4 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 3.21.18

Nick Gallo recaps last night’s brutal loss in Boston: “The game was seemingly under wraps. A 6-point lead with 24.7 seconds left built by some solid execution and great shot making put the Thunder in control over the Boston Celtics. Then suddenly, shockingly, that lead unraveled. Boston got an easy layup, a tough off-the-dribble three-pointer and then after just one Thunder free throw in four attempts, Boston had the ball with 7.7 seconds to go down just two. Celtics rookie Jason Tatum drove middle and picked out forward Marcus Morris on the wing for a pass. Thunder forward Paul George leapt in the air to contest a shot, forcing Morris to put the ball on the floor. Center Steven Adams saw this develop and began to come out to help George on the ball. For a millisecond, however, he hesitated. Worried about leaving Celtics center Al Horford open, Adams got a late hand up on Morris’ fadeaway one-dribble three-pointer. It was too short, as was Russell Westbrook’s three-pointer at the buzzer, and the Thunder fell 100-99.”

Royce Young on the Thunder’s late collapse: “Carmelo Anthony sat at his locker, jersey off and both knees wrapped in ice, staring straight ahead at nothing in particular. He answered a phone call, talking for about a minute, before setting his phone down to do some more staring. It was almost fitting, the layout of the visitor’s locker room in TD Garden, with Anthony’s stall separated from the rest, leaving him to sit alone with no one on his left or right. It was a somber and shocked room, with Anthony left processing the final 20 seconds of the game — and his two missed free throws with 8.4 seconds to go that would have sealed a seventh straight win for the Oklahoma City Thunder.”

Moke Hamilton (USA Today) with Melo’s post-game comments after missing two key free throws: “Usually, this game would have been over with, this game would have been iced, making those free-throws, walking out of here with a big road victory, especially here in Boston where it’s always tough to win one. It’s easy to beat yourself up about it, but it happens.”

Chris Forsberg (ESPN) on Paul George’s relationship with Gordon Hayward: “I’ve been in touch with him, texting and kind of been watching him from afar, how he’s been progressing,” said George after the Thunder’s 100-99 loss to the Celtics Tuesday night. “Early on, I was around him more so, sending him messages and talking to him. At this point, it looks like he’s doing really well, just watching him on the court. Now he’s shooting, doing a little bit on-court stuff. “The biggest thing was just letting him know what obstacles he was going to have to face with that injury. I think it helped a bit, just helping him and giving him a heads-up of what to expect.”

Brett Dawson takes a look at the Western Conference playoff race: “Those free throws are going to sting if OKC falls out of the No. 4 spot in the coming days. Still, the Thunder had built enough of a cushion that even with a loss and wins from New Orleans and Minnesota, it gets to stick around at fourth.”

ESPN Insider has OKC at number 13 on its list of teams that will dominate the next three years: “Outside of Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams there is uncertainty with this roster. While there has been no confirmation that All-Star Paul George is leaving in the offseason, the threat of the Lakers signing George needs to be considered. No commitment from George, the recent injury to Andre Roberson, Carmelo Anthony likely opting into his $27.9 million contract, and the possibility of losing Jerami Grant in free agency combine to drop Oklahoma City to No. 10 in players. And OKC still ranks No. 23 in money. The ranking is largely due to the fact that Westbrook, Adams, Anthony and Roberson have a combined $100 million in salary in 2018-19. And the Thunder could still find themselves in the luxury tax minus George.”

Shea Serrano (Ringer) with a Good Cop, Bad Cop routine on if the Thunder is built for a playoff run: “Good Cop: The Thunder are actually good, and they’re going to do well in the playoffs. Bad Cop: So we’re just going to start out today by saying things that are wrong and untrue? Cool, cool, cool. Let me throw some out there, too. Um, oh: The sun is actually cold. Humans can actually breathe underwater. Toy Story was actually a documentary. Elephants actually do not have bones, they have pieces of wood nailed together by small elephant-specific elves.”

The Kansas City Royals will host their third annual Thunder Day on August 26: “Thunder entertainers including Rumble the Bison and others will also take part in the day, connecting with fans throughout the ballpark. Tickets for Thunder Day are priced at $20 and $35 and can be purchased at royals.com/thunder. Fans who purchase a theme ticket for the Royals game will receive an exclusive Royals baseball cap that includes the Thunder logo and colors. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. with the first pitch scheduled for 1:15 p.m. During the NBA season, Thunder game broadcasts are aired on FOX Sports regional channels, including FOX Sports Kansas City.”

Adam Fromal (B/R) has Melo & PG13 on his list of the best upcoming free agents at every position: “Need a defensive stop? George can get one against almost any guard or forward, and that isn’t even what makes him most special on D. His true genius stems from his anticipatory skills and the ability to act upon them, allowing him to lead the league in deflections with room to spare. For that matter, he also ranks second in total steals, third in steals per game and fifth in steal percentage.  And yet, that relentless defensive activity hasn’t prevented George from finding his niche on offense. He can score in just about every feasible manner, but he’s most special when leaving the ground from beyond the arc.”

Around the League: Steph Curry was fully cleared to practice…. Kyrie Irving will get a second opinion on his ailing knee…. Tracy McGrady was put in the Magic’s hall of fame…. Why James Harden won’t be denied his first MVP…. The Hawks are being sued for discrimination against whites…. USA Today’s 2018 Mock Draft.