Tagged in: triumph

Cardinals, Rams meet Sunday for 4th time in calendar year

There aren’t many secrets between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, teams that will face each other Sunday for the fourth time in the past calendar year.

There’s also no secret the Rams have had a huge advantage of late.

The defending Super Bowl champions have won 10 of 11 games in the series dating to 2017, including a dominant 34-11 playoff triumph in the NFC wild-card round.

“They’ve obviously had our number here for a long time and that’s not lost upon us, but we’re just trying to improve,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “The last two weeks, we have started so slow, and we had 12 penalties last week. There’s a lot that we have to focus on.

“We know they’re a talented team and defending champs, so it’s really been about us improving this week.” The Cardinals (1-1) are in a good mood after last week’s stunning come-from-behind win. Arizona trailed Las Vegas 20-0 at halftime, but rallied for a 29-23 victory when Byron Murphy Jr. returned Hunter Renfrow’s fumble 59 yards for a touchdown with 3:51 left in overtime.

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The Rams (1-1) bounced back from a rough loss to Buffalo in Week 1 by defeating Atlanta 31-27 last week.

“I think they know us. We know them,” Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said of the rivalry. “Every year is a little bit different, players are different, schemes a little bit different, how those players fit into that scheme, all of it. But they’re a really talented football team.”

The Cardinals did beat the Rams once last season, 37-20 in Inglewood.

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray said facing the Rams — including seven-time All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald — is something he enjoys, no matter how difficult it can be.

“I’ve learned to embrace and love the opportunity to be able to play against (Donald) just because he’s not going to be here forever and playing the game forever,” Murray said.

“To be able to step on the field with him is an honor and to be able to go to battle against him. Like I said, he’s one of the best ever do it, so that’s how I see it.”

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Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt doesn’t need surgery, expected to miss six weeks

Doctors determined Tuesday afternoon that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt does not surgery on his torn pectoral and the star pass-rusher is expected to miss about six weeks, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Watt, who suffered the injury on Sunday in a 23-20 overtime triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals, had sought out second and third opinions on the injury.

Watt on Tuesday tweeted a gif of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character saying “I’ll be back.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stated earlier Tuesday that the organization was “encouraged” about the injury outlook for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

“We’re probably in a lot better place than we were after the game,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “… I can definitively say that T.J. won’t play this week [against the Patriots], but I won’t make any commitments beyond that.

“We’re encouraged, and we’ll just continue to look at the situation and gain opinions and do what’s appropriate.”

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Watt appeared to suffer a torn left pectoral muscle in the final seconds of regulation when he tried to sack Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, and as he walked off the field, he told medical personnel that he tore his pec. Watt recorded a sack and an interception in Sunday’s match.

Asked if Watt would go on injured reserve, Tomlin was noncommittal on Tuesday.

Injured reserve would rule Watt out for a minimum of four games. The Steelers can designate up to eight players to return from IR throughout the season, and each player can return twice.

In Watt’s absence, the team will first turn to outside linebackers Malik Reed, gotten in a trade with the Broncos last month, and Jamir Jones, whom the organization grabbed off waivers. The Steelers signed veteran linebacker Ryan Anderson to their practice squad later Tuesday, but Tomlin didn’t commit to playing new faces on Sunday.

Last season, Watt had 22.5 sacks to tie the NFL’s single-season sack record. He has 73 sacks in his career.

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Serena Williams advances to second round in Toronto in straight sets

Serena Williams hadn’t won in so long, she said she couldn’t even remember the feeling.

She picked up her first triumph since the 2021 French Open on Monday, beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-3, 6-4 at the women’s National Bank Open.

“I’m just happy to get a win. It’s been a very long time, I forgot what that felt like,” Williams said.

It’s just the second tournament of the season for the 40-year-old Williams, who returned to competition at Wimbledon just over a month ago. The 23-time Grand Slam champion fell in the first round to Harmony Tan in three sets at the All England Club.

Before then, she last competed at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, where she retired in the middle of her first match due to a torn hamstring suffered after slipping on the grass surface.

Williams, who will turn 41 at the end of September, will next face either 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic or Tereza Martincova.

Williams has acquired this tournament three times and reached the final in her last appearance at the hardcourt event in 2019, losing to Bianca Andreescu when she was forced to stop because of injury.

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But Williams has played little since and knows she needs time on the court.

“I feel good, I felt like I competed well today. I think that’s what I needed to do, is just compete,” she said. “Mentally, I’m getting there. I’m not where I normally am (or) where I want to be. Any match I play, whether I win or lose, helps me.

“I haven’t played a lot in the last year, (even) two years. I think that helps me physically. I feel much better in practice, it’s just getting that to the court. Literally, I’m the kind of person (where) it takes one or two things and then it clicks.”

Williams started out strong, taking the first two games with relative ease.

Parrizas-Diaz tied it 2-2, but despite Williams’ struggles at certain points, the 31-year-old Spaniard couldn’t find enough of a consistent flow to get ahead. Williams found her rhythm, mixing solid touch with her signature power and putting shot after shot out of Parrizas-Diaz’s reach.

Williams’ effort had the fans on their feet roaring and some even bowing.

Williams won the final three games to take the first set, then surged ahead in the second after the 57th-ranked Parrizas-Diaz took a 4-3 lead. She endured a nine-deuce game to hold serve and even the set, then broke in the next game before serving out the victory.

While Williams says the end of her remarkable career is in sight, she’s enjoying her time and staying in the moment.

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Judge, Stanton homer to bail out Taillon, Yanks top A’s 5-3

Giancarlo Stanton has seen trailing teams lose their fight a few times in his 13 big league seasons. Just not with these New York Yankees.

“We find a way to figure it out every night,” Stanton said. “We’re just like, pushing the envelope, boom-boom-boom, until the game’s over.”

Stanton and Aaron Judge homered to fuel New York’s major league-best 24th comeback triumph, bailing out Jameson Taillon in a 5-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.

The Yankees completed a three-game sweep of baseball’s worst team and improved to 56-20, matching the 2001 Mariners and 1998 Yankees for baseball’s best 76-game start since 1930.

Taillon gave up three runs in the first inning, but Judge countered with a two-run drive in the first and Stanton hit a three-run homer in the third against Cole Irvin.

The Yankees are 25-1 when Judge and Stanton homer in the same game, including 9-0 this season.

Taillon (9-1) grinded through five innings, and Clay Holmes pitched the ninth for his 14th save to end a seven-game homestand. Next, New York starts a season-high 11-day, 10-game trip with one game in Houston — a quirk of the sport’s reconfigured schedule after a lockout delayed opening day.

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Judge’s homer was his major league-leading 29th, and his past five have come with New York either trailing or tied.

He’s on pace for 62 this campaign, which would be most in the majors since Stanton hit 59 in 2017.

“It’d be great if it happened,” Judge said. “It’ll be something that’s pretty cool, but I think having a ring on my finger at the end of the year would be even better.”

“Definitely capable of doing it,” Stanton said about his teammate’s chances of reaching 60.

Stanton reached for Irvin’s changeup off the outside edge of the plate and swatted it over the right-field wall. It was Stanton’s 19th homer of the season, with five in his past six games.

“Hit it like only him and Judgey can kind of hit it that way,” manager Aaron Boone said.

The Yankees have 57 homers in June, surpassing the 2016 Orioles and 2019 Braves for most ever in the month.

Irvin (2-6) permitted six hits, but he covered seven innings with 103 pitches.

Taillon struggled against a lineup that didn’t include any player with a batting average higher than .234. Seth Brown’s one-out double sparked a three-run first inning, which included a two-run double by Stephen Piscotty and a run-scoring single by Elvis Andrus.

Taillon labored after that, too, but didn’t give up any more runs. He stranded six runners over his final four innings, including the bases loaded in the second. He permitted seven hits, struck out six and walked two.

“I knew that my delivery felt good today, I thought the stuff was still good,” Taillon said. “I just had to sharpen up the command a little bit.”

Taillon also drudged through his previous start, allowing six runs over 5 2/3 innings against Houston in a game New York came back to win 7-6. The past two outings have spiked Taillon’s ERA from 2.70 to 3.32.

Piscotty had two hits, his first since returning from the injured list Tuesday from a calf strain. “In his last two nights, his at-bats have looked good,” A’s manager Kotsay said.

“He’s a professional hitter, he’s got a track record and any type of success is great for any hitter, regardless of the time they’ve been off or what they’re going through offensively.”

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With Harden out, Trail Blazers down the Nets 114-108

Anfernee Simons had 23 points and 11 assists, and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of James Harden’s absence for a 114-108 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.

Harden was out with a hyperextended left knee. Kyrie Irving started in his second match of the season and finished with 22 points. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.

Robert Covington had 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Blazers, who saw all five starters score in double figures.

Simons stated Covington’s play against Durant boosted the team.

“I think RoCo did a good job of playing him the second half,” Simons said. “So that was that was big for us to slow him down and just kind of play team defense. We’ve been playing very hard, we’ve been making a lot less mistakes on defense. That’s been helping us.”

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Monday’s game was initially scheduled for Dec. 23 but was postponed because of COVID-19 issues.

In making up the game, both teams were playing the second of back-to-backs.

Portland led 87-81 going into the final quarter. Covington’s 3-pointer put Portland up 107-100 with 2:15 to go but the Nets closed within 110-105 down the stretch.

Ben McLemore’s 3 with 31.9 seconds left made it 113-105 and sealed it for Portland. McLemore finished with 20 points and five 3s.

“Certainly nobody in the world thought that we would win this game with the guys that we have missing, even though they’re missing some important players too,” Portland first-year coach Chauncey Billups said. “I’m more happy than anything for our team, to be honest. We’ve suffered a lot of losses in this building, a lot of bad losses.”

The Blazers again were without Damian Lillard, out with lower abdominal tendinopathy, and backcourt teammate CJ McCollum, who has been out for 14 games after a collapsed lung. Fellow starters Norman Powell (COVID-19 protocols) and Larry Nance Jr. (right knee) were also out for Portland.

Meanwhile, Nets coach Steve Nash said the team was being cautious with Harden in a dense stretch of games and that Harden should be available on Wednesday at Chicago.

Irving, who has refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and is barred from playing in New York due to the city’s vaccine mandate, has resumed playing on the road. For his first game last week at Indiana, he finished with 22 points in nearly 32 minutes.

Irving appeared to tweak his ankle in the fourth quarter but afterward said he was fine and would play Wednesday. He criticized Portland’s Nassir Little for diving on the play: “I tried to get out of the way but I just felt like it was unnecessary for him to dive that far away from the ball.”

Brooklyn led 62-55 at the break, paced by Durant with 20 points. It was his 19th straight game with 20 or more points, the second-longest streak of 20-point games in Nets history.

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DeRozan leads Bulls over Lakers 115-110 in team’s return

DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points after missing two weeks in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 115-110 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Lonzo Ball added 19 points as the Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak. It was Chicago’s first match since Dec. 11 after two were postponed.

LeBron James had 31 points, Carmelo Anthony added 21 and Russell Westbrook 20 as Los Angeles dropped its second straight.

With the Bulls trailing by a point in the final minute, DeRozan hit an 18-footer for a 111-110 lead with 52 seconds remaining. Following a Lakers miss, DeRozan missed a shot but then was fouled with 15.6 seconds left after Ball grabbed the offensive rebound. DeRozan then hit both free throws for a 113-110 edge.

Like much of the first two months of the season, the Bulls turned to DeRozan in crunch time and he delivered.

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“It’s an honor to be trusted in those moments,” he said. “I never take it for granted. It’s an adrenaline rush that you can’t duplicate, so you try to make the most of it every time you’re put in that position. There’s nothing like it. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, and I’m willing to take both.”

Before having two matches postponed last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Bulls had 10 players in the health and safety protocols. That number is down to four right now, including All-Star Zach LaVine.

Although the Lakers haven’t had any games postponed, they currently have six players — Kent Bazemore, Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker. Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Austin Reaves — and coach Frank Vogel in the health and safety protocols.

Assistant David Fizdale served as coach on Sunday.

It also was Los Angeles’ first match since forward Anthony Davis sprained his left knee on Friday. He is expected to miss four weeks.

“Obviously we’re doing things on the fly, figuring out how to play with the lineups we have and the people we have available,” Westbrook said. “New guys are stepping in here, so we’ve got to do what we can. That’s it. You’ve just got to play hard and let the rest take care of itself.”

Chicago led nearly the entire first half and by as much as 10 points before taking a 61-59 halftime lead. The Lakers went ahead 65-64 early in the third quarter on a floater by Isaiah Thomas.

The teams traded baskets and leads for the remainder of the quarter before Los Angeles took an 84-83 advantage into the fourth.

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Carmelo Anthony scores 23, leads Lakers past Rockets 95-85

Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points in a reserve role and Russell Westbrook added 20 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 95-85 triumph over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.

Anthony Davis had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and LeBron James scored 15 points in the Lakers’ fourth victory in five games after opening the season with two losses. Westbrook added eight rebounds and nine assists.

Eric Gordon scored 17 points and Christian Wood had 16 for the Rockets, who lost their fourth consecutive at the start of a five-game road trip. Anthony had another dynamic game in his first season with Los Angeles, hitting five 3-pointers and tying his career high with four blocked shots.

The 19-year NBA veteran, who has led the Lakers in scoring twice already this season, had at least four blocks and two steals in a match for the first time since Dec. 2, 2003.

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“I think people don’t really understand me,” Anthony said. “I think there’s a misconception out there about me not being able to adapt to situations. I’m easily adaptable to any situation and I’ve always tried to adapt to any situation I’ve been in. This is an easy adaptation for me just being here and being around the guys, being ready, staying ready, understanding what’s needed and being prepared.”

James went 6 for 19 in his second game back from a sore right ankle, but he had eight assists and seven rebounds.

Houston guard Jalen Green, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, finished with just seven points after getting in early foul trouble. The rebuilding Rockets trailed by 24 points in the first half and 28 in the fourth quarter before a late rally to trim the deficit.

The Lakers shored up their defense, and Anthony was a big part of that, too.

“I didn’t expect to see him have the defensive performance that he did, he was great,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel stated. “

The steals and blocks, he’s always good with his hands. He was in the right position … He’s willing to do all these things and he can do all these things. When he’s providing that kind of performance on the defensive side with the way he’s shooting it, he’s a huge part of our win.”

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Adebayo has 24, Heat pull away to beat Nets 106-93

Bam Adebayo had 24 points and nine rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 106-93 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Jimmy Butler added 17 points for Miami (3-1). P.J. Tucker finished with 15, and Tyler Herro and Dewayne Dedmon each contributed 14.

A preseason favorite to win the NBA championship, Brooklyn has alternated losses and wins through the first five matches of the season and dropped to 2-3. 

Kevin Durant finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. “I like how we’re playing defense the last couple games,” Durant said.

“I like where our defense is trending. … I feel like we’re generating good shots. We’re just (not) knocking them down. If we continue to generate good shots we’ll put ourselves in good position.”

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Joe Harris contributed 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting, including 5 for 11 from 3-point range. With his third 3-pointer of the game, Harris passed Jason Kidd as the franchise’s career leader in made 3-pointers.

James Harden had 14 points and Bruce Brown chipped in with 12.

The first of four regular-season matchups between the Eastern Conference rivals was a contrast in styles, the flashy, up-tempo, high-scoring Nets against a physical Heat squad.

Despite forcing the Nets to play a possession-by-possession game for much of the first half, the Heat trailed 51-49 at the half.

Miami had outscored Brooklyn in the paint (30-20), had more second-chance points (15-2), and had a decided edge in rebounds (35-25).

“We have a bunch of like-minded guys,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “(That’s) the way those guys are hard-wired.”

What the Heat did not have, though, was the tandem of Durant and Harden, who combined for 25 of Brooklyn’s 51 points in the half. Durant also grabbed eight rebounds while Harden added three boards and three assists.

Miami stayed with its approach and it paid dividends in the third quarter, as the Heat outscored the Nets 32-23 and took an 81-74 lead into the fourth. The Heat extended their lead to 88-77 before Brooklyn used a 7-2 spurt to cut the deficit to 90-84.

Following a timeout, Durant stared down Butler as he drilled a 3 to bring Brooklyn with three. That was as close as the Nets would come, as Miami pulled away, with Adebayo throwing down two thunderous dunks.

For the game, Miami outscored Brooklyn 48-34 in the paint, had 27 more second-chance points (31-4), and outrebounded the Nets 62-42.

“Overall a consistent theme was second-chance opportunities,” Harris said. “When you look up and the shot margin was as big as it was, it’s really hard to beat good teams. That was a problem a lot of last year and it’s been a problem a lot of this year so far.”

The Heat did not make any players available to reporters after the match.

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Walker scores 19, Knicks romp to end 15-game skid vs 76ers

Kemba Walker scored 19 points in his best game with his hometown team and the New York Knicks snapped a 15-game losing streak versus the Philadelphia 76ers with a 112-99 triumph Tuesday night.

Evan Fournier added 18 points in the Knicks’ first victory over Philadelphia since April 12, 2017. Julius Randle had 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Joel Embiid didn’t have a field goal in the first half of his career loss to the Knicks, who seized control by outscoring Philadelphia 39-16 in the second quarter.

Tobias Harris scored 23 points for the 76ers. Embiid concluded with 14 points and six rebounds, shooting just 2 for 7. He had been 12-0 in games he played versus New York.

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A couple “Where’s Ben Simmons? Where’s Ben Simmons?” chants broke out at Madison Square Garden and the Sixers certainly missed their All-Star guard’s defense on the perimeter against a Knicks team that upgraded offensively with the additions of Walker and Fournier.

The Sixers led 26-23 after one before the Knicks sped into the lead behind some energetic plays from their second unit to open a 47-36 lead.

Embiid then hit a pair of free throws before Walker, scoreless at that point, made a 3-pointer with 4:06 remaining, to get himself started and start the Knicks on a 15-4 run to end the half. He had another 3 and two more baskets before the Knicks took a 62-42 lead to the break.

Embiid was 0 for 5 in the half. Walker hadn’t scored more than 11 points in any game and had sat down the stretch of the Knicks’ two close ones while Derrick Rose played. He scored nine more in the third on three 3-pointers and the Knicks led by as much as 27.

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Leylah Fernandez advances to US Open final with 3-set win over Aryna Sabalenka

Leylah Fernandez’s first major semifinal, at the US Open just days after her 19th birthday, did not go her way at the start.

After she recovered from that to take a lead, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka pushed a match filled with momentum swings to a back-and-forth third set. No matter what, Fernandez did not worry. Didn’t waver.

And why would she at this point? The Canadian’s poise, it seems, is as limitless as her potential. And no foe, no matter how accomplished or highly ranked, poses an insurmountable problem.

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Speedy afoot and steady at crunch time, the unseeded Fernandez edged Sabalenka 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 on Thursday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, earning the right to play for a Grand Slam title.

It was the 73rd-ranked Fernandez’s fourth consecutive three-set triumph over a seeded opponent.

First came No. 3 Naomi Osaka, the 2018 and 2020 US Open champion. Then came No. 16 Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champ. That was followed by No. 5 Elina Svitolina and Sabalenka.

In Saturday’s final, the left-handed Fernandez will face either another unseeded teen, 18-year-old qualifier Emma Raducanu of Britain, or 17th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece. Neither of them has participated in a Grand Slam title match, either.

In the end, it was Sabalenka, a Wimbledon semifinalist in July, who let things get away from her. In the last match, she double-faulted twice in a row to set up match point, then sailed a forehand long.

Fernandez collapsed to the court and put her hands to her face. The men’s semifinals are Friday: No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia versus No. 4 Alexander Zverev of Germany, and No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia against No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada.

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