4 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 4.24.18

Nick Gallo recaps last night’s Game 4 loss in Utah: “It was emotional. It was intense and it was physical. The playoff spirit filled the Thunder and the Utah Jazz in Monday’s Game 4, but that manic energy must be harnessed to be successful this time of year. For the Thunder, channeling the intensity into execution was difficult on both sides of the ball, especially after things started to get chippy. The Thunder’s 113-96 loss to the Jazz gives Utah a 3-1 lead in this Western Conference first round series, but early on it looked like it might be a different story.”

Royce Young on the Thunder being on the brink of playoff elimination: “While the Jazz opened the game with a dynamite third quarter (outscoring OKC 12-2 in the first three minutes), everything changed in those closing minutes of the first half. Utah has a 3-1 lead after a 113-96 win, and the Thunder are officially on the ropes.  “It’s not about me and him,” Westbrook said when asked if his aggressiveness with Rubio backfired. “Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.” It’s not all that complicated, what the Jazz have done to the Thunder in the series. OKC is losing a simple math problem. Utah generates better, more consistent shots from efficiency areas, while the Thunder basically cross their fingers that their superstar players have a good night. Even when the looks have been clean — like they were for Carmelo Anthony — they aren’t going down. Per ESPN Stats & Information tracking, the Thunder went 22 minutes, 9 seconds of game time without recording an assist (between made baskets at 10:33 of the second quarter and 0:24 of the third quarter). In that span, they attempted nine shots with an assist opportunity, compared to 27 attempts that didn’t have an assist opportunity.”

Gordon Monson (Salt Lake Tribune) on Utah matching OKC shove-for-shove in Game 4: “Things got physical right away, when George pushed Joe Ingles in the chest, resulting in a technical foul. Absolutely clear it was that everything was on the line here. Almost everything. And that line was drawn in an ascending direction, straight up and into the mug of each team. Emotion ruled the day. Snyder picked up a T in the second quarter, when Rudy Gobert was beat up under the basket and … no call. Ingles also picked up a T, as did Gobert and various OKC players. Jawing and woofing and posing and assorted nonsense erupted throughout. It was serious at times — a brawl nearly broke out with 5:30 remaining in the game, when a cluster of players collided near mid-court, with Jae Crowder getting ejected — and it became downright comical at others. Call it playoff intensity or playoff clownery. Either way, the better team won.”

Sam Amick (USA Today) on Mitt Romney taunting Russell Westbrook in Salt Lake City: “Apparently everyone is trying to get inside Russell Westbrook’s head now. As if it wasn’t bad enough for Oklahoma City that the reigning MVP’s overly aggressive play against Utah’s Ricky Rubio led to first-half foul trouble in Monday’s Game 4, none other than Mitt Romney joined in on the fun at Vivint Smart Home Arena. When Westbrook barreled through Rubio while drawing his fourth foul with 1:36 left in the second quarter, the former Republican presidential nominee who hails from Utah and was wearing a Jazz jersey while sitting courtside could be seen holding up four fingers in Westbrook’s direction – as in four fouls.”

This happened:

Rohan Nadkarni (SI) on how Rudy Gobert and the Jazz have smothered the Thunder: “Yes, the Jazz’s perimeter defenders are doing a good job of getting under the skin of the Thunder’s stars. But nothing has to be more frustrating than beating your man only to see Gobert waiting in front of the rim. OKC can hardly find any easy shots, and the presence of Gobert in the paint alone significantly changes what the Thunder can do offensively. OKC was forced to try to win Game 4 from the perimeter, and the shooting was nowhere near good enough. Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Paul George combined to shoot 2-for-18 from three. Anthony was particularly bad, missing open look after open look. If Melo isn’t hitting open catch-and-shoots, perhaps the only role he can thrive in for the Thunder, what utility does he have on the court?”

Danny Chau (Ringer) on the gravity of the Thunder’s situation: “Russell Westbrook entered Game 4 of the Thunder’s first-round series against the Utah Jazz wearing a web of kinesiology tape on both shoulders, perhaps to hide the bruises from the cupping procedure he’d had done earlier in the series. In Game 3, the faded circles around Westbrook’s shoulders were on full display, clustered above the scars along his right arm. Together, his right shoulder resembled an interstellar map from the 16th century: stars, planets, streaking comets, and all the detritus in between. Russ didn’t have the world on his shoulders; he had a galaxy. Now, after a dispiriting 113-96 loss to the Jazz on Monday night, we see in full the weight those shoulders bear. All series, the reigning MVP has been outplayed by the Jazz backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio, a rookie and a player who took seven years to reach his first postseason. Westbrook finds himself in familiar territory, down 3-1, gazing into uncertainty. But this time, Game 5 could very well change the course of four different futures.”

Mike Chiari (B/R) on Channing Frye believing the WWE should give Steven Adams a call: “Los Angeles Lakers forward Channing Frye suggested Monday that Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams may have a future in professional wrestling. Frye tweeted that WWE should pursue Adams once his NBA career comes to an end: “Chowder head always trying to wrastle. Also Adams didn’t even flinch on that elbow to the chin. When he retires @WWE hola at him.

Kevin Durant made another OKC-related social media gaffe: “Kevin Durant told ESPN on Monday it was a “total accident” he liked an Instagram comment criticizing former teammate Russell Westbrook. On Monday, the Golden State Warriors All-Star liked an Instagram post that said the Thunder point guard and reigning MVP was the “problem” when the two played together in Oklahoma City. Durant told ESPN he inadvertently liked the comment as he scrolled through his timeline. “No story here,” he said.”

Around the League: The Rockets scored 50 points in one quarter and lead Minnesota 3-1…. How James Harden unleashed peak Rockets in one quarter…. Joel Embiid says Philadelphia’s time is now…. How the Bucks can upset Boston…. A TV anchor was caught stealing from the Warriors…. New Orleans and the Big Boogie Question.