3 min read

Friday Bolts – 11.4.16

Friday Bolts – 11.4.16

Darnell Mayberry (!!!) back with some nuggets: “Before leaving the office today, a colleague


seemed shocked that I thought Russ could and likely would have a rough game. My explanation for my reasoning: 1) It’s the second night of a back-to-back, a brutal one that saw him carry a tremendous burden the night before against arguably the West’s third best team, 2) The emotion of the evening, 3) He’s carried an enormous load already in these first five games, 4) Steve Kerr wouldn’t allow Russ to go berserk and essentially beat the Warriors by himself as he did against Phoenix and the Clippers. He’d throw doubles at him and get the ball out of his hands and make others beat them, 5) He’s not going to continue to average a triple-double, 6) The Warriors are freaking good.”

Anthony Slater: “Durant ripped the franchise’s heart out four months ago. In a Thursday night first half flurry, if they’d somehow forgotten about the canyon-sized hole he’d left, Durant reminded the Thunder in the cruelest of ways. He punished mismatches in the post. He flew around defensively. Then he erupted from the perimeter, uncoiling that 7-foot frame from 25 feet and lasered through 3s from an unblockable, unimaginable height.”

Here’s what I wrote.

Michael Lee of The Vertical: “In the end, it didn’t matter. Whatever mental edge Westbrook tried to hold over Durant, or that he has held in the aftermath of Durant’s crushing departure – from posting photos of cupcakes on Instagram, to taking veiled swipes in commercials – were all moot because the Thunder were simply overmatched. Oklahoma City still has talent. Westbrook remains one of the game’s most dynamic players, and has a chance to contend for MVP if he can drag this inexperienced crew into the postseason. But Durant left a hole the size of Chesapeake Energy Arena with the Thunder – one that won’t be replaced – and a pain that will only heal, if ever, in time. Right now, it all seems too raw, too soon for reconciliation. And no matter how many times Durant tries to make right the exit he wishes was executed better, no words or actions will bring back that love. He’s gone now. He belongs to someone else.”

Sam Amick of USA Today: “The scene that unfolded in the Thunder locker room is the kind of stuff Durant loathes, their shared history that included so many special moments having been reduced to sports tabloid rubble. But Westbrook’s insistence on feeding this fire with mind games and wardrobe missives ensures it will continue for the foreseeable future. The teams don’t play again until Jan. 18 at Oracle Arena. Durant’s first return to Oklahoma City is Feb. 11.”

Tim Bontemps of the WaPo: “Ever since Kevin Durant made the decision to leave the only franchise he had ever played for in his nine-year NBA career to join the Golden State Warriors this summer, he had the first game he would play against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the back of his mind. Some people — like Durant’s former running mate, Russell Westbrook — might be able to block out the moment. But Durant isn’t built that way. And, for the opening nine minutes of Thursday’s game here between the two teams, he played that way, apparently trying to figure out how he should approach the game, just like he seemed to be trying to figure out how to greet his former teammates before it.”

Marc Spears of The Undefeated: “Durant has since said he wished he had handled his departure better with Westbrook. Westbrook, however, hasn’t grabbed the olive branch as he said following a win over the host Los Angeles Clippers a night earlier that he was not answering any more questions about Durant. Durant has been politically correct when answering questions about Westbrook, the Thunder and Oklahoma City since arriving at the Warriors. But he revealed that his kindness hasn’t been rewarded.”