Tuesday Bolts: 3.26.19
Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s deflating Thunder loss to the Grizzlies: “In the final minutes, the Thunder was pressing. Literally picking up full court, but also chasing a game that only unraveled quicker the more the Thunder chased it. Unfortunately for Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club, chasing the Memphis Grizzlies was a night-long duty. At the very outset of this 115-103 loss on Monday night, the Thunder’s defense had to play catch up to a Grizzlies squad that played with a much sharper, crisper tempo on offense and got off to a 16-2 lead behind a 7-for-7 shooting start. “I don’t think there can be any excuses, having the two days in between the Toronto game. Obviously as a coach, when you have two days like that, you want to do the best job you can to help the team get prepared for what they are walking into,” said Donovan. “The disappointing part is that two nights ago, you could see the range of margin of how we can be on night and how we can be on another night. If you are going to be a great team, the one thing doesn’t allow greatness is inconsistency.”
Thunder/Grizzlies highlights: Don’t watch these.
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) with an honest observation after the meltdown in Memphis: “Turns out, this Thunder team isn’t really better than any of the previous two iterations, because of a deeper Western Conference and some fundamental flaws, which means you have to ask serious questions about the common denominators of Russell Westbrook (which the team was built around, whose mentality they’ve gone all-in with and who is due $168.7 million over the next four seasons but is dwindling in offensive efficiency), Donovan (who can’t seem to squeeze any consistency or night-to-night urgency out of the group. Forget depth and rotations. Despite their stellar net ratings which were frontloaded by soft competition early in the season, the first six players can’t string consistent performances together post-All-Star break), and Sam Presti (who has done some miracle work post-Kevin Durant, but still has constructed a team devoid of the common component of modern NBA offense – consistent shooters and floor spacers). Not to say that any of the aforementioned things are easy to accomplish, but it’s the cold, hard truth of what this team lacks in an increasingly-difficult Western Conference.”
Chris Thompson (Deadspin) on the Thunder suddenly being a huge pile of, uh..: “OKC’s schedule has turned brutal down the stretch, and there’s a certain lack of urgency to climbing out of the eighth seed, while the ninth seed is so far out of contention and the team everyone hopes to avoid—those damn Golden State Warriors—is currently not the top seed. But this was a fun season for Oklahoma City, right up until their offense went into the toilet, where it has now been for more than a month. They went from an exciting dark-horse contender to hoping for help above them in the standings in order to avoid getting their a** karate kicked off by the conference’s heavyweights. They’ve got 15 days and eight games left to reverse course before this infuriating run of s**ttiness becomes catastrophic.”
If the Playoffs started today: OKC is back in 8th after last night’s loss.
Zach Harper (Athletic) has the Thunder 9th in his latest power rankings: “Valentine’s Day went real bad for the Thunder. I’m not sure if anybody got dumped that night or if their date night plans fell through after the game, but this team has fallen into a ravine since that day. Prior to February 14th, they were 39-17. Since then, the Thunder have gone 6-11. During that time, they’re posting the 28th ranked offense in the NBA. The defense fell off a little bit, but the offense just can’t get going at all. They’re the worst shooting team in terms of eFG and true shooting in the NBA over those 17 games. This is not the way to trend as you approach the postseason.”
The Thunder signed former Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans to a two-way deal: “As a two-way player for the Suns, Evans (6-0, 190) appeared in seven games with Phoenix. In 32 games (26 starts) with the Northern Arizona Suns of the NBA G League, he registered averages of 15.0 points, 5.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.59 steals in 29.0 minutes. The South Carolina native spent the 2017-18 season with the Los Angeles Clippers where he appeared in 48 games (four starts) and averaged 4.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 16.2 minutes. Originally drafted by Philadelphia with the 39th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Evans played two seasons at Oklahoma State University. He appeared in 54 career games (52 starts) with the Cowboys and registered averages of 16.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.52 steals in 29.1 minutes, earning All-Big 12 First Team honors in 2017 and Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2016. Evans will wear uniform number 8.”
Around the League: Jusuf Nurkic’s season is done after a horrific leg injury last night against the Nets…. The NBA community sent support to Nurkic after the injury…. What now for the Blazers?…. Devin Booker dropped 59 in another Suns loss…. Jimmer Fredette got a standing ovation in Utah because of course he did…. Rudy Gobert broke the NBA’s single-season dunk record…. Jason Kidd wants Luke Walton’s job and he’s being pretty up front about it…. Recapping last night’s NBA action.