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Russell Westbrook ejection caps Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to Oklahoma City Thunder after blowing 26-point lead



OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook said, “It’s my fault, it’s on me,” when asked about his double-digit turnovers in the Lakers123-115 loss to the Thunder on Wednesday. But he stood by his actions that led him to be ejected in the final seconds, marring his return to OKC.

“How I play the game, I’m more old-school,” Westbrook said, explaining why he took issue with the Thunder’s Darius Bazley for scoring on a breakaway dunk with 1.5 seconds remaining, rather than dribbling out the clock. “And when s— like that happens, I don’t let it slide. … In the game of basketball, there’s certain things you just don’t do. Like in baseball, you don’t flip the bat. There’s certain things you don’t do in sports when the game’s already over. And I didn’t like it. Simple as that.”

Westbrook pointed at Bazley and repeatedly yelled, “Don’t do that,” before teammates came between the two and Westbrook received a technical foul — his second of the night, resulting in the ejection.

It was the final dismal scene in a disaster of a night for the Lakers as they failed to protect a 26-point first-half lead and went 0-for-3 on potential game-tying 3s in the final 30 seconds, losing to a Thunder team that came into the night 0-4.

“A disappointing loss, but a lesson learned,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “An NBA season is a long season and a lesson for our group that you can’t ever take your foot off the gas against anyone.”

As much as growing pains could be expected for a Lakers team that is integrating 12 new players and juggling a handful of injuries with LeBron James, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington all sidelined, Anthony Davis didn’t accept that crutch.

“This ain’t no adjustment period at all,” said Davis, whose 30 points and eight rebounds went for naught. “Not this game. That’s just straight on us. … This isn’t an adjustment game where I feel like it’s, ‘Oh, we’re still learning each other.’ … Nah. Not this game.”

Two disturbing early-season trends continued for L.A.: too many turnovers and not enough defense.

The Lakers have now allowed 115 points or more in all five of their games through their 2-3 start, which is the longest such streak to start a season in franchise history, according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Information.

And Westbrook turned what was his first triple-double in a Lakers uniform (20 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists) into a quadruple-double by turning the ball over 10 times. This after committing nine turnovers against the Memphis Grizzlies just a few days ago.

“I got to take care of the ball,” Westbrook said, taking the blame. “Too many mishaps allowed. It’s my fault. It’s on me. But I’m going to take care of it. I know that. And keep the game simple. Because we need those possessions, especially in games like this.”

Since 1985, Westbrook has the most quadruple-doubles (including turnovers) in the NBA with six, according to Statmuse. The next closest player is his former teammate, James Harden, with three.

Despite all of that, L.A. still had its chances to escape with a win Wednesday.

With the Lakers trailing 118-115, Westbrook’s pull-up attempt from the top of the key clanked off the back rim with 27.3 seconds remaining.

Then, after forcing the Thunder into an 8-second backcourt violation, it was Malik Monk‘s turn to try to tie it up, and he shot a step-back air ball from 27 feet out that sailed out of bounds with 12.4 seconds remaining.

L.A. got one more bite at the apple when Carmelo Anthony stole rookie Josh Giddey‘s inbounds pass that was intended for Kenrich Williams, who slipped to the floor. Like Monk, Anthony’s 3 found nothing but nothing, as he too shot an air ball with 5.7 seconds left.

“It came right to me, man,” said Anthony who scored 13 points off the bench. “I didn’t have full control of it, though. I tried to shoot it without having full control of it. My footing wasn’t right. I just saw daylight.”

Now the Lakers are trying to see a silver lining in what has been a rocky beginning for a group that has made no secret of its championship expectation.

“It’s not fun in the moment when you lose a game like that,” Vogel said. “But I think at the end of the day, if we’re pushed every night like this, it’s going to sharpen us. It will be good for us in the long run, but you’ve got to play through that and find a way to win.”

L.A. will return home to host the Cleveland Cavaliers and could still be without James when they face his former team, as he is considered day-to-day as he recovers from a sore right ankle that has kept him out of the past two games.

“S—, we better leave it here,” Anthony said. “I mean, this is a tough one to lose. … But we better leave that one here and get ready for Friday.”

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Brooklyn Nets lose Kevin Durant to left knee sprain in second quarter vs. New Orleans Pelicans



NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant injured his left knee during the second quarter of Saturday’s 120-105 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The team called it a left knee sprain, and it occurred with just under six minutes left in the quarter as Pelicans guard Herb Jones drove to the basket and collided with Nets guard Bruce Brown, who fell backwards into Durant, who was standing behind the play. Durant will undergo an MRI on Sunday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Brooklyn’s leading scorer tried to stay in the game for a few moments, walking around, trying to loosen the knee up, but he walked over to the bench and checked himself out shortly thereafter. Durant went straight back to the locker room to be checked out.

Durant left Barclays Center about midway through the fourth quarter, walking with a limp on his way to a waiting car. He sounded hopeful that the injury wasn’t too serious, but was unsure at this point if he would be able to travel to Cleveland for Monday’s game against the Cavaliers.

Both Durant and the Nets now wait to see what the results of the MRI bring.

At halftime, with the Nets leading, 69-41, the team announced Durant would be out for the remainder of the game.

The injury overshadows what had been a strong return for the former MVP, who sat out Thursday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder to rest. In 12 minutes on Saturday, Durant had 12 points, three rebounds and two assists before leaving the game.

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MRI shows no structural damage to knee of Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine



CHICAGO — Bulls guard Zach LaVine is not expected to miss significant time after an MRI on Saturday morning showed no structural damage to his left knee.

LaVine will be reevaluated early next week, the team said. LaVine did not travel with the team for its game Saturday night in Boston, and he will begin targeted therapy on his knee before the Bulls can offer a more definitive timeline.

“Well, obviously very optimistic and very grateful that it wasn’t something more,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “That’s why they wanted to do the MRI, so he’ll continue to get therapy and we’ll re-evaluate him after a period of time. I don’t think it’s something that’s long-term, which is a good thing. So the biggest thing is how does he respond to therapy, treatment, those kinds of things.

“I think once they see how he responds to the therapy there will be a clearer view of when a return date will be possible.”

LaVine landed awkwardly while grabbing an offensive rebound during the first quarter of Friday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. He took an intentional foul on the next play before taking himself out of the game.

The Bulls were optimistic after Friday’s game that LaVine had avoided a major injury, but wanted to proceed with caution considering LaVine tore the ACL in the same knee in 2017 while playing for the Timberwolves.

In 38 games for Chicago this season, LaVine is averaging 24.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 49% from the field.

In addition to LaVine, the Bulls will also be without Lonzo Ball on Saturday night as he is experiencing left knee soreness.

“(Saturday) morning when we met he still had some soreness in that joint and just wanted to rest him and have him sit out,” Donovan said. “I don’t want to say day-to-day … when I say day-to-day, it’s not like this game, and he’s back for Memphis. I think right now for the Memphis game he would be doubtful until he goes through treatment and therapy and see how he feels and if the soreness subsides and how quickly it subsides.”

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Dallas Mavericks get Kristaps Porzingis, coach Jason Kidd back from health and safety protocols



DALLAS — Mavericks power forward/center Kristaps Porzingis has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols after missing the past seven games and is expected to play in Saturday night’s home game against the Orlando Magic.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd also cleared the protocols.

Dallas won six of the seven games missed by Porzingis, who is averaging 20.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. The Mavs went 3-1 during Kidd’s absence, when defensive coordinator Sean Sweeney served as the acting head coach.

A source said Porzingis felt well in recent days and had been able to do individual workouts.

Porzingis’ clearance makes center Marquese Chriss ineligible to play for the Mavericks while he remains on a 10-day hardship deal that expires Thursday.

Sources said the Mavericks are considering their options to sign Chriss for the remainder of the season, which would require a move to create an open roster spot.

Chriss has played in 12 games over three 10-day deals with the Mavericks, averaging 6.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per game while shooting 63% from the floor.

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