It’s hard to win back-to-back titles in the NBA; so much has to go your way, including staying healthy. Last season, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were healthy, which led to an NBA title for the Los Angeles Lakers. This season, both Davis and James miss extended time due to injuries, and both Davis and James were not completely healthy in the playoffs.
James battled an ankle injury, while Davis battled a groin injury that occurred in Game 4, which forced him to miss Game 5 and led to him leaving in early in the first quarter and not coming back after trying to give it a go in Game 6 on Wednesday night.
All that aside, this game was about the greatness of Devin Booker, who scored 22 of his playoff career-high 47 points in the first quarter as the Suns defeated the Lakers 113-100 at Staples Center.
Phoenix led by as many as 22 points in the first quarter and by as many as 29 points in the game.
The Suns, who won the series 4-2 to capture their first playoff series victory in 11 years, move on to the Western Conference semifinals to battle the Denver Nuggets, while the defending- champion Lakers go home.
Booker, who’s making his playoff debut after missing the postseason in the first four years of his career, shot 8-10 from the field in the first quarter and was 6/6 from three-point range(six threes is his regular-season career-high). He finished the game shooting 15/22 from the field and made a career-high eight threes.
Booker was ready for this game, which he discussed after the victory.
“I was just locked in, to be completely honest with you,” Booker said. “I had a tough time taking my pregame nap, all out of excitement. We treated this game like a Game 7. We were stressing since we won the last game that we wanted to end it here on their home court.”
Booker is a huge fan of Laker great, the late Kobe Bryant, and he brought that “Mamba Mentality” in Game 6. Bryant once gave Booker a pair of his sneakers and wrote ‘Be Legendary’ on them. Booker would later get that phrase tattooed on him. The two-time All-Star felt Bryant’s presence when he saw Kobe’s 8 and 24 resting in the rafters at Staples Center, which he discussed post-game.
“Honestly, I was thinking about Kobe and the conversations that we had, kind of about what we just went through, the postseason and being legendary and taking the steps to get there,” Booker said. “So, seeing that 8 and that 24 up there, with the way that the lighting at Staples has right here, it feels like it’s shining down on you.”
Booker has star potential and talent, and now the world gets the see how good of a player he is and can be on the playoff stage.
James, who led the Lakers with 29 points on Thursday night, lost for the first time in the first round of the playoffs. Coming into this series, James was 14-0.
Chris Paul, who appeared to hurt his shoulder again in the first quarter, but would return, finished the game with eight points and 12 assists.
Two-division world champion Badou Jack will face undefeated Dervin Colina in a 10-round light heavyweight bout that serves as the Mayweather vs. Paul SHOWTIME PPV co-main event this Sunday, June 6 from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
Colina replaces Jean Pascal, who was originally slated to face Jack before failing a pre-fight drug test.
The pay-per-view telecast will begin live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will feature former unified 154-pound champion “Swift” Jarrett Hurd taking on Luis Arias in a 10-round showdown, plus former NFL star wide receiver Chad Johnson will make his boxing debut in an exhibition match against versatile fighter Brian Maxwell.
Born in Stockholm, Jack (22-3-3, 13 KOs), who represented his father’s home country of Gambia in the 2008 Olympics, now lives in Las Vegas. Jack won the 168-pound world title with a majority decision against Anthony Dirrell in 2015 and successfully defended the belt three times before being handed a hard-fought majority draw against James DeGale in one of 2017’s best fights. In his first bout at 175 pounds, Jack stopped Nathan Cleverly to pick up the WBA light heavyweight title before fighting to a majority draw against then WBC champion Adonis Stevenson in May 2018. After dropping a narrow fight to Pascal in 2019, Jack’s most recent outing saw him earn a unanimous decision over Blake McKernan in November 2020.
The 33-year-old Colina (15-0, 13 KOs) lives in Medellin, Colombia, and is a native of Venezuela. He steps in on short notice to make his United States debut against Jack. Colina has competed at both super middleweight and light heavyweight in recent years and is riding a six-fight knockout streak into June 6. Colina has been training with renowned coach Stacy McKinley for the last two months in Pompano Beach, Florida.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed former Pro Bowl and All-Pro WR Pharoh Cooper, the team announced on Thursday.
Cooper, 26, spent the 2020 season with the Carolina Panthers. Entering his sixth season, Cooper made his mark on special teams. He has 82 punt returns for 729 yards and 104 kickoff returns for 2,523 yards and one TD. Cooper was a Pro-Bowler with the Rams in 2017.
The Los Angeles Rams originally drafted Cooper in the fourth round of the 2016 draft.
In another move, Jacksonville placed WR Terry Godwin on the injured reserve list.
After three quarters on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the first round series between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers, Mavericks star Luka Doncic was 16/29 from the field, including 6/9 from three-point range with 40 points and 12 assists, and the Dallas Mavericks had an 89-75 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
However, in the fourth quarter, Doncic and the Mavericks went cold. Doncic shot 1/8 from the field, including 0/3 from downtown, and finished with only two points in the quarter. The Clippers were able to cut the lead to one late in the game, but with a chance to take the lead, Nicolas Batum would miss a layup with 39 seconds left, and after two Tim Hardaway Jr. free throws, Kawhi Leonard would airball a corner three, and the Mavericks would defeat the Clippers 105-100 at Staples Center to take a 3-2 series.
The Mavericks have won three straight in Los Angeles and can close out the series in Game 6 on Friday night in Dallas.
Doncic finished the game shooting 17/37 from the field with 42 points, 14 assists, and eight rebounds, and Hardaway Jr. had a bounce-back game with 20 points. Paul George had 23 points for the Clippers, Reggie Jackson and Leonard added 20 points apiece.
Doncic had a monster game and became the first player since 1997-98 to record 40-plus points and 10-plus assists through three quarters of a playoff game. But according to him, he could have been better.
“I mean, I got to play way better,” Doncic said. “I missed a lot of shots, some layups that I should make. But it wasn’t just me, man. It was the whole team, the energy, Boba(Boban Marjanovic) was unbelievable, DP, Dwight Powell, with his energy, KP(Porzingis) with a big shot, Timmy(Hardaway Jr.) with a big shot. The whole team was just there bringing up the energy.
Doncic was battling a neck strain in Game 4, and he clearly looked uncomfortable, but that was not the case in Game 5, and he explained why.
“The most important thing was rest and, like I said, massage,” Doncic said. “Today, I was feeling way better.”
After Dallas won the first two games in Los Angeles, you thought the Clippers were done, and after the Clippers won the next two in Dallas, you thought the Mavericks had blown the series.
Now, following their win in Game 5, Dallas seems to be in control. Time will judge that, but it will be fascinating to see how the Clippers respond in Game 6.
The Philadelphia 76ers are moving on to the Eastern Conference semifinals after defeating the Wizards 129-112 in Game 5 of their first-round series on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.
Philadelphia wins the series 4-1.
The 76ers will begin their second-round series with the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in Philadelphia.
Without Joel Embiid, who is day-to-day with a small tear in his right meniscus, Philadelphia had six players in double figures. Seth Curry led the way with a playoff career-high 30 points, Ben Simmons had a triple-double with 19 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, and rookie Tyrese Maxey added 13 points off the bench.
“It was what you would call an all-hands in, team win, for sure,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said after the game.
Philadelphia will continue to need all hands in if Embiid can’t play against the Hawks. He’s their best player, and makes this team go.
The 76ers have a team that can make the Finals, but that won’t be possible without a healthy Embiid.
Regarding the Wizards, heading into their April 7 game against the Magic, Washington was 17-32 and 13th in the Eastern Conference. Washington rallied with the second-best winning percentage in the league from April 7 to finish 17-6 in the final 23 games of the season.
This team overcame COVID, injuries, and everything else to make the playoffs, but there could be some changes in the offseason. Head coach Scott Brooks five-year contract has expired, and his future with the team is uncertain.
Russell Westbrook, who started his career with Brooks in OKC, would like him to return, while Bradley Beal said, “That’s out of my hands.”
Beal, 27, can become a free agent after next season(player option), so they have to convince him to stay, but as he said after the loss to Philadelphia, he is in control.
Ultimately, I’m in control,” Beal said. “I think that’s my biggest thing. People are going to report whatever they want, but I know where my mind is, and I know if it’s not coming from the horse’s mouth, then it’s going to be rumors. I expect them. S—, they’re starting now.”
Washington is stuck at this point. They are too good to get a high lottery pick but not good enough to contend. It’s almost like they have to determine what direction they want to go in. If Beal is committed to staying, they need to try to get players to win now. However, if Beal wants out, they need to move him, Westbrook(if possible), and try to rebuild.
What happens next for the Wizards should be very interesting, and whatever Beal wants could determine Washington’s future.
Social media sensation Logan “The Maverick” Paul showed off his skills during a media workout Wednesday at the historic 5th Street Gym in Miami as he nears his special exhibition showdown against all-time great Floyd “Money” Mayweather headlining a SHOWTIME PPV this Sunday, June 6 from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
The pay-per-view telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and pits superstars from two different worlds in a must-see showdown for sports and entertainment fans around the globe.
Here is what Paul had to say Wednesday in Miami:
“This whole thing is surreal. Everything about it. I told my manager and we kind of had an inside joke that until I get in the ring with him, I didn’t think this fight was happening. But I think it’s safe to say that I can believe it now. I think it’s happening. It’s fight week. I can’t imagine Floyd would back out now, but who knows? Old man fakes an injury. Gets scared of the big kid. I’m excited.
“Weight is great and we’re about at 195. Energy is great and I feel strong, fast, sharp. I have no complaints. This is the best shape I’ve ever been in. And I need to be because it’s an eight-round fight. It’s the longest fight I’ve ever fought. So I have to be ready.”
On working out at the historic 5th Street Gym:
“There are greats who’ve fought in here. You have to put respect where respect is due. I just want to come in here and work my ass off. It’s such an honor to be in the presence of such great people in such a historic environment.”
Why this fight will be different than Conor McGregor or Canelo Alvarez against Mayweather:
“I’m just not them. I’m not going in there at 155 pounds. I’m not going in there with the fight meaning the entire world to me. I have nothing to lose. This whole thing is going to be fun for me. I’m going to play with Floyd – gonna dog him and hit him hard. I’m going to break him down physically, mentally, everything. I don’t like comparing myself to other guys. As great as they might be, I’m not them.”
Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME