NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Paul named finalist for Olympic roster

Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul is one of 44 finalists for the U.S. Olympic team roster. Paul, a 10-time All-Star, helped the U.S. win gold medals in 2008 and 2012.  [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul is one of 44 finalists for the U.S. Olympic team roster. Paul, a 10-time All-Star, helped the U.S. win gold medals in 2008 and 2012. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

Thunder guard Chris Paul has a chance to play in the 2020 Olympics.

USA basketball announced Paul as one of its 44 finalists for its Olympic roster Monday. On that list, only LeBron James has more international experience Paul. The Thunder point guard, a two-time Olympian, has played 50 international games in his career.

Both Paul and James were members of the gold medal-winning 2012 and 2008 Olympic teams. Paul is undefeated in 16 games of Olympic play. He averaged 8.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.38 steals in those contests. Only three players – James, Carmelo Anthony and David Robinson – have been to three Olympics with the USA men’s basketball team.

Paul, 34, is in the middle of his first All-Star season since 2016. The 10-time All-Star is averaging 17.2 points, a team-leading 6.6 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.58 steals per game with the Thunder.

USA Basketball will narrow the 44 finalists down to a 12-man final roster.

Turnovers hurt

The Thunder only turned the ball over 10 times in a 112-111 loss to the Celtics on Sunday, but Boston scored 21 points off those turnovers.

“When you turn the ball over, it’s always going to be difficult,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after the game. “Live ball turnovers, it’s hard to get back. I thought our transition defense in the first half was one area that we could have done a better job in.

“… I thought certainly in transition, when we were either coming out of some missed shots and/or turnovers, they had numbers a lot of time, and we didn’t do quite a good enough job getting back.”

The Thunder has been pretty good this season at limiting points off turnovers. Allowing just 15.8 per game, OKC is among the NBA’s top 10 in that category. But that wasn’t the case Sunday.

To add insult to injury, the Celtics committed nine turnovers – just one more than the Thunder – and OKC scored just seven points off turnovers.

On Tuesday, the Thunder faces the Spurs, who commit the fewest turnovers per game (12.5) in the NBA.

Bazley out for a month

Thunder rookie Darius Bazley is expected to be sidelined for at least four weeks with a right knee bone bruise.

Bazley suffered the injury in the first quarter of the Thunder’s 112-111 loss to the Celtics on Sunday. He was ruled out for the game with what the team originally identified as a knee sprain. On Monday, the Thunder determined that Bazley had suffered a bone bruise. He will be re-evaluated in four to six weeks, the team announced.

Bazley has played in all 53 of the Thunder’s games this season and made eight starts. He is averaging 4.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. His 35 blocks this season rank No. 3 among Thunder rookies all-time.

In his absence for three quarters Sunday, OKC reverted to small ball when starting power forward Danilo Gallinari was off the court. Hamidou Diallo filled in. Center Mike Muscala also has experience playing power forward.

The Thunder faces the Spurs at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Copycat league

He held up a No. 17 Hawks jersey, a bleached patch of hair highlighting the left side of his head. No, it wasn’t Dennis Schroder three years ago. It was Clint Capela settling onto his new team.

Schroder wasn’t going to let the similarities go unnoticed. The Thunder guard, who played the first five years of his NBA career in a No. 17 Atlanta jersey, posted a picture of Capela to his Instagram “story” – a stream of photos that disappear after 24 hours.

“GoldenPatch,” Schroder’s post read, “& my jersey #. This getting outta hand @ccapela15”

A laughing emoji followed the message.

Capela re-posted the photo, adding “It’s about to be different thought,” preceded by three laughing emojis.

The Rockets traded Capela to the Hawks in a four-team trade at the Feb. 6 deadline.

Maddie Lee, Staff writer

Maddie Lee

Maddie Lee followed an NBA team from Seattle to Oklahoma City, she just took a 10-year detour in between. Lee joined the Oklahoman in October 2018 as a Thunder beat writer, fresh off a stint in Oxford, Miss., where she covered Ole Miss for the... Read more ›