The Oklahoma City Thunder routed the Orlando Magic on the road, 127-99. Following the Thunder's win over the Warriors last week, the game vs the Magic was a critical mental test. Many times this season the Thunder have looked to turn the corner, only to regress at inopportune times. Because of this, the win over the Magic was perhaps the best evidence we've seen thus far this season that OKC is remembering how well they can play. The Thunder opened the game 13-0 and never looked back.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
It is amazing how good the Thunder can be when they have a game plan and execute it. Right from the get-go, they showed that they are confident running the offense through the high post with Steven Adams, and Adams responded with both assists to cutters as well as strong finishes at the rim. While we would still like to see more of this throughout the game, the effect that it has on the offense is remarkable. Instead of relying on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to initiate everything, it allows them both to move without the ball, where they are virtually unguardable.
The net result is that when the offense gets itself moving toward the rim, all sorts of offensive pockets open up. Waiters and Serge Ibaka got open jumpers all night long, which propelled the Thunder to a hot shooting night. While the Thunder still have a propensity to shoot early in the shot clock, the fact that they've incorporated this kind of offensive motion means that those jumpers are now uncontested instead of requiring considerable work just to get a bad shot off.
Lastly, what was most remarkable is how easily the Thunder took control of the game. Granted a big part of it was their hot shooting in the first half, but by and large it came within the general flow of the offense and not Durant or Westbrook going on heart-stopping individual runs. Combine that with a defense that held the Magic to under 40% shooting and it was surprising yet not too surprising that OKC led by 34 points at halftime.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
En lieu of any actual analysis, I'm just going to show this video clip from the classic movie, Swingers.
When this Thunder team remembers how good they can be with a little bit of game planning and a lot of execution, they reach a level maybe no other team in the league can reach.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 21 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists in 21 minutes
Thunder Down Under: Dion Waiters, 16 points on 7-9 shooting, 2 assists, 2 steals
Thunder Blunder: none
Thunder Plunderer: Victor Oladipo, 23 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists
Next game: @ Miami Heat on Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 6:30PM CDT