4 min read

Friday Bolts: 11.3.17

Friday Bolts: 11.3.17

Erik Horne on tonight’s potential defensive battle with the Celtics: “When the Thunder faces the Boston Celtics on Friday, it’ll be a matchup of the two top statistical defenses in this early NBA season. Entering Friday, Boston was No. 1, allowing just 95.1 points per 100 possessions. The Thunder is right behind the Celtics at 95.9.”

Rob Mahoney (SI) on Russell Westbrook transitioning from destroyer to creator: “Every supernova is transient by definition—even Russell Westbrook. For eight months, no one in or around the league could look away from his MVP season. What held the league’s interest was his perpetual explosion. The backstory behind his MVP season may have made for good theater, but the power of Westbrook came in making an otherwise nondescript game from the glut of the NBA calendar into essential viewing. Westbrook himself, all blinding light and furious energy, became an event. The creative weight. The inexhaustible push. The unprecedented production. The NBA has seen star after star erupt over the years, but never quite in this way.”

Jack Maloney (CBS) on Westbrook being ahead of last season’s triple-double pace: “Westbrook now has four triple-doubles. He’s also just shy of averaging one for the season as he sits at 19.6 points, 11.8 assists and 9.9 rebounds. His early averages actually put him ahead of his pace from last season when he set the single-season record with 42 triple-doubles and became the second player after Oscar Robertson to average one for a season. He’s averaging two more assists and one-and-a-half more rebound per game this campaign than he was at the same point of last season. Through the first seven games of 2016-17, Westbrook had two triple-doubles and was averaging 30.4 points, 9.8 assists and 8.4 rebounds.”

Brett Dawson on the offense in OKC’s second unit: “So far this season, the Thunder’s bench has flourished around a second-unit scorer. It just happens that he’s a starter. Typically Carmelo Anthony is the starter who stars in stretches surrounded by backups. Sometimes it’s Paul George. Whichever All-Star fills that role is easing the load on Oklahoma City’s role players.”

Kevin Pelton (ESPN Insider) on the Thunder’s decision to not pick up the Josh Huestis contract option: “After being stashed in the G League his first year as a pro, Huestis played just 86 minutes total during the first three seasons of his rookie contract. He has already nearly matched that total with 82 minutes in 2017-18, emerging as a part of Billy Donovan’s rotation, so it’s a little surprising the Thunder declined his option. But Oklahoma City could be looking at a huge tax bill next season if Paul George re-signs and Carmelo Anthony picks up his $28 million player option, so the Thunder were understandably reluctant to commit to paying Huestis another year.”

Grant Hughes (B/R) has the Thunder at number two in his latest NBA power rankings: “OKC is thriving with Anthony leading the second unit, and thanks largely to a defensive effort that held the Bulls to only 69 points Saturday, the Thunder are permitting just 95.9 points per 100 possessions. Some of this is skewed by that Chicago blowout, but if you use Ben Falk’s calculations at Cleaning the Glass, which cut out garbage time and “heave” possessions at the ends of quarters, OKC ranks first in net rating. If Patrick Patterson ever rounds into form (he’s averaging two points per game on 26.3 percent shooting), we’ll really see Oklahoma City hit another gear. For now, a 2-1 week with a close loss to the Wolves is enough to climb a bit.”

Jonathan Tjarks (Ringer) on Westbrook’s one-man show being over: “Westbrook is playing smarter. He is only a career 31.3 percent 3-point shooter, but that never stopped him from bombing away from deep. He led the Thunder in 3-point attempts last season at 7.2 per game. He has cut that number in half, and he’s taking roughly a third as many shots in the long-2 range between 16 feet and the 3-point line. Being more selective has made him a better shooter. Westbrook has career-high percentages from 3 (36 percent) and at the rim (65.5 percent). He has finally realized that just because you can create a shot doesn’t mean you always have to take it. Westbrook is like a free-swinging hitter who learned how to control the plate. Pass up pitches out of the strike zone and you can get better ones later in the at-bat.”

Erik Horne on Melo taking an OKC family grocery shopping yesterday: “Anthony looked down and put his arm around eight-year-old Rene Dominguez, who was hugging up against the leg of the 6-foot-8 star. They stood next to three carts full of groceries Dominguez had the privilege of filling up with his family. Anthony joined Dominguez, the boy’s two sisters Anahi Garcia, 15, and Izabella Dominguez, 6, as well as their mother Dian Dominguez on a Homeland shopping spree in Northwest Oklahoma City on Thursday. Dian is caring for the three children and grandparents independently, and Anahi’s father recently passed away.”

Paul George went on an Oklahoma fishing trip with ESPN’s Marty Smith:

Around the League: Damian Lillard buzzer-beat the Lakers…. LA forward Larry Nance broke his hand in the loss…. Steph Curry was oddly mentioned in the GOP tax cut proposal…. Dwyane Wade compares the Cavs to the 2014 Heat…. Gregg Popovich was ejected in last night’s loss the Warriors…. The brother of Kristaps Porzingis says an extension with the Knicks is no sure thing.