Orlando Magic v Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder crushes Magic, reminds you they are contenders


This game went pretty much like everyone expected.

The Oklahoma City Thunder looked like the contenders with Kevin Durant playing like an MVP candidate, the team playing balanced on offense and showing real depth with their second unit.

The Magic just looked confused. Dwight Howard looked off.

In the end that led to a blowout. It was a 97-89 final, but that was not indicitive of how convincing a win this was for Oklahoma City, which was up 18 after three.

Oklahoma City basically relied on the same system Atlanta used to knock Orlando out of the playoffs last year — if you have a big man who can defend Howard one-one-one and keep him in check you can shut down the Magic. Kendrick Perkins held Howard to 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting. The Thunder closed out at the arc and held the Magic to 28.6 percent from three. That’s your ballgame.

The other key was depth. Off the bench for the Thunder Nick Collison was +18, Eric Maynor +12, Nazir Mohammed +12 and James Harden +8 with 19 points (second best on the team).

I’m not sure we learned anything new here. We knew the Thunder were contenders and they looked the part. We had questions about the Magic and how the team would be built, how they and Howard would deal with the swirling trade rumors, and it didn’t look good.

One game does not a season make, but both teams lived up to expectations on Christmas.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
Leave a comment

Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

Leave a comment

China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.