Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 7th 2017 Contents Defending champ Djokovic
to face Murray in final
DOHA---Defending champion Novak Djok-
ovic survived five match points to beat Fer-
nando Verdasco and set up a final against
top-ranked Andy Murray, who had far less
trouble winning his semifinal as he record-
ed a seventh straight victory against Tomas
On another day of chilly and windy weather yes-
terday, Djokovic prevailed 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3 after
the 42nd-ranked Verdasco, a crafty left-hander and
former top-10 player, controlled the first two sets
until the latter stages of the tiebreaker. Murray had
no such trouble as he advanced 6-3, 6-4 against
the third-seeded Czech. Murray's winning streak
is now at 28 matches and the British player had 10
aces and 22 winners in a convincing performance.
"It's a great match against Novak to look forward
to," Murray said on court. "This has been the per-
fect week to get ready for the Australian Open."
Murray has beaten Djokovic in two of their last
three meetings --- including in the final of last year's
season-ending ATP Finals --- but the Serb holds
a dominant 24-11 career record against Murray.
"We have always very physical battles, long ral-
lies, entertaining matches," said the second-ranked
Djokovic, who beat Murray in last year's French
Open final. "Between one and two in the world, it's
a perfect matchup." But Djokovic acknowledged
that Verdasco could rightly have been the one fac-
ing Murray today. Of the five match points Verdasco
held from 6-2 in the second-set tiebreaker, four
evaporated on the Spaniard's own mistakes.
"I would like to say tough luck for Fernando, he
was clearly the better player for the bigger part
of the match and he should have won," Djokovic
said on court. (AP)
HOUSTON --- James Harden scored 26 points
and Nene made two free throws with 0.7 seconds
remaining to lift the Houston Rockets to their
sixth straight win, 118-116 over the Oklahoma
City Thunder on Thursday night.
Houston overcame Russell Westbrook's 49 points,
though the star guard struggled down the stretch.
Nene was fouled by Jerami Grant as he attempted
a shot right under the basket, setting up the winning
free throws. Nene had a season-high 18 points.
A pair of foul shots by Harden tied it with just under
Saturday, January 7, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Houston Rockets' James Harden passes under pressure from Oklahoma City
Thunder's Jerami Grant (9) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in
Houston, Thursday night. Rockets won 118-116. PHOTO: AP PHOTO
two minutes remaining. The teams combined to miss
seven shots after that, with Westbrook missing three
in that span, before Nene's free throws.
The Thunder attempted an alley-oop on the in-
bounds pass after that, but Enes Kanter couldn't finish
the play and Houston held on.
Westbrook finished two points shy of his season
high as Oklahoma City dropped its third straight.
PISTONS 115, HORNETS 114
AUBURN HILLS --- Marco Belinelli nearly pulled
off one of the craftiest buzzer beaters in memory, but
his bank shot was disallowed because it came too late,
and Detroit held on against Charlotte.
Belinelli was inbounding from the sideline with 0.5
seconds remaining and the Hornets down by one.
Detroit's Marcus Morris was guarding the inbounder
but had his back turned, and Belinelli bounced the
ball off him and caught the carom. He then took a
shot that banked in, but it was waved off --- and a
video review confirmed the basket came just after
Kemba Walker scored 20 of his 32 points in the fi-
nal period, helping Charlotte rally from a 19-point
fourth-quarter deficit. Reggie Jackson put Detroit
up 115-113 when he made two free throws with 1.9
seconds remaining. Morris was then called for a foul
while Charlotte was trying to inbound at the other
end, giving the Hornets one free throw and the ball.
Belinelli made it to pull Charlotte within one. (AP)
Hawks 99, Pelicans 94
Spurs 127, Nuggets 99
Raptors 101, Jazz 93
Trail blazers 118, Lakers 109
Suns 102, Mavericks 95
Pacers 121, Nets 109
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