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2 US women's teams to play for Olympic beach gold

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2 US women's teams to play for Olympic beach gold

LONDON (AP) -- In their first Olympics, April Ross and Jennifer Kessy will play for the gold medal in an all-American beach volleyball final. In their final Olympics together, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor are playing for something more. "We want to seal the deal that we're the best team that's ever happened," Walsh Jennings said Tuesday night after the two-time gold medalists advanced to their third consecutive Olympic final with a 22-20, 22-20 victory over China. "I want to win tomorrow for us. ... This will be our last match together, so we want to go out on top." A few hours later, Kessy and Ross beat the top-seeded Brazilians in a persistent rain to join their fellow Californians in Wednesday night's gold medal game. Prince Harry is expected to attend, following prime minister David Cameron by one night to the stands at Horse Guards Parade, which has also hosted such luminaries as Bill Gates, Prince Albert of Monaco, London Mayor Boris Johnson and a handful of NBA stars from the U.S. men's basketball team. "I can't believe it. I only let myself picture it in my dreams," Ross said. "I never really expected it. I knew that we could do it, but the competition in the final four is so big." Ross and Kessy rallied from a first-set loss and a four-point deficit in the second to beat reigning world champions Juliana and Larissa 15-21, 21-19, 15-12. The Brazilians will play in the third-place game against China's Xue Chen and Zhang Xi, who are trying to repeat their bronze medal finish from Beijing. Despite a medal shutout by the American men, the United States has clinched multiple beach volleyball medals for the fourth time in five Olympics since it became a recognized sport in 1996. "This has been everyone's goal since the beginning: to get the two U.S. teams in the final together," Kessy said. "I can't believe we're going to be on that podium -- either gold or silver. It hasn't sunk in for me yet, probably because our job isn't done." Already the most-decorated team in the brief history of Olympic beach volleyball, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor are also guaranteed at least a silver medal. No one -- man or woman -- had ever won two beach volleyball gold medals before they became repeat champions in Beijing. "I had a picture in my head at the beginning of the season of how I wanted us to play, and we're living that picture," Walsh Jennings said. "But it's not over yet." Earlier Tuesday, Brazil's Emanuel and Alison defeated Latvia to advance to the men's gold medal game. They will meet the German team of Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann, who beat Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands 21-14, 21-16 in the final match of a rain-soaked night. "They have been the most dominant team on the tour the last 2 12 years. I can talk positive about this team for a half-hour," Brink said, referring to the Brazilians. "Emanuel is a legend, and he's still playing at a high level." Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor won gold medals in Athens and Beijing without ever losing a match -- in their first two Olympics, they never even lost a set -- and they ran their unbeaten streak to 20 in a row with a victory Tuesday. But they gave up the first three points of the semifinal and fell behind 13-7 in the first set. China saved two set points before Xue put one into the net tape to give the first set to the Americans. The U.S. team held a slim advance most of the second set, but China took the lead 17-16 and forced the Americans to take a timeout. Trailing 19-18, May-Treanor ran far behind the end line to retrieve an errant pass and bumped it toward the net -- too close -- forcing Walsh Jennings to slide under the net, delicately bumping the ball over and to an unoccupied area on the Chinese side of the court. May-Treanor, who is retiring from international play after the Olympics, said she overshot it. "They're a great team. They make you do crazy stuff like that," Walsh Jennings said. "That was just funky. Misty ran down the ball and I think I got a little lucky on that one. But you need luck and I think you create your own luck, and that's what you get when you don't give up. But I can't take real credit for that. That's not skill." May-Treanor fisted one to the back line to set up a match point, then Walsh Jennings' block fell to the sand and she leapt into the air to celebrate. In the early men's semifinal, the reigning world champions from Brazil beat Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins 21-15, 22-20 to clinch no worse than silver. It is Emanuel's third straight medal, but a first for Alison. "I have been dreaming about this since I was a child," Alison said. "Today I can finally say I am an Olympic athlete with a medal. But I am still dreaming about the gold."

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.