NBA roundup: Cavs ruin debut of Nets’ Big Three



Jan 20, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (2) drives to the basket in the third quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

January 21, 2021

Collin Sexton hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left in the first overtime and scored 15 of his career-high 42 points in the second overtime as the host Cleveland Cavaliers outlasted the Brooklyn Nets for a 147-135 victory on Wednesday night.

Sexton surpassed his previous career high of 41 set March 4, 2020, against Boston by scoring 31 points after halftime. He shot 16 of 29 from the field overall after missing the previous five games with an ankle injury.

Thanks largely to Sexton’s efforts, Cleveland overcame big nights in the debut of Brooklyn’s star trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, who each played the final 18-plus minutes.

Durant led the Nets with 38 points but missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer in the first overtime. He also put up 12 rebounds and eight assists. Irving added 37 points in his first game back from a two-week absence due to personal reasons along with health and safety protocols. Harden posted his second triple-double in three games as a Net with 21 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Atlanta Hawks 123 – Detroit Pistons 115 (OT)

Clint Capela scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed a career-high 26 rebounds to help Atlanta erase a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit and beat visiting Detroit in overtime.

Capela became the first Atlanta player with at least 25 points and 25 rebounds since Dikembe Mutombo in 1999. Atlanta got 38 points and 10 assists from Trae Young and 31 points and 11 rebounds from John Collins and defeated the Pistons for the second time.

Detroit’s Jerami Grant had a career-high 32 points and posted his 13th straight game with at least 20 points. Blake Griffin scored 17 and Wayne Ellington added 16.

Philadelphia 76ers 117 – Boston Celtics 109

Joel Embiid scored 42 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lift host Philadelphia past rival Boston, who played without Jayson Tatum, who is recovering from COVID-19.

Embiid shot 12 of 19 from the field and 17 of 21 from the free-throw line for his second 40-point effort this season — both in the past three games. Tobias Harris added 22 points for the Sixers, who have won eight of nine at home.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 26 points while Marcus Smart added a season-high 25. Daniel Theis had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Kemba Walker contributed 19 points in just 22 minutes in his second game back from a knee injury.

Dallas Mavericks 124 – Indiana Pacers 112

Kristaps Porzingis collected 27 points and 13 rebounds while Trey Burke added 22 points off the bench to lift Dallas over Indiana in Indianapolis.

Porzingis made 12 of 15 attempts from the floor and Burke sank 9 of 16 shots, including four from 3-point range. Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 19 points, two days after misfiring on all 12 attempts during a scoreless performance in Dallas’ 116-93 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Luka Doncic recorded his 30th career triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for the Mavericks, who snapped a season-high, three-game losing streak. Malcolm Brogdon scored 26 points while Domantas Sabonis had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers.

Miami Heat 111 – Toronto Raptors 102

Kendrick Nunn scored a season-best 28 points off the bench and grabbed eight rebounds and Miami defeated Toronto at the Raptors’ temporary home in Tampa.

It was the first time the Heat have won two in a row this season, and it ended the Raptors’ winning streak at three games. The teams play again on Friday at Tampa.

Goran Dragic added 17 points for the Heat while Kelly Olynyk had 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Fred VanVleet had 24 points and nine assists for the Raptors while OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam each added 18 points.

Orlando Magic 97 – Minnesota Timberwolves 96

Cole Anthony’s 3-pointer at the buzzer capped Orlando’s rally in a win over Minnesota at Minneapolis.

The Magic came in losers of six straight and appeared headed for a seventh consecutive loss as their field-goal percentage languished in the 30s for much of the night.

Nikola Vucevic scored a game-high 28 points for the Magic, Evan Fournier added 24 points and Aaron Gordon and Anthony had 13 apiece. D’Angelo Russell paced the Timberwolves with 19 points, and Naz Reid scored 14.

Golden State Warriors 121 – San Antonio Spurs 99

Rookie James Wiseman used seven dunks as a foundation for a season-best 20 points and Stephen Curry added a game-high 26 as Golden State ran away from San Antonio in San Francisco.

Riding the momentum of a win in Los Angeles over the defending champion Lakers on Monday, the Warriors led by as many as 22 points in the first half before ending a three-game losing streak against the Spurs.

Dejounte Murray had 22 points to pace San Antonio, which was completing a two-game trip that began with a win at Portland.

Los Angeles Clippers 115 – Sacramento Kings 96

Kawhi Leonard had 32 points, six steals and five assists as Los Angeles defeated visiting Sacramento for its fifth consecutive win.

Paul George contributed 19 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds while Nicolas Batum and Ivica Zubac added 11 points apiece for Los Angeles. Zubac grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

De’Aaron Fox scored 25 points and added seven assists for the Kings, who lost their fourth straight. Glenn Robinson III had 14 points.

Phoenix Suns 109 – Houston Rockets 103

Deandre Ayton posted a double-double while Devin Booker added 24 points as visiting Phoenix staved off a late rally from Houston.

The Suns led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter before the Rockets rallied, eventually cutting the deficit to 103-101 with 1:38 remaining before Phoenix held on.

Ayton led Phoenix with 26 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks while Booker shot 10 of 18 from the floor. Victor Oladipo and Eric Gordon scored 22 points apiece for the Rockets, who have lost five of six.

–Field Level Media



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Houston Rockets trade frustrated Harden to Brooklyn Nets



FILE PHOTO: Jan 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a basket during the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Center on January 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

January 15, 2021

(Reuters) – The Houston Rockets have traded guard James Harden to Brooklyn, the Nets anounced on Thursday, after the eight-time All-Star’s relationship with the Western Conference team broke down this week.

Harden, the NBA’s MVP in 2018, said the Rockets were “just not good enough” this season as they sit second-bottom in the Western Conference with a 3-6 record, prompting the 31-year-old to say the situation could not be fixed.

Harden’s arrival at the Nets reunites him with forward Kevin Durant — his team mate at Oklahoma City Thunder — and guard Kyrie Irving as the franchise look to form their own All-star trio.

“Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league’s best,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.

“James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.”

The trade deal also involves the Cleveland Cavaliers, with Nets center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince moving to the Cavaliers while guard Caris LeVert and forward Rodions Kurucs join the Rockets.

U.S. media reported that LeVert is expected to move to the Indiana Pacers in an exchange deal for All-Star Victor Oladipo.

The Nets, sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 7-6 record, also sent three first round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027) to Houston.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)



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NBA: James Harden reported to be joining Brooklyn Nets as they beat New York Knicks


James Harden joined the Houston Rockets in October 2012

The Brooklyn Nets fought back to beat the New York Knicks 116-109 on a night they reportedly signed James Harden.

US reportsexternal-link say Harden, NBA top scorer for the past three seasons, has left the Houston Rockets after nine years.

The 31-year-old was asked to miss Rockets training on Wednesday, having said that they were not good enough to be title contenders after Tuesday’s defeat at the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kevin Durant scored 26 points in the Nets’ win over the Knicks.

Star forward Durant, a former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate of Harden, led seven Nets players in double figures as they moved sixth in the Eastern Conference on seven wins and six defeats.

The deal for Harden – which has been reported in the US but not confirmed – is said to be part of a huge trade that also involves the Indians Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As part of the trade, Houston would receive guard Victor Oladipo from the Pacers, guard Dante Exum from the Cavaliers and forward Rodions Kurucs of the Nets.

The Rockets would also get three first-round draft picks from the Nets, one unprotected 2022 first-round pick from the Cavaliers – via the Milwaukee Bucks – and the right to swap four first-round picks with the Nets.

After Tuesday’s defeat against the Lakers, 31-year-old Harden – the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2018 – said Houston were “not even close, honestly” to the league’s top competition.

James and Lakers win away (again)

LeBron James attempts a lay up
LeBron James was again influential for the Los Angeles Lakers

Elsewhere in the Western Conference on Wednesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his 20th career triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the visiting Milwaukee Bucks beat the Detroit Pistons 110-101.

The win leaves the Bucks second behind Boston Celtics in the west, while the Los Angeles Lakers, the Eastern Conference leaders, were helped by 26 points from LeBron James in a 128-99 win at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The success means the Lakers have won their opening seven away matches in a season for the first time in their history. They remain favourites to win the NBA title this season and have now trailed for just 11 seconds in total during their last three games.

The Los Angeles Clippers moved second in the Western Conference as Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, nine assists and six rebounds, in a 111-106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Luka Doncic collected 34 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists to lift the Dallas Mavericks to a fourth win in a row as they proved too strong for the Charlotte Hornets, their hosts, in a 104-93 victory.

The Mavericks sit sixth in the West, a place behind the Portland Trailblazers, who won 132-126 at the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

Damian Lillard notched 40 points and 13 assists for Portland as they overhauled a 19-point third-quarter deficit to record a fourth win in a row and elsewhere, the Memphis Grizzlies earned a 118-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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James Harden to Brooklyn Nets, Ben Simmons stays, mistake, ecstatic


Ben Simmons is reportedly “pretty ecstatic” about being left alone as NBA superstar James Harden left the Houston Rockets for the Brooklyn Nets.

The move sees the eight-time All-Star joining top dogs Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in New York in a team now overflowing with alpha personalities who like the ball in their hands.

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The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports the Nets are giving up four unprotected first-round draft picks and four first-round pick swaps to get their man in a wild deal that also involves Cleveland and Indiana.

ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski called Houston’s return “one of the strongest draft packages in league history”.

“Whatever the future of Kyrie Irving with the Nets, this trade does one more important thing for Brooklyn: It makes a strong case to help keep the franchise’s most important player — Kevin Durant — beyond his current contract,” Wojnarowski added.

The Rockets will also get Victor Oladipo, Aussie Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs.

But the man they won’t get is Ben Simmons.

While his offensive production has been down to start the season, Simmons has proven himself to be one of the best defenders in the NBA.

An All-Defensive first team member last season and 2018 Rookie of the Year, Simmons’ relationship with Joel Embiid has long been criticised as not being strong enough to bring a championship back to Philadelphia.

But with shooters brought into the team to allow Embiid and Simmons to operate in the paint, ESPN’s The Undefeated reporter Marc J. Spears tweeted that the Aussie believes this season is different.

“Hearing Ben Simmons was pretty ecstatic to not be traded from the Sixers to Houston for James Harden and believes his team is capable of bringing a title to Philadelphia. Doc Rivers is also a huge fan of Simmons and believes the best is yet to come with two-time NBA All-Star,” he tweeted.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic said Simmons is “fine” after the deal went down with Shams Charania reporting that Simmons was put on the trading block.

In the end, the Rockets believed “the Nets offer just supplanted that” and that the 76ers didn’t want to “mortgage their entire future” on Harden, according to Charania.

The Simmons deal reportedly had Simmons and Matisse Thybulle but the Rockets also wanted rookie Tyrese Maxey.

But CBS’s Brad Botkin, who said he didn’t believe Simmons was a franchise player but that the Aussie was the one thing the Rockets didn’t get with the big trade haul.

“It’s not a terrible bet. Still, not coming away with Simmons in a situation like this is a risk. You can pile up picks all you want and never end up with a franchise player, which some people still believe Simmons can be with the right supporting cast,” he wrote in a piece pondering if the Rockets got too greedy with the deal.

For the Nets, Harden has proved to be a divisive player with his petulant tantrum to get out of Houston.

It will also have a lot of money tied up in its best three players.

Irving, Durant and Harden all have two years left on their deals worth $34 million ($A44m), $40m ($A52m) and $44m ($57m) a season, at least $236 million ($A305m) according to The Athletic.

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons said in November that a Harden trade to Brooklyn could become a “beautiful disaster.”

“It’s three guys who are used to having the ball all the time,” he said on the Bill Simmons podcast.

“Harden and Durant are really good friends from way, way back. Kyrie is somebody that likes to have the ball. I don’t know how I feel about it. It could be a beautiful disaster, or it could be absolutely devastating.”

Just yesterday, Harden slammed the franchise.

“(The Rockets are) just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise, it was clear,” he said in a press conference.

“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

But it bent his former teammate’s noses out of shape with DeMarcus Cousins

“Me, personally, I don’t feel betrayed at all,” Cousins said. “My interest was playing with John Wall to be brutally honest. With that being said, the disrespect started way before any interview. Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the answers off the court. I mean, the disrespect started way before.”

And the move has also drawn a target on the Nets’ back with anything short of a championship to be considered a failure.

The New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro said the offensive talents of the team could see 150 points being put on some nights – but it’s come at the expense of the side defensively.

“Taking the Bucks to seven games in an epic Eastern final won’t be enough. Falling to the Lakers in a memorable Finals? Nope. The Nets aren’t just all-in for the next 2-3 years, they are all in for the rest of the decade. Their viability exists in the here and now, defined by a simple equation: Parade or no parade?”

Only time will tell if any of these gambles will pay off.



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James Harden gets long-awaited move away from Houston, joins Kevin Durant at Brooklyn Nets


The James Harden saga ended on Wednesday when the Houston Rockets traded him to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a four-team trade, according to multiple reports.

Earlier reports suggested the Philadelphia 76ers were preparing to trade Australian star Ben Simmons for Harden, before the Nets deal was announced.

The move sees Harden, 31, reunited with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant. They played together for three seasons before Harden was dealt to the Rockets in 2013.

The trade comes one day after a disgruntled Harden went on a postgame rant following Tuesday’s 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed,” Harden said.

“We’re just not good enough — chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games.

The Rockets told Harden not to attend Wednesday’s practice, with coach Stephen Silas saying it was “best for the group and for James”.

Harden has been upset with the Rockets since the departures of coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey after last season.

An eight-time All-Star, Harden has three years, $133 million with a player option for the final season remaining on his current deal.

Harden is averaging 24.8 points per game — down from his career average of 25.2 — after reporting late to training camp. However, his assists are up to 10.4 per game from a career average of 6.3.

Harden has led the NBA in scoring in each of the past three seasons with averages of 30.4, 36.1 and 34.3.

Aussie Dante Exum switches as part of multi-player, multi-team deal

Dante Exum, right, is heading to Houston.(AP: Ben Gray)

Australia’s Dante Exum will move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to Houston as part of the deal.

As well as Exum, Houston reportedly received guard Victor Oladipo from the Indiana Pacers and forward Rodions Kurucs of the Nets.

It also received three first-round draft picks from the Nets, one unprotected 2022 first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers (via the Milwaukee Bucks) and the right to swap four first-round picks with the Nets.

Guard Caris LeVert and a second-round pick will go from the Nets to the Pacers, and centre Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince go from Brooklyn to the Cavaliers with Cleveland sending a 2024 second-round pick to the Nets.

The first-round picks Houston received from the Nets are in 2022, 2024, 2026. The swaps are in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027.

Reuters/ABC

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Ben Simmons’ Philadelphia 76ers out of running as James Harden leaves Houston Rockets for Brooklyn Nets


The Nets will reportedly send Rodion Kurucs, first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026 and swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027 to Houston. Brooklyn will also reportedly send centre Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will send Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick to the Rockets.

The Rockets, meanwhile, will reportedly reroute LeVert to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo. ESPN.com first reported the framework of the Nets deal, while The Athletic first reported Indiana’s involvement.

Any move from Philadelphia for former NBA MVP Harden, right, was likely to result in Ben Simmons being traded.

After a pair of demoralising blowout losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden candidly expressed his belief that the struggling Rockets were not salvageable, accelerating long-standing trade talks for the 2018 MVP.

“We’re just not good enough,” Harden said after the Rockets fell at home 117-100 to the defending champions. “I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. The situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

The dire assessment from Harden, who has been the face of the Rockets since 2012, comes little more than one month after he reported to training camp late. Multiple reports at the time linked the Rockets with the Nets and 76ers in trade talks involving the three-time scoring champion, who has seen Houston’s roster and organisation change dramatically around him.

When the Lakers eliminated the Rockets from the 2020 play-offs, Harden said that he believed Houston was “a piece away” from title contention. Instead, the Rockets parted ways with Coach Mike D’Antoni, lost general manager Daryl Morey and traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards. Those sweeping, abrupt changes left Harden, 31, to adjust to first-time coach Stephen Silas, first-time general manager Rafael Stone and a new backcourt partner in John Wall.

James Harden is officially off to Brooklyn.

James Harden is officially off to Brooklyn.Credit:Getty Images

There has been little in the way of instant chemistry, as Harden’s effort has been spotty and his fit with Wall has yet to develop. After eight straight play-off trips, the Rockets have the West’s second-worst record at 3-6 and Harden is scoring 24.8 points per game, his lowest average since he arrived in Houston.

While Harden never issued a public trade request, he arrived at training camp late after partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas without a mask during the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA fined him $US50,000 (about $66,000) for violating the league’s health and safety protocols. Harden is earning $US40.8 million this season and is under contract through at least the 2021-22 season.

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The Rockets elected to keep Harden away from the team’s practice on Wednesday as trade talks with the Nets and 76ers unfolded, and centre DeMarcus Cousins was highly critical of Harden’s recent behaviour.

“The disrespect started way before any interview,” Cousins said Wednesday. “The approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court, the disrespect started way before. This isn’t something that all of a sudden happened last night. This is the nasty part of the business. It is what it is.”

The Rockets, who had their season opener postponed after several players were sidelined by positive or inconclusive coronavirus tests and contact tracing, weathered that early turbulence. Hopes that Harden’s trade value might increase or his personal investment in the Rockets might stabilise if he played well to start the season never came to fruition.

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High Cost To Wildlife From Shark Nets Protecting S.Africa Beaches


“They’re basically curtains of death,” said shark diver Walter Bernardis as he reached over the side of his zodiac inflatable boat to pull up a net bobbing in eastern South Africa’s subtropical waters.

The 200-metre (-yard) stretch of mesh is meant to protect swimmers basking on the eastern coast’s palm-lined beaches from shark attacks.

But conservationists say the nets trap any large animal that swims too close to shore, making no distinction between sharks, dolphins, dugongs, sea turtles and whales.





A black-tip shark is seen swimming during a baited shark dive in Umkomaas near Durban, South Africa
 AFP / Michele Spatari

“They’re a passive system that has been put in the water and everything that puts its head in that net dies,” said Bernardis, who quit a teaching job to bring tourists face-to-face with sharks and set the record straight about the fish.

The predators gained a bad name in the 1950s, when a string of deadly attacks prompted people to desert the popular white sand beaches in KwaZulu-Natal province, which now draws more than six million visitors each year.

Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller “Jaws” compounded fears by gripping the public imagination with incorrect representations of sharks as human flesh-eaters.

Alarmed, the provincial tourist industry set out to keep sharks away from skittish beachgoers.



Dozens of South African beaches use shark nets, which activists say are ineffective and harm wildlife


Dozens of South African beaches use shark nets, which activists say are ineffective and harm wildlife
 AFP / Michele Spatari

Today 37 beaches are lined with nets and baited drum lines, spread over more than 300 kilometres (190 miles) north and south of the provincial capital Durban.



Sharks mostly eat smaller fish and other marine animals, rather than pursuing human swimmers


Sharks mostly eat smaller fish and other marine animals, rather than pursuing human swimmers
 AFP / Michele Spatari

The barriers have successfully reassured holidaymakers.

Throngs of people spend the southern hemisphere summer in KwaZulu-Natal, packing the beaches with tents and parasols — although access was limited this year due to coronavirus.

Not a single lethal shark encounter has been reported in protected areas in more than 67 years, according to the publically-funded KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) sharks board.

Yet figures suggest the predators rarely strike humans, regardless of whether they are separated by nets.



Dive organiser Gary Snodgrass (L) had to change the name of his tours from the 'tiger shark dive' because the species was becoming so rare


Dive organiser Gary Snodgrass (L) had to change the name of his tours from the ‘tiger shark dive’ because the species was becoming so rare
 AFP / Michele Spatari

Only around 100 shark attacks were reported globally in 2019, according to records compiled by the University of Florida.

Human flesh is not usually part of a shark’s diet, consisting mainly of smaller fish and other animals such as seals and squid.

Only five out of hundreds of shark species are considered threats to man, including the aggressive bull and tiger sharks.



A shark warning notice board at Umgababa Beach near Durban


A shark warning notice board at Umgababa Beach near Durban
 AFP / Michele Spatari

Keeping them away from people, however, has other costs.

At least 400 sharks suffocate each year after being trapped too long by nets and baited hooks, says the KZN sharks board.

“In 2019 we caught 690 animals,” said Matt Dickens, head of research at the KZN sharks board, which defends the barriers.

“Many of those were released alive,” he added, noting that commercial fishing in South Africa catches 10 times more.

Shark diver and guide Gary Snodgrass was forced to change the name of one of his tours a few years ago because sightings of certain species had become rare.

,

“We can’t call it a tiger shark dive any more because we’re seeing them so seldom… they have decreased in number dramatically.”

Global shark populations are threatened by habitat destruction, overfishing and the lucrative shark fin trade.

Humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks annually, according to scientific findings published in 2013, and eight species are now protected by CITES.

Still there is little public sympathy for creatures associated with vicious gaping jaws and razor-sharp teeth.

But scientists and conservationists stress the animals are important for the ecosystem and key to regulating marine populations.

They also note that shark barriers are barely effective, especially against large species.

In fact, divers have noticed that most animals can swim under the mesh, which is only six metres deep, and often get stuck on their way back from the shoreline, rather than on the way in.

Nets and drum lines give swimmers a “false” sense of security and signal “to people that sharks are dangerous”, said Jean Harris, head of South African conservation group Wild Oceans.

What needs to change, she added, is “people’s minds”.



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NBA roundup: Giannis Antetokounmpo nets 43 for Bucks in win



Jan 4, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts after scoring against the Detroit Pistons at the Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Nick Monroe/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

January 5, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 43 points — including a career-high 30-point first half — as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the visiting Detroit Pistons 125-115 on Monday.

He added nine rebounds and four assists, while Khris Middleton contributed 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Jrue Holiday had 15 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals and D.J. Augustin added 11 points and six assists. The teams will play once again in Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Derrick Rose had 24 points and eight assists to lead Detroit. Jerami Grant also scored 24 points, while Svi Mykhailiuk, Sekou Doumbouya and Wayne Ellington added 13 apiece.

The Pistons played without starter Blake Griffin, who was rested with the team playing its third game in four days. Point guard Killian Hayes departed in the third quarter with a hip injury.

Dallas Mavericks 113 – Houston Rockets 100

Luka Doncic produced a 30-point triple-double, his first of the season, while Tim Hardaway Jr. repeatedly drilled timely perimeter shots as Dallas held off host Houston.

Doncic, who sat in a loss at Chicago on Sunday with a quad contusion, finished with 33 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists to pace the Mavericks. Hardaway scored 30 points off the bench on 8-of-10 3-point shooting.

Christian Wood led the Rockets with 23 points and seven rebounds, but the guard trio of James Harden (21 points, 10 assists), Eric Gordon (20 points) and John Wall (14 points, four assists) shot a combined 14 of 39.

Philadelphia 76ers 118 – Charlotte Hornets 101

Tobias Harris scored 22 points to lead seven players in double figures — including all five starters — as host Philadelphia defeated Charlotte.

Joel Embiid added 14 points and 11 rebounds, Danny Green contributed 13 points, and Ben Simmons had 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Sixers, who won their fourth in a row and 13th straight over the Hornets.

Seth Curry and Tyrese Maxey added 11 points each and Dwight Howard grabbed 13 rebounds off the bench. Shake Milton scored 10 points.

Golden State Warriors 137 – Sacramento Kings 106

Stephen Curry followed up a career-best 62-point effort with 30 more in just 31 minutes, propelling host Golden State to a second straight run-away win while ending a three-game losing streak to Sacramento.

Seven Warriors, including three reserves, scored in double figures. Golden State tied the franchise record for points in the 2-year-old Chase Center — set one night earlier.

Harrison Barnes, a member of Golden State’s 2015 championship team, had 18 points for Sacramento, sharing team honors with De’Aaron Fox.

Orlando Magic 103 – Cleveland Cavaliers 83

Aaron Gordon highlighted his 24-point performance by sinking a career high-tying six 3-pointers to lift host Orlando to a victory over Cleveland.

Gordon added 11 rebounds and Orlando made a season-high 15 3-pointers. Nikola Vucevic had 23 points, Terrence Ross added 15 and Khem Birch collected 12 points and a career high-tying 12 rebounds for Orlando, who snapped a two-game losing streak.

Cleveland’s Collin Sexton scored 24 points and Cedi Osman added 18. Damyean Dotson had 16 points while playing in place of Darius Garland, who sat out while nursing a sprained shoulder.

Miami Heat 118 – Oklahoma City Thunder 90

Kelly Olynyk, making his first start of the season, had 11 points during a 20-0 third-quarter run, leading host Miami past Oklahoma City.

Bam Adebayo led Miami with 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting. He added eight rebounds and four assists. Olynyk finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, making 7-of-9 shots, including 5-of-7 on 3-pointers. Jimmy Butler finished with 18 points and six assists, and Tyler Herro notched seven points to go with game highs of nine rebounds and eight assists in just 29 minutes.

Oklahoma City was led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 18 points, and Darius Bazley, who had 16 points and eight rebounds.

Boston Celtics 126 – Toronto Raptors 114

Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his season-best 40 points in the second quarter and Boston overcame a 13-point first-quarter deficit to defeat host Toronto at Tampa, Fla.

Tatum was 11-for-19 from the field and 13-for-13 in free throws. His career best is 41 points. Payton Pritchard contributed 23 points and eight assists for the Celtics, who have won two in a row and five of eight. Jaylen Brown added 19 points.

Fred VanVleet scored a season-best 35 points for the Raptors, who have lost five of their first six games this season. VanVleet has scored at least 25 points in each of his past three games. Pascal Siakam added 22 points for Toronto.

Indiana Pacers 118 – New Orleans Pelicans 116

Victor Oladipo had 25 points and Malcolm Brogdon scored the winning basket with 3.6 seconds left in overtime as visiting Indiana defeated New Orleans.

Lonzo Ball’s layup after a steal by Steven Adams pulled New Orleans even with 25 seconds left, but Indiana cleared out for Brogdon, who drove into the lane and lofted a 12-foot floater for the winning points to finish with 21 points and 11 assists.

Domantas Sabonis added 19 points and 11 rebounds, Myles Turner scored 17 and Doug McDermott had 11 for Indiana. New Orleans was led by Brandon Ingram’s 31 points, while Zion Williamson had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Ball added 18 points and Eric Bledsoe had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

New York Knicks 113 – Atlanta Hawks 108

Julius Randle scored 28 points, RJ Barrett netted 26, and visiting New York erased a 15-point second-half deficit to defeat Atlanta.

Randle was 11-for-19 from the floor and added 17 rebounds and nine assists, just missing his eighth career triple-double. Barrett, who scored 25 in the last game, was 10-for-19 with 11 rebounds and five assists.

The Knicks, who had just eight available players, got 16 points off the bench from Immanuel Quickley, who was 6-for-6 at the free-throw line.

–Field Level Media



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Nets beat 76ers, ‘embarrassing, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, quarantine, Seth Curry COVID-19 positive, Kyrie Irving


Fresh off a shock 122-109 loss to the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers have been forced into quarantine after shooter Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19.

Luckily for both sides Curry was already ruled out of the game with an ankle injury and missed the game.

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Curry immediately went to an isolation room and left the arena separately to the team.

He did spend the first quarter on the bench however and the game against the Nets was also the 76ers’ third in four days.

But his teammates have been forced into quarantine in New York after The Athletics’ Shams Charania revealed the team had learned of Curry’s positive test as the game went on and will stay in New York to undergo contact tracing.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne revealed that Joel Embiid, who sat next to Curry on the bench, would quarantine with his family until he’s sure he didn’t catch the virus.

It could cause havoc around the league if Sixers players are required to quarantine and miss games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols around COVID-19.

The Nets and the Wizards, who the 76ers played yesterday, could also be forced to quarantine and contract trace, which could throw the NBA schedule into chaos.

It continued the worst day the team has had this season after capitulating to a 13-point loss to the Nets without their superstars.

In one of the weirdest absences of the season so far, Nets coach Steve Nash had no idea why Irving wasn’t available or where he was.

But according to Heavy.com senior writer Brandon Robinson, Irving said via a close source that “I just didn’t want to play” following the events in the Washington.

Entering the game 7-1 on the season, the 76ers’ problems of old appeared to have resurfaced with Embiid and Simmons combining for 11 from 27 from the floor.

But it was an improvement on the first half when the pair shot four from 15 combined with the Sixers down by 14 at the break.

NBA legend Charles Barkley labelled the performance “embarrassing”.

Embiid finished with 20 points and 12 boards, with Shake Milton leading the way for Philly with 24 points.

Simmons had a horrible night, with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists.

76ers coach Doc Rivers was scathing in his assessment of this game.

“We didn’t come to play is what I saw,” Rivers said. “It was just one of those games. It was disappointing.”

Asked what his focus will be from here, Rivers replied: “Nothing really, other than being awake.”

Joe Harris scored 28 points, while Caris LaVert hit 22 points with 10 assists to lead the Nets to the win.

Despite the 7-1 start before the game being the Sixers’ best record over eight games since 2000-01, fans were quick to turn on Philly.



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Steph Curry 62 points, career-high, The Last Dance, Michael Jordan, Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving, disconnect


After a horror start to the season, the Golden State Warriors are back on track as Steph Curry reminded the world of how big a superstar he really is.

The 32-year-old old went on an all-time rampage against the Portland Trail Blazers, with 62 points and eight threes as he monstered the side.

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Arguably one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, Curry went nuts as he claimed the career high tally, finishing with 18 from 31 from the field and eight from 16 from three.

It was the 10th 30-point half of his career.

After the game, Curry hit back at the criticism he and his team have been copping with a sensational reminder of how good he actually is.

“Cue the Jordan meme, right?” Curry said during a postgame video conference with reporters. “I take all that personally.

“It was just an opportunity to assert my will on the game early and try to create some energy and get off on the right foot. As crazy as it sounds after the game, all we really wanted to do was win the first quarter and take it from there.

“We’ve got a winning spirit, we’ve just to work out how to do it consistently and against the good teams in the league.”

It’s a reference to Michael Jordan in The Last Dance.

The only downside of the incredible night was that his franchise record 80 straight free throws, dating back to March 29, 2019 was broken in the first quarter with coach Steve Kerr having some fun.

“And then he just choked. It’s just incredible,” cracked coach Steve Kerr.

But when speaking about the achievement of his 62 points, Kerr was blown away.

“We’ve seen Steph do so many things here over the years, so many amazing nights at Oracle and now here at Chase. It’s just a privilege to coach him, it really is,” he said.

He wasn’t the only one as Twitter blew up with the praise.

“A career high 62 points for Steph Curry! STILL proving he’s the greatest shooter we’ve ever seen and a MVP candidate along with LeBron, AD, KD, Kyrie, Luka Doncic, Kawhi, and Giannis,” Magic Johnson wrote.

KYRIE HITS BACK AS NETS SLAMMED

Kyrie Irving has hit back at talk of a disconnect between himself and fellow superstar Kevin Durant after missing a clutch play to lose 123-122 to the Washington Wizards.

Thomas Bryant stuffed the go-ahead dunk with 14.9 seconds left but neither Durant or Irving could hit the winner in the final possession.

Asked about the disconnect between the bench and the players after Irving took it into his own hands to call a time-out with 7:35 remaining, the star hit back.

“Disconnect? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he snapped. “This is basketball. It’s pretty simple.”

Durant said he didn’t notice the issue.

“I didn’t even see that,” Durant said. “But Steve knows when to call time-outs. He knows what he’s doing over there. We all trust him. He’s only going to get more comfortable as time goes on.”

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 27 points and 10 rebounds.

Irving, who led all scorers with 30 points, missed a three-pointer with less than six seconds remaining. Brooklyn corralled the rebound, but Durant’s last-gasp effort also missed.

“We’ve got two of the best players ever to touch a basketball on the other side, so it’s a tough task, man, but I think we did an excellent job of accepting that challenge,” Beal said of the Wizards defence.

Russell Westbrook finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards.

with AFP



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