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Defense carries Thunder past Rockets

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Mar 22, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dunks the ball against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 22, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dunks the ball against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

(The Sports Xchange) – Playing championship-caliber defense has not been a part of Oklahoma City’s resume this season. Despite having the third-best record in the Western Conference, they have suffered through more fourth-quarter defensive breakdowns than almost any other team in the NBA.

But Tuesday, with the Houston Rockets in town, the Thunder had one stretch of defensive basketball that could be called championship level and it led them to a 111-107 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“I think we did a tremendous job as a team,” Oklahoma City’s Dion Waiters said. “As a team we really locked in and we made it tough on them.”

Kevin Durant scored 23 points and Russell Westbrook collected his 15th triple-double of the season for Oklahoma City. Durant, who shot 8-for-19 from the field, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out four assists. Westbrook tallied 21 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds for his third straight triple-double and sixth in past nine games.

Oklahoma City (49-22) earned its fifth win in a row. Oklahoma City is undefeated this year when Westbrook has a triple double.

“I am just trying to find the right way to play,” Westbrook said. “A lot of those games are big games for us. I just play my game. The game will tell you what to do.”

James Harden paced the Rockets with 24 points on 7-of-17 shooting, and he added 16 assists. Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley each scored 16 for Houston (35-36). Howard finished with a team-high 13 rebounds.

Harden was a game-time decision on whether he would play or not. But the league’s second-leading scorer said he had to play, regardless of any pain he might be in.

“I had to be out there,” Harden said. “For us every game counts. I had to put my individual, whatever I’ve got going on, to the side, and just try and go out there and get the win.”

Westbrook completed a three-point play with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter to give Oklahoma City a 92-90 advantage. He made a free throw on the next trip to put the Thunder up by three.

Minutes later, a Westbrook jumper gave the Thunder a three-point advantage, but Harden knocked down a pair of free throws to cut Houston’s deficit to 97-96 with 3:44 left.

After a Durant miss, Beverley drained a 3-pointer from in front of the Thunder bench to push the Rockets in front 99-97. However, Steven Adams quickly tied it up on a dunk.

The Thunder then forced a turnover that led to a Westbrook one-man fastbreak in which he skied for a tomahawk dunk. Another defensive stop was turned into a Westbrook jumper and a four-point advantage.

Harden hit two free throws before Durant popped in a fadeaway jumper.

Leading by four, the Thunder came up with a series of defensive stops to get the ball back. Durant was fouled and he hit one of two from the line with 28.9 seconds to go.

Jason Terry and Harden hit back to back 3-pointers to get Rockets to within one point with 11.8 seconds left. Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka made just one of two from the line, leaving the door open for Houston.

Harden got the ball at the top of the key and was quickly doubled teamed by Durant and Adams. He attempted to throw an alley-oop to Howard, but Waiters leaped high enough to deflect the pass and save the game.

“Dion Waiters did a heck of a job, coming in from the corner, putting his body on Dwight and interfering with the pass,” Houston interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “It was the right read by both our guys offensively. But it was a heck of a defensive play by Waiters to deflect the ball.”

Before the game began, Bickerstaff talked about how his team was made for physical games and that it wouldn’t back down from any squad.

That was evident in the first quarter when the Rockets attacked the glass against the No. 1 rebounding team in the league, and Houston jumped out to a 27-18 lead.

However, with just over two minutes left in the period, Oklahoma City went on a 23-8 run that spread over into the second quarter. It was keyed by Durant and Waiters.

Harden settled the Rockets back down on offense and led them to a one-point halftime advantage.

Waiters continued to take advantage of the Rockets defense in the third quarter. In just the fifth game back since the death of his younger brother, the reserve guard broke out of a slump that had lasted since the All-Star break, scoring 17 points in 25 minutes Tuesday.

“My brother is on my mind every day,” Waiters said. “I’m not going to get over it for a while. I have to take it day by day and just try get over. But I’m not ever going to get over it. It’s family.”

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Top-scorer Harden out for at least two weeks

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Dec 31, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket while Los Angeles Lakers guard Tyler Ennis (10) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) – The NBA’s leading scorer James Harden will miss at least two weeks with a left hamstring strain, the Houston Rockets said onMonday.

Harden suffered the injury while driving for a layup in the fourth quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

The Rockets said he will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Harden is averaging 32.3 points per game along with 9.1 assists and is a leading candidate for the league’s MVP Award.

Houston (26-9) have lost five of their last six games to fall to second in the Western Conference.

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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Highlights of Saturday’s NBA games

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, December 18th, 2017

Dec 16, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket against New York Knicks small forward Michael Beasley (8) and point guard Jarrett Jack (55) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Knicks 111, Thunder 96

Michael Beasley had 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field to lead six New York players in double figures as the Knicks spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s return to Madison Square Garden with a 111-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Anthony, who was with the Knicks for nearly seven seasons and ranks as the seventh-leading scorer in franchise history, finished with 12 points — including zero in the second half — on 5-of-18 shooting in his first game back in New York since being traded during the offseason for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round draft pick.

Anthony received a mostly warm reception from the MSG crowd during a highlight video played during introductions. While there were loud cheers for Anthony, who averaged nearly 25 points during his nearly seven-year run but had little playoff success, there was also a smattering of boos.

Heat 90, Clippers 85

Erik Spoelstra became the Miami franchise leader for coaching victories in a win against Los Angeles.

Spoelstra passed current Heat president Pat Riley to set the record with 455 wins. Miami climbed above .500 for the first time in December.

Josh Richardson sank a career-high six 3-points and scored a career-high 28 points to lead the Heat. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan notched a double-double with 12 points and 20 rebounds. He has four consecutive double-doubles — his longest streak of the season — and seven double-doubles in his past eight games.

Rockets 115, Bucks 111

James Harden scored a game-high 31 points and Chris Paul produced 23 of his 25 points in the second half as Houston extended its winning streak to 13 games with a victory over Milwaukee.

Paul had just two points on 0-of-5 shooting before the intermission but opened the second half by drilling three consecutive 3-pointers. He was just as lethal down the stretch, nailing back-to-back mid-range jumpers off screens to lift the Rockets (24-4) to a seven-point lead with 33.7 seconds left.

The Rockets improved to 14-0 with Paul in the lineup.

Cavaliers 109, Jazz 100

LeBron James passed Larry Bird for sixth place in career triple-doubles and Cleveland beat Utah.

James’ 60th triple-double in 15 seasons included 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. It was his third triple-double in a now-completed four-game homestand — each game won by the Cavaliers.

James scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. He was 9 of 15 from the field and 10 of 10 from the free-throw line.

Trail Blazers 93, Hornets 91

CJ McCollum scored 25 points and Portland held on for its third straight victory with a win over Charlotte.

The Blazers led by 16 points early in the fourth quarter but had to go back to work after the Hornets fought back to tie at 87 in the final five minutes.

Ultimately, Portland held on when Charlotte’s Kemba Walker missed a 3-pointer at the final buzzer. The Trail Blazers didn’t make a field goal in the final four minutes.

Portland has defeated Miami, Orlando and Charlotte in the last four days on a five-game road trip. They are now 9-5 on the road for the season.

Spurs 98, Mavericks 96

Manu Ginobili hit a running left-handed layup with 3.1 seconds to play for the deciding basket as San Antonio scored the final 13 points to roar from behind and beat Dallas.

The Mavericks led 96-92 after the Spurs’ Bryn Forbes poured in 3-pointer from the corner with 2:13 to play.

After a pair of empty possessions from both teams, LaMarcus Aldridge brought San Antonio to within 96-94 on short jumper with 58.6 seconds to play. Aldridge then hit a contested turnaround jumper in the lane with 23.4 seconds remaining to tie the game.

Celtics 102, Grizzlies 93

A great first quarter and a solid burst to start the fourth kept Boston from back-to-back embarrassments, coming away with a victory over struggling, but still scrappy, Memphis.

Al Horford and Terry Rozier sparked a 16-0 run at the start of the fourth as the Celtics erased a 73-71 Memphis lead built largely on a third-quarter explosion from Marc Gasol, who had 21 of his game-high 30 points during the stretch.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with 20 points, rookie Jason Tatum had 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Horford had 15 points and seven boards, Aron Baynes added 13 points and six rebounds while Marcus Smart scored 11 and Rozier added 10 points off the bench.

Suns 108, Timberwolves 106

Phoenix overcame 27 turnovers to grind out a hard-fought win over Minnesota.

The Suns helped themselves with another dominating performance from their bench. One game after putting up 55 points on the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix’s reserves outscored the Timberwolves’ bench 69-20, led by 17 points apiece from Dragan Bender and Troy Daniels, Isaiah Canaan’s 15 points, and 12 points and a career-high 19 rebounds from Alex Len.

The Suns led 103-98 with 3:33 to play but consecutive baskets by Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson put Minnesota back on top by one with 1:22 to go.

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Rescues continue along Texas-Louisiana border

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, August 31st, 2017

The multi-agency rescue operation along the Texas-Louisiana border continued on Wednesday as storm Harvey made landfall once again, adding more rain after a record downpour that caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed the city.

Videos of unprecedented rescue operations showed the vast destruction of the storm in the fourth largest city in the United States.

In Katy, Texas, the U.S. national guardsmen waded through waist-deep flood waters to rescue people and their pets.

An aerial video shot from a helicopter showed the vast extent of flood damage to areas in western and northwestern Houston where numerous structures were affected by a reservoir that had been released.

Meanwhile, agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) took part in a large air transfer of Red Cross blood donations in Houston to deal with the impact of the storm.

More than 10,000 people affected by the hurricane have taken shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the largest shelter in Houston.

The city government also had to open the Toyota center, home to the Houston Rockets, to accept more displaced residents.

“I haven’t heard anything on the flooding situation in our area right now. I hope it’s getting better but from what other people were saying the hurricane is turning back around too. So I’m not sure about it. I know by the time that I got out of there, it was up to my chest. It was pretty bad,” said Wesley, a local resident.

“I would like to say, mom, Mary Dan, I made it. I’m a survivor. I can’t call you right now because somebody stole my phone. But I made it. [I’m from the] Midwest. I should be there in like a couple of days,” said affected resident Anthony Dan.

Harvey is projected to weaken as it moves inland to the northeast, the National Hurricane Center said. — (REUTERS)


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