NBA

Antetokounmpo dominates as Bucks beaten by Hornets, Sabonis silences Jazz

By Sports Desk January 09, 2022

Giannis Antetokounmpo extended his run of 30-point games to eight in a row but it was not enough as the Milwaukee Bucks lost 114-106 to the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP piled on 21 points in the final quarter to finish with 43 for the game as the Hornets held off the Bucks' charge, with Charlotte guard LaMelo Ball scoring 19 points, with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Antetokounmpo also recorded 12 rebounds and two blocks in a final all-round game for the Bucks, who were missing Jrue Holiday and head coach Mike Budenholzer due to the league's health and safety protocols.

Khris Middleton had a near triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, including shooting four triples.

The result means the reigning champions hold a 26-16 record having lost three of their past four games, while the Hornets are 21-19.

Sabonis silences Jazz, Brown triple-double

Domantas Sabonis piled on 42 points, making his first 10 shots of the game, as the Indiana Pacers won 125-113 over the Utah Jazz minus Rudy Gobert.

Jaylen Brown recorded his first career triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Boston Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 99-75.

Jaren Jackson Jr scored 26 points with eight rebounds and five blocks as the Memphis Grizzlies, without Ja Morant, improved to a 27-14 record with a 123-108 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Leaders cooled by Heat

Chris Paul was quiet with nine points, seven assists and four turnovers as the table-topping Phoenix Suns lost 123-100 to the Miami Heat. Devin Booker had 26 points but shot five of 15 from the field, while Tyler Herro scored 33 points off the bench for the Heat.

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  • Di Giannantonio claims 'unimaginable' maiden pole at Mugello Di Giannantonio claims 'unimaginable' maiden pole at Mugello

    Fabio di Giannantonio claimed a stunning maiden MotoGP pole in his home race at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello on Saturday. 

    The rookie Gresini rider snatched pole as rainy conditions hovered over the Mugello circuit, leading an Italian front three on the grid with Valentino Rossi duo Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini was halted due to a red flag.

    Initial spots of rain prompted the field to venture out on rain tyres expect Brad Binder, who gambled and lapped almost three seconds quicker, forcing the rest to return to the pits for slicks.

    Di Giannantonio took chances on the testy Mugello circuit, sticking his 2021-spec Gresini on pole with a time of 1:46.156, and his response post-qualifying was naturally one of excitement.

    "It’s one thing unimaginable, since you arrive right here in Mugello and anticipate to do a superb outcome for all of the individuals who come for you, who cheer for you, all of the help that you’ve got right here in your house race," he said post-qualifying.

    "Already using a Ducati MotoGP bike in Mugello is one thing unimaginable, and getting to the pole place is one thing else.

    "It was such a fantastic finish of the day for me, and one of many desires of my life is to be high on the grid in MotoGP."

    Johann Zarco briefly held provisional pole but had to settle for fourth on his Pramac Ducati, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia on the factory Ducati.

    He was followed by reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo, with Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro and LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami rounding out the second row.

    While Jack Miller missed out on Q2, but qualifying was ultimately marred by a fiery crash for Marc Marquez, who had a big highside at Luco.

    PROVISIONAL GRID

    1. Fabio di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing) 1:46.156
    2. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46) +0.088s
    3. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46) +0.171s
    4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.227s
    5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.315s
    6. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.350s
    7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.351s
    8. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +0.405s
    9. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.511s
    10. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) +0.523s

  • Klopp claims Courtois performance proved final was 'going wrong' for Madrid Klopp claims Courtois performance proved final was 'going wrong' for Madrid

    Jurgen Klopp congratulated Real Madrid on their Champions League final win but highlighted the number of statistics in Liverpool's favour as they came up just short in Paris.

    Indeed, Klopp claimed a historic performance from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could only be possible if "something is going wrong" for victors Madrid.

    Courtois made nine saves against Liverpool to preserve a clean sheet, capping one of the great individual Champions League campaigns.

    He finished top of the competition's charts for saves (59), save percentage (80.6, minimum five saves) and goals prevented according to expected goals on target data (4.7).

    Courtois capped his terrific European run in style at the Stade de France, as his save tallies for both the final and the campaign as a whole were highs for any single Champions League season since Opta records began in 2003-04.

    His heroics also contributed to Liverpool setting a new record for the most shots attempted in a final without scoring (24).

    Despite this profligacy, with Vinicius Junior putting away one of just four Madrid attempts in a 1-0 success, Klopp put forward Liverpool's case for winning the match and pinpointed Courtois' display as a concern for their opponents.

    "After the game, when I saw the stats, it was 50-50 possession," he told a news conference. "We had a lot more shots, a lot more shots on target, but the most decisive stat is absolutely on Madrid's side.

    "Just to make sure that nobody thinks I wouldn't congratulate Real Madrid, I do that now, but I [also] congratulated everybody present and involved outside personally.

    "They scored a goal, we didn't – that's the easiest explanation in the world of football, and it's hard, harsh to get anyway, [but we] respect that of course.

    "When the goalkeeper is man of the match then something is going wrong for the other team, so we had, I think, three really big chances where Courtois made incredible saves. I would have loved to have had a few more of this calibre."

    This was Liverpool's 63rd game of a long season, in which they played three finals and took the Premier League title race to the wire, and Klopp acknowledged fatigue could have been a factor while still believing the Reds did enough to go home with the trophy.

    "Let me say, [the number of matches] doesn't help, but I don't think it was the reason," he added.

    "We all know, the chances we had, when the player shoots a ball, the ball going in or is on the foot actually only an inch, that's all. Nothing to do with being at the peak of your physical things or not.

    "We had these situations, the chance in the one-on-one situation from close range from Mo [Salah]; we know how often Mo scored in these situations. It was just an outstanding save from Courtois, we have to respect that as well.

    "I think Madrid had one shot on target, is that right? And that was a goal.

    "But, look, I understand 100 per cent and I respect 100 per cent the reason for playing football and having these kinds of competitions is to win the game, and whatever you do – as long as it's in the rules – it's allowed and you can do it. It's completely fine."

  • Robertson: Liverpool players 'devastated' after Champions League final defeat Robertson: Liverpool players 'devastated' after Champions League final defeat

    Andrew Robertson described Liverpool's players as "devastated" by their Champions League final loss to Real Madrid, as Vinicius Junior's winner condemned the Reds to a heartbreaking reverse in Paris.

    The Brazil winger's 59th-minute goal ensured Madrid repeated their 2018 final win over Liverpool to earn their 14th European crown, while only Juventus (five) have now lost more Champions League finals than the Reds (three).

    Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp has now lost more finals in the competition than any other coach (three), and despite winning the EFL Cup and FA Cup after penalty shoot-outs, Liverpool have failed to score a single goal in five and a half hours of football in major finals this term.

    Having threatened a quadruple after embarking on a brilliant four-front trophy hunt this season, Liverpool only have the domestic cups to show for their efforts after also missing out on the Premier League title to Manchester City.

    Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Robertson said the Liverpool dressing room was a sombre place following the narrow reverse, admitting his side had not reached their highest level at the Stade de France.

    The Scotland international also hailed Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois after he put in a remarkable performance to keep out the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

    "Obviously it's quiet, devastated – that's what happens when you come to finals and don't win," Robertson said of the atmosphere among the Liverpool ranks.

    "We had chances, we came up against an unbelievable goalie tonight, he pulled off some unbelievable saves. But if we're being honest as well, I think we could have played a bit better, especially in the second half. 

    "I thought first half we played well, we were in control, we were the ones pushing. Second half, we didn't start great, they started getting a hold of the game a bit more. 

    "When you come up against an experienced team, they know how to win finals. Once they got their noses in front, they showed that."

    Liverpool dominated for long periods in the French capital, attempting 24 shots across the contest.

    That tally is the most a team have mustered without scoring in a Champions League final since records began (in 2003-04), and Liverpool were punished for their failure to break the deadlock when Vinicius turned home from Federico Valverde's cross.

    Robertson was left to rue Madrid's counter-attacking excellence after the loss, also praising the LaLiga champions for their ability to see out the lead.

    "We're a pressing team, we try to press from the front, and it's worked so much for us this season," he added. 

    "We were trying to win the ball high up, and obviously they've ended up breaking, and then we've been caught at the back post, and next minute it's in the back of your net. That's football for you, and you have to deal with that. 

    "Obviously it's hard to get back into the game when you're playing against a very experienced team in these finals, they know exactly how to see out a game. 

    "We had our chances, but it just wasn't meant to be."

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