Kurt Helin

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Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov says he’s selling 49 percent of Nets

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MOSCOW (AP) — Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has told Russian media he’s selling a 49 percent stake in the NBA club.

The Russian billionaire announced his intention to sell a minority stake in December, and now says “49 percent of the Brooklyn shares are up for sale,” in comments reported by R-Sport.

He adds that “currently the process is going on and we are looking for a buyer.”

Prokhorov took an 80 percent stake in the then-New Jersey Nets in 2010, moved the team to Brooklyn in 2012, and took full ownership in 2015.

Brooklyn went 20-62 this season, which was the worst record in the NBA and its third consecutive season below .500.

The Nets last made the playoffs in 2015, losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.

Oklahoma City needs Victor Oladipo to break out of slump

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Victor Oladipo knows the Oklahoma City Thunder need more offense from him, and Russell Westbrook‘s wingman is feeling the heat.

The shooting guard averaged nearly 16 points a game during Westbrook’s record-setting season, but his scoring has dropped to about half that in the postseason. His disappearing act is a major reason the Thunder trail the Houston Rockets 2-0 heading into Friday’s game in Oklahoma City.

Westbrook has averaged a triple-double the first two games of the series and dropped a 51-point triple-double on Wednesday night. But the Thunder have no wins to show for his heroics. Oladipo, Oklahoma City’s No. 2 scorer in the regular season, is averaging 8.5 points and shooting a woeful 19 percent from the field in the series.

The 24-year-old Oladipo, who played collegiately at Indiana, is trying to keep it simple in the first playoff appearances of his career.

“That’s the thing,” Oladipo said, “when you have games like this, you go back to the basics. You go back to what got you here, continue to keep working and never lose confidence.”

The focus on Oladipo’s production is magnified with no Kevin Durant in OKC.

The Thunder acquired Oladipo in a draft-night deal with Orlando last year, and it looked like he would be the team’s third option. But Durant left for Golden State, leaving Oladipo to fill a massive void created by the departure of the four-time scoring champion.

At times, the explosive Oladipo has looked capable. He got off to a hot start with the Thunder, and his scoring average was over 17 points at the end of November. He missed nine games in December after spraining his right wrist, then missed six games in February with back spasms, slowing his momentum.

He was solid upon his return from the back issues before falling into a bit of a slump in April that has carried over into the playoffs

Westbrook and Thunder coach Billy Donovan have talked to Oladipo about his struggles and tried to reassure him.

“He wants to do great like every player,” Westbrook said. “Everybody always wants to come out and play great. It doesn’t always work out that way. Your mindset – you’ve just got to keep going, regardless of if you miss or make shots. He does so many other things for our team when he’s on the floor – defending at a high level, rebounding, can make plays. Regardless of if he misses or makes shots, his job is to play, and he’ll be all right.”

Westbrook said he doesn’t need Oladipo to do any more than he normally does – or did during the regular season.

“Just play,” Westbrook said. “Go out and compete at a level he’s able to compete at, and that’s it.”

Donovan said the 6-foot-4 Oladipo has been solid overall. He is averaging six rebounds in the two games and has been one of OKC’s better defenders.

“Victor’s not a one-dimensional player – he can do a lot of different things,” Donovan said. “Taking his mindset off the ball going in the basket, and him realizing, `I’m not going to allow myself to be defined by that because there’s too many other things I can do out there to help this team.”‘

There are plenty of other problems for Oklahoma City – the Thunder fall apart when Westbrook rests, the team has struggled to keep James Harden off the foul line, Steven Adams‘ foul trouble crippled their interior defense in Game 2 and they are stretched thin chasing Houston’s numerous perimeter threats. But getting Oladipo on track is perhaps the most critical.

In Game 2, Oladipo missed his only two shots in the fourth quarter against the Rockets while Westbrook was just 4 of 18 from the field. But Oladipo isn’t concerned.

“I’m just out there playing,” Oladipo said. “I’m doing whatever it takes to help my team win. We’ve been in that situation all year, and Russ has made shots.”

Both will have to knock down shots when they count the most to get back in the series, especially Oladipo.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.

Vince Carter turns back clock with impressive dunk vs. Spurs (VIDEO)

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A lot of things went right for Memphis in its 105-94 Game 3 win over the Spurs Thursday, like shooting 55.6 percent from 3 feet out to the arc, or going 5-of-8 on corner threes, or shooting 50.6 percent overall against the best defense in the NBA this past season.

Also, vintage Vince Carter showed up a play.

Carter only had four points in the game, but these two were impressive.

Kevin Durant optimistic he’ll play in Golden State’s Game 3 at Portland

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant says he felt ready to play in Golden State’s Game 2 playoff win yet the Warriors opted to be cautious with their superstar as he nurses a strained left calf.

Durant posted an update about his injury during a livestream on his personal YouTube channel Thursday evening. He is hopeful of playing in Saturday’s Game 3 at Portland as the Warriors try to take a 3-0 lead in the series.

After missing 19 games with a left knee injury then returning for the final three regular-season contests, the Warriors certainly aren’t going to take any risks with KD. He had 32 points and 10 rebounds in a Game 1 victory Sunday.

He said: “It’s a bummer, man, I hate being out. I hate being hurt. It’s something that’s kind of out of my control right now, just try to get better.”

Bucks troll Raptors, play Barney theme song during introductions (VIDEO)

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Before the Bucks went out and absolutely rolled the Raptors in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series (to take a 2-1 series lead), their game operations crew got in a creative dig at Toronto.

While the Raptors starters were introduced, they played the theme song from Barney. You know, the purple dinosaur of children’s television fame who loves you, and you love him, and we’re all a happy family. You can see it in the video above. Kind of funny stuff.

That’s not why the Raptors shot 22 percent and were down 20 in the first quarter of this blowout, but the Bucks are not going to mess with a streak, expect Barney to be back for Game 4.