Thunder send W's to one-point, overtime loss


Thunder send W's to one-point, overtime loss


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) As the NBA's leading scorer, Kevin Durant is the kind of decoy that's hard to ignore.The Oklahoma City Thunder used him to perfection to beat the Golden State Warriors 115-114 in overtime Tuesday night.Durant took his place on the right side of the lane and headed toward the free-throw line as though he was getting ready to receive a pass, just as fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook took off on a drive to the basket.The result: a foul against Stephen Curry with 11.4 seconds left, leading to Westbrook's game-winning free throw."Russell's a big-time scorer and we wanted to get him something driving to the basket, which is his strength. We knew they were going to call a foul if he drives so hard and tried to score," Durant said. "It was good for either person. I could have posted up at the free-throw line and tried to get a shot or Russell could have took it to the rim."Durant finished with 39 points after scoring Oklahoma City's first eight points in overtime. It was his highest total since scoring 43 against New Orleans on Feb. 2."We did everything we could to guard two hot players - two very, very good players in Westbrook and Durant, of course," Warriors coach Keith Smart said.
VIDEO: Keith Smart postgame
"I thought our guys did a great job and almost, almost had a chance to pull this thing off."Westbrook missed his first free throw, but made the second to put the Thunder on top.Monta Ellis' jumper from the top of the key was wide right at the final buzzer. He finished with 20 points and 11 assists but shot just 9 for 30, missing 12 in a row at one point."Sometimes good players may struggle the whole game and they have an ability to lock in late," Smart said. "We thought we got the right matchup."Curry led Golden State with 35 points, and David Lee had 24 points and 15 rebounds.Serge Ibaka added 19 points and Kendrick Perkins had 13 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which started out with a win in its first of four back-to-back sets in the final 15 days of the season. But not without a little extra work.The Warriors mounted two second-half rallies, wiping away a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to take the lead and then falling behind by 10 in the fourth before a final flurry.Golden State deployed a matchup 2-3 zone that Smart described as "almost a box and one" and held Oklahoma City without a basket for more than 6 minutes to rally back from a 69-55 deficit in the third. Curry provided the final five points in a 16-2 run with a 3-pointer and a fast-break layup that put Golden State up 74-73.Durant had a two-handed, alley-oop dunk and James Harden also dunked twice in an 8-0 run for the Thunder, and Ibaka's layup off a lob from Westbrook made it 100-90 with 3:49 left in regulation.
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This time, the Warriors rallied with a quick burst of offense.After Reggie Williams' 3-pointer from the right wing with 11.1 seconds remaining, Ellis stole Daequan Cook's inbounds pass and stepped behind the line for another 3 from the left corner to tie it with 6.9 seconds to go.Durant, who took the blame for failing to come back and receive Cook's inbounds pass, missed a fallaway jumper on the right baseline at the end of regulation.Coach Scott Brooks then reminded his players of their success so far this season beyond regulation, and they went out to become just the fifth team in NBA history to win eight overtime games in a season. The record is nine by Sacramento in 2000."It is not the way we wanted to execute down the stretch, but we did get the win and I give our guys credit for staying together and hanging in there," Brooks said.The Thunder missed seven straight shots and were down 111-109 before Durant used his "rip" move - raking the ball through a defender's outstretched arm - to draw a three-shot foul. He hit all three to put Oklahoma City ahead and then answered Ellis' 3-pointer with a jumper from the left wing to tie it up at 114.Ellis missed from the top of the key on the Warriors' last two possessions."If you go back and look at last shots I have taken this season, you will notice that I took all of them the same way, even the one tonight," Ellis said. "It just did not go down."Smart said he hopes NBA coaches will revisit the rules on the "rip" move in the offseason."That shouldn't be a call because defensive players, you're trying to tell your guys to get up on a good player," Smart said. "If the player's going to bait you into a foul - and I understand it's a rule, so there's nothing we can do about it - but ... who has the right to the space? We've got to come to a conclusion."Durant said he's aware there's a debate over the fairness of the play, but right now he's just playing according to the current rules."They've said it's a legal play, so I'm going to keep doing it until they tell me I can't," Durant said. "That's when I'll stop."
Notes: Cook and Curry collided with an arena worker on the sideline in the second quarter, spilling a platter of drinks onto Durant's mother and brother. ... Thunder backup Nick Collison sat out with a sprained left ankle. Coach Scott Brooks said he's day to day and his status for Wednesday night at Phoenix is uncertain. ... Golden State guard Acie Law wasn't with the team while getting further evaluations on his injured right wrist. ... Nate Robinson was activated for Oklahoma City for the first time since having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on March 4 but did not play.

Joerger shakes things up, Cauley-Stein responds with big game


Joerger shakes things up, Cauley-Stein responds with big game

SACRAMENTO -- Faced with demotion, you have two options, sulk or come out swinging. Willie Cauley-Stein chose option two Friday evening at Golden 1 Center.

After starting all 14 games to begin the season, Cauley-Stein found himself relegated to the second unit against the Portland Trail Blazers. The 7-footer looked energized by the move and made one play after another as the Kings came away with the 86-82 victory.

“I felt free - period,” Cauley-Stein said following the win. “Both offensively, defensively. I’m quarterbacking on defense. I’m getting to make plays on offense. I just feel liberated. I feel like it’s unlocking.”

The third-year big began the 2017-18 campaign with back-to-back double-doubles, but hadn’t notched double-figures in rebounds since. Over his previous eight games, the Kings’ starting center was averaging just 4.3 boards per game.

Against Portland, Cauley-Stein played sparkling defense, hit 9-of-17 from the floor for a team-high 22 points and hit the glass for 10 boards. He skied above the Blazers bigs for a rebound with 3.4 seconds remaining and his second free throw attempt sealed the win for a Kings team in desperate need of a win.

“Willie’s a hell of a player, obviously,” veteran big Kosta Koufos said. “He’s really athletic, he’s a special talent.”

Koufos and Cauley-Stein made a devastating defensive duo for Sacramento. Both bigs showed on the high pick-and-roll and avoided fouling the Blazers high-powered guards.

“That’s a crazy defensive lineup right there, me and Kosta play really well together,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’ve been waiting for that lineup since we started.”

Damian Lillard scored 29 points, but he shot just 9-of-25 from the field and 5-for-14 from long range. C.J. McCollum knocked down 8-of-15 from the floor, but he missed all four of his 3-point attempts as Sacramento closed out and pressured the shooter all night long.

Cauley-Stein wasn’t the only starter to find himself on the bench to start the game. Dave Joerger turned to a dual point guard backcourt, using De’Aaron Fox and George Hill side-by-side, while bringing rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic in with the second unit.

Playing off the ball for long stretches, Hill responded to the move with 14 points and five assists in 27 minutes. Fox had a quiet offensive night, but his defense on both Lillard and McCollum was inspired.

“We can both attack and he’s a great shooter so that really helps me,” Fox said of Hill. “He’s a mentor on the court. It’s a lot easier to play with him then to watch him play.”

Sacramento held Portland to just 37 percent shooting overall and 28 percent from behind the arc. They pressured the Blazers in the backcourt and slowed the game to screeching halt.

With the win, the Kings snapped their three-game losing streak and improved to 4-11 on the season. They jumped a plane for Portland following the game where they’ll face the same Trail Blazer team Saturday in a rare back-to-back against the same team.

The Kings likely be without the services of shooting guard Buddy Hield, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle. Hield limped into the locker room on crutches following the victory and the initial indications point to him missing the rematch.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach


A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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