Erik Horne (Oklahoman) with an Andre Roberson injury update: “Another reevaluation date looms for Andre Roberson. In early October, Roberson experienced a setback in his recovery from left knee surgery. The Thunder said then that Roberson would be reevaluated in two months. Donovan said Roberson has been able to participate in scripted five-man scenarios where he can run around with the team, but no contact drills. In regard to Roberson’s reevaluation date, Donovan wasn’t specific, saying “it’s going to be some time here for that.”
Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on the dual nature of Steven Adams: “He always runs through the tunnel and the hallway leading to the locker room, so it took a moment for him to realize someone was calling his name. He turned around, jogged the length of the tunnel and found the family that tried to call him over. It was the 3-year-old’s birthday, and they propped her up on the divider to take a picture with Adams. He still towered over her, and as her parents stepped back to take the picture, her face contorted like she was about to cry. “I don’t blame her,” Adams offered as her parents tried to comfort her. That’s Adams: equally sweet, awkward and intimidating. Now in his sixth season in the NBA, Adams has developed into a premier defensive center. His offensive numbers are impressive as well. Adams is averaging 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds. With that success, the 25-year-old who ends half his interviews by saying, “words, words, words,” has become a mentor. “I think his words are gold,” rookie center Tyler Davis said at Blue Media Day last month. “ … Everything he says, no matter what it is, I listen to it and take it serious.”
Cody Taylor (Thunder Wire) on Brian Windhorst’s comments about Russell Westbrook/Billy Donovan: “As ESPN reporter Royce Young recounted the events from Saturday night, from the game to Westbrook shooting on the court afterward, Windhorst chimed in with some insight from various scouts across the league. “So here’s the thing about Westbrook. You talk to scouts, they will tell you that essentially Westbrook has no interest in anything that Billy Donovan has to say offensively from the bench. I’m not saying what they draw up in timeouts and stuff isn’t the case, but they will say that Donovan doesn’t even bother making play calls and when Westbrook gets into that mode where he’s just going to do what he’s going to do, there’s really nothing that can be done.”
John Schuhmann (NBA.com) has the Thunder fifth in his power rankings: “With Russell Westbrook returning from a six-game absence last week, the Thunder had some great numbers (plus-28 points per 100 possessions in 73 minutes) with Westbrook and Dennis Schroder on the floor together. Schroder dropped a season-high 32 points on the Warriors on Wednesday, and (with Hamidou Diallo out with an ankle injury) OKC started and finished their win over Charlotte on Friday with both point guards on the floor. But Schroder was back on the bench to start their game against Denver on Saturday, and new starter Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was a minus-10 in a seven-point loss. After a 1-for-12 night against the Nuggets, Westbrook is 9-for-51 (18 percent) from 3-point range, also shooting a career-low 62 percent from the free-throw line.”
Zach Harper (Athletic) has OKC fourth in his power rankings: “We still see a significant advantage with Westbrook on the floor versus off because of course there is. Westbrook is a ridiculously important NBA player. The big key isn’t that the Thunder have made that discrepancy less dramatic. The big key is the Thunder have had a positive net rating when Westbrook doesn’t play. Considering he missed six straight games and the Thunder went 5-1 in them, this is a gigantic improvement from how much they needed the former MVP the last two seasons. Dennis Schroder continues to be a huge pickup by Sam Presti. If it can conserve Westbrook’s energy for the playoffs and the Thunder can get some of these injured wings back, they’ll look pretty formidable and rested for April and May.”
Shane Ryan (Golf Digest) on the Western Conference’s brutal war of attrition: “The standings are remarkable to look at. The Clippers and Thunder are technically in “first place” at 12-6, but the seventh place team, the Lakers, are just one game behind at 11-7. The cluster is real. Meanwhile, the 13-7 Warriors are proving the old adage that winning a championship is never easy in professional sports, regardless of how good a team might be. This is easy to forget with the Warriors, who sometimes look so dominant that you can mistake their greatness for inevitability. Their first title, in 2015, saw them down 2-1 to the Cavs in the finals with only an OT loss saving them from the impossible 0-3 deficit. The next season, their best, actually ended with the famous loss to LeBron in the finals. And though the 2017 title run was a 16-1 picture of peak excellence, last year’s championship took a major choke by Houston, who held a 3-2 edge in the western conference finals and a 17-point edge in game six before blowing it.”
Around the League: James Harden dropped 54 points in a loss to the Wizards…. KD put up 49 points in a Golden State win over Orlando…. Updating the odd Markelle Fultz situation…. Steph Curry is scheduled to resume practicing today…. The Grizzlies and Grit ‘n Grind 2.0…. Recapping last night’s NBA action…. Jimmer Fredette hasn’t given up his NBA dreams…. How the new offensive rebound shot clock has changed the game.