inthespotlight

Los Angeles Clippers shrug off Griffin furore to down Pacers

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.

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.

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

Bryant receives high praise from peers

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

The NBA fraternity reacted quickly to Kobe Bryant’s announcement Sunday that he would retire at the end of the season, with some calling it “sad” while other spoke of his incredible legacy.

Bryant, 37, one of the greatest US basketball players ever, will retire after spending his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was one of the first to respond to Bryant’s announcement.

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP (2008), five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game,” Silver said.

“Whether competing in the NBA finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game. I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott spoke to reporters about Bryant’s decision before Sunday’s 107-103 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

“I thought he at least had another year in him,” Scott said. “It kind of shocked me when he told me. Sad more than anything. Somebody I care about, have a lot of respect for, it’s always hard when greatness like Kobe decides to hang it up.”

It’s a unique situation for a Lakers team that lost iconic centre Shaquille O’Neal to a departure for Miami, and past legend Magic Johnson to his announcement that he had the HIV virus.

“We’re all sad,” Lakers president Jeanie Buss said. “This era of Lakers basketball has been one of the most fun, exciting prosperous eras we could imagine.”

Johnson told Yahoo Sports that the five-time NBA champion Bryant leaves a lasting legacy.

“He’s the closest thing we’ve seen to Michael Jordan,” Johnson said. “He’ll probably go down as the second-greatest scoring guard. You couldn’t stop him. His will to win was incredible and he stayed in the gym like no other.”

Indiana star forward Paul George said the 37-year-old Bryant will always be an inspiration to him.

“He’s still my idol regardless of him aging and his game changing,” George said.

Shane Battier, who won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat and is now retired, paid Bryant the highest compliment.

“Kobe is the greatest competitor I have ever faced,” Battier said. “I am glad he found peace, I don’t know if we will see another like him. Enjoy the last 66.”

 

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

Ibaka is African player of the week

Ibaka is African player of the week

Serge Ibaka gets this week’s supersport.com African Player of the Week award for games played from 9-15 November. The Congolese centre reminded us how great a defender he is in Friday’s 102-87 home win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

As well as sparking the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) to a win over Philadelphia with 11 points, seven rebounds, seven blocks and two assists and a steal in 29 minutes, Ibaka also helped OKC improve their mark to 6-4 to top the Northwest Division.

With OKC winning two of their three games last week, Ibaka averaged 14.4 points, 7.9 boards and 3.0 blocks in seven November games.

He recorded his second double-double of the season on Sunday, but OKC were unable to avoid a 100-85 home loss to the Boston Celtics.

Ibaka isn’t just blocking shots, and rebounding, he’s shooting and passing the ball like never before as his career-high 1.4 assists per game indicate.

He has an explanation for his start to the season.

“I have a lot to work on and get better. I am working to get better every day,” he said to the OKC Thunder website.

“We can’t block every shot, but we try to make sure we protect our paint first.”

 

November 17, 2015 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight 0 Comment

Seraphin pays tribute with inspired play

Kevin Seraphin

Kevin Seraphin

New York forward Kevin Seraphin paid tribute to his French homeland with an inspired performance Sunday, helping the Knicks to a 95-87 NBA win over New Orleans just two days after Friday’s attacks in Paris. The 26-year-old Seraphin scored 12 points while sporting a “Paris” haircut with the image of the Eiffel Tower and a peace sign shaved on his scalp. Seraphin, who was born in Cayenne, French Guiana, made the most of his 13 minutes on the floor in front of a crowd of 19 800 at Madison Square Garden. “I just wanted to do something creative, something different,” said Seraphin regarding his haircut, “not just put something on my shoes. I had no time to get a tattoo or anything, so I just wanted to do something creative. “I got it done this (Sunday) morning. I got up early and my barber came over and we just did it. It took about an hour.” Seraphin was acquired by New York over the summer as a free agent after spending five years with the Washington Wizards. His parents live in Paris and he owns a home in the southern part of city. The Knicks were led by forward Carmelo Anthony’s 29 points and 13 rebounds, but it was Seraphin and fellow reserve, point guard Langston Galloway, who had the clutch performances. Galloway scored 15 points, eight in the decisive fourth quarter that allowed the Knicks to win just their second home game of the season. “He (Seraphin) gets the game ball,” said Anthony. “He deserved it. He was ready. He was a big part of our run that we made in the second half. “To see him and what he is dealing with emotionally and mentally, be prepared today when his number was called was big.” The Pelicans have lost three in a row and nine of 10 to begin the season. They are winless in six road games. The Knicks began the fourth quarter on a 16-7 run to take an 82-72 lead with 6:35 to play. Galloway scored six points in the surge and Seraphin contributed four. Seraphin came off the Knicks’ bench in the third quarter and scored six key points to help New York to a 68-65 lead. His hook shot gave New York a 66-60 lead with 2:06 left in the quarter and his jumper with 14 seconds to go provided the three-point cushion going into the fourth quarter. “He (Seraphin) has been working hard to keep himself in shape even though he hasn’t played a lot of minutes,” said Knicks coach Derek Fisher. “We felt like he was active enough and energetic enough to give us a punch.” LAKERS HONOUR ‘TRAIN HEROES’ The Los Angeles Lakers were among the teams around the NBA to hold a moment of silence remembering victims of the Paris attacks. The team also held a pre-game ceremony honouring the Americans who helped thwart a terror attack on a train in France in August. One of the men recognised, US Air Force Airman Spencer Stone, said Friday’s events in the French capital brought home the importance of his actions on the train. “It makes me realise even more what could have happened if we weren’t able to do what we did that day,” he said. Another of the train heroes, Anthony Sadler, was thrilled to meet Lakers star Kobe Bryant. “That’s my favourite player and we just got to meet him. I’m star-struck right now,” said Sadler, who got to see the Lakers down the Detroit Pistons 97-85. GOOD TO BE HOME Derrick Favours returned to his hometown of Atlanta and led the Utah Jazz to a 97-96 victory over the Hawks. Favours scored 23 points and pulled down eight rebounds, and while he enjoyed playing in front of a hometown crowd, he was even happier to have Utah’s French centre Rudy Gobert back from injury. “It was awesome having Rudy back,” Favours said. “I got to move back to (power forward) and he gets to move back to (centre). I can do my thing on offense and he could do his thing. It was great to have him back.” STAYING POWER Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett played 24 minutes in the Timberwolves’ 114-106 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies to become just the fifth player in NBA history to log at least 50 000 minutes on court. The 39-year-old, who was drafted out of high school by the Timberwolves in 1995, left to win a title with the Boston Celtics and returned to Minnesota in February. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Jason Kidd and Elvin Hayes as the only 50 000-minute men in league history.

November 16, 2015 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight 0 Comment

Cavs sweep Hawks to punch ticket to NBA finals

The Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James advanced to his fifth-straight NBA finals, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 118-88 rout of the Atlanta Hawks and a sweep of the Eastern Conference finals.

Once again James carried the Cavaliers on his back, finishing with 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and then sitting on the bench and playing cheerleader for much of the final quarter of Tuesday’s contest.

“We worked our tails off all season to get to this point,” James said. “We have everything it takes to win. I have been there. We have grit, determination and a willingness to want to be great.”

It was an impressive 4-0 series sweep for the Cavaliers and their title-starved Cleveland fans.

Cleveland advanced to its first NBA finals since James led a rough and tumble group there in 2007, when they were swept by the mighty San Antonio Spurs. The city hasn’t celebrated a major sports title since the Cleveland Browns won the National Football League championship in 1964.

The Cavaliers franchise has never won an NBA title.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

“I’m a guy who believes in unfinished business,” James said.

Kyrie Irving returned for game four in front of a crowd of 20,500 at Quicken Loans Arena following a two-game absence due to a knee injury. He tallied 16 points and five assists in 22 minutes.

Cleveland will face either the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets in the championship showdown. Golden State leads that series 3-1.

“It hasn’t always been easy the last 51 years, waiting,” first-year Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. “We know the people are behind us and that’s part of our motivation.”

Four-time MVP James has made it to the finals five straight years with two different teams. He has been in the last four finals with the Miami Heat before deciding to return to his hometown Cavaliers at the beginning of the season.

The days of Cleveland fans burning James’ jersey following his departure to the Heat where he claimed two NBA titles are now a distant memory.

James didn’t make any promises when he returned to his home state in July following that messy divorce from the Cavaliers.

“LeBron took a courageous decision to come back,” said Blatt said of James. “All of this is where his heart and family is and now we are all part of that family. He wants to lead us and we want to keep going.”

James battled through leg cramps late in game three but stayed in the tilt which the Cavaliers won 114-111 in overtime.

The sweep allows the Cavs to rest eight days until the finals begin next Thursday.

Not only will James get to heal some sore muscles but it is also important for Irving to get some recovery time, said Blatt.

“He did fabulously, played beautifully, he moved well,” Blatt said. “He wanted so much to be with his guys and to contribute.”

“We wanted to have this break to get him well,” Blatt said.

Irving scored his first points 38 seconds into the game and James slammed home an emphatic dunk from just inside the foul line a few minutes later as Cleveland roared out to a 12-4 lead.

The Cavaliers were never threatened from there, compiling a 31 point lead at one stage of the fourth quarter.

May 28, 2015 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Tournament 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

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