Orlando Blows Past Short-Handed Thunder

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:14 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Feb 25, 2011 9:56 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

ORLANDO – Kendrick Perkins wasn’t even with the team on Friday, but the Thunder decided to go ahead and show off just how valuable he really is.

OKC desperately could have used Perkins to match up against the Magic in a 111-88 loss Friday night.

Orlando big man Dwight Howard tore Oklahoma City up, finishing with 40 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks.

Meanwhile, Perkins, Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed were back in Oklahoma City getting their physicals before they can join up with the team.

Howard once called Kendrick Perkins the player he most hated playing against. In Perkins’ eight-year career, he is perhaps best known for shutting down Howard in the Eastern Conference Finals, allowing the Celtics to advance to multiple NBA Championship Series.

But the Thunder were forced to manage without both Perkins and their new backup center and paid dearly for it.

Orlando did not waste much time, jumping out to a 19-7 lead on a layup from Howard.

OKC closed the gap back to four at one point in the second quarter, but a Magic run before the half gave them an 11-point lead going into the break.

Though the Thunder pulled to within eight or 10 points plenty of times in the second half, they never seriously threatened.

And the stats told a lot of the story. OKC started off 1-of-11 from the field and finished shooting only 33 percent.

Meanwhile, Orlando sat quite a bit higher at 50 percent, thanks in large part to plenty of dunks and layups from Howard in the post.

Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 23 and 16 boards and Russell Westbook added 18. James Harden and Daequan Cook stepped up, playing extended minutes after the departure of Jeff Green and had 16 and 15, respectively.

The three new Thunder players will be eligible to play on Sunday afternoon against the Lakers, but Perkins is still nursing a strained MCL and is listed as day-to-day.

Oklahoma City will host the Lakers at 1:30 p.m on ABC.