Mavericks humble Celtics 122-84 to stay alive in NBA Finals

Luka Doncic scored 25 of his 29 points in the first half as Dallas Mavericks handed Boston Celtics their first road defeat of the playoffs. (USA TODAY Sports)
Short Url
Updated 15 June 2024
Follow

Mavericks humble Celtics 122-84 to stay alive in NBA Finals

  • Luka Doncic scored 25 of his 29 points in the first half and Kyrie Irving added 21 for the Mavs
  • Dallas will try to stop the Celtics from celebrating an 18th title when they travel to Boston for game five

LOS ANGELES: Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks dominated Boston 122-84 on Friday to fend off elimination in the NBA Finals, denying the Celtics a sweep in the best-of-seven championship series.
Doncic scored 25 of his 29 points in the first half and Kyrie Irving added 21 for the Mavs, who snapped the Celtics’ 10-game playoff winning streak but still have a mountain to climb as they try to become the first team to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series.
Now down 3-1, Dallas will try to stop the Celtics from celebrating an 18th title when they travel to Boston for game five on Monday.
“Like I said at the beginning of the series, it’s first to four,” Doncic said. “We’re going to believe until the end.
“I have big belief in this team that we can do it, so we’ve just got to keep believing.”
Doncic, roundly criticized after game three when he fouled out with more than four minutes left and could only watch as the Mavs’ comeback bid fell short, was dialed in on the defensive end as Dallas held the Celtics to 36.2 percent shooting.
Boston star Jayson Tatum scored 15 points and Jaylen Brown had just 10 as the Mavs posted the third-largest margin of victory in NBA Finals history.
“Thought they played with a ton of energy and physicality,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said of the Mavericks. “And they are a great team, that’s the reason why they are here when they play like that.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 15 points off the bench for Dallas and 20-year-old rookie Dereck Lively added 11 — including his first career three-pointer — as the Mavs topped 100 points for the first time in the series.
Dallas handed Boston their first road defeat of these playoffs and ended their bid for the 10th 4-0 sweep in Finals history.
With Doncic and Irving leading the way, Dallas built a 34-21 first-quarter lead — the Mavs’ highest-scoring quarter of the series.
There was no let-up in the second, the Mavs dominating every facet of the game on the way to a 61-35 halftime lead.
Lively electrified the crowd at American Airlines Center with his three-pointer, followed by an alley-oop dunk on the next possession in the first period.
“I think our energy was way higher,” Doncic said. “Everybody was locked in (on the) defensive end.”
The Celtics, harried at every turn, made 14 of their 41 three-point attempts. They were out-scored 60-26 in the paint and out-rebounded 52-31 — Dallas’ dominance on the boards leading to a 16-2 edge in second-chance points.
“They did a great job flying around, making indecision on whether to shoot it or drive and their multiple efforts,” Mazzulla said. “And I thought their five men did a great job protecting the paint. Whenever we went in for a layup, they had multiple guys contesting.”
Doncic said it was the prospect of elimination more than criticism of defense that had him stepping up the intensity, forgoing his usual complaints to officials and letting his game speak for him.
Stripped by Jrue Holiday on a drive to the basket, Doncic dived for the loose ball and swatted it to Irving, who played it back to him for a layup.
Fouled on the play, Doncic made the free throw to put Dallas up 43-25 midway through the second quarter.
Mavs coach Jason Kidd — and Mazzulla — said Doncic was just his normal MVP-candidate self.
“There was not a different Luka out there,” Kidd said. “He’s great, he’s been great, he’s one of the best players in the world, as much as we want to criticize him, he’s a hell of a player.”
The Mavs were up 92-57 when Doncic and Irving checked out of the game to a standing ovation with 1:29 left in the third quarter, Irving offering Doncic a congratulatory embrace on the bench.
Mazzulla had already pulled his starters by then, their attention already turning to game five and their next chance to break out of a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for most NBA titles.


World champions Spain, new-look USA top Olympic women’s football billing

Updated 24 July 2024
Follow

World champions Spain, new-look USA top Olympic women’s football billing

  • Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmati, Alexia Putellas and Salma Paralluelo are the standouts in a superb Spanish side that also won the UEFA Women’s Nations League this year and are now making their Olympic debut
  • The US come to Paris under the leadership of English former Chelsea boss Hayes, probably the outstanding female coach in the sport

PARIS: A rejuvenated US team under new coach Emma Hayes are targeting a record-extending fifth women’s football gold medal at the Paris Olympics but face stiff competition, not least in the shape of World Cup holders Spain and their all-star lineup.

The USA just about remain the biggest draw in women’s soccer despite disappointing recent results and the departures of several veteran stars.

They won gold when women’s football was introduced to the Olympics in 1996, and won three in a row in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

But they exited in the quarterfinals in 2016 and settled for bronze three years ago in Tokyo after losing to eventual champions Canada in the semis.

That was followed by a shock last-16 exit at the World Cup a year ago in Australia and New Zealand, a disappointing end to the iconic Megan Rapinoe’s international career and an outcome that precipitated the exit of coach Vlatko Andonovski.

They come to Paris under the leadership of English former Chelsea boss Hayes, probably the outstanding female coach in the sport.

She made a striking decision when naming her squad for the Games by choosing to leave out Alex Morgan, one of the leading players in the sides that won the 2015 and 2019 World Cups but now in her twilight years at the age of 35.

“It was a tough decision of course...especially considering Alex’s history and record with this team, but I felt I wanted to go in another direction and selected other players,” said Hayes.

It is a younger USA squad now, although players like Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith will benefit from the experience garnered at the World Cup.

Experience is still there, too, notably in the shape of Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle, members of the side that won the World Cup in France in 2019.

The USA are in a difficult Group B with Germany, Australia and a Zambia team who are outsiders but boast exciting forward in Barbra Banda and Racheal Kundananji.

The format — with 12 teams in three groups of four — means the two best third-placed sides advance to the quarterfinals, providing a safety net in the event of slip-ups.

Germany, gold medalists in 2016, will aim to bounce back from their group-stage exit at the World Cup but have lost key midfielder Lena Oberdorf to injury.

Australia are hoping to build on their run to the semifinals in that World Cup on home soil, yet they are missing Sam Kerr, their captain, as she recovers from an ACL injury.

Spain, in Group C with Japan, Nigeria and Brazil, will take some beating as they arrive in Paris with the stars who led them to World Cup glory 11 months ago.

Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmati, Alexia Putellas and Salma Paralluelo are the standouts in a superb side that also won the UEFA Women’s Nations League this year and are now making their Olympic debut.

“I’m sure lots of people and lots of teams see us as favorites, but this competition is a bit different,” Bonmati told Marca.

“We play lots of matches in a short space of time, and against good sides, so it will be very difficult. But obviously we have the maximum ambition and are going for gold.”

Spain kick off against 2012 silver medalists Japan, whose side includes Hinata Miyazawa, top scorer at the World Cup.

Nigeria are the top-ranked African nation, while Brazil are two-time silver medalists and hope to contend again in legendary forward Marta’s sixth Olympics at the age of 38.

France, meanwhile, are aiming big on home soil as they face reigning Olympic champions Canada, New Zealand and the Colombia of teenage sensation Linda Caicedo in Group A.

“The objective, like that of every French athlete, is to win a medal. It won’t be easy, but it has to be the aim,” said coach Herve Renard, who will leave after the tournament which begins on Thursday and runs until Aug. 10.

Games will be played around France, with the semifinals in Lyon and Marseille. However, the gold-medal match will be in Paris.


No flags but plenty of fire for Medvedev at Paris Olympics

Updated 24 July 2024
Follow

No flags but plenty of fire for Medvedev at Paris Olympics

  • The tennis star, along with other Russian and Belarusians at the Games, has to compete as a neutral following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine
  • Despite his fiery personality the chess-playing and fluent French-speaking Medvedev has reached the peaks of the sport

PARIS: There will be no flags or fanfare for Daniil Medvedev at the Paris Olympics but Russia’s highest-profile athlete in the French capital is unlikely to be far from the headlines.

The tennis star, along with other Russian and Belarusians at the Games, has to compete as a neutral following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Having demonstrated that they have not supported the war and have no links to the military, they have been allowed to compete but cannot fly their national flags.

The two countries’ national anthems are also banned and should Medvedev win an Olympic medal for the first time, the achievement will not be recognized in the medals table.

“When I’m 40, if I can say I played in the Tokyo Olympics, Paris Olympics and Los Angeles Olympics, I had a lot of fun in my life, my career, I’m going to be happy,” said Medvedev.

The 28-year-old world No. 5 is one of the most controversial players in tennis.

The 1.98m (6ft 6ins) giant came close to being disqualified from his Wimbledon semifinal against Carlos Alcaraz this month for a foul-mouthed rant at the chair umpire, before escaping with a warning.

Medvedev explained that he had called the official “a small cat.”

His explosive temperament has seen him feud with rivals Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

In Miami in 2018, after Tsitsipas made a foul-mouthed remark about Medvedev, the Russian dismissed the Greek as a “small kid who doesn’t know how to play.”

His rivalry with Zverev peaked at Monte Carlo last year when Medvedev saved two match points in a tense last-16 victory.

Germany’s Zverev lashed out at Medvedev for taking a bathroom break at a key moment in the tie, blasting the Russian as “one of the most unfair players in the world.”

Medvedev hit back, telling the current world No. 4 to “take a look at yourself in the mirror.”

In the Netflix series “Break Point,” Zverev accused Medvedev of playing “dirty games” and added: “He’s somebody that knows how to play with the head of the opponent.”

Crowds around the world have not escaped the wrath of Medvedev.

At the Paris Masters last year, he branded fans “stupid” for jeering during one of his matches.

Despite suggesting that he would halt his match, he agreed to continue, but warned his tormentors “shut your mouths, okay!“

Despite his fiery personality the chess-playing and fluent French-speaking Medvedev has reached the peaks of the sport.

At the 2021 US Open he claimed his only major title, easily defeating Novak Djokovic in the final and denying the Serb a rare calendar Grand Slam.

True to his unorthodox nature, Medvedev celebrated his New York victory by falling to the floor of the Arthur Ashe Stadium and imitating the “dead fish” celebration from a FIFA video game.

Medvedev has come agonizingly close to adding to his majors collection.

In this year’s Australian Open final he surrendered a two-set lead to lose to Jannik Sinner.

Two years ago in Melbourne he had opened a two-sets lead over Rafael Nadal only again to lose in five.

Nadal also got the better of him at the 2019 US Open final over another five-setter.

Away from the Slams, Medvedev is one of just six men to have captured six or more Masters titles, joining Djokovic, Roger Federer, Nadal, Andre Agassi and Andy Murray.

When he spent 16 weeks as world No. 1 in 2022, he was the first man other than Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal in 18 years to attain top spot.

At the Paris Olympics, which open on Friday, Medvedev believes his best chance of a medal will be in doubles rather than singles, on a clay-court surface which has often been alien to his game.

“I’m going to prepare a lot for doubles and mixed doubles because I do believe I have more chances there than in Roland Garros singles,” he said.


Celtic edge Manchester City 4-3 in US pre-season friendly

Updated 24 July 2024
Follow

Celtic edge Manchester City 4-3 in US pre-season friendly

Nicolas Kuhn scored twice and Luis Palma netted the decider in the 68th minute to give Celtic a 4-3 victory over Manchester City in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday.

Norway’s Erling Haaland, wearing the City captain’s armband for the first time, nodded home an equalizer in the 57th minute only for Honduran international Palma to tap in the winning goal on a breakaway at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Memorial Stadium.

The match was a tuneup for next month’s start of the 2024-25 campaigns for Celtic, winner of the past three Scottish Premiership crowns, and four-time defending English Premier League champion Manchester City, which began a US tour.

With several top stars resting from the European Championships, City manager Pep Guardiola used the opportunity to analyze younger talent.

The match marked a Celtic debut for goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, the 37-year-old Dane who began his career with City in 2006. He played the first half for the Hoops.

German right wing Kuhn netted a first-half brace for Celtic, playing in a fourth pre-season match.

Down 3-1 at half-time, City answered seconds into the second half on just-inserted 21-year-old Argentine substitute Maximo Perrone’s goal, a left-footed shot from the right side into the far corner on his first touch of the ball.

Haaland headed in a centering pass from countryman Oscar Bobb in the 57th minute to lift City level.

But Celtic scored the winner in the 68th minute as Palma, who entered three minutes earlier, finished a three-man breakaway as City’s defenders were caught flat-footed near midfield after pressing with the backline.

City substitute Ben Knight was denied an equalizer in the 76th minute when second-half Celtic keeper Viljami Sinisalo of Finland knocked the ball over the crossbar.

Kuhn opened the scoring in the 13th minute, taking a pass on the right side and charging in on City starting goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, then firing a left-footed shot just inside the far post.

Schmeichel denied Haaland in the 23rd minute with a right-hand save on a left-footed shot off a feed from James McAtee.

In the 31st, Schmeichel again denied Haaland, from the right side on a left-footed shot that Schmeichel swatted away with his left hand.

But Man City equalized in the 33rd minute as Haaland flicked the ball left to onrushing Bobb, who blasted a shot that deflected off Schmeichel and bounced into the goal.

Kuhn answered for Celtic in the 36th minute, rushing in from the right wing then pulling back the ball to evade a defender and curling a left-footed blast high into the goal.

Celtic stretched the edge to 3-1 in the 44th minute when Kuhn delivered a perfect centering pass to Japan’s fast-rushing Kyogo Furuhashi, who split two defenders, evaded Ortega and fired in a left-footed shot from a steep angle.

Man City’s US tour continues Saturday against AC Milan at New York’s Yankee Stadium, with other matches next week against Barcelona at Orlando and Chelsea in Columbus, Ohio.

Celtic will face Chelsea on Saturday in South Bend, Indiana.


France to get conditional approval to host 2030 Winter Games at IOC meeting before Paris Olympics

Updated 24 July 2024
Follow

France to get conditional approval to host 2030 Winter Games at IOC meeting before Paris Olympics

  • The IOC had wanted its traditional eve-of-Olympics meeting in Paris to confirm France as the 2030 host and give Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Games
  • French President Emmanuel Macron still fully supports the 2030 Winter Games, national Olympic leader David Lappartient said at a news conference

PARIS: France will get just a partial Olympic win on Wednesday when its bid to host the 2030 Winter Games is presented to IOC members.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach confirmed Tuesday that full approval for the bid — centered on ski resorts in the French Alps and coastal city Nice — cannot be given since parliamentary elections this month left France with only a caretaker national government.

“There will be a vote on the 2030 project but it will be a vote being linked with conditions,” Bach said about a scheduled meeting Wednesday, hours before team sports start play at the Paris Summer Games.

The IOC had wanted its traditional eve-of-Olympics meeting in Paris to confirm France as the 2030 host and give Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Games.

Salt Lake City will be confirmed by the IOC as the preferred and only candidate, bringing the Winter Games back to Utah 32 years after hosting in 2002.

Potential Olympic hosts need sign-off from different layers of government to guarantee funding and services such as security, which are essential to plan and run the games.

French President Emmanuel Macron still fully supports the 2030 Winter Games, national Olympic leader David Lappartient said at a news conference.

“Even if there is not a majority in the parliament, there is a strong majority behind the games,” said Lappartient, adding progress was made in recent weeks that let a conditional vote be agreed.

Lappartient has a growing reputation as a potential successor to Bach, especially after helping the IOC steer the first Olympic Esports Games to Saudi Arabia in a 12-year hosting deal. That deal was formally approved Tuesday after a 25-minute presentation by Saudi Olympic officials seeking to promote how the Kingdom is using sports to modernize its society.

Bach’s 12-year term leading the Olympic body expires next year. Term limits were introduced as part of anti-corruption reforms that were passed in the fallout from the scandal of IOC members seeking and getting favors from Salt Lake City officials during its 2002 campaign.

Bach’s exit is still not assured while IOC officials weigh a proposal to change its rules that would let him stand again. The issue has been postponed until after the Paris Olympics.

One athlete entered in the Olympics was taken out of the games Tuesday in a doping case.

Track and field’s Athletics Integrity Unit said Polish high jumper Norbert Kobielski was provisionally suspended because he tested positive for pentedrone norephedrine. Kobielski placed 10th in the world championships last year.

Asked how he felt about an eve-of-Olympics doping case, Bach replied: “Good to keep the cheaters out of the games.”


New Zealand Olympic soccer team complains after Canadian team drone flown over its training session

Updated 24 July 2024
Follow

New Zealand Olympic soccer team complains after Canadian team drone flown over its training session

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealand says it has complained to the International Olympic Committee’s integrity unit after a drone flown over a New Zealand women’s soccer team training session was found to be operated by a member of the Canadian team’s support staff.

Defending Olympic champion Canada and New Zealand meet in their opening match at the Olympic tournament on Thursday. The drone incident occurred earlier this week, the New Zealand Olympic Committee said Wednesday.

“Team support members immediately reported the incident to police leading to the drone operator, who has been identified as a support staff member of the wider Canadian Women’s football team, to be detained,” the NZOC said in a statement.

“The NZOC has formally lodged the incident with the IOC integrity unit and has asked Canada for a full review.”

The NZOC statement said Canada had apologized over the incident and is investigating.

“The NZOC and New Zealand Football are committed to upholding the integrity and fairness of the Olympic Games and are deeply shocked and disappointed by this incident, which occurred just three days before the sides are due to face each other in their opening game of Paris 2024,” the NZOC said.

“At this time the NZOC’s main priority is to support the New Zealand women’s football athletes and wider team as they start their campaign.”

It’s not the first time a Canadian soccer team has been accused of using a drone to film an international rival’s training session.

In 2021 at Toronto, Honduras stopped a training session ahead of its men’s World Cup qualifier against Canada after spotting a drone above the field, according to reports in Honduran media. The teams played to a 1-1 draw.