The Australian Open has largely belonged to just two men since 2004, with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer winning 14 of 17 titles. With Federer sidelined by an injury, Djokovic is the obvious favorite, and there are just two other clear-cuts: Rafael Nadal, who captured his 20th Grand Slam singles title last year in France and could claim his record 21st in Australia, and Dominic Thiem, who earned his first at the 2020 United States Open. (Thiem also beat Nadal in last year’s Australian Open and pushed Djokovic to five sets in the final.)The women’s draw is more open, but it has a few players in the spotlight. As with the men’s side, it starts with the top three in the rankings: Australia’s own Ash Barty, the world No. 1, who did not play in 2020 after the lockdown; Simona Halep, who reached the semifinals of the Australian Open last year, and had a win streak of 17 matches and three titles; and Naomi Osaka, winner of three Grand Slam events, including the 2019 Australian Open.Then there’s Serena Williams, whom people will watch because of her all-around greatness. If she wins this year she will tie for the most Grand Slam singles titles among women with 24.But there are less-recognizable players who could have deep runs into the second week and might even win. Here are six to watch in 2021.Daniil MedvedevThe men’s Top 10 has several rising stars like Stefanos Tsitsipas or Alexander Zverev, but Daniil Medvedev is the best bet to take home the title. To win, a player will likely have to take down two of the top three seeds, and he is the best candidate.While Medvedev’s 16-19 record versus Top 10 players may sound poor, it’s the highest for a player without a Slam. He’s winless against Federer, so that absence improves Medvedev’s odds.Medvedev, the 6-foot-6 Russian with the big serve and persistent baseline game, emerged as one of the game’s top returners and a Top 5 player in 2019. Grinding his way to two Masters 1000 titles, he also reached six straight finals, including the U.S. Open, where he took Nadal to five sets.Most notable was his triumph in November at the ATP Finals, where he had five straight wins, over Diego Schwartzman, Zverev, Thiem, Nadal and Djokovic. That level of sustained excellence gives him an edge.Nick KyrgiosKyrgios, of Australia, has an overpowering serve, making him especially dangerous on the Open’s hard courts. His hard-court winning percentage is among the highest of players competing at the tournament. But he has so far failed to live up to his enormous potential. Temperamental and undisciplined, he has fallen through the years from 13th in the world to 47th.At 25, he’s still young, and he is prodigiously talented.His athleticism and flash always make him riveting to watch. If he can stay focused for two weeks, he’s 5-5 lifetime versus Nadal and Djokovic, which should give the front-runners pause.Taylor FritzThe younger players who could make a mark in Australia include Denis Shapovalov, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. The most likely American would be 30th-ranked Taylor Fritz. Fritz has wins over Thiem, Zverev and top veterans like Fabio Fognini and Schwartzman. Last year, Fritz reached the finals in Acapulco, Mexico. A quarterfinal slot might be a stretch, but if he survives until the second week, it will herald a big step forward.Bianca AndreescuThe cancellation of WTA’s year-end tournament gave the top players a long break before the Australian Open. But no top contender has been off the court as long as the eighth-ranked Bianca Andreescu, who has been sidelined with injuries since 2019.That year, she won 31 of her first 34 matches, including the BNP Paribas Open as a wild card because of a wide array of shots and a fearlessness in going for them. She capped her rise by upsetting Williams in the U.S. Open finals. If her shoulder and knee are healthy, she has the aggressiveness, the power and the Grand Slam experience to tear through the tournament.Victoria AzarenkaShe may be ranked only 13th, but she is, once again, a definite threat. Winner of the Australian Open championship in 2012 and 2013, Azarenka reached No. 1 in the world. She was the game’s top returner, breaking her opponent’s serve more than half the time. But she fell off the map after having a baby and then getting caught in a custody battle. When she did play, she struggled, reaching the fourth round of a major just once.But in 2020, Azaernka rediscovered her magic in a five-tournament run, where she won a title, reached two more finals, including the U.S. Open, and beat six players in the Top 20.Garbiñe MuguruzaShe finished 2019 ranked 36th. Then she went to the Australian Open in 2020 and reminded everyone that she was a former No. 1 and a Wimbledon and French Open champion. Muguruza used improved net play to topple the Top 10 players Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Halep en route to the finals. She lost to Sofia Kenin.Muguruza’s big serve and potent, albeit high-risk, ground strokes also looked impressive in Rome in September, and she defeated Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff, Johanna Konta and Azarenka before falling to Halep. With both of those 2020 tournaments, Muguruza, now ranked 15th, showed she still had what it takes for a deep Grand Slam run.
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Get ready for some exciting basketball action as the slumping Detroit Pistons lock horns with the red-hot LA Lakers for their second meeting of the 2020-21 NBA season.The LA Lakers will seek to avenge the shock loss from their earlier encounter against Detroit this season. Anthony Davis was on the sidelines for that game but will be available this time around as the LA Lakers look to set things right with a win on Saturday night.Match DetailsFixture: Detroit Pistons vs LA Lakers – NBA Season 2020-21Date & Time: Saturday, February 6th, 2021 10:00 PM ET. (Sunday, February 7th 8:30 AM IST)Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CALA Lakers PreviewDefending champions LA Lakers have been firing on all cylinders this season and will enter this contest on a three-game winning streak. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been tearing through the competition with authority and are the team to beat in the West. They will aim to keep the hot-streak alive with another win on Saturday night at home.
The LA Lakers’ superstar duo is averaging an impressive 46 points between them in the regular season. Fans can expect this number to go way up as they embark on their title defense in the postseason. Key Player – LeBron James Head coach Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers stands with LeBron JamesLeBron James is a generational talent who can change the fortunes of any team in the association. He has brought the LA Lakers back to relevance since his arrival from Cleveland, and has seen the Larry O’Brien Trophy return to Hollywood after a decade. He is in prime form this season and is among the MVP favorites in his eighteenth year in the league.The 16-time All-Star is averaging 25.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists on 49.6% shooting from the floor. NBA fans can expect King James to exact revenge against Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons in their matchup at the Staples Center.
LA Lakers Predicted LineupG Dennis Schroder, G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, F LeBron James, F Anthony Davis, C Marc Gasol.Detroit Pistons PreviewTo say that the Detroit Pistons have been struggling this season would be an understatement. They did manage to beat the LA Lakers in their first meeting earlier this year, though as the saying goes, lightning doesn’t strike twice. The Detroit Pistons will enter this contest on a three-game losing streak and currently hold the worst record in the Eastern Conference this campaign. Key Player – Blake Griffin Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee BucksBlake Griffin led the effort in the Detroit Pistons’ shock win over the LA Lakers in their previous clash with an impressive 23-point performance. He will fancy his chances of repeating the magic from that night as the Detroit Pistons get ready to hit the floor at the Staples Center for Saturday night’s enticing fixture.Blake Griffin is no stranger to the arena, as he played there for several seasons with the LA Clippers. His move to the Detroit Pistons has witnessed a fall in his stock over the last few seasons. With the trade deadline around the corner, Griffin will look to turn in a performance that could help his chances of landing on a title contender. Detroit Pistons Predicted LineupG Delon Wright, G Wayne Ellington, F Jerami Grant, F Blake Griffin, C Mason Plumlee
Pistons vs Lakers Match Prediction The Detroit Pistons have lost eight of their last ten games, while the LA Lakers have won seven of their last ten outings and will enter this matchup with a terrific .739 winning percentage. LeBron James and Anthony Davis could potentially explode for a big game as they have unfinished business with the slumping Detroit Pistons. The LA Lakers are the heavy favorites to win this matchup.Where to watch Pistons vs Lakers?Local coverage of the game between the Detroit Pistons and the LA Lakers will be telecast on Spectrum SportsNet and Fox Sports Detroit. NBA fans can also live stream the same via the NBA League Pass.
Published 06 Feb 2021, 22:54 IST
West Brom head coach Sam Allardyce says 38 points is the “ultimate target” which will ensure his side remain in the Premier League next season.The former England manager is in charge at his eighth Premier League club – a competition record – and is yet to be relegated from the English top flight.
Allardyce has won just one of his nine league games since he replaced Slaven Bilic in December which has left the Baggies 10 points from safety.Albion have 12 points from 22 games and the 66-year-old believes Albion need 26 from the final 16 matches to survive, having failed to beat Fulham and Sheffield United during the last week.”They used to say the safety mark was 40 points. It’s not really that now, it’s 38, and that will be the ultimate target,” Allardyce said.
“When I compare it with other situations where I’ve come into the Premier League around December – Blackburn, Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Everton – and the points difference to games this would be the hardest one.
“The amount of points that have to be made up. We could easily be sat here with four points from those two games (against Fulham and Sheffield United) and that would have been very satisfying indeed.
West Brom lost 2-1 against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Tuesday
“But we slipped up so when we play Tottenham, Manchester United or West Ham we’ll have to get a victory in those games.”Allardyce says West Brom must start beating the Premier League’s big teams to stay up, with a visit to Tottenham on Sunday preceding a home game against Manchester United next weekend.”We have failed against teams in and around us to achieve the number of points we wanted to, which means we have to make up those points against teams in higher positions,” Allardyce added.”We have to produce performances in those games to get some victories, not just draws. That’s the position we’ve put ourselves in.”We’ll have to surprise teams like I’ve done in the past at other clubs in this position.”We need to do what Brighton and Burnley have done, get a victory against some of the bigger teams in this league, while not forgetting when we play teams in that bottom eight it’s almost getting to the stage where it’s a must-win.”Save over 25% on a NOW TV Sky Sports Month pass, just £25 p/m for 4 months (usually £33.99 p/m)
The Braves had some talks with the Rockies about Nolan Arenado before the star third baseman was dealt to the Cardinals, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (subscription required). Rosenthal also sheds some light on one of last offseason’s more intriguing rumors, the talks between the Rockies and Cubs about a trade involving both Arenado and Kris Bryant. Jason Heyward was also part of the negotiations at one point as the Cubs looked for payroll offset for Arenado’s contract, though the Rockies weren’t interested in adding any money beyond the 2021 season (which marks the end of Bryant’s current contract and when Arenado could have exercised his opt-out clause).
As Rosenthal notes, the Cubs could end up looking back on those talks as “a what-might-have-been” given that they’ll now be facing Arenado on a regular basis in the NL Central. From Colorado’s perspective, such a trade might not have been a clear win if a Rockies-bound Bryant had suffered a similar run of injuries that hampered him in the actual 2020 season, but it still might have drawn better reviews than their trade package from St. Louis. “Rival executives remain baffled by the deal,” Rosenthal writes, as the Rox rather inexplicably worked themselves into an unsalvageable situation with their best player.
More from the NL West…Also from Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks have been receiving some interest in Eduardo Escobar but the team doesn’t appear to much interest at the moment. If a trade happens at all, it might not happen until closer to the trade deadline if the Snakes aren’t in contention, since Arizona would want to give Escobar a chance to rebuild some proper trade value. Escobar struggled to a .212/.270/.335 slash line over 222 plate appearances last season, a major step down from his very solid performance in 2018-19. Signed to a three-year extension in October 2018, Escobar is also scheduled to hit free agency next winter, so he has all the more incentive for a bounce-back year.Brandon Belt underwent heel surgery in October, and the Giants didn’t give any specific timeline as to when the first baseman could be back in action. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi shed a bit more light on the subject when talking to reporters (including Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area) this week, saying Belt was “not a certainty” and only “a possibility” to play on Opening Day. On the plus side, Zaidi said the team has been pleased by Belt’s rehab thus far, and more will be known once they get a look at Belt during Spring Training. Belt is coming off a huge year for San Francisco, though the team should be able to make do in the event of a relatively brief absence for Belt, due to the number of players on the roster with first base experience — Wilmer Flores, Austin Slater, Darin Ruf, regular catcher Buster Posey, and new addition Tommy La Stella.
Whenever Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer are in a tournament, the vast majority of people bank on one of them winning the title.But maybe the time has arrived when attention swings to others.Of the last four big events in 2020, three were won by players not named Djokovic, Nadal or Federer, and with that there has been movement in the world rankings.Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev are the front runners, and these are the guys who could displace the current top two – Djokovic and Nadal.Sure, it will be hard to do but it is absolutely possible.Djokovic will equal Federer’s record of 310 weeks at No.1.Djokovic smashes racket during Serbia’s ATP Cup lossThe Serb will achieve that on March 1. He cannot be stopped in that chase.However, Nadal could throw a spanner in the works and delay Djokovic from breaking the Federer record a week later.That record is one of two aspirational quests for Djokovic – the other is outdoing Federer and Nadal for most majors. They sit on 20 and Djokovic is on 17.Nadal can add 2640 points between now and March 8 and with that it is conceivable he could frustrate Djokovic and delay him getting the record, which ‘Nole’ wouldn’t be thrilled about.Nadal will continue his record of 800-plus weeks in the top 10, which is something no other player has achieved.Nadal sidelined with injury in ATP CupThat is a record Djokovic is not likely to break; right now he is not even in the top five.For the record, the top five for weeks in the top 10 are: Nadal (800 and counting), Jimmy Connors (789), Federer (734), Ivan Lendl (619), Pete Sampras (565).And then it will get interesting, as Thiem could find out that it is his time to surge ahead.That will see Djokovic fighting a battle to hold on to No.1 on a second front.Thiem will be dropping the 1000 points from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells that he earned by beating Federer to win the 2019 title.Remember the tournament was cancelled in 2020 and there was a lot of rejigging with how the ranking points would work.ATP Cup: Dominic Thiem V Matteo BerrettiniThe Austrian then sees opportunities open up for himself to reach world No.1, starting with the European clay-court season.It will be based on his own results as well as those around him – Djokovic, Nadal and No.4 Medvedev, who could very well make a play for No.2 and thwart Novak and Rafa.Adding to the moves, an inactive Federer might drop out of the top 10 – although he does have about two and a half times the points of Gael Monfils, who is ranked 11.Never mind The Queen’s Gambit, we could be watching The King’s Gambit unfold in 2021.For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!
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James Vince’s masterful 95 and magnificent catch have delivered defending champions Sydney Sixers a 27-run win over Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League final.
Vince’s unbeaten 98 helped the Sixers crush Perth in last week’s qualifying final at Manuka Oval, where AJ Tye’s wide ended the match and denied the right-hander a shot at a ton.
The Englishman, after his side asked to bat first in front of a sold-out SCG on Saturday night, picked up where he left off while marching the Sixers to a total of 6-188.
Momentum ebbed and flowed during a drama-laden chase that finished with the Scorchers at 9-161.
Vince delivered a pivotal turning point while patrolling the covers in the 15th over of Perth’s innings, moving sharply to his right and clutching the ball after it was belted at him by Mitch Marsh.
“I have really enjoyed my time here and I’m lucky to be the one getting the rewards tonight. I cannot speak highly enough of everyone… in the franchise,” man of the match Vince said.
“Everyone stood up at different times (this season).”
(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Left-armer Ben Dwarshuis removed Marsh and Josh Inglis in the decisive first over of Perth’s power surge.
The visitors required 69 runs from the final overs, an equation that proved too much in front of 25,295 jubilant fans that attended the Sixers’ first home game this summer.
Jackson Bird starred with the ball, delivering eight dot balls and dismissing openers Cameron Bancroft (30) and Liam Livingstone (45) after Perth raced to 0-43 in four overs.
The composed former Test paceman’s figures of 2-14 from from three overs made him the most economical bowler in the fourth season-deciding final between the rivals.
Former Test spinner Steve O’Keefe, who dropped a swirling skied edge when Livingstone was on one, went at 6.5 runs per over to also help win his – and the Sixers’ – third title.
Vince picked gaps and stroked 13 boundaries, demonstrating impeccable timing against a star-studded Perth attack led by the BBL’s leading wicket-taker Jhye Richardson.
As was the case in Canberra, discussion at the ground quickly turned to whether the 29-year-old would become the Sixers’ first batsman in BBL history to celebrate a century.
Marsh and a diving Bancroft put down chances in the deep during the 15th over of Sydney’s innings, when Vince was on 82 and 92 respectively.
Marsh held a catch at the start of the following over, helping veteran leg spinner Fawad Ahmed end Vince’s game-changing knock.
The most glaring mistake from Vince, who pocketed two catches, was a shambolic mix-up with the BBL’s player of the tournament Josh Philippe.
Philippe was run out by Tye, who was booed when he bowled and batted because of the anticlimactic end to Vince’s dig in at Manuka Oval, after both openers ended up at the striker’s end.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks Manchester United “shouldn’t be considered title-chasers” after their 3-3 draw with Everton. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 95th-minute equaliser sealed a sensational comeback for Everton as United missed a chance to go level on points at the top of the Premier League with Manchester City, who have two games in hand and play Liverpool live on Sky Sports on Sunday.
Solskjaer said: “We’re not talking about winning titles. We’ve come a long way this team. We shouldn’t even be considered as title-chasers. That’s one for you [the media] – we’ve got to be better as a team and let’s see where we end up. Going forward, we need to stop conceding easy goals.”They had three shots that hit between the goals and they scored three goals. It’s disappointing. And when it’s in the last minute of added time it’s very disappointing. I wouldn’t blame anyone on the goals but we know we can defend better.”
Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin scores his side’s third goal against Manchester United
Redknapp: Man Utd should believe they can win titleSky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp disagreed with Solskjaer’s assessment of United’s credentials as title challengers, insisting the state of the Premier League season represented too good an opportunity not to believe they could win the league.
“Manchester United should be [talking about the title]. This is a unique year; you’re never going to get a better chance,” Redknapp said.
“Liverpool have lost important players and are not at the same level they were last year. Manchester City are, of course, an incredible side, but they may still have a blip, they may get their doubts.
“Going forward, some of the players in this Manchester United team, they should be believing, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be saying that as well. People say take each game as it comes, but this is the year that anything is possible.”This isn’t a team of kids, they are a team full of experience, full of international players. The manager should be telling the players to believe they can do it. I was surprised he said that [they were not title contenders].”Neville analyses United’s performance – and late setback
Gary Neville was critical of Manchester Utd’s defence in their 3-3 draw with Everton and felt David de Gea had to do better for Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s equaliser.
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:”If you look at the period they are in, it’s definitely turned a little bit. United have lost to Sheffield United and now they’ve drawn against Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton tonight. The results have started to turn a little bit the other way.”Tonight, they played well. But if you make mistakes like that in a game of football, you are going to be in serious trouble. In moments defensively, they were really bad. From De Gea, it was really weak with the parry-out.”Manchester United controlled the game, they responded well to the two goals they conceded, but without the fourth goal they were in a situation where with any attack you are in trouble. And it came so late that United had no time to react.”I actually think United played well – I can’t think of a better all-round performance this season. The two up front – Cavani and Fernandes – were brilliant. There was a holder in midfield but defensively they were poor in moments. It was like a reverse of what has been happening, where they’ve played poorly and won games with good attacking moments but tonight they played really well but they lost through poor defensive moments.”De Gea at the end doesn’t even come out in line with the ball – you want your goalkeeper to eat the striker. Take him out. It wasn’t a great night for the goalkeeper or the centre-backs.””Could the goalkeeper be a little braver? I wouldn’t be happy if I was a United defender. Calvert-Lewin is brave but De Gea is not.”Solskjaer: ‘All we had to was get the ball in the corner…’
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United’s draw with Everton.
United boss Solskjaer also expressed his frustration with the nature of his side’s concessions.”We conceded three goals from three shots on target,” Solskjaer lamented.Solskjaer also expressed his unhappiness with the amount of time added on, with Everton scoring in the fifth minute of injury time after four were signalled.”Why was there were four minutes? That’s beyond me,” said Solskjaer. “All we had to do was get the ball in the corner and see it out. But we didn’t.”We didn’t deserve to be 2-0 up at half time – we scored fantastic goals but we dilly-dallied too much. We had possession but it was too slow. After they scored we played some very good stuff. We should have seen it off by scoring the fourth. I think the front four played well and caused them problems but that wasn’t the problem.”Results create the mood and the last kick of the ball makes us go home really disappointed as we’ve lost two points on a long thump through the middle which we should have defended better. But if you look at the overall performance the second half was good.”How the dramatic finale unfolded90: The referee indicates there will be a minimum of four minutes added on.92.17: Manchester United make a substitution, bringing Axel Tuanzebe on for Mason Greenwood. An extra 30 seconds would be expected to be added on.93.23: Referee Moss awards United a free-kick deep in their half of the pitch. Everton’s Godfrey kicks the ball away, delaying the restart. “That might well get Manchester United over the line,” suggests commentator Rob Hawthorne.94:04: De Gea takes the free-kick. But instead of kicking the ball to either side of the pitch, the Manchester United goalkeeper hits the free-kick straight down the middle of the pitch.94:09: Mason Holgate beats Cavani to the header. The ball is immediately played on to Sigurdsson who flicks it around the corner to Richarlison who in turn plays in King. Running just over the halfway line, King is brought down by Tuanzebe, who has yet to touch the ball since his introduction, resulting in a booking for the defender and a free-kick for Everton. The referee blows for the foul with 94.15 on the clock.94:45: Digne takes the free-kick…94:49: Calvert-Lewin levels with the final kick of the match.
Former WWE writer Vince Russo believes the amount of talent on the WWE roster is what prevented Big Boss Man from winning the WWE Championship.One of WWE’s most respected Superstars, Big Boss Man (real name Ray Traylor) wrestled from 1985 to 2004. He worked for WWE between 1988-1993 and 1998-2003.Speaking to Dr. Chris Featherstone on SK Wrestling’s Off the SKript, Russo praised Big Boss Man’s work as an in-ring talent. He added that it was difficult for Big Boss Man to leapfrog other Superstars on the roster, which is why he was not a main-eventer.“This was a guy that was going to be a very, very, very strong character, but there was really never talk about him being a Champion or anything. Bro, I say this all the time, when I was working during the Attitude Era, nothing against a guy like Boss Man, but, bro, the guys you had on top. You would have to leapfrog six, eight, 10 guys to get into the conversation. That’s how stacked the roster was.” Watch the video above to find out more of Vince Russo’s thoughts on Big Boss Man’s WWE career.How would Big Boss Man fare in 2021? Big Boss Man and The Ultimate Warrior
Vince Russo added that Big Boss Man would likely be the top guy in AEW if he performed today in his prime. Two decades ago, however, Russo felt that he was overshadowed by the likes of The Rock, Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Triple H, and Mick Foley.Big Boss Man died in 2004 at the age of 41 after suffering a heart attack. He was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016.Please credit SK Wrestling’s Off the SKript and embed the video interview if you use quotes from this article.
Published 06 Feb 2021, 22:44 IST
In this file photo taken on January 10, 2021 Elfrid Payton #6 of the New York Knicks looks to pass during the second quarter of their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Payton and Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton each scored 22 points and the New York Knicks defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 110-99 on February 6, 2021 in an NBA matinee game. Randle added a team-high 11 rebounds while the Knicks had 18 points from Canada’s R.J. Barrett and 16 more from reserve Alec Burks among six double-digit scorers. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
NEW YORK – Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton each scored 22 points and the New York Knicks defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 110-99 on Saturday in an NBA matinee game.
Randle added a team-high 11 rebounds while the Knicks had 18 points from Canada’s R.J. Barrett and 16 more from reserve Alec Burks among six double-digit scorers.
“We’re just trying to play hard. Winning plays happen when you play hard and that’s what happened,” Burks said.
Burks, on his sixth club in just over two NBA seasons, said the hunger to outhustle their rivals motivated New York’s 50-28 dominance on points in the paint and let them hold off a Portland rally down the stretch.
“Just contest every shot, stay hot, play our same defense, play hard, get our rebounds,” he said. “And that’s what we did.”
The Knicks improved to 11-13, sixth in the Eastern Conference, with their second win in a row while the Trail Blazers fell to 12-10, level with San Antonio and Golden State for sixth in the Western Conference.
Damian Lillard led Portland with a game-high 29 points while Gary Trent Jr. added 19.
Another nine games were on Saturday’s NBA schedule, with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers playing host to Detroit, Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia entertaining Brooklyn and Milwaukee at Cleveland.
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Schools around the country are recruiting 2023 safety Rahmir Stewart and he is starting to focus on a handful of programs. The Philadelphia (Pa.) Imhotep Institute Charter School announced a top 14 on Friday night and he has a roadmap for how he wants his recruitment to play out.
“West Virginia, Penn State, LSU, Alabama, Iowa State, Georgia, Michigan, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Florida, Oklahoma, Auburn, and USC are my top 14,” Stewart said. “I’m just trying to focus and learn more about them and take visits.“I talk to coach Terry from Penn State, coach Oz from Tennessee, coach Elijah from Texas A&M, and coach Tino from Alabama a lot,” he said. “So far the relationship are great and I like them all a lot. “I haven’t visited those schools yet but me and my teammate Enai White plan on taking visits when everything opens back up,” said Stewart. “I want to see Alabama, Penn State, and LSU. I also want to visit Clemson and Ohio State even though they have offered me yet.”
Stewart is an outstanding safety prospect that brings an intense physicality to the secondary. There is still a long way to go in his recruitment but this is an important step towards his commitment. While there will be plenty of twists and turns in Stewart’s recruitment, it’s a good bet that Penn State and Texas A&M will be heavily involved with him throughout the process. Both teams have strong presences in Philadelphia and those coaches have great relationships with the top programs there.