The Oklahoma City Thunder let top players James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Maynor, and D.J. White sit out today’s summer-league game against the Orlando Magic, but it didn’t cost them any. Point guard Mustafa Shakur announced his presence with a 21-point outing and hit the game-clinching three-pointer, giving the Thunder an 80-76 lead with 6.5 seconds to play to boost Oklahoma City to 3-1 this week and send the Magic reeling to 0-4; Orlando’s Paul Davis made a layup just before the buzzer to provide the 80-78 final score. Shakur did more than score, though: he also grabbed five rebounds, dished five assists, and recorded five steals in a brilliant performance.
Shakur, Kyle Weaver, and Ryan Reid each hit timely baskets for OKC, helping it to secure a 14-point lead in the second half. But the Magic battled back, once again on the strength of shooting guard Joe Crawford, who rather impressively dueled against New Jersey’s Damion James yesterday, with similar results. Crawford scored nine straight points in teh fourth quarter to bring Orlando to within two points at 71-69, and then found point guard Jerome Randle in transition for a three-pointer to give Orlando the lead. Crawford finished with 17 points on six-of-11 shooting in just 24 minutes.
Orlando can take heart in the fact that Oklahoma City had to make some tough baskets, and also benefitted from an extraordinarily high number of and-one chances. The Magic were not soundly defeated, but they were outplayed. That the Thunder got this win without its four best players here attests to the breadth and depth of their talent. Shakur loks like a legitimate NBA point guard, albeit a third-stringer, and he is scrapping for minutes just on their summer-league squad. There is a lot to like about what GM Sam Presti has assembled.
Orlando shooting guard Donell Taylor, who did not play yesterday, scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead his team. Though he isn’t much of an outside shooter, he can convert inside and in transition. Davis continues to look like a potential 13th man, with 15 points and five boards off the Magic’s bench today. His utility as a big man rolling to the cup in pick-and-roll situations may earn him an invitation to the Magic’s training camp.