Galaxy's Donovan looks forward to playing in Philly

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Galaxy's Donovan looks forward to playing in Philly

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Posted:12:35 p.m.
By Dave Zeitlin
CSNPhilly.com Contributor

CHESTER, Pa. When Landon Donovans name was announced at PPL Park last October, there was a booming cheer typically reserved for Philadelphia Union players.

The display of affection was not unwarranted. Months earlier, Donovan had cemented himself in American soccer lore with a dramatic stoppage-time goal that launched the United States into the knockout round of the 2010 World Cup. The end of the MLS season was, in many ways, a celebration tour for the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder, his stop in Chester included.

I saw a little bit of a change, Donovan admitted Tuesday when asked about the reception from visiting fans. I think theres more respect, which is nice. But at the same time, that only lasts so long. So my guess is this year people are going to forget about 2010 and get back to being passionate fans for their teams, which is good.

In other words, when Donovan and the rest of the Galaxy invade PPL Park for tonights game against the Union (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network), he expects to be in hostile territory.

He wouldnt want it any other way, either.

For us to play in soccer-specific stadiums and to play in front of real crowds what we call real games makes a big difference for us, Donovan said. As players, we all enjoy it.

Unfortunately for Union fans, theyll have to save their taunts for the Galaxys other big-name superstar, David Beckham, for another day. With the Galaxy playing three games in a one-week span, head coach Bruce Arena opted to leave the Englishman back in Los Angeles for tonights game.

Were sorry about that, Arena offered. We didnt put together the schedule. Our job is to keep our players healthy and place the right players on the field each and every game to give us the best chance of winning.

Donovan reiterated his coachs point, pointing to the rigors of the schedule while slightly sympathizing with the fans that wont get to see the most famous soccer player in the world in person.

Some are disappointed, some are probably happy that hes not here because obviously he helps our team, Donovan said. Its part of sports, especially in our country when you have to travel the way you do cross-country for a game like this. You cant expect someone of his age to be able to play three games in a week.

Its unfortunate for people who paid to come see him but its part of sports.

For the Western Conference-leading Galaxy (4-2-4), the absence of Beckham, a world-renowned set piece specialist, will hurt against an improved Union squad whose main weakness this season has been giving up set-piece goals.

Donovan and Beckham known as much for their frosty relationship in the past as for they are for leading the Galaxy to victories have also been playing well together of late. Donovan leads the club with four goals while Beckham is tied for second in the league with five assists.

We see the game the same way, Donovan said. I know when he has the ball where I need to be, and he knows where to put it. We know how to gel and mesh together on field. When hes not here, part of our game hurts.

Yet, even if Beckham had been in town, Donovan recognizes the Galaxy still would have had their work cut out for them against the Union (4-2-1), who with a win over L.A. would climb into first place in the Eastern Conference.

Theyre a much better team much better than last year, said Donovan, the fifth leading goal-scorer in MLS history. I knew manager Peter Nowak was going to get it right, that it would just take time. Ive been impressed. Ive watched a lot of their games this year. They have the same core group of guys that were here last year and they made some really good improvements.

Theyre still not where they want to be. I know a Peter Nowak-coached team will eventually be a much more offensive-minded team. I know theyve gotten the defensive part right and theyre a very good team right now.

As Donovan remembers from last seasons game at PPL Park, the Union fans are real good, too.

And while there may be more respect directed at him since the World Cup and while there are some people who flood the gate only to get a glimpse of Beckham Donovan is happy to report that he still feels like hes in hostile territory when he comes to PPL Park and other stadiums around the country.

For him, that, perhaps more than anything else, signifies the growth of Major League Soccer. And in no city is the sport growing as much as it is in Philadelphia.

Growing up, Id always hear about Philly sports fans, Donovan said. We were all expecting the same with the Union and they havent disappointed. Ive played with a number of guys from Philly and they have the same passion and enthusiasm for Philly sports.

Its been good to have a team like that in our league. We need more passion like that.
Email Dave Zeitlin at djzeitlin@gmail.com.

Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts

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Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts

As the Western Conference Finals are taking place in Oakland, the Sixers are looking for new talent of their own in California.

This week, members of the Sixers' front office are attending pre-draft workouts organized through multiple agencies, including BDA Sports Management, CAA Sports, Landmark Sports Agency, Octagon and Wasserman Media Group.

While the Sixers hold the No. 1 pick, these workouts are opportunities for them to evaluate players that could be fits for their 24th and 26th selections.

On Thursday, the list of workout participants included projected first-rounders Deyonta Davis (Michigan State) and Cheik Diallo (Kansas), according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

The scouting process takes NBA teams coast to coast. Earlier this week, the Sixers reportedly attended a private workout with Excel Sports Management in New York City, in which Brandon Ingram and Jamal Murray participated.

The Sixers have held two workouts at their own practice facility, bringing in a total of 12 prospects thus far.

As the draft nears, 57 early-entry candidates withdrew their names from the 2016 draft.

NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors fight off elimination

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NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors fight off elimination

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND, Calif. -- "We ain't going home! We're not going home!" Stephen Curry screamed at the top of his lungs.

No, his Golden State Warriors are going back to Oklahoma City, after keeping their title reign and the winningest season in NBA history alive for at least one more game.

Curry scored 31 points, raising his arms in the early moments to fire up Golden State's raucous crowd, and the defending champions staved off elimination with a 120-111 victory over the Thunder on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

"We just did what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to win at home," Curry said. "We know what we still have to do going forward. ... We knew if we didn't win we were going home. There's no other motivation you need."

For all the speculation about the current state of Curry's beat-up body -- that troublesome ankle, sore knee or tender elbow -- he did it all.

"I thought he looked like 91 percent," coach Steve Kerr cracked. "He came out and played a really good game. That's all I can tell you. He's going to compete every night. He had an excellent night and helped us get it done."

Led by Curry, the Warriors looked like their old winning selves again.

The MVP made a snazzy layup late and dished out six assists, while Klay Thompson added 27 points as Golden State sent the best the best-of-seven series back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 on Saturday night. The Warriors trail 3-2 and are trying to become just the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit.

"None of us want to go home," Thompson said. "We're having too much fun out there."

Kevin Durant scored 40 points and Russell Westbrook added 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals for the Thunder, trying for the fifth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history and first championship since moving from Seattle.

The record-setting, 73-win Warriors, coming off their first back-to-back defeats all season, had been blown out in two losses at Oklahoma City by a combined 52 points.

"We have to take that game and travel," Curry said of keeping momentum.

Durant's 3-pointer with 4:34 left got the Thunder within 103-98, then Curry answered with a three-point play.

Curry scored seven points in a 58-second stretch of the second quarter and hit more big shots late, but the Thunder didn't go away easily.

"I liked our will, I liked our fight," Kerr said. "We were embarrassed in OKC the last couple games."

Trailing 58-50 at halftime, Oklahoma City came out of the break with a 9-2 run. Westbrook's 3-pointer with 6:06 left in the third put Oklahoma City ahead 68-67 for its first lead of the night. But Golden State led 81-77 going into the fourth and began the final period with an 8-0 burst.

"We didn't shoot a particularly good percentage when we got into the lane and got into the deep paint," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "We had our opportunities."

Curry shot 9 for 20 and also had five steals, while Thompson had his 11th 20-point game for the second straight postseason despite shooting 2 for 9 from 3-point range. After struggling the past two games, Draymond Green had 11 points and 13 rebounds a day after receiving some encouraging words from Kobe Bryant on the phone.

"We really relied on the entire team tonight, which is when we're at our best," Curry said.

Kerr figured his Warriors might have an edge against the percentages of teams having trailed 3-1 because they're the defending champs and were playing at home, where they have been nearly unbeatable.

He wasn't surprised to see this team respond so well.

"We played with great desperation," Kerr said. "I knew how we would play. This is a championship team."

Kerr called for center Andrew Bogut to do more and the 7-footer delivered with a playoff career-high 15 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double this postseason and seventh of his career.

Marreese Speights had a pair of three-point plays on follow shots and a 3 in the second quarter to give Golden State a nice lift off the bench. He had nine points in four minutes during that stretch and 14 points overall for his fifth double-digit scoring game this postseason.

"Their bench came in and made shots, made plays for them," Durant said. "We know we're going home. We can't relax."

Golden State made 31 of 34 free throws.

With his 1,248th career postseason point in the third, Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain (1,246) for second place on the franchise's playoff scoring list.

"That's who he is, that's what he's done, and that's what's made him a very good player," Donovan said.

Tip-ins
Thunder: The franchise lost in the finals in 1977-78, 1995-96 to Kerr and the Chicago Bulls and in `12. ... Steven Adams sat down with his second foul at the 9:34 mark of the first quarter. The Thunder had seven fouls to Golden State's one after the first. ... Oklahoma City took Game 1 at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors have lost only three times all season. ... The Thunder started the game 3 for 14.

Warriors: Green picked up his fifth technical of the postseason. He also has at least one steal in 16 straight playoff games. ... Golden State missed six of its first seven 3s. ... The Warriors supported Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager with "Sager Strong" T-shirts for sale to support awareness and research for leukemia and lymphoma, both blood cancers.

Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez strikes out 12 in Marlins' win over Rays

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Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez strikes out 12 in Marlins' win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jose Fernandez struck out 12 in seven innings Thursday and won his sixth straight start for the Miami Marlins, a 9-1 decision over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Fernandez (7-2) struck out eight of the last 10 batters he faced and struck out every hitter in the Rays lineup at least once. The 23-year-old right-hander from Tampa gave up six hits in beating his hometown Rays for the first time in three tries. He finished the game with 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings, highest among major league starters.

Adeiny Hechavarria and Chris Johnson homered for the Marlins, who won three of four in their annual series against the Rays.

Hechavarria's third home run drove in the final two runs of a three-run second inning off Rays starter Drew Smyly. Johnson made it 5-0 with his second homer an inning later, Johnson's first hit in 22 interleague at bats (see full recap).

Rockies silence Red Sox, Bradley's hit streak
BOSTON -- Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story and Dustin Garneau hit two-run homers and the Colorado Rockies stopped Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 29-game hitting streak with a 8-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

The win ended a three-game losing streak by Colorado and it ended a four-game winning streak for the Red Sox. Bradley's major league-best streak was halted when he went 0 for 4 after moving up to the leadoff spot for the first time this season.

Jon Gray (2-2) gave up a two-run home run to David Ortiz in the first, but pitched six scoreless innings before leaving in the eighth.

Clay Buchholz (2-5) took the loss. He pitched three perfect innings before things came apart in the fourth, when he gave up Gonzalez's homer with the other two coming the following inning (see full recap).

Happ leads Blue Jays past Yankees
NEW YORK -- J.A. Happ pitched seven strong innings, Edwin Encarnacion and Devon Travis had two-out RBIs, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-1 on Thursday to win the three-game series.

CC Sabathia was the tough-luck loser for New York, allowing just two unearned runs. Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his first game since going on the disabled list May 4 with a strained right hamstring.

Happ (6-2) allowed one run on three hits in seven innings with five strikeouts and three walks. He has given up three earned runs or fewer in 19 of his last 20 starts.

Sabathia (3-3) retired the first seven batters before an error by shortstop Didi Gregorius on Travis' grounder with one out in the third (see full recap).