Nick Gallo on last night’s comeback win over the Utah Jazz: “After going up three at 90-87 on an Anthony pick-and-pop jumper to cap the Thunder’s monster middle of the quarter run, the Jazz responded with five straight points to retake the lead for the final time on an Alec Burks and-one layup with 2:02 to go. That’s when the Thunder’s All-Star newcomers shook off their tough shooting starts and went to work. George drove left and turned the corner, arcing a lefty layup high off the backboard while getting clobbered by Rudy Gobert. “I just knew I had to get it up high enough or attack him quick enough to beat him off the dribble and not let him go get it off the glass,” George described. “That’s what we were brought here for, to make timely baskets and make big shots.”
Royce Young on the “selfless” play of Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams: “As the Thunder have begun to find some footing after a rocky start, Steven Adams has emerged as a go-to secondary option to support Russell Westbrook. The center is averaging 22 points per game on nearly 80 percent shooting during OKC’s three-game winning streak. The reason for his emergence? According to Thunder coach Billy Donovan, it’s Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. “I think people have it really backwards,” Donovan said when asked why Adams has taken on such bigger offensive focus. “That’s the greatness, to me, of Carmelo Anthony. The reason why Steven Adams is doing what he’s doing is because of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.”
Brett Dawson on how Paul George used film study to make a second half impact versus Utah: “On Monday, the Thunder forward took a look back at his 2-for-17 shooting night in Sunday’s win against the San Antonio Spurs. “I’m mindful of the night before,” George said at the Thunder’s shootaround on Tuesday before its 100-94 win against the Utah Jazz. “I watched a lot of film on that game to see how I could have gotten more contact or could have taken advantage of the spacing that I did have.” It took some time Tuesday night, but George put that studying to good use. George scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half and shook off a slow shooting start, making 6 of 8 shots in the second half after a 1-for-5 first.”
Jason Concepcion (The Ringer) on the many versions of Carmelo Anthony: “The under-talked-about irony of all this is Olympic Melo, a player who exists for only a fortnight once every four years, is the most relevant of the three Melos. When Basic Melo was traded to Oklahoma City, the move was framed as potentially bringing about the long-awaited NBA debut of Olympic Melo. For years, Melo has lived in the shadow of his better self. Enter Hoodie Melo. The holes in players’ games have always been rich texts for discussion, both smart and dumb, written and spoken, spoken and yelled. Imagine if Giannis could shoot! Imagine if Brandon Ingram ate five sandwiches made of creatine every day! What if Kawhi Leonard had a personality? The time when we might have expected Melo, who turns 34 in May, to play defense, to pass, to meaningfully change his game, has long since passed. So Olympic Melo was created as an avatar for basketball fans’ disappointment. What, then, does Hoodie Melo represent? He’s the embodiment of Melo’s lack of cool factor.”
Andrew Sharp (SI) on Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and the rule for aging superstars: “To begin with, OKC has ball movement issues that could potentially be solved by replacing Carmelo isos with Patrick Patterson spot-ups from three. It’s not to say that Anthony deserves blame for the state of OKC’s offense, but tweaking the lineup could help mitigate some of the issues. What’s more, moving to the bench would allow Anthony to feast on over-matched reserves, and he’d help anchor the offense for an OKC second unit that’s currently relying on Raymond Felton as a catalyst. (He’d also have fans and dumb writers like me fawning over his sacrifice instead of nitpicking his game to death, but that’s a secondary win.) It makes a lot of sense in theory. It’s clearly worth exploring. But even as the Thunder have struggled, a lineup change remains a remote possibility. Or, as Anthony put it, “Hell no.”
Dan Favale (B/R) pitches a Paul George-to-Cleveland trade if things don’t work out in OKC: “Cleveland Cavaliers Receive (after Dec. 14): SF/PF Paul George and PF/C Patrick Patterson, Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: PF/C Channing Frye, SF/PF Cedi Osman, SG/SF Iman Shumpert and 2018 Brooklyn Nets first-round pick. This scenario leans on a loose interpretation of “immediately.” The Oklahoma City Thunder are’t going to cut bait on Paul George until they’re sure the marriage isn’t panning out or he clearly indicates he has no intention of sticking around beyond this season. Still, even as the Thunder inch their way back toward .500, it seems they may have amassed one too many ball-dominant stars.”
Greg Logan (News Day) on the Nets being ready to face the Thunder on Thursday night in Mexico City: “Travel is part of the NBA schedule, but the Nets will be 2,088 miles away from Barclays Center, as the team plane flies, when they play “home” games against the Thunder on Thursday and the Heat on Saturday in Mexico City. There will be no homecourt advantage at Arena Ciudad de Mexico, especially against the Thunder, which features such well-known players as Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.”
Around the League: Bradley Beal erupted for 51 points last night…. Steph Curry is out at least two weeks with his ankle sprain…. Devin Booker went down with a strained left adductor…. A man was finally charged seven years after the murder of ex-NBA player Lorenzen Wright…. USA Today’s MVP rankings.