4 min read

Friday Bolts: 1.11.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s double-overtime loss in San Antonio: “Despite that final number in the box score, a 154-147 defeat, the Thunder gained so much more than an easy-does-it win would have provided. There was togetherness on the floor and brotherhood after the game in the locker room as the Thunder recognized the resilience, toughness and commitment required to hang in there long enough not only to force overtime but a second one. Aldridge, operating out of the left block, relentlessly went to work in knocking down nearly impossible, highly contested jump shots over both Adams and Grant. The defense couldn’t have been tighter. The shooting was better, as Aldridge finished with a career-high 56 points and also leading a 26-29 Spurs effort at the free throw line by making all 16 of his attempts.”

Khadrice Rollins (SI) on last night being an instant classic: “On the back of another Russell Westbrook triple double, Oklahoma City refused to let the Spurs and their sharpshooters get away. So as Westbrook piled up a career-high 24 assists (and only three turnovers), the teams engaged in a back and forth. Each time San Antonio’s lead started to balloon to 15 or 16, the Thunder cut it back to single digits. And then the Spurs would respond. And then Oklahoma City would have an answer for that response. Yet as the Spurs looked to close things out, their attention went away from the three-point line, and to the inside, where LaMarcus Aldridge could not be stopped.”

Russell Westbrook appreciation:

ESPN with every must-know milestone from Thunder/Spurs: “By the time the extra 10 minutes of basketball had been played, the Thunder and Spurs had combined for 301 points, by far the most in a game this season — even with offense up across the board in the NBA. The last game to feature a combined 300 points — not including the league’s annual All-Star Game — was Dec. 7, 2006, when the Suns beat the Nets 161-157 in double overtime. For the Spurs, the 154 points were their most in a game since dropping 161 against the Paul Westhead-coached Denver Nuggets in 1990. You don’t have to go nearly that far back to find the last time OKC scored 147. The Thunder lit up the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers for 148 in regulation last January.”

Chris Thompson (Deadspin) on last night being a preview of what the second half has in store for the Western Conference: “The Spurs are now a season-high seven games over .500, and are in sixth place in the Western Conference, having won seven of their last ten. The Thunder are still in third in the West, but are just 2.5 games ahead of eighth place. The NBA season has quietly slid past its midway point, and all these conference games are going to start feeling more intense as the second half moves along. This one had playoff intensity and a playoff atmosphere, which is appropriate in a conference where the third seed and the 14th seed are separated by just six games. I can only imagine what another three months of raised stakes will mean for the level of desperation in that playoff race.”

Highlights from Thunder @ Spurs:

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on Westbrook, George, Adams, and their hunt for an All-Star spot: “The second returns on fan voting were released on Thursday and George is in position to start in the All-Star Game for the first time as a Western Conference player and the first time since 2016 when he was with Indiana. George has jumped Golden State’s Kevin Durant and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis into the Top 3 in fan voting for Western Conference frontcourt players… Westbrook remains in fourth place among Western Conference guards, but has expanded his lead on Golden State’s Klay Thompson from just more than 200,000 votes to more than 700,000. The surprise for the Thunder continues to be Adams, who has played at an All-Star level, but faces tough competition in terms of breaking into his first All-Star appearance. Yet, the sixth-year center is sixth in the Western Conference in votes among frontcourt players, and has expanded his lead on Denver’s Nikola Jokic to nearly 300,000 votes.”

Berry Tramel (Oklahoman) on why Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot deserves minutes: “The swingman from France has been in Donovan’s doghouse for more than a month, but it might be time to give TLC another chance and rein in the Abdel Nader experiment. The Thunder bench is getting torched, and while TLC isn’t much of an offensive player, his defense holds up. Why not try to spark that bench unit with defense? Nader, acquired from Boston in the off-season, has been playing much more the last two weeks, with Alex Abrines’ mysterious absence from games and practice. In the last eight games, Nader has averaged 15.3 minutes and 6.3 points per game, while shooting 44.4 percent on both 3-pointers and 2-pointers. Nader is more of an offensive weapon than is TLC. But TLC is much better defensively, and Nader has been getting lit up.”

Master Tesfatsion (B/R) on the Nike PG3 “NASA”: “The PG3 is nearly an ounce lighter than the PG 2.5, a hybrid of the PG1 and PG2 that George has hooped in this season. Hardman said they were able to reduce the shoe’s weight by removing excess materials, utilizing a softer foam in the midsole and incorporating mesh on the shoe’s upper. While it’s been trendy to incorporate space themes into shoes over the last year, George’s NASA-inspired colorway isn’t for clout but rather to pay tribute to his childhood growing up in Palmdale, California, located an hour north of Los Angeles. The city is home to an aircraft manufacturing plant that has built every NASA space shuttle and NASA’s Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center. The vibrant hues of orange, blue and yellow are inspired by the center and conveniently blend well with his Thunder uniform.”

Around the League: LeBron will miss another three games to injury…. Boogie will start for Golden State when he returns…. 10 things Zach Lowe likes/doesn’t like…. Recapping last night’s NBA action…. Top trade candidates around the league…. Gregg Popovich passed Jerry Sloan on the all-time wins list…. The NBA’s shutdown candidates…. How the Jazz financially incentivize playing/practicing well…. How will the Warriors utilize Boogie?