NBA

Clippers snap 76ers' winning streak, Jazz stay hot as Spurs coach Popovich joins exclusive club

By Sports Desk March 28, 2021

The Los Angeles Clippers spoiled Doc Rivers' return as they topped the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers 122-112 in the NBA.

Rivers reunited with the Clippers for the first time since being fired and joining the 76ers in the offseason, having led the Los Angeles franchise to six playoff appearances.

But Rivers did not have much to celebrate after the 76ers had their four-game winning streak snapped on Saturday.

Kawhi Leonard posted 28 points – 19 in the first half – and Clippers team-mate Paul George added 24 of his own in Los Angeles.

Terance Mann had a season-high 23 points for the Clippers on 10-of-12 shooting from the field, while he made both of his three-point attempts.

The 76ers had a six-game road winning run ended, despite a game-high 29 points from Tobias Harris.

 

Mitchell sparks Jazz

Donovan Mitchell put up 35 points as the NBA-leading Utah Jazz defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 126-110. Mitchell was efficient in Utah, where he was 12-of-17 shooting from the field, to go with his five three-pointers from seven attempts in 28 minutes. All-Star team-mate Rudy Gobert (16 points and 14 rebounds) contributed a double-double.

Gregg Popovich became the third coach in NBA history to reach 1,300 regular-season wins following the San Antonio Spurs' 120-104 victory against the Chicago Bulls. Only Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332) have had 1,300 wins or more. All-Star Nikola Vucevic had 21 points and nine rebounds in his debut for the Bulls after being traded by the lowly Orlando Magic.

Zion Williamson's 38 points led the New Orleans Pelicans past the Dallas Mavericks 112-103. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 30 points off the bench for the beaten Mavericks.

Russell Westbrook's triple-double of 19 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists fuelled a 106-92 win for the Washington Wizards against the Detroit Pistons.

The Milwaukee Bucks were upstaged 102-96 by the New York Knicks despite double-doubles from two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (23 points and 10 rebounds), Jordan Nwora (21 points and 10 rebounds) and Brook Lopez (12 points and 10 rebounds).

 

Awful Richardson

The Mavericks went down to the Pelicans and Josh Richardson struggled. The shooting guard finished one-of-11 from the field. Richardson missed all four of his attempts from beyond the arc for a measly four points in 34 minutes.

Mike Scott – in the starting five for the 76ers – finished with just three points in Los Angeles. He was one-of-six from the field, making just one three-pointer in 29 minutes.

 

Barnes calls game!

With the Sacramento Kings trailing 98-97, Harrison Barnes nailed a buzzer-beating three after catching a full-court pass to sink the Cleveland Cavaliers. De'Aaron Fox's 36 points set the tone for the Kings, who edged the Cavaliers 100-98.

 

Saturday's results

Washington Wizards 106-92 Detroit Pistons
New York Knicks 102-96 Milwaukee Bucks
Houston Rockets 129-107 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 120-104 Chicago Bulls
New Orleans Pelicans 112-103 Dallas Mavericks
Boston Celtics 111-94 Oklahoma City Thunder
Utah Jazz 126-110 Memphis Grizzlies
Los Angeles Clippers 122-112 Philadelphia 76ers
Sacramento Kings 100-98 Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Suns at Hornets

The high-flying Phoenix Suns (30-14) – second in the west – will visit the in-form Charlotte Hornets (23-21) on Sunday. Charlotte have won three straight games to sit fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Related items

  • Italy v Wales: Azzurri out to equal all-time unbeaten run and finish top of Group A Italy v Wales: Azzurri out to equal all-time unbeaten run and finish top of Group A

    Italy will aim to equal their all-time unbeaten record of 30 matches and finish top of Euro 2020 Group A when they face Wales at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

    The Azzurri have won their opening two matches by the same 3-0 scoreline against Turkey and Switzerland, making it 10 wins in a row in all competitions without conceding.

    Roberto Mancini's side are already assured of a place in the last 16, but they require a point against second-placed Wales to make certain of top spot.

    However, victory will be the target for Italy on home soil as they look to match their previous record for games without defeat, set between November 1935 and July 1939.

    Mancini has indicated he will rotate his side with the knockout stages in mind, but experienced defender Giorgio Chiellini has warned Italy cannot take Wales lightly.

     

    "They are a great team," said Chiellini, who is not expected to play any part in the match. "Wales have been playing together for many years and we know them well. 

    "There have been many small changes but never revolutions, so they are tough opponents."

    Wales are practically through to the last 16 after drawing with Switzerland and beating Turkey in their two games, but need a point in the Italian capital to seal the deal.

    The Euro 2016 semi-finalists do not have the best of records against Italy, though, losing seven of their previous nine meetings and failing to score in three attempts on Italian soul.

    But winger Daniel James is relishing the chance to end Italy's long-running unbeaten run, which spans back to September 2018.

    "Italy are a great team, but we have to go in believing we can win. We will do our analysis, and we will go there with our heads held high," he said.

    "They've had a great run going into this tournament, but we want to win every game and we fully believe that we can do that."


    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Italy – Marco Verratti

    Verratti was not even named in Italy's squad for their opening two games as he continues to recover from an injury sustained with Paris Saint-Germain, but Mancini has hinted he will play a part on Sunday.

    Manuel Locatelli has starred in Verratti's absence, becoming the third youngest Italy player to score a brace at a major tournament with his double against Switzerland.

    But PSG midfielder Verratti has been one of the key men in Italy's remarkable turnaround after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and Mancini will be eager to get him back to full fitness.

    Wales – Gareth Bale

    Gareth Bale skied a penalty in Wales' 2-0 win against Turkey, becoming the first player to miss the goal frame entirely with a spot-kick at the Euros since Raul for Spain against France in 2000.

    The Real Madrid forward more than made amends for that, however, by assisting goals for Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts in a well-earned win for the Dragons.

    He created five big chances across the 90 minutes in Baku – the most by a player at the Euros since such records were recorded in 1980.

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - Italy and Wales' latest encounter was 18 years ago, in a European Championship qualifier back in September 2003. On that day, Filippo Inzaghi scored his one and only hat-trick with the Italian national team (4-0).

    - Wales have made it out of the group stages in their previous two appearances at a major tournament (1958 World Cup, Euro 2016). If they avoid defeat in this game, they are guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages.

    - Italy are looking to win all three of their group-stage matches for the fourth time at a major tournament, previously doing so at the 1978 and 1990 World Cups, and at Euro 2000.

    - The Azzurri have gone 965 minutes without conceding, scoring 31 goals without reply in that run.

    - If he keeps a clean sheet, Italy keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma would be the youngest keeper to earn shutouts in three consecutive games at the Euros (22y 115d on the day of the game).

  • Kane is the best striker in the world – Shaw has no concerns over England team-mate's form Kane is the best striker in the world – Shaw has no concerns over England team-mate's form

    Luke Shaw has declared Harry Kane "the best striker in the world" and says his team-mate's goalless start to Euro 2020 is no concern to England.

    Kane fired a blank in England's 1-0 win over Croatia in last week's Group D opener and was again off the pace as the Three Lions were held 0-0 by Scotland on Friday.

    The Tottenham man managed just 19 touches before being substituted in the 74th minute – the fewest he has ever had in an England game when playing more than 45 minutes.

    The last time he had fewer touches for Spurs while playing for more than 45 minutes was against Manchester City in April 2018 (17 touches in 90 minutes).

     

    But despite Kane failing to register a shot on target in two successive games for club or country for the first time since November, Shaw insists the England skipper's pedigree cannot be questioned.

    "There's no concern at all. Personally, I think he's the best striker in the world," Shaw said of the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner and three-time Premier League top scorer.

    "He is a very important part of the team, in fact the most important part. I think whether he has not been at his best or not he is a massive part and a crucial player for us.

    "We need him whether his performances are as people expected or not, but this happens in tournament football.

    "You can score a goal at any moment and he is such a crucial player – not just on the pitch but off the pitch. He has got all of our backing and I'm not worried at all."

    England were frustrated by spirited rivals Scotland on Friday in the first goalless match between the sides at Wembley in 33 meetings.

    Gareth Southgate's men could have confirmed a place in the knockout stages with victory, but they now have work to do in their final group match against the Czech Republic.

    The Three Lions are behind the Czechs on goal difference ahead of Tuesday's match, meaning a win is required if they are to finish top.

    Following criticism on the back of the toothless display against Scotland, Shaw has put the stalemate into perspective with England as good as assured of a last-16 spot.

    "There is no denying that there is a lot of disappointment," he said.

    "We would have liked to win the game but you have to look at it in the way of another point in the right direction.

    "If it was the other way round, we drew with Croatia and won today, it would have been four points still so we have to keep positive.

    "I think there should always be expectation, the team we have, the talent is very strong. 

    "Of course we can take the expectation but maybe this result brought us back down to earth to make us realise it is not going to be easy."

     

    England, who have never made it beyond the semi-finals of the European Championships, are on course to meet either Portugal, France, Germany or Hungary in the next round.

    Taking positives from a 14th clean sheet in 18 matches for England in all competitions, Shaw added: "Our aim is to be here for seven games. 

    "We will sit down and watch the game back and analyse what we want to do better because there are things we could have done better as a team.

    "Maybe in this game we weren't at our best and that shows, but it is another clean sheet. 

    "We still have another big game on Tuesday and we have to forget about this one and be ready."

  • NBA playoffs 2021: Mann 'not surprised' after lifting Clippers to ​first Conference Final NBA playoffs 2021: Mann 'not surprised' after lifting Clippers to ​first Conference Final

    Terance Mann says he is "not surprised" after helping the Los Angeles Clippers overturn a 25-point deficit to eliminate the Utah Jazz en route to reaching their first Western Conference Final.

    Second-year forward Mann, drafted number 46 overall in the 2019 NBA draft, posted a career-high 39 points with seven-from-10 three-pointers – five of those in the second half –  in Friday's remarkable 131-119 victory.

    He had never scored more than 25 points in an NBA game. According to Stats Perform, the last player to have 14-plus points more in a playoff game than his previous career high was Michael Jordan in his NBA-record 63-point game in 1986.

    The Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard and trailed the Jazz by 25 points early in the third quarter, before going on a 75-40 run to set up a showdown with the second-seeded Phoenix Suns for the right to go to the NBA Finals.

    Mann averaged 7.0 points per game this season but proved the star of the show in the Clippers' famous win to earn the acclaim of his colleagues.

    "You saw a complete game from a second-year player," said Paul George, who had 28 points. 

    "Honestly, he single-handedly willed us back through that stretch where he just, you know, 3 after 3 to downhill attacks to defending. You know, he did it all."

    Mann made five of his seven threes over a 23:36 stretch, but the game-winning performance did not come as a surprise to the 24-year-old, who was given a standing ovation by the Staples Center crowd.

    "I just had to lock in and do what I had to do," he said. "They were leaving me open.

    "I trust my work. When you trust your work, you trust in yourself, you're not surprised when any of this happens."

    The Clippers had trailed 2-0 in the NBA playoff series but rallied to close out the second-round matchup 4-2 against the side with the best regular-season record in 2020-21.

    A first Conference Final in their 51-year franchise history now awaits and coach Tyronn Lue wants crosstown Los Angeles Lakers to get behind the Clippers when they face the Phoenix Suns, starting this Sunday.

    "Just seeing our fans and how they stayed to the end and how they were cheering, it just felt good," Lue said. "The team has been starving for success, and the fan base has been doing the same thing.

    "I know the Lakers are out and there's a lot of Lakers fans here. But once the Lakers are gone, if we're not playing them, you should be cheering for the Clippers because it's all in one city. I can feel the love, and I'm very happy and proud of our guys."

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