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Kevin Durant led Team USA to a decisive victory over Spain in Olympic men’s basketball on Tuesday, earning a ticket to the semifinals.

The United States were victorious 95-81 despite a valiant 38-point effort from Spain’s Ricky Rubio. Spain had a 10 point lead late in the second quarter when the United States came roaring back.

“We drove it to the rim at the end of the second and were able to get our rhythm back a little bit,” said Durant, who ended up with 29 points. “I like how we played from the end of the second quarter all the way up to finish the game and that’s how winners play ball.”

The Saitama Super Arena north of Tokyo was the fullest it has been so far in these spectatorless Games, as athletes, officials and volunteers gathered for what would have been a hot-ticket match.

The United States will move on to the semifinals on Thursday to face the winner of the quarterfinal between Australia and Argentina.

Team USA have looked strong at these Games after the French handed them their first Olympic defeat since 2004. The Americans have historically been the team to beat, with 15 gold medals since 1936, and the players and coaches have made clear they will only be satisfied with one result this time.

“We got to finish it,” said Durant, who plays for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. “You know, we’re supposed to be here. For us, it’s about getting the gold.

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic led Slovenia in a 94-70 victory over Germany to move forward to the semifinals. Doncic has led all players in scoring and is second in rebounds only to his team mate Mike Tobey.

For a nation of just two million people, Slovenia has fielded a powerhouse team in their Olympics debut. While Doncic is the nucleus of their offence, he’s surrounded by team mates who reliably score in the double digits, such as Zoran Dragic who had 36 against Germany.

“Obviously they have one of the best players in the world, but he’s not alone,” Germany head coach Henrik Roedl said about Doncic and the Slovenian team.

It was Germany’s first Olympic quarterfinal since 1992. Italy takes on France and Australia meets Argentina in the remaining playoff matches on Tuesday.

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LeBron James has become a minor partner in Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the owners of Liverpool FC.

FSG announced on Tuesday the basketball legend has invested in the group, which also owns the Boston Red Sox.

James has been a part-owner of Liverpool FC since 2011 and has a 2% stake in the club, which he bought for £4.7m.

He and his business partner Maverick Carter are now taking a more active role in global sports ownership.

The pair become the first black partners at FSG after expanding their investment in the global sports group, which is valued at more than $6bn (£4.3bn), according to Forbes business magazine.

FSG is pushing ahead with ambitious expansion plans and this week also approved a $750m private investment deal with RedBird Capital Partners.

Reports suggest FSG may use the capital to buy other sports franchises as well as strengthening Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise.

James’s 2% stake in Liverpool FC is now worth more than £37m, according to a recent evaluation of the club by accountancy firm KPMG.

The LA Lakers star already had links with FSG, having co-produced a television show with Tom Werner, the chairman of the Red Sox and Liverpool.

Mr Werner has the second largest stake in FSG behind John Henry, the principal owner.

In 2010, FSG bought Liverpool FC in a £300m deal under its old name New England Sports Ventures.

James, who was named an NBA All-Star for the 17th time this season, has spoken of owning an NBA team one day. League rules forbid this for active players.

“I believe if I wanted to, I could own a team or be part of a basketball team,” James said in 2019. He is currently worth around $450m according to Forbes’ estimates. He sits at number five on the highest paid athletes of 2020 list, with earnings of $88m.

Along with his mega-salary as a basketball player and lucrative sponsorship deals, James has his own production and media companies.

He is also is a partner in a health and wellness company alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and part-owns 19 pizza franchises in Chicago and South Florida.

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Miami Heat reach Eastern confrence finals

The Heat’s Jimmy Butler collected 17 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday’s win over Milwaukee Bucks

The Miami Heat reached the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 2014 with a 4-1 series win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Florida.

The Heat found points from all over the court as six players hit double figures to seal a 103-94 victory.

They have not reached the Eastern finals since being led by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade six years ago.

James, meanwhile, scored 36 points for the Los Angeles Lakers as they took a 2-1 lead over the Houston Rockets.

The 112-102 win in the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series saw James set a new NBA record of 162 play-off victories, across his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat and the Lakers.

“It says that I’ve played with a lot of great teams,” said James, who won two NBA titles with the Heat and one with the Cavaliers. “It says that I’ve played with a lot of great team-mates and some great coaches.”

In Tuesday’s other game in Orlando, the Bucks were left missing the injured Giannis Antetokounmpo as they exited in the play-offs despite registering the highest points tally in the regular season for the second campaign in a row.

It means the Heat will now play reigning champions the Toronto Raptors or the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference final. The Celtics lead the series 3-2, needing one more win to progress.

Asked about reaching the conference final for the first time since marquee pair Wade and James wore the Heat jersey, small forward Jimmy Butler said: “It means a lot. But that’s not my goal.

“That’s not my guys’ goal. That’s not the organisation’s goal. We want to win it.”

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Draymond Green fined for Tampering

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has been fined $50,000 (£38,300) by the NBA under anti-tampering rules for remarks about Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker.

During an appearance as an analyst on TNT on Friday, Green, 30, suggested Booker should leave Phoenix.

NBA rules prevent teams or players attempting to persuade other players to leave their contracted team.

“It’s not good for him, it’s not good for his career,” said Green of Booker.

“They gotta get Book out of Phoenix. I need my man to go somewhere where he can play great basketball all the time and win, because he’s that type of player.”

When asked by TNT host Ernie Johnson if his comments were tampering, Green said: “Maybe.”

At the start of the season the NBA said it would more strictly enforce its anti-tampering rules.

The Suns have won all five of their games since the NBA season restarted in Orlando in July and are now 10th in the Western Conference.

They are two games behind the Memphis Grizzlies in the eighth and final play-off spot, with three games left to play.

Booker, 23, is Phoenix’s highest scorer with 26.4 points per game this season and is under contract there until the end of the 2023-24 season after signing a five-year extension in 2018.

The Warriors, who have won three of the past five NBA titles, were already eliminated from play-off contention before the restart after an injury-hit season.

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Westbrooke leads Houston Rockets to victory

Russell Westbrook sank four free throws inside the final 28.5 seconds as the Houston Rockets topped the Milwaukee Bucks 120-116 on Sunday night.

Sunday night’s NBA scores

  • Milwaukee Bucks 116-120 Houston Rockets
  • Portland Trail Blazers 124-128 Boston Celtics
  • San Antonio Spurs 108-106 Memphis Grizzlies
  • Dallas Mavericks 115-117 Phoenix Suns
  • Sacramento Kings 116-132 Orlando Magic
  • Washington Wizards 110-118 Brooklyn Nets

2:44 Highlights of the Milwaukee Bucks’ game against the Houston Rockets at The Arena in Orlando.

Russell Westbrook sank four free throws inside the final 28.5 seconds as the Houston Rockets topped the Milwaukee Bucks 120-116 on Sunday night. Sponsored link

Westbrook scored a team-high 31 points while adding eight assists, and his clutch effort at the charity stripe enabled the Rockets (42-24) to outlast the Bucks (54-13) down a back-and-forth closing stretch. Danuel House Jr converted two free throws with 14 seconds left as the Rockets finished 27-of-31 from the line.

Giannis Antetokounmpo supplied 36 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists for his 15th 30-15-5 game this season while Khris Middleton (27 points, 12 rebounds) and Brook Lopez (23 points, 12 rebounds) posted double-doubles for the Bucks, who ended the game with a 65-36 rebounding advantage and limited the Rockets to 34.4 per cent (21-of-61) shooting from behind the three-point line yet lost the game.

Milwaukee did commit 23 turnovers – including a bad pass by Antetokounmpo that House picked off prior to his clinching free throws – which the Rockets converted into 30 points in the victory. Sponsored Links

James Harden offset a poor shooting performance (5-for-14) with seven rebounds, seven assists and a game-high six steals to complement his 24 points. House produced 16 points while Robert Covington chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals for the Rockets.

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NBA roundup: James Harden, Houston Rockets rally, top Dallas Mavericks in Over Time

James Harden scored 49 points, Russell Westbrook added 31 points and 11 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets erased a 14-point deficit and rallied for a 153-149 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

James Harden scored 49 points, Russell Westbrook added 31 points and 11 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets erased a 14-point deficit and rallied for a 153-149 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

The Rockets claimed the season series with Dallas two games to one by finally mustering some defensive might down the stretch of the fourth quarter.

Trailing 139-137, Houston got a tip-in of a Harden missed free throw from Robert Covington with 3.3 seconds left to force overtime. Covington, following an 0-for-8 start from behind the arc, added a 3-pointer with 1:22 left in overtime to extend the Houston lead to 150-146.

Luka Doncic recorded his league-leading 15th triple-double with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while Kristaps Porzingis paced the Mavericks with 39 points and 16 rebounds. Trey Burke added 31 points on 8-of-10 3-point shooting off the bench while Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 24 points for Dallas.

Portland Trail Blazers 140 – Memphis Grizzlies 135 (OT)

CJ McCollum scored 33 points, Damian Lillard added 29, and Portland overwhelmed Memphis in overtime.

The Trail Blazers built a first-half lead then surged ahead 75-62 in the third quarter before a 22-6 run pushed the Grizzlies ahead. The game was back-and-forth from there until the Blazers took control in the extra frame.

Rookie Ja Morant, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer on the season at just under 18 points per game, finished with 22 points Friday. He had only two points on 1-of-5 shooting at halftime but came to life to lead the third-quarter run. Morant also handed out 11 assists.

Orlando Magic 128 – Brooklyn Nets 118

Orlando turned a close game into a rout by scoring nine consecutive points late in the second quarter en route to a win over Brooklyn in what could be a key battle for playoff seeding.

Evan Fournier had 24 points while Aaron Gordon posted a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) for the Magic (31-35), who moved past the Nets (30-35) into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The top seven teams are guaranteed a playoff spot. The eighth-place team advances to the postseason as the final seed if it is at least four games better than the ninth-place team at the end of the regular season. Otherwise, a play-in series will determine the eighth seed.

Nikola Vucevic had 22 points for the Magic. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot led the Nets with 24 points, and Caris LeVert had 17.

Rockets vs Mavericks Highlights 

Phoenix Suns 125 – Washington Wizards 112

Cameron Johnson and Devin Booker combined for 18 first-quarter points, helping Phoenix build a big lead en route to a victory over Washington.

Booker finished with a game-high 27 points and Deandre Ayton registered a 24-point, 12-rebound double-double for the Suns, who entered the resumption of play with the worst record among the 13 Western Conference teams still alive.

Rui Hachimura paced the Wizards with 21 points.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points and 15 rebounds to lift Milwaukee past Boston in the teams’ first game of the NBA restart.

Antetokounmpo’s double-double was his 19th straight, matching the longest streak in the NBA this season — set by the reigning league MVP himself from Oct. 24 to Nov. 29.

Khris Middleton had 18 points and Brook Lopez added 14 points and six blocks for the Bucks, who bolted out to a 17-2 lead before requiring a late push to seal the win. Marcus Smart scored 23 points off the bench and Jaylen Brown added 22 for the Celtics.

San Antonio Spurs 129 – Sacramento Kings 120

DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points — all but two in the second half — and added 10 assists as San Antonio finished with a flurry to beat Sacramento in the teams’ first game back in action after the league’s stoppage for COVID-19.

Derrick White added 26 points for San Antonio, with Rudy Gay scoring 19 off the bench, Lonnie Walker IV hitting for 16, and Dejounte Murray contributing 11.

The Kings’ De’Aaron Fox led all scorers with 39 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic hit for 24, Nemanja Bjelica added 12, and Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes contributed 10 points each for Sacramento.

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Bournemouth and watford get relegated

Bournemouth’s five-year stay in the Premier League came to an end despite beating Everton at Goodison Park as Aston Villa’s draw at West Ham meant they were relegated to the Championship.

The Cherries needed a win, and for Watford and Aston Villa to both lose against Arsenal and the Hammers respectively, if they were to retain their top-flight status. 

The Hornets lost 3-2, but a 1-1 draw for Aston Villa ensured survival for Dean Smith’s side.

It was a disappointing outcome for Bournemouth, who had done all they could in their game to give them hope of staying up.

Eddie Howe’s side looked determined to fight for their survival right from the outset and deservedly went ahead when Joshua King scored from the penalty spot after Richarlison handled inside the area.

Bournemouth could have had a second penalty soon afterwards for a handball by Lucas Digne but neither the referee or the video assistant referee felt there was an infringement.

Despite all their dominance, the visitors conceded an equaliser as half-time approached when Moise Kean tapped in Theo Walcott’s cross.

But Bournemouth restored their lead just before the break as Dominic Solanke headed in from Diego Rico’s delivery.

The second half was nervy affair as the Cherries looked to hold onto their slender lead, but they grabbed a third and much-needed breathing space in the final 10 minutes after Jordan Pickford let a tame Junior Stanislas shot slip under his gloves and into the back of the net.

The visitors had done all they could to ensure survival, meaning all eyes were on events at West Ham, but a point was enough to keep Aston Villa in the top flight at Bournemouth’s expense as Howe’s side finished 18th.

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Westbrook test positive to covid-19

Houston Rockets All-Star guard Russell Westbrook has confirmed he is in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus.

Westbrook and fellow All-Star James Harden had been notable absentees as the Rockets arrived in Orlando, Florida for the NBA’s resumption later this month. Sponsored link

“I tested positive for Covid-19 prior to my team’s departure to Orlando,” Westbrook said on Monday in a statement released on social media.

“I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my team-mates when I am cleared.

“Thank you for all the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus serious. Be safe. Mask up!”

Later on Monday the NBA confirmed that two players at the Disney World campus had tested positive for the coronavirus since arriving in Florida.

An NBA statement said: “Of the 322 players tested for COVID-19 since arriving on the NBA Campus July 7, two have returned confirmed positive tests while in quarantine. Those players never cleared quarantine and have since left the Campus to isolate at home or in isolation housing.

“Since July 1, during in-market testing, 19 NBA players newly tested positive. These players are staying in their home markets and recovering until they are cleared under CDC guidelines and NBA rules for leaving home isolation and joining the Campus.”

Rockets head coach Mike D’Antonio had said on Sunday that he was expecting Westbrook and Harden to join the team by the end of the week, but Houston’s preparations have now been dealt a major blow with one of their star players unable to rejoin the roster until just before the season resumes on July 31.