NBA

Irving stars again in contentious Nets win, struggling Pacers stun Lakers

By Sports Desk January 20, 2022

The Brooklyn Nets clinched a contentious one-point win over the Washington Wizards, with Kyrie Irving the star man for the visiting team.

Irving had 30 points, three rebounds and seven assists as the Nets triumphed 119-118 on Wednesday, with Kyle Kuzma and Spencer Dinwiddie missing late three-pointers in the closing seconds for the Wizards.

Kuzma was left infuriated, however, as he reflected on a moment earlier in the fourth quarter when it appeared a member of the Brooklyn bench purposefully deflected a pass that had been headed his way.

Nevertheless, Kuzma and his Washington team-mates must reflect on an opportunity missed as they were unable to build on their 117-98 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Wizards are now 23-22 for the season and sit eighth in the Eastern Conference, five places behind the 28-16 Nets.

Brooklyn were without talisman Kevin Durant, but Irving – who can only play in road games due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 – stepped up.

Irving scored 22 of his 30 points in the first half and has averaged 20.0 points per game since his return to the team.

Pacers stun LeBron's Lakers

LeBron James brought up his 10,000th career regular-season rebound but his 30-point haul was not enough as the Los Angeles Lakers slumped to a 111-104 home defeat to the struggling Indiana Pacers.

James' double-double could not stem the Pacers' tide in a fourth-quarter blitz as Indiana, 13th in the East, inflicted a fourth defeat on the Lakers in the space of five games and increased the pressure on Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel.

It is just the second win in 12 games for Indiana, who snapped a four-game losing streak. Caris LeVert had 30 points, while Domantas Sabonis hit a triple-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

It was a miserable night all-round for Los Angeles teams, with the Clippers slipping to a 130-128 overtime defeat in Denver.

Nikola Jokic had a triple-double of 49 points – the second-best tally of his career in a single game, after a 50-point showing against the Sacramento Kings last season – 14 rebounds and 10 assists, the last of which teed up Aaron Gordon for the winning three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining in OT.

Bucks down depleted Grizzlies, Embiid hits 50

Reigning NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks capitalised on the Memphis Grizzlies' lack of star power as they claimed a 126-114 win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who took advantage of Memphis being without two of their leading scorers in Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane, though Ja Morant (33 points, 14 assists) gave his all for the Grizzlies.

Elsewhere, Joel Embiid scored 50 points in only 27 minutes in a 123-110 victory for Philadelphia over the Orlando Magic.

Embiid is now the third player in Sixers history to have multiple games with 50 points or more, while he reached 50 points and 10 rebounds quicker than any NBA player since 1955.

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    The Dallas Cowboys will have a new look offensively next season after ownership and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore mutually agreed to part ways.

    The move was reported on Sunday, one week after the Cowboys struggled offensively in a 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in a Divisional round game.

    Head coach Mike McCarthy will reportedly take over play-calling duties from Moore, who had one year remaining on his contract and had been the Cowboys' offensive coordinator since 2019.

    Under Moore, Dallas led the NFL in total yards in 2019 and 2021 and also had the league's top-ranked scoring offense last season at 31.2 points per game.

    The Cowboys finished the 2022 regular season ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring (27.5 points per game) and 11th in total offense (354.9 yards per game), but the team managed just 282 total yards and one touchdown in the loss to the 49ers.

    Dak Prescott threw two interceptions in that defeat after leading the league with a career-worst 15 picks.

    The defeat at San Francisco marked another disappointing ending to a season for a Cowboys team who once again suffered an early playoff exit. Dallas have not advanced past the Divisional round of the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl following the 1995 season.

  • Ancelotti lauds 'complete' Madrid performance despite Real Sociedad draw Ancelotti lauds 'complete' Madrid performance despite Real Sociedad draw

    Carlo Ancelotti hailed a "complete" Real Madrid performance as "one of the best of the season" despite a goalless LaLiga draw with Real Sociedad on Sunday.

    Madrid sit five points behind leaders Barcelona after failing to breach Imanol Alguacil's defence in a largely one-sided encounter at Santiago Bernabeu.

    La Real goalkeeper Alex Remiro thwarted a dominant Madrid with seven saves, the most he has managed in a LaLiga game this season, including three fine stops against the energetic Vinicius Junior.

    Head coach Ancelotti was "satisfied" with his side's showing, though, as third-placed La Real held on for a precious point that kept them just three behind Madrid, having played a game more.

    He said: "It was a shame because we played very well and we deserved to win. We played a complete game, one of the best of the season, but we didn't have any luck.

    "The team is improving and growing and physically we are much better. Now the injured return and we have confidence for the coming months. 

    "We have done very well with and without the ball and all we had to do was score, we came so close but it is a draw. I am satisfied because the team has played very well."

    The majority of Madrid's attacking threat came through Vinicius, who attempted 21 dribbles – the most by one player in a single LaLiga match since Opta began recording in the 2005-06 season.

    Dani Ceballos impressed in a rare start in the Madrid midfield, while Eduardo Camavinga showed his versatility in a fine performance at left-back.

    "We pushed the 90 minutes to the fullest with great intensity, Real Sociedad has not played as they like because we pressed well up top," Ancelotti added.

    "The extra time of the Copa del Rey [a 3-1 quarter-final win over Atletico Madrid on Thursday] was not noticed, we have had a high intensity for the 90 minutes.

    "It was difficult to make changes because nobody deserved to leave the field, the team was playing well and I did not want to change the dynamics. 

    "Ceballos and [Federico] Valverde played very well. [Camavinga] did well, he is an option because of his quality and his energy. He is not used to playing there and with Vinicius they created many chances.

    "The game was good but if you don't score... now we are five points behind and we have to chase."

    Madrid will hope to make up ground on Xavi's Barca when they host top-four chasers Valencia on Thursday.

  • Eagles ease through to Super Bowl LVII after luckless 49ers lose two more QBs Eagles ease through to Super Bowl LVII after luckless 49ers lose two more QBs

    The Philadelphia Eagles advanced to their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history after a dominant NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, who were hampered by injuries to Brock Purdy and backup Josh Johnson.

    A big 31-7 victory was never really in doubt as the luckless 49ers dealt with yet more injury misfortune in the biggest game of their season.

    Already without quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, surprise rookie star Purdy – the final pick in the 2022 draft – left the game at the end of the team's opening drive after a Haason Reddick strip sack saw his right elbow injured.

    Johnson unconvincingly came in for Purdy, only to be ruled out after his head hit the ground and he was checked for a concussion. Purdy returned but was clearly limited, seemingly unable to throw the ball as the 49ers' season ended in frustrating fashion.

    Miles Sanders had wandered straight up the middle for the opening touchdown, but the 49ers then kept the Eagles in check following Purdy's injury and levelled the game via a remarkable 23-yard Christian McCaffrey TD as he ran through a series of tackles.

    The contrast of those two scores epitomised the game for these two teams, however, and Sanders again found a gap to restore the Eagles' lead.

    Boston Scott ran in another and, with Purdy repeatedly handing the ball off to a stifled 49er rushing offense, Jalen Hurts also forced his way into the endzone to build an unassailable lead.

    Early chaos benefits Eagles

    No team scored more points on their opening offensive possessions in the regular season than the Eagles, but the drive that led to Sanders' early TD set in motion a manic first quarter. It included a 29-yard pass for a fourth down conversion that replays showed Devonta Smith appeared to drop. That was not spotted until after play resumed.

    The 49ers had already seen Fred Warner take a trip to the blue tent, and Purdy's injury was not their last of the quarter as Nick Bosa was wiped out on the sideline. Meanwhile, Johnson came in for Purdy and was likewise promptly run over by the relentless Reddick.

    An unforgettable quarter ended with the Eagles claiming – unsuccessfully – a punt had hit an overhead wire. The 49ers started the second quarter with the ball, their fourth-string QB and a 7-0 deficit.

    Running to the Super Bowl

    The 49ers paid the price both for their injuries and a sequence of understandably frustrated penalties, but there was also a complete mismatch in the run game.

    While this should have been a close call between the Eagles' most successful run offense and the 49ers' second-most successful run defense, four TDs on the ground saw Philly set a single-season record across the regular season and postseason, improving to 39 rushing scores for the year.

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