Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 13th 2017 Contents A52 sports
guardian.co.tt Saturday, May 13, 2017
to win series
HOUSTON---San Antonio is head-
ing to the Western Conference finals
for the 13th time thanks to a player
who has never been there.
The Spurs eliminated the sluggish
James Harden and Houston Rockets
with a 114-75 victory in Game 6 on
Thursday night behind a season-high
34 points from LaMarcus Aldridge in
a game they played without All-Star
Aldridge, who is in his 11th season and
second in San Antonio, had failed to get
out of the second round in his previous
six postseason trips.
He added 12 rebounds in his second
big game of the Western Conference
semifinal series to pick up the scoring
slack with Leonard out after rolling his
ankle in San Antonio's overtime victory
in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
"He's really turned it on," coach Gregg
Popovich said. "Demanded the ball, got
in good position ... he was wonderful
on the boards and of course he passes
it really, really well and gets it moving
Aldridge became the first Spur to
score 34 points with 12 rebounds in a
playoff game since Tim Duncan against
Phoenix in 2008.
"I just touched it a little bit more to-
night so I had a chance to figure it out,"
"I was trying to be more dominant
down there. So I was willing to take
some contested shots tonight and I got
into my rhythm early and after that I
was good to go."
The Spurs were up by 19 by halftime in
a game that was over quickly, and didn't
let up to reach the Western Conference
finals for the first time since winning the
title in 2014. The 4-2 series win sends
them to conference finals against the
Golden State Warriors.
Trevor Ariza led Houston with 20
points on a night when MVP hopeful
Harden capped his stellar season by
tying a season low with 10 points on
2-of-11 shooting before fouling out
with 3:15 left.
A somber Harden was clear about who
was to blame for the loss.
"Everything falls on my shoulders,"
"I take responsibility for it, both ends
of the floor. It's tough, especially the
way we lost at home for Game 6. But it
happened and we move forward."
Houston coach Mike D'Antoni wasn't
sure if the disappointment of losing a
winnable Game 5 could have lingered
with his team and contributed to this
"It could, "he said. "I've been on both
sides of this thing. Sometimes life hits
you in the face. No matter what it was,
we just didn't have it tonight."
Jonathon Simmons filled in nicely for
Leonard, scoring 18 points and hound-
ing the Rockets on defense.
San Antonio was up by 23 after the
third quarter and scored the first sev-
en points of the fourth to make it 94-
64 and send many of the home fans
streaming to the exits.
Already without veteran Tony Parker,
who suffered a season-ending quadri-
ceps injury in Game 2, the Spurs looked
to be the underdog entering this one
without Leonard's scoring and defense.
Game 1 of the conference finals is
tomorrow at Golden State.
Djokovic, Nadal advance to semis
MADRID---Rafael Nadal withstood
a tough challenge from David Gof-
fin 7-6 (3), 6-2 to reach the Madrid
Open semifinals yesterday.
In a meeting between the players
with the most match wins this year, Na-
dal saved all five break points he faced
against the 10th-ranked Belgian, and
converted his chances in the second set
to win his 13th straight match.
Nadal's tour-leading 32nd victory set
up a semifinal against defending cham-
pion Novak Djokovic, who advanced
when Kei Nishikori withdrew before
their match because of a wrist injury.
On the women's side, defending
champion Simone Halep of Roma-
nia cruised past Anastasija Sevastova
of Latvia 6-2, 6-3 to reach her third
Madrid Open final. The third-seed-
ed Halep, who also lost the 2014 final
to Maria Sharapova, will play to keep
her title against eighth-seeded Svet-
lana Kuznetsova of Russia or Kristina
Mladenovic of France.
Goffin, who has 27 victories,
was trying to make it to his
third final this season.
He saved all six
ties he conceded
to Nadal in the
first set, but
fifth-ranked Spaniard took control of
the tiebreaker under the closed roof on
Nadal, a four-time champion in Ma-
drid, had an easier time in the second
set after earning an early break, and
closed out the match with another at
"We had to hit very close to the line
to win the points," said Nadal, who is
trying to win his third consecutive ti-
tle after victories in Monte Carlo and
In another quarterfinal, Pablo Cuevas
of Uruguay rallied to beat Alexander
Zverev of Germany 3-6, 6-0, 6-4. Cue-
vas won one of the points of the tour-
nament with a no-look winner with his
back to the court after a lob shot by
Zverev early in the
drew saying his
wrist was "not
100 percent" and
Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) and San Antonio Spurs guard Danny
Green chase a loose ball during the second half in Game 6 of an NBA basketball
second-round playoff series, on Thursday, in Houston. San Antonio won 114-75.
Murray said his
third-round loss to
loser Borna Coric at
the Madrid Open was
disappointing not only
because it kept him
from advancing in yet
but mostly because of
his discouraging per-
"I definitely think I
need to be concerned,"
the top-ranked Murray
said. "It's not always
the worst thing losing a
match,but it's sometimes
the manner of how you
lose the match is what
can be concerning or
Murray was outplayed
by the 59th-ranked Cro-
atian in a 6-3, 6-3 defeat
on Thursday, struggling
on serve and making 28
"I didn't help myself
sort of find a way into
the match to start play-
ing better," he said. "That
was disappointing be-
cause you're not always
going to play your best
tennis, but you can still
find ways to make it
difficult for your op-
ponent, and I didn't
do that at all." (AP)
latest defeat has
left him worried
Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates
winning a point against Beligium's
David Goffin during a Madrid Open
tennis match in Spain, yesterday.
Nadal won 7-6, 6-2. AP PHOTO
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