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Suns steal Westbrook’s Thunder

April 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook is still chasing history after finishing just shy on Friday of his 42nd triple double of the NBA season.

Suns

Westbrook missed his first 12 shots and finished with eight assists to go with 23 points and 12 rebounds in a lopsided 120-99 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

It marked the second straight game Westbrook failed to break the record as he remains stuck on 41 triple-doubles with Oscar Robertson who did it with the Cincinnati Royals in 1961-62.

He can find solace in Friday’s assist total as his sixth assist of the game ensured he would average a triple-double for the season, joining Hall of Famer Robertson as the only players to do so.

Westbrook’s chance at history was hampered by a miserable first half. He had five turnovers in the first quarter, including three in the first three minutes.

When it came down to crunch time late in the fourth quarter his teammates either missed shots or the Suns intentionally fouled, sending a message that the record wasn’t going to be broken in their building.

Westbrook came within one rebound of breaking the record Wednesday night in Memphis in a 103-100 win in which he contributed 45 points and 10 assists.

Westbrook’s triple-double quest began on opening week, when he posted 51 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against the Suns on October 28.

Until Friday, the Suns had put up little resistence as Westbrook averaged 41 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in three previous contests against Phoenix this season.

Westbrook ties NBA triple-double record, Cavaliers and Warriors win

April 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Russell Westbrook tied Oscar Robertson’s record for most triple-doubles in an NBA season on Tuesday, his 41st triple-double of the campaign fueling the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 110-79 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook

Westbrook drained a three-pointer just before halftime to finish the first half with 12 points.

Minutes into the third period he notched his 10th rebound and within seconds had delivered a 10th assist on Taj Gibson’s basket that put the Thunder up 67-42.

Fans in Oklahoma City went wild, and chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” rang out for Westbrook, who raised an arm in acknowledgement as the feat was recognized by the arena announcer when play was stopped.

“It’s something I could never have dreams of growing up,” said Westbrook, who can break the record Robertson set in the 1961-62 season on Wednesday night against the Grizzlies in Memphis.

“To be able to be on this stage with this group of guys, it’s unbelievable and a blessing.”

Westbrook finished the game with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists and the playoff-bound Thunder snapped a two-game skid.

“It was a special night,” Westbrook said. “Something I’ll definitely never forget. I am truly honored to do it here in Oklahoma City.”

With a seventh straight triple-double, Westbrook matched his career-high streak fashioned earlier this season.

Westbrook’s 41 triple-doubles this season are more than 10 NBA teams have amassed in their club histories.

Cavaliers great LeBron James took his career tally of triple-doubles to 54 on Tuesday with his 12th of the season, scoring 18 points with 11 rebounds and 11 assists in Cleveland’s 122-102 victory over the Orlando Magic.

The reigning champion Cavs limbered up for a Wednesday duel with the Boston Celtics for the Eastern Conference lead. Their victory pulled them level with the Celtics atop the East.

Cleveland, coming off a double-overtime home victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, got off to a slow start and trailed 55-53 at halftime.

The Cavaliers produced nine three-pointers as they seized control in the third quarter.

J.R. Smith made four of his five three-pointers in the third and Kyle Korver made two of his three from beyond the arc in the third.

“No one can survive that,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said.

Kevin Love led Cleveland with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Smith scored 19. Korver, back in action after a four-game absence with a left foot injury, scored 11 off the bench.

While James downplayed the significance of Wednesday’s showdown with the Celtics, Love said it would be a good test with the playoffs fast approaching.

“It will be good for us,” Love said. “I think it will get us even more prepared, even more locked-in, win or lose.”

There were wins for the top two teams in the West as the Golden State Warriors cruised to a 121-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves while the San Antonio Spurs battled to a 95-89 overtime victory over the Grizzlies.

Klay Thompson poured in 41 points for the Warriors, who won their 12th straight game.

Thompson’s second 40-point game of the season featured seven three-pointers in 14 attempts. Stephen Curry drained three three-pointers on his way to 19 points and handed out a game-high nine assists.

The Spurs and Grizzlies were tied 86-86 with 2:15 to play in overtime before Pau Gasol and Patty Mills nailed three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Spurs ahead for good.

Kawhi Leonard made three free throws in the final minute to seal it, finishing with 32 points and 12 rebounds.

The lead had changed hands three times in a frantic final minute of regulation, with San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, fed by a crisp inbounds pass from Gasol, scoring with 1.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Elsewhere in the West, the Portland Trail Blazers were left clinging to a half-game lead over the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff seed after they were dominated 106-87 by the Utah Jazz.

The Nuggets pulled off a crucial 134-131 victory in New Orleans that eliminated the Pelicans from playoff contention.

Westbrook eyes history, LeBron leads Cavaliers in OT thriller

April 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Russell Westbrook edged closer to NBA immortality with his 40th triple-double of the season on Sunday as LeBron James dug deep to help Cleveland clinch a double-overtime thriller against Indiana.

Westbrook

Westbrook scored 40 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and provided 10 assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to a 113-101 home loss against the Charlotte Hornets.

The Thunder guard is now one triple-double away from tying Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson’s single-season record of 41, set in 1961-62 for the Cincinnati Royals.

With six games left in the regular season, Westbrook can match the record when the Thunder host the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

Westbrook however was more focused on the Thunder’s defeat than the latest chapter in his remarkable season.

Asked for his thoughts about the possibility of tying Robertson’s long-standing mark on Tuesday, Westbrook replied: “We gotta win. That’s my thoughts.”

“We were just making bad mistakes, bad decisions,” Westbrook said after a game that saw the Thunder hand over 24 turnovers. “Starting with myself, we have to take better care of the ball.”

Oklahoma City now lie in sixth place in the Western Conference standings at 43-33.

In Cleveland, the Cavaliers looked to 2016 NBA Finals MVP James once again to secure a pulsating 135-130 win over the Pacers in double-overtime.

James finished with 41 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists for his 11th triple-double of the season and the 53rd of his career in a crucial win for the Cavaliers.

Pacers star Paul George led the scoring with 43 points including 19 in the two periods of overtime, adding nine rebounds and nine assists.

But James lost his cool in an on-court shouting match with team-mate Tristan Thompson, the two trading barbs over a blown coverage.

“I had good intentions but I was a little bit too demonstrative at that point in the game,” James said. “I can’t show up my teammates, that’s for sure, especially Double T (Thompson) worked hard for our team, he’s a big-time player for our team so I had good intentions of what I wanted to happen, but the way it came out was … it didn’t look good on TV.”

The Cavs moved to 49-27 to stay a half-game behind the Boston Celtics, who are 50-27. The Pacers meanwhile fell to 37-40, leaving them in a tie for eighth place with the Miami Heat.

Cleveland’s win sets the stage perfectly for what promises to be a titanic battle with Boston on Wednesday.

The Celtics brought up their 50th win of the season, downing the New York Knicks 110-94, to maintain their grip on first place.

“A couple of years ago I would have thought that would be something we would have to build for a while for,” admitted coach Brad Stevens, now in his fourth year with the rebuilding Celtics.

“Obviously we have been lucky to strike on a couple of guys. Everyone has a like mind, trying to compete every night. We look forward to the playoffs, then we will look back to what we have accomplished this season.”

Stevens has overseen a steady rebuilding job in Boston, who finished 25-57 in his first season in charge in 2013-2014.

Sunday’s blowout meant Stevens could rest his starters in the fourth quarter, including late-game powerhouse Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points and six assists in just 23 minutes on the floor.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape from a legs standpoint,” Stevens said.

“There may be a point or two in the next 10 days where we sit guys a little more, but right now we’re focused on playing good basketball.”

Back in the Western Conference, Stephen Curry scored 42 points as the leading Golden State Warriors moved to within three wins of clinching the best record in the league.

The Dubs thrashed the Washington Wizards 139-115 to improve to 63-14.

Magnificent Westbrook hits 57 as Thunder edge Orlando

March 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Russell Westbrook conjured a spectacular 57-point triple double to edge closer to history as the Oklahoma City Thunder scored a thrilling overtime victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

Westbrook

Westbrook finished with 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists as the Thunder rolled to a 114-106 win in overtime at Orlando’s Amway Center.

It was Westbrook’s fourth consecutive triple-double and his 38th of an incredible season.

The 28-year-old is now just three shy of equalling Oscar Robertson’s longstanding NBA record for triple-doubles in a single season.

The win helped the Thunder improve to 43-31 while the Magic are now at 27-48 after a second consecutive defeat.

Evan Fournier led scoring for the Magic with 24 points while Nikola Vucevic had 11 points and 16 rebounds. Terrence Ross added 23 points and made five of 11 3-point attempts. Bismack Biyombo scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Aaron Gordon had 13 points.

Westbrook meanwhile received offensive back-up from Enes Kanter with 17 and Victor Oladipo, who weighed in with 13 points.

The highlight of Westbrook’s masterclass was a devastating late burst of scoring which saw him net 19 points in the final six minutes of regulation time, draining a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

Oladipo then sank a 3-pointer early in overtime for a 107-105 lead and the Thunder held on to the lead to claim a pulsating win.a

Westbrook’s 35th triple double powers Thunder win

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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NBA scoring leader Russell Westbrook unleashed his 35th triple double of the season Wednesday, powering the Oklahoma City Thunder over visiting Philadelphia 122-97 and moving closer to league history.

Westbrook

Westbrook scored 18 points, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and passed out a game-high 14 assists to spark the Thunder, who were led in scoring by 24 points from Turkish reserve center Enes Kanter, who hit 8-of-9 from the floor and free throw line.

Westbrook needs six more triple doubles in the final 11 games for the Thunder (41-30) to match the all-time one-season record of 41 triple doubles set by Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 campaign.

That was the season Robertson became the only player in NBA history to average a triple double for the entire season, a feat Westbrook is on pace to match.

Westbrook leads the NBA with 31.4 points a game and averages 10.5 rebounds and 10.3 assists a game as well. he ranks third in the league in assists this season and 10th in rebounds.

Oklahoma City opens a three-game road trip Sunday at Houston that also includes stops at Dallas and Orlando. In all, seven of the last 11 for the Thunder are away from home.

Bouncing back after scoring only 15 points Monday against Golden State, Westbrook went 6-of-6 from the floor and free throw line. He didn’t attempt a 3-pointer for the first time since March 14, 2016 — a span of 83 games.

Westbrook weighed in on the growing issue of stars being benched by coaches for games when healthy so they can rest, saying he prefers to play, having missed only one game for rest his entire NBA career.

“I like to play basketball so I like to go out and compete and have fun,” Westbrook said. “I look at it differently from being hurt and missing a lot of games, I embrace everything moment I have to play basketball and enjoy the time I can play.”

The losing 76ers confirmed that center Joel Embiid would have surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus. He had already been ruled out for the remainder of the season. The Cameroon standout averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots a game this season but has not played since January 27.

Gary Harris netted 21 points to lead seven double-figure scorers for the Denver Nuggets in a 126-113 home victory over the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kyrie Irving scored 33 points, Deron Williams added 19 and LeBron James had 18 for the Cavaliers (46-24), whose lead over Boston in the Eastern Conference shrank to only one game.

Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points and Avery Bradley added 18 points as the Boston Celtics (46-26) cruised over visiting Indiana 109-100. Paul George led the Pacers (36-35) with 37 points.

Charlotte reserve forward Frank Kaminsky scored 13 of his 18 points in the decisive fourth quarter to power the Hornets over host Orlando 109-102. At 32-29, the Hornets, led by 22 points from Kemba Walker, improved their slim playoff hopes while beating the Magic for the fourth time this season.

Led by Nikola Mirotic’s 28 points, the Chicago Bulls boosted their playoff chances with a 117-95 home rout of Detroit. Without suspended center Robin Lopez and injured big man Cristiano Felicio, the Bulls matched Detroit at 34-38 for ninth in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games behind Miami for the final playoff spot.

Washington’s Bradley Beal scored 28 points and teammate John Wall added all 22 of his points in the second half to power the Wizards over Atlanta 104-100.

Thompson, Curry outshine Westbrook as Warriors down Thunder

March 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry outgunned Russell Westbrook as the Golden State Warriors scored an emphatic 111-95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.

Westbrook

Thompson poured on 34 points while Curry finished with 23 on a below-par night for Westbrook, who was restricted to 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Thompson made 12 of 21 from the field and sunk seven of 15 attempts from three-point range, reviving memories of his heroics in last season’s playoffs when he blitzed the Thunder with a stream of three-pointers.

“I don’t think it’s anything particular,” Thompson said when asked about his habit of delivering against Oklahoma City.

“I’ve been playing well the last few games. Got a lot of great looks today. It’s as simple as knocking them down.”

Curry meanwhile drained seven three-pointers as the Warriors improved to 56-14.

Victor Oladipo led the scoring for Oklahoma City with 17 points. Enes Kanter made 11 points from the bench while Taj Gibson added 10 as the Thunder fell to 40-30.

Curry had his radar finely tuned from the get-go, shrugging off the attentions of man-marker Westbrook to score 11 points in the first quarter.

Westbrook meanwhile struggled to find his range, making only one from six from the field.

“Just one of those nights, Westbrook said. “Shots didn’t fall. They made shots as well. A few mishaps defensively. But we’ll be all right.”

The Thunder star was unable to find a way past some vigilant Warriors defense, with the visitors comfortable soaking up pressure before countering effectively.

The frustration got the better of Westbrook late in the second quarter, when he engaged in a shoving match with Curry that led to a prolonged melee.

The scuffle ended with technical fouls against Westbrook, Curry, Draymond Green and Oklahoma City’s Semaj Christon.

“Ain’t nothing going through my mind but to protect my teammates,” Westbrook said when asked about the scrap. “That’s what was going through my mind.”

When play resumed, the Warriors won the tap and found Curry, who unfurled a trademark long-range effort to make it 59-39 at the half.

Westbrook and Oladipo inspired a 13-5 Oklahoma run at the start of the second half to give the Thunder hope.

But Curry and Thompson responded with a slew of three-pointers to halt the Thunder’s momentum.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was satisfied by the way his team responded after Westbrook’s rally early in the second half.

“We knew it was coming,” Kerr said.

“We’re on their home floor. Russell did not have a great first half. We knew he would come out attacking. He attacked the rim a couple of times. We just weathered the storm,” added Kerr, singling out JaVale McGee for praise.

“(He) came in and had a huge impact. Getting his hands on a lot of rebounds, deflections. He just got his hand on the ball and created extra deflections for us. Obviously, we had Steph and Klay going from 3-point land,” he said.

Westbrook posts 34th triple-double in Thunder win

March 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Russell Westbrook delivered his 34th triple double of the season as the Oklahoma City Thunder won their fourth straight with a 123-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday.

Westbrook

Westbrook also had 16 assists and 10 rebounds for the Thunder who led by as many as 32 after grabbing a 30-point advantage early in the final quarter.

“I thought we did a good job defensively, just playing 48 minutes on both sides of the ball,” Westbrook said.

“They are an aggressive team and they like to trap and stuff, so my job was able to use that to my advantage and take on two people and make sure the other guys get open.”

Victor Oladipo added 23 points as the Thunder improved to 39-29 on the season.

The Raptors dropped to 29-29 and have lost four of their past seven games.

The Thunder had a 10-point cushion at the half and stretched that to 27 at the end of the third.

“(Westbrook) was a one-man wrecking crew,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

“He caused a lot of chain reactions. It starts with him. We had multiple breakdowns in terms of getting him under control because he is a great player.”

Enes Kanter contributed 14 points off the bench for Oklahoma City. Andre Roberson had 13 points, and Steven Adams and Taj Gibson each scored 10.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 22 points. Norman Powell added 13 points off the bench and Cory Joseph had 11 points. Serge Ibaka and Delon Wright each scored 10 points.

The Thunder led 58-48 at the intermission. Westbrook had 12 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in the first half.

DeRozan led Toronto with 14 first-half points.

Westbrook edges closer to triple record as Thunder roll Nets

March 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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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

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.

Wizards rout Thunder for third straight victory

February 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Markieff Morris scored 23 points as the Washington Wizards took advantage of an off night by Russell Westbrook to crush the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-98 on Monday.

markieff

John Wall had 15 points and 14 assists and Bradley Beal scored 22 points as all five starters scored in double figures for the Wizards, who led by as many as 34 points.

The Wizards also made 13 of 21 three-point attempts and shot 57 percent from the field overall.

Washington has won three straight, 10 of 11 overall and 19 of 20 at home and are an Eastern Conference-best 17-5 since New Years Day.

Westbrook scored 17 points for the Thunder, but the NBA Most Valuable Player candidate was a long way from his triple-double form.

It has been quite a week for Westbrook. Less than 48 hours after an emotional matchup against former his teammate, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, he finished with four rebounds and four assists while shooting five of 19 from the field.

The road matchup against the Washington Wizards pitted all-star point guards Westbrook and Wall against each other.

It didn’t garner the same amount of attention that came from Durant’s first game in Oklahoma City since spurning the Thunder for the Western Conference champion Warriors.

But the same outcome means two losses in a row for the Thunder who fell to 31-25, shooting just 35.4 percent overall on Monday.

Westbrook’s Thunder topple Cavs, Celtics and Mavs rally

February 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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The relentless Russell Westbrook produced his 26th triple-double of the season to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 118-109 triumph over the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Westbrook

Westbrook poured in 29 points with 11 assists and 12 rebounds. Victor Oladipo added 23 points and seven rebounds and center Steven Adams of New Zealand added 21 points and 13 rebounds for Oklahoma City, who improved to 31-23.

Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 28 points. LeBron James chipped in 18 to go with seven assists but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Irving’s layup tied it at 99-99 with less than six minutes remaining, but two Westbrook baskets put Oklahoma City up 103-99 with 4:59 to play.

Irving answered with a driving layup, but after a Westbrook jump shot, Thunder reserve Jerami Grant blocked a shot at the other end. Westbrook sank another jumper to stretch Oklahoma City’s lead to 107-101 with 3:42 remaining.

James missed a fadeaway jumper before Westbrook fed Adams for an easy basket. After another block, Westbrook had the ball again, dishing to Oladipo for a layup that gave Westbrook his 10th assist and clinched his triple-double.

Westbrook matched the third-highest total for triple-doubles in a season. Oscar Robertson collected 26 in 1960-61 and 1963-64.

Only Robertson, with 41 in 1961-62, and Wilt Chamberlain, with 31 in 1967-68, have posted more in a campaign.

“Russ is a heck of a player,” James said. “What he’s doing is unbelievable, averaging a triple-double this year. He proved tonight why he is an MVP candidate.”

The Cavs suffered just their second defeat in their last eight games.

After coach Tyronn Lue said James, Irving and Kevin Love might all sit out to rest, all three stars played, with Lue saying all told him they were feeling “pretty good.”

Lue said he didn’t regret the decision to play the trio.

“It was a tough game for us. Four games in six nights, it was just good to fight through and not give in,” he said.

After knocking off the reigning champions and Eastern Conference leaders, the Thunder next host the Western Conference leaders Golden State.

That game on Saturday will be Kevin Durant’s first return to Oklahoma City since he forsook the Thunder for the Warriors as a free agent.

“It’s going to be a fun game,” Westbrook said. “It’s an exciting game that a lot of people have been waiting for. I’m looking forward to it.”

In Dallas, the Mavericks rallied from a 21-point third-quarter deficit to stun the Utah Jazz 112-105 in overtime.

Dirk Nowitzki’s jump shot with three seconds remaining sent the game into the extra session. Harrison Barnes scored eight of his 31 points in overtime as the Mavs withstood 36 points from Utah’s Gordon Hayward and snapped the Jazz’s four-game winning streak.

Boston guard Isaiah Thomas scored 15 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics erased a 17-point deficit to beat the Trail Blazers 120-111 in Portland.

Seven Celtics scored in double figures as the team won for the eighth time in nine games.

In Charlotte, James Harden scored 30 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out eight assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 107-95 victory over the reeling Hornets.

The Rockets trailed by four at halftime. But they out-scored the Hornets 36-22 in the third and led by double digits for much of the final quarter.

Harden, who finished just two assists shy of his 15th triple-double of the season, connected on eight of 21 attempts from the field to help the injury depleted Rockets notch a third-straight victory.

They made 13 three-pointers, including seven in their third-quarter surge, and harried the Hornets into 22 turnovers.

“The defense was better tonight, a lot better,” Harden said. “The communication, the awareness, just everything as a whole we were really good tonight.”

Thunder star Westbrook headlines All-Star reserves

January 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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One day after he posted his 60th career triple-double, and his 23rd of the season, Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook headed the list of NBA All-Star reserves selected by the league’s coaches.

Westbrook

Despite his prolific output this season, Westbrook wasn’t voted into the Western Conference starting lineup in polling of fans, media and players.

But Westbrook, who earned Most Valuable Player honors in the past two editions of the mid-season showcase, got the nod as expected from coaches for the February 19 event in New Orleans.

First-time All-Stars Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz, DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets were also named.

Joining Westbrook, Hayward and Jordan in the West are DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

Green and Thompson join teammates Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant who were named starters for the West, the Warriors matching a league record with four All-Star selections.

Durant will be teaming with Westbrook again after departing Oklahoma City as a free agent to join the Warriors this season.

In addition to Walker, the East reserves are Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors, Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks, Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics and John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

Love joins East starters Kyrie Irving and LeBron James to give the conference-leading Cavaliers three All-Stars.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who played in the past seven All-Star Games and nine of the past 10, was not chosen.

Dwyane Wade’s run of 12 straight All-Star selections also ended and the West will be without two-time All-Star Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge also missed the cut.

Westbrook, who led the West to victories in the 2015 and 2016 All-Star Games, is the only player in league history to win All-Star MVP Award outright in back-to-back years.

Now a six-time All-Star selection, Westbrook is averaging 30.7 points per game, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists and is on pace to join Oscar Robertson (1961-62) as the only players to average a triple-double for an entire season.

Durant’s 40 points help Warriors silence Thunder

January 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Kevin Durant took it to his former team on Wednesday, erupting for 40 points to propel the Golden State Warriors to a 121-100 NBA triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Durant

Durant, who scored 39 points in the Warriors 26-point win over the Thunder in November, was brutally efficient, connecting on 13 of his 16 shots from the field, including five of seven from three-point range.

He had 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks to help the Warriors withstand Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s 21st triple-double of the season.

“The ball just found whoever was open,” Durant said, “and we did a good job of making the shots.”

Durant downplayed the significance of facing his former club.

“It’s good to see everybody,” he said, “but once the ball tips, you’re just playing. Simple as that.”

But Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he wasn’t surprised the match-up brought out the best in Durant.

“Every player in the NBA wants to play well against his old team,” Kerr said. “For most guys, you feel that little extra juice. I think it’s even more so with KD because of his history with that franchise… for sure he’s motivated and it’s a big deal.”

The gloss of Westbrook’s 27 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists was somewhat dimmed by his 10 turnovers.

“It was big,” Westbrook said of the turnovers. “They scored off of pretty much all of them. That’s what they do.”

Tensions mounted late in the second quarter, when Golden State center Zaza Pachulia sent Westbrook to the floor with a flagrant foul.

“I don’t play like that. I’m going to get (him) back,” Westbrook vowed. “Whenever that is, I don’t know when it’s going to be. But I don’t play that game.”

Westbrook’s ensuing free throws made it a tie game, 56-56, at halftime, but the Warriors, who improved their league-best record to 36-6, seized control in the third quarter, when they out-scored the Thunder 37-22.

In Houston, James Harden scored 38 points with eight assists and six rebounds on Wednesday to lead the Rockets to a 111-92 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

One night after Harden’s 40-point triple-double was insufficient to lift the Rockets over the lowly Miami Heat, Houston schooled the Bucks with a fourth-quarter shooting clinic.

Houston broke open a tight game with four straight three-pointers in the final period.

Rockets reserve guard Eric Gordon scored 25 points, draining seven three-pointers as the Rockets, who had lost three of their past four, improved to 17-4 at home this season.

Houston, the number three team in the Western Conference, host the Warriors on Friday.

“Obviously, we get a big test on Friday,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said, “but we’re ready to see how good we are.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points with 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots for the Bucks.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ resurgence continued with a 94-89 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Cameroonian center Joel Embiid scored 26 points and T.J. McConnell added four key points in a late 7-0 scoring run that helped Philadelphia end a 14-game losing streak to the Raptors.

Ersan Ilyasova added 18 points for the Sixers, who hadn’t beaten the Raptors since January 18, 2013.

Philadelphia, a dismal 10-17 last season, improved to 14-26 with their fifth win in six games.

The Washington Wizards avenged an October overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, holding on for a 104-101 victory that stretched their home winning streak to 13 games.

In New Orleans, Anthony Davis scored a game-high 21 points, leading six Pelicans players in double figures in a 118-98 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Davis, who started after suffering thumb and hip injuries in a loss at Indiana on Monday, got another scare, missing much of the second quarter to have his left hand X-rayed.

He didn’t score in the second period, but returned to score four of the Pelicans’ first seven points in the third quarter as they built on their 13-point halftime lead.

Warriors rally to beat hard-charging Thunder

February 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Klay Thompson rattled in a clutch three pointer with 1:40 left as the Golden State Warriors won their ninth straight with a 116-108 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.

Klay

The Thunder made Golden State work for the victory as the Warriors led by 20 points at one stage then had to come-from-behind to erase a nine-point Oklahoma City lead.

Golden State improved to 46-4 and tie the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers for the best 50-game start in league history.

“This was a playoff-like atmosphere,” said Warriors Stephen Curry, who scored a team-high 26 points.

“The intensity, the adrenaline down the stretch that is what you expect in a playoff game.”

The mighty Warriors are off to a historic start which has not only basketball fans, but alsofootball fans in the San Francisco area buzzing this weekend.

The only other hotter ticket in town than one of the 19,600 seats at Oracle arena is one for Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.

“It is nice to play a great team like that in an atmosphere like this,” Curry said.

Guard Curry had a rare off night from beyond the arc, missing seven-of-eight three-pointers. He made 10-of-25 shots overall, dished out 10 assists and scored or assisted on his team’s final 11 points.

“He struggled but he still found a way, like all MVPs do, to take over at the end of the game and make sure we took care of business,” said assistant coach Luke Walton.

Thompson finished with 18 points on eight-of-15 shooting but was just one-of-six on three-pointers.

His lone three pointer was key however as it gave Golden State a 110-104 lead and it came just 19 seconds after Thunder star Kevin Durant missed a potential game-tying three pointer.

Durant led the Thunder with 40 points and point guard Russell Westbrook added 27. Westbrook also had 12 assists.

Before Thompson’s clutch three-pointer, Oklahoma City’s Enes Kanter tied the game at 104-104 with 3:25 but the Warriors finished with a 12-4 surge to earn their 41st straight home victory.

Forward Harrison Barnes added 19 points for Golden State while reserves Marreese Speights added 15 and Shaun Livingston had 10.

Guard Tony Parker drained a pair of clutch baskets down the stretch and San Antonio turned up its defense in the last four minutes as the Spurs outlasted the Los Angeles Lakers 106-102 to remain unbeaten at home.

The Spurs survived a superb performance by Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who is retiring after 20 seasons in the NBA.

Bryant scored 16 of his 25 points in the third period to allow the Lakers to claw their way back into the contest.

Bryant got off to another slow start, scoring just four points on two-of-10 shooting in the first 15 minutes.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points for the Spurs, who improved to 28-0 at the AT&T Center this season, extending their record for the best home start ever by a Western Conference team.

Forward Chandler Parsons scored a game-high 26 points and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Memphis Grizzlies 114-110 in overtime at FedExForum

Parsons, who scored a combined 18 points in his last two games, made 10-of-15 from the floor and five-of-eight from three-point range.

He hit two threes in the overtime and also finished with eight rebounds and four assists as the Mavericks improved to 29-25 and snapped a three-game losing skid.

Guard Deron Williams finished with a double-double for Dallas with 22 points and 11 assists, and forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points with seven rebounds.

Wade carries Heat past Thunder in topsy-turvy game

December 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Guard Dwyane Wade scored 28 points, including two game-winning free throws with 1.5 seconds left to lead the Miami Heat to a 97-95 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Wade

Wade scored Miami’s final eight points to overshadow Oklahoma duo Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, both of whom had 25 points for the Thunder in a game in which there were 38 lead changes — the most in the NBA this season and the second most in the league in the past 10 years.

“He somehow found daylight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade’s drive to the basket that drew a foul from forward Serge Ibaka. “I’m surprised he found energy to jump.

“Dwyane is a proven Hall of Fame talent, particularly in the fourth quarter. He’s going to have the courage to make plays.”

Thunder coach Billy Donovan also praised Wade.

“It was actually good defense by Serge,” Donovan said. “But Wade did a great job of drawing contact.”

Wade’s final eight-point flurry included a layup, a dunk, a floater and the two free throws and he then guarded Westbrook on the game’s final play and the Thunder guard badly missed a rushed three-pointer at the buzzer.

“That felt like the playoffs,” Wade said.

“That was our best game of the year from start to finish. They have two of the greatest players in our game. They have a great team.”

Durant had his ups and downs, getting into foul trouble early and then was hit with a technical foul in the second quarter when he got in the face of Heat guard Goran Dragic.

He also missed a three-pointer at the top of the key with nine seconds left in the game and the score tied 95-95. He was guarded by Miami rookie forward Justise Winslow on the play, and Heat forwardChris Bosh grabbed the rebound.

“I had (Winslow) shifting a little bit,” Durant said, defending his choice of shot. “I shoot 47 percent from three, and I got a wide-open look. I just missed.

“I like Winslow. He’s strong. He’s aggressive. But I felt I got every shot I wanted.”

Miami’s Hassan Whiteside had 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, though the center, who leads the NBA in blocked shots, had two goaltending calls go against him in the first half.

Thunder hold off Magic in double overtime thriller

October 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Russell Westbrook scored 48 points and Kevin Durant poured in 43 to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 139-136 victory over the Orlando Magic in a double-overtime NBA thriller on Friday.

Westbrook

Westbrook and former NBA Most Valuable Player Durant combined to score nine of Oklahoma city’s 13 points in the second overtime to seal the win in Orlando.

“Sometimes, you just have to let the big dogs run,” said Durant, who missed 55 games last season with ankle and foot injuries. “That was fun out there tonight. Russell was almost super-human.”

In a roller-coaster of a contest, the Thunder had erased an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter, then led through most of both overtimes.

Westbrook banked in a 38-foot desperation shot with 0.7 seconds left in regulation to force the first extra period with the score tied at 117-117 — after Orlando guard Victor Oladipo connected on a three-pointer with 3.9 seconds to play that made it 117-114 for the Magic.

Durant had knotted the score at 114-114 with a three-pointer after the Magic had led the entire game and opened the fourth quarter with an 18-point lead.

In the first overtime Oladipo — who had a triple-double of 21 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists — sank a game-tying three-pointer as time expired to force the second extra session.

The Magic came up empty on two attempts to tie the score in the waning seconds of the second overtime, when Durant blocked three-point attempts by Evan Fournier and Oladipo.

Although the Thunder were hurt by 21 turnovers in regulation, Westbrook and Durant wouldn’t be denied.

Westbrook added 11 rebounds and eight assists and Durant finished with 12 rebounds.

Serge Ibaka had eight points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder and reserve forward Enes Kanter had 10 points, including nine in the final period when he sparked a late Thunder rally.

Forward Tobias Harris led the Magic with 30 points. Center Nikola Vucevic contributed 26 and Fournier scored 22.

But Orlando coach Scott Skiles said his young team didn’t stay poised in the toughest moments.

“When it got tight, you could see Russell starting to pick it up,” Skiles said. “And we had trouble even handling the ball. We just got away from what we were doing. We played well enough to win this game, but when it’s time to make big plays, we didn’t make them.”

The Detroit Pistons also worked overtime to remain unbeaten in the young season with a 98-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Pistons are 3-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign, when they started 4-0.

They are shooting just 38.7 percent in their three wins, but are coming up big defensively.

Marcus Morris scored 26 points and Andre Drummond added 20 points and 20 rebounds for the Pistons while point guard Reggie Jackson — who recorded his 1,000th career assist in the third quarter — chipped in 22 points and seven assists.

The Pistons scored on their first three possessions of overtime. Morris drained a jump shot, Jackson drove for a layup and reserve forward Anthony Tolliver sank a three-pointer to make it 90-83.

Chicago shooting guard Jimmy Butler made a three-pointer to cut Detroit’s lead to 96-92 but Chicago couldn’t pull any closer.

Butler finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds and power forward Nikola Mirotic had 22 points for the Bulls, who committed 20 turnovers that led to 21 points for the Pistons.

In Cleveland, the Cavaliers were feeling the love — specifically 24 points and 14 rebounds from Kevin Love — in a 102-92 victory over the Miami Heat.

Love’s back-to-back three-pointers late in the third quarter gave the Cavs some room after the Heat had trimmed the deficit to three points.

Cavs superstar LeBron James added 29 points in the win over his former team, but afterwards praised Love, who has recorded double-doubles in his last two games.

“He showed why he’s one of the best power forwards in our league,” James said. “We need to continue to ride his coat-tails.”

Stephen Curry scored 25 points in 28 minutes to lead the NBA champion Golden State Warriors to a 112-92 victory over the Houston Rockets in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals.

The triumph continued the Warriors’ dominance over the Rockets as Golden State claimed their sixth straight win in Houston and improved to 10-1 in their last 11 meetings with the Rockets.

Kanter stays with Thunder, Bargnani goes to Nets

July 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Turkish center Enes Kanter will be staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder next season while Italy’s Andrea Bargnani will join the Brooklyn Nets under terms of NBA free agent deals.

ene kanter

The Thunder matched a four-year offer from the Portland Trail Blazers worth $70 million (63.5 million euros) to keep Kanter while Bargnani reportedly has a $1.4 million deal with a player option for a second season.

Kanter, the third overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, averaged 18.7 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder last season after being traded in February from Utah.

“We traded for Enes last season with the intention of keeping him as a member of the Thunder for several years to come, and we are excited that he will continue with us,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “He adds valuable depth to our roster, diversity to our front court and the dimension that he brings offensively will positively impact our team.”

Kanter has NBA career averages of 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds a game.

The Trail Blazers have lost All-Star center LaMarcus Aldridge to San Antonio and guard Wes Matthews to Dallas in free agency.

Former New York Knicks’ Bargnani, 29, missed much of last season with calf and hamstring injuries. The top overall pick by Toronto in the 2006 draft averaged 14.8 points and 4.4 rebounds over 29 games with the Knicks.

In 504 career NBA games, Bargnani is averaging 15 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.

With Rose blooming, Bulls open season with emphatic win

October 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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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.

(AFP)

 

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.

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