Short-handed Spurs still too much for Kings

LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 12 rebounds and Davis Bertans enjoyed a career night as the San Antonio Spurs rallied to a 107-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday in Sacramento, Calif.

Bertans established career highs of 28 points and six 3-pointers as San Antonio recovered from a 13-point deficit. Bertans was 11-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

Willie Cauley-Stein had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Kings, who lost for the sixth time in the past eight games. Garrett Temple and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 16 points apiece.

San Antonio played without All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard (shoulder) for the second consecutive game. Also sitting out for the Spurs were guards Manu Ginobili (rest) and Danny Green (groin) and forward Rudy Gay (heel).

Even without the key players, San Antonio was the stronger team down the stretch.

The Kings held a 95-90 lead with 4:09 remaining after a Cauley-Stein dunk. But Bertans drained back-to-back 3-pointers a short time later to give the Spurs a 97-95 edge with 2:42 left.

Aldridge, who was 13-of-20 shooting, tallied the next five San Antonio points to increase the margin to 102-96 with 1:48 remaining. A layup by Mills increased the lead to nine as the Spurs closed it out.

Sacramento enjoyed a 13-point lead on a basket by De'Aaron Fox one minute into the third quarter before the Spurs whittled away at the margin. Bertans' layup pulled San Antonio within three points with 4:59 left and a 3-pointer by Mills gave the Spurs a 73-72 lead before the Kings scored the final four points of the quarter.

Cauley-Stein had 14 points and eight rebounds in the first half as the Kings held a 56-46 lead at the break.

San Antonio trailed by five after a layup by Mills with 3:20 left in the half before Sacramento ripped off eight straight, capped by a 3-pointer by Buddy Hield to make it 49-36. Bogdanovic later hit a 3-pointer to make it a 14-point margin with 2:06 left.

Cauley-Stein scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Kings took a 25-21 edge. — Reuters

Curry leads Warriors over Denver despite injury scare

WINNING STREAK. Curry still continues to star for the Warriors since his comeback from an injury. File photo by Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

LOS ANGELES, USA – Reigning champion Golden State Warriors shook off an injury scare for superstar Stephen Curry to beat the Denver Nuggets 124-114 in Oakland, California.

Curry left the game briefly after a hard fall in the first quarter, but returned with his left knee taped to finish the game with 32 points on a 5-of-10 shooting from the 3-point range and 9-of-17 overall.

The hot shooting stalwart helped the Warriors rebuild their double-digit lead in the third quarter. The Warriors offense started to cool down midway in the fourth that saw Denver make 18-6 run to cut the lead back down to single digits with a minute and a half left in the game.

The Warriors still managed to close out the game in the final minute to seal the win.

Warriors forward Draymond Green scored 23 points with 10 assists and 5 rebounds and guard Klay Thompson chipped in 19 points as Golden State again coped admirably with the absence of Kevin Durant, who missed his 3rd straight game with a strained right calf.

Denver's Nikola Jokic notched a triple-double of 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. –

Rozier steals spotlight, leads Celtics past Cavaliers

Terry Rozier #12 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after hitting a three point shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first quarter at TD Garden on January 3, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP
BOSTON — One by one, the Boston Celtics lined up to embrace Isaiah Thomas.
The next time they see their former teammate, he probably won’t be in a hoodie after watching the game from the bench.
And it won’t be so easy.
Terry Rozier scored 20 points in 20 minutes, stealing the spotlight from Thomas, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals and leading the Celtics to a 102-88 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Thomas received a standing ovation from the Boston fans but did not play one night after making his season debut in a return from a hip injury. Rozier made sure to pay his respects, and Thomas told the third-year Celtics guard he was proud of him.
“When I first came in the league, that’s a guy that I watched a lot. The little things he did on and off the court. Like a big brother to me,” Rozier said. “Just to hear those words from him, I’m happy that he’s on his way back — so I can guard him in February.”
Rozier scored the last eight Boston points of the first quarter to give the Celtics an 11-point lead, and had another eight in a row midway through the fourth when they expanded the lead to 21. Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum had 15 points apiece, and Irving and Al Horford each had 11 points and nine rebounds to help Boston to its fourth straight win.
James had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists on 8-for-15 shooting — the only starter to make more than half of his shots on a team that scored a season-low 88 points.
“Against LeBron, there’s nobody that can guard him the whole game. So you have to throw as many bodies at him as you can,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “And then pray.”
Tristan Thompson had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland, which lost for the fourth time in five games. Playing on back-to-back nights — the Celtics had been preparing for them since New Year’s Eve — Cleveland shot 34.8 percent.
It was the first time the teams had played since the season opener, when top Boston free-agent Gordon Hayward broke his leg in a gruesome injury that reshuffled the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Celtics finished with the top seed last year, but lost in the conference finals to Cleveland.
And so much has happened since then.

Thomas was traded for Irving, then missed the first 36 games of the season with a hip injury before making his season debut on Tuesday night. In that time, he stewed over his departure from Boston, where he developed into an All-Star and fan favorite.
“I don’t know who we are or who we can be until we get I.T. back consistently,” James said. “Until we get a full dosage of I.T. … we’re trying to figure things out. But we’ll be fine.”
The Celtics scored seven straight points midway through the first quarter to turn a one-point deficit into a 15-9 lead. They ran off the last five points of the quarter — all by Rozier — on a tip-in and a 27-foot 3-pointer just before the buzzer that made it 32-21.
With the Cavaliers double-teaming their longtime point guard for much of the game, Irving was held under 20 points for the first time since Dec. 10, a span of 11 games.
“Every time he gets doubled, I’m thinking of ways I can help him out, scoring,” Rozier said. “He opened up the game for a lot of us.”
Thomas made his first appearance at the new Boston Garden since the trade, but he did not play. Although he had expressed shock at the trade and held a grudge toward Danny Ainge, who orchestrated it, the relationship between him and the Boston fans remains unblemished. (Thomas also said on Wednesday that he had mended fences with Ainge .)
Thomas, who asked the Celtics not to play a video tribute, saying he would prefer to be honored when he was actually playing, got a cheer from the crowd when he joined his teammates on the bench late in the first quarter and made a brief appearance on the video board.
At the break, cameras again showed Thomas. And this time, the crowd rose to its feet for a standing ovation. The Cavs guard pounded his heart three times, smiled and gave a little wave before returning to his seat for the start of the second quarter.
Thomas said he has a long way to go before he feels like himself on the court. But after his seven-month absence, he said playing Tuesday night against Portland was one of the most special moments of his career.
“There’s still movements that I’m scared to do. But it’s just because I’ve been out for so long,” he said. “For the most part when you get hurt the mental part is the toughest part. My wind isn’t there. I’m not in that good of a shape. Obviously my game isn’t where I want it to be, but it showed a positive step in the right direction that I’m not far where I want to be.”
Cavaliers: Kevin Love left the game early in the fourth quarter with a right ankle sprain. He finished with two points and five rebounds in 21, going 1-for-11 from the floor and missing all four 3-point attempts.. … Jae Crowder also made his first trip to Boston as a visiting player. He finished with six points and nine rebound son 2-for-12 shooting. … The Cavaliers are 14-4 over the last 18 matchups against Boston, including two playoff series.
Celtics: Seen in the crowd: Gymnast Aly Raisman, Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, Patriots Dion Lewis and James White and former Patriot Troy Brown. … Aron Baynes limped to the locker room in the second quarter but returned. He finished with six points.
Cavaliers: Visit the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.
Celtics: Host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
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With Ginebra or Alab, Justin Brownlee loves the Philippines, and the feeling is mutual

BACK IN PH. After knocking down back-to-back triples for Alab Pilipinas, Brownlee was showered with "Ginebra" chants from the sizable crowd. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines - Justin Brownlee is not supposed to return to the Philippines until the end of the PBA’s All-Filipino Cup but he has no problems being back to the “greatest place I’ve played in the world.”

Brownlee made his ASEAN Basketball League debut in fine fashion after submitting 29 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and two blocks to power Alab Pilipinas in a 90-79 win over the Westports Malaysia Dragons on Wednesday, January 3.

At 29 years old, Brownlee is already a veteran in the international basketball scene, having played in Italy, Mexico and France before being one of the cornerstones of Ginebra’s back-to-back Governors’ Cup titles in the last two years.

As far as Brownlee is concerned, nothing compares to playing here in the Philippines.

“We need to talk to Gilas and tell me to sign them up for the national team. Just joking, just joking. I love it here man. It’s the greatest place I’ve played in the world,” said the former St John’s University stalwart.

“You know, playing in Europe and in the States for a couple of years but I just love it here and the fans are great. They love me and I love them back. Whenever I have the opportunity to play, I’ll definitely try to see and take that opportunity.”

As one of the most beloved imports in the PBA, Brownlee received the same admiration he gets when he dons the Barangay Ginebra jersey.

After knocking down back-to-back triples that gave Alab a 66-63 lead late in the third quarter—and catapulting Pilipinas to a game-clinching run in the fourth period—Brownlee was showered with “Ginebra” chants from the sizeable crowd at the Arena in San Juan.

“That was very special. I know I’m here in Alab, this is a great team, a great organization and a great company and everything and have great sponsors. It’s always going to feel great to hear that chant no matter where I am,” Brownlee said. –

Bono earns praise for holding his own vs Fajardo

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/
ANTIPOLO — It pays to be prepared, and for Ken Bono, he seized the moment when coach Norman Black called his number to guard June Mar Fajardo on Wednesday.
Though surprised at first, the former Adamson standout did the best he could to at least slow down Fajardo as he held the fort for the Meralco frontline against the San Miguel giant in the second half.
“Coach just told me to get ready. I’m just thankful for the opportunity that coach gave me and I did my best to help the team. You’ll never know when coach will call your number, so I’m just ready,” Bono said.

Though the Bolts went on to lose, 97-103, Bono’s presence was a huge boost in making a game out of the duel.
READ: Cabagnot, San Miguel weather Meralco comeback
“I was happy with the way Ken played,” said Black. “He’s been hurt and he just came back to practice about a week ago, and he did pretty well tonight against June Mar. He did a pretty decent job of at least trying to push him out of the lane.”
Containing a behemoth like Fajardo is admittedly tall order, but Bono was still able make life difficult for the four-time PBA MVP while also making a good account of himself on the offensive end.
Bono scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field in only 11 minutes.
“You can’t stop June Mar. You just had to contain him. I’m just thankful for coach for giving me the opportunity,” said the former UAAP MVP.
READ: Fajardo admits having a hard time vs Bono
Bono’s exemplary showing didn’t just garner praise from his own fort, but as well as from the opposing side as San Miguel coach Leo Austria also expressed glee with his former player’s performance.

“I really congratulated him because I know what he can do. He’s one of the best shooters among big men and if he will focus on his conditioning, I think he will be given playing time,” Austria, who coached Bono at Adamson, said.
The 33-year-old Bono hopes to get more opportunities to play.
“Hopefully [I get to play more], but it depends on coach. I’m just ready every game,” he said.


Ancajas, Biado, Tabora lead awardees

The Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) will hold its annual Awards Night on Feb. 27 as it continues to preserve a time-honored tradition of feting athletes who shine here and abroad and make the nation proud.
Billiards king Carlo Biado, bowling queen Krizziah Lyn Tabora and boxing titlist Jerwin Ancajas head the list of athletes to be feted during the two-hour affair – their reward for doing their share in making the year that’s about to end a memorable one.

Biado, Tabora and Ancajas have also been named by the PSA board of directors in its recent meeting as candidates for the Athlete of the Year, the highest accolade to be given during the rites scheduled at the Maynila Hall of the historic Manila Hotel.

The number of nominees for the top award may increase to four if another Filipino boxer in International Boxing Federation light-flyweight champion Milan Melindo wins his unification bout with WBA titlist Ryoichi Taguchi on New Year’s eve in Tokyo, Japan.

“It’s that time of the year again when the PSA throws a party for the best and brightest in Philippine sports,” said PSA

president and Spin.Ph editor Dodo Catacutan.
“These athletes deserve nothing less,” he added.

Several prominent officials and friends of sports led by Ramon S. Ang of San Miguel Corp., Manuel V. Pangilinan of the MVP
Group of Companies and Judes Echauz are also expected to get recognition and share the limelight with the athletes for their boundless help to local sports.

According to Catacutan, the 23 gold medalists in the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games and the 20 winners in the ASEAN Para Games also held in the Malaysian capital will also be given appropriate honors in the rites where former sportswriter and boxing analyst and now Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pinol will be the guest of honor and speaker.


“It’s a great honor that a former colleague in the sports beat who has risen to prominence will be with us on the night when we fete our top athletes,” said Catacutan.
Organized in 1949 and considered as the oldest group of media practitioners in the country, the 80-member PSA has also started seeking the help of its old and new friends in sports like San Miguel Corp., Milo, Tapa King, Cignal, Philippine Sports Commission, Mighty Sports, Rain or Shine and Globalport to stage the affair.

Special awards like Mr. Basketball, Ms. Volleyball, President’s Award, National Sports Association of the Year, will also be handed out.

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