Despite a less-than-stellar effort from Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder got back to winning ways tonight against the Magic. Orlando scored 38 points in the first quarter and led by as many as 11 in the first half, but OKC held the Magic to just 15 third quarter points and was able to generate just enough offense down the stretch — escaping with a 112-105 victory.
Paul George led OKC with 26 points and 8 rebounds, but it was the bench that stepped up and secured the win for an OKC team in desperate need of one. Raymond Felton, Patrick Patterson, Jerami Grant, and Alex Abrines all scored in double-figures off the pine, helping the Thunder bench outscore the Magic reserves by a final tally of 48-24.
The win pushes the Thunder’s record to 35-27 on the season ahead of a three-game road trip to end the week. OKC returns to action on Wednesday night in Dallas.
47.7: The Thunder hit 47.7 percent of its field goal attempts, compared to 46.4 percent for Orlando.
44: OKC went 11/25 (44 percent) from downtown. Orlando shot 6/7 from deep in the first quarter but cooled tremendously from there, finishing 12/29 beyond the arc.
85!: The Thunder went 17/20 from the free throw line, good for 85 percent. Celebration!
+15: OKC won the rebounding battle 50-35, including 14-8 on the offensive glass.
15 & 20 & 16: Despite the Thunder leading the league in steals, Orlando had 15 steals and ended up causing 20 turnovers. Those turnovers resulted in 16 points for the Magic.
+12: The Thunder won 58-46 in the paint.
10 & 9: There were 10 lead changes and nine ties.
Praise to the Bench
Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony combined for just 17 points on 7/27 (25.9 percent) shooting, so there was a definite hole in the point production department. The OKC bench stepped up to the challenge, dropping 48 points (season-average is 25.5 PPG — second lowest in the league) on 18/30 shooting, good for 60 percent.
Raymond Felton, Alex Abrines, Patrick Patterson and Jerami Grant accounted for 46 of the 48 bench points. Here are their final lines:
Felton: 13 pts, 4 ast, 5/7 FG, 13 Min, +12
Abrines: 12 pts, 3 reb, 1 blk, 4/10 FG, 21 Min, +8
Patterson: 11 pts, 3 ast, 4/4 FG, 16 Min, +12
Grant: 10 pts, 3 reb, 4/7 FG, 17 min, +12
Nights like this aren’t common for the OKC reserves but it’s sure a lot of fun when it happens. The group of four mentioned above were a combined 8/13 in the second half and had a major hand in the win.
Paul George Bounces Back
Paul George came back from a terrible performance on Saturday to lead the Thunder in scoring against Orlando. His final line:
George: 26 pts, 8 reb, 3 ast, 9/20 FG, 2/7 3P, +2
He struggled a bit finding his rhythm from downtown, so he spent more time attacking the basket and creating looks in other ways. However, with the Magic within four and just a minute to play, he hit the dagger deep ball that allowed the ‘Peake to take a collective sigh of relief.
He will need to get his three-point shot back in working order but this was a solid effort out of PG13. He was the only Thunder starter to finish as a positive plus-minus, wrapping up his evening at +2 in 37 minutes.
Alex Abrines goes into rim protector mode against Mario Hezonja:
Abrines goes up and throws down a second quarter oop from Russ:
PG13 finds Terrance Ferguson in transition — he hammers it off the bounce:
Russ & Melo. Russell Westbrook finished with 8 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and 7 turnovers. He shot just 3/12 from the field and finished as a -5 in 35 minutes. Melo did that thing where he shot too much, wrapping up his night with 9 points and 9 rebounds on a 4/15 clip. He was a -5 in his 32 minutes.
Big Kiwi. Steven Adams had 16 points and 8 rebounds on 6/8 shooting — a nice night. However, he shot 5/6 for 10 points in the first quarter alone, so there was definitely a sharp drop in how often the Thunder went to the big fella. This is a recurring trend and something that needs to be addressed. Adams should be getting consistent looks all game long, particularly on nights when some of the other stars can’t buy a bucket.
Random Abrines Game. As stated above, Alex Abrines had himself a decent outing — something he does every blue moon. He shot 3/3 from downtown, made some oddly effective defensive plays, and just looked like a guy with confidence. He and Josh Huestis logged exactly the same amount of minutes (21), so I guess we’re doing this again. A general rule of thumb is to enjoy the Random Abrines Game (RAG) but never come to expect it.
Speaking of Things We’re Still Doing. Terrance Ferguson got 13 minutes of run, scored 2 points on 1/2 shooting, threw in two blocks for good measure, and finished as a +3. This madness needs to stop.
The Other Guys. Five Magic players reached double-figures in scoring: Evan Fournier (19), Jonathon Simmons (19), Aaron Gordon (18), Nikola Vucevic (15), and DJ Augustin (10). Gordon and Vucevic combined to go 9/13 in the Magic’s 38-point first quarter but shot just 4/20 the rest of the way.
All-in-All. This was an ugly game that wasn’t a great deal of fun to watch, but the Thunder was able to scrap out a win on an off night from both Westbrook and Anthony. Patterson and Grant both played like they deserve some of Melo’s minutes, Abrines did the thing where you find yourself thinking “well, maybeeee”, and Paul George bounced back well and got some shots to fall. It was a game OKC had to win and that’s exactly what happened. Even still, the effort simply has to get better with the playoffs rapidly approaching and seeding extremely fluid in the Western Conference.