Thunder Survive Late Orlando Magic Onslaught
Talk about a valiant effort. At no time during the Magic’s 101-98 loss to OKC did you ever think Orlando had a chance to steal a game in the best NBA arena atmosphere. Until the final minute of action. Afflalo’s 3-pointer cut OKC’s lead down to 4 with 31.9 seconds remaining. Oladipo and Harkless did a wonderful job pressuring Westbrook into a steal that led to a Maurice dunk and Orlando was within 2 points with 22.3 seconds left. Durant then splits free throws and the Magic had the ball down just 3 with thirteen seconds left.
And then Glen Davis attempted a 3-point airball when he shouldn’t have even been on the court. Not when you have Andrew Nicholson on your bench. Leaves a sour taste in any Magic fan’s mouth. Afflalo finished with 25 points and will hopefully raise his All-Star attention. Kevin Durant led all with 28 points while Russ Westbrook was four assists shy of a triple-double.
- OKC was 11-0 at home entering Sunday evening, and the Magic had not won on the Thunder’s home court since November 2008. This game marked the 100th consecutive sellout crowd at Chesapeake Arena.
- OKC came into the contest with the second best opposing field goal percentage at 41.9 FG%. The Thunder had shot a league-high 81.1% from the charity stripe, and their crowd has helped lead the league in opposing free throw percentage at 71.1 FT%. The final free throw tally? OKC 18-of-20 and Orlando 17-of-26. Yeah.
- Jameer Nelson picked up a technical at the 9:16 mark of the 1st period while he and Thabo Sefolosha got tangled up and exchanged words. As you’d expect from a Thunder game, this was 48 minutes of physical basketball. Nelson tallied 13 points and 8 assists.
- After not playing in that Cleveland loss on Friday, Maurice Harkless was the first pinstriped patrolman off the bench. He had the fun job of guarding Kevin Durant and Russ Westbrook whenever the Durantula sat to rest. Maurice finished with an underrated 7 points.
- The Magic trailed 22-28 after one period of play, but honestly Orlando was doing everything correctly…except allow 17 fast break points and little transition resistance (See Westbrook’s 12 points). Vucevic had 8 points and 8 rebounds. Thunder coughed up zero turnovers.
- Jeremy Lamb, coveted by Magic fans, was a huge bench boost with 12 points at the break. Keep in mind, the 21-year-old’s career-high is only eighteen. He would fall a bucket short of matching it.
- With 3:29 to go until halftime, Orlando managed to go on a 9-0 run to tie the contest at forty-five each with the Jameer-Afflalo-Harkless-Tobias-Vucevic lineup on the court.
- Scott Brooks’ club followed Orlando’s run with an 8-0 run of their own and fueled their way to a 56-49 lead at halftime. It would’ve been worse without that Nelson rainbow step-back 3-pointer. Vucevic had a double-double in the locker room. Ibaka’s foul trouble played a big factor. Too bad Nik would get very few second half touches, but he still notched 13 points and 16 boards.
- Glen Davis deserves credit for keeping the Magic alive thanks to some solid two-way third quarter hustling. Didn’t really matter as Orlando trailed 83-71 heading into the fourth. Durant is just freaking great.
- Kyle O’Quinn was also resurrected from death by bench and started the fourth period.
- I considered the contest over when Derek Fisher drilled a 3-pointer to put OKC up 16 points with 7:20 remaining. At least the Magic kept fighting.
- Glen Davis crash dove into the basket and looked to have hurt his left shoulder at the 2:15 mark. Hopefully it’s nothing lingering, but he did check in with 13 seconds remaining when maybe that wasn’t the best idea.
The 7-17 Magic complete their back-to-back in Chicago on Monday before flying back to O-Town for a 6-game home stretch to end the 2013 calendar year. Healthy Glen or not, Jacque will be awfully tempted to start Tobias against the Bulls. Harris had 8 points against the now 19-4 Thunder.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.