February 20, 2012 in Sports

In brief: Durant scores career-high 51 to top Denver

 
Associated Press photo

New York’s Jeremy Lin, left, celebrates with Steve Novak after Novak hit a 3-point basket late in the Knicks’ win over Dallas.
(Full-size photo)

NBA: Kevin Durant scored a career-best 51 points for the top performance in the NBA this season, Russell Westbrook added 40 and Serge Ibaka had his first career triple-double as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 124-118 Sunday night.

Durant hit a 3-pointer and drove for a dunk to tie the game with 4.4 seconds left in regulation, then used the extra period to chalk up the first 50-point game of the two-time scoring champion’s career.

Ibaka added 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks.

• Novak, Lin lend hand in Knicks rally: Jeremy Lin had 28 points and a career-high 14 assists, Steve Novak made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and the Knicks ended the Dallas Mavericks’ six-game winning streak with a 104-97 victory Sunday in New York.

J.R. Smith scored 15 points in his Knicks debut and Novak had all of his 14 in the final period as the Knicks won for the eighth time in nine games.

In a game of wild momentum swings, the Knicks reeled off 17 straight points in the first quarter, fell behind by 12 in the third, and then pulled it out to beat the Mavericks for only the third time in the last 20 meetings.

Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 34 points for the Mavericks.

• Wade, James fuel Heat win over Magic: Dwyane Wade scored 27 points, LeBron James had 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and the NBA-leading Miami Heat beat the visiting Orlando Magic 90-78 for their sixth consecutive victory.

Udonis Haslem scored 10 for the Heat, who improved to 25-7, a half-game better than Chicago for the best record in the NBA and the Eastern Conference.

• Nets’ Lopez makes 2012 debut: New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez made his season debut after missing the first 32 games with a broken right foot. Nets coach Avery Johnson said Lopez will sit out today’s game against New York and play Wednesday against Orlando.

Red Wings’ win streak hits record 23

NHL: The Detroit Red Wings won their 23rd straight home game, setting a multiple-season mark and holding on to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2.

Detroit, which broke the league’s single-season record of 20 on Tuesday, surpassed the 22 wins in a row the Boston Bruins had over two seasons more than eight decades ago.

Detroit’s Joey MacDonald, filling in for the injured Jimmy Howard, made 31 saves.

• Stepan nets OT winner: Derek Stepan scored 22 seconds into overtime, and the New York Rangers overcame a late tying goal by Columbus and one disallowed on their side in a 3-2 victory over the visiting Blue Jackets.

Green powers Spartans past Purdue

Men’s basketball: Draymond Green had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Austin Thornton scored a career-high 17 points to lead No. 7 Michigan State to a 76-62 victory over Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind.

By sweeping the Boilermakers (17-10, 7-7 Big Ten) this season, the Spartans (22-5, 11-3) took a one-game lead in the Big Ten title chase.

Maryland hands Duke first ACC loss

Women’s basketball: Tianna Hawkins scored 19 points, including the tiebreaking basket with 14 seconds left, and No. 8 Maryland (23-5, 10-4) defeated fifth-ranked Duke 63-61 to end the Blue Devils’ (22-4, 13-1) bid to go unbeaten in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Azarenka overcomes injury to take Qatar

Tennis: Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka of Belarus shook off a lingering ankle injury to win the Qatar Open in Doha, Qatar, routing Sam Stosur of Australia 6-1, 6-2.

Azarenka earned her 17th straight victory and first title since replacing Caroline Wozniacki atop the rankings after winning the Australian Open. It was her third title overall in 2012.

• Federer grabs first title of year: Roger Federer defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 6-4 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to win the ABN Amro World Tennis for his first title of the year.

• Almagro wins third Brazil Open: Nicolas Almagro of Spain won the Brazil Open for the third time (2008, 2011), defeating Filippo Volandri of Italy 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in San Paulo.

• Raonic repeats as SAP Open champion: Milos Raonic captured a second straight SAP Open championship in San Jose, Calif., rolling past Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 7-6 (3), 6-2 behind a powerful serve.

• Spaniard claims first WTA title: Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino of Spain won her first WTA title, defeating Alexandra Panova of Russia 6-2, 7-5 in the final of the Copa BBVA Colsanitas in Bogota, Colombia.

Hirscher closing in on overall WC lead

Skiing: Austria’s Marcel Hirscher won his second race in two days, capturing a slalom and drawing closer to the overall lead in the World Cup standings.

Hirscher was in front after the first run on the Banderitsa course in Bansko, Bulgaria, and won in a combined time of 1 minute, 52.64 seconds. Austria’s Mario Matt finished with the second-best time but was disqualified for a gate infringement.

Hirscher is now just 18 points behind leader Ivica Kostelic in the overall standings, with the Croatian sidelined with a knee injury.

• Vonn clinches title after race canceled: Lindsey Vonn clinched her third straight super-combined title after the final race in the discipline this season was canceled due to heavy snowfall on the Sochi 2014 Olympics course in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

With just two super-combi races completed this season, Vonn took the title with 180 points, 55 points ahead of Slovenia’s Tina Maze and 60 points in front of Austria’s Nicole Hosp.

Brown wins NHRA Arizona Nationals

Auto racing: Antron Brown won the Top Fuel division in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., holding off Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the final round with a run of 3.793 seconds at 319.82 mph.

Robert Hight topped the Funny Car field and Jason Line won the Pro Stock competition in the second of 23 races in the NHRA Drag Racing season.

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