NBA

Giannis leads Bucks statement win over 76ers, LeBron triple-double as Lakers claim third straight victory

By Sports Desk April 02, 2023

The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks produced a statement win ahead of the playoffs led by Giannis Antetokounmpo as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 117-104 on Sunday.

Antetokounmpo scored 33 points with 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks, bringing up his 31st 30-point double-double this season, as they improved to 56-22 at Fiserv Forum.

The win moves Milwaukee closer to clinching the Eastern Conference, with the Boston Celtics (54-24) in the second spot ahead of the 76ers (51-27) in third with four games to play.

Boston, who routed the Bucks 140-99 three nights ago, have the head-to-head tiebreaker on Milwaukee.

The Bucks shot at 57.5 per cent from the field, led by Antetokounmpo's 13-of-17 shooting, while Khris Middleton started strong for 19 points. Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday and Bobby Portis contributed 21, 18 and 18 points respectively.

Middleton's hot start fuelled the Bucks' 41-26 first-quarter lead and they never looked back, with the 76ers closing to within four points in the third period, before the Bucks pulled away again as Antetokounmpo scored the final seven points of that quarter.

MVP candidate Joel Embiid scored 28 points on 11-of-25 shooting from the field with nine rebounds and five assists.

Tyrese Maxey added a team-high 29 points with six-of-seven from beyond the arc. James Harden was contained to 11 points with six assists.

Thompson spurns game-winning attempt

Klay Thompson missed two game-winning three-point attempts in the final five seconds as the fast-finishing Golden State Warriors lost 112-110 to the Denver Nuggets without Nikola Jokic.

The Warriors had rallied from nine points down in the final two minutes to earn Thompson a three-point shot for victory from Stephen Curry's pass, but his initial attempt rimmed out, before a follow-up was blocked by Aaron Gordon.

Michael Porter Jr (29 points and 11 rebounds) and Jamal Murray (26 points and eight assists) impressed in Jokic's absence.

Thompson and Curry finished with 25 and 21 points each, with the former making five-of-16 from three-point range as Golden State shot nine-of-42 from beyond the arc as a team. Golden State fall to sixth with a 41-38 record with the Los Angeles Lakers right behind them.

LeBron matches Kidd for triple-doubles

Anthony Davis scored 40 points and LeBron James recorded a triple-double as the Lakers claimed their third straight win to boost their playoff hopes, downing the Houston Rockets 134-109.

James finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to draw level wit Jason Kidd in fourth overall (107) for most triple-doubles in NBA history. Russell Westbrook (198) has the most, ahead of Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138).

Davis scored 27 of his 40 points in the first half, with the Lakers improving their record to 40-38 to sit seventh in the West with four games to go. The fifth-placed Los Angeles Clippers (41-38) lost to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, with the two LA sides to meet on Wednesday.

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  • Argentina 1-0 Colombia (aet): Lautaro Martinez's extra-time strike seals Copa America crown Argentina 1-0 Colombia (aet): Lautaro Martinez's extra-time strike seals Copa America crown

    Lautaro Martinez struck an extra-time winner as Argentina edged out Colombia 1-0 to win their second successive Copa America title, despite losing Lionel Messi to injury.

    The Inter forward climbed off the bench to break Los Cafeteros' hearts in the 112th minute in Miami, where kick-off had been delayed for 82 minutes due to crowd disruption outside the stadium. 

    La Albiceleste headed into extra time without Messi, who left the field in tears in the 66th minute after sustaining an ankle injury.

    Nevertheless, Lautaro Martinez stepped up in his skipper's absence, slotting past Colombia goalkeeper Camilo Vargas to deliver his nation's record-breaking 16th Copa triumph.

    Both sides demonstrated their attacking intent early on. Julian Alvarez fired wide inside the opening 60 seconds, while Jhon Cordoba's volley clipped the outside of the post six minutes later.

    Emiliano Martinez held onto a Carlos Cuesta header and, at the other end, Alvaraz inadvertently took the sting out of Lionel Messi's goalbound effort on 20 minutes.

    As the final remained in the balance, Jefferson Lerma fired narrowly wide from distance, while Nicolas Tagliafico headed over from a Messi free-kick just before the break.

    Colombia created the better opportunities in the early stages of the second half. Santiago Arias drilled wide and Davinson Sanchez headed over from a James Rodriguez corner.

    At the other end, Camilo Vargas pushed away Angel Di Maria's effort from a tight angle, before a distraught Messi was forced off injured as the game headed into the final quarter.

    Messi's replacement Nicolas Gonzalez thought he had broken the deadlock in the 75th minute, but Argentina were denied by the offside flag as the game headed for extra time.

    Gonzalez went close again five minutes into the first period, with Vargas scrambling across to thwart him on the line.

    A penalty shootout loomed but, with eight minutes remaining, two Argentina substitutes combined with Giovani Lo Celso feeding Lautaro Martinez, whose composed finish snatched the Copa from under Colombia's noses.

    Super sub Lautaro seals Argentina's successful title defence

    Having scored from the bench in Argentina's opening two Group A games against Canada and Chile, Lautaro Martinez chose an ideal moment to complete a hat-trick of such strikes in this tournament.

    Combining with fellow substitute Lo Celso, the Inter forward netted his fifth goal in the United States to secure the Golden Boot award.

    La Albiceleste needed a hero after Messi limped off on a bittersweet night for the skipper.

    The first player to feature in five Copa America finals, at 37 years and 20 days, he was also the oldest player to start one in the 21st century.

    However, there was to be no match-winning contribution this time in a tournament at which he has been plagued by niggling injuries.

    Messi's international future is uncertain but team-mates Di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi - both of whom donned the captain's armband following his withdrawal - sign off with another major international honour under their belts.

    Courageous Colombia come up short

    While Argentina captured their 16th Copa, Colombia were seeking just the second in their history.

    Los Cafeteros claimed their sole triumph on home soil in 2001, notably recording three successive clean sheets in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

    It looked like Nestor Lorenzo's current crop of players could follow suit 23 years later, as they more than held their own with the reigning Copa and world champions.

    But La Albiceleste - the last team to beat them before they embarked on their record-breaking 28-match unbeaten run - proved their nemesis once more, with Lautaro Martinez's strike breaking that streak, and breaking their hearts.

  • Euro 2024 Data Dive: Perfect Spain clinch record-breaking fourth title Euro 2024 Data Dive: Perfect Spain clinch record-breaking fourth title

    It was more European Championship heartbreak for England on Sunday as Mikal Oyarzabal stepped off the bench to fire Spain to a 2-1 victory in the final.

    The Three Lions were eyeing another rescue act when substitute Cole Palmer cancelled out Nico Williams' opener, but La Roja came on strong in the dying moments and Oyarzabal turned home Marc Cucurella's pinpoint cross with four minutes left.

    While Spain lifted the trophy for a record-breaking fourth time, moving clear of Germany for the most titles won, it's back to the drawing board for England.

    Here, we run through the best Opta stats to emerge from the showpiece game in Berlin.

    Spain 2-1 England: No redemption for Three Lions as Yamal and Williams star

    England made an unwanted piece of history with Sunday's defeat as they became the first team in history to lose back-to-back European Championship finals.

    Gareth Southgate, meanwhile, became the first manager to oversee two final defeats in the competition.

    The Three Lions made a solid start as both teams struggled to carve out chances in the opening period, but they fell behind just 69 seconds into the second half, Williams pouncing on Yamal's pass to finish across Jordan Pickford.

    Williams' strike is the earliest in the second half of any Euros final, and at the age of 22 years and two days, he became the second-youngest player to score in the tournament's showpiece, behind only Pietro Anastasi in 1968 for Italy (20 years, 64 days).

    Yamal, meanwhile, became the first Spain player to register four assists at a single European Championship tournament.

    It is also the joint-most any player has ever assisted at a single edition of the competition since Opta records began in 1980. 

    England have now conceded the first goal in eight of their last 12 matches in all competitions and have done so in four matches in a row for the first time since 1985.

    However, the Three Lions were dragged back into the contest by Palmer, who side-footed into the bottom-left corner after receiving Jude Bellingham's lay-off just 142 seconds after coming on, England's fastest goal by a substitute at the Euros and the second-fastest by any substitute in a Euros final, behind Juan Mata in 2012 for Spain (100 seconds).

    Bellingham's assist came on his 15th appearance at a major international tournament. At the age of 21 years and 15 days, he is the youngest player in the history of the Euros and World Cup to make 15 appearances across the competitions. 

    The second-youngest player to achieve that feat is Bukayo Saka, who also made his 15th appearance in this match (22 years, 313 days).

    However, England then relinquished control of the game and fell behind again as Oyarzabal turned Cucurella's low delivery home. Oyarzabal has now scored 12 goals for Spain and nine of them have come as a substitute, including his last five in a row. 

    He is the fourth substitute to score the winner in a European Championship final, after Oliver Bierhoff for Germany in 1996, David Trezeguet for France in 2000 and Eder for Portugal in 2016.

    England were unable to respond in the dying moments as Spain made it seven wins from as many matches at Euro 2024.

    They are the first European nation to win seven matches at a major international tournament (Euros/World Cup) and just the second overall, along with Brazil at the 2002 World Cup. 

    La Roja scored 15 goals at Euro 2024, the most by any nation at a single tournament in the history of the Euros.

    England's wait to follow up their 1966 World Cup triumph, meanwhile, drags on.

    This was their 45th match at the Euros, 19 more than any other nation has played without lifting the trophy (Belgium are second with 26).

  • Neville blasts England's familiar possessional struggles after Euro 2024 agony Neville blasts England's familiar possessional struggles after Euro 2024 agony

    England suffered another familiar failing in the Euro 2024 final as Gary Neville was left fed up with every Three Lions manager referencing the same struggles in possession.

    Gareth Southgate acknowledged his side did not keep the ball well against Spain, who triumphed 2-1 in Berlin thanks to Mikel Oyarzabal's late winner on Sunday.

    England managed just a 34.9% share of possession in the showpiece, losing the ball 98 times across the team and completing only 66.5% of passes in Spain's half.

    Former England full-back Neville cut a frustrated figure on ITV pundit duties, blasting a repeated struggle for the Three Lions' shortcomings.

    "We can focus on a lot of things, but Southgate's answer on how we did not keep the ball well enough should be the title of the England book," Neville said.

    "Every single England manager has said the same thing, every single England player has felt the same thing because we have lived it out there on the pitch and our legs have gone, and we end up dying on our feet in the latter part of games where the other team have got stronger.

    "It is repeat, rinse and repeat."

    Southgate became the first manager in history to lose two European Championship finals, with his future uncertain after the tournament due to his contract expiring in December.

    "It's a big question, something doesn't sit right inside me talking about Gareth's future right now after what he's done in the last seven or eight years," Neville added.

    "I would think he'll take a long, hard look in the next week and decide whether it's the right time. 

    "The sentiment in this tournament has been tough for him at times, he's called it an unusual environment earlier in the competition."

    Nico Williams had opened the scoring immediately after the interval before Cole Palmer equalised with 17 minutes remaining. 

    Substitute Palmer impressed from the bench, where Ollie Watkins was also introduced after Harry Kane's struggles continued.

    Kane had just one touch in the opposition box across the Euro 2020 and 2024 finals, one fewer than Jack Grealish, who played just 21 minutes against Italy and did not make the squad for this tournament.

    "England got back into it, but we could have been 2-0 down before that and to not control the biggest games has been a problem for England teams in many, many tournaments," Neville continued.

    "And to have to play from behind the ball and move your whole team up the pitch from the edge of your box to the other end of the pitch is very difficult.

    "You can win the odd game doing that, you can win two or three games, but eventually you play a team with too much quality and that is what we found tonight."

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