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HOUSTON (AP) Russell Westbrook scored 28 points and Kevin Durant added 26 as the Oklahoma City Thunder built a big lead in the second quarter and rolled to a 124-94 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Durant scored 11 points during a 16-0 run by the Thunder to end the first half and extend the lead to 18. Oklahoma City had another big run early in the third quarter to put the game further out of reach.

Former Thunder sixth man James Harden scored 25 for the Rockets, who went cold on offense for long stretches.

It was Oklahoma City's second win this season over Houston, after taking the first meeting 120-98.

Kevin Martin, who came to Oklahoma City in the trade for Harden, finished 19 points and five 3-pointers. Westbrook had eight rebounds and eight assists.

Marcus Morris scored a career-high 24 points for Houston.

HORNETS 98, BOBCATS 95

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Eric Gordon had 24 points and seven assists, helping New Orleans overcome a 21-point first-half deficit and extend Charlotte's losing streak to 18 games.

The Bobcats are one game away from a winless December. They haven't won since Nov. 24.

Gordon, who hadn't played since April 22 following arthroscopic right knee surgery, was 5 of 13 from the field and 12 of 14 from the free throw line in 24 minutes.

Ryan Anderson had 19 points and made a pair of 3-pointers in the final period as the Hornets won for the second time in three games.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 22 points and nine rebounds and Gerald Henderson added 19 points for the Bobcats.

NETS 103, CAVALIERS 100

NEW YORK (AP) - Brook Lopez scored a season-high 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Brooklyn improved to 2-0 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo by beating Cleveland.

Lopez followed his 26-point, 11-rebound performance in a victory Friday over Charlotte by shooting 13 of 20 from the field, making a number of timely baskets in the fourth quarter that the Nets ultimately needed to hold on.

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 15 points for the Nets, who fired coach Avery Johnson on Thursday and followed with two victories over losing teams. But now, they head off for major tests at San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

CJ Miles scored 33 points and made eight 3-pointers for the Cavs, but Kyrie Irving capped a miserable shooting night when his tying 3-point attempt went in and out. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

Tristan Thompson added 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who played without center Anderson Varejao because of a knee injury.

GRIZZLIES 81, NUGGETS 72

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Rudy Gay scored eight of his 19 points down the stretch to help Memphis beat Denver.

Gay's rush was part of 10 straight points for the Grizzlies, breaking open a 68-all game with 4:45 left. His baseline jumper with 1:25 left gave Memphis a 10-point lead, helping the Grizzlies snap a two-game skid.

Zach Randolph had 12 points for Memphis, which won despite shooting 40 percent. The Grizzlies outscored the Nuggets 28-15 in the fourth quarter.

Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee all had 12 points for Denver, which had its two-game winning streak stopped. Danilo Gallinari, coming off a career-high 39 points Friday night against Dallas, was held to seven on 2-of-8 shooting.

HAWKS 109, PACERS 100

ATLANTA (AP) - Lou Williams had 21 points and a career-high 12 assists, Al Horford added 20 points and Atlanta beat Indiana for its fourth consecutive win.

David West scored a game-high 29 points for the Pacers, who had won four straight and seven of eight.

With Josh Smith, Atlanta's leading scorer, unable to play because of a right hip flexor, Hawks coach Larry Drew started Zaza Pachulia, who responded with 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Indiana never got closer than three in the fourth quarter after Paul George's three-point play made it 91-88 at the 5:18 mark.

RAPTORS 123, MAGIC 88

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points and Jose Calderon added 15 points and 10 assists, helping Toronto to an easy victory over injury-depleted Orlando.

Rookie Ed Davis had 18 points and seven rebounds as Toronto won for the seventh time in eight games. The Raptors, who hit a season-high 15 3-pointers, got 16 points apiece from Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross.

Rookie Andrew Nicholson led Orlando with a career-high 22 points. Arron Afflalo added 14 points and Ish Smith had 13 points and six assists.

The Raptors hit nine of their first 10 attempts from behind the 3-point line and built a 67-47 halftime lead. Orlando cut it to 76-65 with 5:16 left in the third quarter, but that was as close as the Magic would get the rest of the game.

The Magic played without starting point guard Jameer Nelson (hip) and his backup, E'Twaun Moore (elbow).

TIMBERWOLVES 111, SUNS 107

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Nikola Pekovic had 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Kevin Love added 23 points and 18 boards to lift Minnesota over Phoenix.

Andrei Kirilenko had 20 points and five rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were missing guard Ricky Rubio because of back spasms.

Luis Scola had 33 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who lost their fifth straight. They led 102-99 with 3:30 to play, but once again failed to close it out.

Pekovic scored two quick ones underneath, but the Suns still had a chance down three with 8.1 seconds left. Dante Cunningham stole the inbounds pass to seal it.

BULLS 87, WIZARDS 77

CHICAGO (AP) - Marco Belinelli came off the bench to score 17 points, leading Chicago to a victory over Washington.

Carlos Boozer added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Belinelli shot 7 of 16 in a reserve role as Richard Hamilton returned to the starting lineup. Hamilton had missed 12 games because of a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

Chicago's Luol Deng scored 11 points after injuring his right ankle Tuesday in a loss to Houston.

Bradley Beal led the NBA-worst Wizards (4-24) with 14 points. Emeka Okafor added 11 points and 18 rebounds for Washington, which has lost nine of 10.

Wizards leading scorer Jordan Crawford sat out because of a left ankle injury.

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This story from Bradley Beal will get you excited for Rui Hachimura's rookie year

rui_hachimura.jpg
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This story from Bradley Beal will get you excited for Rui Hachimura's rookie year

WASHINGTON -- Even though he does two separate media scrums every time he addresses reporters, one in English and then one in Japanese, Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura is a man of few words.

As he looked ahead to his first NBA game - Wednesday at the Dallas Mavericks (8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington) - in which he will be in the starting lineup, he didn't say much more than he is "excited." He said his mother is expected to be in attendance, but he won't be nervous.

So if Hachimura won't say much about himself, perhaps a story from Bradley Beal will suffice. The Wizards' All-Star shooting guard shared his first impressions of Hachimura, the Wizards' 2019 first round pick, in an interview with NBC Sports Washington.

When asked which player had impressed him the most, Beal said "Rui," but it didn't start out that way. Beal said he was skeptical when Hachimura first showed up at the Wizards' practice facility ahead of the preseason for informal workouts.

"I didn't really watch Rui much in the Summer League. I didn't watch much of him when he was playing in the World Cup games," Beal said. "I was like 'what are we raving about?'"

But then Beal, who prides himself on his work ethic and practicing and playing even when the training staff tells him to take a break, showed up one September day to the Medstar Performance Center in Southeast D.C.

"Sure enough, he comes in the gym and he's the first one in here," Beal said. "He's working out and he's getting his weights in. When he's on the floor, he's working out and he's in a sweat. Then, he steps on the floor to play pick-up and it's like 'damn, what can't he do?'"

Beal said Hachimura scrimmaged with his new Wizards teammates for three straight days and was making shots from all over the court. He showed the versatility that made him a star at Gonzaga University with strong finishes at the rim, deft midrange jumpers and a confident three-point stroke.

"I like a lot of what I see out of him," Beal said. "I love the fact he doesn't necessarily have a position. We can mold him into what we want him to be."

There was one play in particular that caught Beal's eye. A shot bounced off the rim and Hachimura snatched it out of the air with one hand, casually turning to dribble up the floor. It wasn't a normal rebound where he went up and scooped the ball like most players would. He palmed it with ease, as as if it were an orange.

"I didn't know he could do that. I didn't know his hands were that big," Beal said in amazement. "From that moment, I was like 'he's going to be a problem.'"

It didn't take long for Hachimura to wow one of the NBA's best players. Now it's time for the rest of the league to find out what he can do.

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Trying to stop Lamar Jackson isn’t easy — neither is blocking for him

Trying to stop Lamar Jackson isn’t easy — neither is blocking for him

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson has excelled this season at keeping opposing defenses on their toes.

The problem is it keeps his teammates in limbo, too.

Jackson is one of the shiftiest players in the NFL, and when he breaks the pocket, there’s no way of knowing what he’ll do. That means there’s no way of knowing what the next step is as an offensive player, either.

“One of the best things about Lamar is how versatile a quarterback he is,” wide receiver Miles Boykin said. “No play is ever dead. We have two plays every time we step out there. If the first play doesn’t work, Lamar is going to find something with his feet or he’s going to find something on a scramble.”

Jackson has 576 yards rushing and three touchdowns so far this season and is on pace for over 1,300 yards rushing on the season. 

Sunday in Seattle, his legs carried the Ravens to a 30-16 win over the Seahawks. And while Seahawk defenders tried their best to slow Jackson down, his teammates did their best to anticipate.

“You just let him do his thing,” guard Marshal Yanda said. “That’s about the easiest way you could say it. Block them as long as we can, if he breaks the pocket and he goes, obviously try to cover him as much as we can down the field.”

As an offensive line, the Ravens' front five must make a determination once Jackson breaks the pocket on what to do. They could go downfield to try to get a step on the defense and risk an illegal man downfield penalty, or stay back and protect Jackson if he decides to set and pass the ball.

Sometimes, though, Jackson makes the decision easy.

“I think if they’re ever in that situation and they feel a breeze going by them, they say, ‘Hey let’s go,’” offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris said with a chuckle. "We better follow that breeze.”

After the original play breaks down, Jackson’s ability to extend sometimes leaves his teammates wondering exactly what he’ll do next.

“Sometimes he’s scrambling, and we’re all out there like, ‘Do we block? Do we try to get open?’” Mark Ingram explained. “You’re trying to be there for him, but he’s just doing crazy stuff.”

When Jackson breaks out of the pocket and the Ravens officially head into a scramble drill, there’s a few set tips that help the rest of the offensive weapons.

Marquise Brown says he has a set responsibility — but can’t share exactly what it is. Willie Snead was a high school quarterback, so he’s at least got some idea of what Jackson wants to do when he breaks the pocket. 

The only thing the Ravens can do is drill it and expect the unexpected when he breaks the pocket, because they certainly don’t want to quell what makes Jackson so special.

“You definitely don’t want to dull that,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “You want to let it happen naturally, let his natural talent take over.”

As a receiver, the main job is to get open. Whatever happens after that is up to Jackson.

“I don’t know what he’s going to do half the time,” Boykin said. “I just have one job, and that’s to get open. If you get open, Lamar is going to find you.”

While the Ravens’ offense might have trouble locating — and deciding — Jackson’s next move, it’s been enough to keep opposing defenses at bay. And Baltimore will take that trade-off every day of the week. 

“We don’t know where Lamar is going to be,” D'Alessandris said. “We have a good idea, but if he’s elusive enough to move, sustain your block and let things happen. I think that’s worked out pretty good for us so far.”

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