Sports Headlines - April 9



Durant's streak ends with Thunder win over Kings

With Kevin Durant on the bench to start the fourth quarter, his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates put together a run that helped end one of the most impressive scoring streaks in NBA history.

And Durant says nobody is happier it's over than him.

Caron Butler made all six of his 3-point attempts to finish with 23 points, and the Thunder began the fourth quarter on a 16-0 spurt to pull away for a 107-92 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

Durant finished with 23 points but was never needed in the final quarter, stopping his streak of scoring at least 25 points in 41 consecutive games.

Only Oscar Robertson (46 straight games in 1963-64) and Wilt Chamberlain (all 80 regular-season games in the 1961-62 season) have longer such streaks.

"I was getting so many texts after every game. I'm glad that's over with and we can just focus on the team," said Durant, who shot 8 for 13 in 31 minutes.

"If we played well and I had 25 points, that took away from how well the team was playing, so I didn't like that.

If we lost, it was all about me scoring 25 points and I didn't like that either. I'm glad we can just talk about the team now."

Just for reference sake, the last time Durant didn’t score 25 points, Kevin Love had the longest active 25-points-or-more streak at 11, the 49ers and Chargers had just won their wild card games, it was the day before the BCS National Championship and six men’s basketball teams were still undefeated.

Coming off losses at Memphis and Phoenix, Oklahoma City certainly has plenty of bigger things to play for during the season's final two weeks.

 
Serge Ibaka added 19 points and four rebounds for the Thunder, who rested Russell Westbrook ahead of Wednesday night's game at the Los Angeles Clippers. Oklahoma City (56-21) is 1½ games ahead of the Clippers (55-23) for the Western Conference's No. 2 playoff seed.

Even still, Durant said he was aware of how many points he had but never thought of asking coach Scott Brooks to go back in the game.

Brooks insisted it never crossed his mind, either, saying the most impressive thing about Durant's streak is that he didn't even realize it ended because Durant has been the "trademark for consistency."

"He's about team," Brooks said. "If he wasn't, he would have played golf and tried to chase (Jack) Nicklaus' record of 18 majors."

DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Travis Outlaw scored 24 points in Sacramento's third straight loss. Even with three regulars out with injuries, the Kings made the Thunder work through the first three quarters.

Oklahoma City built double-digits leads throughout the game only to watch Sacramento surge back each time.

But with Durant on the bench to open the fourth, the Thunder finally created a lead big enough to stick. The Thunder held Sacramento scoreless for nearly 6 minutes to go ahead 101-77.

"We had some guys that played with no energy," frustrated Kings coach Michael Malone said. "It looked they didn't even want to be out there, to be honest."

With the matchup in Los Angeles looming large, Brooks decided to rest Westbrook — as he has done during one game of back-to-back sets since Westbrook returned Feb. 20 following right knee surgery.

The Thunder got some relief with Thabo Sefolosha playing for the first time since injuring his left calf against Memphis on Feb. 28. He finished with two points and three rebounds in 16 minutes.

Sacramento, already among the conference's worst teams, played even more short-handed. Kings big man Reggie Evans and forward Rudy Gay sat out with back injuries, and point guard Isaiah Thomas missed his eighth straight game with a bruised right quadriceps.

Oklahoma City looked every bit like the better and deeper team at the start.

The Thunder surged ahead 9-0 in the first two minutes before Cousins brought the Kings back with his perimeter shot, slicing Oklahoma City's lead to 30-27 at the end of the first quarter.

The Thunder began to pull away again with a 17-4 run in the second quarter propelled by Butler, who made all four of his 3-point attempts in the first half. Oklahoma City led 61-49 at intermission and didn't have a turnover until the second half.

Durant credited the communication and ball movement for pulling away late, and he said he hopes the focus can shift from his scoring streak to his team's improved play.

"When I sit back after the season's over that's when I reflect on everything that I've done, that the team's done, and I'm sure I'll appreciate (the streak) then," Durant said. "But now, I'm just focusing on game to game and how we can get better as a group and how I can help the team get better."


UConn completes sweep of NCAA college basketball tourneys with Lady Huskies win over Notre Dame

 
The partying started Monday night on the UConn campus and spilled into Tuesday. And rightly so.

It was in honor of the women's basketball team, which beat Notre Dame 79-58 in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday, capturing a record ninth national title, and the men's team, which beat Kentucky 60-54 in Arlington, Texas, about 23 hours earlier, capturing its fourth NCAA title.

"It was pretty crazy last night," 20-year-old Harrison Holzschlag said Tuesday night. "It's going to be pretty crazy tonight as well."

Early reports from the campus police showed students mostly behaving after the Tuesday night victory, with just two arrests before midnight, basically for being rowdy. Monday's crowd wasn't as tame, with police arresting 36 people, mostly for alcohol-related offenses and minor vandalism. At one point, someone set off a firework over the crowd.

But with twin national titles in the same year, fans were going to find ways to celebrate. UConn, which won both titles a decade ago, is the only Division I school that has accomplished that feat.

"It's just such a big deal," said sophomore Alexander Potts, who watched both games on the mega screens in Gampel Pavilion on the Storrs campus. "We love basketball here, it's our No. 1 sport, and nobody is better at it."

Included in the thousands of fans watching the game at Gampel on Tuesday night was DeAndre Daniels from the
men's team. He jumped into the middle of the crowd at center court during the final few minutes of the women's win, bouncing up and down and cheering.

Guard Ryan Boatright stayed on the periphery; his left foot in a boot after rolling an ankle during the Kentucky game.

"It's history being made," Boatright said. "It's only happened one other time and that was in '04, and I'm just glad to be a part of this."

Before the game Tuesday, about 7,500 fans came to the arena for a rally to welcome home Husky men. A smaller crowd, but still in the thousands, stayed to watch the women improve the school's record to 13-0 in national championship games.

After the final buzzer, the fans poured out of the arena and began their second night of partying.

The women's team planned to return to Storrs on Wednesday and take a victory lap in an open-air, double-decker bus with the pep band and cheerleaders, and finish with speeches at the Fairfield Way Plaza.

The women, who won 46 straight games, were expected to capture the title. Men's coach Kevin Ollie had promised the fans last month that his team also would be back to hang a banner in the arena.

He made good on that promise Tuesday.

"On senior night I told you all to save this date, didn't I?" Ollie told the crowd at the welcome-home rally. "The only reason I said that is because I knew what kind of team I had, what kind of coaching staff I had and I knew I had the greatest fans in America behind us."

The men's title comes a year after the team was banned from the NCAA tournament for failing to meet academic requirements, and after the school was left out of the expansion plans of both the ACC and Big Ten conferences.

"I think it's an incredible thing from being down and out of the tournament to where we are now," said 23-year-old Matt Thomson, a 2013 graduate. "I think it shows the real passion of the players, the fans and this entire school. No one lost hope. We all believed that we were still UConn."

Fans at the rally cheered loudly as each player was introduced; saving their loudest ovation for senior star Shabazz Napier.

Napier's mother, Carmen Velasquez, was on hand, helping to unveil a plaque that put his name alongside other former UConn greats such as Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor and Kemba Walker on the Huskies of Honor wall high atop the arena.

"Hey mom, be careful up there, I love you," Napier said. "Wow, I never thought I would be in the Huskies of Honor. I never thought my jersey would be retired in college. Wow."

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