Video: Kevin Durant hits the game-winning three to beat Lakers in Game 4


As Russell Westbrook led the charge offensively for the Thunder in their Game 4 win over the Lakers — finishing with a brilliant 37 points on 15-of-26 shooting — Kevin Durant seemed pleased to let that happen. But once the Thunder had made it all the way back from a deficit that hung at around 10 points for the majority of the night, Durant was the one to seal it, burying this three-pointer from the top of the arc to send his team back home with a 3-1 series lead, and a chance to close the Lakers out on Monday.

Each team had somewhat of a freak turnover right before this play unfolded. Westbrook slipped and lost the ball, on a floor that seemed slicker than usual all night long. Then, with the Lakers getting their chance to break the 98-all tie, Pau Gasol turned down a one-on-one situation on the baseline in favor of trying a cross-court pass to kick it out for an open three.

Durant intercepted the pass, then dribbled the clock down before pulling up for the three just as soon as his defender gave him enough space.

“I wanted to run the shot clock down and get the last shot,” Durant said, while walking us through that possession. “Standing up there I was just trying to look at the picture of the whole floor, and see where I can get the best shot possible. I had been going to the rim and they had been doing a great job swiping and contesting, so I saw Artest (Metta World Peace) back up just a hair, and I shot it.”

It seems like Durant — much like we’ve seen from Carmelo Anthony in similar situations — is so smooth from three-point distance that he’d almost prefer to get an open look at a shot from there than take his chances plowing into the paint, where there is far more uncertainty in late-game situations.

Even if that’s true, though, Durant knew he’d take some heat if his shot of choice didn’t go down.

“It left my hand, I was thinking, if this doesn’t go in, it’s going to be a terrible shot. They’re going to criticize me a lot. I had confidence in the shot, my teammates had confidence in me, and we just kept fighting. Russell did a great job of keeping us in it all night, and I just tried to do my job by finishing the game.”

Not only did he finish the game, but with the Lakers now trailing 3-1 heading back to Oklahoma City, he may have helped finish the series.

Dwight Howard posts just second 30-30 game in last 36 years

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Dwight Howard never played for the Nets. He almost got traded to Brooklyn by the Magic, but the deal never happened.

Which puts a dent in Dennis Schroder‘s theory Howard gets up for games against only his former teams.

Howard dominated Brooklyn for 32 points and 30 rebounds in the Hornets’ 111-105 win tonight. That’s just the second 30-30 game in the last 36 years, Kevin Love notching the other in 2010.

All 30-30 games since Wilt Chamberlain, who had a ton:

  • Dwight Howard (Charlotte Hornets, 3/21/2018): 32 points, 30 rebounds
  • Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves, 11/12/2010): 31 points, 31 rebounds
  • Moses Malone (Houston Rockets, 2/11/1982): 38 points, 32 rebounds
  • Swen Nater (Milwaukee Bucks, 12/19/1976): 30 points, 33 rebounds
  • Elvin Hayes (Capital Bullets, 11/17/1973): 43 points, 32 rebounds

Howard helped Charlotte erase a 23-point second-half deficit and a 10-point deficit with four minutes left. The Hornets are playing out a lost season, and Brooklyn has looked overmatched most of the year, particularly at center. But no matter the situation, Howard says he still feels super-sized expectations.

Tonight, he exceeded them by leaps and bounds.

Giannis Antetokounmpo leaves Bucks’ loss to Clippers with ankle injury (video)

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The Bucks lost, 127-120, to the Clippers tonight.

More importantly, Milwaukee lost Antetokounmpo to an ankle injury.

He limped off in the second quarter and didn’t return. The Bucks called it a sprain.

Any more time Antetokounmpo misses would be a huge loss. Hopefully, he recovers quickly.

No matter how many other good players – Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe – Milwaukee has put on the floor, the team has struggled without its star. Antetokounmpo is a commanding force offensively who just does so much, and his defense impresses.

The Bucks (37-34) are eighth in the East. They’re safely in playoff position, five games ahead of the ninth-place Pistons. But this hurts Milwaukee’s chances of avoiding a first-round matchup with the excellent Raptors – though the way Toronto has regressed in the playoffs in previous years, that might not be so bad. Still, the Bucks should probably chase the seventh-place Heat, who are up 1.5 games on Milwaukee, and a likely first-round matchup with the injury-ravaged Celtics.

Obviously, a healthy Antetokounmpo would be central to that pursuit.

Cavaliers beat Raptors, become first team in 27 years to surrender 79 first-half points and win


The Cavaliers haven’t been good enough throughout the season, especially defensively. The Raptors have – offensively, defensively, starters, bench. Hope has grown in Toronto of winning the Eastern Conference after getting eliminated by Cleveland the last two years.

But LeBron James and Cavs showed why it’s hard to pick any other team – even the first-place Raptors – to win the East in a 132-129 win over Toronto tonight.

Cleveland allowed 79 first-half points and fell behind by 15. But a LeBron-led offense was just too potent. This was the first time since 1990 (Nuggets over Spurs after trailing 90-83) a team surrendered so many first-half points then still won.

LeBron finished with 35 points, 17 assists and no turnovers. No forward has ever dished so many assists without a turnover in Basketball-Reference’s database, which dates back to 1963-64.

And LeBron led the Cavaliers to this win despite Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., Kyle Korver and Cedi Osman being out.

It’s only one game, and it was in Cleveland. But even with home-court advantage in a potential playoff series, the Raptors must grapple with even more lingering doubt now about their ability to beat the Cavs.

Report: Becky Hammon staying with Spurs, not coaching Colorado State men’s team

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Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon was a candidate to coach the men’s team at Colorado State, her alma mater. That would have made her the first woman to coach a Division I men’s team.

Alas, it won’t happen.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:

It’s unclear whether Hammon was ever actually offered the job.

She’s still on the right track for a head-coaching job somewhere. Most importantly, by all accounts, she’s doing good work in San Antonio. There’s also more attention on her career because of her pioneering status, and that will appeal to some teams.

This dalliance with Colorado State raises her profile even further and shows just how close she is.