“Pathetic” Defense Late Spells L-O-S-S, Thunder Defeat Magic 105-102


Leading by 11 after the 3rd quarter it looked the Magic were going to cruise to one of their best victories of the season. 35 Oklahoma City 4th quarter points later, and it was just another loss against an elite team.

"Stan Van Gundy postgame, “If we had one good defensive possession in the 4th, then I missed it.”"

Kevin Durant was “held” to 20 points through the 3rd quarter, but never went to the bench through the entire second half and finished with 38 points including an off balanced jumper off one foot with 52 seconds left that sealed the come from behind victory for the Thunder.

The “pathetic” defense, as Stan Van Gundy called it, was compounded by a complete lack of offense. Orlando scored just 9 points in the first 9 minutes of the 4th quarter while giving up 23 in that same span. The Thunder killed the Magic running pick and rolls and the defense failed to adjust. Van Gundy even switched his team to a zone defense late in the game only to see his players either over rotating or not rotating at all. OKC quickly shot Orlando out of that tactic.

For Orlando, the loss is a real disappointment. The first three quarters saw some of the finest team basketball the team has played in quite some time. When you factor in the opponent, there was much to be encouraged by. Through the first 36 minutes, the performance by the Magic screamed “please please please don’t trade me Otis”. The final 12 minutes just justified why Otis must make a trade.

Coming into the game, Van Gundy said his team had to do 3 things to beat this Thunder team.

  1. Be better in transition: The Thunder outscored the Magic in fastbreak points 16-13, but it’s safe to call that a win for Orlando which ranks near the bottom in the league in transition scoring.
  2. Keep the Thunder away from the rim: Again, the Magic did this rather successfully for the majority of the night. OKC scored 40 points down low, but took only 28 shots in the paint compared to 42 attempts in the paint for Orlando. The difference is that OKC converted on 20-26 whereas Orlando converted on only 26-42.
  3. Keep the Thunder off the free throw line: Through 3 quarters, OKC was just 9-13 from the line. In fact, they didn’t take their first free throw until midway through the 2nd quarter. In the 4th though, OKC shot 12-14 from the line. That’s right, more than the first 3 quarters combined.

Fourth Quarter Collapse.

More news, notes, tidbits, analysis and rambles below:

  • Quentin Richardson was sidelined for  the second straight game with a strained right Achilles. DeAndre Liggins and Earl Clark filled in his absence with spot minutes guarding Durant and Harden. Neither had great success which resulted in Hedo playing 37 minutes.
  • Dwight Howard had possibly his quietest 33 point scoring night of the season. He played outstanding defense the entire game, but unfortunately didn’t get help from this teammates at the end.
  • I encourage you to read Stan Van Gundy Showing Patience Off the Court – At Peace With What’s Ahead.
  • Balanced scoring continued for Orlando tonight as they had all 5 starters score in double figures. Coming into the night, when the Magic had 5+ players score in double figures, they were 15-2 this season. Revised: 15-3.
  • Jameer Nelson had a strong game for the Magic and played aggressively for most of the night. Despite putting up 15 points and 9 assists, he was mightily outplayed by the All-Star Russell Westbrook who finished with 29 points and 10 assists. From good to great.

The Magic will need to recover quickly as they are back in action on Saturday night against our good friends, the Bucks.

Brian Serra is the publisher of Magic Basketball Online and Howard the Dunk’s Associate Editor of Cheerleader Harassment.