Thunder defeat Nuggets for fifth straight win

admin   •   January 20, 2016   •   2378

Jan 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

(The Sports Xchange) – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each had a double-double, while Enes Kanter scored a season-high 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds, as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 110-104.

“Enes did a really good job tonight,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of the center. “He was really active on the glass, he got a lot of offensive rebounds, he kept possessions alive, he scored, he did a lot of really good things.”

Westbrook finished with 27 points and 12 assists but fell short of his third straight triple-double. The guard has five this season and 24 in his career.

“They just wanted it more than us,” Nuggets guard Will Barton said. “They beat us on the offensive glass and were really being aggressive.”

Durant had 30 points and 12 rebounds to help Oklahoma City win their fifth straight. The Thunder won for the 20th time in 24 games despite shooting just 21 percent from three-point range.

Danilo Gallinari led Denver (16-26) with 27 points and Kenneth Faried had 17 and 15 rebounds but could not overcome Kanter’s big night.

“That guy gets 25 and eight (rebounds), four offensive rebounds and some key plays and he does it on 10 of 14 shooting,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

“You know that Durant and Westbrook are going to get theirs, but when you allow a third scorer to get in the game, it makes it nearly impossible to beat that team.”

Durant and Westbrook had double-doubles before the end of the third quarter. The Thunder (31-12) trailed by five midway through the period but led 84-79 entering the fourth.

The Thunder tried to pull away early in the fourth but Denver got within three and had a chance to cut the deficit to one but Kanter hit a fast-break dunk and a layup to make it 90-83.

Denver did close within three on two free throws by Will Barton but a free throw by Kanter, a three-point play from Durant and a layup by Kanter made it 96-97 with 5:08 left.

Kanter had two of his four offensive rebounds in the fourth.

“My job is just going out there and helping my team mates, get them open shots and fight for offensive rebounds,” he said.

The Nuggets cut the lead to five but a three-pointer by Durant and a driving dunk from Westbrook made it 104-95 with 1:58 left.

Denver had a chance to make it a one-possession game in the final minute but Westbrook stole a pass underneath and Kanter hit two free throws to stretch the lead to six.

“We made some plays, gave up 2-on-1s, stuff we can control, but for the most part we did a great job defensively,” Durant said. “We had 30 assists, we rebounded the ball well.”

Durant had 16 points and seven rebounds in the first half.

Before the game, the Nuggets announced they had signed general manager Tim Connelly and assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas to multi-year contract extensions.

Connelly, who also serves as the team’s executive vice president for basketball operations, said the team “has turned a corner” after a disappointing two years.

“There’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Thunder’s Westbrook named MVP after historic season

UNTV News   •   June 28, 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)

Dominant Westbrook steals Curry’s thunder

admin   •   May 17, 2016

May 9, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots for one of his 17 points in overtime against the Portland Trail Blazers in game four of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime...

May 9, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots for one of his 17 points in overtime against the Portland Trail Blazers in game four of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime…

Russell Westbrook’s refusal to bow down to league darling Stephen Curry helped Oklahoma City to stand tall and send a strong opening message in their Western Conference finals clash.

Curry has gathered a legion of fans as the NBA’s two-time MVP and most popular jersey seller, but Westbrook resisted becoming one of them in the lead up to Monday’s meeting.

“It’s not nothing I haven’t seen,” Westbrook told reporters of Curry’s offensive prowess. “Just (have to be) be physical.”

Westbrook proved good on his word as he snatched control of Game One to push the Thunder to a comeback 108-102 victory. Westbrook’s dominant third quarter, where he scored 19 of his 27 points, was a statement of his competitiveness that ultimately pulled Oklahoma City out of a 14-point deficit.

The five-time All Star seemed to relish every time he was guarded by Curry.

“My job is to stay in attack mode and constantly find ways to get my team mates going,” said Westbrook, who added 12 assists and seven steals.

“They have a lot of great players on their team but we have a great team as well.”

Curry was hardly a slouch on a night he recorded 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

In a season full of memorable moments for Curry, his most indelible one came in a February game against the Thunder when he fired off a 30-plus foot bomb that broke Oklahoma City hearts. It is a highlight that has been replayed for the past few months but Westbrook had declined to praise it later, saying “he made some tough shots”.

In the rematch, Westbrook reminded spectators that Golden State did not have the only point guard worthy of recognition.

“When a player of (Westbrook’s) caliber isn’t shooting well sometimes it only takes one to go in,” said Curry, of Westbrook’s slow start and fast finish on Monday. “I have the same mentality. You know they’re not going to stop no matter how they’re playing.”

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

Westbrook scores 35, Thunder power past Spurs

admin   •   May 11, 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 May 10, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket past San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
May 10, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket past San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

(The Sports Xchange) – Russell Westbrook scored 35 points, including a crucial three-point play in the final seconds, as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 95-91 on Tuesday to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference semi-final series.

Game 6 of the best-of-seven series is set for Thursday in Oklahoma City. A seventh game, if necessary, would be in San Antonio on Sunday.

San Antonio led 88-86 with 2:39 to play before Oklahoma City’s Enes Kanter hit a layup, blocked a shot by the Spurs’ Tim Duncan on the defensive end and ran the court to receive a pass from Westbrook for another layup that gave the Thunder a 90-88 lead.

San Antonio’s Tony Parker hit a jumper to tie the game before Kevin Durant made two free throws to push Oklahoma City to a 92-90 advantage. Parker then went 1-for-2 from the line to bring the Spurs within 92-91, and, after a steal by Danny Green, badly missed a jumper with 11 seconds remaining.

Westbrook got loose on the ensuing inbounds play and headed to the basket as he was being fouled, converting the layup and a free throw with 6.3 seconds to play to ice the game.

Durant scored 23 points for the Thunder, while Steven Adams had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Kanter pulled down 13 rebounds for Oklahoma City, and Westbrook contributed 11 rebounds and nine assists.

The Spurs were led by Kawhi Leonard’s 26 points. LaMarcus Aldridge and Green had 20 points apiece.

San Antonio, who lost just one game at home in the regular season, have now lost back-to-back contests in the AT&T Center to the Thunder. The Spurs had won seven consecutive Game 5s, with their last Game 5 loss coming in 2012, to Oklahoma City.

San Antonio looked out of sync from the start, falling into a 9-2 hole early in the first quarter. The Spurs fought back to take a 16-15 lead on a layup by Boris Diaw, but Oklahoma City scored the final seven points to reassume a 22-16 advantage after 12 minutes of play.

The Spurs grabbed a short-lived 32-31 lead on a Parker finger-roll layup early in the second quarter. Westbrook scored five straight points for Oklahoma City and Serge Ibaka poured in a wide-open 3-pointer to hand a 39-36 advantage back to the Thunder.

San Antonio ended the period with a 12-4 run that was punctuated by a ringing 3-pointer by Green with seven seconds remaining, and the Spurs owned a 48-43 advantage at halftime.

Leonard led all scorers with 17 first-half points, while Westbrook paced the Thunder with 14 points and Durant had 12 before the break.

Things went San Antonio’s way early in the third quarter, as when Leonard dribbled the ball off his foot and it caromed straight to a wide-open Green, who grabbed the loose ball and rose in one motion to hit a 3-pointer that gave the Spurs a 59-47 lead.

Green hit another shot from beyond the arc on San Antonio’s ensuing possession, and the Spurs had found their stride.

However, Oklahoma City were far from shaken by the San Antonio run, fashioning a 12-4 spurt of its own over the final four minutes to cut the Spurs’ lead to 72-69 heading into the fourth quarter.

Green’s fifth 3-pointer of the game with 8:55 to play was countered on ensuing possessions by consecutive treys by Westbrook and Durant that tied the game at 78 and set the stage for the furious finish.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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