Players

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

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

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

James sparks Cavaliers over the Bulls

James sparks Cavaliers over the Bulls

LeBron James 

The Cleveland Cavaliers leveled up the Eastern Conference semifinals series at 1-1 on Thursday morning as LeBron James poured in a game-high 33 points, beating the Chicago Bulls 106-91.

In Houston, the Rockets rallied from a 13-point to beat the Los Angeles Clippers to even the series at one game apiece.

LeBron James and rest of the Cavaliers crew were without Kevin Love – ruled out for the remainder of the season – but they ensured the power forward was not missed, with Kyrie Irving adding 21 points and James Jones coming off the bench making 15 of his 17 points from beyond the arc.

“I was happy I was able to make a couple of plays to help our team win tonight,” James said after the game.

Although Jimmy Butler finished with a team-high 18 points and Derrick Rose added 14 points and 10 assists for the Bulls, the Cavaliers stepped on floor on attack mode, never trailing, and leading by as many as 25 points in the third quarter.

James donned his signature headband for the first time in two months and, he looked powering to the basket,

Game 3 is on Saturday morning at United Centre in Chicago.

In the Western Conference, All-Star duo of James Harden and Dwight ensure the Rockets would not get 2-0 down in the series, sparking the Rockets to a 115-109 win over the Los Angeles Clippers to even the series at 1-1.

Trevor Ariza hit a three-pointer earlier in the fourth quarter to give the Rockets a 1-point lead, and Houston never trailed again, despite the Clippers’ attempts to come back in the game.

Chris Paul, who turned 30 on Friday, sat out due to a hamstring injury, but Griffin came up with yet another double-double performance of a game-high 34 points and 15 rebounds for the Clippers, who paid the price for turning the ball over in crucial moments of the game. Even though allowing the Rockets to grain 15 offensive rebounds played a part in the loss.

Harden sparked Houston with 32 points and seven assists, Howard 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Rockets.

The Clippers host the Rockets on Saturday morning at Staple Centre in Los Angeles.

 

May 8, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

Mutombo talks to fans ahead of NBA Game in Africa

Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo

 Former NBA star DikembeMutombo spared a few hours of his time in April to answer fans’ questions during a recent fan appreciation day on the NBA Africa Facebook, discussing a wide range of issues, including his humanitarian work, family, African players, the modern NBA, his 18-year basketball career, and other topics.

The Kinshasa native, who will be enshrined to the Hall of Fame in September, was an eight-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Although the 48-year-old retired from the game in 2009, the Congolese who currently serves as NBA Global Ambassador, remains highly committed to the growth of the basketball game worldwide.

In April, Mutombo, along with former MVP Steve Nash and former WNBA player TichaPenicheiro, travelled to Havana, Cuba, where the NBA hosted an inaugural four-day Basketball Without Borders camp, teaching the more than 100 athletes in attendance.

Mutombo is one of the promoters of the first NBA Game in Africa, which will take place in Johannesburg on 1 August.

SuperSport.com selected excerpts of Mutombo’s fan appreciation day.

Q. Dikembe, you have been an amazing ambassador of good will…can you tell me your 3 favourite accomplishments AFTER retiring from the NBA….

DM: Woah. I think the work that we are doing right now with US Military has become one of the great passions for me. Sitting with the young men and women in uniform and defend this beautiful nation. I am so happy everytime I see them because they are defending our freedom and liberty.

Q. How can professional athletic organisations and athletes be most impactful in humanitarian and community work?

DM: They should be a mentor. They should share the love and blessing that we have in playing this game and being able to touch as many people as we can. It’s one of the greater gifts playing in the NBA. Just committing yourself to community service is important. That is my challenge to anybody who has a chance to wear the NBA uniform. When you can go and touch somebody else’s life. There are so many people who contribute for you to wear the NBA uniform. There are so many people involved for you to be successful.

Q. What makes a great Basketballer? In terms of mental v physical v diet. What do you have to do to be great?

DM: There are two things you have to do. Mentally you have to be strong and physically you have to be committed. If you cannot handle those things your chances for failure are much higher. These days, many guys are forgetting the mental challenge. If you are not mentally strong you start feeling down.

Q. Which current NBA player do you see the most of yourself in?

DM. Jordan on the Clippers. I like what he is doing, he is a great kid, blocking so many shots and challenging whatever comes his way. Another great player I have seen is Noah with Chicago Bulls is a great defender. The from Utah (Gobert) has been great defensively for the Jazz.

Q. What did it feel like, when you stepped on the NBA court for the first time?

DM: I was like woah, I made it. I think it was one of the happiest moments of my life. It was a dream come true. I really did thank God a lot for letting me wear the uniform.

Q. Which 4 active NBA players would you put around yourself to make a title run?

DM: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Karl Malone. I think Malone is one of the best power forwards to ever play the game of basketball.

Q. Who was the hardest player to defend in your era which made it difficult for you to block their shot?

DM: Hakeem Olajuwon.

Q. According to u who is de best basketball player in history?

DM: Michael Jordan, the way he approached the game. And Bill Russell, not many people who played this game for a short period of 13 years and win 11 championships? Bill Russell was one of my mentors. I was able to talk to him when I was coming up from college. He taught me what it’s like to be the best.

Q. Growing up who was your role model?

DM: My mom and dad were the most influential people in my life. My mom was a great woman and my dad was a great man. They influenced me a lot, looking at life in a different way. Being a man in society, being a man of god, being able to touch so many lives. How can you bless people in your life because you have been blessed. Continue to say that you can do more regardless of how much money you have in your pocket.

Q. Why is it so hard for African players?

DM: A lot of them come to clinics or camps. More than 400 000 students who are playing the game as students in America. They don’t know that you got to go through the process to continue to improve yourself before you make it to the NBA. You got to make sure your education is secure. If you blow your knee out you need that education. Visiting the continent so many times, kids say they want to make the NBA I tell them you have to work hard and go to school. Continue to improve yourself as you go to school. If you do that, we have a great chance to build a great continent. Olajuwon went to school, I went to school and many more went to school so there has to be some message there. Don’t forget about your eduction.

Q. What inspires you today?

DM: Raising my children, seeing them grow up. Being able to pass what was given to me as a gift and to pass it to them so they can carry on this great legacy. Great chance to listen and then follow.

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May 5, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

LeBron James carries Cavaliers past Celtics

LeBron James carries Cavaliers past Celtics

Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics drives around LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland cavaliers in the second half in GameTwo of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

LeBron James tallied 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics 99-91 Tuesday to seize a 2-0 lead in their first round playoff series.

James committed six of Cleveland’s 18 turnovers but came through down the stretch.

“I’ve been in this moment before and a lot of our guys haven’t,” said James, who also passed Jerry West for seventh on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list.

“I felt like it was important for me to put a staple on the game the best way I know how and that’s to be aggressive. It’s very important for me to be there for my team when needed.”

In the other Eastern Conference game Tuesday, John Wall scored 26 points as the Washington Wizards surprised the Toronto Raptors 117-106 to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.

The Houston Rockets beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-99 to take a 2-0 series lead in the only Western Conference playoff game.

Kyrie Irving followed up his 30-point playoff debut in game one with 26 points for the Cavaliers, while TimofeyMozgov and Kevin Love chipped in 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Isaiah Thomas once again led the Celtics with 22 points. But it wasn’t enough for the underdogs to grab homecourt advantage in the series. They will host game three on Thursday.

Boston didn’t get the victory but they did give the Cavs a scare. They led in the last minute of the opening half and were within four points with just over three minutes to go.

STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

“We made those guys earn everything they got,” said Boston coach Brad Stevens. “I think that is a step in the right direction.”

Boston led at the end of one quarter 26-25 and used a 12-2 run in the middle of the second quarter to take its largest lead at 45-36.

Again the Cavs had an answer, scoring 15 of the final 19 points in the half to take a 51-50 lead into the break.

They looked as if they were going to pull away with a quick 10-0 run in the third quarter, highlighted by a pair of alley-oop tosses that were finished off by Love and James.

The Celtics pulled within two 79-77 when Thomas converted a three-point play with 9:17 remaining in regulation.

From there, James scored 11 of his game-high total.

In Toronto, Bradley Beal scored a playoff career-high 28 points and MarcinGortat added 16 and eight rebounds for the Wizards.

The Wizards finished the regular season 17-24 on the road, but the postseason is their time to shine. With this victory, they improved to 7-1 in their last eight playoff games on the road.

DeMarDeRozan and Lou Williams, who was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year on Monday, paced Toronto with 20 points apiece.

In Houston, Josh Smith tallied 13 points, nine assists and six rebounds in the second half to lead the Rockets over the Mavericks. Smith had just two points in the first half.

April 23, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:
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Paul, Blake and Irving rise to the occasion

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Dominant performances from a number of team leaders in Sunday’ playoffs action showed how competitive the series are set to become.

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving stood out when their teams needed them most, and the playoff seasons is officially open.

Paul poured in a game-high 32 points, Griffin added 26 points and 12 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers edged out the defending champions San Antonio Spurs 107-92 to take control of the first-round series.

Griffin dominated the paint area with successive dunks, leaving San Antonio unable to respond.

It was the Spurs consecutive defeat, after enjoying an eleven-game winning streak later in the regular-season.

The Clippers lead the series 1-0.

Game 2 between Spurs and Clippers come up on Wednesday at Staples Centre in Los Angeles.

In Cleveland, Irving made his playoffs debut with a remarkable performance.

The former Rookie of the Year made 15 of his game-high 30 points from beyond the three-point line, powering the Cavaliers to a 113-100 home victory over the Boston Celtics.

Kevin Love, another playoffs debutant, added 19 points and a game-best 12 rebounds, while MVP candidate LeBron James finished with 20 points and seven assists in 41 minutes.

Although the Cavaliers led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, the Celtics, propelled by Isaiah Thomas, cut the deficit to just five points early in the fourth.

Thomas finished with a team-high 22 points off the bench.

The Cavaliers lead the series 1-0. Game will take place on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

In Memphis, five Grizzlies players scored in double figures as they trounced the Portland Trail Blazers 100-86.

BenoUdrih scored 20 points off the bench and the Grizzlies never trailed to control their Western Conference first-round series.

In Atlanta, Kyle Korver live up to this three-pointer specialist reputation, making 15 of his game-high 21 points to help the Hawks get past the Brooklyn Nets 99-92.

The Hawks lead the series 1-0.

April 21, 2015 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight Players 0 Comment

Espoir surges to league summit

Weekend league results

Sunday

Espoir 72-35 UR-CoE

IPRC-Kigali 64-39 Rusizi

30-Plus 57-64 CSK

Saturday

APR 65-69 Espoir

30-Plus 67-46 UR-CoE

CSK 78-62 IPRC-Kigali

UGB 72-42 UR-CASS

Patriots 88-34 Rusizi

Friday

CSK 65-51 UR-CASS

Espoir 68-51 UGB

 

Olivier Shyaka helped win register three consecutive victories over the weekend

Olivier Shyaka helped win register three consecutive victories over the weekend

 

THREE-TIME REIGNING champions Espoir returned to the summit of the national basketball league after registering crucial wins over the weekend.

Espoir beat UGB 68-51 on Friday before seeing off rivals APR 69-65 on Saturday at Amahoro Stadium. Then on Sunday, the Nyamirambo team thumped UR CoE 72-35.

Now Espoir jointly lead the table log with 13 points along with United Generation Basketball (UGB) and Cercle Sportif de Kigali (CSK), however, the latter two have played a game more.

Before Sunday’s win over UR-CoE, Jean Bahufite’s team had earlier defeated archrivals APR 69-65 on Saturday as well as UGB 68-51 on Friday evening respectively.

March 25, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:
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