Donovan Mitchell lights up Knicks as Ntilikina sits again

Frank Ntilikina, the Knicks’ 2017 lottery pick, was held out again while the Westchester County product the franchise bypassed that draft year, Donovan Mitchell, got a chance to be a hero.

Before his parents and 200 friends and family from the tri-state area, Mitchell lit up the Garden in his homecoming for 30 points in 29 minutes in a 137-116 rout by the Jazz on Wednesday night.

“Life comes full circle,’’ said Mitchell, whose father Donovan Mitchell Sr. works in the Mets’ front office. “It’s pretty special to play here. I was more relaxed than last year — playing before Latrell Sprewell and Willis Reed [on celebrity row].’’

As the Knicks began their six-game homestand disastrously, Ntilikina missed a 24th straight game with his groin injury. He said he will need one more five-on-five practice with the Knicks on Thursday before he returns — which is expected to be for Friday’s home contest against the Nuggets.

Or perhaps Ntilikina sat out again Wednesday because nobody wanted to see the rusty Frenchman battle the sizzling Mitchell, who was taken five spots after Ntilikina by Utah at No. 13.

Mitchell and Ntilikina became friendly as members of the same draft class and they did a camp together last summer. Mitchell was only going to pump up the maligned Frenchman.

“The kid is really good,’’ Mitchell said. “People don’t see that. He’s a great defender and one of the hardest guys I had to go against last year. He shut me down last year when I played here. Once he starts figuring it out on offense, he’ll be really good. He’s my guy. I have his back.’’

Mitchell, the 2018 Rookie of the Year runner-up, is averaging 23.6 points in his second season and likely leading Utah (42-29) to another playoff berth.

Mitchell had one monstrous right-handed driving dunk in the first half and kept burying 3-pointers against the Knicks’ nonexistent defense, which gave up 74 points in the first half. The Knicks fell behind as many as 37.

“He’s a nightmare to guard,’’ Knicks coach David Fizdale said.

Mitchell made 12-of-20 shots, went 5-of-9 from behind the 3-point line and sat during fourth-quarter garbage time.

New Knick Dennis Smith Jr., who was picked ninth by Dallas in that same 2017 draft, also sat out with a bad back while Mitchell destroyed the Garden.

“I worked out the day before the draft,’’ Mitchell said. “Based on my workout I didn’t think I was getting drafted [by the Knicks]. They had their eyes set on Frank and I knew of Dennis. I wasn’t one of the biggest names. There’s always going to be a ‘What if?’ But I’m happy [with Utah].’’

The Knicks were pitiful in dropping their league-worst record to 14-58 before more empty seats than usual. Since their home victory Sunday over the Lakers, the Knicks have lost by a combined 57 points, including Monday’s 128-92 train wreck at Toronto.

“We just got punched and they did not miss a 3,’’ Fizdale said. “We did not execute our defense to take away the 3.’’

Kevin Knox scored 27 mostly garbage-time points and Mario Hezonja added 23. Ntilikina is expected to go through a five-on-five scrimmage with the Knicks on Thursday.

The 20-year-old guard took part in a scrimmage with the G-League Westchester Knicks on Tuesday, but it was determined not to be ready. The Knicks certainly could have used another point guard Wednesday with Smith and Kadeem Allen (illness) also out. Ntilikina hasn’t played since late January.

“I made a lot of progress during five-on-five action,’’ Ntilikina said. “It’s a good feeling. … It’s been a while. I need a little more rhythm and more intensity practice. I just want to go through another five-on-five with me being free with my movement. Doing conditioning is not the same thing as doing five-on-five. It’s a new sensation — like coming back from the summer.”

Ntilikina has played just 41 games in his second season, which has been no better than his disappointing rookie year. There are strong indications the Knicks will make Ntilikina available on draft night in June.

Asked if his final 10 games this season could determine his future, Ntilikina, who is shooting 34.8 percent, didn’t seem concerned.

“It might be important to you but for me I just want to play basketball,” he said. “All that showing and stuff is for you guys and the fans. For me I hate being on the side not playing basketball. For me it’s important to play even if it’s 10 games.”

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Why are Scotland playing at 3pm against Kazakhstan?

SCOTLAND are looking to qualify for Euro 2020 and end their two decade absence from major tournaments.

France '98 was the last time the Scots participated in the finals of an international competition, but Alex McLeish is confident his young side can fight their way to next year's Euros.

Why are Scotland playing at 3pm against Kazakhstan?

THE SCOTS begin their qualifying campaign with a tough trip to face Kazakhstan in Astana.

There is a six-hour time difference between the two countries and the match will be kicking off at 9pm local time.

As a result, that will 3pm here in the UK – and McLeish has a plan to cope with the huge time difference.

The Scotland chief has revealed that the entire travelling party will remain on GMT time throughout their trip in an attempt any potential fatigue issues.

McLeish explained: "“There has been a lot of dialogue with the performance guys and different clubs.

“We will stay on British time during our stay in Kazakhstan. That sounds a bit weird but that is how people travelling there approach it. I’m sure the 
players will get their heads around it."
Once the match is over, the players will head straight to their training camp in Rimini and begin preparations for the clash with San Marino on Sunday, March 24.

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Austria vs Poland: TV channel, live stream, kick-off time and team news for Euro 2020 qualifier

POLAND travel to Austria as both sides begin their Euro 2020 campaign.

Both nations will be confident of reaching next summer's finals and will want to start their Group G adventure with three points.

What time is kick-off?

THIS Euro Group G qualifier will be held on Thursday, March 21.

Kick-off in Vienna is at 7.45pm.

When the sides last met at Euro 2008, they played out a 1-1 draw.

Which TV channel can I watch it on?

YOU can catch this game live on the Sky Sports Red Button.

Just as with the Nations League, Sky Sports have the rights to show every game of qualification live.

Head to Sky Sports Football at 7.45pm and hit your red button, selecting Austria vs Poland from the menu.

What is the team news?

🔴 POWOŁANIA

Ci zawodnicy zostali powołani na dwa najbliższe mecze z:
✅ Austrią, 21.03 (czwartek), Wiedeń,
✅ Łotwą, 24.03 (niedziela), Warszawa.

BILETY 👉 https://t.co/H7TWLlmF61 pic.twitter.com/CKhGWq6Q6a

 

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What Mets’ roster crunch looks like as spring training winds down

PORT ST. LUCIE — Two first basemen? Three catchers? Seven or eight relievers? These are just some of the roster questions Mets officials are contemplating in these final days of spring training.

Thirty-nine players remain in major league camp, but the number will be sliced to 25 in the hours leading up to next Thursday’s season opener in Washington.

Leading the intrigue might be how the Mets plan to handle first base, given the strong performances this spring by Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. The Mets might keep them both, as Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie prepare to begin the season on the injured list. Alonso and Smith are considered strictly first basemen, although the latter did see action in the outfield last season.

So, how would the playing time between Alonso and Smith be divided?

“I’ve been thinking a lot about that, because that is something that could happen,” manager Mickey Callaway said Wednesday. “I wouldn’t classify it as a platoon situation. I think our main goal would be to put them both in the best situation to succeed and to try to keep them both healthy and in the game mentally as well.

“I think both of them have shown that they can face both righties and lefties, so I don’t think it would be a straight platoon situation —they have value on the field and we just have to do our due diligence when it makes sense to get them in there and not have them in there if that becomes the case.”

The Mets can manipulate Alonso’s service time by keeping him in the minor leagues to begin the season, ensuring he remains under club control for another year, but general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has said the team won’t go that route if the player is worthy of a roster spot.

Alonso is tied for the team lead in homers with four this spring (he is hitting .360) and has provided steady defense at first base. Smith is hitting .349 and has impressed team officials with athleticism that hadn’t been displayed in previous stints with the club.

Now to the other roster questions:

Catcher — Wilson Ramos is the starter, but the Mets have to decide whether Travis d’Arnaud, Devin Mesoraco or Tomas Nido will be the backup — or if they will keep three catchers. Much could hinge upon d’Arnaud’s performance the next two days, when he is scheduled to catch consecutive games for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April.

If d’Arnaud isn’t deemed physically ready, the Mets could turn to Mesoraco, who could be claimed by another major league team by Friday given the upward mobility clause in his contract. If Mesoraco is claimed the Mets will have to let him leave or add him to the 25-man roster.

Infield — J.D. Davis seems likely to begin the season on the major league roster, giving the Mets another corner infielder. The team needs a backup at shortstop and will have to choose between Adeiny Hechavarria and Luis Guillorme. Of the two, Guillorme is having the better spring, but Hechavarria brings extensive experience and a stronger glove to the equation.

Bullpen — Callaway is leaning toward seven relievers instead of eight to begin the season because of the built-in off days in April. That leaves two openings, with lefty Luis Avilan in strong position to claim one of them. Tim Peterson, Hector Santiago and Ryan O’Rourke have impressed team officials and Rule 5 pick Kyle Dowdy can’t be ruled out. If Dowdy isn’t placed on the roster, he must be offered back to the Indians.

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Sacked ex-Peterborough star Josh Yorwerth handed four-year ban after admitting to evading drug tests

DRUGS test dope Josh Yorwerth has been suspended from football for four years.

The FA have confirmed that Yorwerth will play no part in the beautiful game after he dodged a drug test last year.

Anti-dopers turned up to Yorwerth’s house in September last year but did not answer the door as he feared being busted for taking cocaine the weekend before.

He was sacked by Peterborough United last month as a result of his actions.

And Yorwerth is now suspended from football and all other football-related activity for four years.

The ban starts from October 3 last year and will remain in place until October 2 2022.

The FA have also warned Yorwerth about his future conduct, and he will be “subject to target resting for the duration of his suspension.”

The former Wales youth team captain exclusively told SunSport this month that addiction to drugs, drink and gambling has seen his life spiral into chaos.

Yorwerth exclaimed: “I’d go three days straight, hardly any sleep, no food at all, drinking and doing drugs.

“What am I going to do now? I haven’t got any training, I’ve never done anything else.”

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Lewis Hamilton's annual salary revealed at £26.5m… 70 times more than Brit F1 newbie Lando Norris

LEWIS HAMILTON'S astonishing true salary has been revealed as £26.5million – 70 times more than Brit newbie Lando Norris.

Five-time world champion Hamilton's wages even eclipse his fiercest Formula One rival, £22.8m earner Sebastian Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas, 29, beat 34-year-old Hamilton into second place at Sunday's opening Grand Prix in Australia – yet earns £20.5m less than his Mercedes team-mate.

Racefans writer Dieter Rencken compiled the pay-list, which shows massive differences in earnings within each of F1's three biggest teams.

Vettel, 31, gets nearly £20m more than his Ferrari partner Charles Leclerc, 21.

And third-highest earner Max Verstappen, also 21, is on £12m, eight times greater than Red Bull team-mate Pierre Gasly, 23.

Renault are the other huge-payers, 29-year-old Aussie ace Daniel Ricciardo picking up £11.4m, compared to £7.6m for Nico Hulkenberg, even though the German is two years older.

Pay is much lower amongst the smaller F1 teams.

But for now wages are probably the last thing on the mind of 19-year-old Norris, who is pocketing £380k after stepping up from McLaren reserve to first-choice driver this year.

And he was quick to apologise to the British team after starting eighth but finishing 12th on his debut in Melbourne.

Admitting a few "mistakes", Norris said: "Basically I let everyone down so I need to make sure that doesn't happen again. The possibility was there to finish in the points was there."

And of course rookie Norris has not yet had the time to develop the lavish, jet-set interests of Hamilton.

F1's reigning champ warmed up for the new season by going skiing and sky-diving, watching the Moto GP in Qatar and launching his new fashion range in Berlin.

Norris' earnings are joint lowest, alongside Toro Rosso duo Daniil Kvyat, 24, and Alexander Albon, 22.



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Embarrassed Chelsea target Isco 'refusing to let Real Madrid staff weigh him as he is 4.5kg overweight'

ISCO is reportedly refusing to let Real Madrid weigh him after allegedly becoming overweight.

The tubby Chelsea midfield target has had his fair share of problems at the Bernabeu this term and he was frozen out of the first team by Santiago Solari.

Under Solari, Isco appeared to have put on timber despite vigorously defending accusations that he was out of shape.

Isco famously took to social media in December after a row with Solari about his weight to publish a picture of himself with his shirt off and the caption: ‘Am I fat?’

Solari had been strict during his time in charge of Real Madrid and Isco fell out with him after not meeting his extremely high standards.

But according to Spanish paper Sport, Isco is supposedly 4.5kg over weight.

It is also said that he was reluctant to take the scales to weigh himself.

Solari explained last month before he was sacked why Isco was not a part of his plans.

He said: “Disciplinary issues are handled internally.

“To play, you have to be in the right physical shape first and then you have to maintain it.”

But having been linked with a move to Chelsea, now Isco will be hoping to make an impression under Solari's successor Zinedine Zidane.

Real are already planning a summer splurge with Chelsea star Eden Hazard their top target, so Isco does not have long to convince Bernabeu chiefs they do not need the Belgian playmaker.

Isco started in Zidane’s first game back in charge of Real and he was on the scoresheet in a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo last weekend.


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Peyton Manning and ESPN reportedly meet to discuss ‘Monday Night Football’ job

Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning has reportedly been approached by ESPN to fill their empty spot in the “Monday Night Football" booth. 
(Getty Images)

ESPN is reportedly not giving up hope on recruiting Peyton Manning for a broadcasting spot on “Monday Night Football.”

Jimmy Pitaro, the network’s president, and content chief Connor Schell reportedly traveled to Denver on March 11 to meet with the former Broncos quarterback and proposed he take an open spot on their “Monday Night Football” panel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The vacancy comes after panel member Jason Witten announced last month he would be ending his NFL retirement and will play with the Dallas Cowboys again.

JASON WITTEN ENDS RETIREMENT, SET TO PLAY AGAIN FOR DALLAS COWBOYS

It was not immediately clear if Manning was interested in pursuing a career as an analyst. He’s had success as a pitchman for companies and is featured in a number of commercials including Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s. Manning, 42, retired from the NFL in 2016 — a month after winning his second Super Bowl championship, this time with the Denver Broncos. He won his first Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. His brother, Eli Manning, has been the longtime starting quarterback for the New York Giants.

There have been rumors that Peyton Manning would become the part owner of a team. He told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King that he went to the NFL draft in 2017 to see what it was like to be a co-owner.

PEYTON MANNING ON HIS DECISION TO RETIRE: 'AFTER 18 YEARS, IT'S TIME'

“But I know what that job entails, and that is an all-in job,” Manning said. "That is a do-not-put-your-phone-down-ever job. It’s a 24-7-365 days a year job. Because I know what that commitment is and what that job entails, it is just not the right place for me right now. I really am enjoying what I’m doing. As far as what will happen in the next few years I can’t really say, but like I said, I will always be close to the game."

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Arsenal legend Dixon reveals ‘insiders’ have leaked how Emery totally overhauled training… and stats show the impact

ARSENAL veteran Lee Dixon claimed "insiders" have leaked how Unai Emery has totally transformed training sessions.

Statistics show how the Spaniard's new approach has improved the endurance of his players during matches this season.

Meanwhile, Gunners midfielder Denis Suarez has said how physically demanding Emery's training sessions have been this season.

Dixon, who spent 14 years playing for Arsenal, has now revealed what an insider at the club has told him about the boss.

The 55-year-old said: "The training intensity and the accountability in training with what is expected of them has gone up.

"I know that for a fact because I've still got a few people knocking around the training ground that I can ask how things are going.

"The little insider has kind of said training has completely changed in that respect, which I think is a good thing."

STATS TO PROVE IT

Emery focuses largely on the fitness of his players and statistics show the positive impact it has had on them this season.

The average distance covered by the Arsenal team in a Premier League game this season is 115.1 km.

In comparison, last season they managed an average of just 112.3 km per game in the top-flight.

Arsenal's average number of tackles has increased from 16 to 16.8, but they now tend to shoot a lot less and face more efforts on their own goal.

But the Gunners are on track for a top four finish in the league and have reached the quarter-final of the Europa League.

Dixon added: "We've seen this season some of the results have been fantastic, some of the performances have been brilliant.

"Tottenham at home they were sensational, they played well away from home as well, the game against United recently. But then they'll throw in a Rennes [performance] away from home.

"Some of the results they had in that [unbeaten] run they went on at the start of the season, they should have been 3-0 down against West Ham at home and they won the game easily."

Jose Mourinho's methods were also exposed this week by after a Chelsea scouting report on Barcelona was leaked.


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Pogba wants Solskjaer to stay and reveals how Mourinho oversaw 'loss of confidence' at Man Utd

MANCHESTER UNITED midfielder Paul Pogba has said he wants Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "to stay".

The French midfielder also spoke out about the rift between certain members of the squad and former boss Jose Mourinho.

Pogba was infamously dropped to the bench for Mourinho's final game in charge of the club, a shocking 3-1 defeat to bitter rivals Liverpool in December.

Since Solskjaer took the interim job, United have been excellent, winning 14 of his 19 matches – although they have lost two in a row.

Pogba has been one of United's best players in that time, scoring nine goals and adding seven assists in 17 games.

And the 26-year-old has backed Solskjaer to get the job full-time.

Solskjaer deserves it. He knows the club, he knows everything about the club.

Pogba told Sky Sports: "Of course we want him to stay, the results have been great. I have a great relationship with him, he has a great relationship with the players.

"When a player is happy, he wants to keep being happy. Solskjaer deserves it. He knows the club, he knows everything about the club.

"He is a really happy coach that gave confidence back to the players.

"This gave us the freedom to play and enjoy football again because maybe we lost that with the results that we had before."

MOURINHO RIFT

Pogba opened up about his relationship with ex-boss Mourinho, revealing his side "lost confidence" while under the guidance of the Portuguese.

The World Cup winner went onto suggest United are a better team since Mourinho's departure with the results evidence to the claim.

Pogba added: "Maybe we lost confidence, maybe things went wrong.

"A lot of talking outside that we weren't used to.

"I don't like to talk about the past. I like to talk about the future because that's what matters.

"We are better now and the results have been brilliant. We are back in the top four."



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