Warriors book 4th consecutive NBA finals appearance with win over Rockets

Stephen Curry scored 27 points as the Golden State Warriors advanced to an unprecedented fourth NBA Finals meeting in a row against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 29 May 2018
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Warriors book 4th consecutive NBA finals appearance with win over Rockets

LOS ANGELES: Stephen Curry inspired a second-half fightback as the reigning champion Golden State Warriors booked their fourth consecutive NBA finals appearance with a 101-92 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday.
Curry scored 27 points with Kevin Durant adding 34 as the Warriors advanced to an unprecedented fourth NBA Finals meeting in a row against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors’ Western Conference finals game seven victory in Houston handed them a 4-3 series win, and came after the Rockets had led by as many as 15 points in the first half.
The Warriors had looked vulnerable after a sluggish first half performance that saw them trail 54-43 at half-time.
But just as they have done throughout the playoffs, the Warriors found an extra gear in the third period, with Curry and Durant suddenly finding their range from three-point distance to come roaring back into the contest.
The Warriors outscored the Rockets by 33-15 in the third quarter, surging into a double-digit lead that they never looked like surrendering.
Earlier it looked as if Houston were ready to snap the Golden State-Cleveland monopoly, shrugging off the injury absence of Chris Paul to make a fast start.
The Rockets swarmed over the vaunted Warriors offense to keep the visitors firmly on the back foot.
The Warriors looked nervous from the outset, with a string of early mistakes that included two turnovers.
Durant missed three free throws in a row early on as Houston gradually pulled into a 24-19 first quarter lead.
A disgusted Warriors coach Steve Kerr told a courtside television interviewer it was the “one of the worst quarters of basketball we’ve ever played.”
The pressure continued in the second, with Clint Capela outstanding on defense for Houston with a string of rebounds.
The Rockets pulled away in the second, with Harden outstanding as the hosts moved 15 points clear with both Durant and Curry struggling from three-point range.
A miserable first half for Golden State saw Eric Gordon make it 54-43 on the stroke of half-time with an aggressive driving layup.
Yet Golden State flicked the switch after the break, and Curry and Durant soon began raining down buckets from distance.
A Durant three-pointer tied it up at 61-61 and Curry then struck with a three of his own to give Warriors a 64-61 lead, the first time they had led since a fleeting 9-7 advantage early in the first.
Two more quick threes from Curry gave the Warriors a nine-point advantage at 72-63, and from the NBA champions were too strong as an increasingly desperate Houston chased the game.


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 24 May 2019
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.