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Tuesday Bolts: 2.12.19

Thunder 120, Blazers 111: DT Recap | Box Score | Full Highlights

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s 120-111 win over the Trail Blazers: “George’s three-pointer with 3:52 remaining put his teammate and “brother” Westbrook over the top in the record books, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s 51-year-old record as he recorded his 10th-consecutive triple-double. Westbrook racked up 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in the game, including 6 fourth quarter assists as the Thunder never trailed after the second possession of the game in a 120-111 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Westbrook was sensational in the fourth quarter, leading the Thunder to just one turnover in the period when it shot 13-for-22 from the field and clinched the season series by going up 3-0 against Portland so far this season. The intensity brewed from the Thunder’s side at the very outset of this one, cultivated as always by Westbrook whose focused fire burned bright in this divisional matchup. George scored 18 of his 47 points in the fourth quarter alone, as the Thunder began the period on a 19-10 scoring run and blowing the roof off of Chesapeake Energy Arena through the barrage it put on Portland.”

Royce Young (ESPN) on Russell Westbrook making history with 10 consecutive triple-doubles: “As the crowd showered him with a raucous standing ovation, Russell Westbrook turned to the Portland Trail Blazers bench and gave a little wink. A drive and kick to set up Paul George for a 3-pointer made NBA history Monday night: a 10th consecutive triple-double, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s mark of nine straight set in 1968. “Definitely an unbelievable moment,” Westbrook said. “I don’t know, because honestly, bro, I know what I’m capable of doing, and I just go out and compete and whatever happens, happens, man. I never even dreamed of playing in the NBA or standing here talking to you guys. So, each moment is a blessing for me. Each time I get to walk into this locker room and see my name up there, it’s a blessing for me.”

Young with quotes from Damian Lillard and Evan Turner on why Paul George is the MVP front runner: “Damian Lillard on Paul George: “He’s on a different level. After watching him over the last 10 games or so, I catch a lot of their games, and then seeing him tonight, that dude is MVP. If they keep this up, he’s MVP.” And Evan Turner on George: Everybody is going crazy for Giannis and James [Harden]. Everybody I probably went up against, and no disrespect to other teams, they’re unbelievable, Paul is the best that we probably went up against all year. He’s at a completely different level. It’s hard to even explain.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on Ray Felton shining against the Blazers: “In the Thunder’s 120-111 win Monday, Felton scored a season-high 15 points as the second unit point guard. He stood in for Dennis Schroder while Schroder was out for personal reasons. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in Raymond,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said before the game. “He’s done a great job from the bench when he has not been playing, in practice, working out, staying engaged. I’ve got all the confidence in him.” He was right to. Portland fans haven’t forgiven Felton for coming back from the 2011 NBA lockout out of shape in his only season with the Trail Blazers, booing him whenever he returns to Portland. On Monday, he gave them another reason to be mad at him. It took Felton just six minutes to score seven points. Then when he overlapped with Russell Westbrook, Felton became a nightmare for the Blazers on the perimeter, draining two open 3-pointers in the last four and a half minutes of the first half. He finished the night shooting 60 percent from 3-point range (3-of-5).”

The 48: Blazers @ Thunder:

Michael Shapiro (SI) on Paul George making OKC a legit threat to the Warriors: “Oklahoma City has a potential pathway to competitiveness with Golden State. The Thunder are long, athletic and furious on the glass, made in the same vein of the 2015-16 squad that blew a 3–1 lead before Kevin Durant left town. George evolving into a scoring threat akin to Durant is paramount to the Thunder’s success. Oklahoma City would need multiple 40-point efforts to even consider toppling the reigning champs. Beating Golden State may be a pipe dream. Testing the champs is within reach. Amid a league presently consumed by July’s free agency and an impending Anthony Davis trade, the Thunder’s core exists as one of the most stable in the league. Westbrook will likely be in Oklahoma City through 2022-23. George’s $38 million player option will take him through 2021-22. Even Steven Adams is under contract for two more seasons. Some worried the Thunder’s long and expensive commitments would hamstring them long-term, limiting the franchise to middling playoff status as Westbrook ages. But George’s ascendance has seemed to change the calculus. His rise to MVP status has made the Thunder on par with the top contenders to Golden State’s throne, ready to strike if the Warriors’ dynasty dissipates. The Thunder’s path to renewed relevance has been atypical. Their recent success behind George is another unexpected success in the post-Durant era.”

Brett Dawson (Athletic) on the Westbrook/George relationship setting the tone for the Thunder: “In George, Westbrook has not only an All-Star peer but a player with whom he’s built a bond that makes the duo “like brothers,” teammate Raymond Felton said. It was fitting that George should bury the shot to give Westbrook a record-setting triple-double — and fitting, too, that three minutes later, Westbrook returned the favor, knocking down a 3-pointer that gave George his third career triple-double. “That’s sweet,” George said, informed after the game of the statistical symmetry. “That’s sweet.” George finished with 47 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He and Westbrook became the first Thunder teammates to record triple-doubles in the same game and the first in NBA history to both do it while scoring at least 20 points. It was the latest argument in the case George is building for an MVP of his own. But more than that, it was a reminder of what sets this season apart from Westbrook’s MVP year.”

Chris Mannix (SI) on Russell Westbrook’s case for MVP: “On Sunday, I called Billy Donovan, the Thunder coach who has witnessed firsthand every game of Westbrook’s historic run. He watched Westbrook average a triple double in the season after Durant’s defection, when he willed Oklahoma City to 47 wins. He watched him do it the following year, when Westbrook had the responsibility of integrating George and Carmelo Anthony into the mix. And he’s watched him do it this season, as George has emerged as the Thunder’s top MVP candidate. I asked Donovan—are we taking Westbrook’s staggering numbers for granted? “Oscar Robertson did it and it took someone [55] years for someone else to do it,” Donovan told me. “That first year, when Russ did it, everyone wondered if he could do it; coming down the stretch, everyone was watching. Last year, no one even talked about because it had been done. It’s going to be a lot like Oscar Robertson. Whenever Russell’s time is done playing, he is going to be the guy who is going to be talked about. Someone might do it for a year, but when they do people will say, ‘Well, Russell Westbrook did it for three straight years.”

Interesting comparison between 2015-16 KD and 2018-19 Paul George:

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