Baseline to Baseline, where Durant and Deron go off

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What you missed while wondering if anyone is ever going to beat UConn…

Jazz 140, Thunder 139 (OT): Hate to see one bad call mar one of the best games of the season. Durant vs. Deron. KD with 45, D-Will with 42. Neither team could stop the other late — the Jazz push Durant into a 30 footer, doesn’t matter he drains it. Jeff Green is nailing big threes. Carlos Boozer is throwing down dunks.

Jazz get the win, but you guys blew a 13 point lead with 4:33 to play and got just careless with the ball. You got sloppy. You still got the win, but that is not how a good playoff team closes things out.

Thunder fans blaming the refs for the loss — your team had 53 minutes to score one more point and it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe getting C.J. Miles not to shoot so much would be the place to start.

Cavaliers 113, Raptors 101: Toronto was going to be hard pressed to win this one with Chris Bosh, let alone without him. The other thing of note is that when you put the very good Cleveland offense against the horrid Toronto defense, you get a lot highlight plays. Worth checking out for that alone.

Pistons 124, Sixers 103: Charlie Villanueva, when motivated and focused, is a good player. Monday at practice the Pistons were going at each other and CV31 was in the middle of it. Tuesday, after missing the team flight and having to catch up with them on a commercial flight, Villanueva was focused and dropped 25 on 8 of 11 shooting.  Detroit looked pretty good for a night.

Bobcats 109, Hawks 100: Charlotte was up 20 after one in this one. Atlanta was without Joe Johnson. For a change the Bobcats were the aggressors, going to the line 32 times to the Hawks 13. Atlanta, these nights happen. Just throw it all away and move on.

Wizards 112, Warriors 94: Sorry Nellie, not this time. The book to beating your team remains the same, the Wizards just executed it — pound the ball inside. JaVale McGee had a double double in the first half (15 points, 11 rebounds) and finished with 25 and 15. Because the Warriors have nobody who could stop him inside. That is how you beat the Warriors. Not exactly rocket science.

Knicks 104, Celtics 101: Nothing really went right for the Celtics, even Nate Robinson didn’t get much of a reaction from the NYC fans. Danilo Gallinari went off for 31. The Celtics have problems, my friends.

Bucks 79, Bulls 74: I could swear I saw Brad Miller outrun everyone, get a long lead pass and lay it in on the fast break. I must fallen asleep during this one because that couldn’t have happened.

The Bucks are a Scott Skiles coached team. You Bulls fans may remember him. His teams play hard-nosed defense. No Bogut, Kurt Thomas is the starting center and still the Bulls just average 85 points per 100 possessions. That is a team buying into the system. Bulls fans may remember that, too.

Rockets 113, Grizzlies 103: The Rockets just have the Grizzlies number — they sweep the season series and every game was a double-digit win. They shouldn’t be that much better, but the Rockets quickness with Brooks just drives Memphis batty.

Spurs 95, Kings 86: Tony Parker looked a little rusty in his return. Tyreke Evans looked good as always. Manu Ginobili remains unconscious. Not a terribly exciting game otherwise.

Russell Westbrook’s sixth straight triple-double leads Thunder past Hawks 102-99

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ATLANTA (AP) — Russell Westbrook extended his streak of triple-doubles to six games, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 102-99 victory over the skidding Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

Westbrook scored 32 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and doled out 12 assists, giving him the NBA’s longest streak of triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven in a row in 1989.

Westbrook’s run has sparked a six-game winning streak by the Thunder. He’s now reached double figures in all three categories in half of the Thunder’s 22 games.

By contrast, Jordan had 15 triple-doubles for the entire 1988-89 season.

Westbrook kept his streak alive with plenty of time to spare. Despite a poor start shooting, he already had 15 points and 11 rebounds when he picked up his 10th assist with 6:20 left in the third quarter.

Scooping up a loose ball after a turnover by the Hawks, Westbrook led a 2-on-1 that ended with a pass to Victor Oladipo for a layup that gave the Thunder a 69-59 lead.

Westbrook, who missed eight of his first nine shots, suddenly found his touch in the third quarter. He made five of his next seven shots, three of them beyond the arc, and finished with 16 points in the period as the Thunder stretched a one-point halftime lead to 83-69 heading to the fourth.

Atlanta rallied down the stretch, but Westbrook closed it out for the Thunder. He finished with 27 second-half points to send the Hawks to their seventh straight loss and 10th defeat in the last 11 games.

It’s the longest losing streak for the Hawks since they dropped eight in a row in February 2014.

Coach Mike Budenholzer decided to shake things up, sending Kyle Korver to the bench and putting Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup. The Hawks also were bolstered by the return of Paul Millsap, who had missed three straight games with a sore hip. He led five players in double figures with 24 points.

It didn’t matter. Westbrook made sure of that.

Atlanta had a shot to send the game to overtime after Korver forced a jump ball.

The Thunder clamped down defensively off the inbounds play, and Tim Hardaway Jr.‘s desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer failed to hit the rim.

MONSTER JAM

Oladipo wasn’t afraid to take on Dwight Howard in the lane.

During the second quarter, the 6-foot-4 Thunder guard drove the baseline and slammed one over Atlanta’s 6-11 center, rocking the rim and drawing gasps from the crowd.

Oladipo savored the moment, pumping his fists, stomping his feet and posing briefly in the lane even as the Hawks took off the other way.

RECRUITING DWIGHT

Billy Donovan made a recruiting pitch to Howard while coaching at Florida.

During his pregame chat with the media, the Oklahoma City coach recounted a visit to Howard and his father at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy.

Donovan quickly gave up any hope of getting Howard to attend college.

“All I had to do was watch one AAU game and then I stopped recruiting him immediately,” he quipped.

Howard, of course, went straight from high school to the NBA in the days before the rules required at least one year of college. He was the first overall pick of the Orlando Magic in 2004.

 

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .

Al-Farouq Aminu active for Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 25: Al-Farouq Aminu #8 of the Portland Trail Blazers celebrates with a teammate after hitting a three point shot in the first quarter of Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center on April 25, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu is active for their game against the Chicago Bulls after being sidelined by a left calf injury.

Coach Terry Stotts says Aminu will be restricted to around 20 minutes Monday night “depending on how it goes.”

Aminu started the first eight games of the season before he got hurt Nov. 8 against Phoenix. He is averaging 6.4 points and 6.6 rebounds.

Victor Oladipo with the two-handed throw down over Dwight Howard (VIDEO)

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That. Was. Nasty.

After some good ball movement from the Thunder (which started with pretty much their entire team collapsing on Russell Westbrook), Victor Oladipo drove out of the corner aggressively, Dwight Howard tried to rotate over, but he was a step too late and… damn.

By the way, if your question is “did Westbrook get his sixth straight triple double” the answer is of course he did.

Report: LeBron James, other Cavaliers will not stay at Trump hotel in New York this week

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02:  A view of the Trump International Hotel on May 2, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
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There are a few regular hotels where NBA teams stay in the New York area, one of them is the Trump Hotel in Soho. It fits the general bill — high-end hotel that works to cater to the specialty needs of NBA players and teams, and it’s in a great location in the city.

It’s where the Cleveland Cavaliers were booked to stay when the team visited New York this week, but LeBron James and other Cavaliers have been excused by the team and will stay at another location, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

A group of Cleveland Cavaliers players have been excused from staying at the team’s planned accommodations, the Trump SoHo hotel in lower Manhattan, when the defending champions visit New York City this week to play the New York Knicks, multiple team sources told ESPN.com.

Other members of the team’s traveling party will stay at the 46-story luxury building opened in 2010 and branded through a licensing agreement with President-elect Donald Trump, as the Cavs have a contract with the establishment…

LeBron James is included in the faction of players who will not be staying at the Trump SoHo, according to multiple sources. James publicly endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton about a month before Clinton lost the election.

Richard Jefferson, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert have all expressed unhappiness with the election results publicly. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was a Trump supporter who conducted a fundraiser for the now president-elect.

These players are not the only ones making this move, and several teams have worked to shift away from Trump properties nationwide.

Of course, this is going to lead some people to freak out in the comment section — people who barely watched the NBA for the last decade will proclaim their boycott of the Cavaliers and league — but honestly, what LeBron is doing is what we should all do, support businesses and causes that align with our beliefs. Avoid those that don’t. If you don’t like the way they run their business and donate money, don’t eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. If you have issue’s with Donald Trump, don’t stay at his hotels and don’t golf at his courses. Speak with your dollars, it’s often the most efficient way to get a message across (hence the unending parade of “boycotts” of businesses across the nation).

So long as LeBron cleared this with the team and makes it to shootaround on time, this is no big deal. But, go ahead in the comments and tell us about how you’re disrespected.