Orlando Pro Summer League: Oklahoma City Thunder 88, Orlando Magic 77

In what turned out to be a mostly lopsided contest, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Orlando Magic, 88-77, in the teams' debuts at the Orlando Pro Summer League. Thunder second-year point guard Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 22 points, punishing the Magic's slap-happy big men by connecting on 16 of his 18 free throw attempts. Ryan Anderson led Orlando with 21 points--17 after halftime, on 6-of-8 shooting--but it wasn't enough to compensate for the Thunder's large edge in talent.

The Magic started Russell Robinson and Maurice Ager in the backcourt, with Anderson and Jeremy Richardson at the forwards, flanking the 6'09" Darian Townes at center. And honestly, they played well for the most part. The thing with summer league is that winning isn't really the ultimate goal, but rather to see which players have which skills, and how that player can integrate into the system the team has in place. This isn't an issue for the Oklahoma City squad, which is loaded with guys who will make the big-league team. But for Orlando, with Anderson as the only man with a guaranteed deal? A little bit rougher go of it, yeah.

The Thunder led by as many as 15, with the Magic snagging the lead only twice, and never by more than a single point. Once Westbrook made up his mind to drive the ball, and once third overall selection James Harden heated up, the Thunder really didn't look back. They coasted, in fact, not that I can blame them. The Magic looked like a group that hadn't played together before--how about Ryan Anderson spinning right into Darian Townes as Anderson made his move to score in the low post?--while the Thunder have some familiarity with one another.

Disappointing? Well, maybe. You'd like to score more than 9 points in the first quarter of a summer-league game. But the Magic shook off that early slow start, made a bit of a run, and gave solid effort from top-to-bottom. Their roster hopefuls lost to the mid-to-back end of the Thunder's regular season rotation, which is to be expected. Nothing of which to be ashamed.

After the jump, a look at how the Magic's individual players did.

  • Ager was arguably the most active player for either team on the floor. You can't fault his passion, that's for sure. Skills? That's fair game. John Hollinger's assessment of him on ESPN.com is hysterically funny, but also accurate. Ager made a name for himself at Michigan State as a scorer, but that hasn't translated in the NBA. Today, he shot 3-of-8 for 9 points, with 3 fouls and 5 turnovers. Just a bit too aggressive. His athleticism is a plus, though, as he was able to convert some difficult finishes in traffic on the fast break. Still, based on his horrid NBA career so far, it's hard to lobby for his inclusion on the Magic's final roster. Can't fault the effort, though, as I said.

  • Lance Allred only played 7 minutes tonight, the lowest total of any Magic player. He missed all 3 of his shots and grabbed just 1 rebound. Wholly unproductive. He doesn't appear to have much upside. Of the Orlando big men who saw the court today, he was probably the least impressive.

  • Anderson needed some time to work into a rhythm. He scored only 4 points in the first half, missing all 6 of his shot attempts, including a three-pointer he airballed short and to the right. After that shot, he winced, looked skyward, clapped his hands together, and said, "Wow," in an exasperated tone. Maybe a bit jittery. In the second half, he kicked whatever might have bothered him in the first. 17 second-half points for Anderson, who showed his shooting stroke as well as his passing ability. He's not Kevin McHale or anything in the high post, but he makes pretty good reads and delivers crisp feeds to cutters. I like that much.

  • Brian Chase, the 5'10" point guard, played 21 minutes off Orlando's bench. A competent finisher in transition, especially at his size, and the team's best playmaker with 4 assists, but he didn't bring much else to the table. As someone who'll turn 28 in training camp, his upside is limited. A good effort today, but he's not a guy I can envision the Magic keeping around for the long haul.

  • Richard Hendrix, whom I favored before camp began, looked like someone worth retaining as a potential replacement for Marcin Gortat (who was in attendance today, incidentally). An active, athletic, big man, Hendrix made the most of his 15 minutes: 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, 4 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot. If we're honest, the center/power forward positions are Orlando's weakest right now. Sure, the Magic are fishing for players of that ilk in free agency, and they might land one. Either way, Hendrix is a guy worth keeping around, in my estimation. Very active, very smart. Big, too, and he's only 22. This is a guy to watch in the coming days.

  • Jeremy Pargo went undrafted out of Gonzaga this year, perhaps because he's more of a two guard trapped in a point guard's body (6'02", 220 pounds), like his brother Jannero. Interestingly, the Magic often elected to play Pargo at the two next to either Chase or Robinson. 2 points, 1 board, 1 assist, 2 turnovers in 11 minutes for Pargo, who hardly registered out there, but who is nonetheless worth a few more looks as camp continues.

  • Richardson? I actually like him, inefficient offense and all. 19 shot attempts, with 0 assists and 5 turnovers, and 18 points, for Richardson. Not a surprising line, given how often we joke about his tendency to shoot. Thing is, he's in the NBA to shoot. That's supposedly his specialty, so we shouldn't really bust on him for it. He gave an impressive effort today, with 11 rebounds. If he could connect more frequently on his two-pointers, he could crack an NBA rotation. He probably makes the most sense for the Magic to sign out of camp, as he's familiar with the team and fills a role as the "break glass in case of emergency" wing player.

  • Robinson played 27 minutes, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the rest of his line. 1 shot attempt, 2 assists, 2 steals, 5 fouls, and a turnover. It took him 27 minutes for that? It's not as though he was some sort of disaster--he looked like an energetic, capable defender--but one would certainly expect more from a starting point guard in summer league.

  • Finally, Darian Townes, a pleasant surprise in his starting center role. He played just 20 minutes, but scored 8 points and grabbed 6 boards (5 offensive) while generally throwing his weight around and being a nuisance in the low post defensively. He's listed at 250 pounds, but could very well be more than that. Based on one game, I wouldn't elevate him above Hendrix on the big-man pecking order yet, but it's something to consider as the week goes by. The fact that he starts, and not Hendrix, might tell us something of the Magic's thoughts about both players.

Were it not for the rough start, the Magic might have given the Thunder a bit of a scare today. They have an even more daunting task in front of them tomorrow as they take on the Boston Celtics, who laid an 87-56 hurtin' on the Utah Jazz today, at 3 PM. Eddy and I will be there.

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