Welcome to the Russell Westbrook show.
With the rest of the Thunder playing pretty pedestrian ball, Westbrook had 18 first half points on 9-of-15 shooting to lead the Thunder to an 49-46 lead at the half.
You get the feeling a real barnburner of a second half awaits.
As expected, the Thunder came out with a lot of energy and a sense of desperation. OKC opened the game on a 13-3 run, getting looks they wanted and knocking down jumpers. The Heat were shooting jumpers, too, which is never good for them.
Westbrook keyed this with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The Thunder were up 33-19 after one.
But the Heat came back in the second quarter, winning it 27-16 behind some help from their role players — Mario Chalmers had 6 in the second quarter. LeBron James had 6, Dwyane Wade had 7 despite injuring his back on an awkward landing after a Serge Ibaka blocked shot. LeBron and Wade had 10 for the half. Durant has 12.
The second half is going to be another close one, like the last two games. But if it ends the same way the Thunder are in a lot of trouble.
Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:
Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.
Preseason is only just getting underway and there’s already a potentially serious injury to report. In the game between the Hornets and Magic on Saturday night, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Hornets announced that he was then taken to an Orlando-area hospital for follow-up x-rays:
A few hours after the game, the Hornets announced that Kidd-Gilchrist has a dislocated shoulder:
Depending on the severity of the injury, he could miss a few weeks or a few months. Hopefully, it’s the shorter end of that timeline. We should know more on Sunday.