Official Box Score link
Despite what ESPN, Bleacher Report, SLAM, Hoopshype and NBA.com would lead you to believe, there was a game other than the Pelicans vs Spurs played tonight and there were other basketball players other than Zion Williamson who played tonight.
While all the buzz, hype and attention were zeroed in on two lottery teams doing battle in The Big Easy, 640 miles away the Thunder and the Magic were having a 7 Seed Showdown.
This is a game that could have easily been a letdown for the Thunder for a variety of reasons. No Steven Adams to go against Nikola Vucevic. No Terrance Ferguson. Coming off an emotional comeback victory on the road against Houston. The Magic are actually a solid squad at home, where they owned a 13-8 record coming into tonight.
But this Thunder team doesn’t look past any team on the schedule, and they take care of business against inferior opponents. The Los Angeles Lakers sans LeBron and The Brow being the lone fluky exception to the rule.
To their credit, the Magic came to play and would not go away. The Thunder maintained a lead that hovered between 3 to 10 points for most of the game until they blew it up to 17 in the third quarter. But Terrance Ross pulled a Klay Thompson Game 6 Special and all of a sudden, it was a 3 point game headed into the final period.
Unfortunately for the home fans, the fourth quarter is when the Thunder’s scoring savant point guard puts games away. No, not Chris Paul. The other one. Wrong again, I’m not talking Shai. If you guessed Lu Dort, you’re incorrect, but I like how you think.
Dennis Schroder put on a clinic in the closing period, scored 11 of his 31 points and shot a midrange dagger into the hopes of the hometown fans for the second straight game.
Over in Cajun Country, everyone is throwing their Mardi Gras beads a month early around some rookie’s neck for going 4-4 from 3 point range tonight. Meanwhile, the Thunder had a guy who achieved the exact same feat with no fanfare. Except this player’s team actually won.
So what I’m saying is: Mike Muscala > Zion Williamson.
- The Thunder have won 3 in a row. They’ve won 4 straight and 8 of their last 9 on the road.
- The Thunder shot a scorching 60.5/47.4/82.6 against the Magic. How could OKC possibly shoot that well across the board and only win by 6 points? A historically putrid night securing second chance points and offensive rebounds.
- Insane stat courtesy of DT commenter Justin: OKC had 0 offensive rebounds tonight. That’s the first time in OKC history & the second time in the entire NBA over the last 20 seasons. Related: Steven Adams is the best offensive rebounder in the NBA.
- Schroder is shooting a career high 47.4%. His previous season high was 45.1%. He is shooting a career high 36.9% from 3 on a career high volume of 5.3 attempts per game. His previous high was 35.1% and on only 1.9 attempts. His 57.2% true shooting percentage is far and away the best of his career. His previous high was 53.3%. His 18.6 points per game is the second highest of his career, only behind his final year in Atlanta when he scored 19.4 as the #1 option.
- Mike Muscala shot a perfect 4-4 from 3 tonight. It would take James Harden 4 games and 68 3 point attempts against Lu Dort to match Muscala’s number of makes.
- For the second game in a row, two way rookie Lu Dort both started and was assigned the opponents’ #1 scoring option. Last game, James Harden. This game, Evan Fournier. Dort didn’t quite give Fournier the 1-17 treatment, but Orlando’s leading scorer was held to only 12 points on 12 shots. Dort, at least defensively, looks like the real deal.
- Chris Paul may have found his new Blake Griffin in Nerlens Noel. Lob City circa 2013 broke out in Orlando, with CP3 throwing alley oops to Noel on a continuous loop.
- Paul’s ability to coax the refs into giving him free throws in the final moments of this game felt like pure genius, but if I was a Magic fan, I’d be pretty incensed. But then I’d think of the Lil Penny Hardaway commercials and all my worries would go away.
- Who else is disappointed that nobody trolled Dennis Schroder during his post game interview? I feel like an idiot, I kept looking in the background and peeking around the corner waiting for someone to jump in like Michael Myers.
- Shai had 18 points on 7-10 shooting + 12 rebounds + 3 steals + 3 blocks. And nobody is gonna talk about it cause of Schroder’s 31 points, CP3’s clutch play, Noel’s 50 dunks, Muscala’s perfect night and Dort’s hype train lockdown D. The quietest great SGA game of the year.
- Up next: Atlanta Hawks in OKC on Friday. Hopefully Trae Young plays (he missed tonight with a thigh injury) because the Thunder vs the hometown kid is a fun way to tip off the weekend.