• 76ers halt Heat’s win streak

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    WASHINGTON: The Miami Heat’s 13-game NBA winning streak ended on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) in Philadelphia, where they fell 117-109 to the 76ers.

    Robert Covington, Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric scored 19 points apiece for the 76ers and Ersan Ilyasova and Gerald Henderson contributed 14 as Philadelphia won their second straight game.

    Goran Dragic poured in 30 points to lead Miami, whose winning streak was the longest in the league this season.

    James Johnson scored 26 for Miami, Tyler Johnson added 17 and Wayne Ellington scored 16.

    Hassan Whiteside collected 12 points and 19 rebounds for the Heat.

    It was Miami’s first defeat since January 13. Their 13 straight wins in less than a month were more than the 11 they had mustered in the three previous months of the season.

    Trailing 100-89, the Heat scored seven straight points and closed to within four on Johnson’s three-point play with less than five minutes remaining.

    But Covington answered with a three-pointer and after a shot-clock violation from the Heat the 76ers put it away with two free throws from Saric.

    Despite rough welcome, Durant victorious in OKC return
    Kevin Durant scored 34 points in an emotional return to Oklahoma City to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 130-114 NBA win over the Thunder.

    Durant, who left the Thunder as a free agent last year, was jeered from pre-game introductions through the end of the game by Oklahoma City fans.

    But he connected on 12 of his 21 shots from the field and pulled down nine rebounds as the Warriors improved their league-leading record to 46-8.

    “I’ve been called worse in my life,” Durant said of the catcalls. “I’ve been counted out before I was even born. So ain’t nothing new.”

    Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson scored 26 points apiece as the Warriors withstood a 47-point, 11-rebound effort from Thunder star Russell Westbrook.

    “This was very, very similar to what we’ve experienced in the playoffs,” Curry said of the charged atmosphere. “It wasn’t anything new for the guys that have been in this visiting locker room before and played a meaningful game.”

    Victor Oladipo scored 20 points for the Thunder and Steven Adams contributed 13 but was limited to just three rebounds.

    “We just need to be a step ahead,” Westbrook said. “We can’t always play from behind. Because with a good team, you play behind they make you pay for it. They are a good team.”

    The tension ratcheted up late in the third quarter. Durant and Westbrook had a verbal exchange going into a timeout, with Westbrook calling “I’m coming” and Durant responding “You’re going to lose.”

    Minutes later Thunder forward Andre Roberson fouled Durant while going for a layup. That led to Durant exchanging more words and the two butting heads before being separated.

    The run-in sent 18,000 fans into a frenzy, but the Warriors were in full control when the quarter ended, taking a 105-87 lead into the final frame.

    Durant said his exchange with Westbrook, like all trash talk, is just “a part of the game.”

    “It was a fun game,” Durant said. “I actually thought it would be a little louder. To be on the other side of it, to be able to calm all these guys down as they boo you is kind of fun. I’ve got to embrace it. That’s all I can do. And keep playing my game.”

    Durant got off to a slow start, but ended up with 15 points in a first half that saw the Warriors build a 73-50 lead.

    Although the Warriors would stay in front the rest of the way there was plenty of drama as fans vented their pent-up anger at Durant’s decision to depart.

    The hostility greeted Durant in pre-game warm-ups, when he wore headphones to drown out the boos and name-calling.

    Fans gloried in “cupcake” T-shirts and costumes, a reference to Westbrook’s Instagram dig at Durant that hinted his move to powerhouse Golden State was soft.

    One fan in a cupcake-embla­zoned shirt traded words with the Warriors’s Draymond Green.

    “That guy was just disrespectful to all of us the entire night,” said Green, who had donned a cupcake T-shirt himself after the game. “Heckle all you want, but don’t be disrespectful.”

    Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the environment recalled LeBron James’s first game back in Cleveland in 2010 after he’d departed for the Miami Heat.

    “It was pretty similar,” Kerr said. “I think that one might have been a little nastier.”

    AFP

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