Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) on last night’s loss in New Orleans: “A loose ball under the rim just barely squirted out of Russell Westbrook’s hands and directly into Anthony Davis’ arms. A kicked ball by New Orleans caromed off of Dennis Schröder’s ankle and out of bounds. A game of mere inches ended in poetic fashion, as Alex Abrines’ potential game-winning three-pointer with came up just barely short on the rim as the Thunder dropped a tough one against the Pelicans, 118-114. The effort and energy was there, the timing was just not quite there. “We played, really, really together. We were connected, offense and defense,” said forward Paul George. “On defense, we swarmed. We did everything we could to get the extra 50-50 balls or get the rebound. Offensively we shared it and got the ball to the open man.” Those tiny moments mattered in the final minutes, but there were plenty of opportunities for the Thunder on a macro level to change this game throughout the evening that could have altered the outcome.”
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson being up and down in the loss: “Another player the Thunder needs shooting from is Patrick Patterson. The veteran power forward entered Wednesday scoreless in nine of his last 10 games, but followed Abrines’ lead, getting on the board in the second quarter via an assist from Abrines. Patterson also contributed some key defensive plays in a game in which Jerami Grant battled foul trouble. Patterson’s 3-point drought continued, though, as he went 0-of-3, extending his 3-point-less drought to six games.”
Brett Dawson (Athletic) with takeaways from Thunder/Pelicans: “It was a pretty good look. Russell Westbrook took an inbounds pass with 9.7 seconds to play Wednesday night, used a Paul George screen and drove, getting into the heart of the Pelicans’ defense. His Thunder trailed by two, and Westbrook had a pull-up jumper if he wanted it and maybe a dump-off to Steven Adams. He found Alex Abrines instead with a pass that set up the shooting guard for a solid look from long range. Abrines let fly and misfired, and the Pelicans beat the Thunder, 118-114.“ Alex is one of our best shooters on this team,” teammate Paul George said. “I thought it was a good look for him.” You can debate the Westbrook decision, can question whether a good look for a cold shooter — Abrines finished Wednesday’s game 1 for 5 from 3-point range — is better than Westbrook shooting a pull-up over a sagging Anthony Davis. But you can’t deny the decision had some meaning.”
Paolo Ugetti (Ringer) on Anthony Davis dominating OKC because he had to: “Davis was an unstoppable force on Wednesday, scoring 44 points and tallying 18 rebounds, six of which were on the offensive end. He was persistent on nearly every possession, dismantling the best defense in the league with a combination of skill and effort. He took 32 shots—11 more than the next Pelican—and made half of them. He was also a perfect 11-for-11 from the line. For all the numbers Davis stuffed into the stat sheet, the game was decided by his sheer presence underneath the rim on Westbrook’s final drive. It was fitting symbolism: Had Davis not been in the middle of their defense, the Pelicans probably wouldn’t have won. There are some numbers that prove that: Wednesday was Davis’s fifth 40-point game this season, the most of any player in the league so far; the Pelicans are only 3-2 in those games. Two nights earlier, Davis had 41 in 38 minutes, but New Orleans lost to a Boston team sitting out four key players.”
Yeah, AD dominated:
Matt Ellentuck (SB Nation) on Steven Adams’ being a modern throwback big man: “Adams hasn’t made a three-point shot in his entire career, which might turn off progressive basketball fanatics. But his impact on the game aligns with the sport’s elites. He’s totaled 3.4 win shares — a stat that estimates the amount of ‘W’s a player contributes, according to basketball reference. That’s better than his superstar teammates Russell Westbrook and Paul George, and No. 16 in the entire league per 48 minutes. Adams is playing the best basketball of his career, and he’s only 25 years old. He’s averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds, five of which come on the offensive end. If he can maintain that, he’ll be the sixth player since the 1973-74 season (when o-boards were first tracked) to score 15 and 10 with at least five offensive boards. That list only includes Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Willis and Andre Drummond. That’s part of what makes him so valuable, and why he should be an All-Star this season. He’s making a star’s impact as a throwback player in the modern era like nobody else.”
Zamir Bueno (Sir Charles in Charge) on the regression of Russell Westbrook: “However, one can argue that Westbrook’s shooting woes are directly related to spending more time off the ball. Russell has been touching the basketball 87 times a game which is a decrease of 8.7 touches from the previous season. The decrease in touches has significantly changed the manner in which he shoots 3-pointers. Russell had developed a habit of shooting pull up 3-pointers over the past two seasons as he averaged 3.95 per game (5 + 2.9/ 2). He would make 31.6 percent of his pull up 3-pointers in that span.”
Around the League: 10 trade ideas ESPN would like to see…. KD says the Raptors aren’t up-and-coming because “they’re here”…. Shaq thinks he and Kobe could take down the Warriors — Steph disagrees…. Jeremy Lamb hit an MJ-approved game-winner last night…. LeBron on the 3-point revolution… Recapping last night’s NBA action…. What’s lurking in your stadium food?