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PORTLAND. Ore. — Damian Lillard had 39 points, including seven 3-pointers, and the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Minnesota Timberwolves their sixth straight loss with a 135-117 victory Thursday night.

CJ McCollum added 20 points for the Blazers, who led by 33 in the second half. Jusuf Nurkic had 17 points and seven rebounds before Portland rested its starters in the fourth quarter.

D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards each scored 26 points for the Timberwolves (2-6), who continue to struggle without Karl-Anthony Towns as he recovers from a dislocated left wrist. He’s missed six games, coinciding with Minnesota’s losing streak.

The Timberwolves had a narrow 29-28 edge after the opening quarter, paced by Russell with 11 points.

Portland (4-4) pulled in front in the second, taking a 46-36 lead on Gary Trent Jr.’s 3-pointer. Robert Covington’s 3, which capped a 15-0 run, extended the lead to 54-36 as Minnesota’s offense stalled.

After leading 75-56 at the break, the Blazers pushed their advantage to 95-65 in the third quarter on Lillard’s 3-pointer from 33 feet out.

Edwards dunked to get Minnesota to 116-100 with just over six minutes left.

Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said help might be on the way soon because Towns has been making progress. “Once we get back to Minnesota, we’ll evaluate more, and get him around the team and see where he is at that point,” Saunders said.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Minnesota was also without Josh Okogie, who has missed five games with a strained left hamstring. … Saunders said the Timberwolves discussed the mob of President Donald Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. “It was disgusting to watch in so many ways and it shows just how far we have to come as a country when it comes to coming together,” he said.

Trail Blazers: Rodney Hood returned after missing two games with a quad strain. … The Blazers have made 12 or more 3s in every game this season. … McCollum had four 3s before heading to the bench.

UP NEXT

The Timberwolves host the first of two straight games against San Antonio on Saturday.

The Trail Blazers visit Sacramento on Saturday.



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FIFA Club World Cup 2020 – News – Afif: Al Duhail can reach the final

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  • Ali Afif played for Al Sadd at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2011
  • Forward hopes to play a part at Qatar 2020 with Al Duhail SC
  • “I’ll use all my experience for the good of the team”

Al Duhail front man Ali Afif is all set to grace the FIFA Club World Cup for the second time in his career. His first appearance in the competition came ten years ago, when he played for Al Sadd, the then Asian champions.

Afif was only 23 when he ran out at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2011, having made a big contribution to Al Sadd’s second continental title, playing eight matches in their victorious AFC Champions League campaign.

Though he missed Al Sadd’s first two matches in the competition – a 2-1 win over Esperance Sportive de Tunis and a 4-0 semi-final defeat to Barcelona – he came on for the last 18 minutes of the match for third place against host team Kashiwa Reysol, a game Al Sadd won 5-3 on penalties.

Now 33, the forward spoke exclusively to FIFA.com about the importance of a competition he hopes to feature in again this year.

“I didn’t play a lot [in the 2011 competition], but the Club World Cup is a very demanding tournament,” said Afif. “The coach wanted to give everyone some playing time and a chance to compete at this level.”

A month after his maiden FIFA Club World Cup appearance, Afif left Al Sadd to join Lekhwiya, which has since become Al Duhail SC. It was there that he embarked on a successful new phase in his career, helping the club to win six Qatari league titles, the latest of which came last season and earned them a place at the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™.

“I’m delighted to be one of the few Qatari players to play in the Club World Cup twice, which is not something many players can say,” he added, before discussing Al Duhail’s bid to better Al Sadd’s run to the semi-finals ten years ago. “It’s always pleasing to equal records but we’ve got the ability to reach the final and go one step further than Al Sadd did in 2011. We need a bit of luck to do that. And when it comes to knockout matches you also need to use your head sometimes.”

The road ahead

The Qatari champions received a bye into the second round of Qatar 2020 when their scheduled first-round opponents, New Zealand side Auckland City, pulled out of the tournament due to the nation’s coronavirus restrictions.

That does not mean to say, however, that Afif and Al Duhail will have it easy in their bid to go far in the competition. Their first opponents will be reigning African champions Al Ahly, a team with considerable Club World Cup experience, having made five previous appearances in the competition.

“There’s no question that Al Ahly are one of the biggest sides in Africa. They were named the continent’s club of the 20th century,” said Afif ahead of the meeting with the Egyptians on Thursday 4 February at Education City Stadium.

“We’ll see what happens against the African champions but it’s 11 versus 11,” he added. “If we beat Al Ahly, we’ll then play Bayern Munich, but we have to face the African champions first. We have to prepare and focus on how to play them because they’re a great side too.”

Afif was part of the Qatar team that won the country’s first ever AFC Asian Cup title in 2019, a tournament in which his younger brother Akram played a starring role. Afif’s aim now is to use his experience and help his young Al Duhail team-mates make history at Qatar 2020.

“I give thanks to God for all the success I’ve achieved and for playing at two Club World Cups,” he said, wrapping things up. “I’d like to thank Al Sadd, Al Duhail and the Qatar Football Association for showing faith in me and my football career. I’ll use all my experience for the good of the team. It makes me really happy that the players are proud of me and proud of having me by their side at Al Duhail.”

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Bangladesh news – Abdur Razzak to join BCB’s selection panel

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He will join as a third selector and will join former captains Minhajul Abedin, the panel chief, and Habibul Bashar

The Bangladesh Cricket Board has named left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak as the third senior selector, to join former captains Minhajul Abedin, the panel chief, and Habibul Bashar. Razzak, who played 200 international matches between 2004 and 2018 and, at 38, continues to be an active cricketer, will have to retire from the game to take up the new job.

“My playing experience will certainly be valuable in this regard,” Razzak told ESPNcricinfo. “I used to play cricket, and now I have to help build the national team. I have been captaining in domestic cricket for a long time and I have often helped form teams. It has usually gone well. But the stakes are higher here, and the expectations are more. But still, I believe I can manage it.

“I am pretty sure I have to (retire). I haven’t mentioned it yet since I am awaiting the appointment letter but certainly when I join this new job, I have to quit (playing).”

Razzak was the first Bangladesh bowler to pick up 200 ODI wickets – he has 207 from 153 outings – and, despite not being a frontline batsman, is the holder of the record for the fastest half-century by a Bangladeshi in ODI cricket – 21 balls, joint with Mohammad Ashraful. He also made a comeback in the Test team against Sri Lanka in 2018 after a four-year break, which turned out to be his last international outing.

Over the years, he has been a domestic giant, with 137 first-class appearances. He has taken 634 wickets in them with 41 five-fors. He is also the first Bangladeshi bowler to bag 600 first-class wickets and has won nine domestic first-class titles with Khulna Division and South Zone.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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Mizzou charges back after halftime but can’t hold on in 88-82 loss to Auburn

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AUBURN, Ala. — Sharife Cooper had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to lead Auburn to an 88-82 win over No. 12 Missouri on Tuesday night.

Cooper, a freshman point guard who missed Auburn’s first 11 contests this season, had his fourth 20-point outing in six career games. Bruce Pearl’s young Tigers, who also got 23 combined points from freshmen forwards JT Thor and Chris Moore, are now 4-2 since Cooper was ruled eligible by the NCAA.

“(Missouri is) one of the top teams in the country,” Cooper said. “It gives you confidence. We feel like we can compete with anybody.”

Auburn (10-7, 4-5 Southeastern Conference) raced out to a 14-point lead early, thanks in large part to some tenacious defense and rebounding.

However, a veteran Missouri team clawed its way back late in the first half, when Cooper was forced to sit because of foul trouble. While Missouri led by as many as seven in the second half, Auburn battled back and took the lead for good with 7:34 left on a floater from Cooper.

“He’s an alpha dog,” Pearl said of Cooper. “He’s the biggest little man out there, period. Everybody knows it.”

Missouri (10-3, 4-3) was led by seniors Jeremiah Tilmon and Dru Smith, who scored 42 of the team’s 82 points.

“It’s shot selection in timely situations… we were up by seven in the second half by getting the ball inside and moving it,” Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “Then, all of a sudden, it was a quick shot here, a turnover there, a missed layup there. Those were momentum-killers.”

BIG PICTURE

Missouri: Missouri’s winning streak in SEC play has come to an end at three games. Shooting woes, which were a theme in the previous SEC losses to Tennessee and Mississippi State, popped up again Tuesday. Missouri shot just 38.2 percent from the floor and 24 percent from deep for the game.

Auburn: Although Auburn has self-imposed a postseason ban, it now has a win over a ranked team that it can build on for the rest of the SEC slate. Auburn also showed it could come back and grab a victory after losing an early double-digit lead, something it failed to do last Wednesday in a road loss at Arkansas.

FOUL MAGNET

Missouri committed 31 fouls in the game, with Dru Smith, Mark Smith and Xavier Pinson all fouling out. Auburn shot 44 free throws as a team, with 30 of them coming after halftime.

Cooper hit 18 of 21 free-throw attempts in the second half alone.

“I’ll go back and watch film, and I’m not saying that the officials didn’t do a good job,” Martin said. “But 44 free throws is a lot when you’re trying to beat a team on the road.”

BLOCK PARTY

Two weeks ago, in a win over Georgia, Auburn became the first team in Division I basketball to have 14 blocks in a single game this season.

Auburn repeated the feat Tuesday night against Missouri. Sophomore center Babatunde Akingbola recorded five in just eight minutes off the bench. Thor blocked four shots. Six different Auburn players had at least one block.

“That’s just huge,” Pearl said of the 14 blocks. “We have some weaknesses, we have some warts. But we have some length.”

UP NEXT

Missouri hosts TCU in the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday, the first of three straight home games. Kentucky and Alabama will visit Mizzou Arena next week.

Auburn plays at No. 2 Baylor in the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday. Pearl’s Tigers also played No. 1 Gonzaga away from home earlier this season.



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