Nick Gallo recaps last night’s win in Sacramento: “In what was an astonishing, yet familiar sight for Thunder fans, Westbrook careened around the top of the arc behind a Steven Adams screen and with just one second left buried a three-pointer from the top of the key. The quick-trigger jumper broke a tie with the Sacramento Kings and lifted the Thunder to a 110-107 victory to commence the home stretch of the 2017-18 season. “I caught it clean enough,” Westbrook smirked. “I gotta find a way to get space, obviously with one second left and kind of run him off of Steven. Coach drew up a great play,” Westbrook added. “They thought I was going for a lob. I just read the defender and tried to pop back and get some space.” “Competitors are winners,” forward Paul George said of Westbrook. “That’s what it comes down to. Guys who are super competitive find a way to win.”
Westbrook’s game-winner set to Titanic theme music. Via Titanic Hoops.
Matt Peterson (NBA.com) rates Westbrook’s game-winner on The Horry Scale: “As fantastic as Westbrook’s heroics were, the Thunder should not have needed them in the first place. Entering Thursday night’s slate, just three games separated the third and ninth-place teams out West. They nearly gave up a 20-point lead to a lottery-bound club. That didn’t happen because Westbrook got a clear look for the win. They escaped a sloppy contest in dramatic fashion, but all that matters to Oklahoma City is the all-important “W.” Two-and-a-half Horrys.”
Tim Keown on Carmelo Anthony trying to change with the rest of the NBA: “The non-paint 2 — the midrange shot that has accounted for most of his 25,115 career points — has become the game’s vilest epithet. The world has moved on, and he’s trying to move with it. Lord knows he’s trying. But for 15 years, Carmelo Anthony has tied his worth to what he can create from this one spot. It has given him 10 All-Star appearances and a scoring title and a cosmopolitan lifestyle that comes with nearly $250 million in career earnings. He drinks only the best wine and smokes only the best cigars and is close enough with Barack Obama that the two of them are in the process of finalizing Anthony’s future role in the Obama Foundation. It has also created divisions on teams, serial conflicts with coaches and none of the postseason success that his talent seemed to portend when he left Syracuse in 2003 after one championship season.”
Grant Hughes (B/R) on the biggest question facing every NBA team: “Was Andre Roberson really that vital? The Oklahoma City Thunder are 9-11 without Andre Roberson, and their defense tumbled off a cliff in the immediate aftermath of his season-ending knee injury. A guy routinely exploited—to the point of being run off the floor—in playoff matchups can’t possibly be that valuable, can he? The 20 games we’ve seen from OKC without Roberson suggest he can, but we’ve got another 20-something to examine between now and the end of the season, and Oklahoma City had better find a way to defend (and win more than it loses) without Roberson. Is Alex Abrines the answer? Terrance Ferguson? Josh Huestis? Big lineups with Paul George at the 2? Playoff seeding will depend on compensating for Roberson’s absence.”
Brett Dawson on Paul George wanting Defensive Player of the Year: “Asked at Oklahoma City’s morning shootaround if he cares about the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, George said he “absolutely” does. “Defense is a side of the ball I take pride in,” George said. “So, why not want to be rewarded for something that you do? I’m not out here to play defense to try to win it, but that’s just who I am. That’s a part of my game and what’s made me special on the court. So, absolutely. That’s definitely an achievement I would love to receive.” George is widely regarded as one of the NBA’s best and most versatile wing defenders. He entered Thursday leading the NBA in steals at 2.2 and deflections at 4.3 per game.”
Thunder G-Leager PJ Dozier is part of a potential problem for the NCAA (Yahoo Sports): “Documents and bank records obtained in discovery during the federal investigation into the underbelly of college basketball detail in meticulous fashion the expenditures of prominent former NBA agent Andy Miller, his former associate Christian Dawkins and his agency, ASM Sports. They include expense reports and balance sheets that list cash advances, as well as entertainment and travel expenses for high school and college prospects and their families….. Former South Carolina player P.J. Dozier received at least $6,115 while in school, according to the documents.”
Cody Taylor (USA Today) on Paul George believing Steven Adams is the best rebounder in the league: “While Adams is a key player for the Thunder and fills out a traditional box score plenty on a nightly basis, he also does a lot of the dirty work that is beginning to be recorded through these hustle stats. George is not surprised that Adams leads the league in box-outs. “Well, it’s not surprising,” George said. “He’s the best rebounder in our game. There’s no question about that. He’s the best rebounder so that’s not surprising at all. That’s a hell of a stat, though.”
Around the League: The NBA is implementing a new improper conduct hotline…. Zach Lowe’s 10 things he likes/doesn’t like…. Emmanual Mudiay led the Knicks to victory in his first start at PG…. A hernia kept Avery Bradley out of last night’s Clippers/Warriors match-up…. What it’s like to guard James Harden.