4 min read

Monday Bolts: 2.4.19

Monday Bolts: 2.4.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s win over the Grizzlies: “It was a total slog. Passes flew out of bounds, dribbled plunked off of shins and shots missed in every direction – wide, short and long. Getting out of a losing skid isn’t easy when shots aren’t falling, so the Thunder used its defense instead. Down 13 in the fourth quarter, the Thunder sling-shotted ahead by holding the Memphis Grizzlies to 0-for-13 shooting from the field over a 7-and-half minute stretch towards the end of the game and gave itself a chance in crunch time. That’s when Russell Westbrook stepped up and delivered the offensive break through.”

Brett Dawson (Athletic) on Russell Westbrook recapturing his old role of late-game hero: “Memphis looked set to send the Thunder to a third straight loss without Paul George, a fourth straight overall and a sixth in seven games until Westbrook — and the OKC defense — found another gear. The Thunder trailed by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but they outscored the Grizzlies 23-6 over the final 6:30. Westbrook scored 12 points during that stretch, shooting 4-for-7 from the floor. Memphis was 1 for 13. Prior to that game-saving stretch, Westbrook was 2-for-9 from 3-point range. In that final 6:30, he hit 2-of-4 3s, including one from 27 feet to tie the score at 93-93 with 1:04 to play. It was in some ways a throwback to his MVP season, when Westbrook made a habit of pulling the Thunder back from the brink of defeat.”

Inside Westbrook’s 4th quarter takeover:

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on the Thunder defense clamping down on Memphis in the fourth: “In the Thunder’s 99-95 win on Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak, OKC kept the Grizzlies to 6-of-21 shooting in the fourth. The Grizzlies scored just six points in the final 6:34. Arguably the biggest possession came from Jerami Grant. With the score tied 93-93, Grant was isolated against Memphis’s Justin Holiday and forced him into a fadeaway jump shot, then pounced for the defensive rebound. The Thunder outrebounded Memphis 17-11 in the fourth quarter. Grant’s stop set up Russell Westbrook’s go-ahead jump shot with 32.9 seconds left.”

Thunder/Grizzlies highlights:

Ian Levy (FanSided) on the limits of Russell Westbrook’s confidence: “It is possible that Westbrook’s confidence is entirely impervious to reality. That even when presented with incontrovertible evidence that he has missed a shot, he is somehow able to completely shed any emotional, intellectual or metaphysical impacts of said miss. That’s not to say that Westbrook is delusional — when asked after a game he could certainly acknowledge that some of the 3-point shots he took that night did not go in. But, like Schrodinger’s Cat, he is able to simultaneously exist in two realities — the one where he shoots, and the other, separate one, where he misses. He is not just able to exist in the two realities but he is able to separate them and prevent the kind of co-mingling that could rend the fabric of space and time.”

Jorge Martinez (Planet ACB) on Alex Abrines explaining his situation “soon”: “It was when one of the followers asked him in full about his absence. “We know it’s something private, I hope everything goes well,” to which Abrines responded with a thank you and a new piece of news. “Soon, soon I will make a statement I suppose and you will know,” he said in words collected by Planetacb. “In summer, it depends on what there is, I’ll make a decision,” he responded to another follower who joked with him if he was going to announce a transfer. He is currently still in the United States with his wife. After his last appearances, and reflecting a good mood, a certain calm has been established among the entire world of basketball that was concerned about their situation. Great news.”

ESPN has the Thunder 8th in their latest power rankings: “The Thunder have lost five of their past seven games, and are in clear danger of sliding down to the 5-seed in the West. Paul George has missed three straight games with a right shoulder injury, and his health is paramount. If George and Russell Westbrook are both healthy going into the playoffs, the Thunder will have a puncher’s chance against any opponent, regardless of their ultimate playoff seeding.”

Adam Wells (B/R) with more details on the Lakers’ 2017 tampering with Paul George: “The NBA took extensive measures during its investigation into the Los Angeles Lakers tampering with Paul George two years ago. Speaking at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (h/t TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott), NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league hired investigators and inspected various cellphones of those involved in the case. The Lakers received a $500,000 fine from the NBA in August 2017 after it was determined general manager Rob Pelinka had contact with George’s agent “that constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract” with the Indiana Pacers.”

The Week Ahead:

Around the League: Inside the Suns’ messy and dysfunctional front office…. James Harden says the Rockets are hitting their stride…. Trae Young was ejected for the first time in his career…. The Lakers’ playoff odds are crumbling…. The Celtics are less than the sum of their talented parts…. 24 hours inside an NBA playoff chase.