Tagged in: victory

Bulls complete sweep of Hornets in LaVine’s return, 120-99

For one night, the Chicago Bulls looked like a playoff-worthy team.

The return of Zach LaVine to the floor certainly had something to do with the Bulls’ inspired effort, which ended a four-game skid.

Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 14 rebounds, LaVine had 13 points after missing 11 matches due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and the Bulls swept the season series from the Charlotte Hornets with a 120-99 victory on Thursday night.

“It definitely opened up some things for us,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of LaVine’s return.

Said Vucevic: “We’re happy to have him back. We played a great game and that helped motivating us and getting us ready to play knowing he was back. So hopefully we will continue to play that way.”

Chicago is a long shot to make the postseason, still 3 1/2 games behind Washington for the final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

The Bulls have six games left; the Wizards have five. LaVine said he felt “really tired” after the long layoff and wanted to make sure he didn’t try to do too much.

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“I told (my teammates), don’t expect me to try to go get 40 (points) the first night,” LaVine said.

LaVine averaged more than 30 points in his five previous games before being sidelined, but mostly deferred to his teammates in the first three quarters, attempting six shots. But he started to show his scoring ability with back-to-back jump shots to start the fourth quarter before Donovan took him out after 27 minutes of action.

“I thought there was a lot more opportunities for him to shoot the ball, and to try to go score and attack,” Donovan said.

“But with him being out three weeks and the respect he has for his teammates, and I think he just tried to fit in and take the shots that were there and not try to force things.”

P.J. Washington, who missed Charlotte’s last game for the birth of his child, had 24 points on six 3-pointers. 

Malik Monk added 20 points off the bench for the Hornets, who played without Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham.

Charlotte could have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament had it won.

But Vucevic would have none of it. He returned after missing two games with right adductor tightness and dominated. Looking fresh, he made 12 of 24 shots from the field and was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, helping opening things up for his teammates.

“I think they just played harder than us every time we played them,” Washington said. “For us, it’s just about defense at the end of the day. We have to stop teams from getting offensive rebounds and easy second-chance points.”

The Bulls, who beat the Hornets by 13 and 17 points in the two previous meetings, jumped out to a 48-33 lead this time.

It appeared Charlotte might make a game of it after hitting 8 of 13 3-point attempts in the second quarter to cut the lead to five, but the Bulls extended their lead to 22 entering the fourth quarter.

“We’ve struggled with Chicago all year,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Give them credit. For whatever reason, the matchup does not fit our group.”

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Basilashvili claims fifth ATP Tile at Munich Open

Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili claimed the fifth ATP Tour title of his career and the second in 2021 with a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) victory over Jan-Lennard Struff after 86 minutes at the BMW Open in Munich. Basilashvili did not a set in five matches this week. 

Basilashvili won eight of the first nine points and broke Struff in the first game. The match was suspended by rain, when Basilashvili was leading 4-2.

The Georgian player never looked back and dropped just three service games to close out the first set after 35 minutes.  Struff did not convert one break point in the sixth game of the second set, which went on serve en route to the tie-break.

Both players went on serve in the tie-break until the ninth point, when Basilashvili earned the decisive mini-break at 4-4 when Struff hit a backhand into the net.

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Basilashvili sealed the 14th match of his campaign on his second match point with a forehand winner.

Basilashvili has already won a title on German clay in Hamburg in 2019.

Earlier this year he defeated Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha and beat Struff 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the quarter finals of the Sardegna Open in Cagliari. 

“It wasn’t easy and I was super tight at the end. It was very difficult. It’s never easy to play against Jan. He is a very big fighter and serves well. I am super happy. It seems like German conditions suit me. This is my fifth ATP Tour title and i twill give me confidence for the upcoming season”, said Basilashvili. 

Struff, who was playing in his ATP Tour final, was bidding to become the seventh different German champion at the ATP 250 in Munich after Jurgen Fassbender in 1974, Rolf Gehring in 1980, Michael Stich in 1990, Phillip Kohlschreiber in 2007, 2012 and 2016, Tommy Haas in 2013 and Alexander Zverev in 2017 and 2018. 

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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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Slumping Yankees rally from early hole to down Indians 6-3

Rougned Odor’s two-out, two-run single broke a seventh-inning tie — and maybe jarred New York from its hitting funk — and sent the Yankees to a 6-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.

Odor was batting just .107 and in a 3-for-28 slide when he came up versus Nick Wittgren (0-1). He slapped his single through the middle to score Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres to break a 3-3 tie as the Yankees got just their second win in eight matches.

Kyle Higashioka homered in the eighth for New York, which entered with its worst record to open a season since 1991, when Stump Merrill managed and Don Mattingly manned first base.

Domingo Germán (1-2) returned from a demotion to the alternate training site and shook off falling behind 3-0 in the first. He lasted six innings and won the first time since serving a suspension under baseball’s domestic violence policy that started in September 2019 and ended his season with an 18-4 record.

Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green combined for two innings of relief, and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side around a walk in the ninth for his third save.

The Yankees came in batting an AL-worst .205, embarrassing for a team loaded with talent and boasting a $200 million payroll.

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Boone tweaked his lineup — and rested struggling sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sánchez — in hopes of sparking his team.

“I remain really confident that our group is going to turn this around offensively and I look forward to the fun that comes along with that,” Boone said before the game. “We’re not doing what I know we will do.”

The Indians, who lost to New York in last season’s wild-card round, have dropped four of five and soured manager Terry Francona’s 62nd birthday.

Germán didn’t look as if he’d be around for long after giving up three runs in the first. But the right-hander, who was recalled from the alternate site before the game, settled in and held the Indians scoreless on two hits over the next five innings.

The Indians scored three times in the first off Germán, who committed an error on a comebacker that could have been an inning-ending double play but he dropped. Left fielder Brett Gardner also failed to hold onto a sinking liner that started things.

Eddie Rosario, Josh Naylor and Franmil Reyes drove in runs as the Indians gave Aaron Civale an early 3-0 cushion. The Yankees, though, responded in the third on RBI singles by DJ LeMahieu and Torres, whose shot toward the gap was mishandled by right fielder Josh Naylor, permitting a second run to score.

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Matsuyama makes history with Masters triumph

Hideki Matsuyama made history on Sunday as the first male golfer from Japan to collect a major championship.

Ten years after making a sterling debut as the best amateur at Augusta National, Matsuyama claimed the ultimate trophy with a triumph in the Masters.

Matsuyama closed with a 1-over 73 and a one-shot victory that was only close at the end, and never seriously in doubt after Xander Schauffele‘s late charge ended with a triple bogey on the par-3 16th.

Moments before Dustin Johnson helped him into the green jacket, Matsuyama needed no interpreter in Butler Cabin when he said in English, “I’m really happy.”

So masterful was this performance that Matsuyama stretched his lead to six shots on the back nine until a few moments of drama. With a four-shot lead, he went for the green in two on the par-5 15th and it bounded hard off the back slope and into the pond on the 16th hole.

Matsuyama did well to walk away with bogey, and with Schauffele making a fourth consecutive birdie, the lead was down to two shots with three to play.

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The next swing all but ended it. Schauffele’s tee shot on the par-3 16th bounced of the hill and dribbled into the pond. His third shot from the drop area went into the gallery. He wound up with a triple-bogey 6.

Never mind that Matsuyama bogeyed three of his last four holes.

All that mattered was that uphill walk to the 18th green, needing only to blast out of the bunker and take two putts for the victory.

That’s what he did, a final bogey for a one-shot victory over 24-year-old Masters rookie Will Zalatoris, who closed with a 70 and stayed on the practice range just in case of a playoff.

Matsuyama ended at 10-under 278 for his 15th victory worldwide, and his sixth on the PGA Tour.

He was far from a sure thing, closing at 40-1 to win the tournament at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. Matsuyama could be found upward of 60-1 prior to the tournament at some sportsbooks, making him one of the biggest long shots to win Masters since Danny Willett in 2016.

He was not a popular choice for bettors either. As of Thursday, he accounted for only 1% of the money that had been wagered on the odds to win the Masters at William Hill sportsbooks.

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James Harden’s return for Brooklyn Nets short-lived due to ongoing hamstring tightness

Brooklyn Nets star James Harden played just four minutes before he was ruled out for the remainder of Monday night’s 114-112 victory versus the New York Knicks because of right hamstring tightness.

Harden’s brief return came after he missed the Nets’ past two games while dealing with the same tightness.

Before the match, Brooklyn coach Steve Nash stated Harden would not be on a minutes restriction and the team would monitor him throughout the night. “We definitely don’t want to wear him out,” Nash said before tipoff. “So we’ll try our best, which is very difficult to do sometimes. We’ll try to limit his minutes if we have the opportunity.”

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Nash reiterated both pregame and postgame that the imaging on Harden’s hamstring did not reveal structural damage, so the team looked to him and its training staff to decide when he felt well enough to play.

“So who knows — this may linger, it may be all behind us like we thought it was before the game,” Nash said. “But it’s just one of those things where the scan is clean, the strength tests are clean but he feels something, so we’re going to err on the side of caution.”

The Nets were already without Blake Griffin (injury maintenance), Kevin Durant (hamstring strain), Tyler Johnson (knee soreness) and Landry Shamet (ankle sprain).

Nash said that he does not anticipate playing Griffin in both halves of any remaining back-to-back games.

Harden, one of the frontrunners for league MVP, entered Monday’s game averaging 26.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 11.2 assists for the Nets.

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Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry ‘still sore’ from tailbone bruise, out vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry will miss Tuesday night’s match versus the Philadelphia 76ers because of a tailbone bruise — the third consecutive game he will sit out after suffering the injury in Wednesday’s victory over the Houston Rockets.

“He’s not going to play [Tuesday],” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Monday’s practice.

“He did not practice today. He’s still pretty sore. And so we’re going to continue to list him as day-to-day, but still sore today and went through some activities in the training room, strengthening, and movement-wise. And he’s not ready to go … I talked to him today, he just said “It’s still sore.'”

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Curry, 33, suffered the injury after tripping over a riser and falling hard on his tailbone after taking an off-balance 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter Wednesday.

Despite the setback, Kerr stays optimistic that Curry will be back on the floor soon.

“It’s not something we’re concerned about,” Kerr said. “But it’s obviously going to take more time.”

Kerr did say there was an opportunity that young big men James Wiseman and Eric Paschall could play in Tuesday’s game after missing close to a week because of COVID-19 protocols. They have missed three straight games.

“Eric and James could possibly play [Tuesday],” Kerr said. “They were not allowed to practice today. We are hopeful that everything goes fine with their testing, which it has been, but they have to complete another couple of tests, and if they do then there’s a chance they’ll be available [Tuesday] night.”

Veteran big man Kevon Looney was back at Monday’s practice after missing Saturday’s game because of COVID-19 protocols. Looney stated he had a false positive and the rest of his tests have come back negative.

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Everton knock Tottenham out of FA Cup on Bernard winner in extra-time goal-fest

Everton sent Tottenham Hotspur packing from the FA Cup with an extra-time goal from Bernard on Wednesday night at Goodison Park to send his team through to the quarterfinals with a 5-4 victory.

Tottenham opened the scoring and took a deserved lead inside of five minutes when Davinson Sanchez headed Son Heung Min’s corner past Robin Olsen in the Everton goal.

Everton hit back to go ahead in the span of several first-half minutes with a Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal and a Richarlison strike from outside of the penalty area that a diving Hugo Lloris could not reach.

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Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was then whistled for a penalty after tripping Calvert-Lewin in the area and Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up and calmly sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot to put Everton up 3-1. However, Spurs scored just before the break as Erik Lamela pounced on a Yerry Mina error and slotted a neat, left-footed shot past Olsen to trim the deficit for Jose Mourinho’s team to a single goal at half-time.

The back-and-forth match continued in the second half

With Spurs drawing level at 3-3 before the hour mark through Sanchez’s second of the night when he redirected a saved header off Olsen’s mitt and tapped into the back of the net.

Richarlison fired Everton back in front with his second goal, defeating Lloris at his far post with a screamer after Sigurdsson played him into the area with a clever little through ball.

Harry Kane, who had looked menacing all game, finally scored to put Tottenham back on level terms with a smashing header at the back post from a beautiful, whipped in cross from Son that set the teams on course for extra time.

Sigurdsson added to his assist tally in the first period of extra time with a lovely chip over Spurs’ defense and into the box that left Bernard time to settle, have a look at goal and fire an unstoppable volley past Lloris to give Everton the lead yet again.

Ancelotti and Everton will now await results from the final two games of the FA Cup on Thursday to see who they will face in the quarterfinals.

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Golden State Warriors’ Kevon Looney out at least two weeks with sprained ankle

Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney will be out at least the next two weeks as he keeps to recover from a sprained left ankle, the team informed Wednesday.

Looney suffered the injury late in the first half of Tuesday’s 111-107 loss to the Boston Celtics and had an MRI late Tuesday night that confirmed the sprain. He will be reevaluated in two weeks as he continues rehab.

“This was a fluke,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated after the game. “He caught his foot on the floor and rolled the ankle. Just the way it goes. I feel bad for him because he’s worked so hard to get back to this space and he’s really been playing well for us, so it’s a big blow.”

Looney’s injury comes at a bad time for the 11-10 Warriors. They are already playing without rookie center James Wiseman, who sprained his left wrist in last Saturday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons and will be reevaluated in a week.

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Backup big man Marquese Chriss has been out since the first week of the season after suffering a serious ankle injury during a practice in Chicago.

It still unclear if he will comeback this season.

In the short term, Kerr noted that Eric Paschall, Draymond Green and two-way player Juan Toscano-Anderson will all get minutes at the 5 spot.

“Eric Paschall becomes a bigger part of what we’re doing and so does Juan,” Kerr said. “I guess Juan sort of qualifies as a big man, kind of. Eric definitely does. So we’ll be short-handed. Draymond will play a lot of 5 and Eric will get more minutes, and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Warriors star guard Stephen Curry is hopeful that the Warriors can use the small-ball lineup to their advantage as they get set for a four-game road swing to Dallas and San Antonio over the next week. “You kind of have to flip it on its head,” Curry said after Tuesday’s loss.

“Everybody’s going to talk about what we can’t do with a small-ball lineup, but we can focus on what we can do and that’s play fast, get everybody involved, ball can be moving. Create chaos on both ends of the floor and then figure out how you rebound and how you up the paint on the defensive end. So with Dallas and San Antonio, it will be interesting because they do — [Kristaps] Porzingis is huge, but they do play a lot of small ball, too, so maybe that will match up well for us.”

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Kansas City Chiefs LT Eric Fisher out for Super Bowl LV with torn Achilles

Left tackle Eric Fisher will not play for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he tore his Achilles tendon in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

The Chiefs shifted right tackle Mike Remmers to Fisher’s spot after he left Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, and Remmers is the likely starter at left tackle against the Bucs, who concluded the regular season tied for fourth in sacks with 48.

The Bucs have seven sacks in their three playoff games, including five Sunday in their NFC Championship Game victory over the Green Bay Packers.

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The Chiefs have had to dig deep into their offensive line depth this season.

They will play versus the Bucs with three starting offensive linemen out with injuries, including both starting tackles (right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has been sidelined since Week 6 with a back injury).

The Chiefs also had one starter, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, and one backup, Lucas Niang, opt out before the start of training camp.

Duvernay-Tardif missed all of 2020 as he, a medical school graduate, returned to Canada to assist with COVID-19 relief and treatment in the medical field.

“They’re talented guys,” Reid said when asked how the offensive line has been able to hold up well through so much depletion. “In some cases we’ve had some young guys step in and … we’ve had some older guys step in. That combination has been able to get us through some games here. Most of all, I think the quarterback trusts them, as do the running backs.”

Fisher started 15 regular-season games for the Chiefs, then both playoff games. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career.

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