Cavs near Raptors sweep, Spurs topple Rockets

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James drives to the basket past Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17), Raptors forward PJ Tucker (2) and Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series in Toronto on Friday. (AP)
Updated 06 May 2017
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Cavs near Raptors sweep, Spurs topple Rockets

LOS ANGELES: LeBron James scored 35 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Toronto Raptors 115-94 Friday to take a 3-0 stranglehold lead in their second-round NBA playoff series.
James also tallied eight rebounds and seven assists as Cleveland will seek to clinch the series with a win in Game 4 on Sunday in Toronto.
"When we're getting stops, we're a dangerous team," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "It was an all-round good game for us rebounding, offensively and defensively, so we just have to keep that up."
Elsewhere, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points as the San Antonio Spurs used a barrage of late three pointers to overcome James Harden's 43-point performance to beat the Houston Rockets 103-92 in their playoff series.
The Raptors played without star point guard Kyle Lowry who sprained his ankle in Wednesday's loss in Cleveland.
Toronto led by three points at halftime but the Cavaliers kept pressing in the third and seized command in the fourth.
James was instrumental in the comeback, scoring 13 points in the final quarter.
Lowry took part in the warm-up and was listed as active for the game, but Cory Joseph started in his place. Lowry sat on the bench for the whole game.
Kevin Love delivered 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, and Kyrie Irving also scored 16 while Kyle Korver had 14 points. Tristan Thompson added nine points and 12 rebounds.
DeMar DeRozan rebounded from a poor performance in game two to lead Toronto with 37 points.
"I liked our fight, I loved the way our guys competed," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "There was no back down."
Casey was unusually optimistic considering his team was looking at this game as an important opportunity to play their way back into the series.
Their playoff exit appears to be nearing as they have no answer for James, who scored 39 points in Game 2 on Wednesday to move past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar into second place on the all-time playoff scoring list.
"We couldn't get anything to fall for us and they turned it on offensively and ran away with it," said DeRozan.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 19 points and eight rebounds, with Norman Powell chipping in with 13 points and Serge Ibaka adding 12 for Toronto.
In Houston, Aldridge was especially dangerous from in the paint in Game 3 as the Spurs took a 2-1 lead in the second-round Western Conference series.
He shot 12-of-20 from the field, a much better performance than the four points he scored in Houston's one-sided win in Game 1.
"This was his best game, obviously," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Aldridge. "He felt good tonight. He was loose as far as his physical nature, his legs and everything. He wasn't too stiff. And it showed. He moved up and down the court well, he was able to push off on the block, he felt good shooting the ball.
"In addition to busting his butt on (defense) and trying to hit the boards for us, he was a big help tonight."
Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday in Houston.
Kawhi Leonard added 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Trevor Ariza tallied 17 points for Houston but had just two after halftime.
The Rockets' three-man bench of Eric Gordon, Nene and Lou Williams combined for 10 points on three-of-19 shooting.
"They did a good job of just staying home on our shooters and forcing me to finish and make plays," said Harden, who was 14 of 28 from the floor.
Houston shot just 36 percent from the field and couldn't keep pace with San Antonio, who were playing without injured point guard Tony Parker.
Parker will miss the remainder of the 2017 postseason after suffering a ruptured left quadriceps tendon in the fourth quarter of Game 2.


Al-Hilal advance into AFC Champions League semifinals

Updated 18 September 2019

Al-Hilal advance into AFC Champions League semifinals

  • Riyadh-based team beat Al-Ittihad of Jeddah in the all-Saudi final eight showdown

JEDDAH: Al-Hilal battled from one goal down early to beat Al-Ittihad in the all-Saudi quarterfinal and advance to the AFC Champions League semifinals at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh.

After a goalless draw in the first leg in Jeddah, Ittihad looked to have the advantage of  the away goals rule after scoring in the 10th minute courtesy of Ziyad Al-Sahafi.

But the Riyadh-based Hilal regrouped and tallied three unanswered goals to qualify for the final four on 3-1 agregate victory in the two-leg final eight contest. Hilal meet Qatar’s Al-Sadd in the semifinals.

Andre Carrillo equalized for Hilal with a goal in the 44th minute. Salem Al-Dawsari  and Italian import Sebastian Giovinco then put Hilal on the way to victory with goals in minutes 48 and 78.

Earlier in Japan, captain fantastic Shinzo Koroki's powerful first-half header via crossbar and goalkeeper proved enough to squeeze Urawa Red Diamonds into the semifinals  at the expense of Shanghai SIPG on the away goals rule Tuesday.

Wang Shenchao equalized for the visitors with a cool volley on the hour, but the Japanese side comfortably held on for a 1-1 draw and a semifinal place courtesy of the goals scored by Tomoaki Makino and Koroki three weeks ago when the first leg was drawn 2-2 in Shanghai.

The prolific Koroki was, however, officially denied his seventh strike of the campaign on a technicality.

Gloveman Yan Junling was credited with an own goal after palming Koroki's 39th-minute header from Takahiro Sekine's cross onto the woodwork and watching helplessly as it cannoned back into his outstretched arm and over the line.

That was harsh on Yan, who had kept his toothless side — packed with expensive imports — in the tie with a string of saves as Urawa pressed for the cushion of a second goal on a sultry night in Saitama.

It was a poor performance by Vitor Pereira's SIPG side, who were devoid of penetration up front without suspended 55 million euro Brazilian striker Hulk, who had scored both first leg goals from the penalty spot as they came from 2-0 down.

Instead they started with Marko Arnautovic at centre forward, the big Austrian having been signed from English Premier League West Ham last month for 25 million euros.

But with playmaker Oscar — who cost 60 million euros from Chelsea — having an off night, chances remained few and far between.

SIPG had little fluency in the attacking third, a familiar trait that has seen them exit with a curious unbeaten streak of seven draws and one win in their last eight matches in this year's Champions League.

Arnautovic's best efforts were a wasteful header over from six yards out, which would not have counted anyway as the referee had blown for a push, and a tame shot easily deflected for a corner eight minutes from time.

After Shenchao's equalizer SIPG still needed another goal but it was Urawa who seconds later came closest, Daiki Hashioka thumping a shot against the crossbar and Tsuyoshi Otsuki's side continued to carry the more serious threat on the counter attack.

Urawa, the 2007 and 2017 AFC Champions League winners, progress to their fourth semi-final appearance where they will face either defending champions Kashima Antlers or Guangzhou Evergrande, who play Wednesday. Their first leg in China ended 0-0.