4 min read

Monday Bolts: 2.18.19

Monday Bolts: 2.18.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s All-Star Game with a Thunder emphasis: “Russell Westbrook had a wide-open rim in front of him. A sure layup waited just one step away. His teammate Paul George had what these days amounts to a layup too and Westbrook delivered the ball to him. On the right wing, George caught and fired, burying the no-doubt-about-it three-pointer. Defense wasn’t exactly top priority in the 68th edition of the NBA All-Star Game, but Westbrook and George certainly helped ignite the offensive explosion for Team Giannis in this year’s competition. The game eschewed old versions of the game that pitted Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference and instead appointed captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo to make selections. Westbrook and George ended up on the same squad, but it turned out to be the losing one tonight as Team Giannis fell 178-164 to Team LeBron.”

Kevin Pelton (B/R) grades every All-Star Game performance: Paul George: A-. Making his first All-Star start, George showcased his development into a more prolific 3-point shooter off the dribble. Of George’s 14 shot attempts, 12 were 3s, and he made half of them to score 20 points. George’s only 2-pointer was memorable — a reverse 360 dunk in transition… Russell Westbrook: C+. Westbrook’s struggles from 3-point range carried over to the All-Star Game, when he missed seven of his eight attempts from beyond the arc. Westbrook had a tough time close to the basket early on, too, botching a pair of layups. But he powered through to shoot 5-of-7 inside the arc in the second half. Westbrook also made a very All-Star move by passing up a sure layup to find George in the corner for a 3.”

Scott Polacek (B/R) with PG’s comments after using the step-back three on James Harden last night in Charlotte: “James Harden and Team LeBron earned bragging rights with a 178-164 victory over Paul George and Team Giannis at Sunday’s All-Star Game at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, but the Oklahoma City Thunder swingman gave the Houston Rockets guard a taste of his own medicine during the contest. “What move I do? Hit him with his s–t,” George told reporters when asked about the step-back three-pointer he drilled over Harden. “… I got that in my package too, so ain’t no travels over here.”

Tim Bontemps (ESPN) on Hamidou Diallo winning the 2019 Slam Dunk Contest: “Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo knew he’d have to make an impression to win the slam dunk contest. So he decided to find a way to make the biggest one possible: by dunking over the biggest person in the building. Wearing a Superman shirt underneath his teal Thunder jersey, Diallo threw down a slam after jumping over 7-foot-1 Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal and then hung on the rim by his elbow to steal the show and come away as the winner of this year’s competition. “Yeah, I was sure,” Diallo said of whether he knew he could dunk over O’Neal. “I wouldn’t have brought him out there if I wasn’t sure.”

Hamidou’s dunk contest highlights:

This New York Times frame-by-frame view of Diallo’s dunk over Shaq is incredible:

New York Times

ESPN has the Thunder fourth in their latest power rankings: “The Thunder reached the All-Star break in third place out West, four games behind the Warriors. The Thunder have positioned themselves as a legitimate contender, built on the strength of a top-five defensive efficiency and two MVP-caliber team leaders in Russell Westbrook and Paul George. If defense and superstars win championships, a healthy Thunder squad is one that no one will want to face in the playoffs.”

The Ringer NBA staff has Paul George as the third-best NBA player so far this season: “Right now, the Thunder wing is the best basketball player on the planet. I’m sure everyone—coaches, players, media—needed the All-Star break, but I find it deeply annoying that Paul George’s February was interrupted for an exhibition game. Giannis has the narrative, and Harden has the heroism, but no player on this list has a game with fewer caveats than George. He’s missed one game this season. He plays both ends of the floor with equal brilliance, leading the league’s third-best defense, sinking the third-most 3s in the NBA, and managing to lead all players in real plus-minus and win shares. Over the last two and a half weeks, he has laid waste to the NBA, scoring 43 in Miami, 37 against Boston, 39 against the Magic, and consecutive 40-plus nights against Houston and Portland. As Dan Devine wrote last week, he is the perfect 2019 player and what we’re seeing is the perfect marriage of person and moment.”

Berry Tramel (The Oklahoman) on how Paul George is providing OKC with another Kevin Durant: “The leading contender for Defensive Player of the Year and an offensive force that reminds us of the Durant days. That’s a ballplayer of the highest caliber. George’s numbers are supreme: 28.7 points per game, 8.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, .598 true shooting percentage, .406 3-point percentage. Compare those numbers to Durant’s last six seasons in OKC: 28.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, .624 true shooting percentage, .386 3-point percentage. Looks dead-eye equal to me. The advanced metrics – win shares, value over replacement, player efficiency rating – give an edge to Durant, but you’ve got George’s elite defense to counter. Durant the defender was good, sometimes great, but never the defensive player of the year favorite.”

Around the League: KD took home MVP in last night’s All-Star Game…. All-Star Weekend proved again — the NBA is the world’s game…. D-Wade says the NBA is in good hands as he prepares for retirement…. Joe Harris won the 3-Point Contest…. Anthony Davis seems cool with potentially being traded to Boston…. Adam Silver wishes players would stop publicly demanding trades.