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Football News Lionel Messi helps Barcelona to win over Real Valladolid, Atletico Madrid stay in contention

first_imghighlights Lionel Messi missed a penalty for Barcelona but scored one against Real Valladolid.Atletico Madrid are two points ahead of Real Madrid, who host Girona.Lionel Messi struggled with fitness issues in the previous game. Madrid: Lionel Messi scored a penalty and missed another as La Liga leaders Barcelona ground out an unconvincing 1-0 win over Real Valladolid, while Antoine Griezmann surpassed Fernando Torres with his 130th goal for Atletico Madrid. Messi’s fitness was again in the spotlight on Saturday after a niggling thigh strain in recent weeks, but he completed the full 90 minutes at the Camp Nou and hit the 30-goal mark at Barcelona for the 11th straight season. The Argentine coolly dispatched a spot-kick just before half-time, drilling beyond the reach of Jordi Masip after Gerard Pique was bundled to the ground by Valladolid midfielder Michel. Masip brilliantly tipped over a Messi volley soon after the interval and Luis Suarez wasted a huge opportunity to double the lead shortly after replacing Kevin-Prince Boateng with an hour gone.    Messi found himself booked for dissent after an apparent foul on him went unpunished, and he then blew the chance to kill off Valladolid when Masip kept out his second penalty of the night — awarded following a trip on Philippe Coutinho. The excellent Masip alertly gathered Messi’s follow-up header and again denied Suarez late on as Barca pulled seven points clear of Atletico ahead of their trip to Lyon in the Champions League last 16. RELATED  “We haven’t played well. The truth is it wasn’t a good match today. The only good thing is the victory,” Pique, who made his 300th appearance in La Liga told Movistar. “Getting back on track with three points is important after two draws in the league. But we definitely have to improve. We have to be better on Tuesday otherwise we’ll have a tough time.”            ‘Extraordinary player’   Griezmann scored a second-half winner in Atletico’s 1-0 victory at neighbours Rayo Vallecano to provide a timely boost going into next week’s showdown with Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus. The French forward surpassed Torres — now playing for Sagan Tosu in Japan — for fifth all-time on the Atletico goalscoring charts as they shook off two successive defeats, including last week’s 3-1 loss at home to Real Madrid.  Griezmann struck for the tenth time in his last 11 outings, forcing home from six yards on 74 minutes after Alvaro Morata laid off a high, looping ball inside the area.          “Griezmann is an extraordinary player, he always adapts to what the team needs. He’s very important for us,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. The late Luis Aragones, who coached Spain to the European Championship title in 2008, is Atletico’s record goalscorer with 172.     “It’s always tough at this stadium. We started off well and we had chances in the first 15 minutes such as Saul’s header, but then they improved,” Simeone added. “Our second half substitutions gave us more offensive strength and that allowed us to get our goal. It was a very tough match.”  Real Madrid, two points behind Atletico in third, could move back into second and to within six points of Barca when they host Girona on Sunday.center_img For all the Latest Sports News News, Football News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.last_img read more

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Purple & Bold: Rajon Rondo can bring speed with his ‘swag’

first_imgIn looking at how much better the Lakers have been when LeBron is on the court, one of the pieces of subtext is that the Lakers’ offense hasn’t been efficient when James can’t make looks for his teammates. The 3-point shooting especially drops to sub-30 percent when James is on the bench.Rondo can help that by being a half-court table-setter, but he can also help that by pushing the team’s tempo along. Whether off a defensive rebound or with a turnover, the Lakers can push the pace a little harder to get going.“He’s quarterbacking that thing, and he’s got options,” Caruso said. “As he’s rounded back into form, sort of like we saw with (Kuzma) … I think (Rondo) is doing that too, and we’re starting to see some of his skills come out.”Because as much confidence as you can get from a 3-pointer out of a half-court set, nothing quite gives you swag like a fast-break dunk.CARU-SHOW 2DWe’ve written about how Internet memes are a part of the Caruso experience. But wall murals, which predate memes by tens of thousands of years, mean you’re immortalized.Consider the Bald Mamba immortal, then, after L.A. muralist Gustavo Zermeno Jr. painted Caruso dunking over an impressive assembly of Western Conference talent: James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic, Devin Booker and Jamal Murray.It’s not long before Caruso gets word of new memes from his friends. He first saw a picture of it while waking up from a nap.“I thought it was fake, to be honest,” he said. “It just kind of goes to the cult following we’ve been joking about for the past six months.”Caruso said he messaged the artist to send his compliments. He was hoping to visit the mural on Wednesday.KUZ UPDATEAn ugly eye injury for Kyle Kuzma raised red flags to anyone who saw him stalking off the court bleeding from his face, but the Lakers said a follow-up medical evaluation revealed nothing too serious. Kuzma is scheduled to practice on Thursday and play in Oklahoma City on Friday.The third-year-forward tweeted out an emoji with glasses on Wednesday afternoon. Are rec specs in his future? We’ll find out Friday night.— Kyle GoonClick drawLeBron’s precious minutes – Why his minutes are the most valuable, and how the Lakers have to balance his workload.Thunder struck down – Oklahoma City can’t compete with a gassed-up Lakers squad.Banana Boat Bros – LeBron talked about seeing Chris Paul in Thunder blue.Game. Blouses. – Dave Chappelle took a few shots at Lakers practice the other day.Reunited and it feels so good? – Are Kobe and Dwight … good … now?Breaking down the show – Laker Film Room examined why LeBron was so effective against the Hawks.Vogel and LeBron bonding? – SI has a story on how Frank Vogel and LeBron James might be getting along. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Editor’s note: This is the Wednesday, Nov. 20 edition of the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.There’s such a thing as an unquantifiable impact. Frank Vogel says so.Look past Rajon Rondo’s assist numbers from Tuesday night’s win, Vogel said, into something less tangible.“Rajon’s statistics are not measured on the stat sheet; it’s measured in swag,” the Lakers head coach said earnestly. “He just gives us some confidence and an air about us that we know we’re going into battle with a heck of a basketball player.”center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersSwag is all well and good, but there is something more measurable that Rondo can do: Help the Lakers pick up the pace.Within Rondo’s 10 assists against Oklahoma City were five dimes in transition: to Kyle Kuzma, to Alex Caruso, two to LeBron James and one to Anthony Davis. Even though Rondo also got half-court dishes that led to 3-pointers, one of his best strengths is finding options on fast-break opportunities.It’s an area where the Lakers have growth potential: They’re currently eighth in the league in points off turnovers and ninth in fast-break points. Part of the reason they don’t run as much as they could is because, as much as LeBron and Rondo are fast-break threats, they also can pound the ball and walk it up, not seizing as quickly on transition opportunities.After scoring 30 fast-break points against Oklahoma City (which is a top-five transition defensive team), the Lakers had to acknowledge that their fast break attack isn’t something they always use enough.“I feel we get stagnant at times,” guard Danny Green said. “We slow down the pace ourselves when we don’t need to. Our best offense for us is our defense. And also just running. We don’t have to run plays and half-court sets. So if we push the pace and attack early, I think we’ll give ourselves some easier looks.”last_img read more

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