AP Photo/Alonzo Adams
4-12 FG | 3-8 FT | 15 REB | 2 BLK | 11 PTS | -4
Howard had an underwhelming performance on Christmas Day. He had the type of game that’d probably make conspiracy theorists wonder if he was putting forth very little effort, but that’s if they were looking strictly at the numbers. The truth of the matter is that Kendrick Perkins and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder defense made life difficult for Howard offensively.
9-17 FG | 6-12 3P | 10 REB | 2 STL | 25 PTS | -7
With Anderson seeing a majority of the minutes at the power forward position for the Orlando Magic, his ability to extend to the three-point line tested the Thunder defensively. And against Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison, two of the better defending big men in the NBA, Anderson had little trouble scoring. With him serving as the stretch four like Rashard Lewis before him, the Magic looked many times like the offensive juggernaut in 2009 and 2010.
7-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 AST | 1 REB | 18 PTS | +9
Faced with a difficult assignment against Russell Westbrook, Nelson held his own. Yes, Westbrook got the better of Nelson a couple of times on offense but that was bound to happen. On the flipside, Nelson was aggressive offensively, finishing at the rim in pick-and-roll sets and in transition. The problem, and its a recurring theme, is that he was too passive at times and didn’t look to score more.
1-10 FG | 0-4 3P | 2 AST | 3 REB | 2 PTS | -8
To put it simply, Richardson was awful. If his shot isn’t falling, and that’s precisely what happened against Oklahoma City, he becomes a liability on the floor. This is why Orlando needs a consistent shot creator on the perimeter because that player can find different ways to score when his jumpshot is off. Richardson doesn’t have that ability at this stage in his career.
|Oklahoma City Thunder
Do you want to know what an elite team and championship contender looks like on the court? Look no further than the Thunder. This is a roster that has all the tools to win a title. There’s a go-to scorer in Kevin Durant, a bevy of playmakers in Westbrook and James Harden (as well as Durant), stout defenders in Ibaka, Perkins, and Collison, and a productive group of role players.