4 min read

Monday Bolts: 10.22.18

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s loss to the Kings: “The frenetic feeling in the building didn’t have totally positive effects, as the Thunder defense came off as jittery rather than poised, and the result was a 131-120 loss for Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club. All night long, from the opening minutes through the final buzzer, the Kings offense had free reign to create high-percentage shots on dribble drives for kick outs, side pick and rolls for pocket passes and kick-aheads for transition layups. For the game, the Kings shot 54.9 percent from the field, including 59.6 percent in the paint on 57 attempts, while making 10-of-22 three-pointers and scoring 18 fast break points. “Defensively, I thought we got hurt several times at the rim on pull across in the first half,” Donovan said. “The number of non-paint twos that they made, and what we were trying to do in terms of forcing them into jump shots, they made them.”

Royce Young (ESPN) on Russell Westbrook’s return to action: “Returning from mid-September knee surgery with no obvious signs of rust, Russell Westbrook’s season debut couldn’t have gone much better. Except for the losing part, which was striking not only in which team it happened against but also in how it happened. Westbrook finished with 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting, plus 12 rebounds and eight assists, but the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Sacramento Kings 131-120 Sunday, dropping to 0-3. “It was OK. Wasn’t my best night,” Westbrook said of how he felt. “But I’ve got I don’t know how many games left to play. Not worried. It was my first time. I just hate losing, honestly. I don’t really care to talk about how I played.”

Westbrook’s media session after last night’s loss:

Brett Dawson (The Athletic) on why a struggling Terrance Ferguson is unlikely to lose his starting spot: “The Thunder is walking a complicated line with Ferguson. He wasn’t expected to be a long-term starter. Oklahoma City hoped to have defensive specialist Andre Roberson healthy at or near the start of the season as he recovered from a ruptured left patellar tendon. But a setback due to an aggravated suture means Roberson won’t even be evaluated for a return until November. So, Ferguson — who started 12 games last season when Roberson was out with injuries — got the first shot at the spot. He hasn’t played well, but pulling him after three games could deal a blow to his confidence, and that’s worth considering for a player who just turned 20 in May. It hasn’t helped Ferguson’s case as a starter that Diallo has gotten off to such a splashy start. The 20-year-old from Kentucky had 11 points on Sunday, five more than Ferguson has scored all season, and his contributions are eye-catching. Diallo soars for rebounds and throws down transition dunks. He made a 3-pointer on Sunday and followed the one he missed with a rebound that he drove and slammed.”

Ti Windisch (FanSided) on the Thunder being short-staffed: “Granted, the season is young. There are 79 games left, which is plenty of time to turn around an 0-3 record. To do that, the Thunder are going to have to figure out some pressing problems facing them. Without Westbrook, Oklahoma City couldn’t score at all. The Thunder put up 100 points in their first game and just 92 in their second contest against the Clippers. With him against Sacramento, they managed to put up 120 but gave up 131. Pretty much everybody on the Kings went off, including Iman Shumpert, who ended the night with 26 points on just 13 field goal attempts. The Thunder are simply short on useful two-way players. Outside of their big three of Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams, nobody on the roster is reliable night in and out, considering Andre Roberson is still out with his knee injury. The other two starters in Oklahoma City, Terrance Ferguson and Patrick Patterson, combined for six points on two-for-13 shooting in their home opener against the Kings. The bench doesn’t provide many other options. Dennis Schroder was third in scoring on Sunday, but he needed 16 shots to get his 14 points. As poorly as he may have fit in with the Thunder, at least Carmelo Anthony was good for 16 points each night.”

The Thunder are no. 16 in ESPN’s latest power rankings: “The Thunder started the season with a close loss to the Warriors, a blowout loss to the Clippers and a surprising home loss to the Kings, which has led to their drop in the rankings. Russell Westbrook has only played 35 minutes so far. The Thunder just aren’t the Thunder without their MVP.”

SI also has the Thunder at 16 in their power rankings: “Losing two road games without Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson can be overlooked. Giving up 131 points to the Kings in Westbrook’s season debut needs to be addressed. PG and Russ will get things back on track in OKC, but this team can’t ignore its issues like it did much of last season and just assume play will improve. Among the two All-NBA players and the two-time national championship winning coach, somebody needs to have some answers going forward besides hoping Roberson will turn this into a top five defense.”

Previewing Thursday’s game against the Celtics:

Around the League: CP3, Rajon Rondo, and Brandon Ingram were suspended for a good ol’ fashion melee…. An account of what happened before, during, and after the Rockets/Warriors scuffle…. Draymond doesn’t think defense is a priority in the NBA anymore…. Trae Young has arrived…. Answering questions about the NBA’s scoring extravaganza…. Kemba Walker set an NBA record for three-pointers made in the first three games….