4 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 2.27.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s loss in Denver: “Despite a furious fourth quarter rally to come back from 18 points down, the Thunder succumbed to a trio of issues that were a problem in the first half – fouls, turnovers and second chances – and ultimately fell 121-112 to the Nuggets on Tuesday night.  In a matchup of the top two teams of the Northwest Division and the number two and three seeds in the Western Conference, the Thunder and Nuggets went toe to toe for 48 minutes in a relentless battle that saw both teams show flashes of excellence along with some lapses in play. In the first quarter it was mostly neck and neck, but the Thunder racked up 8 fouls compared to just 3 for Denver and that began to add up. For the game, the Thunder fouled 34 times, accumulated some unfortunate foul trouble, and the Nuggets converted 26 of 35 free throw attempts. “That was the biggest thing in the game,” said Head Coach Billy Donovan of the fouls.”

Thunder/Nuggets highlights:

Brett Dawson (Athletic) on why Nerlens Noel could be the key to beating the Nuggets: “During a first half in which Adams played 17 minutes and Noel seven, Jokic had 19 points and seven assists on 7-for-13 shooting. And though Noel hardly was flawless against Jokic, he played 11 minutes to Adams’ 13 during a second half in which Jokic scored 17 more points, but had three assists and two turnovers and shot 4 for 12. Noel didn’t exclusively guard Jokic in the second half. But he’d seen from the bench the need for speed against the Serbian 7-footer, and he tried to provide it. “When I got my opportunity I went out there and did that and tried to switch some looks up for him,” Noel said. “Obviously Steve’s a superior defender. But I think I have the agility and quickness to switch it up and switch up the look that he has to see.”

Nate Scott (USA Today) on Russell Westbrook’s latest issue in Denver: “Russell Westbrook spoke out about fan behavior after he was struck by a young fan during the Thunder’s game against the Nuggets on Tuesday night, a game the Thunder lost 121-112. The incident occurred with three minutes remaining during the third quarter. Westbrook was handling the ball when the whistle blew, and a young fan sitting courtside reached out and pushed him. Westbrook reacted calmly, pausing to speak with the young fan and his father after the incident. The adults with the boy were seen smiling after the conversation, which would suggest that Westbrook kept a decent sense of humor about the whole thing.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) with an Andre Roberson update: “Andre Roberson sifted along the 3-point line, launching shots after shootaround Tuesday. He wore a black sleeve over his left leg, compressing the knee that he’d had multiple operations on since rupturing his patellar tendon 13 months ago. Thunder coach Billy Donovan reiterated Tuesday that he does not have a timetable for Roberson’s return, but the team is optimistic that he could be able to return at some point this season.”

Zach Harper (Athletic) has the Thunder fifth in his latest power rankings: “I’ve stated above I believe Portland will go on a streak and secure the No. 3 seed for the second straight season. I also stated I think the Rockets will settle into the No. 6 seed to face the Blazers in the first-round. That means we’re getting set up nicely with a fun rematch of last year’s most intriguing first-round matchup. The Thunder got housed by the Jazz in six games, and they were lucky to push it to six. During that series, the Jazz kept dissecting every bit of the Thunder’s psyche, and lived completely in their heads. Westbrook was too obsessed with Ricky Rubio. Joe Ingles was occupying real estate inside of Paul George’s brain. Carmelo Anthony… well… nobody was really concerned with him. The Jazz completely outplayed them.”

Matt Moore (Action Network) on Russell Westbrook’s most interesting season yet:  “What’s most important is maximizing the minutes with George on the floor. The Oklahoma City offense with George on-court and Westbrook off goes from 104.1 to 94.9. The defense improves by a considerable margin (to be expected with bench units), but the OKC defense is good with and without Westbrook. Additionally, if Westbrook’s performance was such a drag, it wouldn’t just be reflected in the team being better with him off-court — but the on-court performance would be mediocre-to-bad. Consider that with James Harden on the floor this season, the Rockets outscore their opponents by three points per 100 possessions. With Westbrook on the floor, the Thunder outscore their opponents by 7.3 points per 100 possessions. And when Harden’s not on the court, the Rockets still outscore their opponents by 1.9, while the Thunder are outscored by 0.1 points per 100 possessions with Westbrook on the bench. Does this mean that Westbrook has been better than Harden? Obviously not.”

Keith Pompey (Philly.com) on the Sixers being without Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic tomorrow in OKC: “An already tough task now on paper looks dubious. The 76ers will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night without their two-time All-Star center Joel Embiid and his backup, Boban Marjanovic. Both players are nursing knee injuries. The contest will mark the fourth consecutive games Embiid will miss because of tendinitis in his left knee. Marjanovic suffered a right knee bone bruise and mild sprain late in Monday’s 111-110 victory over New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center, His injuries were revealed Tuesday in an MRI and confirmed in a CAT scan. He will be reevaluated in five to seven days, meaning he will also miss at least Saturday’s home game against the Golden State Warriors.”