The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 125-124, handing them their second straight loss in as many days. This was a game that featured little defense, as the Magic and Thunder were able to score on each other at will throughout the evening. Kevin Durant’s leaning one-hander with 8.1 seconds left in regulation was the decider, as it put Oklahoma City up by four points and didn’t allow Orlando a chance to tie things up. Speaking about Durant, he was phenomenal as he scored 36 points on 17 shots — an extremely efficient outing for one of the best scorers in the NBA. Russell Westbrook finished with a triple-double, as he had 32 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds, and two blocks. Not a bad performance for Westbrook, someone that should be in the consideration for the Most Improved Player award. Other players contributed for the Thunder but at the end of the day, it was the Durant and Westbrook show. On the flipside, the Magic were led by Dwight Howard‘s monster performance of 39 points (17-of-20 from the free-throw line), 18 rebounds, and two blocks. Jason Richardson had 19 points, while J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson chipped in with 18 points and 15 points respectively. On any other night, Orlando would have won by scoring 124 points but it wasn’t enough against Oklahoma City.
For those that like a lot of offense, this was a fun game to watch.
However, the Magic pride themselves on being one of the best defenses in the league and they showed little of that against the Thunder. Durant and Westbrook are two of the best perimeter scorers in the NBA so it’s little surprise that they were able to produce offensively, but Orlando made things a little too easy for them as noted by head coach Stan Van Gundy at halftime. For whatever reason, the Magic were afraid to get physical with Durant and Westbrook because they were wary of fouls being called. That’s not an excuse.
Ironically enough, Orlando could have gotten away with Durant and Westbrook going nova on offense if they contained the role players. No offense to Nenad Krstic, but he shouldn’t be putting up 16 points and 11 rebounds. As Reggie Miller said on the TNT broadcast, that’s found money. It’s true. Guys like Jeff Green, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka are going to contribute but the key is to limit their impact and unfortunately for the Magic, they were unable to do so. That’s one of the reasons that Orlando lost in an otherwise winnable scenario.
Sure, the Thunder led for most of the night but the Magic were always in striking distance, thanks in large part to their three-point shooting.
In the fourth quarter when Orlando made their run after being down 12 points to start the period, Redick was unconscious. Van Gundy decided to go with a lineup of Nelson-Redick-Richardson-Turkoglu-Howard and the results were phenomenal. There was little that Oklahoma City could do defensively. Whether it was the 1/5 pick and roll with Nelson and Howard or the 4/5 pick and roll with Turkoglu (as a power forward) and Howard, the Magic generated great shots for themselves time and again. With Howard acting as an unstoppable force in the paint, Orlando was humming on offense. Drive-and-kicks were plentiful, ball movement was great, but it wasn’t enough.
Durant and Westbrook were too much.
Especially Durant, who put the game out of reach with Turkoglu draped all over him on one of the last possessions in the game.
Great players make great plays.
Durant is a great player, and he made a great play.
For the Magic, despite excellent performances from their superstar and ancillary players, one possession was the difference in the ball game.