Tagged in: loss

Team USA falls to France at Tokyo Games for first Olympic men’s basketball loss since 2004

Team USA’s invincibility in men’s basketball is long gone, and the journey to a fourth successive gold medal is already fraught with adversity.

France gut-punched the Americans with a brilliant finish for an 83-76 triumph to open the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. It snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to 2004 for Team USA.

The final blow came when Evan Fournier drilled a 3-pointer with a minute to play to give the French the lead for good, completing their comeback after the U.S. had an eight-point lead with four minutes to play. It was the biggest of his 28 points in one of the finest games he has played in his career.

It was followed by an amazing possession in which the Americans managed to get five shots off and missed them all. The final three were wide-open 3-point attempts by Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday.

“I got to lead the team because I know these guys,” Fournier said. “It’s a hell of a win. Our country is going to be extremely proud. But it’s just one game, to be honest.”

If there was a moment in this match that best encapsulated the situation between these two teams, it came at the end, when the French calmly shook the Americans’ hands and left the floor with the same business-as-usual demeanor Fournier displayed. Two years ago at the World Cup in China, France celebrated wildly after defeating a much-less-talented Team USA.

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“There’s nothing to be surprised about,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said before launching into what has become his go-to statement after losses.

“When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You’re disappointed, but I don’t understand the word surprised. That sort of disses the French team, so to speak, as if we’re supposed to beat them by 30 or something. That’s a hell of a team.”

The French won the bronze at that World Cup, but their talent does not compare to that of the Americans.

And it does not explain how a U.S. team built for scoring and shooting went an unexplainable four and a half minutes without a basket down the stretch.

Fatigue was a factor. Three players didn’t get to the team hotel until 1 a.m. on gameday, an unusual set of circumstances. But one of them, Jrue Holiday, was masterful in the fourth quarter as he scored 12 of his 18 points and contributed several other energy plays to help the U.S. build a lead.

The Americans then had a host of stars to lean on such as Durant, Jayson Tatum and Damian Lillard. But they failed as the French ran an execution clinic.

Popovich seemed annoyed by media questions about the upset, as has been his custom. He has overseen losses in five of the past eight games he has coached for the national team dating back to 2019. There were some who admitted the loss was a disappointment, however.

“I think we have a history of dominance and maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. And it’s not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start,” stated Lillard, who shot just 3-of-10 and had two critical turnovers late in the game.

Popovich said he’d been thinking about this rematch for two years and daily since the game was drawn in February. But he never figured out how to slow down Fournier as he repeatedly got free for open looks on the perimeter. Even Holiday, who was brilliant in the NBA Finals, helping the Bucks clinch the title Tuesday, couldn’t stem the tide.

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Italy’s Matteo Berrettini pulls out of Tokyo Olympics due to thigh injury

Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini of Italy has pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics due to a thigh injury, he revealed Sunday.

The world No. 8 had his left thigh bandaged during his loss to top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final of the grass-court Grand Slam earlier this month.

“I am extremely disappointed to announce my withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympic Games,” the 25-year-old said on Instagram.

“I had an MRI scan yesterday on the thigh injury I sustained during Wimbledon and was informed I will not be able to compete for a couple of weeks.”

The Italian National Olympic Committee stated it would not be able to get a replacement player for Berrettini, as the International Tennis Federation’s deadline to name new athletes had passed on Friday.

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“Representing Italy is the biggest honour for me so it is devastating to miss the Olympics,” Berrettini added.

The tennis event at the Tokyo Olympics has been hit by a series of high-profile withdrawals.

Some of the sport’s biggest names, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Stan Wawrinka and Simona Halep, have already declared their decision to skip the Games, which have been delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Serbian legend Novak Djokovic, who defeated Berrettini in the Wimbledon 2021 final, is also pondering over his options of competing at the Olympics this year, which has already been plagued by Covid-19 after 2 confirmed cases in the South African football team emerged inside the Games Village.

Djokovic, who will miss out on the chance to complete a Golden Slam if he misses the Summer Games, has said that he isn’t sure of his participation in Tokyo.

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Team USA falls to 0-2 in Olympic exhibitions after loss to Australia

Team USA might indeed win its fourth successive Olympic gold next month in Tokyo. But if they do, it will be a story of overcoming adversity.

The Americans lost their second consecutive exhibition Monday, this time bested by Australia 91-83 in Las Vegas. Dating to the 2019 World Cup, where they concluded seventh, Team USA has lost four of their past five matches.

It also has lost two in a row now to Australia, a team expected to contend for the gold in Japan.

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It was a better showing than the loss to Nigeria on Saturday but just reading those words is a little mind-boggling considering the pedigree of this roster and coaching staff. Damian Lillard, who had 22 points, and Kevin Durant, who had 17 points, definitely looked more like All-Stars. But in the end, they weren’t able to deliver clutch shots.

The final indignity came with one minute to play and the U.S. down five as Jayson Tatum tossed up an air ball on a corner 3-point try. It was better than the next possession, which resulted in a turnover.

The execution differential between the teams was glaring.

Over and over and over the Aussies were able to throw passes into the middle to players either wide open from great cuts or in an advantageous matchup.

Maybe it’s a little early in this process for heavy game planning but it was clear that Australia felt it could take advantage of a relatively small U.S. roster.

Patty Mills, who has long been a star for his national team, had 22 points. Joe Ingles had 17 and the Aussies concluded shooting 53% for the game.

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Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo returns from knee injury in Game 1 loss

As the Milwaukee Bucks played their first NBA Finals match in nearly half a century Tuesday night versus the Phoenix Suns, they did so with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the starting lineup.

Antetokounmpo, who suffered a hyperextended left knee on an awkward and ugly-looking fall in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals a week ago against the Hawks in Atlanta, played 35 minutes in the opener and battled throughout. He concluded with 20 points, 17 rebounds and four assists, but the Suns took a 1-0 lead via a 118-105 victory.

Antetokounmpo was listed as doubtful for Games 5 and 6 of the East finals, and he was ruled out early in the afternoon before each of those games. On Tuesday, however, Antetokounmpo was upgraded from doubtful to questionable on the league’s initial injury report, which is released at 1:30 p.m. ET.

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Then about two hours before the game, Antetokounmpo was on the court testing out his knee, going through some shooting and dribbling drills to see if it would feel good enough to go versus the Suns.

During his pregame media availability, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer declined to get into specifics regarding where Antetokounmpo was at in his recovery.

Antetokounmpo, 26, who averaged 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the 15 postseason games leading into the Finals, is coming off a third straight first-team All-NBA season and fifth straight All-Star campaign for the Bucks.

The two-time league MVP signed a five-year supermax contract extension with Milwaukee in December to remain with the franchise for the foreseeable future, a move that came in the wake of the Bucks sending several future first-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for star guard Jrue Holiday.

The Bucks are in the Finals for the first time since 1974 and hoping to win their first NBA championship since 1971, when Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were starring for Milwaukee. The Suns, on the other hand, have never won an NBA title and are in the Finals for the first time since 1993, when Charles Barkley’s team lost to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in six games.

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Ohtani’s 26th homer starts Angels past reeling Yankees 5-3

Shohei Ohtani pounded his hardest-hit home run of the season in another dismal first inning by Michael King, starting the New York Yankees to yet another distressing loss in a season overflowing with them.

“That definitely sent the message,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after Los Angeles beat the troubled Yankees 5-3 on Monday night. “It was just the right way for him to start his trip to New York.”

Left-hander José Suarez pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run relief against the heavily right-handed Yankees after Dylan Bundy threw up on the mound because of heat exhaustion.

Ohtani was 0 for 9 in his previous appearances at Yankee Stadium, all three years ago. The two-way sensation connected for a 117.2 mph drive to right on a hanging curveball from King (0-4) in a two-run first that also included Jared Walsh’s RBI double.

The home run was the ninth in 12 games and 26th this season for Ohtani, who is slated to pitch Wednesday night. He tied Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the major league lead, one ahead of San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr.

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New York, meanwhile, leads the league in is regrouping.

“We just haven’t showed up every night. A lot of spurts of it, but this game, these seasons, this uniform isn’t about spurts. It’s about showing up every night,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who hit his 14th home run in the sixth. “We’re just collectively as a group not performing the way we should.”

Suarez (3-1) entered in the second after Bundy permitted Gio Urshela’s tying home run and Miguel Andújar’s single. With sweat dripping off the bill of his cap, Bundy stepped back off the mound, bent over and vomited on the 90-degree night.

“He told me even after the first inning he did not feel that good but went out in the second and he knew he might get ill and he did. I mean, this guy is as tough as they come,” Maddon said. “He’s fine right now. Everything’s groovy.”

Suarez allowed two hits, struck out five and walked one in his longest big league outing in two years. He kept the Yankees off balance with 22 fastballs, 22 changeups, nine curveballs and three sinkers.

“He is looking like a major league starting pitcher,” Maddon said.

Steve Cishek pitched a one-hit eighth, and Raisel Iglesias struck out the side for his 14th save in 17 chances, helping Los Angeles win its second straight following a five-game skid.

New York lost three matches in Boston last weekend, getting swept for the third time in four weekends, and is on its fourth four-game losing streak this season.

“Our season’s on the line,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game. “Too many ups and downs, and we’re in too good a division to have those ups and downs. We can’t afford to play great for two weeks and struggle for a week — not if we’re going to make up ground. We’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the division. Obviously, the good news is we still are in complete control of the script.”

New York is in danger of falling out of contention before the All-Star break.

“We can throw out all the sayings. Talk is cheap. We got to go do it,” Boone said after the game.

King has a 15.00 ERA in the first inning of six starts and a 1.88 ERA over the rest of his outings.

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George Springer debuts for Toronto Blue Jays, goes 0-for-4 in loss to Washington Nationals

Erick Fedde went six strong innings, Josh Harrison hit a three-run homer and the Washington Nationals defeated Toronto 8-2 in George Springer’s Blue Jays debut Wednesday night.

Fedde (2-2) permitted one run and two hits, including a fifth-inning solo homer by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The right-hander struck out seven and walked three.

“With cutter, sinker, the combination is really good because he works both sides of the plate,” Washington manager Dave Martinez stated. “Today he threw a lot of curveballs, and it was effective for him as well. When you get can all those pitches in the strike zone as you can see he’s real tough to hit.”

Harrison got his third homer in 16 at-bats against Steven Matz (4-1), a three-run shot in the fourth that made it 6-0. Springer, who signed a team-record $150 million US, six-year deal this off-season, went 0 for 4.

The World Series MVP when Houston won its first title in 2017 missed time in spring training and the start of the season because of a strained oblique and later due to a right quadriceps strain.

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“He ran fine, saw a lot of pitches, which is good,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Trea Turner had four hits and Josh Bell also homered for the Nationals.

Toronto got an eighth-inning solo homer from Bo Bichette.

Matz, obtained from the New York Mets in January after going 0-5 with a 9.68 ERA last season, had won his first four starts for Toronto. He gave up six runs and eight hits over 3 2/3 innings.

The lefty is 1-8 against Washington. Since the start of last season, Matz has permitted 22 earned runs and eight homers over 14 innings in four games versus the Nationals.

“He just wasn’t as sharp today,” Montoyo said. “He still has the stuff but didn’t locate as well.”

Ryan Zimmerman drove in two with a single during a three-run third. Bell hit a two-run homer in the fifth.

Toronto loaded the bases with two outs in the third but failed to score when Turner, at short, fielded Randal Grichuk’s slow grounder barehanded and threw him out at first.

“I remember that ball just trickled by me … you’ve got to be kidding me,” Fedde said. “I think my initial reaction was `Oh no, it’s bare hand.’ Then an unbelievable play.”

Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen went 0 for 3 with a walk. He is hitless in a career-long 34 at-bats.

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Halep starts clay season with dominant win over Vondrousova

Simona Halep returned from injury to begin her clay-court season with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

The third-ranked Romanian was back on court for the first time since a shoulder injury forced her out of the Miami Open last month, and it was only her second match since her straight-sets loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in February.

“Starting the clay-court season makes me very happy and motivated, extra motivated actually,” Halep said in a post-match news conference.

“I missed playing matches. I had a few weeks without an official match and it was kind of tough when I started the match, but my mind was strong enough just to give focus on what I have to play. So, I did it great and today it was a great match.

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“I was a little bit nervous before the match because I played twice against her and she beat me every time.

There was no sign of rust as Halep wrapped up her victory over Vondrousova in less than an hour without facing a single break point.

Halep will play Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals after the Russian upset eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-1, 7-5.

Elina Svitolina came through a tougher test as she defeats three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 7-6 (4), 6-3. Svitolina was 3-1 down in the tiebreaker before winning six of the next seven points, and she didn’t face a break point in the second set. The fourth-seeded Ukrainian will face Petra Kvitova in the quarters.

Karolina Pliskova hit 21 aces as she beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Ash Barty.

Fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka swept past Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4, 6-2. Sabalenka next faces Anett Kontaveit, who eliminated Sofia Kenin on Wednesday.

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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving returns, scores 37 points in double-overtime loss to Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving returned after a two-week hiatus on Wednesday, scoring 37 points in the Brooklyn Nets’ 147-135 double-overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In his first match with Kevin Durant and James Harden, Irving played 48 minutes and made 15 of 28 field goal attempts. Durant concluded with 38 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Harden had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

Before the game, coach Steve Nash stated he was “curious” to get a look at the Nets’ All-Star trio in a game together, but was trying to avoid putting too much weight on a single game.

“We will have good nights, we will have great nights, but it is how we galvanize this group together and how we sacrifice and compromise for the greater good,” Irving said.

“That still remains to be seen, obviously one game is out the way, but I am excited for what’s to come.” Patience may be an important virtue for this Brooklyn team. The Nets had visible kinks to work through in the trio’s debut.

After building a double-digit lead in the first quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 17-0 run late in the first quarter stretching into the second and built a nine-point advantage.

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“We seemed a little lost at times, which is natural because we haven’t played together. So there’s a little indecision,” Nash said after the loss. “We started the game turning the ball over, we had seven or eight in the first quarter. We cleaned it up and got ourselves back in the game, but obviously we have to defend better.”

He added: “We’re just getting a feel for each other and this is a process that’s gonna take the entire year.”

At the half, the Cavaliers held a two-point edge over the Nets.

Harden didn’t score his first points until the final minute of the half, when Larry Nance Jr. fouled him, sending Harden to the line where he sank two free throws.

Coming into Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday, Harden had made a shot in the first half in 325 consecutive games, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. Over the last 10 seasons, the only players with longer streaks are LeBron James and Durant.

Brooklyn’s fragmented play bled into the second half. While Harden buried a three early in the third quarter — his first field goal of the game — to briefly give the Nets the lead, Cleveland quickly surged back.

The Nets struggled on the defensive end. In the third quarter alone, 13 of the Cavs’ 22 field goal attempts were uncontested. Cleveland went 11-for-13 on those open looks, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

In the fourth, Brooklyn’s fortunes started to turn. The Nets ended the quarter on a 21-9 run and were able to force overtime, with the score knotted at 113. Irving, Durant and Harden combined for 28 of the Nets’ 35 fourth-quarter points.

It wasn’t enough, however, as Cavs guard Collin Sexton led all scorers with 42, including 15 points in the second overtime to put Brooklyn away.

Wednesday marked Irving’s first game since Dec. 5. He had missed the Nets’ past seven games — five for personal reasons and two while conditioning.

During Irving’s time away for personal reasons, the league fined him for violating health and safety protocols and attending what appeared to be a family birthday party. He also lost over $800,000 in salary for the two games he missed while in quarantine.

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Detroit Lions fire head coach Matt Patricia, general manager Bob Quinn

The Detroit Lions have fired coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, the team revealed Saturday.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as the Lions’ interim coach, per an informed source.

Patricia’s firing comes two days after the Lions suffered a blowout loss to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day, which put the team’s record at 4-7.

Patricia was asked about his job security in the immediate aftermath of the loss. “On behalf of my family, I want to thank Bob and Matt for their hard work and their dedication to the Lions organization over the past several years,” Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp stated during a Zoom call presser Saturday afternoon.

“They’re both very fine men, and we wish them nothing but the best in the rest of their careers. Obviously, this season has not gone the way we expected. We want to take the rest of this year to assess every aspect of our football operation, find the best individuals to lead and coach our team.”

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Ahead of the 2020 season, Lions ownership made it clear to Patricia and Quinn that the team needed to be playoff contenders this campaign. After losing four of their last five after Week 12, ownership materialized the writing on the wall.

Patricia amassed a 13-29-1 record in his two-plus seasons as Lions head coach.

Patricia was hired by the Lions in 2018 after serving as the New England Patriots defensive coordinator for six years.

Patricia succeeded Jim Caldwell, who was fired by the Lions after four seasons as coach. Caldwell had three winning seasons during his time in Detroit and made the playoffs twice. Since Patricia’s hiring, the Lions rank in the bottom 10 in scoring, total and pass defense, and they are tied for fewest takeaways (43) in the NFL since 2018.

The Lions’ .314 triumph percentage during Patricia’s tenure ranked 27th in the NFL. Patricia has the worst career win percentage by any coach whose teams averaged 21-plus points per match in the Super Bowl era (minimum 40 games coached).

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Manchester United defeats Tottenham in Mourinho´s return

This was a return to the Theatre of Dreams that Jose Mourinho will not have wanted to imagine but one that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must have fantasised about.

Mourinho’s re-appearance, a year to the month he was dismissed by Manchester United, ended in a limp loss as Tottenham Hotspur lost for the first time since he was appointed.

The Humble One did not expect to be humbled and although he remained restrained throughout how he will have dreamt of getting one over the club that felt he was not that special any more.

There would be no knee slide, no fist pump, no tapping of his chest for Mourinho as he watched Marcus Rashford inspire United to victory and in doing so went a long way towards relieving the mounting pressure on Solskjaer in what feels like a defining week for him ahead of Saturday’s Manchester derby.

United also had the bonus of going above Spurs in a Premier League table which suddenly looks far more healthy for them.

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At the end, Mourinho sought out each United player, as well as those from Spurs, but maybe it was telling that he lingered longest with the impressive Scott McTominay who was something of a project for him.

Bizarrely, United have now defeated Chelsea, Leicester City and Tottenham in winning just five of their 15 league matches so far this campaign and are the only team to have taken points off Liverpool, while Spurs will have felt this was a reality check – “a wake-up call,” Alli said – after the euphoria of Mourinho’s initial impact.

It was their first loss after three victories but in every match they have conceded two goals which is very un-Mourinho-like and something he has little time to work on with fixtures coming thick and fast.

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