By Fred Katz


The Norman Transcript


OKLAHOMA CITY (TNS) — Oklahoma City shooting guard Anthony Morrow almost fell to the ground his teammate knocked him so hard.


Russell Westbrook had just splashed the night’s biggest shot, a long, contested 3 in typical pull-up fashion to give the Thunder a 108-102 lead over Memphis inside the final minute-and-a-half. And he was far more animated than usual after sinking it.


He turned back to his bench after the Grizzlies called an immediate timeout, pumped his right arm, screamed something that even the greatest lip-readers would not be able to make out and sprinted at his buddy, Morrow, to initiate the world’s highest of chest bumps. Naturally, it almost knocked Morrow on his behind.


“I didn’t feel it, bro,” Morrow said. “We was just amped up.”


The Grizzlies left Oklahoma City feeling some Westbrook-induced soreness, though. The Thunder star would score nine more points from there, part of run in which he, alone, outscored the Grizzlies 15-0 in the final 2:35. The Thunder were down 102-99 when Westbrook-mania began.


They won 114-102.


“The times he picked to go score and make some things happen when our team needed it was invaluable,” coach Billy Donovan said.


Westbrook triggered a pull-up 3 for the lead the possession before his assault on Morrow. After the timeout, he started going at the rim, either finishing with a nifty arsenal of off-the-glass moves or getting fouled on the way there. Of course, he heard hoards of MVP chants from the Chesapeake crowd once he got to the line. He did it all with one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders, Tony Allen, trying to stick to him.


But even Allen couldn’t. Not Friday.


He carried his league-leading 25th triple-double of the season off the court: 38 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. Yet, the timeliness of those numbers was far more important than the actual stats, themselves.


“There’s a lot of things that he does in my opinion that don’t show up in the stat sheet,” Donovan said. “And the stats are remarkable, but there’s so much more to him as a leader and a player.”


Westbrook’s chest bump of Morrow was hardly the most physical moment inside a game that got touchy early and pushy late. Center Steven Adams bumped his way to 11 offensive rebounds in a season-high 44 minutes. Big man Joffrey Lauvergne scored 16 points and made three 3s off the bench, all while smashing down low with longtime Memphis bangers Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Center Nick Collison came in for some surprise minutes off the bench, too.


“Tonight, we came out and was a more physical team and set the tone,” Westbrook said.


Mavs nip Blazers


PORTLAND, Ore. (TNS) — It probably won’t happen, but Yogi Ferrell deserves to be perhaps the first player on a 10-day contract ever to win NBA player of the week.


The rookie capped off a huge week with a ridiculous shooting exhibition Friday night as the Dallas Mavericks took down the Portland Trail Blazers 108-104 in a game that could have serious playoff implications down the road.


The Mavericks remained 2{ games out of the final playoff spot, now occupied by Denver, but the win started a three-game stretch against the Blazers (twice) and Nuggets.


The Mavericks won for the fourth time in a row and they have the look of a team that has its eye firmly focused on the playoff chase.


Ferrell was absolutely unstoppable. He had the best game anybody could remember from a Maverick rookie since Roddy Beaubois had 40 points in Golden State a decade ago.


Ferrell hit nine 3-pointers, tying the rookie record owned by Beaubois in that game.


His last triple came with 19.3 seconds left and put the Mavericks up 105-101.


C.J. McCollum answered for the Blazers with a three, but Wesley Matthews, who had a big game himself in front of the fans who still adore him from his time with the Blazers, hit two free throws with 14 seconds left for a 107-104 advantage.


The Blazers got off two 3-point tries, but neither was close and the Mavericks won for the second time this season at Portland.


The Mavericks had led throughout the game, and by as much as 24 points in the second quarter.


It was the kind of game that had the feel of a match between desperate teams, playoff-caliber teams.


“We understand where we are,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We fought hard to get in a position where we can sniff it and know that it’s a realistic possibility. But we’re going to have to continue to grind.


By Eddie Sefko, The Dallas Morning News


Cavs knock Knicks


NEW YORK (TNS) — For two days now, LeBron James has been asked about Carmelo Anthony. It’s only fitting, given the trade rumors swirling around both of these franchises. For two days, James has maintained the same answer: He just wants his good friend to be happy.


It’s difficult to see how Anthony can be pleased with the state of the Knicks, who remain on the cusp of playoff contention but so far away from title contention. LeBron James scored 32 points and passed for 10 assists, Kevin Love returned with 23 points and 16 rebounds and the Cavs beat the Knicks 111-104 Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.


The Cavs led by as many as 27 in the third quarter before they grew distracted in the fourth, as usual, and let the Knicks climb within 106-101 in the final minute before Love’s corner 3-pointer iced the game. They have squandered big leads in fourth quarters throughout the season and Saturday was no different.


The Cavs were without Kyrie Irving and the Knicks were without Derrick Rose. Irving missed the game with a sore right quadriceps muscle, while Rose was scratched with an ankle injury. Love, meanwhile, returned after missing two games with back spasms. It was the seventh time this season he scored at least 20 points and grabbed at least 15 rebounds while playing like someone the Knicks would want in a trade.


That is, of course, because trade talks between these two teams over their stars just won’t go away. Anthony scored 17 points, but shot just 6 of 20, while Brandon Jennings scored 23 points thanks to a big second half. James defended his friend Saturday.


By Jason Lloyd, Akron Beacon Journal


even when people within the Knicks seem to be questioning how much Anthony has left.


“He had 25 in one quarter this year. Very recently,” James said. “So you tell me? I mean, how many guys do that?”


James made clear last season he would like to play with Anthony at some point in his career, along with friends Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue refuses to engage in the trade rumors and says he has not addressed it with Love, who has been the target of trade speculation for the last year and for years before joining the Cavs in Minnesota. Not even winning a championship and coming up with the biggest defensive stop of the Finals last year has shielded Love from the speculation this year.


“I predicted that, though,” Love said Friday. He did not address reporters Saturday before the game. “It doesn’t matter if I have an All-Star year ... it’s always going to be there, right?”