4 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 10.30.18

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s game vs the Clippers: “Number one on the checklist for the Thunder is eliminating any complacency that can set in once a lead is built or things go the right way for a long time. Then there are specific aspects of the game the Thunder must execute upon every trip downcourt, like generating a high-quality shot by limiting turnovers or playing with precision on defense to get stops. Perhaps the top concern for the Thunder’s head coach heading into the Clippers matchup was the way the ball got into the deep paint repeatedly in the fourth quarter against Phoenix. It wasn’t necessarily because rim protectors Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel weren’t on the floor to loom over the rim as a deterrent. There were breakdowns on the perimeter and in helpside rotations, and that’s something the team is addressing in this rematch with LA. “My question is how is the ball getting down the lane?” Donovan asked. “Certainly you’re going to have breakdowns, and guys will need to come over and rotate and help. We need to do a better job in that fourth quarter of ball containment.”

Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) on the Thunder seeking their second win: “It was Oct. 19, in Los Angeles, the second game of both team’s seasons, when the Thunder led the Clippers 79-73 with 11 minutes remaining, only to be outscored 35-13 the rest of the game. The win got L.A. moving. The Clippers have won three of four since, including two victories over Houston. Fives games into the season and L.A. ranks eighth in the league in points per game (116.5) and ninth in scoring defense (107.3). Keep that up all season long and LeBron James will almost surely be the best player in Los Angeles, but likely not playing for the best team in Los Angeles. The Thunder, though, finally appear to be in a good place. They got their first win Sunday, 117-110 over Phoenix in a game their lead reached 24 points, and they managed to do it without starting center Steven Adams, who came up with calf tightness during pregame warmups, and Hamidou Diallo, who was made to sit after missing OKC’s scheduled walkthrough earlier in the day. Nevertheless, OKC thrived.”

Tonight’s injury report:

The Thunder exercised Terrance Ferguson’s team option: “The Oklahoma City Thunder exercised its third-year contract option on guard Terrance Ferguson, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Ferguson has appeared in 65 games (16 starts) with the Thunder, averaging 3.0 points and 0.8 rebounds in 12.9 minutes. The Tulsa native became the third player in NBA history to record 24 points and six three-pointers in his first career start on Jan. 3, 2018 at the Los Angeles Lakers. Ferguson was originally selected 21st overall by the Thunder in the 2017 NBA Draft.”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on the flexibility of Patrick Patterson in the frontcourt: “It took Donovan only three games this season to get more democratic with his frontcourt minutes. While Patrick Patterson was supposed to be the shoe-in starter for his ability to create spacing on offense with his 3-point shot, Donovan hasn’t wasted time in working to get the veteran back into a comfort zone, even at the expense of a starting spot. For the last two games, Donovan determined Jerami Grant was a better option than Patterson in the starting lineup. “There’s things we have to do in this game I think Jerami helps us with,” Donovan said before Sunday’s win against the Suns. And those things are? “I don’t know if you want me to give you the whole game plan now, but it wouldn’t be a great idea,” Donovan joked.”

Brett Dawson (The Athletic) on why Steven Adams gives pre-game handshakes to an invisible Nick Collison: “The handshake salutes Collison, even if it’s not exactly the same routine Adams shared with his former teammate. “He does it quicker,” Patterson said. “He doesn’t stare off into the distance like as if Nick was there. They’d usually stare at each other for a solid five seconds. I’ve noticed he only does it for one quick second.” Adams took Patterson’s critique in the same good humor he takes most everything — “He can kiss my ass,” he joked — and called the handshake with Collison an “intimate” act that he’s transformed to tribute. “I miss him,” Adams said. “It’s R.I.P. to him — retire in peace.”

The Athletic has the Thunder 20th in their power rankings: “We’re not going to let a blowout victory (it wasn’t that close) over the Phoenix Suns sans Devin Booker change where this Thunder team is right now. The first two games without Russell Westbrook were understandable. Take away an MVP caliber player and teams will struggle. But he came back to lose by double digits to the Kings and then was horrendous in a loss to the Celtics. The good news is the Thunder finally find themselves in the win column, but this offense is an absolute mess.”

Grant Hughes (B/R) with a trade idea to save the slow-starting Thunder: “The Deal: The Thunder send Alex Abrines, Patrick Patterson and Terrance Ferguson to the Knicks for Courtney Lee. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Oklahoma City Thunder (1-4) could use a two-way option at shooting guard… This is a lot to give up for Courtney Lee, who hasn’t even played this year because of neck spasms. But the Knicks shooting guard is exactly what OKC needs. Or, at least, the idea of a healthy Lee—a reliable shooter who can attack closeouts, make a pass and defend his position—is exactly what OKC needs. Abrines and Ferguson have had their chances (especially Abrines), and Patterson has looked washed since the Thunder signed him as a free agent in 2017. Even if all three are rotation players, the Thunder should pull the trigger.”

Always interesting:

Around the League: Klay Thompson broke the NBA record for three-pointers made in a single game…. NBA players react to Klay’s historic night…. Games every team is scheduled to lose this season…. Recapping last night’s action around the NBA…. How Rich Kleiman — Knicks fan/KD’s agent — can shape New York’s future…. KD on his priorities and muting the haters.