NBA

Embiid fuels streaking 76ers in Doc's milestone win as Doncic nails buzzer-beating three and Lakers lose

By Sports Desk November 07, 2021

Joel Embiid starred as the Philadelphia 76ers extended their winning streak to six games by topping Eastern Conference hopefuls the Chicago Bulls 114-105 in the NBA on Saturday.

Embiid – last season's MVP runner-up – posted 30 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocks to fuel the in-form 76ers on the road in Chicago.

He also made four of five three-pointers as the 76ers finished 50 per cent from beyond the arc, while Furkan Korkmaz (25 points) matched a career high with seven made threes.

It was a memorable night for 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, who celebrated his 1,000th career victory – the 10th NBA coach to achieve the feat.

 

Eastern Conference leaders the 76ers (8-2) have won eight of their first 10 games for the first time since a 10-0 start in 2000-01.

 

Doncic on the buzzer

Luka Doncic hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer as the Dallas Mavericks topped the Boston Celtics 107-104. Doncic finished with 33 points.

The Denver Nuggets edged the lowly Houston Rockets 95-94 behind reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. Along with 28 points and 14 rebounds, Jokic also made the crucial block on Jae'Sean Tate's drive to the basket as time expired.

Kyle Lowry put up a triple-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists – the 19th of his career – to key the high-flying Miami Heat's 118-115 victory at home to the Utah Jazz. Donovan Mitchell's 37 points were not enough for the Jazz.

 

Westbrook headlines Lakers' woes

Without LeBron James (abdominal strain) and Anthony Davis (two points) only managing seven minutes, Russell Westbrook struggled in the 105-90 loss away to the Portland Trail Blazers. Westbrook made just one of 13 shots for eight points, while he turned the ball over on six occasions.

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  • The three Man Utd youngsters who could be breakthrough stars for Erik ten Hag The three Man Utd youngsters who could be breakthrough stars for Erik ten Hag

    Erik ten Hag is the latest boss Manchester United have turned to in their pursuit of success in the post-Alex Ferguson era.

    David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have failed to meet expectations since Ferguson's retirement in 2013, leaving Ten Hag with a difficult challenge on his hands.

    Aside from getting results right on the pitch and challenging for honours, Ten Hag also has the task of bleeding young talent into the first-team fold on a regular basis – something his predecessors have all continued to do despite their eventual failings.

    The likes of Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay have capitalised on opportunities in the past decade after rising through the club's youth ranks – and United have no shortage of players who can follow suit.

    Three players in particular are ones that Ten Hag should be keeping close tabs on, and they could become integral.

    Facundo Pellistri

    The highly rated winger has spent the past 18 months on loan in Spain with Deportivo Alaves, accumulating plenty of first-team opportunities with a total of 33 appearances across all competitions in that period, but just 11 have been as a starter.

    United may feel they can provide those limited opportunities off the bench themselves and, if utilised, can expect plenty of link-up play down the right side from Pellistri – with the majority of his final-third passes during his spell with Alaves coming in that area.

    No team in the top six of the Premier League last season scored fewer goals than United last term (57), with seventh-placed West Ham (60) and eighth-placed Leicester City (62) also bettering that tally.

    The attacking third is an area where Ten Hag needs to find more threat and Pellistri may provide that option, albeit he failed to register a goal or an assist during his spell in Spain. He created seven chances in 753 first-team minutes last season, but none of those were converted.

    With more creativity in the squad at United and better support, Pellistri should be able to improve on his direct return to register more influential moments in matches.

    James Garner

    Garner has helped turn Nottingham Forest from second-tier middlemen to a Premier League outfit – with a play-off victory against Huddersfield Town bringing an end to a 23-year wait for top-flight football.

    In Forest's promotion-winning campaign, loanee Garner was a regular fixture in the side with 41 appearances, 36 of which were as a starter, resulting in four goals and eight assists – with only Brennan Johnson, Lewis Grabban and Philip Zinckernagel being involved in more direct goal contributions.

    Seven of Garner's assists came from set-pieces, with United's overall total in 2021-22 being 10 in that regard – so Garner could play an integral part in improving that return with his deliveries from corners and free-kicks, if Bruno Fernandes can occasionally be shuffled off such duties.

    Crucially for a club like United, Garner has shown he can perform under pressure given his display in the Championship play-off final against Huddersfield – where his accuracy of 88 per cent from 48 attempted passes included completions across the field.

    Forest, understandably, are reportedly interested in bringing Garner back to the City Ground again next season in their bid to remain in the Premier League, but United will assess the 21-year-old in pre-season before making a final decision.

    Alejandro Garnacho

    Earning his senior debut for United in the Premier League clash against Chelsea in April, Garnacho's introduction to the Premier League was merely a cameo at the end of that clash.

    On the final day of the season, in a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, Garnacho again came off the bench for an 11-minute appearance and was once more limited with his opportunity to make an impression – though that has already been done in the youth ranks.

    He scored in UEFA Youth League matches against Atalanta and Young Boys. However, it was in the FA Youth Cup where Garnacho made perhaps his biggest impact, scoring in every round bar the fourth as United lifted the trophy – with a seven-goal haul in the competition including a double in the 3-1 victory against Nottingham Forest in the final.

    With Jadon Sancho struggling for consistency down the left for United since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, Garnacho could return to the first-team fold during the 2022-23 season.

    Opportunities could well come in the cup competitions, including the Europa League, in what will be a frantic season due to the disruption caused by the World Cup in Qatar.

  • Stanley Cup: Avalanche star Cale Makar makes history with Conn Smythe Trophy win Stanley Cup: Avalanche star Cale Makar makes history with Conn Smythe Trophy win

    Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar added yet another incredible accomplishment to his resume by being named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP of the playoffs, as his side secured the Stanley Cup with a 2-1 win in Game 6.

    In doing so, Makar became the first player to ever win all five of the Hobey Baker Award for best player in college hockey, the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year, the James Norris Memorial Trophy for the NHL's top defenseman, the Conn Smythe Trophy, and a Stanley Cup.

    It is a resume that will likely book his place in the Hall-of-Fame when all is said and done – and he does not turn 24 years old until October.

    Speaking to ESPN after the final siren sounded, Makar said it was a dream come true.

    "I just look at [my teammates], and all the work these guys have put in," he said. "They've been here so many years, the ups and downs.

    "It's just so awesome to be a part of them getting rewarded for all their hard work and success over the years. I'm just so proud of the boys.

    "You grow up, you see [the Stanley Cup trophy] as a kid, you have pictures of it on your wall.

    "All I think about is everyone that got me here – my family is in the stands, so it's amazing, wherever they are. It's just surreal, amazing."

    He added: "It's just been building over time. I've been here only three years, with a couple tough exits in playoffs.

    "It was just all leading up to this. Oh man, if you told me this was going to be three years in, I would've said I don't know… it's just amazing, I don't have any more words."

    Avalanche coach Jared Bednar spoke about what it felt like to guide this team to the mountaintop.

    "I'm feeling every emotion you could possibly think of," he said. "I'm just so happy and so proud of these guys, and what they've put in.

    "To see them get rewarded for all their hard work is hard to describe. There's this sense of relief, a sense of satisfaction – it's still sinking in.

    "When the buzzer went there was almost disbelief that we got the job done. It's been an amazing ride, and I'm just grateful that I've been able to be a part of it with this team."

    He went on to touch on just how hard it is to actually make it all the way, and the evolution he has seen over the past couple of seasons.

    "It's so difficult to get here, and that's why I'm so impressed with the Tampa Bay Lightning to be able to do it three years in a row and win two Cups, it's incredible," he said.

    "We've gone from just being a skill team that was fun to watch, to digging in and getting more competitive in a lot of areas, and more determined in a lot of areas, but they're such a close-knit group and a resilient group.

    "Whether we've learned that with maturity, or the last couple seasons of heartbreak, this group has been so focused to accomplish their goals, that's why I'm so happy they got rewarded. It's been a long journey for a lot of these guys, and it's been an amazing ride."

    Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic – who spent 13 seasons as a player in Colorado, including both of the franchise's previous Stanley Cup seasons – said he is filled with joy for the older players in the team who may have thought they would never get one.

    "It feels great, it's amazing," he said. "This is something you dream of. I'm so proud of the players, particularly the older guys that have been around.

    "Guys like [Nathan] MacKinnon, [Gabriel] Landeskog, Erik Johnson, they didn't want to leave, they wanted to be a part of it. I'm happy for those guys.

    "You bring in a guy like Jack Johnson who hasn't won, and [Andrew] Cogliano comes in, and these older guys who have been around a long time and now have their opportunity to win their first cup. Being a former player, you know how happy they are, and how relieved they are to have a chance to lift the Stanley Cup."

  • Wimbledon: Djokovic hoping for Nadal clash as he seeks revenge for Roland Garros defeat Wimbledon: Djokovic hoping for Nadal clash as he seeks revenge for Roland Garros defeat

    Novak Djokovic would be delighted by the prospect of facing Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon final, as he targets revenge for his French Open loss to the Spaniard.

    Nadal remains on course for a calendar Grand Slam after following up January's Australian Open victory with his 14th French Open title earlier this month, having overcome Djokovic in a quarter-final classic on the clay in Paris.

    The Spaniard's Roland Garros triumph moved him two clear of Djokovic's tally of 20 grand slam titles, while his last-eight win over the Serbian was his 29th in the pair's head-to-head rivalry (Djokovic has 30 wins).

    With 59 career meetings, the duo have met one another more often than any other men's pairing in the Open Era, and they could be set for a final showdown at Wimbledon after landing on opposite sides of the draw.

    Speaking to Sky Sports, defending Wimbledon champion Djokovic said he would relish such a contest and insisted Nadal, who has not triumphed on the grass in London since 2010, is among the favourites to take home the title.

     

    "If we get to face each other it means we're both in the finals, which I think we both want," Djokovic said.

    "It's a very long way [away], but of course you have to put him as one of the favourites, even though he hasn't played at Wimbledon for the last three years [including the cancelled 2020 edition], I think.

    "But still, he's Nadal, he has achieved what he has achieved throughout his career and also this year, of course, which gives you a lot of confidence in his case.

    "I'm sure there's going to be a lot of great matches ahead for both of us, and if we get to face [each other] in the final… I'd love to face him in the final and get revenge for Paris!"

    Nadal has beaten Djokovic in 11 of the duo's 18 grand slam meetings, although the Serbian holds a 2-1 advantage over their three Wimbledon contests, triumphing in the 2011 final and the 2018 semi-finals.

    Djokovic begins his Wimbledon campaign by facing Kwon Soon-woo on Centre Court on Monday, with Nadal taking on Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo the following day.

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