Giannis Antetokounmpo believes NBA history is within the reach of the Milwaukee Bucks despite them falling 3-0 behind to the Miami Heat in the NBA playoffs.

The Heat moved within a game of progressing to the Eastern Conference finals with a 115-100 win over the top-seeded Bucks on Friday.

Milwaukee led by 12 points going into the final quarter but were incredibly outscored 40-13 in the final 12 minutes of Game 3 of the semifinals.

The Bucks will attempt to keep their season alive with victory in Game 4 on Sunday.

And reigning MVP Antetokounmpo, who tweaked his ankle in the first quarter but still had 21 points with 16 rebounds and nine assists, knows Milwaukee cannot afford another fourth-quarter slump.

"We played well for three quarters, we just got to be able to do that for four quarters," said Antetokounmpo.

"You've got to play hard for 48 minutes. We've got to play harder, we've got to play better."

No NBA team has overturned a 3-0 series deficit but Antetokounmpo added: "Mentally, we're in a good place. If there's a team that can beat a team four straight it can be us.

"We've just got to believe in ourselves. We can do it. We've done things before where nobody believed in us."

The Milwaukee Bucks are on the verge of exiting the NBA playoffs, while the Los Angeles Lakers fell in Game 1 against the Houston Rockets.

The top seeds in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks are 3-0 down to the Miami Heat in the semi-finals after Friday's 115-100 loss.

Miami incredibly outscored the Bucks 40-13 in the fourth quarter at the Walt Disney World Resort.

The Bucks led for most of the contest, including by 14 late in the third, but fell apart late.

Jimmy Butler (30 points, seven rebounds and six assists) put Miami on the verge of a shock series win, with 17 of his points coming in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers were beaten 112-97 by the Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals.

Rockets star James Harden went 12-of-20 from the field for a game-high 36 points.

 

Awesome Adebayo, Westbrook in fine form

Bam Adebayo had a double-double of 20 points and 16 rebounds in Miami's win. He was seven-of-eight from the field.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo managed 21 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, but he went seven-of-21 from the field.

Russell Westbrook also struggled with his shot, going 10-of-24, but he had 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a Rockets win.

Eric Gordon also contributed 23 points for Houston.

For the Lakers, Anthony Davis posted a double-double of 25 points and 14 rebounds, while LeBron James had 20 points.

 

Bledsoe struggles

Eric Bledsoe battled badly for Milwaukee. He was two-of-nine from the field for just eight points in nearly 30 minutes.

 

Hot Harden

Harden was in spectacular form for the Rockets.

Raptors face Celtics

Following their incredible Game 3 win, the Toronto Raptors will look to level their Eastern Conference semi-final against the Boston Celtics at 2-2 on Saturday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Mike Budenholzer stressed the need to move on quickly after a contentious ending to the Milwaukee Bucks' defeat to the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

A breathless finish had seen Khris Middleton sink three free throws after Goran Dragic was judged to have stepped in his landing area to tie up a game in which 51 personal fouls were whistled for in Orlando.

But more drama followed when it was ruled Antetokounmpo fouled Jimmy Butler at the buzzer, with Bucks head coach Budenholzer having already used up his challenge.

Butler kept his nerve to sink the two free throws and seal a 116-114 win that sees the Heat move 2-0 in front, while it was just the third time in playoff history a game ended on free throws after time expired.

"I tried to make it tough for Jimmy," Antetokounmpo, who finished with a game-high 29 points, reflected on the decision. "The refs said there was contact there. Maybe there was, I've got to watch the play. 

"It is what it is. I tried to contest the shot, but they said there was contact there, so I've got to watch [the] play." 

The Bucks now face an uphill battle as the previous 11 teams to trail 2-0 in a best-of-seven series having recorded the best regular-season record went on to be eliminated, and Antetokounmpo issued a rallying cry to his team-mates.

"It's about us. It's always going to be about us. That's why we practice. That's why we go through our game plan. That's why we've got to come out and play harder," added Antetokounmpo, whose team also lost twice to the Heat in the regular season. 

"That's why we've got to make more shots. It's always going to be about us. It's not about what the other team is going to do. 

"It might be the Miami Heat now, next round might be a different team, next year might be a different team. It's always going to be about us.

"How can we get better? How can we not repeat the same mistakes? How can we not down the stretch make turnovers? How can we create easier shots?

"It's always going to be about us. It's never going to be about the other team that we're playing."

Budenholzer was not happy with the decisive call but followed a similar line to his star man.

"I would say we're disappointed with the judgment, with the decision, the timing," he said.

"It's a tough job. I have a lot of respect for the officials and the crew tonight. It's not an easy job, and of course we have our way of seeing things and we're going to disagree, but we need to shift our attention to Game 3 and get prepared for that. Understand that that's the most important thing right now."

Conversely, Butler had no doubt the right decision was made, saying: "It was an iso [isolated one-v-one], Goran [Dragic] made a hell of a pass on the inbound, then just wait for the clock to go out," Butler said. 

"A step-back jumper and I got fouled, [he] pushed me in the back. Can't deny that, and then I knew I had to make one out of two so I ended up, I think I made both of them and we win."

The Miami Heat moved into a 2-0 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in controversial fashion, while the Houston Rockets advanced.

Miami posted a 116-114 victory over the Bucks to go 2-0 up in the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Wednesday.

But it came after a controversial finish in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Resort.

With Miami leading 114-111 with less than five seconds to play, Goran Dragic was called for a foul on Khris Middleton, who hit three free-throws.

But, more drama was to follow, Giannis Antetokounmpo ruled to have fouled Jimmy Butler, who hit two free-throws with no time left to lift the Heat to a 2-0 lead against the top seeds.

The Rockets finally advanced from the Western Conference first round thanks to a 104-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7.

Despite a poor offensive outing from James Harden, the Rockets moved into a meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Harden produced a huge late block to deny Luguentz Dort (30 points) as the Rockets held on.

 

Even Heat enough to power past Giannis

Miami had seven players in double-digits for points in their win over the Bucks, led by Dragic (23).

Tyler Herro, 20, was one of the seven, going six-of-13 from the field for 17 points off the bench for Miami.

Antetokounmpo had a double-double of 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks.

Chris Paul had a triple-double of 19 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds as the Thunder were beaten.

 

Harden's woes

Harden struggled badly for Houston. The star guard was four-of-15 for just 17 points in 37 minutes, while he also had four turnovers.

 

Huge defensive moment for Harden

While he battled offensively, Harden delivered a huge defensive play with his block on Dort.

Raptors face Celtics

Trailing the Boston Celtics 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Toronto Raptors need a response on Thursday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo did not ask to guard Jimmy Butler as the Miami Heat star caught fire in the fourth quarter and handed the Milwaukee Bucks a shock loss in Game 1.

Butler scored 40 points – 15 of which came in the final period – as the Heat took the lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals series with a 115-104 victory on Monday.

Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, was held to 18 points – just the sixth time this season he has been kept below 20 when playing over 30 minutes. In the fourth quarter, he scored just three points while shooting 1-of-4 from the field and the free throw line and contributing six turnovers.

The Bucks as a whole added just 18 points in the final 12 minutes, with Butler taking the game away from them and putting Miami in the driving seat.

Antetokounmpo, the 2020 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, did not consider trying to take the lead in keeping Butler at bay.

Asked if he requested to be switched onto Butler late on, Antetokounmpo replied: "To guard him? No, I didn't. Why would you ask that?"

On whether it was something he would look to do going forward, he added: "No, I'll do whatever coach tells me to do."

Although Antetokounmpo had 10 rebounds, nine assists, one steal and one block, he was restricted to just 12 shots across the game as the Heat tightened up defensively after giving away 40 points in the first quarter.

"I've just got to keep making the right play, keep playing good basketball, keep finding my team-mates," he said.

"They're going to try to build a wall this game, the next game, the whole series. I've got to keep making the right play.

"When the game is over and you look at the stat sheet and see 12 shots, you have to wonder why I didn't shoot more, could I have been more aggressive. But I think I just tried to make the right play. Win or lose, you've got to live with it."

Jimmy Butler led the Miami Heat to a 115-104 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and is far from the toxic character he is made out to be, according to coach Erik Spoelstra.

Butler took over in the fourth quarter and scored an NBA playoffs career-best 40 points to put the Heat 1-0 up on the top-seeded Bucks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The five-time All-Star left the Chicago Bulls in acrimonious circumstances in 2017 and was traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves the following year after falling out with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

When the Philadelphia 76ers failed to make him a priority in free agency in the past offseason, he signed with the Heat.

Spoelstra feels Butler has landed in the ideal environment and flourished in the confines of the NBA bubble near Orlando, Florida.

"These are extreme circumstances, they're not easy for anybody. And you need a level of discipline, of structure, and camaraderie," said Spoelstra, via ESPN.

"Jimmy, despite what, probably, the narrative is out there, he's a very likable guy in the locker room, and I think that helps in a setting like this.

"He just fits everything about us, our fabric and who we are. Make or miss, everybody feels comfortable when he's making those decisions. He happened to score [on Monday] but he's a very unselfish player.

"It's not just about him scoring the basketball, he makes the appropriate reads depending on what's needed for that particular game. They [the Bucks] stepped up their defence, though, and you have to give them credit for that, and we basically had to put the ball in his hands.

"He wants these kinds of moments."

Butler said team-mates Andre Iguodala, Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson told him to win the game for Miami, but he hopes other members of the team get to shine in the rest of the series.

"I told my team-mates I probably wasn't gonna pass the ball," Butler said of his approach down the stretch. "I made a couple shots, and they said, 'That's fine with me.'

"I don't know if it will be like that next game. I hope Tyler [Herro] is the one that'll be in the position where he feels like the rim is so big that he can't miss, or Goran, or Bam [Adebayo].

"We've got a lot of guys that are so comfortable, so confident. We're okay."

He added: "I've learned [to be able to take over games], but I've watched so many great players. And it's great to have D-Wade [Dwyane Wade] in my corner, I'm telling you.

"He's always in my phone, telling me about the game, what to look for. He's been a huge help. He's the first person that texts me tonight whenever I get back to the locker room.

"I'm learning. I've been learning. I will continue to learn. I just want to win, though. I can't say it enough."

Jimmy Butler put on a show as the Miami Heat topped the Milwaukee Bucks 115-104 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals in the NBA playoffs.

Butler posted a playoff career-high 40 points to lead the Heat past the top-seeded Bucks at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida on Monday.

A five-time All-Star, Butler scored 14 of his points in the final quarter as fifth seeds the Heat upstaged Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.

Butler became just the third player in Miami's postseason history to have at least 40 points, following in the footsteps of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

Heat team-mate Goran Dragic added 27 points for Miami, whose 5-0 start to the playoffs is tied for the best ever by a team seeded fifth or lower, per STATS. The Washington Wizards also started 5-0 as the fifth seeds in 2015.

Despite outscoring the Heat 40-29 in the opening quarter, the Bucks were unable to hold on as the Heat's defence starred.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Bucks, who were led by Khris Middleton's 28 points.

The Heat and Bucks will meet again in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder forced a Game 7 against the Houston Rockets after prevailing 104-100.

Facing elimination in the Western Conference opening round, veteran Chris Paul came up big for the Thunder with 28 points and seven rebounds.

Trailing 98-92 with just over four minutes remaining, former Rockets guard Paul was clutch for the Thunder, nailing a pair of three-pointers down the stretch to lift his team.

James Harden recorded 32 points and eight rebounds for the beaten Rockets, who face the Thunder in Wednesday's decider, while Russell Westbrook had seven turnovers against his former team.

 

Jazz face Nuggets

The Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets will go head-to-head in Game 7 of their Western Conference first-round matchup on Tuesday. The Boston Celtics and defending champions the Toronto Raptors are also in action in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to a 4-1 series victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA playoffs.

The NBA postseason resumed at Walt Disney World Resort on Saturday following a three-day strike amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice after the shooting of Jacob Blake – a black man – in Wisconsin.

James posted 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while Davis finished with 43 points in Saturday's 131-122 win in the Western Conference first round.

Davis and James became the first duo since the ABA-NBA merger to score 35-plus points on 70-plus percent shooting each in the same playoff game, per STATS.

The top-seeded Lakers will face either the Houston Rockets or Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks advanced in the Eastern Conference thanks to their 118-104 victory over the Orlando Magic.

The Bucks, who triggered protests throughout professional sports in the United States on Wednesday, were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo in their return to the court.

Bucks star and reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 17 rebounds as the Miami Heat await in the next round.

 

Rockets soar as Harden stars

James Harden posted 31 points to lead the Rockets to a 114-80 rout of the Thunder and a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference. Fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook also returned from injury.

A Nikola Vucevic double-double of 22 points and 15 rebounds were not enough for the eliminated Magic.

In the absence of All-Star team-mate Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum put up 36 points, while Carmelo Anthony had 27 of his own.

 

Rough night for Gallinari and Thunder

Danilo Gallinari managed just one point in the Thunder's heavy loss. He was 0 of five from the field, while missing all three attempts from beyond the arc in 22 minutes. Thunder team-mate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, meanwhile, only posted four points on six-of-eight shooting from the field, and 0 of four from three-point range.

In Orlando's defeat, Gary Clark played 24 minutes and was 0 of four from the field and 0 of three from beyond the arc. He made one of two free throws.

 

LeBron and Davies combine

The two All-Stars continue to flourish in pursuit of the ultimate goal – an NBA championship.

 

Saturday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 118-104 Orlando Magic
Houston Rockets 114-80 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Lakers 131-122 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Celtics face Raptors

The Eastern Conference second-round series between the Boston Celtics and defending champions the Toronto Raptors gets underway on Sunday.

An emotional Chris Paul praised the "huge" work of his NBA colleagues and said he will never forget the meetings that followed the Milwaukee Bucks' strike this week.

The Bucks refused to take the court against the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of their first-round series after the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Blake, a black man, was repeatedly shot in the back by police in the team's home state of Wisconsin.

The incident prompted the latest in a series of demonstrations against police brutality and racial inequality, with all playoff games on Wednesday and Thursday subsequently postponed.

A return to action was agreed for Saturday but only after the 13 teams present in Orlando held lengthy meetings to discuss a route forward.

Resumption plans came with commitments from the league that placed a particular emphasis upon enabling voter participation in the 2020 general election this November.

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Paul had a key role, as the NBPA president, and told the media of his pride at the meetings while again describing his pain.

"Fifteen years in this league and I've never seen a thing like it," Paul said. "Honestly.

"I wasn't the oldest one in the room - I think Udonis Haslem was - but the voices that were heard, I'll never forget it, I'll never forget it.

"For a lot of us, you get a chance to read and see pictures of the Cleveland Summit, those who came before us, the Muhammad Alis, the Jim Browns, the Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, and how powerful they were.

"We're not saying that we're that, but what we're doing in our league right now is huge.

"I think for the young guys in our league, they get a chance to see how guys are really coming together and speaking and see real change, real action.

"Because guys are tired. Like, I mean, tired. When I say 'tired,' we're not physically tired, we're just tired of seeing the same thing over and over again, right?

"I was blessed and fortunate enough to talk to Jacob Blake's father - he was in my home state of Winston-Salem for a while - and it's emotional, especially when you're a black man.

"You know that when [Bucks star] George Hill spoke, he talked about being a black man and he was hurt. He was hurt. We're all hurt.

"We're all tired of just seeing the same thing over and over again and everybody just expects us to be okay, just because we get paid great money. You know, we're human. We have real feelings.

"And I'm glad that we got the chance to get in a room together to talk with one another and not just cross paths and say, 'good luck in your game today'."

MLS will return with Montreal Impact versus Toronto FC on Friday following the pause in play after the shooting of Jacob Blake.

The league followed the NBA in postponing games on Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks went on strike in protest against police brutality and racial inequality.

Blake, a black man, was repeatedly shot in the back by police in Wisconsin, the Bucks' home state.

Just one MLS match went ahead on Wednesday, with Orlando City beating Nashville, but the players are now ready to resume play. The NBA will return on Saturday.

"Following a period of reflection and conversation with the Black Players for Change (BPC), the league's players and the MLS Players Association, matches will resume, beginning tonight with the Montreal Impact hosting Toronto FC," a statement read on Friday.

"BPC are scheduled to meet with MLS owners, as the players and the league continue working together to create long-term change both inside and outside of MLS."

MLS bosses have largely supported the teams in their demonstrations, although Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen sparked outrage as he criticised his club and threatened to cut funding.

RSL players past and present hit back, while Toronto striker Jozy Altidore and NBA playoff star Donovan Mitchell - a player for Salt Lake City's Utah Jazz - each called on Hansen to sell the team.

Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha told the BBC he was considering his future at the club after Hansen's comments.

"I don't want to be here, because I’m not here to play for someone who isn’t here to support us," the former Manchester City centre-back said.

"We are trying to create a bigger conversation, but a lot of the people who are in power don’t empathise or sympathise or do anything. They are more concerned with themselves."

Doc Rivers lauded the "phenomenal" NBA players after they agreed a return to action following the Milwaukee Bucks' strike, a pause in play the Los Angeles Clippers coach felt was vital.

Games on Wednesday and Thursday were postponed after the Bucks decided to sit out of Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic.

The demonstration was made in protest against police brutality and racial inequality after Jacob Blake, a black man, was repeatedly shot in the back by police in Milwaukee's home state of Wisconsin.

As the Bucks' stance garnered support around the league, initial reports from the NBA bubble in Orlando suggested the season could be halted as a result.

But the NBA and NBPA have announced plans to return on Saturday based on commitments from the league that placed a particular emphasis upon enabling voter participation in the 2020 general election this November.

Clippers coach Rivers, who was praised for his emotional words on Blake's shooting earlier this week, told reporters following confirmation of the resumption plans: "The players were phenomenal.

"I was fortunate enough that they invited me to sit in on meetings and, just as a fly on the wall, I was so impressed with them. At the meeting last night, I was really impressed."

Support of Black Lives Matter has been a constant since the NBA season returned amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the death of George Floyd in police custody in May bringing the movement to the fore.

Citing Floyd's final words as a police officer knelt on his neck - "I can't breathe" - Rivers felt it was important the players had time after the Bucks' unprecedented strike to consider a route forward with their aims for social change.

"Just because something hasn't happened doesn't mean it can't happen," he explained. "Don't give into something that hasn't happened. Keep pushing, keep working.

"The key to this thing is that I think we all needed to take a breath. We needed a moment to breathe.

"It's not lost on me that George Floyd didn't get that moment. But we did, and we took it, and the players took it.

"And they got to refocus on the things that they wanted to focus on outside of their jobs.

"Then they voiced it, they organised it, they got it together, they understood they can't do everything on their own. We all need help to get things done. They went out and they got that help as well.

"The pride to be in the NBA is very high for me. I slept very well last night, thinking that our young people spoke. That was fantastic."

The Milwaukee Bucks restarted a fierce discussion about sports and politics on Wednesday evening after they boycotted their Eastern Conference first-round playoff game against the Orlando Magic.

Their boycott comes in the aftermath of yet another police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. Blake is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down.

It would not have been easy for the Wisconsin-based team to have made this decision which will hit the bottom line of broadcasters, the league itself, their team and eventually, the players.

In June, the Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving led a conference call involving 80 players and vehemently argued against the league’s restart once the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the United States. His drive was to highlight the plight of Black America as they protested the killing of George Floyd another unarmed black man, murdered by a police officer who had a knee on his neck on a road in Minneapolis.

However, his call against the restart came at a time when the NBA was already on pause because of the coronavirus and a boycott would not have made the same kind of impact it would at this point in time.

Kyrie who is vice president of the National Basketball Players Association was right about one thing, playing games wouldn’t have solved the problems of racial injustice. However, boycotting the league then, wouldn’t have had the same result either.

Quite possibly a more perfect opportunity would have been boycotting the finals, whether it would have been the conference finals or the actual NBA finals. But the recent incidents have brought forward this latest action by the players and it now seems more appropriate to impose their will and send the strongest-possible message.

Let’s also be blunt about another point re Kyrie Irving. His worldwide view hasn’t always been spherical, but this is a different sphere. Any boycott with him as the face or voice would have been met with derision and a huge lack of credibility. And the importance of that moment, that movement and that effort would have been lost. Of course, every voice matters when it comes to the cause of racial equality. However, any charge and any course of action must be strategic, surgical and full of thought. And the messenger must be as solid as the message.

I don’t think the players would have boycotted these games if there was compassion from the current occupant in the White House.

Let’s also be fair, extra-judicial killings of unarmed black people have been going on for a while. And while there was a sense of empathy coming from the previous President of the USA, there now appears to be apathy from the current administration on this matter.

The US elections are in November, and the new NBA season is set to begin December 1. This boycott is poised to strongly push a referendum against President Donald Trump, and it is coming two months before voters go to the polls. This is now strategic.

In a couple of months we will know if it works, but there should be no going back for the players like the NBA announced earlier today. If they are going to risk it… risk it all.

It appears the mindset of the Los Angeles teams is one of the same at the moment as there are reports that both the Lakers and Clippers voted to quit the postseason.

My first article spoke about black athletes being more than their talent, and they should utilize their platforms to speak out in a society which finds it difficult to adapt to a more inclusive way.

Another moment has been introduced to opportunity.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Barack Obama, Billie Jean King and LeBron James led rallying calls on a seismic day in American sport, as games were called off in protest at racial injustice.

In a forceful message, athletes and teams downed tools in North America as they boycotted scheduled fixtures following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by police in the state of Wisconsin.

Blake was shot several times in the back, prompting nationwide protests.

All three NBA playoff games set for Wednesday were postponed, and it was reported widely that players from the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers were in favour of boycotting the rest of the season.

The NBA board of governors were set for a Thursday meeting, with players also reportedly due to hold a follow-up to their Wednesday get-together.

Major League Baseball saw three games postponed, namely those between the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, and Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres.

Five of six Major League Soccer games also did not go ahead, while Thursday's play at the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament in New York was suspended, with Naomi Osaka pulling out of the tournament after reaching the semi-finals.

Former US president Obama saluted the Milwaukee Bucks for boycotting Game 5 in their series against the Orlando Magic.

Milwaukee is the nearest major city to Kenosha, where Blake was shot. Obama also saluted Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who criticised President Donald Trump when he spoke powerfully on Tuesday. Rivers accused the Republican Party of "spewing this fear".

Obama wrote on Twitter: "I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It's going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values."

Speaking earlier in the day, Lakers superstar James wrote on Twitter: "F*** THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT".

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer added: "I am again angry over the shooting of a black man #JacobBlake. @DocRivers and The @Bucks players said it well, we need real police accountability. Give citizens data to do so. Let's have criminal justice reform that keeps all people safe but not senselessly imprisoned or afraid."

Tennis great King, who has fought for the growth of women's sport and for social justice, praised Japanese player Osaka's decision to abandon the Western and Southern Open in her individual protest.

King wrote: "A brave and impactful move by @naomiosaka, in support of the protest movement moving through the sports world. She was to play in the semis. Athletes using platforms for good means so much. Don't remain silent. #BlackLivesMatter"

Fellow tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova added: "An amazing stance Naomi ... well done, nothing but respect!!!"

The NHL faced criticism, however, for a perceived lack of response as the Stanley Cup playoffs continue.

Canadian star Evander Kane, who plays for the San Jose Sharks, tore into the league by saying: "Actually it's incredibly insulting as a black man in hockey the lack of action and acknowledgement from the @nhl, just straight up insulting."

The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds called off Wednesday's MLB game in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

All three NBA playoff games at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday were postponed amid protests following the shooting of Blake – a black man who was repeatedly shot in the back by police.

It came after the Milwaukee Bucks – the top seeds in the Eastern Conference – decided to boycott Game 5 of their first-round postseason series against the Orlando Magic.

And in baseball, the Brewers followed suit after agreeing not to play their midweek fixture against the Reds at Miller Park in Milwaukee amid protests against racial injustice in the United States.

"The players from the Brewers and Reds have decided to not play tonight's baseball game," a statement from both sets of players said.

"With our community and our nation in such pain, we wanted to draw as much attention to the issues that really matter, especially racial injustice and systemic oppression."

The Seattle Mariners will also sit out MLB action midweek after players agreed to postpone their meeting with the San Diego Padres.

"The Seattle Mariners respect the team's decision not to play tonight's game," a statement read. "The Seattle Mariners stand with our players as they speak out with their words and actions against social injustice."

Mariners second baseman Dee Gordon wrote via Twitter: "There are serious issues in this country. For me, and for many of my teammates, the injustices, violence, death and systemic racism is deeply personal.

"This is impacting not only my community, but very directly my family and friends. Our team voted unanimously not to play tonight.

"Instead of watching us, we hope people will focus on the things more important than sports that are happening."

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