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Wednesday Bolts – 3.8.17

Wednesday Bolts – 3.8.17

Erik Horne: ‘Trailing by seven points with 4:44 to go, the Thunder’s defense held the

Blazers to four points in the next three minutes. But just as the Thunder was finding some semblance of defensive rhythm, Steven Adams was poked in the left eye and had to exit the game at 2:01, tied 114-114. The Blazers answered with a floater from C.J. McCollum, then an interior basket from burly center Jusef Nurkic over Taj Gibson after Adams returned. Donovan said he was happy with the defense Enes Kanter provided in the short stretch without Adams, but the Thunder was chasing again. Westbrook missed all five of his 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter to finish 3-of-9. The last one was the most questionable — a 30-footer with the Thunder trailing 122-119 with 11.9 seconds left.”

DeAndre Jordan shouting out Nick Collison: “It always surprises people when I say this, but one of the toughest players I’ve ever matched up with is Nick Collison. I hear a lot of big men say that Shaq is the hardest guy to guard, and trust me … that’s very true. (One time, Shaq almost knocked me out with an elbow to the chest.) But I learned more about the game playing against Nick. I remember one time when we were playing in Oklahoma City and Nick came into the game. He came right up to me and — super politely — said, “Hey man, I’m just letting you know that my coach told me not to let you get any rebounds.” Then he smiled. He was so damn respectful about it. The rest of the night, every time the ball was at the rim, Nick was crashing into my legs with the hardest box-outs I’d ever felt. He was a man with one mission: to keep me from getting boards. Nick is not the tallest dude, but he’s relentless. He’s a hard, hard competitor. When I play him I know I’m gonna be sore in the morning because I gotta box this guy out every time — and I know he’s gonna box me out every time.”

My story from last night.

Zach Lowe of ESPN.com on Dion Waiters: “He would never have handled the ball this much next to LeBron, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant, but that’s the point: He’s got it more than ever, and he’s doing productive stuff instead of belching up step-back 20-footers. He’s barreling to the rim with a new physicality, and sliding passes along the baseline to shooters in the opposite corner — something of a Waiters trademark. “That is a really tough pass to deliver,” Spoelstra said. “There’s less sticking and holding with Dion this season.” Waiters can also be a chest-to-chest irritant on defense when he’s dialed in.”

Albert Burneko of Deadspin: “Simple contrarianism, of course, is part of it. “Russ is the MVP” might have enjoyed a brief moment as a counterintuitive, or at least not baldly obvious, opinion back toward the beginning of the season, but by now saying that Russell Westbrook is the MVP of the 2016-17 NBA season is like saying fresh air is the best thing to breathe. It does not signify either punchy independence or heightened sophistication. It is just merely, plainly right. If you blogged it back in January, then you do not have any more MVP blogs to publish.”

Tom Ziller of SB Nation: “But so much of Westbrook’s candidacy is tied up in round numbers, which really mean nothing. Russ is at risk of falling below 10 assists per game if he has seven or fewer in his next contest. Will Westbrook’s case for MVP really be materially different if he averages 32-11-9.8 on the season, just missing the triple-double year? Of course not! It would still be a historically great individual effort. Achieving the round numbers don’t automatically translate into clinching the MVP. Westbrook’s season is amazing whether he averages 9.8 or 10.2 assists per game.”

Berry Tramel on the terrible road trip: “Donovan, who had done a solid job navigating the Thunder through uncharted waters this season, suddenly seems lost. His lineup tinkering Sunday night reached wild status, trying to counter Dallas’ super-small lineup with a two-point guard lineup of his own. But Norris Cole and Semaj Christon are on the roster for the sole purpose of letting Westbrook take a breather; playing them WITH Westbrook defeats the purpose and keeps a potentially better on the bench.”