Bethlehem Shoals of The Classical: “As for the rest of the league, it may be hampered by this lack of easy angles or predictable questions. But to some extent, this is the NBA, and its unwieldy embrace of action, at their most pure. If the doldrums of sports is a season that never lets up, never translates itself into sound bites, and dares the fan to keep up with an all-or-nothing stake built in, then maybe we’ll see just how well we can do without media hand-holding. And, to crib a phrase from the league itself, how much we love this game when there’s nothing but that night’s action staring back at us.”
ESPN Stats and Info: “Kevin Durant had minimal success in the first 4 trips to Orlando of his NBA career. He was held to 16 or fewer points in 3 of those games and his team lost all 4. This week he’s played there twice — once in the All-Star Game — and he scored 18 points in the 4th quarter alone. It looks like he’s more comfortable in Orlando.”
Darnell Mayberry on last night’s win: “There’s a ton more to say about this one. Royal Ivey’s contribution, Daequan Cook‘s wild journey to the free throw line, the Thunder’s solid rebounding, OKC’s respectable ball security, the Thunder’s 35-point fourth quarter…You can go on and on about this one. But the most important thing is the Thunder gutted out a road win in the fourth quarter for the second night in a row. OKC again showed its toughness and ability to win close games, even when nothing’s going right. This is how playoff games are won. Remember these come May.”
From Elias: “Dwight Howard scored 33 points in the Magic’s loss on Thursday night, but his opposing center gained a small measure of revenge by winning the battle of the boards against the NBA’s leading rebounder. Kendrick Perkins outrebounded Howard, 11-9, marking only the second time in 19 head-to-head starts that Perkins pulled down more rebounds than Howard. The first was more than six years ago, during Howard’s second season in the league.”
Today’s the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. So I made the argument Kobe’s 81 was better.
Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “But the Thunder, on the second night of an all-road back-to-back, turned the game in the fourth, ratcheting up the defensive intensity to such a degree that the Magic struggled to even get shots up, let alone good ones. And at the offensive end, the combination of Durant and reserve swingman James Harden, the runaway favorite for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, proved too much to handle. Harden got his by leaking out in transition, including one spectacular double-crossover and one-handed jam past a backpedaling Howard. Durant, meanwhile, did his thing in the halfcourt. The Thunder gave him the ball, spread out, and let him go to work. That’s all she wrote.”
Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball: “No question the final and most important test for the Magic came in the fourth quarter as Westbrook and Durant started to come on. Once they started scoring, OKC tightened up a bit, and Orlando found themselves only up four with just six minutes remaining in the game. Kevin Durant was simply too much, though, down the stretch. He hit some huge shots including a three-pointer in Hedo’s face and a one-legged fadeaway that we can just call the dagger.”
Mike Prada of SBN on OKC’s flaws: “The Thunder’s over-reliance on their big men to help stop dribble penetration and contest shots kills them on the glass. It forces a perimeter player to rotate down onto a big man once the shot goes up, and that’s why they have trouble securing defensive rebounds. It’s why, even in this era of pseudo-zone defenses with big men helping guards, coaches hate allowing dribble penetration.”