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News » THUNDER 102, MAGIC 74


THUNDER 102, MAGIC 74A Thunder -loving fan a few rows off the floor held up a little green vial and declared she had brought Kryptonite to counter Dwight Howard.

But it was no potion that felled Superman on Sunday night at the Ford Center.

The Thunder took a weakness and made it a strength. Took a disadvantage and made it an edge.

The Thunder routed Orlando 102-74 by neutralizing Howard, the NBA's best center.

Howard's monster game last November - 30 points, 19 rebounds, 10 blocked shots - resounded through memories Sunday night.

"I remember the blocked shots," said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. "It's virtually impossible to get 10 blocked shots."

But not even Superman can block shots if he doesn't guard the goal. The Thunder pulled center Nenad Krstic away from the basket and made Howard defend on the perimeter.

Krstic sank seven of 12 shots; five of his field goals were from at least 17 feet out.

"We had to use that advantage we had with Nenad," said the Thunder's Jeff Green. "With him knocking down shots, it made the basket a lot clearer."

The Thunder still learned their lesson. They attacked the basket with wisdom. Howard goal-tended the Thunder's second shot of the game - a floating 8-footer by Kevin Durant - and blocked none the rest of the game.

The NBA is all about matchups. A constant chess match. The Thunder's use of Krstic was the killer cross-over.

You would expect the Thunder to resort to brawny backup center Etan Thomas against Howard. But finesse worked just as well.

"You like to get the league's best shot blocker away from the basket," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He has to guard Nenad from 19 feet."

The depleted Magic, missing Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, was beaten at its own game. Orlando roared to the NBA Finals last June with a lineup of Howard and four 3-point shooters.

But the Thunder out-Orlandoed Orlando. Each team shot 16 3-pointers. The Thunder outscored the Magic 27-9 from beyond the arc.

Thabo Sefalosha made all three of his treys. Russell Westbrook made three of four. Durant was 2-of-6 and Green 1-of-2.

"We're not a big-volume 3-point team," Brooks said. "As we evolve, we have to put that into our game.

"The ball was not sticky tonight. That's great Basketball. We have to move the ball, keep everyone involved."

Mission accomplished. The Thunder had 27 assists with its 40 field goals.

Green and Krstic give the Thunder the ability to play like Orlando. Primarily because of Green, a power forward who, like Orlando's Lewis, is a solid 3-point shooter.

Van Gundy said the NBA is moving towards that kind of lineup, less ruffians, more skill.

"I think people are finding it's pretty effective to put shooters on the floor," Van Gundy said.

Especially when said shooters make Superman a little less super.

Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 12, 2009


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