Nick Gallo (OKCThunder.com) with a preview of Game 2: “One major area that the Thunder has pointed out in the build up to Game 2 is turnovers. Seventeen of them on Sunday led to 20 Jazz points, which helped contribute to 21 Utah fast-break points in the game. On pick-and-rolls, Thunder ballhandlers tried passes over the top and back to the weakside, only to see the ball get clipped by the long, outstretched arms of Jazz defenders.”
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Berry Tramel (NewsOK) interviews former Edmond Santa Fe standout (and current Utah Jazz center) Ekpe Udoh: “This past summer, I stayed here — because I was gone two years — to be with the family. My mother’s still here. My brother, my sister, my dad. I gotta come back. They’re Ekpe Udoh fans. No matter where I go, that’s who they are.”
Brett Dawson (NewsOK) on the physical play ahead for the season: “Utah’s Jae Crowder gave him a nudge. Dante Exum, too, before finally Alec Burks bumped the Thunder point guard hard enough to draw a whistle — and send Westbrook to the court. From the floor, Westbrook looked up at official Josh Tiven and, with profanity for emphasis, suggested he call the foul earlier.”
Tramel (NewsOK) on Thunder announcer Brian Davis returning after a one game suspension: “The resulting social media uproar taught Davis, taught me, maybe taught you, taught millions of us, that cotton-pickin’, a term we’ve heard all our lives and maybe even used a time or two, is not acceptable, especially in context with an African-American. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Slavery, the great stain on American history, existed in large part to provide labor for Southern cotton farmers.”
Matthew Gonzales (Indianapolis Monthly) with a passive aggressive (almost Stan-like) letter to Paul George: “Not to sound all stalkerish, but I’ve been watching you. You look good, man. Your jump shot is still margarine-smooth. Your defense, when dialed in, is exquisite. Your performance against Utah the other day? It was vintage Playoff P (cute nickname, by the way). But I’ve also noticed how Russell Westbrook eats into your game. I’ve seen how he hogs the ball, and the glory, with his pathological obsession with stats. There’s a reason Durant, Harden, and Oladipo all went on to accomplish more elsewhere. Let’s be real. You’re not staying tethered to Westbrook in OKC. That’s not you.”
Fred Katz (Norman Transcript) on Alex Abrines becoming a big part of the bench unit: “So, Abrines created a new habit. After practices — and sometimes before — he finds assistant coach Darko Rajaković to work on agility drills, specifically in relation to closing out on shooters. If Donovan wasn’t going to turn minutes into a nightly occurrence, the 24-year-old was going to make sure that changed. Abrines will start in one area of the floor in an athletic stance, and when Rajaković passes the ball to whomever is standing by the 3-point line, he takes off to close out. He does it over and over and over again.”