run to take a slim lead late in the third and they went into the final quarter with the score tied at 66-66.

Trey Lyles scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter for Utah — before he was ejected for a flagrant foul against Channing Frye with less than four minutes to play. Frye was also tossed after retaliating with a head-butt to earn his second technical.

With the victory Utah remained two games behind the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks — both winners on Monday — for the last Western Conference playoff berth.

The Cavs are two and a half games ahead of Toronto in atop the East.

GRIZZLIES MAULED

Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverly set the tone with six three-pointers between them in the first quarter as the Houston Rockets thrashed the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies 130-81.

The Rockets connected on 16 of 33 attempts from long range. Ariza finished with 16 points, one of nine Rockets players to score in double figures in the wire-to-wire win.

The last time Houston had nine scorers in double figures was in 1993.

In Toronto, the Raptors once again brought out the best in Chicago reserve forward Doug McDermott, who scored a team-high 29 points in the Bulls’ 109-107 victory.

“It’s something about playing one of the top teams in the East gets you motivated,” said McDermott, who had a career-high 30 points when the teams last met in February in Chicago.

The Bulls led by as many as 13 points early in the fourth quarter but the Raptors, who had won 15 of their previous 16 home games, twice cut the deficit to one in the final 20 seconds.

THUNDER PUNISH TRAIL BLAZERS

Enes Kanter scored 26 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 128-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, avenging a January defeat.

It was the first time since January 4 that a player other than Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook led the Thunder in scoring.

Oklahoma City’s stars did their part, however, with Westbrook posting his 12th triple-double of the season with 17 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds — all with no turnovers.

Durant added 20 points as seven Thunder players scored in double figures and Oklahoma City posted their largest margin of victory this season.

 

March 16, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Teams 0 Comment

Depleted Warriors stay perfect at home, Heat scorch Bulls

The Golden State Warriors struggled without NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry on Tuesday, but held on to beat Atlanta 109-105 in overtime to stay perfect at home this season.

Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks tries to steal the ball from Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 1, 2016 in Oakland, California.

Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks tries to steal the ball from Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 1, 2016 in Oakland, California.

The Warriors have won all 25 games on their home court in Oakland, California, this season and 43 straight regular-season games at Oracle Arena dating back to last season.

But with Curry sidelined by a sore ankle and Andre Iguodala — last season’s NBA Finals MVP — also absent, it was a close game.

“Terrific victory,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Our guys stayed with it. Every single guy who played contributed. Great team effort.”

Draymond Green beat the shot-clock with an awkward three-pointer with 40.2 seconds left in overtime to give the Warriors a 107-103 lead.

Golden State’s Australian centre Andrew Bogut had saved the ball from going out of bounds and swatted it to Green, who leapt and released his shot.

Thompson’s three-pointer with 2:54 remaining in overtime had put the Warriors up by one and Bogut tipped in a Green miss to make it 104-101.

The Hawks narrowed the gap to one point with Paul Millsap’s layup before Green’s off-balance shot, and Thompson capped the scoring with a step-back jump shot with 11.4 seconds left.

Thompson scored seven of his 26 points in the extra session as the Warriors improved to 54-5 with their fifth overtime win of the season.

“What a game,” Thompson said. “No excuses, but we were down two MVPs. It feels good to win — any means necessary.”

Bogut scored 19 points on eight-of-nine shooting, while Green added 15 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

“I thought everybody was aggressive, and that was the key,” Kerr said.

On Thursday the Warriors host Oklahoma City with a chance to tie the Chicago Bulls’ record 44-game home winning streak, set over two seasons in 1995 and 1996.

HEAT ON FIRE

The Miami Heat was on fire, connecting on a club record 67.5 percent of their shots in a 129-111 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Heat’s shooting percentage was not only the best in franchise history, but also the best in the NBA this season.

Miami centre Hassan Whiteside had a career-high 26 points with 14 rebounds and four blocks — all game highs. It was Whiteside’s sixth straight double-double, all of them off the bench.

Forward Joe Johnson, playing his first home game in Miami in his second contest since signing with the Heat at the weekend, scored 24 points.

Luol Deng, a former Bulls standout, had 20 points, Goran Dragic had a double-double of 17 points and 11 assists and Dwyane Wade added 18 points and seven assists for Miami, who improved to 34-26 and are in fourth place in the East.

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, back after missing three games with a hamstring injury, scored 17 points, but Chicago allowed more than 100 points for the 14th straight game.

The Bulls fell to 30-29 and ninth place in the Eastern Conference — half a game behind Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot.

LILLARD LIFTS TRAIL BLAZERS

In New York, Portland’s Damian Lillard scored 30 points to lead the Trail Blazers to their 10th win in 12 games, by a score of 104-85 over the Knicks.

Lillard scored 24 points in a dominant first half — including 14 in less than three minutes late in the second quarter.

C.J. McCollum helped the Trail Blazers distance themselves further after the interval, scoring 21 of his 25 in the second half.

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but Anthony was visibly frustrated in a game in which the Knicks again heard boos from their home fans.

LAKERS FLOOR NETS

With Kobe Bryant sidelined by a sore shoulder, rookie D’Angelo Russell scored a career-high 39 points to help the Los Angeles Lakers snap an eight-game losing streak with a 107-101 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Russell connected on 14 of 21 shots from the floor, making eight three-pointers.

Russell’s 39 points were the most by a Lakers rookie in a regular-season game since Elgin Baylor scored 55 in a game in March of 1959.

 

March 3, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Teams 0 Comment

Wall, Wizards shut down Davis and Pelicans

The Washington Wizards weren’t about to grant New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis another sensational scoring night in the NBA on Tuesday.

John Wall 9(left) of the Washington Wizards talks with head coach Randy Wittman during the second half of the Wizards 98-86 win over the Detroit Pistons at Verizon Center on February 19, 2016 in Washington.

John Wall 9(left) of the Washington Wizards talks with head coach Randy Wittman during the second half of the Wizards 98-86 win over the Detroit Pistons at Verizon Center on February 19, 2016 in Washington.

Wizards guard John Wall notched his second triple-double of the season and Washington smothered Davis in a 109-89 triumph over the Pelicans.

In Davis’s first game since he dropped 59 points on the Detroit Pistons in a win on Sunday, he was held to just nine points on three-of-nine shooting.

“I just think they tried to double-team me, deny me the ball – a lot,” Davis said.

“They did a great job on him,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry added of the Wizards defence on Davis.

“A guy gets 59, I guarantee you game-plan for him the next game.”

With Davis wrapped up, none of his teammates were able to step up. No Pelicans starter scored in double figures as New Orleans shot a season-low 34.9 percent.

IMPRESSIVE RUN

Wall, meanwhile, finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for the Wizards, who have won three of four games since the All-Star break.

Washington outscored the Pelicans 31-14 in the third quarter for an 85-65 lead, and led by 23 points in the fourth.

Wizards center Marcin Gortat had 21 points, and forward Jared Dudley sank six three-pointers for 18 points. The effort on the other end of the court fuelled the victory.

“I think we came out and got some defensive stops, held them from scoring, and (Dudley) got hot,” Wall said.

Davis did pull down 20 rebounds for the second straight game. But the Wizards won the rebounding battle 55-48.

Davis wasn’t surprised by the extra defensive attention he received after his big game against the Pistons.

“That’s why we tried to prepare for it in practice yesterday and then shoot-around,” he said. “We worked on it, but we missed shots early, and they just stayed with their coverage.”

JAZZ VICTORY

The Utah Jazz withstood a 42-point performance from Houston guard James Harden to post a much-needed 117-114 overtime victory over the Rockets.

Gordon Hayward scored 28 points with seven rebounds and five assists and forward Derrick Favors added 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz.

Favors produced a put-back basket late in overtime and Houston missed two potential game-tying three-pointers in the final seconds.

The Jazz, who had lost three of their last four games, improved to 28-28 and moved past 28-29 Houston for eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

Harden connected on 16 of 30 shots from the floor, but the Rockets couldn’t get the lead in overtime after forcing the extra session with a fourth-quarter comeback.

Veteran Jason Terry hit a game-tying three-pointer with 11 seconds remaining in regulation for the Rockets.

The Jazz had a chance to win in regulation, but Houston’s Trevor Ariza forced a miss from Hawyard at the buzzer.

COUSINS DOMINANCE

In a close contest in Denver, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins scored 39 points to lead the Kings to a 114-110 victory over the Nuggets.

Cousins, who had 37 points and 20 rebounds in Sacramento’s home win over Denver on Friday, was dominant again, connecting on 14 of 24 shots from the field and grabbing nine rebounds.

In a game tied 107-107 with 1:27 to play, Cousins’s two free-throws and a put-back layup in the final minute, along with his block of Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur’s attempted layup with less than four seconds left helped the Kings seal the win.

 

 

February 25, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Teams 0 Comment

Los Angeles Clippers shrug off Griffin furore to down Pacers

The Los Angeles Clippers shrugged off the furor surrounding Blake Griffin’s punch-induced hand injury on Tuesday to beat the Indiana Pacers 91-89.

Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers defends Wesley Johnson #33 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 26, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers defends Wesley Johnson #33 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 26, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Guard Chris Paul scored 26 points including a crucial jumper with just 33.7 seconds left on the clock as the Clippers held on in a frantic finale.

The road victory saw the Clippers improve to 29-16 for the season while Indiana fell to 23-22 after the game at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Clippers had been plunged into controversy earlier Tuesday after confirming that Griffin had suffered a broken bone in his hand after throwing a punch at an unidentified person.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers paid tribute to the way his side had reacted to the controversy with victory over Indiana.

“I think all the stuff in the last 48 hours, you always say it’s the game that brings your team back,” Rivers said. “You could kind of feel that tonight. That was a good win for our team.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that Griffin had attacked a member of the Clippers equipment staff during an altercation in Toronto over the weekend.

The incident left Griffin needing surgery to repair a spiral fracture in a metacarpal in his right hand, meaning he faces four to six weeks out.

The 6ft 10in (2.08metres) power forward now faces an internal investigation after the Clippers announced a sternly worded statement about the incident on Tuesday.

 

GRIFFIN APOLOGY

“This conduct has no place in our organisation and this incident does not represent who we are as a team,” the Clipper said.

“We are conducting a full investigation with assistance from the NBA. At the conclusion of the investigation, appropriate action will be taken.”

Griffin, 26, has not played since suffering a torn quadriceps tendon in late December.

USA Today identified the target of Griffin’s assault as the Clippers’ assistant equipment manager Matias Testi.

Griffin later issued an apology on Twitter.

“A situation among friends escalated and I regret the way I handled myself towards someone I care about,” he wrote.

“I want to apologise to the Clippers organisation, my teammates and the fans for creating a distraction.”

It is not the first time Griffin has found himself in hot water over a physical altercation.

In 2014 he was accused of slapping a man at a Las Vegas nightclub who had taken a picture of him with a cellphone.

He was accused of misdemeanour battery, but the charges were eventually dropped by Nevada prosecutors.

PLAYING THE RIGHT WAY

Elsewhere Tuesday, Kevin Durant poured on 44 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder outgunned the New York Knicks in an overtime thriller at Madison Square Garden.

The Thunder squeezed home 128-122 with Durant also contributing 14 rebounds and five assists while draining four three-pointers from seven attempts.

It was Durant’s second 40-point haul of the season after scoring 43 points against the Orlando Magic on Oct 30.

“I’m not really into how many points I score anymore,” said Durant, a four-time league scoring champion. “I try to play winning and consistent basketball. If I play a good brand of basketball, if I play the right way, that stuff will come.”

In Toronto, Kyle Lowry scored 29 points as the Raptors defeated the Washington Wizards 106-89 to record their ninth consecutive victory, equalling the franchise record for longest winning streak set in 2002.

DeMar DeRozan chipped in with 17 points for Toronto while Terrence Ross contributed 15 points off the bench, and center Jonas Valanciunas scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

 

January 28, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Teams 0 Comment

Rwanda’s Kabange voted Ugandan league’s MVP

Kami Kabange is also favourite for the MVP gong.

Kami Kabange is also favourite for the MVP gong.

Rwanda international Kami Kabange, who plays for City Oilers, has been voted the best player for the year 2015 in the Ugandan Basketball League.

Kabange, 30, did not only lead his side to their third straight league title, but was also pivotal in City Oilers’ second place finish at the Zone 5 Club Championship held in Kigali, Rwanda last year.

The DR Congo-born big man is also expected to be a front-runner for the MVP award during the FUBA (Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations) awards ceremony later this month.

“It’s good to win this award but most importantly the team won the title. I am looking forward to another exciting season. It is always a big crazy feeling to get recognized out of the many,” Kami said.

Leopards’ point guard Flavia Okecho was also named the best player of the year in the women’s category following her impressive displays with the national team during the Women’s Afrobasket Championships held in Cameroon.

She also led her KCCA side to the second spot at the Zone 5 Club Championships in Rwanda to a spot at the Afro-Club Championships in Angola.

January 26, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Players 0 Comment

NBA: Raptors hold off late rally to defeat Mavericks

Cory Joseph #6 of the Toronto Raptors brings the ball up looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 18, 2015 in Miami.

Cory Joseph #6 of the Toronto Raptors brings the ball up looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 18, 2015 in Miami.

Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 28 points and the Raptors held off a late rally to beat visiting Dallas 103-99 Tuesday in an NBA thriller.

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry added 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists while centre Bismack Biyombo scored nine points and grabbed a career-best 20 rebounds and Luis Scola added 15 points and nine rebounds for Toronto.

“They all came up big,” DeRozan said. “We needed everybody tonight.”

The Raptors never trailed, up by as many as 18 points in the first quarter and well ahead when the Mavericks brought in a reserve unit with barely five minutes remaining.

The Mavericks battled back and trailed by only two points with 11.6 seconds to play on a Jeremy Evans layup, but Evans missed a free throw and Toronto’s Terrence Ross made two free throws, the last of his 16 points, to finish the scoring.

“It was a big win,” DeRozan said. “We finished ugly but we got a big win. We knew they were going to make a run but we were able to withstand it.”

German star forward Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks (15-13) with 20 points and seven rebounds. He stands 10 points shy of passing Shaquille O’Neal for sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

At Miami, Detroit sank 15 three-pointers and erased an early 18-point deficit to edge the Heat 93-92.

Reggie Jackson scored 18 points to lead the Pistons while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Stanley Johnson each added 14 points and Steve Blake had 12, while Andre Drummond scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Chris Bosh scored 20 points, Dwyane Wade added 19 and Hassan Whiteside finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Heat, who fell to 16-11.

Wade and Bosh each missed jumpers in the closing seconds as Detroit hung on for the victory, the Pistons’ fifth in six games.

SIXERS LOSE AGAIN

At Denver, retiring Kobe Bryant matched his season high with 31 points to power the Los Angeles Lakers over the host Nuggets 111-107.

Bryant hit two free throws and a jumper in the final minute to secure the victory, with Denver fans chanting his name in the closing seconds.

The Lakers improved the worst record in the Western Conference to 5-23 and rose to 3-16 on the road this season. Denver fell to 11-17.

The Nuggets led by 21 points, their largest lead in any game this season, but were outscored 32-16 in the third quarter as the Lakers fought back.

At Philadelphia, Memphis centre Marc Gasol scored 19 points and added six rebounds and five assists while guard Mike Conley added 18 points and six assists as the visiting Grizzlies ripped the host 76ers 104-90.

The 76ers suffered their 11th loss in a row and have the worst 30-game start in NBA history at 1-29. Rookie centre Jahlil Okafor led Philadelphia with 18 points. The 76ers turned the ball over 28 times, resulting in 36 Memphis points, and missed 11 of 32 free throws.

 

December 23, 2015 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight 0 Comment

Patriots coach Kalima resigns

Cyrille Kalima (R), speaks to his players during last season's play-offs game against APR.

Cyrille Kalima (R), speaks to his players during last season’s play-offs game against APR.

Patriots basketball team head coach Cyrille Kalima has resigned from his position to concentrate on demanding office work.

Kalima told local media over the weekend that, “I am no longer Patriots coach. I have stepped down by mutual consent with the club, but I will be available to offer any assistance. My new job is too demanding (in terms of time), which is why I was forced to resign,”

He noted that, “Patriots are a big club; they need a coach who is going to be around the team all the time, something that I can no longer guarantee because most of the time I will be working upcountry. However, I’m still part of the club’s veterans’ team.”

Former UR- CoE (former KIE) and Kigali Basketball Club (KBC) coach, who tendered his resignation, last Wednesday, is taking up a new job as a technician with RIEM, a company that deals with network broadcasting towers.

Kalima, who also happens to be one of the founding members of Patriots Basketball Club, took over the club’s head coach role in late 2014 to lead the then league debutants to finish second in both regular league and post-season play-off games ahead of the likes of APR and Cercle Sportif de Kigali.

Despite leaving the club just days before the league start, Kalima is confident Patriots can go a step better than last season, to win the national championship.

 

November 30, 2015 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Teams 0 Comment