NBA

LeBron scores 56 points as Lakers down Warriors, Heat move clear with 76ers win

By Sports Desk March 05, 2022

LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to end their four-game losing run with 56 points in a 124-116 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

James' 56-point haul was his most as a Laker and also meant he became the fourth player aged 37 or older to score 50 or more points in a game, alongside Michael Jordan (2001), Kobe Bryant (2016) and Jamal Crawford (2019).

The four-time NBA MVP made 19-of-31 from the field along with six-of-11 from beyond the arc, while he dished off three assists, including a key late pass for Carmelo Anthony's three-pointer. James also had 10 rebounds.

Russell Westbrook added 20 points for the Lakers, while Stephen Curry scored 30 points including four three-pointers for Golden State.

The result snaps the Lakers' skid and improves their record to 28-13, but it leaves the Warriors having lost four in a row, while they have only won twice in their past 10.

 

Harden absent as Heat move clear

Eastern Conference leaders Miami Heat made a statement with a 99-82 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers who were missing James Harden. The 76ers, playing on back-to-back nights, managed Harden's left hamstring complaint. Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler scored 21 points each as the Heat moved three games clear of the east's second-placed 76ers. Joel Embiid had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the 76ers.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 36 points with 15 rebounds and five assists as the Minnesota Timberwolves won 135-121 over the Portland Trail Blazers. Emerging star Anfernee Simons had 38 points for the Blazers.

Ja Morant scored 25 points with seven assists as the Memphis Grizzlies continued their strong run with a 124-96 win over the Orlando Magic. Desmond Bane added 24 points with 10-of-15 shooting.

 

Kings blew big lead against Mavs

The Sacramento Kings blew a 19-point lead as they lost 114-113 to the Dallas Mavericks who were without All-Star Luka Doncic with a toe strain. Dorian Finney-Smith hit a three-pointer with 3.3 seconds left, while Spencer Dinwiddie scored a season-high 36 points. De'Aaron Fox had an equal career-high 44 points for the Kings.

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  • Costa Rica can 'still dream' after late World Cup win against Japan Costa Rica can 'still dream' after late World Cup win against Japan

    Luis Fernando Suarez is relieved his Costa Rica team can "still dream" after they sealed a vital 1-0 win against Japan at the World Cup on Sunday.

    Coming off the back of a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain in their opening game, Keysher Fuller's 81st-minute strike against the run of play at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium handed Costa Rica a win that gives them a chance of advancing to the knockout stage in Qatar.

    Los Ticos became the first team to concede seven goals in a game and then win their next match at the World Cup since Paraguay in 1958 (lost 7-3 to France, won 3-2 against Scotland).

    Head coach Suarez said he did not want to discuss "tactics or technical aspects" of the win as he praised his team at his post-match press conference.

    "I believe the main thing was our ability to do such amazing things," he said. "I'm not going to talk about tactical or technical aspects, today I need to value and appreciate what they have done to get this result.

    "We had to face many challenges but we firmly believed and wanted to be 100 per cent committed for our country to play well against a strong opponent like Japan.

    "We are alive [in the group], that is the main thing and no-one can forget about us yet. We can still dream."

    Fuller was the hero, with his goal the only shot Costa Rica have had on target in the tournament so far, and the 28-year-old added: "The main thing was to keep ourselves alive and to win, and we managed to do so.

    "We were in pain after the Spain defeat, but now we took a weight off our shoulders. We are a group that wants to achieve great things."

    Japan struggled to reproduce the form that saw them shock Germany in their opening game in Qatar, but the Samurai Blue still dominated large parts of the game, having 13 shots to Costa Rica's four and recording an expected goals (xG) rate of 0.8 to their opponents' 0.1.

    Head coach Hajime Moriyasu was left disappointed but stated in his press conference that his team will go into their final Group E clash against Spain with confidence.

    "It wasn't a bad match," he insisted. "In the second half we were trying to control the game and if we could have had total control, we would have won, but it didn't happen.

    "We beat Germany but that does not mean we will beat Spain. Both countries are World Cup winners, we have a lot of respect for them.

    "The Spain match will be tough but I think there is a good chance for us to win, so we have to prepare and go with confidence."

  • South Korea v Ghana: Taeguk Warriors targeting apparent lack of 'teamwork' as Addo keeps faith South Korea v Ghana: Taeguk Warriors targeting apparent lack of 'teamwork' as Addo keeps faith

    Unity will likely be key if Ghana are to avoid an early elimination from the World Cup, though that is seemingly an area upcoming opponents South Korea are aiming to exploit.

    The Black Stars put up a good fight as they lost 3-2 to Portugal, almost rescuing a commendable point only to see Inaki Williams slip at the vital moment after stealing the ball off goalkeeper Diogo Costa.

    As such, defeat at Education City on Monday will see Ghana exit at the group stage in consecutive appearances at the World Cup (also in 2014) after reaching the knockout rounds in both of their first two (2006 and 2010).

    But Ghana coach Otto Addo retains a positive outlook.

    Granted, his optimism is based partly on Portugal doing Ghana a favour against Uruguay, but Addo sees a real possibility of the Black Stars sitting second in Group H heading into the final game of the first stage.

    Asked if he was confident Ghana could still reach the last 16, Addo said: "First of all, certainly, we have a chance, especially because [South Korea and Uruguay] played a draw.

    "If we win against South Korea and Portugal wins, hopefully, against Uruguay, then we will be second, so the chance is still great.

    "For sure, it will be very, very tough to beat South Korea because they are good, but now we have to win. We are under pressure, but they are too."

    Ghana have not won any of their past five World Cup matches but they rarely fail to score, having netted at least once in six successive games at the tournament – Nigeria (eight) are the only African team to better that streak.

    With that in mind, South Korea will probably need to improve on their run of not scoring in three of their past five World Cup outings if they are to prevail on Monday.

    On top of that, they have failed to get a single shot on target in two of their most recent four fixtures at the tournament, and that includes the stalemate with Uruguay when they looked somewhat toothless.

    However, Paulo Bento's men seem to feel there will be an element of Ghana not helping themselves.

    Midfielder Jeong Woo-yeong said: "They are a fast team, but if we can take advantage of space behind their defence, I think we should have some opportunities.

    "They didn't seem to have such great team work. We played well in our first match and we'll try to build on that against Ghana."

    Fellow midfielder Song Min-kyu did not question Ghana's work ethic, though he picked up on a similar theme with regards to exploiting the Black Star's backline.

    "They have some speedy and physical players with good skills. We know we have to be prepared against them.

    "But we also saw that they had some holes behind their defense, and we should try to exploit that extra space."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    South Korea – Lee Kang-in

    Son Heung-min is, of course, South Korea's star. He will undoubtedly be expected to lead from the front, but he was ineffective against Portugal, managing just a single shot.

    Lee had some bright moments off the bench and ended up recording two key passes, a figure bettered by none of his team-mates. It is unclear if he will come into the starting XI, but he certainly has the ability to influence proceedings off the bench.

    Ghana – Thomas Partey

    Arsenal midfielder Partey showed how important he is to Ghana in the defeat to Portugal. Perhaps not known as a creator, he laid on two chances to team-mates in that game, a joint-high for Addo's side.

    But on top of that, he had the most touches (68), successful passes (47) and tackles (four) in the Ghana team. If they do beat South Korea, he will surely have played a vital role.

    PREDICTION

    With a 40.9 per cent chance of winning, South Korea go into this as the favourites according to Stats Perform data. However, the win probability calculator suggests it could be a very tight affair.

    The likelihood of a Ghana win sits at 31.3 per cent, meaning they have every right to feel they can leave with the three points – though a draw looks almost as likely (27.8 per cent).

  • Japan 0-1 Costa Rica: Fuller strike leaves World Cup door ajar for Germany Japan 0-1 Costa Rica: Fuller strike leaves World Cup door ajar for Germany

    Costa Rica produced a late smash and grab to beat Japan 1-0 on Sunday, giving themselves and Germany a potential route back into the World Cup in the process.

    A listless contest that looked set to become the sixth stalemate of the tournament so far finally produced something of note when Keysher Fuller curled a shot into the top-left corner with nine minutes remaining.

    Japan had largely been the better side, particularly in the second half, but Costa Rica took the lead with their first shot on target of the tournament.

    The result leaves both teams on three points heading into the final games, with Germany now in with a chance of progressing to the knockout stage with a win against Costa Rica in their final game whatever their result against Spain later on Sunday.


    The only real moment of note in a tentative first half came when Ritsu Doan fizzed a low ball across the six-yard box from the right, but there were no Japan players on hand to get on the end of it.

    Takuma Asano came on at half-time and the change nearly yielded an immediate impact as his touch to Hidemasa Morita 25 seconds into the second period led to the latter having the first shot on target of the contest, with Keylor Navas diving to his left to palm it away.

    Japan showed more intent to go and win the game in the second half, with Yuki Soma first cutting inside from the left and firing high and wide, before putting a free-kick from the edge of the box over the bar.

    The surprise moment came in the 81st minute though as a poor Japan clearance saw the ball come to Yeltsin Tejeda, who played in Fuller to shoot, with Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda getting stuck under the ball and failing to keep it out.

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