Towns, Edwards lift Wolves over Mavs 105-100 to avoid sweep in West finals

Towns, Edwards lift Wolves over Mavs 105-100 to avoid sweep in West finals
Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota Timberwolves attempts a shot against P.J. Washington #25 of the Dallas Mavericks during the fourth quarter in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at American Airlines Center on May 28, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. (AFP)
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Updated 29 May 2024
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Towns, Edwards lift Wolves over Mavs 105-100 to avoid sweep in West finals

Towns, Edwards lift Wolves over Mavs 105-100 to avoid sweep in West finals
  • The Wolves avoided being the 16th team out of 21 to get swept after losing the first three games of a series that started at home
  • Luka Doncic had 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in his sixth triple-double of these playoffs, but he and co-star Kyrie Irving were just 13 of 39 from the field

DALLAS: Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and the Minnesota Timberwolves held off the Dallas Mavericks 105-100 on Tuesday night to avoid a sweep in the Western Conference finals.

Anthony Edwards had 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Wolves stayed alive in their first trip to the conference finals in 20 years, and just the second in the franchise’s 35 seasons.

Towns, who was shooting 28 percent from the field in the series coming in, was 9 of 13 from the field, including four of five from deep.

“He got himself going by going to the hoop,” coach Chris Finch said. “Played quick off the catch. Stayed confident. He didn’t really look much for his 3 until the second half. He just had his feet set. He was ready. And they were huge.”

Now third-seeded Minnesota head home for Game 5 on Thursday night to see if they can make the series even more interesting against No. 5 seed Dallas.

Luka Doncic had 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in his sixth triple-double of these playoffs, but he and co-star Kyrie Irving were just 13 of 39 from the field. Irving, who was 14-0 in his career in closeout games coming in, finished with 16 points.

“That game’s on me. Just didn’t give enough energy,” said Doncic, who was 7 of 21 from the field, including 1 of 5 in the fourth when he and Irving had combined as closers to build the 3-0 series lead. “They won one game. We’ve just got to focus on the next one.”

The Wolves have led in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter of every game in the series, and this time they finished.

Towns, who picked up his fifth foul midway through the third quarter, put the Wolves ahead for good on a 3-pointer with 5:41 remaining, then hit another from deep the next time down.

Edwards put the Wolves up five with a jumper just inside the arc with 39 seconds left, and Minnesota hung on despite Edwards fouling Doncic on a made 3-pointer for a three-point Dallas deficit with 12 seconds to go.

Doncic missed the free throw, and Naz Reid hit a bucket to push the margin back to five with 11 seconds remaining.

Towns appeared to be finding a rhythm, scoring 10 points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter before picking up his fifth foul for elbowing P.J. Washington Jr. in the face as Towns went up for a shot.

The call against Towns prompted a technical foul against Finch from the second row, where he’s been confined since the start of the second round of the playoffs because of a knee injury that required surgery. Assistant Micah Nori has been roaming the sidelines.

Finch flirted with a second technical, which would have meant an ejection, a few minutes later when Edwards was called for his fourth foul going for a steal against Daniel Gafford.

Towns fouled out in the final two minutes, while Edwards and Rudy Gobert finished with five apiece.

“We weathered a lot of foul trouble out there, which was frustrating to say the least,” Finch said. “Credit to our guys. They found a way to win the game. It was a lot like Games 1 and 2, and we were able to get it done tonight.”

The Wolves avoided being the 16th team out of 21 to get swept after losing the first three games of a series that started at home. Now they’ll try to be just the fourth to force at least six games.

Mike Conley scored 14 points for Minnesota, and Rudy Gobert had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Jaden Hardy scored 10 of his 13 points in a 3:38 stretch that spilled into the first bucket of the fourth quarter, a corner 3 that pulled Dallas within two. Four of the game’s 11 lead changes came in the fourth.

The Mavs were without rookie center Dereck Lively II, who injured his neck when Towns accidentally kneed him in back of the head in Game 3.

Maxi Kleber, who has been out since May 3 with a separated shoulder, returned to give Dallas another option inside. But Daniel Gafford didn’t have his regular tag team partner as a rim protector at center, and the Wolves shot series-best 53 percent from the field.


Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship

Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship
Updated 22 June 2024
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Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship

Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship
  • Kim already is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, though he has only one top 10 in his last 19 starts worldwide
  • Morikawa, like Kim, did most of his work on the front nine by rolling six birdie putts

CROMWELL, Connecticut: Tom Kim is looking at the long term with his golf game and is getting short-term results at the Travelers Championship, where he followed an opening 62 with a 5-under 65 on Friday for the lowest 36-hole score of his career and a two-shot lead.
Kim had to settle for eight straight pars on the soggy TPC River Highlands and still finished at 13-under 127, two shots ahead of a group that includes Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa.
Scheffler, coming off his first middle-of-the-road performance of the year at the US Open, had to wait through a storm delay of more than three hours to finish his last two holes. He made an 8-foot birdie on the 18th for a 64.
Morikawa (63) and Akshay Bhatia (65), who also was two behind, finished before the storms.
Kim and Scheffler both celebrated birthdays during the second round — Kim is 22 and Scheffler is 28 — and did their birthday damage earlier in the week with a trip to one of the Connecticut’s best known pizza joints.
Kim already is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, though he has only one top 10 in his last 19 starts worldwide since his victory in Las Vegas last fall.
“I think the work I’ve been doing has ... the past few months it’s just been kind of like making sure that I feel confident out in the competition, not practice rounds,” Kim said. “So I think this stretch is making me sharper and more ready and I think it’s kind of time to show.”
There certainly should be no rust for the 22-year-old Kim. He has not missed a tournament dating to the Byron Nelson, making this his eighth consecutive tournament.
Scheffler tied for 41st last week in the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2, a course he never quite figured out. It was the first time since the fall of 2022 that he was outside the top 40.
He looks like the No. 1 player this week, missing only one fairway and one green in the second round. That was key to scoring because officials allowed players to lift, clean and place their golf balls provided they were in the short grass.
“Definitely better than last week,” Scheffler said. “I felt like I found a little stuff in my swing and feel like I’m seeing the breaks a lot better on these greens. Definitely feeling some good momentum from the last two days.”
Scheffler birdied four of his last six holes, the final two after the rain delay. He left his approach below the hole on the 18th to set up his final birdie.
Morikawa, like Kim, did most of his work on the front nine by rolling six birdie putts. He picked up his final birdie on the par-3 16th and will be in the final group with Kim on Saturday.
Morikawa, a two-time major champion, has been getting himself in the mix at the some of the bigger events over the past few months. He played in the last group at the Masters and the PGA Championship until falling back.
This round was largely about putting. Morikawa made a pair of birdies from the 15-foot range early punctuated by a 30-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole. His swing looks to be back to be as consistent as ever.
“I know where the ball’s going, so that helps,” Morikawa said. “Obviously, I want to be able to get the win and that’s kind of what’s stopping me from being on a great run. It’s a big mental mindset. When you know where the ball’s going it’s a lot easier to play golf, and I’ve kind of been able to trust that.”
PGA champion Xander Schauffele had another 65 and was alone in fifth place, three shots behind. Another shot back were Shane Lowry (62) and Justin Thomas (63).
Lowry hit a magnificent approach with a 5-wood on the par-5 13 and rolled in the long birdie. That put him at 8-under par for the day, with a couple of good birdie chances on the in. But the Irishman had a couple of pedestrian wedges — from the fairway, one a pitch — for pars.
And then the horn sounded to stop play, and Lowry had to settle for three pars.
Thomas, who chipped in for eagle on the 13th, had his lowest score since a 61 in The American Express in the California desert to start the year.
The signature event has no cut — the field is 70 players — and a $20 million purse.
 


Edmonton Oilers beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 to force a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final

Edmonton Oilers beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 to force a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final
Updated 22 June 2024
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Edmonton Oilers beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 to force a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final

Edmonton Oilers beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 to force a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final

EDMONTON, Alberta: Leon Draisaitl made his first major impact in the Stanley Cup Final, and the series is heading back to South Florida.
Draisaitl set up Warren Foegele’s early goal, Adam Henrique and Zach Hyman scored in the second period and the Edmonton Oilers forced a Game 7 by beating the Florida Panthers 5-1 in Game 6 on Friday night.
They are the first team to tie the final after falling behind 3-0 in the series since the Detroit Red Wings in 1945. The Oilers have the chance Monday night in Sunrise to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only NHL teams to come all the way back from that deficit to hoist the Stanley Cup.
The opportunity to make hockey history and end Canada’s three-decade-long Cup drought exists only after Connor McDavid’s heroics with four points apiece in Games 4 and 5 to take the Oilers from the brink to belief. Draisaitl, his longtime running mate from Germany who has also been league MVP and considered among the best players in the world, lit the spark in Game 5 after being largely ineffective against the Panthers.
Draisaitl got the puck at center ice, skated around and through Florida defenders and put the puck on the tape of Foegele’s stick for a tap-in that Sergei Bobrovsky had nearly no chance of stopping. That, of course, did not stop the fired up sellout crowd of 18,000-plus from mockingly chanting, “Ser-gei! Ser-gei!” starting before the anthems and continually throughout the night.
The goalie everyone calls “Bob” was hardly to blame, though, with mistakes in front of him also contributing to the 2-on-1 rush that ended with Henrique beating Bobrovsky off a 2-on-1 rush off a perfect pass from Mattias Janmark. The Panthers in front of their goaltender looked tight and timid and unlike the juggernaut that reached the final for a second consecutive year and won the first three games to move to the verge of the first title in franchise history.
Florida had just six shots on net midway through the game and finished with 21. Continuing a trend of being there when the Oilers need him the most, Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner made timely saves to stymie the Panthers, allowing just a goal to Aleksander Barkov less than 90 seconds into the third period.
The first time Barkov got the puck past him, 10 seconds after Henrique scored, the goal came off the board when Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch successfully challenged for offside. A lengthy review found Sam Reinhart entered the offensive zone perhaps an inch or less before the puck, the announcement of which was followed by a roar from fans.
That was not the loudest Rogers Place got, and there were plenty of candidates for that distinction. The decibel meter shown on video screens reached 113.8 when the Oilers stepped on to the ice to the tune of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
It might have approached that noise level when Ryan McLeod and Darnell Nurse scored empty-netters in the final minutes, setting off chants of “We want the Cup!” and a wild celebration at the viewing party outside.
That was the fever pitch of a city that was awash in a sea of blue and orange downtown in the hours before puck drop. Friday might as well have been a holiday in Edmonton, the home of nearly a million people now fully able to let themselves dream of the Oilers adding another white championship banner to the rafters — and do so in the most improbable way possible.


South Africa stays unbeaten at T20 World Cup after beating England by 7 runs

South Africa stays unbeaten at T20 World Cup after beating England by 7 runs
Updated 22 June 2024
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South Africa stays unbeaten at T20 World Cup after beating England by 7 runs

South Africa stays unbeaten at T20 World Cup after beating England by 7 runs

GROS ISLET, St. Lucia: Undefeated South Africa pulled off a seven-run win over defending champion England in the Super Eight playoffs at the Twenty20 World Cup on Friday.
Harry Brook, who made 53, and Liam Livingstone, with 33 off 17 balls, had the chase in control for England with 25 needed off 18 balls until fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje dismissed them in the last three overs.
England was restricted to 156-6 in reply to South Africa’s 163-6.
“Getting to those last three overs, the odds looked heavily against you,” South Africa captain Aiden Markram said. “But the bowlers came back, it shows a lot of skill and shows the fight inside. As a whole, we’re getting closer to that complete game of cricket. We’re not there just yet but we’re getting there.”
Quinton de Kock finished with 65 as he smacked the tournament’s joint-fastest half-century off 22 balls, and David Miller provided the impetus in the latter half of South Africa’s innings with 43 off 28.
South Africa’s win streak was extended to six games and it is a firm favorite for the semifinals after two wins in two matches in its group.
England suffered its first loss in the Super Eight after it beat the West Indies by eight wickets at the same venue.
South Africa squeezed the chase through spinner Keshav Maharaj (2-25) in the first 10 overs as England could score only a run-a-ball 60 and lost four wickets. The batters couldn’t get momentum in the powerplay despite Jonny Bairstow (17) getting a life when Heinrich Klaasen dropped a sitter at third man.
Captain Jos Buttler believed England lost the game during the powerplay, as nobody could repeat de Kock’s antics. “Quinton de Kock came out with a lot of intent, really attacked that powerplay and we couldn’t match that,” Buttler said.
“We came back really well with the ball and I thought Brook and Livi had a fantastic partnership there to take us close … South Africa closed out well.”
Brook and Livingstone capitalized on full tosses from Ottneil Baartman and brought down the target to 25 off the final three overs before Livingstone sent Rabada’s full toss straight to a catch at deep backward square leg.
Needing 15 off Nortje’s final over, Brook was brilliantly caught by Markram over his shoulders while running to end England’s threat.
Earlier, de Kock dominated South Africa’s powerplay and had them motoring along at 63-0 before England pulled them back through spinners Adil Rashid (1-20) and Moeen Ali (1-25).
De Kock put fast bowler Jofra Archer on the mat early with two successive sixes in a 21-run over. De Kock was given a life on 58 when video replays suggested Mark Wood’s fingers were not underneath the catch. The decision left England players fuming.
Archer rallied to finish with 3-40.


West Indies wins toss, sends US in to bat
At Bridgetown, Barbados, the West Indies won the toss and chose to bowl against the United States in a crucial match between the tournament co-hosts.
The West Indies were unbeaten in group play but suffered their first loss of the tournament, by eight wickets to England, in their first match in the Super Eight.
The United States surprised the cricket world by qualifying for the Super Eight in the first World Cup held in North America. Their success was underlined by a shock win over cricket powerhouse Pakistan.
The United States lost by 18 runs to South Africa in their first match in the Super Eight. But they were impressive in defeat against one of the form teams of the tournament, taking the match to the final over.
The West Indies are two-time champions, seeking at their home tournament to become the first team to win three T20 World Cups. Their campaign has become tenuous after the loss to England and they can’t afford to lose again to stay in semifinal contention.
Shai Hope came into the West Indies lineup as a replacement for Brandon King who suffered a side strain in the match against England. Obed McCoy replaced Romario Shepherd.
The United States is still without captain Monank Patel who suffered a shoulder injury against Pakistan. Shadley von Schalkwyk came in for Jasdeep Singh and Milind Kumar for Shayan Jahangir.

 


Caeleb Dressel earns an individual race in Paris, winning 50m freestyle at US Olympic swimming trials

Caeleb Dressel earns an individual race in Paris, winning 50m freestyle at US Olympic swimming trials
Updated 22 June 2024
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Caeleb Dressel earns an individual race in Paris, winning 50m freestyle at US Olympic swimming trials

Caeleb Dressel earns an individual race in Paris, winning 50m freestyle at US Olympic swimming trials
  • Dressell will get a chance to defend his 50m freestye title in Paris, blowing away the field in the all-out sprint from one end of the pool to the other
  • Guiliano has emerged as a big star of these trials, heading to his first Olympics with three individual events on his plate

INDIANAPOLIS: After a long layoff and all the doubts about whether he’d reclaim his place as one of the world’s greatest swimmers, Caeleb Dressel looked like himself again Friday night.

Dressel earned his first individual race of the Paris Games, powering to a relatively easy victory in the men’s 50-meter freestyle at the US Olympic swimming trials.

One of the biggest stars in Tokyo with five gold medals, Dressel finished third in the first individual event, the 100 freestyle, which relegated him to the relay at that distance.

But he’ll get a chance to defend his 50 free title in Paris, blowing away the field in the all-out sprint from one end of the pool to the other at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s tough. That was a tough one,” Dressel said. “I was not super-confident until I got up on that block. There’s only so much you can do in the 50. It’s head down and go fast.”

Dressel did just that to touch in 21.41 seconds, not far off his winning time (21.07) at the last Olympics. Chris Guiliano claiming his third individual race in Paris with a runner-up finish of 21.69.

In the aftermath of his Tokyo success, Dressel stunningly walked away from swimming during the 2022 world championships. He later revealed what a toll the sport had taken on him, saying he needed to take an extended break to rediscover his passion at the pool.

Dressel failed to even qualify for the 2023 worlds, but these trials have provided proof that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in Paris.

About 35 minutes after his victory in the 50 free, Dressel returned for the semifinals of his final event, the 100 butterfly.

The tattooed Floridian showed more impressive speed, posting the fastest time of 50.79 to stamp himself as the favorite in the final Saturday night. Dare Rose was next at 51.11.

If Dressel can finish in the top two of that race, he would likely swim up to five events in Paris counting the relays — not far off his six-event program in Tokyo.

Regan Smith will also be swimming three individual events at the Olympics after winning the 200 backstroke.

Smith was under world-record pace through the first two laps, but faded a bit at the end to touch in 2 minutes, 5.16 seconds.

Still, she finished more than a second ahead of Phoebe Bacon, who grabbed the second Olympic spot in 2:06.27. She chased down reigning world champion Claire Curzan, who missed out on a berth in Paris with a time of 2:06.34.

Smith previously won the 100 backstroke in world-record time, along with a victory in the 200 fly. She just missed a fourth individual race in Paris with a third-place showing in the 100 fly.

Still, it’s been a dynamic meet for the Minnesota native, who has endured plenty of ups and downs since setting her first world record in 2019.

“I’m incredibly proud of this performance,” Smith said. “I ran out of gas in that last race, but its been a great meet for me.”

Guiliano edged Matt King for an Olympic berth by a hundredth of a second, with Jack Alexy taking fourth in 21.76.

Guiliano has emerged as a big star of these trials, heading to his first Olympics with three individual events on his plate. He won the 100 freestyle and was runner-up in the 200 free and now the 50 free.

Guiliano, who competes collegiately at Notre Dame, will be the first American male to swim those three events at the Olympics since the great Matt Biondi in 1988.

Carson Foster will be doubling up in Paris, adding a victory in the 200 individual medley to the title he won in the 400 IM.

Shaine Casas was under world-record pace through the first two laps, but Foster chased him down on the freestyle leg to win in 1:55.65.

Casas grabbed his first Olympic berth with a runner-up showing of 1:55.83 — a huge relief for a swimmer who was billed as a rising star ahead of the Tokyo Games but failed to qualify in either of his events at the 2021 US trials.

“This means everything,” Casas said. “Since I was a kid, it’s all I dreamed about. Now, I won’t have to pretend to be an Olympian. I am an Olympian.”
 


Kante sparkles again but France lose shine without Mbappe magic

Kante sparkles again but France lose shine without Mbappe magic
Updated 22 June 2024
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Kante sparkles again but France lose shine without Mbappe magic

Kante sparkles again but France lose shine without Mbappe magic

LEIPZIG, Germany: N’Golo Kante was the unlikely star of the show in the absence of a frustrated Kylian Mbappe as France and the Netherlands edged toward the last 16 of Euro 2024 after a 0-0 draw in Leipzig.
Recalled from a two-year international exile, Kante has rolled back the years in Germany with back-to-back man-of-the-match awards to become the fulcrum of Didier Deschamps’ midfield once more.
A star of France’s World Cup winning team in 2018, Kante’s time with Les Bleus appeared spent after he departed Europe to join Saudi side Al-Ittihad 12 months ago.
Injuries had blighted the end of his spell at Chelsea and cost him a place at the World Cup two years ago.
Deschamps’ decision to bring back the 33-year-old has proven inspired despite some initial skepticism.
“N’Golo is still out there running,” Deschamps quipped in his post-match press conference on Friday.
“But he doesn’t only run. He also has a capacity to carry the ball up the field, which is important to complement our other players in midfield so we have variety and we are not always predictable.”
Questions have been raised over how big European names lured by the riches of the Saudi Pro League would fare when thrust back into the intensity of an international tournament.
But Kante has shown that a less demanding Saudi campaign could even be beneficial in comparison to those players worn out by gruelling seasons in Europe’s top-five leagues.
“It’s important (to make a good impression), especially when you come back to the national team,” said Kante.
As impressive as his ball-winning and boundless energy has been against Austria and the Netherlands, the fact the diminutive midfielder has been France’s star so far tells its own story.
The 2022 World Cup finalists have managed just one goal in their opening two games and even that came via Austria defender Maximilian Wober.
Mbappe’s broken nose against Austria, which ruled him out on Friday, has not helped.
But more is expected of a forward line that also boasts Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Marcus Thuram, Ousmane Dembele and Kingsley Coman.
Thankfully for France’s hopes of becoming European champions for a third time, Mbappe looks set to be able to return with the aid of a mask.
The Dutch stalemate continued a worrying trend for Deschamps without their star man.
Over the past two years, France have not won any of the seven games that Mbappe has not started.
“Obviously the team is on a different plane when Kylian is in it,” added Deschamps.
The France boss conceded his caution with the Real Madrid forward would have been different had it been a knockout game.
The French have been here before under Deschamps and know underwhelming group games are easily forgotten — as long as they click in time for tougher tests in the knockout stages.
France have reached three finals in their last four major tournaments.
The exception came at Euro 2020 when an out-of-sorts Mbappe failed to score and missed the crucial penalty in a shock last-16 exit to Switzerland.
This time it is injury that threatens to ruin his Euros and France can ill-afford for their masked captain to be under par when he does return.
Despite France having an abundance of talent, Mbappe remains the inspiration to complement Kante’s perspiration that would make them the team to beat at Euro 2024.