Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s loss in Indiana: “The pressure was on the accelerator for the first 30 minutes. Defensive rotations were swarming, the offense played with crisp movement and dead-eye three-point shooting. Mid-way through the third quarter, however, the Thunder’s speed dwindled. As the pace let up, the Indiana Pacers found their footing. To pin the Thunder’s 108-106 last-second loss purely on Wes Matthews’ tip in of a Bojan Bogdanovic missed jumper with 1.8 seconds to go would pay short shrift to the 19-point comeback the Pacers made in the second half. Indiana used post ups by Domas Sabonis, a pair of three-pointers by Matthews out top and a match to the free throw line, including 11 of its 32 attempts in the third quarter alone, to steadily climb back into a game that seemed like it was going to be all Thunder all the way, even in the third game in four nights and the fourth game in six nights in the fourth different time zone for Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club.”
J. Michael (Indy Star) on Wesley Matthews breaking the Thunder’s heart: “When Wesley Matthews hit the market as a free agent last month, he had his share of suitors, including the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul George led his recruitment. He said no to George, and on Thursday night, his tip-in with 1.8 seconds left gave the Indiana Pacers an improbable 108-106 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to cap a 19-point comeback in the second half. “I’m glad he came here,” said Thaddeus Young, who stayed on the bench during the final 6:25, leaving with the Pacers behind 96-85. “That would’ve been a problem on our hands if he wound up against us. He’s coming up huge for us day by day. He has great leadership, a powerful voice in this locker room.”
Sam Amick (Athletic) on Paul George’s post-game comments about returning to Indiana as an opposing player: “I felt I was welcomed more, welcomed better this year,” George said as we walked toward the exits. “And I’m fine with the boos. (But) there’s just the nasty fans. I mean, there was some explicit language. There was some name-calling. There were some middle fingers looking in the crowd. That’s the disrespectful part of it. … I mean, they don’t know me as a person. They don’t know me as a friend, as a father, as a human being. You know me as a basketball player, so all of that is uncalled for. It’s just more so them just being classless. In the real grand scheme of things, there’s nothing they can do to me and there’s nothing I can do to them. It is what it is.” George has no choice but to move on now, what with the Warriors coming to town Saturday and his Thunder in the kind of slide that couldn’t be more poorly timed. This latest loss — their eighth in the past 13 games as they fight for home-court advantage in the first round — came after they led by as many 19 points.”
The Thunder are finally getting a jersey sponsor: “The Oklahoma City Thunder and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores today announced a significant multi-year expansion of their partnership to include the placement of the Love’s heart logo on the Thunder jersey for all games. The partnership builds upon existing initiatives, including the naming rights of Love’s Loud City and Love’s Kiss Cam, and includes new elements that reach beyond the court to support Thunder and Love’s business and community programs. A partner of the Thunder since 2008, Love’s is the retail fuel industry leader in highway hospitality. The privately held, family-owned company was founded by Tom and Judy Love in 1964 when they opened a small filling station in Western Oklahoma. Today, more than 23,000 Love’s team members serve the trucking industry and motoring public at nearly 500 locations in 41 states.”
A look at the jersey patches:
Master Tesfatsion (B/R) on Paul George’s quest to bring a championship to OKC: “Winning the MVP will solidify the effort George has put in over the years to prove just how talented this kid from Palmdale truly is, but his sights are set on hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Thunder sit third in the Western Conference as a result and are one of the few teams that could challenge the Golden State Warriors during the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Lakers sit below .500 and are all but eliminated from the playoffs. It’s safe to say, George ultimately made the right choice. “I truly felt I picked the place that I can succeed and take it to the next level and be the best player I can be,” George says.
Nicole Yang (Boston.com) with Kyrie Irving’s comments on the Russell Westbrook/fan situation: “It happens so often,” Irving said after tallying a triple-double in Boston’s 126-120 comeback victory over the Sacramento Kings. “It just most of the time doesn’t get documented. I think this was the first time it actually got caught on camera, that you caught a player responding like that on camera… When it’s an individual battle with a person in the crowd, and they say something violently disrespectful like that, then it’s going to warrant a reaction,” he said. “If we were out and about with our families, ain’t nobody saying no s*** like that to us. So then, it becomes a human being thing, and things escalate, and the NBA comes in and does what it’s supposed to do and protects the players.”
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