Monday Bolts: 2.19.18
Nick Gallo recaps last night’s All-Star Game: “The eye contact was made, and it was all Paul George needed to know where to run. Russell Westbrook gave his Thunder teammate a quick look, George cut in from the wing, caught Westbrook’s pass and finished easily at the rim for his first bucket of the game. In one blink of an eye, the Thunder tandem made a splash at the All-Star Game, started a 13-0 run for Team LeBron and represented Oklahoma City on a worldwide stage. They were integral to finishing this one off too. “That was great for that to be my first basket tonight, getting an assist from Russ,” George smiled. Led by All-Star Game MVP LeBron James, Team LeBron defeated Team Steph 148-145 at Sunday night’s 2018 NBA All-Star Game, the 67th in league history, at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.”
Sam Cooper (Yahoo) on KD blaming himself for the beef with Russell Westbrook: “I just got out of my own head and got out of my own way and stopped thinking it was even a thing,” Durant said, referring to the beef between the two. “I feel like I just made it a thing when it shouldn’t have been. It’s cool to kind of get past that and just appreciate these guys for who they are and what they do. And it’s all love at the end of the day.”
This photo from last night is pretty special:
Kevin O’Connor (Ringer) on Paul George’s future: “Most buy into the fact George is drawn by Los Angeles and will leave unless the Thunder reach the NBA Finals. Others have become increasingly skeptical that he’d leave Oklahoma City. One executive said via text on Sunday that he could see George signing a one-year extension with the Thunder then reviewing his options for 2019 when a larger chunk of star free agents to potentially team up with will be available. The same is true for LeBron James, who led the rejuvenated Cavaliers to four straight wins entering the break.”
The LA Times staff on Westbrook not appreciating “We Want Paul!” chants at the All-Star Game: “Paul ain’t going nowhere!” Westbrook said. “It’s over for that!” Ever since George told the Indiana Pacers he wanted to leave in free agency to play for the Lakers, local fans have embraced the idea. George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and has said he’ll consider staying there. He was cheered like a member of the home team during player introductions before the first time the Lakers hosted the Thunder.”
Scott Polacek (B/R) on Paul George’s free agency comments from All-Star weekend: “The eventual destination of Oklahoma City Thunder wingman Paul George will be one of the primary storylines during the upcoming offseason considering he has a player option on his contract for the 2018-19 campaign, and he discussed his impending decision in Los Angeles during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. “It’s funny but at the end of the day I know where my decision lands, or what my decision is, and that’s all that matters,” he said, per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.”
Jon Hamm (B/R) on why the Thunder needs more from Carmelo Anthony down the stretch: “He’s played occasionally capable defense this season—against Blake Griffin, for instance—but lately has been worked over by the likes of Julius Randle and Grizzlies journeymen. Without Roberson, the Thunder can’t afford another weak link defensively, and Donovan may not have options to hide Anthony. Anthony can be the player to move Oklahoma City into—or at least closer to—the top tier in the Western Conference. But if this recent trend continues, Donovan will have to consider curtailing Anthony’s minutes and easing him out of clutch-situation lineups.”
Brett Dawson ranks the Thunder’s rivalries: “A lot can change in four years. In politics, at the Olympics or the World Cup, there can be seismic shifts in less than half a decade. The same is true, it turns out, of basketball rivalries. In 2014, we set out to rate the Thunder’s biggest rivals. The franchise’s 10th season in Oklahoma City felt like a good time to revisit those rankings, and a there’s been some significant shuffling. The Warriors shot from seventh to an obvious first. The Grizzlies took over Golden State’s seventh spot, plummeting from second. But there’s still some hoops hatred for Houston, down from No. 1, but only to No. 2.”
Erik Horne on why Russell Westbrook is the catalyst for most Thunder rivalries: “I was telling him ‘go home,’” Westbrook said after the Thunder’s Dec. 15 win over the Sixers in Philadelphia. “He was talking mess when Steve-O (Steven Adams) fouled out, waving to the crowd, which is unnecessary.” Westbrook can deflect, but he’s the closest thing to a throwback to the days when teams actually didn’t like each other. Pistons-Bulls. Celtics-Lakers. Knicks-Bulls. Sixers-Celtics. For years, those around the Thunder and former staffers have defended Westbrook’s oft-contentious postgame media sessions, saying it takes time for the fiery guard to come down from the intensity of competition.”
New Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood: This week, host Brandon Rahbar welcomes back special guest, DailyThunder.com contributor Olivia Panchal in her second podcast appearance ever! He’s also joined by Niall.
Around the League: Why the NBA All-Star Game is better under the new format…. Next year’s All-Star Draft will likely be televised…. Recapping Fergie’s odd All-Star national anthem performance…. Ray Allen & Jason Kidd are among 2018 HoF finalists…. Where will LeBron land this summer?