Spurs-Thunder: A changing of the guard?

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Spurs-Thunder: A changing of the guard?

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Kevin Durant and the surging Oklahoma City Thunder are just one victory from the NBA finals. "We never just thought we were supposed to wait our turn," the 23-year-old Thunder star said following the biggest road win of his career Monday night. What little wait they've had could end Wednesday. That's when the Thunder can finish off the San Antonio Spurs back home in Oklahoma City -- where they're unbeaten in these playoffs -- and complete a remarkable turnaround in the Western Conference finals after starting in an 0-2 hole and up against a 20-game Spurs winning streak that ranks among the longest in NBA history. But look who's unstoppable now. Durant scored 27 points and the Thunder beat the Spurs 108-103 in Game 5, moving within a victory of a series knockout and the conference title after beating San Antonio for the third time in five days. "We came here, we wanted to get a win on their home floor," Durant said. "That's what it took for us to advance or to get to where we wanted to go." Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Thunder took a 3-2 lead in a wildly entertaining series. Looking invincible while carrying a 20-game winning streak a week ago -- the fourth-longest in NBA history -- the Spurs have lost three straight and are on the verge of a stunning collapse. Manu Ginobili scored 34 in a smashing return to the starting lineup, and the switch showed just how much Spurs coach Gregg Popovich knew his team might be in trouble. The only way the Spurs would have considered the move a success is if they had they won, and that chance went clanging off the back of the rim with 4.9 seconds left when Ginobili missed an off-balance 3. Ginobili then walked to the scorer's table, made a fist and hammered it down. "It wasn't a great shot, but it wasn't a bad one," Ginobili said. "It just didn't go in." It was the Spurs' first loss at home since April 11. Popovich said he removed Danny Green from the starting lineup and plugged in Ginobili -- who had started only seven previous times this season -- to give the Spurs "an energy boost." But that didn't solve a third straight uneven game for the Spurs, particularly another languid second quarter that put them in a 14-point hole. "If we don't get that straight," Popovich said, "it'll be over on Wednesday." Oklahoma City, meanwhile, is bringing home just what it needed: the must-win on the road. "That was a total team effort," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Everybody did their job. I thought we played as hard as we can play." Oklahoma City pulled it off behind their stars. James Harden scored 20, joining Durant and Westbrook as the only Thunder players in double figures. Harden hit the biggest shot, draining a 3-pointer with 28.8 seconds left that pushed Oklahoma City's lead to five. He admitted afterward that the ball was supposed to go to Durant but had no choice but to let go with the shot clock winding down and Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard in his face. "The shot clock was running down and I had to make a play," Harden said. "Leonard was playing great defense on me. I just shot it with confidence. West Conference finals -- that's a big shot." Tony Parker had 20 points and Tim Duncan had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs. After remaining unbeaten for 50 days before arriving in Oklahoma City, San Antonio has lost three games in five days. They now must win two straight to avoid seeing their last best chance to win in a title in the Duncan era end. "Championship teams win on the road," Popovich said. "Oklahoma City just did that." It's the first time the Spurs have lost three in a row all season. Durant scored 22 of his points in the second half. He dedicated the win to his uncle, whom Durant said was in the hospital. Westbrook also had 12 assists. Not wanting the series to slip away, Popovich moved Ginobili to the starting lineup in place of Green, who came in shooting a combined 8 of 28 in this series. Green's days as a starter began looking numbered after Game 3. He couldn't save his job before leaving Oklahoma City -- Green shot 4 of 12 in both losses combined -- and Popovich couldn't wait any longer with the series tied and the season in the balance. Out with the undrafted swingman who barely made training camp, and in with the former All-Star. Pulling this big an adjustment this deep in the season likely didn't come easy for the NBA coach of the year, and the gambit drew mixed results. It looked like a no-brainer with Ginobili leading all scorers at halftime with 14, but new rotations for the Spurs made for rocky possessions. None more so than in the second quarter, when the Spurs shot 38 percent. Ginobili finished 11 of 21 and made half of his 10 3-point attempts. But with the game and arguably San Antonio's season on the line, his last one didn't connect. "It's either win or go home," Ginobili said. "It's our job. Nobody is going to feel sorry about ourselves." Notes: Taking a page from the Thunder, the Spurs held a T-shirt whiteout at the AT&T Center, a move the team has rarely made before. ... Durant's the clear last-shot taker for the Thunder. Popovich said it's as obvious as Dirk Nowitzki having the ball in his hands at the end for Dallas. But who do the Spurs go to with the game on the line? "It's a secret," Popovich said before the game.

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Kings-Pelicans trade puts more options on table for Wizards

Kings-Pelicans trade puts more options on table for Wizards

NEW ORLEANS -- Suddenly, the market has become flooded with names who could/will be on the move which should make for a lot of action going into Thursday afternoon's NBA trade deadline. Despite not having a lot of wiggle room, the Wizards find themselves in a better spot than anticipated.

There are a lot of sellers out there with the Sacramento Kings having waived forward Matt Barnes after trading DeMarcus Cousins.

Former Wizards guard Garrett Temple told CSNmidatlantic.com in a conversation early Monday that Barnes was one of the three best teammates he has ever had in Sacramento, and that includes stops with the Spurs, Rockets, Bucks, Hornets and four full seasons in Washington. Former Wizards Jared Dudley also chimed in during a Twitter exchange about Barnes, who is known for his fiery temper and clashing publicly with Derek Fisher over his ex-wife. 

The Wizards likely will do something to retool their bench now that they're in good position at 34-21 coming out of the All-Star break and in third place in the East. 

They could use another scorer, ideally at shooting guard behind Bradley Beal. Barnes, a 6-7, is a small forward who can play at the stretch position, too.

[RELATED: Kings no longer have Cousins to blame for dysfunction]

He averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 54 games for Sacramento this season. He was among the players brought in to help guide Cousins but became expendable when Buddy Hield and Tyreke Evans were acquired in the deal. 

If a team were to claim Barnes during the 48-hour period on waivers, they'd be responsible for the balance of his $6.1 million salary for this season. It was the first year of a two-year deal for $12.5 million.

Barnes isn't the only one who could be on the market as a result of Cousins' trade. New Orleans and Sacramento appear willing to part with assests for draft picks:

Darren Collison, Kings: The point guard is averaging 13.7 points, 4.2 assists and a career-high 42.1% from the three-point line. He's a starter on a reasonable mid-level exception contract of $5.3 million and will become unrestricted this summer. But would he be in addition to Trey Burke or in place of him?

Ben McLemore, Kings: They've been willing to move the 2013 lottery pick for quite some time. A shooting guard, he averages just 6.6 points and shoots 41.2% from the field. The light appears never to have come on and he turned off the Wizards during the pre-draft process. They wanted to arrange a workout but he wasn't organized, willing or able to meet with them. They ended up taking Otto Porter which was expected, but that didn't leave a good impression. And what he's done so far in the league hasn't, either. McLemore is in the final year of his rookie scale contract that pays $4 million and will be restricted if the team that owns his rights this summer make him a qualifying offer. If not, he becomes unrestricted.

Arron Afflalo, Kings: A 6-5 shooting guard, he's likely able to be had, too. At 31, he was part of the veteran group the Kings put around Cousins to no avail. A year ago, Afflalo looked like a possible free-agent steal when he signed a two-year, $25 million deal. He's had a terrible season, averaging just 7.8 points as a starter and shooting just 43%. But defensively, which was supposed to be his strong suit, is where he has declined most. Not the same player he used to be.

Terrence Jones, Pelicans: The 6-9 forward off the bench for New Orleans wants out and its willing to let him leave. His stats are good, 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds, and he could've been had by the Wizards before this season started. Jones is on a minimum contract. His position isn't the greatest area of need for Washington, but he's better than some pieces currently not playing.  

[RELATED: Wall laughs off Westbrook moment]

No. 18 Virginia struggles against Miami, loses its fourth straight game

No. 18 Virginia struggles against Miami, loses its fourth straight game

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Bruce Brown made a 3-pointer with 23.8 seconds left in overtime, and Miami beat No. 18 Virginia 54-48 on Monday night for the Cavaliers fourth straight loss.

Brown scored 14 points to lead the Hurricanes (19-8, 9-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) to their third consecutive victory. Kamari Murphy and Dejan Vasiljevic added 10 points each.

Devon Hall scored 15 points to lead Virginia (18-9, 8-7), which last lost four straight in 2009-10, Tony Bennett's first season as coach. Isaiah Wilkins added 10 points and 10 rebounds, including two free throws with four seconds left in regulation to tie it.

Miami thought it had won when Davon Reed hit a 3-pointer at the end of the second half, but a video review was used to determine he released the ball just after the buzzer.

A putback by Marial Shayok with 39 seconds left gave the Cavaliers a 48-47 lead, but Brown made his only 3-pointer of the game on the Hurricanes' ensuing possession, and Miami sealed it at the free-throw line.

Both teams shot under 40 percent, with Virginia at just 31.4 percent, and it wasn't until Hall made a pair of free throws with 3:38 left in the second half that either team broke the 40-point mark. However, the Cavaliers were then scoreless until Wilkins made 1-of-1 on a trip to the line with just five seconds left in regulation. 

CSN Mid-Atlantic contributed to this report. 

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