NBA: Rockets spoil Warriors’ opening night

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives for a shot against Houston Rockets forward PJ Tucker (4) during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Rockets defeated the Warriors 122-121. (USA TODAY Sports)
Updated 18 October 2017
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NBA: Rockets spoil Warriors’ opening night

SAN FRANCISCO: The new-look Houston Rockets roared back to beat NBA champions Golden State 122-121 on Tuesday, spoiling a celebratory night at the Warriors’ Oracle Arena in Oakland.
The Warriors marked the opening of the new season by handing out their championship rings and raising their 2016-2017 championship banner.
Despite a furious rally by the Rockets, the Warriors thought they had won the game with a last-gasp basket from Kevin Durant, but the clock had expired a fraction of a second before the ball left Durant’s hand and it was the Rockets celebrating at the end of the night.
P.J. Tucker had given Houston the lead with a two free throws with 44.1 seconds remaining.
The Rockets trailed by as many as 17 and by 11 points entering the fourth quarter. They were down 114-107 after a three-pointer from Warriors star Stephen Curry with 5:12 remaining.
But the Rockets wouldn’t go away, producing a late flurry that included a three-point play by Eric Gordon and a three-pointer by Tucker.
Two offensive rebounds gave the Rockets another possession in the final minute. They trailed 121-120 when Tucker was fouled and made both his free throws.
Golden State, who lost only 15 times last season, turned the ball over on their next possession. They had a chance to win when Curry missed a three-pointer with five seconds left.
A deflection brought the ball to Durant, whose attempt from the baseline fell to thrill the crowd, only for a review to show it left his hand too late.
James Harden had 27 points, Gordon 24 and Tucker 20 for the Rockets. Former Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, brought in to help the Rockets challenge the Warriors in the West, had just four points with 11 assists and eight rebounds in his debut for Houston.
Nick Young, a new arrival at Golden State this season, led the Warriors with 23 points off the bench.
Curry scored 22 and Durant 20 for the Warriors, who saw Draymond Green depart in the third quarter with a knee strain.
The Warriors became just the fourth defending champions since 2000 to lose their opener the following season.


Work still to be done for Egypt's Al-Ahly in quest for African Champions League glory

Updated 23 September 2018
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Work still to be done for Egypt's Al-Ahly in quest for African Champions League glory

  • The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title
  • Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2

CAIRO: Al-Ahly coach Patrice Carteron has warned his players against complacency in their forthcoming African Champions League semifinal clash against Setif of Algeria, even though his side swept through with a 4-0 quarterfinal second-leg victory over Guinea’s Horoya in Cairo on Saturday.
The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title with the win against the Guineans after a goalless first leg. From the moment Walid Soliman opened the scoring after 32 minutes at the Al-Salam Stadium, the result was never in doubt as the Reds put in a dominant performance.
Second half goals from Islam Mohareb, Salah Mohsen and Ahmed Fathy confirmed the win.
“It was a good performance, especially as the pitch was poor,” Carteron said. “We are happy to go through but we controlled the game, especially in the second half when we were at our best. We adjusted our offensive strategy at the break and that made a difference.”
Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2.
“We know that the game will be very tough as Setif are a strong team but this is the semifinal of the Champions League, you know that any game is going to be tough,” added the Frenchman.
Setif defeated defending champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 1-0 on aggregate and will host Al-Ahly in Algeria in the second leg on Oct. 23.
“Setif were the champions in 2014 and we know that we are going to have be at our best if we are going to the final,” said the 48 year-old, who also coached TP Mazembe of Congo to the 2015 title. He is aiming to deliver similar success for Al-Ahly, who last lifted the trophy in 2013.
“When I took the job three months ago, the target was clear: to win the Champions League. That is still the objective and we have taken a big step toward that today.
“Standards in the competition are getting better all the time and results in the quarterfinal show this,” Carteron said, adding that he and his players had taken note of how Mazembe had been knocked out at the last-eight stage.
“Now we are in the semifinal and we have to prepare as well as we can to face Setif. It will be a big challenge but we are looking forward to it.”
Setif reached the semifinal after a 0-0 draw in the second leg in Morocco on Friday to take the tie 1-0 on aggregate following a win on Algerian soil a week earlier.
Goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba was the star of the show in Casablanca and made a number of fine saves to deny the defending champions.
It was a feather in the cap for coach Rachid Taoussi, a Moroccan who coached Wydad from 2002 to 2003.
“We managed this game very well,” Taoussi said. “We withstood the pressure. It is not easy to keep out such a team, especially with their fans behind them. In the end they had to play long balls and that made it easier for us to defend.”
While Morocco may have lost its sole representative left in the competition, Taoussi is flying the flag for his homeland. “I am proud to be Moroccan. I respect Wydad and the supporters a lot. It’s not easy for anyone to come here and play like we did.
“It is also a demonstration for those who constantly criticize the skills of Moroccan coaches. I’m so happy. That said, the most important thing for us now is to think about going even further in this competition, that is, reaching the final. We have one more step to go; we will give everything until the end.”
The other semifinal sees a third North African team trying to reach the showpiece event as Esperance de Tunis take on Clube Desportivo de Agosto of Angola.