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Friday Bolts: 2.9.18

Friday Bolts: 2.9.18

Nick Gallo recaps last night’s blowout loss to the Lakers: “Paul George had the Thunder rolling in the first eight minutes on Thursday night, ripping off 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting to start the game. As the first quarter began to wane, however, the absence of Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony began to show, and the Thunder lost its mojo. Both Westbrook and Anthony missed the Thunder’s 106-81 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers due to sprained ankles they sustained in the team’s win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. As a result, the Thunder’s lineups and rotations were just a bit off, and so was the execution on both ends.”

Joey Ramirez (Lakers.com) recaps the game from the other side: “The trade deadline can be one of the most devastating days of the season, particularly for a close-knit team like the Lakers. Yet while Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. were sent to Cleveland in the morning, the remaining Lakers rallied at night for the largest win of the season: a 106-81 smackdown of Oklahoma City. Both teams were shorthanded, as Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye (acquired from the Cavaliers along with a first-round pick) had yet to join the Lakers. Meanwhile, OKC was without injured stars Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.”

Erik Horne on the Thunder offense without Russell Westbrook: “When Grant’s post game is the next-best offensive option, there’s a problem. The Thunder shot just 35.3 percent in the first half. George accounted for 22 of the Thunder’s 46 points. Adams started just 2-of-9. George got off to a 5-of-5 start, but by the time his parents settled into their baseline seats it was the start of the second quarter and the Thunder’s offense hit a snag. Raymond Felton had to start at point guard with Westbrook out. That meant Alex Abrines was the de facto second-unit point guard. The Thunder didn’t score for the first 4½ minutes of the second quarter.”

Brad Rowland (DIME Mag) on the “We want Paul!” chants at the Staples Center: “The headliner between now and July will be LA’s pursuit of LeBron James but, on Thursday evening, fans of the franchise reminded anyone singularly focused on James that Paul George is also a significant draw in that particular market. George hails from the area (including a college basketball stint at Fresno State) and, in the midst of a home blowout win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Staples Center crowd showered him with chants of “We Want Paul” for all to hear.”

Matt Ellentuck (SB Nation) on how the Lakers are in position to make a run at Paul George: “The Lakers have just $39 million locked up for their 2018-19 payroll, and according to USA Today, the cap projection is around $108 million (though it could drop further from that number). That means the Lakers have close to $69 million to play around with this offseason. That’s enough for TWO max contracts.”

Erik Horne on why the Thunder and other top teams were quiet at the trade deadline: “Could a deal have been done? Yes. Would it have made the Thunder better? The team didn’t think so. The same could be said for the Spurs, Rockets, Celtics and Warriors. The Thunder wasn’t the only team among the contenders in their respective conferences who held off from making a roster-altering decision on Thursday. It sets up the Thunder, and the rest of the NBA, for a robust and competitive buyout market in the next few weeks. Waived players have until March 1 to sign with teams and be eligible for postseason rosters. The Thunder has an additional roster spot open.”

Cody Taylor (USA Today) with eight potential buyout candidates for the Thunder: “The NBA trade deadline has now come and gone, and it was a pretty quiet day for the Thunder as they opted not to make a move on Thursday. Now, the next bit of player movement in the NBA will come in the form of buyout signings. A number of veterans will be bought out in the next few weeks and the Thunder could bring in at least one of those players by offering playing time and the possibility of a deep postseason run. With the team looking to solidify itself in the Western Conference, here are some players who are worth targeting. It is important to note that players must be signed before March 1 in order to be playoff eligible.”

Tim Daniels (B/R) on the rumored Thunder interest in Joakim Noah: “The Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly among the teams expected to show interest in New York Knicks center Joakim Noah if he’s bought out by the organization following Thursday’s NBA trade deadline at 3 p.m. ET.”

Around the League: Recapping a wild NBA trade deadline…. Rankings the Cavs’ deadline deals…. All the deals that didn’t involve Cleveland…. Draymond Green was fined for comments made to officials on Tuesday vs OKC…. Kemba Walker will replace Kristaps Porzingis in the All Star Game…. Magic Johnson is confident the Lakers will land two stars.