Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s win over the Cavs: “After falling behind 28-21 after one quarter, the Thunder buckled down defensively and got high percentage looks on offense and outscored Cleveland 79-55 the rest of the way. It all started defensively, as the Thunder allowed 19 points in the second, 15 points in the third and 21 points in the fourth quarter to close out the win. All season long the Thunder’s priority defensively has been to contest well at the three-point line and force opponents to make tough shots over length on the move inside the arc. Tonight that strategy worked nearly to perfection. Cleveland may have knocked down 9 threes, but only attempted 23 for the game. Down low, the Thunder blocked 11 shots and forced the Cavaliers into 16-of-43 shooting (37.2 percent) in the paint.”
Royce Young (ESPN) on Russell Westbrook trying Jason Kid for third all-time with 107 career triple-doubles: “A few evenings after staying more than 2½ hours past the buzzer for a late-night solo shooting session, Russell Westbrook bounced back with one of his most complete games of the season, which included his 107th career triple-double to tie Jason Kidd for third on the all-time list. Westbrook finished with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with 19 rebounds and 15 assists in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 100-83 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. Westbrook recorded his second consecutive triple-double and his third of the season, and he now trails only Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138) on the all-time list. To match Kidd, Westbrook needed just 760 games as compared to 1,247 for Kidd.”
Russ discusses his latest bit of triple-double history:
Erik Horne on Jerami Grant’s big night against Cleveland: “Jerami Grant was at the center of curing the Thunder’s interior miscues in a 100-83 win. Grant finished with 21 points, many coming on patient crawls and cuts along Cleveland’s baseline behind a defense the Thunder was eager to exploit. “We have so many players on offense that require so much attention,” Grant said. “My guys were typically looking at them, so I just cut and read the defense.” Grant finished 8-of-12 from the field, all but one of those made shots coming from outside of five feet. Just as big, according to Thunder coach Billy Donovan, was Grant’s defense. Grant had four of the Thunder’s season-high 11 blocks. “I thought his defense in the first quarter really saved us,” Donovan said.”
Brett Dawson (Athletic) on the Thunder at the 20-game mark: “It wasn’t so jolly around here this time last year. With Wednesday’s win, Oklahoma City improved to 13-7. Twenty games in last year — the Thunder’s first season with George, their only one with Carmelo Anthony — the team was 8-12, fans were calling for Billy Donovan’s job and the playoffs seemed a pipe dream. The Thunder got in, thanks in part to a hot streak in December and January before OKC lost its best wing defender, Andre Roberson, to a torn left patellar tendon. But Oklahoma City entered the final week of the regular season with work to do to cement a playoff berth. Nobody wanted to renew that drama for a second season. So the cast changed — the Thunder traded Anthony in a deal that brought back point guard Dennis Schröder — and so did the direction.”
Cody Taylor (Thunder Wire) with Adrian Wojnarowski’s comments on Hamidou Diallo and the Thunder: “On last week’s edition of ‘The Woj Pod’ with ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski and ESPN front-office insider Bobby Marks, the two discussed which team in the Western Conference can challenge the Warriors…. “If you’re Golden State right now, it might feel like there are more threats to you in the Eastern Conference among the elite than the West although Oklahoma City has started to play a lot better and they caught a great break with Diallo only being out a couple of weeks with an ankle injury. He has been a revelation for them. [He] fits how Billy Donovan has wanted to play this year: fast, up-and-down. Dennis Schroder has been tremendous. Sam Presti turning Carmelo Anthony’s contract into Dennis Schroder this summer I thought was still the move of the summer.”
Ross Dwyer (Sneaker News) on the new Westbrook 0.3 lifestyle shoe dropping in a crimson colorway: “After a dazzle camo version of the Westbrook 0.3 dropped earlier this month, we now have a look at a new white/crimson colorway that bridges the gap between a skate and a high fashion look. The upper’s base is constructed of a bright crimson canvas, while the tongue, eyestays, and heel opts for a light grey suede. The white midsole rises up onto the canvas upper, and an extra pop of detail is provided by off-center red “Why Not” tags on the tongue. As always, “KB3” — a tribute to Westbrook’s close childhood friend Khelcey Barrs — adorns the interior of the tongue as well. Check out official images below, and expect Brodie’s newest casual kicks to release soon on Nike.com for an even $100 USD.”
Around the League: Kyle Korver has been traded to Utah…. The Warriors are close to being the Warriors again…. Predicting the future of Kevin Durant…. Mike D’Antoni is worried about Houston’s lack of depth…. Kawhi Leonard has signed a shoe deal with New Balance…. Doc Rivers on what he’s learned over 20 years as an NBA coach…. The ballad of Buddy Hield…. Recapping last night’s NBA action.