Westbrook, Durant Lead Thunder Past Magic in 2OT

By on October 31, 2015
Oct 30, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) drives to the basket as Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) defends during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant (35) drives on Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9). (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO, Fla – The Orlando Magic welcomed Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder into the Amway Center on Friday, losing 136-139 in a double OT thriller. Durant and his All-Star teammate Russell Westbrook combined for 91 points, willing their team to victory down the stretch. The Magic led by as many as 18 points – controlling the game through three quarters – but allowed 42 in the fourth quarter to set up a Thunder comeback.

The Orlando Magic’s schedule paves a tough road for second year point guard Elfrid Payton. Sandwiched between guarding John Wall (last Wednesday) and Derrick Rose (this Sunday) came Friday’s matchup with reigning NBA scoring champion Russell Westbrook. It would prove a steep task indeed, as Westbrook’s 48 points would attest. As if the raw numbers weren’t enough, Russell hit a game-tying three at the end of regulation – launching it from the blue Magic basketball painted at center court.

The Magic started off hot and looked as if they were never going to cool down, leading by four at the end of the 1st, and 15 at the half. They were moving the ball seamlessly with the selfless mentality that has become this team’s trademark when they play well. Big men Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 30 and 26 points respectively, and the team dished out 25 assists – led by Victor Oladipo’s 10.

In a game with only 2 lead changes, one would expect far less drama. Up 18 at the start of the 4th quarter, head coach Scott Skiles admits that his team’s mentality changed going into the fourth period, “It did (change). It’s the second game in a row…when it gets tight, we’re not fully trusting that. Not trusting each other.”

A big part of the Thunder’s comeback was the elevated play of stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. This was the first instance of NBA teammates scoring more than 40 points each since the ’85-’86 season when Jordan and Pippen accomplished the feat. Westbrook scored 27 of his 48 points in the 4th quarter or overtime of Friday night’s game, and Durant led all scorers through three, finishing with 43 points. “We’re not at a point yet where we can make very many in-game adjustments.” Said Skiles on defending the duo “We needed to make some adjustments tonight. We tried to make one with about four minutes to go, and we just couldn’t do it tonight.”

Riding the momentum from Westbrook’s clutch three, the Thunder grabbed the lead at the beginning of the first overtime and never looked back. The Magic proved, however, that they wouldn’t go down without a fight. In the waning seconds of overtime, Magic guard Victor Oladipo hit a game-tying three at the buzzer – keeping the Magic’s hope alive. Oladipo finished with his second career triple double, as well as leading all players with a career high 13 rebounds on the night.

The second OT would prove too much for the young Magic squad to handle, as OKC and Westbrook picked up right where they left off – driving straight into the teeth of the defense for an effortless layup. They didn’t dominate the period, but their lead never felt in doubt. After looking like a dynamo through three quarters, the Magic looked lost and out of sorts in the final overtime – eventually leading to their second heartbreaking loss in a row.

After tonight’s game, the Magic leave town for a weeklong road trip against the Bulls, Pelicans, and Rockets – returning home next Friday for a game against the Raptors.

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