Anfield door open to Gerrard

first_img “My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.” But while his advisors will begin the search for a new club, Gerrard insists he remains fully focused on the remainder of Liverpool’s season. A 2-2 draw at home to bottom side Leicester, in which Gerrard scored two penalties, left Liverpool seven points adrift of the top four and their minimum aim – they also have a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea on the horizon – remains retaining a place in the Champions League. Despite reduced playing time this season as Rodgers tries to manage his captain, whom he admits cannot play three matches in a week to the level either of them would want, there will be no holding back from Gerrard. “One point that is important to make is that from now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games,” said the midfielder, who has won every domestic honour apart from the league despite coming agonisingly close last season. “I can’t thank Brendan (Rodgers), the owners and everyone at the club enough for how they’ve handled this and I am leaving on great terms. “Also, I would like to thank my team-mates and all the staff for their help and continued support. “My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world – the supporters. “It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. “I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high.” The midfielder, who turns 35 in May, is likely to seek a different challenge in Major League Soccer in the United States after confirming he would not be accepting the offer of a new contract to extend his stay beyond this season. It is wrench for the Huyton-born star to end an association with the club which began when he was eight years old but with former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier tipping him to become manager one day, there remains a glimmer of hope Gerrard could once again be an influential figure at Anfield. “This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time,” Gerrard said in a statement. “Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult but I feel it’s something that’s in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself. “I’m going to carry on playing and although I can’t confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won’t be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool – that is something I could never contemplate. “It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club.” Gerrard has followed the example set by close friend Jamie Carragher two years ago in going public with his decision early to prevent ongoing debate about whether he would stay or go. However, unlike Carragher – who retired aged 35 in 2013 and went straight into a job as a television pundit – he still feels there is plenty of life left in his legs to continue playing elsewhere. But with the former England captain ruling out joining a club which could ever face Liverpool in competition it puts America top of his likely destinations, although there is interest from the Middle East. “I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future,” he added. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will leave his boyhood club this summer with a heavy heart but he plans to return in a different role in the future. Press Associationlast_img read more

Lou Williams leads Clippers past LeBron-less Lakers

first_imgPreviousLos Angeles Clippers guard Avery Bradley, forward Tobias Harris, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and guard Lou Williams, from left, stand on the court during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 118-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari, right, of Italy, shoots as Lakers center Tyson Chandler defends during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, left, shoots as Clippers guard Patrick Beverley defends during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsClippers guard Patrick Beverley, right, shoots as Lakers center Tyson Chandler defends during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Lakers center Ivica Zubac, right, shoots as Clippers center Boban Marjanovic defends during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Clippers center Boban Marjanovic, left, shoots as Lakers guard Lonzo Ball defends during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Lakers forward Brandon Ingram shoots as Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, left, and forward Tobias Harris defend during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari dunks as Lakers guard Lance Stephenson watches during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, right, shoots as Clippers center Boban Marjanovic defends during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Lakers forward LeBron James, left, shakes hands with Coach Luke Walton as they have a chat during the first half of Friday’s game against the Clippers at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell, right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Tyson Chandler defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 118-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, left, and Los Angeles Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander go after a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 118-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, left, and guard Josh Hart, right, compete for a rebound with Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 118-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams, left, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Ivica Zubac defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 118-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris, right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 118-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, left, and guard Lou Williams talks during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 118-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, right, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Marcin Gortat defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 118-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Clippers guard Lou Williams shoots a jumper over Lakers guard Josh Hart during the second half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. Williams scored 23 of his season-high 36 points in the second half of the Clippers’ 118-107 victory. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Clippers guard Avery Bradley, forward Tobias Harris, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and guard Lou Williams, from left, stand on the court during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 118-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari, right, of Italy, shoots as Lakers center Tyson Chandler defends during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)NextShow Caption1 of 18Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari, right, of Italy, shoots as Lakers center Tyson Chandler defends during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ExpandLOS ANGELES — As Lou Williams skipped backward on defense moments after draining a 3-point dagger in the grill of Lance Stephenson, he kept a straight face.In his hands, he strummed an air guitar – call it a tribute or a taunt to Stephenson’s own 3-point celebration.The 32-year-old later told reporters it was all in good fun. It certainly looked it as Sweet Lou took what he wanted – points, a win and celebrations – enjoying his best scoring night of the season while leading a 22-0 run in the second half of a 118-107 Clippers victory over the Lakers.Williams, a former Laker, was 11 for 18 from the field, the one element of the Clippers offense that the Lakers truly had no answer for. He finished with 36 points (23 after halftime), eight better than his previous best this year, and reminded Staples Center fans why he earned NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors last season. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“It’s funny – one of our coaches said, ‘I think this is gonna be a Lou night tonight,’ ” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They prepared for us pretty well, their switching affected us a little bit, but Lou has pretty much seen every defense that anyone can throw at him and he was fantastic.”Steamrolled by Williams’ big performance, the Lakers suffered their second straight loss without LeBron James, this one uglier than the last. A night after giving up a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, the Lakers lost steam much earlier, failing to score during a 4:37-long stretch from the time Stephenson hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter to a Tyson Chandler free throw in the fourth.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Williams kicked off the rally with a layup, his first step as unstoppable as his jump shot. The Clippers took their first lead of the second half on a Patrick Beverley free throw, and then the points kept piling up. The added physicality of a defense-oriented lineup, which included Beverley, Montrezl Harrell and Tyrone Wallace, kept the Lakers off-balance.Even as the Lakers had a chance to respond at the quarter break with a new lineup, they couldn’t find an answer despite cycling through several schemes. Their legs started to feel heavy on the weight of the second game of a back-to-back.“They just got there and got their scrappy unit in and really affected us because they brought a lot of energy,” said Kyle Kuzma, who had 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Lakers. “What we were trying to do is just switch up our defenses, put a little bit of box-and-one, triangle-and-two on some of those guys. And it worked for a second, but at the end of the day, not enough.”center_img The Clippers led 95-80 by the end of the run, which Sindarius Thornwell padded with a pair of free throws.The 22-point blitz was the largest unanswered run by any NBA team this season, and the largest the Clippers have authored since 2009. And instead of saving their most competitive instincts for the Clippers, the Lakers spent a chunk of the run arguing with each other – something Walton was adamant could not happen again.“I felt like they turned it up a notch and we weren’t ready to counterpunch,” he said. “Trying to find a group that was ready to bring that back. We couldn’t find it. We couldn’t find it tonight. It’s not the loss, I felt like we kind of started to splinter a little bit while it was happening. That can’t happen. We can lose games, but we’ll lose them together. When we win them we’ll win them together.”The Lakers fought back after the run, but Williams all but buried them with the Air Guitar 3-pointer with 2:23 left, putting the Clippers ahead by 12. It sealed the team’s fourth win in their last five games, as they got the added bonus of going up two games in the loss column against the Lakers, one of the teams they’re competing with in the packed Western Conference standings.The Lakers got a solid effort from their so-called young core: Lonzo Ball had 19 points, six assists and five rebounds. Brandon Ingram (17) and Josh Hart combined for 29 points. But the lack of depth showed: The Lakers had just an eight-man rotation and centers Ivica Zubac and Tyson Chandler combined for just 13 points inside.Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points for the Clippers, while Harrell added 12. Williams said the depth was as much of a factor as his own one-man offense.“We’re a good basketball team,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can come in at the drop of a hat and give us positive minutes. But for the most part, we had our core second group out there, where we got some chemistry and the other guys kind of understand how we play.”The end of the game got heated: Hart was ejected for arguing after a no-call when he thought Tobias Harris had committed a charge against him. Lakers coach Luke Walton also got a tech on the same play.All of the Lakers’ injured players were prominent presences on the sideline: JaVale McGee, who warmed up but was a scratch from the lineup, wore a suit. Fresh off surgery in the morning, Rajon Rondo sat with a wrap around his injured right hand.James walked into Staples Center in a white hoodie and black blazer, carrying a glass of red wine. Walton’s pregame comments, that the Lakers would exercise plenty of caution bringing their players back into games, suggested it might be some time before James is back in a jersey.In the meantime, the Lakers are searching for their first win without James. Walton said he still felt confident the group he has healthy can navigate the upcoming stretch without James (the length of which is still not yet known), but the Lakers also know they need to be better than they were Friday night.“We got to stay together no matter if it’s going good or going bad,” Ball said. “We got to stay together. Teams are going to go on runs, that happens, but 22-0 run should never happen.”last_img read more