6 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 2.6.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s win over the Magic: “Steven Adams was falling down and losing control. So was the Thunder. Down by a dozen at home in the third quarter, the Thunder needed a moment of brilliance to kickstart a comeback. In a moment of quick thinking, Russell Westbrook called a timeout, giving his team a chance to regroup in the huddle, preventing an Adams turnover. The heads-up timeout by the Thunder’s captain may not have generated a conscious response or a Knute Rockne-style speech on the sideline, but nonetheless there was a physical reaction on the court to overturn a poor defensive start. Over the ensuing 12 minutes precisely, the Thunder outscored the Orlando Magic 44-18 to turn at 12-point deficit into a 14-point lead. Eventually, the end result was a 132-122 victory to send the Thunder to 34-19 on the season.   “We defended, got stops, rebounded, played quicker than we did in the first half,” said Westbrook.”

John Denton (magic.com) recaps the game from the other side: “After scoring a season-best 69 points in Tuesday’s first half and threatening to run away from the surging Oklahoma City Thunder, the Magic were mostly defenseless in a second half where they surrendered a staggering, season-worst 70 points. The final result, and the festering frustration that followed, was all too familiar for Orlando. Up as much as 12 points early in the second half, Orlando looked on mostly helplessly as Oklahoma City used a game-turning 31-13 burst in the third quarter and another 13-5 run early in the fourth for a 132-122 defeat of the Magic. “Did we do something different in the third quarter? Nah, but they scored 30-plus points in all four quarters and we could just never stop them,’’ said Magic guard Evan Fournier, who poured in 25 points and hit four 3-pointers to keep Orlando within striking distance. “In the third quarter, we just couldn’t score enough and basically got outscored. We never got stops. We had great energy tonight and we competed, but we could never get stops consistently.’’

Royce Young (ESPN) on Russell Westbrook recording his seventh straight triple-double last night: “Russell Westbrook tied Michael Jordan and … well, Russell Westbrook on Tuesday in his quest to break the record for the longest triple-double streak in NBA history. With 16 points, 15 rebounds and 16 assists in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 132-122 win against the Orlando Magic, Westbrook notched his seventh consecutive triple-double and 20th overall this season. The longest triple-double streak in NBA history is held by Wilt Chamberlain with nine, set in 1968. Jordan had seven straight during the 1988-89 season. And Westbrook has had two different streaks with seven straight triple-doubles, the last time missing out on an eighth straight with 45 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds against the Memphis Grizzlies. Westbrook can pass Jordan and his own mark on Thursday against the Grizzlies.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on Jerami Grant’s role in the win over Orlando: “The Thunder’s 132-122 win wasn’t the dominant victory expected after the Thunder had beaten the Magic just a week before without starters Terrance Fergusonand Steven Adams. As it was, OKC needed every one of Grant’s 19 points to keep the score close before a late surge.Grant led the Thunder at the end of the first quarter. Paul George shot just 1-of 7 from the field in the first period, scoring three of his five points on free throws. Adams only took two shots. The Thunder trailed by just one point heading into the second quarter, but Grant was the only OKC player who had made three or more shots. Midway though the second quarter, George had found his shooting rhythm, sinking 3-point shots in back-to-back possessions to pull the Thunder within two points of Orlando. But it was Grant who tied the game at 55 points apiece with just under four minutes left in the half, finishing through contact for the aforementioned and-one. Grant finished the night shooting 7-of-9 from the field.”

Thunder/Magic highlights:

Berry Tramel (Oklahoman) on Dennis Schroder’s chances at winning Sixth Man of the Year: “So in a lot of ways, the Thunder has been searching for Harden-like production off the bench since the October 2012 trade. And the Thunder has found it. Schroder has started only 10 of 51 games. He’s averaging 28.5 minutes, 15.6 points, 4.2 assists, 2.4 turnovers, shooting .422 from the field and .355 from 3-point range. Schroder is not Harden and no one else on planet Earth is, if you haven’t been keeping score. But Schroder has been tremendous and is among the top candidates for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, which Harden won in 2012. I went through the NBA rosters and found the 10 best candidates for Sixth Man of the Year. Schroder has a chance but will need a strong finish to the season. Here are the top 10.”

Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) on the Thunder’s identity suffering despite recent winning: “The quintessential NBA defensive stat is “defensive rating,” a measure of points allowed per 100 opponent possessions, and the Thunder still rank fourth in the league at 105.0, trailing Milwaukee (103.4), Indiana (104.7) and Boston (104.9). However, over their last eight, the Thunder rank 19th at 110.5. Conversely, though OKC’s offensive rating is just 13th in the NBA at 109.9, it is second in the league, at 117.6, over the last eight. In short, the Thunder have been winning oppositely from the way they’d been winning most of the season. Coach Billy Donovan appeared to speak about the issue, though indirectly, prior to Tuesday’s tip, He was asked, generally, about his team’s defense. “We’ve got to get better there,” Donovan said. “I think, over these last 14 games, we’ve been a little sporadic defensively. We’ve had some good games, and we’ve had some not so good games, so it’s just something we need to get better at.” Sporadic may be kind. Over the last 14 games — Thunder are just 8-6 over that span — OKC’s defensive rating is 114.6, 26th in the league, ahead of only Chicago, Phoenix, Atlanta and Cleveland.”

Thunder news release on Hamidou Diallo officially participating in the Slam Dunk Contest: “Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo has been selected to participate in the 2019 AT&T Slam Dunk Contest, it was announced today by the NBA. The rookie out of Kentucky has appeared in 43 games (three starts) and is averaging 4.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.9 minutes, while shooting 46.3 percent from the field. He will be joined in the contest by Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges, Atlanta Hawks forward-center John Collins, and New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. Diallo is the Thunder’s first Slam Dunk participant since Serge Ibaka in 2011. In the two-round event, participants can perform any dunk they choose.  The players have a maximum of three attempts to complete each dunk in both the first round and the final round.  Five judges score every dunk on a scale of 6 to 10, resulting in a high score of 50 and a low score of 30. All four competitors get two dunks in the first round.  The two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks advance to the head-to-head final round.  The player with the highest combined score for his two dunks in the final round is crowned the champion.”

Ben Felderstein (Sneaker News) with an up-close look at the Nike PG3 All-Star: “No stranger to Nike’s All Conditions Gear subsidiary, Paul George and the Swoosh are set to release an ACG-inspired variety of the court-ready PG 3 for 2019 All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. Serving as an unofficial sequel to PG-13’s PG 2 from June of 2018, this outdoor-friendly version of the customarily hoops-geared model combines notes of orange, green, and yellow for its earthy aesthetic. Rope-style ACG laces, a leather heel cap, and exposed stitching completes this rugged, premium look that joins an extensive array of Beaverton models for one of the most important sneaker releases of the year. While pairs have already begun releasing in select overseas countries the likes of Japan, they will officially release in the United States for All-Star weekend on February 15th.”

Around the League: Tobias Harris is headed to Philadelphia…. How the Harris trade shakes up the NBA…. The Lakers (with LeBron) lost by 42 to the Pacers (without Oladipo)…. LA traded for Reggie Bullock shortly thereafter…. Kyle Lowry’s name has popped up in trade chatter…. NBA trade deadline buzz…. The Kings reportedly passed on a Kristaps Porzingis-for-De’Aaron Fox trade…. KD-2-NYC “has never felt more real” to the Warriors…. The presumed Warriors exit of Kevin Durant…. Mike Conley & Marc Gasol (not yet traded) say goodbye to Memphis.