Lillard ‘phenomenal’ as Bucks bounce back against Nets

Lillard ‘phenomenal’ as Bucks bounce back against Nets
Milwaukee Bucks' Damian Lillard shoots in front of Brooklyn Nets' Noah Clowney during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 115-108. (AP)
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Updated 22 March 2024
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Lillard ‘phenomenal’ as Bucks bounce back against Nets

Lillard ‘phenomenal’ as Bucks bounce back against Nets
  • The defending champion Denver Nuggets continued their late-season surge with a 113-100 home victory over the New York Knicks
  • Luka Doncic and the Mavericks put on a show in a 113-97 victory over the Utah Jazz in Dallas

 LOS ANGELES: Damian Lillard scored 13 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and came up with two late steals as the Milwaukee Bucks bounced back from a loss to NBA leaders Boston with a 115-108 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.

Lillard added 12 assists and Milwaukee’s two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a two-game injury absence to score 21 points with nine rebounds and five assists to help the Bucks grind out a win on the second night of a back-to-back.

Lillard was key on both ends of the floor. It was tied at 96-96 with less than five minutes remaining when he poked the ball away from driving Brooklyn guard Cam Thomas, launching a fast break capped by a three-point play by Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee were up 103-101 with 1:41 to play when Lillard grabbed another steal and found Malik Beasley for a three-pointer.

Lillard drained a three-pointer himself with 1:11 remaining and his trey with 41 seconds to go pushed Milwaukee’s lead to 10 points.

“Dame, defensively, was phenomenal — all game,” Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s a very competitive guy and you could see that tonight.”

Antetokounmpo, who had missed two games with hamstring trouble, scored nine points in the first quarter as the Bucks took a 26-19 lead.

They led by as many as 20 in the first half before the Nets, led by 24 points from Mikal Bridges, worked their way back.

“I like how we kind of gathered ourselves,” Rivers said. “They took the lead, we came back and got stops. We didn’t play well the beginning of the third.

“The first half, the ball was hopping. It was beautiful. And then we kind of went back to that hold-the-ball, no-movement style,” Rivers added. “We had to play ourselves through that.”

The defending champion Denver Nuggets continued their late-season surge with a 113-100 home victory over the New York Knicks and Luka Doncic and the Mavericks put on a show in a 113-97 victory over the Utah Jazz in Dallas.

Michael Porter Jr. connected on 13 of 16 shots to score 31 points for Denver, his highlight reel night including an alley-oop pass to himself off the glass.

Nikola Jokic delivered his 22nd triple-double of the season with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

The Nuggets, 13-2 since the All-Star break, are neck and neck with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the race for first place in the West.

“I think we all collectively realize we’re not going to be able to turn it on in the playoffs so we’re trying to get our rhythm, get our flow before then,” Porter said of the Nuggets’ sense of urgency.

Denver were also eager to avenge an embarrassing 38-point loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in January.

“We felt like we owed them from the last game in New York,” Porter said.

Jalen Brunson scored 26 points for the Knicks, who cut a 12-point deficit to two in the fourth quarter before Denver coach Michael Malone sent his starters back in and the Nuggets pulled away.

In Dallas, Doncic scored 34 points with nine rebounds and eight assists and the Mavs threw down 18 dunks on the way to a third straight victory.

In Orlando, Magic forward Paolo Banchero scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists, his second career triple-double helping the hosts to a 121-106 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Magic notched their fifth straight win. In addition to absorbing the defeat, the Pelicans saw forward Brandon Ingram depart early in the second half with an apparent knee injury.


Celtic edge Manchester City 4-3 in US pre-season friendly

Celtic edge Manchester City 4-3 in US pre-season friendly
Updated 24 July 2024
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Celtic edge Manchester City 4-3 in US pre-season friendly

Celtic edge Manchester City 4-3 in US pre-season friendly

Nicolas Kuhn scored twice and Luis Palma netted the decider in the 68th minute to give Celtic a 4-3 victory over Manchester City in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday.

Norway’s Erling Haaland, wearing the City captain’s armband for the first time, nodded home an equalizer in the 57th minute only for Honduran international Palma to tap in the winning goal on a breakaway at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Memorial Stadium.

The match was a tuneup for next month’s start of the 2024-25 campaigns for Celtic, winner of the past three Scottish Premiership crowns, and four-time defending English Premier League champion Manchester City, which began a US tour.

With several top stars resting from the European Championships, City manager Pep Guardiola used the opportunity to analyze younger talent.

The match marked a Celtic debut for goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, the 37-year-old Dane who began his career with City in 2006. He played the first half for the Hoops.

German right wing Kuhn netted a first-half brace for Celtic, playing in a fourth pre-season match.

Down 3-1 at half-time, City answered seconds into the second half on just-inserted 21-year-old Argentine substitute Maximo Perrone’s goal, a left-footed shot from the right side into the far corner on his first touch of the ball.

Haaland headed in a centering pass from countryman Oscar Bobb in the 57th minute to lift City level.

But Celtic scored the winner in the 68th minute as Palma, who entered three minutes earlier, finished a three-man breakaway as City’s defenders were caught flat-footed near midfield after pressing with the backline.

City substitute Ben Knight was denied an equalizer in the 76th minute when second-half Celtic keeper Viljami Sinisalo of Finland knocked the ball over the crossbar.

Kuhn opened the scoring in the 13th minute, taking a pass on the right side and charging in on City starting goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, then firing a left-footed shot just inside the far post.

Schmeichel denied Haaland in the 23rd minute with a right-hand save on a left-footed shot off a feed from James McAtee.

In the 31st, Schmeichel again denied Haaland, from the right side on a left-footed shot that Schmeichel swatted away with his left hand.

But Man City equalized in the 33rd minute as Haaland flicked the ball left to onrushing Bobb, who blasted a shot that deflected off Schmeichel and bounced into the goal.

Kuhn answered for Celtic in the 36th minute, rushing in from the right wing then pulling back the ball to evade a defender and curling a left-footed blast high into the goal.

Celtic stretched the edge to 3-1 in the 44th minute when Kuhn delivered a perfect centering pass to Japan’s fast-rushing Kyogo Furuhashi, who split two defenders, evaded Ortega and fired in a left-footed shot from a steep angle.

Man City’s US tour continues Saturday against AC Milan at New York’s Yankee Stadium, with other matches next week against Barcelona at Orlando and Chelsea in Columbus, Ohio.

Celtic will face Chelsea on Saturday in South Bend, Indiana.


France to get conditional approval to host 2030 Winter Games at IOC meeting before Paris Olympics

France to get conditional approval to host 2030 Winter Games at IOC meeting before Paris Olympics
Updated 24 July 2024
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France to get conditional approval to host 2030 Winter Games at IOC meeting before Paris Olympics

France to get conditional approval to host 2030 Winter Games at IOC meeting before Paris Olympics
  • The IOC had wanted its traditional eve-of-Olympics meeting in Paris to confirm France as the 2030 host and give Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Games
  • French President Emmanuel Macron still fully supports the 2030 Winter Games, national Olympic leader David Lappartient said at a news conference

PARIS: France will get just a partial Olympic win on Wednesday when its bid to host the 2030 Winter Games is presented to IOC members.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach confirmed Tuesday that full approval for the bid — centered on ski resorts in the French Alps and coastal city Nice — cannot be given since parliamentary elections this month left France with only a caretaker national government.

“There will be a vote on the 2030 project but it will be a vote being linked with conditions,” Bach said about a scheduled meeting Wednesday, hours before team sports start play at the Paris Summer Games.

The IOC had wanted its traditional eve-of-Olympics meeting in Paris to confirm France as the 2030 host and give Salt Lake City the 2034 Winter Games.

Salt Lake City will be confirmed by the IOC as the preferred and only candidate, bringing the Winter Games back to Utah 32 years after hosting in 2002.

Potential Olympic hosts need sign-off from different layers of government to guarantee funding and services such as security, which are essential to plan and run the games.

French President Emmanuel Macron still fully supports the 2030 Winter Games, national Olympic leader David Lappartient said at a news conference.

“Even if there is not a majority in the parliament, there is a strong majority behind the games,” said Lappartient, adding progress was made in recent weeks that let a conditional vote be agreed.

Lappartient has a growing reputation as a potential successor to Bach, especially after helping the IOC steer the first Olympic Esports Games to Saudi Arabia in a 12-year hosting deal. That deal was formally approved Tuesday after a 25-minute presentation by Saudi Olympic officials seeking to promote how the Kingdom is using sports to modernize its society.

Bach’s 12-year term leading the Olympic body expires next year. Term limits were introduced as part of anti-corruption reforms that were passed in the fallout from the scandal of IOC members seeking and getting favors from Salt Lake City officials during its 2002 campaign.

Bach’s exit is still not assured while IOC officials weigh a proposal to change its rules that would let him stand again. The issue has been postponed until after the Paris Olympics.

One athlete entered in the Olympics was taken out of the games Tuesday in a doping case.

Track and field’s Athletics Integrity Unit said Polish high jumper Norbert Kobielski was provisionally suspended because he tested positive for pentedrone norephedrine. Kobielski placed 10th in the world championships last year.

Asked how he felt about an eve-of-Olympics doping case, Bach replied: “Good to keep the cheaters out of the games.”


New Zealand Olympic soccer team complains after Canadian team drone flown over its training session

New Zealand Olympic soccer team complains after Canadian team drone flown over its training session
Updated 24 July 2024
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New Zealand Olympic soccer team complains after Canadian team drone flown over its training session

New Zealand Olympic soccer team complains after Canadian team drone flown over its training session

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealand says it has complained to the International Olympic Committee’s integrity unit after a drone flown over a New Zealand women’s soccer team training session was found to be operated by a member of the Canadian team’s support staff.

Defending Olympic champion Canada and New Zealand meet in their opening match at the Olympic tournament on Thursday. The drone incident occurred earlier this week, the New Zealand Olympic Committee said Wednesday.

“Team support members immediately reported the incident to police leading to the drone operator, who has been identified as a support staff member of the wider Canadian Women’s football team, to be detained,” the NZOC said in a statement.

“The NZOC has formally lodged the incident with the IOC integrity unit and has asked Canada for a full review.”

The NZOC statement said Canada had apologized over the incident and is investigating.

“The NZOC and New Zealand Football are committed to upholding the integrity and fairness of the Olympic Games and are deeply shocked and disappointed by this incident, which occurred just three days before the sides are due to face each other in their opening game of Paris 2024,” the NZOC said.

“At this time the NZOC’s main priority is to support the New Zealand women’s football athletes and wider team as they start their campaign.”

It’s not the first time a Canadian soccer team has been accused of using a drone to film an international rival’s training session.

In 2021 at Toronto, Honduras stopped a training session ahead of its men’s World Cup qualifier against Canada after spotting a drone above the field, according to reports in Honduran media. The teams played to a 1-1 draw.


First edition of Olympic Esports Games to be held in Saudi Arabia in 2025

First edition of Olympic Esports Games to be held in Saudi Arabia in 2025
Updated 23 July 2024
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First edition of Olympic Esports Games to be held in Saudi Arabia in 2025

First edition of Olympic Esports Games to be held in Saudi Arabia in 2025
  • Saudi Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal says: ‘We look forward to welcoming the global esports community to the Kingdom in 2025’
  • IOC President Thomas Bach says the NOC of Saudi Arabia will bring great, if not unique, experience to the project

PARIS: The International Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that the first edition of the Olympic Esports Games will be held in Saudi Arabia in 2025.
The international Olympic body unanimously endorsed the proposal by the executive board during the 142nd IOC Session in Paris.
The Saudi Minister of Sport and President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said: “Thanks to Vision 2030, introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, esports in Saudi Arabia already have a rich past, an exciting present and a promising future.
“And the reason why, is the same reason why we are investing across all sports — our young people. Our commitment to esports is simply a reflection of the world our young people live in, and we now all have the chance to write new Olympic history together: The chance to inspire new dreams and new ambitions for literally millions of athletes around the world.”
Saudis believe that taking part in the Olympics is the ultimate honor for any athlete, he said, adding: “That is why we are committed to providing the ultimate platform for new heroes to perform, and for the Olympic spirit to be shared.
“Together we all share the prospect of instilling Olympic values in new and innovative ways. And we look forward to welcoming the global esports community to the Kingdom in 2025.”
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “This is truly a new era for the IOC. With the confirmation by the IOC Session of the creation of the Olympic Esports Games, we are keeping up with the pace of the digital revolution.
“The esports community, represented in our Esports Commission, has enthusiastically engaged with this initiative. This is further proof of the attractivity of the Olympic brand and the values it stands for among young people.”
He stressed that the National Olympic Committee of Saudi Arabia will bring great, if not unique, experience in the field of esports to the project.
He said: “This partnership is based on the Olympic Charter and the Olympic values.”
The IOC has been engaging with esports since 2018 in a holistic way. This culminated in the organization of the Olympic Esports Week in Singapore in 2023. The IOC president then asked the IOC Esports Commission at the 141st IOC Session in India, in October 2023, to look into the creation of the Olympic Esports Games.
The commission, under the leadership of IOC member David Lappartient, devised a project which addressed the interests of the esports community while respecting Olympic values.
IOC member Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, who is also a member of the board of directors of the Saudi Arabian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and president of the Women’s Committee, said: “We have been at the very heart of the esports industry for many years.
“We see that hosting the Olympic Esports Games in 2025 is a natural next step in our journey of opening up Saudi Arabia to the world, and the world to Saudi.”
Prince Abdulaziz and Princess Reema presented the project together to the IOC session.
In the last two years, through major international tournaments, including the inaugural Esports World Cup, Saudi Arabia has hosted over 1,700 elite players from more than 80 countries.
Further underlining its hosting credentials, esports events in Saudi Arabia have welcomed nearly 4 million fans to enjoy the live experience in the Kingdom, with a further 1.3 billion views from across the globe on a variety of streaming platforms.
Work will now begin on selecting a city and venue for the Olympic Esports Games, with the timing of the event, the titles to be included, the qualification process for the players, and further details to be analyzed.
The IOC will also create a new dedicated structure within its organization, clearly separated from the organizational and financial model for the Olympic Games.
In order to address the specific nature of the Olympic Esports Games, the IOC will also take a different approach with regard to the financing and organization of the event.
The IOC has emphasized that international federations already engaged in an e-version of their sport, that is considered for inclusion in the Olympic Esports Games, will be its first go-to partners.
The same will be true for National Olympic Committees that already include esports in their activities.


Bach says IOC neutral after Palestinian call for Israel Olympic ban

Palestinian swimmer Yazan Al Bawwab reacts during the men's 100m freestyle heats at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka.
Palestinian swimmer Yazan Al Bawwab reacts during the men's 100m freestyle heats at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka.
Updated 23 July 2024
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Bach says IOC neutral after Palestinian call for Israel Olympic ban

Palestinian swimmer Yazan Al Bawwab reacts during the men's 100m freestyle heats at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka.
  • “We are not in the political business, we are there to accomplish our mission to get the athletes together,” Bach said
  • The Palestinian call highlights how the rising death toll and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza is impacting the Paris Games

PARIS: President Thomas Bach on Tuesday stressed the neutrality of the International Olympic Committee after a Palestinian call for Israel to be barred from the Paris Games over the war in Gaza.
As the Israeli team settled into the Athletes’ Village, the IOC studied a letter from the Palestine Olympic Committee asking Bach to ban the Israelis, citing the bombings of the besieged Gaza Strip as a breach of the Olympic truce.
The letter sent days before Friday’s opening ceremony “emphasized that Palestinian athletes, particularly those in Gaza, are denied safe passage and have suffered significantly due to the ongoing conflict.”
It said “approximately 400 Palestinian athletes have been killed and the destruction of sports facilities exacerbates the plight of athletes who are already under severe restrictions.”
But Bach said in a press conference: “The position of the IOC is very clear. We have two National Olympic Committees, that is the difference with the world of politics, and in this respect both have been living in peaceful co-existence.
“The Palestinian NOC has greatly benefitted. Palestine is not a recognized member state of the UN but the NOC is a recognized National Olympic Committee enjoying the equal rights and opportunities like all the other NOCs.”
He added: “We are not in the political business, we are there to accomplish our mission to get the athletes together.”
The Palestinian call highlights how the rising death toll and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza is impacting the Paris Games.
France’s foreign minister has already had to intervene to stress that Israeli athletes are welcome after a far-left French politician called for them to be barred over the Gaza offensive.
Competitors flooded into the Olympic Village in northern Paris, with national flags hanging from many windows.
Some of the biggest names set to perform at the Olympics — American gymnast Simone Biles and Spanish tennis pair Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz — have been spotted at the village.
Reviews of the food and accommodation were broadly positive, but some people reported issues with the transport to and from sports venues.
“Usually at Olympics, the transport takes a bit of time to work out,” Tom Craig, a player in the Australian hockey team, told AFP.
“We’ve heard about some teams getting taken to the wrong venue, but it hasn’t happened to us. One day we got a bit lost, but it was fine.”
American gymnastics coach Sam Mikulak, a veteran of four Olympics, praised the village as the best he had seen.
“Ten out of 10. It’s the best set-up, the best conditioning space (gym), very organized,” he told AFP.
Meanwhile, Britain’s joint most decorated woman Olympian, dressage specialist Charlotte Dujardin, withdrew from the Games after a video emerged showing her making “an error of judgment” during a coaching session.
It was not immediately clear what three-time Olympic champion Dujardin had done but Olympic and equestrian authorities have taken an increasingly strict line against alleged improprieties relating to the treatment of animals in recent years.
During the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021, a German modern pentathlon coach was thrown out the Games for striking a horse.
In other developments, as organizers put the final touches to the opening ceremony on the Seine, videos posted online showing US pop star Lady Gaga in Paris sparked rumors that she will be among the performers.
The line-up for the ceremony, the first time a Summer Olympics has opened outside of the main stadium, is yet to be fully announced.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said she hoped the weather would be fine for the ceremony after rain on Tuesday.
“We don’t make the weather so we will anxiously watch what it will be like on July 26, but we will make do and they will be exceptional Games.”