Tagged in: atlanta

Without Giannis, Bucks beat Hawks 123-112 for 3-2 lead

Brook Lopez scored a playoff career-high 33 points and the Milwaukee Bucks withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence to defeat the Atlanta Hawks 123-112 on Thursday night for a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Bucks are one victory away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974. They won their lone NBA title in 1971.

Four of their starters had at least 22 points: Lopez, Khris Middleton (26), Jrue Holiday (25) and Bobby Portis (22). Middleton also had 13 rebounds and eight assists. Holiday had 13 assists and six rebounds.

Game 6 is Saturday in Atlanta, with the winner of the series facing the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals. Each team was missing its biggest star as Antetokounmpo dealt with a hyperextended left knee and Atlanta’s Trae Young sat out a second consecutive game due to a bone bruise in his right foot.

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Young got hurt when he accidentally stepped on an official’s foot along the sideline in Milwaukee’s 113-102 Game 3 victory. 

Antetokounmpo landed awkwardly after trying to block Clint Capela’s dunk attempt in Atlanta’s 110-88 Game 4 triumph.

Just as the Hawks’ role players stepped up with Young sidelined in Game 4, Antetokounmpo’s teammates came through Thursday to help the Bucks overcome the loss of their two-time MVP.

Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Hawks with 28 points. Atlanta also got 19 points each from John Collins and Danilo Gallinari, and 17 from Lou Williams.

Portis took Antetokounmpo’s spot in the starting lineup and had the Fiserv Forum fans chanting “Bobby! Bobby!” on multiple occasions, continuing something that started during Milwaukee’s Game 2 blowout victory. Portis’ 22 points were a playoff career high.

The Bucks never trailed and led by as many as 20 in the first quarter, making most of their shots and getting second-chance opportunities on their rare misses. The game was nearly eight minutes old by the time Cam Reddish got Atlanta’s first defensive rebound.

Milwaukee led 36-22 after a first quarter in which the Bucks outscored the Hawks 28-8 in the paint. Bogdanovic’s 13 first-half points helped the Hawks close the gap to 65-56 at the break.

The Bucks needed that edge in the paint because they again couldn’t connect from range, continuing a problem that has hounded them the entire postseason. After making their first two 3-point shots, they missed their next 12 attempts from beyond the arc.

Atlanta cut the lead to 65-59 when Bogdanovic hit a 3-pointer to open the third-quarter scoring, but that’s as close as the Hawks would get in the second half. This marked the second consecutive game in this series without any lead changes. The Hawks never trailed in Game 4.

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New York Mets lose Marcus Stroman to hip injury, Joey Lucchesi to Tommy John; Michael Conforto’s IL return delayed

Marcus Stroman has a sore hip, Michael Conforto’s return was delayed due to coronavirus concerns and Joey Lucchesi is out for the campaign.

The hits just keep on coming for the injury-riddled New York Mets.

Stroman, the team’s most durable starting pitcher this season, exited Tuesday night’s outing versus Atlanta in the second inning due to an aching left hip.

Conforto is on deck to come off the injured list, but the right fielder wasn’t activated Tuesday after Triple-A Syracuse’s scheduled match was postponed to allow for more COVID-19 testing and contact tracing within the organization.

Conforto spent last weekend on a rehab assignment with Syracuse, so the Mets said they decided not to reinstate him Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution.” The team said Conforto tested negative Tuesday night and it plans to activate him before Wednesday’s game against the Braves. He has been sidelined since straining his right hamstring on May 16.

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Lucchesi, however, is headed for Tommy John surgery, the Mets confirmed Tuesday.

The left-hander had solidified a spot at the back of the rotation by posting a 1.19 ERA over his previous five starts.

Stroman threw 18 pitches in a hitless first inning and fell behind Austin Riley 2-1 leading off the second before manager Luis Rojas and an athletic trainer visited the mound.

With the entire infield and plate umpire Pat Hoberg gathered around Stroman, the right-hander consulted with Rojas and the trainer while making throwing motions. Stroman threw one warmup pitch to catcher James McCann before another extended consultation.

Stroman then threw two more warmup pitches and kept talking with everyone at the mound — this time in a group that included first base umpire Ron Kulpa — before walking off .

Prior to Tuesday, Stroman had lasted at least six innings in eight consecutive starts. He and left-hander David Peterson are the only Mets pitchers to take every scheduled turn this year.

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom spent two weeks on the injured list with tightness in his side — and exited two starts this month with arm ailments — while Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have yet to pitch this season because of injuries.

Rojas stated before the game he didn’t know who would start in Lucchesi’s place Wednesday night.

“We have guys that can go long in our bullpen if they get another day of rest tonight,” Rojas said.

Yennsy Diaz relieved Stroman and completed a walk to Riley — which was charged to Stroman — and then loaded the bases with none out before striking out three straight batters. Rojas said on June 8 that Conforto was still a couple of weeks from starting a rehab assignment. But he was able to resume baseball activities at Citi Field during the previous homestand and hit .182 in three rehab games for Syracuse last weekend.

“He’s actually exceeded our expectations,” acting general manager Zack Scott said Tuesday. “Hit all the kind of objective markers on his strength of his hamstring. He’s ready to go.”

Conforto is hitting .230 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 33 games.

Lucchesi’s injury was another blow to a rotation that was already thin behind deGrom, Taijuan Walker and Stroman. Still, the unit has been splendid all season, a big reason the depleted Mets lead the NL East. Lucchesi was placed on the injured list Saturday, one day after he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Washington. An MRI revealed a significant tear of his left UCL and a second opinion Tuesday confirmed the diagnosis. He is arranged  to undergo surgery Thursday.

“Tough break for Joey and for the club,” Scott said. “He’s got a full tear, so it’s pretty cut-and-dry.”

Lucchesi’s injury leaves just Peterson behind deGrom, Walker and Stroman. With Carrasco (right hamstring) and Syndergaard (elbow) still several weeks from returning, Scott said he would “explore all options” for rotation reinforcements.

Before the game, the Mets recalled reserve catcher Patrick Mazeika from Syracuse and optioned infielder-outfielder Brandon Drury to their top farm club. Right-hander Robert Stock was claimed from the Chicago Cubs and optioned to Triple-A.

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Atlanta Falcons trade Julio Jones to Tennessee Titans

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to star trade wide receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

In exchange for Jones, the Titans will send a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round selection to the Falcons. Along with Jones, the Falcons will send a 2023 sixth-round selection to the Titans.

The deal is pending a physical, the Titans stated.

Titans players Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown have expressed on social media their interest in having Jones as a teammate. Late last month, Brown posted a TikTok video to Jones explaining why the Titans would be the perfect fit for the star receiver.

The Titans lost two of their top pass-catchers in free agency as wide receiver Corey Davis signed with the New York Jets and tight end Jonnu Smith signed with the New England Patriots.

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Jones has been the subject of trade conversation over the past two months as Atlanta tries to remedy its salary-cap situation. On FS1 on May 24, Jones said, “I’m outta there,” when asked about the Falcons in a telephone call with Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show.

It is unclear whether Jones knew the phone call was being televised.

Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this season, was programmed to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

By moving him after June 1, it offers the Falcons relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

The Falcons drafted Jones sixth overall in the 2011 draft, trading a massive amount with Cleveland to be able to take the Alabama standout. Atlanta, when it moved up to acquire Jones, traded its first-round pick in 2011 (No. 26 overall), its second-round pick, two fourth-round picks and its 2012 first round pick.

Jones, 32, is the Falcons’ career leader in catches (848) and yards (12,896) and is second to Roddy White in touchdown receptions (63). His 95.5 receiving yards per game is the best per-game average in NFL history, almost 10 full yards better than first-ballot Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, who is second (86.1).

Jones, though, had one of his worst seasons in 2020, limited to nine matches because of injury with 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. While his 15.1 yards per catch was his highest since 2017 and his catch percentage of 75 percent was the best of his career, his 85.7 yards per game was his lowest since 2012, his second year in the league.

The Falcons do have options to fill in for Jones. Calvin Ridley, whose fifth-year option Atlanta picked up in May, will slide into the No. 1 role, and a combination of 2021 first-round pick Kyle Pitts, Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus and sixth-round pick Frank Darby could see bigger roles with Jones elsewhere.

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons both ruled out Thursday due to COVID-19 contact tracing

The Philadelphia 76ers stated Tuesday that All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons would both miss Thursday’s game versus the Chicago Bulls — and that Simmons will miss Friday’s game versus the Washington Wizards — due to the same contact tracing that kept both of them from participating in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Presuming both continue to test negative for COVID-19 — as they have so far — Embiid will be eligible to return for Friday night’s game versus Washington, while Simmons will be able to return Sunday at home against the San Antonio Spurs.

Both players were pulled out of Sunday’s All-Star Game after having come in contact with a barber in Philadelphia who later tested positive for COVID-19.

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The NBA had strict quarantines for everyone involved with the league’s midseason showcase, however, and the two players were able to depart from Atlanta later in the day and return to Philadelphia.

They were the only two people involved with the game who had any issues with either a positive test or contact tracing over the weekend.

The Sixers ended the first half of the campaign with the best record in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets. They will practice Wednesday night ahead of returning to the court in Chicago on Thursday.

Embiid is in the midst of the best season of his career, averaging more than 30 points and 11 rebounds per match, and as a result is a leading contender for the NBA’s MVP award.

Simmons is averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game, and has coupled his always impressive defensive abilities with a recent burst of aggression offensively — including scoring a career-high 42 points in Utah last month in a game Embiid sat out due to injury.

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Durant’s 32 points lead Nets past Young, Hawks 132-128 in OT

Kevin Durant scored 32 points and James Harden had 31 to lead a productive night for Brooklyn’s big three scorers and the Nets defeated the Atlanta Hawks 132-128 in overtime on Wednesday night.

Harden added 15 assists and eight rebounds. Kyrie Irving scored 26 points for Brooklyn.

Trae Young had 28 points and 14 assists for Atlanta. Cam Reddish scored a season-high 24 points while John Collins and De’Andre Hunter each had 21 points.

Durant’s dunk gave the Nets a 127-121 lead in the extra period. After Young made one of two free throws to trim Brooklyn’s lead to 129-126, Durant’s turnover with 40 seconds left gave Atlanta an opening. Hunter missed a long jumper that would have tied the game.

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Harden stretched the lead by sinking two free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining.

Durant’s 3-pointer tied the match at 106 in regulation before Kevin Huerter quickly answered with a 3 for Atlanta.

Following a foul by Young, Harden’s two free throws with 2:41 remaining gave Brooklyn a 112-111 lead. Collins’ three-point play gave Atlanta the lead before Irving’s short jumper tied the game at 114-all.

Following a missed jumper by Reddish, Jeff Green’s layup gave the Nets a 116-114 lead. A layup by Reddish tied the game again before Harden missed a 3-foot shot with less than a second remaining.

After scoring only two points in the opening period, Harden passed up a scoring opportunity on the Nets’ first possession of the second quarter. He then looked toward the Nets bench, gestured in a shooting motion and then nodded as if to confirm he should have taken the shot.

Harden made a 3-pointer to spark his scoring spree. He scored 16 points in the second period. The Hawks called a timeout about three minutes into the period after Harden’s step-back 3 over Huerter.

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