NBA

Nets clinch playoff berth and Lillard fuels Blazers as Doncic dominates Warriors

By Sports Desk April 27, 2021

The star-studded Brooklyn Nets clinched a place in the NBA playoffs after rallying past the lowly Toronto Raptors 116-103.

Nets superstar Kevin Durant posted 17 points – including seven in the fourth quarter – and 10 rebounds, while team-mate Jeff Green had 22 points as Brooklyn became the first team in the Eastern Conference to secure a postseason berth on Tuesday.

The Nets trailed 90-84 early in the final period but used a 16-2 run to seize control, with Durant sealing the result with a three-pointer less than two minutes from the end in Tampa, Florida.

Brooklyn (42-20) – riding a three-game winning streak – are one and a half games clear of the Philadelphia 76ers (40-21) in the east.

Damian Lillard reached a career milestone and Anfernee Simons made his first nine three-point attempts as the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 133-112 rout of the Indiana Pacers.

Simons became the first NBA player to open with nine in a row from beyond the arc since Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors hit 10 straight to start a January 2019 game. 

Portland's Simons did miss his final three-point attempt but still led the Trail Blazers (33-28) with 27 points off the bench as the team made 20 three-pointers overall. 

Lillard (23 points) hit only six of 14 from the field, but one of those shots was significant. His third of four three-pointers gave him 2,000 for his career, making him the 10th player in history to hit that mark. 

The All-Star achieved the feat in his 670th career game, second only to Stephen Curry's 597 among that group.

 

Doncic, Mavericks run away from Warriors

A meeting of NBA superstars fizzled as Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks roared past Curry and the Warriors in the first half on the way to a 133-103 blowout. Doncic had 39 points in only 28 minutes, adding eight assists and six rebounds to outplay Curry (27 points, two assists). Golden State led 12-11 early in the game, but Dallas scored the next 28 points to put it out of reach early. The Mavericks' 28-0 run was the longest since the New York Knicks did the same to the Raptors in November 2017. 

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo did it all for the Milwaukee Bucks, posting 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a 114-104 win against the Charlotte Hornets.

The Oklahoma City Thunder avoided unwanted history, snapping a 14-game skid by upstaging the Boston Celtics 119-115. A 15th consecutive loss would have set a franchise record for the Thunder, who were led by Luguentz Dort (24 points) and Darius Bazley (21 points and 10 rebounds). Jaylen Brown had 39 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics.

 

Celtics crumble again

The Celtics fell to their third successive defeat as they try to avoid the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. Boston made only 19 of 55 shots from the field (34.5 per cent). The home loss dropped the Celtics (32-30) into a tie with the Miami Heat for sixth place. While Boston hold the tie-breaker advantage for now, the teams will face each other twice in the final five games of the season.

While the Nets clinched, Kyrie Irving struggled. The All-Star was just three-for-13 shooting, making just one of five three-pointers for nine points in 35 minutes.

 

Towns gets style points for Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Minnesota Timberwolves to their third win in a row with 31 points in a 114-107 victory over the Houston Rockets highlighted by a breakaway jam.

 

Tuesday's results

Oklahoma City Thunder 119-115 Boston Celtics
Milwaukee Bucks 114-104 Charlotte Hornets
Portland Trail Blazers 133-112 Indiana Pacers
Brooklyn Nets 116-103 Toronto Raptors
Minnesota Timberwolves 114-107 Houston Rockets
Dallas Mavericks 133-103 Golden State Warriors

 

Clippers at Suns

Two of the top three teams in the Western Conference meet on Wednesday as Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers (43-20) face Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns (43-18).

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    World number one Iga Swiatek put herself among an illustrious group of tennis greats by claiming her 17th match win at Roland Garros.

    Swiatek is the favourite for the French Open title this year, and the Pole has been in dominant form so far in Paris.

    On Saturday, she defeated Danka Kovinic 6-3 7-5 to move into round four, tallying up a 31st consecutive win in the process – only three players Justine Henin (32), Serena Williams (34) and Venus Williams (35) have recorded longer winning streaks this century.

    Swiatek won the first and only grand slam title of her career at Roland Garros in 2020, and of the 19 matches she has now played at the French Open, the 20-year-old has won 17.

    That feat ranks her just behind Margaret Court, Chris Evert and Monica Seles for the number of wins from their first 19 matches at Roland Garros in the Open Era.

    Evert, Seles and 24-time grand slam winner Court managed 18 victories from that number of matches.

    Swiatek was beaten by Maria Sakkari at the quarter-final stage in Paris last year.

  • French Open: Swiatek made to work but tallies up 31st successive win French Open: Swiatek made to work but tallies up 31st successive win

    Iga Swiatek's quest to win a second French Open title continued as she progressed into the fourth round with a 6-3 7-5 defeat of Danka Kovinic.

    Playing early on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Saturday, the top seed made ultimately got past the world number 95 Kovinic in straight sets, though the Montenegrin did not go down without a fight.

    Kovinic took all three break points that Swiatek offered up, with two of those coming in the second set, halting what seemed set to be a procession for the favourite.

    It has been over 100 days since Swiatek last lost a match, but the Pole temporarily lost her composure as Kovinic reeled off four straight games to go from 4-1 down to 5-4 up.

    The final game of Kovinic's streak was settled by a poor Swiatek backhand into the net as the 20-year-old saw the momentum swing the way of her opponent, who was frustrating the world number one with some sublime drop shots.

    Swiatek took a moment to recover, donning an extra layer, and responded in the next game by holding to 15, and a stray forehand from Kovinic then handed the 2020 champion a break and the chance to serve out the match.

    It was an opportunity Swiatek grasped, and though Kovinic fended off the first match point with a powerful forehand, a return straight into the net confirmed her exit.

    Swiatek will face Zheng Qinwen or Alize Cornet in round four.

    Data Slam: Swiatek closing in on Henin

    Swiatek's winning streak now stands at 31 matches, just one short of the tally reeled off by former world number one Justin Henin in 2008. Should she go all the way and triumph again at Roland Garros, then she will match the longest winning streak of this century, set by Venus Williams in 2000 (35).

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Swiatek – 13/23
    Kovinic – 13/31

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Swiatek – 1/0
    Kovinic – 3/4

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Swiatek – 5/10
    Kovinic – 3/3

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    Kumar Sangakkara cannot recall seeing anyone bat better than Rajasthan Royals run machine Jos Buttler in the Indian Premier League ahead of the final against Gujarat Titans.

    Buttler blasted the Royals into their first final for 14 years with a scintillating unbeaten 106 off only 60 balls to secure a seven-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Qualifier 2.

    The England wicketkeeper-batter hit six sixes and 10 fours in a masterclass at Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday, taking his tally of centuries for the season to four.

    Buttler is only one shy of Chris Gayle's record of scoring six IPL hundreds ahead of the final in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

    The 31-year-old is the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 824 from 16 innings at an average of 58.86 and Royals director of cricket Sangakkara has never seen anything like it. 

    He said: "It's hard to describe what he has done for us this season. I think he started off so well, had a little bit of a flutter at one point in the tournament, but he calmed himself down, had good conversations rather than just training.

    "He accepted he's mortal, he's human and he can't have that high level of excellence every single day. And to understand how you kind of reach that level at every game in different stages.

    "Some days you have to fight and look ugly, other days your rhythm is there. The reality is you can't fight that condition, but fight what's happening on the day.

    "You have to settle into it and build an innings. He can accelerate at any point, has all the strokes and understands the game really well. I can't remember anyone batting this well in the history of the IPL."

    Rajasthan have not reached a final since they won the inaugural IPL in 2008, when the late Shane Warne captained them to victory.

    Gujarat topped the table in their first IPL season and beat the Royals by seven wickets in Qualifier 1 to move into the final.

    David Miller struck a rapid 68 not out in that victory and the South Africa batter says he is reaping the rewards of the Titans putting their faith in him.

    He said: "I feel like I am repeating myself. But one thing that changed this season, is that I am playing every game.

    "The last four-five years in IPL… I had a bad season in 2016 and then haven't really felt backed at all. That’s the nature of the IPL. There are so many overseas players and only four can play.

    "I had to go back and work on my game. Although I felt really good playing for the domestic teams in South Africa, I was looking to find that good nick. That's what happened this season."

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