LeBron James paid tribute to the Denver Nuggets after the Los Angeles Lakers were swept in the Western Conference finals.

The 38-year-old said he and teammate Anthony Davis are in agreement that Denver was the best team they had faced while playing together with the Lakers.

Despite 40 points from James, 31 of which came before halftime for his highest scoring total in a half in a playoff game in his illustrious career, the Lakers lost a close Game 4 contest.

Denver prevailed 113-111 with Nikola Jokic having 30 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists and Jamal Murray adding 25 points as they clinched an historic 4-0 series win.

The Nuggets claimed their first Western Conference title in the team’s 47-year existence and will face either the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics for the league championship

"Me and AD were just talking in the locker room and we came to the consensus this is one of the best teams, if not the best team, we’ve played together for all four years," James said about the Nuggets.

"Just well-orchestrated, well put together. They have scoring. They have shooting. They have playmaking. They have smarts. They have length. They have depth. 

"And one thing about their team, when you have a guy like Jokic, who as big as he is but also as cerebral as he is, you can’t really make many mistakes versus a guy like that."

James, who was 15-of-25 shooting, prompted a wave of coverage after Game 4 by suggesting he was considering basketball retirement.

After saying he had a lot to think about in the post-game news conference, he was asked to clarify his comments by ESPN.

Asked what he would be thinking about, James replied: "If I want to continue to play. I got to think about it.

"It was a very challenging season for me, for our ballclub, and obviously we know whatever went on early on [the Lakers started 2-10 start]. It was cool, a pretty cool ride.

"We'll see what happens going forward. I don't know. I don't like to say it's a successful year, because I don't play for anything besides winning championships. I don't get a kick out of making a conference [finals] appearance.

"I've done it a lot, and it's not fun to me to not be able to be a part of getting to the [NBA] Finals."

Davis had 21 points for the Lakers and all five starters reached double figures, but a seemingly comfortable 73-58 halftime lead swiftly evaporated as Denver outscored them 28-10 to start the second half.

Jokic’s eighth triple-double of this year’s playoffs broke a tie he shared with Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain for the most in a single postseason.

Denver will face either Miami or Boston in the Finals. The eighth-seeded Heat own a 3-0 lead in the East finals ahead of Game 4 on Tuesday.

Last year’s Derby hero Desert Crown will make his eagerly-awaited return to action after 355 days on the sidelines in Thursday’s Racehorse Lotto Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the Saeed Suhail-owned colt is unbeaten in three racecourse appearances.

A Nottingham maiden win at two was impressive by any standards, but he stepped up on that to win the Dante at York on his first outing at three and he looked to have the world at his feet when toying with the Derby field at Epsom.

Richard Kingscote was on board that day and maintains the partnership on a horse who has been off the track since due to injury.

Nursed along by Stoute, he is now ready to return in a race which the trainer has traditionally used as a starting point for his best middle distance horses such as Pilsudski, Notnowcato and Workforce.

Stoute also runs Solid Stone, in the same ownership, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore.

Desert Crown faces far from a penalty kick as another long-absent star returns to action in Hukum. Trained by Owen Burrows, he was last seen winning the Coronation Cup at the Derby meeting but in doing so he picked up an injury which has kept him off the track since.

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Royal Ascot winner Claymore, David Simcock’s Cash and the Keith Dalgleish-trained Chichester returns complete the field.

Frankie Dettori has the ride on Enemy in the Racehorse Lotto Henry II Stakes. Nate The Great, Roberto Escobarr, Sleeping Lion and Princess Anne, trained in France by Hiroo Shimizu, are the other contenders.

Some very highly rated juveniles go to post for the Racehorse Lotto National Stakes, led by James Tate’s Blue Storm.

The Newmarket race he won on debut could hardly have worked out any better, as Tate explained: “Blue Storm was very taking up at Newmarket. He has been very natural at home and has showed up well all winter.

“We gave him one piece of work just before the Craven meeting, which he showed up nicely in before winning at Newmarket.

“Generally speaking my two-year-olds come on a lot from their first run to their second and if he follows that rule, we have every reason to be excited.

“What is even better is that the second, third, fourth and fifth have all won since, so the form looks great.

“There are not too many negatives and lots of reasons to be optimistic.”

Richard Hannon’s Dapper Valley, Hugo Palmer’s Chester winner Hackman and Charlie Appleby’s On Point all carry tall reputations into the 10-runner contest.

Lebron James cast doubt on his future with the Los Angeles Lakers after their season-ending defeat by the Denver Nuggets.

The 38-year-old, the top scorer in NBA history, even sparked rumours of retirement following the 113-111 loss in game four of the Western Conference finals.

“We’ll see what happens going forward,” James said at his post-game press conference.

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve got a lot to think about, to be honest. Just for me personally going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about.

“It was a very challenging season for me, for our club. It was a pretty cool ride, but I don’t know.

“I don’t get a kick out of making a Conference appearance. I’ve done it a lot and it’s not fun to me to not be a part of getting to the (NBA) finals.”

James scored 40 points against the Nuggets but missed two shots to tie the game in the dying seconds.

He has previously revealed a desire to play alongside his son Bronny, 18, who currently plays college basketball for the University of Southern California and will be eligible for the NBA next year.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves for his first career playoff shutout, and the Florida Panthers moved a win away from a surprising spot in the Stanley Cup Final with Monday’s 1-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Bobrovsky made Sam Bennett’s power-play goal midway through the second period hold up as Florida took a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Panthers are aiming to become only the fourth No. 8 seed in a conference to reach the Stanley Cup Final since the NHL adopted a 16-team postseason in 1979-80.

Florida, whose lone Final appearance came in 1996, can finish off the series at home on Wednesday. In the history of the NHL playoffs, teams with a 3-0 lead have advanced in 200 of the previous 204 occurrences.

The Panthers won Game 3 despite being outshot by a 32-17 margin and losing captain Alexsander Barkov to a lower-body injury in the first period. Bobrovsky came up with 14 saves in the second period and 11 in the third, in which the Panthers managed only two shots on goal.

Nikola Jokic had 30 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists as the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history with a 113-111 comeback win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday to complete a four-game sweep of the Western Conference finals.

Top-seeded Denver overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to claim its first Western Conference title in its 47-year existence and will face either the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics for the league championship. The eighth-seeded Heat own a 3-0 lead in the East finals.

Jokic made history as well by recording his eighth triple-double of this year’s playoffs to break a tie he shared with Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain for the most in a single postseason. The two-time NBA MVP also hit the eventual game-winning shot when his layup with 52 seconds remaining snapped a 111-111 tie.

The Lakers had built a seemingly comfortable 73-58 halftime lead behind 31 points from LeBron James, his highest scoring total in a half in a playoff game in his illustrious career.

Los Angeles came out cold in the third quarter, however, making just one field goal over the first 4-and-a-half minutes as the Nuggets steadily cut into their deficit. Denver outscored the Lakers 28-10 to start the second half and grabbed an 86-83 lead on Michael Porter’s tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining in the period.

Jokic’s 3-pointer with 2:50 left to play extended Denver’s advantage to 110-104, but the Lakers’ Austin Reaves answered with a triple on the ensuing possession to spark a 7-1 run that tied the game at 111-111 entering the final minute.

After Jokic’s layup put the Nuggets back in front, James missed a 20-footer and had his final attempt blocked by Aaron Gordon right before time expired.

James finished with 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists but shot just 4 of 12 from the field in the second half.

James DeGale made history by claiming the vacant IBF super-middleweight title with a thrilling unanimous decision victory over Andre Dirrell in Boston eight years ago.

DeGale became the first person to win Olympic gold and a world crown in the professional ranks for Britain after withstanding a fierce comeback from his American opponent.

The Londoner appeared on course for a sensational early stoppage after dropping Dirrell twice in the second round, with the first knockdown coming from a brutal overhand left.

Dirrell weathered the storm in the early rounds as DeGale, who won middleweight gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, looked for the knockout and even came on strong in the second half of the fight.

But DeGale finished strongly and two judges scored the fight 114-112 in his favour, with the third of 117-109 seemingly a bit harsh on Dirrell.

After improving his record to 21-1 (14KOs), DeGale said: “I’ve finally done it. It’s an unbelievable feeling, I’m world champ. I made history!

“I will take on any super-middleweight in the world, I’m hard to beat when I’m at my best.

“(Dirrell) is a very, very good opponent, he’s very talented, he’s hard to beat, if anything it’s me and him second and third in the rankings. Andre Ward’s there and there’s me and him. There’s no other super-middleweight that would beat me on my day.”

DeGale held the title until 2017 when he lost it to Caleb Truax before regaining it in a rematch with the American the following year.

He retired from professional boxing after a defeat by Chris Eubank Jr in February 2019.

A new campaign aimed to transform the way children and young people are coached in sport and physical activity by prioritising enjoyment has been launched to help increase activity levels.

Sport England’s latest Active Lives Children survey found only 47 per cent of children who regularly exercise strongly agree they enjoy taking part, which was down from the pre-pandemic level of 51 per cent.

The survey, published in December 2022, also showed 53 per cent felt they do not get enough exercise.

The launch of the ‘Play Their Way’ campaign by the Children’s Coaching Collaborative will be led by the 17 partner organisations and is funded by Sport England and the National Lottery.

Research shows enjoyment is one of the biggest motivators for children and young people to help them get active.

The Play Their Way campaign will be dedicated to ensuring children have the best possible experience in sport and activity through a ‘child first’ approach taken on board by England’s 2.6million coaches to build a grassroots movement which is hoped will in turn keep youngsters staying active through the rest of their life.

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A launch event is being held on Tuesday in south London at Peckham BMX Club, which has coached and supported more than 2,000 young people since opening in 2004 – including 2020 Olympic silver medallist Kye Whyte.

Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said: “Positive experiences for children and young people are at the heart of Sport England’s ‘Uniting the Movement’ strategy – and child-first coaching is an important part of this.

“Our research tells us that for children, fun is the primary reason for taking part in sport and activity. They will want to take part if they enjoy it.

“It is vital that we put fun and enjoyment at the centre of sport and activity, and give our children and young people the chance to shape their sporting experiences to boost activity levels.”

Head of coaching and policy at UK Coaching Heather Douglas added: “Coaches play such an important role in the development of children and young people’s lives, often in difficult circumstances, and can have a profound effect on the positive experiences they have in sport and physical activity

“We know that child-first coaching and giving children a choice and a voice in the way they are coached works, and that many of our coaches are out there doing this already.

“This campaign is about helping more coaches do more of this and through ‘Play Their Way’ we will be providing them with resources and support to help transform the way our children and young people are coached.”

:: To learn more about the campaign, access resources and sign up to join the biggest grassroots movement to transform the way we coach our children and young people visit www.playtheirway.org

William Knibbs defied the odds to be crowned the Jamaica National Amateur Golf Champion on Sunday at the Caymanas Golf Club in St. Catherine.

Knibbs entered Sunday's final day three strokes behind leader Zandre Roye but after rounds of 74 and 72, he shot a 73 for a combined score of 219 to win by four strokes. Roye opened with a 71 on Friday and followed up with 72 on Saturday but it all fell apart on Sunday when he shot four birdies, six bogeys and three double bogeys for a score of 80 for a combined score of 223.

Knibbs was almost in disbelief that he managed to come from behind to claim victory.

"I was three strokes back after day one. I saw that there were opportunities throughout both the first two days where had I capitalized a little better I could have had better scores and been closer to the lead so today (Sunday) I just tried to avoid as many mistakes as possible and let the good golf come to me," he said while expressing his delight at winning another national title.

"It feels great to join Justin Burrowes as the second multiple-time winner of this event. I knew I was playing well coming into this week and through the first two days I was really playing well, just didn't get the most out of my game so today I came a little earlier and put in a little extra practice and try to grind out a good result today."

Last year's champion Oshae Haye, who was in fifth place going into the final day ended in third place with a score of 238 (81, 80, 77).

Three golfers Dr. Mark Newnham, Sean Morris and William Lee tied for fourth place after posting 241 each over the three days.

Michele McCreath was crowned the female champion for the first time. She was the only entrant in the female category.

"Absolutely" happy to win even though "it was a challenge. The course was very difficult and the conditions were very tight but it does feel wonderful at this stage of my career in golf to be winning."

Robert Chin won the Men Super Senior section with scores of 80, 78 and another 78 in the final round for a total score of 236. Mike Gleichman came from behind to grab second place after ending on 239 (84, 80 and 78), while Dorrel Allen was third on four strokes back on 240 (88, 75, 77).

 

 

The NFL Draft will be held in Green Bay for the first time in 2025, the league announced Monday during its spring meetings.

Events will take place inside and around Lambeau Field and Titletown, a complex with shops, activities and restaurants located near the iconic home of the Packers.

"The draft has become a prominent offseason event hosted in different cities with spectacular locations across the country, and we are excited to work with the Packers and Discover Green Bay to bring the 2025 NFL Draft to Green Bay and iconic Lambeau field," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

The NFL Draft was held in New York City from 1965-2014, then took place in Chicago (2015-16), Philadelphia (2017), Dallas (2018), Nashville (2019), Las Vegas (2022) and Kansas City (2023).

"This is an incredible day for the Packers, greater Green Bay and the entire state of Wisconsin as we are excited and honored to be selected to host the 2025 NFL Draft," Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said.

"The Packers have a rich and proud history that goes back to the early days of the NFL and are the only community owned team.

“That connection to our league's heritage combined with the great passion Packers fans will bring will make the draft a memorable event for those in attendance and NFL fans watching around the world.”

Ilkay Gundogan is determined not to lose momentum as Manchester City aim to close out the season by winning the treble.

City claimed the first of the three trophies they are chasing by winning the Premier League title over the weekend.

Their sights are now set on adding the FA Cup and Champions League but, before they can switch thoughts fully to their two finals next month, they have to complete the league programme.

City, who are unbeaten in 24 games, wrap up their Premier League campaign by travelling to Brighton on Wednesday and Brentford next Sunday and Gundogan is wary of easing up in those matches.

The City captain said: “We haven’t lost any games for so many weeks and that’s the standard that we have to set for ourselves.

“We do nothing different – we do the same things that we’ve done in the last few weeks and hopefully it can be a really special end to the season.

“I love the club and being part of this amazing team.

“Obviously, we want to finish the season with two more trophies. We have two more big finals, and the last two games of the Premier League season are going to be preparation for that.

“We don’t want to drop anything. I would love to lift two more trophies.”

The ultimate success of City’s season will now be defined by the FA Cup final, in which they face Manchester United on June 3, and the Champions League final against Inter Milan the following week.

After a strong run throughout the spring – capped by magnificent performances in crunch games against title rivals Arsenal and then Real Madrid in the Champions League – the focus is strong.

Kevin De Bruyne, who like Gundogan is now a five-time Premier League winner, said: “We like to win, and we’re never bored of it. We’ve won a lot in the past but we want to win again and again.

“We keep on working. We enjoy the games against Brighton and Brentford and prepare for United and Inter and hopefully we can do something special.

“Everybody wants it. We know we need to win two games, but they are hard games, and we need to prepare ourselves the best as possible and hopefully we can win them.”

Midfielder Rodri is confident City can achieve their goal.

He said: “We know there is a long way to go with two big finals and we have to prepare good.

“We can do it. We believe in ourselves. We have been working to arrive in these moments and we are prepared.”

Jimmy Jeggo believes Hibernian can recover from Sunday’s setback against Rangers to keep themselves in contention for a European place.

The Hibees had not lost in four games before the 3-1 cinch Premiership defeat to the Light Blues where goals from Gers skipper James Tavernier, Ianis Hagi and Todd Cantwell rendered Paul Hanlon’s added-time header as a consolation.

Lee Johnson’s side are in fifth place – two points ahead of St Mirren, four points behind Hearts and six behind Aberdeen – with European places potentially available up to fifth place in the league as long as champions Celtic beat Inverness in the Scottish Cup final.

Hibs finish the campaign with two tough matches, at home to Celtic and away to Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Jeggo remains positive.

The 31-year-old midfielder, who signed from Belgian club Eupen in January, said: “There were positives but there are still a lot of things we need to improve when it comes to these types of games to get a little bit closer.

“But we are at that stage in the season where we need results.

“We are still in with a chance of European football, which is our aim. It is about taking the positives from Sunday, looking at the things we need to improve on and then taking them into the game on Wednesday night, which will be a similar game.

“We know where we are as a team and we want to keep building.

“We feel that over the last couple of weeks we have taken a step forward and it is about continuing that.

“It is that time of the season where there is no point getting too down about things.

“We know we have to go out there in the next couple of games and do a job. We know it is going to be difficult, but we are ready for that.

“There is still an overriding sense of confidence in the team that we can do what we need to do to get a European place.

“A club like Hibs has to be in Europe. We are all well aware of the expectation.

“As players, that’s where we want to be. We know there are two really big games coming up and it is going to be difficult.

“But the gaffer is clear. We are building and there is another window coming up and all that kind of stuff.

“It is a big advantage to the club having European football and also for us as a team. It provides us with more challenges to grow and more challenges to get better.”

NFL owners approved a rule change that they hope will prevent a repeat of what happened in last season’s NFC championship game.

The bylaw passed on Monday allows NFL teams to designate an inactive third quarterback who can play if the first two QBs are injured during a game.

The third QB will not count against the limit of active players and will only be activated if either of the first two quarterbacks are injured or disqualified – not due to a benching for poor play.

If either of the first two QBs are later cleared to return by the team’s medical staff, the emergency quarterback must then come out.

This rule amendment had been discussed after the San Francisco 49ers’ only two active quarterbacks were injured in January’s NFC title game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brock Purdy injured his elbow and his backup Josh Johnson suffered a concussion, forcing Purdy to return.

Purdy, though, wasn’t a threat to throw, and without a functioning quarterback the 49ers couldn’t get anything going offensively and suffered a 31-7 loss.

For a league that prides itself on excitement, the highly anticipated game was a bore when San Francisco had the ball, but this new rule should make games more competitive if the first two quarterbacks were to get injured.

Nick Pope ensured Newcastle booked their Champions League place with a game to spare as he denied Leicester a priceless victory in their bid for Premier League survival.

The Magpies’ £10million summer signing kept out Timothy Castagne’s volley in the second minute of stoppage time with his first save of the game to secure a 0-0 draw on a night when the home side battered at the door but were unable to find a way through.

Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron were both denied by the woodwork, but a point was all their team needed to ensure their place among the continent’s big boys for the first time in 20 years.

By contrast, Leicester, who are still two points adrift of safety, will head into their final-day clash with West Ham knowing their fate is not in their own hands.

Eddie Howe’s men were lauded by a crowd of 52,152 on the final whistle, having secured Champions League football for just the third time in the club’s history and way ahead of the schedule drawn up by the club’s Saudi-backed owners when they took control in October 2021.

In some senses it proved to be a frustrating 90 minutes – it might have been more so had key midfielder Bruno Guimaraes seen red rather than yellow for a poor early challenge of Boubakary Soumare – but it was ultimately the bigger picture which mattered.

Howe was forced to make a last-minute change when, after he had taken part in the warm-up, midfielder Joelinton was unable to start and was replaced by Elliot Anderson.

Any fears the reshuffle might unsettle his team proved unfounded as they took the game by the scruff of the neck amid a party atmosphere at St James’ Park, although Guimaraes was perhaps fortunate to escape with only a booking for his studs-up ninth-minute clash with Soumare.

The Magpies dominated possession but in the early stages were unable to find a telling final ball.

Almiron, who had made another high-octane start, fired over after cutting inside from the right and Anderson tested goalkeeper Daniel Iversen for the first time with a curling attempt.

Alexander Isak was seeing plenty of the ball down the left but sliced a long-range effort well wide as the Magpies piled forward repeatedly without ever really being able to summon up the required precision to make the pressure tell.

For their part, City attempted to hit Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho long and early and, although they achieved a measure of success, they met with stubborn resistance from Fabian Schar and Sven Botman.

Wilson twice went close to his 19th goal of the season four minutes before the break when he stabbed a shot against a post and then saw Wilfred Ndidi clear his follow-up header off the line, while Almiron was similarly denied by the woodwork before Isak steered the rebound wide seconds later.

Wilson headed over from a Kieran Trippier corner in stoppage time after Iversen had misjudged the flight and the half ended goalless.

James Maddison entered the fray at the break as a replacement for Iheanacho, but the traffic continued to head very much in the direction of his team’s goal, with Isak and Almiron menacing out wide, although the massed ranks of blue held impressively firm.

Iversen had to turn a 59th-minute Isak snapshot over his crossbar and block Sean Longstaff’s 76th-minute drive with a foot, but it was the Foxes who almost snatched victory at the death when Pope was forced into his first save of the game to keep out Castagne’s stoppage-time volley.

Juventus' hopes of a top-four Serie A finish suffered a huge double blow as the Bianconeri were thrashed 4-1 at Empoli on the same day they received a 10-point deduction. 

Moments before kick-off, Juve expressed "great bitterness" at the Italian Football Federation's decision to issue a new penalty over alleged transfer irregularities, putting them seventh in the table.

Massimiliano Allegri's side showed no signs of being fired up by that ruling, as Francesco Caputo's penalty and Sebastiano Luperto's powerful effort quickly put Empoli in control. 

Caputo doubled up with a delicate finish after half-time and though Federico Chiesa pulled one back, Roberto Piccoli's stoppage-time strike compounded the visitors' misery and left them five points outside the top four with two games remaining.

Federico Gatti had the ball in the net after 14 minutes, prodding in the rebound after Arkadiusz Milik headed against the crossbar, but Bremer was adjudged to have fouled goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.

Empoli took full advantage of that escape four minutes later, Caputo drilling home from the spot after Milik clumsily tripped Nicolo Cambiaghi just inside the area.

The hosts only required a further three minutes to double their lead, Luperto smashing into the roof of the net from close range after Wojciech Szczesny denied Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro.

Juve missed huge chances to pull one back either side of half-time, Bremer and Dusan Vlahovic both blazing over the crossbar when unmarked inside the area. 

Vlahovic's miss was swiftly punished as Caputo put the result beyond doubt after 48 minutes, lifting Akpa Akpro's square ball over Szczesny to complete his brace.

Chiesa gave Juve a faint glimmer of hope when he drilled a shot under Vicario with five minutes left, but Empoli restored their three-goal cushion in stoppage time as Piccoli fired into the bottom-left corner.

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