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Monday Bolts: 2.26.18

Monday Bolts: 2.26.18

Royce Young on what’s next for the unpredictable Thunder: “The Thunder are one of four teams in the top 10 of both offensive and defensive rating, alongside elite company like the Raptors, Rockets, and Warriors. Their net rating is plus-3.2, good for sixth in the league. All signs point to the Thunder being a top-tier team thick in the hunt for home-court advantage in the West playoffs. And yet, there’s a measurable possibility they’ll miss the postseason entirely. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) projects the Thunder at 93 percent odds to make it, but they’re tied in the loss column with a host of teams jockeying for the conference’s final postseason berths.”

Chris Haynes & Royce Young on Russell Westbrook’s belief that Zaza Pachulia tried to hurt him on Saturday: “Don’t ask me dumb questions, man. Obviously, it was intentional. So don’t ask me if it was intentional. Nobody touched him, he fell on my leg, tried to hurt me. But hey, that’s how it goes.” On if the NBA needs to address it, Westbrook said, “Hey man, they’ll see it and look at it, you know what I’m saying? They’ll see it.” Asked if Pachulia is a dirty player, he said, “Yeah, for sure. For sure.”

Tim Rapp (B/R) on Pachulia’s response to the allegations: “Zaza Pachulia denied Russell Westbrook’s claim that the center intentionally fell on him in an effort to injure him during Golden State’s 112-80 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday and called the accusations “childish.”… “I don’t want to go back and forth on those kind of things,” Pachulia said, per Mark Medina of the Mercury News. “That’s not the case.”

Mark Medina (Mercury News) spoke to KD about Zaza & Russ: “I don’t think Zaza is trying to hurt anybody,” Durant said following practice on Sunday. “He is clumsy, don’t get me wrong. A lot of big guys are. But I watched the tape.” Durant called the sequence a “weird play.” Therefore, Durant watched multiple replays in slow motion and studied various photos. Durant then reached a conclusion. After Westbrook’s fight for a rebound caused Warriors forward Nick Young to fall, Young appeared to wrap his legs around the back of Pachulia’s left knee. Then, Pachulia fell on Westbrook. “I don’t think he’s trying to hurt him at all,” Durant said. “It was an unfortunate play. And I’m glad Russ didn’t get hurt from that.”

Brett Dawson on the Thunder’s schedule temporarily easing up: “Beginning with Monday’s home game against Orlando, the Thunder will play three straight games against teams in the bottom four of the league standings — the Magic, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns. Those three teams are a combined 54-126 this season. After Friday’s game at Phoenix, the Thunder has four total games remaining against teams with sub-. 500 records. In total, Oklahoma City has 21 games to play against 16 different opponents whose collective winning percentage entering Sunday was 50.9 percent.”

Wes Goldberg (The Step Back) on Paul George having never been better: “In his last two seasons in Indiana, more than a third of George’s shots were from mid-range. This season, he’s got it down to less than a quarter. He more willingly passes up the long 2 when it’s presented, seeking a better shot from his team. It’s not just about stepping out a few more feet to pick up an extra point. George has gotten a lot better at attacking the basket. In Indiana, he often pulled up short of the restricted area for a floater in the lane or pull-up jumper. When he did finish at the rim, he leaned away from contact and, therefore, the basket. Now he’s lowering his shoulder, finishing through contact and getting to the free throw line.”

Nate Feken (KFOR) on Patrick Patterson connecting with fans through movies: “Patterson puts out an announcement on social media, and then Patrick picks from fans who write back. They then get to see a private pre-screening of a movie with the man himself. “It’s been nothing but positive feedback,” Patterson said.  “The fans seem to enjoy, it they get an opportunity to not only see a movie before it comes out but also hang out with us.  Be able to engage, and talk with us see us outside the basketball world.” Patterson takes time to visit with each fan after ‘Pat Presents’. Making for some surprises along the way.”

Erik Horne previews tonight’s Magic @ Thunder match-up: “The Thunder has a combined record of 1-6 this season against its four opponents this week (Orlando, Dallas, Phoenix, Portland). Those teams have a combined winning percentage of .367. Orlando has gone 9-28 since beating the Thunder in November, including a five-game losing streak entering Monday’s game.”

Around the League: LeBron says referees are falling for the allure of shooters…. DeMar DeRozan opened up about his battle with depression…. Longtime NBA agent, Dan Fegan, died in a car accident over the weekend…. Jimmy Butler underwent surgery on his torn meniscus…. Who will win the NBA’s tanking race?…. The Rockets have won 12 straight and 21 of 25.