Thursday Bolts – 2.16.17

Tom Ley of Deadspin: “It’s good to keep this in mind when talking about what kind of player Westbrook is. He’s often talked and written about in the most visceral and primal terms—that’s not a bad thing, really, because the game roars when he’s in it—but Westbrook is as precise as he his punishing. You don’t average a triple-double in today’s NBA through sheer ferociousness, you do it by exerting your will over every grain of the court. On a nightly basis, the Thunder need Westbrook to be their Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and Lamar Odom all at once, and he meets that challenge gladly.”

Berry Tramel: “Perhaps it’s this. Go back to the October Sports Illustrated profile on Westbrook, which contained a tiny nugget in a small paragraph about a dinner last June in West Hollywood, in which Nick Collison, Westbrook and Durant met. Collison told SI that “Westbrook asked Durant what he could do and how he could change. ‘He went above and beyond,’ Collison says.” How he could change? Westbrook changes, but at his own beat. Westbrook’s mantra has been clear. This is me; deal with it. That goes for teammates, foes, friends, media, fashion critics, whoever. Westbrook wakes up each day, lights his torch, sharpens his sword and makes no stop at the advice stand. Yet at the BOA Steakhouse, Westbrook let down his guard. He turned vulnerable. He showed the ability to compromise. He showed to his pal Durant a willingness to change. Westbrook pulled back the veneer. He gave Durant a glimpse behind the curtain. And a week later, Durant became a Warrior. Westbrook opened his soul; Durant joined the enemy.”

My story from last night.

Tim Cato of SB Nation: “In fact, you can see the trend beginning last season, when 10 players reached usage rates of at least 30 percent. Prior to that, there had never been eight players who qualified during a single year. Even then, usage rate doesn’t fully capture the way these players dominate their team’s offenses. Harden and Westbrook are leading their teams with double-digit assists, as well, and several others in that top 12 have high assist marks. These aren’t static scorers. Despite scoring gobs of points, they also generate massive amounts of offense for their teams, both directly and for their teammates.”

Jeff Hornacek on Westbrook: “Look at his eyes. That guy has that determined, ‘I am going to do it’ look in his face all the time,” Hornacek said Tuesday, after practice at the Knicks’ training facility. “That is what you want as a coach. You see that and say, ‘OK, you know that guy is going out there, he doesn’t take plays off.’ I assume he is probably practicing that way. That is who he is.”

Brett Dawson: “And then the Thunder, seeking to straighten out its starts and smooth out its third quarters, split the difference. It settled into a rhythm in the second, and the game turned. Oklahoma City made 5 of 6 3-pointers in that 12 minutes – it had averaged 7.3 per game in the nine games leading up to Wednesday – and turned its defense into offense. The Thunder held New York to 38.1 percent shooting in the second quarter, and the stops helped Oklahoma City get out in transition. The Thunder scored nine fastbreak points in the second quarter.”

Sam Amick of USA Today: “Picture yourself at a five-star restaurant, the kind where reservations are hard to come by on any night but especially when it’s a special holiday like this. Then, amid all that bliss and build-up, this sordid sequence of events unfolds: your better half can’t make it, and somehow you wind up at a table with the ex – and their friends – not long after you both endured the most bitter of breakups. Awkward… That’s what Russell Westbrook is facing this weekend, when the Oklahoma City Thunder star will be sharing locker rooms, social scenes, minutes and – if the fans have their way – even some court time with the bevy of Golden State Warriors who will surround him. As if it’s not enough that Westbrook is outnumbered, with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and his former Thunder teammate, Kevin Durant, making up a third of the Western Conference team’s roster, or that Warriors coach Steve Kerr is calling the shots, Westbrook has only had less than a week to recover from the reunion game.”