3 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 12.11.18

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last nights win over the Jazz: “There’s efficient, then there’s just nearly statistically impossible. Paul George danced a fine line between the two on Monday night as he ripped off 31 points on just 10 field goal attempts for an outrageous 3.1 points per shot. George did most of his damage – 17 points worth at least – in the third quarter alone as he rained 4 three-pointers and made 5 of his 10 total made free throws in the period. The Thunder outscored the Utah Jazz 42-29 right out of halftime, continuing to hammer teams as it leads the league in third quarter scoring margin, and rode out a 29-point lead into a 122-113 victory.”

Matt Payne (Jazz.com) recaps the game from the other side: “The Thunder (17-8) controlled the game from start to finish, jumping out to a 6-0 lead and leading by as many as 29. OKC never trailed. “When you put yourself behind the eight ball, you have to be lucky or perfect to get back in the game and win,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “We didn’t play well enough to deserve that. We were competing, but we didn’t execute. That’s what it comes down to.”… Paul George led all scorers with 31 points on 8-for-10 shooting. George shot 5-for-6 from 3-point range and 10-for-12 from the line, and he added four steals in 30 minutes. Russell Westbrook registered an inefficient triple-double with 10 points (on 4-for-18 shooting), 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Dennis Schroder (23 points) and Steven Adams (22 points) had standout games for the Thunder (17-8) in the victory.”

The 48:

Royce Young (ESPN) on Paul George carrying the Thunder while Westbrook struggled: “I just talked to [Westbrook] in the back [of the locker room] and told him, ‘It’s an 82-game season,’ and I told him, ‘I got your back,'” George said. “He’s had me on plenty of occasions where I had an off night and Russ took over offensively and put the game on his shoulders. I’m his counterpart, and I’ve got to do the same for him. It’s a long season, there’s going to be games like that. Special thing, good thing about this team: We’ve got two guys that can fill it up on a nightly basis. But he’s fine, it’s nothing he’s gotta get coached through. He’s been a scoring leader. He knows how to score the ball.”

George’s comments:

Berry Tramel (Oklahoman) on the puzzling state of Westbrook’s free throw shooting: “Russell Westbrook’s foul shooting has reached the alarming stage. Westbrook made just four of eight foul shots Monday night in the Thunder’s 122-113 rout of the Jazz (OKC led 106-77 before losing interest). Westbrook’s makes rattled in. His misses induced winces, on how badly off they were. The numbers are alarming for a guy who once routinely swished his foul shots. Westbrook is shooting 61.8 percent from the line. You read that right; 61.8 percent.”

Jonathan Tjarks (Ringer) on defense being the Thunder’s best offense: “Oklahoma City is built around an overwhelming amount of length and athleticism. After getting off to an 0-3 start, it doubled down on both its strengths and weaknesses by benching Patrick Patterson for Jerami Grant, an all-world athlete and inconsistent shooter. Grant, at 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, is a hyper-athletic wing who can defend players at all five positions. A frontcourt of Grant, Steven Adams, and Paul George stifles opposing teams, regardless of who the point guard is. That trio has a net rating of plus-13 in 373 minutes with Westbrook and plus-14 in 313 minutes with Schröder. An NBA defense is only as strong as its weakest link. The Thunder have the no. 1 rated defense in the league because they’ve eliminated most of their weak links. The normal offensive playbook doesn’t work against them. With Carmelo in NBA purgatory and Patterson on the bench, there’s nowhere to attack in the pick-and-roll.”

Bobby Marks (ESPN) on what sort of moves the Thunder can make: “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.”