Thunder’s Westbrook named MVP after historic season

UNTV News   •   June 28, 2017   •   4153

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)

Highlights of Saturday’s NBA games

UNTV News   •   December 18, 2017

Dec 16, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket against New York Knicks small forward Michael Beasley (8) and point guard Jarrett Jack (55) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Knicks 111, Thunder 96

Michael Beasley had 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field to lead six New York players in double figures as the Knicks spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s return to Madison Square Garden with a 111-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Anthony, who was with the Knicks for nearly seven seasons and ranks as the seventh-leading scorer in franchise history, finished with 12 points — including zero in the second half — on 5-of-18 shooting in his first game back in New York since being traded during the offseason for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round draft pick.

Anthony received a mostly warm reception from the MSG crowd during a highlight video played during introductions. While there were loud cheers for Anthony, who averaged nearly 25 points during his nearly seven-year run but had little playoff success, there was also a smattering of boos.

Heat 90, Clippers 85

Erik Spoelstra became the Miami franchise leader for coaching victories in a win against Los Angeles.

Spoelstra passed current Heat president Pat Riley to set the record with 455 wins. Miami climbed above .500 for the first time in December.

Josh Richardson sank a career-high six 3-points and scored a career-high 28 points to lead the Heat. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan notched a double-double with 12 points and 20 rebounds. He has four consecutive double-doubles — his longest streak of the season — and seven double-doubles in his past eight games.

Rockets 115, Bucks 111

James Harden scored a game-high 31 points and Chris Paul produced 23 of his 25 points in the second half as Houston extended its winning streak to 13 games with a victory over Milwaukee.

Paul had just two points on 0-of-5 shooting before the intermission but opened the second half by drilling three consecutive 3-pointers. He was just as lethal down the stretch, nailing back-to-back mid-range jumpers off screens to lift the Rockets (24-4) to a seven-point lead with 33.7 seconds left.

The Rockets improved to 14-0 with Paul in the lineup.

Cavaliers 109, Jazz 100

LeBron James passed Larry Bird for sixth place in career triple-doubles and Cleveland beat Utah.

James’ 60th triple-double in 15 seasons included 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. It was his third triple-double in a now-completed four-game homestand — each game won by the Cavaliers.

James scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. He was 9 of 15 from the field and 10 of 10 from the free-throw line.

Trail Blazers 93, Hornets 91

CJ McCollum scored 25 points and Portland held on for its third straight victory with a win over Charlotte.

The Blazers led by 16 points early in the fourth quarter but had to go back to work after the Hornets fought back to tie at 87 in the final five minutes.

Ultimately, Portland held on when Charlotte’s Kemba Walker missed a 3-pointer at the final buzzer. The Trail Blazers didn’t make a field goal in the final four minutes.

Portland has defeated Miami, Orlando and Charlotte in the last four days on a five-game road trip. They are now 9-5 on the road for the season.

Spurs 98, Mavericks 96

Manu Ginobili hit a running left-handed layup with 3.1 seconds to play for the deciding basket as San Antonio scored the final 13 points to roar from behind and beat Dallas.

The Mavericks led 96-92 after the Spurs’ Bryn Forbes poured in 3-pointer from the corner with 2:13 to play.

After a pair of empty possessions from both teams, LaMarcus Aldridge brought San Antonio to within 96-94 on short jumper with 58.6 seconds to play. Aldridge then hit a contested turnaround jumper in the lane with 23.4 seconds remaining to tie the game.

Celtics 102, Grizzlies 93

A great first quarter and a solid burst to start the fourth kept Boston from back-to-back embarrassments, coming away with a victory over struggling, but still scrappy, Memphis.

Al Horford and Terry Rozier sparked a 16-0 run at the start of the fourth as the Celtics erased a 73-71 Memphis lead built largely on a third-quarter explosion from Marc Gasol, who had 21 of his game-high 30 points during the stretch.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with 20 points, rookie Jason Tatum had 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Horford had 15 points and seven boards, Aron Baynes added 13 points and six rebounds while Marcus Smart scored 11 and Rozier added 10 points off the bench.

Suns 108, Timberwolves 106

Phoenix overcame 27 turnovers to grind out a hard-fought win over Minnesota.

The Suns helped themselves with another dominating performance from their bench. One game after putting up 55 points on the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix’s reserves outscored the Timberwolves’ bench 69-20, led by 17 points apiece from Dragan Bender and Troy Daniels, Isaiah Canaan’s 15 points, and 12 points and a career-high 19 rebounds from Alex Len.

The Suns led 103-98 with 3:33 to play but consecutive baskets by Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson put Minnesota back on top by one with 1:22 to go.

Warriors’ Durant named Most Valuable Player of NBA Finals

UNTV News   •   June 13, 2017

Jun 12, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter in game five of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors hoping to win an elusive title and on Monday he not only reached his goal but was also named the unanimous Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals.

Durant, in his first season with the Warriors, led the way in a 4-1 series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to capture his maiden NBA title and the team’s second in three seasons.

The 28-year-old American averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the best-of-seven Finals, which the Warriors wrapped up in five games.

To win his first NBA title, Durant had to overcome Cavaliers forward LeBron James, whose former Miami Heat team defeated Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 Finals.

“He’s the only person that I was looking at since 2012,” Durant said after the game. “I knew it was going to be a battle I just tried to challenge him … you can’t stop the guy. But we battled.

“I told him we’re tied up now and we’re going to try to do this thing again but I’m going to celebrate this one tonight.” — By Rory Carroll | OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

(Additional reporting by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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

UNTV News   •   February 21, 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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