Tagged in: loss

Novak Djokovic opens clay-court season with upset loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at Monte Carlo Masters

Novak Djokovic opened his clay-court season with a surprising loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Davidovich Fokina stunned the top-ranked Serb 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1 in the second round to hand Djokovic another setback as he tries to move on from the controversy surrounding his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

It makes for rare back-to-back losses for Djokovic, who had not played since being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February — his only previous tournament this year after he was barred from playing at the Australian Open.

Djokovic struggled from the start as the 46th-ranked Spaniard broke him early to pull ahead 4-1 before another break handed him the first set.

Davidovich Fokina kept up the pressure and led 3-0 in the second before Djokovic clawed back. But the Serb continued to struggle on his serve and was broken three times in the decider. “He was the better player,” Djokovic said. “I was hanging on the ropes the entire match.”

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The Serb stated he was too exhausted to put up a fight in the third set.

“I collapsed,” Djokovic said. “I just ran out of gas completely … If you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible.”

Djokovic had defeated Davidovich Fokina, 22, in consecutive sets twice last year, in Rome and at the Tokyo Olympics.

Djokovic could not defend his Australian Open title in January after he was deported from the country for not being vaccinated. He had to skip tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Miami because he couldn’t travel to the United States for the same reason.

The authorities in France and Monaco lifted most COVID-19 restrictions last month, allowing people who aren’t vaccinated into the country and back into restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.

That means Djokovic will be able to play at the French Open, which remains his “big goal of the clay season.”

“I knew that it’s going to take some time for me to really feel my best on the clay,” Djokovic said. “I have to accept defeat and keep working … and hopefully build my form for Roland Garros.”

The French Open starts on May 22 in Paris.

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Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James sits out loss to San Antonio Spurs with ‘significant’ knee soreness

LeBron James did not play Monday night versus the San Antonio Spurs, with Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel saying pregame that James had “significant” soreness in his left knee coming off his 56-point effort versus the Golden State Warriors.

James, 37, missed five games because of his knee from late January until early February, but had not missed any time because of it since.

“With the heavy load that he’s carrying for us this year, we know that it’s always a possibility,” Vogel said of James sitting out, before the Lakers’ 117-110 loss.

“I think that’s why we continue to list him as questionable to see how it’s responding over the 48 hours between games. And this is just one of those days where it was significant enough to hold him out.”

Aside from James’ 39-minute workload versus Golden State, Los Angeles’ travel day on Sunday — when a mechanical issue caused the Lakers to sit on the runway for two hours before changing planes for the nearly three-hour flight to San Antonio — did not help with recovery time, sources told ESPN.

Vogel stated the Lakers are “hopeful” James will play Wednesday in Houston.

James’ performance against the Warriors was his highest-scoring game with the Lakers and tied for third-highest in his 19-year career, as Los Angeles rallied from a 14-point deficit to win 124-116.

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That triumph still only brought the Lakers’ record to 28-35, leaving them in ninth place in the Western Conference entering Monday’s games. The Spurs were No. 12 in the West, 4½ games behind the Lakers.

“His health takes precedence over any matchup, any individual one game, for sure,” Vogel said of the playoff implications of James resting.

Los Angeles also is dealing with the absence of Anthony Davis, who has been out for nearly three weeks with a midfoot sprain.

James is averaging 29.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 36.8 minutes per game for the Lakers this season.

The Lakers started Austin Reaves, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Russell Westbrook against the Spurs, accounting for the 32nd different starting lineup of the season.

“No one player is going to have to try to pick up where he left off,” Vogel said. “Although I did tell Malik that he’s got to score 56 tonight since Bron’s out, he can try to have that mindset. And then I told him quickly that I was just kidding. Because he will actually go out and try to do that. But, it’s the next man up, but when it’s someone like LeBron, it has to be done by committee.”

Vogel was asked how he thinks James’ knee will be a factor down the stretch as the Lakers jostle for a spot in the play-in tournament over the final games of the regular season.

“I think the simplest way to put it is he’s going to plan on being in unless his knee tells him otherwise,” Vogel said. “I don’t know if we can really forecast any more clearly than that.”

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Brooklyn Nets star James Harden day-to-day because of left hamstring tightness

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden did not play in the 124-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night because of left hamstring tightness.

Harden, who is averaging 37 minutes a match this season, was a late scratch a night after racking up a triple-double in Tuesday’s 106-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Coach Steve Nash stated after the game that he was “hopeful” Harden will play versus the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. He called Harden’s hamstring injury “day-to-day.”

Prior to the game, Nash acknowledged how tough it is to manage Harden’s minutes as the team continues to play without stars Kevin Durant (sprained MCL) and Kyrie Irving. Irving is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and cannot play in home games because of a New York City vaccination mandate.

“It is a challenge,” Nash said. “We would like to protect him more. But he’s a competitor and wants to be out there so we try to have our little tug of war and I think that’s why at times we’d like to ask him to miss games so that he can regenerate and be a little bit safer as far as being ready to go when the playoffs begin.”

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Harden expressed frustration after Tuesday’s loss, saying in part that he thinks the Nets should have a better record than the 29-18 record they came into Wednesday’s game with.

“Of course I’m frustrated because we’re not healthy,” Harden said after Tuesday’s game. “There’s a lot of inconsistency for whatever reason.

Injuries, COVID, whatever you want to call it. But yeah, it’s frustrating. I think everybody in this organization is frustrated because we are better than what our record is and we should be on the way up.”

Nash believes that despite Harden’s frustration, he remains “happy” as a Net.

“I think James is happy to be here,” Nash said. “I just think it’s frustrating right now because we haven’t played great basketball, we’ve had a lot of injuries, we’ve had a lot of illness.

A lot of guys in and out of the lineup. A lot of chop and change so that can be frustrating for sure to not have that kind of consistency to build on. And we haven’t had our best performances.

“We’ve had a few — but ever since the COVID return it’s been, lets say, average basketball overall. So we have higher expectations and it’s frustrating, but I think James is happy here for sure.”

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Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has dislocated shoulder

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook dislocated his shoulder during Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cook is anticipated to miss at least the next two matches — Sunday at the Detroit Lions and the following Thursday versus the Pittsburgh Steelers — with the hope being he can return the next week for the Monday, Dec. 20, game at the Chicago Bears, the source told Schefter.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer would not disclose the nature of Cook’s injury Monday and stated his star running back was “day-to-day.”

“That’s what they’re telling me,” Zimmer said.

Cook was carted off the field late in the third quarter and ruled out for the remainder of the game.

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He was injured after being brought down by Niners defensive tackle Kevin Givens following a handoff.

The running back lost the ball in the process of being tackled and immediately grabbed for his chest with his right arm when he hit the ground.

He stayed down on the field for several minutes as athletic trainers tended to him. Both Vikings and Niners players knelt around Cook while he was moved onto a cart before being taken off the field and back into the locker room for further evaluation.

Cook’s day ended with 10 carries for 39 yards and six receptions for 64 yards. He was replaced by backup running back Alexander Mattison, who rushed three times for 8 yards and caught one pass for 2 yards after Cook left.

In other news Monday, the Viking placed cornerback Patrick Peterson on the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting his availability for Sunday’s game versus the Lions in question.

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New York Giants fire offensive coordinator Jason Garrett

The New York Giants have fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after he had less than two years on the job, the team revealed Tuesday.

The move comes as a result of continuing offensive struggles for the Giants (3-7) and follows their 30-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

“We made a decision to move on from Jason Garrett as the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants,” coach Joe Judge said.

“Look, I have a lot of respect for Jason as a person, as a coach. He’s been a tremendous asset for me as a young head coach. He’s helped our development here. He’s built very strong relationships in the building with the players, along with other support staff members. He’s done a good job putting the team first. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for everything he’s done for us.”

Judge stated this “is not a snap decision” after Monday night, acknowledging, “I don’t think there’s ever an ideal time to make a change like this in a season.” The Giants are on a short week after playing on Monday night. They were coming off a bye.

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Judge said the Giants will use a collaborative in-house effort to fill Garrett’s role.

A source told ESPN that Freddie Kitchens is expected to be involved in the playcalling. Judge declined to name a playcaller publicly and implied that he could perhaps be involved.

“Everything is on the table,” he said.

Garrett’s offense scored the fewest touchdowns of any team since the begining of last season. The Giants hired him in January 2020 after he had a long stint as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

It had been seven years since Garrett had called plays before returning to New York. He never hit his stride with the Giants, despite a strong relationship with quarterback Daniel Jones.

The sudden midseason ending was “certainly disappointing,” Garrett said in a statement in which he also expressed his gratitude to the Mara and Tisch families.

“One of the things that motivated me to accept this position was the opportunity to help rebuild the Giants into a contending team,” he added. “We knew there would be many challenges. My expectations for our offense were much greater than what our results have been, and I accept full responsibility for that.”

The Giants have averaged 18.9 points per game this campaign, ranking 25th in the NFL on offense. In 2020, Garrett’s first season, the Giants were 31st in the NFL at 17.5 points per game.

The Giants on Monday finished with 215 total yards — the second-lowest total of the 26-game Judge era — and just 66 rushing yards. The 15 first downs was a season low, and only one of the Giants’ 54 offensive plays vs. the Bucs gained more than 16 yards.

The Giants have scored 30 points only once in the 26 games since Garrett joined the team. Even that came with the help of a defensive touchdown.

Garrett, 55, joined the Giants in 2020 after nine-plus seasons as the Cowboys’ head coach. He didn’t call plays from 2012 to 2019, but he did lead Dallas to an 85-67 record.

The former Giants quarterback (2000-03) was always a curious hire, as he didn’t have any previous experience working with Judge. The lack of aggressiveness and offensive innovation had been obvious from the start of Garrett’s tenure.

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San Francisco 49ers RT Mike McGlinchey out for season with torn quadriceps

San Francisco 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey will miss the rest of the 2021 season after suffering a torn quadriceps, coach Kyle Shanahan stated Monday.

McGlinchey suffered the injury in the first half of the Niners’ 31-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. After the game, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said he was unsure of the severity of McGlinchey’s injury, but further testing revealed the tear Monday morning.

The injury will require surgery that will land McGlinchey on injured reserve, cutting short what was shaping up as a bounce-back season for the fourth-year pro.

“I thought Mike was doing a hell of a job coming off his last year,” Shanahan said. “We saw some really good things from Mike his first two years. I think he knows — we all know he had a setback in his third season last year. He struggled at times. He was putting in the work in the offseason and I thought he’s had a much better year, getting back to how he was playing in his second year.”

Veteran Tom Compton replaced McGlinchey and struggled versus an Arizona defense that finished with five sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, McGlinchey had given up two sacks and 13 pressures in 275 pass-blocking snaps. In 35 pass-blocking snaps on Sunday, Compton allowed a sack and four pressures.

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Shanahan said postgame that rookie Jaylon Moore did not step in for McGlinchey because he’s spent most of his time working at left tackle but acknowledged that if McGlinchey is out for an extended period, Moore would be in consideration to be the long-term replacement, along with Compton.

On Monday, Shanahan mentioned Moore and Compton as potential replacements, and said right guard Daniel Brunskill is also an option, though he’s likely to stay at his current spot.

“We’ve got a number of options in that way so we can see with that but the job will probably go to [Moore or Compton],” Shanahan said.

McGlinchey, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, has started all eight matches at right tackle this season and missed just four of a possible 56 regular season games in his nearly 3 1/2 seasons in the league.

Even after a disappointing 2020, the 49ers picked up McGlinchey’s fifth-year option in April, guaranteeing his $10.88 million salary for the 2022 season.

“I thought he’s been getting better each week and having a better year and playing like the right tackle we need him to play like,” Shanahan said. “And I think he was going to continue to get better as the year went on. Unfortunately, though, he had that injury and he’ll heal up and hopefully this will make him better for next year.”

In addition to McGlinchey, the Niners also lost safety Tavon Wilson to a foot injury and receiver Mohamed Sanu to a knee sprain. Those injuries will keep Wilson and Sanu out “for a while,” according to Shanahan.

Wilson, who started Sunday in place of Jimmie Ward (who is out with a quad injury), is expected to go on injured reserve. Sanu also could, but the Niners were still working through the extent of his injury late Monday afternoon.

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Washington DE Montez Sweat has broken jaw, could miss a month

Washington defensive end Montez Sweat suffered a broken jaw in Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos and will miss perhaps a month – or more.

The loss deals a serious blow to Washington, which has lost four consecutive matches and entered its bye week with a 2-6 record. It’s the same record it had a year ago after eight games en route to a 5-3 finish and NFC East title.

Repeating that won-loss success will be difficult minus Sweat, whose injury was first reported by Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan. He hurt his jaw late in Sunday’s 17-10 beating, with his final snap of the game occurring at the 6:54 mark of the fourth quarter.

Sweat could be seen grabbing the side of his face after the play had concluded. It wasn’t until he got an X-Ray that the fracture was discovered. He can’t have any physical contact for a month. That means he’ll miss upcoming games vs. Tampa Bay, Carolina and Seattle.

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Washington had high hopes for Sweat and fellow end Chase Young this season.

But, so far, the two have combined for 5.5 sacks, with four by Sweat. Both have forced two fumbles this season. They had a combined 16.5 sacks a year ago in Young’s rookie season and stated they had discussed trying to break sack records by a tandem pass rush. The record is 39 by Minnesota’s Chris Doleman and Keith Millard in 1989.

Sweat had started 40 consecutive matches since entering the NFL in 2019. His size, length and athleticism made him difficult for offenses to always handle one-on-one in the run or pass game.

Washington also was thin at backup defensive end, having allowed veteran Ryan Kerrigan to leave via free agency in the offseason. Their backups are Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams, who has played nearly three times as many snaps as Toohill. Rookie Shaka Toney also can help as a situational pass rusher.

Washington’s offense has been hit hard by injuries this season; at the end of Sunday’s game of the original 11 expected starters only three were on the field. But, defensively, they’ve been healthier with only linebacker Jon Bostic lost for the season after four games. Corner William Jackson III has missed two games.

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Los Angeles Lakers debut LeBron James-Anthony Davis-Russell Westbrook combo in preseason loss to Golden State Warriors

The Lakers’ brand-new Big Three made its preseason debut in a 111-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. And while the result of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ first court time together was another defeat to drop L.A.’s record to 0-5 in its exhibition calendar, the postgame message echoed by the stars was one asking for patience but exuding positivity.

“It’s going to take a minute for us to become the team that we know we are going to be capable of being,” stated James, who put up 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 6 turnovers. “We’re going to have moments where we’re not quite right there. We may take steps backwards. But that’s all part of … I think nothing is worth having if it’s not worth working for.”

Westbrook, who worked his way to the Lakers in the offseason by convincing the Washington Wizards to seek a deal, looked the best he has yet in purple and gold — which isn’t saying much, considering he combined to shoot 4-for-19 with 16 turnovers in his first two outings. But his speed in the open court when flanked by so much talent will be a difference-maker this season.

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“We had some good spurts,” Westbrook said after finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 turnovers. “Obviously, it’s the first game. But there are some good things we can take from it. … We can be a little encouraged by it.”

For James, who comes into the season seeking a fifth ring that would tie his career total with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan, moral victories mean little. Yet the 19-year veteran pledged to guide his group through its nascent stages.

“Me, as a leader, my job is for myself not to get frustrated,” he said. “If I don’t get frustrated, I think it will trickle down to everyone else. I’ve never been a person that’s OK with not being excellent. But I understand things take time as well. As long as I keep the main thing the main thing, stay even keel throughout whatever is going on with our ballclub, then we’ll be fine.”

Davis was more than fine versus Golden State, leading the Lakers with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He was encouraged by his first glimpse of L.A.’s new-look lineup with him starting at the 5, along with James, Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Kent Bazemore.

“We saw some great things with me, Bron and Russ in action,” Davis said. “There’s endless possibilities, the things we can run and we can do. … And even though there were good things, a lot of things that we can do better.”

The Lakers close out the preseason Thursday on the road versus the Sacramento Kings and have a week until the regular season opens up, back home against the Warriors again.

There is plenty of more work to do before the Lakers come close to a final product, starting with getting all their players healthy. 

Trevor Ariza (ankle surgery) is expected to miss at least two months; Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb surgery) will be sidelined around a month; and Kendrick Nunn (right ankle) and Wayne Ellington (left hamstring) both sat out Tuesday, along with Malik Monk (groin), who will be out about another week.

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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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