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WNBA No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu didn’t have her best shooting game, but in general she said she felt OK about her pro debut Saturday.

Ionescu had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists as her New York Liberty fell 87-71 to league favorite Seattle in Bradenton, Florida.

Like the rest of the Liberty, Ionescu struggled from the field. She was 4-of-17 overall and missed all eight of her 3-point shots, the most missed 3s without a make in any debut in WNBA or NBA history. The previous mark of futility belonged to O.J. Mayo, who went 0-for-7 in his 2008 debut with the Memphis Grizzlies.

New York as a team was 23-of-66 (34.8%) from the field and 6-of-28 (21.4%) from long range on Saturday.

Ionescu, the former Oregon star who had an NCAA-record 26 triple-doubles and was the consensus national player of the year this past season, scored her first basket on a putback with 5:14 left in the first quarter. In her senior season with the Ducks, she averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game.

“I think there’s a lot of expectation on me coming in and just producing the numbers I did in college,” Ionescu said. “But I definitely think there’s going to be a lot of down and a lot of adversity I have to face in order to get there.

“I was just happy to be able to see arguably the best team in the league in our first game and just learn from the defensive schemes that they threw at me and us as a team, and continue to build from that. I’ll live with 12, six and four and my first game against the best team. I’m not used to taking eight 3s a game. I’m used to being able to come down and be able to facilitate. Now I have to be more of a scorer.”

The teams tipped off the first game of the 2020 WNBA season by leaving the court before the national anthem in honor of Breonna Taylor, the EMT who was killed in a police raid on her home on March 13. She is a focus of the WNBA’s social justice platform, and the players are wearing her name on the back of their jerseys.

“I’m really proud of this league and this team and what they’re doing to amplify our voices,” Ionescu said. “I’m excited to see, hopefully, change being made.”

The Liberty, who have seven rookies led by Ionescu, were able to hang with the more experienced Storm for the first half, trailing 42-35. But Seattle, the 2018 WNBA champion, pulled away in the second half. However, Ionescu’s comfort level seemed to increase during the game.

“I know on every single ball screen, a lot of attention is on me and trying to get the ball out of my hands,” she said. “I’m still learning, I’m a rookie. I think [it’s about] just continuing to put myself in uncomfortable positions in order to grow, and that’s what I’m doing.

“We can refine things in every category, from defense to offense. I need to take care of the ball better. But I think we did some things really well; we gave them a game, especially for the first three quarters. Us predicted to finish last, and them first … we didn’t fold at the beginning because they are who they are, so I think there’s a lot of positivity in that.”

Layshia Clarendon, the Liberty’s oldest player at 29, led New York with 20 points. Seattle coach Gary Kloppenburg said the Storm emphasized trapping and pressuring Ionescu, who had four turnovers.

“We know how good she is if you allow her to do what she wants coming out of screen-and-rolls,” he said. “We really wanted to target her, force some turnovers. I think we did a pretty good job for the first game of doing that.”

Seattle’s Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird made their returns to the WNBA after both missed last season; Stewart had a torn Achilles tendon and Bird had knee surgery. Stewart, the 2018 MVP, had a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds, while Bird, at age 39 and starting her 17th WNBA season, had 11 points and five assists.

The Storm players did not address basketball in a postgame video conference call, saying they only wanted to talk about Taylor and the league’s social justice initiative.

“It seems like in this fight for justice, women at times get overlooked,” Bird said. “Until ‘Say Her Name’ came about, you didn’t really hear about Breonna Taylor. As a women’s league, we have an amazing opportunity to bring awareness, shed light on this.”

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IPL 2020 – KKR vs MI

Kolkata Knight Riders captain Dinesh Karthik finds it extremely “unfair” that his premier pacer Pat Cummins is being criticised after just one bad performance in IPL 2020.

Cummins, who only completed his mandatory quarantine two hours prior to the match, conceded 49 runs in three wicketless overs. Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai Indians captain, was particularly severe on the Australia pacer as Mumbai posted 195 in his team’s 49-run victory.

“It is very unfair to judge him (Cummins) right now,” Karthik said on Wednesday night. “He is just off quarantine, he got permission to come and play the match itself at 3.30-4pm. We are just happy to have him and I don’t think this is a game where we need to judge him at all.”

Karthik termed Cummins a “champion bowler” who will come good during the season. “Just the fact that he is a world champion bowler, from whatever I have heard and seen he is one of the best going around in the world,” he said. “I trust him and I’m sure, he will come good.”

The best bowler for Knight Riders was young Shivam Mavi, who is returning to top-flight cricket from a stress fracture. The Uttar Pradesh fast bowler picked up the wickets of Rohit and Quinton de Kock, finishing with 2 for 32 in his four overs. These were the most economical figures among those who completed their full quota for the Knight Riders.

“Upfront he (Mavi) was very good,” Karthik said. The poor guy missed out due to an injury last year and he is looking forward to this competition and he is shaping up well and that’s a good sign for KKR.”

Karthik also said the decision to have Andre Russell come in at No. 6 was strategic. When Russell walked in to bat in the 12th over, Knight Riders needed 118 off 50 balls.

“I think it is a strategy because it is done universally, because it is not easy for a bowler to bowl consistently to left-hander and a right-hander,” he said. “Even if they get their line a little wrong, it could go for runs. Because we have the advantage of doing that, sometimes we tend to do that.”

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Brewers lose to Reds 6-1, Bauer dominates

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CINCINNATI — Joey Votto homered for his first hit all season against Milwaukee, Trevor Bauer dominated on short rest, and the Cincinnati Reds won a pivotal series for playoff contention, beating the Brewers 6-1 on Wednesday night.

The Reds are in position for a wild-card playoff berth after taking two of three from their NL Central rival. Cincinnati has won nine of 11, its best streak of the season, to get a shot at its first playoff appearance since 2013 under manager Dusty Baker.

Reflecting the urgency of winning the final game of the series, Cincinnati had Bauer (5-4) pitch on three days’ rest. He allowed four hits and struck out 12 in eight innings, and left with a major league-best 1.73 ERA.

After a day off Thursday, Cincinnati finishes with three games in Minnesota and a chance to clinch a spot.

For Milwaukee, it was a disappointing start to a challenging final week on the road. The Brewers fell a game behind the Reds and now head to St. Louis, where they’ll play five games in four days with a doubleheader on Friday.

The Reds’ homer-reliant offense made the difference.

Votto was 0 for 22 against Milwaukee this season when he connected in the first inning off Adrian Houser (1-6) for a 2-0 lead. Jesse Winker added a solo homer off Houser, who is 0-6 with a 6.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

The Reds pulled away with the help of an error in the fifth. Nick Castellanos reached on second baseman Keston Hiura’s off-target throw. Alex Claudio relieved and walked Votto, and Eugenio Suárez hit his 15th homer for a 6-1 lead.

Wrong End Of Replays

The Brewers came up on the short end of two video replays. Avisail Garcia opened the game with a walk and was ruled safe on an attempted steal of second, but was called out on review. Hiura hit a fly that hooked foul at the left field pole in the fifth inning, a call that was upheld on replay. Hiura struck out on the next pitch.

Winning Side

The Reds moved a game above .500 (29-28) for the third time this season. They haven’t been two games over .500 since a 19-17 mark on May 13, 2017.

Trainer’s Room

Brewers: Ryan Braun got a day off as he continues to deal with a sore back. He was the DH and played right field in the first two games of the series, going 0 for 7 with three strikeouts.

Reds: LH Wade Miley was activated off the 10-day injured list. He’d been out since Aug. 28 with a strained pitching shoulder. Miley pitched the eighth and gave up one hit. The Reds plan to use him out of the bullpen the rest of the way.

Up Next

Brewers: Corbin Burnes (4-0) pitched the series opener in St. Louis against LH Kwang Hyun Kim (2-0).

Reds: Tyler Mahle (2-2) is expected to pitch the opener in Minnesota.



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Charlo Brothers fight card: Five storylines to watch on massive Showtime Boxing PPV doubleheader

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With the Charlo twins set to headline separate main events within the same unique pay-per-view doubleheader on Saturday from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, there are no shortage of storylines surrounding the 30-year-old rising stars. 

Both Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs), the WBC middleweight champion, and brother Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs), who holds the WBC 154-pound title, enter what can be legitimately called the toughest challenges of their respective careers on Saturday.  The six-fight event (Showtime PPV, 7 p.m. ET) also features a four-pack of exciting matchups in the bantamweight and junior featherweight divisions. 

Let’s take a closer look at what to watch for entering the Showtime Boxing PPV extravaganza featuring the Charlos this weekend.

1. PBC betting time is now on all things #LionsOnly

With an equal balance of speed and power to form a combined pro record of 63-1 with 39 KOs, the 30-year-old Charlo twins have both seemed one breakthrough victory away from cracking the sport’s top 10 pound-for-pound list in recent years. Marketing wise, however, there has always been talk about the potential of their #LionsOnly brand becoming more, maybe to the level of being a household name across the sport (and beyond). Following a flurry of headlining roles over the past year on pay cable and in primetime on national television, PBC boss Al Haymon believes the Charlos’ time is now to take that swing in this somewhat historic double PPV main event across two cards. There has never been a doubt that the fighting brothers, who are just as competitive seemingly with one another other even more so than their opponents, have the right kind of brash attitude to sell themselves and a firm understanding of how to grab an audience’s attention. But for this PPV kickoff to truly have lasting power, both will need to win in very difficult matchups, respectively. 

2. Jermall’s island finds shipwrecked passenger

Among the most talented and well-rounded talents in the 160-pound division, Charlo simply hasn’t had the opportunity to prove his skills translate the same against the elite members of the division. His prior junior middleweight title run brought him impressive wins over names like Cornelius Bundrage, Austin Trout and Julian Williams. His five fights at middleweight have largely seen him on the wrong side of boxing’s political line, however, despite a respected decision win over former champion Matvey Korobov. With his goal remaining the same of an eventual showdown with Mexican icon Canelo Alvarez, Charlo finally gets the chance to prove his worth against as tough an out as the division can find in Derevyanchenko. For every bold word Charlo has ever proclaimed in the face of critics, this fight represents his ultimate shot at having the last word in regards to where he stands. 

3. Derevyanchenko hoping third time is the charm

A native of Ukraine with an extensive amateur background (who called the likes of future world champions Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk and Oleksandr Gvozdyk as teammates), it didn’t take but 12 pro fights for Derevyanchenko to earn his first pro title shot. Despite two outstanding performances in title shots against Daniel Jacobs and Gennadiy Golovkin over the past two years, Derevyanchenko has nothing to show for it. While he deserved a mild level of contention for his split-decision loss to Jacobs, it was his absolute war with GGG — who received the nod from all three judges — that Derevyanchenko seemed to find the majority believing he deserved better. Not only did “The Technician” rise from the canvas against both to showcase his toughness, he stood up to the powerful Golovkin and became the aggressor as the fight wore on. At 34, there’s never a guarantee how many future title shots will be available to any fighter, let alone one who faces the reality of a third defeat being his last. It’s now or never for such a great fighter to realize his full potential. 

4. Control of loaded 154-pound division at stake

For all of the justified complaining by boxing fans of the sport’s constant disorganization and political trickery, the junior middleweight division is an almost throwback example of how the sport used to be. Nearly everyone at 154 pounds who matters fights under the PBC banner, and just about all of them are willing to try and prove they are the division’s best the old-fashioned way: doing so inside the ring. Charlo faces off with the upset-minded Jeison Rosario, owner of the WBA and IBF titles after shocking Julian Williams via TKO last year, to allow the winner a firm grasp on the division at large by owning three of four recognized belts (Patrick Teixeira holds the WBO strap). Considering how insanely competitive the biggest 154-pound fights have been over the last two years (including the likes of Jarrett Hurd, Erislandy Lara and Tony Harrison, to name a few), it will be nice — for as long as it lasts — to see a temporary king crowned. 

5. Loaded undercard puts spotlight on two divisions

The double Charlo PPV might be new school in its execution, but it carries with the classic charm of what used to be a standard throughout the sport: an undercard worth making an appointment to tune in early. In whatever the four support bouts under the two Charlo title clashes lack in mainstream appeal, they more than make up for that in terms of street cred from the hardcore fans. Competitively matched with each promising a certain level of two-way violence, the four world-class fights also offer the competitors a chance to steal the show at large. Will it be Mexican slugger Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) in his vacant super bantamweight title bout against fellow unbeaten Aaron Alameda (25-0, 13 KOs)? Or how about WBA 122-pound titleholder Brandon Figueroa (22-0-1, 15 KOs)? Others are pointing to WBO bantamweight champion Jon Riel Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs) to carry on the Filipino fighting tradition of Manny Pacquiao. Either way, there are no shortage of explosive candidates. 



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