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#1 2016-09-07 07:07:15

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City while defenceman Jeff Petry and forward Jesse

OKLAHOMA CITY - Russell Westbrook has taken his game up a notch since Kevin Durants latest injury.In six games since Durants latest setback, Westbrook has averaged 30.2 points, 8.1 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 3.2 steals for Oklahoma City. The three-time All-Stars overall scoring average of 28 points would lead the league if he had played in enough games to qualify, but he missed 14 games early in the season with a broken bone in his right (non-shooting) hand. A player must compete in 70 per cent of his teams contests to officially top a category.Westbrook always has been a highlight waiting to happen, but this year, a greater mastery of the games nuances has complemented his freakish explosiveness. He is looking for his teammates more often, taking fewer three pointers, using his athleticism to get to the free throw line more frequently and playing steady defence consistently.Thunder coach Scott Brooks announced that Durant will return Wednesday night against Phoenix, but Westbrook already has left his impression.Its always a tough matchup when you see a top point guard, especially him, Portland point guard Damian Lillard said after both scored 40 points in their matchup last week. I respect him right up there at the top with any player in the league. Not just point guards — with any player in the league, because of how tough it is to play against him on both ends of the floor.With Durant out with a broken bone in his right foot, Westbrook opened the season with 38 points against Portland before getting hurt in the second game against the Los Angeles Clippers. In his first game back, Westbrook scored 32 points in 24 minutes in a win over the New York Knicks. With Durant sidelined, Westbrook had 34 points, 11 assists and five steals in a Christmas Day win at defending champion San Antonio. He recently had a stretch of games in which he scored at least 26 points snapped at 11.He has increased his defensive focus, too. His 2.3 steals per game would be ahead of the league leader if he had played enough games.Hes been locked in for longer stretches, Thunder forward Nick Collison said. Just his basic defence, starting with pressuring the ball and staying in front of his man and being in the right spots — hes been a lot more consistent with that, and I think thats part of maturing for him and realizing how important it is for him to play both ends.As an offensive player, Westbrooks greatest improvement has been in shot selection. He attempted 4.7 3-pointers per game last season, but that average is down to 3.1. Instead, hes driving to the hoop, drawing fouls and shooting 9.5 free throws per game.Its (the 3-pointer) not always a great shot for myself or for my team, so Ive got to do a better job of taking those out, Westbrook said. My advantage is attacking, regardless of whos in front of me, and Ive got to use my advantage to help my team and myself.Westbrook still has his moments. Hes shooting about 40 per cent in the fourth quarter this season, and his assists drop significantly late in games. He still sometimes forces things, especially when Durant isnt playing. But his immense talent and overall play makes those moments more tolerable.Hes had a great month of shooting the ball, Brooks said. Hes had a couple of off shooting nights, which every player will go through. His shot selection for the month of December, since hes been back, has been good, he said. All in all, hes played great basketball for us, and put us in position to win a lot of games.Westbrooks increased maturity has extended beyond the court. When things dont go well, he has accepted responsibility. After he got a technical foul late in regulation in the loss to Portland that helped fuel the Trail Blazers comeback, he took the hit.That was my fault, he said. I think that was the turning point in the game, for us and our energy. I didnt think I deserved it (the technical), but Ive got to do a better job of controlling my emotions, especially when the game is on the line like that. I take the blame for that. It turned the whole game around for them and it gave them a chance to win the game.More often than not, Westbrooks play has led to wins. The Thunder are 15-17 overall, but 11-7 with Westbrook in the lineup.The game is continuing to slow down for him, like it does for all players, Brooks said. I like what hes doing. Hes been able to lead us game after game after game. Hes a better player all the way around.___Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: . Cheap Matt Ryan Jersey . To baseball players, he was the spirit of the game.His teammates loved him, and his list of admirers included President Barack Obama to Pearl Jam to athletes from all over the sports world. Womens Desmond Trufant Jersey . Brignac hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Philadelphia Phillies to a 3-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night. … e-Jersey/. -- For the second consecutive night, the Memphis Grizzlies slowed down Houston and walked away with a win. Devonta Freeman Jersey . Markus Granlund scored the shootout winner as the Heat defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2 in the American Hockey League. "It was tough on us, losing the last few games, and with this being our last game before Christmas we will definitely take the win," said Granlund. Custom Falcons Jersey .The Knicks fell 101-91 to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, giving New York its longest in-season skid in the proud franchises 69-year history.EDMONTON -- It would be difficult to find a team much harder to figure out than the Edmonton Oilers. Taylor Hall scored a hat trick and added an assist as the Oilers bounced back from a stinker of a loss with a surprising 8-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. "Its always a fun night when you get a hat trick, but for us to win in the fashion that we did gives us some confidence," said Hall, who recorded his fourth career hat trick. "This homestand could prove to be big for us. "I havent been in this league long, but Ive been in it enough to know that anything can happen on any night against any team. You have to be ready for the opportunity. You just have to come out and play your game. Sometimes youre going to get eight and some nights youre going to get zero. And tonight was a great night." Ales Hemsky, David Perron, Mark Arcobello, Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner also scored for the Oilers (10-18-2) who replaced a quarter of their lineup for the game after a 6-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday. The Oilers improved to just 4-9-0 at home, but have won six of their last nine overall. "I dont know if you see a score like that coming, but I think every morning you come into a game youre optimistic," said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. "Over the last few weeks our group has taken a step in mental toughness and something in that degree. I didnt see a win of that score coming though, I definitely thought wed be in a tight game." Nick Holden and P.A. Parenteau responded for the Avalanche (19-7-0) who had won two in a row and five of their last six coming into the game. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov allowed eight goals on 28 shots, however three of those came in the final five minutes with the game clearly out of reach. "What happened in the last five minutes, we have to look at each other and play for our goaltender there," said Avalanche assistant captain Paul Stastny. "Those last two goals are on us. We cant quit on our goaltender like that. He has been our best player all year. Hanging him out to dry like that is unacceptable." Head coach Patrick Roy wasnt as upset after the game as could have been expected from such a lopsided score. "Im not disappointed at all," he said. "(The Oilers) played well and scored power-play goals, they scored on the rush. We knew before the game that its a team that it would be very dangerous to exchange chances with. If they go on the rush, its their game and we played into it. We need to learn from it. "They scored three goals in the last four minutes or so. It was a closer game than the score showed I think." The Oilers started the scoring before the game was four minutes old as Philip Larsen sent a long breakaway pass up ice that Hall was able to catch up to before sliding the puck through Varlamovs pads. Colorado had a chance to pull even four minutes later on a five-on-three power play, but Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk stoned Matt Duchene on a glorious opportunity at the side of the net to preserve the lead. Avalanche defenceman Jan Hejda had to be helped off the ice with eight minutes to play in the first period after losing an edge and going heavily feet first into the boards. Edmonton made it 3-0 with power-play goals just 15 seconds apart with just over two minutes remaining in the opening frame..dddddddddddd Hall got his second of the night and ninth of the season with 2:18 remaining on a five-on-three advantage, unleashing a bullet of a one-timer from the right face-off dot. The Oilers then took advantage of the remaining time on the power play as Ryan Smyth sent a pass to hit Hemsky in full flight and he undressed Varlamov with a deke before scoring on the backhand. Colorado got a goal back four minutes into the second period as a Holden point shot caromed off a couple of Oilers players before ending up in the Edmonton net. The Avalanche made it 3-2 midway through the second period. Parenteau was able to swoop in and pick up the rebound of a big Dubnyk glove save on a point-blank shot by Gabriel Landeskog and hook it into a wide-open net. The Oilers went back up by two goals with eight minutes left in the middle period as Perron went in on a 2-on-1 before electing to shoot it himself. It was Perrons third goal in the last two games and team-leading 12th of the season. Edmonton restored its three-goal lead with 11 minutes left in the third period as a pass ticked off of defenceman Nate Guenin before Arcobello kicked it up to his stick and beat Varlamov. The Oilers made it 6-2 with just under five minutes left as Smyth showed good patience on a 2-on-1 before hitting Eberle for his 10th of the year. It was Smyths third assist of the game. Edmonton added insult to injury with a pair of late goals. With a minute-and-a-half left, Gagner intercepted a pass and then took a nice return feed from Hall before sniping the puck past Varlamovs glove. Hall then got the hat trick with just 11 seconds left as he tipped a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shot on net and then followed it up to put home his own rebound. "There is tremendous amount of skill here and we have to utilize it on a daily basis," Smyth said. "We cant just sporadically use it. If we get consistent at it, were going to be successful." The Avs play the second of a three-game Western Canada trip on Friday in Calgary. Edmonton next plays host to the Flames on Saturday. Notes: It was the first of three scheduled meetings between the two teams this season. Edmonton came into the game with a fair amount of recent success against the Avalanche, having won seven of their previous 10 games at home against Colorado. ... Deeply disappointed in Tuesdays 6-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at home, the Oilers switched out a quarter of their lineup from that game. Forward Will Acton and defencemen Denis Grebeshkov and Anton Belov were sent down to Oklahoma City while defenceman Jeff Petry and forward Jesse Joensuu were healthy scratches. Call-ups Anton Lander (forward) and Martin Marincin were inserted into the lineup, the first NHL game for Marincin. Also coming in were defencemen Philip Larsen and Corey Potter and forward Luke Gazdic. ... Edmonton goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was put on injured reserve with concussion/whiplash symptoms after being run over in the crease last Sunday in Dallas. ... Avalanche defenceman Ryan Wilson (back) and forward Alex Tanguay (knee) remained on injured reserve, while veteran defenceman Cory Sarich was a healthy scratch for Colorado, which came into the game after a four-day break. ... The Avs came into the game having recorded a penalty-free game against Minnesota on Saturday, but allowed three power play goals on Thursday. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China ' ' '



2016-09-07 07:07:15



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