In place of Darnell Mayberry’s typical postgame nuggets…
1. Forgettable win - With a majority of the sports world focused on the NFL and fixated on another Tony Romo fourth-quarter meltdown, it was a relatively uneventful and sleepy Sunday in The Peake. The Thunder played a generally unenergized game, hitting the inferior Magic with enough spurts to build and maintain a double-digit lead until the final minutes. Then Orlando hit some shots and OKC almost blew the game and its perfect home record. But it didn’t. So rack it up in the win column and move on.
2. Durant’s improved efficiency – Before the game, Kevin Durant was presented with the award for Western Conference Player of November. Then, he continued a dominant December that has been even better than his opening month. After a rough first quarter, KD went 10-of-14 shooting for 25 of his 28 points. Overall, he went 11-of-18 from the field and 2-of-3 from deep, improving to nearly 55 percent from the field and 52 percent from three in December. That’s a big bump up from the 45/36 percent clips he shot in November.
3. Lamb’s strong play - Jeremy Lamb went 7-of-10 for 16 points in 23 minutes on Sunday and it was just as impressive and impactful as it sounds. His motion looks effortless, his shot looks easy and his on-court mindset is getting more assertive by the game. You really couldn’t ask for much more from the 21-year-old to this point. He’s in such a groove: 24-of-38 shooting (63 percent) in the past four games and 41-of-75 (54 percent) this month. I’ll be writing about him for Tuesday’s paper.
4. Home dominance - Despite some unneeded late drama, the Thunder improved to 12-0 at home this season, the first team to accomplish that feat since the LeBron-led Cavs in 2008 (although the Pacers are currently 11-0 at home and playing the Pistons in Indy tomorrow). Impressive streak and one that could go on awhile. But looking forward to the next week, all the intrigue will be away from OKC (at Denver on Tuesday, at San Antonio on Saturday). And although OKC is a respectable 7-4 away from home, none of those wins came against a team that currently has a winning record.
5. Highlights - The game highlights are below. My favorite play comes at 0:44, when Russell Westbrook flies in for a perfectly timed tip-in off a Kendrick Perkins missed free throw. Westbrook finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds on Sunday, his fourth double-double in five games.
Some intriguing conference matchups for OKC before the end of December: