The Magic put out the warning early: they were going to shoot, to shoot often, and to hit more often than not. And for the most part they made it stick, too; it was well into the fourth quarter when Orlando’s shooting percentage finally dropped below 50 percent. But what enabled them to unravel OKC for those minutes was their ability to recover from “than not”; when the Magic needed second-chance points, they got them, thanks to an inconsistent Thunder defense. Still, down 18 at the beginning of the final frame, OKC fought back to within one point, 110-109. Then Enes Kanter committed his sixth foul, Victor Oladipo knocked down two free throws. Russell Westbrook came back with a layup, then fouled Aaron Gordon, who made both of his freebies; with 13.5 left, Kevin Durant evened it up at 114. Of course, the Magic were going to shoot, and Oladipo stepped back for a beautiful trey; Westbrook, manifestly unimpressed, banked one in from damn near 40 feet at 0.7, and then batted away the last Magic salvo. Overtime, something no one had expected 12 minutes ago, duly ensued. With 7.8 left in OT, it was Westbrook 9, Magic 6. Then Oladipo let one fly from the left corner, and the second overtime ensued. And just inside the 10-second mark, the Magic, down two, fouled Steven Adams, the Thunder player least likely to make two free throws. Adams promptly made two free throws. With six seconds left, the Magic got two shots at the cylinder, and both of them were swatted away; OKC escaped with a 139-136 win against an Orlando squad that was a hell of a lot better than most people seem willing to believe.
Seriously. All five Magic starters made double figures, with Tobias Harris picking up 30 and Victor Oladipo bagging a triple-double (21 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists). Nikola Vučević, manning the middle, had 26 points and five blocks. And four players finished with five fouls, indicating uncanny levels of restraint toward the end. What undid them, finally, was the sort of defense the Thunder didn’t show them until the fourth quarter — and which dropped their shooting percentage to 44.3.
Oh, and Russell Westbrook. Who started the night 2-11. He finished 17-36 with 48 points. And there was Kevin Durant, with 43 points and 12 rebounds. But look at the plus/minus, and there are two guys with +24: D. J. Augustin, who hit when he needed to (4-6, 12 points), and Dion Waiters, who couldn’t hit but somehow defended like a madman (seven rebounds, all defensive). Go figure.
Right about now, Billy Donovan is scratching his head and wondering what the hell it was he just saw. You may as well get used to it, pal: this is Thunder basketball, the leading cause of cardiac arrest in all of Soonerland. It resumes Sunday evening at home against Denver.