The last Orlando-Oklahoma City game was an offensive show: the Thunder rolled up 73 points in the first half and then fought back a Magic rally. But that was a whole week ago. This time, it was only 47-34 at the half in front of a crowd of enthusiastic Floridians (plus Rebecca Black hey, it’s Friday), but the story unwound much the same way. At the 3:55 mark, it was tied at 86; Kevin Durant outscored Orlando 6-2 over the next three and a half minutes, and the Thunder pulled away for a 97-89 win. “We didn’t play very well,” said Nick Collison afterwards, but a W is a W.
Hedo Türkoğlu is still gone, of course, and the injury situation for Orlando was somewhere beyond serious: Nikola Vučević was unwell, and Arron Afflalo pulled a hamstring in the second quarter. The younger guys did step up, though: Maurice Harkless knocked down 25 points and hauled in nine boards; Tobias Harris posted one of two Magic double-doubles (ten points, 15 rebounds), the reliable Jameer Nelson (16 points, ten assists) recording the other.
What Scott Brooks is thinking, though, is probably something like this: “You guys missed more free throws than they made.” Which is true: Orlando went 8-10 from the stripe, OKC 24-33. He would likely agree, though, that this was a good night for Serge Ibaka to be back at 100 percent: 14 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks. The Russell and Kevin Show delivered the usual quota of offense, Westbrook scoring 19 and Durant 25; for a change, two bench players (Collison and Kevin Martin) finished in double figures. And the Thunder’s three-point mojo isn’t back, technically, though 5-21 is better than they’d been doing of late, and nobody not named Kevin would hit one.
Next two games at home: the Trail Blazers on Sunday, the Wizards on Wednesday. (Friday and Saturday they’ll be in the Frozen North, against Minnesota and Milwaukee.)