5 min read

Thursday Bolts – 10.29.15

Thursday Bolts – 10.29.15

Kurt Helin of PBT: “Here’s what should make fans of other contenders nervous: Billy Donovan was


brought in to make sure the Thunder were more than Westbrook and Durant. That’s the only way they can win the ultimate prize next June. Wednesday, with the game on the line late, Dion Waiters hit two huge jumpers. Steven Adams made a great switch and contest on the Spurs’ shot attempt to win the game the buzzer. For all his defensive flaws, Enes Kanter put up 17 points and 16 boards. The point is those other guys did step up and make plays, and that makes the Thunder far more dangerous.”

Anthony Slater: “Dion Waiters hit four shots on Wednesday night. He only took eight. An efficient but not spectacular line. At least on the surface. But it’s when Waiters made a pair of them that defined his night. With the score tied at 101, Waiters hit back-to-back fadeaways with under three minutes to play, spurting the Thunder ahead by four. They never trailed again. In a vacuum, the shots didn’t seem like ideal looks for the Thunder — a 21-footer and a 14-footer from a career 40 percent shooter. But Billy Donovan liked them. He called for them. Out of a timeout, the Spurs had Danny Green on Westbrook and Parker on Waiters. It gave OKC a huge size advantage, which Waiters confidently exploited.”

My postgame story for the dot com.

Kirk Goldsberry of Grantland: “Thunder players converted 55 percent of the 1,053 shots they attempted within two seconds of receiving a Westbrook pass last season. For context, Dirk Nowitzki attempted 1,062 shots in 77 games last season; he made 46 percent of them. In other words, aside from winning the scoring title himself, Westbrook used his passing skills to turn his teammates into a composite of a player who’s more efficient than Dirk Nowitzki.”

Zach Harper of CBSSports.com: “This season, assuming hs health holds up, Durant will ferociously remind us of what we’re missing and what will be enticing this summer. His free agency is as important as LeBron’s was in 2010. And it’s probably more important than LeBron’s was in 2014. And you don’t have to dismiss LeBron or Harden or Curry or Davis as you rattle off the greatness in this league. Just don’t forget that No. 35 in Oklahoma City is the best thing we’ve got going right now.”

I wrote a thing about what kind of “value” Billy Donovan may bring.

Erik Horne on last night: “If there’s a way to quiet a 32-point performance from Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, Westbrook showed it. On the next possession following his crowd-thrilling 3, Leonard went right down the floor and converted a basket and free throw. Too late. You could barely see it from the stands, thanks to the standing, jubilant Thunder bench, but Westbrook’s patented fingers guns salute — arms pointing down, hands by his waist — had emerged the play before. He hit two more free throws down the stretch for the game’s final points, and the Thunder gave Billy Donovan a 1-0 start to his NBA coaching career.”

Jenni Carlson: “Durant, who had just eight points on 4-of-10 shooting in the first half, just couldn’t sustain anything. After hitting a three on the Thunder’s first possession of the second half, he missed his next three shots. It was like that all night because of Leonard. All the while, the Spur star was doing damage on the other end, too. The past few years, he’s been known largely as a defender,  but if Wednesday tells us anything, it’s that Leonard is as good a two-way player as you’ll find in the league.”

Rob Mahoney of SI.com: “Not implicitly, but enough to give Waiters a go in the closing minutes after a solid performance prior. The move paid off; Waiters hit a pair of shots in the final two minutes to give Oklahoma City the tie and the lead. The first came on a pick-and-roll in which Waiters looked off Durant, rose for a midrange jumper, and appeared to be cheered by Durant on the way back up the floor. The second was a deliberate posting by Russell Westbrook, who wanted Waiters to take advantage of the mismatched Tony Parker. He did. This game showcased the full Waiters spectrum, though it means something that both his coach and his superstar teammates trusted him to close this game out.”

Nice touch from the Thunder in the media room honoring BBJ.

This from Nazr Mohammed is excellent: “I’ve played many roles on many different teams. I’ve been a starter, I’ve been the 6th-9th man, I’ve been a guy who didn’t get off the bench. Through these many roles throughout my career, I know it’s a tough position to be in. I understand how frustrating and disappointing it can feel to sit on the bench when you know you can contribute. That said, my advice to players who are having a tough time sacrificing their playing time is pretty simple: no matter your situation, just be a great teammate. Nobody wants to be around that bitter, angry teammate who isn’t a good guy when things aren’t going his way on the court. Everybody on that team is going through their own situations – whether it’s big or small – and you don’t want to minimize somebody else’s problems and maximize your own.”

Howard Beck of Bleacher Report: “The path to greatness is rarely obvious or linear. There are no givens, even for the most gifted individuals. If Durant seems unusually modest for his talents, perhaps it’s because he never took stardom as a given. If he seems unusually defensive—defiant even—perhaps it’s because he worked so hard to achieve the greatness that he now sees threatened. Those foot surgeries have not fundamentally changed Durant’s game, his mechanics, his intellect, his drive, his ambition. While others are looking for signs of regression, Durant is pushing forward.”

Andrew Gilman for Complex on Russ and KD: “Westbrook and Durant are heading into an eighth year together. Nothing lasts eight years except for your grandparents’s marriage. It’s longer than your favorite TV show was on and way more successful, too. Yes, Durant’s run to the MVP two seasons ago happened when he had to carry the team when Westbrook was injured. Durant went on a heater of a streak, scoring 30 or more in 12-consecutive games and 25 or more in 41 games in a row. And many will point to Westbrook’s rapid ascension in the league coming when Durant was hurt. Westbrook went four games in a row achieving a triple-double, despite dealing with a fractured cheek bone. And without Durant, Westbrook went on to win the scoring title last year, too.”