Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s home loss to the Heat: “Late was the hour, but the Thunder was making its run. The ball whipped around the perimeter and found Jerami Grant, who attacked on a drive for a massive two-handed slam dunk. Dennis Schröder followed that up with an elbow jumper. Paul George got in on the action by burying a three-pointer after careening around a screen. The 7-2 burst helped the Thunder pull back within 110-104 with 1:52 to go. After another stop, a rare missed three by the Miami Heat’s Goran Dragic caromed off into the arms of Paul George, who was already at the three-point line and ready to attack in transition. It was a 2-on-1, and the Thunder looked destined to make it a 4-point game with just 1:28 left and the wind at its back. Unselfishly, but perhaps with a little too much speed, George fired a pass to Terrance Ferguson and it was too hot for the second year guard to handle. The Thunder’s Achilles heel from the first 46 minutes came roaring back, as the ball spilled out of bounds for the team’s 19th turnover of the game. After that deflating turn of events, Miami scored 4 straight points to extend the lead out of harm’s way, and the end result for Billy Donovan’s shorthanded Thunder squad was a 116-107 loss.”
David Furones (Miami Sun Sentinel) recaps the game from the other side: “Dragic scored 26 points and Wade 25 as the Heat, without Justise Winslow and Rodney McGruder, rebounded from a 13-0 deficit to start, led by as many as 19 and held on for a 116-107 win against the Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday night. The Heat (34-36) are now one game behind the Brooklyn Nets for seventh in the Eastern Conference, and with the Detroit Pistons losing in Cleveland, they are two games out of the sixth spot. All the while increasing an advantage over the No. 9 Orlando Magic to one and a half games and two and a half ahead of the 10th-slotted Charlotte Hornets, whom they beat on Sunday. Dragic made a season-high six 3-pointers and had 11 assists. Big man Kelly Olynyk had 18 points and nine rebounds. Forward James Johnson scored 14 off the Heat bench, which totaled 67 points.”
Brett Dawson (Athletic) on Dwyane Wade out-dueling the Thunder in his last trip to OKC: “He already had made those classic midrange shots. He’d buried the tough turnaround fadeaway. Still, Dwyane Wade could turn back the clock a bit further. So there he went along the baseline late in Monday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, up off the floor and to the rim, and though it wasn’t quite a vintage finish, it was a two-handed Dwyane Wade dunk in the year 2019. It was the 12th dunk of this, his final season in the NBA, and it came late in a game in which he scored 25 points and logged 33 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back in a 116-107 win against the Thunder. “He’s getting younger,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra joked when it was over. It only seemed that way because Wade played with such exuberance Monday, such joy. He has dueled Paul George on bigger stages than this, dating back to Eastern Conference playoff tilts when George was an Indiana Pacer, and in their last meeting — Wade will retire at the end of the season — Wade got the best of his friend again.”
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on the Thunder believing their recent issues are correctable: “Donovan said he’s not worried about confidence. “I think the guys’ confidences are pretty high because they know there’s things they can control and do better,” Donovan said after the Thunder’s 116-107 loss to Miami on Monday, which dropped OKC to 5-8 since the All-Star break and to No. 6 in the Western Conference. It’s harder to be confident without key players. It’s hard to control the outcome of the game without consistent focus and effort until the game is out of reach. Russell Westbrook was suspended Monday due to an accumulation of 16 technical fouls. Nerlens Noel was a late scratch with what the Thunder categorized as a left quad contusion. That didn’t excuse the Thunder giving up 60 points in the paint to the Heat, including 44 in the first three quarters. The Heat scored 10 of its first eight points in the paint to start the second half and it didn’t improve when Steven Adams went to the bench with five fouls.”
Jenni Carlson (Oklahoman) on why Nick Collison’s jersey is being retired tomorrow night in OKC: “On Wednesday night, more than a decade since the franchise first arrived, Presti and the Thunder will celebrate the values they’ve espoused from the beginning — and they will do it by retiring Nick Collison’s number. They will raise his jersey to the rafters and bestow the ultimate honor on a forward who averaged less than 6 points a game during his NBA career. Want to know why OKC’s first jersey retirement is Collison? He followed the Thunder Way. He lived the values. The buzzwords Presti shared in those early days remain important to the franchise. So important, in fact, the Thunder made them part of the décor. You see them on the walls of The Peake. Inside the practice facilities. On the hype videos. Thing is, it’s great to talk about such things. But going to great lengths to honor them? That’s much rarer.”
Current standings in the Western Conference:
Around the League: Dirk passed Wilt on the NBA’s all-time scoring list…. Elfrid Payton is making triple-double history in NOLA…. The Nuggets are officially in the playoffs for the first time since 2013…. The Spurs are climbing the Western Conference thanks to their defense…. Is Isaiah Thomas running out of time in the NBA?…. 2019 NBA Mock Draft.