Celtics’ Baynes To Miss At Least Four Weeks After Hand Surgery

Aron Baynes #46 of the Boston Celtics celebrates during the first quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden on December 14, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. 
Maddie Meyer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

The Boston Celtics said centre Aron Baynes had successful surgery on his broken left hand on Thursday and will miss four to six weeks of NBA action.

The Australian big man was apparently hurt in the first quarter of Boston’s 111-103 loss to the Phoenix Suns when his hand struck the wrist of Deandre Ayton as the Phoenix rookie tried to make a pass.

Baynes stayed in the game briefly, pulling down a rebound and even making a dunk before exiting.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said X-rays clearly showed the fracture.

“I saw the X-rays, so I can confirm that one,” Stevens said. “Even I could see the break.”

It’s another injury blow for Boston. Al Horford missed his sixth straight game on Wednesday with a knee injury. Forward Marcus Morris was a late scratch with a sore right knee and Guerschon Yabusele is sidelined with a sprained right ankle.

Baynes was averaging 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 14 minutes per game for the Celtics.

AFP

Celtics Pull Away Late In Win Over Timberwolves

Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics looks on during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at TD Garden on January 5, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier combined for 32 points as Boston’s reserves keyed the Celtics’ 91-84 NBA victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

In a hard-fought contest that included 15 lead changes, the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics finally turned the tide late in the third quarter to post their fifth straight win.

Boston had missed 12 of their first 14 shots of the third and were down 55-48 with less than five minutes left in the period.

But they made eight of their next 11 shots, closing out the third on a 17-7 scoring run.

The Celtics withstood a 25-point, 23-rebound performance from Minnesota star Karl-Anthony Towns.

Smart’s 18 points on eight-of-13 shooting led the Celtics and Rozier added 14 off the bench as Boston’s reserves out-scored Minnesota’s 42-20.

Star guard Kyrie Irving led Boston’s starters with 16 points and also pulled down nine rebounds and eight assists.

Irving’s finger-roll layup with 1.6 seconds left in the third pushed the Celtics’ advantage to 66-62 and they wouldn’t surrender the lead in the final quarter.

“Tonight was one of those games where every last one of us from the starters to the guys coming in off the bench were ready,” Smart said.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was pleased to see his team hang on despite their offensive struggles.

“To win a game like that against a really good team when you can’t make a shot — that’s a good thing,” Stevens said. “You’re going to have nights like that. You’ve just got to find a way.”

The Toronto Raptors used a big third quarter — including 20 points from Jonas Valanciunas — to beat the Milwaukee Bucks for the second time in five days, 129-110.

Valanciunas, benched in the second quarter after finding himself in quick foul trouble and failing to score in the first, responded in the third, when the Raptors out-scored the Bucks 43-19.

“He was masterful as far as getting position, using his size and strength in the paint and just doing a good job of rebounding the ball, old school, going to get the ball, rebounding, putting it back and getting and-ones,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Valanciunas, who was just two points off Kyle Lowry’s club record for points in a quarter.

Heat hang on 

The Miami Heat, who endured an embarrassing 29-point defeat at the hands of the New York Knicks in November, turned the tables with a 107-103 overtime triumph.

Wayne Ellington led Miami with 24 points and made six of a franchise-record 16 three-point attempts.

Overall the Heat set a club record for three-pointers attempted, making 12 of 42 from beyond the arc.

Goran Dragic had 19 points, six rebounds and six assists. Josh Richardson’s 18 points included six free throws late in regulation and in overtime.

It was close at the end in Memphis, where the Washington Wizards edged the Grizzlies 102-100 as the hosts’ late rally fell short.

Bradley Beal scored 34 points with five rebounds and five assists while John Wall added 25 points, nine assists, and four steals for the Wizards, who led by as many as 17 points in the third.

Up by 15 going into the fourth period, the Wizards suddenly went cold and Memphis roared back, slicing the deficit to one point with 18.4 seconds left.

Free throws from Beal and Mark Morris saw the Wizards stretch the advantage back to five points before Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans drained a three-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin.

More misery for Lakers 

The Charlotte Hornets sent the Lakers spinning to a ninth straight defeat, 108-94 in Los Angeles.

The return of rookie guard Lonzo Ball from injury couldn’t lift the Lakers, who endured their third straight loss by double digits and heard boos from home fans when they fell behind by as many as 25 points.

AFP

I Skipped Eagles Superstars Due To Personality Problems – Keshi

Coach Stephen Keshi has opened up on West Brom and Nigerian International Osaze Odemwingie, saying he skipped the player’s name from his squad selection because Osaze had personality problems which he felt cannot be permitted in the squad.

A lot of uproar was generated between the coach and the West Brom player before the Afcon 2013 tournament due to Osaze’s non-inclusion in the provisional squad to the Nations Cup in South Africa.

To a lot of football-loving Nigerians, it appeared as if Keshi didn’t have an idea of what he was doing. This perception continued into the tournament especially in the face of the abysmal performance by the Super Eagles in the group games, giving rise to many questioning why players like Osaze and others were dropped from Keshi’s provisional squad.

“We decided not to take some of these superstars to the Nations Cup because it is a long period of time and for the long period of time, you need characters that go together,” the former Super Eagles captain explained in an interview with Daily Trust.

“And if you have one or two who do not get along, forget about the superstars, the team will fall apart. I can bring a player in for a game. We can manage some of these players with a little bit of character problems, but when it comes to a long period of time, that’s difficult.

“Odemwingie is a very good player, a player I love to have in the team, but he wants to do what he wants to do.

“In the national team, where I was captain for 14 years, you are nothing but an individual in the team as you are not bigger than Nigeria. If you are not ready to give the green-and-white shirt the due respect, you are walking out of my team.

“We talked on the phone, I told him what I wanted from him, but he had his own notion and I said for now, I will skip you.”

Keshi also revealed that Obafemi Martins was not ready for the Nations Cup, but he has not shut the door against the Levante striker.

“He is still part of the group. If his name is in the next call-up, if he wants to come, we will see how it goes,” he said.

The Eagles coach admitted he missed Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi at the African Nations Cup, whose presence in the dressing room would have improved his team.

“Honestly speaking, I missed Shola Ameobi because in the game against Venezuela, he has a different presence in the locker room, he came in with this coaching ability and togetherness, when he talks to these boys they listen. This was the first time he was coming.

“This was what I was looking for on the pitch, somebody who could talk for me on the field, because I know what I did as a captain on the pitch.

“He was really, really ready to come, but his contract denied him from coming.”

Keshi’s Star Players

Keshi also said he will stick with Efe Ambrose at right back despite concerns the Celtic star is being played out of position.

Ambrose is best known as a central defender, but was played at right during the 2013 AFCON in South Africa with many raising concerns over his suitability in that position.

Keshi said the versatile Ambrose grew as a right back during the AFCON.

“He was growing during the tournament; he loves to play in the position. With every game Ambrose was just marching forward with a lot of confidence. If he were not growing, then that’s a different thing,” Keshi remarked.

“He is a very technical player. He loves playing this position and so we said go ahead.

“He can also play in central defence, as a defensive midfielder and at right back; same goes for Oboabona, Kenneth (Omeruo) and Onazi.

“An emergency could come up and we are blessed to have players who can play different positions. It’s a wonderful gift.

“This is what we are looking for in a team, like when Onazi came in and played right back for Efe Ambrose when he was suspended.”

Reds Willing To Bid For Celtic Defender Efe Ambrose

One of Nigeria’s defenders at the just concluded Afcon 2013 tournament where Nigeria’s Super Eagles were crowned champions of Africa is been the talk of the press in Scotland.

The Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose who plays for Celtics we hear is being wanted by Liverpool to add to its defence line.

According to Metro, the 24 year old Nigerian who is rated to be worth £6 million prompted Liverpool to up their game in their interest for the player after the player impressed scouts with his performances at the African Cup of Nations.

Scouts brought the name of the Nigerian international back to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers after the tournament.

Liverpool representatives have been dispatched to watch the £6million-rated 24-year-old during the Hoops’ title procession in Scotland, as they ‘step up’ their interest in the player.

Manager Neil Lennon is well aware of the interest in his player, but revealed that there is yet to be a concrete offer for the player, who is contracted at Parkhead until 2015.

“I know a few Ambrose fans. There is nothing concrete, but I am aware of the interest,” he is quoted as saying by the paper.

Liverpool aren’t full of options in defence, with veteran centre Jamie Carragher announcing earlier in the month that he’s to retire at the end of the season.

That leaves Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates as the manager’s options at Anfield in the summer, and Rodgers already appears to be looking at his options on Merseyside.

Messi surpasses Pele’s mark for goals scored in a year

Brazil football Legend Pele’s milestones for goals scored in one calendar year was beaten yeaterday Argentine forward and Barcelona player; Lionel Messi after scoring his 75th and 76th time in 2012 to move within nine of Gerd Mueller’s all-time record as Barcelona won 4-2 at Mallorca in a la liga clash.

Xavi Hernandez was the key to Barcelona’s victory as he unlocked Mallorca’s defence with a free kick in the 28th minute before Messi struck in the 44th. Cristian Tello added a third goal a minute later at Iberostar stadium.

Their opponent were bent on not giving up the game like that as Mallorca came back to level early in the second half but Messi stepped up to score again the 70th to ensure victory.

It would be recalled that the Spanish giants lost surprisingly to Celtic in the Champions League clash during the week and the Mallorca game can be tagged to be a comeback of the sleeping giant.

This is the latest scoring feat for the Argentina forward, one of the leading candidates for the Ballon D’Or.

Messi scored 73 goals in the 2011-12 season for Barcelona, breaking the previous European club record of 67 goals set by Mueller in 1972-73. He also set a Spanish league record of 50 goals last season and broke Cesar Rodriguez’s 57-year milestone of 232 goals to become Barcelona all-time leading scorer.

Joaquin Caparros’ Mallorca tried to follow Celtic’s defensive blueprint from Wednesday’s upset in Glasgow, but the strategy didn’t last even half an hour.

Xavi Hernandez took full advantage of a foul earned by Cesc Fabregas on the edge of the area. The Spain midfielder bent a beautiful free kick over the defensive barrier that turned goalkeeper Dudu Aouate into yet another spectator as it fell into his net.

Also, second-place Atletico Madrid stayed three points behind the pacesetters by easing past visiting Getafe 2-0 thanks to goals by Adrian Lopez and Arda Turan.

Messi converted Barcelona’s 75 per cent of possession into a deserved second goal when the Argentina forward dribbled by several defenders and unleashed a left footed-shot that Aouate let slip through his hands.

Tello then quickly made it 3-0 by curving a strike from outside the area into the far side of the goal.

When it appeared Barcelona would cruise to the comfortable victory, two errors allowed Mallorca to get back into the game.

Mallorca’s Michael Pereira pulled one back in the 55th after Javier Mascherano lost the ball. Two minutes later, Victor Casadesus made it 3-2 from the penalty spot following Sergio Busquets’ handball in the box.

 

But Messi received a chested pass from Alexis Sanchez and smashed the ball into the top corner to restore Barcelona’s two-goal advantage and crush Mallorca’s hopes.

Messi’s seventh double of the season increased his league-leading tally to 15 goals. He has 20 in all competitions this season.

Pele scored 75 goals for Brazil and Santos in 1958. Mueller had 85 in 1972 for West Germany and Bayern Munich.

With strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema injured, Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Madrid in the 21st after receiving a gash above his left eye in a collision with an opposing player.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said that Ronaldo was having trouble with his vision by halftime and had to be substituted. Mourinho sent on an extra defender looking to protect his slim lead with the water-logged pitch encumbering almost every attack.

Madrid, even without its three top scorers, almost scored twice more as Pepe and Sergio Ramos both hit the crossbar.

But Mourinho’s tactic backfired when Levante substitute Angel Rodriguez held off Pepe to control Obafemi Martins’ pass and slot the ball beyond goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 62nd.

Madrid had another golden opportunity when Jose Callejon was fouled by David Navarro on the edge of the area, only for goalkeeper Gustavo Munua to block Xabi Alonso’s resulting spot kick in the 73rd.

As time ticked down, Mourinho sent on Morata in the 83rd and one minute later the forward met Alonso’s free kick to head it by Munua.

“I was very happy to help the team,” said the 20-year-old Morata. “Two years ago Munua saved a clear goal for me. I have had more chances and I knew that one day the goal would arrive and today was the day.”