Magic-Thunder Preview

The Thunder franchise enjoyed some great seasons in Seattle,

with fans packing KeyArena season after season during the

mid-1990s.

Now the team is generating the same excitement in Oklahoma City,

where the Thunder are within reach of matching the franchise’s best

home start since its days as the SuperSonics.

The Thunder will look to improve to 12-0 on their home floor and

extend their overall winning streak to six games when they host the

Orlando Magic on Sunday.

Oklahoma City (18-4) remains one of only two teams that has yet

to lose at home, joining league-leading Indiana (11-0).

One of the Thunder’s home victories came against the three-loss

Pacers, whom they beat 118-94 last Sunday, and they’ve also earned

wins over a few of the stronger teams in the Western Conference –

including Dallas, Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers and San

Antonio.

A victory over struggling Orlando (7-16), which has lost seven

of eight overall and is 2-10 on the road, would give Oklahoma City

the franchise’s best home start since the ’93-94 Sonics opened

12-0.

“We started the season knowing what we wanted to do … just

continue to build trust in each other and just focus on each other

and not worry about anything else but trying to make your teammates

look good,” coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s early, but we’ve done a

great job with that.”

Oklahoma City is coming off its biggest offensive outburst and

largest margin of victory this season Friday in a 122-97 home rout

of the Los Angeles Lakers, who were playing their third game since

Kobe Bryant returned to the lineup.

Kevin Durant had 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and

Russell Westbrook added 19 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds

for the Thunder.

Despite his team scoring an average of 116.5 points over its

last four home games, Durant still feels Oklahoma City has room for

improvement.

“We can be a lot better,” he said. “There are a lot of things we

need to work on – transition defense, rebounding, passing. On

offense we’ve got to flow a little better. But our chemistry is

growing. That’s the most important thing.”

Serge Ibaka had his 11th double-double of the season with 19

points and 10 rebounds, and Reggie Jackson also scored 19 to help

the Thunder win their 13th in 14 games.

Oklahoma City has a good chance to keep the home streak going

with its next three games against Orlando, Chicago and Toronto, but

the Thunder will be tested in road matchups against the Spurs and

Nuggets over the next week.

“We just want to play our best brand of basketball at the right

time,” Durant said.

The Magic snapped a six-game losing streak with a 92-83 win at

Charlotte on Wednesday before returning home Friday and wasting a

14-point lead in a 109-100 loss to Cleveland.

Victor Oladipo matched a career high with 26 points, and Arron

Afflalo and Jameer Nelson scored 17 apiece for Orlando, which

started strong before closing the first half by missing 20 of its

final 29 shots.

“We just can’t give games up like that,” Glen Davis told the

team’s official website. “It’s just sad that we can’t get that game

back. As it is, it’s back to the drawing board.”

The Magic have dropped four in a row and six of their last eight

overall against the Thunder. Orlando won its first game in Oklahoma

City in 2008 – a 109-92 victory on Nov. 12 – but has lost its last

four visits.