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.”
Rescues continue along Texas-Louisiana border
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)
Harden signs super-maximum extension deal with Rockets
FILE PHOTO: Feb 10, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) points to the sky against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Rockets won 127-118. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
(The Sports Xchange) – James Harden and the Houston Rockets agreed on a four-year contract extension that reportedly is the richest in NBA history.
The contract is a super-maximum extension that will guarantee Harden $228 million through the 2022-23 season, league sources told ESPN on Saturday.
“Houston is home for me,” Harden said in a statement released by the Rockets.
“(Owner Leslie Alexander) has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title.”
Harden, runner-up for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award last season, has two years and $59 million left on his current contract. The four-year extension carries a value of $170 million.
The Rockets fast-tracked the Harden extension with the arrival of All-Star guard Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers, and reportedly are trying to complete a deal with the New York Knicks for eight-time All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.
ith the mega-deal, Harden is taking advantage of new collective bargaining agreement rules that enable contract extensions for superstars. He became eligible to add four years to his deal after making the All-NBA team in May.
Harden is coming off a career-best season in which he averaged 29.1 points, a league-best 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game.
(Editing by Andrew Both)
Warriors in big comeback beat Spurs 113-111 in Game One
May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) high fives guard Stephen Curry (30) after a basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
(The Sports Xchange) – Draymond Green turned a layup into a three-point play with 1:15 to go to break a tie and lift the Golden State Warriors to a 113-111 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game One of the NBA Western Conference finals on Sunday.
The Spurs lost star forward Kawhi Leonard to a recurrence of his left ankle injury in the third quarter after having built a 25-point lead in the first half.
Game Two in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday, also on the Warriors’ home court.
Rallying from a 20-point halftime deficit, the third-biggest comeback in NBA history, the Warriors got a game-high 40 points from Stephen Curry and 34 from Kevin Durant.
Curry hit a 13-foot floater with nine seconds remaining to give Golden State a 113-110 lead and begin a hectic finish.
LeMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs’ leading scorer with 28 points, had a chance to tie the score but misfired on a three-pointer from the left corner.
Patty Mills retrieved the ball and was fouled with five-tenths of a second left. He made the first free throw to get the Spurs within two, then intentionally missed the second, with the Warriors deflecting the ball out of bounds as time expired.
Curry scored 21 of his points on 7-of-16 shooting on three-pointers. The Warriors were 11 of 30 from beyond the arc and outscored the Spurs 33-21 on three-pointers.
Leonard finished with 26 points and Manu Ginobili 17 for the Spurs.
The game turned on Leonard’s injury. He had poured in 18 points and Aldridge 17 in a stunning first-half offensive display by the Spurs, who led by 25 at one point en route to a 62-42 halftime advantage.
Leonard, who missed the end of Game Five of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday and all of Game Six against the Houston Rockets on Thursday, tweaked the ankle when he stepped back into the Spurs’ bench while attempting a three-pointer early in the third quarter.
Then after a brief stint on the bench, he returned and landed on Warriors center Zaza Pachulia’s foot on a jumper, which sent Leonard limping to the bench for good.
The Spurs were leading 78-55 when Leonard departed with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter. The Warriors immediately responded with an 18-0 run to get back into the game.
(Editing by Andrew Both)