Happy Valentine’s Day. I got you these Bolts.
Nick Gallo recaps last night’s loss to the Cavs: “In a 120-112 loss for the Thunder, its opposition was blisteringly hot from behind the arc, particularly in the first half when it hit 10 of its 16 made three-pointers for the game. It wasn’t necessarily just the makes, but the 36 attempts that Cleveland was able to fire off that was an issue for the Thunder’s defense. On the night, the Cavaliers shot 51.1 percent from the field, including 44.4 percent from behind the arc. “The effort was there, the competitiveness was there,” forward Carmelo Anthony said. “You got to take your hat off to those guys. They shot the ball extremely well tonight.”
Royce Young on the new-look Cavs taking care of business in OKC: “It wasn’t long ago that the Thunder embarrassed the Cavs on national television, but then again about half of Cleveland’s current roster wasn’t present then. The look and feel of these Cavs was noticeable, a team ready to compete and withstand any adversity thrown at them. The Thunder played pretty well, even with a rugged game from Westbrook. The Cavs were just better. They have clearly been renewed, and within the chaotic deadline that brought in a bevy of new faces, the best acquisition the Cavs actually made was getting the best player in the world back again.”
Brett Dawson on Steven Adams’ big night against Cleveland: “Steven Adams gave second efforts and went back for thirds. The Oklahoma City center tipped Thunder misses and snatched others away from the Cavaliers on Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena on his way to a franchise-record 12 offensive rebounds. But after the Thunder’s 120-112 loss, Adams was focused on the boards at the other end, the ones he couldn’t corral as Cleveland seized a win.”
AJ Mason (USA Today) on Larry Nance Jr. calling Steven Adams the strongest player in the NBA: “According to one of the newest members of the Cavs, Larry Nance, Jr., Butler wasn’t fibbing. Nance agrees that Adams has truly remarkable strength. “He’s the strongest player in the league in my opinion, and it’s not close,” Nance said to reporters after the Cavs defeated the Thunder on Tuesday night. “With a guy like that, you just have to be active. It’s almost like a heavyweight, if he gets his hands on you, it’s a problem. But if you keep dancing around him you can do some damage, so all I was trying to do was dance around and be more active than him.”
Grace Baker (Grizzly Bear Blues) previews tonight’s Thunder/Grizzlies match-up: “This past Sunday, the Thunder proved that they don’t need Westbrook or Anthony to beat Memphis. They did so handily. Paul George is their main offensive weapon with the other two OKC Big 3 members out, and Memphis has no answer for him. If they could manage to limit him to less than 30 points and stay out of foul trouble, the Beale Street Bears could stand a chance on their home court. Surely, having their fans behind them helps, but the Grizzlies are up for a massive challenge tonight. Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol need big offensive showings, and the Grizzlies have to control the pace of this one.”
Zach Buckley (B/R) has OKC as the third-biggest threat to Golden State: “The Thunder don’t have the deepest bench, and there’s no great replacement for the injured Andre Roberson on the roster (rotation-high 10.0 net rating). While they still have time to solve their issues with inconsistency, they’ll be up against the clock before they know it. There are enough red flags here to stop short of deeming OKC a top-two threat. On paper, though, the Thunder look as threatening as anyone. “They are nearly tailor-made to beat Golden State,” Dieter Kurtenbach of the Bay Area News Group (h/t the Mercury News) wrote, “as their best lineup boasts an aggressive, downhill driving point guard, three long wings…and an excellent rebounder at center who can draw defenders and fouls in pick-and-roll. When the ball is moving, they’re a matchup nightmare for Golden State.”
Shea Serrano (Ringer) with part two of the Disrespectful Dunk Index: “Regarding the score of the Adams dunk, let’s go with 14/20 for Difficulty (he jumped from outside of the restricted zone and also he secretly dunked on DeMar DeRozan too), 19/20 for Dunker’s Reaction (he actually celebrated while headed up court, which is a thing that I didn’t even know Steven Adams knew how to do; it was like watching a buffalo play the harmonica), 10/20 for Defense (is anyone really afraid of Jonas Valanciunas?), 3/15 for Backstory (Steven Adams has no backstory with anyone or any place; he is a ghost of the wind), 5/5 for Dunk Cleanliness, and 15/20 for Reaction of Others. TOTAL: The Steven Adams United Nations Dunk on Jonas Valanciunas was 66 percent disrespectful to Valanciunas.”
Around the League: Tyronn Lue says the new-look Cavs are exceeding expectations…. Steve Kerr fired back at critics of his player-coach move…. John Wall and Marcin Gortat met to squash recent drama…. The Jazz have won 10 in a row…. The new style of trash talk in the NBA.