Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s game against the T-Wolves: “Against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night, the Thunder will have to not only address an area where it got hurt pretty badly on Sunday against the Washington Wizards (the offensive glass), but also the ways in which Minnesota bested Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club back on Dec. 23. In that game, the Timberwolves made 10 second half three-pointers and went to the free throw line 27 times, numbers that can’t be upheld again in order for the Thunder to win the rematch. “We’re at our best when we rebound because then obviously it allows us to get out in transition and get out on the fast break. It’s the same thing with fouling,” said Donovan. “If we’re fouling, it’s obviously slowing the game, it’s having teams shoot free throws and it’s taking away our strength of being able to play out in transition.”
No Derrick Rose & Robert Covington for the Wolves tonight:
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on if Steven Adams touches equals OKC wins: “Yet, there’s not much correlation between Adams’ scoring and the Thunder winning or losing. The Thunder is 5-4 when Adams scores 20 points or more, but is 16-10 when he gets 10 shot attempts or more in a game. Thunder coach Billy Donovan still thought Adams could have received more touches Sunday night, even if the Thunder going away from him on offense wasn’t the determining factor in the loss. “We didn’t rebound as well as we needed to,” Donovan said. “We didn’t defend as well as we needed to. Steven could have helped and contributed maybe with our efficiency, but we just weren’t efficient enough.” Much of the Thunder going away from Adams late in games is a product of the Thunder having three players in George, Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder who can create offense on their own as ballhandlers.”
Bobby Marks (ESPN+) on moves the Thunder can make at the trade deadline: “What to watch: The $10.7 million trade exception. Not only did the Thunder acquire a strong backup in Dennis Schroder through the Carmelo Anthony trade, but they also created a $10.7 million trade exception. Although the Thunder have an open roster spot, using the exception comes at a cost because of the repeater tax. Adding salary would cost the team between $4.75 and $5.25 for every $1 spent. Oklahoma City has a league-high $73.8 million tax penalty, but ownership has shown that money will be spent if it can be justified.”
Ken Berger (B/R) thinks Kevin Love makes sense for the Thunder: “The Thunder already have committed to being a tax team, and they have a defined window to get the most out of Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Adding to the intrigue, Westbrook and Love were teammates at UCLA. The Thunder also have a defensive-minded center, Steven Adams, which could make it easier to hide Love defensively at power forward. It doesn’t hurt that GM Sam Presti essentially has lifetime job security, so even if acquiring Love didn’t produce the desired result, he’d have plenty of time to figure out how to offload the contract or rework it some other way to minimize the damage down the road. “He’ll figure it out in three years when Russell and Paul are coming to the end of their run,” the Western Conference GM told B/R.”
Dan Favale (B/R) has Paul George fourth in his MVP rankings: “Westbrook missed time with knee and ankle injuries. That helps. And he remains an overbearing presence down the stretch. But the transition to George as an equal, if not the alpha scorer, is real. He even takes more shots per 36 minutes than Westbrook when they share the floor. Wresting touches and status from the 2016-17 MVP is one thing. Turning that opportunity into a career year is another. George is averaging personal bests in points, rebounds, assists and steals, maintaining his killer efficiency on pull-up threes amid a volume increase and spearheading a first-place defense that still doesn’t have Andre Roberson. The coup de grace: Oklahoma City’s net rating surges by 14.8 points per 100 possessions with George in the game.”
Ross Dwyer (Sneaker News) on the upcoming Nike PG3 “NASA”: “The brand-new Nike PG 3 is set to drop in a NASA-inspired colorway January 19th. Featuring a combo of orange mesh with silver, red, and blue overlays, George’s new footwear certainly presents a space travel-ready aesthetic — one that’s furthered even more by the American flag branding on the right tongue, heel/insole NASA badges, and the detachable “Remove Before Flight” hangtag. The midsole gets in on the fun as well with an embossed graphic on the heel that nods to “footprints on the moon” and George’s childhood Palmdale, CA zip code on the forefoot. The PG 3 is no slouch in the performance department either. Although it keeps the low-cut upper that’s become synonymous with George’s Swoosh line, it forgoes the forefoot strap used on previous models like the Nike PG 2.5 in favor of a bold midfoot overlay, while Zoom Air cushioning ensures maximum court feel and responsiveness.”
Around the League: Derrick Rose is sorry for “kill yourself” remarks…. KAT says no one expected Thibs’ firing…. Hedo Turkoglu and Enes Kanter aren’t getting along…. Kevin Love is unclear about when he’ll return…. Chandler Parsons is ready to play…. Players have found a new way to showcase their sneakers.