5 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 12.12.17

Tuesday Bolts: 12.12.17

Erik Horne recaps the Thunder’s loss to the Hornets: “What the Thunder has been is one of the worst offenses in the league propped up by a No. 2-rated defense. The Thunder’s offensive ineptitude in the third didn’t help during Charlotte’s 22-2 run that put the game away. The Thunder’s only two points in that span came on Westbrook free throws, as OKC shot 0-of-5. It was another third-quarter unraveling, this time in less than four minutes, this time on both sides. Charlotte was 1-10 on the road this season. The Thunder was 9-3 at home. Whenever the Thunder takes a step forward, it takes another back in this 12-14 season.”

Royce Young on Paul George’s comments about figuring things out: “For the talent that we have, obviously this is not where we want to be,” Thunder forward Paul George said. “But we’re going to remain optimistic, though, about the future and what we can do. Once we can find a way to really do it night in and night out, it’s no panic mode, but we have to start playing better. It’s getting to a point where we can’t allow ourselves to be at this point. We can say we’re going to figure it out, we can say all that. But at some point it’s gotta stop.”

Brad Rowland (DIME) on Carmelo Anthony skipping post-game media availability last night: “With the exception of an emphatic and impressive dunk from Russell Westbrook that placed Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on a virtual poster, very little went right for the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday evening. The team allowed 40 points to the Charlotte Hornets in the third quarter, an outburst that placed the home team in a hole that it simply could emerge from on the way to a disappointing 116-103 loss. Then, after the game concluded, veteran forward Carmelo Anthony was likely frustrated and decided to skip his media obligations while leaving the locker room early.”

Brett Dawson on Alex Abrines struggling on both ends versus Charlotte: “Abrines fouled a pair of 3-point shooters during a Charlotte run in the third, the first leading to three free throws for Marvin Williams, the second a four-point play for Treveon Graham. It was Abrines’ third-straight start, this time in place of Andre Roberson, who sat with a sprained left ankle. And the Thunder missed Roberson’s defensive presence. Through three quarters, the Hornets shot 49.3 percent from the floor and made 11 of 21 3-pointers.”

Matt Ellentuck (SB Nation) on the causes for concern in OKC: “The Oklahoma City Thunder are in trouble, and a 116-103 loss at home to the 10-16 Charlotte Hornets on Monday night didn’t provide any signs of life. It was Charlotte’s first road win since Oct. 30. Nicolas Batum, who averages 10 points per game and is second on the team in assists, didn’t even play. Everyone but Andre Roberson was in action for OKC, though. The Thunder shot just 41 percent from the field as a team, assisted on just 16 of their 35 made shots, and the Hornets outscored them, 40-22, in the third quarter alone. Something has to change or this team could be in danger of missing the playoffs.”

Not a good statistic:

Daniel O’Brien (FanRag) on the post-Westbrook boost for former Thunder players: “While Westbrook’s aggressiveness puts loads of pressure on defenses, there are downsides: volatile shot selection, sporadic turnover rashes and a lack of consistent, collective ball movement and rhythm. The Thunder are regularly in the lower tier in assists, passes made and assist percentage, including dead-last in passes made during 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Several ex-Thunder players have enjoyed better production and efficiency once they found new homes. Ball-handlers like James Harden and Reggie Jackson obviously delivered greater stats because they had significantly more touches on their new teams. But many wings and forwards also played more efficiently in their post-OKC destinations.”

The Pacers are already previewing tomorrow night’s return of Paul George: “While George is having a strong season for the Thunder (12-13), averaging 20.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game, Oladipo’s play has been on a level not seen at any point during the IU-product’s previous four NBA seasons. In the four games to start Indiana’s six-game homestand, Oladipo has set the world on fire, averaging 30.8 points, seven rebounds, and 4.3 assists, all while shooting 47.5 percent on his 3-point attempts. During the four-game stretch, Indiana has gone a perfect 4-0, surging up the Eastern Conference standings in the process. Oladipo hasn’t been alone in his emergence as a key piece for Indiana, with Sabonis looking like a new player in his second NBA season, averaging 12.1 points and 8.5 rebounds.”

Tim Bontemps (WaPo) on NBA reunion games: “Each year, the NBA schedule is now littered with such matchups, baked into television networks’ plans. Wednesday night brings one of the biggest: ESPN will broadcast ex-Pacers star Paul George’s return to Indiana with his new team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. “It’s a must-see,” said George, who was dealt to the Thunder in June after word leaked of his desire to leave Indiana after seven seasons. “It’s my back against the wall, against the team that I played for. I think, more than anything, it’s a story that’s being told, and [the league and its broadcast partners] just want to document it.”

Gregg Doyal (Indy Star) on the Pacers getting the last laugh in the Paul George trade: “The best thing Paul George ever did for this city was leave it. Lord knows he didn’t do much for Indianapolis while he was here, here in name only, here because the name on the front of his jersey said Pacers, even if all he cared about – in a way that is extreme, even for the modern-day professional athlete – was the name on the back. The Indiana Pacers reached the Eastern Conference finals twice when George was here, and he played a significant role on those teams in 2013 and ‘14, but they weren’t his teams. He was a piece of a puzzle, a large piece, but he was young and safe in the shadow of leaders like David West and Roy Hibbert, and even a character like Lance Stephenson.”

Around the League: Kawhi Leonard is probable to make his season debut tonight versus Dallas…. How Joel Embiid is trolling the NBA…. How Dwyane Wade put ego aside for the sake of the Cavs…. The youngest Ball brothers are headed to Lithuania to play professionally.