Williams, Clippers force Game 6 against Warriors

Montrezl Harrell (No. 5) high-fives Patrick Beverley of the LA Clippers during their game against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 25 April 2019
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Williams, Clippers force Game 6 against Warriors

  • Rockets advance to second round with 100-93 victory over Jazz

OAKLAND: Lou Williams again came off the bench and knocked down big shot after big shot. Patrick Beverley crashed the boards at every chance. Danilo Gallinari drove the lane with authority.

The Los Angeles Clippers took the Warriors right out of their comfort zone by beating the two-time defending champions at their own game with energy on both ends, extending their season long after many had counted them out.

Williams hit a fadeaway jumper with 1:29 left and finished with 33 points and 10 assists, Golden State uncharacteristically clanked shots much of the second half and could not make key stops, and the upstart Clippers sent their first-round series back home with a 129-121 Game 5 win on Wednesday night.

No clinch celebration just yet for the two-time defending champions, who lead 3-2 but needed far more than Kevin Durant’s playoff career-high 45 points.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself. They’re up 3-2 still, but I just loved how we played, I really did,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “All we talked about is being us. I told our guys, they’ve been them in the series. We have yet to put a game where we are us through the game.”

The Clippers stymied Golden State’s comeback effort on the very court at Oracle Arena where Los Angeles rallied from 31 points down in Game 2 for the largest comeback in NBA postseason history.

Game 6 is Friday back in Los Angeles.

Beverley took a big charge against Klay Thompson with 1:40 left and wound up with 17 points and 14 rebounds for his best outing of the series.

“I thought Patrick Beverley came in, just kicked our butts right away,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He came out with more energy than we had and that set a tone.”

Houston and James Harden are on to the second round and waiting for another chance at the champs. The Clippers said not just yet, they’re not done.

The Rockets, who squandered a 3-2 series lead to the Warriors in last year’s Western Conference finals, eliminated the Jazz with a 100-93 Game 5 victory at home a few hours earlier Wednesday. Sure, the Warriors have thought about a potential second-round matchup.

“Our focus was to come in and extend the series and get another game on our home floor,” Williams said. “It’s their mistake for looking ahead. That’s on them.”

Gallinari added 26 points and seven rebounds, and Montrezl Harrell had 24 points as the eighth-seeded Clippers are keeping things interesting until the end.

“We’ve got to bring it if we’re going to beat them,” Kerr said.

Durant raised his arm late and called on the Oracle Arena crowd for a major assist — the Warriors needed every little bit of help. Thompson’s 3 with 4:02 left made it 116-114 and Durant tied it on a driving dunk the next time down.

Stephen Curry scored 24 points and Thompson 22 but Golden State did not have it on defense.

“If we come out and just think we’re going to roll over this team because they’re an 8 seed, it doesn’t work that way in the NBA playoffs,” Warriors center Andrew Bogut said.

Durant shot 14 for 26 in his third performance of at least 30 points in the series and ninth 40-point postseason effort.

Curry, already the NBA’s career playoff leader for made 3-pointers, reached 400 postseason 3s.

But the Warriors — all of them, their best shooters — missed badly on good looks and could not defend the way they typically do to generate that sensational transition game.

“That’s the worst-case scenario for any team. You’re missing shots and can’t get stops, you feel like you’re in a bottomless pit,” Durant said. “Hopefully we knock down shots and get stops next game.”

Golden State trailed 71-63 at halftime despite making 10 of 16 3s but allowed Los Angeles to shoot 56 percent, and the Clippers finished at 54.1 percent.

Gallinari hit a 3 out of the break then a free throw following Draymond Green’s technical and Los Angeles made it 81-66 on JaMychal Green’s 3 at the 9:09 mark.

“It’s been a year where things haven’t gone exactly smoothly all the time,” Kerr said. “I’m not surprised by anything, but I expected to come out and play better and win the game. But it’s the NBA playoffs. This is a seven-game series and you’ve got to play. You’ve got to defend with some urgency.”


Oscar hat trick powers Shanghai into last 16

Updated 21 May 2019
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Oscar hat trick powers Shanghai into last 16

  • Saudi sides Ahli and Hilal advance
  • Urawa qualify for knockout phase

SHANGHAI: Former Chelsea star Oscar hit a hat trick, including a wonderful curling effort from outside the box, to fire Shanghai SIPG into the AFC Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

The Chinese champions’ 5-0 home demolition of a depleted, but already qualified, Ulsan Hyundai dumped Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale out of Asia’s premier club competition.

Shanghai SIPG’s Oscar  scores a goal against Ulsan Hyundai. (AFP)

On Monday night, goals from Omar Al-Somah and Abdulrahman Ghareeb helped Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli beat Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor 2-1 to finish second behind Al-Sadd in Group D. 

Ahli needed to beat Pakhtakor to finish second behind Al Sadd and they did exactly that to make the next phase with nine points, one behind the Qataris. In Group C, Al-Hilal and Qatar’s Al Duhail played out a 2-2 draw. Both teams had already qualified for the last 16, with the Saudis assured of the top spot even before kick-off.

Kawasaki thrashed a weakened Sydney FC 4-0 away but SIPG squeezed through by a point in Group H over last year’s J-League winners. Ulsan still finished top of the group despite the thrashing and will meet Urawa Red Diamonds in the last 16 after their supersub Kazuki Nagasawa scored the opening goal and created another in a 3-0 win over Chinese Super League leaders Beijing Guoan in Saitama.

Vitor Pereira’s SIPG finished runners-up and will play Group G winners Jeonbuk, another Korean side, next month in the knockout rounds while high-flying Beijing failed to get past the group stage.

Oscar, who joined SIPG for an Asian-record €60 million from Chelsea in January 2017, said: “The (second) goal I scored was very beautiful and my favorite.”

Asked by AFP if the exquisite strike was a reminder to European football of his enduring qualities, the 27-year-old Brazilian said: “For players who come to Asia and China, their level is not going down. We keep working hard to improve our level step by step.”

SIPG made light of the absence of injured captain Hulk and were ahead after just seven minutes when Oscar played a clever one-two with fellow Brazilian Elkeson before firing first time past stand-in goalkeeper Moon Jung-in.

K-League leaders Ulsan made wholesale changes from the team that won 3-1 at Suwon Bluewings on Saturday allowing Pereira’s side to dominate at a half-empty Shanghai Stadium. Oscar’s neat first settled any nerves in the must-win game and the former international made it 2-0 on 42 minutes with his world-class strike into the top-left corner from the edge of the penalty area. Man of the match Oscar completed his hat trick on 76 minutes after striker Li Shenglong had made it 3-0 and substitute Hu Jinghang made it a five-star night. Over in Japan, Urawa had an early scare when captain Yosuke Kashiwagi was stretchered off in the 11th minute to be replaced by Nagasawa.

But they need not have worried as it was the substitute who broke the deadlock in the 34th minute as he shrugged off weak Beijing challenges at the edge of the box to fire past goalkeeper Zou Dehai.

Beijing needed at least a score draw to go through to the last 16 but their task became harder when Nagasawa turned provider seven minutes later, sliding in Yuki Muto to score. Urawa remained in control and in the 81st minute sealed their place in the knockout phase when Muto played in Shinzo Koroki to ram home.

Group winners Jeonbuk drew 0-0 with Thailand’s Buriram United in the other Group G match.