I would have liked to provide video of the Serge Ibaka block that salvaged the win for OKC last night, but there was no video of the sort on youtube.
Either way, last night’s contest had the Thunder fanatic a little concerned towards the end.
I’m not surprised by it however. They were playing a team coming into Chesapeake Energy Arena with a 7-16 record. This game had “trapdoor” written all over it.
The 1st quarter started about how you’d expect. The Thunder opened strong with a 4-0 run, but the Magic just wouldn’t go away. At the 7:23 mark of the 1st, the Magic ripped off a 5-0 run that saw them claim a 3-point lead (14-11). With the lead still at 3 for the Magic (18-15) at the 3:11 mark, the Thunder closed the 1st with a 13-4 run that gave them a 6-point lead (28-22).
The 2nd saw quite a bit of back and forth as the Magic were trying to cut the lead. They even tied the game at 45 with 3:38 to play in the half. Luckily, the Thunder seemed to be in the business of closing quarters out well last night. They ripped of an 11-1 run that saw the Thunder take their first double-digit lead of the game (56-46) with 42.8 seconds remaining until halftime. Although the Magic were able to respond with a last-second 3-ball to close the half, the Thunder still entered halftime up 7 (56-49).
The 3rd quarter basically saw the Thunder playing the fast-paced style they’re notorious for playing. That’s what makes this Thunder team so hard to beat. It’s all of the young, fresh, fast sets of legs our squad features that frustrates other teams, because they either don’t have the foot speed, good footwork, or in some cases even the wind, to keep up. The Thunder had managed to build a 14-point lead (83-69) with just over a minute left in the third. And although the Magic hit a jumper to close the 3rd, the Thunder were entering the 4th quarter up 12 (83-71).
You could see last night that the 14-point lead was threatening to lull the Thunder to sleep. They did extend the lead to 16 (94-78) with just under 7:30 to play in the game. I’m sure the Thunder thought the win was locked down. The Magic, however, had other ideas. With about 6 minutes remaining in the game, and the Thunder still clutching a 16-point lead (96-80), the Magic go on an immediate 8-0 run to cut the lead to 8 (96-88) with just under 4:30 left on the clock. The Thunder managed a couple of quick buckets to re-extend the lead to 12 (100-88), then the Magic hit another run. This run was a 10-0 run that had brought the Magic to within 2 points (100-98) with only 22.3 seconds remaining. Luckily the Thunder were able to escape with a win, as Kevin Durant hits his second free throw, and Serge Ibaka blocks Nikola Vucevic’s lay-in attempt at almost literally the last second (1.3 seconds on the clock at the time of the block, to be exact). And you could see every Thunder player breathe a sigh of relief when the clock expired. They had just salvaged a 101-98 victory that moved them to 19-4 on the season, and dropped the Magic to a dismal 7-17. The Thunder are still unbeaten at “The ‘Peake” on the season, sporting a very nifty 12-0 record there.
Kevin Durant’s 28 points led all scorers to take the floor last night. Russell Westbrook notched the Thunder’s lone double-double with 20 points and 12 boards. And Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb provided the bench scoring for which they are becoming rather well-known (Lamb posted 16 points, Jackson dropped 10).
The Magic starters all had good performances. Nikola Vucevic had the lone double-double for the Magic (13 pts, 16 rebs), but every other starter finished in double-digits in scoring as well, led by Arron Afflalo’s 25. Victor Oladipo dropped 15, Jameer Nelson added 13, and Glen Davis posted 11. If you ask me, what killed it for the Magic was their lack of bench scoring. The entire bench for the Magic totalled 21 points, meaning the entire Magic bench was outscored by two Thunder bench players, as Jackson and Lamb combined for 26.
The Thunder head to Denver this Tuesday night for a match-up with the Nuggets at The Pepsi Center. Tip off is scheduled for 8pm CST, and will be broadcast via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA TV.