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Durant scores 41, Thunder beats Suns for 30th win

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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.

4.19.19: Minor league baseball makes big improvements to fan stadium experience

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USA TODAY Sports

4.19.19: Minor league baseball makes big improvements to fan stadium experience

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

 

TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST, CLICK HERE

 

  • Heads up! This year, Minor League Baseball fans might notice new digital screens and displays at their favorite stadiums. Together with ISM Connect, over 25 MiLB teams will be adding new smart displays to their ballparks. But beyond delivering unique stories and creative ads to fans during each game, these displays are also equipped with smart cameras to measure audience engagement. These smart cameras will help keep ads and content fresh. The cameras record anonymous interactions – how long someone watches the screen or their age range – not individual images of specific people. By measuring foot traffic and engagement, MiLB teams and ad sponsors can better understand who their fans are, what resonates with them, and how they’re experiencing each game. The result is a better, more engaging experience for fans, and a better way for teams and partners to learn how to best serve their loyal audience.
  • The Boston Marathon passes $200 million in economic impact, and welcomes seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to its field. This year’s Boston Marathon, held Monday April 15 and carried on NBCSports Network, will be the 123rd running of the race that winds its way 26.2 miles from the town of Hopkinton to the finish line at Copley Square. It is the world’s oldest annual marathon, starting in 1897 after the successful debut of the marathon at the first modern Olympics in 1896. The Boston Marathon is traditionally held on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April. The Boston Red Sox also have a traditional home game on Patriots Day with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch against the Orioles this year. Boston is among the six largest marathons, along with Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. A special prize purse is given to runners who accumulate the most points in the majors. Here’s a bit of trivia: Just five national sporting events were held during the two World Wars, and the Boston Marathon was one. The others? The Kentucky Derby, Penn Relays, Rose Parade, and Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
  • La Liga, Spanish soccer’s top-flight league, has been named the eighth biggest brand domestically, according to a report by valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance. The report places La Liga above major Spanish brands such as the insurance provider Mapfre and telecommunications company Movistar. Using its brand strength score metric, a figure based on calculations regarding emotional connection, financial performance and sustainability, Brand Finance gave La Liga a score of 80.7 out of 100. Fashion retailer Zara topped the Brand Finance list overall, with the likes of Santander and Iberdrola also featuring inside its top ten. The new 2019 report marks the first time a sports league has appeared in Brand Finance’s top ten, highlighting the continued growth of La Liga. Brand Finance values the league body at $548 million. Based on monetary value along it occupies 50th place on the list, a considerable drop. However, taking into account the value of participating league clubs – which includes the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – La Liga’s overall value jumps to $4.5 billion, which would place it sixth on that list.

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Amidst Jags controversy, Landon Collins goes full Suge Knight to recruit Jalen Ramsey to Redskins

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Amidst Jags controversy, Landon Collins goes full Suge Knight to recruit Jalen Ramsey to Redskins

Even during this relatively quiet period of the NFL calendar, there's still plenty of controversy around the league.

Take Jacksonville for example, where Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been firing back at executive vice president Tom Coughlin for saying he wants every player to attend the team's voluntary offseason workouts. Ramsey, as you may have already guessed, has elected to skip these workouts. 

Seeing an opportunity, new Redskins safety Landon Collins invited Ramsey to Washington via Twitter, going into full Suge Knight "Come to Death Row" mode to make his pitch. 

Ramsey seemed quite amused by the prospect, but also didn't seem totally opposed to the idea of teaming up with Collins in D.C. 

While it's unlikely Washington trades for Ramsey, nothing's stopping you from firing up the NFL Roster Builder and putting the two-time Pro Bowler in burgundy and gold, Redskins fans! 

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