Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee Bucks trounced the Atlanta Hawks 125-91 to square the Eastern Conference Finals series at 1-1.

After dropping the series opener, the third-seeded Bucks responded by routing the visiting Hawks in Game 2 in the NBA playoffs on Friday.

Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo posted 25 points in just 29 minutes and Jrue Holiday added 22 points of his own as the Bucks eased past the fifth-seeded Hawks in Milwaukee.

The Bucks – ahead 103-63 at the end of three quarters – never trailed against the Hawks, leading by at least 30 points through the second half as both teams rested their starters for the entire fourth period.

In Game 1, Antetokounmpo and Holiday became the first pair of team-mates to each attempt 25-plus field goals and make at least half of them in a playoff game since Kyrie Irving (16-for-29) and LeBron James (15-for-27) did it for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals.

While they did not reach those numbers in the second showdown, Antetokounmpo (11-for-18 shooting) and Holiday (nine-for-14 shooting) were heavily involved again as the Bucks bounced back on home court.

Brook Lopez (16 points) and Khris Middleton (15 points) were the only other players to finish in double digits for the Bucks, who blew out the Hawks 43-17 in the second period.

Hawks star Trae Young came into the clash on the back of a 48-point, 11-assist performance in Game 1 but he was unable to replicate those numbers.

Young finished six-for-16 shooting for a team-high 15 points as starters John Collins (11 points), Clint Capela (two points and eight rebounds), Bogdan Bogdanovic (eight points) and Kevin Huerter (eight points) struggled.

 

Suns at Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers, still missing Kawhi Leonard (knee) can level the Western Conference Final at 2-2 when they host the Phoenix Suns in Game 4 on Saturday.

Nani scored a stunning late goal to lead high-flying Orlando City to a 2-1 win at MLS rivals Inter Miami.

Orlando rallied away to David Beckham's Inter Miami on Friday, Nani's memorable 80th-minute effort completing the comeback.

After a scoreless opening half, former Juventus and Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain had come off the bench to give Inter Miami a 67th-minute lead.

Higuain scored within seven minutes of his introduction, a low shot from distance putting the hosts ahead at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

But Orlando hit back within six minutes – Chris Mueller teed up by Nani for the equaliser before the latter decided the contest.

Former Manchester United star Nani cut onto his right foot and hit a powerful strike from the edge of the penalty area with 10 minutes remaining.

After three wins in six days, Orlando are now second in the Eastern Conference and just two points behind New England Revolution, while Inter Miami are 11th.

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will miss his sixth consecutive game after being ruled out of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

Leonard has endured an injury-hit NBA playoff campaign, having not played since suffering a sprained right knee in Game 4 of the Conference semi-finals against the Utah Jazz.

The Clippers will again be without Leonard when they host the second-seeded Phoenix Suns on Saturday, looking to level the matchup at 2-2.

In this season's playoffs, two-time NBA champion Leonard has been averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists for the fourth-seeded Clippers.

The Clippers trail the Suns 2-1 in the series following Thursday's 106-92 win at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Paul George led the way with 27 points and 15 rebounds as the Clippers celebrated their first ever victory in the Western Conference Finals.

Entering the contest following back-to-back games on the road, George had scored at least 20 points in all 15 games this postseason.

The latest performance saw George eclipse LeBron James' run of 15 consecutive games (in 2016) with 20-plus points in the playoffs – Kevin Durant is the only other active player to achieve the feat in the postseason (20 straight in 2012 and 21 in a row in 2018).

Nelly Korda reeled off six successive birdies to hit the front at the Women's PGA Championship after the second round.

Korda was red-hot at Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia, where the American golfer used a birdie binge to claim a one-stroke lead on Friday.

A five-time LPGA Tour champion, Korda had consecutive birdies from the fourth to the ninth hole as she tied the Women's PGA Championship 18-hole scoring record.

"I don't know, I guess I just blacked out, out there," Korda said afterwards as she became only the third professional to card a 63 at Atlanta Athletic Club, joining Steve Stricker and Mark O'Meara.

Korda – eyeing her maiden major title – is 11 under through 36 holes, a shot better off than Lizette Salas (67).

Salas, who was the overnight leader, posted consecutive 67s to remain bogey-free heading into the weekend.

Three-time PGA Championship winner Inbee Park (68) is six shots off the pace in a tie for seventh, while defending champion Kim Sei-young (69) bounced back from a forgettable 76 to avoid the cut.

Former world number one Jason Day leads the Travelers Championship heading into the weekend after surging to the top of the leaderboard following two rounds.

Day went low in the second round on Friday, carding a bogey-free and Travelers Championship career-best eight-under-par 62 to claim a one-stroke lead at TPC River Highlands.

Winner of the 2015 US PGA Championship and a 12-time PGA Tour champion, Day's career has been hampered by lingering back problems.

Day withdrew from the Memorial Tournament due to a back injury and did not qualify for the U.S. Open, having missed three consecutive cuts before tying for 44th at the PGA Championship.

But Day enjoyed a return to form as the Australian star earned his first lead/co-lead at a non-major tournament since 2017 thanks to a flawless round, which included eight birdies.

"Sometimes when you do have sort of an injury or stiffness, even if you're sick, sometimes you can come out and play some good golf," he said. "I was fortunate enough to not really get in my own way today."

Three-time Travelers Championship winner Bubba Watson (66) and co-overnight leader Kramer Hickok (69) are tied for second at eight under through 36 holes.

Hickok was 10 under before crumbling at the par-three 16th hole, where he three-putted from 18 feet for a double-bogey to end the day alongside Watson.

Russell Henley (66), Kevin Kisner (63), Seamus Power (67), Justin Rose (63), K.H. Lee (64), Brice Garnett (68) and Troy Merritt (65) are all seven under heading into Saturday's third round.

Big-hitting American star Bryson DeChambeau followed up his first-round 69 with a four-under-par 66 to be four strokes off the pace, alongside the likes of 2012 champion Marc Leishman (66) and Patrick Reed (66).

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka also recorded another round in the 60s – a second-round 67 – to be a shot further back.

PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson (69) and defending champion Dustin Johnson (68) finished just a shot above the cut line at two under to qualify for the weekend.

Angelique Kerber won two games on Friday to progress to the final of the inaugural Bad Homburg Open, with unseeded Katerina Siniakova her opponent.

Kerber made home advantage count, following up a 2-6 6-3 6-3 quarter-final win over Amanda Anisimova – a match that was pushed back from Thursday when rain washed out play – with a triumph over top seed Petra Kvitova.

The former world number one came back from behind to win 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and take a spot in her first WTA singles final since 2019.

Kerber and Kvitova have now met 15 times, with the German winning on nine occasions.

She will go up against an unexpected finalist in the form of Siniakova, who defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The Czech is the world number two in doubles, winning three grand slam titles in that format, and will be looking to replicate the feat of her regular partner Barbora Krejcikova, who triumphed at the French Open this year.

At the Viking International in Eastbourne, Jelena Ostapenko made light work of Elena Rybakina, while Anett Kontaveit made it into the final due to Camila Giorgi's retirement.

Latvian wildcard Ostapenko finished her 6-4 6-1 victory with zero double faults – the first time she has managed such a performance since winning in Luxembourg two years ago.

"I'm really happy with the way I played this week, and every match I played better and better," Ostapenko told a news conference after clinching a spot in her ninth career final.

"It's been a while [since making a] final, so I'm really happy to be in a final and looking forward to tomorrow's match."

The 2017 French Open champion will face Estonia's Kontaveit, who has won their previous two meetings and was 5-4 up in the opening set against Giorgi when her opponent retired hurt.

"It's actually nice to have a Baltic final, because [we're] not such big countries, but we still have good players," Ostapenko added.

"Anett, I know since juniors. We have been playing a lot, maybe not so many matches but we practice sometimes together, in juniors, and played even doubles. So I know her quite well."

Daniil Medvedev reached the first grass-court final of his career as he saw off Pablo Carreno Busta at the Mallorca Championships.

Medvedev, the top seed, had to come from a set down against his Spanish opponent, winning 3-6 6-3 6-2 to tee up a showdown against Sam Querrey.

The world number two has won 10 ATP Tour titles, but they have all come on hard courts.

"I know that I can play well on grass," said Medvedev, who followed up a quarter-final run at Roland Garros with a first-round defeat to Jan-Lennard Struff at the Halle Open.

"Unfortunately we don't have that many tournaments, only one ATP 500 and one grand slam. It's going to be a special feeling [if I] win my first title on grass.

"I still don't have one on clay, even if I have one final. Adding these titles, especially on different surfaces, can help your confidence and it’s just a great thing for your career."

 

World number 13 Carreno Busta had looked sharp in successive straight-set wins en route to the semi-finals, and started Friday's encounter in good form.

He had not dropped serve across the first four sets of his campaign in Mallorca and extended that streak by saving three break points in the opening set.

However, Medvedev – who has been drawn in the same half as Roger Federer at Wimbledon – rallied and served out the one-hour, 56-minute victory with an ace.

Querrey, meanwhile, will be going for his first ATP Tour title since 2017 after he cruised to a 6-4 6-3 win over unseeded Adrian Mannarino.

Another player who is hunting for his first Tour triumph on grass is Alex de Minaur, who defeated Soon Woo Kwon 6-3 7-6 (7-2) to progress to the Viking International final.

The world number 18 has won four hard-court titles and will go up against Lorenzo Sonego for the crown in Eastbourne.

Sonego beat De Minaur's compatriot Max Purcell 6-1 3-6 6-1. The Italian triumphed at the Sardegna Open in April.

Valtteri Bottas can start no higher than fourth in Sunday's Styrian Grand Prix, after the Mercedes driver received a three-place grid penalty.

Bottas, who sits fifth in the Formula One driver standings, was penalised for a spin in the pit lane during Friday practice.

The incident was adjudged to be "dangerous driving in the pit lane" by race strewards.

"When BOT pulled away from his designated pit stop position, he lost control of the car when he turned into the fast lane," read a stewards' statement.

"He oversteered, spun and came to a stop across the fast lane near the McLaren pits.

"During the hearing BOT stated that in the past they have been losing time in the pit departure. So they tried something new, which was to leave in second gear.

"As a result, the wheel spin was much higher and the result unexpected. Therefore he didn't manage to control the car properly into the fast lane. This has to be considered as potentially dangerous driving, especially as personnel were around in the pit lane."

The penalty is a dent to not only Bottas' chances for the race, but also Mercedes hopes in the championship. They are battling with Red Bull, whose driver Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton by 131 points to 119.

It is a punishment that will also come as a surprise to Bottas, who said after the session: "We tried something different getting out from the box and there were some variables to what we normally do with the wheelspin, so that's why I spun.

"I would be surprised [if the stewards took action]. It's a normal mistake, it happens. I'm sure they want to understand what happened."

The British and Irish Lions can expect a rousing send-off when they face Japan for the first time at Murrayfield on Saturday before the tour of South Africa.

Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe, Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne and Jack Conan will make their Lions debuts in a warm-up showdown with the Brave Blossoms.

Four weeks before the first Test against the Springboks, Alun Wyn Jones will lead out a Lions side that does not feature any England players.

One thousand four hundred and forty-nine days since the final match of a drawn series in New Zealand, Warren Gatland's men will be backed by a crowd of 16,500 for the historic 1888 Cup clash in Edinburgh against a Japan side playing for the first time since the 2019 World Cup.

Gatland said: "We're anticipating a tough game against Japan – a side that like to play at a high-tempo and shift the ball.

"We saw throughout the World Cup they have attacking threats across the park and a solid defence and set piece. I'm pleased with the progress we've made during our training camp.

"But we've a long way to go. You can see that the squad are starting to get to grips with our game strategies, but, as always with a Lions Tour, this takes time to bed in."

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph said: "There is a great spirit among the team and a collective excitement. Playing the Lions for the first time holds huge significance for Japanese rugby.

"And as a team, we’re looking forward to once again be playing on the world stage and to be taking on a team with the unique strength and history of the Lions.

"This is a strong Japanese team combining a solid foundation of experience, with some exciting new players who have earned the right to represent Japan at test match level."

 

VAN DER MERWE AMONG SCOTS WHO CAN FLOWER

Clinical wing Van der Merwe was the leading try-scorer in the Six Nations this year with five.

The flyer is among a strong Scottish contingent who will be so eager to put on a show in front of a home crowd.

Van der Merwe was born in the Western Cape province of South Africa but is ready to roar against his country of birth next month.

He has made a magnificent start to his international career, scoring eight tries in 10 Tests, and his ruthlessness will be key for the Lions in the coming weeks.

 

MURRAY AND BIGGAR CAN MAKE A STATEMENT

Gatland has gone with the experienced half-back pairing of Dan Biggar and Conor Murray to start against Japan.

Wales fly-half Biggar will be looking to lay down a marker, with Owen Farrell among the replacements.

Ireland scrum-half Murray got the nod ahead of Scotland playmaker Ali Price, who will get a raucous reception when he comes off the bench.

The Irish midfield pairing of Robbie Henshaw and Aki will be expected to give Japan a torrid afternoon with a combination of their power and pace.

 

The British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Conor Murray; Rory Sutherland, Ken Owens, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Tadhg Beirne, Justin Tipuric, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Jamie George, Wyn Jones, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, Taulupe Faletau, Ali Price, Owen Farrell, Anthony Watson.

Japan: Ryohei Yamanaka, Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Siosaia Fifita, Yu Tamura, Kaito Shigeno; Keita Inagaki, Atsushi Sakate, Jiwon Koo, Wimpie van der Walt, James Moore, Michael Leitch (captain), Lappies Labuschagné, Amanaki Mafi.

Replacements: Kosuke Horikoshi, Craig Millar, Asaeli Ai Valu, Jack Cornelson, Kazuki Himeno, Tevita Tatafu, Naoto Saito, Rikiya Matsuda.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS:

- Skipper Jones will play his 21st game with the Lions. The lock has scored two tries for the Lions, each one coming in the first game of a tour (v Royal XV in 2009 and the Barbarians in 2013).
- Japan failed to score a try in their most recent Test, a loss to South Africa in the quarter-finals of the World Cup on home soil. That ended of run of 46 straight Tests in which they'd crossed the try line at least once.
- The Brave Blossoms have played lost all five games in Scotland. Their most recent loss was a 42-17 thumping in November 2013.
- This will be the first Lions match in Scotland and only the fourth time a game will be played at a venue in the UK or Ireland (also Twickenham, Cardiff Arms Park and the Principality Stadium). The Lions have a balanced record at home with one win, one draw, one loss, 55 points scored and 54 conceded on aggregate.

William Knibbs and Emily Mayne are the early leaders after Thursday’s opening day of the Jamaica Golf Association's (JGA) National Senior Trials at the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course in St. James and the Caymanas Golf Club in St. Catherine.

Novak Djokovic will start the defence of his Wimbledon title against British wildcard Jack Draper, and Serena Williams takes on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round.

Djokovic is just one grand slam title away from matching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's record tally of 20 after winning the Australian Open and French Open this year.

The world number one will take on 19-year-old Draper, a quarter-finalist at Queen's Club last week, in his first match at SW19 for two years after the 2020 championships were called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Djokovic faces a potential quarter-final against Andrey Rublev, while Federer could come up against second seed Daniil Medvedev in last eight.

 

First up for eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer is an encounter with Adrian Mannarino, while injury-plagued two-time winner Andy Murray will start his home major against the 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, beaten by Djokovic in a thrilling French Open final this month, has been drawn to face American Frances Tiafoe in round one of a tournament that gets under way on Monday.

Simona Halep announced just before the draw was made on Friday that she would not defend her title due to a calf injury.

Williams, runner-up to Halep in the 2019 final, must get past Sasnovich of Belarus in the first round and could face third seed Elina Svitolina at the quarter-final stage.

World number one and top seed Ash Barty takes on Carla Suarez Navarro, who made a grand slam return at Roland Garros after recovering from cancer. Barty could come up against Bianca Andreescu in the last eight.

Petra Kvitova against Sloane Stephens is a standout first-round match, while Coco Gauff's first assignment will be a meeting with 20-year-old Briton Fran Jones.

Defending champion Simona Halep has withdrawn from Wimbledon due to a calf injury.

Halep has been out of action since she was helped off the court after suffering a tear of her left calf during a match against Angelique Kerber in Rome last month.

The two-time grand slam champion had hoped to be fit to defend her title at the All England Club after travelling to London, but pulled out just three days before the tournament gets under way.

"It is with great sadness that I'm announcing my withdrawal from The Championships as my calf injury has not fully recovered," said the 29-year-old Romanian, who also missed the French Open.

"I gave it everything I had in order to be ready to play Wimbledon and after having such special memories from two years ago, I was excited and honoured to step back on these beautiful courts as defending champion.

"Unfortunately, my body didn't cooperate and I'll have to save that feeling for next year.

"I can honestly say that I'm really down and upset about having to take this decision. This period has been difficult but to miss the last two majors has made it even more challenging mentally and physically.

"We will see what the future holds but I'm hoping it will make me a stronger person and athlete.

"Thank you to everyone at Wimbledon for your understanding and support."

Halep won her first Wimbledon title two years ago, outclassing Serena Williams 6-2 6-2 on Centre Court.

Devin Booker refused to blame his broken nose for an ugly showing in the Phoenix Suns' Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The second-seeded Suns had stormed into a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals but saw that advantage cut in half with a 106-92 loss in LA on Thursday.

It was a tough outing for Booker, who was just five-for-21 shooting as he finished with 15 points in a team-high 40 minutes.

That disjointed display came in the wake of Booker having been subjected to some painful treatment to put his nose back in place, but he did not want to use that as an excuse.

"The nose feels fine," Booker, who wore a face mask during the game, said in quotes reported by ESPN. "We just lost the game."

Booker had to undergo a quick fix before the Suns flew in to LA from Phoenix and it was not a pleasurable experience for the shooting guard.

"That was probably the worst part," he said.

"It's a procedure that they usually say they put you under [anaesthesia] for, but we had a flight out a couple hours later, so they just numbed it up all over the place, it felt like.

"Like eight shots to numb it up and then they go in there and put it back, they break it again. They break it back in place."

Despite the defeat, Booker is confident the Suns will put things right in the next game.

"The spirit is high," Booker said. "We move on to the next one. That's what type of team we are. We've been like that the whole season, so we'll stick with that.

"We'll come in tomorrow, go over film, regroup and get ready for Game 4."

Suns veteran Chris Paul returned from the league's health and safety protocol to post 15 points and 12 assists.

Paul became the 13th player in NBA history with 1,000 playoff assists.

Paul George hailed the toughness of the Los Angeles Clippers as they celebrated their first ever win in the Western Conference Finals after overcoming the Phoenix Suns 106-92 in Game 3.

Making their first foray into the Conference Finals, the Clippers slumped to a 2-0 deficit against the second-seeded Suns heading into Thursday's clash in Los Angeles.

With Kawhi Leonard still sidelined by a knee injury, George took centre stage as he recorded a 27-point and 15-rebound double-double – which included a stunning half-court buzzer-beater in the third period.

"This team is tough," George told ESPN. "We do whatever it takes. We trust one another. We've got each other's backs, and we just play hard.

"If you're going to beat us, it's just got to be one of those nights if you beat us. I think we've just got great resilience.

"Ty Lue just does a great job making adjustments, counters. We come out and we play hard.

"We put so much into this season, we've invested so much in each other, and we're going to live with the results.

"We'll be ready for Game 4."

Entering the contest at Staples Center following back-to-back games on the road, George had scored at least 20 points in all 15 games this postseason.

The latest performance saw George eclipse LeBron James' run of 15 consecutive games (in 2016) with 20-plus points in the playoffs – Kevin Durant is the only other active player to achieve the feat in the postseason (20 straight in 2012 and 21 in a row in 2018).

The Clippers – who are the first team all-time to be down 2-0 three times in a single postseason – outscored the visiting Suns 34-21 in the third quarter to move clear.

Reggie Jackson added 23 points for the Clippers, while Ivica Zubac (15 points and 16 rebounds) finished with a double-double of his own.

George and Zubac became the first set of team-mates to each tally 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds in a playoff showdown since James (28 points and 15 rebounds) and Kevin Love (15 points and 21 rebounds) in 2017.

The starting team, which featured George, Jackson, Zubac, Patrick Beverley and Terance Mann, was Lue's fifth change of line-up across the previous eight games, with the coach reaping the rewards of earning his players' trust.

"It means a lot just for those guys to trust me, to understand that whatever I'm doing is the best for the team, not for me," said Lue.

"I just want to win. Making adjustments, sometimes it's tough, because adjustments mean some guys can't play, some guys play more, and you've got to be able to accept that."

Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel combined for a no-hitter as the Chicago Cubs blanked World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0.

The Cubs threw the seventh no-hitter of the 2021 season – tying a modern era record for most in a campaign – while making history of their own against the Dodgers on Thursday.

It was the Cubs' first combined no-hitter in franchise history after Kimbrel completed the job away to the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Cubs starter Davies went six innings without allowing a hit, striking out four batters.

The Cubs also became the first team in MLB history to throw a no-hitter (solo or combined) against a franchise with three former MVP winners in the starting line-up – Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Albert Pujols, according to Stats Perform.

 

Vladdy hits the front in homer race, Astros win again

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reclaimed the lead for the most home runs this season after helping the Toronto Blue Jays crush the Baltimore Orioles 9-0. Guerrero homered for the 24th time in 2021 – a 438-foot moonshot guiding the Blue Jays to a fifth consecutive win after Lourdes Gurriel Jr's first career grand slam.

The Houston Astros extended their winning streak to 11 games after easing past the Detroit Tigers 12-3. During their winning streak, Houston have scored 93 runs and allowed just 24. According to Stats Perform, they are the first MLB team to score 90-plus runs while allowing less than 25 over an 11-game span since the Pirates in 1911.

Kyle Schwarber fuelled the Washington Nationals' 7-3 victory against the Miami Marlins. Schwarber homered twice for the Nationals. It is the fourth time in his last 11 games that Schwarber had at least two home runs and four RBI. According to Stats Perform, he is the first MLB player to achieve the feat four times in an 11-game span since RBI became an official stat in 1920.

 

Kremer crushed in Buffalo

Dean Kremer had a game to forget against the Blue Jays. The Orioles pitcher gave up six runs, two hits and a career-high five walks in the opening inning as Baltimore suffered their 20th straight road loss.

 

Rays in wild walk-off win

The Tampa Bay Rays reclaimed the lead in the American League (AL) East thanks to a dramatic finish in their 1-0 walk-off victory against the Boston Red Sox. With two outs in the ninth inning, the Rays prevailed after Manuel Margot scored from third base on a wild pitch by Red Sox closer Matt Barnes.

 

Thursday's results

New York Yankees 8-1 Kansas City Royals
Oakland Athletics 5-1 Texas Rangers
Toronto Blue Jays 9-0 Baltimore Orioles
Cincinnati Reds 5-3 Atlanta Braves
Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 Boston Red Sox
Houston Astros 12-3 Detroit Tigers
Washington Nationals 7-3 Miami Marlins
Cleveland Indians 4-1 Minnesota Twins
Pittsburgh Pirates 8-2 St Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs 4-0 Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Yankees at Red Sox

The blockbuster rivalry resumes as the New York Yankees (40-34) visit the Red Sox (44-31) for the series opener on Friday. Martin Perez starts for the Red Sox as the Yankees counter with Domingo German.

Artturi Lehkonen's overtime goal against the Vegas Golden Knights propelled the Montreal Canadiens to their first NHL Stanley Cup Final since 1993 on Thursday.

The Canadiens ended their 28-year wait, punching their ticket to the NHL's showpiece thanks to Lehkonen's goal less than two minutes into OT in Game 6 of the semi-final series.

Just like Tyler Toffoli against the Winnipeg Jets in overtime, Lehkonen scored 99 seconds into OT to oust the Golden Knights. According to Stats Perform, the Canadiens are the first team in NHL history to score two overtime goals at the exact same time in a single postseason.

Not much was expected of the Canadiens in the NHL playoffs, having entered the postseason with the worst record but Montreal have won 11 of 13 games since sensationally overturning a 3-1 deficit against rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

The Canadiens – 24-time champions as they make their NHL-leading 35th Stanley Cup Final appearance – will face either defending champions the Tampa Bay Lightning or the New York Islanders.

"We wouldn't be here right now if we didn't believe," said Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who stopped 37 shots. "We've believed this whole time and obviously we're ecstatic and we have a lot of work left to do."

Lehkonen added: "Just trying to go high and hit the net. We're trying to keep it going one game at a time and not think things too much far ahead.

"I feel like we showed up today and it's a big win for us and we have four more to go."

Paul George dominated as the Los Angeles Clippers celebrated their first ever win in the Western Conference Finals after overcoming the Phoenix Suns 106-92 in Game 3.

Featuring in the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, the Clippers found themselves in a 2-0 hole against the second-seeded Suns heading into Thursday's clash in Los Angeles.

Even in the ongoing absence of superstar Kawhi Leonard (knee), George picked up the slack with a 27-point and 15-rebound double-double – which included a stunning half-court buzzer-beater in the third period – to lift the Clippers and help reduce the series deficit to 2-1.

Entering the contest at Staples Center following back-to-back games on the road, George had scored at least 20 points in all 15 games this postseason.

The latest performance saw George eclipse LeBron James' run of 15 consecutive games (in 2016) with 20-plus points in the playoffs – Kevin Durant is the only other active player to achieve the feat in the postseason (20 straight in 2012 and 21 in a row in 2018).

The Clippers – who are the first team all-time to be down 2-0 three times in a single postseason – outscored the visiting Suns 34-21 in the third quarter to move clear.

Reggie Jackson added 23 points for the Clippers, while Ivica Zubac (15 points and 16 rebounds) finished with a double-double of his own.

George and Zubac became the first set of team-mates to each tally 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds in a playoff showdown since James (28 points and 15 rebounds) and Kevin Love (15 points and 21 rebounds) in 2017.

Suns veteran Chris Paul returned from the league's health and safety protocol and posted 15 points and 12 assists.

Paul became the 13th player in NBA history with 1,000 playoff assists in the losing effort.

It was a tough outing for star team-mate Devin Booker, who was just five-for-21 shooting as he finished with 15 points in a team-high 40 minutes.

 

Hawks at Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks will look to bounce back against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday. Trae Young and the Hawks claimed the opener in Milwaukee.

Kevin Durant fired back at Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen's criticism following the Brooklyn Nets' Eastern Conference semi-finals exit in the NBA playoffs.

Chicago Bulls great and six-time NBA champion Pippen gave a blunt assessment of superstar Durant, who was unable to guide the Nets to the Conference Finals.

Durant averaged a career-high 34.3 points, a career-best 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists in this season's playoffs, but the second-seeded Nets fell to the Milwaukee Bucks after overtime in Game 7 in the second round.

His 48 points in the series decider were the most scored in a Game 7 in NBA history, but that did not spare him of criticism from Pippen – who referenced Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.

"He needs to learn how to utilise his teams," Pippen, who played alongside Michael Jordan in Chicago, told GQ. "He has to learn how to set up his team-mates to be better. That's it. As great as he is, there's a [cap] to his [talent].

"He could've easily made that three, killed them in regulation, and we wouldn't have been talking about this. But I knew going into overtime, he wasn't gonna make it. He was taking all the shots. You done played the whole game, bro! And they've got guys physically wearing you down. You gonna lose."

Pippen added: "KD can score better than LeBron, probably always have been able to. But has he surpassed LeBron? Naw. He tried to beat the Milwaukee Bucks instead of utilising his team. You see what I'm saying?

"LeBron James would've figured out how to beat them and he wouldn't have been exhausted and he may not have taken the last shot. But LeBron ain't KD, and KD ain't LeBron. KD is a shooter, a scorer. But he doesn't have what LeBron has."

Durant, who shouldered the load in the Nets-Bucks series as James Harden struggled with a hamstring injury and Kyrie Irving missed time due to an ankle problem, called out Pippen on social media.

A two-time champion, two-time Finals MVP and 2014 NBA MVP, Durant wrote via Twitter: "Didn't the great Scottie Pippen refuse to go in the game for the last second shot because he was in his feelings his coach drew up the play for a better shooter??

"This guy Scott also wanted to enjoy his summer so he chose to rehab during the season lol yo @ScottiePippen THEY FOLLOWED PHIL [JACKSON], NOT YOU!!!"

Lizette Salas set the tone in the first round of the Women's PGA Championship, posting a five-under-under-67 for the lead.

Salas earned a one-stroke lead after missing only two fairways on the Highlands Course at Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia on Thursday.

In a flawless round, Salas – without a LPGA Tour title since 2014 and seeking a maiden major trophy – holed five birdies to end the day ahead of Charley Hull.

"It was definitely not easy," the 31-year-old American said about the conditions. "We started with pretty wet conditions this morning, but the greens are rolling extremely pure.

"I had a really good warm-up. I was really confident coming into this week, and I think my game really suits this golf course and kept it boring."

Jeongeun Lee6, Austin Ernst, Jessica Korda, Alena Sharp, Xiyu Lin, Yealimi Noh and Dani Holmqvist are two shots off the pace.

Three-time PGA Championship winner Inbee Park shot a 71 to be tied for 23rd, while defending champion Kim Sei-young endured a forgettable four-over-par 76.

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