Durant scores 41, Thunder beats Suns for 30th win


Durant scores 41, Thunder beats Suns for 30th win

PHOENIX (AP) When Kevin Durant takes over a game, it's quite a show.

This time, it was at the expense of Marcin Gortat and the rest of the Phoenix Suns.

Durant scored 27 of his 41 points in the second half - 19 in the fourth quarter- and the Oklahoma City Thunder became the NBA's first 30-game winner this season by beating the Suns 102-90 on Monday night.

Russell Westbrook added 36 for the Thunder, but it was Durant who took over late in his fourth 40-point game, falling one shy of the season-high 42 he scored two games earlier against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Durant sank an array of pull-up jumpers, added a couple of casual 3-pointers, made a handful of layups, then punctuated his night with a spectacular dunk over Gortat for a three-point play.

``I am just having a lot of fun out there,'' he said. ``I got away with a carry on that (last) play, but I was able to free myself up. I saw the lane. Everyone knows he does a great job of contesting in the lane. I just tried to finish with some strength.''

Durant and Westbrook accounted for 47 of Oklahoma City's 51 second-half points.

``We basically lost to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant,'' Gortat said. ``These two guys were just outstanding. They played great. The pick-and-roll between these two guys is just ridiculous.''

Durant said the two-player dominance in the second half ``was just the natural flow of the game - how they were playing us.''

``We set nice screen and rolls and we thought we could find some good stuff in the pick and rolls,'' he said. ``Russ got it going early and I just tried to play off of everybody, and my teammates just told me to go be aggressive and luckily my shots were falling.''

Oklahoma City won its fourth straight, the last three on the road to improve their NBA-best record to 30-8. Durant scored 33 Sunday night in an 87-83 win at Portland.

Shannon Brown scored 21 for the Suns. Gortat had 19 points and 15 rebounds, but was the unfortunate would-be defender on Durant's spectacular dunk late in the game.

Kevin Martin was the only other Oklahoma City player in double figures with 12 points.

The Thunder were without Serge Ibaka for the second game in a row with a chest contusion. Phoenix didn't have Jared Dudley (right wrist strain) or Jermaine O'Neal (back spasms).

Down 68-54 after Westbrook's layup, the Suns finished the third quarter with a 14-4 run, cutting it to 72-68 on Michael Beasley's 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left in the period. Oklahoma City didn't get a field goal in the final 5:23 of the quarter, its only points coming on Durant's four field goals.

But the Suns never got any closer.

Durant opened the fourth quarter with a fastbreak layup, sank a 19-footer, then followed with a 3-pointer and the Thunder led 79-72. Westbrook's 3-pointer put Oklahoma City up 87-77 with 4:49 to play, then Durant put on a final show.

He sank a 3-pointer, followed with a 19-footer, then scored on a layup. The spectacular finish came on Oklahoma City's next possession when he drove the lane and soared over Gortat for the dunk. Gortat fouled him on the play and Durant made the free throw to put the Thunder up 97-81 with 2:23 to play.

``I ain't going to deny it. That was probably one of the top three dunks of the year,'' Gortat said. ``At least I'm going to be out there. I'm just going to try to be silly about it. I'm not going to cry. It's just part of the game. I already knew what was going on when he took off. I didn't lift my hands up. I just tried to get out of the picture and at least smile.''

Oklahoma City used a 17-5 run to go up 45-35 on Martin's 3-pointer with 3:09 left in the first half.

The Suns went 4 minutes, 15 seconds without a point in the early stages of the Thunder outburst.

Brown scored on a drive to the basket and was fouled for a 3-point play with 1.8 seconds left to cut Oklahoma City's lead 51-45 at the break.

Notes: Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. had a courtside seat. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was in attendance with former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, now head of USA Basketball. ... Oklahoma City has won five straight in Phoenix, tied with Miami for longest active streak at US Airways Center. ... Dudley missed his second straight game. O'Neal was a game-time scratch.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars


3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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