Wednesday Bolts: 4.3.19
Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s win over the Lakers: “Russell Westbrook always plays with speed. The exact variety varies. Some games it’s a foot mashed down on the accelerator. Others it’s stop and start bursts of explosion. Tonight, Westbrook seemingly glided across the floor, moving quickly but in complete balance and control. That curated combination served a dominant effort and was the recipe for not only a much-needed 119-103 Thunder win over the Los Angeles Lakers but also a historic night for the All-Star point guard. By dishing out a Thunder record-tying 10 first quarter assists to get his team going, Westbrook picked up his own scoring in the second half and continued to attack the glass in a 20-point, 20-rebound and 21-assist performance, becoming the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to compile such a stat line.
Royce Young (ESPN) on Russell Westbrook’s historic 20-20-21 effort against the L.A.: “Russell Westbrook sat alone on the Thunder bench some 15 minutes before tipoff Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, with a basketball between his legs, singing and dancing along to Nipsey Hussle’s “Grindin’ All My Life,” intent on playing a game to honor the recently slain rapper. After he recorded the second 20-20-20 game in NBA history — posting 20 points, 20 rebounds and 21 assists — Westbrook walked off the floor following a 119-103 win with a heavy heart, having dedicated the performance to his friend. “That’s for Nipsey!” Westbrook yelled as he slapped his chest. Westbrook, who grew up in Los Angeles, where Nipsey Hussle was a cultural staple, wore a blue shirt that said Crenshaw on it, a nod to a Nipsey Hussle mixtape. Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed Sunday outside his clothing store in Los Angeles. “Grateful to play the game, but that wasn’t for me, man. That was for my bro, man. That was for Nipsey,” Westbrook said on the TNT broadcast on the court after the game. “Rest in peace to Nipsey, man. I’m just thankful to go out there and compete at a high level, man. Thankful to have these teammates. Thankful and humbled to go out there and play the game I love.”
Brett Dawson (Athletic) on Westbrook honoring Nipsey Hussle with an unbelievable performance: “Westbrook showed up for Tuesday’s game — and met with reporters when it was over — with a blue shirt with “Crenshaw” across the front in white. The shirt is from Hussle’s The Marathon Clothing line. Crenshaw is a South Los Angeles neighborhood, the name of Hussle’s eighth mixtape, and the street where he was shot outside his store on Sunday. And in a postgame interview on the sideline, Westbrook said to TNT’s Jason Terry, “Twenty plus 20 plus 20 — they know what that means,” an apparent reference to the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips, the gang Hussle once belonged to.”
The Playoff Picture: Playoffs begin in 10 days.
Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on the benefits and drawbacks of resting Paul George: “The argument for resting George mostly hinges on that fact that the Thunder would benefit from George being at his best in the playoffs. George, although cleared to play, isn’t 100 percent healthy. He hasn’t been for at least month. George said he’s been playing though “nagging stuff” all year, but his right shoulder soreness at the end of February was bad enough that he sat out three games. Soon after he returned from that injury, he took a hit to his left shoulder. George, who has not missed a game for left shoulder soreness, said it feels fine as long as he isn’t hit in the same spot. He already has been. Fighting over a screen in the Thunder’s 107-99 win over the Pacers last week left his status questionable leading into the Thunder’s following matchup with the Nuggets. Thunder coach Billy Donovan said any load-management decisions, even if OKC’s playoff seeding was already determined, would rely heavily on George’s input.”
Zach Harper (Athletic) has the Thunder 13th in his latest power rankings: “OKC has lost 13 of their last 19 games. On Sunday, they took a home loss to the Mavericks, who were without Luka Doncic. The Thunder got lit up by Trey Burke, Devin Harris, and Jalen Brunson. Considering the Thunder have Westbrook and Dennis Schroder as their point guard depth, that’s pretty concerning. The Thunder are slated and projected to finish with the No. 8 seed. They have a relatively easy remaining schedule, but they can’t win the easy games right now anyway. There’s no way they feel good about taking on Golden State in a 1 vs. 8 showdown.”
Berry Tramel (Oklahoman) on why he continues asking Russ questions: “I don’t want to be at war with Westbrook. I love him as a player and I’m glad he’s here. He makes my job much better – much better – by playing basketball in Oklahoma City. I’ve written about him for 11 years, and I’d guess is it’s been 98 percent positive. As far as I know, Westbrook never has had a problem with anything I’ve written. Heck, wouldn’t surprise me if he’s never read anything I’ve written. I’m assuming he doesn’t like the questions I ask or the way I ask them. It’s too bad we don’t have any base of a relationship from which to work. Years ago, maybe as far back as 2013 or 2014, I asked the Thunder about sitting down with Westbrook, not for an interview, but for an off-the-record chat. Just get to know each other a little bit. Try to learn more about what makes him tick, what he doesn’t like about the media and what could be done to make things better. Maybe learn a little more about each other. That meeting, of course, never happened, and as far as I can tell, was never even broached with Westbrook.”