The Atlanta Hawks and their fairytale season continued after Trae Young's monster performance inspired a 116-113 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Seeded fifth in the NBA playoffs in the east, the Hawks – who sacked head coach Lloyd Pierce in March following a 14-20 start to the season – upstaged top seeds the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday to reach the Conference Final for the first time since 2015.

The Hawks – amid the second-longest active drought without reaching the NBA Finals (59 straight seasons entering this year) – produced another shock result to tame Giannis Antetokounmpo and the third-seeded Bucks in Wednesday's series opener.

Young put on a show, erupting for a game-high 48 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds to lead the high-flying Hawks in Milwaukee midweek.

Entering the contest, All-Star Young had been averaging 29.1 points and 10.4 assists per game in the playoffs. No player in NBA history has finished a single postseason averaging 28.0-plus points and 10.0-plus assists (minimum 10 games played), according to Stats Perform.

John Collins (23 points and 15 rebounds) and Clint Capela (12 points and 19 rebounds) also contributed double-doubles as the Hawks used a 34-26 third quarter to pull clear of the Bucks away from home.

Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo and star team-mate Jrue Holiday flexed their muscles for the Bucks, but it was not enough against the Hawks.

Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, while All-Star Holiday finished with 33 points and 10 assists.

Khris Middleton had at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals in each of his last two games. The last four players to do that in back-to-back games prior to Middleton (regular season or postseason) were Ron Harper (1994), Scottie Pippen (1991), Clyde Drexler (1989) and Charles Barkley (1986).

However, Middleton was just six-for-23 shooting for 15 points, five rebounds and four assists at home to the Hawks.

 

Suns at Clippers

The Western Conference Finals heads to Staples Center as the reeling Los Angeles Clippers host the red-hot Phoenix Suns, who lead 2-0.

The Phoenix Suns have listed Chris Paul as "probable" for Game 3 of their Western Conference Finals series against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, while Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out.

Paul has missed the opening two games of the Conference Finals series, which the second-seeded Suns claimed in Arizona, having been placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Suns star Paul, 36, entered the protocols last Wednesday and is understood to be asymptomatic, having previously tested positive for coronavirus.

Paul has averaged 15.7 points, 8.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game this postseason.

Meanwhile, the Clippers confirmed star forward Kawhi Leonard will not play in Game 3 due to a sprained right knee sustained on June 14.

Leonard will miss his fifth consecutive game because of the injury.

In the Western Conference semi-finals, the Clippers won both Game 5 and 6 against top seeds the Utah Jazz without Leonard after suffering the injury late in Game 4.

Leonard has averaged 30.4 points, 4.4 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game in this season's NBA playoffs.

James Harden will not compete for the United States at the Olympic Games in Tokyo as he recovers from a hamstring injury, according to USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

Harden reportedly committed to playing for Team USA at next month's Tokyo Games after the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

But Colangelo told ESPN on Wednesday that Harden – who endured an injury-hit 2020-21 campaign – has withdrawn, instead focusing on his recovery over the offseason.

A hamstring injury limited Harden to 36 regular-season games for the Nets following his blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets, before he played nine times in the playoffs, scoring an underwhelming 20.2 points per game.

Harden went to London in 2012 after his final season as a bench scorer for the Oklahoma City Thunder but not to Brazil four years later having established himself in Houston.

Defending champions Team USA are yet to announce their roster for the Olympics, but Gregg Popovich's team is currently headlined by Nets superstar Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal and the Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum.

Team USA are scheduled to open their gold medal bid against France on July 25 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"Life is about relationships, and we've got relationships with all these players over the years," Colangelo told ESPN. "It's been a process, and it hasn't been easy."

Colangelo added: "Versatility and athleticism are trademarks of this group.

"Our staff feels this will be a very competitive group and we'll have shooting that we've been lacking. We're going to go into camp feeling confident we're going to perform well."

Second seed Elina Svitolina crashed out of the Viking International in Eastbourne at the last-16 stage on Wednesday with a straight sets defeat to Elena Rybakina.

The world number five lost 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to 21st-ranked Rybakina, whose reward is a meeting with Coco Gauff's conqueror Anastasija Sevastova in the quarter-finals.

Third seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada also lost in straight sets, Anett Kontaveit of Estonia beating her 6-3 6-3.

And it was the same story for fourth seed Iga Swiatek, though she at least took a set as she was beaten by Daria Kasatkina.

It took an impressive rally from Russia's Kasatkina to bounce back from losing the first en route to a 4-6 6-0 6-1 success.

She will now face Jelena Ostapenko, who beat Ons Jabeur 5-7 6-4 6-3.

In fact, top seed Aryna Sabalenka was the only seed to avoid a surprise exit on Wednesday as she cruised through.

The Belarussian, ranked fourth in the world, beat Alison Riske 6-1 6-4 in just over an hour to set up a clash with Camila Giorgi.

Giorgi had earlier followed up a win over defending champion Karolina Pliskova in the last round by beating Shelby Rogers 6-3 4-6 6-2.

There was no such string of shocks at Wednesday's other WTA event, the Bad Homburg Open in Germany, though first and second seeds Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka needed three sets to progress.

Kvitova lost a second-set tie-break as she beat Ann Li 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 to reach the quarters, while Azarenka defeated Alize Cornet 6-4 3-6 7-6 (9-7).

Angelique Kerber, the fourth seed, progressed more smoothly, earning a comfortable 6-0 6-2 win over Russia's Anna Blinkova.

And Nadia Podoroska saw off the challenge of Patricia Maria Tig, winning 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-4.

Dominic Thiem will seek the advice of a specialist in Barcelona after suffering an injury scare ahead of Wimbledon next week.

Number two seed Thiem retired due to a wrist injury when 5-2 up in the opening set against Adrian Mannarino in the Mallorca Championships on Tuesday.

An MRI conducted at a Mallorca hospital was inconclusive, so the US Open champion will now undergo further tests.

In an update on Wednesday, Thiem wrote on social media: "Yesterday during the match I had a problem with my wrist.

"I went immediately to do an MRI at the hospital in Palma de Mallorca. The results weren't that clear and I have decided to go to Barcelona to check with a specialist.

"I hope I can get the results and a clear diagnosis in the next days."

The ATP 250 event continued without him in Mallorca, as Roberto Bautista Agut moved into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 7-5 triumph over Italian Stefano Travaglia.

More Spanish success on home soil arrived as Pablo Carreno Busta won 6-4 6-4 against Jiri Vesely.

In the doubles, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Gomez-Herrera saw off top seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos to reach the last four in that competition.

Djokovic appears to be enjoying himself as he continues to prepare for Wimbledon, saying: "This was a huge win for us, beating one of the best doubles players in the world after losing the first set.

"We are having a lot of fun on the court. I thought we played well even though we lost the first set."

There was a major upset at the Viking International in Eastbourne, meanwhile, with number one seed Gael Monfils suffering a shock last-16 defeat to Australia's Max Purcell – ranked number 283 in the world.

Purcell, who is only in the tournament as a lucky loser, claimed a huge 6-4 5-7 6-4 win in a battle lasting over two hours.

Monfils fired down 16 aces and fought back after being within two points of defeat in the second set but was ultimately beaten and has not made an ATP quarter-final since February 2020.

"It feels unbelievable," said Purcell. "I thought I'd come out and have a go. 

"I've struggled to get into any singles events over the past nine months and primarily played doubles, so to get on a run here, on my favourite surface, is great."

Purcell will take on Andreas Seppi – a comfortable winner over Emil Ruusuvuori – in the last eight.

While Monfils crashed out, there was less drama for the second and third seeds. 

Alex de Minaur won 6-3 6-4 against home hope Liam Broady, while Lorenzo Sonego was a 6-4 6-2 victor in his contest with John Millman.

Max Verstappen is taking the Formula One title race to Mercedes and he holds all of the momentum as Red Bull return home for two consecutive races in Austria.

The Red Bull Ring will host rounds eight and nine of the 2021 season, starting with the Styrian Grand Prix this week.

Triumphs for Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez were impressive at the street circuits of Monaco and Baku.

But the Dutchman's win at the more traditional French Grand Prix – a race Mercedes had dominated in the previous two years – was a huge statement.

Verstappen now leads Hamilton by 12 points in the drivers' standings, while Red Bull are 37 in front when it comes to the constructors' championship.

The leader is chasing his third career victory in Spielberg, which would make this his most successful track in terms of wins.

 

Verstappen is also looking for a fifth podium at the circuit, while a finish of seventh or better will make this venue his most productive for points. 

A fourth win of 2021 would also make this his most successful F1 season even though we are not yet at the halfway stage, highlighting his team's huge progress.

Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton won the two grands prix here last year, though there were sweet home successes for Red Bull in each of the two years prior.

Another triumph would pile further pressure on Mercedes, whose lead driver Hamilton has gone three without victory. Only in 2016 – the last time he was not crowned champion – has he had a worse run since 2014.
 

LAST TIME OUT

Red Bull rescued a dramatic victory for Verstappen with a bold strategy call at the French Grand Prix.

That came after an error from the Dutchman – who started on pole – saw Hamilton move into the ascendancy on lap one. 

Trailing the Briton after that poor start, Red Bull's strategy turned the race on its head with a powerful undercut. Once back in the lead, they then made the call to pit a second time and surrender track position. 

With Hamilton out in front on older tyres, Verstappen got to work cutting the gap and made the winning pass on the penultimate lap to cap a thrilling race.

Perez beat Bottas to the last spot on the podium, with Lando Norris the best of the rest in fifth for McLaren as neither Ferrari made the top 10.
 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SPIELBERG

While Red Bull are flying high and can draw upon past positive memories at home, the last time they had a race where both drivers retired in F1 was on this circuit last year at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Mercedes' two 2020 successes give them hope of a title fightback and, despite their torrid recent run, the championship damage has been limited to an extent with 12 points still a manageable gap for Hamilton.

Failure to win, though, would give the German team their worst run in the Hybrid Era of four races without victory.

The improved form of Perez and Bottas over recent races has brought an added dimension to a season where Hamilton and Verstappen had taken centre stage.

But Bottas is yet to finish in the top two this season and the under-pressure Finn will be particularly closely watched in Austria.

He expressed frustration over strategy on team radio in France – which team boss Toto Wolff insisted he was fine with – amid continued speculation over whether George Russell will take his seat next season.

Ferrari are in need of a boost after a dreadful outing in France which allowed McLaren to seize the advantage in the race for third.

 

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Brilliant Bottas – The Finn needs a result and will hope it can come at a circuit where he has more poles (three) than at any other. Mercedes have been on pole in six of the last seven Spielberg races, with the exception being Charles Leclerc in 2019.

Spielberg Saturday – Qualifying could be crucial – since 2014 (when Spielberg returned to F1), the eventual winner at the Red Bull Ring has begun the race on the first two rows of the starting grid. Six of those eight races had a winner start on the front row.

Frustrated Ferrari – Both drivers for the Italian team have finished without scoring points in two out of the last eight grands prix (2020 Abu Dhabi and 2021 France). That is as many times as it happened in Ferrari's previous 214 races.

Prime Perez – The Mexican comes to this contest after reaching back-to-back podiums for the first time in his F1 career. He is also enjoying his best streak of consecutive top-five finishes (5).

Lively Lando – Norris has scored points in his last 12 GPs, the best run in his F1 career and longest active streak on the grid. The last McLaren driver to record a better sequence than the Briton was Fernando Alonso in his opening 14 races of the 2007 campaign.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers


1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 131
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 119
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 84
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 76
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 59

Constructors

1. Red Bull – 215
2. Mercedes – 178
3. McLaren – 110
4. Ferrari – 94
5. AlphaTauri – 45

Carl Nassib becoming the first active NFL player to come out as gay is a "historical, monumental moment ", according to Ryan Russell. 

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Nassib made the announcement via social media in an Instagram post on Monday.

Prior to Nassib making NFL history, Russell had come out as bisexual in 2019 when he was a free agent, while Michael Sam became the first gay player to be drafted in 2014, though he never went on to play a regular season game.

Russell was delighted to see the video from Nassib and has been heartened by the positive reception it has received.

"My initial reaction to Carl's video was just one of celebration and elation," he told Stats Perform.

"[Celebration] not just for him in his own journey and self-love and wellbeing but also for the NFL, and for male professional sports at large because right now actively on a team in the four major sports here in the US, there's no one like him. 

"So a very historical, monumental moment for him and for male professional sports, and also for all the young LGBTQ+ youth and athletes looking up to him now.

"They will be seeing him as representation and seeing themselves having success in the highest field of American football through Carl."
 
Asked how big a step this was, Russell added: "Huge. Like I said, it's a historical landmark, really.

"As our small little LGBTQ+, male professional athlete family grows, we've really been chipping away at this for some time. 

"Ryan O'Callaghan coming out when he was retired, Michael Sam coming out, and being the first openly gay male athlete to be drafted into the NFL, myself coming out as a free agent in the midst of an active career, now Carl coming out while on a roster.

"And I am 100 per cent confident that he will be playing in that first game this season – that will be another huge landmark for him. 

"So this is monumental really for all of us, and especially for him, and for the NFL as well to be on the right side of history, and to show that it is an encouraging and inclusive place for all athletes to succeed and be themselves."

 

Nassib joined the Raiders on a three-year, $25million free-agent deal in 2020, with the 28-year-old having 2.5 sacks and an interception in 14 games – five starts – last season.

He was drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and was a popular figure on the documentary 'Hard Knocks' before moving on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018.

Russell, who also played for the Bucs as well as the Dallas Cowboys, believes the days where athletes opt to stay quiet about their sexuality are coming to an end.

He continued: "I think a lot of those things are being taken away in terms of worrying about job security or in terms of being viewed as a distraction in sports. 

"Also the world is changing a lot of ways, the world at large, and people at large, are becoming more accepting - our communities are becoming more diverse.

"So I think it's a mixture of kind of like debunking myths, that we really had no evidence to base it off of, as well as just changing and progressing as a society. Those two things come together to make players feel comfortable. 

"And also, I mean, a credible thing to note, as Carl seemed very relaxed, very nonchalant in his message.

"It didn't seem like it was this big, massive sort of thing that he was fearing would rock his whole world, it was him wanting to come out.

"He wanted to be just his full self, and to also be an visible representation for those who a lot of times have not seen themselves in this league at this level."

Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer have been appointed as vice-captains by Team Europe skipper Padraig Harrington for the Ryder Cup.

Both players bring a wealth experience to Harrington's backroom team for the rescheduled clash against the United States, which will take place at Whistling Straits in September – 12 months on from the original date that was scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic.

McDowell was also part of the set-up at Le Golf National in 2018, where Europe – led by Thomas Bjorn – hammered their American counterparts 17.5-10.5.

The Northern Irishman has featured four times as a player (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014), accumulating nine points from 15 matches – including claiming the winning point at Celtic Manor in 2010.

"I decided on Graeme as a vice-captain a long time ago. He was vice-captain in 2018 with me and I liked what he brought to the team room," Harrington said of the 2010 U.S. Open champion.

"He's quite an authority, confident in what he's doing and saying and knows the scene. The only reason he would not have been a vice-captain was if he was going to be a player.

"Graeme is a strong influence and the players look up to him. When he speaks, people listen, but he doesn't speak unless he's got something to say. I definitely saw that when he was vice-captain previously – players pay attention and follow him."

 

Kaymer too brings plenty of Ryder Cup experience to the table. The German has won 6.5 points from four appearances at the biennial tournament (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016).

Undoubtedly his most famous contribution came when he sank the winning putt in 2012 to complete the "Miracle of Medinah", where Europe overturned a 10-6 deficit on the final day to retain the trophy.

Whistling Straits is also the scene of Kaymer's 2010 US PGA Championship triumph, which led to his debut in the Ryder Cup. 

"Martin is somebody I wanted as a vice-captain because he has a great personality and brings a calmness, a European element, and a lot of confidence with him," Harrington said of Kaymer, who also won the 2014 U.S. Open. 

"The fact that he won around Whistling Straits also brings that level of authority and assurance that you need.

"Martin will also bring a nice emotion to the team, which is very important. He's somebody who will help with the atmosphere, put an arm around a player or two and bring that level of authority and belief that we may need during the week."

 

Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue urged his team to "take care of business" by capitalising on home-court advantage as they seek to overturn a 2-0 deficit to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals.

Deandre Ayton's dunk with less than one second to play gave the Suns a stunning 104-103 victory on Tuesday, leaving the Clippers to play catch-up.

Ayton caught a lobbed inbounds pass from Jae Crowder over the rim and slammed it home to seal the triumph, with Paul George failing to get off a buzzer-beating shot as the Clippers endured an agonising loss.

However, Lue refused to be downbeat as he was left to lament fine margins, with the Clippers coach now looking to put things right back in LA on Thursday.

"We fought well, we played well," said Lue.

"We had a chance to win the game. They won a tip-in and now we've got to go home and take care of business.

"They won two games on their home floor. We understand that. We've been in this position before, even though we hate it.

"Like I said, our guys fought and competed, but they made a big play at the end."

The initial reaction to Deandre Ayton's remarkable last-second dunk that gave the Phoenix Suns a 104-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday was disbelief, even from the man who made the shot. 

But Devin Booker knew Jae Crowder's inbounds lob to Booker that led to the game-winning basket with 0.7 seconds left was legal. 

He had seen Phoenix execute a similar play against the Memphis Grizzlies with 0.6 seconds remaining in a regular-season game in December 2017. 

"I think it's something that a lot of people don't know," Booker said. "Even talking to [the Clippers' Rajon] Rondo at half court after the game, he was like, 'It don't count,' and I was like, 'I've seen this movie before. It counts.'

"It's an incredible play, incredible execution on all ends, but Jae Crowder, that's a tough pass."

For his part in the drama, Ayton said he was just following instructions.

"I just trust my team-mates and my coaches," said the 22-year-old. "I just listened to what they told me to do and Jae made a great pass and I just finished. 

"I'm glad it counted. I didn't even know it counted. I wanted to hold in my celebration but my team-mates told me it counted and we just wanted to finish the game off strong." 

The Suns needed to defend one final attempt by the Clippers, and did so when Paul George could not get off a shot after a long inbounds pass. 

Now Phoenix will take a 2-0 series lead to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Thursday. 

"Hats off to the Clippers, they're a tough team, but once we stay together and we do what we have to do, we're a real strong unit, and that's what we did today," Ayton said. 

Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals prevailed 3-2 in a contentious matchup with the rival Phillies that saw Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi ejected from the game after a dispute with the Washington pitcher. 

Girardi took advantage of the MLB's new provision cracking down on pitchers for use unlawful substances that help improve grip and spin on the ball, requesting that the three-time Cy Young Award winner be checked by the umpires during the fourth inning after he already had been examined and cleared after the first and third innings. 

The final check infuriated Scherzer, who threw his hat and glove to the ground and began to unbuckle his belt before being declared clean again.

"I'll take off all my clothes if you want to see me," Scherzer told reporters afterward. "I've got nothing on me."

After striking out J.T. Realmuto to end the fifth inning, Scherzer stared into the Phillies' dugout as he walked off the field and Girardi emerged from the dugout to shout at the veteran pitcher, leading to his immediate ejection. 

That was also the end of the night for Scherzer thanks to his high pitch count (106), but he looked strong in his first appearance since leaving a June 11 start early with a groin injury.

Scherzer allowed just two hits, one of them a long solo home run by Bryce Harper that accounted for Philadelphia's only scoring against the Nationals ace. 

 

Red Sox top Franco, Rays

The Boston Red Sox spoiled the MLB debut of top prospect Wander Franco and handed the Tampa Bay Rays their seventh straight loss in a 9-5 victory at Tropicana Field. The 20-year-old Franco was impressive, tying the game at 5-5 in the fifth inning with a three-run homer for his first major league hit, but the Rays surrendered four runs in the 11th to lose at home to their rivals. According to Stats Perform, Franco is the second player in history to hit a game-tying three-run homer or grand slam in his MLB debut, after Kosuke Fukudome of the Chicago Cubs did it in 2008.

The San Diego Padres got home runs from Jake Cronenworth and pinch-hitter Kim Ha-seong to beat Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 for their sixth consecutive win. 

Zack Greinke led the Houston Astros to their ninth straight win, 3-1 over the Baltimore Orioles, to maintain a one-game division lead over the Oakland Athletics. 

 

Mets lose Stroman, game

The New York Mets managed only two hits while striking out 12 times in a 3-0 loss to Charlie Morton and the Atlanta Braves and saw starting pitcher Marcus Stroman depart at the start of the second inning with hip soreness. 

A day after breaking their 17-game losing streak, the Arizona Diamondbacks reverted to form, collecting just two hits in a 5-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

HR champ Voit is back

Luke Voit returned from the injured list with a bang, as the 2020 MLB home run leader hit a monster 423-foot blast on the first pitch he saw since May 25 after being sidelined with an oblique injury in a 6-5 New York Yankees loss to the Kansas City Royals. 

 

Tuesday's results

Atlanta Braves 3-0 New York Mets
Houston Astros 3-1 Baltimore Orioles
Chicago Cubs 7-1 Cleveland Indians 
Oakland Athletics 13-6 Texas Rangers
Milwaukee Brewers 5-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres 3-2 Los Angeles Dodgers
Cincinnati Reds 10-7 Minnesota Twins
Seattle Mariners 2-1 Colorado Rockies
Detroit Tigers 8-2 St Louis Cardinals
Washington Nationals 3-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals 6-5 New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox 9-5 Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 Miami Marlins
San Francisco Giants 5-0 Los Angeles Angels

 

Giants at Angels

Shohei Ohtani will face MLB's best team as he takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels against Kevin Gausman and the San Francisco Giants.

Deandre Ayton's dunk with less than one second to play gave the Phoenix Suns a stunning 104-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals. 

Ayton was the Suns' most reliable player throughout a back-and-forth affair and came up huge in the end, soaring to catch an inbounds pass from Jae Crowder over the rim and slam it home for the final margin. 

After the last in a series of lengthy video reviews in the final two minutes, the officials put 0.7 seconds on the clock for the Clippers, but Paul George could not get off a shot before the buzzer expired. 

With the Suns missing team leader Chris Paul due to COVID-19 protocols and their star Devin Booker having a difficult night, it was Ayton who came up huge Tuesday. 

The big man scored 12 points in the first quarter on the way to a 24-point night on 12-of-15 shooting in addition to grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds. 

On a night that saw Booker make only five of 16 shots from the field and turn the ball over seven times, Paul's replacement Cam Payne was a huge factor for Phoenix. 

Payne, whose previous career playoff scoring high was 19 points, scored 29 in 37 minutes on a memorable night in Phoenix. 

The Clippers were also missing a star as Kawhi Leonard sat out a fourth consecutive game with a knee injury, and George could not lift Los Angeles to victory by himself. 

The veteran led the Clippers with 26 points but made just 10 of 23 shots and missed two critical free throws in the closing seconds to give the Suns a chance to win it. 

The series shifts to Los Angeles on Thursday with the Clippers looking to bounce back at home. 

Brooks Koepka says he has plenty of support on tour in his ongoing feud with Bryson DeChambeau and has no interest in sitting down to talk things out with his rival. 

Their spat has dominated golf's off-course buzz since a leaked video clip from an interview at the US PGA Championship showed Koepka rolling his eyes when DeChambeau walked by. 

Koepka showed no interest in ending the affair in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday ahead of this week's Travelers Championship in Connecticut. 

He said he has received approving text messages from NFL and NBA players, among others. 

"These guys love it," Koepka said. "I think it's drawn them into the golf a little bit more and is making it more fun for everybody. 

"Look, I've enjoyed it. I've definitely gotten the better of him, and I've enjoyed that." 

Closer to home, Koepka said his fellow PGA Tour players and officials also have provided positive feedback. 

"There's been a few laughs, a few 'I can't believe you did that -- I'm glad you did.' It's been fun," he said. 

"I've gotten good response from a bunch of the guys on tour, from everybody from the tour. It's been something I think everybody's enjoyed and definitely changing up the game a little bit."

Though the pair have appeared on unfriendly terms since at least 2019, when Koepka called out DeChambeau for slow play, their most recent fallout has generated a different kind of attention for the tour. 

Koepka seems inclined to keep it going, as indicated by his response to being asked in the ESPN interview how he would respond if DeChambeau approached him with an offer to sit down and smooth things over. 

"There's not much to talk about," Koepka said. "This whole thing started, basically, because of him. I'll leave it at that. I don't see us having dinner or drinks ... just to settle it."

The Detroit Pistons will have the first overall selection in the NBA Draft for the first time in 51 years. 

Detroit won the NBA Draft lottery Tuesday after finishing with the second-worst record in the league (20-52) this season. 

The Houston Rockets (17-55) will pick second overall, followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Pistons, Rockets and Magic each had 14 per cent odds to earn the top pick, while the Thunder and Cavaliers had the next-best chance at 11.5 per cent. 

The Pistons last had the first overall pick in 1970, when they selected Hall of Famer Bob Lanier. 

It will be Detroit's highest selection since the Pistons infamously took Darko Milicic second overall in 2003 -- behind only LeBron James but ahead of future Hall of Famers Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. 

Heading into the July 29 draft, most analysts have tipped Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State as the likely top pick. 

 

The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks are the last two teams left standing in the Eastern Conference - but who will be going through to the NBA Finals?

While the Bucks survived a deluge of points from Kevin Durant to see off the Brooklyn Nets in a thrilling Game 7, the Hawks caused another upset as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers on the road in a tense series decider.

There is little time for either to dwell on the past, however, as they meet in Game 1 on Wednesday at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

Since the start of the 2017-18 season, the Bucks have dominated against Atlanta, going 11-2, though a six-game winning streak came to an end on April 25 as they lost 111-104 at home in the regular season.

The Hawks have already knocked out higher seeds in both the New York Knicks and the 76ers, seeing them become just the fifth franchise since 1980 to reach the Conference Finals following a mid-season coaching change. The other four all went on to win the title, too.

Nate McMillan stepped up from his role as assistant to replace Lloyd Pierce following a 14-20 start to the season. He is now just four wins away from steering them to the NBA Finals for the first time since the franchise moved from St Louis in 1968.

Standing in the way are a Milwaukee roster who have made it this far for a second time in three years – they went 2-0 up on the Toronto Raptors in 2019, only to then lose four on the spin to the eventual champions.

While seeing off the Nets was impressive, Giannis Antetokounmpo made clear in the immediate aftermath that the focus must remain on the bigger picture, saying: "The job is not done. That's the message here and in the locker room, we've got to keep our heads in the game."

The Bucks start the series as overwhelming favourites, but the Hawks have shown they have no issues playing the role of dangerous underdogs during a postseason that has already thrown up plenty of surprises.

 

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Milwaukee Bucks - Khris Middleton 

Antetokounmpo became just the fifth player in NBA history to reach 40 points and have 10 or more rebounds in a Game 7, but it was by no means a one-man show in the battle against Brooklyn.

Middleton is averaging 23.3 points per game during the playoffs, a number boosted by scoring 38 in Game 6 against Brooklyn to help get Milwaukee back on level terms. He is also set to be part of the Team USA roster for this year's Olympic Games in Tokyo, alongside fellow Buck Jrue Holiday.

Atlanta Hawks - Kevin Huerter

Trae Young is undoubtedly the lead act for Atlanta, but Huerter stole the show in Game 7 in Philadelphia. 'Red Velvet' smoothly managed a team-high 27 points – his best performance in the postseason so far – as he went 10 for 18 shooting.

He had been shut out in Game 5 yet rediscovered his scoring touch when it mattered to help the Hawks progress, raising his postseason average to 11.6 points per outing.

KEY BATTLE – Young v Holiday in PG match-up

Both Young and Holiday had Game 7 outings to forget, despite their respective teams coming out on top. The former finished with 21 points but landed just five of his 23 shot attempts from the field, with two of those successful efforts coming from long range.

Still, the fifth overall pick in the 2018 draft is averaging 29.1 points per game in these playoffs, making him the focus for the Bucks on defense. Holiday could well be charged with keeping quiet one of the frontrunners to be crowned the MVP of the playoffs.

HEAD TO HEAD

There is nothing to split the teams in terms of playoff meetings – they have each won 11 apiece. The most recent series came in the first round in 2010, with the Hawks coming out on top in Game 7 having at one stage been 3-2 in arrears.

Feliciano Lopez reached the milestone of 500 ATP Tour wins with a comeback victory over Karen Khachanov at the Mallorca Championships.

Lopez, who turns 40 in September, prevailed 4-6 6-2 6-4 against the sixth seed.

He is the 10th active player to reach 500 wins, after Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Richard Gasquet, Fernando Verdasco, Marin Cilic, Stan Wawrinka and Tommy Robredo.

"More than the 500 wins, the important thing to me is the chance to keep playing in these kinds of tournaments and to keep being competitive," Lopez told ATPTour.com.

"I didn’t expect to be able to play at the level I am on the ATP Tour at 40 years of age, which I will be in September."

Spanish veteran Lopez would have expected to be taking on Dominic Thiem next, but the world number five retired due to a wrist injury when 5-2 to the good in the opening set against Adrian Mannarino.

"It's nice for me to be in the quarter-finals, but winning this way is not so cool. I really like Dominic, he's such a nice guy and I hope he will be feeling better soon," Mannarino said. "I hope it is not so serious, especially right before Wimbledon."

Elsewhere on the Balearic island, top seed Daniil Medvedev breezed past Corentin Moutet 6-4 6-2, while Casper Ruud defeated Tennys Sandgren in straight sets.

At the Viking International in Eastbourne, there were mixed fortunes for Lopez's countrymen Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Fokina, seeded sixth, saw off Mikael Ymer 7-5 6-1, but number seven seed Ramos-Vinolas fell 6-4 6-3 to Emil Ruusuvuori.

Alexander Bublik defeated fellow Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin is straight sets, while Jo-Wilfred Tsonga went down in similar fashion against Egor Gerasimov.

Coco Gauff lost the first set in 20 minutes but roared back to stun seventh seed Elise Mertens – as Iga Swiatek also staged a comeback at the Viking International in Eastbourne.

Playing late in the day, Gauff was picked apart by Mertens to begin with, and also trailed by a break in the second set, but the 17-year-old American rising star pulled off a 0-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 first-round win.

Seeds Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu and Swiatek all came through three-set matches on a busy day, but Karolina Pliskova was not so fortunate in her opener.

Winner of the grass-court event in 2017 and 2019, Pliskova arrived as the defending champion after last year's edition was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, her hopes of a repeat triumph came to an early end, beaten in three sets by qualifier Camila Giorgi.

The fifth seed was in charge initially against an opponent she had prevailed against in five of their six previous meetings, yet Giorgi produced an impressive response having fallen behind – aided by a strong service performance – to win 2-6 6-2 6-2.

Svitolina, the second seed, had lost in her previous two appearances in the main draw, and it appeared history could be repeated when Paula Badosa claimed the opening set against her.

Yet the second seed recovered to level, then dominated the tie-break in the decider to triumph 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7-1) and set up a second-round meeting with Elena Rybakina, who edged out wildcard Harriet Dart in three sets.

Andreescu, meanwhile, recorded her maiden win on grass in the main draw of a WTA tournament. The Canadian was made to work for it by Christina McHale, eventually coming out on top by a 6-4 2-6 6-2 scoreline.

Swiatek eventually saw off the challenge of Heather Watson after two hours and 42 minutes on court, a 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 triumph making sure of a place in the last 16. Watson led 4-1 and 40-0 in the decider but could not finish off last year's French Open champion.

This year's Roland Garros runner-up, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, meanwhile, was beaten 6-1 6-3 by Jelena Ostapenko.

At the Bad Homburg Open, second seed Victoria Azarenka defeated fellow Belarusian Yuliya Hatouka 7-5 6-0 to reach the last 16.

Jessica Pegula bowed out, though, as the American – seeded third – went down in a three-set tussle against Katerina Siniakova.

Andy Murray is hopeful 2021 will prove not to be his last appearance at Wimbledon.

The two-time tournament winner has been handed a wildcard for the grass-court grand slam in London, which was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Murray also missed the 2018 and 2019 tournaments due to injury, so this year will be his first Wimbledon outing since reaching the quarter-finals in 2017, when the ailing Briton suffered a five-set defeat to Sam Querrey.

Ahead of his first Wimbledon appearance in four years, the 34-year-old hopes to play in many more, though he will savour the experience and take nothing for granted given his recent injury woe.

"To me it's not so much about me worrying about it being my last one, it's just something that I think about," Murray told Sky News.

"I don't want it to be my last Wimbledon, certainly I want to keep playing, I don't want to stop just now, so yeah I want to keep going.

"I've had so many injuries and so many setbacks you just don't really know what's round the corner.

"I want to approach each tournament and each match that I play like it's my last one so that I can get the most out of it.

"So that's why I want to prepare here well. I'm going into the bubble on Wednesday evening so I'm going to get there early to practise at Wimbledon. 

"Hopefully I've got some high quality practices – I'm practising with Marin Cilic and I practise with Roger Federer later in the week.

"I'm just trying to play with high quality grass court players to prepare me as best as possible." 

 

Murray, who has undergone two hip surgeries since he last played at Wimbledon, earned an impressive win on the grass over Benoit Paire at Queen's last week.

He then lost in straight sets to eventual champion Matteo Berrettini in round two.

As long as he can prepare properly and remain competitive, three-time grand slam champion Murray, who has also previously won the US Open, wants to battle on.

He added: "It's more about the body if I'm restricted in how I can prepare. 

"If I can't prepare properly to compete then that's when it's not fair on yourself to keep putting yourself out there, because you're not properly prepared and can't do yourself justice.

"So if that was the case and I was having to compromise on my training just to get out there on a match court and my results weren't good – that is something I'd look at. 

"But providing I can train and prepare well and I'm enjoying it I'll do it for as long as I can."

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