NBA

Curry closes within two of Allen's record as Warriors win, Tatum downs Bucks

By Sports Desk December 14, 2021

Stephen Curry moved within two three-pointers of breaking Ray Allen's all-time NBA record as the Golden State Warriors edged the Indiana Pacers 102-100 on Monday.

Curry finished the game with 26 points including five triples to close in on Allen's record of 2,973 three-point attempts made. The two-time MVP will look to break the mark on Tuesday against the New York Knicks.

Domantas Sabonis scored 30 points with 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who led late before Curry, who shot at 33 percent from beyond the arc, hit his fifth three-point attempt to narrow the margin.

Curry had another attempt from beyond the arc rim out, with Kevin Looney's putback giving Golden State the lead with 13.4 seconds left.

Gary Payton II's defense on Caris LeVert forced a late turnover to seal the win for the Warriors who improve to 22-5, ahead of Curry's next attempt at breaking the record in New York.

 

Tatum downs depleted Bucks

Jayson Tatum hit seven three-pointers as he finished with 42 points in the Boston Celtics' 117-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. The reigning champions lost Khris Middleton to a left knee hyper-extension in the third quarter, while Giannis Antetokounmpo was kept relatively quiet with 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

The Philadelphia 76ers missed Joel Embiid who was out with rib soreness, going down 126-91 to the Memphis Grizzlies, while reigning MVP Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets past the Washington Wizards 113-107 with 28 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists.

Trae Young scored 41 points with nine assists but it could not prevent the Atlanta Hawks from losing 132-126 to the resurgent Houston Rockets. Eric Gordon netted 32 points for Houston who came from 19 points down with a 38-21 fourth quarter.

 

CP3 struggles as Suns stumble

Chris Paul could not find his stride against his former franchise, struggling for nine points shooting at under 30 percent with eight assists in the Phoenix Suns' 111-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns, who are 21-5, were without Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker.

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  • South Korea v Portugal: Sense of revenge could be enough motivation for A Selecao South Korea v Portugal: Sense of revenge could be enough motivation for A Selecao

    It often feels like football works in cycles.

    A few months beyond 20 years since a crunch group tie at the World Cup, South Korea and Portugal are ready to do it all again.

    The Selecao are already through after two wins from two against Ghana and Uruguay, and barring a three-goal turnaround, their progression will come as group winners.

    Head coach Fernando Santos could decide to rotate, but then again, perhaps the smell of revenge will be enough for him to go full strength once more.

    The only previous meeting between South Korea and Portugal came at the 2002 World Cup, which South Korea won 1-0 on home soil in the final game of the group stage, a result that eliminated Portugal from the tournament.

    This time it will be all or nothing for South Korea with only a win being enough, while also needing Uruguay to narrowly beat Ghana.

    Paulo Bento's men have lost five of their last seven World Cup matches (W1 D1), as many as they had in their previous 16 (W5 D6), and are looking to win their third group game for just the third time at the tournament, previously doing so against Portugal in 2002, as mentioned, and in 2018 against Germany.

    The first goal will be especially important as Portugal are yet to lose a match at the World Cup when they have scored first (P18 W15 D3), doing so without losing more than any other nation in tournament history.

     

    Bento will not be present for the game after receiving a red card at the end of the 3-2 defeat to Ghana, furiously reacting to referee Anthony Taylor's decision to blow the full-time whistle after his team had won a corner.

    "We shall continue to prepare in same way as other matches – our strategy will not fail," his assistant Sergio Costa said after that game. "He won't be present on the matchday, which is a loss because Paulo is obviously a great manager, but I think it will bring us together."

    The irony being that Bento played for Portugal in that 2002 humiliation against South Korea. In fact it turned out to be his final game for the national side, before returning as head coach between 2010 and 2014.

    Portugal, meanwhile, are looking to win all three group-stage matches for just a third time, also doing so in 1966 and 2006.

    If Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. can do so while also ending South Korea's tournament, there will likely be a sense of payback to go with it.
     

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    South Korea – Son Heung-min

    Son was always going to be the main man for his country, but so far the Tottenham attacker has been unable to show his true worth in Qatar.

    He has been a generational talent for his country, though. Since the start of the 2010-11 campaign, Son has scored more goals in Europe's top five leagues than any other South Korea player (137).

    Son also had the most shots (40), shots on target (19), scored the most goals (5) and created the most chances (27) of any player for South Korea during qualifying.

    Portugal – Bruno Fernandes

    While most eyes have been on Ronaldo, as ever, his former Manchester United team-mate has been the real MVP of the World Cup for his country so far.

    Fernandes has been involved in four of Portugal's five goals (two goals, two assists), and is only the second player this century to have registered multiple goals and assists in a team's first two group-stage matches, after Karim Benzema for France in 2014.

    He also created 21 chances in qualifying, more than any other Portuguese player.

    PREDICTION

    Portugal lack a desperate need for a result in terms of winning the group, and the Opta prediction model does not have them as overwhelming favourites, though Santos' men are still expected to win with a victory chance percentage of 58.4.

    The draw, which like a Portugal win is of no use either to South Korea's hopes, is rated at 22.3 per cent, while that all important victory for the Taegeuk Warriors is given a 19.3 per cent chance.

  • Ghana v Uruguay: Now interesting Barcelona, Kudus is a star in the making, says Ayew Ghana v Uruguay: Now interesting Barcelona, Kudus is a star in the making, says Ayew

    Ghana captain Andre Ayew knows there is more to come from Mohammed Kudus, who has cemented his place as one of the young stars of the 2022 World Cup.

    Kudus, who was excellent in Ghana's opening defeat to Portugal, scored twice for the Black Stars to help them to a 3-2 win over South Korea last time out.

    That result means Otto Addo's team head into their final Group H match, against Uruguay – a fixture that has plenty of history to it – knowing a win would guarantee their place in the last 16, while a draw may also be enough.

    Kudus, who was close to joining Everton in August, arrived in Qatar having enjoyed a fine start to the season for Ajax, scoring 10 times, and his form at the tournament has been attracting interest from bigger clubs, with Barcelona director Jordi Cruyff confirming the Blaugrana have been tracking the 22-year-old.

    "He has a bright future in front of him," Ayew said of Kudus.

    "We know this, I know this, Ghana knows it now, the world is going to know it. You'll see, more is coming from my boy.

    "Hopefully he can keep on shining because he has a really bright future."

    Friday's match comes over 12 years on from their only previous World Cup meeting in the quarter-finals in South Africa.

    With the game level at 1-1, Luis Suarez used his hand to block Dominic Adiyiah's header on the line. 

    The Uruguay striker was sent off, but Asamoah Gyan rattled the crossbar from the resulting spot-kick, before Ghana lost the subsequent penalty shoot-out.

    While Addo has insisted Ghana are not out for revenge, there will no doubt be plenty of bite to the encounter at Al Janoub Stadium.

    Uruguay have taken just one point from their opening two matches and need to win to progress, while also relying on Portugal not to slip up against South Korea.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Ghana – Mohammed Kudus

    Ghana have scored in their last seven World Cup games and could equal Nigeria's record of eight for an African nation at the tournament, set between 1994 and 1998.

    If they are to win, Kudus will likely play a key role once again. He is the only player to ever score twice in a World Cup match for the Black Stars, and another goal in the tournament would see him match Gyan's record haul of three goals in a single edition of the World Cup for Ghana.

    Uruguay – Federico Valverde

    Arguably one of the form midfielders in world football over the past year, Valverde was limited to having just one shot and making one key pass against Portugal.

    But the Real Madrid star has the ability to take the game away from Ghana if, along with Rodrigo Bentancur, he can win the midfield battle.

    Bentancur won possession 19 times against Portugal, the most by a player in a 90-minute World Cup match since Brazil's Mauro Silva in 1994 against the United States (also 19).

    PREDICTION

    Despite Uruguay's disappointing start in Qatar, Opta's prediction model still makes them favourites for this one, ranking their chances of victory at 54.8 per cent.

    Uruguay have never lost a World Cup match against an African nation, and Opta say Ghana only have a 21.3 per cent likelihood of taking three points. 

    The draw is given a 23.9 per cent chance, and that result would suit Ghana as long as Korea do not beat Portugal by a two-goal margin.

  • LeBron James questions media over Jerry Jones photo question no-show LeBron James questions media over Jerry Jones photo question no-show

    LeBron James has questioned why the media have not asked him about the controversial photo of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

    The Washington Post published a photograph last month of Jones, as a 14-year-old, amid a crowd of white pupils attempting to block black students from North Little Rock High School in 1957.

    The now-80-year-old says he was merely an observer and did not engage in discrimination, during a period where US schools were undergoing desegregation.

    Speaking after the Los Angeles Lakers' 128-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers however, James asked why reporters had not asked for his opinion on the matter, in contrast to the Kyrie Irving scandal earlier this season.

    "I got one question for you guys before you guys leave," he said. "I was thinking when I was on my way over here, I was wondering why I haven't [had] a question from you guys about the Jerry Jones photo.

    "But when the Kyrie [Irving] thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that."

    Irving was suspended by the Brooklyn Nets in early November after posting links to material containing anti-Semitic depictions, including a documentary.

    "When I watch Kyrie talk and he says, 'I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we're talking about my people and the things that we've been through,' and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, black people, have been through in America," James continued.

    "I feel like as a black man, as a black athlete, as someone with power and a platform, when we do something wrong, or something that people don't agree with, it's on every single tabloid, every single news coverage, it's on the bottom ticker. It's asked about every single day.

    "But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, it's just been buried under 'Oh, it happened. Okay, we just move on.'

    "I was just kind of disappointed that I haven't received that question from you guys."

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