4 min read

Thursday Bolts: 11.9.17

Thursday Bolts: 11.9.17

Royce Young on the NBA’s disciplinary actions toward the Thunder: “Russell Westbrook, Paul George and coach Billy Donovan were each fined $15,000 on Wednesday for critical comments of officiating after the Oklahoma City Thunder’s loss Sunday to the Portland Trail Blazers. After Carmelo Anthony was controversially ejected for a flagrant foul 2 in third quarter — a call the league upheld after further review — Westbrook, Donovan and George all gave thoughts about that play, as well as a play moments before that was not reviewed after Westbrook was caught in the face….The league also rescinded a flagrant foul 1 that Westbrook was assessed in Tuesday’s loss to the Kings.”

Brett Dawson on the Thunder’s stagnant offense: “OKC ranks last in the NBA in passes per game at 256.4, almost eight fewer than the next-lowest team. League-leading Philadelphia makes 350.7 passes per game. OKC has ranked in the bottom five in passes per game in each of the previous four seasons. The ball still stops in the hands of a star. There are just more stars to hold it. The Thunder runs isolation plays – those on which a player goes one-on-one against a single defender – 12.3 percent of the time. That’s the highest number in the NBA. But it’s scoring 0.87 points per isolation possession, which ranks 19th in the league.”

Royce Young on the Thunder not panicking despite early struggles: “The Thunder’s stars are sticking with saying all the right things. They want to make this work. They see the potential, and how they need the other two to get them to where they want to be. The Thunder are weirdly balanced — Anthony, George and Westbrook are all averaging virtually the same points per game on the same shots per game — but maybe they need a bit more of a hierarchy. There’s not a true organic flow.”

Kurt Helin (Yahoo) on Paul George staying confident: “We have a whole year to figure it out,” George said. “We can’t really try to rush this. It’s something that’s step-by-step, day-by-day and, at this point, game-by-game. We’ve got to slowly get on the same page.”

Sam Amick & Jeff Zillgitt (USA Today) on why OKC isn’t winning a title this season: “Teams that start this slow simply don’t win titles. In the past two decades, only the 1998-99 San Antonio Spurs won a championship without having a winning record in the first 10 games (they were 5-5). From last season’s Warriors (8-2) to the 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers (8-2) to the 2014-15 Warriors (8-2) on down the line, the recent history has been steady when it comes to early dominance. That doesn’t mean Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony won’t mesh enough to make a serious mark come playoff time, but the prospect of ripping the Larry O’Brien trophy out of the Warriors’ hands looks grim – for them and every other team, for that matter.”

Kevin Pelton (ESPN) on the trouble facing NBA foul-chasers: “Last season, Westbrook averaged 10.4 free throw attempts per game, second in the league behind former teammate James Harden of the Houston Rockets (10.9). Both players have seen their attempts decline dramatically this season. Harden is down to 7.9 attempts per game, while Westbrook’s 5.6 represent a drop of more than 40 percent.”

David Brandon (16WAR) breaks down three Thunder trends: “It’s been a rough week for the Thunder faithful, as the team has swooned against both comparable and inferior competition. The string of putrid games culminated in an absolute mess of a game against Sacramento where the Thunder barfed up isolation shot after isolation shot, losing in awful fashion against what might be the worst team in the league. The Thunder’s 3 best players (Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in that order) haven’t had the best of weeks. But who have been the consistent presences that have buoyed the team even when the main scorers have been off? Let’s take a look at the 3 pillars of the Thunder supporting cast: Steven Adams, Raymond Felton and Jerami Grant.”

Fox Sports with a preview of tonight’s Thunder/Nuggets match-up: “The Denver Nuggets feel as if they have some payback to deliver to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Payback for Russell Westbrook’s 36-foot dagger last April that eliminated the Nuggets from playoff contention. The shot gave the Thunder a 106-105 victory at the buzzer and put an exclamation point on his 42nd triple-double of the season, which set an NBA record. Payback, too, for Westbrook’s flagrant-1 foul on Denver center Nikola Jokic during a preseason game four weeks ago.”

Around the League: The Warriors crushed the Timberwolves without KD…. The Celtics have won 10 in a row…. NBA on TNT will broadcast in virtual reality this season…. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and the history of NBA anthem protests…. The Pistons are somehow 8-3…. Lee Jenkins wrote about Blake Griffin.