Thunder’s Big 3 lead way in 102-91 win over Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook drives against New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, left, during the first quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game in Oklahoma City Friday. (AP)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Thunder’s Big 3 lead way in 102-91 win over Pelicans

OKLAHOMA CITY: The Thunder’s new Big Three looked ready to do big things in their first action together.
Fans got their first chance to see reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony play together since the Thunder acquired George and Anthony in trades. They were dominant in Oklahoma City’s 102-91 win over New Orleans on Friday night.
Westbrook played for the first time this preseason after getting a platelet rich plasma injection in his knee. He missed the team’s Blue-White scrimmage and the preseason opener against Houston in Tulsa on Monday. He finished with nine points, four assists and one rebound in 9:58 before coming out for good late in the first quarter. Westbrook has said that he is fine and the injection is something he does each year, but he did it later than usual this year because he spent a lot of time at home focusing on his newborn son.
George scored 25 points in just over 27 minutes and Anthony added nine points and six rebounds.
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 14 points and seven rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins scored 13 points and Ian Clark and Jrue Holiday each scored 11.
Wizards 104 Knicks 100: John Wall scored 19 points, knocking down 9 of 14 shots in just under 24 minutes in Washington’s preseason home win. Kelly Oubre scored 14 points and Bradley Beal added 13 for the Wizards.
Enes Kanter, a center New York acquired in the deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City, led the Knicks with 16 points. He made 6 of 11 shots.
The Wizards shot 47 percent as Beal and Wall combined to make 15 of 25 shots.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 15 points, Courtney Lee scored 12 and Jarrett Jack added 11 for the Knicks. Joakim Noah played just 12 minutes as a reserve.The Knicks outrebounded the Wizards 46-36.
Celtics 110 76ers 102: Kyrie Irving scored 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting as Boston won at Philadelphia. Irving also had three assists in just under 25 minutes. Terry Rozier scored 13 points and Aron Baynes added 12 for the Celtics.
Jerryd Bayless scored 15 points and J.J. Redick added 12 for the 76ers.
New addition Gordon Hayward scored nine points on 4-for-9 shooting for the Celtics while Al Horford scored just seven points, but he had nine rebounds and two blocks in 19 minutes. Marcus Smart scored 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting.
Pacers 106 Cavaliers 102: TJ Leaf scored 18 points, Domantas Sabonis added 17 and Indiana won at Cleveland as LeBron James missed his second straight preseason game. James hurt his ankle last week, but has been practicing. Dwyane Wade led Cleveland with 20 points and Jae Crowder added 17.
Victor Oladipo, who was acquired in the deal that sent Paul George to Oklahoma City, scored 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting and had five assists for Indiana.
Derrick Rose scored 15 points and Kevin Love added nine points, seven rebounds and five assists for Cleveland.
Pistons 109 Hawks 87: Avery Bradley scored 18 points, Tobias Harris added 17 and Detroit beat Atlanta in a home preseason game. Henry Ellenson added 16 points for the Pistons. Malcolm Delaney scored 15 points and Taurean Prince and John Collins each added 10 for the Hawks.


Unstoppable Cristiano Ronaldo the sole survivor of Real’s ‘BBC’

Updated 11 min 25 sec ago
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Unstoppable Cristiano Ronaldo the sole survivor of Real’s ‘BBC’

  • Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema not expected to start against Bayern
  • Ronaldo will spearhead the attack on the back of 22 goals in 12 matches

MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema were once the untouchable trio, but only one of Real Madrid’s feted “BBC” can be sure of their place against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Ronaldo has dragged Real into the Champions League semifinals with, even by his standards, an astonishing goal glut that includes 22 in 12 games, and at least one in each of his last 11 matches in Europe.
“It’s impossible to completely stifle Ronaldo, we can only stop him as a team,” Bayern defender Jerome Boateng said on Monday.
“An attacker can not be more complete than him — left foot, right foot, head, he controls everything and in front of the goal, he’s a machine.”
But while Ronaldo has enjoyed a fresh spurt in his new role of predatorial center-forward, his two partners have found their responsiblities reduced ahead of the first leg at the Allianz Arena.
Bale’s decline began first. After returning from injury earlier this year, he was on the bench for both legs against Paris Saint-Germain and the first leg against Juventus.
In the second leg, he did start, only to endure the humiliation of being taken off at half-time.
Benzema’s fall has been more surprising given the striker had been Zinedine Zidane’s preferred partner for Ronaldo, his work rate and supply highly valued despite the Frenchman’s lack of goals.
But Benzema’s link-up play has slackened, thrusting that dry patch — one goal in 10 games and only four in 24 — more clearly into view.
“He does suffer a little bit, when he misses chances he suffers but the solution is easy,” Zidane said. “He has to keep working. It is just a little blip he is in at the moment.”
Bale and Benzema’s dip has coincided with Ronaldo’s golden run, a parallel that may not be entirely coincidental.
Ronaldo in a Real team centered on playing to his strengths is nothing new, but as the Portugese has grown narrower in his scope, perhaps his team-mates have had to sharpen their focus in providing service to him.
Zidane has often deployed 4-4-2 in the biggest games this season, with Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio preferred on the flanks for their defensive discipline and willingness to send crosses into the box.
Bale is not viewed as conscientious enough in the wide midfielder role while Benzema’s key selling point was his link-up play. When that broke down, his appeal diminished.
“I don’t see anyone looking sad,” Zidane said. “I said to the pair of them the other day, they would both like to score more goals but everyone is working well.
“It is always going to happen in a side like ours, there are players in good form and in the team and playing well.”
Even if Isco is selected, it means Real are likely to line up with one of their more modest-looking attacks for a crunch Champions League tie.
“I’m not worried,” Zidane said last week. “It’s true that in the last two games we have had chances and we have not taken them but now we are going to have a game on Wednesday away from home.
“We are going to try to score and what we have to do is to think positively and realize that this is football anything can happen, no matter who is playing on the pitch.”