Women's soccer advances in stunning fashion

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Women's soccer advances in stunning fashion

From Comcast SportsNet
MANCHESTER, England (AP) -- The U.S. women's soccer team has another come-from-behind, last-minute thriller to add to its legacy. The Americans won't have much time to celebrate it: It's time to focus on winning it all. This is the moment the U.S. players have been eyeing for more than a year, a rematch with Japan on Thursday at Wembley Stadium with gold on the line. The top-ranked Americans lost to Japan on penalty kicks in the World Cup final last summer, a stunning blow that became a source of motivation as the players prepared for the Olympics. "This is redemption for us," midfielder Carli Lloyd said. "We know how hard it was for us after that game. It hurt us for a really long time." The U.S. team was ten minutes away from another devastating loss in the Olympic semifinals Monday night when it caught a break. Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod was whistled for holding the ball too long, a violation often committed but rarely enforced. The dominoes fell in quick succession: an indirect kick, a hand ball, a penalty kick. Score tied. "We feel like it was taken away from us," Canada forward Christine Sinclair said. "It's a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started." The Americans then put together a final winning surge. In the third and final minute of injury time that had been added on to extra time -- with goalkeeper Hope Solo mentally preparing for a penalty kick shootout -- Alex Morgan looped in a 6-yard header on a long cross from Heather O'Reilly, giving the U.S. a 4-3 win in the Olympic semifinals at Old Trafford. "I don't have much to say because I need to wrap my head around what just happened," Solo said. "And that's the truth of the matter. We tend to keep things interesting." Canada, seeking the country's first Summer Games medal in a traditional team sport since 1936, will play France for the bronze on Thursday at Coventry, but it will take a while to get over this one. Canada's coach felt cheated, and lashed out with criticism of Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen. "The ref, she will have to sleep in bed tonight after watching the replays," said Canada coach John Herdman, who also felt that Pedersen missed a hand ball in front of the U.S. goal. "She's gonna have to live with that. We will move on from this. I wonder if she will be able to." Pedersen cited McLeod was for holding the ball more than six seconds. McLeod said she did not receive the customary warning from the referee beforehand, although she did say the linesman had told her at the start of the second half not to slow down play. The violation gave the Americans an indirect free kick inside the area. Rapinoe took the kick and rammed it into the Canadian wall, the ball glancing off the arm of Marie-Eve Nault. Pedersen then awarded the U.S. a penalty kick, which co-captain Abby Wambach converted off the left post. "I think the referee was very one-sided," McLeod said. "It was an interesting sequence of events. I think we outplayed the Americans the entire game. I think it's unfortunate the calls went the way that they did. Of course, the Americans are a great soccer team, and today we were better, and the luck went their way." The Americans had little sympathy for McLeod's complaints. "There were a few other times throughout the game that she held it for 18 seconds, for 10 seconds," Wambach said. "You can't blame something on the referee." The Americans overcame three one-goal deficits, all due to goals from Sinclair in the 22nd, 67th and 73rd minutes. Megan Rapinoe scored in the 54th and 70th minutes, and Wambach converted the penalty kick in the 80th for the U.S. Sinclair and Wambach are now tied for second all-time with 143 international goals apiece, both chasing Mia Hamm's world record of 158. In many ways this match was reminiscent of the comeback against Brazil in last year's World Cup, when Wambach scored in the waning seconds of extra time in a shootout win in the quarterfinals. The result maintains the Americans' dominance of their neighbor to the north, extending their unbeaten streak against Canada to 27 games (23-0-4). The U.S. leads the series 44-3-5, the last loss coming at the Algarve Cup in 2001. Herdman said before the game that the run of futility against the Americans was on the minds of his players, and he addressed it with them in the run-up to the match. He also injected some pregame intrigue by accusing the Americans of using "highly illegal," overly physical tactics on free kicks and corner kicks. "Their coach prepared them very well," Wambach said. "He had a very good tactic yesterday, by making it a media (event) to say that we do illegal stuff. I give him credit for that because it's something that he was trying to do to rally his team around him." But the Americans had the final word, with Morgan's goal avoiding the penalty kick shootout no one wanted to see. "The team refuses to lose," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. "There is something where they have an extra gear."

Rewind: Klay drops 60, finds a zone most never experience

Rewind: Klay drops 60, finds a zone most never experience

OAKLAND – The shots kept falling, splashing through the net from all over the court, jumpers from 20 feet, from 25, from 30, layups from one side of the bucket, then the other. Klay Thompson was tap-dancing all over the Indiana Pacers.

It didn’t seem logical that a self-respecting NBA team like the Pacers would allow one man to put on a personal showcase, with them as the victims.

That’s precisely what Thompson did Monday night, before the 200th consecutive sellout crowd at Oracle Arena, pouring in 60 points – more than he has ever scored in a game, more than anyone in the NBA his scored this season – in a 142-106 crushing of Indiana.

“Klay did do a good job of moving without the ball,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “Tonight, he was moving and they were finding him.

“We needed to get more help, and we didn’t. He lit us up.”

In scoring 60 points in only 29 minutes – he exited with 1:22 left in the third quarter and did not return – Thompson found a zone above even the most ethereal zones. He happened upon a place even the most hallowed most NBA players never get the privilege of experiencing.

“That’s a feat I would put money on to probably never be touched ever again in the history of basketball,” said Stephen Curry, the reigning scoring champion as well as back-to-back MVP.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Kevin Durant, the four-time scoring champ who also has an MVP trophy to his name. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

With Thompson raining shots, his teammates standing and clapping and boogieing to the roar of the crowd, the Pacers were helpless witnesses to their own dismantling. As Thompson sizzled, and their defense fizzled, one thing became clear: There would be no double-teaming of the hottest shooter in the NBA this season.

How do you double-team Thompson, who plays mostly without the ball, when he’s sharing the court with Curry and Durant? You don’t. You take your chances and hope. And if Thompson is stroking it, you’re in trouble.

The Pacers tried numerous defenders on Thompson and none was up to the challenge. The Warriors, smelling the Pacers’ futility, went after them with a vengeance.

“You could see that once he got hot, Steph was looking for him and Draymond (Green) and KD and Andre (Iguodala) and Zaza (Pachulia), they were all looking for him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

“I’ve said this before, but I really believe the strength of our team the last few years offensive is the number of guys that can pass and make plays. What’s really gratifying as a coach is when you see that type of unselfishness.”

By the time Indiana’s superstar, Paul George, took the assignment, trying to cool Thompson, it was well into the third quarter, much too late. Thompson had made 21 of his 33 shots, including eight of his 14 launches from beyond the arc. He had become the first player in the shot-clock era (beginning in 1954-55) to score 60 points in fewer than 30 minutes.

He had hung the Pacers on a wall.

“I will celebrate this tonight,” said Thompson, whose previous career-high was 52 points. “It’s a feat I never really thought I would be able to do growing up.”

Asked if could have scored 80 points, Thompson barely skipped a beat.

“Maybe. I think I could have,” he said. “And maybe one day I will have the opportunity. 60 points in 29 minutes is not bad. I’m satisfied with that.”

His teammates were beyond satisfied. They were delighted. Enchanted. Durant scored 20 points and was agape at Thompson’s performance. Curry had 13 points, 11 assists and zero turnovers and was unusually demonstrative in recapping Thompson’s night.

“We just kept feeding him and feeding him, and he was knocking down some unbelievable shots,” Durant said.

“It was just so much fun to watch,” Curry said. “We appreciate that entertainment value as his teammates to see what he was able to do tonight. It was crazy.”

This was Thompson, taking full and extravagant advantage of both his own shooting skill as well as the benefit of teammates too lethal for any defense to ignore.

All of which left the other 29 teams around the NBA watching and wondering where on earth do they turn if any Thompson or Curry or Durant enters a zone.

This is quite the quandary, and it’s precisely what the Warriors had in mind when they hired Durant.

Instant Replay: Klay erupts for career-high 60, Warriors destroy Pacers

Instant Replay: Klay erupts for career-high 60, Warriors destroy Pacers

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – As the Warriors on Monday night celebrated their 200th consecutive sellout crowd at Oracle Arena, All-Star guard Klay Thompson gave 19,596 fans an evening they’ll never forget.

Thompson scored 60 points, a career-high for him and the most any player has scored in the NBA this season, to carry the Warriors to a 142-106 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Thompson scored 17 points in the opening period, 23 in the second – for 40, representing a career-high for points in a half – and closed out his night with 20 in the third quarter.

So hot was Thompson that only no other teammate exceeded 20 points. Kevin Durant totaled 20, Stephen Curry had 13 and Ian Clark finished with 11.

Curry posted a season-high 11 assists, and Draymond Green recorded 10 as the Warriors were credited with 45 helpers overall.

With a 116-83 lead after three quarters, Warriors coach Steve Kerr went to his reserves for the entire fourth quarter.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Thompson, who took possession in the first half and locked it up in third quarter.

Thompson’s line: 60 points (21-of-33 from the field, 8-of-14 from deep, 10-of-11 from the free throw line). He played 29 minutes and finished plus-37 for the night.

TURNING POINT:
When a Monta Ellis layup pulled the Pacers within seven (46-39) with 8:14 left in the second quarter, the Warriors went on a 24-3 run to go up 70-42 with 2:34 remaining in the half.

They went into intermission with an 80-50 lead, and Indiana got no closer than xx for the rest of the game.

The Warriors trailed for all of 12 seconds (in the first five minutes) in the game.

INJURY UPDATE:
Warriors: No injuries were listed and none was reported.

Pacers: No injuries were listed and none was reported.

ROSTER NOTE:
Rookie C Damian Jones is on assignment with D-League Santa Cruz.

WHAT’S NEXT:
The Warriors travel to Los Angeles, where on Wednesday night they face the Clippers at Staples Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30.