Thursday Bolts: 4.19.18
Nick Gallo recaps last night’s Game 2 loss to Utah: “It all adds up. The turnovers, the second chance points, the low efficiency shot attempts, missed free throws and everything in between. From the first minute to the 48th in these NBA playoffs, it’s the team that capitalizes on those little things and understands how they pile up that typically comes away victorious. That’s how it shook out in Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday night, as the Thunder fell 102-95 to the Utah Jazz in Game 2 of this Western Conference battle, tying up the series at 1-1 heading into Games 3 and 4 in Salt Lake City.”
Jack Maloney (CBS Sports) on the OK3 going 0-of-14 in the fourth quarter of last night’s game: “Donovan Mitchell outscored the Thunder’s “Big Three” by a 13-2 margin in the final quarter. Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony simply could not buy a bucket in the fourth quarter, as they combined to go 0 for 14 from the field. Two free throws by Westbrook were the only points they put up in the frame. Understandably, that wasn’t good enough. You just aren’t going to win many games — especially playoff games — when your three best scorers shoot that poorly down the stretch.”
Royce Young on Donovan Mitchell’s scoring prowess: “Any time you’re doing something better than Michael Jordan, especially in the playoffs, you’re really doing something. And with 55 points in his first two playoff games, including 28 in a 102-95 Game 2 win over the Thunder on Wednesday, Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell topped Jordan’s record for most points by a guard in his initial two postseason contests. After the Thunder went on a 19-0 run to take control late in the third quarter, Mitchell helped bring the Jazz back by scoring 12 points in Utah’s 14-3 run. He closed a 10-point deficit to five in the final minute of the third quarter, then slammed the door on the Thunder in the fourth, punctuating the effort with a spinning layup with 1:33 left.”
Berry Tramel on Steven Adams failing to make an impact against Rudy Gobert: “Steven Adams is a big part of the Thunder offense, even when he doesn’t shoot much. But he’s got to shoot at least a little, even against Utah’s 7-foot-2 rim protector Rudy Gobert. Through three quarters, Adams had just two shots, making one. But Russell Westbrook found Adams three times midway through the fourth quarter for dunks or layups, keeping the OKC offense afloat. Adams finished with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. The Thunder has to find a way to get Adams more chances, even against Gobert.”
Jenni Carlson on too many Thunder turnovers in Game 2: “In Game 1, the Thunder had more turnovers (17) than assists (16). Usually, that’s a recipe for complete and total disaster, but George’s shooting brilliance masked several issues Sunday night. In Game 2, the turnovers continued to be an issue. The Thunder had eight in the first quarter alone, and most of them were the unforced variety. Passes that were too hard. Teammates that were too close. Against a good defensive team like Utah, you expect there to be turnovers. But the Jazz’s pressure wasn’t the main culprit. The Thunder’s sloppiness was.”
Kyle Newport (B/R) on Paul George’s mending hip: “After leading his team to a 116-108 victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 1, Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George found himself as questionable for Game 2 because of a hip injury suffered during a fall on the court on Sunday. George wound up playing in Wednesday’s game, scoring 18 points in a 102-95 loss at Chesapeake Energy Arena, even though he may not have been fully healthy. The good news for OKC fans is that having a couple of days off before Game 3 should help. “It was a huge turnaround,” George said after Game 2, via ESPN’s Royce Young. “After not being able to put shorts on, to obviously playing tonight, it was a huge turnaround. I expect these two, three days in between going to Utah, I should be back to 100.”
New Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood podcast: Daily Thunder’s Olivia Panchal joins to recap Game 2.
Kevin Pelton (ESPN) ranks Thunder/Jazz as the second-most intriguing first round match-up through two games: “Through two games, this series has lived up to advance billing as perhaps the most entertaining and competitive first-round matchup. After struggling to slow the Thunder offense in a Game 1 loss, the Jazz clamped down in the fourth quarter of Game 2, holding Oklahoma City stars Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook to combined 0-of-14 shooting in the period as they rallied to win. Meanwhile, following a slow start dealing with a toe contusion, Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell carried the team’s offense down the stretch. Mitchell scored 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back scores to push the lead from two to six with 1:33 to play. Mitchell’s emergence as one of the league’s brightest young stars adds to the watchability of this series.”
Erik Horne had a Q&A with Nanae Yamano, a Japanese artist/Thunder superfan that visited OKC for Game 2: “Nanae Yamano, 43, had never had a passport. She’d never been to the United States, let alone a playoff game involving her favorite NBA team … until Wednesday. The Tokyo resident gasped and announced “Donovan Mitchell!” as the Jazz rookie came walking out for pregame warmups. She acknowledged reporters she follows on Twitter by first name before they could acknowledge her. It’s Yamano, however, who’s the celebrity. Yamano’s cartoon- style drawings of Thunder players have gone viral. After the Wall Street Journal featured her in a piece titled “The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Biggest Fan Lives in Japan” in March, her name became known worldwide.”
Matthew Gonzalez (Indianapolis Monthly) invites Paul George back to Indiana: “This is going to sound crazy—and it could just be the post-win serotonin talking—but I’m going to say it anyway. What if we patched things up, us and you? What if we, you know, got back together? Shhhhh. Don’t answer. Just listen.I know things didn’t end well with us. Things were said. But time heals all, right? Be honest. You’ve thought about it. During the all-star break you said yourself if you could pick one other All-Star to play with, it would be Victor Oladipo. You said, and I quote, “He’s a really, really, really, really, really good player.” Were you being snide? Catty? Normally, I’d say “Yes.” But right now I’m in the mood to assume the best in you, Paul. Because, holy crap, we could be so good together.”
Around the League: Erin Popovich (Pop’s wife) passed away yesterday…. The NBA world paid tribute to Popovich after the news broke…. LeBron scored 46 as the Cavs narrowly beat Indiana in Game 2…. The Rockets went up 2-0 despite James Harden shooting 2-of-18…. The Knicks will interview Kenny Smith for their head coaching vacancy…. Joel Embiid is doubtful for Game 3 of Sixers/Heat…. Someone stole Scottie Pippen’s tractor.