Knicks end sagging Spurs’ winning streak

Updated 05 January 2013
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Knicks end sagging Spurs’ winning streak

NEW YORK: Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, J.R. Smith kept up his surge with 20 and the New York Knicks snapped the San Antonio Spurs’ seven-game winning streak with a 100-83 victory Thursday night.
Steve Novak added 15 points and Tyson Chandler had 10 points and 14 rebounds to help the Knicks bounce back from consecutive losses by dominating the final period against the Spurs, who seemed to run out of gas in their second game in two nights.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each had just 11 points for the Spurs, who lost Stephen Jackson to an unusual injury, then lost what had been the NBA’s longest winning streak.
Jackson played just three minutes off the bench before spraining his right ankle when he took a shot, then fell back into a waitress working the sideline in front of Mayor Michael Bloom-berg.
Smith, who had scored 25 points in his last four games as a reserve, highlighted his outing with an acrobatic dunk in the fourth quarter that brought fans to their feet. The pass came from reserve point guard Pablo Prigioni, who had one of his most complete games since coming to the NBA at age 35, finishing with six points and nine assists.
The Knicks put away what had been a close game for three quarters, scoring the first 10 points of the fourth to take a 17-point lead. The Spurs, playing for the fourth time in five nights, went with reserves from there.
San Antonio, which averaged 111.7 points on 53.4 percent shooting during its winning streak and rang up 117 points on Wednesday in Milwaukee, shot just 36 percent. Gary Neal led the Spurs with 12 points.
Timberwolves 101, Nuggets 97: In Denver, J.J. Barea scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter while All-Star forward Kevin Love sat on the bench with a sprained finger, lifting Minnesota.
The Timberwolves were playing for the second straight night, but fatigue hardly appeared to be a factor as they handed the Nuggets a rare home loss.
Denver, on the other hand, looked lethargic two days after snapping the Los Angeles Clippers’ 17-game winning streak. Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 16 points each.
The Nuggets’ Andre Miller scored the 15,000th point of his NBA career on a mid-range jumper in the first quarter, becoming the eighth player to score that many and dish out at least 7,500 assists.


Essam El-Hadary set to make history as Hector Cuper plays down Egypt criticism

Updated 5 min 39 sec ago
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Essam El-Hadary set to make history as Hector Cuper plays down Egypt criticism

VOLGOGRAD: Essam El-Hadary looks set to become the oldest footballer to play at a World Cup today when his Egypt side face Saudi Arabia in their last match of the tournament. Although coach Hector Cuper refused to reveal his line-up, the selection of El-Hadary to appear alongside him in the pre-match press conference yesterday suggests the goalkeeper is in line to break Faryd Mondragon’s four-year-old record.
“Obviously I would be very happy if I participate in the match, but this is not certain,” said El-Hadary, who is 45 years, five months and 12 days old today.
“This decision, though, remains with the management of the team.”
With both Egypt and Saudi Arabia unable to usurp Uruguay and Russia in Group A for a place in the knockout stages, the match is a dead rubber. That has led to much speculation that Cuper, who had preferred Al-Ahly’s Mohammed El-Shenawy in their opening two defeats, might make a sentimental gesture by selecting Saudi Arabia-based El-Hadary.
If he plays, El-Hadary will comfortably beat the record of Colombia’s Mondragon, who made a substitute appearance in Brazil four years ago aged 43 years and three days.
“Obviously for any player to be involved, especially in a World Cup, is a high achievement. Even if it is a record set by myself, Essam El-Hadary, it will also be an achievement for Egypt,” said the Al-Taawoun goalkeeper, who made his debut for Egypt 22 years ago.
Egypt’s preparation for today’s match with the Green Falcons has been carried under a cloud of speculation after rumors emerged that players — including El-Hadary — had clashed with Cuper. Both coach and keeper dismissed such suggestions, with the Argentine manager insisting that he would not entertain questions unless evidence could be provided. El-Hadary added: “If I was making trouble in the team then I don’t deserve to be in the team.”
The final Group A match against Saudi Arabia offers both teams a chance to finish their respective World Cup campaigns on a positive note. While Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side lost 5-0 on the opening night to the hosts and were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Uruguay, Egypt endured similar defeats in reverse, losing in the last minute to the South Americans
before being made to pay for a period of poor concentration against Russia to lose 3-1.
Egypt, making their first appearance on the world stage since 1990, are chasing a first World Cup win. While Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is expected to be passed fit having featured in the Pharaohs’ last game, Cuper was coy when asked if he would ring the changes. He has used only 14 players across 180 minutes of football so far.
“For us, this is an important match because we want to end this participation in the World Cup with a good result,” he said.
“We’re playing for all the people in Egypt and want to give them joy. We want to end this World Cup with a triumph, even though this might be only a footnote in the future. For Egypt to win a first World Cup match would be something very important. What we want to do, then, is bow out in style in the next match.”
Cuper, who may also be bowing out of his time at the Egypt helm after today’s match, has come in for criticism in recent weeks. The 62-year-old, however, insists he is not listening to the critics and is focused on the job.
“Somebody who’s a critic is a critic, that’s his job,” Cuper said. “It’s very difficult to convince everyone. I want to convince my players, link up with them in a way that brings results.
“Criticism really doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t anger me. We have to see individually what our reality is. You look at it, analyze the situation, then you choose a certain line of action to achieve results. But making everybody happy? It’s impossible.”