Durant and Westbrook lift Thunder over Suns


Durant and Westbrook lift Thunder over Suns

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 30 points, Russell Westbrook returned from a cut above his eye to finish with 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Phoenix Suns 114-96 on Monday night.

Oklahoma City extended its home-court winning streak to 12 games - longest in the NBA - and won on New Year's Eve for the fifth straight year since the franchise moved from Seattle. The Thunder closed 2012 by winning 15 of its last 17 games.

Luis Scola scored 24 points to lead Phoenix, which dropped its sixth straight game and fell to the Thunder for the seventh straight time. The Suns haven't beaten Oklahoma City since December 19, 2010.

Westbrook left the game late in the first half with a cut over his right eye that required stitches. In his absence, the Thunder started the second half with Reggie Jackson at point guard and went on a 12-0 run to seize control. Oklahoma City never trailed again, although Phoenix pulled within two points twice in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

After missing about seven minutes of game time, Westbrook came straight from the locker room with tape above his eye, checked in with 6:24 left in the third quarter and went to work. He drew a foul and made both free throws, and after a two-handed dunk by Durant, Westbrook drilled a 17-foot jumper, then hit three free throws after being fouled behind the arc.

Westbrook then assisted on a basket by Serge Ibaka and followed with a 3-pointer to put Oklahoma City ahead 82-68, its biggest lead of the game, at the 3:44 mark.

Scola had seven points in a 9-2 run by the Suns that pulled them within 84-78 by quarter's end and Phoenix closed within 87-85 with 9:05 left on a basket by Jermaine O'Neal, but Nick Collison answered with a 16-foot jumper for the Thunder, and after a couple of empty possessions by both teams, Thabo Sefolosha's 3-pointer with 7:32 left put Oklahoma City up 92-85.

The Thunder put the game away with a 12-2 run, capped by a eight-foot floating jumper by Westbrook in the lane with 3:08 left to make it 104-89.

Durant recorded his 13th outing this season of 30 points or more, but had a poor shooting night, finishing 11-of-24 from the field. Westbrook, who has struggled with his shot in recent games, finished 7-of-16. Ibaka scored 16 points, Sefolosha added 14 points and Collison had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder.

Goran Dragic added 16 points for Phoenix, while Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 10 rebounds and O'Neal had 12 points.

The Thunder led 54-53 at halftime, but lost Westbrook temporarily after he was inadvertently elbowed by Scola while attempting a layup with 1:32 left in the half. Westbrook went down, bleeding from around his right eye, as no foul was called and play continued.

The Suns stayed in the game in the half by shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 42.9 percent (6 of 14) from 3-point range. Sebastian Telfair hit three 3-pointers in four attempts in the first half but didn't score again.

NOTES: The Thunder recalled first-round draft choice Perry Jones III and a pair of former Kentucky players, center Daniel Orton and guard DeAndre Liggins, from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League . The Suns have recorded 1,998 wins in franchise history and are all but assured of being the fourth-fastest franchise to reach the 2,000-win mark, trailing Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia. Phoenix's next two games are Jan. 2 against Philadelphia and Jan. 4 against Utah, both at home . Longtime Oklahoma Christian University professor, coach and administrator Max Dobson received the Devon Community Hero Award from the Thunder for his 37 years of teaching a class in which OC students work with special-needs children from Edmond Public Schools. Among those celebrating Dobson in a video shown during the ceremony was Oklahoma women's basketball coach Sherri Coale, whom Dobson recruited to OC in the early 1980s . The Thunder recorded its 32nd straight sellout at Chesapeake Energy Arena, including 15 this season.

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 108-100 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Another loss: It is becoming more and more clear that the Wizards need a shot in the arm, something to change the direction of where they are currently heading.

Whether that will come in the form of All-Star point guard John Wall coming back, an adjustment to their lineup or strategy or something else entirely, the losses are piling up and at a tough time in the season.

With another loss on Friday night, their seventh in their last 11 games, the Wizards are now 40-32 on the season. They have plenty of room to still clinch a playoff berth, as their magic number stands at two, but they only have 10 games left to secure their all-important playoff seed. 

The Wizards lost their second straight game and again offense was their problem. They scored 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers.

Big third quarter: The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a team on the rise, a young squad with burgeoning stars that could someday soon make some noise in the Western Conference. The reason is because they are very good on offense. Defense is a much different story.

That was not the case on Friday night, as the Wizards had all sorts of trouble scoring in three of their four quarters. They managed just 43 points by halftime, the fewest the Nuggets have allowed in a first half since Jan. 27.

The Wizards, though, did get cooking in the third quarter. They erupted for 33 points in the frame while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three. Markieff Morris, who finished with 17, had 11 points in the third quarter and Bradley Beal (24 points) hit three threes.

The Wizards also found a solution for Jamal Murray, one of the Nuggets' brightest young stars. He had 20 points at halftime, but went scoreless in nine minutes in the third quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (15 points) was among those who gave him trouble. Murry finished with 25.

The big third quarter reflected well on the Wizards' ability to make adjustments, but their 24-point fourth quarter flipped the script again.


Didn't force mistakes: The first time these teams squared off back in October, the Wizards forced the Nuggets into 23 turnovers. This game was a very different story. 

The Nuggets didn't commit their first turnover until midway through the second quarter and had only three by halftime. They had just 10 turnovers for the game.

Denver deserves some credit for limiting their mistakes, but all of it did not reflect well on the Wizards' defense. They didn't put enough pressure on the ball and failed to disrupt passing lanes like they usually do. It was uncharacteristic, as the Wizards entered the game 10th in average turnovers forced.

Not creating mistakes allowed the Nuggets to get way to many field goal attempts. Though they shot just 43.5 percent, Denver managed 108 points. And not getting turnovers offered the Wizards few opportunities for easy transition buckets.


Special night: Halftime offered a memorable moment in franchise history as legendary player and broadcast Phil Chenier had his No. 45 jersey retired by the team. His longtime broadcaster and friend Steve Buckhantz hosted the ceremony with about 20 friends and family members of Chenier's seated behind him. Buckhantz had opening comments, then majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke as everyone in the crowd stood and cheered.

Then, it was Chenier's time to talk. He thanked his former teammates, members of the organization and those close to him. He kept his composure until the very end when he brought up his mother, Peggy, who could not make the event. Chenier choked up and wiped away tears as he described what she has meant to him in his life.

It was a powerful moment and a great ceremony to honor a guy who has impacted the lives of many in the D.C. area. Now, his No. 45 will hang up in the rafters forever. That banner, by the way, features a picture of a microphone and the phrase '33 years,' signifying how long he was the color analyst for Bullets and Wizards games.


Up next: The Wizards do not have a game Saturday, though they are going to practice and Wall is expected to take a big step forward in his rehab. Their next game is Sunday at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington when they host the Knicks. That will also be a special game, as the Wizards are set to honor the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship.

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy.