League-best Clippers stretch win streak to 14

Updated 27 December 2012
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League-best Clippers stretch win streak to 14

LOS ANGELES: Jamal Crawford led a dominant performance by the Los Angeles reserves with 22 points, and the Clippers beat the Denver Nuggets 112-100 on Tuesday night, extending their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games.
Matt Barnes added 20 points — one off his season high — as the bench outscored the Clippers starters 64-48 in claiming the NBA’s best record at 22-6, one win better than Oklahoma City which lost to Miami earlier Tuesday.
Kosta Koufos and Jordan Hamilton scored 16 points each for Denver in the finale of a Christmas Day doubleheader at Staples Center. The Lakers, who will play the Nuggets on Wednesday night in Denver, beat the Knicks 100-94 in the first game.
Ty Lawson added 15 points for the Nuggets, who fell to 7-13 on the road, where 22 of their first 32 games are being played.
Crawford’s 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter pushed the Clippers’ lead to 20 points and kept the starters on the bench for the final 12 minutes. Crawford scored eight points in the quarter.
Chris Paul led Los Angeles starters with 14 points; Blake Griffin had 13; and Willie Green 11.
Heat 103, Thunder 97: At Miami, LeBron James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 21, and Miami survived a frantic finish to beat Oklahoma City in an NBA Finals rematch.
Mario Chalmers scored a season-high 20 for the Heat, who matched the franchise’s best 25-game start at 19-6. Chris Bosh added 16 for Miami, which has beaten the Thunder five straight times going back to last June’s title series.
Kevin Durant scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook added 21 for Oklahoma City, but both Thunder stars missed potentially game-tying 3-point attempts in the final seconds. Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin each added 15 for the Thunder, who have dropped two straight for the first time this season.
The Heat went 19 for 19 from the foul line, the second-best effort in franchise history.
Lakers 100, Knicks 94: At Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant engineered a second-half comeback, helping Los Angeles beat New York and extend its winning streak to five.
Bryant scored 34 points in his NBA-record 15th Christmas Day game, and Metta World Peace added 20 points and seven rebounds while defending Carmelo Anthony, whose 34 points led the Knicks. Bryant, the league’s leading scorer, has topped 30 in nine straight games.
The Lakers improved to 14-14 — 9-9 under new coach Mike D’Antoni — and upped their holiday record to 21-18, including 13-9 at home.
The Knicks controlled most of the game behind Anthony and J.R. Smith, who had 24 points. But they struggled offensively in the fourth, when Anthony was limited to seven points, and Smith had five.
Smith’s 3-pointer pulled New York to 96-94. After Pau Gasol made one of two free throws, Smith missed another 3 that would have tied the game with 32 seconds left.
Steve Nash had 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in his second game in nearly two months. He missed 24 games while recovering from a small fracture in his lower left leg. Dwight Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Gasol had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Celtics 93, Nets 76: At New York, Rajon Rondo scored 19 points in his first full game against Brooklyn this season, and Boston beat the Nets in another game with heated moments between the division rivals.
Rondo, sidelined in the first meeting and thrown out of the second after shoving Nets forward Kris Humphries into the courtside seats, outplayed counterpart Deron Williams and helped the Celtics take control early.
Rookie Jared Sullinger tied a career high with 16 points, and Jeff Green had 15 for the Celtics (14-13), who avoided falling under .500 with their second victory in six games.
Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez each scored 15 for the Nets, who have lost four of five.
The Celtics took control with a 23-5 run in the second quarter. They had 11 assists on 13 baskets and outscored the Nets 34-18 in the period.
A month after the teams scuffled in Boston, there was another skirmish in the fourth quarter that resulted in four technical fouls.
Williams had only 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting, and Joe Johnson, his partner in a high-priced backcourt, shot 4 of 14 for his 12 points.
Boston’s Kevin Garnett had eight points and 10 rebounds on the day he tied Charles Oakley for 15th place on the NBA’s career list with his 1,282nd game.
Rockets 120, Bulls 97: At Chicago, James Harden scored 26 points and Jeremy Lin added 20 points and 11 assists to lead Houston over Chicago. Omer Asik had 20 points and 18 rebounds in his first trip back to Chicago since signing with the Rockets in the offseason.
Every Rockets starter scored in double figures. Chandler Parsons added 23 points and Marcus Morris had 10 for Houston, which has won six of seven.
The Rockets had been 3-7 on the road, but a strong second quarter turned the holiday matchup into a blowout. The Rockets outscored the Bulls 31-19 in the period to break the game open.
Lin capped a 14-2 run midway through the quarter with a drive and a layup to make it 55-34. He scored 12 in the second quarter and Harden had 13.
Houston led 58-41 at halftime.
Nate Robinson led the Bulls with 27 points, and Marco Belinelli scored 15. The points allowed and margin of defeat were season-worsts for Chicago.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic rules out international return at the World Cup for Sweden

Updated 2 min 4 sec ago
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic rules out international return at the World Cup for Sweden

  • The LA Galaxy star had dropped hints he was ready to return to international duty at this summer's World Cup.
  • 36-year-old retired from the Swedish team after the 2016 European Championship

Ending weeks of speculation, the Swedish football federation announced Thursday that star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who quit the national squad in 2016, will not make a comeback for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
“I spoke with Zlatan on Tuesday. He said that he has not changed his mind regarding the national squad,” the managing director of the national squad, Lars Richt, said in a statement after the player dropped numerous hints of a possible return.
“It’s a no,” Richt added.
In an appearance on ABC television’s late night Jimmy Kimmel show on April 18, the new star of LA Galaxy teased fans that he may come out of retirement to play in the showpiece.
Known for his swagger, Zlatan said “it wouldn’t be a World Cup” if he didn’t play, clearly forgetting he has not played in one since 2006, before adding: “I’m going to the World Cup, yes.”
The 36-year-old retired from the Swedish team after the 2016 European Championship. He said last month he wanted to concentrate on settling into his new life in Major League Soccer before thinking about the World Cup.
Following an injury-blighted stay at Manchester United, the father of two became the latest in a long line of aging stars to leave European football for the US.
The 6ft 4ins (1.95m) striker tweeted on April 15: “The chance of me playing in the World Cup is skyhöga (sky high).”
He later told Swedish media that “high odds — that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”
Ibrahimovic had just weeks earlier become a global brand ambassador for Swedish betting company Bethard, prompting some Swedish commentators to lament that his World Cup teasing was nothing more than an advertising gimmick.
“It feels like the whole thing was just aimed at building up his brand in the US and it even seemed at times like he thought it was funny,” Daniel Nannskog, a commentator for Swedish public broadcaster SVT, said.
At home in Sweden, Ibrahimovic’s possible World Cup return elicited mixed reactions.
Sweden coach Janne Andersson has been coolly indifferent.
“It doesn’t change anything for me,” he said last month.
“Zlatan is very welcome to call me” if he wants to join the squad, Andersson added.
Richt declined to specify whether the team had asked Ibrahimovic to join.
He “has always said that he won’t play and he quit the national team,” Richt told AFP.
Some Sweden fans would love nothing more than to see the country’s most prolific goal-scorer — he notched 62 goals in 116 games — don the blue-and-yellow kit again.
But others argue he has no place on a squad that managed to qualify without him, memorably eliminating World Cup giants Italy in a playoff.
Ibrahimovic has 31 winners’ medals in spells with Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.
But his 2017 season and ultimately his United career was brought to a premature end by cruciate ligament damage suffered in April.
He never returned as a regular in the United side.
In trademark style, he announced his arrival in Los Angeles with a full-page advert in the LA Times reading simply: “Dear Los Angeles, You’re welcome.”