All the need-to-know info from Thursday’s slate.
The Takeaway: When He’s Hungry, Let Paul George Eat
The stretch after the All-Star break has not been kind to Paul George. Oklahoma City went 11-5 during that time (before Thursday’s 103-99 loss to the Spurs), but George had dipped far below his norm. The Thunder wing shot 37.5 percent and scored 18.5 points per game over that stint compared to 44.9 percent and 22.5 points up until the break.
George was vibing on Thursday. He duped Dejounte Murray at the perimeter to draw three foul shots with 1:07 left in the game. PG made them all then sunk a 3 to bring it within two with 8.7 to go. It was George’s 20th and final shot of the game. (Alex Abrines took OKC’s last-ditch heave from 33 feet out.) This season, when George has attempted 21 or more field goals, the Thunder are 7-3—yet he hasn’t taken that many shots in any of the 17 games since All-Star.
The stat stings extra considering this—
—was not Russell Westbrook’s only air ball in the fourth quarter. Russ made only two of his seven shots in the fourth and was the victim of two Murray swipes. A tiebreaker was at stake for the Thunder; instead, San Antonio evened the season series with the win, 2-2.
The Cheat Sheet
- Philadelphia announced Thursday that Joel Embiid is in concussion protocol after making contact with Markelle Fultz’s shoulder and will undergo surgery this week to repair an orbital fracture near his left eye. No timetable for recovery was announced, but ESPN sources reported Embiid is expected to return in two to four weeks. The Ringer’s Paolo Uggetti expanded on the injury’s repercussions here.
- Make that five for Kevin Durant, who was ejected yet again in his first game back from injury just before halftime of the Bucks game.
Kevin Durant straight up ejected for cursing out ref pic.twitter.com/UcaCszvnrq— gifdsports (@gifdsports) March 30, 2018
To be fair, Durant was, in fact, fouled. Normally, the Warriors would be able to survive without KD, but without Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and Golden State behind 56-49, Durant’s ejection gave off Draymond Green–second-tech–Game 4 feels (only with way, way, way, waaaaaaaaaay lower stakes), and Milwaukee took advantage, forcing GS to say uncle, 116-107. In his 10 prior seasons, KD totaled two ejections combined. This season, he leads the league. We call that The Draymond Effect. (Shouts to Warriors guard Quinn Cook, who tried his darndest with a career-high 30 points.)
- And now we send it out to the field, where Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg reviews Chicago’s 24-51 season:
Robin Lopez also had time today:
Robin Lopez goes off on everyone as he leaves the court after ejection "That's fucking horseshit" pic.twitter.com/iCtzTJpGEX— gifdsports (@gifdsports) March 30, 2018
- LaMarcus Aldridge was listed as day-to-day after leaving Tuesday’s game against the Wizards with a knee contusion, but he convinced Gregg Popovich that he was ready to play against OKC. He looked like he was, too—for the first half. LMA scored 19 points over the first two quarters, then kicked off the second half 0-for-5. He redeemed himself with this throwdown:
- Andre Drummond racked up his eighth double-double in the Pistons’ past nine games, going for 24 points and 23 boards against the Wizards (103-92, Detroit). If Stan Van Gundy can exit this underwhelming season with one positive, it’s Drummond’s redemption tour.
- After barely sliding past the Kings, 106-103, Indiana is now tied with the Sixers for the fourth seed. It’s the Pacers’ fourth win in a row, and their 45th, which ties the franchise’s best in four seasons.
Oladipo gets a monster block on Cauley-Stein at the basket pic.twitter.com/VLSETQsZJY— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) March 30, 2018
Plays of the Night
THE FACT THAT HIS NAME IS BAM IS VERY CONVENIENT.
[Forgets every shot Jabari has missed this season]