OKLAHOMA CITY -- The San Antonio Spurs never believed Serge Ibaka was out for the Western Conference finals, even after the Thun

#1 von jokergreen0220 , 19.01.2018 08:01

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The San Antonio Spurs never believed Serge Ibaka was out for the Western Conference finals, even after the Thunder said they expected him to miss the rest of the playoffs with a calf injury. Devin Funchess Jersey . Looks like the Spurs might have been on to something. The Thunder said Friday that their defensive standout now is day-to-day after his strained left calf showed improved movement and stability and a significant decrease in swelling. The Thunder have missed Ibaka badly as San Antonio has raced to a 2-0 lead in the series, and his possible return gives the Thunder hope as they prepare for Game 3 on Sunday in Oklahoma City. "His progress in the last several days has been surprising," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. "I dont think any of us thought wed be standing here talking about this. Were grateful that we are." Well, maybe no one with the Thunder expected it. The Spurs certainly did. "We knew he would be back, and thats good," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Nobody would wish that on anybody to miss a playoff. Weve had guys miss playoffs before. Its obviously a downer. If he gets back in -- and Im sure he will, as Ive said from the beginning -- I think its great." Ibaka was injured in Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers, a Western Conference semifinals series-clinching win on May 15. He is averaging 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in the playoffs while shooting 62 per cent from the field. Presti did not say if Ibaka would be available for Game 3, just that he could not be ruled out. Presti said he felt it best to be forthcoming with the change in the situation. "It would be convenient to not provide the information, and if he were ever healthy enough to play in a game, to release that an hour before the game," he said. "But in this case, we dont think that was the way to handle it, because previously, we had deemed him out. And we cant deem him out." Ibaka, a 6-foot-10 forward, led the league in blocked shots during the regular season and erased many of Oklahoma Citys defensive mistakes. Without having to deal with Oklahoma Citys primary rim protector, San Antonio scored 66 points in the paint on 67 per cent shooting in a 122-105 win in Game 1. The Spurs followed up with 54 points in the paint on 66 per cent shooting in a 112-77 blowout in Game 2. Ibaka also provides balance for Oklahoma Citys offence with his mid-range jumper and an ability to finish close to the hoop when defences focus on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. "Big difference," Spurs guard Danny Green said. "Obviously, one of the best defensive players in the league. Alters everything around the basket, rebounds, and also, of course, he can knock down shots. So youve got to respect him. Hopefully, if he does come back hes not as fresh, hes a little rusty." San Antonio said it will not make adjustments based on the news. "Were going to try to do the same thing," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "Its not like were going to change the game plan for him. For sure, hes going to give them another big body that can be a presence in the paint, block shots and make some jumpers, but our idea will be the same." Presti said Oklahoma Citys medical staff would like to see Ibaka go through game-like conditions before allowing him to return. So far, he has done low-impact training -- light drills and light shooting. Conditioning could be an issue and even if he returns its unclear how much he would play. "Were still focusing on trying to beat the Spurs without him playing," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "That has not changed. I know hes listed as day-to-day, but he is out until Im told differently." Thunder centre Kendrick Perkins said Ibaka could not have erased all the defensive mistakes the Thunder made in Game 2. The Spurs shot 50 per cent from the field and made 9 of 23 3-pointers. "Hes a key guy, but at the end of the day, we shouldnt be getting beat this bad," Perkins said. "In my opinion, even if we would have Serge the last game, the way we played, we still would have lost." Cameron Artis-Payne Jersey . He learned about pressure and expectations at the 2010 Games in his hometown of Vancouver. His next mission is to build on that experience at his next Olympic appearance in Sochi, where he plans to ride the momentum from the teams strong start to the season. Vernon Butler Jersey . Its the second of three meetings between these teams this season. Vancouver was a 2-1 winner on home ice December 22nd. http://www.thepanthersofficialstore.com/authentic-russell-shepard-panthers-jersey/ .J. -- The New York Jets have promoted Tony Sparano Jr. NEW YORK -- Chris Kreider did just about everything right on the ice, and off it, too. Kreider scored a career-best three goals, and Rick Nash added a goal and two assists as the New York Rangers spoiled the return of former coach John Tortorella by rolling to a 5-2 victory over his Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Kreider netted two in the first period for his first NHL multigoal game, and finished his hat trick by tipping in Anton Stralmans shot with his back to the net at 9:38 of the third. Kreider had scored only five goals -- three this season -- in his first 43 career games. After a tough rookie season under Tortorella, in which he spent a large chunk of time playing in the AHL, Kreider didnt reveal any extra satisfaction that his breakout game occurred against this opponent. "I would have struggled trusting me, too," Kreider said of last season. "I was playing through an injury. There are no hard feelings, I learned a lot from him. "I had a pretty positive experience on the whole. At the end of the day, its two points and were happy to come away with the win." Nash and defenceman Michael Del Zotto connected in the second against starting goalie Roberto Luongo and backup Eddie Lack to turn the much-anticipated game into a rout. David Booth and Daniel Sedin scored for Vancouver, which couldnt build off a 5-2 win at Ottawa on Thursday. The Canucks are 3-5-4 in their last 12 games. "I thought we played better in the games we lost prior (to Thursday)," Tortorella said. Rangers rookie backup Cam Talbot was sharp again in spelling Henrik Lundqvist, and made 35 saves in his first home start to improve to 6-1. He has allowed only 11 goals in eight outings. "I gain a lot of confidence, and confidence in the guys in front of me, too," Talbot said. "Theyve been playing really great in front of me. Im just trying to stop the puck and not let them down because theyre doing a great job of getting me in games and getting me leads." New York bounced back from a 3-2 loss at Boston on Friday, that had new coach Alain Vigneault angry, and snapped a three-game losing streak at home even though they were outshot 37-24. Fans unleashed taunts of "Tor-tor-ella" as the final minutes ticked down. "Im not going to lie to you, its a little weird for me coming back here," Tortorella said. "Once the game starts, its about playing and trying to find a way to get a win. Thats my job, to try to get some traction with this hockey club. Once that starts, its just, Lets go." Vigneault got a bit of satisfaction in the coaching matchup Saturday as he earned a win over his former team that let him go after a first-round playoff ouster last season. Watching Daniel Sedin and twin brother Henrik wearing opposing uniforms provided quite a wakeup call. "When I saw the twins have a couple of their moments out there, I knew we were playing againstt the Canucks," Vigneault said. Kawann Short Jersey. "Theyre a good team, but what we had was some great bounces. "A couple of our players made some great defensive efforts, and when that wasnt there, Cam made some great saves." The fiery Tortorella will have another chance to knock off the Rangers, whom he led for 4 1-2 seasons, when they visit Vancouver on April 1. He declined to comment about Kreider, who played only 28 games with the Rangers last season. The Rangers didnt rest after grabbing a 2-0 edge in the first period, and quickly stretched their lead in the opening seconds of the middle frame. It took just one deflected shot by Nash 17 seconds in to make it 3-0 and end the day for Luongo, who stopped only seven of 10 shots. Lack came on and gave up Del Zottos second of the season at 11:04 during a power play that made it a four-goal lead. Luongo, who made his season-high eighth straight start, could be in line for a day off Sunday when the Canucks visit Carolina in another matinee. "Its always hard to either get pulled or to give up a lot of goals," Luongo said. "Ive just got to be better and try to come up with more saves." The Canucks gave up two total power-play goals after allowing only two in their previous 14 games. They hadnt yielded two in one game in 16 contests, dating to Oct. 22. Talbot was seeking his third straight shutout -- all on consecutive Saturdays -- but his bid ended when Booth got Vancouver within 4-1 with 4:10 left in the second. Despite being outshot 14-9 and committing several turnovers, the Rangers headed into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead. Vancouver had a gaffe of its own at the right point, and the puck came to Nash, who kept the puck in the Canucks zone and swept a picture pass onto the stick of Kreider, who was alone in the slot. Kreider quickly let go a shot that got past Luongo to make it 1-0 with 7:23 left in the first. Alex Edler, who didnt get the puck out along the boards, received an earful from Tortorella when he returned to the bench after the goal. The Canucks biggest mistake came with 3:28 remaining when forward Zack Kassian flung the puck over the glass and was called for delay of game. Kreider needed only 22 seconds to double the lead with his second of the day. "We just make a huge mistake 5 feet from the blue line, and it ends up in the back of our net," Tortorella said. "Throw one out of the rink, power-play goal and again were climbing the hill." NOTES: Vigneault replaced defenceman John Moore in the lineup with Del Zotto, who had been scratched for two straight games and five of eight, and benched forward Taylor Pyatt for Derek Dorsett, who had missed two games because of a sprained wrist. ... Edler didnt play the rest of the first period after Kreiders first goal. ... The Canucks fell to 8-7-3 when allowing the first goal. The Rangers are 13-1 when scoring first. 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