4 min read

Monday Bolts: 12.18.17

Monday Bolts: 12.18.17

Royce Young on the Thunder’s recent 2-1 road trip: “The wins in Indianapolis and Philadelphia featured raucous OKC locker rooms, with music blaring through a portable speaker that Westbrook carried around. The Thunder don’t typically have music going in the locker room after games, but there was a clear vibe going. After the win against the Pacers, the music was cut so that Thunder forward Josh Huestis could speak with reporters. Westbrook wasn’t having it. He wanted the music back on. So he went back to the shower area and cranked it back up. After the loss to the Knicks, though, the vibe was gone. The OKC locker room was quiet and somber, maybe in part from exhaustion, but probably more frustration.”

Ian Begley (ESPN) on Melo’s “bittersweet” NYC homecoming: “The 10-time All-Star was booed throughout the game when he touched the ball and when he subbed out of the game near the end of regulation. He said afterward that he wasn’t surprised by the reaction. “They can’t cheer for me. I’m on another team,” Anthony said. “They’re cheering for their team. They boo for the other team. That’s something that I expected.”

Fox Sports previews tonight’s Thunder/Nuggets match-up: “During the three-game road trip that wrapped up against the Knicks, the Thunder won two of three, but the trio of Westbrook, George and Anthony combined to shoot just 35.1 percent (59 of 168). Like the Thunder, the Nuggets have struggled to find much footing, especially after losing Paul Millsap to a left wrist injury that figures to keep him out until after the All-Star break. Denver (16-13) is just 8-8 in its past 16 games, never winning more than two straight or losing more than two in a row during that stretch.”

Steven Adams figures to remain out vs Denver due to a concussion:

Erik Horne on the emergence of Patrick Patterson and what it means for Melo: “Patterson isn’t the Hall of Fame scorer Anthony is, but there’s urgency to his offense. “Being able to decide as soon as I catch the ball if I want to drive or pass is something I’ve been carrying along for years,” Patterson said. NBA.com’s Second Spectrum data shows that Patterson averages 1.29 seconds per touch, tied for last on the Thunder with rookie Terrance Ferguson. When he shoots, 92.8 percent of the time it’s within two seconds of receiving a pass. Either the ball goes up or it moves on, with Patterson typically moving right behind it to set a screen or make a cut. Patterson is the antithesis of stagnation on offense.”

Fred Katz on why benching Melo is more complicated than it appears: “Choosing a replacement for Anthony isn’t as easy as it seems, either. Forward Jerami Grant couldn’t be an option. It’s 2017, the time of spacing. Teams can’t have three non-shooters in a first unit and find scoring success, and the Thunder already start Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Sharpshooter Alex Abrines probably couldn’t take the spot either. Donovan has been inconsistent with his faith in the second-year shooting guard because of his lacking defensive ability. Inserting him into the starting lineup in a move that would push Roberson to small forward and George to power forward, a role he’s resisted in the past, would make his defensive struggles even more prominent. The truest fit is power forward Patrick Patterson, who began the season rusty after undergoing knee surgery but who has come on of late.”

RealGM with Paul George’s comments on team chemistry: “We’ve never had chemistry problems. We like, and enjoy, playing with one another. It’s never been a chemistry problem,” George said. “We’ve just got to figure out how to do so, but there’s never been chemistry problems with this group. We’ve embraced this since we came together that this was going to be a journey for us, and that’s where we’re at. We’re within the thick of this journey right now.”

Ira Winderman (Miami Sun Sentinel) on how the Heat could try to trade for Paul George: “I would venture that any and every player on the current Heat roster would be made available (including Hassan Whiteside, although with Steven Adams there seemingly would be little interest). What would be even more fascinating would be is if the Thunder then would insist a trade partner for George also take on Anthony. Even then, the Heat could make a deal work for that $46 million in combined salaries, with James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk available to be put into play.”

Dan Favale (B/R) on each NBA team’s most logical next jersey retirement: “Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Collison. He’s set to retire after this year, at which time he’ll have spent all 15 of his seasons with the Thunder franchise. The Sonics retired Nate McMillan’s No. 10 jersey almost solely due to his longevity, and as the longest-tenured player in team history, fan-favorite Collison should see his No. 4 follow a similar path to indelibility.”

The Thunder is number 12 in ESPN’s latest power rankings: “In Friday’s triple-overtime win against the 76ers, Russell Westbrook became the fifth player to go for at least 25 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a game in the past 50 seasons, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. He joined James Harden, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Micheal Ray Richardson.”

Around the League: The Lakers will retire numbers 8 and 24 tonight…. Phil Jackson plans to skip Kobe’s ceremony…. Gordon Hayward is open to returning this season…. Isaiah Thomas is planning on an early-January return for the Cavs…. James Harden plans to play through knee pain…. LeBron James has three straight triple-doubles.