NBA Christmas Day Thoughts: Orlando Magic at OKC Thunder

Orlando Magic 89 – OKC Thunder 97

 

Although the score here was closer than the Heat game, the Thunder were every bit as much in control from start to finish as the Heat were.  Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook all showed complete dominance of the Heat, but it was the bench and deadeye 3-point shooting that put this away.  If the guys around the Thunder’s stars make shots, this team is practically unbeatable.  That’s because Durant showed a plethora of new ways to play on offense, whether in the post or through a better use of screens off the ball, and even better dribble-drives.  If he’s going to be this frighteningly efficient, then the hype for the Thunder is legit.

 

The Magic had a bad game, but one that offered hope.  If stretch 4 Ryan Anderson can play this well, he had 25 points and 10 boards with 6 threes, the Magic may have a star that can help Dwight get to the next level and convince him to stay.  Is it a longshot?  Well, of course it is, but it’s a glimmer of hope, as the Magic were so thoroughly outclassed it’s tough to see Howard committing to stay with Orlando.  Of course, a lot of that is Kendrick Perkins, one of very few players in the NBA who play Dwight 1-on-1 and thus frustrate much of Orlando’s intended offense.  Without the offense flowing properly, Orlando still put up a good fight, but were outclassed.  Against 90% of the rest of the league, Dwight will have a significantly bigger offensive impact, and if Anderson becomes a star, this team is dangerous once more.

 

  • JJ Redick and Jason Richardson both were terrible from the floor, but Redick continued to show why signing Richardson for big money made no sense.  Even with his shot not falling, Redick managed 8 points on 8-8 free throws.  Not only was Richardson 1-10 for 2-points, he didn’t get to the line at all.

 

  • Hedo Turoglu might be the worst contract in the NBA.  He can initiate offense, but no longer really is good enough at creating for himself, and he was terrible on defense.  He’s the biggest reason to take Durant’s dominance with a grain of salt.

 

  • Jameer Nelson played and kept up with Russell Westbrook.  Impressive, but Nelson’s 31 minutes left 17 for Chris Duhon, who had a game worst -17 plus/minus.  No surprise for one of the worst rotation players in basketball, but with his contract the Magic seem to feel obliged to play him.

 

  • Big Baby Davis was okay on defense, but the monster night for Brandon Bass and their general skill levels will continue to make this deal a loss for Orlando.  If I had a big contract to unload, I’d call Orlando daily.

 

  • Serge Ibaka got destroyed by Anderson.  He didn’t want to go out and cover Ryan, fine, but no points and a -10 plus/minus in only 23 minutes?  This guy was supposed to break out.

 

  • Kendrick Perkins didn’t fill up the stat sheet, but provided excellent defense on Howard and help defense overall.  Thabo Sefolosha likewise didn’t put up a ton of stats, but his defense made Jason Richardson look bad, and he hit two open 3s.  If he adds that component to his game, watch out.

 

  • James Harden gets all the hype, and he’s excellent so it makes sense, but Eric Maynor, Nazr Mohammed and Nick Collison are all among the better backups in the league.  Maynor, in particular, probably deserves a chance to start and run his team.  Indiana should be calling.

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