Jerami Grant

Russell Westbrook outduels Damian Lillard, Thunder pick up win to get back in series

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook called his play in Game 2 “unacceptable.”

It was more than acceptable in Game 3. He had 33 points and 11 assists and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-108 on Friday night to cut their series deficit to 2-1.

Paul George added 22 points, Jerami Grant had 18 and Dennis Schroder 17 for the Thunder. They will host Game 4 on Sunday night.

Damian Lillard scored 32 points, but he had just three in the fourth quarter after scoring 25 in the third.

C.J. McCollum had 21 and Enes Kanter added 19.

Oklahoma City closed the second quarter on a 10-1 run to take a 49-39 lead. Lillard was held to four points on 2 -or-6 shooting and the Trail Blazers shot 37.5% in the half.

George hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw in the opening minutes of the second half to push Oklahoma City’s lead to 55-43. Westbrook backed down Lillard, hit a bank shot and was fouled. Westbrook brought out his “rock the baby” celebration, then made the free throw to put Oklahoma City up by 15.

Lillard scored 23 points the rest of the quarter to help cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 86-82 at the end of the period. McCollum hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 89 early in the fourth.

Oklahoma City regained control, then kept it. Westbrook’s jumper with just over two minutes remaining put the Thunder up 10.

 

Jamal Murray scores 27, leads Nuggets past Thunder 115-105

Associated Press
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — All season, Western Conference teams have been chasing Golden State.

Now they’re chasing Denver, too.

Jamal Murray scored 27 points, Nikola Jokic added 23 points and 16 rebounds, and Denver beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-105.

With Golden State’s loss to Minnesota, Denver is tied with the Warriors for the best record in the Western Conference.

The Nuggets huddled around Isaiah Thomas‘ phone to watch the conclusion of the Warriors-Timberwolves game.

“It’s fun,” Murray said. “It’s been a fun journey, especially when you are winning.”

The Nuggets won all four meetings with Oklahoma City, a potential playoff opponent, this season.

“It doesn’t mean much,” Denver forward/center Mason Plumlee said. “If we see them in the playoffs it will be a whole new matchup. They are a good team and we know that and we respect them and we are just looking forward to the next game.”

Murray made 11 of 20 shots and had nine assists without a turnover.

“I liked his poise, his leadership and his maturity,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “That’s not easy to do against that team and this building. They turn people over and they can make you look really bad in a heartbeat, but just Jamal’s control – he never got sped up, he was always in control, running his team and being vocal, and I was excited watching him play.”

Russell Westbrook had 27 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and Paul George had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder.

“I think it was good for the most part for spurts,” Westbrook said. “Not enough to be sustainable.”

Denver led 56-52 at halftime behind 13 points from Murray and 12 points and 12 rebounds by Jokic.

Oklahoma City’s Jerami Grant hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 68, but Denver responded with a 14-2 run and took an 86-75 lead into the fourth quarter.

Denver led 95-81 in the final period before Oklahoma City scored five quick points to force Denver to call timeout.

Westbrook went down hard to the ground after being fouled in the fourth quarter, and he got up and started jawing with the Nuggets bench. He scored six points in the next minute, but Murray hit a dagger 3-pointer with just under 2 minutes to play.

“They made some tough ones down the stretch,” Westbrook said. “That’s what the good teams do.”

 

Watch Paul George score 31 vs. former team, lead Thunder past Pacers

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Paul George scored 31 points against his former team, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 107-99 on Wednesday night.

Steven Adams had 25 points and 12 rebounds and Russell Westbrook added 17 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his 29th triple-double of the season.

The Thunder went on a 24-0 run in the third quarter and never trailed again. It was a critical win for Oklahoma City, which had lost five of six.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points and Domantas Sabonis added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers.

Indiana led 54-45 at the break behind 14 points from Bogdanovic. Adams scored 14 points in the first half for the Thunder.

The Thunder closed the gap early in the third quarter. A floater by Adams cut Indiana’s lead to one, then a 3-pointer by Jerami Grant finally put the Thunder ahead midway through the period. George and Westbrook followed with 3s to put Oklahoma City up 66-58. In all, it was a 24-0 run that put the Thunder ahead 72-58.

Westbrook clinched his triple-double on a lob to Ferguson for a dunk that put the Thunder up 88-79.

George made a high floater and was fouled. He made the free throw with just under four minutes remaining to put the Thunder up 10.

The Pacers made one last surge, but a layup and a 3-pointer by Grant kept the Pacers at a safe distance heading into the final minute.

 

Donovan Mitchell breaks Nerlens Noel’s ankles, hits step-back 3-pointer (video)

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There was a lot more happening in Utah last night – Russell Westbrook getting into it with a fan, the Thunder beating the Jazz.

But we should take a moment to appreciate Donovan Mitchell devastating Nerlens Noel, who’s a mobile defender for a center. What a killer move.

Even in the loss, Utah had two of the NBA’s best highlights yesterday. Rudy Gobert forcefully posterized Jerami Grant:

Last 2 Minute report finds five incorrect calls in final minute of Thunder/Trail Blazers

Associated Press
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We knew it looked ugly, but damn.

The NBA released its Last 2 Minute Report reviewing the referees calls from the final two minutes of the Thunder’s overtime win against the Trail Blazers Thursday night — a game with serious playoff implications — and it found five officiating errors in the final minute of play. The NBA has worked hard to be more transparent, and not only is that a good thing but it has shown the refs get stuff right far more than wrong, but this game was a tough one.

Calls were missed on both sides, so Portland fans spare us from “the refs cost us the game” stuff. It’s never just one thing. You want to win? Don’t give up 70 points in the paint.

Here are the five missed calls:

0:57: Paul George has the ball legally stripped from him, but Jusuf Nurkic has already committed to the air to block the shot when George regains possession. Nurkic fouled George with his body but there was no call. George passed to Steven Adams for a dunk.

0:26: Paul George had taken a three that missed, and in the battle for a rebound Damian Lillard put a forearm in the back of Russell Westbrook and pushed him out of the play. There was no call but should have been one on Lillard. OKC’s Jerami Grant got the offensive rebound and the Thunder set up for another play.

0:16.8: The one Blazers fans were livid about — Paul George should have been called for an offensive foul for his elbow to the face of Jusuf Nurkic. (Was it a flagrant foul? Former official Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s Director of Referee Development, said on ESPN’s The Jump that it could be considered for one but he didn’t think it deserved that harsh a call.)

0:7.7: Damian Lillard goes into the back court to collect an inbounds pass then attacks downhill and there are two missed calls on the play.

Adams should have been called for a foul for contacting the arm of Lillard on the shot.

Nurkic should have been called for offensive goaltending for contacting the rim while the ball was on it.

0:4.5: Double technicals to Paul George and Jusuf Nurkic after they get into it a little after a foul on Nurkic. This is deemed a correct call — and it is. Nurkic went with the mini-headbutt, that’s a tech every time. It was Nurkic’s second technical and he was ejected. Nobody should argue the second technical, whether he deserved the first one is the more interesting question (and not part of the public league review because it was in the first half).