The Los Angeles Rams suffered a huge blow when Robert Woods tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Friday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini reported that Woods sustained the serious injury in practice on the day Odell Beckham Jr. joined the 7-2 Rams.

Woods was reportedly able to finish the session, but the extent of the damage done was revealed when he underwent tests.

Team captain Woods will play no part in the rest of the season as the Rams bid for Super Bowl glory.

Woods made 45 receptions for 556 yards and scored four touchdowns this season.

Beckham's arrival means he, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson will likely see the bulk of the targets from quarterback Matthew Stafford in Woods' absence.

Woods had told the media on Friday: "We're all working for the same goal. His thing is, I feel like, why he [Beckham] left -- he wanted to be a part of it and contribute, and I think just coming into this offense, he wants to work and contribute.

"We're all working toward the same goal: winning, grinding. I don't think it should be anything disruptive.''

The Rams' next game is against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday.

The Los Angeles Rams suffered a huge blow when Robert Woods tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Friday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini reported that Woods sustained the serious injury in practice on the day Odell Beckham Jr. joined the 7-2 Rams.

Woods was reportedly able to finish the session, but the extent of the damage done was revealed when he underwent tests.

Team captain Woods will play no part in the rest of the season as the Rams bid for Super Bowl glory.

Woods made 45 receptions for 556 yards and scored four touchdowns this season.

Beckham's arrival means he, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson will likely see the bulk of the targets from quarterback Matthew Stafford in Woods' absence.

Woods had told the media on Friday: "We're all working for the same goal. His thing is, I feel like, why he [Beckham] left -- he wanted to be a part of it and contribute, and I think just coming into this offense, he wants to work and contribute.

"We're all working toward the same goal: winning, grinding. I don't think it should be anything disruptive.''

The Rams' next game is against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday.

Ireland produced an outstanding performance to beat New Zealand 29-20 at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Andy Farrell's men, spurred on by a raucous home crowd in Dublin which relished an intense display from the hosts, overwhelmed the All Blacks.

New Zealand kept themselves within touching distance throughout despite being second best in most metrics but were unable to overcome a spirited Ireland side.

The visitors came within yards of the opening try on 10 minutes but Ronan Kelleher crucially intercepted, before Codie Taylor was shown a yellow card in the 13th minute for a high tackle on Johnny Sexton.

Ireland took full advantage as James Lowe scored the first try of the game in the corner just over a minute later.

Despite being largely on top, Ireland went in 10-5 behind at the break after a Jordie Barrett penalty and a converted try from the returning Taylor.

Ireland started the second half brightly with Kelleher forcing the ball over for their second try, though Sexton missed his conversion for a second time.

The home crowd did not have to wait long to see their team ahead though as Caelan Doris raced away to score Ireland's third try, and it was third time lucky for Sexton with the extra two points, before adding another penalty before the hour mark to stretch the lead to 10 after a 15-point swing.

A rare lapse in concentration allowed the All Blacks to add another converted try through Will Jordan's 15th score of 2021 - no other player from a Tier 1 nation has reached double figures - but Joey Carbery added an Irish penalty straight after replacing Sexton, who came off with a head injury.

A disallowed New Zealand try was followed by a penalty that briefly reduced the gap to three, but a Carbery kick from the halfway line soon restored the six-point advantage, and another three from the same man just before the end saw Ireland home for a famous win.

Ireland close to perfect in Dublin

This was as good a performance as Farrell could have hoped for, and it is testament to his team that they probably should have won by more.

Ireland had 66 per cent of possession, 72 per cent of territory, almost three times as many carries (68-23) and more than three times as many passes (175-57).

All Blacks a shadow of usual selves

Ian Foster will have been less pleased with what he saw from the world's number one team, though will surely concede that the quality of his opponents on the day was a bigger factor than his own team’s performance.

This was just New Zealand's third defeat from 41 Tests in Europe (W38), with those other losses coming at the hands of Ireland (16-9 in November 2018) and England (38-21 in December 2012).

Novak Djokovic is aiming to match Roger Federer's record haul of six ATP Finals titles, though defending champion Daniil Medvedev will be out to deny the Serbian.

Djokovic has secured a record seventh year-ending world number one ranking, and gained vengeance on Medvedev for his US Open heartbreak by defeating the Russian at the Paris Masters earlier this month.

That win brought up a record 37th ATP 1000 title for Djokovic, who surpassed Rafael Nadal in that regard. The Spaniard, along with fellow great Federer, is not competing at these Finals.

While Nadal and Federer will be missed as the tournament makes its debut in Turin after 12 editions at London's O2 Arena, it provides Djokovic – who lost to eventual runner-up Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals last year – with a good chance of matching the latter's tally of Finals wins. 

Medvedev, the second seed, seems the most likely candidate to go up against Djokovic, though his first challenge is to negotiate the Red Group, which also includes 2018 champion Alexander Zverev, debutant Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated Federer at Wimbledon, and Matteo Berrettini, who will have the backing of the Italian crowd. 

Djokovic, meanwhile, has to get past Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud and 2019 champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. It is certainly no foregone conclusion, as the next generation of stars catch up with one of the game's greats.

Medvedev unfazed by Djokovic familiarity

It is Medvedev who gets the tournament started, taking on Hurkacz on Monday. The world number two has gone from strength to strength since winning last year's season-ending showdown by beating Dominic Thiem 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

Medvedev has won four titles, including that crucial maiden grand slam, in 2021, with the 25-year-old reaching a further two finals, losing to Djokovic at the Australian Open and Paris Masters.

As well as meeting Djokovic three times so far this year (the record stands at 6-4 in the world number one's favour from 10 matches in total), Medvedev has also been practising with the world number one.

"You have to practise with other players," said Medvedev. "I think if you think, 'Oh my, he's going to see my weak side', your life in tennis will be too tough. You'd only be able to play with your sparring partner.

"You also need to play with the best players in the world to improve. The level of our matches will always be high, but you will try to adapt your style.

"I tried to re-watch the Australian Open final for the US Open final, and Novak watched the US Open match to change things [in Paris].

"We both did the right things [in Paris], but he played better on the day. You know nothing will ever come easily and you need to fight throughout the match."

Hurkacz will present a stern test. The Pole is 36-20 on the season having won three titles, while world number three Zverev edged out Djokovic in the 2018 finale. Berrettini, meanwhile, is making his second appearance at the Finals and will be eager to make home advantage count.

Tsitsipas happy with 2021 progress

Tsitsipas remains the only player to win both the NextGen and ATP Finals titles, but he has had to settle for something of a frustrating season. The Greek, ranked fourth in the world, has claimed two Tour victories, including his first Masters triumph, in Monte Carlo.

However, the Greek threw away a two-set lead in his first appearance in a grand slam final, as Djokovic fought back to clinch the French Open (his 19th major title, a tally he has now extended to 20).

The pair will meet again in the Green Group, though first up for Tsitsipas is Rublev, who he beat in Monte Carlo, though the Russian has won 48 matches in 2021.

"Overall, I am happy where I stand and I want to take an extra step and aim even higher next year. That will require new fresh goals. Working to find where the one per cent lies, or the five per cent, where I can benefit from it," Tsitsipas explained.

Ruud, the remaining member of the Green Group, should not be underestimated. The 22-year-old has won five titles this season and is the first Norweigian to appear at the event.

Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from qualifying in Sao Paulo due to a rear wing infringement and Max Verstappen has been fined €50,000 for touching and examining his title rival's car in a restricted area.

The 36-year-old's Mercedes "failed the test designed to check the requirements of the last paragraph of Art. 3.6.3 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations."

Hamilton must now start from the back of Saturday's sprint qualifying race in a major blow to his chances of winning the championship, with Verstappen taking pole.

Verstappen is 19 points clear of Hamilton in the standings as he bids to end Mercedes' seven-year drivers' championship monopoly and deny the Briton an eighth world title.

Hamilton was also forced to take a five-place grid penalty ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix as his car was fitted with a fifth engine due to issues with Mercedes' power units.

Verstappen received a sanction of his own, being hit with a hefty fine after a "breach of Article 2.5.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code."

A fan video captured the 24-year-old touching the rear wing of Hamilton's car in the Parc Ferme after qualifying on Friday.

The Washington Football Team have placed defensive end Montez Sweat on injured reserve with a fractured jaw.

Sweat, a first-round pick in the 2019 draft, played a starring role for Washington's defense last season as they made a return to the playoffs.

He registered nine sacks, helping Washington to an NFC East title and a first postseason berth since the 2015 season.

However, Ron Rivera's team have endured a steep decline on defense and appear destined to miss the playoffs this year, going 2-6 through eight games.

Washington have allowed 5.91 yards per play in 2021, the eighth-most in the NFL, though with four sacks to his name, Sweat has continued to find ways to get to the quarterback.

However, his pressure rate of 16.6 per cent is below the league average of 17.3 per cent for edge rushers, according to Stats Perform data.

Sweat will not have the opportunity to improve on those pressure numbers in the immediate future, with the injury expected to keep him out for four to six weeks.

Week 10 sees Washington welcome the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to FedEx Field on Sunday in a rematch of last year's Wild Card matchup.

 

Less than five months have passed since the Milwaukee Bucks faced the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Bucks advanced in six games and went on to win the NBA title, but the Hawks' surprise run meant the 2020-21 season was one both teams could reflect fondly on.

However, the early indications are 2021-22 will not be counted in the same category.

While there is a long way left to go in this campaign, the two teams enter Sunday's first regular-season meeting both below the playoff line. The Bucks are 6-7, while the Hawks have regressed significantly to 4-9.

Milwaukee can at least point to personnel issues. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday – their three main men – have so far shared just 21 minutes on the court.

Antetokounmpo is on course for an unprecedented fourth straight season averaging 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game but sat out of Friday's defeat to the Boston Celtics after spraining his ankle.

"He's kind of tested it a little bit twice today and he's just not able to go," coach Mike Budenholzer said before that game. "I know he'll get treatment, he'll probably get a lift, he'll do everything he can to get back as soon as possible."

Those words do not indicate an immediate return, even if he was originally listed as "probable" to play. Middleton has been out due to coronavirus but may return against the Hawks.

These mitigating factors are not available to Atlanta. They have named the five-man lineup that started their playoff run – prior to De'Andre Hunter's knee injury – on 11 occasions.

The Hawks should look to make the most of playing the short-handed champions and get their season back on track.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Atlanta Hawks – Trae Young

Young will not be short of motivation for this one. He scored 48 points in Game 1 against the Bucks, almost single-handedly winning the series opener as he attempted 34 field goals – the third-most by any player in a single game in the 2020-21 postseason – as well as contributing 11 assists.

But a combination of form and fitness then deserted the breakout star of the playoffs. He had just 15 points in Game 2, before rebounding with 35 in Game 3, only to suffer a foot injury that kept him out of the next two. Young returned with 23.5 per cent field goal shooting in Game 6 as Milwaukee sealed the series.

Atlanta's reliance on Young to both score and create became a real issue when he was faced with elite defense, forcing nine turnovers in Game 2 alone. He has a point to prove now.

Milwaukee Bucks – Jrue Holiday

The source of that elite defense was Holiday, who had scored 33 points in Game 1 but allowed Young too much space on the other side of the ball. The Bucks point guard quickly addressed that issue.

Holiday teamed up with Brook Lopez to effectively shut down Young, striking the right balance between aggressive defense and keeping a dangerous opponent away from the foul line; he attempted 12 free throws in Game 1 alone but only returned to the line 16 more times in the whole series.

An excellent display in Game 6 saw Holiday contribute 27 points, nine assists, nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks, offset only slightly by six turnovers. It is this sort of performance that will be required on Sunday. With Antetokounmpo and Middleton doubts, Holiday will have to drive Milwaukee on offense while being careful not to give Young free rein at the other end.

KEY BATTLE – Could Capela dominate?

It is not only the big names that have been missing for the Bucks, but also the big men. Lopez has not featured since the opening night of the season due to a back issue, while the absence of Antetokounmpo, who can play the five, deals a further blow to Milwaukee's depth.

Bobby Portis is set to line up against Clint Capela, who will expect to dominate his opponent on the boards, with 11.2 rebounds per game this year – a mark only Antetokounmpo on the Bucks' roster can top.

Capela has already been key for Atlanta in limiting the damage during their poor run. The Hawks's 110.1 defensive rating is the third-worst in the league, but that improves to 108.7 with Capela on the floor, by far the best rating of the team's regular starters.

HEAD TO HEAD

The Hawks might have taken the Bucks to six games in the playoffs, but this has been a series Milwaukee have dominated. Including that 4-2 Eastern Conference Finals victory, they are 16-4 in the teams' past 20 meetings. Atlanta won the opening playoff game by three but then lost four of the following five by double digits.

The Bucks have a 114-112 edge all-time in the regular season.

Makazole Mapimpi scored two tries as South Africa recovered from a half-time deficit to see off Scotland 30-15 in Saturday's entertaining Test at Murrayfield.

Scotland beat Australia 15-13 last week and looked good value to pull off another big win after opening up a 10-8 lead at the midway point against the Springboks.

Mapimpi had raced over following some good play from Siya Kolisi for the opening try of the contest after Finn Russell and Elton Jantjies shared a penalty apiece.

But the hosts hit back strongly with a brilliantly worked try that started with Russell chipping a cross-kick left and Stuart Hogg eventually collecting a bouncing ball to run in.

Russell successfully added the extras, unlike Jantjies earlier in the game, but he was wayward with a straightforward penalty just before the interval.

That proved costly as Damian de Allende flicked a great pass to Mapimpi three minutes into the second period to double South Africa's try count.

Jantjies this time made no mistake from the conversion and added six more points from the boot to punish ill-disciplined Scotland, who did manage to restore some hope when Hogg was fed by Duhan van der Merwe for a second try of his own.

However, any hopes Scotland had of a first win over the reigning world champions since 2010 were ended when Handre Pollard (two) and Francois Steyn kicked over a trio of late penalties.

Anthony Davis has warned the Los Angeles Lakers they will not be NBA title contenders this season if they do not improve on their "embarrassing" form.

The Lakers lost 107-83 at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday to fall to 7-6 on the year, despite playing 10 of their first 13 games at Staples Center.

Only once previous have the Lakers won the title after making a 7-6 start, improving to 57-25 in 2007-08 to take the top seed in the West.

Even with LeBron James closing on a return from injury, such a turnaround looks unlikely this year as things stand. Three of their seven wins have come only after overtime – a league high.

Davis, who led the team with 22 points against the Timberwolves, is certainly concerned.

"We've got to decide who we want to be," he said. "A championship team? That's not us right now. We're not winning a championship the way we're playing.

"We've got to be better, and we've got to care more for our wins at home, wins in general. That was embarrassing."

LA have been especially poor in the third quarters of games, a theme that continued against Minnesota.

The Lakers scored just 12 points and allowed 40 for a differential of -28, their second-worst in any single quarter since at least 2002-03 (-31 in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013-14).

The team are a combined -83 in third quarters this season, the worst record of any team in any single quarter in 2021-22.

"We sucked," Davis said. "No defense, can't score. That's not just this third quarter, it's every third quarter we've played this season.

"We come out slow, lackadaisical offensively and defensively. We've got to get it together. Why? I can't tell you. But we've got to do a better job."

Lewis Hamilton could face a second penalty ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix due to a possible technical infringement following qualifying, while Max Verstappen is also at risk of a sanction.

Hamilton has already taken a five-place grid penalty for Sunday's grand prix after receiving a new engine, although he is first set to get the opportunity to add points in the sprint race after qualifying fastest on Friday.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer discovered an issue with the Mercedes man's DRS that could deal a further blow to Hamilton's title hopes.

"The uppermost rear wing element adjustable positions were checked on car number 44 for compliance with Article 3.6.3 of the 2021 Formula One Technical Regulations," Bauer said in his report. 

"The requirement for the minimum distance was fulfilled, but the requirements for the maximum of 85mm, when the DRS system is deployed and tested in accordance with TD/011-19, were not fulfilled."

The rear wing assembly in question has been removed and impounded, and the issue has been referred to the stewards, who delayed a decision until Saturday after calling in a Mercedes representative late on Friday.

"The stewards have adjourned the hearing relating to Document 18 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix as they await further evidence," a spokesperson said.

The stewards have also called in Verstappen and a Red Bull representative over an "alleged breach of Article 2.5.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code", which states: "In the Parc Ferme, only the officials assigned may enter. No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorised by the same officials or by the applicable regulations."

Verstappen was seen approaching Hamilton's car in Parc Ferme and a fan video appeared to indicate he touched the rear wing.

Hamilton and Verstappen must now await the decisions of the stewards, which could prove significant in their pursuit of both victory in Brazil and the title.

Stephen Curry took Ray Allen's three-point record as he dropped 40 in the Golden State Warriors' win against the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

Warriors point guard Curry came into the game one behind Allen's tally of 3,358 three-pointers made across the regular season and playoffs.

And the two-time MVP eased past that mark as he shot nine of 17 from beyond the arc, moving to 3,366 for his career from 7,871 attempts in 886 games; Allen had 8,388 attempts in 1,471 games.

It is a record Curry is set to hold for a long, long time, with the nearest active player on the list James Harden in fourth, some 539 back on 2,827.

This was Curry's 38th career game making nine or more threes. His closest challenger in that regard is Damian Lillard on a distant 12, while Allen had only three such performances. Curry has two this season alone.

The Warriors as a team have now made 10 threes in 40 straight games, continuing a franchise record run.

Curry's 28.4 points per game have carried Golden State to a league-best 11-1 start, but only now does he feel he is truly coming into form, having also scored 50 against the Atlanta Hawks this week.

The previous two games before Atlanta's visit had seen Curry fail to reach 20 points, yet he was not concerned.

"It follows kind of the usual pattern for how I start seasons," he said on Friday.

The Warriors superstar said he was "not really worrying about the output". "It's just about trying to find win games and create momentum, and usually good things happen," he added.

The Chicago game – a 119-93 win, their ninth in a row against the Bulls – brought to an end an eight-game homestand in which Golden State went 7-1, suffering their only defeat on the year to the Memphis Grizzlies before winning seven straight.

"We took care of business. Defensively, we were really solid for all eight games," Curry said.

"We had different guys step up every night, we found a pretty solid rotation, for the most part, even got some young guys some good minutes.

"We're still trying to find opportunities for everybody, still trying to find our identity for how we're going to win, and everybody being comfortable in their roles and all of that, but we're winning and learning on the fly with some really good momentum.

"I'm proud – for eight games, it's hard to stay locked in, with the routine and monotony of every other day doing the same thing. It was a really impressive homestand."

Now the Warriors go on a four-game road trip, starting at the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.

But Golden State have won their first three road games this year, meaning another victory would tie their second-best start to a season away from home. They have some way to go before matching the 14 consecutive road wins the 2015-16 Warriors started with.

"Hopefully we can pack that momentum with us," said Curry, part of that team, too. "But it all comes down to how you execute and getting that energy and effort that you bring.

"It's easy to get up for it when you have your home crowd rooting you on and that energy, but on the road it requires another level of focus and intensity to win games. We know how to do it, it's just a matter of showing up."

LeBron James is close to a return from an abdominal injury, with Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirming he is now "day-to-day".

James was absent for the fifth straight game with injury as the Lakers went down 107-83 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, leaving them with a 7-6 record.

Vogel confirmed pre-game the 36-year-old's injury will not rule him out for an "extended stretch".

"LeBron, his rehab is progressing nicely," Vogel told reporters. "He's back to doing on the court basketball activity.

"This does not seem like it's going to be an extended stretch. He's to be considered truly day-to-day."

The Lakers had won three straight games before going 2-3 without James in the side over the past 10 days, suffering defeats to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Timberwolves.

Prior to featuring in all three games of that short winning run, James had also missed consecutive games with ankle soreness. LA are 3-4 for the year without him.

James has been averaging 24.8 points, 7.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game this season, while shooting 46.7 per cent from the floor and 34.7 per cent from three-point range.

The Lakers were on the wrong end of a 40-12 third quarter against the Timberwolves, having been ahead at halftime.

Anthony Davis top scored with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Russell Westbrook had 20 points but five turnovers and an awful plus/minus of -32. Three of his turnovers came in the third quarter as he scored just three points in eight minutes.

"There's no better motivator than a bad loss," Vogel told reporters after the defeat. "I think a lot of our guys are angry. Our coaching staff are angry. We'll get back to work."

Stephen Curry reached 40 points or more for the third time this season as the Golden State Warriors' electric start to the season continued with a 119-93 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

Curry finished with 40 points, including nine-for-17 three-pointers, along with five assists and four rebounds as the Warriors improved to 11-1.

The two-time MVP starred with 15 points in the third quarter alone, almost outscoring the Bulls as the Warriors piled on 35-17 points. Curry also passed Ray Allen's 3,358 all-time NBA mark for the most three-pointers made in regular season and playoffs games.

The result marks the Warriors' second-best ever start in franchise history, with their only loss coming in overtime against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State are one of nine teams in NBA history to start the season without a regulation-time loss in their first 12 games, the best being the 2015-16 Warriors with 24 games.

 

Harden hits season high

James Harden backed up Wednesday's triple-double with a season-high 39 points including six three-pointers for the Brooklyn Nets in a 120-112 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Harden got a double-double, with 12 assists along with five rebounds, while Kevin Durant added 28 points. Joe Harris shot six-for-six from three-point range in the first half, becoming the first player this season to achieve the feat.

Nikola Jokic returned from his one-game ban with a triple-double as the Denver Nuggets got past the Atlanta Hawks 105-96, with 22 points, 10 assists and 19 rebounds. Luka Doncic also registered a triple-double with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the San Antonio Spurs 123-109.

Denis Schroder had a season-high 38 points as the Boston Celtics won 122-113 in overtime over the Milwaukee Bucks, who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) and Khris Middleton (COVID-19).

 

LeBron-less Lakers floored

Carmelo Anthony scored one-for-12 from the field while starter Kent Bazemore finished with zero points as the Los Angeles Lakers, missing LeBron James, lost 107-83 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Emerging point guard Ja Morant had five turnovers and shot 10-for-19 from the field as the Memphis Grizzlies were beaten by the Phoenix Suns 119-94.

James Harden says he is getting back to his best but admits the high standards expected will not come easy after a season-high 39 points as the Brooklyn Nets beat the New Orleans Pelicans 120-112.

Harden improved his season average to 19.8 points per game with his haul against the Pelicans where he landed five three-pointers and registered a double-double with 12 assists too.

The 32-year-old guard's offensive output this season contrasted dramatically with his career average of 25.0 points per game, along with career-best 36.1 points per game in the 2018-19 season with the Houston Rockets.

Harden had started the new campaign slowly after rehabbing his hamstring over the offseason but is starting to return to his best, with a triple-double against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

"I'm getting there. It wasn’t going to take long," Harden told reporters after the Pelicans win.

"This is the most talented players in the world. It's not going to be easy for me to just come out and do what I do. It takes a lot of reps, a lot of hard work to get to that point, to be playing at a point that you've seen me playing at.

"When I'm not scoring 30 points and I'm averaging 18-something points, it's like 'what's wrong with James?'. It's like, that's pretty solid still.

"I've been playing so well [in previous years], at another level where you guys set standards for me. I set standards for myself as well. for me I've just got to continue to work. I'm getting a lot better. The work don't stop."

Harden has shown flashes of his best at times throughout the early part of the season but is yet to put together a consistent run of high scoring, having reached 20 points in only four games this season prior to Friday's win.

The 2018 MVP's 39 points against the Pelicans bettered his previous season-high of 29, although he also had six turnovers.

"I can score, I know that," Harden said. "I've just got to put it together. Today was pretty solid, other than the turnovers. I've just got to continue to build.

"I felt last game at Orlando, my pace was good, I was getting to the basket, I was finding my teammates, I had that burst. Tonight the same thing, I've just got to continue to compound that feeling."

Nets head coach Steve Nash praised Harden but also urged patience as has consistently been their message this season.

"He played similar tonight as he did a couple of games on this trip," Nash said during his post-game news conference. "I think we've got to be patient with him. I think he's got some yards to go before he feels this was very night or feels at his best.

"There's the fitness, the rhythm and the confidence. For all those three things to come back it does take time. He was great tonight. He's been really good the last week or so and trending in the right direction. I don’t want to get too carried away. Let's give him time to get his game back."

Garbine Muguruza staved off elimination at the WTA Finals after the former world number one rallied past Barbora Krejcikova 2-6 6-3 6-4.

Having both lost their opening matches at the year-ending championship, sixth seed Muguruza and second seed Krejcikova went head-to-head in a crucial showdown in Guadalajara.

Muguruza dropped the opening set on Friday but completed a spirited comeback to stay alive in Mexico, where the two-time grand slam champion rallied from a set down to beat a top-three opponent for the first time since her triumphant Wimbledon campaign in 2017.

Spanish star Muguruza is still in the mix to progress to the semi-finals as she improved to 1-1 in Group Teohuatican, while Krejcikova dropped to 0-2.

French Open champion Krejcikova – who would have eliminated Muguruza with victory – raced through the opening set in 36 minutes, having converted all three of her break-point chances.

Muguruza, though, bounced back to claim a 4-1 lead and while Krejcikova battled, the former fired down five aces and hit 10 winners to level the match.

After exchanging holds, a monumental 12-minute game saw Muguruza – who would have ousted her opponent with a straight-set victory – break at the sixth time of asking and she maintained that momentum to close out the tense contest.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Krejcikova – 26/33
Muguruza – 21/33

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Krejcikova – 8/4
Muguruza – 6/3

BREAK POINTS WON 

Krejcikova – 4/9
Muguruza – 4/10

The Seattle Seahawks activated star quarterback Russell Wilson from injured reserve ahead of Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Wilson has been sidelined since injuring the middle finger on his right hand during an October 7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The one-time NFL Super Bowl champion was initially facing six to eight weeks out but has returned early, while rookie receiver Dee Eskridge has also been activated from IR, putting the Seahawks at near full strength for the Packers clash.

"He has had a terrific week," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Friday.

"You could see him just feel a little bit better as the week went on, but he really didn't hold anything back and he finished great the last couple of days and he's ready to go."

Wilson has started five games this season, with a completion rate of 72.0 per cent for 1,196 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception.

His injury ended a 10-year run of starts, the sixth-longest such streak of any quarterback in NFL history, and the longest of any QB currently active within the league.

Carroll added: "I expect him to [play] just like he always plays. I don't expect anything different. Not a thing different. He is pretty hungry to play football now. He missed it. So we've got to make sure that he stays clear and all that about this opportunity.

"If anything, I'm just worried that he's too excited, too amped up. But he'll be fine. Really, I'm just so impressed with how this thing has worked out and that he's gotten us to this point, and really fired up to see him play football."

Sunday's game, however, is too soon for running back Chris Carson, who is closing in on a return from a neck injury.

Before a bye last week, the Seahawks (3-5) beat the Jacksonville Jaguars at home 31-7. Seattle are 7-4 (63.6) in the first game coming off a bye week since Carroll became head coach in 2010, per Stats Perform.

DK Metcalf has eight touchdowns in the Seahawks' eight games this season. That matches the best mark by a Seattle player through the team's first eight games with Daryl Turner in 1985 and Metcalf himself last year. Metcalf finished 2020 with 10 total TD catches.

Seattle have 20 red-zone drives this season – third fewest in the NFL – but has scored touchdowns on 75.0 percent of those drives, second best in the NFL. The Packers' defense have allowed touchdowns on 76.0 per cent of red-zone drives, second worst in the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks have activated quarterback Russell Wilson from injured reserve ahead of Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Wilson has been sidelined since injuring the middle finger on his right hand during an October 7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The quarterback was initially facing six to eight weeks out but has returned early, while rookie receiver Dee Eskridge has also been activated from injured reserve putting the Seahawks at near full strength.

"He has had a terrific week," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle. "You could see him just feel a little bit better as the week went on, but he really didn't hold anything back and he finished great the last couple of days and he's ready to go."

He added: "I expect him to [play] just like he always plays. I don't expect anything different. Not a thing different. He is pretty hungry to play football now. He missed it. So we've got to make sure that he stays clear and all that about this opportunity.

"If anything, I'm just worried that he's too excited, too amped up. But he'll be fine. Really, I'm just so impressed with how this thing has worked out and that he's gotten us to this point, and really fired up to see him play football."

Wilson has started five games this season, with a completion rate of 72.0 per cent for 1,196 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception.

The one-time Super Bowl champion's injury ended a 10-year run of starts, the sixth-longest such streak of any quarterback in NFL history, and the longest of any QB currently active within the league.

Sunday's game, however, is too soon for running back Chris Carson, who is closing in on a return from a neck injury.

Martin Trainer moved to the top of the Houston Open summit before play was again cut short due to darkness.

Like the opening round, players were forced from the field in Houston as fading light brought a premature end to Friday's second round.

Trainer managed to complete his second 18 holes and found himself in rare territory, a stroke clear at Memorial Park.

Back-to-back 65s left the 2019 Puerto Rico Open champion atop the leaderboard, with a number of players yet to finish their rounds as the PGA Tour tournament continues to play catchup.

"Last week I hit the ball really well for the first time in a long time and I just didn't putt very well," said Trainer, who had one made cut in his last 18 starts entering the event.

"So I figured if I could somehow do both those at the same time -- to be fair, every single player says that every single week. But for me, it had been such a long time coming. It really was a grind for a long time.

"So now to finally be able to put it together ... you have to hope that this is the week."

Fellow American Kevin Tway ended the day a shot behind Trainer, while Jason Kokrak was on track to seize the lead at eight through 11 holes.

The second round will be completed on Saturday and Brooks Koepka is set to miss the cut for the second consecutive week.

Four-time major champion Koepka shot a second-round 72 to be three over, below the projected cut of one over.

Cam Newton said he is "still floating" following his return to the Carolina Panthers.

Newton was released by the New England Patriots in August but earned a chance with the Panthers after a shoulder injury to starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

Veteran QB Newton spent nine years with the Panthers from 2011 to 2019, winning the 2015 NFL MVP and earning three Pro-Bowl selections.

"Honestly, I'm still floating," Newton told reporters on Friday, after signing a one-year deal worth up to $10million.

He added: "This ain't for no ploy. This ain't for no ticket sales. This ain't for no Cinderella story. It's to win football games. That's pretty much what's on my heart, and that's how I'm going about it."

The Panthers released Newton in 2019 after giving him permission to seek a trade, eventually joining the Patriots as a free agent. Newton insisted there were no hard feelings from that.

"Were there disconnects in the past? It's irrelevant," Newton said. "The fact that we're able to make what may seem a lot of wrongs or some wrongs right, that's the most exciting thing about it.

"To hell with feelings. It would be the biggest right and wrong by just winning football games."

The Panthers, who are 4-5, placed Darnold on injured reserve on Friday with his shoulder injury expected to take four to six weeks to heal.

P.J. Walker will start at quarterback for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, although Newton is expected to come into starting calculations for the following week's game against the Washington Football Team.

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