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ORLANDO • LeBron James is not accustomed to Game 1s like these.

His teams had lost the series opene..

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ORLANDO • LeBron James is not accustomed to Game 1s like these.

His teams had lost the series opener in eight of his previous nine trips to the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, but Wednesday's start to the showpiece series against the Miami Heat went as well as he and the Los Angeles Lakers could have hoped.

The Lakers won 116-98.

But James, seeking a fourth NBA title, has no trouble keeping the dominant victory in perspective.

The Lakers shook off a slow start to lead the Heat by as many as 32 points on the way to their win in Orlando, Florida, but James, who had 25 points, insisted it was no time to celebrate.

"The best teacher in life is experience," he said. "I've experienced moments in my career where you have all the momentum in the world and you felt like you had the game under control, and one play here or there could change the course of a series or change the course of a game."

The forward is still rankled by the memory of Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals, when he played alongside Dwyane Wade for the Heat against the Dallas Mavericks.

"D-Wade hits a three right by their bench," James recalled. "I believe it put us up either 13 or 17.

"From that moment on, Dallas went on a hell of a run and finished it off with a Dirk Nowitzki left-hand lay-up to steal that game. That burns me to this day."

He added that was why he was already looking forward to seeing where the Lakers can improve before Game 2 against the Heat today.

"I'm extremely amped up about watching the film with our ball club," he said. "I'm going to watch some tonight, obviously by myself, but I'm looking forward to getting together as a group tomorrow."

While the championship series stage is nothing new to James – or the 16-time champions Lakers – it was a first for fellow All-Star teammate Anthony Davis.

Davis scored a game-high 34 points in an impressive Finals debut, but he too said the Lakers should have started and finished the game better.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis going to the basket in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. He had a game-high 34 points, aided by the injury-enforced exits of Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. PHOTO: REUTERS
  • 3rd

  • Anthony Davis' 34 points are the third most scored by a Laker on his NBA Finals debut behind Shaquille O'Neal (43) and George Mikan (42).

The underdogs Heat jumped to a 13-point lead midway through the first quarter. And even after injuries to Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo, they were able to narrow the final margin with a solid fourth-quarter performance in which they outscored the Lakers 31-23.

"We have to be able to come out a little bit more aggressive and come out with a little more sense of urgency," Davis said.

"It feels good to get the first game. But we're not satisfied. We don't like how we ended the game. That wasn't a championRead More – Source

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Giants knock out Cowboys to stay alive in NFC East as questionable decisions doom Dallas

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In fitting fashion, an NFC East elimination game concluded with a running back sitting on his fumbled ball. Yes, sitting.

New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman coughed up the ball with 58 seconds to play, but officials ruled he secured it just enough to maintain possession after he literally sat on it. The Giants held on for the final minute of the game, winning 23-19 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Dallas Cowboys have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The NFC East title will be decided by a “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. Washington is in if it ties or wins. The Giants (6-10) will advance if Washington loses.

Neither the Giants nor the Cowboys played a clean game. Dallas’ offense stalle

The Giants, despite an interception and two fumbles (one lost), terrorized the Cowboys offensive line and sacked Dalton six times — hitting him a total of nine times. Dalton’s pressure prohibited the Cowboys from jelling in the passing game as they had a week earlier in their 37-17 win over the Eagles.

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Cowboys, finishing their season at 6-10, snapped a three-game winning streak.

d repeatedly, and its defense let up two early touchdowns.

But head coach Mike McCarthy will shoulder the blame for two questionable decisions.

On third-and-16, with 7:02 to play and the Giants up by 1, Giants receiver Dante Pettis did not appear to secure the catch on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones. Dallas chose not to challenge the play that immediately preceded the Giants’ 50-yard field goal. That, and the decision not to go for 2 after running back Ezekiel Elliott’s third-quarter touchdown, doomed the Cowboys.

Neither team converted a third down for the first 24 minutes of the game, and ball security made a difference. The Cowboys’ final drive ended on quarterback Andy Dalton’s interception in the end zone.

The Giants, despite an interception and two fumbles (one lost), terrorized the Cowboys offensive line and sacked Dalton six times — hitting him a total of nine times. Dalton’s pressure prohibited the Cowboys from jelling in the passing game as they had a week earlier in their 37-17 win over the Eagles.

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Cowboys, finishing their season at 6-10, snapped a three-game winning streak.

NFC East eyes will turn to the Sunday night game to determine whether a six- or seven-win team advances to the playoffs.

McCarthy’s eyes will turn to his second season in Dallas after an underwhelming first.

 

Read from source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/cowboys/2021/01/03/new-york-giants-nfc-east-dallas-cowboys-out/4116818001/

 

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Wisconsin drops trophy after beating Wake Forest in Duke May’s Bowl

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 The Wisconsin Badgers captured the Duke’s Mayo Bowl and the trophy that came along with it.

And then they broke it.

While dancing around to celebrate his team’s 42-28 victory over Wake Forest on Wednesday, quarterback Graham Mertz dropped the football-shaped piece of Lenox crystal, leaving it shattered on the floor of the locker room after it fell off its base.

“We just wanted everybody to have a piece of that trophy,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst joked.

That would seem appropriate.

Mertz accounted for three touchdowns and Wisconsin turned four second-half interceptions, all by different players, into 21 points to turn a close game into a near-rout of the Demon Deacons. Five players scored touchdowns for the Badgers.

Mertz, a redshirt freshman, threw for 130 yards and ran for two short TDs as Wisconsin (4-3) finished a rocky 2020 season on a high note.

“Yeah, I dropped it,” Mertz said sheepishly. “That’s on me. It happened.”

The Badgers might be willing to forgive him.

With the game tied at 21 late in the third quarter, Noah Burks intercepted Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman on a pass in the flat when the intended receiver failed to turn his head around. Burks returned the ball 41 yards to set up a 14-yard scoring strike from Mertz to Mason Stokke on a wheel route, giving the Badgers their first lead.

Hartman, who had thrown only one interception all season, was picked off on the next three possessions as well.

Scott Nelson had a 60-yard interception return and Collin Wilder returned a pick 72 yards to set up short TD runs that gave the Badgers a 42-21 lead, resulting in Hartman getting benched. Jack Sanborn had 11 tackles and an interception and was named MVP of the game.

“It felt like one led to the other,” Sanborn said. “After three picks, we said, ‘Collin you have to get one’ – and then Collin went and got one.”

Sanborn said the Badgers picked up on some of Hartman’s tendencies.

“Throughout the game, similar concepts coming up,” Sanborn said. “We kind of knew where he wanted to throw the ball. He was making throws early in the game. But we got a tell on where he wanted to go with the ball.”

Hartman finished 20 of 37 passing for 318 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

“All of a sudden the dam opened the floodgates and wow, I never thought we would lose a game like that,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

Clawson said he felt Hartman was telegraphing his passes.

“I think he held on to targets too long and Wisconsin broke on his eyes and his arm actions,” Clawson said.

Wake Forest (4-5) outgained Wisconsin 518-266 on offense, but the Badgers had 176 return yards off interceptions.

Hartman threw three touchdown passes to Jacquarii Roberson to give the Demon Deacons a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter against the nation’s No. 1-ranked defense.

The game was played in front of no fans other than family and friends due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Manchester City’s ‘compromised’ Covid-19 security bubble forces postponement of game at Everton

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An uptick in positive Covid-19 cases at Manchester City has forced the postponement of the club’s English Premier League game at Everton on Monday.

“After the latest round of Covid-19 testing, the club returned a number of positive cases, in addition to the four already reported on Christmas Day,” said City in a statement on their website.
“With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond.
“Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the fixture.”
On Christmas Day, City confirmed that forward Gabriel Jesus and defender Kyle Walker, as well as two members of staff had tested positive for Covid-19.
Monday’s game had been slated to kickoff at 8 p.m. local time at Goodison Park in Liverpool.
An alternative date and kickoff time has yet to be decided, according to Everton.
The Premier League says further testing will be conducted on Tuesday.
Meanwhile Crystal Palace and Leicester City shared a 1-1 draw on Monday as the Premier League’s intense festive schedule of matches continued.
Kelechi Iheanacho missed a first-half penalty for the visitors as second place Leicester, who had drawn 2-2 with Manchester United on Saturday, looked to close the gap on Premier League leader Liverpool.
Wilfried Zaha’s superb finish then gave Palace the lead, before Harvey Barnes’ low shot late on secured Leicester a point, moving Brendan Rodgers’ side on to 29 points, three behind the Premier League defending champion.

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