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Monday Bolts: 12.11.17

Monday Bolts: 12.11.17

Fox Sports previews tonight’s game versus the Charlotte Hornets: “The Thunder are in the midst of their most productive stretch of the season with four wins in their last five games. They would like to keep up momentum to reach .500 for the first time since Nov. 15 headed into a three-game road swing. The Thunder is just 3-10 away from home. Even though George’s return would give the Thunder one of its better defenders back, they could be without another top defender, as Andre Roberson is questionable with a left ankle sprain.”

Brett Dawson on Paul George’s weekend charity event, and how he will likely play tonight: “It’s a group near and dear to George, whose mother, Paulette, had a stroke when he was a kid. So on Sunday, he treated survivors and their families to food, games and gifts, and said he was happy to “get away from being in the gym and get away from this season, so to say.” Not that he needed a long break. George, who has missed the Thunder’s past two games with a right calf contusion, said he had “a good day of rehab” on Sunday and “should be back” in the lineup on Monday, when the Thunder hosts the Charlotte Hornets.”

The Thunder has fallen to 15th in ESPN’s latest NBA power rankings: “In Saturday’s win over Memphis, Russell Westbrook notched his 34th triple-double of 2017, which tied Oscar Robertson for the most in a calendar year in league history. However, we’d be remiss if it came without mentioning the fact that he also shot 7-for-29. Since the start of last season, Westbrook has 14 triple-doubles in which he also missed more than 15 shots. The rest of the NBA has combined for two of them.”

Matt Moore (CBS) on why the Thunder shouldn’t blow up the team: “Whenever anything doesn’t work immediately in the NBA, we start talking about “blowing it up.” The reality is that if this doesn’t work out for the Thunder, they can revamp and reload without having to do anything. They re-signed Westbrook. That’s all they needed to make sure they have options to contend in the future. They can afford to give this thing a full season to sink or swim on its own.”

Berry Tramel on why the Thunder’s slow start is Billy Donovan’s responsibility: “A roster that most NBA analysts rated as the Western Conference’s best hope to challenge Golden State has been ineffective. And that’s got to be a coaching issue. Meshing newcomers with holdovers, asking stars to play outside their long-established comfort zones, motivating players to either sacrifice or try new things, that’s a textbook definition of coaching. That’s what coaching is all about. This isn’t a call to fire Donovan. Changing coaches wouldn’t help the Thunder.”

Fox Sports writers on Westbrook stats that show the Thunder’s problems: “Westbrook’s true shooting percentage — which takes into account efficiency by measuring two-point, three-point and field goal attempts — is at .488, the lowest of his entire career. He hit a career-high last season at .554. Similarly his player efficiency rating is 20.9. That’s still above the league average of 15, but well below his tremendous 30.6 last season. And if you don’t like advanced stats, just check out his regular field goal shooting percentage of .393 — Westbrook is averaging eight of 20.2 field goals made per game. Last season he shot .425, and the season before that .454.”

Erik Horne on Alex Abrines and why Saturday night in Memphis was a sign of things to come: “Abrines was in perpetual motion Saturday, curling off and stepping behind multiple screens from Adams, Roberson and Carmelo Anthony to log a game-high 2.97 miles, per Second Spectrum data. “It’s tough to guard,” Westbrook said of Abrines. Six of Westbrook’s 14 assists came off Abrines 3-pointers. “You’ve got to respect him, his shooting ability. He knows how to pick his spots. He knows where he can get open.”

Clifton Brown (Indy Star) on Victor Oladipo’s career-night and why he’s tired of talking about Paul George: “I’m kind of getting sick and tired of the comparisons with Paul George and myself,” said Oladipo following Sunday’s game. “He’s moved on. I moved on from the situation that I was in. Life takes its course, things happen. I’m happy here, he’s happy there. I wish him all the best. I’m feathery, right here as a Pacer. I don’t have no disrespect towards him, or what happened. I’m just grateful, and honored, to put on this jersey every night.”

Around the League: Kawhi Leonard is expected to make his season debut on Tuesday…. Joel Embiid was sidelined over the weekend with back stiffness…. LeBron James is defying the age curve…. Are the Rockets gearing up for a run at LeBron?