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Rockets owner: We´re going to win championships with James Harden

The Houston Rockets may have exited the NBA playoffs at the hands of the Golden State Warriors for the fourth time in five years, but owner Tilman Fertitta insists they will win titles with James Harden on their roster.

Stephen Curry’s 33 points on Friday helped the Warriors to a 118-113 victory in Game 6, which sealed a 4-2 series success for Golden State and sent them through to the Western Conference Finals.

The Warriors, seeking a third straight NBA title, have proved a thorn in Houston’s side in recent seasons and Fertitta was quick to praise Steve Kerr’s men for once again getting the better of the Rockets.

However, he is also adamant that 2017-18 MVP Harden can end a title drought for his franchise that dates back to the 1994-95 season.

“They kicked our a** on our home court,” Fertitta told reporters.

“They beat us by 10 points in the fourth quarter. It’s unacceptable. We just have to be better.

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“I know that we’re going to rise to the occasion and our time is going to come. James is 30 years old [in August]. Michael [Jordan] didn’t win his first championship until [28]. Hakeem [Olajuwon] didn’t win his first championship until [31].

“I can promise you, we’re going to win some championships with James Harden, because we are not going to sit here. We will go to battle every year.

“We’re going to have a strong offseason, and we’re going to do whatever we can to be a better team. We are not going to sit on our hands, I can promise you that.”

Houston had lost the first two games of the series but brought it back to 2-2 before losing Game 5 on Wednesday, when they led in the fourth quarter only to be defeated 104-99 at Oracle Arena.

Fertitta felt that was a missed chance but maintains belief that his team will one day avenge all of their playoff losses to the Warriors.

“They showed why they’re the champions,” he added.

“We’re gonna learn from it, and we’re gonna come back next year, and we’re gonna kick their a** at some point. I can promise you that.

“We should have stepped on their throat the other night and cut their throat. It’s not, ‘Let’s make a few shots and win.’ It’s step on their throat and let’s take it back to Houston and end it in six.”

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NHL apologises to Golden Knights for controversial penalty call

The NHL has apologised to the Vegas Golden Knights for the penalty call that contributed to their playoff exit to the San Jose Sharks.

With the Golden Knights leading 3-0 midway through the third period of the Game 7 decider at SAP Center on Tuesday, Cody Eakin was handed a five-minute major penalty for cross-checking Joe Pavelski.

The Sharks subsequently scored four goals in that period to turn the game on its head and ultimately advanced after overtime.

Vegas players and staff later criticised the severity of the costly call, with Jonathan Marchessault branding it “embarrassing”, and the league responded.

Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said on Thursday: “The league did reach out and apologise.

“[The officials] made a mistake and I’m sure they feel bad about it. They want to get things right, like we all do when we’re doing our jobs.”

Eakin added: “Everyone saw the play and knows what happened. We can’t think about it anymore really.”

Vegas had reached the Stanley Cup Finals in their debut 2017-18 campaign, losing to the Washington Capitals.

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Durant scores 50 to power Warriors to series win over Clippers

Kevin Durant was unstoppable as the Golden State Warriors sealed a series win over the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA on Friday.

Durant scored 50 points to lead the Warriors to a 129-110 victory and a 4-2 series win over the Clippers, who put up a good fight in the Western Conference first round.

But Durant could have likely scored far more points had the game been in doubt. Because after the Clippers jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter, Durant took charge, finishing the first half with 38 points.

That ties the second-most points ever scored in a half in an NBA postseason game. Former Warriors guard Eric ‘Sleepy’ Floyd scored 39 in a 1987 playoff outing. Charles Barkley scored 38 in 1994. Michael Jordan holds the all-time game record with 63 in a 1986 playoff loss by the Chicago Bulls to the Boston Celtics.

Although the Warriors won, there was some cause for concern on the Golden State side. Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry rolled his ankle late in the first quarter, and began hobbling.

After heading to the locker room, Curry returned. But given his history of ankle issues, Warriors faithful were – and may still be – holding their breath.

With the Clippers dispatched, the Warriors move on to face the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semi-finals, in a rematch of last season’s seven-game conference finals. Game one is on Sunday.

Green steady for Warriors

Durant’s huge night stole the headlines, but Warriors forward Draymond Green recorded a triple-double with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

Woeful Williams

Clippers super sub Lou Williams had been absolutely brilliant in the first five games of the series, averaging 24.4 points. But he could not hit anything in game six, scoring eight points on three-of-21 shooting.

Iguodala soars

Andre Iguodala soared for the slam.

Spurs at Nuggets

Game seven. Do not bother looking back at the previous six games to try to figure out what will happen here. The San Antonio Spurs lost two straight by wide margins, then won easily in game six. Five of the six games have been decided by nine or more points. The Spurs won the series opener in Denver. This game feels like it will come down to the wire.

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Clippers complete biggest comeback in NBA playoff history to stun Warriors

The Los Angeles Clippers produced a record-breaking postseason rally to shock the Golden State Warriors 135-131 and level the Western Conference first-round series.

Los Angeles overturned a 31-point deficit as the Clippers completed the biggest comeback in NBA history at Oracle Arena on Monday.

The Clippers – who trailed by 31 points with just over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter – eclipsed the previous record set by the Los Angeles Lakers, who rallied from 29 points down to top the Seattle Supersonics in 1989.

Los Angeles cut into the deficit and eventually tied the score on a jumper by Lou Williams with a little more than a minute to play in Game 2.

Warriors star Stephen Curry answered with a three-pointer on the next possession before Williams knocked down another jumper and Landry Shamet connected on a clutch three-pointer to put the Clippers ahead by two with 15.9 seconds to play.

Montrezl Harrell followed with a pair of free throws to seal the victory and even the series at 1-1.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers levelled their Eastern Conference series with the Brooklyn Nets thanks to a 145-123 win at home in Game 2.

The 76ers used a 51-point quarter to beat the Nets – which tied the NBA playoff record for most points ever scored in a quarter.

Ben Simmons produced a triple-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, becoming just the third 76ers player to record multiple triple-doubles in the playoffs.

The 76ers also set a franchise record for points in a postseason game – eclipsing the previous mark of 141 against San Francisco in 1967.

Williams sparks stunning comeback

Williams led the Clippers with 36 points and 11 assists away from home.

Joel Embiid totalled a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia amid his knee problems.

Iguodala headlines Golden State’s woes

Warriors forward Andre Iguodala was two-of-six shooting and missed four of his five three-point attempts in his team’s loss. He was a minus-1 for the game.

Ed Davis followed up his double-double showing from Game 1 with two points and one rebound in just six minutes of playing time.

Beverley with the dunk!

Patrick Beverley with the steal leading to a dunk from Danilo Gallinari.

 Jarrett Allen reached up high to catch this pass and finish an emphatic alley-oop slam.
 Magic at Raptors

The Orlando Magic secured an unexpected win against the Toronto Raptors in Game 1. The Raptors have been one of the favourites to win the Eastern Conference all season, so they will need to respond and play at a much higher level on Tuesday.

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Ben Simmons hits out at the boo-boys after shock 76ers loss

Ben Simmons hit out at the boo-boys after he was the target of the fans’ jeers in the Philadelphia 76ers shock loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

The Sixers fell to a 111-102 defeat in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference round one playoff series despite being heavy favourites on home court.

It was a particularly tough evening for Simmons, who had just nine points and seven rebounds, and was loudly jeered after a missing a three-throw in the third quarter.

After the disappointing setback, a frustrated Simmons took aim at the dissenting voices.

“If you are going to boo, then stay on that side,” he said.

“That is how you feel. If you are a Sixers fan and going to boo, stay on that side.”

Team-mate Joel Embiid was reluctant to criticise the fanbase but says he can understand why some players would take exception.

“I love the fans and I never say anything about them. They show us love. It’s understandable. They come in, they pay a lot of money, they want the game to be entertaining. They want to watch us win so I understand why they boo,” Embiid said.

“But the fact that it’s after every single miss, when shots aren’t going to fall. Tonight they didn’t fall, but for me, I’m fine. I’ll play through anything.

“But for some guys it’s annoying. It can be annoying. It’s like every missed shot, you get booed so you get the next one and it’s kind of like, ‘should I shoot it or should I not because I’m about to get booed?’ I don’t know. Some guys are like that. It’s hard. I think we all got to do a better job.”

Jimmy Butler had no qualms with Simmons’ comments but can understand the fans’ discontent.

“He’s [Simmons] a grown man,” he said. “If that’s the way that he feels, that’s the way that he feels.

“They want to see us win – I want to see us win, too. In the end, I think we just gotta do better.

“I guarantee if we’re winning, they’re not booing, so that’s the way to change it.”

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MLS Review: Vela extends LAFC´s winning run

Los Angeles FC defeated Cincinnati 2-0 on Saturday to remain top of the Western Conference in MLS, as DC United took advantage of a slip up from Columbus Crew.

Mark-Anthony Kaye headed home Carlos Vela’s corner in the 32nd minute at Banc of California Stadium to put LAFC ahead against their fellow expansion franchise.

And Vela sealed all three points in second-half stoppage time, receiving a pass from Eduard Atuesta before advancing into the area and firing a low finish past Spencer Richey.

The result leaves LAFC three points clear of second-placed Seattle Sounders, who had Will Bruin’s brace to thank for a 3-2 win over Toronto, Jozy Altidore netting a double in vain for the visitors to CenturyLink Field.

LA Galaxy are a point further back in third after winning their fourth match in succession as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s pair of first-half strikes earned a 2-0 victory at home to Philadelphia Union, who had Auston Trusty sent off for committing a second bookable offence with 14 minutes to go.

In the Eastern Conference, DC United came from a goal down to win 3-2 away to Colorado Rapids and go top of the standings.

Columbus Crew dropped to second following a 1-0 loss at Montreal Impact, who are now just two points behind them in third place.

There were five goals inside the first 32 minutes of Minnesota United’s match at home to New York City, who had Ismael Tajouri to thank for rescuing a point in a 3-3 draw and sparing the blushes of Sean Johnson, the goalkeeper having conceded a comical own goal to gift the hosts the advantage.

MLS Cup holders Atlanta United claimed their first league win under Frank de Boer thanks to Ezequiel Barco’s double in a 2-0 victory at New England Revolution.

In other matches, there were 2-1 wins for Real Salt Lake, Dallas and Houston Dynamo against Orlando City, Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes respectively.

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It´s pretty special – Stephen Curry breaks Ray Allen´s postseason threes record

Stephen Curry reflected on a “pretty special” achievement after surpassing the legendary Ray Allen to become the NBA’s all-time leader for postseason three-pointers.

The superstar point guard was in top form as the Golden State Warriors earned a 121-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series at Oracle Arena.

Curry trailed Allen by seven heading into Sunday’s encounter and drained his eighth in the third quarter to take his postseason threes to 386.

It has taken Curry just seven trips to the playoffs to break the record, in comparison to 11 for Allen, and he was in buoyant mood.

“That’s pretty special. I mean, I always talk about longevity and the all-time great shooters. Ray Allen, Reggie Miller – anytime we can pass them in the record books, it’s pretty special,” Curry said.

“I shot a lot of [three-pointers], so I got to make a lot of them.

“The way I play, the shots I take, obviously have confidence every time you rise up, but to be in the same category and to pass a guy like Ray Allen and all the iconic moments he’s had in playoff games and Finals games and all that type of stuff, it’s pretty surreal.

“So [I’m] definitely honoured and grateful for those opportunities. I always joke, though: I shoot a lot of threes. I’d better make a lot of them.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was astounded by the achievement of Curry, who had 38 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

“That’s remarkable, given that he’s kind of right in his prime,” he said. “He’s got a lot of years left.”

Golden State forward Draymond Green believes the argument over who is the greatest shooter in NBA history has now been closed.

“I don’t think there’s much argument when anyone says he’s the greatest shooter of all time,” Green said.

“I don’t know if you can find many people to argue that.”

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2018-19 NBA Predictions

2018-19 NBA Predictions

Friday, March 1

  7:30 p.m. Eastern CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Hornets 43%
Nets -1.5 57%
Bulls 40%
Hawks -2.5 60%
Trail Blazers 29%
Raptors -5.5 71%
  8 p.m.
Wizards 14%
Celtics -11 86%
9 p.m.
Pelicans -4 66%
Suns 34%
10 p.m.
Clippers 39%
Kings -3 61%
10:30 p.m.
Bucks -3 62%
Lakers 38%

Saturday, March 2

Pistons -4 66%
Cavaliers 34%
Magic 36%
Pacers -3.5 64%
Nets 33%
Heat -4.5 67%
8:30 p.m.
Warriors -5 70%
76ers 30%
8:30 p.m.
Grizzlies 19%
Mavericks -9 81%
8:30 p.m.
Thunder -1.5 57%
Spurs 43%
9 p.m.
Lakers -4 65%
Suns 35%
  9 p.m.
Bucks 41%
Jazz -2 59%
9 p.m.
Pelicans 14%
Nuggets -11.5 86%

Sunday, March 3

Trail Blazers -1 54%
Hornets 46%
Hawks 31%
Bulls -5 69%
Rockets 39%
Celtics -2.5 61%
3:30 p.m.
Knicks 12%
Clippers -12.5 88%
6 p.m.
Timberwolves 42%
Wizards -2 58%
6 p.m.
Magic -4 66%
Cavaliers 34%
6 p.m.
Raptors -4.5 67%
Pistons 33%
7 p.m.
Grizzlies 12%
Thunder -12.5 88%

Monday, March 4

  7:30 p.m. Eastern CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Hawks 18%
Heat -9.5 82%
Mavericks 36%
Nets -3.5 64%
Nuggets -1 55%
Spurs 45%
9 p.m.
Bucks -10.5 84%
Suns 16%
9 p.m.
Pelicans 19%
Jazz -9 81%
10 p.m.
Knicks 12%
Kings -12.5 88%
10:30 p.m.
Clippers 23%
Lakers -7.5 77%

Tuesday, March 5

Bulls 17%
Pacers -9.5 83%
Magic 18%
76ers -9.5 82%
Rockets 38%
Raptors -3 62%
8 p.m.
Thunder -2 57%
Timberwolves 43%
8 p.m.
Trail Blazers -1.5 56%
Grizzlies 44%
10:30 p.m.
Celtics 20%
Warriors -8.5 80%

Wednesday, March 6

Mavericks 35%
Wizards -4 65%
Heat 33%
Hornets -4.5 67%
Timberwolves 32%
Pistons -4.5 68%
7:30 p.m.
Cavaliers 20%
Nets -9 80%
7:30 p.m.
Spurs -3 62%
Hawks 38%
8 p.m.
76ers -7.5 76%
Bulls 24%
8 p.m.
Jazz -1 54%
Pelicans 46%
9 p.m.
Knicks 27%
Suns -6.5 73%
10 p.m.
Celtics -3 62%
Kings 38%
10:30 p.m.
Nuggets 49%
Lakers PK 51%

Thursday, March 7

Pacers 17%
Bucks -10 83%
Thunder 45%
Trail Blazers -1 55%
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Murray: Telling Athletics about NFL commitment was tou

NFL draft prospect Kyler Murray said notifying the Oakland Athletics about his decision to turn down the MLB for a career in American football “was tough”.

Murray was the Athletics’ first-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, however, he has opted to commit himself to the NFL.

The 21-year-old quarterback was due to report to spring training with the Athletics earlier this month before switching his focus.

Murray said it was “obviously hard” telling the Athletics he would be committing to football.

“For me, it was something I’ve known for a while,” Murray said on Saturday. “That organisation, being with the A’s, was the best possible situation for me just because they were so great throughout the football season, kind of leaving me alone and letting me do my own thing, and at the same time letting me know how much I meant to them and that type of stuff. Telling them was tough.”

Despite Murray’s decision, the Athletics have retained the Heisman Trophy winner’s baseball rights.

“I mean, they can hold out all the hope if they want to,” Murray added. “I’m going to play football.”

The Arizona Cardinals have the first pick in the draft and have their eyes on Murray. If he is selected in the first round, he will be the first athlete to be drafted in the first round of both sports.​

“The night I got drafted to the A’s – obviously it was a great day of my life – but I’ve been a football player my whole life,” Murray said. “I didn’t know how the NFL felt about me before this season because I hadn’t played.

“Going into this [football] season, [the goal] was to put myself in the best position possible. Obviously, when you win, good things happen. A lot of good stuff happened this year.”​

In his first season as the Oklahoma Sooners’ starting QB, Murray led the team to the College Football playoff.

He passed for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. He also rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns.

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Warriors´ Green injured against Rockets

Draymond Green suffered a left ankle sprain during the Golden State Warriors’ clash with the Houston Rockets.

Green stepped on the foot of Warriors team-mate DeMarcus Cousins in the second half on Saturday and the three-time NBA All-Star headed to the locker room soon after.

The Warriors then announced Green – who had to be helped up and off the floor – would not return against the Rockets.

Green is averaging 7.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists for the reigning champions this season.

The Warriors came into Saturday’s game with a 42-16 record and top of the Western Conference following the All-Star break.