NBA

Embiid scores 43 points as 76ers down struggling Bulls, Jokic records 18th triple-double

By Sports Desk March 08, 2022

The Philadelphia 76ers maintained their perfect record with James Harden in the side with a 121-106 win over the slumping Chicago Bulls on Monday.

Joel Embiid scored 43 points with 14 rebounds while Harden had 16 points, eight rebounds and 14 assists as the 76ers made it six wins from their past seven games.

The 76ers are also 5-0 with Harden in the side, while the Bulls have lost their past five games.

Embiid recorded his 10th 40-plus point game this season, along with his 10th game this season with 40 or more points and 10 or more rebounds. The 76ers center also had his fourth quarter for the season with at least 15 points and five rebounds, which is an NBA high.

For the Bulls, All-Star DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, while Zach LaVine added 24 points.

 

Jokic records 18th triple-double

Nikola Jokic backed up Sunday's 46-point haul with another triple-double as the Denver Nuggets defeated the short-handed Golden State Warriors 131-124. Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season by three-quarter time and finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. The Warriors, who rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins in the catch-up game, have lost nine of their past 11 games.

Luka Doncic scored 35 points, with 16 rebounds and seven assists in a tense game, where the All-Star received a technical foul, as the Dallas Mavericks won 111-103 over the Utah Jazz. Doncic's game marked his third this season where he has scored 35 or more points and 15 or more rebounds, with Oscar Robertson the only other guard to achieve the feat in a single season.

Victor Oladipo returned for the first time since April last year for the Miami Heat scoring 11 points in 15 minutes as they beat the Houston Rockets 123-106, while top draft pick Cade Cunningham (28 points and 10 assists) lifted the Detroit Pistons to an over-time win over the Atlanta Hawks 113-110.

 

Spurs equals record as Lakers slump

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich tied Don Nelson's all-time NBA record for most coaching wins (1,335) as they won 117-110 over the Los Angeles Lakers without LeBron James. Russell Westbrook struggled in James' absence, with 17 points shooting five-of-14 from the field with five turnovers.

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  • Galtier to end PSG's rotation of Donnarumma and Navas Galtier to end PSG's rotation of Donnarumma and Navas

    New Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier has pledged to end predecessor Mauricio Pochettino's practice of rotating between goalkeepers Gianluigi Donnarumma and Keylor Navas. 

    Galtier was announced as PSG's new head coach on Tuesday, with the former Lille and Nice boss signing a two-year deal with the club.

    The man who beat PSG to the Ligue 1 title when in charge of Lille during the 2020-21 season takes over a squad containing two world-class goalkeepers in Italy's Euro 2020 hero Donnarumma and three-time Champions League winner Navas.

    Pochettino used both goalkeepers often during his one full season in charge of the Parisian giants, with Navas making 26 appearances in all competitions and Donnarumma featuring 24 times.

    Donnarumma managed one clean sheet more (nine) than Navas did (eight) despite making two appearances fewer, while the two goalkeepers posted similar save percentage figures (Navas saving 75.76 per cent of shots faced compared to the Italian's 75.27 per cent).

    Speaking at his unveiling, Galtier argued having a nominated first-choice shot stopper would provide greater clarity.

    "I always work with a number one and a number two," he said. 

    "It's easier for me and for them to know their position within the squad. I haven't met them yet, but I will do it very quickly."

    PSG conceded 36 goals when winning Ligue 1 last season, the joint-fewest in the league alongside Galtier's former club Nice, who registered one more clean sheet (14) than the champions.  

  • Galtier: 'No player will be above the team' at PSG, Mbappe included Galtier: 'No player will be above the team' at PSG, Mbappe included

    Kylian Mbappe will be "at the service of the collective" in Christophe Galtier's Paris Saint-Germain side, according to the new head coach, who says no player's importance can outweigh that of the team.

    Galtier was confirmed as PSG's new head coach on Tuesday, with the former Lille and Nice boss replacing Mauricio Pochettino after the Argentine failed to end the club's wait for Champions League success.

    Mbappe was crucial to PSG winning a 10th Ligue 1 title last season, registering more goal involvements (60) than any other player in the top five European leagues in all competitions, scoring 39 times and providing 21 assists.

    Having been widely expected to join Real Madrid on a free transfer, Mbappe instead elected to sign a new three-year contract with PSG in May, one which some reports claimed could give him power over the club's recruitment policy and coaching appointments.

    But Galtier, while delighted to see Mbappe stay, says the forward will simply be one part of his star-studded squad at the Parc des Princes.

    "As a French coach, I was happy that Kylian stayed at PSG. It's good for PSG, [and for] our championship. I didn't talk to him, like with any of the players," Galtier said at his unveiling.

    "We know what he brings, we will have to not give him all the responsibility and the weight of the results. 

    "He is a PSG player, and all these great individuals with whom I am going to be working with are at the service of the collective.

    "As in all groups there will be some shortcomings, it will happen. No player will be above the team. 

    "My objective is that this sum of talents becomes a great team with great strength. I am convinced that together we can have the greatest season possible. 

    "If players come out of this framework, they will be dismissed."

    PSG embarked on a substantial recruitment spree last year, signing Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Nuno Mendes, but still failed to go beyond the Champions League's round of 16.

    The club have been quieter this time around, only adding midfielder Vitinha since appointing Luis Campos as a football advisor last month.

    Galtier says he will work collaboratively with Campos – who he partnered at Lille – to shape the Parisians' squad.

    "We are in permanent contact with Luis Campos. He knows what I expect from my team," Galtier added.

    "Does Luis do the recruitment? Yes, But for three years, we have done transfer windows together, no player comes without my agreement, it is very clear.

    "If there is anyone who knows the players, it's him. In the day-to-day management, I want to see the life of the group, the investment of the players. 

    "Before my intervention, there is a discussion with Luis. I never make a decision without consulting him."

  • Malacia joins Man Utd: What do the numbers tell us about Ten Hag's first signing? Malacia joins Man Utd: What do the numbers tell us about Ten Hag's first signing?

    Manchester United certainly can't be accused of not supporting their new manager, Erik ten Hag, given the players they're going for in the transfer market.

    Granted, that's more about how United are primarily being linked with players Ten Hag knows or has previously coached rather than them targeting a host of renowned superstars.

    Whether that suggests a certain trust in Ten Hag or if it comes down to a lack of belief in the club's own scouting department is a discussion for another time, but clearly Ten Hag is being allowed to build a team in his image, and that's what many fans will have hoped for.

    The first one in through the door is Tyrell Malacia, who joins from Eredivisie side Feyenoord on a four-year   contract with an option for a further season.

    Netherlands international Malacia had apparently been close to joining Lyon until United came in at the last minute, but once the Red Devils' interest became apparent, there was only likely to be one destination: Old Trafford.

    But what sort of player are United getting? Stats Perform takes a look…

    Exit looming for Telles?

    When considering the areas United needed to strengthen ahead of the new season, left-back might not have been highlighted as a major cause for concern, therefore some are likely to feel Malacia's signing isn't necessary.

    But most would agree Luke Shaw endured a generally poor season, and his deputy – Alex Telles – seemingly wasn't good enough to fully dislodge the England international. Then you have Brandon Williams, who has returned from a loan spell at Norwich City but will in all likelihood be sold.

    One would assume Malacia's arrival will lead to another sale at left-back as well, and that'll presumably be Telles rather than Shaw, who will be expected to get back to the level he showed in the 2020-21 season.

    Shaw has responded well to competition before. In fact, his excellent 2020-21 campaign coincided with United's signing of Telles, but perhaps he took his foot off the pedal once he realised the Brazilian wasn't likely to be a long-term threat to his place.

    Malacia could be.

     

    At 22, Malacia is youthful and boasts a skillset that may make him a greater understudy – and challenger – to Shaw than Telles.

    Already a Netherlands international, Malacia is quick, comfortable on the ball and had an impressive output in attack last season. Telles, on the other hand, isn't especially fast and his final-third threat relies on crosses from deep.

    Full-backs performed an important function for Ten Hag's Ajax. Their underlapping runs make them potential threats in the box, while those at his disposal in Amsterdam possessed excellent technical abilities, helping the team to maintain control of possession even out wide, a little like at Manchester City.

    Such a role certainly shouldn't faze Malacia considering his pace and technique.
     

    A considered threat

    Malacia's technical ability and speed are probably his two most obvious attributes, though neither are especially easy to prove with numbers.

    Of course, it's difficult to accurately – and fairly – compare players across two hugely different competitions just using stats, but you can at least get an idea of what a player offers.

    Malacia's 1.1 open-play chances created every 90 minutes in the Eredivisie last season was the 10th highest among defenders (minimum of 1,000 minutes played). That was the same as Shaw's, though the latter was obviously playing in a league generally regarded to be a higher level.

     

    Despite that frequency not being especially remarkable, Malacia did lay on four assists, and his 6.0 expected assists (xA) was bettered by only four Eredivisie defenders.

    So although he wasn't necessarily creating a huge amount of opportunities, those he did craft had an average xA value of 0.16 – of the defenders with at least 18 key passes, only Daley Blind (0.27), Noussair Mazraoui (0.19) and Yukinari Sugawara (0.17) created better chances on average.

    Similarly, Malacia's xA output on a per-90-minute basis of 0.19 was higher than that of Shaw (0.14) and Telles (0.11).

    Both of the xA averages mentioned for Malacia highlight – and can be partly explained by – how he attacks. He recorded 2.7 touches in the opposition's box every 90 minutes last term (fifth among Eredivisie defenders), whereas Shaw (1.1) and Telles (1.0) were far less willing to get into that area.

    As such, of his 5.0 passes into the box each game, only 3.0 were crosses. Those respective figures for Shaw (5.9/5.7) and Telles (7.6/7.3) show a far greater reliance on hopeful crosses.

     

    Again, specific coaching instructions may explain the figures of Shaw and Telles, so the data isn't suggesting any one is better than the others, but it's still easy to see why Ten Hag might feel Malacia is a good fit as one of his underlapping full-backs.

    Malacia also tallied more tackle attempts (2.7), tackles won (1.8) and duels (11.0) compared to Shaw (1.1, 0.7 and 8.2) and Telles (2.4, 1.3 and 9.8).

    As before, these don't necessarily mean he's a better defender because the context of the two leagues and the respective teams' playing styles make it difficult to draw such conclusions, but Malacia's figures do at least point to a certain level of tenacity off the ball.

    Regardless of the numbers, it seems clear United are taking a bit of a gamble with Malacia. Although obviously talented, he is young, inexperienced and joining a team that cannot claim to have much stability.

    Nothing about United over the past decade has suggested it's a club that successfully nurtures young players anymore. Even when you look at the success stories such as Marcus Rashford, he's not appeared happy for a while.

    The fact Malacia has seemingly been signed upon the request of his manager – rather than a glorified accountant on the board – is undoubtedly a tick in the pros column, but only time will tell if that trust in Ten Hag is well-placed.

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