Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Magic overwhelms undermanned Thunder

As Oklahoma City fought its way back to respectability in the third quarter against the Orlando Magic, I wondered, "Is this the Magic just going through the motions or are the Thunder playing their hearts out again like in Utah?"

I think the answer is a little of both.

Orlando had no need to keep up the intensity with a 30 point cushion, but some teams quit when down like that. The Thunder didn't. They used the little light the Magic gave them and capitalized, outscoring Orlando 29-16 in the third cutting the Magic lead to 16. Orlando put up 71 points in the first half but then just 38 in the second. Of course, it wasn't enough as the Magic (5-3) thumped the Thunder (1-7) 109-92 Wednesday night.

But about four minutes into the game it was clear: Oklahoma City was not going to win the game. Some may have figured that out before the game even started with Kevin Durant sitting this one out with a sore ankle.

This was just an absolute mismatch. An absolute recipe for disaster. Dwight Howard doesn't let anyone in his lane and if they happen sneak in, he promptly throws their shot into the second row. The Thunder stinks at shooting jumpers. I think you can put two and two together there. And on top of it Orlando's big man was unstoppable offensively too. Just check out Howard's stat line - 30 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks. Yeah, pretty good game.

Nothing to really second guess or breakdown tonight. OKC was just overmatched in every way. Of all the games to miss, this may have been the worst one for Durant, because he's really the one guy that can hit a consistent jumper.

A new-look Robert Swift actually played Howard relatively well. Swift blocked him twice and "sort" of slowed him down. Swift entered earlier (about eight minutes left in the first) and played his most minutes (18), pulling down seven boards and netting three. In a way, Big Robert's haircut might have been the highlight of the night.

Potential reasons Big Rob cut his do:
- Somebody on the canal mistook him for Ronald McDonald
- He kept getting it caught in the rim.
- He thought a haircut might help his image.
- Too many people were getting him confused with a mascot.
- He felt it was affecting his upside.
- He actually saw himself in a mirror.

Jeff Green did his darndest to pick up the slack for Durant as Green had 25 and 10. And he kept up the good three point shooting hitting three of six. Maybe he's coming around. I hate to be the "next year" guy, but if he's starting to get it and Durant is moving forward, then things may really start to look up soon.

Russell Westbrook went 3-19 from the field but actually played better than those numbers indicate. I counted at least three shots that were tossed by Howard. So I guess, "potentially" those could have went in. But he made some nice passes in the lane once he figured out he couldn't score over Superman. And how freakishly athletic is Westbrook? He really can go up with anyone. He has the ability. He just needs to put it together and he could be special.

And is it just me, or does Desmond Mason fade on every single jumpshot? I'm no jumpshot technique expert, but maybe that's why he struggles so much with the jay. Maybe.

When teams are as young and inexperienced as the Thunder, games like this can potentially happen every night. Things start to snowball, you get overwhelmed by the other teams sheer talent and you're in a 20 point hole before you know you tipped off. But the bright side is with a team this young and inexperienced, improvement happens at a rapid rate so by the end of the year these guys may be totally different than this. They'll limit the hurried bad shots. Limit the dumb transition turnovers. Limit the feeble shots into the chest of the best shot blocker in the world.

Tomorrow off and then to the east coast for a couple games starting with the Running D'Antoni's as OKC takes on the Knicks (5-3) Friday night in Madison Square Garden.


Samuel said...

Yet another non-sellout in OKC. That makes 3 out of 5 home games. David Stern is going to look so stupid when April rolls around and the Thunder are drawing 10,000 people, just like they did in Seattle last year.

Dooney said...

I doubt that will happen, big guy... but you just keep hoping! Things are looking up in Seattle too, the Apple Bowl is quickly approaching!

keri said...

Welcome back Samuel

Samuel said...

How come you guys can't understand this? Unlike you guys, no one in Seattle really cares about college football. So all the Apple Cup taunts you keep throwing at me really mean nothing. Maybe it is because we are such a big league city and have always had professional sports instead. And I can GUARANTEE you that if we got a new NBA team after begging for one for years, we would sell out the first five home games.

Steve H said...

You are spot on about Mason's shot. I spent the better part of 06/07 cussing Des because of his wild-assed shot selection with the Hornets, and was delighted when they traded him. He flat out refuses to square up for a conventional jumper. With that said, I'm also happy to have him with the Thunder as a BENCH player who gives us solid defense, and is a truly good human being to serve as a mentor for our young'uns. Glad to see that Sene got a little burn last night. The sooner he and Swift can get in shape, the sooner we can be rid of Petro. I've read more grumbling in the Nawlins paper about their back-up PG's play- don't be suprised if we work something for James, Butler and a Pick for Watson and Wilcox. I'll be shocked Watson,Wilcox,or Petro are wearing Thunder blue next season regardless of their destinations. Kyle, the sooner you become a "next year" guy, the happier you'll be- so come on in, the waters warm.

Steve H said...

And welcome back Samuel! Your concern is appreciated, but there is really no need to worry about OKC's attendance- We were top ten in the league even after it was clear the Hornets were moving back to the Big Easy. We will finish in the top ten again this year with one of the leagues worst records, and from there it will only go up as our winning percentage improves.

Dooney said...

It's funny, Samuel, that you say no one cares about college football in Seattle. From the looks of it, no one cares about sports in general in Seattle... apart from you and anonymous that spend there time counting down the days until KD become a free agent. We know this for sure, he won't be going back to the Seattle area.

Samuel said...

The funny thing is, KD is more likely to end his career in a Sonics jersey than a Thunder jersey. Once we get a team from Memphis or New Orleans, we'll have a rich owner (10X as rich as Clay, Aubrey and Ward combined), a newly remodeled stadium, a far more desirable city than OKC, and a rich heritage of NBA basketball. Oh, and it can't hurt that Seattle is just a couple hours from Nike's headquarters (don't forget that, for all intents and purposes, Nike controls KD's life).

Anonymous said...

A fellow from Seattle sat next to me at the Ford Center last night. He was taking care of some business in OKC and in the process of moving to Dallas. Did not have a lot of good things to say about sports in Seattle. Was very happy with housing prices and cost of living in OKC and Dallas, had his house for sale in Seattle for 900,000, probably pay 250,000 for a larger house here. Said he would not miss he scenery in Seattle, said most of the year it was gray and dismal.

Maybe Seattle is not utopia after all.

Anonymous said...

Only if sports teams define quality of life. Maybe in OKC that's true. I'm always impressed by by people who tout low housing cost as a measure of city quality. All that illustrates is how few people want to live there.

Royce said...

Samuel, I don't think you realize that everyone in OKC is rooting for that scenario in Seattle. At least I am. Seattle deserves a basketball team and it's a shame the way it happened. But we love having one and it's not our fault for enjoying something.

I pray that there's a team in Seattle in a year or two. It will take all the pressure off us.

Anonymous said...

And I will pray that if there is a new NBA team in Seattle that they name them "The Royce's"

Conduct Awards

Anonymous said...

Royce, I appreciate the sentiment. But what I object to is the glib "it's not our fault for enjoying something" argument. Look - what happened in Seattle was a travesty. You can try to rationalize it, but at the bottom of your heart you know that Clay took advantage of the city and stole our team. If your opinion is "that's not our problem", then you are ignorant and deserving of blame.

I hate to analogize the NBA to the civil rights movement, but in the words of MLK: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." You ARE at fault, you ARE deserving of scorn, because you simply sat back and said "Hmm, this smells a little fishy, but we'll happily take the team anyway." Willful ignorance is no excuse.

Royce said...

So what do you want us to do? You want us to not go to games? You want us to send them team back? What did we do other than go to games? Why are we to blame?

You want Baltimore to gives Cleveland the "real" Browns back? Are Oakland fans to blame for taking away the Raiders from LA? Or what about the good people in Montreal that want their Expos back? Is that Washington D.C.'s fault?

Anonymous said...

Look, I'm not naive enough to think that Seattle is going to get the team back. The team is there, go ahead and enjoy it. But you are sorely misguided when you say "it's not our fault." You could have stopped this. You could have rallied in OKC and protested this atrocity, like we did in Seattle. Instead, you idly sat back and said "Sucks for Seattle, but I'm cool with it." Indifference to crime is crime itself.

Anonymous said...

Royce, how does it make you feel that you have more readers from Seattle than Oklahoma? You can't even compete with Darnell Mayberry for the OKC readership.

Anonymous said...

" I'm always impressed by by people who tout low housing cost as a measure of city quality. All that illustrates is how few people want to live there. ""

Haha dumbass, he's buying that house in Dallas ........ and plenty of people want to live in Dallas and OKC. Evidently you can't read nor comprehend.

Anonymous said...

Wait, who is the dumbass?

1) "Was very happy with housing prices and cost of living in OKC and Dallas"...he WAS bragging about OKC's low housing costs.

2)"Evidently you can't read nor comprehend." In non-OKC grammar, that sentence would read: "you can neither read nor comprehend."

Anonymous said...

Look at the little Seattle boys here, crying and whining, cause they got in a competition and lost.

Your call yourself sports fans yet you are afraid to compete and afraid of competition.

Sorry bud, if you slack on your job then some guy maybe younger and more ambitious than you will take your job from you.

If you slack on providing for your NBA team, some young energetic city with a vision and desire will take your team from you.

If your afraid to compete , get out of the arena.

If its too hot in the kitchen, get out and shut up.

You panzies. Its not OKC you need to be concerned with, its your fricken neighbors ....... you dumbasses don't even know who your enemies are.

Crying whining losers, thats why all your sports teams suck.

Anonymous said...

>>>>>>>>1) "Was very happy with housing prices and cost of living in OKC and Dallas"...he WAS bragging about OKC's low housing costs.<<<<<<

Housing prices in OKC and Dallas are the same, you dumbass.

You still don't get it.

Go whine and cry somewhere else, your all idiots.

Ohhh, and was that not proper grammer ....... sheeessss , what a fricken joke you whiners are.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, didn't know it was inappropriate to correct someone's grammar. But apparently it's OK to make fun of someone for not being able to "read nor comprehend."

Zorgon said...