Oklahoma City Thunder 97, Orlando Magic 89

Kevin Durant scored 30 points, grabbed five rebounds, and recorded six assists in leading his Oklahoma City Thunder to a 97-89 win against the Orlando Magic on Sunday evening, keeping Orlando winless in franchise history in Christmas Day games played on the road. Ryan Anderson scored 25 points and made six three-pointers to lead Orlando in scoring, and Jameer Nelson added 18 points and six assists, but the Magic could not find consistent offense when they needed it, contributing to the defeat.

Orlando opened the game by jumping out to an 18-11 lead, fueled by 8-of-9 shooting from the field. It then missed 14 of its final 15 shots of the first period, allowing Oklahoma City to take a lead it would not relinquish. The first quarter's wasn't the only miserable offensive drought the Magic suffered, either, as they missed 13 straight shots between the third and fourth quarters, going nearly 12 full minutes of game time without a basket.

The Magic trailed by as many as 17 points, but battled back in the late third and early fourth quarters to make the game interesting again, finally forcing Oklahoma City to take difficult shots. Coach Stan Van Gundy found an unlikely spark off the bench in Von Wafer, who scored nine points on 2-of-2 shooting (5-of-5 from the foul line) in his nine fourth-quarter minutes. Wafer put the ball on the floor, attacked the basket, and got ahead of the ball in fast-break situations, giving Orlando some much-needed offensive dynamism.

Team Pace Efficiency eFG% FT Rate OReb% TO Rate
Magic 92.6 96.1 42.0% 25.9 31.1 19.4
Thunder 92.6 104.7 54.2% 26.4 16.3 18.4
Green denotes a stat better than the team's 2010/11 average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's 2010/11 average.

Wafer's performance contrasted sharply with that of starter Jason Richardson, who shot 1-of-10 for two points in defeat. Defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha, Richardson's counterpart at shooting guard, sorely outplayed him. When fifth options handily outplay Orlando's second, victories will be hard to come by.

The same holds true for when Dwight Howard does not get involved. Though he hauled in 15 rebounds, Orlando's superstar shot just 4-of-12 from the field and 3-of-8 from the foul line. Even discounting one of his shot attempts--a heave from well beyond midcourt to end the first quarter--it's a poor showing from Howard. Thunder centers Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed, who have experience defending Howard from their time spent in the Eastern Conference, leveraged him away from the basket on post-ups and made him work exceptionally hard just to get a shot off. And with nobody except Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu able to knock down an outside shot--those two combined for 8-of-17 shooting on three-pointers, while the rest of the team was 0-for-11--Orlando found its offense stymied.

The Magic return to action Monday night against the Houston Rockets.

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