3 min read

Friday Bolts: Stung

Friday Bolts: Stung

With just 5 games remaining, the Oklahoma City Thunder are 1 game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks, and 1.5 games ahead of the Utah Jazz, for the last play-in spot.  Though OKC controls its own destiny, the Thunder gave away some of that control with an ugly loss to a very bad Charlotte Hornets team.

And boy, people had questions after that loss.  The questions were compounded when coach Mark Daigneault said after the game that making the play-in wasn't as important as "our way of doing things."

Thunder’s Mark Daigneault: Play-in ‘not so important that it’s gonna distract us from our way of doing things’
OKC lost a critical home game to the Hornets Tuesday

Berry Trammel (The Oklahoman) said the rotations (like, um, playing guys like Jared Butler in the fourth quarter) were evidence that the team didn't really care about getting a much-needed win.

Tramel: Will Thunder’s master plan prove costly in race for NBA play-in tournament?
The Thunder’s 137-134 loss to the Hornets could prove costly, and Mark Daigneault’s rotations show OKC was not all-in on victory.

To top it all off, The Oklahoman published a guest column by a season-ticket holder that was roundly mocked on Thunder Twitter.  In the column, Shannon Friedman let the team have it, claiming that the team "duped" the fans and ultimately care little to nothing about the fan base.

Oklahoma City Thunder fan: With playoffs in sight, ‘we feel duped’
If you’re going to tank, take the San Antonio or Houston approach and make it clear from the jump. Don’t break our hearts.

In more positive news, Jalen Williams, who saved the Thunder from another embarrassing defeat with a game winner with 0.5 seconds remaining against the Detroit Pistons, continues to earn Rookie of the Year praise.  In his latest weekly rookie rankings, Sam Quinn (CBS Sports) put J-Dub at number 1.

NBA Rookie Rankings: Jalen Williams’ game-winner saves Thunder; Keegan Murray breaks rookie 3-point record
Also, Shaedon Sharpe is shining in Portland since joining the starting lineup

With all the buzz surrounding Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and J-Dub, forgotten a little is Lu Dort.  But Dort remains a critical part of OKC's success, in large part by his defense.  Jason Quick (The Athletic) penned a feature on how Dort became one of the league's elite defenders.

Damian Lillard is one of the NBA’s most feared scorers, and it didn’t take him long to answer who he thinks is the best defender in the NBA.
“Lu Dort,” Lillard said. “I think he has the perfect balance of strength, quickness, speed and desire to do it. And he’s young. So I just think he is the best at it.”
How Lu Dort, the Thunder’s ‘wall on wheels’, became one of the NBA’s most feared defenders
The ability of Oklahoma City’s guard to slow the NBA’s top scorers has helped the Thunder stay in the mix for the playoffs.