Thursday Bolts – 3.30.17

Brett Dawson: “This should be almost impossible. Russell Westbrook shouldn’t be able to swoop in like this, to erase with a singular burst of brilliance three-plus quarters of his team’s sloppy offense and sluggish D. Once in a blue moon, maybe, he should save the day in this way. He’s done it twice this week. The Magic fell victim on Wednesday to Westbrook’s super-heroism, watching as he finished with 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a 114-106 overtime win. It was Westbrook’s 38th triple-double of the season, the highest-scoring triple-double in NBA history, per Elias.”

Nathaniel Friedman for GQ and Harden and Russ: “Without fail, Westbrook goes for broke on every possession. He’s an unstoppable force who has yet to meet an immovable object, regularly pulling off the impossible to such a degree that it’s almost moot to question his decision-making. While never forced, Westbrook’s nods to respectability often come across as concessions or brief moments of clarity and are soon papered over by yet another moment of derring-do. Neither accountable nor ill-advised, Westbrook is basketball’s fog of war.”

Anthony Grant is heading to Dayton.

Berry Tramel: “The Thunder’s late small-ball lineup of Gibson, Grant, Oladipo, Roberson and Westbrook outscored the Mavericks by five points in two minutes, keying the Thunder’s late rally from 13 points down. But small ball wasn’t generally effective against Dallas. The Mavs outscored OKC by 12 points in 20 minutes of Thunder small-ball. In 28 minutes, the Thunder’s big units mashed the Mavs by 13 points. Small ball isn’t a tonic for every problem. But it’s a tonic for Golden State and Houston. When playing the Warriors or Rockets, Billy Donovan has to go small.”

Thunder fans showed up at the airport last night.

Kyle Ratke for Timberwolves.com: “Westbrook’s numbers are sensational, but you could argue that Westbrook is stat hunting (I would certainly make it). He seems like a guy who knows what his numbers are at all times, and I’m not saying that’s necessarily the worst thing. And then there’s Harden. After Houston was an afterthought, limping into the playoffs as the eighth seed last season, Harden and coach Mike D’Antoni have the Rockets locked in as the third seed and they a legitimate threat to upset the Spurs and/or Spurs. Harden is averaging a career-high 29.3 points per game, while dishing out 11.3 assists and hauling in eight rebounds per game. (Let’s not dismiss that Harden is only two rebounds per game away from averaging a triple-double, too. Probably a more impressive one than Westbrook’s.)”

ESPN Stats: “With the Thunder adding 26 points off Westbrook’s assists, he was responsible for 86 percent of his team’s points when he was on the court. Westbrook scored 26 points while defended by Elfrid Payton, tied for the most points he has had against a single defender in a game this season. He also scored 26 points against the Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday on Feb. 26. Westbrook was 16-of-28 on contested shots for 39 points, his most such points in a game this season. The rest of the Thunder were 13-of-41 for 30 points on contested looks.”

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