4 min read

Monday Bolts: 3.12.18

Monday Bolts: 3.12.18

Royce Young recaps Saturday’s win over the Spurs: “With the San Antonio Spurs in Oklahoma City for a significant game for a variety of reasons, Westbrook’s focus and effort — on the defensive end — was all anyone needed to see that this one mattered a little bit more. Westbrook dug in, guarding on the ball like a bulldog and hitting a number of help rotations, even blowing up a couple of would-be layups for LaMarcus Aldridge at the rim. The tone was set, and despite some bumps along the way, the Oklahoma City Thunder put away an extremely important 104-94 win over the Spurs and jumped back up to the No. 5 seed in the West.”

Tim Cato (SB Nation) on why the win over San Antonio was so important for OKC: “Other than that random early February victory against the Warriors — nah, I can’t explain that either — Oklahoma City’s triumph against San Antonio on Saturday gives them something they really haven’t seen since Roberson went down. The Thunder have added Corey Brewer, and he was great on Saturday: providing energy both ways while scoring 12 points on seven shots, including a couple triples. He appears to be the fifth starter that Oklahoma City badly needed. The bench came through on Saturday, too. Patrick Patterson looked feisty and Jerami Grant finally hit some shots — 5-of-5 from the field, even including a triple. Abrines canned three long balls in four attempts. Even the non-aging Nick Collison came off the bench to score seven points in six minutes.”

Fox Sports previews tonight’s Kings/Thunder match-up: “The Kings have alternated wins and losses over their last six games, including Sunday’s loss at Denver to start off a stretch of four of five games away from home. The Kings are 4-9 on the second of back-to-back games this season. Sacramento got some help back Sunday with the return of Willie Cauley-Stein after missing four games with a lower-back injury and De’Aaron Fox after missing one game with stiffness in his lower back. Cauley-Stein said he felt good after his return.”

CBS Sports on Steven Adams being questionable tonight versus Sacramento: “Adams sprained his ankle in Saturday’s win over the Spurs, limiting the center to 17 minutes in the contest. Look for more updates to come either after Monday morning shootaround or just before tip. If he is sidelined, look for Patrick Patterson to likely pick up the spot start.”

Brett Dawson on Corey Brewer’s hot shooting start in OKC: “Brewer entered Saturday’s Thunder game against San Antonio shooting 28.1 percent from 3-point range in his career. But he’s off to an atypical start with Oklahoma City. Brewer hit both of his first-half 3-point attempts on Saturday, scoring a game-high 10 points in the first half to help stake the Thunder to a 52-43 lead. In 54 games this season with the Lakers, who bought him out last week and paved the way for Brewer to sign with the Thunder, Brewer made 16.7 percent of his corner 3-point shots. Both his first-half 3s on Saturday were from the corners. “I do believe that he’s a shooter out of the corner that, if he gets good looks we need him to take that,” said Donovan, who coached Brewer in college at Florida.”

Alex Kennedy (HoopsHype) caught up with Corey Brewer to discuss the Thunder: “We just need to keep getting better as a team defensively. If we can get better defensively, we’re going to be fine. We can score with anybody in the league. It’s all about improving our defense and playing together. When you’re defending and playing together and get going at the right time, that’s how you win.”

Erik Horne on Jerami Grant’s interior game as a weapon for OKC: “The 6-foot-9 forward has come a long way from his wild forays to the basket in his first season in Oklahoma City. Grant is under control more often on drives. He’s developed a nice left-handed finish around the rim. He’s shooting a career-high 52 percent overall. “With being in the league for a couple years, kinda getting a feel for the pace of the game and things like that definitely slows a lot of things down,” Grant said in February. “I think once it starts to slow down, you start to blossom a little bit.”

Brett Dawson on Nick Collison helping out when he can: “On Saturday, though, Collison checked in at the 10:06 mark of the fourth quarter, and a possession later, the Spurs were within 10 points of a Thunder team that mostly had controlled the game. And Collison — playing mostly because starting center Steven Adams was sidelined with a sprained left ankle — helped Oklahoma City keep its cushion. He scored seven points and two rebounds in 6 minutes, running pick-and-roll to perfection with Russell Westbrook. “It’s very, very great to see, because he’s obviously put in the work, but he’s always ready to go,” Westbrook said. “Tonight, he got his number called and he answered, just like he does every time.”

Chris Thompson (Deadspin) on Westbrook MVP truthers: “A Paul Bunyan figure, Westbrook accomplished great feats. But you can’t un-invent the steam engine. The numbers always tell.” That mangled metaphor comes to you via this doomed hell blog, from Jason Concepcion of The Ringer, headlined “Russ vs. Harden Is an Argument About the Soul of Basketball.” It wants dearly for you to be the sort of person who thinks Russ winning the MVP last season reflects something important about the state of basketball in these dark times, so that James Harden winning it this season while Westbrook experiences inevitable regression can prove or disprove whatever that important something might be. The subtitle of this mess—“Where you stand on last year’s MVP and this season’s presumptive winner says a lot about how you see the game”—is every bit as unbearable as the headline.”

Around the League: Anthony Davis dropped a triple-double with blocks last night…. LeBron says there’s nothing certain about the injury-plagued Cavs…. Kyrie Irving may take an extended rest for his knee…. KD says things are “weird” without Steph Curry…. Examining LeBron’s fit with the Lakers…. Oral history of James Harden’s crossover…. The Pacers are now third in the East.