Why Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia means so much for the Gulf monarchy’s sporting ambitions | CNN

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Abu Dhabi, UAE
CNN
— 

It’s a partnership that’s been hailed as “history in the making.”

One of the world’s most famous soccer stars landed in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday, where Cristiano Ronaldo was received in an extravagant ceremony, with excited children sporting his new club’s yellow and blue jerseys.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s success in luring the five-time Ballon d’Or winner on a two-year contract with the kingdom’s Al Nassr FC is the Gulf monarchy’s latest step in realizing its sporting ambitions – seemingly at any cost.

According to Saudi state-owned media, Ronaldo will earn an estimated $200 million a year with Al Nassr, making him the world’s highest-paid soccer player.

Shortly after the 37-year-old’s signing with Al Nassr, the club’s Instagram page gained over 5.3 million new followers. Its official website was inaccessible after exceeding its bandwidth limit due to the sudden surge in traffic, and the hashtag #HalaRonaldo – Hello, Ronaldo in Arabic – was trending for days across the Middle East on Twitter.

Analysts say that his recruitment in Saudi Arabia is part of a wider effort by the kingdom to diversify its sources of revenue and become a serious player in the international sporting scene.

It is also seen as a move by the kingdom to shore up its image after it was tarnished by the 2018 dismemberment and killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents, and a devastating war it started in Yemen in 2015.

Critics have decried the kingdom for “sportswashing,” an attempt to burnish one’s reputation through sport.

“I think Saudi Arabia has recognized a couple of years ago that to be a powerful nation internationally, you cannot just rely on hard power,” Danyel Reiche, a visiting research fellow and associate professor at Georgetown University Qatar, told CNN.

“You also need to invest in soft power, and the case of Qatar shows that this can work pretty well,” he said, adding that Saudi Arabia is following in the Qatari approach with sport, but with a delay of around 25 years.

Neighboring Qatar has also faced immense criticism since it won the bid to hosting last year’s FIFA World Cup in 2010.

Despite the smaller Gulf state facing similar accusations of “sportswashing,” the tournament has largely been viewed as a success, not least in exposing the world to a different view of the Middle East, thanks in part to Morocco’s success in reaching the semifinals and Saudi Arabia beating eventual World Cup champion Argentina in their opening group game.

Gulf nations engage in fierce competition to become the region’s premier entertainment and sporting hubs. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, in close proximity to each other, each have their own Formula One racing event. But their competition hasn’t been confined to the region. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also bought trophy European soccer teams.

Riyadh is playing catchup with neighbors who have long realized the importance of investing in sports, said Simon Chadwick, professor of sport and geopolitical economy at SKEMA Business School in Lille, France, especially as its main source of income – oil – is being gradually shunned.

“This is part of an ongoing attempt to create more resilient economies that are more broadly based upon industries other than those that are derived from oil and gas,” Chadwick told CNN.

Ronaldo’s new club Al Nassr is backed by Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC), a subsidiary of the kingdom’s wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has played a pivotal role in Saudi Arabia’s diversification plans.

“It is also a sign of interconnectedness, of globalization and of opening up to the rest of the world,” said Georgetown University’s Reiche.

The move is part of “several recent high profile moves in the sports world, including hosting the Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua world heavywight boxing championship bout in 2019, and launching the LIV Golf championship,” said Omar Al-Ubaydli, director of research at the Bahrain-based Derasat think tank. “It is a significant piece of a large puzzle that represents their economic restructuring.”

The kingdom has been on a path to not only diversify its economy, but also shift its image amid a barrage of criticism over its human rights record and treatment of women. Saudi Arabia is today hosting everything from desert raves to teaming up with renowned soccer players. Argentina’s Lionel Messi last year signed a lucrative promotional deal with the kingdom.

Hailed as the world’s greatest player, 35-year-old Messi ended this year’s World Cup tournament in Qatar with his team’s win over France, making his ambassadorship of even greater value to the kingdom.

The acquisition of such key global figures will also help combat the monarchy’s decades-long reputation of being “secretive” and “ultra-conservative,” James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and an expert on soccer in the Middle East, told CNN’s Eleni Giokos on Wednesday.

Al-Ubaydli said that the kingdom wants to use high profile international sports “as a vehicle for advertising to the world its openness.”

Saudi Arabia bought the English Premier league club Newcastle United in 2021 through a three-party consortium, with PIF being the largest stakeholder. The move proved controversial, as Amnesty International and other human rights defenders worried it would overshadow the kingdom’s human rights violations.

Ronaldo’s work with Saudi Arabia is already being criticized by rights groups who are urging the soccer player to “draw attention to human rights issues” in Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia has an image problem,” especially since Khashoggi’s killing, says Reiche. But the kingdom’s recent investments in sports and entertainment are “not about sportswashing but about developing the country, social change and opening up to the world.”

Saudi Arabia is reportedly weighing a 2030 World Cup bid with Egypt and Greece, but the kingdom’s tourism ministry noted in November that it has not yet submitted an official bid. Chadwick believes that Ronaldo’s deal with Al Nassr, however, may help boost the kingdom’s bid should it choose it pursue it.

Another way Saudi Arabia may benefit from Ronaldo’s acquisition is that it will be able to improve commercial performance, says Chadwick, especially if this collaboration attracts further international talent.

“It is important to see Ronaldo not just as a geopolitical instrument,” said Chadwick, “There is still a commercial component to him and to the purpose he is expected to serve in Saudi Arabia.”

What Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia shows is that the kingdom aspires “to be seen as being the best” and that it wants to be perceived as a “contender and a legitimate member of the international football community,” said Chadwick.

UAE FM meets Syria’s Assad in Damascus in further sign of thawing ties

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed in Damascus on Wednesday in the latest sign of thawing relations between Assad and the Gulf state. The meeting addressed developments in Syria and the wider Middle East, according to UAE state news agency WAM.

  • Background: It was Abdullah bin Zayed’s first visit since a November 2021 meeting with Assad that led to the resumption of relations. Months later, in March 2022, Assad visited the UAE, his first visit to an Arab state since the start of Syria’s civil war.
  • Why it matters: A number of Assad’s former foes have been trying to mend fences with his regime. Last week, talks between the Syrian and Turkish defense ministers were held in Moscow in the highest-level encounter reported between the estranged sides since the war in Syria began. The regional rapprochement is yet to improve the lives of average Syrians. Syria is still under Western sanctions.

Turkish President Erdogan says he could meet with Assad

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on Thursday that he could meet the Syrian leader “to establish peace.”

  • Background: Erdogan’s comments came after the Moscow talks between the two nations’ defense ministers and intelligence chiefs. “Following this meeting… we will bring our foreign ministers together. And after that, as leaders, we will come together,” Erdogan said on Thursday.
  • Why it matters: The meeting would mark a dramatic shift in Turkey’s decade-long stance on Syria, where Ankara was the prime supporter of political and armed factions fighting to topple Assad. The Turkish military maintains a presence across the Syrian border and within northern Syria, where it backs Syrian opposition forces. Erdogan has also pledged to launch yet another incursion into northern Syria, aiming at creating a 30-km (20-mile) deep “safe zone” that would be emptied of Kurdish fighters.

Iran shuts down French cultural center over Charlie Hebdo’s Khamenei cartoons

Iran announced on Thursday it had ended the activities of a Tehran-based French research institute, in reaction to cartoons mocking Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and fellow Shia Muslim clerics published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo this week.

  • Background: Iran summoned the French ambassador to Tehran on Wednesday to protest cartoons published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. More than 30 cartoons poking fun at Iran’s supreme leader were published by the magazine on Wednesday, in a show of support for the Iranian people who have been protesting the Islamic Republic’s government and its policies.
  • Why it matters: French-Iranian relations have deteriorated significantly since protests broke out in Iran late last year. Paris has publicly supported the protests and spoken out against Iran’s response to them. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna criticized Iran’s freedom of press and judicial independence on Thursday, saying “press freedom exists, contrary to what is going on in Iran and… it is exercised under the supervision of a judge in an independent judiciary – and there too it’s something that Iran knows little of.”

The prized legacy of iconic Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum re-emerged this year when Rolling Stone magazine featured her in its “200 Greatest Singers of All Time.”

Ranking 61st, Umm Kulthum was the only Arab artist to make it to the list, with the magazine saying that she “has no real equivalent among singers in the West.”

Born in a small village northeast of the Egyptian capital Cairo, Umm Kulthum rose to unmatched fame as she came to represent “the soul of the pan-Arab world,” the music magazine said.

“Her potent contralto, which could blur gender in its lower register, conveyed breathtaking emotional range in complex songs that, across theme and wildly-ornamented variations, could easily last an hour, as she worked crowds like a fiery preacher,” it wrote.

Nicknamed “the lady of Arab singing,” her music featured both classical Arabic poetry as well as colloquial songs still adored by younger generations. Her most famous pieces include “Inta Uumri” (you are my life), “Alf Leila Weileila” (a thousand and one nights), “Amal Hayati” (hope of my life) and “Daret al-Ayyam” (the days have come around). Some of her songs have been remixed to modern beats that have made their way to Middle Eastern nightclubs.

The singer remains an unmatched voice across the Arab World and her music can still be heard in many traditional coffee shops in Old Cairo’s neighborhoods and other parts of the Arab world.

Umm Kulthum’s death in 1975 brought millions of mourners to the streets of Cairo.

By Nadeen Ebrahim

Women athletes aim their air rifles while competing in a local shooting championship in Yemen's Houthi rebel-held capital Sanaa on January 3.



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LeBron James and Billie Jean King lead tributes to American journalist Grant Wahl | CNN



CNN
— 

The death of prominent journalist Grant Wahl at the World Cup in Qatar has led to an outpouring of shock and grief across the sports world, with NBA star LeBron James and tennis great Billie Jean King leading the tributes to the American.

Prominent American journalist Grant Wahl has died in Qatar after collapsing while covering the World Cup, sparking an outpouring of shock and grief across the sports world. He was 49.

King said Wahl’s death was “heartbreaking.”

“A talented journalist, Grant was an advocate for the LGBTQ community & a prominent voice for women’s soccer,” King tweeted Saturday. “He used his platform to elevate those whose stories needed telling. Prayers for his family.”

On Friday in Philadelphia, basketball star James said he had been “very fond of Grant.” While Wahl was at Sports Illustrated, he did a cover story on James when James was in high school.

“I’ve always kind of watched from a distance even when I moved up in ranks and became a professional, and he went to a different sport,” said James, speaking at a postgame press conference. “Any time his name would come up I’ll always think back to me as a teenager and having Grant in our building … It’s a tragic loss.”

Tyler Adams, the captain of the US men’s national soccer team, which was knocked out of the World Cup by the Netherlands in the last 16, sent his “deepest sympathy” to Wahl’s wife, Celine Gounder, and to those who knew him.

“As players we have a tremendous amount of respect for the work of journalists, & Grant’s was a giant voice in soccer that has tragically fallen silent,” Adams wrote on Twitter.

Qatar’s World Cup organizers said on Saturday that Wahl “fell ill” in the press area, where he received “immediate medical treatment on site.”

He was then transferred to Hamad General Hospital, said a spokesperson for the Supreme Court Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the body responsible for planning the tournament.

Wahl was treated in the stadium “for about 20-25 minutes” before he was moved to the hospital, Keir Radnedge, a columnist at World Soccer Magazine, told CNN Saturday.

“This was towards the end of extra time in the match. Suddenly, colleagues up to my left started shouting for medical assistance. Obviously, someone had collapsed. Because the chairs are freestanding, people were able to move the chairs, so it’s possible to create a little bit of space around him,” Radnedge said.

He added that the medical team were there “pretty quickly and were able to, as best they could, give treatment.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reacted to Wahl’s death on Saturday, adding that senior State Department officials were in touch with Qatari officials and Grant’s family.

“Grant Wahl was an inspiration to many. Our thoughts are with his wife Dr. Céline Gounder and all those who loved him. State Department officials are in touch with Grant’s family and with senior officials in the government of Qatar to ensure his family gets the support they need,” Jean-Pierre wrote on Twitter.

“Only some days ago, Grant was recognized by FIFA and AIPS (the International Sports Press Association) for his contribution to reporting on eight consecutive FIFA World Cups,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino in a statement.

Infantino and FIFA media director Bryan Swanson were at the hospital on Saturday to offer any kind of support needed for the family, friends, and the journalists who were also his housemates in Qatar.

The co-editors in chief of Sports Illustrated, the publication where Wahl spent the majority of his career, said in a joint statement they were “shocked and devastated at the news of Grant’s passing.”

“We were proud to call him a colleague and friend for two decades – no writer in the history of (Sports Illustrated) has been more passionate about the sport he loved and the stories he wanted to tell,” said the statement.

It added that Wahl had first joined the publication in November 1996. He had volunteered to cover the sport as a junior reporter – back before it reached the heights of global popularity it now enjoys – eventually becoming “one of the most respected soccer authorities in the world,” it said.

The statement said that Wahl also worked with other media outlets including Fox Sports. After leaving Sports Illustrated in 2020, he began publishing his podcast and newsletter.

Other current and former US soccer players, including Ali Krieger and Tony Meola, shared their condolences, as did sporting bodies such as Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League.

Wittyngham, Wahl’s podcast co-host, told CNN on Saturday the news of his death had been hard to fathom.

“For Americans, Grant Wahl is the first person you read covering soccer. He was kind of the only person for a while … Grant was the first person who really paid genuine attention to this sport in a meaningful way,” Wittyngham said.

Several journalists shared stories of reporting alongside Wahl, and having encountered him at multiple World Cups over the years.

“Before he became the best covering soccer he did hoops and was so kind to me,” wrote famed broadcaster Dick Vitale.

Timmy T. Davis, the US Ambassador to Qatar, tweeted that Wahl was “a well known and greatly respected reporter who focused on the beautiful game.”

“The entire US Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl,” US Soccer said in a statement on its official Twitter account.

“Grant made soccer his life’s work, and we are devastated that he and his brilliant writing will no longer be with us.”

US Soccer praised Wahl’s passion and “belief in the power of the game to advance human rights,” and shared its condolences with Wahl’s wife, Celine Gounder, and his loved ones.

Gounder also posted the US Soccer statement on Twitter.

“I am so thankful for the support of my husband Grant Wahl’s soccer family and of so many friends who’ve reached out tonight. I’m in complete shock,” wrote Gounder, a former CNN contributor who served on the Biden-Harris transition Covid-19 advisory board.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the department was in “close communication” with Wahl’s family. The World Cup organizers also said they were in touch with the US embassy “to ensure the process of repatriating the body is in accordance with the family’s wishes.”

Wahl wearing a rainbow-colored t-shirt while working at Qatar 2022.

Wahl had covered soccer for more than two decades, including 11 World Cups — six men’s, five women’s – and authored several books on the sport, according to his website.

He had just celebrated his birthday earlier this week with “a great group of media friends at the World Cup,” according to a post on his official Twitter account, which added: “Very thankful for everyone.”

In an episode of the podcast Futbol with Grant Wahl, published days before his death on December 6, he had complained of feeling unwell.

“It had gotten pretty bad in terms of like the tightness in my chest, tightness, pressure. Feeling pretty hairy, bad,” Wahl told co-host Chris Wittyngham in the episode. He added that he sought help at the medical clinic at the World Cup media center, believing he had bronchitis.

He was given cough syrup and ibuprofen, and felt better shortly afterward, he said.

Wahl also said he experienced an “involuntary capitulation by my body and mind” after the US-Netherlands game on December 3.

“This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve done eight of these on the men’s side,” he said at the time. “And so like, I’ve gotten sick to some extent at every tournament, and it’s just about trying to find a way to like get your work done.”

He further described the incident in a recent newsletter published on December 5, writing that his body had “broke down” after he had little sleep, high stress and a heavy workload. He’d had a cold for 10 days, which “turned into something more severe,” he wrote, adding that he felt better after receiving antibiotics and catching up on sleep.

Wahl had made headlines in November by reporting that he was detained and briefly refused entry to a World Cup match because he was wearing a rainbow t-shirt in support of LGBTQ rights.

He said security staff had told him to change his shirt because “it’s not allowed,” and had taken his phone. Wahl said he was released 25 minutes after being detained and received apologies from a FIFA representative and a senior member of the security team at the stadium.

Afterward, Wahl told CNN he “probably will” wear the shirt again.



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Inside Christine McVie’s and Stevie Nicks’ decades-long friendship | CNN



CNN
— 

Throughout the various personal turmoils for which the members of Fleetwood Mac are known, one relationship buoyed the band for decades: the friendship between its two frontwomen, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks.

McVie joined the band in 1970 during one of its early lineup changes and for years was its only woman. When Nicks was added to the lineup in 1975, the two became fast friends.

Theirs was not a competitive relationship, but a sisterly one – both women were gifted songwriters responsible for crafting many of the band’s best-known tunes. Though the two grew apart in the 1980s amid Nicks’ worsening drug addiction and the band’s growing internal tension, they came back together when McVie returned to Fleetwood Mac in 2014.

At a concert in London, shortly before McVie officially rejoined the band, Nicks dedicated the song “Landslide” to her “mentor. Big sister. Best friend.” And at the show’s end, McVie was there, accompanying her bandmates for “Don’t Stop.”

“I never want her to ever go out of my life again, and that has nothing to do with music and everything to do with her and I as friends,” Nicks told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2015.

On Wednesday, McVie, the band’s “songbird,” died after a brief illness at age 79. Below, revisit McVie’s and Nicks’ years-long relationship as bandmates, best friends and “sisters.”

The story of Nicks joining Fleetwood Mac is legend now: Band founder and drummer Mick Fleetwood wanted to recruit guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, who stipulated that he would only join if his girlfriend and musician Nicks could join, too. McVie cast the deciding vote, and the rest is history.

“It was critical that I got on with her because I’d never played with another girl,” McVie told the Guardian in 2013. “But I liked her instantly. She was funny and nice but also there was no competition. We were completely different on the stage to each other and we wrote differently too.”

Throughout the band’s many personal complications – McVie married and divorced Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie and had an affair with the band’s lighting director, while Nicks had rollercoaster romances with Buckingham and Fleetwood – they were each other’s center.

“To be in a band with another girl who was this amazing musician – (McVie) kind of instantly became my best friend,” Nicks told the New Yorker earlier this year. “Christine was a whole other ballgame. She liked hanging out with the guys. She was just more comfortable with men than I had ever been.”

The two protected each other, Nicks said, in a male-dominated industry: “We made a pact, in the very beginning, that we would never be treated with disrespect by all the male musicians in the community.

“I would say to her, ‘Together, we are a serious force of nature, and it will give us the strength to maneuver the waters that are ahead of us,’” Nicks told the New Yorker.

“Rumours” was the band’s greatest success to date when it was released in 1977. But the band’s relationships with each other were deteriorating, save for the one between McVie and Nicks. While the pair were enduring breakups with their significant others, Nicks and McVie spent their time offstage together.

The Guardian asked McVie if she was trying to offset the band’s tumult with her songs on “Rumours,” including the lighthearted “You Make Lovin’ Fun” and optimistic “Don’t Stop.” She said she likely had been.

As multiple members’ drug use intensified, the band’s dynamic grew tense. McVie distanced herself from the group in 1984 amid her bandmates’ addictions, telling the Guardian she was “just sick of it.” Nicks, meanwhile, was becoming dependent on cocaine.

After Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, Christine McVie (third from left) quit the band.

McVie told Rolling Stone that year that she’d grown apart from Nicks: “She seems to have developed her own fantasy world, somehow, which I’m not part of. We don’t socialize much.”

In 1986, Nicks checked into the Betty Ford Center to treat her addiction, though she later became addicted to Klonopin, which she said claimed years of her life. She quit the prescription drug in the 1990s.

After recording some solo works, McVie returned to Fleetwood Mac for their 1987 album “Tango in the Night,” and two of her songs on that record – “Little Lies” and “Everywhere” – became major hits. But Nicks departed the band soon after, and the band’s best-known lineup wouldn’t officially reunite until 1997 for “The Dance” tour and subsequent live album.

The reunion was short-lived: After the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, McVie officially quit Fleetwood Mac, citing a fear of flying and exhaustion of life on the road.

In the 2010s, after more than a decade of retirement, McVie toyed with returning to performing. She officially rejoined Fleetwood Mac after calling Fleetwood himself and gauging what her return would mean for the group.

“Fortunately Stevie was dying for me to come back, as were the rest of the band,” she told the Arts Desk.

In 2015, a year after she’d rejoined Fleetwood Mac, McVie hit the road with her bandmates. Touring with the group was tiring but fun, the first time they’d performed together in years.

“I’m only here for Stevie,” she told the New Yorker that year.

Christine McVie (left) and Stevie Nicks perform together at Radio City Music Hall in 2018.

Nicks concurred: “When we went on the road, I realized what an amazing friend she’d been of mine that I had lost and didn’t realize the whole consequences of it till now,” she told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2015.

During that tour, McVie wore a silver chain that Nicks had given her – a “metaphor,” McVie told the New Yorker, “that the chain of the band will never be broken. Not by me, anyways. Not again by me.”

McVie told the Arts Desk in 2016 that she and Nicks were “better friends now than (they) were 16 years ago.”

Touring with Buckingham and Fleetwood could quickly get tumultuous for Nicks, McVie said, due to their shared history. “But with me in there, it gave Stevie the chance to get her breath back and not have this constant thing going on with Lindsey: her sister was back,” she said.

Their mutual praise continued: In 2019, McVie said Nicks was “just unbelievable” onstage: “The more I see her perform on stage the better I think she is. She holds the fort.”

When their 2018-2019 tour ended, though – without Buckingham, who was fired – the band “kind of broke up,” McVie told Rolling Stone earlier this year. She added that she didn’t speak with Nicks as often as she did when they toured together.

As for a reunion, McVie told Rolling Stone that while it wasn’t off the table, she wasn’t feeling “physically up for it.”

“I’m getting a bit long in the teeth here,” she said. “I’m quite happy being at home. I don’t know if I ever want to tour again. It’s bloody hard work.”

News of McVie’s death rattled Nicks, who wrote that she had only found out McVie was sick days earlier. She called McVie her “best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975.”

On her social media accounts, Nicks shared a handwritten note containing lyrics from the Haim song “Hallelujah,” some of which discusses grief and the loss of a best friend.

“See you on the other side, my love,” Nicks wrote. “Don’t forget me – Always, Stevie.”



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Yuta Watanabe comically dunks into his own net as Brooklyn Nets’ woes continue | CNN




CNN
— 

The Brooklyn Nets have made a terrible start to the NBA season and on Saturday star forward Yuta Watanabe didn’t make matters any easier by comically scoring in the opposite team’s basket.

At the Barclays Centre, the Nets went down 125-116 to the Indiana Pacers to go 1-5 for the season. It was the Nets’ fourth straight loss and one coach Steve Nash called a “disaster.”

The night started ominously when, in the first quarter, Watanabe accidentally scored for the Pacers. When Pacers’ Andrew Nembhard went to shoot, the ball ricocheted off the rim and onto the backboard, James Johnson and Goga Bitadze of the Pacers went for the rebound, as did Watanabe, who got to the ball first and dunked it in.

The comical two-pointer cut the Nets’ lead before the Pacers tied at the end of the first quarter.

As the Pacers pulled away from the struggling Nets, rookie Bennedict Mathurin scored a career-high 32 points in a team record 23 three-pointers.

Elsewhere, Jalen McDaniels scored five key points in overtime as Charlotte Hornets recovered after blowing a fourth-quarter lead to beat visiting Golden State Warriors 120-113.

Domantas Sabonis scored all 18 of his points in the first half and Sacramento Kings stunned visiting Miami Heat 119-113 for coach Mike Brown’s first win at his new home.

Joel Embiid scored 25 points to lead six players in double figures and James Harden registered a double-double of 15 points and 11 assists to boost visiting Philadelphia 76ers to a 114-109 victory against Chicago Bulls.

And Milwaukee remained the NBA’s only unbeaten team with a 123-115 win over Atlanta. Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo both scored 34 points.



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