Thunder Sneaks Past Orlando

Friday, March 22nd 2013, 10:45 pm
By: News 9

Kevin Durant referred to Oklahoma City's trip to Orlando as a ‘must-win game' following the Thunder's overtime loss at Memphis.

The Thunder got the win on Friday night but the team didn't play with the sense of urgency Durant's comments foreshadowed, as OKC sleep walked to a 97-89 victory against a vastly undermanned Orlando squad.

The win ended a two-game skid against the Nuggets and Grizzles but many of the faults seen in the past two outings showed up again in Orlando. Oklahoma City cruised out to a 14-point halftime lead but fell asleep at the wheel in the second half.

The Magic opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run and eventually clawed back to tie the game at 62 on a Moe Harkless 3-pointer.

OKC charged back to create some distance, regaining a six-point advantage, but it would be wiped away as Orlando took its first and only lead at 78-76 on a Beno Udrih jumper with 7:29 remaining.

After Udrih's shot, the Thunder's superstars had seen enough. Russell Westbrook scored OKC's next seven points and the duo of Westbrook and Durant scored the Thunder's final 21 points of the game to seal the victory.

It was a valiant effort from the Magic, which was playing without center Nikola Vucevic, who missed the game because of a concussion. The team was also without forward Hedo Turkoglu because of a suspension. Things really got tough for the Magic when Arron Afflalo was injured chasing a loose ball early in the second quarter.

Despite the severe disadvantages facing the Magic coupled with the team's abysmal 18-52 record, a full-strength OKC squad struggled to put them away.

Oklahoma City's play the past few games has been inconsistent and sloppy, particularly on defense and with shot selection, but Durant's late-game scoring burst and huge defensive effort from Serge Ibaka got the Thunder back in the win column.

Durant finished with a game-high 25 points on 7-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

Ibaka was a one-man wrecking crew with 14 points, 13 rebounds and five of the Thunder's 11 blocks, many of which came in the fourth quarter as OKC began to distance itself late.

Russell Westbrook has a streaky game for the Thunder. Westbrook missed his first six shots and then made seven straight before missing his final four attempts to finish 7-of-17. He also added nine assists and six rebounds.

Kevin Martin came up big off the bench with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 3-of-6 from 3.

The team's 3-point shooting woes continued on Friday night, as OKC hit just 5-of-21 from deep; all five makes came from Durant or Martin. The rest of the team went 0-for-12.

Harkless led the Orlando with 25 points and Jameer Nelson chipped in 16 as the Magic lost its sixth-straight game.

OKC improved to 51-19 with the victory and will return to Oklahoma City to face Portland on Sunday at 6 p.m.