The Oklahoma City Thunder, who were looking to keep their undefeated home record intact, welcomed the Orlando Magic to town on Sunday night. The Thunder were able to take care of business, winning 101-98. The matchup was the first of two this season, and was the Thunder’s fifth straight victory over their Eastern Conference foe.
The two seemingly went back and forth all night, trading run after run and bucket after bucket. The Thunder were able to pull away early in the fourth period, grabbing a 16-point lead which seemed insurmountable for the visiting Magic. However, the Magic answered, cutting the lead down to two late with a chance to tie the game up. A Glen Davis three came up short.
The Thunder were led by the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They combined for 48 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists on the night. Guards Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson joined Durant and Westbrook in double figures, finishing with 16 and 10, respectively. Big man Serge Ibaka found himself in foul trouble early, and was only able to play just over 20 minutes on the night, contributing a mere 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Unlike the Thunder, the Magic finished with a much more balanced offensive attack. Arron Afflalo led the team with 25 points, including a late three-pointer that got the team within four. Victor Oladipo, who tied his career high in Friday night’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, scored 15 points. Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic each added 13, while Vucevic grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds. Davis, who left briefly after appearing to hurt his shoulder, finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds.
Magic Game Notes
Free-Throw Shooting Hurts Magic
Simply put, YGTMYFT (you’ve got to make your free throws). On a night where points were at a premium, the Magic’s struggles from the foul line came back to bite them. While they had six more attempts than the Thunder, 26-20, they missed eight more, finishing 17-of-26 from the line, compared to 18-of-20 for Oklahoma City. The Magic have had problems getting to the line this season, but have usually been good with converting their chances when they do. The struggles really hurt the team, and need to be resolved if possible.
Slower Pace Hurts Magic
After scoring 26 fast break points on Friday night, the Magic were only able to muster 12 against the Thunder. Oklahoma City, on the other hand, was relentless, getting out in transition any chance they got and scoring 15 of their 27 fast break points in the first quarter. Coach Jacque Vaughn has previously talked about the Magic needing to run more so they can get easy buckets, but the Thunder’s ability to get back in transition limited the Magic’s options Sunday night.
Poor Interior Defense
The Magic were dominated inside tonight, especially inside the restricted area. The Thunder outscored the Magic 50-30 in the paint, including going 21-of-28 inside the restricted area. The Magic’s defense has been a problem for much of the season, but the Thunder dominating them inside is very worrisome. While part of it can be attributed to the Thunder’s ability to dribble-drive and score easily, some of this is also on the Magic. Defense has been one knock on center Nikola Vucevic, and the Thunder’s success inside can shed more light on his and the team’s struggles as a whole.
Stat of the Night
Oklahoma City outscored the Magic 89-57 in hustle categories.
Image courtesy of aaronisnotcool.