Bucks sweep Pistons to advance, Jazz stave off elimination

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks scored 41 points. NBAE / Getty Images / AFP
Updated 24 April 2019
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Bucks sweep Pistons to advance, Jazz stave off elimination

  • Milwaukee reach second round of postseason for the first time since the 2000-01 season

LOS ANGELES : The Milwaukee Bucks wiped away 18 years of frustration on Monday by beating the Detroit Pistons 127-104 to complete a four-game sweep of their first round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 41 points as the Bucks reached the second round of the postseason for the first time since the 2000-01 season when they made it all the way to the NBA semifinals.

Top-seeded Milwaukee cruised through the first three games and after a slow start in Game 4, they took control late and won by a comfortable 23 points.

“I think it’s important that we take a second tonight. Enjoy it,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s a good night for Milwaukee. It’s a good night for the Bucks.”

Breaking their streak of eight straight playoff exits so quickly means Milwaukee has more time to prepare for their next opponent — the Boston Celtics, who are coming off a sweep of Indiana.

The Bucks matched their regular season dominance over the Pistons, winning all four games. They had met in the postseason four times with the Pistons winning them all.

Antetokounmpo had a quiet night in Game 3 with just 14 points but he had all his weapons at his disposal in the close-out game.

“I remember our first playoff series (in 2015),” Antetokounmpo said. “Chicago, the last game, game six, they beat us by 50 or something insane. But where we were and where we are right now, it’s been an unbelievable journey.”

Milwaukee finished the third quarter with a 17-3 run, taking a 10-point lead into the fourth after the Pistons had led much of the way.

The Blake Griffin-led Pistons set an NBA record with their 14th consecutive playoff loss, a losing skid that began in 2008.

Milwaukee was also the second team in playoff history to sweep their first round series by at least 15 points in each game, joining the 1980 Celtics.

Last year, the Bucks lost to the Celtics in a seven-game series. This year’s second round series will have some new faces.

Milwaukee has Brook Lopez as a starter and added veterans George Hill and Nikola Mirotic.

Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving were out with injuries for the Celtics last year.

Elsewhere, Donovan Mitchell scored 19 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter as the Utah Jazz staved off elimination in Game 4 with a 107-91 victory over the Houston Rockets.

“It’s not over,” Mitchell said. “We have another one, and another one, and another one.”

Jae Crowder added 23 points, Ricky Rubio tallied 18 points and 11 assists and Derrick Favors finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for Utah, who trail three games to one.

Utah outscored Houston 31-12 in the fourth quarter to set up Game 5 on Wednesday.

Mitchell said they now realize what they have been doing wrong and what it is going to take to win the series.

“We all been struggling with our shots all series,” said Mitchell. “We didn’t play hard at the beginning. The last two games we played harder.

“There is no way we were going to go out like that. We figured out what we have to do. The best thing for us is to continue to play team basketball.”

James Harden scored 30 points to lead Houston. Chris Paul added 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Eric Gordon tallied 16 points.

The Rockets shot a dismal 17 of 46 from three-point range.


Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

Updated 19 September 2019

Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

  • Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye

PARIS: No Neymar. No Kylian Mbappe. No problem.
With two first-half goals from Angel Di Maria and a rare late strike from right-back Thomas Meunier, a new-look Paris Saint-Germain missing its headline stars brushed aside a flat Real Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League to go top of Group A in an impressive start to its European campaign on Wednesday. 
Di Maria, a Champions League winner with Madrid in 2014, was rampant against his former club, using phenomenal speed and clever placing to torment a Madrid defense sorely missing the suspended Sergio Ramos.
The Argentine's first goal poked past Thibaut Courtois' near post in the 14th minute was his 25th in 100 European matches.
Some of PSG's new recruits were instrumental in the victory. Idrissa Gueye, bought from Everton, bossed the midfield.
Di Maria's opener originated with Mauro Icardi, a late loan-signing from Inter Milan. He linked up smartly with left-back Juan Bernat, who then found Di Maria in space in the box with a swift cut-back pass.
Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye.
Di Maria caressed a pinpoint shot with his left foot from long range past the outstretched Courtois and celebrated enthusiastically as Paris fans lit red flares.
Gareth Bale thought he'd got a goal back moments later with a sweet volley over former Madrid teammate Keylor Navas, bought by Paris to provide added assurance behind the suffocating PSG defense that snuffed out Madrid at the Parc des Princes.
But referee Anthony Taylor spotted on video replay that the Wales winger had touched the ball with his right arm as he juggled it from his left foot to his right one before shooting.
Meunier's goal in second-half injury time was only his sixth in 48 European matches. Bernat's pass set up the strike. Up in the posh seats, the suspended Neymar and Mbappe, recovering from injury, chuckled together at the sight of the full-backs combining to score. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane scowled.
Zidane lamented the lack of urgency from his side that had zero shots on target other than Bale's disallowed goal and another disallowed for offside in the second half.
"It was a weird sensation," he said, speaking through a translator. "We hardly ever got into the match."
Zidane refrained from singling out any player, saying "it's everybody's fault when we lose."
But James Rodriguez, back from Bayern Munich, was particularly ineffective. And Eden Hazard, bought from Chelsea, looked ring-rusty as he makes his way back from injury. A trademark dribble in the PSG area in the second half ended with Hazard tripping over himself and landing on his backside.
Zidane replaced them both with 20 minutes to play.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, on the other hand, had no problem singling out Gueye for praise. He clicked with Marco Verratti and the deeper-lying Marquinhos in the PSG midfield that purred as if they'd played together for years.
"He's a machine. He never stops, never stops running," Tuchel said. "Against a team like Madrid, that is super-important."
Tuchel suggested the absence of Neymar, Mbappe and PSG's record scorer Edinson Cavani, also recovering from injury, may have been a help rather than a hindrance.
Without them, outside observers figured PSG was unlikely to win, and that eased pressure on Tuchel's other players, the coach said.
When Neymar has served out the rest of his two-match ban, and Mbappe and Cavani are fit again, expectations will quickly rise in the wake of this humbling of Madrid that showed the strength in depth of PSG's expensively assembled team.
But PSG knows from bitter experience how hard the road will become in the Champions League, having failed to get beyond the quarterfinals since the club's wealthy Qatari owners took over in 2011.
Tuchel was eager to tamp down any buzz.
"If someone asks me if we are going to win the Champions League, I'm leaving," he said.