Kyrie Irving revealed how some stern words from Brooklyn Nets team-mate James Harden provided the catalyst for his fourth-quarter blitz against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Nets moved into top spot in the Eastern Conference with a hard-fought 117-102 win over the Spurs on Friday.

While Harden put up 37 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists, Irving had only nine points heading into the final quarter and was scoreless in the third.

He put that right with a 15-point showing down the stretch and then offered an insight into what had inspired his late flurry.

"James kind of yelled at me," Irving said. "It's not a negative yell, but he yelled at me, 'Kai, get the f*****g ball!' in the third quarter after he scored [12 points] in the quarter.

"I kind of took that personal. I just wanted to come out in the fourth quarter in an aggressive mindset and just play within the flow of the offense."

It was a reaction that saw the shackles thrown off for the Nets, who are now 29-16, and Harden never doubted Irving's ability to turn it on.

"For sure, it was a breakthrough," said Harden. "He's capable of doing that at any moment and any point in the game.

"That's one of the reasons why we need him every single game, because he's able to do that, especially with everything that's going on with our team.

"But he's able and more than capable of doing things like that whenever he wants. I think he just tries to get us involved a little bit more, but he's a special talent.

"We have a decent rhythm between one another of just getting out of each other's way but also demanding each other to play at that level.

"When it's us going together and us doing it as a tandem or a duo, it opens up the space for everyone. When we're playing with the unbelievable pace like we were in the fourth quarter, I don't see too many teams that can keep up with that."

Two-time major winner Simona Halep says she is playing the best she has for months after cruising into the 2022 Australian Open fourth round with a straight-forward win over Danka Kovinic.

Halep, who is the 14th seed after an injury-ravaged 2021, eased past the Montenegrin 6-2 6-1 on Saturday. The former world number one has dropped only 14 games on her way to clinching a spot in the second week in Melbourne.

The Romanian, who was the runner-up at the 2018 Australian Open, won the Melbourne Summer Set 1 title and is re-discovering her best form.

"(This is the best I've played in) the last months," Halep said after Saturday's win.

"I feel great physically, first of all. Mentally I'm confident and also strong, I would say.

"Feeling the game. Feeling joy out there. I think that helps me to be positive and to be confident that I have a chance every time I step on the court.

"I feel I'm in a good spot. I really trust that I can play good tennis here."

Halep will play Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in the fourth round on Monday, with the Romanian having won 11 consecutive sets.

Cornet had knocked out third seed Garbine Muguruza in the second round, while sixth seed Anett Kontaveit and US Open winner Emma Raducanu have also bowed out in Halep's quarter of the draw giving her a good shot at a deep run.

"I feel fresh. I feel that the pressure is off," Halep said. "I feel also that I have expectations from myself, but they are good expectations because I have worked a lot in the off-season.

"I have no injuries. That helps me to be in a good spot mentally and also with confidence."

Adrian Mannarino stumbled across the winning line at 02:33 local time as his late-night efforts at the Australian Open proved too much for last year's surprise package Aslan Karatsev.

A battling third-round performance from Frenchman Mannarino sets up a showdown with Rafael Nadal next, and the 33-year-old will hope he has sufficient energy left for that daunting task.

The left-hander clinched victory after four hours and 38 minutes of hard duelling with Karatsev on Margaret Court Arena, with a scattering of fans staying until the bitter end, long enough to hear Mannarino swear during his victory interview.

The watershed in Melbourne had of course long passed by the time Karatsev netted a backhand on match point.

After his 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4 win, world number 69 Mannarino said: "I was enjoying it, you know. I love rallying, and I was just feeling in shape today, it was pretty cool to play."

But he was aware the match was running well into the early hours, saying: "I realised I was just looking at the clock sometimes, and I was thinking, 'F***'. I don't feel good to be honest'.

"I'm kind of exhausted. But it was cool, and I was so focused on what I had to do. I was not thinking about the fact I was tired.

"I was like, 'Okay, go get the next point'. The crowd was cool. Some people had a couple of drinks, I guess, and were commentating more than anybody."

Mannarino's win took him into the fourth round in Australia for the first time, and it meant he accounted for the 18th seed, a player who won the Sydney Classic last Saturday.

Karatsev reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park last year as a virtual unknown, before going on to establish himself over the course of the season.

Remarkably, this Friday night into Saturday morning epic was far from the latest finish in Australian Open history, with Lleyton Hewitt having won a five-setter against Marcos Baghdatis at 04:34 local time in 2008.

Brooklyn Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for directing obscene language toward a fan.

The NBA announced the fine on Thursday with the incident occurring in the second quarter of Monday's 114-107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving responded with obscene language to a fan who could be heard heckling the 29-year-old former Cavaliers point guard. He said: “Got y’all a championship and m***********s still ungrateful.”

Nets teammate Kevin Durant along with New York Knicks' Julius Randle have also been fined for obscene language this season as the NBA attempts to crack down on the use of profanity.

Irving was making his fifth appearance in the NBA this season, due to his vaccination status which meant he could not play home games in New York City, with the Nets not wanting him on a part-time basis. The Nets reversed that decision last month, allowing him to play in road games.

Irving has averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists since his return this season.

Brooklyn Nets' All-Star Kyrie Irving has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for directing obscene language toward a fan.

The NBA announced the fine on Thursday with the incident occurring in the second quarter of Monday's 114-107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving responded with obscene language to a fan who could be heard heckling the 29-year-old former Cavaliers point guard. He said: “Got y’all a championship and m***********s still ungrateful.”

Nets teammate Kevin Durant along with New York Knicks' Julius Randle have also been fined for obscene language this season as the NBA attempts to crack down on the use of profanity.

Irving was making his fifth appearance in the NBA this season, due to his vaccination status which meant he could not play home games in New York City, with the Nets not wanting him on a part-time basis. The Nets reversed that decision last month, allowing him to play in road games.

Irving has averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists since his return this season.

Frank Vogel is under pressure at the Los Angeles Lakers, but LeBron James insists no blame can be directed at the coaching staff.

The Lakers' slump continued on Wednesday as a fourth-quarter charge from the Indiana Pacers saw them lose 111-104.

That defeat means the Lakers have now lost four of their last five games. Indeed, it has been reported that Vogel might well have lost his role as head coach had his team not snapped a three-match losing streak by beating the Utah Jazz on Monday.

But a loss to a Pacers team that is 13th in the Eastern Conference and had won just one of their previous 11 games means questions will surely be asked once again.

It was no surprise then that Vogel's future was the topic of conversation in James' post-game media briefing.

"Coaching staff has been great," James told reporters.

"They put us in a position to succeed, and it's up to us to handle the business, so there's always things that we all can do better, but there's no blame.

"I'm not in that business, of pointing fingers or pointing blame. It's not my lane. I'm not a negative person. So if you got something to ask me besides trying to s*** on somebody, I'll answer those. It seems like y'all are in s*** mode right now."

James led the Lakers with 30 points and 12 rebounds, the 10th of which brought up his 10,000th across his regular season career, but his double-double was not enough to stop Los Angeles slipping below .500 in the Western Conference.

 

Carmelo Anthony, who scored 14 points, insisted the players must step up.

"I mean, we got to do it," Anthony said. "It's up to us. Frank's not out there. It's up to us to go out there and execute and play basketball and win some games."

Vogel, meanwhile, acknowledged it was a damaging defeat.

"This is definitely a disappointing loss," Vogel said. "Indy is a team that's sub-.500, that on our home court, we feel like we should win. And you got to win the games you feel like you should win. So, a disappointing loss.

"I meet with our front office. We talk about the previous night's game. Every game. All year. It's been that way for three years. And it's not been different this week or of late.

"Everyone is working together to leave no stone unturned in terms of getting this thing going in the right direction. And we all have a great working relationship where we're trying to figure out things together. We won a championship this way, and I feel good about our process.

"In this business, and with this team, if you're not winning at a super high level, you're going to get this type of noise. I'm good at blocking that out. I feel good about the job that we're doing. I believe in what we can do this year."

Vogel made a big call to take off Russell Westbrook, with the Lakers star having struggled to cope with Indiana's Caris LeVert, who had 30 points.

"I played the guys that I thought were going to win the game," Vogel explained.

Westbrook has 833 points for the season, behind only James (952) in the Lakers' roster.

Manchester United were "destroyed" in the first half of their 3-1 win over Brentford, with Thomas Frank claiming they only deserved a draw at most. 

United failed to register a single shot on target in the opening period in west London on Wednesday, while David de Gea was forced into three saves from Mathias Jensen and Ethan Pinnock. 

After Cristiano Ronaldo sent a header against the crossbar at the start of the second half, Anthony Elanga put the Red Devils ahead with their first shot on target. 

Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford put United out of sight and secured a 300th Premier League away victory for the club, with Ivan Toney netting a late consolation for Brentford. 

"Unbelievably proud of my team. I think we are the smallest club in the Premier League, Manchester United are probably the biggest. The way we played in the first half, I think we destroyed them," Frank told BT Sport. 

"We should have been up at least 2-0, they didn't have a sniff, nothing. We created five, six chances and three huge chances. Man United deserved a maximum of a draw. I think they are unbelievably lucky. 

"Of course you need to take your chances, I know all that c**p. But the performance, I'm proud of that. They changed the system against little Brentford. I'm so, so proud of my team. 

"[It was] one of those nights, it's football. Fair play to De Gea, a very good performance. If we get those chances again one will go in the back of the net. 

"Our intensity killed them, we showed that in the first half. We pressed them, when we had to we defended low, we won the second balls, we played behind and ran behind them. We played the Brentford way in the first half. 

"The game opened up. They hadn't had a chance before their goal. Of course, I know that's why they pay 72 million [pounds] for [Jadon] Sancho, who's not even included in the team. That's why, that little bit of brilliance created the first goal. 

"Of the three goals, the second is most disappointing and difficult to come back from. There were huge positives. I think the way we smashed them in the first half was fantastic, so proud of my team." 

Hans-Joachim Watzke has slammed the suggestion that Borussia Dortmund have issued Erling Haaland an ultimatum over his future as "total b***s***".

Haaland, who joined Dortmund in January 2020 from Austrian club Salzburg, is one of the most sought-after talents in European football.

Since the Norway forward made his Dortmund debut just over two years ago, he has netted 79 goals in all competitions.

He marked his two-year anniversary with a goal on Tuesday, though Dortmund nevertheless suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to St Pauli in the DFB-Pokal.

It means that, for the first time since 2006-07, neither Dortmund nor Bayern Munich will contend in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals, while none of the winners from across the previous 26 years are left in this season's competition.

That defeat followed on from an emphatic Bundesliga win over Freiburg on Friday, though it was after that match that Haaland commented on his future.

The 21-year-old claimed Dortmund had been pressuring to make a decision on his next move, and that he would soon make a call on whether he will look to leave the club at the end of the season. 

However, Dortmund chief executive Watzke, who did over the weekend acknowledge they had stressed the importance of Haaland making a decision soon to the striker, has insisted the club have not made any ultimatum.

"Some in the media write that BVB would give him an ultimatum, which is total bullshit," he told ARD.

"Dortmund didn't put the gun on his chest."

 

Asked if Dortmund had been unsettled by Haaland's comments, Watzke added: "Erling was obviously a bit bothered by it, but we can't influence that. We told him that too."

Since his Dortmund bow, only Robert Lewandowski (107) has scored more goals than Haaland across all competitions, of players in Europe's top five leagues.

Haaland averages a goal every 80 minutes, while his tally has come from an expected goals (xG) of 63, suggesting his finishing has been way above the standard that would be expected given the quality of chances that have been created for him.

As for big chances – which Opta define as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score – Haaland has been presented with 110 and converted 65 of them.

That equals a conversion rate of 59.1 per cent, which is better than eight of the top 10 goalscorers across Europe's top five leagues in that time, with Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes, who has netted 32 of his 49 big chances (65.3 per cent) having a better conversion rate.

Nick Kyrgios compared the crowd during his Australian Open first-round win to a zoo as fans copied a famous Cristiano Ronaldo celebration at almost every point.

Cries of 'siuu' could be heard throughout much of the home favourite's straight-sets victory over Liam Broady, his first match since a Laver Cup defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas in September.

The shouts were apparently mimicking Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo's famous goal celebration.

There were similar incidents during Andy Murray's battling five-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili, as the five-time finalist won his first match at the Melbourne major since 2017.

The raucous crowds caused confusion as many observers wondered if Murray and Kyrgios were being booed on court, despite each player also enjoying huge support.

Kyrgios later explained he was not surprised to hear the noise from the stands but was taken aback by how long they persisted.

"It's just a stupid, f***, I can't believe they did it so much," he said after his 6-4 6-4 6-3 victory on John Cain Arena. "They were doing some Ronaldo thing. Ronaldo does it every time he scores.

"It's like... I thought they were going to do it for like 10 minutes. They did it for two and a half hours, like, every point. I don't know why. It was a zoo out there."

Murray had wondered if the crowd was turning on him during his epic 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 victory because he had been targeted during his practice session on Monday.

"Initially, I thought it was [booing] because there were some people booing during my practice yesterday," he said. "I have no idea what for! 

"But then, after a few times, it was like, no, they're doing that, I think it's like 'Siuu' or something that Ronaldo does when he scores. And, yeah, it was incredibly irritating!"

Kyrgios produced some superb if often unorthodox tennis as he booked a second-round clash with world number two Daniil Medvedev, who is the highest-ranked male in the draw following the refusal to allow Novak Djokovic to compete.

The 26-year-old would like to return to John Cain to aid his chances of improving his record against the Russian to 3-0.

"It's going to be a hell of an experience for me," he said. "He's probably 'the' best player in the world at the moment. So I'm pretty excited, I'm excited for that moment. That's why I play the game.

"I feel like those matches still excite me, to go out there and play the best in the world. That was always something I wanted to prove to people that someone like me could do, win those matches.

"I'm not going to go into it with a lot of expectation. I'm going to go out there, have some fun, play my game. I have a pretty set-in-stone game plan of what I need to do to have success.

"As I said, he's probably the best player in the world, he does everything extremely well. He's a hard worker, ticks all the boxes. I'm not going to even think about that now. To play it on John Cain would be – I'm just going to call it the Kyrgios Court – would be fun."

Patrick Mahomes revealed the Kansas City Chiefs were motivated by being "p****d off" by a slow start to the Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 42-21 blowout win.

The Chiefs were shut out in the first quarter by a Steelers team that snuck into the playoffs as the seven seed and then fell behind when T.J. Watt returned a Mecole Hardman fumble for a touchdown.

But Mahomes took over thereafter, throwing for 404 yards and five touchdowns, a sole interception in the first quarter the only blemish on a blistering performance.

Tight end Travis Kelce also threw a touchdown on a trick play as the Chiefs turned on the style in setting up a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game with the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round.

"I think we were all p****d off at ourselves," Mahomes said in his media conference. "We felt like we weren't playing with enough energy, we felt like we weren't executing at a high enough level and not playing with enough urgency.

"So, I feel like guys really motivated themselves. We all kind of talked, it wasn't like one person talking, it was everybody talking to each other, and we came with a different urgency starting in the second quarter and carried it the rest of the game.

"Playing in the postseason games, we have young dudes who hadn't played yet, so they got to get that experience this week.

"And we have those vets that have been in here before and showed that with how Tyreek [Hill] and Trav [Kelce] stepped up in big ways to kind of get us sparked and get us rolling again."

On the matchup with the Bills, who crushed the New England Patriots on Saturday behind a sensational five-touchdown performance from quarterback Josh Allen, Mahomes said: "Yeah I mean you expect a really good football team that's going to play really hard. We're expecting a fight, we're expecting a battle. 

"They have a great offense, great defense, great special teams, and we played them in the AFC Championship last year, and we know that it's going to be another fight for us if we want to try to move on to the AFC Championship Game this year."

Russell Westbrook accepts Magic Johnson's damning assessment of the Los Angeles Lakers' form, but says the legendary figure does not know what is going on internally.

The Lakers slumped to a third defeat in a row with a heavy 133-96 loss at the hands of the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

Frank Vogel's side, who were without injured Carmelo Anthony for a third straight game, now have a 21-22 record for the season and are seventh in the Western Conference.

The defeat to a Nikola Jokic-inspired Nuggets was the second biggest of LeBron James' 19-year career, and one fellow Lakers icon Johnson felt showed a lack of effort.

"After being blown out by the Nuggets, we as Lakers fans can accept being outplayed but we deserve more than a lack of effort and no sense of urgency," Johnson tweeted. 

"Owner Jeanie Buss, you deserve better."

Westbrook, who scored 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting, did not want to be drawn into a war of words with Johnson when asked for his reaction to the social media post.

"I do not have a reaction," he said. "Everybody is entitled, in this world, to their opinion – regardless of what that it is. 

"You can either take it and run with it or you can take it and put it in one ear and out the other or you cannot respond to it.

"Magic's entitled to his opinion. And he's not here every day. He's not around us every day. He's not aware of what's going on internally with us and trying to figure things out. 

"But I have no response to that. Like I said, everyone in this world is entitled to their opinion and that's that."

Reigning MVP Jokic recorded another triple-double as the Lakers slumped below .500 again in their defeat to the Nuggets.

Jokic finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists as Denver piled on 73 first-half points before restricting the Lakers to only 36 points in the second half.

And on the back of a humiliating loss, Westbrook concedes his side have to step up ahead of back-to-back home games with the Utah Jazz and the Indiana Pacers. 

"We just got to play hard," he said. "Sometimes, the schemes and how you play doesn't really matter. 

"You got to just play hard sometimes. Teams are playing harder than us, simple as that."

Dwight Howard, whose average of 5.4 points-per-game through 33 outings this season is the lowest of his career, echoed the thoughts of Westbrook.

"It's not too much I can really say about it. We've been saying it all year. I shouldn't have to keep saying. But, you know, he's right," Howard said.

"You can't stop believing that you're gonna win and just say, 'Ah, f**** it, let's give up.

"We know we've put ourselves in a pretty tough predicament, but all it takes is a couple games and some good energy and some positivity. We've just got to stay positive."

The Lakers' 37-point loss to Denver was their largest ever in this fixture and follows defeats to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings in the past week.

"We've got to get back to the drawing board and get our defense right," head coach Vogel said. "We haven't performed well enough in the last two games on that side of the ball."

Kevin Durant has reiterated that he will not try and force or persuade Kyrie Irving to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Irving had been left off the Brooklyn Nets' initial roster for the 2021-22 season, as he had elected against receiving a vaccine.

New York City's vaccine mandate means the seven-time All-Star cannot play home games unless he gets vaccinated.

Irving would have been available to play most road games, though the Nets elected not to include him at all.

That changed when, due to a depleted roster caused by a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, Irving was recalled, and the point guard returned with a 22-point display in Wednesday's win over the Indiana Pacers.

Yet Irving could not feature on Friday as the Nets went down 121-109 at home to the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Durant insisted the Nets must accept Irving's decision.

"I told him how important he is, how much I want him to play, play every game," Durant told reporters.

"But I'm not about to force somebody to get a vaccine, like that's not my thing. So he can play basketball? Nah, I'm not about to do that.

"We've had conversations about wanting him to be a part of the team and conversations about him being here full-time, but that's on his time. Whatever decision he want to make, he's going to make.

"It's on us to be professionals no matter what and do our jobs. All of us, from the owner down to the equipment manager, so whenever he ready, he'll be ready."

In Irving's absence, Durant and fellow star man James Harden delivered 29 and 16 points respectively for the Nets, but Milwaukee, inspired by Giannis Antetokounmpo's 31 points, had too much.

"I haven't even asked for an explanation," Durant continued. "It ain't my place I don't think. So I'm ready for whatever, that's been my whole mentality. 

"It's a weird situation, who knows? I don't understand most of this s***. COVID, all of this stuff has been crazy."

Harden added: "It felt good honestly to have him back [on Wednesday]. It felt good. It felt like an extra life that we had. 

"But we got to live with what we're dealt with, and that's home games we've got to figure ways and even road games.

"Just because Ky's on the road with us doesn't mean it's going to be easy for us as well. So we've got to mesh, we've got to find ways to win games."

Bucks talisman Antetokounmpo was asked whether his approach would be different.

"When it comes to basketball, I feel like I can talk to them," he replied. "I've got to let them make their decision. They're grown men and every situation is different.

"I cannot pressure somebody to do something that he doesn't feel comfortable doing. I can tell you why I did it. Why I felt comfortable doing it. To protect my family, to protect my mom and stuff, stay safe, and you just hope he understands that. But if he doesn't want to do it, I can't keep pressuring him."

Most of the games in the additional week added to the NFL season have little meaning.

However, the much-publicised 'biggest season ever' will end in dream fashion for the league, with the Las Vegas Raiders hosting what essentially amounts to a play-in game in their shiny new stadium against a Los Angeles Chargers team trying to become big business in one of the largest media markets.

It is winner-take-all, with the victor securing a place in the Wild Card round and the loser left to wonder what might have been.

And, given the teams involved, it is certain to attract monster ratings as the primetime finale to the regular season.

That begs a little-discussed question. Should the NFL, having already extended the regular season and the postseason, follow the NBA's lead and make play-in games a permanent fixture of the calendar by instituting a play-in tournament?

NBA tournament met with criticism

The NBA implemented play-in games for the 2019-20 season and expanded to a play-in tournament, contested by seeds 7-10 in each conference, for 2020-21.

It received sharp criticism from LeBron James, who said: "Whoever came up with that s*** needs to be fired."

Yet James produced the most compelling argument for the play-in tournament remaining in place as his Los Angeles Lakers met the Golden State Warriors in the 7-8 matchup and he hit the decisive three-pointer over Stephen Curry in a 103-100 thriller.

Such high-profile names delivering such high-stakes drama will have only vindicated those in the league office who backed the play-in tournament, and surely somebody among the NFL's powers that be will have paid attention.

Marquee matchups

The NFL does not need star names to be on show for people to watch. As the United States' number one sports league, primetime NFL games typically attract huge television audiences regardless of who is playing.

There is little doubt a play-in tournament would be a success in that sense, and in it would provide some hugely attractive matchups this season.

With seven teams from each conference qualifying for the playoffs, an equivalent tournament in the NFL would need to involve the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth seeds.

Were the season to end today, that would mean a bracket with the Indianapolis Colts, Chargers, Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC. In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings would contest the tournament.

In other words, it would put eight franchises steeped in history into winner-take-all games in front of massive international audiences.

Additionally, it would prevent awkward tiebreaking scenarios such as the one that could come to pass in the NFC, where the Niners will miss out if they, the Eagles and Saints all finish 9-8 because of an inferior conference record, this despite them beating the Eagles in Week 2 of the regular season.

Yet a play-in tournament would likely meet stern opposition for several reasons.

Safety concerns

The decisions to expand the playoff field to 14 and then extend the regular season by an extra game were not exactly wildly popular, and it's unlikely the NFL Players Association would be thrilled about eight teams potentially having to play two more games just to get into the playoffs.

Those teams would be at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the field that would have the benefit of a bye week, though the counter-argument would be that winning your division - and therefore avoiding the tournament - would be more meaningful.

And beyond concerns about player safety, asking teams to possibly risk losing a playoff place to a team they outperformed in the regular season is likely to be an extremely tough sell.

The NFL is not exactly struggling for eyeballs, so at this point adding a play-in tournament would be viewed by many as needless following the recent expansion of the schedule, with the negatives in terms of player safety and potential competitive disadvantages in the early rounds of the playoffs outweighing the benefits in revenue and eliminating tiebreakers.

But, with the 17th regular-season game perceived by some as a stepping stone to an 18th, there is no guarantee the NFL is done with schedule expansion. And, nothing, not even what would certainly be a controversial play-in tournament, can be ruled out.

Novak Djokovic will be "p***ed off" and more determined than ever to win the Australian Open if he is freed from detention on Monday, according to Nick Kyrgios.

The nine-time champion at Melbourne Park had his visa revoked when he arrived in Australia this week, with Border Force officials determining he had "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements".

He secured an injunction to avoid immediate deportation on Thursday and is spending the weekend at the Park Hotel, also home to refugees and asylum seekers, before his case is heard in court on Monday.

His lawyers have filed a detailed response and called for Djokovic to be liberated, also revealing the 34-year-old Serbian tested positive for COVID-19 on December 16 and has made a full recovery.

Djokovic has a startling 82-8 win-loss career record at the Australian Open and has earned $21,775,855 (US dollars) for his endeavours at the first grand slam of the tennis season.

Should he be cleared to play this time, and successfully defend his title, it would make him the outright leader for men's grand slam titles with 21, nudging him ahead of Rafael Nadal, who is also set to compete, and Roger Federer, who is absent.

Kyrgios has been a fierce critic of Djokovic in the past, but the Australian firebrand this week said the handling of the Belgrade superstar's case had been "really bad" and those taking satisfaction from his situation should "do better".

Having aired those views on social media, Kyrgios expanded on his thoughts in a news conference on Saturday, saying: "For the sport, we need him here.

"I'm feeling for him now, it's not really humane what’s going on. If he's allowed to play the Australian Open, I don't want any bar of him. I reckon he's going to be p***ed off.

"He's going to be very determined to play well and stick it to everyone. And I don't want any bar of that Novak."

 

Kyrgios claimed media coverage of his comments about Djokovic has "divided us", stating his past remarks have been "blown out of proportion".

In January 2021, Kyrgios described Djokovic as "a tool" after reports he was seeking privileged quarantine restrictions ahead of last year's Australian Open.

Speaking to the No Challenges Remain podcast in 2019, Kyrgios said of Djokovic: "I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger [Federer]."

There has been obvious animosity in the past, but this time around Kyrgios is siding with Djokovic. He wants there to be a greater respect shown by Australia towards the world number one.

"I feel he's helped us as well. Like during the bushfires, he was supportive, he was helping us out," Kyrgios said.

"I feel like I could use this as a publicity stunt. I could just agree with the general person and say, 'Yeah, this isn't good', and use it. But I don't think that's right."

Kevin Durant has slammed his Brooklyn Nets teammates for "f****d-up attitude" after suffering a shock 120-116 defeat to the under-strength Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

The Clippers charged home in the final quarter, despite Durant's 28 points and nine rebounds, scoring 40-29 to claim the four-point win.

The defeat, with the Clippers missing star trio Kawhi Leonard (ACL), Nicolas Batum (ankle) and Paul George (elbow), left Durant furious with his side.

"We just relaxed too much," Durant said at the post-game news conference. "We get up 10 [points], miss a layup or turn the ball over, and they get a fast break, give up a three, straight-line drive - like coach [Steve Nash] said, we didn't deserve to win this game.

"We came in here with a f****d-up attitude. Thinking we were just going to walk into a W."

He added: "It's natural when a team is missing so many players. They're going through so much over there. [We] relaxed.

"You don't think you could lose an NBA game like this. They're missing how many guys? They're playing guys that are up from the G League.

"Xavier Moon came in and hit some shots for them. Keon Johnson, James Ennis - they all made an impact I felt on the game, and I think we came in too chill to start."

The Nets, who coughed up 15 turnovers, slip to a 23-11 record, while Eastern Conference contenders the Chicago Bulls (24-10) and the Milwaukee Bucks (25-13) both won on Saturday.

Nets head coach Steve Nash lamented his side's lack of "care factor", with the defeat coming two days after going down to the Philadelphia 76ers 110-102.

"I just think [conceding] 71 points in the second half is unacceptable," Nash said. "We just never really had the care factor.

"Turned it up, we had a chance up nine, 10, 11 in the third and fourth at different times and just took our foot off the gas and got what we deserved, really.

"All those guys in there, I think they know it, they're disappointed of course, but it's a disappointment for all of us - that was obviously a very winnable game that we let get away."

James Harden became the first player in Nets franchise history with back-to-back triple-doubles with 30 or more points, with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists against the Clippers.

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