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Durant, Thunder surge in fourth, even series

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

May 8, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after a play against the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter in game four of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

May 8, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after a play against the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter in game four of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

(The Sports Xchange) – Kevin Durant tied a playoff career high with 41 points, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 111-97 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday that tied the Western Conference semi-final series at 2-2.

Down by four points after three quarters, Durant and the Thunder outscored the Spurs 34-16 in the fourth to pull away. Durant personally outscored the visitors 17-16 over the last 12 minutes.

Durant shot 14-for-25 from the field and was 10-for-13 from the free-throw line. In the second half alone, he scored 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting.

“When you have a deep team, those 40-point nights, they don’t come a lot,” Durant said.

“I just try to be consistent in what I do. I know that at any given moment, I can go off and hit a few shots. I just try and stay with it and play as hard as I can on both ends of the floor and leave it all out there and live with the results.”

Russell Westbrook added 14 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds for the Thunder. Steven Adams racked up 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Dion Waiters came off the bench to score 17 points.

Tony Parker paced the Spurs with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Kawhi Leonard posted 21 points and six rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points and grabbed six boards in the loss.

Game 5 is on Tuesday in San Antonio.

“You have to give him credit, he was great,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Durant. “I don’t know what else to say. He was fantastic.”

Waiters buried a 3-pointer to put the Thunder up 98-91 with 5:36 left, but Parker answered with a layup in traffic.

An Enes Kanter fastbreak dunk put Oklahoma City up by seven. With 3:14 left, Parker completed a three-point play to close gap to 100-96.

Durant was fouled and hit one of two from the line. Aldridge did the same when he went to the free-throw line.

Oklahoma City led by four before Durant scored four consecutive points to put the Thunder up 105-97 with 2:04 left.

“I just tried to stay in the moment,” Durant said. “We still had a couple of minutes left in the game, our crowd was phenomenal tonight. Probably the loudest I’ve ever heard them.”

Leonard tried to answer, but he missed back to back 3-pointers. Durant made the Spurs pay with a corner 3-pointer. Westbrook and Durant then put the game away with consecutive scoring trips.

“I think down the stretch in the fourth quarter, we made too many mistakes,” Popovich said. “Just not remembering who we were guarding and how we wanted to play.

“But having said that, they out-toughed us. They battered us on the boards. At the same time, they had some other players that joined in and made shots.”

The Thunder won the rebounding battle 40-34. Each team turned the ball over 14 times.

Westbrook started Game 4 with an agenda to be even more aggressive and intense. That led to him taking some questionable shots in the first quarter and getting into a verbal confrontation with referee Danny Crawford in which he had to be pulled away by assistant coach Mo Cheeks.

More than anything else, it was the Spurs’ defense that controlled the contest in the early stages.

San Antonio did not allow the Thunder any easy or open shots in the half-court and forced five turnovers as it took a 27-17 lead through one period.

It was a completely different story in the second quarter.

The Thunder defense locked down San Antonio. Oklahoma City went on a 28-17 run to take a one-point lead, but the veteran-laden Spurs answered with a 9-0 run to close out the half with a 53-45 advantage.

“Our defense wasn’t as good as it was in past games,” San Antonio’s Boris Diaw said. “We’ve been relying on our defense all regular season, so it should be the same in the playoffs.”

After a slow first half, Durant picked it up in the third quarter. He scored 12 points in the period and attacked the Spurs’ defense with his jump shot and drives to the basket.

Whether it was Danny Green or Leonard guarding him, Durant had his way in the second half.

“My team mates set great screens for me,” Durant said. “Just moving around. If I stay stationary, I’m easy to guard. They are going to send two or three people at me.

“I have to be strong the next game. Shots were going in. I just have to stick to my routine and next game, hopefully it’s better.”

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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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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James reaches milestone for Cavs in win over Thunder

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2017

Jan 27, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the basket against as Brooklyn Nets forward Luis Scola (4) defends during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 124-116. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

(The Sports Xchange) – LeBron James scored 25 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and became the first player to score 20,000 points in a Cavaliers uniform in Cleveland’s 107-91 victory on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And yet the storm clouds of a turbulent week that James helped induce for the Cavs may not be completely over.

Kevin Love left the game in the second quarter with back spasms and did not make the trip to Dallas for Monday’s game against the Mavericks. Instead, he’ll remain in Cleveland for an MRI on his back, which has now cost him the equivalent of three games in the last two weeks.

Coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged Love’s back was bothering him when he arrived at the arena on Sunday.

“It’s nothing to play with,” James said of Love’s back issues. James had back problems of his own a couple years ago.

“It’s a terrible feeling when your back is hurt. It just limits you more than anything. I know it’s very frustrating for him because he puts in a lot of work.”

Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 24th triple-double of the season and first of his career against the Cavs, but he struggled most of the day. Westbrook shot 7 of 26 and committed four turnovers while being guarded most of the day by Iman Shumpert.

“Russell’s seen every imaginable defense,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “He had some good looks, both in deep and in the free-throw line area. He had some 3s. It was a game where maybe shots didn’t go down for him, but I didn’t feel he was laboring to get shots off or he was having a difficult time getting to the rim. It was one of those games.”

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and passed for 10 assists, while Tristan Thompson grabbed 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who have won consecutive games after losing six of their previous eight.

Thompson had one of his best defensive games of the season blocking four shots and picking off four steals. Now he is the last remaining big in the rotation since Love is down at least temporarily.

“This has been our mantra since we all came together: Next man up. We talk about it every year,” Thompson said. “We hope Kevin gets well, takes care of his body, because you know we’re going to need him for the long haul. So, whatever he has to do to get 100 percent, that’s the most important.”

James, who is eighth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with nearly 28,000 career points, has nearly twice as many points as anyone else in a Cavs uniform. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is second on the team’s scoring list with 10,616 points.

(Editing by Andrew Both)

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Thunder’s Westbrook earns sixth All-Star selection

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2017

Jan 26, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a play against the Dallas Mavericks during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, a notable absentee from the starting line-ups for next month’s All-Star Game, was selected among the reserves for the marquee exhibition game, the NBA announced on Thursday.

Westbrook, averaging a league-best 30.7 points per game this season, gets the nod for the Western Conference reserves along with Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz, DeAndre Jordan of the LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol, and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

The All-Star Game’s most valuable player in 2015 and 2016, Westbrook was overlooked as a West starting guard in voting by fans, players and the media as Golden State’s Stephen Curry and James Harden of the Houston Rockets were selected instead.

Westbrook, 28, who is averaging a triple-double (including 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists) through 46 games this season, will be making his sixth All-Star Game appearance.

The Eastern Conference reserves are Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers’ Paul George, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas and John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St Augustine, Florida; Editing by John O’Brien)

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