Thunder 117, Magic 104
Nuggets from my notebook from Friday’s win over the Magic.
- Scott Brooks used the word focus seemingly 15 times in his postgame press conference. The Thunder coach was not happy with the way this win came about.
- “Our focus was inconsistent throughout the game,” Brooks said. “We pride ourselves on being more focused throughout the game and every possession but that wasn’t the case tonight. It’s something that we have to get better with…We missed layups. We missed free throws. Our focus wasn’t there throughout the game.”
- From that standpoint, this classifies as a pretty disappointing night. The win was good, but the way it happened was largely unacceptable.
- Orlando, record wise, is the second worst team in basketball. This game should have been over by halftime.
- The Thunder led by as many 27 points midway through the second quarter. The next 27 minutes was anything but Thunder basketball. There were turnovers, scoring droughts and, worst of all, deficient defense.
- OKC committed 11 of its 18 turnovers in the second half.
- The Thunder missed 14 of 43 free throws.
- OKC gave up 56 points in the paint.
- And the Thunder allowed 58 points in the middle two quarters.
- “We won,” said Russell Westbrook when asked if he was disappointed his team nearly blew a 27-point lead.
- Kevin Durant: “I’m not disappointed in a win. We never try and take those for granted because I remember when we weren’t winning games. Of course we could be a little bit better. But we can’t take a win for granted.”
- The win put the Thunder at 49-17. Last year’s 66-game schedule finished with the Thunder going 47-19. That probably doesn’t mean anything at all. Just thought you’d be interested.
- Serge Ibaka provided the play of the game. With 4:32 left to play, Ibaka stepped up and finally put out the spark that was Jameer Nelson. Ibaka, of course, did it with a block. It came as Nelson drove down the lane looking for a layup that would have cut the Thunder’s lead to three.
- That block by Ibaka sparked the Thunder and ignited the crowd. The ricochet landed in Thabo Sefolosha’s hands, and Sefolosha squirted up the court with KD filling the lane. Sefolosha fired a look-away, cross-court pass to KD, who finished with a reverse layup that put OKC back up by seven. It was the start of a 13-5 run the Thunder closed the game on.
- Orlando started with Arron Afflalo on Westbrook, another show of respect for Westbrook by the opponent. The Magic put Nelson on Sefolosha. Didn’t matter. Westbrook scored 23 points with six rebounds six assists.
- With 7:02 remaining in the opening quarter, Ibaka got raked across the face by Afflalo while going up for a lay in. Before stepping to the line, Ibaka had to repeatedly wipe at his face to make sure that swelling above his right eye didn’t begin bleeding. In case you missed it, he fell face first into Tim Duncan’s knee brace Monday night at San Antonio.
- Is it me or has Tony Brothers officiated about 23 Thunder games this year?
- I loved Moe Harkless at St. John’s. I think he has a chance to be a really good player. Felt bad for him having to check KD and K-Mart, though. A year ago he was just an 18-year-old college freshman learning how to play with continuous aggressiveness. Tonight, he was up against two of the best scorers in basketball.
- Al Harrington must be on that Eddy Curry diet.
- No Hasheem Thabeet tonight. He was held out with a sore back.
- With no Thabeet, Perry Jones III got some early burn, checking in for the first time with 1:45 left in the first quarter. His rebounding stood out most. With his length, Jones just has an incredible ability to keep plays alive and keep the opponents’ paws off offensive rebounds. PJ3 also showed that he can be a terrific finisher, probably already better than any of the team’s other big men. Unfortunately, because it was the Magic everything PJ3 did has to be taken with a grain of salt.
- PJ3: “I felt comfortable thanks to the vets talking to me and getting me ready. They knew Hash wasn’t playing before I did. So they’ve definitely been preparing me since shoot-around today.”
- More from PJ3: “Just do the little things, defend and rebound. That’s something I can help the team with.”
- Reggie Jackson had a breakaway early in the second quarter after coming up with a nice steal. And after settling for a soft dunk Wednesday when he had a similar run-out, Jackson tried to get a littler fancier this time. He slowed up near the 3-point line, gathered his footsteps and winded up for a windmill. When he brought it back, he impressively put it down with two hands. But just barely. Would have been pretty embarrassing had he botched it.
- Along those lines, I was talking to PJ3 about when he’s going to break out something fancy on a breakaway. Next time you get a chance, watch the stuff he does in warm-ups. It’s unreal. He said he’s just waiting for the moment and won’t shy away from doing something special unless it’s a close game.
- KD missed two of his first three free throws. K-Mart then missed his first two foul shots. That’s two 90 percent free throw shooters.
- The Thunder’s bench outscored the Magic’s reserves 38-6. Again, since it’s the Magic that doesn’t hold much weight.
- Perk picked up a tech with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter. It was sort of a shocking call. Tony Brothers (yeah, him again) called Perk for smacking Nikola Vucevic across the face following a shot attempt. It’s impossible to tell whether it was intentional or incidental contact as Perk tried to sell the foul. At any rate, it’s Perk’s 12th tech this season, tying him with KD for the team lead.
- Ronnie Brewer couldn’t get off the bench tonight. That won’t make the Brewer bandwagon happy.
- For the second time this season, the Thunder didn’t have a single shot blocked. It also happened in the home win against Cleveland.
- Up next. At Dallas on Sunday.
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