Wednesday Bolts – 3.1.17
Berry Tramel: “The Thunder entered the game in last place in NBA 3-point accuracy, .322,
but was at .327 and out of last place by halftime. Still, that kind of shooting can’t be sustained by Steph Curry, much less this Thunder team, and when the 3-pointers quit falling, OKC’s offense stagnated. In the fourth quarter, the Thunder went 11 possessions with only one score, a Westbrook fast-break layup. That’s to be expected, perhaps, against an elite defensive team like Utah. But then Westbrook came to the rescue, and this Thunder season reached a high-water mark. New players to fortify. In the thick of the West race more so than ever. And a superstar who is becoming reliable as a fourth-quarter closer without peer.”
Brett Dawson: “It had been, for a time, the sort of game in which a sprinting Russell Westbrook could draw a foul, fling a one-handed heave from behind the 3-point line and see it swish. It had seemed for a stretch that every 3-point shot would drop — every one did, for a long while — and that the Thunder might win pretty. But gritty suits it better. On a night when Oklahoma City started 12 for 12 from 3-point range, it finished with a defensive-minded lineup on the floor, riding a reliable formula — Westbrook’s offensive heroics and a string of stops — to a 109-106 win against the Jazz at Chesapeake Energy Arena.”
ESPN Stats and Info: “Russell Westbrook continues to make his case as the NBA’s MVP this season. With 43 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s win over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, Westbrook recorded his 30th triple-double of the season. He joins Oscar Robertson (41) and Wilt Chamberlain (31) as the only players with 30 triple-doubles in a season in NBA history. For more perspective, Grant Hill had 29 triple-doubles in his career. Michael Jordan had 28.”
The Thunder are adding Norris Cole.
Michael Lee of the Vertical: “Westbrook wasn’t nearly as conflicted about his decision to skip another international competition. He needed a break after an emotional loss in the conference finals. “Tough? Oh no, I liked the rest. It was good for me to rest. Chill and be at home. I was OK with that,” Westbrook said. “You’ve got more time to sit back and enjoy your family, take your mind off basketball a little bit, so it’s always good.” No need to question Westbrook’s decision in hindsight because it wound up helping him avoid what would’ve been an awkward few weeks with Durant. Westbrook also agreed to a renegotiation with the Thunder the same day Team USA was introduced in Brazil. And, Westbrook was clearly storing up the energy needed to unleash the kind of triple-double madness that hasn’t occurred since Oscar Robertson averaged one in 1961-62. Westbrook already has 29 triple-doubles this season – the same as Grant Hill and Rajon Rondo, both tied for 11th all-time.”