Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
In retrospect, we probably should have seen this coming. With Oklahoma City rumbling into Amway Center on Sunday with two of the NBA’s top five players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and facing off against an Orlando team that has recently embraced a run-and-gun philosophy, the possibility was there for the Thunder to run the Magic out of their own building. Well, it happened. OKC won in a rout, 127-99.
Durant and Westbrook are two supernaturally gifted athletes, supported by athletic teammates like Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, and Dion Waiters, that can play an up-tempo style if need be and thrive. Durant and Westbrook proved it by leading the Thunder to their best half in franchise history with a 79-point first half against the Magic.
It was also the most points allowed by Orlando in a half. Ever. The Rockets held the previous record with 78, which happened on April 8, 1990 during the Magic’s inaugural season.
The Thunder jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter before the Magic could respond with points of their own, cutting the deficit to as little as nine midway through the period. That was the closest Orlando would get.
Things quickly got out of hand from there, as the game devolved into an audition for Oklahoma City players to make the Thunder’s highlight reel for the 2014-15 season — one player that won’t be on it will be Andre Roberson, who badly airballed a free-throw late in the second quarter. Westbrook won the auditions with his one-handed reverse dunk midway through the third quarter that would have won last year’s slam dunk contest.
For a team trying to find its identity by playing at a faster tempo, it was a humbling lesson for the Magic.