Thunder end Spurs historic streak

                         In Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, played in Oklahoma City, a lot of questions needed to be answered. Will the Spurs extend their winning streak to twenty one games? Will Kevin Durant feel physically fit enough to tackle to Spurs? Can the Thunder avoid a 3-0 hole?

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Early on, the Spurs were terrible. The Thunder have one of the best fan bases, so strong, it intimidated Tony Parker. Parker had a mere sixteen points, which, sadly, led the Spurs in scoring. Tim Duncan wasn't performing well either. He scored eleven points, going 5-for-15. With the Big 3 falling apart, the Spurs couldn't match up to the fast-paced Thunder. For the first time since April 11 (The Spurs' last loss, against the Lakers), the Big 3 actually looked their age. They didn't have any amazing jump shots, assisting or brilliant back-hand passes, for which Manu Ginobli is best known for.

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The Thunder took advantage of their home-court advantage, and of the "tired" Spurs. Kevin Durant felt good, and he looked good. He scored twenty two points, had six rebounds and five assists. Durant was untouchable. Thabo Sefolosa has four steals within the first three minutes of the game, all of them off of Tim Duncan. Not all was bad for Duncan. He had five blocks, which beat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's previous playoff record of 476. Duncan now has 477.

By the fourth quarter, Coach Gregg Popovich of the Spurs gave up. He benched Duncan, Ginobli and Parker for the last fifteen minutes. With a two-digit lead in their hands, and the game practically won, the Thunder did the same. At one point, the lead was cut to eleven, but the end score was a twenty point margin, 102-82.

Game 4 is in Oklahoma again, on Saturday, June 2nd.

Music Review: American Idol Alums

Kris Allen released his new album, Thank You Camellia, the day after Phillip Phillips was crowned victor of American Idol, season 11.

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Allen's album is unlike anything he's done before. When fellow Idol alum Adam Lambert dropped his latest, about a week prior to Allen's, it reached the top of the charts in no time. TYC ( Thank You Camellia), also has climbed its way to the top. Consisting of fourteen  tracks, this album is a fresh look at Season 8 Idol winner. Most of the songs are upbeat and catchy, an easy listen, one to soothe. Unlike what Allen sang on the show three years ago, TYC has a happy tone, one that symbolizes a character. Kris Allen has shown two completely different sides. His first is that he is a soft guy, who sings ballads and sad love songs; his second is that he is a happy-go-lucky guy who is still exploring himself for the perfect sound. Well he's almost there.
Rating:                                   4.5 stars

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Phillip Phillips became the winner of Season 11 of Idol. He was against sixteen year old powerhouse Jessica Sanchez. Phillips' vocals fall short compared to Sanchez, but he knows how to work a crowd. He is a naturally gifted performer who plays on the audience's emotions. Singing Usher to practically any rock genre to Gotye, Phillip Phillips has great versatility. Teenage girls everywhere love it when he "groans", which he says is actually him getting into the melody. From what he's done on the show, he doesn't have a melody.

Spurs, Yanks Continue to Win

What do the San Antonio Spurs and New York Yankees have in common? Not a lot. They play completely different sports (basketball and baseball respectively), in different states and are completely different athletes. Yet, they do have a little in common. Both teams have the longest winning streak in their sport as of now, and while both teams have been called "old", they have a lot of game left in them.

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Yesterday, May 27th was Game 1 of the Western Finals for basketball. It was the Spurs vs the OKC Thunder, who almost swept the Lakers. The Spurs trailed by nine at the beginning of the fourth quarter. After using every time out in the 4th quarter, they pulled it together. Gregg Popvich, the Spurs coach, rallied them on. He told them to play nasty and drive in some shots. The young Thunder couldn't keep u. Manu Ginoboli had a team high 26 points, while Kevin Durant from the Thunder had a game high 27 points. This come-from-behind victory is the Spurs' 19th win, tying the 2001 Lakers for most wins in a playoff. The Lakers went to the championships that year.

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The Yankees also have the largest winning streak, but it's only five games long. After sweeping the A's in Oakland last weekend, the Yankees are finally coming around. Some of their main sluggers are falling behind and their bullpen is the only thing that is saving them. Mark Texeira and Curtis Granderson don't have as many home runs or RBIs as they usually have. Yet, they still manage to create a winning streak. If the Yanks can fix their hitters and almost perfect their starting pitchers, they will easily be at the top of the AL East.

Maroon 5 for 10

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Pop band Maroon 5 celebrated ten years this year. From their breakthrough album, Songs About Jane, in 2007 to their newest album Overexposed, Maroon 5 has done what few other pop bands before them have done. They have made music, "real" music, music that's about their voice and their passion. As for quality, Maroon 5 has it, they still have the freshness in their voices that they did in their first album. They haven't lost the familiar pop tune that defines M5.

The pop group sat down with Entertainment Online to chat about their ten years of music. Adam Levine says that nothing has really changed for them. He's still the same "stubborn, combative...confident" lead singer he was years ago. On whether he's cocky, Levine says "[My confidence] is often misunderstood for egotistical." 

Lead guitarist says that their new album will be a different sound. While M5 fans would love to hear Songs About Jane sequels, Valentine says that's not the case. They want to explore new sounds. This is the first album, he says, that they've come to terms with who they are as a band and combined their confidence together.

Valentine added that it was important for the group to move on from their one set sound, even though that's tried-and true. "That's not who we are," Levine adds. They are still experimenting with their new sound.

Overexposed comes out June 26th. Songs About Jane 10th Anniversary Edition comes out June 5. 

Donna Summer Remembered

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Donna Summer passed away on Thursday, May 17, 2012. She had lung cancer, which is believed to be the cause of her early death. The disco icon died at 63.

Her family members say that Summer was a non-smoker, yet she had lung cancer. It is believed that during the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11, Summer inhaled some of the smoke which later developed into lung cancer. This is not uncommon. It is believed that over one thousand people have died from inhaling the smoke from 9/11, with more than a third from cancer.

There will be a private memorial for Donna Summer in Tennessee, on May 30th. Her family released a statement saying: "While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy,". (As reported by and MSN's Wonderwall)

Almost Made History

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If Justin Verlander had thrown one extra strike, he would have been a part of an elite group of pitchers, a list only twenty nine people long. This group is the no-hitter club. Verlander could have been the thirtieth pitcher in the history of baseball to throw a no hitter. But he wasn't going to make history this game.

In an exciting battle between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers, Verlander does an amazing job as the Tigers pitcher, even with a thumb injury. All the way until the ninth inning, Verlander had twelve strikeouts and only two walks. He gave up no walks. With one out in the ninth and only two people between him and history, Josh Harrison comes up to bat. Top of the line-up, but he hadn't hat a hit yet. Verlander throws two strikes, and a ball. The next pitch, Harrison makes contact with the ball. He singles to center.

Although Verlander's chances of being considered one of the best are ruined, his work should not go unnoticed. He lowered his ERA to 2.14, which is a significant amount lower than his ERA prior to this game.
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Verlander made his first appearance this season after being placed on the DL due to a thumb injury. The Tigers had thirteen hits, and scored six runs. The final score was 6-0, in favor of Detroit.

No More American Idol?

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In recent reports and stories, Jennifer Lopez is thinking about quitting American Idol. She has been talking with her rep, who confirmed the rumors. She wants to take some time off to spend time with her growing children, focus on her own music career and possible start a new family. These rumors started to circulate after Jennifer was in talks of a pay raise. On her first season of Idol, she made $12 million. This season, it's gone up to $20 million. If a raise isn't her future, she may not be in American Idol's future.

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Recently, Simon Cowell announced that the two new judges on the X Factor will be Brittney Spears and Demi Lovato. Spears is reportedly getting paid $15 million for her first year, while Lovato is receiving a much smaller sum, of a round one million dollars.

Some critics say that J.Lo is angry with American Idol for not paying her as much as Spears is receiving on her first season and that's why she wants to leave. Others say that she wants to marry her 27 year-old boyfriend, Casper Smart. Some others still say that she wants to focus on her own talent show with Marc Anthony, which will debut later this year. One thing is for sure, if Lopez doesn't see a raise in her already huge paycheck, she may be leaving.

Music Review: Adam Lambert, Karmin, Pitbull

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Adam Lambert finally has a new album out. He hasn't released one since his post-Idol debut, For Your Entertainment, in 2009. His new album, Trespassing, is much better. Lambert has narrowed down his vocals, and set the pace for what kind of music he is going to release in the future. While his first album was passable, his sophmore album hits the spot. With fourteen tracks, ranging from club beats to deep and meaningful songs, Adam Lambert has proven that he can do it all. While he certainly hasn't reached his full potential, Lambert has reached a turning point in his career. His beats range from dance and pop/rock to more of a slower song, one that his American Idol friend and winner [of Season 8, the year Lambert took second], Kris Allen wold sing. It looks like Lambert has finally found his footing in the music business and has a lot of success with his pop/rock tunes.
Rating:          4 stars

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Next up, YouTube sensation, Karmin. Like Sugarland before them, Karmin has amazing male-female vocals. In their first album since becoming famous by covering other artists, Karmin decides to show the business that they mean business. Complied of a mere seven tracks, Karmin has great versatility. Starting with a rap, moving into a pop, going back to rap, touching funk, going back to pop, Karmin can do it all. Their beats still sound like an amateur, but being that this is their first taste of "real" success, it's a building point. At one point, their vocals sound like a Jessie J/Katy Perry crossover, but in time, Karmin will be able to establish themselves as an amazing boy-girl duo.
Rating:          4 stars

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Latin rapper Pitbull is back with a new album. This one, titled Original Hits is made up of an astonishing eighteen songs. As usual, his songs have a dirty dance-y feel to them, songs made for a party. It has English and Spanish tracks, with seven of them featuring collaborations by people such as Lil Jon. So far, his album hasn't caught on yet. Pitbull's sound is repetitive and gets boring after a while. His first two albums are exactly like his third. Pitbull knows who he is as an artist, but seems afraid to explore anything but his own sound.
Rating:           2 stars

Basketball Update

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Yesterday, May 12th, was Game 7 of the first round playoffs for the Lakers and Nuggets. If the Nuggets one, they would be the ninth team in NBA history to win a playoff series after losing 3-1. But, even though they have made it to the playoffs nine years in a row the longest consecutive appearance in NBA history), they haven't made it past the first round eight of the nine times. Plus, the only time the Lakers have lost a Game 7 at home was in 1969.

Metta World Peace came back after his seven game suspension. The pressure was on Gasol and Bynum after they both played lousy Games 5 and 6.

Early on, the Lakers dominated. The first half was all Gasol and Blake. Kobe Bryant was not his usual basketball hog. He looked for the open shot and the open man. More often than not, he went for the open man. He had eight assists that game and a mere seventeen points. This is a huge decrease from the previous two games, in which he scored forty-three and thirty six points.
Defensively, the Lakers needed World Peace. And he was there to save them. He had only two blocks, but fifteen points and five rebounds. Not a stellar performance, but it was just what the Lakers needed to push past the pesky Nuggets. He had a lot of pressure on him, this was his first game back and it was pivotal for his team. Metta World Peace seemed rusty, but in the end, it was enough for the win. His real test would be against the Thunder on Monday.

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On Monday, the Lakers will start a best-of-seven-series with the OKC Thunder. James Harden, who World Peace elbowed badly, won NBA's sixth man of the year and this is his first game since. This is a big game for him and World Peace. For him, to prove his worth and for World Peace to overcome the crowd.

Music Now

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This week was a big week for music. B.o.B. and Carrie Underwood both have new albums out, Underwood's doing far better than B.o.B's. As usual, the former Bobby Ray's album is a light rap. It's fun, it a feel good album. His debut album, B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray, was far better in comparison. This album, called So Good, features collaborations with Taylor Swift, Chris Brown and Lil Wayne, to name a few. This T.I. protege still has a little trouble fitting into the rap world. He doesn't have the "speed" that most rappers are known for, his beats are average. B.o.B. can best be described as an R&B, Rap crossover. Once he finds his niche, though, he will be unstoppable. He has the potential, just not the experience.

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Underwood's album is a mix. It has happy songs, it has slower, deeper songs. She shows a lot of versatility. This American Idol winner has truly become one of country music's leading women. She sings (and performs) with a lot more confidence than she did when her debut album came out. Her voice has a large range for a country singer, and she hits a lot of the notes with ease. Underwood is truly one of the last honest, non-autotune singers left. Country fans will be pleased to know that Underwood is back and holding nothing back in her newest release, Blown Away. The track compiles of 14 songs, 8 of which she co-wrote.

Recommendation? So Good: 3 stars
                                                                      Blown Away: 4 stars

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