The Oklahoma City Thunder were back on the road on Tuesday night for a matchup with the Orlando Magic. Paul George scored 37 points, Russell Westbrook added another triple double, and Dennis Schroder erupted for 18 points in the 4th quarter (21 total) as the Thunder defeated the Magic 126-117. The win was the Thunder’s sixth straight.
OKC came into this game without two of their starters, Steven Adams and Terrance Ferguson. Hamidou Diallo and Nerlens Noel stepped into the starting lineup in their absence.
OKC seemed poised to pull away early in the second half, leading by 15 (81-66) in the early stages of the third quarter. The Magic were not going down quietly, as they had an answer for every Thunder run. The Thunder struggled offensively, George, who scored 31 in the 1st half, suddenly went cold, and they could not keep the Magic off the boards.
The Magic slowly chipped away at the Thunder lead, led by Nikola Vucevic, until a shot by Jerian Grant gave the Magic the lead, 86-84. The Magic run got up to 28-5 and they finished the quarter with a 94-91 lead.
The Thunder were searching for offense with George struggling and Russ on the bench to start the 4th. OKC would find much needed offense from Schroder. Schroder picked apart the Magic defense inside and out. He showed everything in his arsenal tonight, as he carved up the defense for floaters, took midrange and 3 pointers when the drive wasn’t available, and still set up his teammates when they were open (4 assists).
Schroder scored 18 points in the quarter and opened the door for PG and Russ to close the game. PG found his offense and Russ finished the game masterfully setting up Noel for two easy layups.
OKC outscored the Magic 35-23 in the 4th quarter and took home their sixth straight win.
OKC shot 54% from the field and 42% (9-of-21) from the three point line, showing incredible restraint in sticking to their game plan throughout, even as they still went 19 of 26 shots from the free throw line. They were efficient with their possessions dishing 25 assists to only seven turnovers total (5 by Westbrook). The Thunder also scored 58 points in the paint, many coming off of Westbrook’s game-high 14 assists.
However, the Thunder struggled to hold the Magic off the boards and lost the rebound battle 53-43, which was the primary reason the game tilted into the 4th.
George added to his MVP resume with 37 points to lead the Thunder. Westbrook notched another triple double with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. Schroder scored 21 points off the bench (18 in the 4th quarter). Grant chipped in 18 points and six rebounds. Noel scored 12 points and blocked 5 shots.
Vucevic had a double-double with 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Magic. Aaron Gordon scored 16 points, pulled down nine rebounds and dished seven assists. Evan Fournier put in 17 points. Terrence Ross scored 16 points off the bench.
On a final note, Alex Abrines saw his first action in over a month, getting 6 minutes of run and finishing 1-2 from 3-point range. As much as his absence was a mystery, so too was his sudden emergence in the first half.