Moore back for more after heady first game

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Moore back for more after heady first game

FOXBORO - The Patriots' back end is in some discomfort. And nobody likes that. James Ihedigbo's shoulder is hurting, Devin McCourty's too. Patrick Chung's right foot is still in disrepair. And Kyle Arrington's hurts as well. So the little-known guys who were on the field a ton last week - Antwaun Molden at corner and Sterling Moore at safety being the main ones - will be out there again Monday night against the Chiefs.

On Wednesday of last week, Ihedigbo mentioned that Moore would be instrumental against the Jets if Chung was unable to play. I honestly wasn't sure who Ihedigbo was speaking about until he pointed at Moore's locker. Moore played all 72 defensive snaps for the Patriots in New York. He'dnever even played the position in a game before last week. "It wasn't a shock but it was like, 'OK, time to step up,' " Moore said of the moment he learned Chung couldn't make it througha pregame workout. "I tried to make it not bigger than it was and I think I did a really good job of that. It wasn't too big of a stage I don't think."Being able to reduce a game to its essence is practically a measurable attribute. The player concerned about prime time and big lights and how he'll say his name for the network introductions is spending focus and energy on things that can detract from on-field performance. Norman Dale pretty much demonstrated that concept for his team in Hoosiers."I've always been able to do that and that's something I try to do," said Moore. "When you let(the hype)get in the way, you don't tend to play fast and you don't remember your Xs and Os so I just try to keep a level head and go out there and play."How could a group with two guys who'd barely played regular defense in an NFLgame - Moore and Jeff Tarpinian - play as fast and efficiently as the Patriots did last week?"We had confidence and we studied well throughout the week," Moore offered. "When you study well you can play fast and that's the key any week, knowing your opponent and Ithink we knew the Jets well."ThePatriots' familiarity with the Chiefs is a lot more shallow. Add in the fact that Tyler Palko starts instead of Matt Cassel at quarterback for Kansas City andthe ability to know what's coming is pretty much gone for Monday night. But because Moore and Co., didn't get blown away by the moment last week, they'll be back for another round.

Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

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Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

OAKLAND, Calif. - As Stephen Curry dribbled out the clock in a raucous Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant could only stand and watch.

The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals, while Durant's future in Oklahoma City is much less certain.

Two nights after blowing an opportunity to close out the defending champion Warriors at home, the Thunder got sent home for the summer when they lost Game 7 of the Western Conference finals 96-88 on Monday night.

Instead of becoming known as the team that knocked off the Warriors after their record-setting 73-win regular season, the Thunder will be remembered for a playoff collapse. They became just the 10th NBA team to lose a playoff series after taking a 3-1 lead and now head into an uncertain offseason with Durant eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

If he does leave the only franchise he has played for in his nine-year career, he will do it having failed to deliver the championship to Oklahoma City. The closest the Thunder have gotten in Durant's tenure was when they lost the NBA Finals in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012.

They then lost in the second round the next season, in the conference finals in 2014 to San Antonio before missing the playoffs entirely because of an injury to Durant last year.

But under first-year coach Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City earned the third seed in the top-heavy Western Conference this season and then upset 67-win San Antonio in the second round. The Thunder followed that by winning three of the first four games against the Warriors, with a pair of lopsided wins at home.

But after losing Game 5 on the road, the Thunder blew an opportunity to eliminate the Warriors at home on Saturday night. Oklahoma City led by seven points with less than five minutes remaining but made only one basket and committed six turnovers down the stretch of a 108-101 loss that could haunt the franchise for years.

The Thunder responded on the road in Game 7 by taking a 13-point lead in the second quarter. But once Curry and Klay Thompson started hitting Oklahoma City with a flurry of 3-pointers, the Thunder had no answer. The Splash Brothers combined for 13 3-pointers as Golden State outscored Oklahoma City by 30 points from behind the line.

Oklahoma City's stars were no match. Russell Westbrook missed 14 of 21 from the field and shot just 36.8 percent in the three potential clinchers. Durant finished with 27 points but took only 10 shots in the first three quarters.

Durant did score seven straight points to cut an 11-point deficit to four with 1:40 remaining. But Serge Ibaka then fouled Curry on a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, allowing Golden State to build the lead back to seven.

Durant then missed two shots and could only stare blankly when Curry ended Oklahoma City's season with a 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left. Now the Thunder can only hope it doesn't end Durant's tenure in Oklahoma City as well.