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Chris Paul carries Suns past Giannis, Bucks in NBA Finals opener – Sportsnet.ca

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PHOENIX — Chris Paul waited 16 years to get to the NBA Finals, bringing with him a team starving for its first championship.

The setting was entirely new.

The performance was same ol’ Chris Paul.

“Just knew he’s ready,” Phoenix forward Mikal Bridges said. “He’s prepared his whole life for this moment and it shows out there on the court.”

Paul had 32 points and nine assists in an NBA Finals debut that was well worth the wait, Devin Booker scored 27 points and the Suns beat the returning Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks 118-105 on Tuesday night in Game 1.

Paul scored 16 points during a sensational third quarter that had Phoenix fans who waited 28 years to see the NBA Finals again screaming in delight.

“Every time he shoots it we think it’s going in,” Booker said.

It almost did in the third quarter, when Paul was 6 for 7 and made all three 3-pointers.

Finally playing for the title in his 16th season, the star point guard has the Suns in the NBA Finals for only the third time, and it sure looked as if they could make this ending different than the other two.

“We’ve been building all season long for these moments,” Paul said. “We’re going to keep playing. This is just one game. We’ve got to stay locked in.”

Deandre Ayton added 22 points and 19 rebounds to continue his breakout stretch of play in his first postseason.

Antetokounmpo had 20 points and 17 rebounds after missing two games with a hyperextended left knee. Khris Middleton scored 29 points, but the Bucks will have to play from behind again after dropping Game 1 for the third straight series.

“We know it’s not going to be easy. We know it’s going to be tough,” Middleton said. “There’s times where we’re going to be down in this series. But this series isn’t over. We’re down. We’ve still got to keep competing and just playing.”

The series opener was the first NBA Finals game in Phoenix since Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls won their third straight championship here in Game 6 in 1993. The Suns, who came into the NBA with the Bucks in 1968, made their only other finals appearance in 1976.

They hadn’t even made the playoffs since 2010 and just two years ago were last in the Western Conference with a 19-63 record.

But Booker was already headed for stardom by then, and 2018 No. 1 pick Ayton has played at that level in the postseason. Paul has been steady as always since his arrival in an offseason trade.

Now 36 and a 10-time All-NBA selection, he is on the list of best players to never win a championship. It appeared he might never even get to play for one until Oklahoma City dealt him to a team of Suns on the rise, and he might be the final piece that takes them all the way to the top.

Despite so many debuts on the finals stage — the Suns’ Jae Crowder was the only player who had appeared in them, and that was for Miami at a neutral site last year — there didn’t appear to be many first-time jitters.

But Paul shifted the Suns into another gear in the third. His opening jumper provided the first double-digit lead of the game, and he followed with a four-point play for the Suns’ next basket.

He scored eight straight Phoenix points later in the period, hitting a 3-pointer, dancing around Bobby Portis for a layup and then hitting another 3. He then fired a pass to Ayton, who was fouled and made both free throws to make it 88-68 with 2:20 left.

“Their pick-and-roll game is tough to guard,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think we’ve just got to keep getting better. We’ll look at the film. We’ll see how we can maybe take away some of the rhythm.”

The Bucks cut it down to seven near the midpoint of the fourth before Paul helped the Suns restore a safe margin. He found Booker for a 3-pointer, stole the ball from Middleton and then hit a jumper to make it 106-94.

Milwaukee also is making its third finals appearance, having won the title in 1971 but not getting another chance since losing in 1974. The Bucks got a boost for this appearance when Antetokounmpo worked his way back quickly from an injury that looked serious when it happened.

The two-time MVP missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals. He was listed as doubtful for the opener, but he was upgraded to questionable Tuesday and then inserted into the starting lineup after he worked out on the court before the game.

“I’m just happy that I’m out there and I’m able to help my team in any way possible and participate in my first NBA Finals,” Antetokounmpo said.

The Bucks threw a lob to Antetokounmpo on their first possession — a play similar to the one he was defending when he was injured in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against Atlanta — and he seemed to attack the basket just as forcefully as always.

But Jrue Holiday, who played so well while Antetokounmpo was out, shot just 4 for 14 and scored 10 points.

TIP-INS

Bucks: The Bucks said they had 9,000 fans watching the game inside Fiserv Forum and 20,000 outside in the Deer District. … Brook Lopez scored 17 points.

Suns: Ayton, who came in shooting 70.6% in the postseason, was 8 for 10. … Bridges scored 14 points. … The Suns are 4-0 in Game 1s in this postseason. … Reserve forward Dario Saric missed the second half with a right knee injury.

HAPPY TO BE HOME

The Bucks coach used to be a Suns fan.

Budenholzer is from Holbrook, Arizona, about three hours from Phoenix. He said his parents and other family members would be at the game.

POSTSEASON PAST

This isn’t the first postseason matchup between the Bucks and Suns. Milwaukee was formerly in the Western Conference and beat Phoenix in the first round of the 1978 playoffs.

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Canada earns first medal in Tokyo with silver in women’s 4×100 freestyle swimming – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada has earned its first trip to the podium at the Tokyo Olympics, claiming silver in the women’s 4×100-metre swimming freestyle relay Saturday night.

Penny Oleksiak, the decorated swimmer who anchored the Canadian women to the nation’s first medal of these Games, earned her fifth career trip to the podium in the process, tying the all-time record for a summer Olympian from Canada. Rower Lesley Thompson-Willie and sprinter Phil Edwards are Canada’s other two five-time summer Games medalists.

“I think it’s kind of crazy,” Oleksiak said after the race. “I think we were all hopeful that we would get a medal. We didn’t know what medal it would really be. I think we all just wanted one. For it to be a silver, it’s pretty crazy I think.”

Kayla Sanchez, Maggie Mac Neil and Rebecca Smith rounded out Canada’s medal-winning crew. Sanchez took the lead position in the final, giving Mac Neil and Smith a chance to inch Canada closer to its eventual silver.

Then, in the final length, Oleksiak took over, propelling Canada out of what could have been a fourth-place finish and onto the podium.

“I just knew I wasn’t going to touch third,” Oleksiak said. “And when I make a decision in the race I have to execute it, so I wanted a silver medal for these girls and I wanted it so bad I wouldn’t accept anything else.”

Taylor Ruck, the fifth member of the team, didn’t swim in the final but competed in the preliminary heats and also received a medal.

Earlier in the night Mac Neil, who replaced Ruck in the final, placed third in her semifinal of the women’s 100-metre butterfly, earning a place in Sunday’s final and a chance to earn an individual medal for Canada.

In that semifinal, Mac Neil, the 2019 world champion and Canadian record holder in the event, posted a time of 56.56 seconds. She finished behind world record holder and Olympic champion Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, and Yufei Zhang of China, who finished first with a time of 55.89 seconds.

“I know from experience my second swim is usually better because I’m warmed up already,” Mac Neil said. “I was really looking forward to it. Having these girls with me definitely gave me that extra boost to get silver.”

The Australian women’s team earned gold in Saturday’s 4×100-metre freestyle, shattering the previous world record with a time of 03:29.69. Canada managed to beat out the USA by a mere three one-hundredths of a second, as the Americans finished with bronze.

The Canadian relay team secured its place in tonight’s final by posting the third-fastest time in yesterday’s semifinal with a combined time of three minutes 33.72 seconds, narrowly behind the Netherlands and Australia.

This relay team kicking off the nation’s Olympics success isn’t new. Five years ago, during the Rio Games, it was the Canadian women’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay team that earned Canada’s first medal with a bronze.

Canada’s women will seek to secure a podium position in all three relay events during the Tokyo games after achieving three bronze medals during the world championship in South Korea two years ago.

“I have a lot of faith in these people,” Sanchez said. “If you want someone to anchor it’s Penny. And if you want someone to swim second it’s Maggie. And Rebecca is a great trainer and consistent. We just did what we needed to do.”

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Tokyo 2020: Canada wins first medal after swimming to silver in women's 4×100 freestyle relay – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:55PM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:55PM EDT

TOKYO — Canada has its first medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team raced to silver.

Penny Oleksiak and Kayla Sanchez of Toronto, Margaret Mac Neil of London, Ont., and Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., finished in a time of three minutes 32.78 seconds as Canada picked up a medal in the event for a second straight Games.

Australia won gold in a world-record time of 3:29.69, while the United States finished third in 3:32.81.

Oleksiak swam the anchor leg and narrowly beat out American Simone Manuel at the wall.

Canada’s women are looking to duplicate the success they had in the pool at the 2016 Rio Games, where they picked up six medals.

Earlier on Sunday, Mac Neil also advanced to Monday morning’s 100-metre butterfly final. The 21-year-old world champion in the event posted the sixth-fastest time in the semifinals.

An hour after qualifying for the butterfly final, Mac Neil drew into the relay lineup for Taylor Ruck who swam the heat for Canada. The women posted the third-fastest time in the preliminaries.

Sanchez led off the final followed by Mac Neil and Smith with Oleksiak bringing the team home.

Oleksiak and Ruck won a pair of freestyle relay bronze medals as 16-year-olds in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.

They teamed with Sandrine Mainville and Chantal Van Landeghem in the 4 x 100 to win Canada’s first medal of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Oleksiak also swam the anchor leg in Rio.

Canada’s women aim for the podium in all three relays in Tokyo after earning three bronze at the world championship in Gwangju, South Korea two years ago.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2021.

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The Edmonton Oilers select big German defender Luca Munzenberger at #90 overall – Edmonton Journal

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The Edmonton Oilers trading down on Day #1 of the NHL draft was converted not 24 hours later into Defenceman Luca Munzenbeger.

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Gotta love the name! Munzenberger is an 18-year old out of Dusseldorf, Germany. He has a late (November) 2002 birth date.

He’s a big, left-handed shot at 6’3, 194 LBS.

Munzenberger spent the majority of 2020-21 with Kolner Junghaie of the DNL U20. In 6 games he went 1-2-3 and served as Team Captain. His time in junior versus pro left open the door for him to play in college. Munzenberger also played for Team Germany at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton (0-0-0 in 5GP). More on that in a minute…

Munzenberger is considered to be an excellent PK man, but possesses a big shot which makes him a threat from the point as well. Scouts say he has a soft set of hands and makes an effective first-pass out of his own zone. Those who have seen him play, namely amateur scout Brock Otten, describe the kid as a “suffocating physical defender” with a mean streak. He’s an above-average skater for his size with a massive stride and a big wingspan. He’s effective at clearing the slot and his reach helps him get to pucks ahead of attackers. In my own viewing of his highlights from the WJC’s, Munzenberger closes quickly and effectively on the opposition along the walls. The foot-speed, reach and size are visibly key tools in his ability to break up the cycle.

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A side note from that tournament that may indicate the quality of his intangibles: Munzenberger was in COVID quarantine at the very beginning ot the WJ’s, but emerged from that status prior to Christmas and rebounded with a strong performance. That would seem to speak to the kid’s resilience. The young man in a foreign country responded to a stressful situation and considerable uncertainty extremely well.

Draft analyst Steve Kournianos says of him: “A big bodied vacuum cleaner on defence… He has ideal size but the mobility and agility to cover faster players… He plays a mean, physical brand of hockey and can be considered a throwback… He has soft hands and delivers clean passes to any area in the offensive zone, but what makes Munzenberger dangerous is his lethal shot — he owns a bomb of a shot, not only for its velocity but for the sheer power he generates with little backswing. His wrister is just as nasty.”

It is fair to consider this pick as somewhat “off the board”. Elite Prospects had him at #214. No other service had him listed at all. One wonders if fellow countryman Leon Draisaitl had and offered any insight on the player to the Oilers draft team? He and his father surely know of every sharp prospect in that nation.

Munzenberger is committed to NCAA University of Vermont in 2022-23 which offers another interesting tidbit. Todd Woodcroft is the coach of that program, the brother of Bakersfield Condors bench boss Jay Woodcroft.  So, there may well be some added insight from that connection.

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