5 min read

Monday Bolts: 12.3.18

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps Friday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks: “Alex Abrines’ family flew across the Atlantic Ocean to get to Oklahoma City. The least he could do was dial in from long distance a few times in return. After missing three and a half games due to illness, Abrines tried to work his way back over the past three games, but just couldn’t get anything to drop. Finally, on the last game on this visit for his parents and his grandmother, who made her first trip to Oklahoma City from Spain, Abrines erupted. The Mallorcan knocked down 7-of-11 three-point attempts, setting a new career-high in makes from behind the arc on his way to 21 points. “It’s really special,” said Abrines after the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma. “Especially for my grandma. She made a really good effort to come here, watching me play in the NBA. To be able to play that good game is a way to give her something to her back.”

Royce Young (ESPN) on Andre Roberson’s latest injury setback: “Thunder guard Andre Roberson had another setback with his surgically repaired left knee and it will keep him out at least six more weeks, team spokesperson said. During a workout Thursday, Roberson came down from a jump and reported some discomfort in his knee. An MRI revealed a small avulsion fracture. He’ll be re-evaluated in six weeks. An avulsion fracture occurs when a tendon or ligament pulls off a piece of bone.”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on how Roberson has his brother at his side in OKC: “Andre Roberson’s family was already close. This year brought them even closer. Anthony Roberson can laugh about it now. Andre’s unmistakable younger brother was at basketball practice at the University of Central Oklahoma in January when he went for a rebound, landed and felt a little pop in his left knee. Anthony, a 6-foot-5 wing, kept playing until his knee twisted and popped again while he was fighting over a screen on defense. He couldn’t straighten his leg. An MRI showed a torn left meniscus. Senior season over. Surgery to come. “It happened a couple of days before Dre’s did,” Anthony told The Oklahoman. In Andre Roberson’s difficult year-long battle in recovery from his own knee injury, he’s had a family support system, starting with his brother Anthony, who’s now playing with the Oklahoma City Blue.”

Brett Dawson (Athletic) on the Thunder defense moving forward without Roberson: “As the Thunder’s schedule toughens after the first of the year, they’ll probably feel Roberson’s absence more. But OKC has made its defense work without him so far. The Thunder lead the NBA in forcing turnovers (17.7 per game) and they score a league-high 21.4 points per game off turnovers. Oklahoma City ranks sixth in the league in opponent’s field-goal percentage (44.5 percent) and fourth in opponent’s 3-point shooting (32.4 percent). It built that resume without Roberson in part because of the defensive struggles it had last season after he was injured. The Thunder allowed 108.7 points per 100 possessions last season after Roberson went down, a number that would have ranked 18th in the NBA if OKC had posted it for the full season.”

Jon Hamm (B/R) on how the Thunder are trying to change Russell Westbrook’s habits: “The next step is getting the Thunder star to stick with the offensive system even when it’s not producing. It’s a concept that worked earlier in the season when the Thunder climbed out of a 19-point deficit to win at Charlotte. Westbrook attempted only three three-pointers that night and relied on Schroder and Alex Abrines to mount the comeback. But progress often looks more like a stock ticker than a straight upward line. To Westbrook’s credit, he’s stuck with the program more often than he’s strayed from it. And with a 14-7 record, OKC has evidence to show how the team can thrive without needing Westbrook to do it all.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on Nerlens Noel’s impact as OKC’s backup big man: “Noel’s skill set becomes all the more important in a matchup like Monday’s in Detroit. The Pistons are the second-best offensive rebounding team in the league (12.9 per game), and points in the paint account for 44.6 percent of their scoring. “Go out there and be a game-changer,” Noel said last week of how he can make the biggest impact on the floor. “I feel like I can bring so much to the court when I’m on there, just defensively, offensively, just being in that pick-and roll, getting back, making the small little plays that change the game throughout.” On Friday against the Hawks, he did that with two blocks and three steals.”

Bill Difilippo (Uproxx) on why Klay Thompson would want Steven Adams around if he were stuck on an island: ““Probably Steven Adams up first because he looks like Aquaman and he would be well versed in the ocean,” Thompson wrote. “Then probably Steph because it seems like he’s a good critical thinker and solves problems really well. And a third, man that’s a good question… who do I know in the NBA that likes to do outdoor stuff. I’d probably pick, Karl Malone because guy is a great hunter I guess. He’d be the hunter and gatherer of the crew. He has huge elbows, knock some animals out.” Thompson wasn’t done discussing Adams, as he was asked if he was tight with the Thunder center. He said no, but praised his game, saying “he sets hard screens,” “he’s annoying to play against,” and “he’s huge.”

Zach Lowe (ESPN) has Jerami Grant among the ten things he likes: “More than with most players, the league (and media) have defined Grant against his theoretical apex self. If only he could shoot 3s, he would be the ultimate switch-everything stretch power forward. Maybe just corner 3s? The Thunder ditched that experiment last season, and transformed Grant into a rim-running center next to Patrick Patterson on bench units. He fared well, but that role put a low ceiling on Grant’s playing time; Steven Adams works in the same habitat, and Grant obviously wasn’t stealing any of his minutes. That was fine as long as the Thunder had a real starting power forward. Carmelo Anthony wasn’t it. They tried Patterson, but he hasn’t been the same since 2015. Good thing Grant is amenable. In Year 5, the game is starting to click for him. He’s shooting 36 percent from deep on a career-high number of attempts (by far), and he’s actually been much better on longer, non-corner 3s — probably an encouraging sign. We can’t assume Grant will keep hitting at that pace. We shouldn’t assume otherwise, either.”

Gallo previews tonight’s game in Detroit: “The Pistons, with new head coach Dwane Casey at the helm, are playing excellent basketball right now with wins in five straight games to arrive at 13-7 and fourth in the Eastern Conference. Donovan pointed out that Detroit’s pace, tempo and offensive balance in terms of shot selection have been very impressive so far this season, but those high efficiency attempts are coming in part because of the physical nature of the team as a whole, which boasts size, length and physicality at all five spots on the floor. “We know they like to get on the offensive glass. They like to run in transition and get a lot of easy points in the paint. We just gotta try to load up,” said Grant. “You always gotta be physical regardless of who you’re playing.”

Around the League: Patrick Beverley was ejected on Sunday for throwing a ball at a fan…. Futility in Phoenix is wearing on Devin Booker…. Recapping yesterday’s NBA action…. The U.S. has qualified for the FIBA World Cup…. Damian Jones is likely out for the season in Oakland…. The 50-point performance trend in the NBA…. Execs believe Carmelo Anthony’s career is over.