Nick Gallo recaps last night’s blowout win over the Lakers: “Focused, deliberate and energetic effort, the Thunder looked exactly what they are on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers: a top-tier NBA team. After an early back-and-forth with the Lakers in the first quarter, the Thunder exploded once the starters checked back in midway through the second period, as it finished off the final 8:09 of the half with a 28-9 run. That was all the separation the Thunder needed to continually extend the lead throughout the night, as Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club scored a season-high in a 133-96 victory.”
Benyam Kidane (Sporting News) on Terrance Ferguson’s career-night: “Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Terrance Ferguson enjoyed a breakout game against the Los Angeles Lakers, pouring in a career-high 24 points in his team’s 133-96 win. Ferguson caught fire from beyond the arc, hitting six three-pointers from nine attempts and 9-for-12 from the field.”
Ramona Shelburne (ESPN) with Paul George’s comments on the Lakers’ tampering charges: “They thought it was tampering,” George said after the Thunder shootaround before their game in Los Angeles. “There was no tampering at all. It was kind of crazy. Our relationship, myself and B-Shaw, was far more stronger than the team’s, me coming to the Lakers, was. B-Shaw has been a mentor for me, so it was kind of comical. The Pacers thought there was more depth, of him trying to recruit me. It wasn’t. The only thing me and B-Shaw ever spoke about was fishing. We challenge each other on fishing trips. B-Shaw has way, way better class than trying to recruit me.”
There was this after last night’s game: “Recruitment” probably wasn’t the best choice of words.
Paul George said it’s not championship-or-bust this season in OKC: “I’ve got a lot to think about. This summer will be huge. I’ve got a lot to think about. If we’re trending, if we’re going in the right direction, if I feel there is something that we’re building, and there’s a foundation — it would be kind of clueless, just stupid on my behalf to up and leave.”
Royce Young on how Paul George changed his game for the Thunder: “That’s why George has preached to Westbrook, on multiple occasions: Don’t worry about me; you just do you and it’ll work out for all of us. “You’ve gotta let Russ go. He’s a talent that is a mismatch, night in and night out. He’s a special player,” George said. “I’ve never been on a team where a guy is that elite amongst his opponents, in his matchup. So you love the fact he’s fearless, that he’s a competitor. You want to play with guys like that.”
Andrew Sharp (SI) on how the Thunder can afford to keep Paul George: “Even if everything goes well and the 50/50 bet on George’s free agency pays off, the combination of luxury taxes and max salaries could cost $300 million—all to retain a nucleus that probably isn’t good enough to beat the Warriors. That’s why Paul George rumors are not just clickbait. OKC is talented enough to scare anyone in the playoffs, but couple the threat of losing George for nothing with the enormous cost of trying to keep him, and it would be perfectly reasonable to listen to offers from… the Cavs? The Rockets? Maybe a dark horse like the Heat? The Lakers loading up before free agency next summer? I don’t know. But this is the biggest wild card for the rest of the season, and the next month of tea leaf-reading will be fascinating.”
Dave Schilling (B/R) on how OKC is evolving into an ideal team: “The Thunder aren’t quite rolling yet, not when one considers the significant expectations imposed on their newly formed Big Three of Anthony, George and Westbrook. But they’re finding their way and are gelling after the sort of early-season growing pains that have become cliche for teams with an uneasy mix of high-wattage superstars and blue-collar role players. In the crowded Western Conference, their elbows have to be sharp to get to the front of the line.”
Jordan Brand released official images and details on Russell Westbrook’s first on-court signature sneaker: “First and foremost, it serves the MVP’s key footwear need: forefoot containment. Westbrook plays high on his toes, always ready to push to the hoop or convert a rebound or steal into a fast break. For this, he needs stability over the sole unit, such that no added movement minimizes response when shifting direction or getting maximum bounce to the rack. Combining his style, specific performance needs and Jordan Brand soul, the end result is a futuristic silhouette that features a fused mesh upper, full-length Zoom Air unit and a compression-molded pylon foam piece engineered for flight.”
OddsShark previews tonight’s Thunder/Clippers match-up: “The Oklahoma City Thunder (21-17) will go for a two-game sweep of the L.A. teams Thursday, when they visit the streaking Los Angeles Clippers (17-19) in a tight matchup on the betting lines at the sportsbooks. The Thunder are coming off a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center Wednesday, while the Clippers have won four games in a row.”
Around the League: Steph Curry says Trae Young is “unbelievable”…. Isaiah Thomas got a standing ovation in his return to Boston…. Joel Embiid and the Sixers beat the Spurs…. The Rockets got 27 points from Gerald Green and beat the Magic…. Coming up with an answer for the Warriors at the Center position.