NBA

Mitchell leads Jazz past undermanned Nets, Kawhi comes back to haunt Spurs again

By Sports Desk March 25, 2021

Donovan Mitchell led the way with 27 points, six rebounds and seven assists as the Utah Jazz brushed aside the undermanned Brooklyn Nets 118-88 on Wednesday.

The Nets went into the match without star James Harden due to neck soreness, along with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and new recruit Blake Griffin among others, and their absence told.

The Jazz led by 25 points at half-time in a fizzer of a contest, as the Nets suffered their biggest defeat of the season, while Utah recorded their 17th straight home win.

Utah improved to a 32-11 record while the Nets slipped to 30-15, with the Milwaukee Bucks moving ahead of them in the Eastern Conference after a thrilling win over the Boston Celtics.

Celtics center Daniel Theis could have snatched victory when he had a wide open look for a three-pointer on the buzzer but his shot missed as Milwaukee won 121-119.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's output was below his normal standards with only 13 points, although he had seven assists and eight rebounds.

Khris Middleton starred for the Bucks with 27 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Bobby Portis came off the bench to add 21 points for the Bucks.

The Sacramento Kings also edged a last-shot thriller over the in-form Atlanta Hawks, winning 110-108.

Danilo Gallinari could have sent the match to overtime but his effort rimmed out, handing the Kings victory aided by De'Aaron Fox's 37 points, including 24 in the first half.

Kawhi torments former franchise in Texas

Two-time NBA champion Kawhi Leonard returned to his former home as the Los Angeles Clippers easily accounted for the San Antonio Spurs 134-101.

Leonard has an imposing record against his former franchise and added to that with 25 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Lou Williams (16 points) reached a career milestone of 15,000 NBA points, including 12,813 off the bench, making him arguably the best sixth man in competition history.

Amid reports of a trade before the NBA deadline, Kyle Lowry may have played his final game for the Toronto Raptors in a 135-111 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Lowry had eight points and nine assists, while Pascal Siakam top scored with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

The Phoenix Suns, second in the West, went down 112-111 to the Orlando Magic as Devin Booker missed a late shot to win the match.

 

Blockbuster-turn-fizzer

Billed as a blockbuster between two of the title favourites, the Jazz-Nets clash ended up as a fizzer given Brooklyn's absentees, particularly after the pre-match withdrawal of Harden due to neck soreness. Seeing him watch from the sidelines was a low.

Clutch three from the logo

Trae Young kept the Hawks in the game late against the Kings, including a spectacular three-pointer from the logo to tie scores at 108-108. He finished with 29 points and nine assists.

 

Wednesday's results

Indiana Pacers 116-111 Detroit Pistons
Milwaukee Bucks 121-119 Boston Celtics
Toronto Raptors 135-111 Denver Nuggets
Orlando Magic 112-111 Phoenix Suns 
Cleveland Cavaliers 103-94 Chicago Bulls
Memphis Grizzlies 116-107 Oklahoma City Thunder
Dallas Mavericks 128-108 Minnesota Timberwolves
Charlotte Hornets 122-97 Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers 134-101 San Antonio Spurs
Sacramento Kings 110-108 Atlanta Hawks
Utah Jazz 118-88 Brooklyn Nets

 

76ers at Lakers

The reigning champions Los Angeles Lakers (28-16), without LeBron James, take on the Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia 76ers (31-13).

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    World champions France were unable to confirm their place in the Euro 2020 knockout stages as they were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Hungary amid a raucous atmosphere in Budapest.

    Hungary frustrated Portugal for 84 minutes before their defence was breached in their opening game and they gave France an almighty scare in Saturday's clash in front of a deafening home crowd, which saw them rewarded with a point.

    After squandering a few big chances, France's run of 527 minutes without conceding was ended by Attila Fiola's goal just before half-time at the packed Puskas Arena.

    Antoine Griezmann fired in a leveller with 66 minutes played, but Les Blues – who saw a late penalty appeal dismissed – could not find a winning goal and had to settle for a point that leaves them waiting on their place in the last 16.

    Peter Gulacsi made a brilliant save after 14 minutes to keep out Griezmann from close range, but the offside flag likely would have denied the forward had he scored.

    Kylian Mbappe then sent a free header spinning wide after being picked out by Lucas Digne and Karim Benzema miscued off target from an even bigger chance soon after.

    Those missed opportunities came back to haunt France as Fiola was played in behind down the left after a one-two with Roland Sallai and coolly converted past Hugo Lloris.

    The introduction of Ousmane Dembele around the hour mark gave France a spark and the Barcelona forward struck the outside of the post two minutes after coming on.

    France's pressure told seven minutes later when Mbappe – spotted by a Lloris pass – teed up Griezmann with the help of a scuffed Willi Orban clearance for a simple finish.

    Mbappe guided a Griezmann delivery into the side netting and Gulacsi was alert to Mbappe's next attempt as France, whose appeals for a stoppage-time spot-kick following some shirt grabbing at a set-piece were denied, failed to find a winner.

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    Vladimir Petkovic has asked for "solidarity" and "positivity" from Switzerland supporters ahead of the crunch Euro 2020 Group A match against Turkey on Sunday. 

    A 1-1 draw with Wales was followed by a resounding 3-0 defeat to Italy to leave Switzerland's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages hanging by a thread. 

    They will need to beat Turkey and hope Wales lose to Italy in the group's other game to secure a top-two finish. 

    Petkovic and his players have come under intense scrutiny since the Italy defeat, but the head coach has called on Switzerland supporters to get behind the team for Sunday's clash in Baku. 

    "Against Turkey we have another chance to qualify for the round of 16 and we have to bring all of our values and virtues back to the pitch, in addition to the correct tactical plan, solidarity, joy and respect. Then we can do it," he wrote in an open letter published in Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende.

    "We do not always do what you expect from us. We are people who try to meet these demands, but unfortunately we do not always succeed. And that is why we need the support of all of you before this crucial game. 

    "Your solidarity, your positivity. We will do everything we can to ensure that we can all be happy together on Sunday evening."

    Turkey, meanwhile, have endured a dismal campaign so far, suffering defeats to Italy and Wales in their opening two games. 

    They cannot finish in the top two and must beat Switzerland to come third in the group.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Switzerland – Granit Xhaka

    Arsenal midfielder Xhaka was criticised by TV pundits in Switzerland for his display in the defeat to Italy. 

    Despite that, no Switzerland player has made more passes (153), had more touches (172) or made more tackles (five) than the 28-year-old at Euro 2020 so far. 

    If they are going to get the win they need against Turkey, Xhaka will need to be at his best.

    Turkey – Burak Yilmaz

    Yilmaz enjoyed a stellar season with Lille as they swept to Ligue 1 glory but he has not got going at this tournament yet. 

    He was involved in 50 per cent of Turkey’s 18 shots against Wales last time out (six shots, three chances created), although just one of those attempts was on target. 

    This could be the last major tournament for the 35-year-old and he will be desperate to make his mark against the Swiss.

     

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - This will be the second meeting between Switzerland and Turkey at a major tournament. Their first encounter was in the group phase of Euro 2008 where Switzerland, as co-hosts, lost 2-1 to Turkey.
    - The last five games between Switzerland and Turkey have produced 17 goals, an average of 3.4 per game.
    - Switzerland (D1 L1) are looking to avoid remaining winless in all three of their group stage games at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2004.
    - Turkey have lost both of their games at Euro 2020, by an aggregate score of 0-5. In a full tournament, only Denmark in 2000 (eight) have conceded more goals without reply.
    - Switzerland's loss against Italy was their first defeat in all competitions in 2021. The Swiss last lost consecutive matches in October 2020 (vs Croatia and Spain).

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    No other player for Les Bleus has ever recorded a century of senior international appearances with the same man in charge.

    The Chelsea striker, who made his France debut back in November 2011, won his first eight caps under Laurent Blanc, who resigned following the Euro 2012 finals.

    Deschamps took over in July 2012 and has since made Giroud a mainstay of his plans. The 34-year-old's 100th game under the former midfielder came in Saturday's Euro 2020 clash with Hungary.

    The closest players to Giroud's tally under Deschamps are Antoine Griezmann (93 appearances), Hugo Lloris (90), Paul Pogba (82) and Blaise Matuidi (80).

    Giroud scored 45 goals in his first 99 games under Deschamps, including nine in 16 European Championship matches, taking qualifiers into account.

    He netted just once in 12 World Cup finals games, although he played in every single game of France's triumph at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

    Giroud's first goal of the Deschamps era came against Spain in a World Cup qualifier in October 2012, while his one hat-trick was scored in a friendly with Paraguay in June 2017.

    The former Arsenal forward, who scored once in Blanc's time at the helm, needs only five more goals to match Thierry Henry's all-time France record of 51.

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