Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving each score 33 points as Mavs beat Wolves for 3-0 lead in West finals

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving each score 33 points as Mavs beat Wolves for 3-0 lead in West finals
Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic drives to the basket past Minnesota Timberwolves’ center Rudy Gobert during game three of their western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs. (USA TODAY Sports)
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Updated 27 May 2024
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Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving each score 33 points as Mavs beat Wolves for 3-0 lead in West finals

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving each score 33 points as Mavs beat Wolves for 3-0 lead in West finals
  • Luca Doncic and Kyrie Irving score 33 points apiece and Dallas put together a decisive run in the final five minutes

DALLAS: Luka Doncic lunged for the ball after a steal by Anthony Edwards, knocking it far enough away to create a scramble and a jump ball the Dallas superstar won.
The Mavericks made all the big plays again — on both ends of the court — and are a win away from their first trip to the NBA Finals in 13 years.
Doncic and Kyrie Irving scored 33 points apiece and Dallas put together a decisive run in the final five minutes to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-107 on Sunday night for a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
The 14-3 finish gave the Mavs a fifth consecutive playoff victory after Dereck Lively II left with a sprained neck when the rookie center took an accidental shot to the back of the head from Karl-Anthony Towns’ knee.
No team in NBA playoff history has rallied from 3-0 down.
“Don’t even say it,” said Doncic, who will try to clinch his first trip to the NBA Finals in Game 4 on Tuesday night in Dallas. “But it feels great. But we’ve got to think about next game. Gotta play with the same mentality. They’re not going to go away. No way.”
P.J. Washington Jr., who scored 16 points, put Dallas ahead for good on a tiebreaking corner 3-pointer with 3:38 remaining after Doncic passed to Irving, who sent the ball to Washington.
The co-stars took over from there.
Doncic hit a shot in the lane for a four-point lead, Irving sent the crowd into a frenzy on a falling-down jumper and Doncic found Daniel Gafford for an alley-oop dunk and a 113-105 lead with 34 seconds left. Gafford had just blocked Mike Conley’s layup attempt at the other end.
“They’re trying to double me the whole game, trying to double Kai, so that just makes us better,” Doncic said. “Everybody touches the ball, everybody plays. We come down to the stretch, and we execute.”
Edwards had 26 points for the Wolves, but just four after scoring eight consecutive points for Minnesota to get the Wolves even in the third quarter.
“I never think the sky is falling,” Edwards said. “I’m always positive, always happy. Been through the works, so the sky’s never falling for me.”
Towns scored 14 points but missed all eight 3s, including a rushed 27-footer early in the shot clock when the deficit was four with 1:25 remaining.
After taking a 104-102 lead on Kyle Anderson’s floater with five minutes to go, Minnesota — which couldn’t hold leads of 18 points in the first half and five points in the final 90 seconds of Game 2 — missed seven consecutive shots.
“You’ve got to try to score alongside of them,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “The whole series, we’ve struggled to close games. These three-minutes games that we’re playing, we’re losing.”
Doncic, whose game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of Game 2 in Minnesota put Dallas firmly in control of the series, was 10 of 20 and 5 of 11 from deep.
Irving, who won the 2016 title alongside LeBron James with Cleveland, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and finished 12 of 20 and 3 of 6 from long range.
The Mavs, with 2011 NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki watching from center court, are the closest they’ve been to the NBA’s biggest stage since the big German led them to their only championship.
Edwards was 11 of 24, but took just three shots in the fourth quarter, making two. The 22-year-old star who has acknowledged fatigue in the series had nine rebounds and nine assists.
“We can’t be anything but positive at this point,” Edwards said. “We can’t be negative. Try to get one win at a time.”
In the second quarter, Lively absorbed the kind of contact normally found on football fields not far from Kansas City Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, the quarterback-tight end pair sitting courtside.
The rookie from Duke stayed on the court holding his head after it snapped forward on the accidental contact. Lively was down for several minutes before appearing dazed as he was helped off the court and taken to the locker room.
Lively fell as Mike Conley, who scored 16 points, was driving for a missed shot, and Towns was pursuing an offensive rebound when his knee hit Lively’s head in the second quarter.
The 20-year-old Lively and Gafford, the starter, played a big role in helping Dallas take a 2-0 lead. Lively is 12 of 12 from the field in the series, including three makes in Game 3.


Whittaker knocks out Ikram Aliskerov in barely 2 minutes of their UFC fight in Riyadh

Whittaker knocks out Ikram Aliskerov in barely 2 minutes of their UFC fight in Riyadh
Updated 12 min 14 sec ago
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Whittaker knocks out Ikram Aliskerov in barely 2 minutes of their UFC fight in Riyadh

Whittaker knocks out Ikram Aliskerov in barely 2 minutes of their UFC fight in Riyadh

 RIYADH: Australian mixed martial arts star Robert Whittaker knocked out previously undefeated Ikram Sabirovich Aliskerov in under 2 minutes of the first round of the main event of the inaugural UFC "Fight Night" in Riyadh late on Saturday.

In the heavy weight co-main event, Alexander Volkov defeated Sergei Pavlovich by unanimous decision in three rounds.

Earlier, Kelvin Gastelum beat Daniel Rodriguez by unanimous decision in the third round of their Middle Weight division match.

Aliskerov was pulled from Saturday’s UFC event in Las Vegas as a last-minute replacement of his compatriot Khamzat Chimaev, who withdrew from fight due to illness.

Aliskerov was tagged by UFC's CEO and President Dana White as a "legit contender," having been on a seven-game winning streak, and having lost only one of his 16 bouts to the fighter he was replacing.

(Developing story)


 

 


De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track

De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track
Updated 23 June 2024
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De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track

De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track
  • All four teams in Group E have three points, meaning there is all to play for in the final round of games on Wednesday

COLOGNE, Germany: Kevin De Bruyne scored and Belgium got its European Championship campaign up and running after beating Romania 2-0 on Saturday.
The No. 3-ranked Belgians shook off the shock of losing to Slovakia in their opening game by responding with a dominant performance in front of the Belgium royal family at Cologne Stadium.
Youri Tielemans gave them a flying start with a goal from the edge of the area in the second minute.
De Bruyne effectively killed the game off in the 80th after converting direct from Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels’ long kick.
All four teams in Group E have three points, meaning there is all to play for in the final round of games on Wednesday.
While Belgium won, there was more frustration for Romelu Lukaku, who had a third goal ruled out by VAR at these Euros.
Still, he was at the center of his team’s great start when laying the ball off for Tielemans to score with a low drive from the edge of the box.
It was just what Belgium needed after the Slovakia stunner, which raised the prospect of another early exit from a major tournament after being eliminated at the group stage of the 2022 World Cup.
The format of the Euros, in which the four best third-place teams advance, leaves more room for error. But with memories of Qatar still fresh, another defeat would have broken the confidence of a team criticized for failing to live up to expectations in the past.
Tielemans’ goal seemed to lift the pressure, and Belgium ruled the rest of the half with 67 percent of possession.
Lukaku thought he scored after the break, but VAR said he strayed offside before firing past Romania keeper Florin Nita.
The longer the game went on without Belgium scoring a second, the more the tension rose.
Dennis Man could have evened the score when running through on goal, but was denied by Casteels.
The keeper then turned provider with a long punt upfield, which De Bruyne raced on to and fired home.
Under former Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, Portugal advanced to the knockout phase after a 3-0 win against Turkiye in Group F. Georgia picked up its first ever point at a major tournament after a drawing the Czech Republic 1-1 and still has hopes of advancing.


UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024

UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024
Updated 22 June 2024
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UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024

UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024
  • The HNS published a statement on its website saying that it will have to pay a fine of $29,900
  • The Croatian federation was fined 87,875 euros

ZAGREB: UEFA have fined the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for the incidents that occurred in the stands during Croatia’s 2-2 draw with Albania at Euro 2024, the national federation said on Saturday.
The HNS published a statement on its website saying that it will have to pay a fine of 28,000 euros ($29,900) due to the “lighting of flares and throwing of objects by some Croatian fans during the match played on June 19 in Hamburg.”
“The Croatian Football Federation thanks the Croatian fans for their excellent support and once again calls on them to refrain from lighting and throwing flares,” the statement said.
The HNS was also fined after Croatia’s first match in Group B, which they lost 3-0 to Spain.
The Croatian federation was fined 87,875 euros for fans throwing plastic cups onto the pitch and lighting flares.
Croatia are in danger of a group-stage exit from Euro 2024 after defeat to Spain and Wednesday’s thrilling 2-2 draw in which Albania’s Klaus Gjasula scored at both ends, including a dramatic injury-time equalizer.
Croatia, World Cup semifinalists in 2022, will now likely need to win their final Group B match against holders Italy on Monday to have any hope of reaching the knockout phase of a fifth straight major tournament.


Portugal breeze past Turkiye and into Euro 2024 knockout stage

Portugal breeze past Turkiye and into Euro 2024 knockout stage
Updated 22 June 2024
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Portugal breeze past Turkiye and into Euro 2024 knockout stage

Portugal breeze past Turkiye and into Euro 2024 knockout stage
  • Portugal looked every inch a team aiming to win their second European Championship
  • Cristiano Ronaldo will have at least two more tries to become the oldest goalscorer at a European Championship

DORTMUND: Portugal swept into the last 16 of Euro 2024 on Saturday after comfortably seeing off Turkiye 3-0 and guaranteeing first place in Group F.
Bernardo Silva’s fine finish in the 21st minute, a comical Samet Akaydin own goal shortly afterwards and Bruno Fernandes’s second-half tap-in gave Portugal a straightforward win in front of swathes of passionate Turkish fans in Dortmund.
Portugal looked every inch a team aiming to win their second European Championship after triumphing in 2016, their star-studded line-up easily dealing with Vincenzo Montella’s enthusiastic but limited Turkiye team.
Cristiano Ronaldo will have at least two more tries to become the oldest goalscorer at a European Championship as Martinez said on Friday that the 39-year-old is in the right shape to play every four days.
It was Ronaldo who unselfishly set up Fernandes for a simple goal in the 56th minute after springing through Turkiye’s offside trap, and he then had time to pose for a selfie with a child fan who invaded the pitch midway through the second half.
Martinez’s side, on a perfect six points, will face one of the four best third-place finishers in the next round and go into their final group game against Georgia without any pressure for a result.
The same cannot be said for Turkiye who need a draw against the Czech Republic on Wednesday to ensure second place.
Turkiye’s passionate support again flocked to the Westfalenstadion in huge numbers, with long tailbacks on the roads leading to the ground several hours before the 6:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) kick-off.
Some fans sat on the top of cars leading chants among the thousands of supporters who crawled toward their destination.
Once inside what was effectively a home crowd let out a deafening chorus of whistles and jeers when Portugal jogged out for their pre-match warm-up.
However, once the match got underway there was a clear gap in class between the two sides and Portugal went deservedly ahead through Silva as the Manchester City midfielder confidently smashed in Nuno Mendes’s deflected low cross.
Soon after, Akaydin gifted Portugal a two-goal lead with his sloppy backpass which turned into an own goal as Zeki Celik and goalkeeper Altay Bayindir tried in vain to prevent the ball crossing the line.
Those two goals and the dominance of the Portuguese players quietened down the partisan crowd and the result was sealed when Fernandes stroked home his former Manchester United teammate Ronaldo’s present of a pass.
The Portugal fans then turned up the volume to celebrate their country reaching the last 16.
And cheers then rang around the ground from both sets of supporters as a pint-sized fan ran onto the pitch midway through the second half, just as the game was stopped to allow Nelson Semedo to replace Joao Cancelo for Portugal.
The youngster was cool enough to grab an amused Ronaldo for a photo and then dashed off on a mazy run his hero would have been proud of, dropping his shoulder on security staff before eventually being carted away from the pitch.
Ronaldo was less amused when five much larger fans then made copycat bids for selfies, only to be showered with boos and refused a photo before annoyed stewards reached them.


Southgate and England team under fire after lackluster display at Euro 2024

Southgate and England team under fire after lackluster display at Euro 2024
Updated 22 June 2024
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Southgate and England team under fire after lackluster display at Euro 2024

Southgate and England team under fire after lackluster display at Euro 2024
  • After Thursday’s uninspiring 1-1 draw with Denmark, the coach acknowledged “we understand what that will mean for the next few days”
  • former England captain Gary Lineker said: “I can’t imagine anybody, who is English, that would have enjoyed England’s performance because it was lethargic, it was dour...”

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany: Gareth Southgate said he knew it was coming. He was right.
Negativity surrounds the England team — despite leading their group after two games at Euro 2024 and likely to advance to the knockout phase.
After Thursday’s uninspiring 1-1 draw with Denmark, the coach acknowledged “we understand what that will mean for the next few days.”
Indeed, it has fueled concern among fans, English media and former players.
“We have to reflect the mood of the nation,” former England captain Gary Lineker said on his podcast, The Rest is Football. “I can’t imagine anybody, who is English, that would have enjoyed England’s performance because it was lethargic, it was dour...
“You can think of all sorts of words and expletives if you like,” he added, before using one himself.
Lineker’s political opinions have upset the UK government in the recent past — now he has delivered a brutal assessment of the England team.
His comments about England appear to have summed up the mood of many fans.
Southgate’s team were a pre-tournament favorite and beaten finalists at the last Euros.
BBC pundit Alan Shearer described the second half against Denmark as “awful.”
Southgate’s handling of a squad that includes Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden has been brought into question.
“We have world class players so it’s the manager’s job to get the best out of those players,” said Shearer, a former England striker.
Southgate has transformed England’s fortunes since he was appointed in 2016 — leading the country to the semifinals of the World Cup in 2018.
England missed out on a first trophy since winning the 1966 World Cup when they lost on penalties to Italy in the final of the last Euros three years ago.
The 2022 World Cup was England’s worst performance under Southgate when they lost to defending champion France in the quarterfinals.
England were unconvincing in their opener — a 1-0 win over Serbia — and have a few days off before their final Group C game Tuesday against Slovenia.
So, what has gone wrong in Germany?
Expectation
It has been a longstanding complaint that too much is expected of England at international tournaments. Despite having the most popular league in the world — the Premier League — and some of the most successful clubs, England’s sole success on the international stage remains the World Cup it won in 1966. The last Euros was England’s best performance at any tournament since then when finishing runner-up.
Southgate
Ahead of the tournament, Southgate said this would likely be his last in charge of England if he failed to deliver a trophy.
“I’ve been here for almost eight years now and we’ve come close. So, I know that you can’t keep standing in front of the public and saying ‘please do a little more’, because at some point people will lose faith in your message,” he said before the Euros began.
No left side
The England team are looking unbalanced because they essentially have no left side. Luke Shaw is the only designated left back in the squad, but he is still not fully fit after a long-term injury, leaving Kieran Trippier — a right back — to play on the left. Foden is playing as a nominal left winger, but he prefers to drift inside. England are essentially attacking down the right or down the middle, hugely restricting their options and making the team easier to defend against.
Midfield dilemma
England’s longtime midfield issue has not gone away. In fact, it might be worse than ever. Southgate has admitted to doing an “experiment” by selecting right back Trent Alexander-Arnold as a central midfielder alongside Declan Rice. Alexander-Arnold was substituted early in both games. Quite apart from the oddness of Southgate experimenting in such a key position at a major tournament, he is also overlooking three midfielders who finished the English domestic season strongly — Kobbie Mainoo, Adam Wharton and Conor Gallagher.