4 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 1.30.19

OKC 126, ORL 117: Daily Thunder Recap | Box Score | Shot Charts

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s win over the Magic: “Schröder’s 18-point fourth quarter explosion was just a final wave of a Thunder offensive onslaught that began right at the outset of the game. Despite falling behind 12-2 right away, the Thunder got back into it with 7-0 and 8-0 bursts in the first and second quarters, with Westbrook launching himself headlong downhill for coast to coast driving layups and drop off passes for Nerlens Noel. After 14 points in the first quarter, George was equally aggressive in the second period, utilizing physical drives to the deep paint to counter his mid-range jumpers and a pair of three-point makes. By halftime, George had already racked up an incredible 31 points.”

Thunder/Magic highlights:

Roy Parry (Orlando Sentinel) recaps the game from the other side: “Orlando rallied with a 26-5 surge, turning an 81-66 deficit into a 92-86 lead on a three-point play by Jerian Grant with 1:40 left in the quarter. They carried that momentum into the fourth, only to watch Schroder deliver the pushback the Thunder needed. The 6-foot-1 guard hit his first seven shots, and his 3-pointer capped a 23-5 run that put Oklahoma City ahead 116-103 with 5:12 remaining. “The pick-and-roll is his bread and butter,” Gordon said of Schroder. “He gets a couple of elbow jumpers. He’s been doing that for a while and that just gets his whole game going.” The Magic twice got within five but didn’t have enough to chase down the Thunder, who won their sixth straight.”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on the triumphant return of Alex Abrines: “For the first time since Dec. 23, Alex Abrines played for the Thunder, entering the game with 7:58 left in the second quarter. Through one quarter, it appeared that Thunder coach Billy Donovan was going to play an eight-man rotation. Even with Steven Adams (right ankle sprain) and Terrance Ferguson (back spasms) ruled out in pregame, Donovan only brought Abdel Nader, Dennis Schroder and Patrick Patterson off the bench as the Thunder trailed 35-32 after 12 minutes. Enter Abrines. He played six minutes, including hitting his first 3-pointer in 17 games, playing in his first game in 36 days. Abrines had been active the previous four games but didn’t play.”

A lot of Paul George/Thunder fans in Orlando:

Marc Stein (NY Times) on why Russell Westbrook is deserving of an All-Star selection: “I don’t want to hear about Westbrook’s shooting woes. He remains a force of nature who affects every single possession and has mitigated his own struggles from the perimeter (41.4 percent from the field; 24.7 percent from 3-point range) by ceding enough of the offense to George to help usher PG-13 to a new level. As such, Angry Russ remains one of my All-Star automatics in the West, alongside Lillard and the monster duo on the front line (Davis and Jokic) who, based purely on their stats, are very unlucky not to be starting.”

Delfino Dioquino (Rappler) on Westbrook about to move up the all-time assists list: “Russell Westbrook is no stranger to piling up assists every night as the league’s triple-double virtuoso and he needs just 11 more to climb the all-time list. Garnering a total of 6,567 assists, the Oklahoma City Thunder star trails Derek Harper, who had 6,577 dimes, for 24th place. He is the youngest active player in the top 25. With his league-leading 10.8 assist average this season, Westbrook can move up the ranks in a game or two.”

Brett Dawson (Athletic) on the chances of Anthony Davis landing with the Thunder: “The Thunder would seem unlikely suitors for Davis, but as long as general manager Sam Presti is in charge, they’re hard to dismiss. OKC was the longest of long shots to win the Paul George sweepstakes in 2017, but did it, then retained him in free agency. Landing Davis is even less likely, given the assets at Presti’s disposal — the next first-round pick he can trade now is in 2024 — but there’s a potential path there. Would the Pelicans be intrigued by a package centered on Steven Adams? And would the Thunder be willing to move a cornerstone in Adams to acquire another superstar with no guarantee of long-term commitment? It all seems highly unlikely. But with Presti, it’s hard to call it impossible.”

Sean Highkin (B/R) on why small market teams should follow OKC’s lead and make a move for AD: “And so the Pacers explored other options, eventually trading George to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Thunder general manager Sam Presti was well aware of the risk of losing George for nothing after one season. He took the shot anyway, banking on his ability to sell the Thunder organization and culture and the opportunity to contend every year. The following summer, minutes after free agency opened at midnight July 1, George agreed to a four-year, $137 million deal to stay in Oklahoma City. He didn’t take a meeting with any other team, including the Lakers. Presti’s home run swing paid off. With Anthony Davis the latest superstar attempting to force his way to a new team of his choosing well before he hits free agency, other small-market teams would do well to follow the Thunder’s lead and sell themselves to one of the best players of this era.”

Jalen Rose (Get Up – ESPN) on why the Thunder can contend with Golden State in the playoffs:

Around the League: Recapping last night’s NBA action… The NBA fined Anthony Davis $50k over his agent’s public trade demand…. Pressure is mounting in LA as we approach the trade deadline…. James Harden’s 30-point scoring streak has reached 24 games…. The Pelicans beat the Rockets without AD…. All-Star Weekend’s Rising Stars rosters have been released…. The Athletic’s 2019 Mock Draft.