Heat rout Celtics to book NBA Finals showdown with Denver

Heat rout Celtics to book NBA Finals showdown with Denver
The Miami Heat pose with the Bob Cousy Trophy after defeating the Boston Celtics 103-84 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2023
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Heat rout Celtics to book NBA Finals showdown with Denver

Heat rout Celtics to book NBA Finals showdown with Denver
  • Jimmy Butler had 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Caleb Martin added 26 points and 10 rebounds to spark Miami
  • The Heat, seeking a fourth NBA title and first since 2013, last reached the NBA Finals in 2020, losing to the Lakers

BOSTON:The Miami Heat advanced to the NBA Finals on Monday by routing Boston 103-84 and denying the Celtics a historic comeback from down 3-0 in the series.

Jimmy Butler had 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Caleb Martin added 26 points and 10 rebounds to spark Miami, which will visit Denver on Thursday to begin the best-of-seven championship final.

Taking full advantage of an injury to Boston star Jayson Tatum in the opening seconds and a cold-shooting start by the host Celtics, the Heat avoided becoming the first team in NBA history to lose a playoff series after taking a 3-0 lead.

Miami recovered from a gut-punch of a Game 6 defeat, falling on a last-second tip-in, to win the Eastern Conference final 4-3, silencing a loud Boston crowd after the opening minutes.

“We stayed together as a group and as a team,” Butler said. “We talked about going to get a tough one on the road and we did just that.

“But we’re not satisfied. We’re happy. We’re ecstatic. But we’ve got one more to get.”

The Heat, seeking a fourth NBA title and first since 2013, last reached the NBA Finals in 2020, losing to the Lakers.

The Nuggets, into the NBA Finals for the first time, swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference final and have not played since May 22.

Miami stretched the lead as high as 17 points in the second quarter — a margin the Heat hadn’t squandered to lose a game all season — but Boston pulled within 52-41 at halftime.

With Tatum hurting, Derrick White scored eight straight points to lift the Celtics within 59-51.

But Caleb Martin sank a baseline jumper just before the third-quarter buzzer, giving him nine in the period, to put Miami ahead 76-66 entering the fourth.

Martin sank a three-pointer to ignite a 7-0 Miami run to open the fourth quarter for an 83-66 edge, matching the Heat’s largest lead to that point.

The Celtics went nearly four minutes without scoring and never again threatened, finishing a woeful 9-of-42 from three-point range.

“We shot 21 percent from three,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “The defense was still there.

“They gave it everything they had. That’s the most important thing to take from this. We failed, but it’s not because the guys didn’t have a sense of togetherness and character.”

Tatum, who finished with 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting, turned his left ankle landing awkwardly after a baseline jumper in the game’s opening seconds.

He stayed in the contest but grimaced often and the prolific scorer took only one shot in the first 17 minutes.

“He just tried to play through it as best he could,” Mazzulla said.

An 18-6 Heat run to close the first quarter gave Miami a 22-15 lead with the Celtics matching their season low for first-quarter points.

Boston went 0-for-10 from three-point range in the first quarter, missing the first 12 from beyond the arc overall, and made only 6-of-23 from the floor in the opening period.


Emirates Team New Zealand sail away to win 2nd America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah

Emirates Team New Zealand sail away to win 2nd America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah
Updated 15 sec ago
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Emirates Team New Zealand sail away to win 2nd America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah

Emirates Team New Zealand sail away to win 2nd America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah
  • CEO Dantly thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting the Preliminary Regatta

JEDDAH: Emirates Team New Zealand won the America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta on Saturday in Jeddah ahead of its Italian challenger Luna Rossa.

The New Zealand team clinched the victory after three days atop the standings and exploiting its speed advantage to pick up back-to-back wins.

The Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli closed the second preliminary event of the 37th America’s Cup in second place, having raced brilliantly in the final race.

“We’ve been sailing so well all week, haven’t done too many things wrong and we’re super happy to come away with the win here in Jeddah,” New Zealand skipper Peter Burling told the crowd.

“It has been awesome here and a great showcase for our sport, to have a couple of breezy days here, it’s been amazing.”

Luna Rossa skipper Marco Gradoni said: “We definitely didn’t race very well but we were there with the Kiwis.”

Hundreds of fans visited the America’s Cup Race Village on Jeddah Corniche to see the New Zealand team claim victory in the final race.

Badr Al-Kadi, Saudi deputy minister of sports, and Grant Dantly, CEO of the America’s Cup, also attended the trophy ceremony.

Dantly thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting the Preliminary Regatta and praised everyone involved in organizing the race.

“It was a very successful race, weather conditions were great, and we really enjoyed being here in Saudi Arabia,” he said.


Nervy Arsenal extend Premier League lead, Burnley score five

Nervy Arsenal extend Premier League lead, Burnley score five
Updated 02 December 2023
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Nervy Arsenal extend Premier League lead, Burnley score five

Nervy Arsenal extend Premier League lead, Burnley score five
  • Bukayo Saka opened the scoring and Arsenal doubled their lead when Oleksandr Zinchenko cut the ball back for Martin Odegaard
  • The home side came agonizingly close to a third goal when Gabriel Martinelli cannoned a shot off the post toward the end of the first half

LONDON: Arsenal survived a late scare against Wolves on Saturday to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League as Burnley lifted themselves off the bottom with a 5-0 trouncing of 10-man Sheffield United.
The big win for Vincent Kompany’s men briefly sent Everton to the foot of the table but Sean Dyche’s team beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the evening kick-off to edge clear.
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, brimming with confidence after their 6-0 hammering of Lens in the Champions League in midweek, raced into a 2-0 lead at the Emirates within 13 minutes.
Bukayo Saka opened the scoring and Arsenal doubled their lead when Oleksandr Zinchenko cut the ball back for Martin Odegaard, who picked out the bottom corner as they threatened to run riot.
The home side came agonizingly close to a third goal when Gabriel Martinelli cannoned a shot off the post toward the end of the first half.
But they failed to put the game to bed and were made to sweat when Wolves forward Matheus Cunha found the top corner in the 86th minute to set up a tense finale.
Despite the wobble, Arsenal, last year’s runners-up, held on to win 2-1 and notch their 10th win in 14 league games, which moves them four points clear of champions Manchester City, who host Tottenham on Sunday.
“I can only praise the players,” said Arteta.
“They were excellent. We played against a really good side and generated so much and conceded almost nothing. The scoreline should have been very different. We were very unlucky because we hit the post three times I think.
“At the end we made an error close to the goal — in the Premier League you get punished big time for that. Then it’s game on. Overall I’m really happy with how we performed again.”
At the other end of the table, Burnley put five goals past Sheffield United at Turf Moor.
Jay Rodriguez fired the home side ahead with just 15 seconds on the clock — the fastest goal of the season so far.
Jacob Bruun Larsen extended their lead and Sheffield United’s task was made almost impossible when Oli McBurnie received a second yellow card shortly before the break.
Zeki Amdouni made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute, with Luca Koleosho and Josh Brownhill also finding the net as the floodgates opened.
Paul Heckingbottom’s men are now bottom — stuck on just a single win and they have now conceded five goals or more on three occasions this season.
But Burnley are just two points from safety after only their second win of the season — and Kompany said he hoped the three points would be a launch pad.
“I think the guys have deserved it,” he told the BBC. “They have performed well for a while. This league is brutal.
“I haven’t felt the nerves (from the team). I could barely contain them, they were raring to go. The frustration of last week (conceding two late goals against West Ham) didn’t turn into negativity. It turned into ‘we’ll show people’.”
Luton, just outside the drop zone, sank to a 3-1 defeat at Brentford, with Neal Maupay, Ben Mee and Shandon Baptiste on target for the Bees.
Everton, hit last month with a swingeing 10-point deduction for breaking Premier League financial rules, against which they have appealed, are above Burnley on goal difference.
Dwight McNeil broke the deadlock midway through the second half, smashing the ball into the top corner, as Everton secured a third consecutive away win.
In the late match, Newcastle face Manchester United at St. James’ Park, where a win for either side would lift them to fifth place in the table at the expense of Tottenham.


Euro 2024 draw ceremony interrupted by noises in German concert hall in claimed social media prank

Euro 2024 draw ceremony interrupted by noises in German concert hall in claimed social media prank
Updated 02 December 2023
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Euro 2024 draw ceremony interrupted by noises in German concert hall in claimed social media prank

Euro 2024 draw ceremony interrupted by noises in German concert hall in claimed social media prank
  • The interruption, which seemed to sound like sexual noises, was clearly heard for several minutes
  • A British prankster claimed credit on social media for the stunt

HAMBURG, Germany: The draw ceremony for the European Championship in men’s soccer was disrupted by unexplained noises that competed for attention with the team names being read out on stage on Saturday.
The interruption, which seemed to sound like sexual noises, was clearly heard for several minutes on the ceremony broadcast from a concert hall in Hamburg.
A British prankster claimed credit on social media for the stunt and posted footage of himself making cell phone calls to activate a ring tone in the venue which has excellent accoustics.
UEFA director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti noted the noise in his commentary before continuing with the draw for the last five places for lower-ranked teams in the 24-nation tournament lineup. The sound continued sporadically until the draw was completed.
Similar noises disrupted a BBC live broadcast of an English soccer game in January between Wolverhampton and Liverpool. It turned out to be a prank use of a mobile phone next to the studio.
Euro 2024 is being played in 10 Germany cities from June 14 to July 14.


Pakistan Cricket Board drops ex-captain Salman Butt from selection panel after backlash

Pakistan Cricket Board drops ex-captain Salman Butt from selection panel after backlash
Updated 02 December 2023
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Pakistan Cricket Board drops ex-captain Salman Butt from selection panel after backlash

Pakistan Cricket Board drops ex-captain Salman Butt from selection panel after backlash
  • The PCB announced the appointment of Butt as consultant to Pakistan chief selector on Friday
  • The 39-year-old was sentenced to prison in 2011 in a spot-fixing scandal, banned for 10 years

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has dropped ex-cricketer Salman Butt from its panel of consultants for team selection, Chief Selector Wahab Riaz announced Saturday, following backlash over Butt's appointment. 

The PCB announced the appointment of Butt along with Kamran Akmal and Rao Iftikhar Anjum as consultants to Riaz on Friday, amid a reshuffle in the national side and the board’s management.  

Pakistanis took to social media and strongly criticized the PCB for the appointment of Butt, who was sent to prison in 2011 and banned from playing for 10 years for his part in a conspiracy to bowl deliberate no-balls during a 2010 Test match against England at Lord's. 

Speaking at a press conference at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, Riaz said it was his decision to appoint Butt his consultant as he understood cricket. 

"Salman Butt's name has now been withdrawn," he said, adding that there was no pressure from anyone. 

"I took the decision to make Salman Butt a consultant. Now, I am also taking the decision to remove Salman Butt." 

Butt represented Pakistan in 33 Tests, 78 ODIs and 24 T20Is. He made 5,209 runs spanning the three formats with 11 international centuries. He was in the T20 World Cup winning squad in 2009. 

His appointment came as part of a reshuffle that began amid Pakistan's poor show at the World Cup that saw the national side crashing out of the showpiece tournament even before the semi-final stage. Pakistan finished fifth in the 10-team World Cup tournament that culminated last month, with Australia lifting the trophy for a record sixth time. 

Following below-par performance of the team, Babar Azam resigned from the captaincy in all formats and Shan Masood was made test captain. Shaheen Afridi was appointed as skipper of T20 side.  

Riaz was appointed Pakistan’s chief selector last month, after Inzamam-ul-Haq stepped down in October following allegations of a conflict of interests, while former captain Mohammad Hafeez was named as team director, who will also be the head coach of the team on the twin tours of Australia and New Zealand. 

The PCB last month also appointed former international players Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal as bowling coaches for the national team. 


Italy and Spain drawn together in Euro 2024 group stage

Italy and Spain drawn together in Euro 2024 group stage
Updated 02 December 2023
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Italy and Spain drawn together in Euro 2024 group stage

Italy and Spain drawn together in Euro 2024 group stage
  • Much-fancied England will meet Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia Hosts
  • Germany take on Scotland in the tournament’s opening game on June 14 in Munich

HAMBURG, Germany: Reigning champions Italy were placed in the same group as Spain in Saturday’s draw for Euro 2024, while France will come up against the Netherlands.
Much-fancied England will meet Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia, with hosts Germany taking on Scotland in the tournament’s opening game on June 14 in Munich.
Italy, who beat England on penalties at Wembley in the final of the last European Championship in 2021, and Spain will also face Croatia and Albania in Group B.
Spain, victors over Italy in the final of Euro 2012, will take on 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia in their opening match in Berlin on June 15.
The meeting of France, the 2022 World Cup runners-up, and the Netherlands will be the other heavyweight tie of the opening phase.
They were in the same section in qualifying, with France winning both encounters. The two nations are in Group D along with Austria and a play-off winner, which will be one of Poland, Wales, Finland or Estonia.
England, in contrast, will have few complaints about their opponents in Group C, although a Denmark side ranked 19th in the world were arguably the team to avoid from the second pot of seeds.
Gareth Southgate’s team, considered the favorites along with France for the tournament, will take on Serbia in their opening game in Gelsenkirchen on June 16.
Scotland, who famously lost to Brazil in the opening match of the 1998 World Cup, will again have the honor of featuring in the tournament’s curtain-raiser when they meet Germany to start in Group A.
Hungary and Switzerland complete that section, which could be one of the most evenly-matched.
Euro 2016 winners Portugal were drawn in Group F with Turkiye, the Czech Republic and a play-off winner from either Greece, Georgia, Luxembourg or Kazakhstan.
Belgium are in Group E alongside Slovakia, Romania and the winner of the other play-off path, which will be Israel, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Ukraine.
The month-long Euro will conclude with the final in Berlin on July 14.
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the last 16, along with the four best third-placed sides.