Royce Young on Paul George’s comments about Russ and his future: “A day after Russell Westbrook called his All-Star snub “outrageous,” Paul George told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols it was “awesome” to see his Thunder teammate support him, while also noting Westbrook is making George’s future free-agency decision “easier” to make. “Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even more easier to make, is the character Russ [has],” George said on Wednesday. “A stand-up guy, and he has his teammate’s back.”
Nick Friedell (ESPN) on Damian Lillard firing back at Russell Westbrook: “I respect Russ a lot, so it was kind of disappointing to see him say that,” Lillard said prior to Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. “Because he’s played against me, he’s played against our team, he knows what I’ve accomplished. Not just this year, but over my career. So it was a little bit disappointing, but I know that I earned my spot this year. And that’s pretty much what it is: I earned my spot.”
Erik Horne on why the Thunder needs to improve in the restricted area: “The Thunder is shooting 60.4 percent from within five feet of the rim this season, 19th in the NBA. Russell Westbrook (395) and Adams (313) get as many close-range attempts at the rim as any player, ranking third and 11th respectively in shot attempts within five feet. At 6-foot-3, Westbrook is an anomaly among the players who have 40 or more putbacks this season. Among those 55 qualified players, Westbrook is the only one under 6-8 and the only guard. His percentage in the restricted area is understandably lower because of his lack of height.”
Jeff Siegel (FanSided) takes an extended look at Carmelo Anthony’s jab step: “The most important part of the jab step has nothing to do with his feet. Anthony makes defenders move because of what he does with the ball; he swings it across his body as if he’s going to take a hard dribble to his right. Once his defender takes a step to cut off the drive, Anthony’s already won the battle. Most of Anthony’s isolations during his time with the New York Knicks came after a switch in pick-and-roll, allowing him to either physically dominate smaller defenders or use the threat of his quickness to put big men off balance.”
Rob Goldberg (B/R) on reports of LeBron being upset the Cavs didn’t acquire Paul George: “Things haven’t been going smoothly for the Cleveland Cavaliers lately, and apparently LeBron James’ complaints date back to at least the offseason. As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on The Lowe Post, James is bothered the most by the team not trading for either Paul George or Eric Bledsoe. George was traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason, while Bledsoe was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks from the Phoenix Suns at the start of November. Both players were on the trade block during the offseason, but the Cavaliers failed to acquire either player, even though they were offering Kyrie Irving in return.”
Scott Horner (Indy Star) on Pacers fans being thrilled Victor Oladipo made the All-Star roster while Paul George didn’t: “Oladipo is having a career season in his fifth year, and first with the Indiana Pacers. He’s averaging 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds — both career highs — and 3.9 assists in leading Indiana to a winning record and in the thick of the playoff race. Also, the player he and Domantas Sabonis were traded for — Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder — didn’t make the Western Conference team. Some Pacers fans rather enjoyed that.”
Nick Gallo previews tonight’s Thunder/Wizards match-up: “As the Thunder prepares for the Washington Wizards, it will certainly need to key in on the personnel – the All-Star backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, along with the frontcourt scoring that Otto Porter Jr. and Marcus Morris provide. That’ll be much different from a skill standpoint than what the Thunder saw with the Nets. But the way the Wizards, and former Thunder coach Scott Brooks, utilizes Marcin Gortat as the rolling big man in the middle, is familiar because of the way Brooklyn exploited the paint on Tuesday night. In order for the Thunder to prevent easy kick-out three-pointers, it’ll have to do a good job of preventing dribble drives and scrambling in help situations, like it did in the fourth quarter against Brooklyn.”
Around the League: The NBA is getting in on sports betting…. Mike D’Antoni is upset CP3 didn’t make the All-Star Game…. Ben Simmons dropped a 22-minute triple-double last night…. Kyrie Irving credits a team meeting for getting the Celtics back on track…. The evolution of Kyle Kuzma…. The life of an NBA bench player.