3 min read

Tuesday Bolts – 1.24.17

Tuesday Bolts – 1.24.17

Micah Adams of ESPN.com on player rankings: “Harden overtook Westbrook for our top spot

as they continue to trade places seemingly every week. Harden finished in fifth this week, far ahead of Westbrook (24th). While Harden’s week brought his season average up 0.2 points, Westbrook’s week dropped him nearly half a point.”

Berry Tramel: “But Westbrook’s triple-double chase has captured the nation’s fancy. Trying to repeat Oscar Robertson’s 55-year-old achievement, all in the wake of Durant’s departure, has turned the previous anti-hero into a sympathetic figure. And the All-Star voting results of last week will help Westbrook, too. Harden and Curry were named the Western Conference’s starting guards, but only because of a heavy fan vote for Curry. The players voted Westbrook No. 1 among West guards — Westbrook got 167 votes to Harden’s 149. Both more than doubled Curry. Even more germane to the MVP race, the players also preferred Westbrook — he received 93 votes, to Harden’s 91.”

Zaza Pachulia tried to rationalize his hard foul: “I didn’t mention where everything started, and maybe that’s my fault not to make it clear that I didn’t start that conversation or incident on the court. He elbowed me right (before the) previous play before I gave him a hard foul. He elbowed me. He lost the ball and threw the elbow in my face. We went on the fast break, Steph (Curry) had the layup and here they come and that’s when I took the hard foul. So it was kind of payback from my side. Like I said, a lot of people didn’t know that. I didn’t talk about it. I think it’s fair for me to say now.”

Erik Horne: “The last time the Thunder came to Salt Lake City in December, the game had slipped from its grasp by halftime. With a rare five days in between games this time around, it was well-rested headed into a key matchup against its division rival. This time, amid a heavy showering of boos and heckles 10 rows behind the Thunder bench, OKC played through the noise in an efficient first half en route to a 56-53 lead. The Thunder led 60-53 in the third before Utah ripped off a 13-0 run that had the Thunder reeling. Westbrook went to the bench in the third quarter 0-of-7. The Thunder as a team shot 4-of-22 in the woeful period. But OKC bounced back in the fourth behind renewed effort.”

Marc Stein had OKC 12th as of yesterday: “The Thunder are 4-6 with five games to go in a month they knew would be horrendous. They still have to play four of those remaining five on the road as well, including less-than-enticing stops in Utah (Monday night), Cleveland (Sunday on ABC) and San Antonio (Jan. 31). As for Russell Westbrook: He’s about to become just the fifth player in league history to reach the All-Star break with a scoring average of 30-plus PPG and fall shy of a starting spot. The others: Carmelo Anthony in 2007 (losing out to Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett), our beloved Bernard King in 1985 (Larry Bird and Julius Erving), Mark Aguirre in 1984 (Alex English and Adrian Dantley) and Wilt Chamberlain in 1964 (Walt Bellamy).”

Matt Moore of CBSSports.com had OKC 11th: “They are in a murderous stretch of schedule right now. They don’t move because none of the teams behind them jumped them, but they have the Jazz, then a mini-break before they face the Cavs and Spurs. They need to get Steven Adams back immediately.”

NBA.com had OKC 9th: “With Steven Adams (concussion protocol) out last week, the Thunder started small (with a frontline of Jeremi Grant and Domantas Sabonis), got outscored by 36 points in the paint, and couldn’t get stops against the Clippers or Warriors. For the season, they’ve been 8.5 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Adams on the floor (having allowed 101.1) than with him off the floor (109.6). With his team off since Wednesday, Russell Westbrook’s first chance to avenge his All-Star (starting lineup) snub will be Monday in Utah.”