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Tuesday Bolts: 1.29.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s game in Orlando: “While the Magic don’t shoot the ball particularly well from the three-point line and don’t get to the free throw line much, they do play a unique brand of basketball in this day and age: slow and steady. Orlando plays at the fourth-slowest pace in the league, a smart strategy for a team that is 20-30 this season if it is an attempt to reduce the number of total possessions in the game, which in turn can eliminate the compounding effect of talent taking over during a 48-minute game. Still, even with that slow-down game, the Thunder will need to be aware of drives to the paint by D.J. Augustin, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, who will set up shooters on the wing to launch three-pointers. The Magic take 31.3 three-pointers per 48 minutes, and 31.5 percent of its points come from behind the arc.”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) goes there and assesses the Thunder’s odds of landing Anthony Davis: “Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes reported Monday afternoon that the Knicks and Lakers were preparing trade offers, and that Boston is not a preferred destination. Regardless of record, what those teams have in common is either capitol in young talent on controllable contracts (Lakers, Celtics), the promise of a high draft pick (Knicks) or both (Celtics, Knicks). So, matching money via hypothetical trades is one thing, but what the Pelicans want and what the Thunder and 28 other teams are willing to part with to acquire Davis is another entirely. It’s not impossible, but highly unlikely. Then again, Paul George.”

Paul George was named Western Conference Player of the Week:

Brian Windhorst (ESPN) on the inspired play of PG13: “It has been a change in narrative for George, who has been criticized in the past for not being able to make clutch shots. He was 0-of-15 on tying or game-winning attempts in the final 20 seconds of games during his tenure with the Indiana Pacers. Before his game-winning basket against the Nets, he was 0-of-14 in is career on go-ahead shots in the final 10 seconds. The irony is, even with George enjoying a glorious season, he actually has been worse in “the clutch.” Over the previous three seasons, George shot 41 percent on shots in the final five minutes with the score separated by fewer than five points. This season, he’s shooting only 31 percent in those situations — although it appears it’s because of volume. George has already logged as many “clutch” attempts as he did all of the previous season. It’s another indication of how Westbrook is handing off the clutch keys. The point here is that George has always been pretty good in these situations. Defining a player by only the very last shot has never been fair because it ignores all the games he decided with his play long before the final 10 seconds. George is a wonderful example of that this season, and the percentages say he’s going to make only more of them as he pulls up to his average.”

Zach Harper (Athletic) has the Thunder 5th in his latest power rankings: “The emergence of Terrance Ferguson is the chance for something special in OKC. Over the Oklahoma City Thunder’s last 10 games (6-4), 20-year old Terrance Ferguson has emerged as the perfect complementary wing to Russell Westbrook and Paul George. We all know Westbrook and George will handle the majority of the offense and they should handle the majority of the offense. But finding a wing who can knock down shots and play stellar defense has been a tough find for the Thunder. When Alex Abrines is in the game and hitting shots, the defense lapses a bit. When Andre Roberson is healthy (obviously, it’s been a while) and on the floor, the defense is stellar but the offense is nonexistent. Ferguson over the last 10 games has been the perfect mix for what they want on both ends of the floor.”

Berry Tramel (The Oklahoman) goes vintage Berry Tramel in an article titled Kevin Durant wants to attend Nick Collison Night but is only trying to boost his own image: “If Durant cared about his old pal, Durant would stay away from OKC. Would not even think of commandeering the spotlight from the man he calls his friend. Durant’s presence would turn Collison’s night into a circus. Fans, media, even some of their old teammates, would lose focus on the task at hand — honoring Collison’s 15 seasons with the organization. Is that what Durant wants? Is he really that narcissistic? Who knows anymore? Wouldn’t surprise me if Durant’s handlers never had any intention of him attending Collison’s night but merely wanted to launch a public relations salvo in trying to rebuild Durant’s image.”

Zach Buckley (B/R) on what the Thunder need to address at the trade deadline: “The Thunder are on the prowl for shooting forwards, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, which should surprise exactly no one who has watched this team. The NBA average three-point percentage this season is 35.4. OKC has just three players clearing that mark. One is Terrance Ferguson, who posted a 7.4  PER as a freshman and has actually seen that number decrease as a sophomore (6.7). Another is Abdel Nader, who just started receiving semi-consistent minutes over the last month. So much of this offense relies on the individual creativity of MVP candidate Paul George (the other above-average shooter) and triple-double machine Russell Westbrook. The Thunder throw the fewest passes per game in the league, preferring instead to let their stars attack. But if there were more competent receivers on the court, wouldn’t OKC involve them?”

Kaelen Jones (S/I) on Kyrie Irving starring in a horror film based on OKC’s famously-haunted Skirvin hotel: “Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will star in and serve as an executive producer for a horror movie about the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City, according to Variety. Irving will work on the film in conjunction with Imagine Entertainment. The company preemptively optioned an upcoming Players’ Tribune article that will serve as an oral history of NBA players who have stayed at the hotel, which has a reputation for being haunted. Some players even refuse to lodge at Skirvin Hotel because of its rep. The alleged hauntings started occurring in the 1930s. “Having had my own interesting experiences at the Skirvin Hotel, I connected with this idea immediately,” Irving told Variety. “To work with Brian Grazer is a dream come true, and I’m excited to bring this project to life with the Imagine Entertainment team.”

Around the League: Recapping last night’s NBA action…. The Pelicans are in no rush to move Anthony Davis…. Things are complicated for would-be Davis suitors…. Klay Thompson is rumored to have interest in L.A. if the Lakers land the Brow and the Warriors don’t offer him the max…. Golden State’s winning streak is at 11 games…. Trae Young thinks the Trae Young/Luka Doncic trade worked out for both teams…. An idea to fix the NBA’s fouling problem.