Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant

Thunder advance with easy Game 7 win over shorthanded Grizzlies


On a night when news of Kevin Durant winning the league’s MVP award began to spread, he played like it for the second straight contest.

Durant scored a game-high 33 points on just 18 shots, including hitting all five of his attempts from three-point distance while leading his team to a 120-109 Game 7 victory over the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies.

This was the outcome everyone expected, once Zach Randolph was rightfully suspended by the league for a punch he landed to the face of Steven Adams late in Game 6. But Memphis was able to put up perhaps a better fight than was expected over the game’s first 24 minutes.

Memphis changed its starting lineup out of both desperation and necessity, inserting Tony Allen and Mike Miller in order to go small, provide some shooting, and give themselves a fighting chance. The move paid off initially — the Grizzlies put up their highest-scoring quarter of the series in the first with 36 points, and led by as many as 11 early on.

Marc Gasol was brilliant in the opening frame, doing everything possible to set the tone for his team. He posted 13 points, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot in just 9:48 on the floor, while Memphis as a whole finished the period shooting 57.1 percent.

But the Grizzlies’ success was short-lived. OKC had taken a three-point lead by halftime thanks to a 13-point period from Durant, and by the end of the third, the Thunder had torn things apart.

Durant and Russell Westbrook were both masterful in this game, and while there was some extended garbage time late, it’s worth wondering if the Thunder can be stopped when the two are rolling like this. The pair combined for 60 points on 22-of-34 shooting, and Westbrook played perhaps his most complete game of the season, finishing with a triple-double line of 27 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists.

Up next for the Thunder is the winner of the Clippers-Warriors series, with Game 1 of that second round matchup scheduled for Monday night in Oklahoma City.

Jason Kidd ejected; shoving match ensues between teams after Kings beat Bucks

Jason Kidd
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Jason Kidd is going to miss a game or three (and some dollars to go with it), and he could not be the only guy in trouble with the league after a tension-filled end to the Kings’ win over the Bucks Wednesday.

There wasn’t a ton of drama at the end of the contest itself. The Bucks played a “defense optional” game that led to 36 points for Rudy Gay and 13 dimes for Rajon Rondo, and the Kings won their first game this season without DeMarcus Cousins (back issue). That frustrated the Bucks to no end.

Jason Kidd expressed that frustration by slapping the ball out of referee Zach Zarba’s hands, a move that rightfully earned him an instant ejection.

You can be sure a suspension is coming for Kidd — the league can’t let that slide. This was not a Budenholzer incidental bump. After the game here is what Kidd had to say.

After Kidd had gone to the showers, there was a little jawing on the court between Cousins (in street clothes) and the Bucks’ O.J. Mayo. That spilled over after the final buzzer into the tunnel, where there was at the very least some jawing, maybe a little shoving, and a lot of security stepping in before anything serious happened.

Whatever happened in the tunnel is going to be a lot harder for NBA disciplinarian Kiki Vandeweghe (technically the vice-president of basketball operations for the NBA) to sort out. Who started what, and did it rise to the level it calls for a fine or more, is going to be tricky, especially since this was out of site of the arena cameras.

Cavaliers stand in middle of Raptors dancers’ routine (video)

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The Cavaliers were ready for their game against the Raptors tonight, and Toronto’s dance team wasn’t going to change that.

The last time I remember something like this happening, Grizzlies guard Tony Allen walked through the Warriors’ kid dancers. This video doesn’t show got the Cavaliers got to that point, but they might have the defense of being there first. Allen definitely didn’t have that.

Wizards score six fourth-quarter points in loss to Hornets

Cody Zeller, Ramon Sessions
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Gary Neal made a jumper with 10:12 remaining in tonight’s Wizards-Hornets game.

That was Washington’s last basket.

Jared Dudley made a pair of free throws on the Wizards next possession, and Neal added two more free throws with 23 seconds left.

And that was all the Wizards scoring in the quarter.

Washington, which entered the final period up seven, lost 101-87 after its 1-for-20 final-period shooting.

The six fourth-quarter points were the fewest by an NBA team in a quarter since Cavaliers scored six third-quarter points in a Jan. 26, 2014 loss to the Suns. Last time a team scored so few in a fourth quarter: Nov. 13, 2012, when the Raptors had five against the Pacers.

At least Neal’s late free throws spared the Wizards further shame. Nobody has scored four or fewer points in a quarter since the Warriors managed just two in a Feb. 8, 2004 loss to the Raptors.

As it stands, this is one of only 44 times in the shot clock era a team has scored so few points in a quarter.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell

After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.