4 min read

Thursday Bolts: 4.12.18

Nick Gallo recaps last night’s regular season finale win over Memphis: “Led by a blistering hot shooting performance by Paul George, who had recently been coming out of a funk before snapping tonight, the Thunder ripped off a quick 8-0 run midway through the first quarter to take the lead for good. Two of George’s 8 made three-pointers came during that stretch, and the dynamic small forward finished with 40 points on 13-of-20 shooting overall in the game. George’s offense was a microcosm for how the Thunder played all night on that end, knocking down 55.3 percent of its shots on 32 assists, tying an Oklahoma City-era record with 20 made threes on 43 attempts and a whopping 30 fast break points. Westbrook was pushing the tempo to dizzying degrees, repeatedly taking the ball off the backboard (more on that later) and getting out into transition to find open shooters.”

Sekou Smith (NBA.com) previews the 4-seeded Thunder vs 5-seeded Jazz: “This is as fair a fight as you’d expect from a No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup. The Thunder have more star power, though that didn’t always serve them well during a trying regular season. But the Jazz boasts the sort of chemistry every team wishes it had, with everyone playing their specific role to perfection and excelling in a system that has been good to whoever buys in. The chess match between Jazz coach Quin Snyder and Thunder coach Billy Donovan should be interesting in a series that is truly a toss-up. Thunder in 7.”

The playoff schedule vs Utah: ”

ESPN with everything you need to know about these binge-worthy playoffs: “The Thunder spent the season confusing the league and themselves. The glimpses of potential in emphatic wins mixed with head-scratching losses kept them at risk of not making the playoffs until the final week of the season. But with top-tier talent, they could have the Western Conference on notice. The thinking all season was the Thunder were built for the postseason. Russell Westbrook strikes fear in opponents on his own, but with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony alongside him, the Thunder have upside that creates the feeling that a light bulb could go on at any moment.”

Zach Buckley (B/R) with every team’s playoff x-factor: “Oklahoma City: Shooting Guards / Corey Brewer, who has never posted an average player efficiency rating in his 11 NBA seasons, is getting 28.4 minutes per game. Alex Abrines, Terrance Ferguson and Josh Huestis have each started a handful of games and watched a handful of others from the bench. Brewer, Ferguson and Huestis all struggle to shoot, and Abrines is little more than a traffic cone on defense. Someone needs to fill Roberson’s minutes, and it’s unclear which player that should be. Guess right, and maybe OKC makes the run its talent level says it should. Guess wrong, and it could lead to both an early exit and increased anxiety regarding Paul George’s upcoming free agency.”

Royce Young on Russell Westbrook again averaging a triple-double: “With a rebound off an air ball with nine minutes left in the third quarter Wednesday, Russell Westbrook added another historic bullet point to his résumé, becoming the first player to average a triple-double in multiple seasons. “I’m very, very thankful and blessed to go out and compete,” Westbrook said. “Like I’ve said many, many times, I don’t take this game for granted, I don’t take going on the floor competing for granted, and God got something planned for me, man, nobody can stop it, and I always continue to follow his faith and stay faithful and stay strong and continue to do what I’m doing.”

Berry Tramel on Westbrook’s history: “Of course, some of Westbrook’s rebounds on this night, and this season, and this career, came courtesy of loitering in the lane while his man runs free on the perimeter. And that most definitely is not good. Does Westbrook do that because he’s stat-chasing or just prone to lazy spells on defense? Either is plausible. But even if you took a rebound a game away from Westbrook, you’ve still got a guy who leads the NBA in scoring one year, in assists the next, and remains one of the great rebounding guards in NBA history.”

Lauren Theisen (Deadspin) on Westbrook’s absurd stat line to clinch history: “Westbrook’s stat line was about as enjoyably lopsided as you would expect. The Thunder guard had no interest in taking shots for most of the game, and instead dished out 19 assists to go with a final total of 20 boards. He only had six points, off nine attempts from the field. While it might be tempting to goof on Westbrook for shamelessly chasing the specific numbers he needed tonight, any concerns about stat-padding should be easily swiped away. This is an honor that anyone in the NBA would want, but it’s only Russ who holds it.”

Kyle Newport (B/R) on Westbrook’s tribute to Nick Collison: “If Nick Collison decides to retire following this season, Russell Westbrook made sure the veteran Oklahoma City Thunder forward got the sendoff he deserved. Ahead of Wednesday night’s regular-season finale against the Memphis Grizzlies, the reigning NBA MVP addressed the Oklahoma City crowd and asked it to show Mr. Thunder some love. The two have been teammates ever since Westbrook entered the league 10 years ago.”

ESPN tracked every outfit Westbrook wore this season: “OKC’s MVP does what he wants — on the court and off it. We tracked every outfit the NBA’s biggest fashion star wore this season. Want to dress like Russ? Even if you think you can pull it off, it’ll cost you.”

Around the League: Full NBA playoff schedule…. The Wolves topped the Nuggets in OT to earn a playoff spot…. The Magic fired Frank Vogel…. The Knicks fired Jeff Hornacek…. Markelle Fultz became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double…. Brian Davis used a very unfortunate phrase on last night’s Thunder broadcast.