5 min read

Thursday Bolts: 3.21.19

Thursday Bolts: 3.21.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s overtime loss to the Raptors: “The Thunder got the ball to start the extra five minutes, and possessed it for the first 50 seconds of overtime. After a jump ball, a save inbounds, a clock stoppage and three missed shots, the Thunder’s final attempt on that flurry was a chip shot that couldn’t go in, taking the wind completely out of the sails as the team battled on. While the defense continued to grind, as it had in the fourth quarter when it held the Raptors to just 18 points on 31.8 percent shooting, the Thunder went just 1-for-10 from the field in overtime and all those misses led to flowing possessions. Toronto scored the first 9 points of the extra frame, and that was all it needed to seal a 123-114 win on the Thunder’s home floor. “It was because of the position we put ourselves in,” said center Steven Adams. “If we execute properly and get the right movement for them on defense, we’ll get the right shot. It was good that we managed to get some offensive rebounds here and try to make something of it. Once we get the possession, try to get a quality one. Something downhill, rotation, kick.”

Morgan Campbell (Toronto Star) recaps the game from the other side: “The Oklahoma City Thunder won the fourth quarter on Wednesday night, outscoring the Raptors 32-18 over that span. And they dominated the final phases of regulation, going on a 13-2 run to tie the game late and push the contest into overtime. But they also lost star guard Paul George, who fouled out late in regulation and gave the Raptors the opening they needed to pull away to a 123-114 win. The victory improves the Raptors’ overall record to 51-21, and keeps them within hollering distance of the franchise-record 59 wins they achieved last season. More importantly, Wednesday’s win brings the Raptors to within two games of the Milwaukee Bucks for first place in the eastern conference as the post-season approaches.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on the Thunder’s shaky 3-point defense in the loss to Toronto: “The Thunder’s shaky 3-point defense helped the Raptors shoot 53 percent from beyond the arc in the first half Wednesday to take a 63-55 lead at halftime. Toronto made 5-of-8 (62.5 percent) from the 3-point line in the first quarter. Thunder coach Billy Donovan often says that sometimes other teams just make tough shots. He puts more stock in his team’s ability to contest shots. But Wednesday, OKC struggled to do that, too. The Raptors took a 58-44 lead in the second quarter in one of those instances. The Thunder’s defensive rotation broke down to leave Pascal Siakam wide open – with barely anyone on his side of the court – in the left corner. Adams was guarding Marc Gasol under the basket, but when Gasol kicked a pass out to Siakam, Adams was the closest person to the ball. He tried to get out to the perimeter, but even that gave Siakam plenty of time to drain a 3-pointer.”

Thunder/Raptors highlights:

Royce Young (ESPN) on the Thunder’s looming worst-case playoff scenario: “The locker room is still connected, still confident. It’s a very “process over results” approach the team takes, but results matter and the Thunder aren’t producing any lately. Thunder coach Billy Donovan keeps repeating that their tough schedule down the stretch is a good thing, that it will prepare them for the postseason and reveal flaws and issues that need correcting. It’s also apparently costing them playoff seeding, home-court advantage in the opening round and maybe setting up a potential nightmare first-round matchup with the Warriors. There’s time to fix it, time to string together some wins, climb back up the standings and carry momentum into the postseason. There’s an internal belief that in spite of the recent negative results, they are still the team that, as late as Jan. 5, was one game behind the West’s best record.”

Current Playoff Picture:

via NBA.com

Royce Young on Nick Collison’s jersey retirement: “I love Nick like a brother,” Westbrook said. “Just appreciative to be able to play with him his whole time here.” Some of Collison’s former teammates were in attendance but did not take part in the on-court ceremony, instead watching from a suite. Kevin Durant, Steve Novak, Cole Aldrich, Anthony Morrow and Brent Barry were among some of the teammates at the game. “I got to play on a lot of great teams here,” Collison said. “We had great teams because we had great players. I played with a lot of guys that made me look a lot better than I was. It was just all the Hall of Famers I played with, it was all the role players, the mentors, some of these guys are here tonight. Here and in college, everywhere I’ve been, I’ve always loved my teammates. For me, I just always wanted my teammates to know that all I wanted to do is help them win. I never had another agenda, and I think I stayed true to that, and I hope they feel that way.”

NBA.com had a Q-&-A with Mr. Thunder: “For me, it was just doing my job. Whatever experiences I had before I got here, the way I viewed playing and my job as a basketball player was to do as much as I could, do whatever it took to the best of my ability to help the team win. I think you just do that day after day, and I think that’s what the culture is here. Just doing the work day after day. We started from scratch. Everybody knows the story. We weren’t very good. We had a lot of things to prove. We just did it by doing the work over and over again. I think that’s kind of what it is. There’s really no magic to it. You have to be able to accept responsibility and do the work.”

Brett Dawson (Athletic) on the Thunder missing more than just Nick Collison right now: “One of those misses came on Oklahoma City’s third shot of the overtime. Westbrook inbounded the ball to Adams, then made a baseline cut, and Adams hit him with a perfect backdoor pass. A Collison pass. That’s what everyone was thinking. He was a master at it, and Adams looked like peak Collison hitting Westbrook in stride. Westbrook couldn’t get to the rim, leaving the ball instead for a cutting Jerami Grant. A basket would have been a fitting tribute to Collison, but Grant missed on a contested attempt, a sign of things to come for the Thunder in the overtime. Instead, the salute to Collison mostly was limited to a pregame ceremony in which Collison addressed the fans, his family and his former team after his jersey was raised to the rafters. “It was beautiful,” Adams said. “It was really, really good. Really good from the organization, too, to retire his jersey. It says a lot about them… I miss the old bastard.” And the Thunder, it’s apparent, are missing more than just that.”

Collison’s jersey retirement ceremony:

Around the League: James Harden dropped 57 points in a loss to Memphis…. Why Luka Doncic’s game is perfect for the future of the NBA…. Is it almost Jimmer Time once again in the NBA?…. Nobody wants the Nets in the playoffs…. Why collegiate big men have a complicated NBA future…. On this date in 2014: Thunder-KD drops 51 on the Raptors…. A Q-&-A with Kobe Bryant…. The questions Jeanie Buss should be asking to get the Lakers on track.