Knicks rally, but flop at the finish line against lowly Cavs

CLEVELAND — David Fizdale has identified one pure trait of his 2018-19 Knicks. They’re never out of a game.

There’s also another undeniable trait Knicks president Steve Mills, general manager Scott Perry and the team’s first-year coach all but promised: This team will deliver lots of losses — to the very good and the very bad.

All the forces came together in a Wednesday thriller at Quicken Loans Arena. Rookie lottery pick Kevin Knox got the start and made a dazzling finish. It looked like he would become the heroic closer, spearheading one last final rally on a night stuffed with them.

Emmanuel Mudiay picked up a loose ball, ignited a fast break and fed Knox, who jammed it home emphatically with the right hand, giving the Knicks a one-point lead with 32.5 seconds left. Moments before, Knox had drilled a 3-pointer.

But the Knicks couldn’t hold onto that slim advantage in another late collapse that saw the game end on an 8-0 Cavaliers run en route to a 113-106 Cleveland victory.

Rodney Hood scored the game-winning basket in the lane with 23 seconds left. Mudiay followed by blowing a floater then had to throw away an inbounds pass, with the five-second count running out and no timeout at his disposal, as the Knicks’ rally from 22 points down was for naught.

The 8-21 Knicks have lost five straight and continue the three-game road trip in Charlotte on Friday and Indiana on Sunday.

Fizdale said recently that player development and defensive culture is far more important than won-loss record. But this was a rare night when it was difficult to see clearly where Fizdale’s defensive culture is going.

Cleveland struck for 39 first-quarter points, looking like LeBron James was still on the squad, as the Knicks gave the Cavaliers all types of open looks.

“The game was lost in the first quarter,’’ Fizdale said. “We can’t keep spotting teams 40-point quarters and think we’re going to dig out of that. But I was proud of the way we crawled back. But we didn’t guard the ball [early]. We had seven blow-bys in the first quarter.”

It was a horribly rough first half against a league dreg at a no-longer-full downtown arena — among the most troubling of the Knicks’ 21 losses. The Cavaliers entered the night at 6-21 and were without their top performer in center Tristan Thompson after already being beset by Kevin Love’s toe surgery.

“We came out sluggish,’’ said Knox, who finished with an impressive 19 points. “We gave up too many easy points. We weren’t guarding the ball at all. We fixed it in the third quarter but it was too late. The first quarter messed us the whole game.”

Fizdale made another starting lineup change, the obvious swap of Knox for Mario Hezonja. Knox shot well from deep and finished 7-of-15 from the floor, 3-of-6 on 3s). He even recorded a block on a fast break by Hood.

“Every game I’m starting to see him get a little bit better, little more aggressive, a little more certain,’’ Fizdale said.

The Knox move may have hurt the defensive chemistry though, as the Knicks allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 53.6 percent in the first half. Cleveland didn’t commit a single turnover in the opening quarter.

Jordan Clarkson’s four-point play gave the Cavs a 53-31 lead. That 22-point bulge was wiped out, astoundingly, in a 10:03 span when Noah Vonleh scored inside, tying the score at 67 with 8:11 left in the third.

“We can’t give up 40 points in the first quarter and play catch-up the majority of the game,’’ said Mudiay, who finished with 16 points and seven assists.

The Knicks fell back behind by seven but roared again, forging an 86-86 tie after three quarters via back-to-back 3s by Tim Hardaway Jr. and Frank Ntilikina (16 points).

Still, it was there to win. Down one with 23 seconds left, the Knicks’ strategy was to shoot quickly instead of burning the clock to the final ticks and foul after a miss. Mudiay had a good look at a floater but was off target.

“Mud got right where he wanted it, was a make-or-miss play,’’ Fizdale said. “If we miss, we’re able to foul. We’re not that type of team to run the shot-clock down when we’re down.’’

Cedri Osman got the rebound of Mudiay’s miss with 15 seconds left, hit both free throws, and Mudiay couldn’t find an open man on the ensuing inbounds — tossing it in before a violation and the ball was stolen by Larry Nance Jr.

“I had to get rid of it,’’ Mudiay said.

As good as Knox was, Cavs point guard Collin Sexton, picked one slot ahead of him last spring at No. 8, kept pace, scoring 16 of his 19 points in the first half. Knox did his damage late but it didn’t result in the win.

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Arsenal send scout to watch top transfer target Cengiz Under ahead of potential £50million January move

The 21-year-old is expected to be named in the starting XI for the Italian club's Europa League clash against FC Viktoria Plzen.

And with Gunners boss Unai Emery keen to keep up his side's outside chance of a title challenge, the Turkish international ticks a fair few boxes.

Nicknamed "The Undertaker", the Roma star has been impressive for the Serie A side since joining from Istanbul Basaksehir in 2017.

This year, he's bagged four goals and four assists across all competitions for his club and was watched by Arsenal scouts as he helped his side to a dramatic 2-2 draw against Inter Milan.

However, Roma are keen to hold on to the 21-year-old for the remainder of their Champions League campaign.


Letting the young Turkish player move would result in a profit share with Under's former club who they'd have to pay 20 per cent of any transfer fee.

A natural right winger, Under has previously spoken of his desire to play in England.

UNDER-STANDING CENGIZ

Age – 21

Position – Winger

Current Club – Roma

Previous Clubs – Istanbul Basaksehir

Club Appearances – 38

Goals Scored – 9

Turkey Appearances – 10

Goals Scored – 4

Speaking in 2017, the ex-Basaksehir star said: "Among the leagues I want to play in are La Liga, the Bundesliga and the Premier League.

"But I want to play in the Premier League the most.”

The Turkish star may be dubbed The Undertaker, but at 173cm he is somewhat shorter than the 208cm wrestler.

But if Arsenal manage to land the promising winger, Gunners fans will be hoping he will prove as destructive on the pitch as his namesake does in the wrestling ring.

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WWE ‘Raw’ And ‘SmackDown Live’ Ratings Still Terrible This Week

SmackDown Live managed to edge the ratings up a little over last week, but Raw was still abysmal.

Last week, Monday Night Raw set a record for its terrible viewership, as reported by the Inquisitr. However, just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any lower, the WWE found a way.

In fact, this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw managed to drop 4 percent over the previous modern-era low. This time, the show averaged only 2.19 million viewers over the course of the three-hour show, as reported by the Wrestling Observer.

The first hour actually started off strong, averaging 2.35 million viewers. However, fans tuned out at an alarming rate, with the second hour averaging 2.19 million viewers and the third hour only averaging 2.05 million.

As reported by the Inquisitr, Raw started off with Seth Rollins telling fans that the show has sucked of late, which could have led to fans realizing that he was right and turning off to go watch Monday Night Football. WWE gambled that the acknowledgment of past poor shows would make fans want to see how the company will change things up, but apparently, that wasn’t the case.

Obviously, the main competition for Raw was the NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks, which averaged a solid 11.39 million viewers.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Raw was the 10th highest-rated show on cable with the only shows beating it being NFL-related programming and news.

For SmackDown, fans were wondering whether the show would be able to crack 2 million viewers, but this week it only managed to average 1.977. While it’s below that 2 million number again, it’s still a jump from the 1.948 last week’s episode did.

SmackDown Live actually kept more of Raw‘s viewership than it normally does. This week, the show retained 90 percent of Raw‘s audience, which means that most of the people who stuck it out until the end of Raw watched SmackDown Live as well.

Tuesday night’s episode fell out of the top 10 in overall cable viewership, which is a bit concerning.

Where the SmackDown number really gets ugly is when compared to last year. There was a 20 percent year-over-year drop off, which is never a good sign.

Of course, the WWE has already locked up huge television rights deals with USA and FOX, so these numbers aren’t an immediate cause for concern, but they’re definitely something worth keeping an eye on. We’d expect the ratings to drop even further for the SmackDown Live episodes that air on Christmas and New Year’s, but only time will tell.

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Perth curator in hot water with Cricket Australia

Cricket Australia denies it has been involved in pitch doctoring at the sport's new $1.6 billion venue on a day Indian skipper Virat Kohli threw down the gauntlet to Australia's fast bowlers.

The tourists have spoken a tough game heading into the maiden Test at Perth's Optus Stadium, declaring they are ready to tame what shapes as a quick, green and lively deck.

Australian coach Justin Langer and Optus Stadium curator Brett Sipthorpe inspect the pitch.Credit:AAP

However, eyebrows were raised when stadium curator Brett Sipthorpe declared in The West Australian that CA had requested a frighteningly fast and bouncy Perth pitch to unsettle an Indian side more accustomed to placid home conditions – a claim CA vehemently denied when contacted by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

"They want to see this place fly. That's like an early Christmas present to me. To get that fear in the eyes of the opposition turning up and seeing it fly … beautiful," Sipthorpe told the local paper.

The sport's governing body insists it never dictates how the pitch should play, only that it wants a variety of styles around the country.

A CA spokesman said the governing body had not made any specific request to Sipthorpe.

"We work with all of our venues to ensure pitches deliver a competitive match between ball and bat in all Test matches. That we see different characteristics in our wickets across our country is unique in world cricket and we should celebrate this and give freedom to our curators to bring them to the fore," the spokesman said.

The Australians often complain about doctored pitches when travelling overseas, particularly through the sub-continent. Last year in India they expressed dismay at the state of the Ranchi deck days out from the Test, fearing it had been tailor-made for the home team's spin twins Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

The curator's comments also come in a year when International Cricket Council chiefs have made it clear they want more balance between bat and ball, a point acknowledged by Adelaide Oval curator Damian Hough.

Despite what appears a bid to unsettle the tourists, Kohli has declared his side is ready to deal with what shapes as a raging green top but have suffered a major blow on the eve of the second Test, with Ashwin among two enforced changes because of injury.

Ashwin, a key figure in India's 31-run win in Adelaide, has a left-abdominal strain while batsman Rohit Sharma has hurt his back.

Ravi Ashwin will miss the Perth Test.Credit:AAP

Ashwin, the wily spinner with a major trick bag, has 342 wickets in 65 Tests and claimed six wickets for the match in India's historic win this week, where he delivered a marathon 86.5 overs.

This has heightened expectation that the tourists are likely to unveil a four-pronged pace attack and will consider bowling first as they eye taking an unbeatable series lead in the best-of-four Tests to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

All-rounder Hanuma Vihari is likely to replace Sharma at No.6 and provide a part-time spin option, while either Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Umesh Yadav will replace Ashwin and join Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah in a pace battery.

Kohli insisted he and his team would welcome the extra bounce.

"Yeah, for sure. We certainly get more excited than nervous looking at lively pitches now. We understand that we do have a bowling attack which can bowl the opposition out as much as they are convinced about their attack," he said.

"When you have four or five fast bowlers who are at the peak of their ability, it's always a great feeling to have in the side. For us as batsmen it also gives us a lot of motivation and boosts us up that we can put in those match-winning significant batting performances because we have so much belief in our bowling unit right now. We understand that if we bat well, we will definitely get the result that we want."

Kumar has played six Tests against Australia, including one in Sydney in 2015 when he claimed 5-122 in the first innings. Fellow quick Yadav has played 11 of his 40 Tests against Australia, including taking 5-93 at the WACA in 2012.

Kohli had a double failure in Adelaide with the bat but the world's premier strokemaker has backed himself and his teammates to follow the lead set by Adelaide first-innings century maker Cheteshwar Pujara and flourish a deck which could be dubbed the "green mamba".

"I was pretty happy to see the pitch the way it is. I hope that no more grass is taken off the pitch because that will mean the first three days will be, obviously, very lively and we as a team are happy with that," he said.

There has been considerable debate about the accuracy of the decision review system after umpires Nigel Llong and Kumar Dharmasena had decisions overturned in Adelaide.

Australian spinner Nathan Lyon was particularly frustrated, while skipper Tim Paine questioned whether the technology took into account the change in bounce as the pitch deteriorated.

Kohli revealed the tourists, who were the last team to agree to the use of the technology two years ago, had sought clarification with Llong and Dharmasena, who will both stand in Perth.

INDIAN SQUAD: Virat Kohli (c), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav.

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Man Utd fans reckon Romelu Lukaku's first touch is getting 'worse with every game' after Valencia defeat

United's £75million striker left supporters frustrated with his display as Jose Mourinho's side slipped to a 2-1 loss in Spain.

While scoring goals is the main challenge for Lukaku, he also plays a vital part in the tactics employed by Mourinho as the focal point of the attack.

But it appears scores of fans are losing patience with the way the Belgian loses possession cheaply because of his poor control.

The 25-year-old's all round game has been brought into focus in the past as he lacks the finesse of other top level forwards in the game.

There are times when opposition defenders find him impossible to deal with when he is at the peak of his form.

But in other matches he struggles to exert his authority and some fans believe he costs United through the basic flaw in his game, failing to control the ball.

The Champions League clash with Valencia was the ideal time to produce a top performance for his side having been dropped for the clash with Arsenal earlier this month.

But just four minutes into the match, Lukaku wasted a great chance for United to make an early impact – and that left fans fuming.

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Dillian Whyte 'put voodoo curse' on boxing rival Dereck Chisora during deleted Gloves Are Off footage

The two boxers will meet for their much-anticipated rematch at London's O2 Arena on December 22.


But Whyte may have already got the advantage before he has even laced up the gloves  – after putting a curse on his rival.

The curious incident came during the ‘The Gloves are Off’ Sky Sports preview, but it was deleted from the show as it was too bad to be shown.

Sky Sports presenter Johnny Nelson said that it will never be seen on TV as Sky officials said Whyte’s bizarre comments were lost in translation.

But he believes somebody out there could’ve understood what he meant.


The former cruiserweight world champ told iFL TV: “The producers and directors were not sure if it was profanity and what exactly he was saying.

“Because someone was going to understand what was said there.

"In our culture in the West Indies it is called juju, it's just a bit of voodoo stuff, it’s a kind of curse, that would be said.

"But translation – don’t ask me what he said.

WARREN TELLS FANS TO OPT OUT

FRANK WARREN has told British boxing fans to bin ‘recycled’ Dereck Chisora v Dillian Whyte and tune into the ­featherweight version of Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder.

Josh Warrington defends his IBF world title against Belfast hero Carl Frampton in Manchester on December 22 — the same night the two Brit heavyweights meet.

Warren, who is riding the crest of a wave after Fury’s sensational Los Angeles performance on December 1, said: "Warrington vs Frampton is like Fury vs Wilder in their weight division.

"They want to fight to see who is the best. Which to watch is a no-brainer."

To read more of Warren's explosive comments, click here.

“You can understand why though, because somebody will be out there and they’ll understand what was said and if the director and producer didn’t know what was said they could be saying anything.

“So they’ve got to be smart with it, they’ve got to be safe with it.

“My dad told me not to repeat it, it's not good, it’s not coming out of my mouth, it’s a little bit saucy."

SunSport has reported how there will be one interested spectator ringside for the heavyweight rematch – WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world champ Anthony Joshua.

Joshua has already fought, and stopped, old foe Whyte back in 2015 when he captured the British title.

But there appears still to be some interest from the boxing world to see the two fight again.

He could well face the winner in April.

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WATCH: Highlights of this week’s WWE SmackDown on Sky Sports

We’ve put together the most eye-catching moments from the in-ring action from this week’s episode of SmackDown.

The blue brand packed plenty of action into their final two hours before Sunday night’s pay-per-view TLC, which can be seen live on Sky Sports Box Office at midnight.

Click on the video above to watch our special SmackDown highlights reel!

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Glenn Hoddle says Spurs clash against Barcelona 'wasn't good for recovery' as he speaks for first time since heart attack in BT studio and life-saving heart surgery

Hoddle has been getting better at home following a triple heart bypass operation  in October – and claimed Spurs' dramatics in the Nou Camp did nothing to help his recovery.

He tuned in to see his former club snatch a thrilling point in the knockout stages of the Champions League with their 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp.

Spurs wasted a series of chances before Lucas Moura popped up with the late equaliser which was enough to see them make it out of the group stages.

It was tense stuff for any supporter, but for Hoddle it tested his recovery to the limit.

And he took to Twitter for the first time since his brush with death to joke about his old side causing problems on the path back to full health.

Lucas Moura struck the vital goal to earn a draw for Spurs in the Nou Camp

He wrote: "That just wasn't good for my recovery!

"But a great performance well done boys, deserved to win COYS".

The sight of Hoddle back on social media will be a huge relief to football fans across the country who had feared the worst when he fell in at the BT Sport studios on October 27.

The former England boss was celebrating his 61st birthday, but collapsed after appearing on Robbie Savage's show.

 

It then emerged that he only survived thanks to the quick work of a studio crew member who performed CPR and used a defibrillator on him.

Hoddle was rushed to hospital where specialists immediately performed a triple heart bypass to save his life.

And late last month his family released a statement revealing he had finally been allowed home from hospital, where he was continuing his recovery.

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