4 min read

Thursday Bolts: 3.28.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s Thunder win over the Pacers: “In the first half, the Thunder let its offense affect its defense. In the third quarter, it flipped that script, with stifling defense dictating an offensive explosion. Just after halftime, Russell Westbrook won a jump ball against Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner, and Jerami Grant dove on the floor for the ball and called a smart timeout to retain possession. The hustle play provided a bit of a spark, and the Thunder used it to light a bonfire. The defense locked in and was in the face of Pacers shooters possession after possession, forcing Indiana into 14 straight missed shots. The Thunder turned those misses into either fast break or secondary break opportunities to attack downhill and then kick out for three, and the result was a 24-0 run, the longest unanswered burst in the NBA this season. “That was us at our best,” said forward Paul George.”

A look at the 24-0 Thunder run:

Royce Young (ESPN) on the Thunder getting a much-needed victory: “One of the best defensive teams this season, the Thunder have been wildly inconsistent on that end of the floor over the past couple of months, but they cranked up the intensity to spark the run. The Pacers went scoreless for nearly seven minutes — from 10:48 to 3:57, when Tyreke Evans finally made a layup. George shrugged off a slow start to break loose, with 12 of his 31 points coming in the third quarter, leading the Thunder to a win over his former team. “Honestly, I noticed the stops more than the scoring,” George said. “I noticed we were getting stops and we were getting out. I noticed the pace was on our side and the momentum was on our side. But I didn’t necessarily notice 24-0 on that stretch.” Defense leading to offense has been the Thunder’s identity when they play at their standard this season, with energy defensively boosting the effort on the other end of the floor. Per Second Spectrum, the Thunder hit 8-of-10 on catch-and-shoot jumpers during the run and 7-of-11 on contested shots.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on the dominance of Steven Adams vs Indiana: “He led the Thunder in points for much of the game, finishing with 25 and pulling down 12 rebounds. But just as importantly for a team that struggled from the 3-point line, Adams recorded seven offensive rebounds and three assists. “Steven was really physical,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “He was really active. He really rolled to the rim hard. There was a presence at the basket with him on offense and defense.” Heading into Wednesday’s game, Adams had dropped to 11.2 points per game after the All-Star break. After a strong All-Star campaign before the break, in the unofficial second half of the season Adams was outmatched in some games, a non-factor in others. On Wednesday he was back in pre-All-Star form. And better.”

Brett Dawson (Athletic) on the Thunder finally playing like they knew the season was slipping away: “OKC’s 107-99 win against the Pacers on Wednesday was significant in the way that every win is at this time of year. But it meant something more because Oklahoma City played in the second half like a team that could sense its season slipping away. And there have been times lately when, fair or not, it’s seemed that was apparent to everyone but the Thunder. “We knew it wasn’t enough coming into half,” said Paul George, who led the Thunder with 31 points. “We knew we needed to change things.” That’s been true for some time.”

The 48: Thunder 107, Pacers 99

Kirk Goldsberry (ESPN) on what’s wrong with every Western Conference playoff team: “The Thunder have looked downright great at times, combining a suffocating defense with a dangerous offensive attack led by Paul George. But times have changed. OKC is trending downward — and doing so quickly. The Thunder offense has fallen off a cliff. Unless something changes, it won’t be good enough to get them out of Round 1. They are by far the worst shooting team of this group. Their effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 51.3 ranks 12th in the West, and no team in the NBA has shot worse since the All-Star break. The Thunder’s disastrous eFG% of 48.7 makes them the only team under 50 percent since the break. (Keep in mind the league is full of tanking teams right now, and OKC is still stinking up the joint more than anyone else).”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) with Paul George’s words of support for Jusuf Nurkic: “The Thunder and Nurkic have history. In the most recent chapter of the  saga, Russell Westbrook body-checked Nurkic after he thought the Portland big man tried to trip him. Later in the game, George and Nurkic got in an altercation when Nukic thought George hit him in the face. “Me and Nurkic and this program and Nurkic, a couple of us aren’t the fondest of Nurkic,” George said, “but in this moment I send my best. I don’t wish that on anybody, and I think everybody should rally behind him. As a brotherhood and as a fraternity being in the NBA, all of that stuff goes out the window when you see somebody go down.”

Current standings:

Around the League: Devin Booker scored a lot of points again…. The Blazers got a win in their first game without Jusuf Nurkic…. KD shot 12-for-13 in a Warriors win over Memphis…. Who should the Golden State fear most?…. The Bucks & Hornets will play a regular season game in Paris in 2020…. Free agents to avoid in 2019…. Mike Conley is now the leading scorer in Grizzlies’ history…. Recapping last night’s NBA action.