3 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 11.7.17

Tuesday Bolts: 11.7.17

Nick Gallo on the Thunder practicing in the dark yesterday in Sacramento: “Midway through practice on Monday afternoon at Sacramento State University, the lights in the gym went out. No matter. The Thunder just kept practicing in the dark. After the overhead lighting above the court suddenly cut out during an offensive drill, the team milled about for a minute as staff tried to determine the cause of the outage. The players’ eyes started to adjust a bit to the dark, so when the idea popped into Russell Westbrook’s brain to call out an offensive set, his teammates were ready and in position to execute the play.”

Fox Sports on the free throw disparity currently plaguing the Thunder: “Oklahoma City will seek a change in the pattern Tuesday night when it visits the Sacramento Kings at the Golden 1 Center. The Thunder rank 25th among the league’s 30 teams in free-throw attempts per game at 19.0. Their opponents are shooting 24.4 per game, the ninth-highest figure in the league. The discrepancy reared its head in a blatant way Sunday when the Blazers outshot the Thunder 28-15 from the line and outscored them 22-8 on free throws.”

Brett Dawson on the holes in the OKC defense: “Statistically, the Thunder ranks among the NBA’s best defensive teams. It allows 97.6 points per 100 possessions, the second-best mark in the league. No team gives up fewer points in the paint than the Thunder’s 37.6 per game. But there have been signs of slippage in the past two games, losses to Boston and Portland in which OKC has allowed 103.6 points per 100 possessions. What needs to be cleaned up?”

Adam Fromal (B/R) lists Steven Adams as the second best sidekick in the NBA: “The NBA’s best example of a Dothraki bloodrider, Steven Adams thrives as an enforcer, pick-and-roll scorer, defender and doer-of-all-the-little things in the Oklahoma City Thunder khalasar led by Russell Westbrook. It’s a role he’s filled in the past, but a couple of slight changes have allowed him to break out during this latest campaign, becoming the player into which the Thunder have always hoped he’d morph. Not only is he posting the best defensive box plus/minus of his career while anchoring the interior of the OKC schemes, but his offensive box plus/minus has risen from minus-0.7 in 2016-17 to a staggering 3.0 in 2017-18.”

New Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood pod: “The hot topic today is the refs. Melo’s ejections, no calls on Russ, the bad calls at the end of the Wolves game, other team getting free throws every game. Russ says they’re not called the same way. Even Billy spoke up. Is there something to this?”

Brett Dawson on the Thunder still awaiting word on Melo’s Flagrant 2 and Westbrook’s fine: “At the 4:26 mark of the third, Anthony drove, drew a foul on Jusuf Nurkic and scored for what looked like it would be a three-point play opportunity. Instead, officials reviewed the play and determined that Anthony had committed a flagrant-2 foul when he hit Nurkic in the face with an elbow. That penalty carries an automatic ejection.Donovan said he’d “never seen in the history of the game a guy get an and-one play and then get ejected from the game.” Westbrook was even more bothered than his coach, calling the turn of events “a bunch of bulls****.

The “OKC Dream Team” podcast discusses the Thunder free throws, and more: “Jon Hamm, Fred Katz, Andrew Schlecht and Special Guest Royce Young join to discuss Westbrook’s free throw shooting, team chemistry, Josh Huestis, etc.”

Rob Mahoney (SI) on Victor Oladipo, Domas Sabonis and the power in freedom: “The deal that sent Paul George to the Thunder in exchange for Oladipo and Sabonis will be revisited for years. It is a market setter for a star with a wandering eye; a conceivable rental for OKC; and an investment in young, still-growing talent by Indiana. To the extent that there are winners and losers of it all, they are months and years from being decided. Their pronouncement is also far less interesting than the immediate contextual transformation of two of the players involved. Part of the reason the trade was regarded as such a windfall for the Thunder is that Oladipo and Sabonis were not these players. Each had been given a relatively straightforward role with the Thunder and underperformed it.”

The Starters discuss Melo’s ejection:

Around the League: Nike is making jersey changes due to more tearing…. The Celtics have now won nine in a row…. Luol Deng wants out of Los Angeles…. The 76ers are resting Joel Embiid for “load management”…. Devin Booker became the fourth youngest player in NBA history to record 3,000 career points.