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Kawhi Leonard was at his two-way best in Clippers’ season-saving Game 6 win

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Kawhi Leonard was at his two-way best in Clippers' season-saving Game 6 win

There was no better way to say it. When asked about Kawhi Leonard’s performance in the Clippers’ Game 6 win over the Mavericks on Friday night, Dallas star Luka Doncic offered a short, but extremely accurate, response.

“I mean, he destroyed us,” Doncic said. “That’s what it is. He had a hell of a game. That’s what he does.”

MORE: How will Lakers shape roster around LeBron and AD?

Leonard was surgical in Los Angeles’ 104-97 win, scoring 45 points on 18-of-25 shooting with six rebounds, three assists and two steals in 42 minutes of action. He became just the fourth player in NBA playoff history to score 45 points while shooting at least 70 percent from the field when facing elimination.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP hit big shot after big shot in the second half, refusing to let Doncic and the Mavs send his squad into the offseason.  

Leonard in Game 6 PTS FG-FGA 3PT-3PTA FT-FTA
First half 16 7-11 1-3 1-1
Second half 29 11-14 4-6 3-3

It wasn’t just Leonard’s brutal efficiency that made the difference, though. He accepted the challenge of being the primary defender against Doncic, who still scored 29 points and dished out 11 assists but had to work for his offense (11 of 24 from the field, 2 of 9 from 3-point range).

“Great players perform in big moments,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “He was huge, man, taking the challenge, guarding Luka the whole game. . . . Played 42 minutes and guarded their best player. He was a hell of a player for the whole game. That just shows you who Kawhi Leonard is.”

The job isn’t done yet, of course. The Clippers must now defeat the Mavericks in Game 7 if they want to advance to the conference semifinals, no small task considering the brilliance of Doncic and the fact that, for the first time in NBA playoff history, the road team has won the first six games of the series.

Los Angeles will be looking to exorcise the playoff demons of last season when it blew a 3-1 lead against Denver in the “bubble” and became the laughingstock of the NBA. Paul George got the worst of the ridicule, but Leonard was very much part of that collapse, going 14 of 40 in the final two losses of the 2019-20 season. Leonard went on a legendary championship run with the Raptors, but he has struggled in clutch moments since joining the Clippers in 2019, including an ugly air ball at the end of Game 5.

There were no such struggles in Game 6. Los Angeles will need that version of Leonard one more time, and Lue expects to see him on Sunday.

“We’re going to lean on Kawhi a lot because he’s been through it,” Lue said. “He understands what it takes. Just his poise and his approach, we’re going to be fine.”

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76ers vs. Hawks live score, updates, highlights from Game 7 of NBA playoff series

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76ers vs. Hawks live score, updates, highlights from Game 7 of NBA playoff series

Doc Rivers hasn’t won a Game 7 in his last three chances, but he’ll look to change his recent misfortune as the 76ers take on the Hawks Sunday night.

Philadelphia staved off elimination in a 104-99 Game 6 win over Atlanta and now will return to the Wells Fargo Center in the hopes of polishing off Trae Young’s Hawks. Seth Curry and Tyrese Maxey were excellent in Philly’s last game, but the team will continue to rely heavily on Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris as they look to advance in Rivers’ first year as the 76ers coach.

Meanwhile, the Hawks have little to lose in this contest. Few expected Atlanta to make any sort of playoff run, let alone take the Sixers to a Game 7.

However, interim coach Nate McMillan organized an epic turnaround after taking over the team midway through the season. He went 27-11 in his 38 regular-season games as coach and led the 5-seed Hawks to a 4-1 series win over the Knicks.

McMillan is strongly preferred to return as Atlanta’s coach next season, but a win in Game 7 would bolster his chances of staying in charge of the Hawks. Or, it could become a valuable bargaining chip for him while negotiating his future salary.

Sporting News is tracking live scoring updates and highlights from 76ers vs. Hawks to decide the Eastern Conference playoff series. Follow below for complete results from Game 7.

76ers vs. Hawks score

Game 7 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
76ers 28 28
Hawks 25 25

76ers vs. Hawks live updates, highlights from Game 7

(All times Eastern)

8:50 p.m. — Trae Young has picked up a technical foul.

8:48 p.m. — Joel Embiid throws down a monster dunk that brought the Wells Fargo Center to life. What a play.

8:46 p.m. — Ben Simmons and George Hill combine for a nice little and-one opportunity.

8:45 p.m. — Trae Young ends his cold stretch with a 3-point make. He now has seven points on one of seven shooting.

8:43 p.m. — Kevin Huerter missed his first shot of the game. He’s now four of five from the field with nine points.

8:40 p.m. — The Hawks had no turnovers in the first quarter. It took them over 14 minutes of game action to commit one. That’s one of the main reasons they’re leading in spite of Trae Young’s early shooting struggles.

8:38 p.m. — After Danilo Gallinari makes back-to-back 3-point shots, every Hawk to shoot so far has made at least one basket… except for Trae Young. Despite that, the Hawks lead by five.

8:34 p.m. — Nate McMillan’s takeaways from the first quarter: He likes how the Hawks offense is operating but wants them to allow fewer free throws. Sounds about right.

8:32 p.m. — The Hawks and Sixers each have a player with two fouls. Seth Curry has two for Philly while Clint Capela picked up his second at the end of the first quarter. Capela is key in the battle against Joel Embiid, so the Hawks will keep a close eye on him.

End of first quarter: 76ers 28, Hawks 25

8:29 p.m. — Trae Young hasn’t made shots in the first quarter — he’s 0-6 from the floor — but he has four points at the free throw line. Still, the Hawks will need more from him to win this one. They’re lucky to be down just 28-25 after one quarter. Also, Joel Embiid made a great shot to end the quarter.

8:27 p.m. — Lou Williams’ first shot is a make, but it took a while before it decided to go down.

8:25 p.m. — Matisse Thybulle makes his first 3-point shot. He didn’t score in Game 6.

8:18 p.m. — Kevin Huerter has made his first four shots and has nine points. His contributions are vital with Trae Young missing his first four shots.

8:17 p.m. — Seth Curry picks up his second foul about halfway through the first quarter. He has averaged 30 points over his last two games, so this is a big development for the 76ers.

8:14 p.m. — Joel Embiid just hit a tough shot falling away from the basket. That gives the 76ers their first lead of the game, 15-13 going into the first commercial break.

8:10 p.m. — The Hawks are making some nice passes off the bat. Trae Young finds Clint Capela for an alley-oop.

8:08 p.m. — Joel Embiid has the first six points for the 76ers. Kevin Huerter has five of the first seven for the Hawks.

8:07 p.m. — Last night, Charles Barkley guaranteed the Bucks would beat the Nets. He was right. Tonight, he is on the Sixers.

8:03 p.m. — 76ers win the tipoff. Furkan Korkmaz misses the first shot of the game. John Collins starts the scoring with a two-point bucket for the Hawks.

7:55 p.m. — Shaq wants Ben Simmons to be aggressive in this one and not worry about the free throw issues he has been having.

7:50 p.m. — No surprises with the Hawks starting lineup either. Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Clint Capela will begin the game for Atlanta.

7:37 p.m. — The Sixers’ starting five is in. It’s the same as Game 6: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Furkan Korkmaz, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid.

7:30 p.m. — Joel Embiid and the Sixers are getting in some pregame work.

7:25 p.m. — Who wore it better, Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid?

76ers vs. Hawks start time

  • Time: 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT
  • TV channel: TNT
  • Live stream: Watch TNT

Game 7 between the 76ers and Hawks is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 20. It will be televised nationally on TNT.

NBA playoff schedule 2021

(All times Eastern)

June 20

Game Time National TV
Clippers vs. Suns 3:30 p.m. ABC
Hawks vs. 76ers 8 p.m. TNT

June 22

Game Time National TV
Clippers vs. Suns 9 p.m. ESPN

June 24

Game Time National TV
Suns vs. Clippers 9 p.m. ESPN

June 26

Game Time National TV
Suns vs. Clippers 9 p.m. ESPN

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Padres’ Manny Machado wore the perfect Father’s Day footwear

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Padres' Manny Machado wore the perfect Father's Day footwear

Manny Machado’s got heat on feet. Kind of.

While ostentatious, loud and colorful cleats are all the rage in baseball, the Padres’ star third baseman dialed it down on Father’s Day. Like, a lot down.

Machado took the field wearing a pair of Nike Air Monarch cleats — the preeminent, iconic dad shoe — during San Diego’s Dad Day matchup vs. the Reds.

The Monarchs have fostered a reputation for being an unforgettable dad-worn sneaker, making Machado’s footwear a tremendous salute to fathers (and grillmasters) around the country.

What makes the cleats even better is that they are in the classic white, silver and navy blue colorway, which is the only way to wear those bad boys. While these are Jordan Brand player-exclusive cleats, they’re dad-exclusive away from the field.

MORE: Joey Votto makes young fan’s day in San Diego

Machado has worn all different makes of cleats throughout his career, usually flashy and gaudy types. The All-Star infielder has worn Jordan 11s, 12s, 4s and a bunch of others on the field.

Still, lacing up a pair of Grillmaster 5s on Father’s Day earned him plenty of praise from fans who understood the tribute:

You’ll probably be able to catch Machado after the game at a BBQ near you, likely cracking some bad puns and calling everyone “big guy.”

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Nets’ Kevin Durant joining Team USA for Tokyo Olympics after Game 7 loss vs. Bucks, report says

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Nets' Kevin Durant joining Team USA for Tokyo Olympics after Game 7 loss vs. Bucks, report says

Kevin Durant isn’t going to be taking much time off this summer.

In fact, he appears to be ready for more action despite playing all 53 minutes of the Nets’ Game 7 overtime loss to the Bucks and scoring a game-high 48 points. And he’s joining another super team that has title hopes.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Durant is expected to commit to Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Durant would become the sixth player to commit to Team USA, joining another player with Olympic experience, Draymond Green, and four first-time Olympians: Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker.

MORE: Kevin Durant blames ‘big-ass foot’ for loss to the Suns

Durant competed in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. He averaged 19.5 points at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and 19.4 points at the 2012 London Olympics.

In addition, Durant shot 54.6 percent from the shorter-range international 3-point line at the two tournaments and has compiled a 39-0 record in international play.

Team USA can now turn its attention to its remaining question marks with Durant’s commitment reportedly secured. Anthony Davis and LeBron James won’t be participating in this year’s Olympics, but Stephen Curry was “50-50” about competing in the event.

Either way, Team USA should be considered the top threat at the 2021 Summer Games with Durant in the fold.

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