4 min read

Monday Bolts: 11.20.17

Monday Bolts: 11.20.17

Rob Mahoney (SI) on the missteps that cost OKC on Friday night in San Antonio: “An unfortunate trademark of OKC’s star trio thus far is their capacity to make the simple seem difficult. Boy did they. A baffling number of Westbrook’s drives ended in rolls off the rim. Isolation followed isolation. Entire quarters seemed to come and go without anything in the way of offensive momentum. There are good passers on this Thunder team, but no consistent understanding of how to best move the ball under pressure. As a result, it sits with George or Anthony or Westbrook as the shot clock dwindles away, with too many possessions reliant on a drifting, off-balance shot of some kind or another. Those stars can hit those shots, but the ones on good teams seldom have to.”

Nick Gallo previews tonight’s Thunder/Pelicans game: “In order to get back to .500, and more importantly to continue forging an identity, the Thunder has to find a way to put an entire game together. So far this season the trend has been that Donovan’s group gets off to an incredible start, then the consistency, focus and discipline wanes over the course of the 48 minutes. That’s to be expected with so many new faces trying to all get on the same page and work through the oppositions adjustments. It’s a process that takes time, but the Thunder is trying to get to the point where that problem solving on the floor is second nature, and not something players have to think about on the fly.”

Erik Horne on how OKC is looking for a team effort tonight in New Orleans: “Paul George defended Anthony Davis in preseason, so the versatile small forward will spend time on the Pelicans All-Star. Davis is expected to play after suffering a concussion Friday against Denver. The biggest challenge will be for Adams, who will be drawn out of the paint to defend Cousins, who even acts as a trailer on the fast break who stops at the 3-point line instead of running to the rim.”

Anthony Davis will likely return from injury tonight against the Thunder: “Despite losing their past two games in ugly fashion, the New Orleans Pelicans got some hopeful news Sunday that forward Anthony Davis probably will be able to start Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Davis was placed into the NBA’s concussion protocol during a 146-114 loss at Denver on Friday night after Nuggets center Nikola Jokic inadvertently bumped him in the head in the third quarter. Davis left the court and did not return.”

Horne on the Thunder needing a new summer league home: “According to an Orlando Sentinel report, the Orlando Magic will not have its annual summer league in July of 2018, instead opting to play in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. The Thunder has participated in the Orlando Summer League every offseason since it moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. The Thunder hasn’t made a decision on where it will play this upcoming summer, The Oklahoman learned Sunday. Typically, the franchise doesn’t start discussing the summer league until spring.”

The Thunder is 12th in ESPN’s latest power rankings: “The Thunder continue to struggle down the stretch of games this season and are now 0-7 in games decided by eight points or fewer. But in their wins, OKC has won big, averaging a wider margin than the Warriors (plus-17.9). That’s the reason they’re the only sub-.500 team with a positive scoring margin this season.”

Alec Nathan (B/R) on KD possibly missing Wednesday’s Warriors @ Thunder match-up: “Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant will not play in the team’s Sunday night matchup against the Brooklyn Nets because of a sprained left ankle, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. Durant added that he’s not sure if he’ll be able to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, adding that he’s taking it day by day, per Haynes.”

Kevin Garnett talks Russ/KD during a Q&A with B/R’s Jonathan Abrams: “I talked to Russ a couple times about personal s–t—real recognize real—but I respect his talent. I respect his appetite. We have a similar background. We have a similar path, if you will. I played with guys like Steph [Marbury] when we were super best friends, and he left, and that left an immediate mark and impacted me in a certain way that I looked at teammates different after that. The ones that stuck—Malik [Sealy], Sam Mitchell, Joe Smith, Gary Trent, Trenton Hassell, Troy Hudson—those guys became real friends with me after that because of that situation. So I totally understood it when he was going through the KD saga and all that and how both of them moved on—and are starting to make interesting basketball when it comes to the West and have us all watching with open eyes.”

Jonathan Tjarks (The Ringer) on the NBA’s small ball lineups that can challenge the Warriors: “Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Andre Roberson, Carmelo Anthony, Jerami Grant. Much like Houston, Oklahoma City can put out a lineup with three versatile defenders around two perimeter stars. The difference is that it wouldn’t have to make the same trade-off between offense and defense with the fifth spot because George can do both at a high level. The Thunder would still be counting on Westbrook and Carmelo to play a more disciplined brand of basketball than they are known for, but both of their reputations are on the line this season. They have every incentive to be on their best behavior and make this work.”

Around the League: The inevitable Lavar Ball/Donald Trump feud has begun…. Steven Kerr has lofty dreams for both Ball and Trump…. 76ers rookie Markelle Fultz should return in 2-3 weeks…. Nuggets’ big man Paul Millsap has sprained his wrist…. David Lee has officially retired.