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Horry Scale: Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook’s buzzer-beater staves off Sacramento Kings’ comeback

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A reminder on The Horry Scale: It breaks down a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.

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The Thunder were in danger of an embarrassing lose-from-ahead defeat to the struggling Sacramento Kings. The league’s reigning Kia Most Valuable Player stepped up to make sure that didn’t happen.

Russell Westbrook’s flick of a 3-pointer as time expired lifted Oklahoma City to a 110-107 win at Sacramento, a victory they very much needed in a crowded Western Conference.

DIFFICULTY: Even one dribble might have taken too much of the 0.7 seconds remaining. Westbrook knew that, and opted for the catch-and-shoot. Luckily for him, his defender gave him enough of a cushion to do just that. As a result, Westbrook had a clean look at the rim from beyond the arc. That was all he needed.

GAME SITUATION: The Thunder led by 22 points after the first quarter. The wheels completely fell off after that as the Kings stormed back to take the lead in the second half. Such a loss would have been demoralizing, making Westbrook’s heroics more of a relief than a triumph.

CELEBRATION: If you like a healthy mix of “no” and groans, this was the game for you. Kings fans hadn’t seen their club beat an above-.500 team in Sacramento since Jan. 6. Their disappointment was palpable. As for the Thunder, Westbrook was mobbed by the bench players while his fellow starters simply smiled in happy relief.

GRADE: As fantastic as Westbrook’s heroics were, the Thunder should not have needed them in the first place. Entering Thursday night’s slate, just three games separated the third and ninth-place teams out West. They nearly gave up a 20-point lead to a lottery-bound club. That didn’t happen because Westbrook got a clear look for the win. They escaped a sloppy contest in dramatic fashion, but all that matters to Oklahoma City is the all-important “W.” Two-and-a-half Horrys.

 

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Report: Pau Gasol to join Trail Blazers

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Free agent center Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gasol, 39, who was limited to just 30 games last season because of a variety of injuries, has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds over 17 NBA seasons.



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Report: Furkan Korkmaz returning to 76ers

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Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports tells ESPN.

Korkmaz, 21, brings back a rotational forward with the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. The loss of JJ Redick in free agency – and Kyle Korver’s decision to choose Milwaukee over Philadelphia – brought some increased urgency to keep Korkmaz on the Sixers roster.

 The 21-year-old Korkmaz, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes last season.

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Report: Kevin Love to withdraw from World Cup

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Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is the latest player expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

This news comes just one day after Damian Lillard reportedly withdrew from the World Cup. Love, who played in just 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2018-19.

During the previous two weeks, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum reportedly decided not to compete in the World Cup this year.

Although the guard ranks will be somewhat depleted of NBA stars, Team USA continues to have a deep pool of players available.



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