Durant, Thunder left to wonder what went wrong

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Durant, Thunder left to wonder what went wrong

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- A week ago, they were leading the NBA Finals. And now, the Oklahoma City Thunder are heading home for the summer to ruminate over lessons doled out by the Miami Heat. Favorites coming into the series, the Thunder fell in Game 5 of the finals Thursday night, as Miami finished off its run to a championship by beating the Thunder 121-106. Oklahoma City's 11-point win in Game 1 is long forgotten and irrelevant now, considering that for the first time in more than three years, the Thunder have lost four straight games. At the absolute worst time, on the absolute biggest stage, no less. "When you play against the best, you learn," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. Kevin Durant had 32 points and 11 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook finished with 19 points for the Thunder, though Westbrook's night -- one game removed from a 20-for-32 performance from the field -- came on a night where he shot 4 for 20. They came out with 4:44 left, the outcome long decided, the Heat fans going delirious. "We made it to the finals, which was cool for us, but we didn't want to just make it there," Durant said. "Unfortunately we lost, so it's tough. It's tough, man. That's the only way I can explain it. But as a whole, I'm proud of the guys on how we fought all season." James Harden scored 19 points and Derek Fisher added 11 for the Thunder. Down 10 at the half, the Thunder cut the deficit in half by the time the third quarter was a minute old. It was the last gasp of the season -- Miami put the game, and the title, away with a 34-13 burst that pushed the lead to 93-67 on a three-point play by Dwyane Wade with 1:23 left in that pivotal quarter. Mike Miller connected on his sixth 3-pointer of the night, and Miami's 13th, on the first possession of the fourth quarter. Miller would soon add another, for good measure. From that point, the clock wasn't ticking down time left in the game. It was ticking down the time left in Oklahoma City's season. "We know what this feeling feels like," Westbrook said. "We'll remember this feeling, and that will push everybody in the summer, just try to keep everybody going and keep everybody's heads up." The Thunder came in saying they had to have that proverbial Game 7 -- win or else -- mentality. Apparently, they chose else. "You hate to go home and not win the whole thing. ... We lost to a team that played better than us in four of the five games," Brooks said. Even though it was a five-point game after one quarter, a 10-point game at the half and still a two-possession game early in the third quarter, the Thunder simply did not have enough answers for the barrage that came from Miami. Forget Miami's Big Three of Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. It was more like a Big Six for the Heat on this night. Two years of work, and a year of frustration after falling to Dallas in the title round a year ago, came pouring out of the Heat. By the time the third quarter was over, Miami had six players in double figures. Oklahoma City? Just two. And that was largely the downfall of Oklahoma City in this series. Durant was consistently great. Westbrook had more good moments than bad, by far. But the third option simply wasn't there, or at least, wasn't there often enough. "The best two teams were in the finals," James said. This Thunder team is built to contend for this title for a long time to come. Durant and Westbrook are already exceptional, and likely nowhere near their prime. Harden was the best sixth man in the league all season, though he struggled big-time in this series. Serge Ibaka is one of the best defenders in the league. The general manager, Sam Presti, is extremely well thought of in just about every league circle. And Oklahoma City has proven itself to be a city that loves its team. More good things for the franchise are certain. But a title -- that wasn't happening, not yet anyway, not against a Heat team that spent a year preparing for this stage. Now, it's Oklahoma City's turn to take a finals loss and use it as motivation. "You get here because you're good. You get here because you're committed to each other," Brooks said. "We definitely have room to improve. That's what the summers are for." Durant spent part of this past summer working out with James in the finals MVP's hometown of Akron, Ohio. He vowed to work even harder this time around. "I'm going to find the positives and the negatives," Durant said. "It was tough losing the finals. We got to the finals, had a tough road to get here. But we've just got to move past it, I guess, man. It's going to hurt for a little bit. We've got to move past it."

Chris Sale 'got it all squared' away with White Sox teammates, coaches

Chris Sale 'got it all squared' away with White Sox teammates, coaches

MINNEAPOLIS — He hasn’t yet made any inroads on the charitable end of the throwback jersey ordeal, but Chris Sale has addressed his teammates and coaches.

The White Sox pitcher said Saturday afternoon he’d look more into a potential charity benefit involving the destroyed 1976 throwback jerseys from a week ago in the near future. As for the more prominent topic, Sale, who is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday in Detroit, said he spoke to the White Sox after Thursday night’s game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"Got it all squared away," Sale said. "Got on the same page. We are back to where we were before, trying to win games. Putting that in the forefront.

"I got my point across. I said the things I wanted to say, and you move forward."

Both Sale and White Sox manager Robin Ventura described the discussion as good and stressed they’re ready to move forward. Sale told MLB.com on Monday he thought Ventura needed to do a better job supporting his players. Asked if they have a good relationship, Ventura said yes but didn’t go into detail about what the two discussed.

"I had a long talk with him," Ventura said. "We continue to move on, and it’s about baseball. That’s part of the professional part of it.

"It was good. I’m not going to get into what we talked about, but we had a long talk and it was good."

Sale said he spoke to everyone individually, including Ventura. He also reiterated he thinks the story has been blown out of proportion.

"I talked to everybody involved personally one on one," Sale said. "Cleared the air, had some good talks. Learned some things. Talked about some things we already knew. It was good. It was very productive.

"I think everyone is making a little bit bigger deal of this. Ten or 15 years ago, this wouldn’t have been a story. There was no such thing as Twitter, and I don’t think as much information leaked out as it does nowadays. It’s just something that people gravitate to. It’s the nature of the beast — I understand that.

"As much as I don’t like it, I can’t be mad it. It is what it is. You move forward and keep a positive mind frame and come in every day with the same mindset."

As for the jerseys and their future, Sale said he plans to determine the best way to proceed forward when the team returns home from this eight-game road trip. He credits his wife, Brianne, for the suggestion that some good come from an incident that resulted in his five-game suspension.

"She’s the smart one in the house apparently," Sale said. "She brought it up, and it came to my attention it could be possible. So any time something bad happens like what happened, you always try to find something positive. If we can make a positive out of negative, it’s perfect. Works out well."

Bears Camp Shorts: Leonard Floyd debuts, front-7 goes on the attack

Bears Camp Shorts: Leonard Floyd debuts, front-7 goes on the attack

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Leonard Floyd, sidelined by illness almost as soon as Thursday’s first practice began, was in full pads on Saturday, with coaches limiting his workload and with the kind of mixed results usually associated with rookies.

The rush linebacker, working primarily with the No. 3 defense, set a defensive edge and flashed in a stop of running back Senorise Perry. But Floyd struggled in some of his pass drops and followed a play fake and lost containment on one quarterback rollout in team sessions.

Floyd likely dropped some pounds over the course of week with a stomach virus but “Leonard is exceptionally quick and explosive,” said coach John Fox. “We saw that on tape as a college player and all through the OTAs. A lot was made of his weight but that takes care of itself. He’s just a good football player”….

[RELATED: Bears agree to extension with Willie Young]

…The defense has wanted more pass rush from its down-linemen and has seen just that from Akiem Hicks in the early camp going. Hicks overwhelmed rookie guard Cody Whitehair with a bull rush in a two-man pass-protection drill, and Hicks again was in the face of quarterback Jay Cutler during team sessions, combining with Mitch Unrein for one simulated sack and breaking in solo for another.

“Somebody told me [Cutler] said, 'Do that in pads,'” Hicks said of his Friday encounter with the quarterback. “He said that yesterday when I got him and then today I got him in pads, and he didn't say much”….

Lamarr Houston was involved in the first dust-up of camp as he and guard Ted Larsen engaged in post-whistle hostilities. But the rush linebacker also was involved in myriad impact plays ranging from coming clean for a simulated sack in pass-rush work to stacking up two different run plays in team...

Brian Matusz will be spot starter in Cubs' series finale vs. Mariners

Brian Matusz will be spot starter in Cubs' series finale vs. Mariners

Joe Maddon is giving his five starting pitchers an extra day's rest.

Brian Matusz will be a spot starter in the Cubs' series finale against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday night at Wrigley Field. The Cubs optioned reliever Justin Grimm to Triple-A as a corresponding move.

"We'll use that day however we need to to the best of our abilities," said Jake Arrieta. "We'll find a way to use that day to get some work done and get better and move forward. At this time of year, every one of us might need to refine something.

"It actally might not be a bad idea. Hopefully Matusz is ready to come out and compete and be effective, and we'll move on."

Prior to Saturday's game, Maddon indicated that the club is looking to give his starters more days off.

"As we’ve talked about all along, attempting to try to give our regular five a rest in a particular moment, so we’re considering doing something right now," Maddon said. "We’re not ready to announce it yet just to be honest, but we are considering."

Matusz signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs last month.

The 29-year-old southpaw has spent the majority of his career with the Baltimore Orioles. In eight MLB seasons, he is 27-41 with a 4.85 ERA and 460 strikeouts.

As Matusz makes his Cubs debut Sunday, having a familiar face in the clubhouse might help ease any nerves.

"Matusz and I played together for quite a while," said Arrieta, who spent time with Matusz in Baltimore. "I've seen him pitch extremely well his rookie year. He can pitch, he's a smart guy. He's got some really good pitches that he knows how to use effectively. I look forward to watching him pitch and catching up with him."