LeBron James gets 30,000, but Spurs beat slumping Cavs 114-102

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots past San Antonio Spurs forward Kyle Anderson (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in San Antonio. (AP)
Updated 24 January 2018
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LeBron James gets 30,000, but Spurs beat slumping Cavs 114-102

SAN ANTONIO: LeBron James became the youngest player ever with 30,000 career points, but LaMarcus Aldridge scored 30 points to lift the San Antonio Spurs over the slumping Cleveland Cavaliers 114-102 on Tuesday night.
James had 28 points while becoming the seventh member of the 30,000-point club, yet he couldn’t keep the Cavaliers from dropping their 10th in 13 games.
Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray — friend and mentee of James — had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals in his second start since replacing a healthy Tony Parker. Murray soared for a tip follow and then rose to disrupt James’ driving layup, which led to a 3-pointer by Danny Green that gave the Spurs a 105-94 lead with 4:20 remaining.
Murray’s effort helped San Antonio push past Cleveland in a battle between teams entangled in turmoil.
The Spurs denied reports that injured superstar Kawhi Leonard is unhappy with how the team is handling his right quadriceps tendinopathy and wants to be traded.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, acknowledged reports that they held a team meeting to address Kevin Love’s early exit due to illness from a blowout loss at Oklahoma City and his subsequent absence from the following day’s practice.
Love said the Cavs have a history of thriving on chaos, and they seemed to put the dysfunction aside early as James got the seven points he needed to reach his milestone.
After missing his first two midrange jumpers and a pair of free throws, James made two driving layups and a 20-footer, and then rose above Danny Green for a 19-foot jumper with one second remaining in the first quarter to reach the mark. The shot put Cleveland up 29-25.
At 33 years and 24 days, James is the youngest player to get 30,000. Bryant was 34 years and 104 days when he got there.


Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games clash against Iran

Updated 30 min 55 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games clash against Iran

  • Young Falcons hopeful of a semifinal spot.
  • Under-23 players keen on making a name for themselves in Indonesia.

JAKARTA: There is a widely held belief that to succeed in sport, you must start early.
Officials from the Saudi Arabia National Olympic Committee will be hoping it rings true this month as the Kingdom’s Under-23 football team prepares to prematurely kick-off its Asian Games campaign this afternoon in Jakarta, three days before the continent’s largest multi-sport competition officially begins.
Similar to the Olympics, the football tournament starts before the opening ceremony and finishes on the competition’s final day, Sept. 2. The fledgling Young Falcons face Iran today at the 28,000-capacity Wibawa Mukti Stadium in the Indonesian capital.
The Saudi NOC have brought a delegation of 169 athletes, including eight females, and will compete across 22 disciplines, including athletics, shooting, taekwondo and volleyball. The three-week Asian Games operate both as a continental precursor and, at times, a qualifying tournament for 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The Young Falcons made their football debut at the Asian Games in South Korea four years ago, reaching the quarterfinals in Incheon, before losing to Iraq. Their regional neighbors were inspired by legendary striker Younes Mahmoud, who had been included as one of Iraq’s three over-age players and scored twice in a 3-0 win.
Yet the impact of Mahmoud in Korea has not influenced the team’s selection. With the Saudi Pro League starting next week, coach Saad Al-Shehri has opted to forego athletes older than 23, instead selecting a squad consisting primarily of Al-Ahli development players and a smattering of Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ettifaq-based youths.
“We haven’t brought any overage players because we are playing here as preparation for the U23 Asian Cup, which will offer qualification for Tokyo 2020,” said Faisal Almarashdi, a spokesman for the team.
“We have brought to Indonesia only players who are 21 or under as they will all be eligible for Tokyo. Many have already played at the Under-20 World Cup under coach Saad, so there was never any discussion to use the three allocated over-age slots.”
Abdullah Otayf is the model example of how Asian Games experience can help a young career. Four years ago, the deep-lying midfielder was part of the squad that traveled to Korea. This summer he was an integral part of the Green Falcons side that played at the World Cup in Russia. 
With national team coach Juan Antonio Pizzi following the competition from afar, there will be chances to catch the eye for the likes of striker Haroune Camara and midfielders Abdullah Yahya Magrshi and Ali Hassan Al-Asmari ahead of January’s Asian Cup. Both midfielders have already made their full debuts for Ahli and featured in the Jeddah club’s Champions League campaign last season, while Al-Qadisiyah’s Camara was included in Pizzi’s provisional World Cup squad before being cut from the final 23.
“These Asian Games are very important for the young players involved,” Almarashdi added.
“They are the future of the senior team so if they play well here and at the U23 Asian Cup then, we hope, they will go to Tokyo 2020. From then on the pathway to the senior team is already very clear.”  
Much like the seniors, the U23 side is both short and slight, with only two of the 10 midfielders and forwards standing above 5 foot 8 (172m). Today’s opponents Iran are not only taller and more physical, they also have, in Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjčar, a manager who knows West Asian football after short spells in Qatar and the UAE. In their most recent preparation match, Iran lost 3-2 to China. 
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, beat the UAE last week in Malaysia following a pair of friendlies against local sides. Today’s match will kick-off at 4 p.m. local time, midday in Saudi Arabia.