Bulls too good for Howard-less Magic
Bulls too good for Howard-less Magic
Chicago's Luol Deng scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half and combined with Nate Robinson to key a 15-2 second-half burst that turned a five-point deficit into an eight-point lead. Robinson hit two straight jumpers to put the Bulls ahead 74-70 early in the fourth quarter.
Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 28 points, 19 in the second half.
Orlando had started the season 2-0 after trading Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Oklahoma City Thunder barely had to break a sweat to beat the Toronto Raptors 108-88, with the final margin flattering the visitors, who were down by 29 points before the Thunder rested its starters.
Russell Westbrook, wearing a black padded sleeve to protect his bruised left shoulder, had 19 points and held Toronto's leading scorer, Kyle Lowry, to two points on 1-of-4 shooting before Lowry exited late in the second quarter with a right ankle sprain.
Serge Ibaka added 17 points for Oklahoma City.
Jonas Valanciunas led the Raptors with 18 points.
In the other game on election day in America, the Denver Nuggets held off the Detroit Pistons to win 109-97, thanks chiefly to Andre Iguodala scoring six of his 17 points over the final 3 minutes.
The Nuggets broke out their new canary yellow uniforms for their home opener and their play was equally bright, especially late in the third quarter when they began opening up a 17-point lead. The Pistons rallied late, before Iguodala closed the door.
Greg Monroe scored 27 points for the Pistons, who dropped their fourth straight. Detroit and Washington are the only winless teams in the NBA.
Meantime, New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for public comments criticizing the league's concussion policy.
Williams made the comments Saturday night in Chicago before the Hornets faced the Bulls with first overall draft pick Anthony Davis sidelined by a mild concussion.
Williams blasted the NBA's protocols for determining when a player can return from a concussion, saying, "Now, they treat everybody like they have white gloves and pink drawers and it's getting old. It's just the way the league is now."
Also, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Blake was fined $25,000 on Tuesday for "directing inappropriate language" at a courtside fan, the National Basketball Association (NBA) said.
Blake's remarks toward the fan occurred with 29.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 105-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last Friday at the Staples Center.
The nine-year NBA veteran hit two of six shots and had eight points and three turnovers before fouling out and arguing with a man in the first row.
Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir ‘100 percent ready’ to face England, says coach
- Left-armer is fit after a knee injury
- “He’s fine, he’s ready to go,” says team coach Mickey Arthur
LONDON: Pakistan spearhead Mohammad Amir is “100 percent ready” for the first Test against England at Lord’s starting on Thursday despite a knee injury, according to team coach Mickey Arthur.
The left-arm fast bowler was seen stretching out his right knee as Pakistan beat Test debutants Ireland by five wickets during a one-off match in Malahide, Dublin concluded last week.
Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood suggested Amir had suffered a recurrence of a “chronic” problem.
But head coach Arthur, speaking to reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday, had no qualms about the fitness of Amir.
“He’s perfect, 100 percent,” Arthur insisted. “He’s fine, he’s ready to go.”
As for Amir, missing Pakistan’s final warm-up match ahead of the two-Test England series, last weekend’s drawn match against Leicestershire, Arthur added: “It was his rotation. (Mohammad) Abbas sat out the first (tour) game, Hasan (Ali) sat out the second, so he sat out the third.”
Amir was the hottest property in world cricket after bursting on the scene as a teenager in 2009 and at 18 he was the youngest bowler to have taken 50 Test wickets.
But his world was turned upside down in 2010 when he became involved in a spot-fixing scandal after deliberately bowling no-balls during the Lord’s Test against England — an incident that would eventually see him sent to prison by an English court and given a five-year ban by the International Cricket Council.
Amir’s first 14 Tests saw him take 51 wickets at just a fraction over 23 apiece, figures that had him on course to be an all-time great.
But the 17 Tests since his comeback two years ago have seen him take 49 wickets at a more expensive average of 34.91
Amir, and Pakistan for that matter, have not been helped by the fact that those 17 Tests since 2016 have also seen 16 catches dropped off his bowling.
The stigma of his spot-fixing exile has started to fade, with Amir playing for Pakistan during their 2-2 draw in a four-Test series in England two years ago.
He also starred for Essex as they won English domestic cricket’s first-class County Championship title last season.
Now the 26-year-old Amir is set to be the leader of an inexperienced Pakistan attack.
England, who didn’t manage a single win during their recent seven combined Tests in Australia and New Zealand, collapsed to 58 all out in Auckland in March as Kiwi left-arm quick Trent Boult took six wickets.
And Arthur backed Amir to do similar damage
“I think Mohammad Amir is the finest exponent of pace and swing when he gets it 100 percent right,” Arthur said.
“We’ve used that spell that Trent Boult bowled in Auckland. We’ve had a look at his lengths.
“We believe he (Amir) bowls incredibly well at left-handers and there will be three left-handers (Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan) in the (England) top four.
“He’s ready, I just hope it goes really well for him because he’s been unlucky at times with the amount of dropped catches.
“He’s ready, he’s determined, he’s fit, he’s strong, he’s excited, he’s in a very good place at the moment.”
Arthur is unusual in having served as the head coach of three leading nations — his native South Africa, Australia and Pakistan.
But he was adamant he had no desire to replace Trevor Bayliss when the Australian steps down as England coach next year.
“No, I’m very happy,” Arthur said. “I’d like to keep going with Pakistan for as long as they will have me because it’s unfinished business for us at the moment. This is a very young cricket team and I worry if we move on what happens to these guys. Their fitness regime is outstanding, they are training hard and they are enjoying their cricket. I’m very, very happy with where I am at the moment,” he insisted.