3 min read

Thursday Bolts: 12.14.17

Thursday Bolts: 12.14.17

Nick Gallo recaps last night’s Thunder win in Indiana: “With the Thunder up by just 3 points with 15.2 seconds to go, George blanketed Thad Young as he tried to catch the inbounds pass, and that harassment led to a loose ball that Young tried to save back in bounds. George anticipated it, got himself in position and corralled the ball with both hands. He was immediately fouled by the Pacers, then knocked down two crucial free throws that helped seal the Thunder’s 100-95 road win.”

Royce Young on OKC getting a win on a night Paul George was heavily booed: “I’m glad the circus is over with. Now everybody can move on,” George said. “I understood what the environment was going to be coming into tonight. My teammates did a great job of helping me battle this one tonight.” George’s return to the arena that he called home for his first seven NBA seasons didn’t go entirely as planned (he finished with 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting), except for the winning part, as the Oklahoma City Thunder held on for a 100-95 decision over the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.”

Paolo Ugetti (Ringer) on Steven Adams saving PG13’s homecoming: “Adams shot 11-of-16—accounting for more made shots than the Thunder’s Big Three had combined—but didn’t have a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. Coincidentally, that’s when the Thunder’s lead nearly evaporated, as they almost blew another game in crunch time. For all the talk about George, Russell Westbrook (who had another triple-double, but shot poorly), and Melo still trying to coexist, Adams has brought tone-setting energy in a diminished role. The big man from New Zealand has the highest PER on the team (21.4).”

Berry Tramel on the OKC crunch time offense still being an issue: “Winning games is always good. But long-term? No reason to get too excited. The offensive stagnation didn’t change much. Steven Adams had a fabulous game, and Alex Abrines’ shots were falling. But Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George combined to make 12 of 45 shots. The good news is that the trio’s 3-point shooting wasn’t that bad – five of 13 – and the two-point misses were often rebounded by Adams (nine offensive rebounds), and OKC made it work. But the Thunder isn’t going far with its three superstars shooting 26.7 percent.”

Timothy Rapp (B/R) breaks down the latest Paul George trade buzz: “The Lakers likely won’t give up young assets to get a player they may feel they can sign in free agency. On the other hand, if the Thunder are willing to take players the Lakers may be willing to trade solely to clear cap space—think Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, or Luol Deng and the $37 million remaining on his contract over the next two seasons—trading for George could make sense. Maybe the Cavaliers could make a run at George, as they reportedly did over the summer, hoping a half-season with LeBron James could convince both players to remain together in Cleveland. Perhaps another team takes a run at George with a similar plan in mind.”

Sam Amick & Jeff Zillgitt (USA Today) on why OKC won’t trade Paul George or fire Billy Donovan: “Will the combination of their disjointed play and concern about George leaving for the Lakers (or elsewhere) in free agency next summer inspire Presti to trade him before the Feb. 8 trade deadline? Might coach Billy Donovan be held responsible, perhaps being fired midway through his third season because, well, the one-man offense of last season has somehow regressed from 17th in offensive rating during Westbrook’s MVP campaign to 24th this season? The educated guess from this vantage point? Presti lets it play out on both fronts – for now.”

Jon Hamm on how the Thunder’s shooting troubles could derail the season for good: “Anthony tends to alternate between the mythical Olympic Melo, whose purpose is to facilitate and nail catch-and-shoot jumpers, and Knicks Melo, who can jab step any offensive set to a slow death.  Yet it’s Westbrook, the reigning MVP, who may be struggling the most. He’s still capable of getting into the paint at will, but too often he falls back on shaky pull-up jumpers instead. His shooting percentages are down from practically every other zone on the court, including an abysmal 15.8 percent on shots from three to 10 feet, per Basketball Reference.”

New Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood podcast: Thunder/Pacers, good and bad, playoff seeding and more with Weston Shepherd and Anderson Daniel.

Around the League: The Rockets are still undefeated when Chris Paul plays…. How James Harden has become virtually unguardable…. Gordon Hayward is out of his walking boot…. Anthony Davis gave a car to a family in need…. Reviewing the NBA’s “middle class.”