Eight down, 74 to go. Lord, have mercy on our souls. Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo insists his team is better than a year ago, but the numbers look painfully familiar.
Last season, the SuperSonics were 0-8 and lost to Orlando in the eighth game. This season, the Thunder is 1-7 and lost to Orlando in the eighth game. The Magic posted a 109-92 rout Wednesday night before a crowd of 18,185 at the Ford Center as Orlando center Dwight Howard showed he indeed is Superman with 30 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocked shots for his first career triple-double. Thunder guard Kevin Durant was out with a bum ankle, but him being out there wouldn’t have changed the outcome. The Magic jumped out early, shot 54.2 percent in the first half and led by 32 early in the third quarter. When Carlesimo spoke of his team’s improvement before the game, he spoke of defense. Not so afterward. "I wouldn’t call it bad defense,” Carlesimo said of trailing 71-42 at intermission. "I would call it no defense.” Carlesimo opted to not praise a single player and instead offered, "We’re all (thrown) under the bus tonight.” The Thunder also is the gang that can’t shoot straight. As poorly as the Sonics shot it last season (44.4 percent), the Thunder is shooting even worse this season, dead last in the league at 40.0 percent. Six players are shooting worse than they shot last season. Earl Watson, Chris Wilcox and Damien Wilkins are all significantly lower. Rookie Russell Westbrook is shooting 29.0 percent from the floor. At least Watson has an excuse. He had five pins inserted to the thumb in his shooting hand last summer. Surgery was July 3 and he wasn’t expected to be healthy enough to start playing until early December.