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Thunder's stars stand tall in win over Orlando Magic

by Berry Tramel Modified: January 14, 2011 at 9:40 am •  Published: January 13, 2011

Kevin Durant twisted past Hedo Turkoglu on the left wing, and here came Dwight Howard.

Superman swats away shots like a giant windshield wiper. Blocks them or sends them on wild-goose detours away from the rim.

Durant had to hurry. The shot clock was expiring, the game was in the balance, and all Orlando needed was a stop so that it could drain yet another 3-pointer and send the Thunder to defeat.

But on this Thursday night, with America's NBA fans watching on TNT, shots went in and stars stood tall.

Durant's floating 15-footer beat the clock, sailed over Howard's menacing hand and nestled in the basket with 8.1 seconds in one of the most rousing games in Oklahoma City's five-year NBA history.

That shot gave the Thunder a four-point lead, and OKC beat the Magic 125-124 in a monument to offensive efficiency.

“Obviously, we couldn't stop them,” said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. “They hit a lot of shots. They hit a ton of shots.”

Of course, the same could be said of the Magic, which made 14 of 28 3-pointers; got 39 points from Superman, a notoriously-bad foul shooter who made 17 of 20 from the line; and committed just five turnovers. And yet Orlando lost.

Durant made 13 of 17 shots and scored 36 points. Russell Westbrook made 11 of 22 shots and posted a triple double (32 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds). Against a team fifth in the NBA in scoring defense (93.3 points a game) and field-goal defense (43.9 percent), the Thunder scored 125 and shot 56.4 percent.

You know how we always call 89-78 games ugly? Then you have to anoint this one gorgeous.

The Thunder can't win like this come the playoffs. But on a cold January night, it was a lot of fun. And somewhat important.

Since routing the Bulls on Opening Night, the Thunder was 0-5 at home against the best teams in the league. Utah. Boston. San Antonio. Dallas twice.

Darnell Mayberry's game notes

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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