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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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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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Westbrook, Thunder overpower Clippers

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Dec 31, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket in front of LA Clippers forward Luc Mbah a Moute (12) during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

(The Sports Xchange) – Russell Westbrook collected his 16th triple-double of the season to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 114-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

Westbrook posted 17 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists. He achieved the triple-double mark in less than 20 minutes in the first half. He is now two triple-doubles away from matching his total from last season.

“It’s a blessing man,” Westbrook said. “My teammates do a great job of making it easy for me.

“My job is to keep the pace high and keeping reading the game. The game will tell you what to do and that’s what I do.”

Enes Kanter came off the bench to lead the Thunder in scoring with 23 points, while Victor Oladipo added 15 points and Alex Abrines added 12 points before being leaving the game late in the third quarter with concussion like symptoms.

Brandon Bass had 18 points and Marreese Speights added 18 off the bench for Los Angeles. Austin Rivers was the only starter to reach double figures with 14 as they lost their sixth successive game.

“You can lose your spirit in this and we haven’t done that,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

“My job is to get us through this. This is a heavy hit for us. We’re losing games, we’re dropping placings.

“At the end the day, we have to get through this, learn something. Learn something about each other.”

The Thunder wasted no time in jumping on the undermanned Clippers as Oladipo led the charge in the first quarter, showing no signs of rust after a nine-game absence, as he knocked in a quick nine points as Oklahoma City took a 33-12 advantage.

“I was running fast, trying to get out on the break,” Oladipo said. “I felt good, man. I just have to continue to build on it.”

But it was the Thunder defense that set the tone. The 12 points they allowed in the first quarter was their lowest surrendered in any quarter this season.

Playing without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers were missing their two leading scorers and it showed.

Austin Rivers and J.J. Redick had a combined zero points in the first 20 minutes of the game. They finished with a total of 19 points between them.

Oklahoma City held a 69-40 halftime lead.

The only drama in the second half took place when Westbrook picked up a technical foul while sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter.

It was his 11th of the season and third in two games. A 16th technical foul will result in an automatic one game suspension.

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