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Friday Bolts: 4.5.19

Friday Bolts: 4.5.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s game against the Pistons: “One emotional home victory does not constitute a turnaround. That’s the statement coming out of the Thunder’s camp heading into Friday’s home-stand finale against the Detroit Pistons. After taking care of business on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Thunder knows that in the final four games of the regular season, including against Detroit, it must do a good job of backing up the effort it gave the last time out at Chesapeake Energy Arena. With the start of postseason basketball only a week away, the Thunder must continue sharpening its tools and be vigilant against any relaxing of standards. “We just gotta stay with it, stay consistent, keep putting the work in,” said forward Paul George. “We got one win. We gotta continue to keep these wins going down the stretch.”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) with the latest Andre Roberson update: “On Thursday, Thunder coach Billy Donovan gave strong indication that Andre Roberson won’t play this season. Starting with Detroit on Friday, the Thunder has four games remaining in the regular season and at least one first-round playoff series to come, but Roberson has not made enough progress in his rehab from surgery on the patellar tendon in his left knee to be an option. “He’s not even doing anything in practice,” Donovan said Thursday. “He is running. I’ve got nothing medically from anybody that says, ‘Hey listen, this guy is nearing or approaching being able to play.'” Donovan said the plan was to try to get Roberson some rehab assignments with the G League Oklahoma City Blue. But with Roberson not close to being able to play and the Blue’s season ended, that plan expired.”

Brett Dawson (Athletic) on OKC’s offensive issues running deeper than 3-point shooting: “Before the All-Star break, the Thunder outscored their opponents by 1.5 points per first quarter, the eighth-best margin in the league. Since the break, they’ve been outscored by 4.1 points on average in the first, 29th in the NBA. In first quarters since the All-Star break, the Thunder are allowing 119.8 points per 100 possessions. Only the Hawks and Wizards have fared worse in the first. In part because of slow starts, Oklahoma City has faced double-digit deficits at some point in 17 of the 21 games it’s played since the break. Those early deficits are creating pressure and aren’t doing the Thunder’s offense any favors. Before the All-Star break, Oklahoma City attempted an average of 23.5 3-pointers in the second, third and fourth quarters. That number has spiked to 28.2 since the break. It would help if the Thunder could make more of those 3s. But while the NBA is becoming increasingly reliant on the long ball, Oklahoma City ideally wants to contest its opponents’ shooters and ballhandlers and do its offensive damage by attacking the rim, both in transition and in the half court.”

Dan Favale (B/R) picks Terrance Ferguson as the Thunder’s weakest link in the starting five entering the playoffs: “Someone, somewhere, will claim they’re courageous enough to identify Russell Westbrook as the weak link in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s starting five. Please, for the love of everything, don’t be the person who mistakes stupidity for bravery. Oklahoma City’s sorest spot is actually easy to pinpoint. It has to be Terrance Ferguson. Westbrook’s shooting slashes are swimming in sewage, but he terrifies defenses by sheer force. Plus, he’s notched more respectable clips from the floor since the All-Star break. The free-throw line? Not so much. Paul George is a top-four MVP candidate. Steven Adams is a dirty-work defender, solar-eclipse screener and smooth-floater extraordinaire. Jerami Grant wouldn’t be the choice even if he weren’t an expert lob-finisher and, now, a 38.8 percent shooter from downtown. He’s among the scant few who can genuinely switch across all five positions on defense. Ferguson has turned in quality spurts, but he’s not what the Thunder can call dependable. Even after a protracted hot streak, he’s shooting just 30.6 percent from long range since the All-Star break. And while he’s a scrapper on defense, he’s too slight of frame to hold up against many of the matchups he’ll pull in the postseason.”

Berry Tramel (Oklahoman) on if Patrick Patterson should re-enter the Thunder rotation: “The Morris experiment started strong. In a loss at Denver on Feb. 26, the Thunder outscored the Nuggets by 15 points in Morris’ 14 minutes. In a loss at Los Angeles on March 8, the Thunder outscored the Clippers by eight points in Morris’ 17 minutes.In Morris’ first 12 games with the Thunder, he averaged 17.0 minutes, 7.1 points and 4.2 rebounds, made 12 of 30 3-pointers (40 percent) and shot 40 percent overall from the field. Morris was an overall plus-nine in point differential for those 12 games. But in Morris’ eight games since, he has been largely ineffective. In those eight games, Morris is a minus-28 in point differential. He was a minus-12 in 19 minutes against Miami, minus-six in 15:15 against Denver and minus-11 in 11 minutes against the Lakers. Morris’ shooting has been alarmingly bad – 11 of 40 from the field, three of 18 from 3-point range, 13.4 minutes a game, 4.0 points and 1.6 rebounds. Patterson hasn’t been productive, either. Not saying he has been. Patterson has played in 61 games and averaged 14.0 minutes a game. Patterson is shooting a career-low .338 from 3-point range, which is his primary offensive assignment.”

Grant Hughes (B/R) has the Thunder 12th in his latest power rankings: “It takes more than one factor to produce a skid like the Thunder have been on since the All-Star break, a stretch during which they’ve gone just 8-13. But the task of sorting out this mess should start with a focus on abysmal first-quarter play. Since the break, OKC has been outscored in the opening frame by 15.9 points per 100 possessions—the second-worst margin in the league. Oh, and Russell Westbrook became just the second player in NBA history to post at least 20 points, 20 rebounds and 20 assists in a game, producing those totals during OKC’s only win this week, a 119-103 defeat of the Lakers on Tuesday.”

Tim Hardaway Jr (Mavs/Players Tribune) on OKC’s haunted Skirvin Hotel: “I was in my room lying in bed with the TV off (first mistake). Just as I started getting comfortable and was almost asleep, I heard something outside my room. It was the sound of footsteps. At first, I tried to ignore it. I mean, hey, it’s a hotel, other people are here, that’s normal. But then I also started hearing this loud screeching coming from the walls and these little voices. I couldn’t make out any words, just quick little whispers. And that’s when I started to get pretty freaked out. I jumped out of bed. The first thing I did was close the blinds. Once again, I don’t know why — don’t question my methods. At that point the footsteps started sounding almost like running. I raced over the bathroom and turned all the lights on to make sure no one was in there. Then, as the footsteps picked up even louder, I swear I actually felt a chill go down my spine. It sounded like someone was right outside my door. I took a deep breath, then put my hand on the doorknob. I yanked the door open and saw … a completely empty hallway. There was nobody out there.”

Thunder still in 7th with eight days until the playoffs: