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LeBron James helps Cavs erase record playoff halftime deficit

INDIANAPOLIS — LeBron James’ triple-double helped Cleveland erase the largest halftime deficit in NBA playoff history Thursday night as the Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers 119-114 to take a 3-0 series lead in their first-round series.

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James scored 41 points and added 13 rebounds, 12 assists and two blocks as the Cavaliers overcame a 25-point halftime margin in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. It was James’ 17th triple-double of his playoff career.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, James scored or assisted on 73 points, a career playoff high.

“I didn't know it was the biggest comeback or things of that nature,” James said. “For myself, I just try to put myself in position to help my teammates win no matter who's on the floor with me. Try to empower them, try to make them better, try to make them believe we can be great every night.”

NBA star Isaiah Thomas' sister killed in car crash

The sister of Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas was killed in a car crash on Interstate 5 in Washington state Saturday. 

Chyna Thomas, 22, died at the scene of the crash, which happened around 5 a.m. in Federal Way, south of Seattle, reports the Tacoma News Tribune.

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The Washington State Patrol said witnesses reported the car weaved off the roadway and hit a barrier, launching it into a sign post. Chyna Thomas wasn't wearing a seat belt, authorities said.

Isaiah Thomas, a point guard for the Celtics, is originally from Washington state and played for the University of Washington.

The Celtics will face the Chicago Bulls on Sunday in the NBA playoffs in Boston.

The Celtics released the following statement: 

"We are terribly saddened by the tragic loss of Chyna Thomas. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Celtics organization are with Isaiah and his family."

Russell Westbrook ties 55-year-old NBA triple-double record  

Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook tied an NBA record Friday night, becoming the first player in 55 years and the second overall to average a triple-double for an entire season. 

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With his sixth assist against Phoenix, Westbrook clinched the triple-double average and joined Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, who averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game in the 1961-62 season. Westbrook is averaging 31.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game and leads the NBA in scoring.

Westbrook got his sixth assist on an outlet pass to Victor Oladipo, who hit a layup and was fouled on the play. 

Westbrook left the game with 2:33 to play and finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, two assists shy of what would have been his record-breaking 42nd triple-double of the season. The Suns beat Westbrook and the Thunder, 120-99. 

“I could never say in a million years that I would ever think that was even possible,” Westbrook told ESPN. “For me to do it, it's extremely a blessing. It's something that I'm honored to be able to do, especially in this game today, at the highest level. It's a blessing. I'm just very thankful and happy to be able to do it.”

Westbrook accomplished his averages playing nearly 10 fewer minutes and around 25 fewer possessions per game than Robertson, ESPN reported.

Westbrook is tied for fourth on the NBA’s all-time list of triple-doubles, tied with Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain. He has had seven 40-point triple-doubles and two 50-point triple-doubles, ESPN reported. 

Westbrook has three more chances for his 42nd triple-double. Oklahoma City plays at Denver on Sunday, at Minnesota on Tuesday, then wraps up its regular season at home against the Nuggets on Wednesday.

NCAA Championship: UNC, fans celebrate win over Gonzaga on social media

After a heartbreaking loss to Villanova in last year's NCAA Championship, North Carolina came back with a vengeance Monday night, defeating Gonzaga 71-65 to win its sixth national title.

>> PHOTOS: UNC defeats Gonzaga to win 6th NCAA Championship

>> South Carolina women win first NCAA basketball title

Here's what the Tar Heels and their fans were saying on social media:

>> Click here or scroll down to see the posts

Photos: UNC defeats Gonzaga to win 6th NCAA Championship

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.

South Carolina women win first NCAA basketball title

For the first time in four years, women’s college basketball has a new top team, and it wears garnet and black. The South Carolina women’s basketball team is the new national champion, winning a national title for the first time in program history.

The Gamecocks beat Mississippi State 67-55 in Dallas on Sunday afternoon, completing the run through the postseason all the way to the crown in Dawn Staley’s ninth season.

>> Visit SECCountry.com for more NCAA Tournament coverage

South Carolina made the run without senior center Alaina Coates, who missed the NCAA Tournament with an ankle injury. But what the Gamecocks had was more than enough — and all of it is expected back next season.

Junior forward A’ja Wilson led the Gamecocks with 23 points, while Allisha Gray — the star against Stanford on Friday in the Final Four — again came up huge for South Carolina with 18 points.

When the moment mattered most, it was the pair of Wilson and Gray that proved to be the difference as the duo hit back-to-back hoops after the Bulldogs cut the lead to 4 in the fourth quarter.

In the third meeting between the two teams this season, South Carolina jumped out to a lead late in the first quarter with a 6-0 run. The Gamecocks would never trail again, but the evening wasn’t without its tense moments.

>> Men's basketball: Gonzaga brings South Carolina's fairytale run to an end in Final Four

Mississippi State had a huge third-quarter push left in the tank, started by three straight points from star Victoria Vivians. The Bulldogs rattled off a 9-0 run to cut South Carolina’s lead from 14 down to 5 late in the third quarter, but USC had the answer it needed to live through the run.

Wilson made a short jumper and Kaela Davis capped the third quarter with a buzzer-beating jumper to extend the lead back to 8, but the Bulldogs had another run left.

MSU scored four straight to cut the lead down to 4 with 6:52 to play. Wilson had the necessary answer again, swatting away an MSU shot and getting a good bounce on a short jumper to send South Carolina to a 6-point advantage. Then it was Gray with a jumper to lift the Gamecocks back to safety and off with the national title.

Gonzaga brings South Carolina's fairytale run to an end in Final Four

South Carolina basketball made it all the way to the third weekend of the NCAA Tournament, but it could not make it to the final step.

And it came close after it looked like all was lost. The Gamecocks made a frantic second-half comeback, as they have so many times in the postseason. But it was not enough, as the No. 1-seeded Zags had too much in the end. The Gamecocks’ historic run halted Saturday afternoon in Arizona with a 77-73 heartbreaker at the hands of fellow first-time Final Four participant Gonzaga.

>> Visit SECCountry.com for more NCAA Tournament coverage

South Carolina rattled off a 16-0 run in the second half to take a 67-65 lead with 7:05 to play, but a Zach Collins 3-pointer and back-to-back Przemek Karnowski hoops flipped the game back for the Zags after the Gamecocks has seized control after missing it for the first 33 minutes of the game.

South Carolina kept it close down to the final seconds, but could not get a crucial hoop in the final 1:45 of the game when it was down one possession throughout. Gonzaga fouled Sindarius Thornwell with 3.5 seconds left. The senior made the first but missed the second and Gonzaga grabbed the rebound up two with 2.2 seconds left.

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Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie made a pair of free throws, ending the Gamecocks’ season.

Gonzaga came out of the locker room cruising in the first half, hitting 57.6 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point range. The Gamecocks tied the game twice in the first half — 26-26 and 31-31 — but both times the Zags swung the game right back in their favor with 3-pointers from Jordan Matthews.

Read more here.

Atlanta Hawks fan celebrates major dunk with silly dance

At the Atlanta Hawks game against the Brooklyn Nets Sunday in Atlanta, one fan got the crowd going with his dunk and his dance.

In a video posted on Facebook by the Hawks, a man dressed in jeans, a shirt and Nike shoes, first dribbled the ball from across the court and then made the jump of his life.

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His body reached heights taller than the basket, but he was able to make the daring basket and land on the pad below.

If that didn’t get the crowd going, his dance surely did.

He somersaulted off the pad and “butt-bumped” on the court and then finished with a full-body spin.

The clip has more than 368,000 views.

Some commented with skepticism on the video and suggested it was staged, comparing it to some of the “kiss cam fails” that have gone viral, like the proposal fail at a January Hawks game.

Whether or not he was a real fan, it was a fun sight for the crowd.

As for Sunday’s game, the Nets won 107-92. 

Watch the video of the dunk and dance below.

Suns’ Devin Booker scores 70 in loss to Celtics

The Phoenix Suns made history two nights in a row.

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The Suns started the youngest lineup ever Thursday, with an average of 21 years and 14 days. Worse, the Suns were down to eight players and lost by 26 to the Brooklyn Nets. The lineup was younger than several of the Sweet 16 teams still in the NCAA tournament. 

Friday also netted a loss, but Devin Booker kept them in it. He scored 70 points for the Suns, and helped Phoenix claw back from a 20-point first quarter deficit. Booker’s scoring eventually won over the Boston crowd, who began cheering for him as the Suns tried to keep the game going late, calling timeouts to give Booker a chance to score more points. He finished with the highest single-game total in franchise history, but lost to the Celtics 130-120.

Booker joined Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor and Kobe Bryant as players to reach 70 in one game.

Booker was 21 of 40 from the field, four of 11 from the 3-point range and was 24 of 26 shooting free throws. The former Kentucky star also had eight rebounds and six assists. He averaged 20.9 points per game before Friday. 

South Carolina trolls USA Today after beating Duke

Consider the 2017 NCAA Tournament party crashed after South Carolina’s upset win on Sunday night.

The Gamecocks took down No. 2 seed Duke in a game that many pundits had all but given the Blue Devils prior the the meeting in Greenville. After all, the South Carolina program had just won its first NCAA tournament game in 44 years and had never visited the Sweet 16. They’d be happy with just one win against Marquette, right? Wrong.

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In fact, USA Today was so confident that the Gamecocks would fold on Sunday that its sports account tweeted out a message after No. 1 seed Villanova fell to Wisconsin on Saturday, proclaiming: “Duke’s path to the Final Four looks ridiculously clear with Villanova’s loss.”

Let’s just say the fine folks at South Carolina bookmarked that tweet for future reference.

On Sunday night, in the moments following the Gamecocks’ historic victory, the school’s official Twitter account sent out this zinger to the news publication:

South Carolina will next play Baylor for a chance to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time in program history.

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