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Arsenal loses key defender for three months to injury

first_imgRelatedPosts Runarsson joins Arsenal on four-year deal Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ Arsenal, Wolves want Michael Olise Arsenal have confirmed that defender Kieran Tierney faces around three months on the sidelines after suffering a dislocated right shoulder in Monday’s English Premier League win at West Ham United. “Kieran will undergo surgery next week and will rehabilitate for around three months,” the club’s website said on Saturday. The 22-year-old Scotland left-back was substituted just before the half-hour mark in the 3-1 derby win at West Ham. This was after he fell badly and used his shirt as a makeshift sling as he left the pitch. Arsenal will be without Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka for Sunday’s home game against Manchester City after he suffered concussion when the ball struck him in the head at West Ham. Defender Hector Bellerin will also miss out with a tight hamstring. But record signing Nicolas Pepe is available after missing the Europa League clash at Standard Liege on Thursday with a bruised knee. Reuters/NAN.Tags: ArsenalGranit XhakaKieran TierneyPremier LeagueWest Ham Unitedlast_img read more

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Al Mubarak: Expect swift action

first_img But Manuel Pellegrini has proved a popular, reliable and successful replacement and the club feel their decision has been vindicated. Al Mubarak said: “The decision to hire Pellegrini was a very important decision for us as we look at the next couple of years. “I am absolutely delighted for him, for the fans, for the club, for everyone involved at Manchester City. “It is a perfectly justified decision. I think the results speak for themselves.” One of the next targets for City will be to carry their domestic pre-eminence onto the European stage. Some progress on this front has been made under Pellegrini, with the club reaching the Champions League knockout stage for the first time. Al Mubarak said: “This year we have made some progress. We have played much better football, been a lot more competitive and I think the experience coming through the two games against Barcelona will be invaluable for us. “Let’s be clear – Europe has always been an integral part of our strategy, an integral part of the success we want to achieve for this club. We will continue to progress.” Press Association City are keen to build on their success of 2013-14, in which they won the Barclays Premier League and Capital One Cup, even though they face a spending cap as a result of UEFA sanctions. The European governing body has limited City’s net outlay on players this summer to £49million as one of their punishments for breaching financial fair play regulations. But City said last week that figure would have no “material impact” on planned transfer activity that Al Mubarak now says will begin imminently. Al Mubarak told City TV: “We know exactly what needs to be done. We know exactly the players that need to go and the players that need to come in, the areas that need to be strengthened, the players that we intend to bring in to fill these areas. “I can tell our fans to expect, as last year, an efficient and swift execution plan. “We will have, after the World Cup, a good pre-season and we will go into the season very ready, as we did last year, to compete for four championships.” City’s actions last summer, including the sacking of Roberto Mancini as manager, put the club back on an upward trajectory after a relatively disappointing end to the 2012-13 season. Al Mubarak reported that owner Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi has been delighted with the progress in the past 12 months. He said: “Sheikh Mansour feels this club is doing exactly what he intended it to do in terms of performance across the board – on the field, off field, trophies, championships and wins, but also commercial success, and the fans’ support has been unwavering. Genuinely, Sheikh Mansour is absolutely delighted with the way this club, this company, this business is performing.” City did attract criticism after parting company with Mancini, as the Italian had led the club to their first title in 44 years in 2012. Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has promised the newly crowned champions will act swiftly and decisively in the transfer market this summer.last_img read more

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Shawcross facing spell on sidelines

first_imgStoke captain Ryan Shawcross is to undergo back surgery and will be out for at least two months, the club have announced. Press Association The central defender is to have the operation next week having suffered a recurrence of the back problem that troubled him last season. A statement on the Potters’ official website on Thursday said: “The club had hoped surgery would not be necessary and that the summer break would provide a solution. center_img “That initially appeared to be the case, but the harder Shawcross pushed himself in pre-season the more discomfort he found himself in, leaving no alternative but for him to undergo the operation.” The news is a significant blow for Stoke three days before their 2015/16 Barclays Premier League campaign kicks off with a home clash against Liverpool. Shawcross, 27, has consistently been a key figure during the Potters’ seven-year stint as a top-flight club following their promotion in 2008. He initially joined them on loan from Manchester United in the summer of 2007, signed on a permanent deal in January 2008 and has made over 300 appearances for the Staffordshire outfit in total. It will be interesting to see if Stoke boss Mark Hughes, who has already made eight signings this summer, will now move again in the transfer market in a bid to compensate for the loss of Shawcross. Hughes has the likes of Marc Wilson, Marc Muniesa and Philipp Wollscheid as options already at his disposal for providing cover. And Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland told the BBC of once-capped England international Shawcross: “To lose him is a big loss, but we’ve got players capable of filling the void. “The likes of Geoff Cameron, Marc, Philipp and Muni are top-class centre-halves and would be brilliant replacements.” last_img read more

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Adaptability will be key to India’s success: Dhoni

first_imgSydney, Feb 7: Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday said adaptability will be the key to success for the defending champions in the cricket World Cup starting on Feb 14.“What is important is to adapt to the conditions and the middle overs. Bowling in the middle overs will also be crucial because that will put pressure on the opposition which will put a cap on the scoring from the 35th over onwards and the slog,” Dhoni said on Saturday.“We haven’t had much opportunity to bowl in the slog overs which is something that will come into action when the World Cup starts.”Dhoni said his team is willing to change the batting order depending on the playing conditions, a prominent feature of the adaptability which he wants his team to have.“We have to alter out batting order according to the conditions. Wickets in hands is our strength and once we have wickets in hand we can really exploit the conditions,” he said.“We are not that deep when it comes to batting and are different to other teams. You have to pick options and learn to score runs freely.”The build–up to the quadrennial event has not been easy for India. They failed to win a single game in a tour off Australia that consisted of four Test matches and an ODI tri–series also involving England.However, Dhoni insisted that they are looking forward to the warm–up games to identify the players that are likely to feature in the team for the event.“Even while playing the Champions trophy, we were going through a rough patch. But, the guys stepped up during that tourment and we played very consistently which counts.We will use the two warm–up games to settle with the playing eleven that will feature in the first game. The warm–ups will be crucial from the perspective of what we want to achieve out of it,” added Dhoni.The defending champions will play their first warm–up game against Australia Sunday, before taking on Afghanistan in another tune–up game. They will start their World Cup campaign Feb 15 in a high–voltage match against Pakistan in Adelaide. IANSlast_img read more

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Early optimism abounds at USC

first_imgPlenty of things could have gone wrong for USC on Saturday against Fresno State. I wasn’t nervous, but I certainly had memories of last year’s Washington State game fresh in my mind as I walked into the Coliseum for another home opener.Very little did go wrong.Evident by their performance and the 52-13 final score, the Trojans did not underestimate the Bulldogs like they did the Cougars last season, despite a week filled with off-the-field distractions. The Trojans took care of business, sending a large portion of the dehydrated student section confidently to the exits at halftime with a 31-7 lead. Redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler didn’t call it a day until the fourth quarter — when redshirt freshman quarterback Max Browne took over under center — but there was very little doubt that the Trojans came to play after Kessler led the Trojans on a 17-play, 90-yard touchdown drive that took just over six minutes off the clock to start the game and the season.It’s way too early to offer any real assessment of the team. As college football’s resident cranky grandpa Lou Holtz said oh-so-eloquently over the weekend, per Grantland’s Holly Anderson, predicting the path of a team after one game is like predicting the career path of an infant. It’s the kind of critical analysis that must have led Notre Dame to a national championship in 1988.“Is it gonna be a doctor? I don’t know; it’s a baby.”The analogy rings true for USC. Though the team collectively did some serious growing up this past week of practice and certainly looked mature beyond its years, things are only going to get harder.With all due respect to Fresno State, this was a team USC beat last year in the Las Vegas Bowl 45-20 — and that was while the Bulldogs still had star quarterback Derek Carr, who was just named the starter as a rookie for the Oakland Raiders. Fresno State may have won the Mountain West Conference last year, but the Mountain West has nothing on the Pac-12.Additionally, while the team handled both of the major off-field distractions brilliantly, and that level of mental fortitude is consistent with what we saw in last year’s coaching carousel, more distractions are bound to pop up.Players said all the right things about the Josh Shaw and Anthony Brown incidents to the media leading up to the game, then let their play do the real talking on Saturday.But if last year is any indication, those two incidents are far from the only bumps in the road USC will hit this year. In fact, those two incidents might not entirely be in the rearview mirror.Players said after the game that it’s time to stop talking about Shaw and Brown; it’s time to move on. Though Brown likely will not come up again the rest of the year — and his incident would have fit more with Sports Illustrated’s “Signs of the Apocalypse” than national headlines if it happened independent of Shaw’s — Shaw’s certainly was a very big deal and is far from resolved.We know at this point that his drowning rescue mission was a complete fabrication, but we still don’t know what actually happened or what led to him spraining both of his ankles. Maybe the most telling piece of information we do know is that he hired defense attorney Donald Etra, who has twice been hired by Snoop Dogg when the rapper faced felony charges. As I wrote earlier this year, however, we don’t know enough to offer a judgment until a jury of Shaw’s peers does so, and there’s a chance Shaw is completely innocent of any criminal activity.The point is that Shaw’s incident will likely reappear over the course of the year. He might be indicted for a felony before the season ends; he might be reinstated to the team before the season ends. Neither could happen or both could happen.It would not be unheard of for the team to avoid more injuries and win the other 11 games on its regular season schedule. Their highest-ranked opponent, UCLA, looked very vulnerable against an unranked Virginia team. But there will likely be more players who get hurt, other players who underperform and times when the Trojans find themselves trailing at halftime and need someone to step up. That will be the true test of USC’s character, and it might come this weekend in Palo Alto. USC certainly met the challenge of Stanford last year, though the team didn’t have a single comeback from a halftime deficit in 2013.All signs, however, have been definitively positive through week one. Kessler looked very poised as the undisputed leader going into the season and avoided any interceptions.A wide variety of true freshman appearing in their first-ever college football game made huge impacts, including Adoree’ Jackson, JuJu Smith and Bryce Dixon. Some Facebook albums from the first tailgate likened football season to the most wonderful time of the year, and this batch of new first-year players feels a lot like a Christmas present in late August. Perhaps most importantly, head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff aced their first game plan, and his players seem to have total confidence in him.It really is the most wonderful time of year, finally being back at school, seeing everyone again and coming together over the joy of another season of USC football.It’s going to be an awesome year. Luke Holthouse is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism and policy, planning and development. His column, “Holthouse Party,” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this story, visit dailytrojan.com or email Luke at lholthous@usc.edu.last_img read more

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Golden Eaglets Hammer Côte d’Ivoire 5-1

first_imgU-17 AFCON QUALIFIERThe Golden Eaglets revived their hopes of qualifying for the U17 AFCON in Tanzania next year after they outclassed Cote d’Ivoire 5-1 in a second group game in Niamey, Niger, yesterday, after they lost their opening game to Burkina Faso.The Manu Garba led team will now wait till the weekend when Burkina Faso tackles Cote d’Ivoire to know whether they finish top of Group B or runners-up. Golden Eaglets Star man Akinwunmi Amoo sporting jersey No 13 was outstanding for the Nigeria youngsters and was named Man of the Match.Skipper Samson Tijani also shone as he was a big screen to the Eaglets defence.The Eaglets raced to 2-0 lead after 10 minutes. They scored two more goals in the first half before they made it 5-0 in the second half.However, the Ivorians pulled a goal back from the penalty spot late in the game.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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ManBetX teams with World Snooker in sponsorship extension

first_img How BetCris has supported Ronnie O’Sullivan’s snooker success October 2, 2019 Sportradar supports snooker’s Championship League with data deal June 2, 2020 Related Articles Submit Share StumbleUpon Champion Trio bolsters BetVictor’s racing stable July 17, 2019 Share Asian focused bookmaker ManBetX has been announced as the title sponsor of two upcoming World Snooker ranking events, The Welsh Open and The Gibraltar Open.Emanating from the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, The ManBetX Welsh Open, one of the sports longest running tournaments and an ever present on the calendar since 1992, begins today (Monday 26 February) and runs until Sunday 4 March.Amongst the 129 strong field vying for the trophy are defending champion Stuart Bingham, as well as Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and John Higgins.Alternatively the ManBetX Gibraltar Open is set to run from Wednesday 7 March to Sunday 11 March, and will be held at the territory’s Tercentenary Sports Hall.First staged in 2015 and won last year by Shaun Murphy, the champion will be back to defend his title, alongside Barry Hawkins, Luca Brecel, Jimmy White and Chinese world number one, and world number four, Ding Junhui.Barry Hearn, World Snooker Chairman, said: “We are thrilled to welcome ManBetX on board for the first time. These are two fantastic world ranking events to look forward. Snooker continues to grow rapidly as a global sport and these tournaments will be watched by many millions of fans via the coverage on BBC Wales and Eurosport, bringing tremendous exposure to the ManBetX brand.“We have seen sensational snooker on our tour so far this season with many of the top guns firing their way to the big titles. It will be fascinating to see where the trophies go in the coming weeks and we look forward to working with the ManBetX team.”Scott Taylor, Partner at Project11, added: “We are delighted to lead with ManBetX’s expansion into snooker. This follows on from ManBetX’s current front of shirt sponsorship with Crystal Palace. “These two prestigious title sponsorship’s are the perfect fit to further the reach of the ManBetX brand. It’s been great working with World Snooker – another marquee sporting property within the Project11 portfolio.”last_img read more

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Yahaya Mohammed earns call-up as CK Akonnor names first Black Stars squad

first_imgAduana Stars striker, Yahaya Mohammed, earned a call-up to the men’s senior national team as Charles Kwablan Akonnor named his first squad as head coach.Mohammed has scored 10 goals in 12 games so far this season for second-placed Aduana in the Ghana Premier League.He was one of four local players named in CK Akonnor’s 23-man list for the AFCON 2021 Qualifiers against Sudan later in March.Joining him in the squad are Hearts of Oak goalie, Richard Attah, Asante Kotoko’s Habib Mohammed and Ashgold defender, Kwadwo Amoako.Hearts of Oak goalkeeper, Richard AttahBoth Ayew brothers – Andre and Jordan – also return to the squad, as well as Atletico Madrid midfielder, Thomas Partey.Richard Ofori is in the squad as Ghana’s undoubted first-choice goalkeeper, while Razak Abalora is a surprise call-up.Youngster, Kudus Mohammed, who scored against South Africa in Ghana’s first qualifier is also in the team.Kudus Mohammed celebrating his goal in his debut against South AfricaThere are also call-ups for Paderborn’s Christopher Antwi, Brentford’s Tariq Fosu and Richmond Boakye Yiadom of Red Star Belgrade.Ghana face Sudan in Cape Coast, in the first match on March 27, with the next game in Sunda on March 31.Thomas ParteyFull squad:GoalkeepersRichard Ofori (Maritzburg United – South Africa)Razak Abalora (Azam – Tanzania)Richard Attah (Hearts of Oak – Ghana)DefendersKwadwo Amoako (Ashgold – Ghana)Andy Yiadom (Reading – England)Gideon Mensah (Zulte Waregem – Belgium)Nicholas Opoku (Amiens – France)Habib Mohammed (Asante Kotoko – Ghana)Kasim Nuhu (Fortuna Düsseldorf  – Germany)Joseph Aidoo (Celta de Vigo – Spain)MidfieldersMubarak Wakaso (Jiangsu Suning – China)Alfred Duncan (Fiorentina – Italy)Baba Iddrisu (RCD Mallorca – Spain)Thomas Partey (Atletico Madrid – Spain)Kudus Mohammed (FC Nordsjaelland – Denmark)ForwardsChristopher Antwi (Paderborn – Germany)Tariq Fosu (Brentford FC – England)Andre Ayew (Swansea City – England)Samuel Owusu (Al Fayha FC – Saudi Arabia)Eugene Ansah (Hapoel Ra’anana – Israel)Richmond Boakye Yiadom (Red Star Belgrade – Serbia)Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace – England)Yahaya Mohammed (Aduana Stars – Ghana)last_img read more

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MLB Power Rankings: Astros debut at No. 1; top 10 loaded with greatness

first_imgThe Central is, once again, Cleveland’s to lose, but the Indians’ reign may be coming to an end sooner rather than later if they don’t make real improvements to their roster as the season moves along. And no, Hanley Ramirez isn’t an answer.11. Rays12. Mets13. Braves14. Rockies15. Athletics16. Twins17. Angels18. Pirates19. Mariners20. Reds21. Padres22. Giants23. Diamondbacks24. Blue Jays25. White Sox26. Royals27. Tigers28. Rangers29. Marlins30. Orioles Before we get started, a friendly reminder: Small sample sizes, especially in baseball, are bad.So before you continue reading these far-too-early Power Rankings and start spewing mean-spirited tweets at me and tell me to find a new job, also remember: Baseball is a fickle sport where the only thing that’s for sure is that nothing is for sure. (Thanks, Sting.)  MORE: Watch ‘ChangeUp,’ a new MLB live whip-around show on DAZNHere’s a take: Baseball in 2019 won’t be much of a surprise. There will be expectedly good teams, there will be horrifyingly bad teams and there won’t be much of a middle-class. So while everyone is still working the kinks out, keep in mind that this likely won’t be what your favorite team is for the duration of the MLB season. (Sorry, Orioles fans.)As baseball wraps up its first weekend of the season, here is your debut Power Rankings for 2019 (updated every other Monday from here on out).1. AstrosThe Astros lost Marwin Gonzalez to free agency and rotation stalwart Dallas Keuchel is still without a team for 2019. Houston is without Lance McCullers Jr. for 2019 as he recovers and rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Carlos Correa is still dealing with injury issues. Through all that, the Astros are still the most complete and talented team on paper heading into the meat of the season. Justin Verlander and Gerritt Cole make as good of a 1-2 as there is in all of baseball, and the team has plenty of bench depth and minor league guys ready to help throughout the season, with pitcher Forrest Whitley and outfielder Kyle Tucker knocking on the door of the majors.Not to mention, they still have perennial MVP candidates Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman in the heart of their order.The Astros are still good, and they will be for a long time.2. Red SoxThe Red Sox won 108 games last season and stomped their way through the postseason en route to another World Series title. But it’s hard to envision the baseball gods smiling down on Boston for a second straight year, especially with the way all the mojo, juju and karma went their way last. Through that, Boston still has a loaded lineup that features Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez — those guys are pretty good! — and a solid rotation that’s anchored by Chris Sale (when he’s healthy). Expecting history for a second straight season is a tough ask, and Boston’s bullpen sans Craig Kimbrel is capable, but not without its questions. Still, the Red Sox won a million games and a championship last year for a reason, and are largely unchanged from the previous year’s team. They’re in this spot for now.3. YankeesThe Red Sox and Yankees can be flipped, as arguments can be made for or against either one of the AL East rivals to sit in the No. 2 spot. The Yankees had a very good offseason, re-signing Zack Britton and J.A. Happ while adding former Rockies Adam Ottavino to the bullpen and D.J. LeMahieu to the lineup.The biggest flaw of the team is the same as it’s been for nearly a decade: the rotation. The question marks there are still apparent and abundant, highlighted by Luis Severino out until May with a bum shoulder. Otherwise, the Yankees are a very complete team on paper and, should health hold up, they’ll be in the World Series discussion come season’s end.4. DodgersThe Dodgers are still the most talented team in the NL with the least amount of holes on paper. They’ve got All-Star shortstop Corey Seager back from Tommy John surgery and top prospect Alex Verdugo will see meaningful time in the outfield.The Boys in Blue are still young and talented — and benefit from having a really weak division — and their rotation will be very good this year. Expect the Dodgers to be at the top of the NL once again, and at the very least be in the discussion as one of the better teams in the Senior Circuit all year.5. NationalsFor most teams, losing a player like Bryce Harper would signal a rebuild. Not for Washington, though. Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Trea Turner are three members of the club’s young core, and they all have the potential to be great. Oh, by the way, that Scherzer guy is still at the top of the rotation and now has more backup by way of Patrick Corbin.The biggest question for Washington is second-year manager Dave Martinez, who steered the Nats to an inconsistent 82-80 season in 2018. Scherzer, Corbin and Stephen Strasburg at the top of their rotation should help steer them to an NL East pennant this year, but it won’t be an easy task.MORE: Mets continue to check in on Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel6. CubsThe Cubs need to rekindle the dynasty talk, and on paper they have the talent to do it. It starts with having smart at-bats and being the suffocating offense they were in 2016 when they won it all. They’re also going to need more from Yu Darvish, who only had eight starts in 2018 before succumbing to a triceps injury and eventual stress reaction that sidelined him for the remainder of the 2018 season. (Darvish was shelled in his first start in 2019.)Expect the Cubs to make noise this year, in what could be Joe Maddon’s last season as Cubs manager. It feels like the buzz is gone, but even without it they have the talent to be great inside the NL Central, though they won’t be without stiff competition.7. BrewersThe Crew went to Game 7 of the NLCS last year in an unconventional yet very current-day-baseball way, with Craig Counsell managing the bullpen to perfection and throwing some curveballs along the way. The Brewers aren’t going to be a cutesy-surprise team in 2019. They have tons of offensive firepower, with defending NL MVP Christian Yelich picking up where he left off in 2018, mashing his way to four home runs in his first four games.The NL Central is shaping up to be one of the best divisions in baseball, and to that end, the entire Senior Circuit is absolutely loaded. 8. CardinalsAnytime you can bring in an MVP candidate to help your team, you do it. And that’s what St. Louis did with Paul Goldschmidt this offseason. Goldschmidt has been worth 11.3 bWAR over the past two seasons while playing above average defense at first base, and he’s one of the better hitters in the NL. The move instantly makes the rest of the team better offensively and defensively, and can shift the power in the division.Goldschmidt aside, the Redbirds have a lineup mixed with young and veteran talent, and they can beat you in a few ways. Should Marcell Ozuna rebound from an up-and-down 2018 and Andrew Miller provide some stability and a good bridge to Jordan Hicks, then the Cardinals will be a force in the NL Central. 9. PhilliesIt didn’t take long for Bryce Harper to announce his presence with authority, launching a 465-foot home run in his second game in a Phillies uniform. Philadelphia fans can expect that for the next decade, roughly.Philadelphia finished with a whimper in 2018, going 8-20 in September in a consistently inconsistent season. A major offseason in which they acquired four big-time players — Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto — should prove fruitful for second-year manager Gabe Kapler, but the NL East won’t be easy to navigate, the Phils’ 3-0 start notwithstanding.10. IndiansThe Indians still have a good lineup and the top of their rotation matches up with just about anyone in MLB. Losing Michael Brantley hurts, even if he’s dealt with injury issues in the past.The Indians still have a very weak outfield both figuratively and literally: Jake Bauers, Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin combined for 16 home runs in 2018last_img read more

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Kyle Kuzma’s headband signals hot start in Lakers’ loss

first_imgLOS ANGELES — For some of the Lakers this season, a headband has been a sign: A player needs to rediscover his mojo, and any change can help.That was what Kyle Kuzma was in search of Sunday as he donned a headband for the first time all season, and he found it quickly.The second-year forward scored or assisted for each one of the Lakers’ first 16 points, including a technical free throw he shot early in the first quarter. At the first media timeout, he already had 10 points, shooting 4 for 5 at the time, and three assists.Related Articles How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“Just trying to get back to my ways, just trying to be super aggressive,” Kuzma said. “Attacking the rim, trying to find a rhythm that way instead shooting jumpers.”Kuzma finding the net again was a highlight in a 108-104 Lakers’ loss on Sunday afternoon. Following a five-game stretch when his scoring and shooting, his main contributions, have dipped, Kuzma needed a comeback effort to go with his wardrobe change. In his hot start, he gave the Lakers a chance at home while winding up the team’s plus-minus leader (plus-11) for the game.While his dip in scoring was noticed, even before Sunday’s game, Luke Walton said Kuzma has added value in other areas. He thought defensively, he was a standout in Friday’s win over the Jazz while guarding Joe Ingles, especially in late possessions.“For where he was to what he did that night: chasing around screens, not giving up on plays, coming in and rebounding, blocking shots,” Walton said. “We have really high expectations for Kuz, so we ask him to do a lot.”One of his other roles has been small-ball center, one in which he helped a lot in the fourth quarter during the comeback attempt. Kuzma had five points and an assists in the fourth quarter, and the spacing he provided helped Brandon Ingram find shots inside the perimeter. Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Wes Iwundu, who guarded Kuzma in the starting lineup, was subbed out and would never return from his exile to the bench. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions center_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Kuzma hasn’t made it a secret that he’d prefer to stay at power forward, his more natural position, but he’s capable of making an impact at center when the Lakers need him to.“I’m a lot better defensively than I was at the start of the season,” he said. “So now I think it could be [a weapon against other teams] eventually. We just have to keep fine-tuning things.”McGee sets season-best in blocksIt’s a rare game when a center who has seven blocks in a game becomes a side note, particularly when JaVale McGee has gone seven years in between hitting that mark.But McGee’s early dominance, when he had four blocks in the first six minutes of the game, was tempered by the Magic’s eventual success in drawing him away from the rim. With opposing center Nikola Vucevic getting 31 points, including many outside shots, it dampened what might’ve otherwise been a celebratory night for a rejuvenated defensive player.“I’m a roamer so I like to get in the paint and help out a little bit,” McGee said. “So it’s kind of a challenge when Vucevic is staying at the [3-point line]. Trying to get out of that habit of going to the rim and helping people out rather than just staying with my man.”McGee’s career-high in blocks is 12, set in March 2011 when he was with the Washington Wizards. That was the last time McGee, who is averaging 2.8 blocks per game (2nd best in NBA), had at least seven in a game. It was the second time this season McGee has registered at least four blocks in a single quarter.last_img read more