LeBron James and Stephen Curry will go head-to-head as captains in NBA All-Star Game

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James blocks a shot by Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, left, in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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LeBron James and Stephen Curry will go head-to-head as captains in NBA All-Star Game

NEW YORK: Team LeBron against Team Stephen is the NBA’s new All-Star matchup.
LeBron James and Stephen Curry will go head-to-head again, this time as captains who pick teams for the revamped NBA All-Star Game.
James and Curry received the most votes from fans in their conferences Thursday night and will draft from a pool of the rest of the NBA’s best for the Feb. 18 game in Los Angeles.
“Captain huh? Really Appreciate all the votes from the fans, media and players!” Curry wrote on Twitter .
James will pick first as the player who received the most fan votes. He will make his 14th All-Star Game start, one behind Kobe Bryant for the most in league history.
He could start his team with Kevin Durant, who teamed with Curry to beat James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Or maybe he could go with Kyrie Irving, a former All-Star Game MVP who asked to be traded away from Cleveland last summer and has led Boston to the best record in the East.
Perhaps it will be Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom James came from behind to edge with 2.6 million votes. The Greek Freak had a little more than 2.5 million.
For now, James is keeping his choice a secret.
“I’m not telling you,” he said after the Cavs squeaked out a 104-103 win over Orlando.
James also had a quick response when asked if Curry being the opposing captain added a layer to his rivalry with the point guard.
“No,” he said.
The format was changed from the traditional East vs. West matchup for the first time after lackluster games the last two seasons, when players made little attempt to defend and the West nearly scored 200 points in both of its victories.
Both James and Curry will make their first four picks from the pool of starters, but they don’t have to stick to conference affiliation in choosing their rosters.
“I’m going to try to build the best team I can,” James said. “I don’t play fantasy anything. And I don’t trade guys onto teams when I play 2K or play the video games, so this is different for me. But I know watching guys and loving their game and all that, if you had an opportunity to play with that guy, how special that would be.”
The other starters from the Eastern Conference will be Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, the only first-time All-Star among the starters.
New Orleans also has two starters in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Houston guard James Harden, the NBA’s scoring leader, rounds out the starters, who were selected by a combination of fan, media and player voting. Fan balloting accounted for 50 percent of the formula, with the media panel and player vote each making up 25 percent.
The seven reserves in each conference, voted upon by the head coaches in each conference, will be announced Tuesday, and the rosters selected by James and Curry will be unveiled next Thursday.
The league does not plan to televise the draft.


 


Atletico beats Real Madrid 4-2 after extra time in Super Cup

Costa equalized late in the match with his second goal before Saul Niguez and Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion sealed the victory. (AP)
Updated 16 August 2018
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Atletico beats Real Madrid 4-2 after extra time in Super Cup

  • Atletico’s victory over its crosstown rival had added significance after it lost two Champions League finals to Madrid
  • The loss leaves new Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui still having to prove that there is life after Ronaldo

TALLINN, Estonia: Atletico Madrid finally got the better of Real Madrid on the European stage, scoring twice in extra time to win 4-2 in the UEFA Super Cup final on Wednesday in its rival’s first game without Cristiano Ronaldo.
Atletico got off to a flying start with Diego Costa scoring the competition’s fastest goal just 50 seconds in, but Madrid came back to take a 2-1 lead as Los Blancos tried to prove they can still win trophies without Ronaldo and with a new coach.
But Costa equalized late in the match with his second goal before Saul Niguez and Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion sealed the victory in extra time on a cool night in Estonia’s capital.
Atletico’s victory over its crosstown rival had added significance after it lost two Champions League finals to Madrid in 2014 and 2016. Diego Simeone’s team was also eliminated by Madrid in the 2017 semifinals.
“I’m elated,” Costa said. “Real Madrid has always beaten us in these finals. It was our turn to win a final.”
The loss leaves new Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui still having to prove that there is life after Ronaldo, who scored 450 goals in 438 matches before joining Juventus this summer and helped lead the club to three straight Champions League titles.
“I’m sad. I’m frustrated. It’s a final that we lost,” Lopetegui said. “But I also know that we will have to wake up and prepare ourselves for our first league match and start the season on the right foot.”
Gareth Bale showed glimpses of his pace and skill, but couldn’t mimic Ronaldo’s ability to decide a game on his own.
Instead, Costa was the one who dominated at the Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn. He overpowered Madrid’s center backs in the first minute after a long ball from Stefan Savic, first winning a header against Sergio Ramos and then muscling past Raphael Varane to cut into the area where he beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas at the near post.
Karim Benzema equalized in the 27th minute, heading in a pinpoint cross from Bale, who was able to break away from Lucas Hernandez on the right and curl the ball into his fellow forward’s path. Bale, who was given a freer role than he’s used to, caused trouble for Atletico’s defense in the first half as he switched between wings. He was Madrid’s main creative spark at that point, with his teammates constantly trying to feed him the ball.
He faded in the second half, but Lopetegui was pleased with Bale’s performance.
“Gareth has played very good. In this moment of the season, all the players are not in the best physical way,” the coach said. “We are happy with his performance and we hope he’s going to put in deserved performances in the next matches.”
Sergio Ramos scored a penalty in the 63rd minute after Juanfran Torres handled in the area as the ball flew over him from a corner.
Juanfran made up for it in the 79th by taking the ball off Marcelo near the touchline and then passing to Angel Correa. The substitute then skipped past a couple of Madrid defenders and cut the ball back from the byline to Costa, who poked the ball into the roof of the net.
In extra time, substitute Thomas Partey set up the decisive goal when he stripped the ball off Varane and played a one-two with Costa before dribbling toward the byline. Partey then cut the ball back to Saul Niguez, who volleyed the ball first-time to send the ball past Navas to make it 3-2 in the 98th. Koke finished Madrid off with a cool finish in the 104th.
Lopetegui, who joined Madrid in controversial fashion and was fired as Spain coach just before the World Cup, will need to show that he can build on the success of predecessor Zidedane Zidane and can win with new tactics.
At times, Madrid looked uncomfortable playing under the new possession-based system and seemed to miss Ronaldo’s flair and proficiency.
“We need to improve on the all the phases of the team,” Lopetegui said. “We don’t like to make mistakes.”
Madrid had to play without new goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, as the former Atletico player didn’t even dress for the match. Spanish media reports said the team didn’t register him in time with UEFA following his transfer from Chelsea.
For Atletico, the victory gives the team a boost before the season starts, Simeone said.
“The club is growing. We have a new stadium,” he said. “We have players who want to join us, players who don’t want to leave us. I think this speaks volumes.”