Last week in Orlando, the Magic served notice that they weren’t afraid of Western teams in general and the Thunder in particular. This week in Oklahoma City, the message was repeated, perhaps a little bit louder. Orlando was up 69-62 halfway through; the Thunder response was a 36-23 third quarter. Still, they couldn’t shake the Magic, who shadowed OKC doggedly through the fourth quarter, and both Terrance Ferguson and Dennis Schröder fouled out. (And then Aaron Gordon of the Magic committed his fifth foul, chased down a zebra, and was rung up for a technical; his sixth foul followed quickly, and Russell Westbrook waved goodbye as Gordon departed the premises.) Half a minute to go, and the Magic had closed to within six. And then Evan Fournier fouled out. A lot of fouls, you say? You say truth; each side picked up 27 points at the charity stripe, with Orlando missing seven and the Thunder watched ten go by. That’s it for this series: with a 132-122 win over the Magic, the Thunder have swept them for the season.
Still, Orlando had plenty of firepower, with swingman Terrence Ross coming off the bench to snag 26 points. Fournier had 25, Gordon had 18, and the ever-dangerous (and now one-time All-Star) Nikola Vučević picking up 17. No Grant Brothers competition tonight: Jerian drew a DNP-CD, while Jerami put up a 19-11 double-double. He even outscored Westbrook, whose seventh consecutive triple-double (16-15-16) is starting to look almost ordinary. And Paul George? Thirty-nine points. (Which means PG-13 knocked down 76 against Orlando this year.) Before his unseemly departure, Schröder sprang for 20. And for the first time in 2019, two-way player Deonte Burton got three minutes to play, and a blank line to show for it.
We don’t know what awaits us when the Memphis Grizzlies arrive Thursday: both Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are reportedly about to be dealt. (Trade deadline? Thursday.) The Griz this season haven’t had much of the rabid-Tasmanian-devil quality that made them famous, but you never, ever know for sure.