Serena not blaming ankle injury for Australian Open loss

Serena Williams said Karolina Pliskova played “lights out” when down match points in their quarter-final.

Serena Williams refused to blame a rolled ankle for her incredible Australian Open loss to Karolina Pliskova, instead giving credit to her opponent.

Williams gave up a 5-1 lead in the final set and squandered four match points in a 6-4 4-6 7-5 quarter-final loss at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.

The 23-time grand slam champion appeared to roll her ankle when serving in the seventh game and Pliskova took charge from that point.

But Williams, 37, said her ankle was not the reason she suffered defeat.

“My ankle seems to be fine. I usually don’t know until the next day,” the American told a news conference.

“I think she just played lights out on match point, literally, hitting lines. Just went for, just went crazy on match point. She just played unbelievable on match point.”

Williams lost 25 of the final 33 points of the match, including being broken to love twice.

She said: “I think she just played well on my serve after that point. I think she just kind of started playing really, really good. I don’t think it had anything to do with my ankle, per se. I just think she was just nailing and hitting shots.

“Obviously I made some mistakes, but she played really well after that.”

NBA wrap: Mavericks capitalize on Clippers’ turnovers, pick up win in Dennis Smith Jr.’s return

Last time these two teams met in Dallas, Smith had his tooth knocked out by Patrick Beverley.

The Mavericks and Clippers had yet another heated matchup.

Last time these two teams met in Dallas, Dennis Smith Jr. had his tooth knocked out by Patrick Beverley. The Mavericks won that game, and they were victorious once again Tuesday, claiming a 106-98 victory.

The Clippers didn’t turn the ball over much, but the opposition capitalized at all the right times. Dallas converted Los Angeles’ eight turnovers into 23 points.

Harrison Barnes led all scorers with 20 points. Luka Doncic and Smith each chipped in 17 points. Smith had missed the past six games because of a back injury and illness while also being at the center of trade rumors.

The Clippers were ice-cold, shooting just 36.3 percent from the field. Beverley led Los Angeles in scoring with 16 points.

Dallas improved to 21-26 while Los Angeles dropped to 25-22.

Studs of the Night

Marvin Bagley led all scorers in his first career start, totaling 22 points and 11 rebounds in Sacramento’s 120-105 loss to Toronto.

Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists to help lead the Thunder past the Trail Blazers 123-114.

Karl-Anthony Towns put up 25 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists in a 118-91 blowout win for the Timberwolves over the Suns.

Josh Jackson scored a season-high 27 points and had 10 rebounds for the Suns.

Duds of the Night

Tobias Harris scored nine points on 1-of-9 shooting for the Clippers.

Mikal Bridges scored seven points on 3-of-11 shooting in Phoenix’s loss.

Highlights

Luka Doncic used a crafty behind-the-back dribble to find his way to the rim.

Westbrook tried to tear the rim down with this tomahawk slam.

What’s Next?

Raptors (35-13) at Pacers (31-15) 7 p.m. ET — Indiana is just behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors won their last game in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 121-105, but the Pacers have been especially disruptive on the defensive end lately. Toronto is 2-0 against Indiana so far in 2018-19.

Suns’ Devin Booker tells Timberwolves’ Gorgui Dieng to meet him in the hallway after on-court scuffle

In the third quarter, Phoenix guard Devin Booker and Minnesota forward Gorgui Dieng were involved in an on-court scuffle.

Things got testy Tuesday when the Suns hosted the Timberwolves.

In the third quarter, Phoenix guard Devin Booker and Minnesota forward Gorgui Dieng were involved in an on-court incident. The two players confronted each other and Booker put his hand in Dieng’s face and appeared to shove him.

The two were ejected, but the scuffle wasn’t done yet.

As they were being escorted off the court, Booker told Dieng to meet him in the hallway.

Booker then had to be held back as he was running off the court.

Security was on “high alert” and “both locker rooms were locked to prevent anything from happening,” according to reports from The Arizona Republic.

Minnesota went on to win, 118-91.

Pliskova saves four match points to stun Serena with comeback win

Karolina Pliskova stunned Serena Williams in an incredible Australian Open quarter-final.

Karolina Pliskova ended Serena Williams’ bid for a record-equalling 24th grand slam title at the Australian Open with an incredible comeback win on Wednesday.

Pliskova came from 5-1 down in the final set and saved four match points to claim a stunning 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory in the quarter-final on Rod Laver Arena.

Williams appeared to be in complete control until she rolled her ankle in the seventh game of the final set and Pliskova took advantage.

The Czech seventh seed moved into a third major semi-final, where she will face Japanese star Naomi Osaka.

Williams was eyeing an eighth title in Melbourne and 24th grand slam crown – to go level with Margaret Court – but Pliskova produced the huge comeback.

 

Both players made a clean start before Pliskova landed the first blow of the contest, breaking in the third game.

A backhand winner down the line set up break point, converted when Williams put a backhand into the net.

Williams had seemed to be reluctant to miss her first serve, with her speeds well down early compared to previously this tournament.

She picked it up in the fifth game, but had to fight her way out of a 0-40 hole and fend off four break points to hold serve.

Pliskova, who had her left knee taped, was in fine form throughout the opening set, closing it out with an ace.

The first chance to break in the second set went to Pliskova, who struck when Williams sent a backhand into the net in the fifth game.

But Williams responded immediately and broke once more at the perfect moment in the 10th game to take the second set 6-4.

Seemingly with all the momentum, Williams started to take control, breaking for 3-1 in the third set with a wonderful cross-court forehand return winner.

But Williams rolled her left ankle while serving at 5-1 – a match point also going begging – and Pliskova incredibly got back on serve.

 

Pliskova was forced to save three more match points in an enthralling 10th game, a backhand winner making it 5-5.

The Czech broke Williams to love in the next game and then sealed the amazing victory when her opponent sent a forehand into the net on match point.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN  
Pliskova [7] bt Williams [16] 6-4 4-6 7-5

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS  
Pliskova – 32/15
Williams – 54/37

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS  
Pliskova – 9/0
Williams – 12/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Pliskova – 5/11
Williams – 4/8

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Pliskova – 79
Williams – 65

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Pliskova – 68/38
Williams – 64/46

TOTAL POINTS
Pliskova – 102
Williams – 95

Anthony Davis injury update: Pelicans star to see hand specialist, could miss 2-4 weeks, report says

Anthony Davis

Davis’ agent told The Athletic the injury may be more serious and could cause him to miss two-to-four weeks.

The Pelicans could be without Anthony Davis for longer than they initially thought.

New Orleans announced last weekend that its star sprained his index finger in a 128-112 loss to the Trail Blazers. However, Davis’ agent told The Athletic the injury may be more serious and could cause him to miss two-to-four weeks.

Davis is set to see a hand specialist this week.

Davis has been one of the best players in the NBA this season as he’s averaging career-highs in points (29.3), rebounds (13.3) and assists (4.4). But the Pelicans are 22-25 and outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference.

A lengthy absence for Davis could mean the end for New Orleans’ postseason hopes. The Pelicans will face the Pistons on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

Carmelo Anthony ‘can only make’ a team better, Allen Iverson says

Carmelo Anthony

“With all due respect, he can only make your team better,” Iverson captioned a photo of Anthony on Instagram.

Allen Iverson thinks Carmelo Anthony deserves another chance to play in the NBA.

Anthony appeared in just 10 games for the Rockets this season before he was traded to the Bulls this week. But, Chicago does not plan to play the 34-year-old forward, either, as it will either waive or deal him before the trade deadline.

Iverson — a 2016 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee — said Tuesday on Instagram he still believes Anthony can be a contributor.

“With all due respect, he can only make your team better,” Iverson captioned a photo of Anthony.

Anthony averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds during his time with the Rockets. The Lakers reportedly could be interested in adding him if he clears waivers and they have an open roster spot.

The 10-time All-Star spent last season with the Thunder before he was traded to the Hawks in mid-July in exchange for a package centered around Dennis Schroder. He was bought out by Atlanta, then signed with the Rockets.

Iverson, who last appeared in an NBA game in 2010, averaged 26.7 points per game over 14 seasons with the 76ers, Nuggets, Pistons and Grizzlies. He made 11 All-Star teams and won the 2000-01 MVP.

Iverson and Anthony were teammates in Denver from 2006-08.

Henry more worried about Monaco’s future than his own

Monaco head coach Thierry Henry

With Monaco still struggling, Thierry Henry said a decision on his future was in the owners’ hands.

Monaco coach Thierry Henry insisted he was more concerned about the club’s future than his own.

Struggling in the relegation zone in Ligue 1, Monaco also bowed out of the Coupe de France with a 3-1 loss to Metz on Tuesday.

Henry only took over at his former club in October, but he has been unable to turn around their struggles this season.

However, the Frenchman said any decision over his future was in the owners’ hands, with his focus on Monaco.

“My future? Owners would decide when they need to decide. I am more worried for Monaco’s future. I already said that,” Henry told a news conference.

“I will repeat. No need to always ask the same question, I would answer the same thing – Atletico Madrid have been relegated in the 90s with stronger players than us. [Real] Zaragoza as well more recently as you know. I could talk about all the leagues.

“We are in this situation, even if it was Coupe de France and now we are out but this weekend against Dijon in Ligue 1 it’s going to be war.”

Sitting three points from safety, Monaco face fellow strugglers Dijon on Saturday.

Rockets F Kenneth Faried blasts Nets for ‘lying’ to him

Kenneth Faried

Faried played in 12 games for the Nets, averaging 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in just 9.8 minutes per appearance.

Kenneth Faried didn’t seem to enjoy his time in Brooklyn.

The eighth-year forward, now with the Rockets, was traded to the Nets by the Nuggets in July 2018. He was buried on Brooklyn’s bench and was displeased with the team’s reasoning for not playing him.

“It’s very frustrating. A lot of, ‘We’re going to play you when injuries,’ and a lot of, ‘We’re going to play you when in this moment, that moment,’” Faried said Tuesday, via the New York Daily News. “Just tell me when you’re going to play me or tell me if you don’t want to play me. Tell me if you want me here or not. Because I’m a real honest player, I’m going to give you my heart, give you my all.

“And I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’m not going to be happy if you keep lying to me and telling me false statements.”

Faried played in 12 games for the Nets, averaging 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in just 9.8 minutes per appearance.

Brooklyn bought him out before he was picked up by Houston, where he’ll have an opportunity to play a bigger role.

According to Faried, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told him “you’re not going to start right away” but added “you’re going to play,” which he said he appreciated.

“I respected that because he told me the truth and kept it real,” Faried said.

Faried was assessed a technical foul Monday on his first basket for Houston after he slapped the backboard on a dunk.

The Rockets will take on the Knicks at 7:30 p.m. ET in New York.

Osaka powers past Svitolina in Melbourne

Japanese star Naomi Osaka

US Open champion Naomi Osaka eased past Elina Svitolina in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Naomi Osaka cruised into a second grand slam semi-final after proving too good for Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The US Open champion powered past Svitolina in an impressive 6-4 6-1 victory in their quarter-final on Rod Laver Arena.

Osaka, the 21-year-old fourth seed, was the aggressor throughout and she was too strong for the sixth-seeded Svitolina.

Svitolina, who beat Osaka twice last year, is now 0-4 in major quarter-finals and needed treatment during the second set.

Osaka will face either Serena Williams or Karolina Pliskova in the last four.

After a few relatively comfortable holds, Osaka and Svitolina traded breaks, the former using her power to grab a 5-3 lead.

Serving for the set, Osaka produced some nervy points from 30-15 to allow Svitolina to get back on serve once more.

Incredibly, Osaka gave up a 0-40 lead in the next game, but a return winner and Svitolina hitting the net with a backhand saw the Japanese star take the set.

Osaka quickly grabbed a 3-0 lead in the second set before Svitolina took a medical timeout for treatment on her shoulder/neck area.

But the break did nothing to slow down Osaka, who closed out a superb victory in one hour, 12 minutes.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Osaka [4] bt Svitolina [6] 6-4 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 
Osaka – 31/25
Svitolina – 11/16

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 
Osaka – 8/0
Svitolina – 1/3

BREAK POINTS WON 
Osaka – 5/13
Svitolina – 2/4

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE 
Osaka – 61
Svitolina – 58

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE 
Osaka – 64/52
Svitolina – 60/27

TOTAL POINTS 
Osaka – 60
Svitolina – 46

Naomi Osaka gives her thoughts on making it to the semi-finals of the Australian Open

Rockets’ James Harden on Carmelo Anthony trade: ‘It kind of sucks that it didn’t work out’

James Harden

“I just want to see him hoop, see him happy, and I mean, he deserves it, honestly,” Harden said.

James Harden was disappointed to see Carmelo Anthony’s short stint in Houston come to an end.

The Rockets announced Anthony’s departure on Tuesday.

“Melo is one of the best to ever hoop. He loves the game of basketball,” Harden told reporters Tuesday, via ESPN. “Some guys just do it just because they’re gifted or they’re athletic or they can shoot the basketball. There’s not that many players that like, love to hoop. … It kind of sucks that it didn’t work out. It is what it is. I just hope he finds somewhere where they can embrace him and he can still hoop. So he [gets to] make that decision that he’s done [playing].”

The 10-time All-Star as well as the rights to Jon Diebler and cash considerations were sent the Bulls in exchange for the rights to Tadija Dragicevic.

However, Anthony is not expected to play a game with Chicago, multiple reports stated.

He has been linked to the Lakers, but has also fielded multiple offers recently.

“I just want to see him hoop, see him happy, and I mean, he deserves it, honestly,” Harden said. “Like, he’s put so much time and effort into this game that he should be able to hoop and still have fun playing the game of basketball.”

Anthony, 34, averaged 13.4 points in 29 minutes per game for the Rockets. He shot 40.5 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Darius Garland withdraws from Vanderbilt to prepare for 2019 NBA Draft

Darius Garland

“I will be forever grateful to Vanderbilt and wish the program much success for the remainder of this season and beyond,” Garland said.

Darius Garland is no longer attending Vanderbilt.

The guard announced Tuesday he will be withdrawing from school and focusing on rehabilitation leading up to the 2019 NBA Draft.

“I will be forever grateful to Vanderbilt and wish the program much success for the remainder of this season and beyond,” Garland’s announcement read, in part.

Garland suffered a season-ending knee injury in his fifth collegiate game, but one NBA executive told 247Sports this will have “zero” effect on his draft stock.

“Just get focused and start the new chapter,” Garland told 247Sports about the decision. “Coming off this injury it’s a long process. I’m going to stay focused on this and that’s why I chose to do this now.”

Garland joined the Commodores as a five-star recruit and averaged 19.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists through his first four games.

“It was a really hard decision from sitting down with my family,” Garland said. “I talked to coach (Bryce) Drew and the coaching staff and it was the best fit for me because of where I’m placed right now is really unbelievable, especially coming off the injury.

“Just having a chance to play in the league, which I’ve been dreaming about since I can remember, playing in the NBA, just having that chance I couldn’t turn that down.

He remains one of the top guard prospects in his class.

NBA trade rumors: Grizzlies will listen to offers for stars Marc Gasol, Mike Conley

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley

The team “has reached a crossroads” and will consider dealing one or both players, according to ESPN.

It could be the end of an era in Memphis.

The Grizzlies will begin to listen to trade offers for stars Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, according to a report from ESPN, which cites unidentified league sources. The team “has reached a crossroads” and will consider dealing one or both players, the report says.

Gasol, a three-time All-Star, is averaging 15.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 33.8 minutes per game this season. He has been with the Grizzlies since 2008-09.

The center signed a five-year, $110 million extension with Memphis in July 2015. He holds a player option, worth a little more than $25 million, for next season.

Conley has spent his entire 12-year career in Memphis. He’s tallied 19.8 points and 6.1 assists per game while knocking down 35.4 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2018-19.

The point guard agreed to a new five-year, $153 million deal with the Grizzlies in the summer of 2016.

The Grizzlies began the season with a 15-9 record but have struggled since. They’ll enter their matchup against the Hornets on Wednesday at 19-28.

Memphis missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009-10.

Barcelona move a ‘dream come true’ for Boateng

Sassuolo forward Kevin-Prince Boateng

After his loan move to Barcelona was confirmed, Kevin-Prince Boateng said it was a dream come true.

Kevin-Prince Boateng described his move to Barcelona as a “dream” after the midfielder’s shock loan switch was confirmed on Monday.

Boateng, 31, joined the LaLiga giants on loan from Serie A side Sassuolo for the rest of the season, with an €8million purchase option included.

The former AC Milan and Tottenham midfielder said it was a dream to get an opportunity to play for Barca.

“I’m very happy. It’s a big honour to be here and have the possibility to play for this great club,” Boateng told Barca TV.

“For every kid who starts to play football I think it is a dream to play for a club like Barcelona, so for every player and especially for me it’s a big dream come true.”

Boateng only arrived at Sassuolo from Eintracht Frankfurt in July last year, making 15 appearances for the club.

Messi’s the best player in every world – Boateng dismisses past Real Madrid comments

Kevin-Prince Boateng is presented as a Barcelona player

Kevin-Prince Boateng has spoken highly of Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo before, but he backtracked in his Barcelona unveiling.

New Barcelona signing Kevin-Prince Boateng dismissed suggestions of a past allegiance to Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo by lauding Lionel Messi as the best player “in this world and every world” during his official presentation.

Boateng completed a shock move to Barca on Monday, with the Catalan club bringing him in from Sassuolo on a loan deal until the end of the season which includes an €8million purchase option.

Despite being undoubtedly talented, the 31-year-old represents a left-field option for Barca, considering the level Boateng has been operating at for the last two years.

Before Sassuolo, Boateng played for Las Palmas and then Eintracht Frankfurt, never quite living up to the early expectations of him after impressing as a teenager with Hertha Berlin.

After rumours of his move began to circulate, past quotes from Boateng declaring himself a Madrid fan and praising Ronaldo as the world’s best player began to resurface, but he had a concise response on Tuesday.

“I am a Barcelona player and Lionel Messi is the best player in this world and every world,” the Germany-born former Ghana international told reporters.

“Why are you laughing? That’s the truth, he has shown that with all that he has won in the last 10 years.

“It’s a great honour [to be at Barcelona] because Messi is the best player in the world, and Luis Suarez the best striker in the world.

“They play amazingly and being able to play by their side is a great gift.”

Boateng is fully aware that he has not been brought in to slot straight into the starting XI, but believes his versatility will serve him well, as he is able to play in midfield and further forward.

“At my age, the number nine role is perfect for me, but for a coach, I think a player like me is a plus because I can play in different positions, but I feel very good as a number nine,” the former AC Milan man said.

“I have not talked to the coach [Ernesto Valverde], but I know I have not come to play in the starting line because there are incredible players in this team.

“I’m here because of my experience and to help. I’m here to play well and sign on for more years here, that’s my goal.”