Backcourt blues: Cavaliers left to ponder another shakeup after guards JR Smith, George Hill have horrible Game 2 - Canadanewsmedia
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Backcourt blues: Cavaliers left to ponder another shakeup after guards JR Smith, George Hill have horrible Game 2

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J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts during Game 2 against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

J.R. Smith reached out, placed his hands on Al Horford’s back and shoved Boston’s big man out of bounds.

It was the only time Smith was on target.

Smith’s shoddy performance in Game 2 – he missed all seven shots and committed a flagrant foul in 27 forgettable minutes – underscored a startling disparity between Cleveland’s and Boston’s starting backcourts that allowed the fearless Celtics to withstand a brilliant, 42-point effort by LeBron James and take a 2-0 series lead.

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Smith and point guard George Hill were outscored 41-3 by Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, who were faster, hungrier and maybe tougher.

“I don’t think tougher,” Smith said afterward, showing better defensive instincts than during the game. “They made shots, we missed shots at the end of the day. We had some good looks, they didn’t fall. For them playing on their home court, they fell. It’s a matter for us to bounce back, go home, try and get [win] two, even the series up and come back here.”

Thanks to the NBA’s odd scheduling, Game 3 is not until Saturday, giving Cavs coach Tyronn Lue plenty of time to consider tweaks to his starting lineup and rotations. After a 25-point lambasting in the opener, Lue altered his frontcourt by putting Tristan Thompson with the first five and bringing Kyle Korver off the bench.

The moves worked as Thompson provided needed energy and Korver knocked down four 3-pointers and had Boston’s defence focused on more than James.

Now, Lue has to ponder another shake-up.

One option is to reinsert Korver at small forward, sit Hill and slide James to the point, where he typically plays anyway but where he’ll be more susceptible to double teams and will have to work harder than he is already.

Another possibility is to drop Smith, who is 2 of 16 from the field and missed all seven 3-pointers, from the starting lineup, but that would be risky because of his mercurial nature. Sit him and risk never getting him back.

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Lue is willing to live with Smith’s streakiness – he went 6 for 6 in Game 4 against the Raptors – but what he can’t afford are the defensive lapses that led to slow rotations and gave Rozier and others wide-open looks in Game 2. Smith has been locked in defensively throughout the postseason, so Lue is assuming he’ll get it together.

Lue’s decision not to play guard Jordan Clarkson for a single minute in Game 2 was curious, mostly because Clarkson is quick enough to handle Rozier and he scored 10 points in Game 1.

Veteran Jose Calderon appears to be out of consideration despite his steadiness and experience. Lue may fear the 36-year-old will be targeted and exposed defensively.

Of course, there’s irony in Cleveland having backcourt issues in this series.

A year ago, Kyrie Irving averaged 25.8 points in the Cavs’ five-game rampage over the Celtics in the conference finals. Now, an injured Irving sits on Boston’s bench in street clothes unable to help his new teammates while his presence teases the Cavaliers, who have not adequately replaced the all-star since trading him.

They are finding life in the playoffs is more difficult without Irving, who at times carried Cleveland’s offence, giving James a break and Lue a dependable second scoring option.

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It’s easy to second-guess the decisions now, but it feels as if the Cavs’ trades of Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade at the deadline were hasty. Cleveland lacks enough playmakers capable of creating their own shot or opportunities for others.

Hill has been unusually passive in the first two games, and the Cavs need to get him going.

And they certainly need more from Smith, whose frustration surfaced at the worst possible time when his hard foul on Horford riled up the Celtics and their rowdy crowd.

As the referees reviewed the play, Boston fans chanted profanely at Smith, who smirked and later said the taunts didn’t bother him.

“I love it,” he said. “I don’t want the opposing fans to like me. That’s not why I’m here. They can chant and scream all they want. It actually makes me feel better about myself. They know me.”

The Cavs know him better, and they need Smith to be himself.

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Manchester United slump to dismal defeat at Brighton

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Manchester United conceded three first-half goals as they slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Brighton in a game illuminated by a superb goal from Seagulls striker Glenn Murray.

Murray’s outstanding flick opened the scoring, Shane Duffy quickly adding a second, and although Romelu Lukaku pulled one back, Pascal Gross scored a penalty before half-time to restore the two-goal lead.

Paul Pogba’s penalty in second-half stoppage time was too little, too late for disjointed United.

Brighton began on the front foot, Solly March’s cross cleared by Pogba and then Gross attempting to flick on an Anthony Knockaert delivery only for United to get it away.

Pogba spread the play to Anthony Martial on the left, his low ball into the area cleared as United hit back, and Brighton sprang forward again when March’s cross was held by David De Gea.

United had a good chance to take the lead after 10 minutes when, after Lewis Dunk had given the ball away to Lukaku, Pogba played the striker in only for him to fizz a low shot past the near post.

Brighton captain Dunk was struggling after his challenge with Lukaku, with home boss Chris Hughton prepared to bring on Leon Balogun in his place.

A clumsy Luke Shaw challenge on Knockaert gave Brighton a free kick on halfway but, when a long ball forward was headed down, an offside flag stopped Murray.

Dunk was eventually substituted after 20 minutes, and soon afterwards Knockaert had half a chance when he latched on to a speculative ball but sliced his attempt well wide.

But after 25 minutes Brighton broke through, March producing another dangerous cross from the left and Murray’s sublime flick steering the ball beyond De Gea and into the corner.

Two minutes later they doubled their lead when, after one ball had fizzed across the box, United failed to deal with the second and Duffy turned and fired into the corner.

Pogba thumped a speculative effort well over with United struggling to make any headway against the well-organised home side — but after 34 minutes they found a way back, Shaw’s bouncing, deflected ball into the area glanced home by Lukaku.

Knockaert was brought down 25 yards out, getting up to curl the free kick over the bar, but three minutes from the break Brighton had a penalty when Eric Bailly fouled Gross as he broke through — and the Brighton man blasted the kick in off De Gea.

United were increasingly ragged, Martial booked for a foul on Knockaert after they had given the ball away near their own area, and Jose Mourinho made a double change at the break, bringing on Marcus Rashford for Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard for Andreas Pereira.

But the defence that had struggled so badly in the first half remained unchanged and both March and Davy Propper were within a whisker of winning the ball back as Bailly dawdled near his own area.

Pogba headed well wide from a deep delivery as United sought a way back into things on the south coast, but Brighton were happy to sit deep with their visitors showing little in the way of imagination.

On the hour, Rashford’s dangerous header across goal was well dealt with by Duffy before Mourinho made his final change, Marouane Fellaini coming on for Martial as United finally began to put some pressure on their hosts.

Goal scorer Murray was booked for a challenge on Lindelof, much to the disgust of the home fans, but United were struggling to find any sort of threatening final ball, instead playing hopeful passes forward that were easily dealt with by the Brighton defence.

Pogba tried a different approach, hitting a fine shot from distance that produced an equally good response from keeper Mat Ryan, who dived to push it away one-handed.

Ryan was hurt in a collision with teammate Duffy as both tried to deal with another looping United cross, but the Australia international was able to continue.

Hughton made a late change, taking off Gross and replacing him with Beram Kayal and then replacing Murray with Jurgen Locadia.

Pogba scored a late, late penalty after Duffy’s foul on Fellaini, but the Seagulls saw out the remaining time to beat United at home for the second successive season.

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Kelowna Apple Triathlon and Triathlon Canada cancel Sunday's races

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Poor Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) forced Kelowna Apple Triathlon and Triathlon Canada officials to cancel Sunday’s scheduled age group and CAMTRI races.

With the province of British Columbia in a state of emergency as a result of more than 560 active forest fires, AQHI levels skyrocketed to a 10+ rating (very high risk) on Friday evening and have remained high throughout the weekend.

Consulting regularly with local health care officials, the emergency risk management team at the Kelowna Apple Triathlon has been on high alert. Race officials originally cancelled all of Saturday races including the 2018 National Championships. A modified ITU CAMTRI Continental Cup race was put back on Sunday’s schedule for elite athletes, but health risks remained too high.

“To say we are disappointed is a huge understatement,” said Susie Ernsting, Race Director for Apple Triathlon. “This weekend of racing was a culmination of months of hard work from the dedicated volunteers, Board of Directors, and hard-working athletes. We were so excited to have the Apple return to Kelowna, and it is beyond devastating that we are unable to do any races. We hope to regroup for 2019 and appreciate the triathlon community’s understanding these circumstances are outside of our control.”

“We are obviously disappointed to have to cancel races today, but the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers and spectators are our number one priority,” says Kelowna Apple Triathlon Society Chair Matt Canzer. “When the air quality health index is like this it’s just not safe to engage in strenuous outdoor activity. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and support. We look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2019 for an excellent race and we hope we can count on the community to join us.”

Triathlon Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee will adjust the Pan American Games selection criteria for Canadian athletes that were connected with the National Championships/CAMTRI race. Triathlon Canada will update all impacted participants, along with its provincial partners, as soon as the new criteria is completed.

“This is obviously an unfortunate series of events that Mother Nature has dealt us. The National Championships is the lone event of the year that brings all of us in the Triathlon Canada Nation together, but the protection, safety and health of our athletes, coaches and volunteers is our number one priority – always,” said Kim Van Bruggen, Chief Executive Officer, Triathlon Canada. “We can’t thank Susie Ernsting and her team at the Apple enough for their passion, commitment and tireless work in trying to pull this off. The Apple is one of the most prestigious events on the calendar and we hope to see our nation’s best racing here again in the very near future.”

The final word comes from Susie Ernsting and Kelowna Apple Triathlon Society. “On behalf of everyone at Apple Triathlon and Triathlon Canada, please accept our sincerest apologies to all of the athletes who were unable to race. Our thoughts are with those who have been negatively impacted by the fires, and our continual gratitude goes out to all those fighting to keep them in control and ensure our safety.”


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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Heavy smoke and poor air quality force cancellation of two Okanagan triathlons

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Officials say two triathlons in British Columbia’s Central Okanagan have been cancelled due to heavy smoke and poor air quality from wildfires burning throughout the province.

The remaining races for both the Super League Triathlon in Penticton and the Kelowna Apple Triathlon were cancelled early Sunday morning.

The races cancelled in Kelowna included a make-up for a cancelled 2018 national championship event that was initially scheduled for Saturday and subsequently pushed to Sunday.

Triathlon Canada CEO Kim Van Bruggen says the safety of the athletes and coaches is her organization’s top priority, and thanked the directors of the Apple Triathlon for their support.

A statement from Triathlon Canada says they and the Canadian Olympic Committee would take the cancelled races into account for selection to the Pan American Games.

Environment Canada rated the air quality as “Very High Risk” for the Central Okanagan on Sunday, scoring over 10 on its index.

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