Giannis shines in Bucks’ 119-112 victory over Celtics

Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo on his way to scoring 36 points past Boston Celtics’ Enes Kanter (11), Semi Ojeleye (37) and Marcus Smart (36) in their NBA game Friday. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 August 2020

Giannis shines in Bucks’ 119-112 victory over Celtics

LOS ANGELES: Giannis Antetokounmpo shook off the rust of a long layoff by scoring 36 points to power the Milwaukee Bucks to a 119-112 victory over the Boston Celtics in their first game of the NBA’s restarted season.
Milwaukee, who are trying to win their first NBA title since 1971, boasted the best record at 53-12 when the league was shut down in mid-March due to the global pandemic.
“We just got the stops. We tried to play hard, make the right play and hit open guy,” said Antetokounmpo.
In the late game, James Harden scored 49 points and the Houston Rockets outgunned the Dallas Mavericks 153-149 in a high-scoring Western Conference contest that went into overtime. The Bucks trailed by two points at the half, then built a big lead and held on in the fourth quarter to beat the Celtics in the battle between the two Eastern Conference powerhouses.
The 25-year-old Antetokounmpo also had 15 rebounds, seven assists and five fouls. He almost fouled out with 88 seconds to go but after a video review the officials overturned a sixth foul call, allowing him to stay in the game and lead the Bucks to victory.
Khris Middleton scored 18 points and added eight assists, while Brook Lopez tallied 14 points and made six blocks for the Bucks, who came into the game holding a 6 1/2 game lead over second place Toronto.
Both teams did a good job of acclimating themselves to their new surroundings, which includes playing without fans at the Disney World complex that is acting as the “bubble” venue for the 22 teams taking part in the restart. Antetokounmpo remains on track to become the NBA’s first back-to-back MVP since Stephen Curry in 2015-16. Heading into Friday’s game he was averaging a robust 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game this season.
It was his 19th straight double-double matching the longest streak in the league this season which also belongs to him.
Celtics Daniel Theis tied the game 107-107 with just over two minutes to go.
But Antetokounmpo converted a three-point play less than a minute later and Middleton added a three-point bomb to give Milwaukee an eight-point lead with a minute to go as the Bucks took control in the final minutes.  Jaylen Brown finished with a team high 22 points and Kemba Walker scored 16 points in just 19 minutes of playing time in the loss. Boston’s Jayson Tatum, who entered the contest averaging a team-leading 23.6 points per game, finished with five points on just two-of-18 shooting.
Marcus Smart, who was on the wrong end of the video review of Antetokounmpo’s rescinded sixth foul, accused the refs of playing favorites.
In the late game, Harden scored 23 of his game high 49 points in the first quarter and Russell Westbrook chipped in 31 points for Houston after arriving late to Orlando because he tested positive for the coronavirus. “It was tough to be home for 18, 19 days no working out,” said Westbrook.
Kristaps Porzingis had 39 points and 16 rebounds for Dallas, and Luka Doncic had a triple-double with 28 points 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

 


Bayern stuns Barcelona 8-2 to reach Champions League semis

Updated 15 August 2020

Bayern stuns Barcelona 8-2 to reach Champions League semis

  • Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig will play in the other semifinal of the mini-tournament being staged without fans in Lisbon amid the coronavirus pandemic

LISBON, Portugal: With four goals in the first half hour and four more in the last half hour, Bayern Munich humiliated Barcelona 8-2 on Friday to reach the Champions League semifinals for the second time in three years.
Thomas Müller scored twice and Ivan Perišić and Serge Gnabry added on in Bayern’s stunning start to the standout quarterfinal between the only past champions left in the last eight.
Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski and Philippe Coutinho (twice) piled on in the second half as Barcelona conceded eight for the first time since 1946.
Barcelona got on the board with an own-goal by David Alaba in the first half and a goal by Luis Suárez in the second among only seven shots on target.
Seeking its first title since 2013, Bayern will next face either Manchester City or Lyon, who meet on Saturday in the last quarterfinal.
Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig will play in the other semifinal of the mini-tournament being staged without fans in Lisbon amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The humiliating loss ended a disappointing season for Barcelona, one that included a coaching change and public disputes between players and team officials. It is the first time since 2008 that the Spanish club finished a season without a significant title. It hasn’t lifted the European trophy since 2015.
The commanding victory kept alive Bayern’s quest for a sixth title, which would move it ahead of Barcelona. It will be back in the semifinals for the first time since 2018 when it lost to Real Madrid in the last four. The German champion was eliminated by Liverpool in the round of 16 last season.
It is the first time since 2007 that no Spanish club has made it to the semifinals.
The result adds pressure on coach Quique Setién, who had already been criticized after Barcelona relinquished the Spanish league lead — and title — to Real Madrid after the competition resumed following the pandemic break.
Barcelona, which was eliminated by Liverpool in last year’s semifinals, hasn’t reached the final since the title run in 2015. It got past Bayern in the last four that year. The German club has the most wins against Barcelona in the European tournament.
In a hectic start at Benfica’s Stadium of Light, Barcelona paid for defensive mistakes against Bayern’s potent attack, which reached 39 goals in nine games in this Champions League.
Just four minutes in, Müller scored from inside the area after a breakaway that started when Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets gave the ball away at midfield.
Barcelona equalized three minutes later when Alaba found his own net while trying to intercept a pass by Jordi Alba to Suárez.
Barcelona had a couple of great chances shortly after, with Suárez’s close-range strike being saved by Manuel Neuer and Messi’s curling cross shot hitting the far post.
Messi also missed after a run into the area, and Bayern went back in front with Perišić’s powerful shot past goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
Bayern added the third and fourth goals three minutes apart after Gnabry beat Gerard Piqué to a pass into the area, and Müller completed a cross into the area after Barcelona right back Nelson Semedo conceded possession.
Suárez pulled Barcelona closer in the 57th, but Kimmich added the fifth goal after Alphonso Davies cruised past the Barcelona defense.
Lewandowski scored with a header in the 82nd, and Coutinho — a former Barcelona player who struggled at the Catalan club — closed the scoring with goals in the 85th and 89th minutes.
With his double, Müller reached six goals in five matches against Barcelona on the occasion of becoming the German player with the most appearances in the Champions League at 113.
Bayern also had a 53rd-minute goal disallowed for offside.