So much is said by this simple tweet:
I'll issue a BLOWOUT WATCH FOR OKC TONIGHT, but remember, kiddos, it's a Thunder 4th quarter. Anything can happen.
— Judge Radar (@OKCNightCourt) February 3, 2015
OKC was in fact up as many as 22 during the third quarter, but the Magic didn’t start to fade until halfway through the fourth, when Nikola Vučević fouled out. At the time, he was Orlando’s leading scorer, with 20; Victor Oladipo eventually passed him. Just the same, the Magic kept pressing, and pulled to within seven in the waning moments. Still, it was an Oklahoma City win, 104-97, a sweep of the season series, though the Blowout call obviously never came.
The Magic, who’ve lost nine straight, were not punchless: they outrebounded OKC 44-40, including 14-8 off the offensive glass. During that late run, they pulled their scoring percentage up to 42 percent, and of their six treys (out of 23 attempts), four came in the fourth quarter. Five Orlando players reached double figures, led by Oladipo with 22; Tobias Harris came up with 18, and Willie Green added 13 from the bench. Still, the Magic blocked only one shot, and thereby hangs a tale: Mitch McGary, in his first appearance since ever, came on in the last minute, put up one shot, and Kyle O’Quinn (11 points) knocked it away.
Still, the Thunder did a decent job of scoring, despite the absence of Kevin Durant, whose toe is acting up again. Russell Westbrook got most of the glory with a triple-double, 25 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Dion Waiters got the start in place of KD, and turned in a 24-point performance. Both Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams were hitting tonight, 16 points and three blocks from Ibaka, 12 points (on seven shots!) from Adams. Anthony Morrow led the reserves with 15; for the first time in recent memory, Reggie Jackson scored zilch.
So it’s back to .500 again, two games behind the Pelicans. By some quirk of scheduling fate, the next two games are against the Pelicans, Wednesday night in New Orleans, then Friday back at the ‘Peake. And you have to figure that the Sea Birds will be on an emotional high, having tonight cleaned Atlanta’s clock, 115-100, to end the Hawks’ 19-game winning streak. It doesn’t get any easier, folks.