Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s blowout win over the Grizzlies: “Memphis actually punched back one more time with a 13-2 run right before halftime, but coming out of the locker room the Thunder was in complete control. Steven Adams returned after picking up three first quarter fouls to score the Thunder’s first 6 points and the defense tightened up too as guys fought over screens to get back in front of their own man. The result was a 16-2 start to the third quarter for the Thunder, who never trailed the rest of the way in a 117-95 victory. “Started staying on our man the whole time instead of giving up easy switches to the post up,” said guard Terrance Ferguson. “In the second half we tried to be physical with them and stay with our own man, and it definitely helped.”
Grizzlies.com recaps the game from the other side: “The Thunder executed well coming out of halftime, kicking off the second half with a 16-2 run to earn their first double-digit lead of the night at 67-55. Oklahoma City shot 13-for-24 (.542) in the period and outrebounded Memphis 14-5. After being held scoreless in the first half, Adams had nine points (4-4 FG) in the quarter. The Grizzlies committed six turnovers in the quarter (10 Thunder points) while the Thunder only had one giveaway (two Grizzlies points). Oklahoma City also outscored Memphis 10-0 in fastbreak opportunities to lead 83-72 heading into the final quarter. Oklahoma City continued to pull away in the fourth quarter, outscoring Memphis 22-6 in the paint as part of making 15-of-26 (.577) shots in the period while Memphis shot just 6-for-16 (.375) from the floor. The Grizzlies continued to mishandle the ball, committing eight turnovers (17 Thunder points) in the quarter.”
Royce Young (ESPN) on more triple-double history for Russell Westbrook: “The past two times Russell Westbrook had a run of seven straight triple-doubles, he came up short of passing Michael Jordan for the longest streak in 51 years. On Thursday in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 117-95 win against the Memphis Grizzlies, with an offensive rebound and a putback with 4:29 left in the third quarter, Westbrook reached eight straight triple-doubles, sealing the longest triple-double streak in the NBA since Wilt Chamberlain had nine straight games in 1968. Westbrook can tie Chamberlain on Saturday when the Thunder take on the Houston Rockets. Westbrook finished Thursday’s win with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists.”
Paul George is good:
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on the Thunder turning to the buyout market after a quiet trade deadline: “One potential buyout target, Knicks guard Wesley Matthews, apparently is signing with Indiana after he’s bought out in New York, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. There figures to be a number of potential buyout candidates which could fit what the Thunder needs on the perimeter and defensively. Memphis traded Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green to the Clippers on Thursday, and the Clippers have little incentive to keep either player considering their aspirations to clear cap space for free agency this summer. The Clippers traded star forward Tobias Harris on Wednesday and waived center Marcin Gortat and point guard Milos Teodocic on Thursday… Other potential free agents who have yet to be bought out by their teams include Phoenix’s Wayne Ellington, Memphis’ Justin Holiday, and, yes, former Thunder center Enes Kanter.”
Grant Hughes (B/R) has the Thunder sixth in his post-trade deadline power rankings: “We are witnessing Paul George’s absolute peak. He’s scored at least 30 points in eight of his last 10 outings, leads the league with 2.3 steals per game and has unequivocally been the Oklahoma City Thunder’s best player all year. His 10 threes against Miami on Friday set a franchise record, and his 43 points in that 118-102 win gave him four 40-plus scoring nights this year. He only had eight in his previous eight seasons combined. The Thunder (3-1 this week) have won nine of their last 10 games. OKC stood pat at the deadline but has two open roster spots it could fill on the buyout market.”
Wayne Ellington is officially available: OKC, Detroit, & Lakers are reportedly interested in his services.
Brett Dawson (Athletic) on Raymond Felton’s impact on the Thunder: “These days, he does it with little to no promise of playing time. A year removed from a role in the rotation, Felton has played in 15 of the Thunder’s 54 games this season, none since Dec. 30. It’s not what Felton wants. But he is where he wants to be. “I’d be lying to you if I said it’s not tough,” Felton told The Athletic this week. “It’s tough. It’s heartbreaking at points. But at the same time, I know my role.” That role is as the classic good-locker-room guy, as mentor to young players like Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo. It’s not what Felton wants, but he’s good at it. He’s come to take some pleasure from it. “His voice, his presence inside of our team, inside the locker room, is huge,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan. As such, it should come as no great shock that when the buzzer sounded on Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, Felton had stayed in place.”
Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on Paul George and Russell Westbrook being selected to Team Giannis in the upcoming All-Star Game: “It took a trade, but Paul George and Russell Westbrook will both play for Team Giannis in the All-Star game. Both teams were set Thursday, in the first ever televised NBA All-Star Draft, when LeBron James proposed a trade to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Was that even allowed? Why not? Antetokounmpo said two weeks ago that he wanted to pick both Westbrook and his personal rival Joel Embiid. But on Thursday, James selected Westbrook to his team. So he offered Antetokounmpo a way to make his peacemaking dreams come true. TNT aired the draft Thursday evening but pre-recorded it that morning while trade news was still flying ahead of the 3 p.m. ET deadline. Since it was that time of year, James said would give Antetokounmpo Westbrook for Ben Simmons, another All-Star reserve. Antetokounmpo agreed. Westbrook joined George, who Antetokounmpo selected with his third pick.”
PG thinks Russ is lucky to have been traded to Team Giannis:
Around the League: The Pelicans will play Anthony Davis for the rest of the season…. Markelle Fultz is headed to Orlando…. Recapping a wild trade deadline…. Trade deadline winners and losers…. Best moments from the NBA All-Star Draft…. A look at the upcoming buyout market…. LeBron thinks Eastern Conference teams are loading up because “they ain’t gotta go through me”.