Clippers halt skid, Lakers post rare big win

Updated 29 January 2013
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Clippers halt skid, Lakers post rare big win

LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Clippers arrested their four-game losing skid while their city rivals the Los Angeles Lakers provided a rare bright spot in their dire season by beating the NBA-leading Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
The Clippers were again without star guard Chris Paul but this time his teammates picked up the slack and beat the Portland Trail Blazers 96-83.
The Lakers stood firm in the closing stages to hold off the Thunder and win 105-96, temporarily easing the gloom around the heralded title contenders who have a disappointing 19-25 record. The defeat cost Oklahoma City the league lead, dropping below San Antonio.
In other key games, Carmelo Anthony led New York to a tight win over Atlanta and Boston had a bittersweet night, beating Miami in double overtime but learning that guard Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the season.
In the absence of Paul, it was Blake Griffin (23 points and nine assists) and stand-in point guard Eric Bledsoe (10 points, five assists and five rebounds) who played the key roles in the win over Portland.
All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 21 points and 11 rebounds but the visitors were never in the contest.
The Lakers beat the Thunder 105-96, with Kobe Bryant having 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
Steve Nash added seven of his 17 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes as the Lakers coolly maintained a small lead in the closing stages.
Kevin Durant scored 35 points for road-weary Oklahoma City, who finished their longest trip of the season at 3-3.
The New York Knicks edged the Atlanta Hawks 106-104 thanks chiefly to the efforts of Anthony, who tied a franchise record with nine 3-pointers, then converted a go-ahead, three-point play with 12.5 seconds left to cap a 42-point night.
The Hawks shot a season-high 60 percent from the field but had their three-game winning streak snapped when Josh Smith missed a 3-pointer on Atlanta’s final possession.
Amare Stoudemire and J.R. Smith each had 18 points for the Knicks, who were 16 of 27 (59 percent) from 3-point range.
Boston’s Rondo will require major surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee which he damaged against Atlanta on Friday. The news put a dampener on the Celtics’ 100-98 win over the Miami Heat.
Paul Pierce hit a go-ahead jumper with 31 seconds left in the second overtime to give the Celtics victory.
Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Pierce added 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the Celtics, who ended a six-game losing streak, their longest in six seasons.
LeBron James scored 34 points for the Heat, who had won four in a row. It was the first game in Boston for Ray Allen since he left the Celtics after five seasons and signed as a free agent with Miami. He scored 21 points.
The New Orleans Hornets rode the hot shooting of Ryan Anderson to a 91-83 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Anderson scored 22 points connecting on seven 3-pointers. Anderson was 7 of 13 from the field, all of his attempts coming from outside the arc. Fellow reserve Jason Smith was 5 of 7 from the field for 16 points.
Zach Randolph led Memphis with 20 points and 13 rebounds for his league-leading 28th double-double.
In other games, the Dallas Mavericks had a 110-95 win over the Phoenix Suns to celebrate Shawn Marion’s 1,000th game, while the Detroit Pistons downed the Orlando Magic 104-102 with Brandon Knight scoring a career-high 31 points including five 3-pointers.


Giorgio Chiellini confident Juventus can buck recent trend of Supercoppa defeats

Though upbeat, Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini admitted that it will be a “difficult match.” (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Giorgio Chiellini confident Juventus can buck recent trend of Supercoppa defeats

  • Skipper also happy the match is being played in Jeddah, and sees it as a ‘step forward’ for Saudi Arabia
  • AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso sidesteps questions about Gonzalo Higuain’s rumored move to English Premier League

JEDDAH: Juventus have been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they have lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European cup finals. It’s a trend, however, that captain Giorgio Chiellini believes can be halted on January 16 when his side takes on AC Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana final at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“We want to change that trend that has seen us lose the last two Supercoppa finals, and this is the ideal opportunity,” said the defender. “We have changed a great deal in two years, but we’ve got to prove ourselves with actions rather than words because we let a few too many of these trophies slip through our fingers and it’s a shame.
“It’s going to be a difficult match but the objective is to start 2019 lifting a trophy above our heads.”
Chiellini also defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.
“I am happy this game is being played here and can be seen as a further reason for progress in this country, and I see it as a step forward and not a problem,” he said. “We (soccer players) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.
“We have been given a warm welcome and I hope tomorrow can be remembered by the Saudi people as a wonderful celebration. We have to provide a spectacle of Italian football and know that all fans will be happy with our performances.”
As the rival teams faced the media on the eve of the match, both were confident about their chances of lifting the first silverware of the Italian soccer season. This year marks the 31st Supercoppa, a match contested by the previous season’s Serie A domestic league champions and the winners of the Coppa Italia. When a single team wins both honors, as was the case last season, they take on the Coppa Italia runners-up.
This year’s game, the tickets for which reportedly sold out in two days, might also mark a farewell to Italian football for striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is currently on loan to AC Milan from Juventus but is widely rumored to be on the verge of a move to Chelsea in the English Premier League. If the Argentine international is indeed on his way out, he will be hoping to end his stay with the Rossoneri with some silverware while also, perhaps, sticking it to his parent club.

Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso (center) said Higuain has never told him he wants to leave the club. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Asked about the status of any transfer talks, AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso was careful to avoid feeding the rumor mill.
“At this moment, I have to repeat the same words: there are many rumors but Higuain is training well and working with everyone just fine and is at our disposal,” he said. “I base my decisions on how players train during the week and how they work with the staff and their teammates. We’ll see tomorrow whether he plays or not.
“I want to reiterate that Higuain has never told me he wants to leave. I am waiting for that. He has to decide what to do, how to resolve this issue, but right now he is training with great professionalism. We’ll see.”
Gattuso then nipped this line of questioning in the bud by adding: “I want to be honest; I don’t even want to talk about Higuain as we’re here for the Supercoppa.”
Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri, meanwhile, is well aware that while they are undefeated in Serie A this season after 19 games, with 17 wins and two draws, league form counts for little in a cup final, as evidenced by their recent results in such games. As such, he is keen to avoid any complacency among his players.
“One of the great strengths of this team is our respect for the opposition, otherwise you don’t win as many games as we have,” he said. “There are 22 points separating our teams in Serie A but those don’t matter here. If we do not have great humility and respect for Milan tomorrow, then it’s unlikely we will win the game.”
The prematch press conference inevitably included questions about Cristiano Ronaldo. Since his 112 million euro ($128 million) move to Juventus from Real Madrid last summer, the Portuguese star has netted 15 goals in 25 appearances. On Wednesday, the five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or — an award presented each year by France Football magazine to the player judged to be the best in the world — will aim to lift his maiden trophy with his new club, after having bagged 15 titles during his nine years with the Spanish giants.
While Ronaldo did not appear at the press conference, Allegri was asked whether the striker had arrived in Italy with a stronger and hungrier desire to win.
“He would have to win something first to prove that,” the coach said. “Cristiano is accustomed to winning; he has won four of the past five Champions Leagues and many more titles. Ronaldo is the best player in the world and clearly an added bonus for us. Our situation has certainly improved with his presence.”
Wednesday night’s match is sure to be hotly contested, as Juventus and AC Milan currently share the record for Supercoppa titles, with seven each. While Juventus are making their seventh successive Supercoppa appearance, it is perhaps AC Milan who can lay claim to bragging rights, given that the last time these two teams met in the Supercoppa, in 2016, the Rossoneri ended up on top following a penalty shoot-out after the game ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time. With all the talking officially done, all that remains is a historic night of top quality soccer at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.