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    Westbrook pours in 42 points to lead Thunder past Pelicans

    by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, December 23rd, 2016

    Dec 21, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) is defended by New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    (The Sports Xchange) – Russell Westbrook scored a team-high 42 points, including 11 consecutive in the final five minutes, and reserve guard Alex Abrines scored 18 points to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 121-110 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday at the Smoothie King Center.

    Westbrook, the NBA’s leading scorer, added 10 rebounds and seven assists and fell short of his 51 triple-double of the season. The Thunder (17-12), who had lost three of four games coming in, also got 14 points and 14 rebounds from center Enes Kanter.

    The Pelicans (10-21) were led by Anthony Davis, who scored 34 points and had 15 rebounds, and by Jrue Holiday with a season-high 23 points.

    Tyreke Evans cut the Oklahoma City lead to 89-87 with a 3-pointer from the right wing, but the Thunder then went on an 11-0 spurt, fueled by reserve guard Alex Abrines’ nine points that included two 3-pointers.

    Abrines added another long-range jumper and Oklahoma City led 105-89 with 8:04 left. Abrines finished 5 of 10 from long range.

    The Pelicans opened the third quarter with a small lineup and got three consecutive layups by Davis, Holiday and Terrence Jones to take a 64-63 lead. But Westbrook scored 12 points in the quarter as Oklahoma City took an 87-84 lead into the fourth quarter.

    Westbrook drew a blocking foul on Davis with 4:58 left in the quarter — Davis’ fourth foul — and that opened up the middle for the Thunder.

    Westbrook finished the first half with force, scoring Oklahoma City’s final eight points in the last 1:20 of the second quarter to give the Thunder a 63-58 lead. Westbrook finished the first half with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists.

    Davis kept the Pelicans in the game, scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds in the first half. But Davis had to sit after picking up his third foul on Westbrook’s drive to the basket with 3:11 left in the half.

    The Pelicans made 15 of 16 free throws in the first half to somewhat offset Oklahoma City’s 28-18 advantage in the paint. Holiday added 14 first-half points for New Orleans.

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    Thunder’s Westbrook named MVP after historic season

    by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

    Jun 26, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder player Russell Westbrook poses for photos with his 2017 NBA most valuable player award during the 2017 NBA Awards at Basketball City at Pier 36. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook put the finishing touch on a magical season by being named the Most Valuable Player of the 2016-17 campaign on Monday at the NBA’s inaugural awards show.

    Westbrook, who became only the second player and first in 55 years to average a triple-double for an entire season, won the award over Houston Rockets guard James Harden and San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.

    Westbrook averaged a mind-boggling 31.6 points, 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds over 81 games, making him the first player to average double-digits in three major categories since Oscar Robertson first did it in 1961-62.

    After Westbrook was presented with the Maurice Podoloff Trophy by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, he promptly called his team mates to the stage.

    “These guys sacrificed so much for me throughout the year,” said Westbrook. “It was obviously an amazing season for me but without these guys and the rest of our guys that are not here, none of this would be possible.

    “So this award is not for me. This is for all you guys and I am very thankful to have you guys in my corner. You guys are my brothers for life.”

    The 28-year-old American was on a mission from the start of the season as he silenced critics who doubted whether he could thrive without Kevin Durant, who left the Thunder last July and won an NBA title with Golden State two weeks ago.

    Westbrook carried the Thunder on a nightly basis, setting the new standard by recording 42 triple-doubles, one better than the former single-season mark set by Robertson.

    Despite the loss of Durant, a four-times scoring champion, the Westbrook-led Thunder recorded 47 wins, just eight fewer than the previous campaign.

    The first-ever NBA Awards show followed years in which the league announced individual honors separately throughout the postseason.

    Among the night’s other awards, Golden State forward Draymond Green, two weeks removed from winning his second NBA title in three years, was named the best defensive player.

    Mike D’Antoni was named Coach of the Year after leading Houston to 55 wins in his first season with the team.

    Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon was named Rookie of the Year, while Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon earned the Sixth Man Award for his work off the bench as a substitute.

    (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Ransom)

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    No defense allowed as West beats East in All-Star game

    by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

    Feb 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Western Conference forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (23) dunks the ball in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    (The Sports Xchange) – In the full-court layup drill and three-point contest otherwise known as the 66th NBA All-Star Game, New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis set an All-Star record with 52 points and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook added 41 points to carry the Western Conference to a 192-182 victory over the Eastern Conference on Sunday night in New Orleans.

    In a game in which defense was outlawed and feuding former teammates Westbrook and Kevin Durant played together for only 81 seconds, the West defeated the East for the sixth time in the last seven games.

    The 374 combined points broke the record of 369 set during the West’s 196-173 win a year ago.

    The East was led by Milwaukee Bucks center Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 30 points, and LeBron James, making his 13th All-Star start, with 23 points.

    Davis, named the MVP, broke the All-Star Game scoring record of 42 points set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. He made 26 of 39 shots from the field, eclipsing Blake Griffin’s 2014 record of 19 made field goals in an All-Star Game.

    One play in the second half summed up the general mindset of the players, who naturally placed self-preservation ahead of bravado.

    Antetokounmpo stole the ball near midcourt and had a four-on-one against Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry. Curry found a spot in the middle of the lane — 10 feet in front of the basket — and laid stomach-first on the floor while Antetokounmpo hit an uncontested layup.

    The world did not stop spinning on its axis, but it did skip a beat midway through the first quarter when the West embarked on an otherwise mundane offensive possession.

    Westbrook and Durant ran across midcourt on either side of the key. Westbrook flicked a pass to Durant on the left side, and Durant threw it right back to Westbrook on a give-and-go that resulted in an easy layup and a 31-28 West lead.

    At the next timeout, the West bench greeted Durant and Westbrook with high-fives, and someone poured a bottle of water on Durant’s head. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan came over and bear-hugged Westbrook as team managers got on the floor and wiped up the water.

    The East led 53-48 after 12 minutes — the 101 combined points was an All-Star Game record for a quarter — and the West took a 97-92 halftime lead.

    The 189 first-half points broke the All-Star record of 187 points set in the first half last year (West 104, East 83).

    There was no defense allowed, so 58.1 percent shooting by the West and 58.0 percent by the East in the first half actually was a shade disappointing.

    (Editing by Andrew Both)

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    Leonard outduels Westbrook as Spurs beat Thunder

    by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

    Jan 31, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after a shot during the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at AT&T Center. Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    (The Sports Xchange) – If all anyone expected was a duel in the Alamo City between two of the NBA’s erstwhile MVP candidates, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, they might have been disappointed by the way the Spurs’ 108-94 win over the Thunder on Tuesday at the AT&T Center played out.

    Yes, Leonard (36 points and eight rebounds) and Westbrook (27 points and 14 assists) both led their respective teams in scoring and were spectacular in their own ways.

    But it was the Spurs’ bench that proved to be the difference, helping to turn the tide at the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth quarters after San Antonio (37-11) squandered an 18-point lead over a horrid seven-minute stretch. The Spurs’ reserves responded by outscoring Oklahoma City 15-2 and, once the starters returned the Thunder had no answer.

    Overall, the Spurs’ bench racked up 32 points to 22 for Oklahoma City’s reserves, with most of that damage coming in the pivotal stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters.

    Leonard scored 30 or more points for the 15th time this season while LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points and was the only other San Antonio player in double-figure scoring.

    “We’re fired up just playing against Russ out there, just out there competing every possession,” Leonard said. “The way he’s been playing has been ridiculous, so you definitely want to rise up to the challenge. We lost two games in a row so we were fired up off that just thinking about ourselves.”

    Westbrook, who is the only player in the NBA averaging a triple-double, had just six rebounds; he has still has never had a triple-double against San Antonio.

    “Overall, we played more competitively for more of the 48 minutes than we have recently,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We played good defense in the first half and the fourth quarter, but it’s still a 48-minute game. We have to figure that out.”

    Stephen Adams added 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Thunder (28-21). Victor Oladipo scored 15 points, Domantas Sabonis hit for 13 and pulled down 10 rebounds and Anthony Morrow tallied 11 points for Oklahoma City.

    The Thunder had 20 turnovers that led to 24 points for San Antonio.

    “In the third quarter, we took the lead but we needed more sustainability — we did what we wanted to do, but we just didn’t do it for long enough,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “There were some positive things we can take from this game but with our margin for error we can’t have a lapse for a half or a bunch of turnovers that are difficult to overcome.”

    (Compiled by Peter Rutherford)

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