Nick Gallo recaps last night’s win over the Kings: “That positive energy carried over into a dominant third quarter for Oklahoma City when it outscored the Kings 31-16, including the string of lobs that turned a nine-point deficit into a nine-point lead during the period. A 15-3 spurt that helped the Thunder re-take its first lead since the first quarter featured a couple of trailing three-pointers by Anthony. The prolific scorer is clearly becoming more and more comfortable in his role as a catch-and-shoot player who can stretch the floor for the rest of the group, in addition to performing at a high level as a team defender, and showed both skills after halftime.”
DJ Dunson (Yahoo) on Russell Westbrook’s ejection last night: “Russell Westbrook’s ignominious night against the Sacramento Kings ended after he turned the ball over for the 10th time in Monday’s contest. After he was called for a questionable travel in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings, Westbrook became enraged over what he believed to be contact to his face that was missed by the official. Following the call, Westbrook sprung off the ground and appeared to shout expletives not fit for publication at official Matt Boland, who promptly gave him his second technical of the evening.”
Royce Young on Carmelo Anthony being “done” with the referees: “An assist away from his 15th triple-double of the season, Russell Westbrook was ejected after being hit with two quick technical fouls with 2:50 remaining in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 95-88 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, prompting teammate Carmelo Anthony to say he’s “done” with referees. “I’m done with them,” Anthony said, cutting off a question about the officials. “I’m done with the refs. No disrespect, but I’m done with those guys.”
Berry Tramel on why firing Billy Donovan isn’t the answer for OKC: “Midseason coaching changes rarely work, though there are plenty of examples of a new coach invigorating a struggling team. But either way, a coaching change makes no financial sense at a time when the Thunder is in perilous money times. OKC has committed $134 million in salaries this season, with soaring luxury tax bills. Donovan makes $6 million a year. Can the Thunder afford to pay Donovan not to coach? Also, despite all kinds of changes to the Thunder’s culture over the last two years, a coaching change would be the ultimate sign that Sam Presti has gone all quick-trigger. Swapping coaches at the first sign of real trouble? That’s what the Suns and Nets do. Not the Thunder.”
NylonCalculus takes a look at how team offensive play-types have changed: “The Thunder have used handoffs just two percent of the time, generating a mere 0.6 points per possession — markedly lower in both frequency and efficiency than the league average (9 percent and 0.9 PPP). Granted, this play type was hardly a staple for them last season, but at least their performance then was closer to the other teams. By contrast, their production off screens (1.2 PPP) has risen toward the top of the NBA, matched only by the Denver Nuggets. These changes are driven in large measure by personnel and strategic fit. Apart from the fact that both George and Anthony seldom created on handoffs in the past (it was often less than five percent of their plays), the Thunder also lost players like Victor Oladipo, who currently ranks among the most frequent DHO scorers, as well as Taj Gibson and Domantas Sabonis, who previously performed crucial functions on such actions. George, on the other hand, is a skillful shooter off screens. The Thunder are making the most of his comparative advantage and featuring it in their late-game Hawk set, among other schemes.”
ESPN has the Thunder 8th in their latest power rankings: “The Thunder have showcased several inconsistencies in their up-and-down season so far with some impressive wins and incredibly poor losses. They’re 4-6 against the bottom eight teams in the NBA — the only teams worse are the Mavericks and Grizzlies.”
Dan Favale (B/R) has Steven Adams as the 11th-best center in the second half of the season: “Adams can also hold his own when trundling into space. He forces turnovers almost 10 percent of the time when defending isolations—fifth best among every player to guard 60 or more one-on-one situations. It should come as minimal surprise that NBA Math’s TPA rates him as Oklahoma City’s second-most valuable player, behind only Russell Westbrook.”
Around the League: The Rockets tried to storm the Clippers’ locker room last night…. A breakdown of the many Clippers/Rockets altercations…. The Warriors beat the Cavs last night in Cleveland…. There’s “growing discontent” in the Cleveland locker room…. Ben Simmons and Kyle Lowry had a “meet out back” moment in yesterday’s Sixers/Raptors game…. How the NBA celebrated MLK Day.