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Wednesday Bolts: 12.20.17

Wednesday Bolts: 12.20.17

Fox Sports previews tonight’s Thunder/Jazz match-up: “For as many clutch victories as the Thunder (15-15) have eked out, there have been just as many disappointing losses from a unit that was assembled as the West’s newest super squad. Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook have struggled to find a rhythm and an offensive system that works as they head into Wednesday’s home game against the Utah Jazz.”

Fred Katz on how the Thunder shot distribution is shifting toward Russell Westbrook: “His usage rate has shot up to 35.9 percent in the Thunder’s 12 games since. It leads the NBA over that span. George’s has dropped ever so slightly to 24.3 during the 12 games. Anthony’s, meanwhile, is 20.9 percent, nearly league average and notably out of character compared to how he’s played throughout his career… The Thunder have gone 7-5 in those 12 games compared to 8-10 in the 18 that preceded them. But that doesn’t automatically mean they’re winning because of this developing hierarchy.”

Berry Tramel on the OKC defense giving Westbrook a chance to shine: “It wasn’t like Westbrook was playing poorly through three quarters – he had 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting. But in that fourth, Westbrook was 7-of-12 shooting with 16 points. He took shots or was fouled on OKC’s last six opportunities and on eight of the last nine. Attempting to get the likes of George and Carmelo Anthony going is a laudable endeavor. But desperation times cause for desperation measures. However the Thunder can generate offense, generate it. A defense like this is a terrible thing to waste.”

Jack Maloney (CBS) on why Paul George isn’t going to be traded: “The Thunder didn’t hastily assemble this squad over the summer just to blow things up after a few mediocre months. As bad as they’ve looked at times, they’re still one of the most talented groups around, and OKC gave up too much to bail on the experiment this quickly. Not that this Thunder team is as talented, or the two situations are exactly the same, but the 2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers were 19-20 at one point, and ended up going to the Finals. Things can turnaround.”

Jimmy Do (okcthunder.com) on Raymond Felton bowling with OKC youth: “Shimmying his hips before he took the momentum-generating steps toward the foul line, Felton then unfurled a gliding 13-pound orb of swirling gold that hurtled down the lane like a meteor. The pins violently flew into chaos detonating a cacophony of whoops and cheers. Strike.”

Dan Favale (B/R) with trade ideas for big NBA names: “Miami Heat Receive: SF Paul George, SF Kyle Singler / Milwaukee Bucks Receive: SF/PF Josh Huestis, PF/C Kelly Olynyk / Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: SG/SF Wayne Ellington, PF Mirza Teletovic, PF D.J. Wilson, SF/PF Justise Winslow”

Marck Bechtel’s (SI) in-depth look at Doris Burke discusses her connection with Billy Donovan: “When it came time to pick a real college, she chose Providence, arriving in 1983, the same year the men’s team welcomed a new point guard of its own: Donovan, whose not-so-svelte build at the time led to much grief from coach Rick Pitino. “I like to tease Billy and tell him he was the second best point guard in the class of ’87,” says Burke. “But the real truth of the matter is the only thing I had over Billy was that my physique was far better our first couple of years.” Donovan, who dropped 30 pounds and led the Friars to the Final Four as a senior, says, “I defer to Doris.”

Mike Chiari (B/R) on Turkish prosecutors seeking a 4-year prison term for Enes Kanter: “Prosecutors in Turkey are seeking a four-year prison sentence for New York Knicks big man Enes Kanter due to his criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the Associated Press, Kanter would be tried in absentia regarding tweets he posted about Erdogan in May and June 2016.”

Around the League: How data saved the Warriors…. Joel Embiid should return from injury by Christmas…. Jabari Parker may be back by February for the Bucks…. Damian Lillard was verbally abused by fans…. Isaiah Thomas will get some reps in the G-League.