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Monday Bolts: 1.22.18

Monday Bolts: 1.22.18

Nick Gallo recaps Saturday’s 148-124 win over Cleveland: “Turns out that in Saturday afternoon’s 148-124 Thunder win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in a prestige national TV matinee, offense was the best defense, and that was the case very early on. In fact, the Thunder burst out of the gates with an 8-0 lead after its first four offensive possessions and never trailed the rest of the way. The initial burst was fueled by two Paul George free throws and six of Steven Adams’ 25 points, two on dishes from Westbrook and another on a put back. “We were balanced,” Head Coach Billy Donovan said. “We played well offensively because we generated good shots from the paint and behind the line.”

Erik Horne on the Thunder not backing down when opponents make runs: “The Cavaliers hit a cluster of third-quarter 3-pointers, and the Thunder could have wilted like it did during its early season string of blown leads. Not this time. The Thunder puts its foot on the gas and blew past the Eastern Conference champs. “I thought when they were going through that run of theirs, we did a good job of keeping that same pace and still playing the same way,” Paul George said after the Thunder’s 24-point win over Cleveland. “We played for one another and kept the ball moving.” Saturday’s holding off the Cavaliers wasn’t an isolated incident. If the Thunder has a double-digit lead sliced, it’s not losing the game like it did the first quarter of the season.”

Nick Friedell (ESPN) on Enes Kanter trolling LeBron James after the Thunder’s win on Saturday: “After his latest trolling tweet directed at LeBron James, New York Knicks big man Enes Kanter admitted that one of his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates told him that the Cleveland Cavaliers star was going to get his revenge on the floor soon. “One texted me just to say — I’m not going to say who — but he texted me, ‘You’re about to get 50 dropped on you, boy.'” Kanter said before Sunday’s matinee against the Los Angeles Lakers. “I responded something back, but I’m not going to say what it is.”

Fred Katz on the production OKC is getting out of its bench: “Donovan has used the all-bench lineup with Abrines in 12 games so far. It’s outscoring opponents by 6.2 points per 100 possessions in 46 minutes of play. He’s used the one with Ferguson in eight games — and did so as recently as during Wednesday’s blowout of the Los Angeles Lakers. That group has outscored opponents by 8.6 points per 100 possessions in 41 minutes together. Success has come with Felton hunting 3s like no facilitator does in any other lineup. The Thunder take a third of their shots from 3 on the season. But the Abrines group takes 42 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc. The Ferguson group takes 37 percent of its looks from there. They combine the production with far less reliance on the mid-range. It’s paint shots and triples, basketball’s two most efficient looks. Much of that falls on Felton, who isn’t pulling up from 16 feet as often as he was early in the season and is facilitating many of those 3-pointers.”

Nick DePaula (Nice Kicks) fully reviews the Nike PG2: “As we evolve the line, it’ll feel a little more Paul than it might’ve on the 1, stylistically. Functionally, we hit all of the things that Paul wanted on the 1, but I’m not sure that we defined his style yet. That will evolve. For him, he wanted that strap in the front for the 1, and that was key. We built on things that had worked for him in the past, and then drew inspiration from who he is as a guy on and off the court. The fishing thing was a big piece of inspiration for us last year, and some of that dictated the design of it. You’ll see some of his style come into it as we develop his line down the road.”

The Thunder is seventh in ESPN’s latest power rankings: “The Thunder’s 148 points on Saturday against the Cavs were the most for the franchise in a non-overtime game since April 1994 when the team was based in Seattle. Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined for 88 points, the most by the trio this season.”

Zach Kram (Ringer) lists OKC’s handoffs as one of the five saddest plays in the NBA: “No team uses handoffs less frequently than the Thunder, and no team comes close to optimizing them as poorly: The Thunder score just 0.57 points per handoff possession, and the 29th-place Suns are closer to the seventh-place Hawks than they are to OKC. Westbrook has shot just 11-of-38, with eight turnovers, off handoffs — many of them static jumpers — and Paul George has managed an even worse 6-of-22. Carmelo Anthony has curled off four handoffs all season. More frequent and inventive use of sets involving handoffs isn’t the only possible solution to OKC’s offensive stagnation, and that may not mesh with Westbrook’s preferred brand of ordered chaos. But the Thunder need to try something to get unstuck.”

Brett Dawson on Dakari Johnson shaking off rust in the G-League: “The 7-foot rookie center spent his Sunday afternoon suited up for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G League affiliate, posting 16 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes during OKC’s 103-98 loss to the Memphis Hustle. It was a change of pace for Johnson, who’s logging most of his minutes with the Thunder late in blowouts. Mostly, he’s at the end of the bench studying his NBA teammates and waiting for his next opportunity.”

Around the League: Tony Parker is no longer the Spurs’ starting point guard…. Clint Capela says the Rockets are better than Golden State…. How LeBron arrived on the doorstep of history…. SI’s midseason awards…. Gregg Popovich mocked the recent uptick in NBA fights.