Say hello to the hottest team in the NBA

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Say hello to the hottest team in the NBA

From Comcast SportsNetOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Reggie Jackson gave an unexpected spark for the surging Oklahoma City Thunder.But it was star Kevin Durant who scored 35 points as the Thunder extended their winning streak to nine games with a 92-88 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night."Reggie has been here for a year now," Durant said. "He knows what it takes. He's not pouting that he's not playing. He's coming in and working hard every single day, just waiting on his chance, and coach gave him a chance tonight."That shows how much he believes in all of us. He would have done that with anybody, and Reggie was the guy that came in and he gave us a really, really big spark."I'm really proud of him, his defensive intensity, hitting shots, just playing with a lot of energy. I'm glad he got that opportunity.With the Thunder trailing by 11 points late in the third quarter, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks went with a small lineup, inserting Jackson alongside backup point guard Eric Maynor, Kevin Martin and Durant, and the Thunder closed the quarter on a 7-0 run. A 9-2 run, capped by a dunk by Durant, put the Thunder ahead 67-64.Jackson played most of the fourth quarter, finishing with five points. It was his first action since Dec. 1 against New Orleans and only his 11th appearance for the Thunder in 22 games this season. He played for the D-League's Tulsa 66ers on Saturday."You've just got to stay ready," Jackson said. "Of course it's tough, but once you get out there, especially in this atmosphere, it's easy to get going."With the win, the Thunder matched the second-best start in franchise history at 18-4. The Seattle SuperSonics started 20-2 in the 1993-94 season and the Thunder started 18-4 last season.It was the Thunder's third win over the Hornets in the past four weeks and seventh straight in the series. Brian Roberts scored 16 points to lead New Orleans, which lost its fifth straight game.Still, coach Monty Williams wasn't entirely displeased."I thought we competed tonight," Williams said. "I thought we brought an edge. Obviously we lost the game, but when we compete that way and keep our turnovers down, you give yourselves a chance."Greivis Vasquez missed a 3-point attempt in the closing seconds that would have given New Orleans the lead. Thabo Sefolosha corralled the rebound and made the clinching free throws for the Thunder.Oklahoma City, the league's highest-scoring team, entered the game with a 106-point average, but had its run of 12 straight triple-digit games end as it had to fight back simply to win against the worst team in the Western Conference.The Hornets, who fell 77-70 on Tuesday night against Washington, figured their best chance to stay with the Thunder was to keep the game low-scoring and that strategy worked for most of three quarters.The Hornets led 62-51 after a basket by Austin Rivers with 2:01 left in the third quarter before the 16-2 spurt by Oklahoma City spanning the third and fourth quarters.The Hornets regained the lead twice after that, but a 3-pointer by Martin put the Thunder ahead for good at 73-72 with 6:20 left. Still, Oklahoma City struggled to pull away.A three-point play by Durant with 1:12 left pushed the Thunder's lead to 89-84, but Anthony Davis made 1 of 2 free throws with 18.5 seconds left and New Orleans grabbed the rebound on the miss.Roberts made a 3-pointer with nine seconds left to pull the Hornets within 89-88.Durant made 1 of 2 free throws with 8.1 seconds left. The Thunder scored 34 points in the fourth quarter, two fewer than they did in the first half."For whatever reason, we started the game off out of sync offensively," Brooks said. "Like I talk to the guys all the time and what we talk about every day, is that the defense needs to be there."In the fourth quarter, Brooks said, "We got aggressive and I thought we passed the ball much better, but we were making shots. It was just a combination of a few things. Our defensive intensity picked up."With help from 12 points by Ryan Anderson, New Orleans led most of the way in the first half and was up 44-36 at halftime. Oklahoma City, which entered the game second in the NBA in field-goal shooting at 49.1 percent, shot 30.6 percent from the field, including 0 of 3 from 3-point range.Oklahoma City led briefly by one point on two occasions in the second quarter before a 13-3 run by the Hornets gave them a 36-26 lead.Anderson finished with 14 points for the Hornets. Martin scored 17 for Oklahoma City while Russell Westbrook added 14.NOTES:The Thunder's first-quarter (17) and first-half (36) point totals were season lows. ... The Hornets' only lead over the Thunder in the first two meetings of the season came in the second game, when they were up 2-0. New Orleans coach Monty Williams said before the game he's still not sure how long Eric Gordon, who has a sore left knee, will be out of the lineup.

Photos: Cubs all dressed up for 'minimalist zany' themed road trip

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Photos: Cubs all dressed up for 'minimalist zany' themed road trip

Joe Maddon's themed road trips are the stuff of legend.

Cubs fans will remember the "onesie" road trip from last season, a trip that featured Jake Arrieta's no-hitter at Dodger Stadium and the team pajama party that followed — as well as Arreita's post-no-no press conference, during which he wore a mustache-themed onesie.

Well, the first themed road trip of the 2016 campaign is here, and the Cubs were all dressed up following Sunday's loss to the Braves at Wrigley Field.

The theme this week is "minimalist zany," something Maddon concocted while online shopping during spring training. He said he wanted the team to dress up in suits — but not conventional suits, an obvious Maddon touch.

Check out the Cubs in their "minimalist zany" duds.

 

Northwestern's Traveon Henry, Deonte Gibson sign with NFL teams

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Northwestern's Traveon Henry, Deonte Gibson sign with NFL teams

A pair of former Northwestern defenders are on their way to the NFL despite not getting drafted this weekend.

Safety Traveon Henry and defensive end Deonte Gibson signed with NFL teams on Saturday following the conclusion of the NFL Draft, Henry going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gibson to the Detroit Lions.

Henry was the Wildcats' third-leading tackler last season, recording 74 total tackles in addition to his three tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

Gibson led the team and tied for sixth in the Big Ten with nine sacks, also recording 39 total tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss.

Two other former Cats were drafted on Saturday. Defensive end Dean Lowry went to the Green Bay Packers at No. 137, and full back Dan Vitale went to the Buccaneers at No. 197.

Watch: Cardale Jones gets drafted, rips shirt off like Hulk Hogan

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Watch: Cardale Jones gets drafted, rips shirt off like Hulk Hogan

At one point, some expected Cardale Jones to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.

But the quarterback who led Ohio State to a national championship a year and a half ago struggled last season, eventually getting replaced as the Buckeyes' starter by J.T. Barrett.

That obviously had a negative effect on Jones' draft stock, but the former Buckeye still got picked this weekend. And when his name was announced, well, let's just say his excitement was apparent.

Someone who was with Jones when the Bills made him the No. 139 pick in the draft grabbed a video of Jones ripping his tank top off, Hulk Hogan-style, in pure elation.

Take a look:

Not a bad way to kick off your NFL career.