NCAA

Williams leads late push, Hawks top Thunder 104-95

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Williams leads late push, Hawks top Thunder 104-95

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Before the tipoff Sunday night, Larry Drew said his new-look Atlanta Hawks were still trying to find their identity.

They might have found it by the time the game ended.

Al Horford had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Lou Williams added 10 of his 19 points during Atlanta's decisive fourth-quarter surge and the Hawks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-95.

``I thought the guys just came in here and rolled their sleeves up and played four solid quarters, and we're just really happy that we came in here and got a win,'' Drew said.

Williams hit a 3-pointer and a 24-foot jumper and converted a three-point play off a driving scoop in the lane during a 12-4 push midway through the fourth quarter that put the Hawks in front to stay. Williams' two free throws made it 91-84 with 4:44 to play, and Atlanta held off a final charge by Oklahoma City.

Williams ended up scoring 14 points overall during the fourth quarter as the Hawks won their road opener despite playing without starting forward Josh Smith because of a sprained right ankle.

``We've got new faces, a new team but we stuck with the offense. We believe in ourselves,'' said DeShawn Stevenson, who moved into the starting lineup and got the call down the stretch as Drew stuck with a mix of starters and reserves.

``This is a great team. This is a team that could easily go back to the Western Conference finals or the Finals, and to come out here without Josh Smith is big,'' he added.

Kevin Martin scored 28 points off the bench to lead the Thunder and Kevin Durant chipped in 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Durant was two assists shy of his first career triple-double but also wound up with six turnovers while shooting 2-for-9 in the second half.

Fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook had an off night, making 5 of 18 shots while scoring 14 points and passing out nine assists.

The Thunder's 21 turnovers led to 31 Atlanta points.

``I wish I could have had a couple of those turnovers back,'' said Durant, who has 20 assists and 16 turnovers in three games this season.

Oklahoma City pulled to 91-89 after Martin's 3-pointer from the left corner got the crowd roaring with 4:06 to play. Kendrick Perkins protested after being called for a foul for hacking Devin Harris on the arm on a baseline drive, and Harris hit both free throws.

On the next trip, Westbrook tried to save a rebound under the basket but ended up feeding Horford with a behind the back pass for a dunk. Another Horford dunk set up by Zaza Pachulia and Stevenson's 3-pointer - also off a Pachulia pass - bumped the lead to 100-91 with 1:28 to play.

That was too much for Oklahoma City to overcome.

Williams, the runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year last season with Philadelphia, was one of several acquisitions in an offseason roster shake-up that included Joe Johnson leaving for Brooklyn.

Martin, the Thunder's new sixth man after James Harden was dealt to Houston a week ago, got it going early with 22 first-half points. But it was Williams who finished it off.

``Lou got into a rhythm. He got into a rhythm and we were going to ride it,'' Drew said. ``I had to make a decision whether to bring (starters) Jeff (Teague) and Kyle (Korver) back, but the group that was in there, they had a good rhythm going and I did not want to do anything to disrupt that.

``So, we decided to ride Lou's hot hand and he made some really big baskets,'' he added. ``He made some really big plays for us.''

Atlanta turned 12 offensive rebounds - six by Horford - into 16 points.

Jeff Teague had 16 points but was replaced down the stretch by Harris, who was dropped out of the starting lineup in favor of Stevenson. Anthony Tolliver started in Smith's place, but it was Pachulia who played late and made assists on a couple key baskets.

``I thought the ball swung around a lot tonight, which shows the growth that this team has displayed over the past couple of games. Hopefully, that'll be something we can bottle up and use in the future,'' Williams said.

The Hawks hit four straight shots and scored 11 consecutive points to take the lead late in the first quarter, with Teague connecting on a pair of driving baskets and two free throws to make it 22-16. Atlanta's advantage reached as high as 10 after Williams' jumper in the first 2 minutes of the second quarter.

The Thunder outscored Atlanta 33-14 over the next 12 1/2 minutes to lead 57-498 early in the second half.

``We had a lot of breakdowns. We can't start the game off in cruise mode. We've got to go take it,'' Durant said after his team fell to 1-2. ``A team's not going to just let us feel our way into the game. We've got to go take the game.

``Early on, we just sat back and let them do whatever they wanted and that gave them confidence toward the end of the game,'' Durant added.

NOTES: Brenda Pantoja became the third woman to officiate an NBA game, following veteran official Violet Palmer and fellow rookie Lauren Holtkamp. Holtkamp, who made her debut in the Bulls-Cavaliers game on Friday night, are two of six non-staff officials who will work games this season. Pantoja, a former Arizona point guard who holds the school's career record for assists, has worked in the WNBA and NBA development league in recent years. ... The Hawks also won last season's only meeting. ... Durant, the three-time scoring champion, came in leading the NBA with 15.5 rebounds per game.

Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Winners of two straight, Richmond plays host to Oral Roberts to try and get a third consecutive victory.

The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, have lost three in a row and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they visit the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m ET and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

Oral Roberts at Richmond How to Watch

What: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Richmond Spiders
Where: Robins Center, Richmond, Va.
When: 4 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder)

Oral Roberts at Richmond Preview

Conference: Summit League (Oral Roberts), A-10 (Richmond)
Record: 3-9 (Oral Roberts), 4-5 (Richmond)
Last Game: 80-64 loss at Missouri 12/7 (Oral Roberts), 82-47 win vs. Coppin State, 12/5 (Richmond)
Leading Scorers: Emmanuel Nzekwesi, 15.1 ppg (Oral Roberts), Grant Golden, 19.9 ppg (Richmond)

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.