NBA

Giannis in a 48-year first for Bucks, LeBron's Lakers beat Warriors in milestone NBA game

By Sports Desk March 01, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo starred as the Milwaukee Bucks rallied past the Los Angeles Clippers 105-100 in NBA action on Sunday.

Antetokounmpo posted 36 points – 17 in the final quarter – 14 rebounds and five assists for the Bucks, who used a game-closing 9-0 run to extend their winning streak to five games.

Two-time reigning MVP Antetokounmpo became the first Bucks player with 35-plus points in four consecutive games since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973.

Meanwhile, LeBron James appeared in his 1,300th regular-season game as defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers eased past the Golden State Warriors 117-91.

James scored 19 points in his milestone game – the four-time NBA champion becoming the 23rd player in league history to appear in that many regular-season contests.

 

Beal stars again

Bradley Beal put on a show with 46 points for the Washington Wizards, who still narrowly lost 111-110 to the Boston Celtics. In his last three games in Boston, Beal has tallied 44, 41 and 46 points. According to Stats Perform, he is the first player to score 40-plus points in three successive road games against the Celtics since Abdul-Jabbar between 1970 and 1971.

The Memphis Grizzlies crushed the Houston Rockets 133-84. On February 1, the Grizzlies won at the San Antonio Spurs by 31 points while they humbled the Rockets by 49 on Sunday. They are the second team in NBA history to have two 30-plus point road wins in the same state in the same month, according to Stats Perform. The other team was the Washington Bullets (now known as the Wizards) in 1968.

Devin Booker recorded 43 points, while Deandre Ayton (22 points and 10 rebounds) and Chris Paul (11 points and 15 assists) contributed double-doubles in the Phoenix Suns' 118-99 success away to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.

John Collins' 34-point, 10-rebound double-double was not enough for the Atlanta Hawks, who went down 109-99 to the Miami Heat.

P.J. Washington's 42 points helped the Charlotte Hornets edge the Sacramento Kings 127-126. Sacramento led by eight points with just over a minute remaining before Charlotte rallied at the death.

 

Rockets crash as Clippers capitulate

The Rockets have suffered 11 consecutive defeats after being embarrassed by the Grizzlies. Houston are now riding their longest losing streak since a 15-game skid in 2001.

All-Star pair Kawhi Leonard (25 points and nine rebounds) and Paul George went cold in the final quarter for the Clippers. Leonard and George combined to shoot three-for-15 and scored just six points in the fourth period against the Bucks. The Clippers were scoreless over the final four minutes of the game.

 

Giannis with the slam!

It was a masterclass in Milwaukee, where Antetokounmpo flexed his muscles with a monster dunk during the closing stages.

 

Sunday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 117-91 Golden State Warriors
Memphis Grizzlies 133-84 Houston Rockets
Miami Heat 109-99 Atlanta Hawks
New York Knicks 109-90 Detroit Pistons
Boston Celtics 111-110 Washington Wizards
Milwaukee Bucks 105-100 Los Angeles Clippers
Charlotte Hornets 127-126 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 118-99 Minnesota Timberwolves
Chicago Bulls-Toronto Raptors (postponed)

 

Nets at Spurs

After their eight-game winning streak came to an end in the absence of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on Saturday, the high-flying Brooklyn Nets (22-13) will look to bounce back against the Spurs (17-12) on Monday.

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    Dusan Vlahovic will bring the goals that Juventus have been missing this season, according to Marco Tardelli.

    Tardelli, the former Inter, Juventus and Italy midfielder, has no doubt Vlahovic - who seems set to join Juve from Fiorentina before the end of the transfer window - will be a success in Turin.

    Juve have struggled in attack this season, scoring just 34 times across 23 matches. That ranks them 11th in Serie A for goals scored, way behind Inter's league-leading 53. Their issues were on show for all to see on Sunday, when the Bianconeri managed just eight attempts against Milan, with none hitting the target in a 0-0 draw.

    Vlahovic has scored 17 league goals for Fiorentina this term in 21 appearances. In 2021, the 21-year-old equalled the record set by former Juve star Cristiano Ronaldo for the amount of Serie A goals scored in a calendar year with 33.

    "An important purchase. He has the qualities Juventus need. He will bring Max [Allegri] the goals Juve missed," Tardelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "You can see that he has something special even when he doesn't score, he is one who also plays for the team.

    "He has shown personality. He will improve even more thanks to his new team-mates, he can score more.

    "Will he feel the pressure? You never know the reaction upon joining a great team, but playing with higher-level people usually helps you."

    The Serbia international seems set to be Serie A's latest posterboy, but Tardelli does not believe Vlahovic can yet be compared to some of the league's greatest players.

    Tardelli added: "No to comparisons. I read about [Christian] Vieri, [Gabriel] Batistuta.

    "Not that [Vlahovic] has little talent, but they are players with another physical strength, who have more to rely on than he does."

    Allegri has consistently ruled Juve out of the title race this season. The Bianconeri sit fifth, a point behind Atalanta in fourth but 11 adrift of leaders and champions Inter.

    Tardelli says Juve need to strengthen in other departments to became a real force once again.

    "There is also a need for more, especially in midfield," he said. "Someone has to lend a hand to [Manuel] Locatelli. For next year, somebody must also be found for the defence, some changes must be made.

    "[Giorgio] Chiellini can't be eternal, I don't think they trust [Daniele] Rugani very much."

    Key to providing the ammunition for Vlahovic for the remainder of this season will be Paulo Dybala, who is yet to sign a new contract with Juve – his deal runs out at the end of the campaign.

    Tardelli believes Dybala must step up, despite the Argentina international being Juve's top scorer in all competitions this term with 11 goals, while nobody in the squad betters his 15 direct goal contributions.

    "One player like him is never too many," Tardelli said of Dybala. "Contractual issues will be dealt with, but he must prove that he is worth what he asks for.

    "Lately he has not been the leader Juventus needed. Too inconsistent. I don't know how much he was affected by COVID and how much by the renewal issue."

  • Australian Open: Collins relishing 'spectacular' final showdown with Barty Australian Open: Collins relishing 'spectacular' final showdown with Barty

    Danielle Collins is relishing a "spectacular" Australian Open showdown with home favourite Ash Barty after outclassing Iga Swiatek to reach her maiden grand slam final.

    Collins was imperious in her second major semi-final on Rod Laver Arena, taking just an hour and 18 minutes to beat Swiatek 6-4 6-1.

    The 28-year-old American's emphatic victory was her second over a top-10 opponent in a grand slam.

    Collins was relentless as a struggling Swiatek had no answer to her aggressive approach, and the 27th seed will attempt to tear up the script by denying Barty a first Australian Open title on Saturday.

    It was only last April that the Florida native underwent emergency surgery for endometriosis, an extremely painful condition in which tissue similar to that which lines the uterus grows outside of it.

    Collins was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2018, but she has broken new ground for her career at Melbourne Park, dropping only two sets en route to the final.

    She said in an on-court interview following the win over Swiatek: "It feels amazing. It's been such a journey, and it doesn't happen overnight. So many years of hard work and hours at an early age on court.

    "Yesterday I was talking about all the early mornings my dad would get up with me and practise before school. It's just incredible to be on this stage and especially with the health challenges. I'm just so grateful, and I couldn't be happier."

    Collins beat world number one Barty to reach the Adelaide International quarter-finals last year, having lost their previous three meetings, and the world number 30 will embrace such a big occasion this weekend.

    She said: "We've had some incredible battles over the years. It's going to be really spectacular, with the energy the fans bring, whether they are for me or for my opponent.

    "I think we're just so grateful after everything with COVID to have incredible energy and people here supporting us."

  • Australian Open: 'It's fun, it's brilliant' – Barty ready for Collins date with destiny Australian Open: 'It's fun, it's brilliant' – Barty ready for Collins date with destiny

    Ash Barty is ready for "one last crack" on Saturday when she will bid to become a first home winner of the Australian Open women's singles in over 40 years.

    The 25-year-old Queenslander powered through to the third grand slam final of her career with a clinical 6-1 6-3 win over Madison Keys on Thursday.

    She is 2-0 for her past two finals in the majors, taking titles at the 2019 French Open and last year at Wimbledon, and has looked an unstoppable force in Melbourne.

    That theory will be put to the test by Danielle Collins, the 28-year-old big-hitting American who dismantled Iga Swiatek's game in the second semi-final to reach a first slam final.

    Barty is dialled in and up for the challenge, looking to land the title that was last won by an Australian when Chris O'Neil triumphed at the 1978 tournament.

    "It's fun, it's brilliant to be playing in the business end of your home slam," Barty said in a news conference.

    "Saturday's going to be a new experience for me. So I'll go out there and embrace it, smile, try and do the best that I can, and whatever happens, happens.

    "It's been an incredible January and incredible summer for us, and I'm really looking forward to having one last crack here, to really go out and enjoy it."

    Wendy Turnbull was the last Australian finalist in the women's singles, way back in 1980, and the scale of the achievement in ending the long wait is not lost on Barty, who has already won doubles and singles titles this month at the Adelaide International.

    "To be in the finals weekend of your home grand slam is what a lot of Aussie players dream of," she added.

    This is modesty, but Barty is now a long-standing world number one, and therefore anything but lifting the trophy would be a disappointment at this stage, with 27th seed Collins looking to spring what would be a major upset.

    Barty said she was able to "play the match on our terms" against Keys, pointing to her on-court effort being a collaboration with her support team.

     

    Keys was outplayed and her reflection on the experience of tackling Barty was blunt.

    "It's tough, it sucks. She's just playing incredibly well," Keys said. "You have a game plan in your head, but she's just executing everything so well.

    "She's serving incredibly well, so you don't get any free points on that; her slice is coming in so much lower and deeper than it was in the past, so it's hard to do anything on that; and then you try to play to her forehand and she can open you up there.

    "She's so locked in and focused. I've played her a handful of times and this is easily the best I think she's ever been playing."

    Barty, who dabbled with cricket before focusing on tennis, appears to have a work-life balance that would be the envy of many, finding it no problem to unwind once she leaves the gates of Melbourne Park. Enjoying the early Australian dominance in the women's Ashes has only brightened her mood.

    "It's pretty easy for me. When I'm not here, I don't think about the tennis too much," she said. "I've got the women's Ashes to watch, which is brilliant, read a book, few coffees, and we're set."

    The young Barty who first visited the Australian Open before hitting her teenage years, for a training camp, would stand in awe of the player she has become.

    "I'd have been only 11 or 12 years old," she recalled. "To see how professional it was and to see everybody going about their business was really eye-opening.

    "My first taste of it was in the juniors and I loved it. Being able to get a taste of that kind of lit the flame. You wonder what you can achieve."

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