Wednesday Bolts: 4.17.19
Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s Game 2 loss in Portland: “Poor playoff possessions are costly. Poor playoff quarters are deadly. On Tuesday night the Thunder faltered to start the second half and was never able to recover in a meaningful way, falling 114-94 to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of this first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The series now moves back to Oklahoma City for Games 3 and 4 with the Thunder trailing 2-0. “They won their first two home games. We obviously wanted to try to steal one when we can but the message is just stay with it,” said point guard Russell Westbrook. “A lot of great guys on this basketball team that I trust in to make shots and make plays on both sides of the basketball. We’ll be alright.” Despite holding a 10-point lead in the first half and letting it slip at the end of the second quarter, this game was won – or lost depending on your perspective – in the third quarter. From an identity standpoint, it was all wrong for the Thunder coming out of the locker room. With 8 turnovers that resulted in 16 points, including back-to-back giveaways at the top of the key that led to four fast break points for Portland, the Thunder allowed the Blazers to beat it at its own game.”
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on the Thunder’s offensive issues continuing in Game 2: “The Thunder’s below-average shooting means its chances are slim without taking care of the ball. OKC approaches games with the strategy that it has to take more shots than the opposition, ramping up the pace (possessions per 48 minutes) to rank among the league leaders this season. More shots equal more offensive rebounds. More offensive rebounds mean second-chance opportunities. The Thunder shot well in the third quarter – 50 percent – but just 16 times. Those eight wasted possessions meant no shot attempts and more opportunities for the Blazers’ far more efficient offense to ignite. With fewer offensive possessions comes a slimmer margin of error. The poor offensive execution hurt the defense in the backbreaking 37-21 Blazers third quarter. Five of the Thunder’s first eight possessions of the third quarter were turnovers. Paul George scored 27 points to lead OKC, but even he was a cog in the turnover machine, getting stripped on consecutive possessions to cap a 10-4 start to the third for the Blazers.”
Brett Dawson (Athletic) on Damian Lillard getting the best of Russell Westbrook & OKC: “It was no surprise when, after his team lost Game 2 of its Western Conference first-round playoff series to the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, Westbrook had little to offer in response to a question about the competitive nature of his relationship with Portland point guard Damian Lillard. “I don’t really have too much to say about it,” Westbrook said. The last word in this series still is to be decided. Lillard has had the first one, averaging 29.5 points to stake the Blazers to a 2-0 lead in the best of seven. He has been the better of the two point guards in the games, and is his nature, the more talkative after them. On Tuesday, he discussed at length his growth as a defender in the NBA, his improvement in reading an offense and reacting to a play call. In one answer about the job the Blazers did defending Westbrook, Lillard went on for nearly 300 words. Westbrook had less to say. He typically does.”
Royce Young (ESPN) on Westbrook vowing to play better in Game 3: “After Tuesday’s deflating 114-94 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2, the Oklahoma City Thunder are heading back home in an 0-2 series hole with Russell Westbrook taking responsibility for the team’s poor performance and vowing to play better in Game 3. “Starting with myself, I’ve got to play better,” Westbrook said. “And tonight, the loss, I’m going to take full responsibility for tonight. Because the way I played was unacceptable. I’m going to be better, so I’m not worried one bit. My job is to make sure I continue to come out and will and lead our guys and make sure we have a chance to win the game.”
Russ & PG’s post-game media: Next question.
Steven Adams is not worried about that hard screen on Lillard:
Hamidou Diallo underwent successful elbow surgery today in NYC: “Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo underwent a successful arthroscopic procedure on his right elbow today, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced. The procedure was performed by Dr. David Altchek with Thunder medical personnel present at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Diallo is expected to return to basketball-related activities in approximately four weeks.”