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Stephen Curry powers Warriors over Blazers in NBA Western Conference finals opener

Stephen Curry powers Warriors over Blazers in NBA Western Conference finals opener LOS ANGELES: Stephen Curry drained nine three-pointers on the way to 36 points Tuesday to propel the Golden State Warriors to a 116-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in game one of the NBA Western Conference finals.Curry added seven assists and six…

Stephen Curry powers Warriors over Blazers in NBA Western Conference finals opener

Stephen Curry powers Warriors over Blazers in NBA Western Conference finals opener

LOS ANGELES: Stephen Curry drained nine three-pointers on the way to 36 points Tuesday to propel the Golden State Warriors to a 116-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in game one of the NBA Western Conference finals.Curry added seven assists and six rebounds as the Warriors led all the way over a Trail Blazers team coming off a game-seven victory over Denver in the second round on Sunday.Klay Thompson added 26 points and provided an imposing defensive presence as the Warriors shrugged off the absence of injured superstar Kevin Durant.Draymond Green added 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocked shots for the two-time defending NBA champions, who are playing in their fifth straight Western Conference final.Curry said he just took advantage of what a free-flowing Warriors offense gave him.It was a nice flow,” Curry said. “It just puts so much pressure on the defense.“You can’t key it on one guy and even if you try to somebody else is going to be open.”The Trail Blazers connected on only 36.1 percent of their shots from the field, making just seven of 28 three-point attempts as the Warriors drained 17 from beyond the arc.Portland star Damian Lillard hit just four of 12 shots to score 19 points with six assists, four rebounds and seven turnovers.CJ McCollum, who starred as Lillard struggled in game seven against the Nuggets, scored 17 points on seven-of-19 shooting.“The schedule favored us,” acknowledged Golden State coach Steve Kerr, whose Warriors polished off the Houston Rockets on Friday.“I thought we took advantage of the situation and got off to a good start.”The Warriors pushed their lead to 10 in the second quarter before Portland put together a run that trimmed the deficit to 48-45.Curry answered with a pair of late three-pointers — abetted by a Lillard turnover — to send the Warriors to the locker-room leading 54-45.The Trail Blazers made another push in the third period, cutting a 17-point deficit to six.Rodney Hood and Seth Curry both had three-pointers in the Blazers’ 11-4 scoring run to end the quarter, but those were the only points of the night for the younger Curry brother — a Portland reserve — as the game marked the first time siblings have met in an NBA conference final.The Warriors reserves opened strong in the fourth quarter to rebuild the cushion in a stretch that Kerr called key.“Great job by our bench,” Kerr said. “If we can buy some time for our starters to rest and even extend the lead, that’s a huge deal for us.”Despite their shooting woes, the Trail Blazers managed to stay in touch much of the night thanks to making 27 of 31 free throws and out-rebounding the Warriors 47-42.But their 21 turnovers led to 31 Warriors points — a gift no team can afford to give Golden State.“You can’t allow that,” said Lillard, who admitted it was hard to come back from the emotional high of beating the Nuggets in Denver.“I thought our minds were right. We came into the game ready,” he said. “But they’re a team that can go on runs, they make shots and the game can get away.”In particular, Lillard said, the Blazers need to make things more difficult for Curry, who had open look after open look.“That was poor execution defensively on our part,” Lillard said. “Having our bigs back that far, we’ve got to bring our guys up and run them off the line.”The Warriors will try to double their advantage in the best-of-seven series when they host game two on Thursday. They are again expected to be without two-time NBA Finals MVP Durant, who has a right calf strain.

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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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