Tuesday Bolts: 12.18.18
Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s blowout win over the Bulls: “All that easy offense led to 48.3 percent shooting from the field, and the Thunder helped itself by going 27-of-33 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line. George was the catalyst offensively in the first half, scoring 16 of his 24 points during a dazzling second quarter flurry. By making three three-pointers and making all six of his field goals, George’s burst ignited a 20-5 run that broke the game in the Thunder’s control for good. “I know when I’m in a good rhythm and it just comes down to repetition, whether it’s footwork, whether it’s lining up myself for the shot. Everything does slow down a little bit,” George said, explaining the zone he was in during the seven minutes he played in the second.”
Chris Thompson (Deadspin) on the wild Robin Lopez incident: “It’s hard to tell what started this. Westbrook ran Kris Dunn through a couple screens and tried to post him up on the offense’s left side. The two were still tangled up in a struggle for position when the whistle blew to signal a foul on recurring practical joke Cameron Payne, guarding Terrance Ferguson above the break. Westbrook seemed to exaggeratedly fling his arms free of Dunn’s, and Dunn responded to this by angrily shoving Westbrook in the chest. Simultaneously, Payne took a grumpy swipe at the ball, earning back a light shove from Ferguson. But the real action is behind Payne—Jerami Grant rushed over to confront Dunn, who responded with another shove, and then big Robin Lopez arrived and shit temporarily got pretty haywire.”
Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on the return of Dennis Schroder’s shot: “Thunder guard Dennis Schroder established early on that his offensive performance Monday night would be different from the Thunder’s previous two games. He sank his first two shots, a pullup jumper and a layup, on his way to 18 points. Schroder hadn’t shot 30 percent or better in OKC’s two previous games. In a 110-104 win over the Clippers on Saturday, Schroder both struggled finishing at the rim and went 0-3 from beyond the arc.
After a hot start Monday, Schroder faltered along with the rest of the second unit to start the second quarter. Seconds after starters Westbrook and Grant re-entered the game, however, Schroder splashed a 3-pointer. He finished the first half with 13 points on eight shots.”
Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) on the Thunder picking up Billy Donovan’s 2019-20 option: “The Oklahoma City Thunder have picked up the option on coach Billy Donovan’s contract for the 2019-20 season, the final year on his original five-year deal, a league source told ESPN. Donovan has a 168-106 (.613) record in his three-plus seasons with the Thunder, trailing only Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich and Brad Stevens for victories with one team in that span of time.”
Brett Dawson (Athletic) on Billy D returning for 2019-20: “He had fielded a string of questions about himself, about the option the Thunder had picked up on his contract and his growth as an NBA coach. When Billy Donovan finally got one about another topic on Monday, the reporter apologized but needn’t have. “I have a non-contract question,” said Lesley McCaslin, the Thunder’s sideline reporter, at the coach’s pregame news conference. “Great,” Donovan said. Donovan isn’t big on talking about himself. Nobody else says much about him, either. But with its 121-96 win against the Bulls on Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City improved to 19-10 in Donovan’s fourth season. He’s gone 169-106 since leaving the University of Florida for the Thunder, a .614 winning percentage that’s third among active NBA coaches with more than one season of experience.”
Andrew Sharp (SI) on how Paul George will determine how far the Thunder go this season: “In general, George now becomes one of the most interesting players in the NBA. Westbrook is still getting some of his shooting back, but he’s roughly the same player he’s always been. The rest of the Thunder are long and springy and active all over the floor. Adams is reliably excellent. But all of that is familiar. It’s George who’s hit another level. He’s playing the best basketball of his life. If this continues, the Thunder are a different team, and one that everyone should take more seriously.”
ESPN has the Thunder seventh in their latest power rankings: “Paul George has arguably been the Thunder’s MVP thus far this season. In their 18 wins, George is averaging 25.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.2 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. When his shot is working, George has been nearly unstoppable this season, and it is translating directly into team success.”
Around the League: James Harden and the most egregious missed travel call of all time…. Devin Booker waited 11 months and got Twitter revenge on Enes Kanter…. Austin Rivers was cut by the Suns…. Recapping last night’s NBA action…. All-Star voting will be presented by Google and begins on Christmas Day…. Alfonzo Ribeiro (Carlton) is suing NBA 2K for stealing his Carlton Dance…. How teams are re-imagining the court.