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Clippers look to clean up the little things vs. Knicks

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Taking care of the little things has become a point of emphasis for Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue as his club enters the final week of the regular season.

 

And it will certainly be watched closely during Sunday’s home contest against the New York Knicks.

 

“We’ve been messing around too much,” Lue said. “We have to be a more disciplined, solid team, which we have been all season. But lately we’ve been messing around, playing around with the game a little too much for me right now.”

 

Over the last five games, the Clippers have averaged 16 turnovers a contest, tied for third worst in the NBA. Los Angeles is 3-2 in those contests.

 

The Clippers (45-22) are currently the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference with five games left in the regular season. After the Clippers finish a four-game homestand against the Knicks, they will finish the regular season with four games on the road.

 

Los Angeles is 2-1 so far during the homestand. The Clippers defeated the Knicks earlier this season on the road in New York, 129-115 on Jan. 31.

 

The Clippers recently completed a three-game season sweep over their crosstown rivals, rolling the Los Angeles Lakers 118-94 on Thursday.

 

“We’re working on ourselves every day,” Clipper big man DeMarcus Cousins said. “We’re preparing for the long haul, with the playoffs right around the corner. We’re just trying to tune up everything, fix the small mistakes we make on a nightly basis and try to get as close to perfect as we can before this playoff run happens.”

 

New York (37-30) is currently the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks are 2-2 on a six-game road trip that finishes with games against the Clippers on Sunday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

 

“These games are just testing us,” Knicks forward Taj Gibson said. “Every game is a test. You can’t just sneak into the playoffs. We’re playing some really good teams right now, and it’s only going to make us better.”

 

The Knicks are only a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks (37-31), the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. New York is looking to hold them off, along with the Miami Heat (36-31) and Boston Celtics (35-32) to maintain home-court advantage in the postseason.

 

All five of New York’s remaining games are against teams headed to the playoffs. With the Knicks in the postseason for the first time in eight years, it’s up to head coach Tom Thibodeau to get his team mentally prepared for the playoffs.

 

“I like these games for our team,” Thibodeau said. “I think it shows us where we are, and what we need to work on. That old saying, ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ And so hopefully we can improve and it will help us down the road.”

 

Thibodeau will continue to be a little shorthanded on the bench, with injured guards Immanuel Quickley (ankle) and Alec Burks (knee) sidelined, along with center Mitchell Robinson (foot).

 

Quickley suffered a sprained ankle earlier this week against the Denver Nuggets. Burks missed eight games earlier due to the league’s health and safety protocols and then suffered a minor knee injury on his return to the floor on Monday that leaves his availability in question. Robinson is out indefinitely after having surgery on his right foot in late March.

 

–Field Level Media

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Penny Oleksiak back to lead Canada in Tokyo pool

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Penny Oleksiak, the first Canadian to win four medals at a Summer Olympics, will lead a Canadian swimming team eager to build on their efforts in Rio de Janeiro at next month’s Tokyo Games.

Swimming Canada unveiled a 26-member squad (16 women, 10 men) on Thursday that is a mix of experience and youth that officials hope is capable of improving on the six medals won in Rio, the country’s best haul in the pool since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

“I think the mix of veteran leaders and new faces is awesome,” said Kylie Masse, a bronze medallist in the 100 metres backstroke in Rio and one of 10 returning Olympians. “That’s kind of how sport works, there are always older and younger athletes, and it’s a great dynamic to have.”

Leading the charge at the 2016 Rio Games was Oleksiak, who became Canada’s youngest Olympic champion winning gold in the 100m freestyle as a 16-year-old, while also grabbing silver in the 100m butterfly and two relay bronze.

The stage is set for a new star to emerge in Tokyo in 14-year-old Summer McIntosh, who edged Oleksiak in the 200m freestyle at the trials and breezed to victory in the 800m free.

At the other end of the experience and age spectrum is 37-year-old Brent Hayden, who came out of retirement to earn a spot on his fourth Olympic team, becoming the oldest Canadian Olympic swimmer in history.

Bronze medallist in the 100m freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics, Hayden clinched his spot with a win in the 50m freestyle at the Canadian trials that wrapped up on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics

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Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?

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It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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