Portland Blazers hold off Denver Nuggets to level series

Will Barton #5 of the Denver Nuggets goes to the basket against Seth Curry #31 and Zach Collins #33 of the Portland Trail Blazers n the fourth quarter during Game Two of the Western Conference Semi-Finals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, on on May 1, 2019 . (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 03 May 2019

Portland Blazers hold off Denver Nuggets to level series

  • Trail Blazers' C.J. McCollum  led the scorers in a hard-fought 97-90 victory on the road at Denver’s Pepsi Center

LOS ANGELES" C.J. McCollum scored 20 points as the Portland Trail Blazers held off a late rally from the Denver Nuggets to score a series-leveling victory in their NBA Western Conference playoff duel on Wednesday.

McCollum led the scorers in a hard-fought 97-90 victory on the road at Denver’s Pepsi Center to tie the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

Portland talisman Damian Lillard had a relatively quiet night, restricted to just 14 points after shooting five-of-17 from the field.

However, double-digit contributions Enes Kanter, Zach Collins, Rodney Hood and Al-Farouq Aminu helped Portland get over the line.

“I really liked our approach in the first half, particularly the first quarter,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

“I thought we were a lot better offensively than in game one. We did a better job on the ball. I liked the tone we set for most of the game.”

The Blazers looked to be cruising toward a comfortable victory after a dominant first half, surging into a 50-35 lead at the break.

They opened up a 17-point lead early in the third quarter, and led by 14 heading into the final period.

That, however, was the cue for a sustained Denver assault, with the Nuggets slowly chipping away at the Portland lead.

A driving layup from Nikola Jokic put Denver within five points at 95-90 with 34 seconds left on the clock.

But a foul by Mason Plumlee gifted two free throws to Hood, who coolly drained both attempts to take the Blazers 97-90 clear with 17 seconds remaining.

Jokic led the Denver scorers with 16 points while Jamal Murray added 15. Paul Millsap finished with 14 points.

Stotts, meanwhile, praised the defensive effort that restricted Jokic, but was unhappy that the Serbian managed to haul down 14 rebounds throughout the game.

“I thought we pressured him a little bit more,” Stotts said. “He didn’t get the clean looks that we gave him in game one. He got too many offensive rebounds in the fourth though. We were very fortunate that we weren’t hurt as badly as we could have been.”

Game 3 in the series takes place in Portland on Friday.

Nuggets coach Mike Malone said Denver had struggled to match Portland’s physical approach in the first half.

“In that first half they were the aggressor, they were much more physical,” Malone said.

“But I’m extremely proud of the way they came back in the second half. But we’ve got to do it for 48 minutes and that was the most disappointing thing about tonight — we brought it in the second half but in the first half it was not there.”

Stotts had raised eyebrows earlier, wearing a bowtie on the sidelines during the game. The Blazers coach revealed it was a tribute to video coordinator Jonathan Yim, who was injured in a car crash with his family last week.

“On Wednesdays, Jon would wear bowties to the game, so tonight was bowtie Wednesday,” Stotts said. “I think bowties are undefeated this year.”


European Ryder Cup stars take aim on 2021 Saudi International

Updated 27 November 2020

European Ryder Cup stars take aim on 2021 Saudi International

  • The February tourney looks set to be one of the strongest events on European Tour schedule

JEDDAH: European Ryder Cup stars Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood join defending champion Graeme McDowell in looking to get their campaign to qualify for the 2021 European Ryder Cup team off to the strongest possible start at the Saudi International.

The tournament, powered by Softbank Investment Advisers, will take place  Feb. 4 -7 at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

With world No. 1 and 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson and 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau confirmed for the event, along with reigning Open champion Shane Lowry and US stars Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed, the strength of the field means huge ranking points will be on offer for Europe’s leading golfers as they look to get their 2021 qualifying efforts off to a fast start and secure a coveted place on the 2021 European Ryder Cup team.

With a lineup that looks set to ensure that the Saudi International will be one of the strongest events on the 2021 European Tour schedule, Golf Saudi is looking to build on the momentum resulting from hosting two extremely successful Ladies European Tour events this month as interest and participation in golf continues to grow in the Kingdom.

Fleetwood, a six-time winner on the European Tour and standout player in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in Paris in 2018, is making his debut this year in the Saudi International. He said: “From all I’ve heard from the lads who played there the last couple of years, the Saudi International has established itself as one of the leading events on the European Tour both in terms of set up and facilities as well as quality of the field, which is really impressive this year.”

Poulter, who played for the first time in the 2020 edition, said: “I really enjoyed the tournament at the beginning of this year and am psyched to be returning next February. The course sets up for my game rather nicely so I was pretty frustrated to only finish in the top 20 and will certainly be aiming to finish rather higher up the leaderboard this year!

“It’s a fantastic championship course with some amazing vistas and I also really like the fact we get to play a part in introducing golf to a whole new audience in a new region. With Ryder Cup qualification on the line, I am obviously looking to get my campaign off to a fast start and getting a decent finish or winning the Saudi International against such a stellar field would be massive.

“It’s been a really weird year with the pandemic so we are all looking forward to a fresh start in 2021 and I am hoping it is also a strong start as I keep my eyes firmly focused on qualifying for the European team at Whistling Straits,” he added.

Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “This announcement marks yet another amazing group of golf stars joining our 2021 field and the excitement of all the players to kick off afresh in 2021, in Saudi Arabia, is heartening to hear.

“The lineup for the tournament is looking strong and with more players still to be announced in the coming weeks — and on the back of two excellent Ladies European Tour events earlier this month — we are very much looking forward to the third edition of our tournament. We believe it will be the strongest installment to date and will serve as a fabulous illustration that Saudi Arabia is open for business.”