NBA

CP3 records season-first triple-double as NBA-leading Suns down Clippers, Warriors lose without Curry

By Sports Desk January 07, 2022

Chris Paul recorded his first triple-double of the season with a career-high 13 rebounds in the Phoenix Suns' 106-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.

Paul finished the game with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists as the NBA-leading Suns improved to 30-8, while the Clippers slipped below .500 at 19-20 for the first time since they were 3-4 earlier this season, while Phoenix became the first team to reach 30 wins this season as they moved a game ahead of the Golden State Warriors.

The rebounding feats of Paul, playing his 1,128th NBA game, were complimented by the Suns veteran bringing up 41 assists from Phoenix's past three games.

Paul (474) also moved past NBA legend Oscar Robertson into third overall for most games with 10 or more points and 10 or more assists, behind John Stockton (714) and Magic Johnson (543).

Cameron Johnson had a career-high 24 points with seven rebounds for the Suns as Devin Booker went none-of-seven from beyond the arc for his 11 points.

Marcus Morris Sr had 26 points with eight rebounds and three assists for the Clippers who were without Paul George, Nicolas Batum and Kawhi Leonard.

Warriors lose without Curry and Green

The Warriors struggled in the absence of injured All-Star duo Stephen Curry (quad) and Draymond Green (hip), going down 101-96 to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Brandon Ingram scored 32 points with 11 rebounds and six assists for New Orleans.

Evan Fournier shot 10 three-pointers as he haunted his former side with 41 points and eight rebounds as the New York Knicks overcame the Boston Celtics 108-105 but it was RJ Barrett who hit a buzzer beater to clinch the win. Jayson Tatum had 36 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

 

Pistons pumped as Cunningham struggles

The Detroit Pistons were hammered by 30 points in the 118-88 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies with no player scoring more than 14 points.

The Pistons hold a 7-30 record this season with only three road victories from 20 games. They shocked the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this week but were no match for in-form Memphis, who extended their winning streak to seven.

Top draft pick Cade Cunningham shot five-of-19 for his 12 points.

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  • 'It's hard to describe what he's done for us' – Sangakkara hails Buttler ahead of IPL final 'It's hard to describe what he's done for us' – Sangakkara hails Buttler ahead of IPL final

    Kumar Sangakkara cannot recall seeing anyone bat better than Rajasthan Royals run machine Jos Buttler in the Indian Premier League ahead of the final against Gujarat Titans.

    Buttler blasted the Royals into their first final for 14 years with a scintillating unbeaten 106 off only 60 balls to secure a seven-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Qualifier 2.

    The England wicketkeeper-batter hit six sixes and 10 fours in a masterclass at Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday, taking his tally of centuries for the season to four.

    Buttler is only one shy of Chris Gayle's record of scoring six IPL hundreds ahead of the final in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

    The 31-year-old is the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 824 from 16 innings at an average of 58.86 and Royals director of cricket Sangakkara has never seen anything like it. 

    He said: "It's hard to describe what he has done for us this season. I think he started off so well, had a little bit of a flutter at one point in the tournament, but he calmed himself down, had good conversations rather than just training.

    "He accepted he's mortal, he's human and he can't have that high level of excellence every single day. And to understand how you kind of reach that level at every game in different stages.

    "Some days you have to fight and look ugly, other days your rhythm is there. The reality is you can't fight that condition, but fight what's happening on the day.

    "You have to settle into it and build an innings. He can accelerate at any point, has all the strokes and understands the game really well. I can't remember anyone batting this well in the history of the IPL."

    Rajasthan have not reached a final since they won the inaugural IPL in 2008, when the late Shane Warne captained them to victory.

    Gujarat topped the table in their first IPL season and beat the Royals by seven wickets in Qualifier 1 to move into the final.

    David Miller struck a rapid 68 not out in that victory and the South Africa batter says he is reaping the rewards of the Titans putting their faith in him.

    He said: "I feel like I am repeating myself. But one thing that changed this season, is that I am playing every game.

    "The last four-five years in IPL… I had a bad season in 2016 and then haven't really felt backed at all. That’s the nature of the IPL. There are so many overseas players and only four can play.

    "I had to go back and work on my game. Although I felt really good playing for the domestic teams in South Africa, I was looking to find that good nick. That's what happened this season."

  • Champions League final: Familiar it might be, but Liverpool and Real Madrid's desire remains the same Champions League final: Familiar it might be, but Liverpool and Real Madrid's desire remains the same

    Saturday's Champions League final may have a sense of familiarity to it, but for Liverpool and Real Madrid the desire to continue winning trophies is as strong as ever.

    These sides have been involved in five of the past seven finals between them, while Paris is hosting the showpiece event for a sixth time – only London (seven) has done so more.

    The French city hosted the first European Cup final back in 1956, with Madrid winning their first of a record 13 trophies after seeing off Reims at the Parc des Princes.

    Indeed, come kick-off, no two teams will have faced off more times in a European Cup or Champions League final than Liverpool and Madrid (three).

    And yet while it may all feel similar – Liverpool making it to a third Champions League final since 2018, Carlo Ancelotti back on the brink of European glory – it is difficult to remember a similar type of hype surrounding a major club showpiece in recent years.

    That has been clear in Paris in the build-up to the match, with the Eiffel Tower and surrounding fan parks a sea of white and red, colours synonymous with this great competition.

    France certainly knows how to host a major event, explaining why UEFA switched this year's final to the Stade de France with just three months' notice.

    The final had been scheduled for Saint Petersburg, but was shifted to Paris – or Saint-Dennis, more specifically – after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which of course hosted the most recent meeting between these sides; the 2018 final, settled in Madrid's favour by Gareth Bale's heroics and Loris Karius' errors.

    Yet the organisers can only do so much. The onus is now on Liverpool and Madrid to put on a show for the 80,000 inside the ground and the millions watching around the world.

    For Liverpool, there's a shot at a cup treble after winning the EFL Cup and FA Cup with penalty shoot-out victories over Chelsea (both times) at Wembley.

    For Madrid, an opportunity to add their favourite trophy to a LaLiga title sealed with four games to go in a rather serene stroll in Spain's top flight.

    Whereas Los Blancos have been given the opportunity to rotate in the weeks leading up to this match, since their incredible comeback against Manchester City, Liverpool have had to play to their maximum right to the final day.

    This will be game 63 of a gruelling campaign for the Reds – not since Manchester United in 2016-17 has a side from Europe's top five leagues played more in a season (64).

    As Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold were eager to point out in Friday's pre-match news conference, though, fatigue will not play a part against Madrid.

    Nor will the disappointment of missing out on a quadruple last weekend, with City pipping them to the Premier League title by a point.

    "They've obviously had a bit more relaxed preparation and wrapped up their league two or three weeks ago," Robertson said.

    "They've maybe not played as many games and at a high tempo. We knew how hard our run was going to be on our bodies, but we're in the best possible shape.

    "We've come through a lot and yes we've had injuries and problems, but the lads are fully fit. It's important we take the competitive nature of a tough season into the last game."

    Intentional or otherwise, however, the tempo of Liverpool's final training run-out at the Stade de France on the eve of the match was far lower than that of Madrid.

    Jurgen Klopp was happy for his players to pass the ball around on the sun-soaked surface, which has been freshly laid for this game – a big topic ahead of the contest.

    Madrid's players were equally as relaxed – understandable given the experience in their ranks – as they split into two full-size teams for a mini-match.

    As they made their way down the tunnel area, there was still a chance for the likes of Marcelo and Toni Kroos to glance around at the vast venue. Maybe even two of the most decorated players in the modern game can still be awestruck every now and then, and it goes to show that, while we are now used to seeing these same players battle it out at the top, the experience is different each time.

    The pain of losing hurts no less; the joy of winning all the sweeter as a player or a coach enhances their legacy.

    Klopp, for example, is aiming for his second major European title in what is his fourth appearance in a final. Ancelotti, on the other hand, is hunting a record-breaking fourth Champions League crown.

    As for the supporters who could be heard chanting late into the night on Friday, an "I was there" moment awaits as two behemoths go at it again.

    Familiar it may be, but enjoy it while it lasts. 

  • 'We know what's at stake' – Tatum a '10 for confidence' as Celtics target NBA Finals 'We know what's at stake' – Tatum a '10 for confidence' as Celtics target NBA Finals

    Jayson Tatum is full of confidence that the Boston Celtics will bounce back against the Miami Heat and seal a place in the NBA Finals.

    Jimmy Butler turned in one of the great playoff displays for the Heat on Friday as a 111-103 away win forced the Eastern Conference Finals series to Game 7, tied at 3-3.

    Butler scored a playoff career-high 47 points, claimed nine rebounds and provided eight assists, with 17 of his points coming in the final quarter.

    While the momentum might now be with the Heat, who have home-court advantage for the final game of the series, Tatum believes the Celtics can step up.

    Asked what his confidence level was heading into Game 7, Tatum replied: "On a scale from 1-10 – 10. It shouldn't be any less than that, right? You know, it's the last game. This is what it's all about. 

    "On a scale from 1-10, it's a 10 for my confidence level in myself and the group.

    "It's no secret, it's Game 7. A trip to the NBA Finals – there's a lot on the line.

    "A couple of us have been in this situation before, so we know what's at stake, we know how much this means to everybody. We know that going into the game."

    Tatum led the way for Boston, scoring 30 points and finishing with nine rebounds and four assists, though he only made one shot in the fourth quarter while Butler took hold at the other end.

    "I think it was just in the flow of the game, and how the game was going," Tatum said.

    "Obviously I've got to watch the film, and things like that, but I think being out there, and the feel of the game, I was drawing a lot of attention.

    "I was trying to find a mismatch, obviously, and when I find it, they sent a double, so I'd find the open man. I think it was just kind of how the flow of the game was going."

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