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76ers beat Raptors 112-101 to force Game 7

PORTLAND, Oregon: Damian Lillard had 32 points, including 17 in the third quarter, and the Portland Trail Blazers staved off elimination to force a decisive Game 7 in their series with Denver with a 119-108 victory on Thursday night.The Nuggets head home with a chance to make it to the Western Conference finals for the…

76ers beat Raptors 112-101 to force Game 7

PORTLAND, Oregon: Damian Lillard had 32 points, including 17 in the third quarter, and the Portland Trail Blazers staved off elimination to force a decisive Game 7 in their series with Denver with a 119-108 victory on Thursday night.The Nuggets head home with a chance to make it to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2009. Denver has been to the conference finals three times in franchise history.The winner of Sunday’s game will face the winner of the series between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets. The defending NBA champion Warriors have a 3-2 advantage in the series after a 104-99 victory on Wednesday night. Game 6 is set for Friday in Houston.CJ McCollum added 30 points for the Blazers, who haven’t advanced to the conference finals since the 2000 playoffs. Rodney Hood came off the bench with a career playoff-high 25 points and fans at the Moda Center drowned out his postgame on-court interview by chanting “Rodney! Rodney!“Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 29 points and 12 rebounds, while Jamal Murray added 24 points and 10 rebounds.Seth Curry’s 3-pointer gave the Blazers a 101-88 lead with 7:24 left. Things got heated midway through the final period after Jokic was called for an offensive foul and the players got into a shoving match and had to be separated. After a review, there were offsetting technicals involving Denver’s Will Barton and Torrey Craig, and Curry and Zach Collins for Portland.Lillard hit an off-balance jumper that put Portland up 106-93. The Nuggets got within 113-103 with 1:04 left, but Craig and Jokic fouled out and Portland closed out the win.The Nuggets were in this situation before: They lost on the road to San Antonio in Game 6 in the opening round, forcing that series to return to Denver for the deciding game.After Portland won the quadruple-overtime marathon of Game 3, Denver beat Portland at home to even the series. Then Paul Millsap had 24 points to spark Denver’s 124-98 blowout of the Blazers on Tuesday night — and put Portland on the verge of elimination.Maurice Harkless dunked to start the game and the crowd at the Moda Center booed each time Jokic got the ball. But the Nuggets built an early 16-7 lead after Murray’s 3-pointer.Denver extended the lead to as many as 10 points in the opening quarter but Portland went on an 11-4 run to start the second quarter that closed the gap to 38-37.The Blazers tied it at 45 but Jokic’s basket held them at bay until Lillard’s 3-pointer gave Portland the lead. Lillard added a layup to extend it and Portland led 58-54 at halftime after outscoring the Nuggets 32-20.Torrey Craig’s 3-pointer tied the game at 69-all midway through the third quarter, but the Nuggets were unable to pull back in front until Jokic 3-pointer made it 76-75. Lillard answered with his own 3 to reclaim the lead.Lillard’s sixth 3-pointer of the game put Portland up 83-78. He had 17 points in the third quarter alone and the Blazers led 87-80 going into the fourth.Jokic collected his fourth foul with just over two minutes left in the third quarter and headed to the bench.
TIP INSNuggets: Denver won the regular-season series against the Blazers 3-1. … Jokic led all scorers with 16 points in the first half. … Gary Harris has scored in double figures for nine straight games.Trail Blazers: Portland went to the playoffs for 21 straight seasons from 1983-2003. … The Blazers team that last made the conference finals included Scottie Pippen and Arvydas Sabonis. Mike Dunleavy was the coach. Portland won its lone NBA title in 1977. … Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers’ big man who was injured late in the season, watched from Portland’s bench in the second half.
UP NEXTGame 7 is set for Sunday in Denver.

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Algeria beats Nigeria, sets up final match with Senegal in African Cup

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo. With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and…

Algeria beats Nigeria, sets up final match with Senegal in African Cup

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo.

With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and the ball went backwards into the net.

Tunisia thought they would have a chance to equalize when Idrissa Gueye handled in the box, but the Ethiopian referee rejected their penalty appeals after checking the incident on the VAR monitor.

Both teams missed penalties in regular time with Ferjani Sassi the Tunisian culprit before Henri Saivet failed for the Senegalese.

Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria or Nigeria after he was yellow-carded.

It was the second caution of the knockout phase for the Napoli center-back and triggered an automatic one-match suspension.

Senegal last reached the title decider 17 years ago, when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in Mali.

Cisse made one change to the team that defeated Benin in the quarterfinals with 20-year-old forward Krepin Diatta replacing Keita Balde.

Tunisia coach Alain Giresse changed two of the side that eliminated Madagascar, promoting Mohamed Drager and Ayman Ben Mohamed and benching Wajdi Kechrida and Ghaylen Chaaleli.

The countries were meeting for the sixth time in the Cup of Nations with each winning one match and the other three drawn.

Tunisia had the first clearcut chance at the 30 June Stadium in the Egyptian capital, but unmarked captain Youssef Msakni headed a corner well over.

Senegal then took control and had three opportunities before half-time to end the deadlock and edge closer to the July 19 final.

Youssouf Sabaly unleashed a curling shot from the edge of the box that beat Mouez but cannoned back into play off the woodwork on 26 minutes.

Then, in a 60-second purple patch, Mbaye Niang and Liverpool star Sadio Mane were unable to convert chances before a small crowd. Niang swivelled inside the box only to fire well wide and Mane rounded Hassen but his shot from an acute angle finished well off target.

Giresse took off Msakni at halftime and introduced Naim Sliti, scorer of the stoppage-time goal that sealed a convincing last eight win over giantkillers Madagascar.

Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, a virtual spectator in the opening half, reacted quickly early in the second half to push away a Sassi snap shot.

Attackers Niang and Diatta were having little success and came off with Mbaye Diagne and Ismaila Sarr replacing them as an intriguing semifinal entered the final quarter.

The Sassi penalty was weak, allowing Gomis to save comfortably, while Hassen made a brilliant one-hand block to foil a powerfully struck spot kick by Saivet.

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Senegal reach Africa Cup final as own goal sinks Tunisia

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo. With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and…

Senegal reach Africa Cup final as own goal sinks Tunisia

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo.

With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and the ball went backwards into the net.

Tunisia thought they would have a chance to equalize when Idrissa Gueye handled in the box, but the Ethiopian referee rejected their penalty appeals after checking the incident on the VAR monitor.

Both teams missed penalties in regular time with Ferjani Sassi the Tunisian culprit before Henri Saivet failed for the Senegalese.

Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria or Nigeria after he was yellow-carded.

It was the second caution of the knockout phase for the Napoli center-back and triggered an automatic one-match suspension.

Senegal last reached the title decider 17 years ago, when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in Mali.

Cisse made one change to the team that defeated Benin in the quarterfinals with 20-year-old forward Krepin Diatta replacing Keita Balde.

Tunisia coach Alain Giresse changed two of the side that eliminated Madagascar, promoting Mohamed Drager and Ayman Ben Mohamed and benching Wajdi Kechrida and Ghaylen Chaaleli.

The countries were meeting for the sixth time in the Cup of Nations with each winning one match and the other three drawn.

Tunisia had the first clearcut chance at the 30 June Stadium in the Egyptian capital, but unmarked captain Youssef Msakni headed a corner well over.

Senegal then took control and had three opportunities before half-time to end the deadlock and edge closer to the July 19 final.

Youssouf Sabaly unleashed a curling shot from the edge of the box that beat Mouez but cannoned back into play off the woodwork on 26 minutes.

Then, in a 60-second purple patch, Mbaye Niang and Liverpool star Sadio Mane were unable to convert chances before a small crowd. Niang swivelled inside the box only to fire well wide and Mane rounded Hassen but his shot from an acute angle finished well off target.

Giresse took off Msakni at halftime and introduced Naim Sliti, scorer of the stoppage-time goal that sealed a convincing last eight win over giantkillers Madagascar.

Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, a virtual spectator in the opening half, reacted quickly early in the second half to push away a Sassi snap shot.

Attackers Niang and Diatta were having little success and came off with Mbaye Diagne and Ismaila Sarr replacing them as an intriguing semifinal entered the final quarter.

The Sassi penalty was weak, allowing Gomis to save comfortably, while Hassen made a brilliant one-hand block to foil a powerfully struck spot kick by Saivet.

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England eye World Cup glory as New Zealand plot shock

London: Eoin Morgan’s England face New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday desperate to win the World Cup for the first time after four years of hard graft.When England exited the 2015 tournament after an embarrassing defeat by Bangladesh, few tipped them as potential champions four years later.As captain Morgan put it: “If you had offered…

England eye World Cup glory as New Zealand plot shock

London: Eoin Morgan’s England face New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday desperate to win the World Cup for the first time after four years of hard graft.When England exited the 2015 tournament after an embarrassing defeat by Bangladesh, few tipped them as potential champions four years later.As captain Morgan put it: “If you had offered us the position to play in a final the day after we were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup, I would have laughed at you.”One person not laughing was Andrew Strauss, the former England director of cricket.Drafted into the newly created role, Strauss set about an overhaul that saw the former England captain appoint Australia’s Trevor Bayliss as coach, and place greater emphasis on white-ball cricket.The value of that work showed when England, now top of the one-day international rankings, thrashed reigning champions Australia by eight wickets in the semifinal at Edgbaston with the kind of performance that justified their billing as pre-tournament favorites.Pacemen Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes destroyed the top order, leg-spinner Adil Rashid chipped in and the dynamic duo of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow launched the run chase with another blistering century partnership.Australian World Cup-winning captain Steve Waugh said England could go down as one of the greatest teams in one-day international history if they win on Sunday.

But the challenge for the host nation, as they seek a first title in the 44-year history of the World Cup, is to embrace Sunday’s occasion at Lord’s without it inhibiting their “fearless” brand of cricket.“It’s the culmination of four years of hard work and dedication, a lot of planning and it presents a huge opportunity to go on and try and win a World Cup,” said Morgan.Back-to-back group-stage defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia effectively saw England playing knockout cricket before the semifinals but they got their campaign back on track with impressive victories against India and New Zealand.“I think it has helped us because it’s lent itself to actually being more positive and aggressive and a bit smarter about how we play. It’s sort of been the last-chance saloon,” explained Morgan.New Zealand, who have also never won the World Cup, helped shock England into a change of approach by humiliating them in Wellington four years ago and cannot be underestimated after seeing off Virat Kohli’s India in the semifinals.The 2015 losing finalists boast a well-balanced attack led by left-arm quick Trent Boult but their batting has been hugely reliant on captain Kane Williamson, who has scored 548 runs in the tournament at an outstanding average of 91.33, and Ross Taylor.Williamson said his side were happy to embrace their underdog status, acknowledging that England deserved to be favorites.“But whatever dog we are, it’s just important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play,” he said. “And we have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody — regardless of breed of dog.”While some members of the home side were not even born when England made the last of three losing appearances in a World Cup final in 1992, the Black Caps have the experience of their heavy defeat by co-hosts Australia in the climax of the 2015 edition in Melbourne to call on.But there is a sense that England will never have a better chance.“I haven’t allowed myself to think about lifting the trophy,” said Morgan.“Cricket and sport in particular is very fickle. If you ever get ahead, it always seems to bite you in the backside. For us to win it, I think around the country it would be awesome, great for the game.”

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