Barcelona look for King’s Cup victory to get over Champions League pain

Two late goals from Lionel Messi ensured Barcelona got a point the last time they faced Sevilla.
Updated 19 April 2018
0

Barcelona look for King’s Cup victory to get over Champions League pain

  • Barca looking to get over their shock 3-0 loss to Roma in the Champions League
  • Lionel Messi and Co come up against a dangerous Sevilla side in King's Cup final

Barcelona will target a record-extending 30th King’s Cup triumph when they play Sevilla in Saturday’s final which would also virtually assure them of a second domestic double in three seasons, reinforcing their dominance in Spain.
A victory for Barca in the first final at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid would also go some way toward healing the wounds from their — by their standards — catastrophic failure in the Champions League.
The team’s rampant run toward a 25th Liga title while staying unbeaten has been overshadowed by their devastating 3-0 defeat to AS Roma, which saw them exit Europe’s top competition on away goals after blowing a 4-1 lead from the first leg.
It has also harmed coach Ernesto Valverde’s reputation in an otherwise impeccable first season in charge.
Valverde was even criticized in some sections of the Catalan press in the aftermath of their European exit for taking the King’s Cup too seriously, with some blaming his team’s embarrassment in Rome on his reluctance to rotate his squad.
Barca’s third successive European failure will be all the harder to swallow should Real Madrid go on to win the Champions League for a third season in a row, although the Catalans’ domestic achievements are impressive in their own right.
If Barca beat Sevilla, they will become the first team since the Spanish Civil War started to win the cup four years in a row, and thereby almost certainly seal the club’s eighth domestic double.
Standing in their way are a hugely unpredictable Sevilla side who have endured a series of humiliating defeats in the league under coach Vincenzo Montella but who tend to come into their own on the biggest of occasions.
Sevilla knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League, dumped Atletico Madrid out of the King’s Cup and came within a minute of beating Barca in the league before the Catalans fought back from two goals down after 87 minutes to draw 2-2.
“We don’t have any fear. We’ll try and use our weapons as best we can and ensure that they don’t feel comfortable at all in any stage of the game,” Sevilla midfielder Pablo Sarabia told reporters ahead of the final.
“We have to be as aggressive as we can. It’s a beautiful chance for us to win a trophy. We have to remind ourselves of the good things we’ve done this season.
“We have not been consistent in the league but in the Champions League we made history and in the cup we have a chance to lift a trophy.”
There is an outside chance Barcelona could be crowned Liga champions the day after the final, if second-placed Atletico Madrid lose to Real Sociedad on Thursday and are beaten at home by Real Betis on Sunday.
Real Madrid, currently third, were due to play against Sevilla this weekend but the game has been postponed because of the King’s Cup final, while fourth-placed Valencia visit Celta Vigo on Saturday.


Warriors down Rockets, force Game 7 in NBA West finals

Updated 27 May 2018
0

Warriors down Rockets, force Game 7 in NBA West finals

OAKLAND, California: Klay Thompson hit nine 3-pointers and scored 35 points, the Warriors held James Harden down in the second half, and Golden State rallied from an early 17-point deficit to stave off elimination with a 115-86 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night to force a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference finals.
Stephen Curry added 29 points and five 3s on a night Harden dazzled for long stretches with 32 points, nine assists and seven rebounds while backcourt mate Chris Paul sat out sidelined by a strained right hamstring.
Kevin Durant struggled with his stroke at 6 for 17 but still scored 23 points as the defending champions kept their repeat quest alive by thoroughly outplaying Houston in the second half. The Warriors outscored the Rockets 55-20 in the second half before both coaches subbed their key players with 4:28 left.
A dynamic, star-studded series projected to be as captivating and compelling as the actual NBA Finals is going the distance. Game 7 is Monday night back in Houston.
Golden State stymied Harden on consecutive possessions early in the fourth with smothering defense led by Nick Young and several helpers, then Thompson hit a 3-pointer from the left wing at 9:40 for an 89-77 lead. And roaring Oracle Arena went crazy with hopes of even more home games to come if Golden State can get to a fourth straight finals.
Thompson came through with his best performance of these playoffs with the season on the line, just as he did in a 2016 Game 6 of the Western Conference finals at Oklahoma City when he went off for 41 points against Durant and the Thunder to force Game 7.
He was a combined 20 of 32 from 3-point range in those two games.
“I don’t want to go home,” Thompson said. “We worked too hard this season to go home. And this is what we play for.”
The Warriors used another of their signature third quarters to take an 84-77 advantage going into the final 12 minutes, then maintained that dominant level this time down the stretch, unlike their last home game at roaring Oracle Arena when they blew it in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Both teams let it fly from every corner of the court — Golden State hitting 16 3-pointers and Houston 15.
The Warriors outscored Houston 93-47 over the final three quarters.
Thompson’s baseline 3 in transition with 3:35 left in the third put the Warriors up 76-74, then Curry hit from way back the next time down over Gerald Green. Curry did it again moments later from deep.
The Warriors opened the third with an 11-0 burst to go ahead 62-61 on Curry’s 3 at 9:17, also getting a pair of 3s from Thompson and a dunk by Durant. Houston committed four quick turnovers.
Yellow-clad Oracle came alive, too.
Golden State did it playing again without forward Andre Iguodala, who missed his third straight game of the series with a bone bruise in his left knee sustained in Game 3.

TIP-INS
Rockets: The Rockets made 8 of 12 3-pointers in the first and topped the Warriors 19-4 in fast-break points. ... Houston committed 11 first-half turnovers, five early. ... Harden shot 4 for 12 on 3s.
Warriors: Golden State’s 33-point third quarter was its first 30-point period since the third in Game 4. ... The Warriors shot 4 for 18 in the first half from long range. ... Golden State is 4-1 when facing elimination dating to the 2015 championship. ... The Warriors are 16-8 all-time in Game 6 of postseason series. ... Second-year G Patrick McCaw, who had been out since a scary back injury at Sacramento on March 31 when undercut by Vince Carter, received a roaring ovation when he entered the game late. He quickly grabbed a rebound. ... Kerr listed Iguodala as day to day because there’s still pain in the knee when running.

PAUL’S PRESENCE
Paul is receiving treatment “around the clock,” according to coach Mike D’Antoni.
Having him on hand still meant so much.
“He’s devastated. He has to be. We’re all devastated for him. At the same time, we’ll rally and do what’s right,” D’Antoni said. “He’s so integral in what we do and the spirit of the team. And him being here is a big deal, and him being on the bench is a big deal. He’ll will us through, if he can.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr felt terribly for Paul — and others who have gone down.
“More than anything, I feel bad for Chris. The guy is a phenomenal player and competitor, and pretty much willed his team the last two games. He’s just been haunted by these types of injuries in his career, and it’s a shame,” Kerr said.
“I hate when anybody gets hurt. I hate when Andre got hurt. I hate to see Kevin Love last night, Kyrie (Irving). These guys train so hard and they’re here and they’re competing, and you want everybody to be healthy, but just the reality is it usually doesn’t work out that way. So you’ve just got to keep playing with whoever’s there and keep going.”