Nick Gallo recaps last night’s OT win in Dallas: “Russell Westbrook slalomed left around a screen and then jerked right back towards the middle of the lane. His stride long and his arms reaching out, Westbrook finished his glide to the rim with a marvelous layup, plus the foul. His free throw gave the Thunder a lead with 38 seconds to go in overtime, and it turned out to be the decisive bucket in an absolutely gut-wrenching 111-110 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.”
Fred Katz on the Thunder winning without it feeling like a win: “Oklahoma City has 14 of its final 19 games against teams currently above .500. It needs wins against the dregs of the NBA however it can find them. At 19-42 coming into the evening, the Mavericks fit into that category. Make no mistake about it: they wanted to lose. And they did, in overtime, finally. It felt like another game when OKC either lost or came as close as possible to losing to a team it shouldn’t have. It felt like a game that should have been over early, considering the Thunder once held a 15-point lead and watched it turn into a seven-point deficit. “We’ve got to figure out how to motivate each other coming out of half time,” backup point guard Raymond Felton said. “I’ve got to do a better job motivating those guys and getting those guys ready to go out there. It’s a team thing.”
Moke Hamilton (USA Today) on Russell Westbrook not being worried about barely beating bad teams: “Although coming in a victory, Wednesday night’s 111-110 overtime victory over the Mavs was just the latest exhibit. After the win, Westbrook was asked whether there’s any cause for concern. The Thunder, after all, seem to often play down to the level of their competition, and championship teams don’t typically do that. “What’s our record against the best teams in the league?” Westbrook defiantly asked when a reporter questioned whether the lowly teams giving Oklahoma City tough times is worth lost sleep.”
Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) on the Thunder likely signing Corey Brewer: “Swingman Corey Brewer is likely to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder upon clearing waivers Friday, league sources told ESPN. The Los Angeles Lakers waived Brewer after agreeing to a contract buyout with him Wednesday. Brewer, 31, is engaging with other teams before finalizing his decision, but it would take a significant turn of events for coach Billy Donovan to lose out on signing one of his ex-Florida Gators stars, league sources said. Brewer was part of back-to-back NCAA championships at Florida in 2006 and 2007. An 11-year veteran, Brewer gives the Thunder a versatile wing player to help fortify a roster that lost starting shooting guard Andre Roberson for the season with a leg injury.”
Gary Washburn (Boston Globe) got Kyrie Irving’s extended comments on Zaza Pachulia’s dirty play on Russ: “When asked how often he expresses disdain on social media, he said: “Not often. I was on the bus after our game and I saw it and I was just like ‘man this (expletive) is ridiculous.’ Because then we’re talking about something totally different if Russ does get hurt and he has a 260-pound guy falling on his leg or his knee. And then we’re talking about something totally different. But since Russ didn’t get hurt, then it’s like ‘ok then the play was clean.’ I’m always thinking about the what if’s and you never know what could happen in situations like that. He falls arm first, knee first into (Westbrook). Whatever man. I don’t really comment on anything on social media but this one I had to.”
Dan Favale (B/R) has Paul George, Jerami Grant, and Josh Huestis as upcoming free agents teams should already be thinking about: “Josh Huestis would be a great spark plug for Memphis’ puddle-deep wing rotation. His three-point percentage has plunged below 30 percent for 2017-18, but he has outside range and is a decent cutter and screen-setter. He instantly becomes Memphis’ switchiest defender as well. Oklahoma City is now starting to realize he’s its best replacement for the injured Andre Roberson. Slinging minimum money won’t get Huestis to budge, and the Grizzlies don’t have the biannual exception this year after giving it to Evans last summer. They’ll have to hope the latter costs something less than the full MLE, or that the Thunder decide Terrance Ferguson is their guy—which, as far as offseason fantasies go, is pretty reasonable.”
Shea Serrano (Ringer) on the players you’d least like to be dunked on by: “LeBron activates the full strength of his superpowers only when he is personally attached to a person or a moment. And Giannis (who, frankly, I’m surprised has lasted this long) is good at making that angry sneer face, but right now it still feels more like a reflection of the type of player he’ll eventually become and less like who he is at this precise moment (like in The Wire when Kenard was pretending to be Omar). Russy, though, doesn’t need a reason to hate you, or a reason to be fully engaged and ready to destroy you. All he needs is for you to be in the way. You give him that, you might as well set yourself on fire. He’d be the worst person to be dunked on by in the NBA.”
Around the League: The Rockets won their 14th straight…. LaMarcus Aldridge sprained his ankle last night…. Adam Silver put out a warning for teams trying to tank…. Every game tired teams should lose in March…. The three unwritten rules of NBA trash talk.