Luguentz Dort has been celebrated for his defense on James Harden, but his shooting woes in Saturday’s Game 5 helped put the Thunder on the brink of elimination, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Dort shot 3-of-16 from the field as the Rockets gave him plenty of room and basically used five defenders on the other four OKC players. Coach Billy Donovan remains supportive of Dort and said some adjustments are needed.
“I think part of his growth is understanding when to shoot some, when to drive some, when to pass some, and he probably had a mix of a lot of those in the game,” Donovan said.
Dort has been a pleasant surprise in Oklahoma City, earning a starting job at midseason after signing a two-way contract last summer. He quickly emerged as an elite defender, but his offense was a concern all year as he shot just 39.4% from the field and 29.7% from 3-point range.
“I’ve got to try to find ways to kind of incorporate him and help him as much as I can,” Donovan added. “But a lot of it’s going to be found in the course of the game through movement, through ball movement and spacing.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The Nuggets will have shooting guard Gary Harris available for today’s Game 6 against the Jazz, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It will be the first game in more than five months for Harris, who suffered a hip strain shortly after arriving in Orlando. He has made “significant progress” in workouts this week, Woj adds.
- The presence of Damian Lillard prevents the Trail Blazers from thinking about rebuilding, observes Royce Young of ESPN. Still in his prime at age 30, the star guard always gives the organization a chance to be competitive, as he showed in Orlando before being injured. Young notes that as long as Lillard remains in Portland, the team will remain committed to building around him and CJ McCollum in the backcourt. He adds that management values continuity, and with Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside the only rotation players not under contract for next season, the front office views the team more as the Western Conference finalists from last season rather than the one that struggled to make the playoffs this year.
- McCollum doesn’t expect to need surgery on the back fracture he played with in Orlando, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. He plans to rest for a couple of months and then resume normal basketball activity.