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Russell Westbrook edged closer to Oscar Robertson’s long-standing triple-double record after leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a comfortable 122-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
Westbrook brought up his remarkable 33rd triple-double of the season with 25 points, 19 assists and 12 rebounds as the Thunder improved to 38-29.
The Oklahoma City talisman is now just eight shy of Robertson’s record season tally of 41 triple-doubles.
The Barclays Center crowd enjoyed a love-hate relationship with Westbrook on the night, subjecting him both to boos and chants of “MVP” in recognition of his stellar season.
The crowd united in a standing ovation however when he grabbed a defensive rebound with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter to complete his latest triple.
Westbrook later admitted he had been taken aback by the reception of the crowd after sealing his triple.
“They were loud. I thought something happened,” Westbrook said. “I was wondering why they were screaming so loud. I thought they were giving something out in the crowd or something.”
Thunder coach Billy Donovan paid tribute to Westbrook’s “incredible poise.”
“I thought he generated shots for everybody,” Donovan said. “He made the game easy for everybody. He rebounded the ball, he scored when he needed to. He’s always surveying the game. … He put his fingerprints all over the game in so many ways different ways in my opinion.”
It was a third consecutive victory for Oklahoma City, who also saw guard Victor Oladipo finish with 21 points and center Enes Kanter add 17 off the bench.
The win was also Oklahoma City’s first on the road since a defeat of New Orleans in late January – a fact that pleased Westbrook.
“As a team, if you want to win a championship, you have to win on the road, regardless of who you play, where you play, the situation, the weather, whatever it is you have to win on the road,” Westbrook said.
“I made it very clear this morning that it was a key for us.”
Brook Lopez top-scored for the Nets with 25 points, with guard Jeremy Lin adding 24 points and Randy Foy 13.
The Chicago Bulls ran roughshod over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, producing an explosive offensive effort in a 118-88 victory that has them off to a 3-0 start in the NBA.
It’s Chicago’s first 3-0 start since the 1996-97 season, and it comes despite fears that off-season changes including the departure of Derrick Rose and arrival of Dwyane Wade might see the Bulls take some time to click.
The Bulls connected on 50.6 percent of their shots from the field, including 40.7 from three-point range.
Seven Bulls players scored in double figures, led by Jimmy Butler’s 22 points.
“Our intensity out of the gate has been really good,” said coach Fred Hoiberg, whose Bulls scored 38 points in the opening quarter and never trailed after the opening three minutes.
They led by double digits most of the night.
Wade scored 12 points in his first road game with the Bulls. That included a slick crossover move on the Nets’ Bojan Bogdanovic in the fourth quarter that drew some appreciative gasps from the crowd.
“I always get great support when I come here,” Wade said. “The fans are amazing. It feels like home. I don’t know if they cheer like that for me at home when I got the ball. So it was great to be out there.”
Nikola Mirotic collected 16 points and 10 rebounds, Isaiah Cannan added 15 as the reserve duo combined to hit seven of Chicago’s 11 three-pointers. Taj Gibson added 14 and 11 rebounds, Doug McDermott contributed 12 while Rajon Rondo had 10.
Bogdanovic led the Nets with 15 points while Jeremy Lin added 14 and Brook Lopez had 13 in 22 minutes after resting Saturday.
“I just think we didn’t have that normal pop or that explosiveness or the normal hunger that we normally have on the defensive end, actually just in general,” Lin said.
Chris Paul scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half as the Clippers routed the winless Phoenix Suns 116-98 in Los Angeles.
Paul also had eight assists and five rebounds. Blake Griffin added 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Clippers.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan didn’t seem to show any ill effects from a sprained right thumb suffered in Sunday’s win over the Utah Jazz, finishing with 19 point and 11 boards.
“The thumb? It would be hurting if we lost, but we won so it feels a lot better,” he said.
Jamal Crawford added 14 points and J.J. Redick scored 13.
The Suns were without guard Devin Booker, who sat out with a sore right big toe. Booker apparently aggravated the injury in Sunday’s 106-100 loss to Golden State.
Brandon Knight started in Booker’s place and led the Suns with 18 points.
The Clippers broke the game open in the third quarter. Two free throws by Knight allowed the Suns to close within 56-55 with 7:12 left in the period.
But the Clippers put together a 22-9 scoring run for a 78-63 lead and the Suns couldn’t respond.
“We started off slow again,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought we missed open shot after open shot.
“I think they stayed engaged defensively and they just kept trusting and eventually (shots) started to fall. Once the basket opened up, the way we were defending we were in great shape.”
The Hawks improved to 3-0 with a 106-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings in Atlanta.
Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard both posted double-doubles for the Hawks, who led by double digits but needed a fourth-quarter surge to win after letting the Kings back into it.
Millsap finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds and Howard had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Four other Atlanta players scored in double figures for the win in a bruising contest in which the teams combined for 54 fouls.
LeBron James scored 30 points but got little assistance from his supporting cast as the first place Cleveland Cavaliers slumped to a 104-95 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.
Brook Lopez scored 22 points, and the Nets withstood a strong performance by James, who was criticized for comments earlier this week where he said he would take a pay cut to play with several of his NBA friends. James can become a free agent at the end of this season.
James went scoreless in the fourth quarter, and the Cavaliers managed just 12 points in the final 12 minutes.
“Tonight we took a step back, and we can’t afford to do that late in the season like this,” James said.
James made his first 10 shots. He missed two shots upon returning in the fourth quarter and finished 13-for-16 from the field while adding six rebounds and five assists.
Shane Larkin added 16 points for the Nets. Bojan Bogdanovic tallied 12 points, while reserves Sean Kilpatrick and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 10 apiece as the Nets won for the third time in their past 11 games.
In contrast, the Cavs bench scored just 26 combined points.
“It’s not about LeBron, it’s about the team. We have to play hard for 48 minutes, and if we don’t, things like this will continue to happen,” said Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue.
Kyrie Irving shot six-for-22 and scored 13 points, while Kevin Love had 11 points on five-of-14 shooting. The Cavaliers shot four-for-21 while getting outscored 24-12 in the fourth.
The Nets (20-51) took a 10-point lead into halftime and led by as much as 13 in the first half. By the end of the third, Cleveland held a 83-80 and appeared to be heading to a strong fourth quarter.
But the Cavaliers couldn’t convert on three-pointers. During Brooklyn’s deciding run, James missed a three-pointer, Irving failed on three attempts, and J.R. Smith also misfired on three shots from beyond the arc.
“We came into this game saying you can’t overlook this Brooklyn team,” Lue said. “We tried to come back and play hard, but it just wasn’t enough. We just have to play hard. Every time, we have to compete.”
Lue was also asked about a meeting he had with James after Saturday’s 21-point loss in Miami but declined to offer any details.
New York defeated the Bulls 115-107 in Chicago on Wednesday. The two losses cramp the Bulls’ run for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago fell 1 1/2 games behind the Detroit Pistons in the race for eighth place.
Durant shot seven-of-11 from the field to go with eight rebounds and nine assists. It was the 58th straight game he has scored at least 20 points.
Russell Westbrook posted 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as he came up just short of his fourth straight triple-double. He sat out the fourth quarter.
Steven Adams added 14 points and seven rebounds. Dion Waiters came off the bench to score 17 points.
Utah was paced by Rodney Hood, who scored 11 points on four-of-nine shooting.
Trey Burke scored 17 points as the Jazz fell to 35-37. The Thunder have won six in a row and improved to 50-22.
It’s the fifth time they have reached the 50-point mark since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City.
Former All-Star guard Joe Johnson was released by the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, opening the door for the 34-year-old American to join another club in time for the playoffs.
The Nets and Johnson are in talks on a buyout for the remainder of his $24.9 million season salary, the final year of a mammoth six-year deal worth $124 million.
Because the Nets dropped Johnson before next Tuesday, he would be eligible to take part in the playoffs for his new club. Later deals are good only for the rest of the regular season.
“Joe has been a quality professional since joining the Nets four years ago, was a valued member of three playoff teams, and provided many thrilling moments for his teammates and Nets’ fans,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said. “We wish him much success in the future.”
Johnson wants to sign with a team in the playoff picture, something the Nets were not at 15-42.
Among the teams reportedly interested in Johnson are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Johnson offers the versatility of being able to play as a small forward or shooting guard depending on a team’s needs.
Seven-time All-Star Johnson owns career averages of 17.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists over 15 NBA seasons with Boston, Phoenix, Atlanta and the Nets.
Johnson is averaging 11.8 points this season, his lowest scoring average since the 2002-03 campaign.
Head coach Lionel Hollins paid the price for the Brooklyn Nets’ dismal start to the season on Sunday after being fired following the team’s latest defeat.
Hollins was axed while general manager Billy King was reassigned in the wake of the Nets loss on Saturday to the Detroit Pistons.
It was a fourth straight defeat for Brooklyn, who are now 10-27 for the season with the second worst record in the Eastern Conference.
“After careful consideration, I’ve concluded that it’s time for a fresh start and a new vision for the direction of the team,” Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement.
“By making this decision now, it enables our organization to use the rest of the season to diligently evaluate candidates with proven track records.
“It’s clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership. With the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching.”
The Nets were 48-71 under Hollins during his tenure. He successfully guided the team to the playoffs last season where they lost in the first round.
Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers notched their first win of the NBA season on Friday, rallying for a 104-98 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
In a Brooklyn arena packed with Bryant fans, the Lakers veteran shook off a slow start to score 18 points.
Rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell had his most productive game yet with 16 points, guard Jordan Clarkson also chipped in 16 and the Lakers upped their defensive intensity — much to the satisfaction of coach Byron Scott.
“We were just much more aggressive,” Scott said. “We played with much more sense of urgency.”
The Nets trailed by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter and by nine with less than four minutes to play.
And with 25.7 seconds to go they had trimmed the deficit to 98-95 when Nets point guard Jarrett Jack forced a turnover.
In-bounding the ball with a chance to tie the game, the Nets were called for a five-second violation.
Bryant then drained four free throws to rebuild the Lakers’ lead as chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” echoed around the arena.
“It is great the fans appreciate him the way that they do and they’re showing their appreciation,” Scott said.
Even Jack said he could understand the admiration for a rival player at the Nets’ home arena.
“It’s a guy who’s a first ballot Hall of Famer,” he said of the crowd’s reaction to Bryant, who could be heading into retirement after this, his 20th season. “We understand what it is.”
But the defeat was a bitter disappointment for the Nets — who had hoped to reverse their own fortunes against the struggling Lakers.
Instead they fell to 0-6 and remain in search of a first win of the season, along with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans.
“We’ll learn from this,” All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan promised after the Magic ended the Raptors’ club-record season-opening winning streak at five games. “One game is not going to define us.
“But one game can teach you things. You have to be prepared every night if you want to be a contender.”
DeRozan scored a game-high 23 points, including 20 in the second half.
But he missed a crucial free throw that could have tied the game with 25 seconds to play.
When the Raptors regained possession, he failed to get the shot he wanted, and the Magic made four free throws in the waning seconds to seal their first home win of the season.
Orlando forward Tobias Harris scored 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Guard Victor Oladipo had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The Raptors’ defeat left the reigning champion Golden State Warriors as the league’s only unbeaten team.
The streaking Warriors improved to 6-0 with a 119-104 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Stephen Curry scored 34 points in another dominant performance by the Warriors, who led 40-23 after the first quarter and 74-44 at half time.
LeBron James scored 31 points and handed out 13 assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 108-102 victory over the winless 76ers.
James became the 20th player in NBA history with 9,000 field goals made in a career — slamming home a dunk in the first half to reach the milestone.
“King” James is one of five active players with 9,000 baskets, along with Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki.
Anthony Davis’s 43 points weren’t enough to lift the Pelicans, who fell 121-115 to the high-flying Atlanta Hawks in New Orleans.
Davis scored 33 points in the second half but the Pelicans fell to 0-5 as Atlanta’s Kyle Korver broke out of his shooting slump with 22 points on perfect eight-for-eight shooting.
The Chicago Bulls welcomed former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose back from injury Wednesday with a convincing 104-80 win over the New York Knicks.
The return of Rose and the addition of Spanish veteran Pau Gasol have branded the Bulls as Eastern Conference contenders in 2014-15, and they looked the part at Madison Square Garden.
“I wouldn’t say my rust is knocked off, but it’s getting there,” said Rose, who missed the final 71 games of last season with a torn meniscus after missing all of the previous campaign recovering from a torn knee ligament.
“I can’t be content with how I’m performing,” he added. “I have to put it behind me whether it’s good or bad and make sure I stay consistent with my workouts. Physically, I feel good.” Both Rose and Gasol made key contributions. Rose — the 2011 NBA MVP — scored 13 points with five assists in his long awaited regular-season return and off-season acquisition Gasol putting up 21 points with 11 rebounds.
Taj Gibson scored 22 points in 28 minutes off the bench for the Bulls, who connected on better than 50 percent of their shots from the field and effectively smothered the Knicks offense.
In all the Bulls received 55 points from their reserves, with Aaron Brooks netting 13 and 2014 first-round draft pick Doug McDermott scoring 12 in his NBA debut.
For New York, it was a disappointing start to the head coaching tenure of Derek Fisher, the former player drafted to implement the Phil Jackson triangle offense.
Carmelo Anthony was held to 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting and the Knicks finished a lackluster 3-for-17 from three-point range.
Amare Stoudemire was New York’s only other player to score in double figures, with 12 points to go with his eight rebounds.
Rose acknowledged he was eager to get back on an NBA court for the first time since surgery last November, but said he wasn’t harboring any unrealistic expectations for himself.
“It’s still going to take some time,” he said. “I’m not worried about that. I might have some bad games here and there. But that’s not going to stop me from trying to be aggressive.”
The second night of the season saw Miami open their post-LeBron James era with a bang as Chris Bosh scored 26 points and 15 rebounds in the Heat’s 107-95 victory over Washington.
Bosh, who saw his numbers dwindle in each of the four seasons that superstar James played for the Heat, inked a five-year $118 million deal in the offseason to stay in Miami, while James opted to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio.
Turns out the Heat, who won two titles in four trips to the NBA finals in James’ four years in Miami, didn’t need “King James” to put on a show.
Dwyane Wade scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter while Norris Cole added 23 and off-season acquisition Luol Deng of Britain scored 12 in his Miami debut.
“It’s good,” Bosh said. “I need a couple of ‘I told you so’ moments throughout the course of the season.” James, meanwhile, will launch his second stint in Cleveland on Thursday, when the Cavaliers open their season hosting the Knicks.
Oklahoma City looked to be off to a solid start even without injured NBA MVP Kevin Durant, but the Portland Trail Blazers out-scored the Thunder 31-12 in the fourth quarter as they rallied for a 106-89 win.
The Trail Blazers overcame a 38-point performance by the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, who cooled off dramatically in the final period, connecting on just one of six shots from the floor.
Highlights of Wednesday’s other NBA games
Hornets 108, Bucks 106: Guard Kemba Walker scored 26 points, including a three-pointer with 1.6 seconds in regulation to tie the score and the game-winner with 5.1 seconds left in overtime, as the Charlotte Hornets rallied to beat Milwaukee.
The Hornets overcame a 24-point deficit in the second half, closing regulation with a 18-5 run that included a 9-0 spurt.
A loud sellout crowd of 19,439 was on hand at Time Warner Cable Arena as the Hornets reclaimed their nickname after being the Charlotte Bobcats the past 10 seasons.
The original Hornets played in Charlotte from 1988-2002 before the franchise was moved to New Orleans, who decided in 2013 to change their name to the Pelicans.
Celtics 121, Nets 105: Point guard Rajon Rondo, who missed the pre-season with a broken hand sustained in a household fall, scored 13 points, dished out 12 assists and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Boston to a rout of Brooklyn.
Center Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points, forward Jeff Green had 17, guard Avery Bradley 15, forward Jared Sullinger 13 and swingman Evan Turner, rookie guard Marcus Smart and guard Marcus Thornton 10 apiece for Boston. Forward Mirza Teletovic led the Nets, who were playing their first game under new coach Lionel Hollins, with 20 points.
The Celtics, who led by 26 points at halftime, built a 29-point lead through three quarters before the Nets made a mild run at the start of the fourth.
Pacers 103, 76ers 91: Center Roy Hibbert, the only available returning starter from Indiana’s divisional winning team last season, scored 22 points, while the Pacers used a strong 30-22 third quarter as the springboard for a victory over Philadelphia.
Hibbert, who had eight rebounds and seven blocks, got support from guards Donald Sloan and Rodney Stuckey down the stretch after Philadelphia closed to 93-89.
Indiana finished with a 10-2 run to win by 12. Sloan and Stuckey scored 16 points apiece for the Pacers.
Guard Tony Wroten led the Sixers with 22 points.
Raptors 109, Hawks 102: Center Jonas Valanciunas led the way with a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds as Toronto opened their 20th season in the NBA with a victory over Atlanta.
Raptors forward Amir Johnson finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, the largest opening-night totals of his 10-year career. Despite shooting just 4-for-16 from the field, guard DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points, recorded a career-high six steals and set a personal best with 11 rebounds.
Guards Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver and forward Mike Scott each scored 20 points for Atlanta.