4 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 11.8.17

Wednesday Bolts: 11.8.17

The Thunder fell apart last night in Sacramento: “Sacramento stopped a seven-game losing streak with its first win since Oct. 20. The Kings (2-8) were limited to 10 points in the first quarter and trailed by as many as 17, but they stormed back to take the lead going into halftime and never trailed in the second half… Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, which has dropped three in a row. The Thunder shot 33.7 percent (29 for 86) from the field, committed three shot clock violations in the third quarter alone and finished with 17 turnovers.”

Jason Jones (Sacramento Bee) on how the Kings used bench play to overwhelm OKC: “The bench helped the Kings (2-8) overcome a 10-point first quarter, their lowest-scoring quarter of the season. Buddy Hield, who didn’t start, led the Kings with 21 points. Hield and reserves De’Aaron Fox (10 points, eight assists) and Justin Jackson (16 points) were key in the comeback. Zach Randolph was the only Kings starter to score in double figures with 18 points, all in the second half.”

Tim Bontemps (WaPo) on how the loss proves the Thunder still has far to go: “There was silence inside the visiting locker room Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center. The Sacramento Kings had just handed the Oklahoma City Thunder a stunning 94-86 loss. Russell Westbrook quickly completed his media interviews and left the premises, but his teammates who remained sat at their lockers and tried to understand how the Thunder had let a comfortable early lead disappear amid a sea of bricked jump shots against the less talented Kings. The result was a third straight loss for the Thunder (4-6) as its trio of stars — Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony — combined to go 15-for-54 from the field.”

Brett Dawson on Russell Westbrook’s confidence despite the ugly game: “You probably did not expect his postgame comments to include this nugget: “I love nights like this.” It probably wasn’t entirely true. The Thunder shot 33.7 percent and blew a 17-point first-quarter lead and oh-by-the-way lost to maybe the worst team in the NBA. The Kings entered the night 1-8, its only win against Dallas. Maybe he didn’t love it, strictly speaking. But Westbrook had a point to make about an unlovable loss.”

Marc Spears (The Undefeated) spoke with Melo about the Thunder, Colin Kaepernick, and more: On living in OKC: “It’s a challenge. It’s just different because it’s a different culture. It’s a challenge more so for me because my family is not there. That is the challenge. My son is still in school back there in New York. My wife is back there. They commute back and forth. But not having them there on a consistent basis, seeing them after the games, stuff like that, that’s the hardest part.”

Grant Hughes (B/R) on how every contender could crash and burn: “So while the Thunder have proved to be a dangerous defensive team in the early going (second only to the Celtics), and while they still profile as a tough match-up for anyone that can’t field at least three excellent one-on-one defenders in response, they’re merely average on offense. They don’t make use of spot-up shooters, don’t force switches and don’t get production at a rate commensurate with their raw offensive talent.”

Brett Dawson on Westbrook working through his free throw troubles: “Since high school, Westbrook said earlier this season, he’s walked off the line in between foul shots, stepping behind the 3-point line to gather his thoughts. The NBA now considers that a delay-of-game penalty. Once is a warning. After that, it’s a technical foul. Asked on Tuesday if he was seeking a routine to replace that one, Westbrook shot down the suggestion. “That s*** is over,” he said. “Original routine.”

Kelly Scaletta (FanRag) on why OKC is struggling in the clutch: “For most of the game, that’s not an issue, but it gets more problematic as things get tighter. Players tend to clamp up and force things. The other team ends to focus more. It’s where chemistry, familiarity and trust become more important–especially on the defensive end. The Thunder’s clutch defensive rating of 161.2–which is 33.4 points worse than any team in the league–is indicative of that. Last year, it was 96.8, which was second-best in the league. Their offensive rating this year is 115.8 compared with 116.7 last year, so that has barely changed and isn’t the problem. So why is their defense, which weirdly is the second-best in the league, suddenly collapsing in the clutch? One huge factor is defensive rebounding.”

Around the League: The Bucks landed Eric Bledsoe…. The Suns will look to trade newly-acquired Greg Monroe before talking buyout…. Kawhi Leonard is behind schedule in his recovery from injury…. The secret to Andre Drummond’s improved free throw shooting…. Nikola Jokic dropped 41, 12 & 5 last night for Denver.