Tuesday Bolts – 3.28.17

Rhiannon Walker of The Undefeated: “After trailing by as many as 15 points at halftime, and 13 points with four minutes left in the game, NBA MVP candidate Russell Westbrook was able to hit a pull-up jumper with seven seconds remaining to give the Oklahoma City Thunder a 92-91 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. The loss sealed Dallas’s first losing season (31-42) since Mark Cuban took over ownership of the team during the 1999-2000 season, when Dirk Nowitzki was in his second year in the league.”

Per ESPN Stats: “Entering Monday, teams were 11-10,920 (.001 win pct.) when trailing by 13-plus points with under four minutes to play in the past 20 seasons. With the Kings making such a comeback against the Clippers on Sunday, it’s the first time teams have made these comebacks on back-to-backs nights over the past 20 seasons.”

My story from last night’s wild one.

Ben Golliver of SI.com makes a case for Harden: “This chart is fascinating for a few reasons. First, note that Westbrook’s record-setting 40.7 Usage Rate makes him a complete anomaly compared to MVP winners. He’s using way more possessions than 2001 Allen Iverson and 1998 Michael Jordan, who both rank among the most ball-dominant MVP winners since 1980. Second, though, note how recent MVP winners—guys like 2016 Curry, 2015 Curry, 2014 Kevin Durant, 2013 James—have managed to maintain very high True Shooting Percentage numbers despite healthy usage rates. Also note how Harden, James and Leonard all fit the high-usage, high-efficiency mold this year while Westbrook (sky-high usage, mediocre efficiency) clearly does not.”

Brett Dawson: “When Doug McDermott drilled a 3-pointer with 9:45 to play in the fourth quarter to cut Dallas’ lead to seven, the Mavs answered back immediately with a triple from Devin Harris that stretched it back to double digits. Dallas led 91-78 after a Yogi Ferrell 3-pointer with 3:31 to play, and it looked as if those Oklahoma City inconsistencies might be too much to overcome. But the Thunder strung together some stops and Westbrook some shots, and in the final minute, the game was up for grabs. There’s a short list of players as capable of grabbing one as Westbrook.”

Berry Tramel: “Oklahoma City’s offense is abysmal without Westbrook. In that virtual quarter without Westbrook, the Thunder made four of 17 shots and committed five turnovers. Thirteen points in 11:39. That’s madness. And it’s not all on backup point guard Semaj Christon, who actually plays some good defense. Christon doesn’t do much offensively at all, but he’s not the only one. Victor Oladipo is shouldered with taking over much of the offensive load in Westbrook’s absence, but Oladipo was just 1-of-7 shooting, with a turnover, Monday night with Westbrook sitting. Oladipo was 5-of-8 with Westbrook on the court.”

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