5 min read

Thursday Bolts: 10.18.18

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) with takeaways from opening night: “One player who looked like he will be able to hang athletically for the Thunder, particularly on defense, is rookie Hamidou Diallo. The University of Kentucky product impressed coaches and teammates during the preseason, and he stepped in during his 8:37 of action on Tuesday and made his first field goal attempt, pitching in 4 points, a rebound, an assist and a steal. He was also part of a defensive effort that held Klay Thompson to 5-of-20 shooting, although the Warriors’ All-Star marksman had a few wide-open looks that just didn’t go down. “It was a great experience for Hami just from the standpoint of he’s guarding Thompson. There’s a lot of movement, a lot of cleverness to him, pushing off and using screens, curling, fading,” Donovan noted. “Great player,” Diallo said of Thompson. “They run some great sets for him. I just have to go and watch film and get better at that.” At one point during the game, Diallo went to the bench and sat down next to injured guard Andre Roberson, one of the pre-eminent defenders in the entire NBA. The Thunder’s ace lockdown man showed leadership and was in Diallo’s ear, giving him a few tips to utilize as the game progressed.”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on the Thunder defense not stopping in Andre Roberson’s absence: “The news came and the Thunder’s world was supposed to end. Andre Roberson’s rehab setback meant a collective setback for OKC’s defense and chances at Western Conference contention. You wouldn’t think that from the tenor of coach Billy Donovan and the Thunder after an opening night loss to Golden State. “When you lose a really good player, you can’t sit there and say you’re going to be better,” Donovan said Wednesday at the Mo Ostin Basketball Center at UCLA. “That being said, we can still be an elite defense if we all continually put the work in and have an attention to detail.” What good does it benefit a team to sulk about the loss of its defensive ace when it has the potential to still be among the league’s best defensive units? As the Thunder comes off an encouraging second half against Golden State, it should be aiming to be one of the league’s top defenses without Roberson.”

Berry Tramel (Oklahoman) on Dennis Schroder proving his worth against Golden State: “Schroder’s numbers were somewhere between Westbrook and Westbrook Lite – 21 points, nine rebounds, six assists, one block, three turnovers, four fouls, 7-of-19 shooting. Schroder made two of his six 3-point shots, which on this night was above average for OKC. The Thunder made just 10 of 37 overall from beyond the arc. Schroder’s defense was shaky early but stabilized later. The Thunder appeared in danger of getting blown out – the Warriors scored 16 points in the first 4:35 of the game but just 15 points the rest of the quarter and never caught fire after that. How Schroder plays with Westbrook is a huge element to this season, so we learned about that. But Schroder showed us the kind of impact he can make on this team.”

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Martin Rogers (USA Today) on how Russell Westbrook’s injury could set back the Thunder: “On opening night, the Oklahoma City Thunder, with Russell Westbrook sitting courtside in his inimitable style of streetwear, gave the fully-stocked Golden State Warriors a major fright on the champ’s floor. A cause for optimism, right? How about time to panic? OK, panic is too strong a word but even with the season at this nascent stage there are no shortage of reasons why the dilemma of how to handle Westbrook could become a major headache for the Thunder. A weird kind of headache, too. The kind of headache that stings a bit, goes away for a while, then comes back with a vengeance during the middle of April. Westbrook is continuing to recuperate a troublesome right knee that required arthroscopic surgery on Sept. 12. The same knee was previously operated on three times following a meniscus tear in 2013. The Thunder has been coy on his progress, though Westbrook insists the measure was a pre-emptive, clean-up procedure, and that it will increase his effectiveness and prolong his career. He may well be right.”

Cody Taylor (Thunder Wire) with Steven Adams’ comments about his lingering back issue: “Even as head coach Billy Donovan addressed the media prior to the game about an hour-and-a-half before tipoff, the status of Adams for the game was still in question. Of course, Adams played in the game after successfully going through team warmups prior to the matchup and recorded 17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals in 35 minutes of work in the 108-100 loss to the Warriors. Asked after the game how his back was feeling, Adams said he was fine. “I feel fine, mate,” Adams said. “I’m still above ground.”

Marc J. Spears (ESPN) on Paul George’s comments about the Lakers: “Paul George revealed to ESPN’s The Undefeated that he “would have been in a Lakers uniform” if he had never been traded from the Indiana Pacers. But after the Pacers dealt the five-time All-Star to the Oklahoma City Thunder instead last year, he fell in love with his new team and playing with Russell Westbrook before eventually agreeing to a four-year, $137 million contract extension this past offseason. “It was 50-50 on deciding whether I wanted to come back home or if it was smarter to be in the situation I am in now,” George told The Undefeated. “But it wasn’t overstated. I wanted to play in L.A. That is where I wanted to go. Had that trade never went down, had I played one more year in Indy, I would have been in a Lakers uniform.”

Chris Barnewall (Dime Mag) on what success in OKC looks like for Paul George: “The Thunder are in a position right now where they’re waiting for everything to break their way. They have a good team. They have a coach that has consistently given them a good defense. They have good management and an organizational culture that is already being admired across the league. There is a recipe for success here, but as long as arguably the greatest team in basketball history exists then the only thing George and the Thunder can do is bide time. So if George wants the maximum success in Oklahoma City from a team standpoint then they need to find a way to either put a scare into the Warriors or constantly be the second best team in the West until something breaks their way. Best case scenario? You reach cult legend status and everybody admires you the way people talk about some of the almost teams Jordan stomped on in the 90’s, or maybe Stephen Curry retires early to start a golf career.”

Around the League: The Kawhi era is underway in Toronto…. The Rockets lost and Melo said a reserve role is a challenge mentally…. Even without the Big 3, the Spurs keep winning…. Inside last night’s marquee rookie debuts…. Did Tony Durant say KD is leaving Golden State soon?…. Charles Barkley thinks the Celtics are the only hope at dethroning the Warriors…. Trades that are still crippling NBA franchises…. Predicting award winners, best teams, etc.