Royce Young (ESPN) on Russell Westbrook’s late-night shooting after Saturday’s loss to Denver: “After going 1-of-12 from 3-point range in a 105-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook returned to the court still in his full uniform after the game for a shooting session some two hours after the final buzzer. Westbrook spoke with reporters after shooting on the court with a couple of team staffers rebounding for him, still in uniform and with a full sweat worked up. However, he wasn’t interested in explaining the motivation in getting extra shots up. “I’d rather not talk about it, honestly. I do it a lot, but …” Westbrook said, stopping there.”
Brett Dawson (Athletic) on this weekend being a tale of two Westbrooks: “One night, Russell Westbrook can show you the best of himself. The Thunder point guard can, as he did on Friday, defer to his teammates in key moments, can show his willingness to adapt his game to a style that suits Oklahoma City’s new-look roster. And then he can do what he did in a 105-98 loss to the Nuggets on Saturday. He can launch 12 3-pointers — many of them ill-advised — and make one and sit quietly in the locker room for more than an hour. He can get back on the court at Chesapeake Energy Arena to get up some extra jump shots, then tell reporters he’d “rather not talk about” what a late-night shooting session does for him. It’s the Russell Westbrook Experience. You get the good and the bad with the Thunder point guard, who can be as enigmatic as he is energetic, as hard to define as he is to defend.”
Cody Taylor (Thunder Wire) on Paul George coming to Westbrook’s defense: “Russ has the ability to take over a game down the stretch,” George said. “Tonight, those didn’t fall but we’ve seen Russ get hot behind the three-point line. He has a real good way of just turning it on when we need him to.”
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on the Thunder’s shooting struggles not being entirely on Westbrook: “But on the non-Westbrook front, players such as Alex Abrines, Patrick Patterson and Terrance Ferguson have the directive to shoot when open and simply aren’t making shots. Back in Phoenix on April 7, 2017, Westbrook went 2-of-12 from deep. The eight-man cast around him who took 3-pointers that night — a group ranging from Victor Oladipo to Doug McDermott — shot a combined 5-of-18 (27.3 percent). Saturday night, Westbrook went 1-of-12 from 3, an inexplicable number of attempts from a player who’s primarily played with discipline on offense this season. But the group around him went 8-of-27 (29.6 percent). Abrines and Patterson are a combined 1-of-17 from 3 in the last five games. Ferguson has played just once in that span due to a left ankle sprain and the birth of his daughter, but he’s shooting just 25.6 percent from 3 on the season. On the positive side, Deonte Burton provided a bright spot Saturday with his finishing at the rim. Jerami Grant has been the Thunder’s surprise performer from 3 this season at 36.5 percent.”
Russ is one triple-double from tying Jason Kidd for third-most all-time:
ESPN has the Thunder fifth in their latest power rankings: “The Thunder took a disappointing home loss to the Nuggets on Saturday, which prompted Russell Westbrook to do a publicized late-night shooting session, but other than that, they continue to chug along at a strong pace. The Thunder have won 12 of their past 15 games and are firmly in the group of six teams within two games of first place in the West.”
Gianni Verschueren (B/R) on the Thunder having the third highest payroll in all of sports: “Barcelona have become the first sports team in history to average more than £10 million per year in first-team player wages, beating rivals Real Madrid and a host of NBA teams to the top spot. According to research from a Sporting Intelligence survey (h/t Guardian‘s Sean Ingle), the Catalans pay their players an average of £10.45 million before bonuses. Real Madrid come in second at £8.1 million, while the Oklahoma City Thunder average £7.85 million. The NBA champion Golden State Warriors are fourth at £7.82 million. NBA teams occupy the six slots after the La Liga duo, while Manchester United are the highest-ranked Premier League side, coming in at No. 10. The Red Devils sit one spot behind Juventus, who have risen dramatically following the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Around the League: Kawhi thinks Greg Popovich’s criticism is funny…. Recapping last week in the NBA…. Recapping yesterday’s NBA action…. The West is going to be a rat race once again…. Latest trade buzz from around the league…. Teams that can make money-centric trades this season…. Inside LeBron’s first trip to Cleveland as a Laker.