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. 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." Brian Dozier Nationals Jersey . -- Jerome Williams glanced at Philadelphias schedule and realized he would be facing the Oakland Athletics yet again, with another new team. Brian Dozier Jersey . - Kobe Bryant and LeBron James traded hugs, big shots and verbal jabs all night with warmth and humour. https://www.cheapnationals.com/667r-aust...-nationals.html. The 29-year-old Mills started three games for Oakland this season, posting a 1-1 record with a 4.41 earned-run average. He opened the season appearing in 14 games and making 12 starts for the Milwaukee Brewers triple-A affiliate in Nashville, posting a 4-2 record with a 1. Washington Nationals Pro Shop . -- LeGarrette Blount wasnt satisfied with three short touchdown runs, not against a team coming off the second greatest comeback in playoff history. Hunter Strickland Nationals Jersey . The lightning strike was in the parking lot of Crew Stadium on Saturday night, but its not known if the off-duty lieutenant was struck directly, Columbus Fire Department Battalion Chief Tracy Smith said. The firefighter, identified as Lt.NEW YORK – Marcus Stroman wasnt in the Blue Jays dugout for Sundays series finale at Yankee Stadium. He was serving the first of what became a five-game suspension for his pitching indiscretion last week in Baltimore. Stroman appealed the six games he was given for throwing a fastball over the head of the Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph, an incident which took place one inning after Joseph spiked Jose Reyes during a play at home plate. The suspension was reduced by one game. It is a paid suspension. There was no in-person hearing. In fact, according to the ballclub, neither Stroman nor the team played a role in the process. The Major League Baseball Players Association negotiated down the original ruling. The net effect of the process results in Stromans final start of the season being pushed back one day. He was scheduled to start against Seattle on Thursday but, instead, could pitch on Friday against, you guessed it, Baltimore. Manager John Gibbons has said he would go with a bullpen-by-committee on Thursday in the event Stroman was ineligible to pitch. Todd Redmond may be the first to appear because, according to Gibbons, he could log the most innings. It has been an impressive rookie campaign for the 23-year-old Duke University alumnus. Stroman has won 10 games as a starter, posting a 3.29 ERA and 1.147 WHIP. JOHNSON DRAWS IN Dan Johnson arrived at Yankee Stadium on Sunday morning and found himself in the starting lineup. It marked his first start since July 30 in Boston, after which he went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. Johnson came off the ddisabled list on Sept.dddddddddddd 2 after completing a minor league rehabilitation assignment and has had only one at-bat since, a pinch-hit appearance in the Sept. 14 game versus Tampa Bay. Circumstances seem to have conspired against Johnson making more appearances down the stretch. “There have been numerous times from just about the fifth inning on, situations that arise and say if this happens, this happens, youre hitting and each time it seems its gone the other way,” said Johnson. Johnson couldnt predict what effect the layoff would have on his timing at the plate. “Sometimes its okay and sometimes its not,” said Johnson. “All you can do is just prepare and go out there and give everything Ive got. Its like one of those things where Ive got to try to work some at-bats, see some pitches and try to get my timing back as soon as possible.” Johnson went 0-for-3 with a walk on Sunday afternoon. STREAK SNAPPED The Blue Jays streak of starting pitchers going at least six innings came to an end at 26 games on Sunday. Drew Hutchison threw four-plus, allowing a home run to Brett Gardner and a single to Derek Jeter in the fifth inning before manager John Gibbons gave him the hook. ONE LAST STAND The Blue Jays return home for seven games to finish the regular season. Theyll play the Seattle Mariners for four, starting Monday. The American League East champion Baltimore Orioles will come in for three beginning on Friday. With Sundays 5-2 loss to the Yankees, Toronto concluded its 81-game road schedule with a record of 37-44. ' ' '