Magic Musings: Up-tempo style backfires in blowout loss to Thunder

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Magic ended a week when it looked as if they were beginning to turn the corner by running smack into a brick wall.

The Oklahoma City Thunder showed the risks which can come with the Magic’s recent emphasis on playing an up-tempo style. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook able to get shots pretty much wherever and whenever they wanted Sunday night, the Thunder led by as many as 38 points in cruising to a 127-99 victory.

The Magic offered scant resistance on defense during a first half where the Thunder shot 72.7 percent from the floor. Even the first appearance in a game by Aaron Gordon since he fractured a bone in his left foot two months ago couldn’t stem the tide as the rookie had his hands full trying to guard Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer four of the past five seasons.

Victor Oladipo and rookie Elfrid Payton combined for 42 points, and Nikola Vucevic had 16 points before sitting out the entire fourth quarter. But Vucevic was clearly aggravated by the defense of Steven Adams, drawing a technical foul in the third quarter for shoving the Thunder center.

By the end of the third quarter, the Thunder already had 103 points, allowing coach Scott Brooks to rest all five of his starters the rest of the way.

The Thunder, who hadn’t won a road game since beating the San Antonio Spurs on Christmas, evened their record at 20-20 and reached the .500 mark for only the second time all season. The Magic fell to 15-29 overall and 5-14 at home.

THE TURNING POINT

The Thunder scored the game’s first 13 points in the opening 3:09, including two 3-point field goals by Serge Ibaka and one by Andre Roberson.

Magic vs. Thunder

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Durant had 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists by halftime and ended up two assists shy of a triple-double.

STAT OF THE GAME

The Thunder missed only three of 30 shots inside the 3-point arc on their way to a franchise record for most points in a half, as well as the record for most points given up in a half by the Magic (79).

WHAT’S NEXT

Wednesday night at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

You can follow Ken Hornack on Twitter @HornackFSFla or email him at khornack32176@gmail.com.