Thunder pound Magic as Durant leads way
Stan Van Gundy doesn't care how many players the Orlando Magic are missing. He still wants the rest to give their best.
Kevin Durant scored 28 points, Russell Westbrook added 17 points and 10 assists and the Oklahoma City Thunder ran away from the defending Eastern Conference champions in the second half Sunday night for a 102-74 victory.
"We're not a good basketball team right now. I've been saying that, but nobody's listening," Van Gundy said. "We're totally predicated on shooting. We do not have any kind of defensive mindset, we don't have much toughness and we're not very smart. So, right now we're not a very good team."
The Magic played for the fourth time this season without All-Stars Vince Carter (ankle) and Rashard Lewis (suspension), and also added Ryan Anderson (ankle) to their injured list. After a strong start, Orlando fell behind midway through the second quarter and never mounted a comeback.
"That's a team that plays with great intensity. I would like to see our team play with that," Van Gundy said. "We've had teams in the past the last couple years that have played with that. We don't now. We play very soft and not with much intensity. Quite honestly, until that changes, we're going to have a lot more games like that."
Oklahoma City raced out of halftime to score the first eight points, and then added a 9-0 spurt shortly thereafter to push its lead to 72-49 on Nick Collison's basket in the lane midway through the third period.
The Thunder removed any doubt with a run of 10 straight points in the fourth quarter, and coach Scott Brooks pulled the last of his starters after Durant's three-point play pushed the lead to 96-63 with just under 5 minutes remaining.
"All things were clicking for us tonight, especially on the defensive end," Durant said. "We've got to build on that and come back to work tomorrow."
Dwight Howard led the Magic with 20 points, Mickael Pietrus scored 15 and Jameer Nelson 10. Orlando shot just 37 percent and couldn't take advantage of a hefty advantage at the foul line, making just 21 of 34 attempts. The Magic drew 29 fouls against the Thunder while committing just 17.
After taking an early lead on the strength of Howard's inside presence, Orlando failed to score 20 points in any of the final three quarters and fell well short of its scoring average of 108.7 points - the third-highest mark in the NBA.
"Teams that play hard have a chance to get a lot better," Van Gundy said. "They're playing a lot harder at the defensive end of the floor than they did last year. We're playing a lot less hard, and so they're a lot better and we're a lot worse."
Nenad Krstic had 14 points and Thabo Sefolosha added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which shot 57 percent and went 9-for-16 from 3-point range while outrebounding Orlando 45-30. The Thunder came in shooting just 30 percent on 3-pointers.
"We're not a big volume 3-point shooting team, but I think as we continue to grow and evolve that we have to put that in our game," Brooks said.
Westbrook, Durant and Sefolosha connected on consecutive 3-pointers as Oklahoma City wiped away a four-point deficit and started to build a lead late in the first half. Sefolosha drilled another 3 and Durant followed it with a steal that led to a right-handed jam, and he stopped to pose for a moment after scoring the Thunder's seventh straight point.
"I call him Sniper now," Durant said of Sefolosha, who was 3-for-3 from 3-point range. "He's starting to hit the long-range 3-ball a lot. That's going to add another dimension to our team: a guy that they can't help off of too much."
Brandon Bass started in place of Anderson, who sprained his right ankle in the third quarter of Orlando's win at Detroit on Friday night. ... Krstic dislocated his left pinkie finger midway through the first quarter but returned to play. ... In his only visit to the Ford Center last year, Howard had 30 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks against the Thunder for his first career triple-double. "It's virtually impossible to get 10 blocks in a game, so that's really what stands out. I've seen him get 20-plus rebounds and score points, but 10 blocks is what stands out to me about that game last year," Van Gundy said.