NBA

Booker shines as Suns down Bulls, clutch Thompson lifts Warriors past OKC

By Sports Desk February 08, 2022

Devin Booker top scored with 38 points as the table-topping Phoenix Suns withstood the Chicago Bulls' late charge to win 127-124 on Monday.

Booker shot 14 of 23 from the field including five three-pointers with four rebounds and five assists, while veteran guard Chris Paul contributed 19 points and 11 assists.

The Suns guard reached 30 points for the third time in the past four games as Phoenix won their 13th game from their past 14.

The Bulls charged into contention with a 41-25 fourth-quarter run after the Suns had led by 27 points in the third.

DeMar DeRozan top scored for Chicago with 38 points along with five rebounds and four assists and Zach LaVine returned from injury with 32 points, with six rebounds and eight assists.

 

Clutch Klay leads Warriors past OKC

Klay Thompson top scored for the Golden State Warriors with 21 points including some clutch three-pointers and Stephen Curry had a near triple-double with 18 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists in a 110-98 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points with seven rebounds, six assists and four steals as the Utah Jazz won 113-104 over the New York Knicks, while seven Miami Heat players scored double figures in a 121-100 win over the Washington Wizards.

 

New All-Star Ball struggles

On the same day he received his debut All-Star call, LaMelo Ball struggled as the Charlotte Hornets went down 116-101 to the Toronto Raptors. Ball shot five-of-19 from the field and one-of-six from beyond the arc for his 15 points, while he also had seven turnovers.

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  • Perez rules out additions after Real Madrid lift Super Cup Perez rules out additions after Real Madrid lift Super Cup

    Real Madrid president Florentino Perez ruled out further additions following Los Blancos' Super Cup win over Eintracht Frankfurt, as he backed the team's ability to cover for talismanic striker Karim Benzema. 

    Goals from David Alaba and Benzema – who moved above Raul in Madrid's all-time goalscoring charts – sealed a deserved win for the Champions League holders on Wednesday.

    The triumph represented the ideal start to Madrid's 2022-23 campaign and meant the Spanish giants have now won 17 of their last 19 one-legged finals. 

    Since winning the Champions League and LaLiga last season, Madrid have added highly rated midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni and powerful defender Antonio Rudiger, both of whom appeared from the bench in Helsinki.

    And Perez is satisfied with Madrid's business as he ruled out signing a back-up striker to cover for Benzema.

    "We have to continue training well, Ancelotti managed the squad, today we don't contemplate anything else," he told Movistar after the match.

    "Look at all the strikers we have. If he [Benzema] does [get injured] we have so many strikers that it won't be noticed."

    Asked whether he believed the France striker was on course to win the Ballon d'Or, Perez added: "In my opinion he already deserved it last year and this year more."

    Madrid's victory also saw Carlo Ancelotti surpass Pep Guardiola as the coach with the most Super Cup titles (four) and Perez showered praise upon the European specialist after he brought yet another trophy to the Santiago Bernabeu.

    "We've had a good season and this Super Cup makes us very excited," Perez said. "First you have to reach the finals and then win them. We have a great team, it's hard work well done.

    "Ancelotti manages this squad very well, it is an important part of the success and we start this new season, which begins on Sunday, with great enthusiasm. 

    "This year it is true that everything has gone well for us and nobody can be dissatisfied but you have to keep working, every day you work for your future."

  • Ancelotti hails Madrid experience after Alaba and Benzema secure Super Cup win Ancelotti hails Madrid experience after Alaba and Benzema secure Super Cup win

    Carlo Ancelotti highlighted the experience and unity of his Real Madrid side as key to their Super Cup win after goals from David Alaba and Karim Benzema downed Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki.

    Madrid lifted their fifth Super Cup on Wednesday as Ancelotti, who also won the competition in 2003 and 2007 with Milan and 2014 with Los Blancos, became the first coach to claim four victories in the European season's curtain-raiser.

    Benzema's goal sealed a 2-0 win and moved him clear of Raul as Real Madrid's second highest all-time goalscorer, with only Cristiano Ronaldo (450) now bettering his tally of 324 strikes for the club. 

    But Madrid could have gone behind early on when Thibaut Courtois made a fine one-one-one save from Daichi Kamada, and Ancelotti was delighted by the resilience displayed by his team.

    "It was a difficult game, at the start they were so close in a low block, and we had difficulty," he told BT Sport.

    "After we scored the first one at the end of the first half, we had more control and deserved to win, we didn't take risks or play with super intensity, but I think we had good control."

    Madrid became the first Champions League winners to name the same line-up in the final and the subsequent Super Cup since at least 2006, and the experienced midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro quickly established control after Alaba's opener. 

    Frankfurt only managed one shot on target after the break, and Ancelotti believes his team's collective know-how was invaluable. 

    "They're used to playing together, they're comfortable," he added. "For them, it's simple to play together, to find the right time of the game to sometimes have a low block or use a counter-attack.

    "They are so used to playing together."

    Meanwhile, Ancelotti was asked about the future of his son Davide, Madrid's assistant coach who proved a lively presence in the technical area throughout.

    Ancelotti revealed he sees Davide as having a future as a head coach, insisting: "He's an assistant now, [but] for sure he will be a coach in the future.

    "He is working a lot on the set pieces, he has more energy than me! It's normal."

    Having already claimed their first trophy of the season, Madrid begin their LaLiga title defence with a trip to Almeria on Sunday.

  • Real Madrid's enduring elders dominate the Super Cup Real Madrid's enduring elders dominate the Super Cup

    Real Madrid have not, yet, rounded off their pre-season. Carlo Ancelotti's team do not start their LaLiga campaign until Sunday, when they take on Almeria.

    Yet at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium, the Champions League holders picked up where they left off just over two months ago – with European glory.

    A 14th European crown came their way in Paris back in May, when Vinicius Junior's goal – combined with Thibaut Courtois' heroics – saw off Liverpool.

    And on a comfortable summer's night in Finland on Wednesday, Madrid's assortment of superstars claimed the club's fifth Super Cup with a 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, as Ancelotti's decision to stick with the team that won at the Stade de France was repaid in full. 

    Eintracht, who defeated Rangers to win the Europa League last term, performed admirably, but shorn of Juventus-bound talisman Filip Kostic, the Bundesliga side could not cope with the power and quality at Madrid's disposal.

    Not that it would have definitely been any different with Kostic in the team, as this was a game won mostly in midfield, that is where Madrid exerted their dominance. Though on the occasions when Eintracht did threaten, particularly in the opening 30 minutes when Courtois made two impressive stops, it would be easy to imagine Kostic, who crafted 420 chances, provided 56 assists and scored 30 goals across 167 appearances for the club after joining from Hamburg in 2018, would have helped their cause.

    In a pre-match news conference on Tuesday, Luka Modric – 37 next month – was asked if he planned on asking Ancelotti to manage his minutes with the mid-season World Cup in mind. 

    "I speak to the coach every day, but not about that. The coach knows I like playing and I feel better when I play," Modric replied. "I'm feeling good, available to the team to give my all to help the team in every way. The World Cup doesn't change anything for me."

    Karim Benzema, who scored Los Blancos' second to become Madrid's outright second leading goalscorer after Cristiano Ronaldo, added: "Age does not come into it."

    Benzema's statement rang true. Madrid's starting midfield three of Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro had a combined age of 98, yet surely covered every blade of grass between them, both on and off the ball.

    Having spent much of the opening stages looking to drop into space and ping searching diagonals out to Vinicius Junior, who along with Federico Valverde and Eder Militao adds the effervescence of youth to the starting XI, Modric grew into the game as it wore on, finding the pockets of space only he can.

     

    The Croatian's mercurial talents were on full show early in the second half, after David Alaba had put Madrid ahead – his tap-in having been teed up by a combination of Benzema and Casemiro. 

    In the space of five minutes, Modric linked up exquisitely with Benzema to find Ferland Mendy and create a chance for Vinicius Junior to test Kevin Trapp, who was well beaten from the next opportunity Modric teed up – Casemiro rattling the crossbar from the edge of the box.

    Modric's race was run after Benzema made it 2-0 with his 324th Madrid goal (only Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more), and the playmaker headed for the bench having completed 53 of 57 passes (93 per cent), with two of those leading directly to opportunities, though those statistics do not tell the whole story. He was simply spellbinding at times, deft flicks and quick feet toying with Frankfurt's hopes and dreams.

    And what of Casemiro? His tally of nine tackles led the game, with a sliding challenge on Jesper Lindstrom in the 51st minute a highlight.

    Kroos, as Kroos does, went about his business efficiently, without breaking stride. He strolled off with five minutes remaining, making way for big-money signing Aurelien Tchouameni having had 120 touches, completed 97 passes and gained possession nine times, second only to UEFA's man of the match Casemiro (10).

     

    Ancelotti, who has now won the Super Cup a record four times after previous success with Madrid (2014) and Milan (2003, 2007), was able to change things up late on, with Antonio Rudiger joining Tchouameni for a competitive debut, but 34-year-old Benzema who lasted the duration.

    Benzema's goal came from a familiar source. Vinicius found space down the left channel, drilled in a cross and his partner in crime was there to finish it off. The Brazil forward has now assisted Madrid's number nine 16 times. 

    It was he, as Madrid's new club captain following Marcelo's departure, who lifted the trophy. If this evidence, with a team still rounding off their preparations, is anything to go by, it will not be the last piece of silverware he lifts this season.

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