NBA All-Star voting is now live: Cast your vote and help send the Thunder to Charlotte for the 2019 All-Star Game. They’d probably do the same for you, idk.
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on the Thunder’s uncertainty at backup power forward: “Grant’s rapid ascent is a positive. He’s averaging career highs in points (12.4) and 3-point shooting (37.3 percent) while shooting 52.7 percent from the field and defending five positions. Yet, what he’s able to do magnifies the gap between him and Patrick Patterson. Among the 273 players who have played 400 minutes or more this season, Patterson is next to last in field-goal percentage (33.8 percent). Patterson’s struggles were exposed further Wednesday when Thunder coach Billy Donovan went with seldom-used 6-foot-6 Abdel Nader to start the fourth quarter. It was justified by Donovan as a way to defend Houston’s four-guard lineups better but also showed where trust in Patterson — who’s shown the defensive ability to switch onto guards and theoretically can stretch defenses with his shooting — currently stands.”
Michael Walton (NBC Sports) has the Thunder sixth in his power rankings: “The Thunder are on a two-game slide that is likely to end in Phoenix on Friday.Their two losses were a two-point defeat to the T’Wolves—in which Andrew Wiggins had 30 pts and a game-winner—and the Christmas loss to the Rockets in which Harden erupted for 41 points, and OKC couldn’t buy a 3-point bucket outside of Paul George. This team is still one of the more steady ones in the league, with an awesome defense supporting the scoring of Russell Westbrook (20 PPG) and possible MVP candidate Paul George (26 PPG). They end the week at Dallas, which will give George a chance to avenge his 8-for-21 shooting the last time out against the Mavs.”
Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on the common theme in the Thunder’s close losses: “The inability to control defensive boards wasn’t just an issue Tuesday night. In the Thunder’s two clutch wins this month, 107-106 at Utah and 114-112 at Brooklyn, OKC grabbed over 43 defensive rebounds in each, compared to 37 or fewer in each of its five losses. It’s a small sample size, but inconsistency on defensive boards has been a theme for much of OKC’s season, resulting in second-chance points for its opponents. That was especially apparent in the Thunder’s loss Tuesday, when the Rockets scored 23 second-chance points. “The unique part about the defensive rebounding,” Donovan said earlier this month, “is that the margin between being a top-five defensive rebounding team and being 25 is probably two rebounds, so you’re not talking about these insurmountable gains that we need to make.”
Paul George live-streamed some NBA 2K19 action yesterday: If watching other people play video games is your thing.
Chris Cwik (Yahoo Sports) on Russell Westbrook accidentally knocking over the National Anthem singer on Monday in Houston: “Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook drew a pretty big foul during Tuesday’s game against the Houston Rockets that didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Prior to the game, Westbrook knocked over the national anthem singer while he was warming up. Don’t worry, it didn’t happen while she was singing the anthem. Instead, singer Sarah Grace had just taken a free throw for charity. As she was walking away, Westbrook backed into her, sending her to the court.”
Michael Le (Sneaker News) reviews upcoming colorways of the Jordan Westbrook 0.3:“The nonconforming style of Russell Westbrook is surely reflected in his own series of Jordan brand signature shoes, showcasing an interesting mix of aesthetics that call back to his own basketball aptitude as well as his passion for lifestyle-driven silhouettes. Though equally strong in their own right, the 0.3 has not garnered the same amount of buzz as his other numerical releases, though — with a flurry of new colorways entering the mix — this might begin to change. With a profile that is reminiscent of classic plimsoll and skateboard influenced models, the Westbrook 0.3 is arguably very minimal, with the palettes doing much of the talking. In the two newest iterations, one features some iconic Black and Royal colorblocking with the other utilizing a textured Black and White detailing along the entire mudguard. Take a peak at the official images below, and stay tuned as these are sure to hit Nike.com as well as select retailers in the coming months.”
Around the League: Zach Lowe on all the Anthony Davis trade chatter…. D-Rose dropped 24 points and got “MVP” chants last night in Chicago…. LeBron is day-to-day with a groin injury…. Steve Kerr thinks the Warriors are the most scrutinized ever…. Luka Doncic is blown away by LeBron comparisons…. No one is scared of Ben Simmons…. Recapping last night’s NBA action…. Parity is coming into focus in the NBA…. Vlade Divac discusses the Kings and their shocking turnaround.