Wizards

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.

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John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

WASHINGTON -- The steady progress continues for John Wall in his rehab from a ruptured left Achilles tendon, as the Wizards point guard is now facing teammates in 4-on-4 drills at practice.

Head coach Scott Brooks described the games as "controlled," noting they were not full-speed or with contact and featured a 10-second shot clock. But that remains a notable step in his road back after he had previously been playing mostly against player development coaches.

"He practiced for the whole practice. He looked great," Brooks said. "There is still a ways to go. But his energy, his enthusiasm, his strength [looks good]. His shot looks better."

Wall, 29, hasn't played in a game since Dec. 26 of 2018. He had surgery on his Achilles on Feb. 12, 2019. He is currently over 11 months into what is typically an 11-to-15 month recovery.

Brooks, though, makes a point to couch positive updates about Wall with patience. The team has indicated he may not play at all this season.

"I don't know if he plays this year," Brooks said. "We can be patient and we're going to be patient because we need him to be right for a lot of years. This is his career and we know how serious that injury is. He's taking it serious."

Part of the equation is the financial commitment the Wizards have made in Wall. He is due roughly $131.5 million over the next three seasons. They want to make sure he is good to go not just for this year, but that he can be effective for the remainder of his contract.

According to Brooks, even having Wall back to this level has added some positive energy to the Wizards' organization.

"I know the excitement is around because he's around and he's looking [good]," Brooks said. "When he comes back, he's going to be the John Wall we all love."

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Houston QB D'Eriq King reportedly transfers to Miami over Maryland

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Houston QB D'Eriq King reportedly transfers to Miami over Maryland

Just one week after announcing that he had entered the NCAA transfer portal, University of Houston QB D'Eriq King has reportedly chosen Miami over Maryland.

The Athletic's Hurricanes beat writer Manny Navarro reports that King has informed Canes coaches of his decision and intent to start classes Tuesday, Jan. 21. 

At the same time, Mark Berman of Fox26 reported that King has not made a final decision but did indeed like Miami.

 

King was scheduled to visit Miami Friday night and Maryland on Saturday, but Jeff Ermann of InsideMDSports reports that King may have cancelled his visit to second-year head coach Mike Locksley and company last minute after liking Miami. Berman reports that King is still "planning" on visiting College Park.

The Terps struggled to finish 3-9 with Josh Jackson and Tyrell Pigrome under center, combining for 16 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. Under first-year head coach Manny Diaz, Miami went 6-7 over 2019.

King redshirted this season after playing the maximum four games allowed under new NCAA rules in order to preserve eligibility and transfer for  his senior season. In those four games, King tallied 663 passing yards and six touchdowns. 

The sought-after QB is also just one of three in FBS history that have recorded at least 35 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns in a single season.

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