Antetokounmpo, Bucks make statement game

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots against multiple Detroit Pistons defenders during their game Sunday. (AP)
Updated 15 April 2019
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Antetokounmpo, Bucks make statement game

  • Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 17 rebounds in just 24 minutes

LOS ANGELES: Milwaukee showed why they are the Eastern Conference kingpins and Giannis Antetokounmpo proved he is worthy of a league MVP as the Bucks trampled all over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 17 rebounds in just 24 minutes, as the Milwaukee began their hunt for a playoff championship ring with a 121-86 blowout of the Pistons in game one.

“It was fun,” said Greece’s Antetokounmpo. "We did a good job of playing hard and playing together.

“The coach told us at halftime to stay together, keep rebounding the ball and run it down.

"I am just glad we got a win.”

Antetokounmpo and the Bucks ran roughshod over the hapless Pistons all game and the 35-point deficit was flattering to the visitors.

Detroit tried everything to stop the “Greek Freak” and the only time they did was when centre Andre Drummond shoved him to the floor with both hands which got Drummond thrown out of the game by the referees.

Antetokounmpo was nine for 17 from the field and one of five from three-point range.

Drummond threw a kiss to the Fiserv Forum crowd as he headed to the showers but it might as well be the kiss of death for the Pistons against the NBA's top team (60 wins) in the regular season.

Seven Bucks scored in double figures. Eric Bledsoe had 15 points, and Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton each added 14. George Hill came off the bench to score 16 points.

Detroit played without forward Blake Griffin, who has missed five of the last eight games with a sore knee.

Elsewhere, the Portland Trail Blazers snapped their 10-game post-season losing streak, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-99 to claim their first playoff win in three years.

The Blazers have endured a miserable record in the playoffs in recent years, suffering back-to-back first round sweeps in 2017 and 2018 against Golden State and New Orleans.

On Sunday however Portland's three-year wait for a postseason win came to an end, as Damian Lillard inspired a battling victory over the sixth-seeded Thunder.

Lillard went nine-of-21 from the field on his way to 30 points in 38 minutes, adding four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

He was backed by C.J. McCollum, who added 24 points from nine-of-24 shooting with six rebounds and three assists.

Turkish international Enes Kanter meanwhile reminded his former Thunder teammates of his talent, posting a double-double of 20 points and 18 rebounds.

Lillard said Kanter's fired-up contribution had tipped the balance for the Blazers.

“Any time you're going up against a team you played for, in the most important series of the year, you’re going to want to play well,” Lillard said. “And you’re going to want to come out on the winning side.”

"We understood that he was going to come out ready to play. And he was the MVP of the game, especially down the stretch.

"He had a huge presence and played a big part in us winning this game."

Also, Kyrie Irving scored 20 points as the Boston Celtics shrugged off the injury absence of Marcus Smart to defeat the Indiana Pacers 84-74.

Irving was among five players to make double figures as Boston drew first blood in the best-of-seven series opener at the TD Garden.

Boston had gone into the game reeling from news that Smart is set to miss the opening two rounds of the playoffs after suffering a torn oblique.

However the fourth-seeded Celtics had too much firepower for the fifth-ranked Pacers on their way to a deserved victory.


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

Updated 18 April 2019
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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

  • Medvedev eliminates 6th seed Tsitsipas in three sets

MONTE CARLO: Top seed Novak Djokovic and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in dominating wins to power into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday.

Djokovic extended his winning streak against US players with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Taylor Fritz.

The two-time tournament champion has now won nine in a row over Americans since losing at Wimbledon in 2016 to Sam Querrey.

“It was very challenging to play in these (windy) conditions,” Djokovic said. “Taylor just flattens the ball.

“We had five, six close games in the first set, I just managed to break his resistance midway through.

“After that, things went on my side and I felt more comfortable.

“This was one of these days where you just have to hang in there and try to put an extra ball back in the court — that was enough.”

Nadal repeated last year’s semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov, beating the Bulgarian for the 12th time, 6-4, 6-1.

“I’m very, very happy, this is an important victory for me,” the second seed said after winning his 23rd consecutive set at the tournament.

“Grigor is a super talent and is very dangerous. It was a positive match for me.

“I had a good day, I can be happy with what I did on court.

“When you don’t play on clay for almost a year, every win is important for the confidence, especially as I’m coming back from injury.”

Spain’s 17-time Grand Slam champion started his clay season this week after missing a month with another knee problem and has title-holder points to defend here plus Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros.

The king of clay is bidding for a 12th trophy in the principality. His record at the event is a staggering 70-4.

Nadal spent almost an hour in securing the first set but picked up the pace in the second as he ran out the winner.

He next faces Guido Pella, who defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

World No. 1 Djokovic will be playing his ninth quarterfinal here from 13 appearances at his home event.

Djokovic turned in a steady performance with a dozen winners and unforced errors, while his opponent committed nearly 30 unforced errors in 68 minutes.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 as Daniil Medvedev continued his run of form.

The Russian will next line up against Djokovic after losing to him in January in the Australian Open fourth round.

Tsitsipas was caught on the back foot facing three match points as he trailed 0-40 on his serve late in the second set. After saving the first two, the Greek botched the third to seal his exit after an hour and three-quarters.

Medvedev increased his leading total of ATP season match wins to 20 as a result after he beat Tsitsipas for the fourth time in as many attempts.

“This was a great achievement for me,” Medvedev said. “Everything was perfect today.

“Some wind came up in the second set and I could not get used to it. But in the third, I just worked to put every ball in the court.

“I was pleased to fight back after going a break down in the third set.”

The player who stands a career-high 14th credits his rising form to a renewed dedication to the sport.

“I’ve been working hard for the past 18 months —  since before the start of 2018. I’ve dedicated my life to tennis, which I did not do before,” Medvedev said.

“I had my best season last year — hopefully this year will be better.”

The Russian reached his first quarterfinal at the Masters 1000 level after winning his second match against a Top 10 opponent.

Tsitsipas, runner-up last season to Nadal in Toronto, suffered his eighth defeat of the season against 18 wins and will try and lift his game next week on the clay of Barcelona. 

Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego defeated Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-2, 7-5.