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Kevin Durant (35) and Russell Westbrook led a big rally in the second half as Oklahoma City won the opening game of the NBA’s Western Conference finals. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Kevin Durant (35) and Russell Westbrook led a big rally in the second half as Oklahoma City won the opening game of the NBA’s Western Conference finals. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There are not a lot of mandates for this space. Only one, really. It needs to be filled with interesting items. We’ll try not to fail you on that point today, though it won’t be easy. Read on.

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• What did you watch on television last night? Did you catch up on “Game of Thrones?” Or did you sit down for a hockey/basketball doubleheader? I took the latter path, starting with the hockey game for a variety of reasons. Reason No. 1: It started first. Reason No. 2: Tyler Johnson. No matter what game or match I’m watching, it’s always better when there is someone to root for. That’s Johnson, the Valley kid who has made it in the NHL. His Tampa Bay Lightning had a chance to win another game on Pittsburgh’s home ice last night and I tried to root them to victory. Yes, a guy who really isn’t a big hockey fan was sitting in his Laz-E-Boy last night yelling at the TV screen for a hockey team based 47 states away. All because of one guy who would bring the Stanley Cup to my hometown if he wins. Of course, after investing a bunch of time in the game, I missed Sidney Crosby’s overtime winner because I was somewhere else when it happened.

• That other place? Watching the Seattle SuperSonics in some weird uniforms defeat some team wearing the Golden State Warriors’ uniforms. OK, that’s enough of that. The Sonics are gone. Oklahoma City is, well, I was going to write something mean but I won’t. The Thunder are up 1-0 in the Western Conference finals mainly because the Warriors didn’t show up after halftime. At least the Warriors we’re used to watching. This was a selfish group playing last night. That’s not Golden State’s usual winning way. OK, Steph Curry can be selfish sometimes, but that’s OK. He is the best scorer on the planet right now. But the rest of the Warriors usually don’t try to beat people possession after possession one-on-one. That’s what happened last night and it wasn’t pretty. For the Warriors anyway. For OKC, it was just what it wanted.

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• WSU: There are a few Cougars included on Jon Wilner’s post-spring All-Pac-12 football teams. Should there be more? ... The Pac-12 baseball season has been an odd one, with the conference leader sporting an overall losing record and the last-place team (WSU) playing as well right now as another former first-place team (UW).

• EWU: The Eagles are losing their deputy athletic director to Winthrop, where Ken Halpin will be in charge. Jim Allen has this story. I visited Winthrop with Bud Withers one year when we were at the NCAA tournament in Charlotte and came away impressed with their athletic facilities. And the food in Rock Hill, S.C.? Wow.

• Whitworth: The Pirates received an at-large berth in the NCAA baseball tournament and will host a six-team regional this week. Also in the field is Northwest Conference member Pacific Lutheran.

• CCS: Another year, another conference golf title for CCS.

• Preps: Is it better to play great all season or get hot during playoffs? I have no idea, but Jim Allen’s state soccer advance covers teams that have done both. ... We also can pass along a roundup of Monday’s state golf action from two states.

• Mariners: The road beckons, with the first stop Steve Clevenger’s hometown. ... With his recent results, one must ask: Is Felix Hernandez still the king?

• Seahawks: A lot of Hawk news today, though the one roster move from yesterday isn’t that big a deal. However, there are stories concerning Marshawn Lynch’s and Ricardo Lockette’s retirements and well as Brandon Mebane saying something indefensible. And Doug Baldwin letting us all behind the curtain a bit.

• Sounders: Seattle made a tactical change for last weekend’s match. It didn’t work out like expected. ... The west is the best, at least in the MLS.

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• If we didn't achieve our mandate today, I have some news for you. No refunds. Sorry. Maybe next time. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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