Paul George had a 47-point triple-double, and Russell Westbrook set an NBA record for consecutive triple-doubles as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 120-111 on Monday night.
FILE PHOTO – Feb 9, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) celebrates with guard Russell Westbrook (0) after a play during the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
George’s 3-pointer with 3:52 to play came on the 10th assist by Westbrook, who clinched his 10th consecutive triple-double. Westbrook finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. Wilt Chamberlain had nine consecutive triple-doubles in 1968.
George, who contributed 12 rebounds and 10 assists, has scored 92 points over the last two games.
The win was the fourth consecutive and 11th in 12 games for the Thunder. The Trail Blazers took their third loss in four games despite getting 31 points from Damian Lillard.
Rockets 120, Mavericks 104
Hampered by a strained left shoulder, James Harden nearly had his streak of consecutive 30-point games end before coming alive down the stretch as host Houston defeated Dallas.
Harden finished with a game-high 31 points on 9-for-23 shooting and rounded out his stat line with eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals.
The Rockets relied on a collective effort to build a lead against Dallas, with four others scoring in double figures, including guard Gerald Green, who poured in 19 points in 22 minutes off the bench. Luka Doncic posted 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to pace the Mavericks.
Cavaliers 107, Knicks 104
New York saw its late comeback bid fall short at Cleveland and took its 17th straight defeat — the longest single-season losing streak in franchise history. The Knicks lost 16 straight during the 2014-15 season.
Kadeem Allen scored a career-high 25 points off the bench for the Knicks, who trailed wire to wire but had chances to tie the score or take the lead in the final minute.
Collin Sexton scored a team-high 20 points for the Cavaliers while Larry Nance Jr. registered 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Nuggets 103, Heat 87
Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Malik Beasley got hot in the fourth quarter and finished with 23 points, and host Denver beat Miami.
Monte Morris scored 17 points, and Paul Millsap had nine points and 10 rebounds in his return to the lineup for the Nuggets, who ended a three-game losing streak. Millsap played 20 minutes off the bench after missing the previous three games due to ankle soreness.
Justise Winslow had 15 points, and James Johnson scored 14 for the Heat.
Bucks 112, Bulls 99
Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a one-game rest to score a game-high 29 points, leading Milwaukee to a victory at Chicago.
Antetokounmpo produced his fifth straight game with 29 or more points, a stretch during which he has averaged 33.6 points per game. Eric Bledsoe (19 points) also helped the Bucks win their six straight on the road.
Zach LaVine had 27 points for the Bulls, who lost their 11th consecutive home game.
Timberwolves 130, Clippers 120
Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Minnesota ended a four-game losing streak with a win over Los Angeles in Minneapolis.
Minnesota’s Derrick Rose returned after missing the past three games with an ankle injury and scored 22 points off the bench. The Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins sat out due to an illness.
Lou Williams scored a season-high 45 points off the bench, including 21 in the fourth quarter for the Clippers, who went 3-3 on their six-game road trip.
Raptors 127, Nets 125
Kawhi Leonard banked in the go-ahead field goal with 4.2 seconds, and he finished with 30 points and eight assists to help Toronto beat visiting Brooklyn.
Marc Gasol added 16 points — 11 in the fourth quarter — for the Raptors, who have won five in a row. Toronto’s Serge Ibaka added 18 points and 12 rebounds.
D’Angelo Russell had 28 points and 14 assists for the Nets.
Pistons 121, Wizards 112
Andre Drummond poured in 32 points, one shy of his career high, and host Detroit increased its winning streak to four games with a victory over Washington.
Drummond, who is averaging 26.3 points during the streak, also contributed 17 rebounds and four steals against Washington. Blake Griffin tossed in 31 points with nine rebounds and nine assists for the Pistons, and Reggie Jackson had 16 points.
Bradley Beal had 32 points and 10 assists to lead Washington. Bobby Portis supplied 24 points off the bench, hitting six 3-pointers, and Trevor Ariza piled up 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Pacers 99, Hornets 90
Myles Turner led a balanced attack with 18 points and eight rebounds, and the Indiana beat Charlotte in Indianapolis for its sixth straight win.
Wesley Matthews started for the Pacers after being signed on Sunday, and he finished with eight points in 30 minutes, hitting two key 3-pointers in the last four minutes of the game.
Kemba Walker scored 34 points to lead the Hornets. Walker has scored 30 or more in five straight games, which ties a franchise record set by Glen Rice.
—Field Level Media
Jurgen Klopp needs to rule with his head and focus on the Premier League, not Bayern
The trick is getting head and heart to coexist in the right proportion, at the right time, and a great manager knows when to turn the dial toward the “heart” end.
It’s how Liverpool came back from 3-0 down in a Champions League final, remember? You loosen the reins, go for it and believe in the improbable. To paraphrase “Risky Business,” it gives you freedom, freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future…
But there are times when you need it turned back toward the “head” end. Knockout European football is jiu-jitsu as much as anything else and Jurgen Klopp, who has won 12 of 15 two-legged knockouts, knows this as well as anyone.
He won’t admit it in so many words — managers are specifically conditioned not to do this — but there’s a bigger picture to consider as Liverpool host Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash.
As important as the Champions League may be, both financially and in terms of prestige, his club are poised to do something they haven’t managed to do in 29 years: become English champions. As droughts go, this one is particularly stinging because when Liverpool last won it back in 1989-90, no English club had won it more times. Since then, Manchester United have passed their 18 league titles — or, as Sir Alex Ferguson famously said, “knocked them off their f—–g perch” — and no club in a major European league, among those who have won more than 10 league titles, has gone as long between titles.
In that sense, Klopp’s head has a very clear message and one that his heart doesn’t like very much: the Premier League must come first.
You can imagine heart and head duking it out over the past 10 days during the club’s warm-weather training in Marbella. The logic speaks volumes. Next Sunday, Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. If they can escape unscathed, they will nose in front of Manchester City (who have played one more match) by either a point or three points. Do that and you control your destiny because the fixture list is kind. Every single away game after that is against a side from the bottom half of the table, except for Everton. And every single home game, bar Chelsea and Tottenham, is against a team from outside the top six.
It’s not a dead cert, by any means — Liverpool learned the hard way, when Steven Gerrard slipped in 2013-14, that there is no certainty in football — but at least a chance at controlling your own destiny.
There’s another factor pointing you toward the league: Your starting central defence may well be made up of two guys (Joel Matip and Fabinho) who, between them, have played the position less than a dozen times in the past 12 months. Joe Gomez is injured. Virgil Van Dijk is suspended. Dejan Lovren hasn’t played in six weeks, missed the training camp and is still nursing his injured hamstring. You don’t want to risk his health because you’ll need him down the stretch, as Gomez might not be back until April.
Plus, you know Manchester City are in the opposite boat. They have a League Cup final to play, they’re through to the quarterfinal of the FA Cup and their Champions League opponents aren’t Bayern but Schalke, who sit 14th in the Bundesliga and have won just once in 2019. That’s where your head tells you: Let them deal with the fixture congestion of advancing in Europe and two domestic cups.
You can hear your head loud and clear. But thrumming away inside you is your heart, and its message is different. Your heart reminds you that many thought you were doomed against City last year, when you were so depleted that you had to call on somebody named Conor Masterson to sit on the bench just so you could field an 18-man squad. And you won home and away, 5-1 on aggregate.
Plus, this is Bayern. Not that long ago, you knocked them off their perch and made your name in world football. Like the cool clique in school, they’re the guys who take it for granted that everyone in German football wants to hang with them. Not you; you turned them down before and you may be asked to do it again. It was sweet then and it would be sweeter still now.
And then there’s maybe the greatest pull of all. Tuesday night, you’ll hear them, even from the bowels of Anfield, even before you walk past the “This is Anfield” sign. You’ll see the Kop moving as one, the wall of sound will hit you, the faces will, for a moment, become distinct before melting back into the red. They too are balancing their hearts and their heads but in that moment, the former will rule. And you’ll be swept up in it. You always are.
Klopp knows his team have lost their last five European games away from Anfield, conceding 12 goals in the process. The question isn’t whether to field an under-strength side and save his big hitters for Manchester United — he won’t do that — but how much mental and emotional energy to expend on this clash.
And so, maybe, you treat this a “free hit.” If you get something from it, you can use that momentum and self-belief as fuel against United. If you come up short, it won’t derail your season.
Tomorrow night, Klopp should go with the head, tempered by the right amount of heart. The trick for him is getting the balance right while keeping his eyes on the prize: The one that has been missing since before the vast majority of his squad, and many of the fans, were even born.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy to retire after 2019 season
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has announced he will retire after the 2019 season.
Bochy, 63, has been the Giants’ manager since 2007 and has guided them to three World Series championships, in 2010, ’12 and ’14.
Before that he managed the San Diego Padres from 1995 to 2006. He took them to the World Series in 1998, where they lost to the Yankees. He was named Manager of the Year in 1996.
In 24 years as a manager, he has a record of 1,926-1,944. His victory total ranks 11th on the all-time list.
Bochy played nine seasons in the big leagues as a catcher for the Astros, Mets and Padres.
French fencing body recognizes lightsaber dueling as a sport
BEAUMONT-SUR-OISE, France — Master Yoda, dust off his French, he must.
It’s now easier than ever in France to act out “Star Wars” fantasies, because its fencing federation has borrowed from a galaxy far, far away and officially recognized lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport, granting the iconic weapon from George Lucas’ saga the same status as the foil, epee and sabre, the traditional blades used at the Olympics.
Of course, the LED-lit, rigid polycarbonate lightsaber replicas can’t slice a Sith lord in half. But they look and — with the more expensive sabers equipped with a chip in their hilt that emits a throaty electric rumble — even sound remarkably like the silver screen blades that Yoda and other characters wield in the blockbuster movies.
Plenty realistic, at least, for duelists to work up an impressive sweat slashing, feinting and stabbing in organized three-minute bouts. The physicality of lightsaber combat is part of why the French Fencing Federation threw its support behind the sport and is now equipping fencing clubs with lightsabers and training would-be lightsaber instructors. Like virtuous Jedi knights, the French federation sees itself as combatting a dark side: the sedentary habits of 21st-century life that are sickening ever-growing numbers of adults and kids.
“With young people today, it’s a real public health issue. They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs,” says Serge Aubailly, the federation secretary general. “It’s becoming difficult to [persuade them to] do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one’s thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.”
In the past, the likes of Zorro, Robin Hood and the Three Musketeers helped lure new practitioners to fencing. Now, joining and even supplanting them are Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader.
“Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” Aubailly says. “Lightsaber films have the same impact. Young people want to give it a try.”
And the young at heart.
Police officer Philippe Bondi, 49, practiced fencing for 20 years before switching to lightsaber. When a club started offering classes in Metz, the town in eastern France where he is stationed for the gendarmerie, Bondi says he was immediately drawn by the prospect of living out the love he’s had for the Star Wars universe since he saw the first film at age 7, on its release in 1977.
He fights in the same wire-mesh face mask he used for fencing. He spent about 350 euros ($400) on his protective body armor (sturdy gloves, chest, shoulder and shin pads) and on his federation-approved lightsaber, opting for luminous green “because it’s the Jedi colors, and Yoda is my master.”
“I had to be on the good side, given that my job is upholding the law,” he said.
Bondi awoke well before dawn to make the four-hour drive from Metz to a national lightsaber tournament outside Paris this month that drew 34 competitors. It showcased how far the sport has come in a couple of years but also that it’s still light-years from becoming mainstream.
The crowd was small and a technical glitch prevented the duelers’ photos, combat names and scores from being displayed on a big screen, making bouts tough to follow. But the illuminated swooshes of colored blades looked spectacular in the darkened hall. Fan cosplay as Star Wars characters added levity, authenticity and a tickle of bizarre to the proceedings, especially the incongruous sight of Darth Vader buying a ham sandwich and a bag of potato chips at the cafeteria during a break.
In building their sport from the ground up, French organizers produced competition rules intended to make lightsaber dueling both competitive and easy on the eyes.
“We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect,” said Michel Ortiz, the tournament organizer.
Combatants fight inside a circle marked in tape on the floor. Strikes to the head or body are worth five points; to the arms or legs, three points; on hands, one point. The first to 15 points — or, if they don’t get there quickly, the high scorer after three minutes — wins. If both fighters reach 10 points, the bout enters “sudden death,” where the first to land a head- or body blow wins, a rule to encourage enterprising fighters.
Blows only count if the fighters first point the tip of their saber behind them. That rule prevents the viper-like, tip-first quick forward strikes seen in fencing. Instead, the rule encourages swishier blows that are easier for audiences to see and enjoy, and which are more evocative of the duels in Star Wars. Of those, the battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul in “The Phantom Menace” that ends badly for the Sith despite his double-bladed lightsaber is particularly appreciated by aficionados for its swordplay.
Still nascent, counting its paid-up practitioners in France in the hundreds, not thousands, lightsaber dueling has no hope of a place in the Paris Olympics in 2024.
But to hear the thwack of blades and see them cut shapes through the air is to want to give the sport a try.
Or, as Yoda would say: “Try not. Do! Or do not. There is no try.”
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- Jurgen Klopp needs to rule with his head and focus on the Premier League, not Bayern
- Audi helps you avoid red lights by suggesting speeds
- Presidents Day protests decry Trump’s emergency declaration
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy to retire after 2019 season
- Al Sharpton says Jussie Smollett should ‘face accountability to the maximum’ if attack was orchestrated
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