Injury-plagued Boston Celtics stretches NBA win streak to 11
Injury-plagued Boston Celtics stretches NBA win streak to 11
With Gordon Hayward out for the season and Al Horford sitting out a second straight game with a concussion, Irving suffered a possible concussion less than two minutes into the game after taking an elbow from teammate Aron Baynes.
No matter — despite the revolving door on the infirmary — the Celtics just keep on winning without their Big Three, rallying from an 18-point deficit then hanging on for a 90-87 victory on Friday night over the Charlotte Hornets.
“We’re just going to do what we do no matter who we got,” Celtics Terry Rozier said. “No matter who we’re going to play with, we’re going to play hard.”
Boston scored a season-low 11 points in the first quarter and was down 18 early in the third before sending the Hornets to their fourth straight loss.
With unheralded guard Shane Larkin leading the way, the Celtics went on a 14-2 fourth-quarter surge to take control of the game and held the Hornets to 11 points in the fourth quarter. But Boston still had to survive a scramble at the end to survive.
Larkin finished with a season-high 16 points, while rookie Jayson Tatum, who is playing with a sore ankle, scored 16 points.
“There’s no funner place to play than in Boston in comeback games,” Larkin said. “We went out there. Crowd got behind us. We pulled out a victory.”
Rozier had 15 points seven rebounds and four assists, Marcus Morris had 14 and seven rebounds and Jaylen Brown scored 10 points and had 13 rebounds.
Kemba Walker led all scorers with 20 points despite missing all six of his three-point shot attempts, while Frank Kaminsky scored all 14 of his points in the first half.
Walker, who missed a jumper that would have put his team ahead with five seconds left, scored Charlotte’s final eight points.
Hornets forward Dwight Howard had a dismal night, shooting two-for-eight from the floor, two-for-nine from the foul line, while making seven turnovers.
“We’re giving up huge leads. We’re not maintaining our game. We’ve got to be better as a whole,” Walker said.
Elsewhere, Reggie Jackson made two clutch three pointers down the stretch as the Detroit Pistons won their fourth straight with a 111-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Jackson had 22 points and six assists for the Pistons, who gave away a 19-point lead before regaining control in front of a crowd of 16,600 at Little Caesars Arena.
Andre Drummond had 16 points, 20 rebounds and a career-high seven assists for Detroit, who improved to 9-3 on the season.
Avery Bradley tallied 20 points and Tobias Harris finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Ish Smith came off the bench to finish with 17 points and five assists.
Kent Bazemore had 22 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hawks (2-10).
Detroit led 76-69 heading into the fourth. The Hawks closed the gap to five early in the quarter and once again midway through after Bazemore made a jumper.
Bazemore’s three-pointer from the top of the key and another from the wing tied it 94-94 with 3:49 left.
The teams traded scores until Jackson’s three with 52.3 seconds left put the Pistons on top 103-100. Following Bellinelli’s miss, Bradley made a free throw and collected the rebound after missing the second try. Jackson then drained another key three-pointer to clinch the win.
Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly
- Mohamed Salah's record-breaking season has focused attention on the Premier League's Muslim players and fans.
- Past three players to win Player of the Year have all been Muslim.
LONDON: The face of English football has changed unimaginably since the start of the Premier League in 1992 — not least in terms of the number of Muslim footballers plying their trade in the most popular league in the world.
Twenty-six years ago, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nayim was the league’s only practicing Muslim. Fast forward to 2018 and there are now more than 40 Muslim players gracing England’s top flight — many of them global stars such as Mohamed Salah, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
This is a hugely welcome development for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and its education adviser, Riz Rehman, who is himself a Muslim.
Rehman’s role involves him supporting players of different backgrounds — including Muslims — and aiming to boost their participation in football. Little wonder, then, that he is delighted that the past three winners of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award were all Muslim — Salah, Kante and Riyad Mahrez.
“It’s great for the Muslim community — young people, players, aspiring players and coaches — that three Muslims have won this award and that two of them (Salah and Mahrez) are Arabs,” Rehman told Arab News.
“It’s very important because it’s created more awareness about Muslims being good at the game and sport in general. It’s important we highlight this.”
Leading Muslim footballers’ soaring success and stardom have coincided with rising Islamaphobic attacks in Britain following the Brexit vote in 2016. Regressive attitudes toward race, religion and immigration have raged in some parts of the country, as Rehman acknowledged.
“The biggest misconceptions are that Muslims are all terrorists or that they are all Asian and have long beards,” he said. “Isolated incidents are giving Muslims a bad name.”
Mercifully for Rehman and the PFA, the likes of Salah and Kante are portraying Muslims in a far more positive — and realistic — light on and off the pitch.
During his sublime 2017-18 season, Liverpool star Salah topped the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 32 goals and reached the Champions League final. His unstinting brilliance led to him being serenaded with his own song by Liverpool fans, which includes the line: “If he scores another few, then I’ll be a Muslim too.”
Mohamed Salah has created a positive image of Muslims during his record-breaking year in the Premier League.
Many social media posts and videos showing young supporters copying the Egyptian maestro’s overtly religious goal celebration have also been posted many times. This involves him performing sujood, the Islamic art of prostration.
“Things like that are really helping to bring down barriers in the game,” Rehman said.
Likewise, he cites the fact that Salah and his Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mane, visit a mosque every week after training for Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer.
Meanwhile, only last Saturday the humbleness of Chelsea’s irrepressible midfielder Kante — who has two Premier League winners’ medals and one FA Cup success to his name — was widely hailed.
After missing his Eurostar train to Paris, Kante — who achieved World Cup glory with France in July — was invited home for dinner by Arsenal fan Badlur Rahman Jalil after meeting him while praying at a London mosque. Remarkably, Kante duly obliged and spent the evening watching Match of the Day and playing the FIFA video game with Jalil and his friends.
“People are more aware that we have Muslim players in the game,” Rehman said. “Players are not afraid to come out and embrace the fact that they are Muslims and showing the world that they’re good people.”
But are the PFA — and clubs in the Premier League and England in general — doing enough to increase Muslim representation in English football?
“I think things are better than ever. A lot of clubs are working hard on all-inclusive programs,” replied Rehman, who was a promising youth-team player at Brentford before injury cut short his career at the age of 17 in 2000.
“We deliver workshops aimed at club staff to educate them about better engaging Muslim communities. We get staff and coaches together and tell them more about Islam, what it involves and discuss Ramadan and how it might affect performance and participation at all levels.
“On the back of that, hopefully clubs will deliver programs around the needs of the community. There are clubs like Crystal Palace who are looking to deliver Asian-specific programs to get more Asian kids playing football, more Asian coaches and look at the Muslim community as well.”
Rehman himself helped organized an Iftar event at League One outfit Portsmouth earlier this year, which “went really well.”
“We also had players come along to support the day. Clubs such as Crystal Palace, Leicester City and a few others are showing an interest in holding similar events next season.
“Leicester City are a club with a massive Asian community and we are supporting them with trying to set up some programs.”
Also high on Rehman’s agenda is encouraging more BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) coaches into the game. As well as sitting on the advisory group for the Premier Leagues Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme, one key program he is involved in is “Sidelined-to-Sidelines.”
N'Golo Kante has been one of the best players in England's top-flight since he moved to the Premier League three years ago.
This was established by the Zesh Rehman Foundation — which was set up by his brother, a former Fulham defender — to address a shortage of qualified South Asian coaches.
“We are setting up sessions to try and recruit young coaches at clubs like Crystal Palace, QPR and Chelsea,” Rehman revealed. “Coaches wearing those club badges become role models and are able to influence their own communities and encourage more kids (from under-represented ethnicities) to take up the game.”
Rehman is keen to recruit more Muslim “ambassadors” at clubs “up and down the country” to emulate the likes of the inspirational Salah.
“We want them to work with the community, local groups, mosques, and get players to actually go into those communities and build links with the clubs. It’s a two-way thing.”
Progress has also been made in attracting more Muslim supporters to Premier League matches, Rehman added. Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion are among the clubs that have multi-faith prayer rooms to cater for their increasingly diverse fanbases, he said.
“Some clubs sell halal food, too, so there’s something for everyone.
“It’s a worldwide game now. Mo Salah has reached out to a lot of people. I think Muslim communities themselves have to make an effort to go to matches.
“It’s not an overnight success, but you do see different communities represented on match days, week in and week out.”