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Durant's 42 helps send Lakers to 6th straight loss

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Durant's 42 helps send Lakers to 6th straight loss

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kevin Durant hit a 3-pointer in the final second of the first half and did a full reverse somersault to celebrate a 16-point lead. The Thunder were running the Lakers out of their own building, and not even Kobe Bryant could stop them.

Oklahoma City is again clearly among the best teams in the Western Conference, and the struggling Lakers may not have enough time left in the season to join them.

Durant scored a season-high 42 points, Russell Westbrook had 27 points and 10 assists, and Oklahoma City easily sent the short-handed Lakers to their sixth straight loss, 116-101 on Friday night.

Kevin Martin scored 15 points and hit three 3-pointers for the Thunder, who romped to a 27-point lead in the second half. Oklahoma City has won seven of nine, while Los Angeles is on its longest skid since March 2007 while playing without injured stars Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

Oklahoma City (28-8) matched the Clippers for the NBA's best record - and the Thunder made it look easy with a virtuoso game from Durant, who had 38 points midway through the third quarter.

``Coming in here, it's tough to win no matter what,'' Durant insisted after the Thunder coasted down the stretch. ``We did a great job of just playing together at both ends of the floor all night and not taking those guys lightly. They've got two of the best players in the world out, so we just wanted to come out and have a good game.''

They had a bit more than a good game. Durant hit four 3-pointers and his usual array of athletic shots whenever he wanted, while Westbrook finished three rebounds shy of a triple-double while playing less than 35 minutes.

The Thunder only had three scorers in double figures, but that was more than enough.

Westbrook, a Los Angeles native, has little sympathy for the Lakers.

``They're not done. They have a lot more games left, and I'm pretty sure they're going to find a way to get it together,'' Westbrook said. ``Our job is to worry about our team and our organization. It wasn't easy. I just think we did a good job of playing team basketball defensively, and it showed. Kevin took control most of the game.''

The Lakers (15-21) hadn't lost this many consecutive games since the year before they acquired Gasol and embarked on a run to three straight NBA finals. With Cleveland and Milwaukee visiting over the next four days, the Lakers have a chance to get competitive again - but they're facing an uphill climb just to get into playoff contention.

``I told the team, the biggest thing is our season starts Sunday,'' coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``We've got to make a run. We've got one shot at it, and everybody needs to get ready mentally and physically. From there on, we can't make any more false steps. That's just how it is. We put ourselves in this ditch, and we're the only ones that can get it out, and hopefully we can get some guys back and start our season Sunday.''

Bryant scored 28 points and Antawn Jamison added 19 against Oklahoma City, but Los Angeles looked lost and overmatched in its third straight game without Howard and Gasol.

The Thunder eliminated Bryant and the Lakers from last season's playoffs in five games, and Los Angeles has shown few signs of being able to compete with the defending conference champions this season. Injuries aren't the only problem, but Howard likely is out for at least another week with a shoulder injury, while Gasol still hasn't been cleared to return from his concussion.

``We're just very frustrated and upset about what we're going through right now, and how we're playing,'' Bryant said. ``We're going to have to make some big adjustments if we're going to be successful. We gave up about 120 points tonight, and a lot of them were just layups and easy looks at the rim.''

Steve Nash had seven points and seven assists in a quiet 30 minutes for the Lakers, who announced during the second quarter that backup big man Jordan Hill likely needs season-ending surgery on his left hip. Metta World Peace added 12 points, going 1 for 9 on 3-point attempts.

``We showed some fight, but we just were a little overmatched,'' Nash said. ``They're bigger than us at almost every position. Kevin got hot, and we couldn't contain him in the second quarter. As the game wore on, I just think the difference in depth and quality took over.''

NOTES: Before the game, Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, announced they've called off their divorce proceedings. Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce in December 2011. ... The teams meet again at Staples Center on Jan. 27. Oklahoma City also visits to face the Clippers on Jan. 22. ... Charlize Theron, Adam Sandler, Robin Thicke, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Mehmet Oz and Chad Johnson watched the game from courtside.

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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