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Durant, Westbrook sharing load in Thunder offense

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Durant, Westbrook sharing load in Thunder offense

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) From the NBA Finals to the All-Star Game to the Olympics, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have proven themselves to be one of basketball's most dynamic duos.

To lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the league's best record, they've found even more ways to make an impact - primarily by putting their teammates in better positions to contribute.

Both Durant and Westbrook are averaging career highs in assists this season while cutting down on their turnovers, helping the Thunder become the NBA's highest-scoring team with an impressive line of statistics. Oklahoma City leads the league in 3-point accuracy and free throw percentage and ranks second in overall field-goal shooting.

``We're passing the ball so much better this year,'' said coach Scott Brooks, who has long harped on the need to improve the team's assist numbers and cut down on turnovers. ``Our basketball knowledge has improved a lot the past few years just from all the experiences that we've had. Our passing and our spacing is really good. Our offense has been in a nice rhythm.''

Somehow, Oklahoma City finished third in the league in scoring last season despite the dubious combination of passing out the fewest assists (18.5 per game) while committing the most turnovers (16 per game). Loaded with individual talent, the Thunder struggled to turn it all into something even better.

``In the past, I think we were more of an isolation team. We relied on our talent, probably too much at times,'' forward Nick Collison said. ``So, we're trying to get away from that and get more to where we're executing, sharing the ball and getting easier shots.''

Although they were unable to sustain it in the NBA Finals against Miami, the catalyst for change may have been the Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Down 2-0 in the series, Oklahoma City rallied for four straight wins with its best team basketball of the year.

Durant came back committed to improving his all-around game, proving it with his first career triple-double earlier this season. Westbrook, whose assist totals dropped off last season, is passing the ball better than ever. He's in the top 10 in scoring, assists and steals and is also among the top 10 guards in rebounding.

As a team, Oklahoma City is now in the top half of the league in assists.

``We're not having to rely on our guys to make incredible plays, difficult plays. We're getting a lot more easy shots. I think Kevin and Russell deserve a lot of credit for that,'' Collison said. ``They've embraced it and they're trusting everybody else. The decisions are easier when the spacing's better. I think that's part of it, too. But when we're not playing in a crowd, we get better shots.''

Some early-season growing pains after NBA Sixth Man of the Year James Harden was traded away - his role taken over by Kevin Martin - has faded away. Durant, who has won the scoring title the past three seasons, got some immediate criticism for being too passive and forcing the ball to others while Westbrook opened the season in an awful shooting slump.

Oklahoma City has dispelled any doubts with the franchise's longest winning streak since 1996 - the last time it was coming off of an appearance in the NBA Finals (then as the Seattle SuperSonics).

``We're happy with it but we're not satisfied,'' Brooks said. ``We're going to keep doing what we do, and that's play every game the best we can and live with the results. We know we're not going to win every game in this league.''

Westbrook, particularly, doesn't seem ready to accept that.

Even after Oklahoma City won its 10th straight game, Westbrook was displeased and started to duck around a group of reporters who had gathered at his locker and skip his postgame interview. When he was tracked down at the exit to the locker room, he had no interest in patting himself on the back for his seventh double-digit assist game of the season - more than he had in 86 games last season, including the playoffs.

``I can do better,'' he said.

His coach wasn't surprised.

``He never cheats the game,'' Brooks said. ``He's not a perfect player, like nobody in this league is. But his effort is always good. He plays with a lot of desire and a lot of heart and determination.''

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Capitals at Blackhawks Game 10: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Capitals at Blackhawks Game 10: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The Capitals are riding a two-game winning streak, and are looking to continue their winning ways as they start a five-game road swing.

Their first stop is Chicago against a Blackhawks team that has cracked .500 and is also riding their own two-game winning streak.

Whose streak will come to an end Sunday? Tune in to find out.

CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME 10: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals at Chicago Blackhawks

Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.

When: Sunday, October 20, 7 pm.

TV Channel: Capitals-Blackhawks will be broadcast on NBC Sports. (NBC Sports channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blackhawks on NBC Sports live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals @ Blackhawks (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals:

RW Richard Panik, upper-body injury, week-to-week

Blackhawks:

LW Jonn Quenneville, hip injury, day-to-day

CAPITALS AT BLACKHAWKS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Michal Kempny, D, Capitals (1-0-1)

After returning to the Caps lineup against the New York Rangers Friday night, Kempny felt right at home, potting his first goal of the season. Kempny will look to beat up on the team that traded him back in 2018, and he's had success in the past against them.

Alex DeBrincat, F, Chicago (2-2-4)

Don't be fooled by DeBrincat's 5-7 frame. The shifty forward has a deadly release and notched 41 goals last season, second on the Blackhawks. In the last two seasons, he's also feasted on the Capitals, notching two goals and two assists.

Patrick Kane, R, Chicago (2-5-7)

He doesn't have the nickname "Showtime" for nothing. Kane led the Blackhawks in goals last season with 44, and leads the team in points this season.

CAPITALS at BLACKHAWKS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 99

All-Time Series Record: 44-43-11-1

Last Meeting: Loss 8-5 (1/20/2019)

Last 10: Capitals lead 7-3

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Ravens at Seahawks Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Ravens at Seahawks Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens have four wins already this season, but none stand out as a signature victory.

The Ravens blew the doors of future 0-16 Miami Dolphins, then got past Arizona, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by six, three and six points, respectively. The combined record for those three? 4-13-1.

Now, two of those games weren't really as close as the final score made it look. But for a team with designs on contending in the AFC, it's a little concerning that Baltimore's point-differential would be negative-15 if you take out the 59-0 win in Miami that, frankly, shouldn't count.

All that came against a pretty light schedule. The Ravens have only face two non-terrible teams, but they lost to both. Now? Their schedule takes another step up in difficulty, and the first stage comes in Seattle.

The Ravens are traveling across the country to face the 5-1 Seahawks, who are flying high thanks to their quarterback, Russell Wilson. Wilson would be something close to the consensus MVP if the season ended today, thanks to his 1,704 yards, 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The Seahawks own one of the most fearsome home field advantages in football, making this one of the toughest tests of the Ravens' season. 

This battle looks especially important, considering the gauntlet awaiting Baltimore after their Week 8 bye. Five of their next six games beginning in Week 9 are vs. New England, vs. Houston, at Los Angeles (Rams), vs. San Francisco, and at Buffalo. Those teams are a ridiculous 22-6 this season, so the Ravens need to stock up on as many wins as possible during the rest of their schedule.

They'll look to enter their bye with some momentum behind an MVP candidate of their own, albeit not one quite on Wilson's level just yet, in Lamar Jackson.

Jackson continued his own stellar start to the season in Week 6, becoming the first quarterback to ever pass for 200 yards and rush for 150 in a regular season game. He also became the first player in NFL history to earn both the FedEx Air Player of the Week and Ground Player of the Week in the same season.

His dual-threat dominance has keyed a resurgent Ravens offense, forced to carry a surprisingly-struggling defense. The Ravens are hoping their in-season acquisition of cornerback Marcus Peters will provide a jolt to their injured secondary.

Speaking of the secondary, safety Earl Thomas is making his long-anticipated return to Seattle on Sunday, a reunion you don't want to miss.

This is one of the biggest games on the slate in the NFL this weekend, and it's one of the biggest swing games for the Ravens' season. Two franchises defined by their defenses will be carried by their high-octane offenses in what should be a terrific atmosphere.

Here's everything you need to know about the game. 

RAVENS AT SEAHAWKS WEEK 7:

Who: Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks

What: Week 7 of the regular season

When: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, 4:25 p.m. ET

Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: FOX Sports, FuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090, 98Rock and 101.5 FM

Weather: High of 53 degrees, 5-10 mph winds, strong chance of rain (80 percent)

RAVENS 2019 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sun., 9/8 at Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. (W, 59-10)

Week 2: Sun., 9/15 vs. Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 3: Sun., 9/22 at Chiefs. 1:00 p.m. (L, 33-28)

Week 4: Sun., 9/29 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m. (L, 40-25)

Week 5: Sun., 10/6 at Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (W (OT), 26-23)

Week 6: Sun., 10/13 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 7: Sun., 10/20 at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.

Week 8: BYE week

Week 9: Sun., 11/3 vs. Patriots, 8:20 p.m.

Week 10:  Sun., 11/10 at Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 11: Sun., 11/17 vs. Texans, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Mon., 11/25 at Rams, 8:15 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/1 vs. 49ers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/8 at Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Thu., 12/12 vs. Jets, 8:20 p.m.

Week 16: Sun., 12/22 at Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17: Sun., 12/29 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

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