The last time the Oklahoma City Thunder lost consecutive games
they responded with one of their best stretches of the season.
The Thunder appear poised to get another run started Friday
night when they visit the Orlando Magic, who are mired in another
lengthy losing streak.
Oklahoma City (50-19) is coming off back-to-back losses for the
first time in a month following a 114-104 setback against Denver on
Tuesday and a 90-89 overtime defeat at Memphis on Wednesday.
Russell Westbrook’s layup gave the Thunder a late one-point lead
before Memphis center Marc Gasol tipped in the go-ahead score with
less than a second left in a showdown between Western Conference
Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 32 points and Westbrook
scored 20, but the pair combined to shoot 18 for 53. Kevin Martin
added 17, but no other Thunder player scored more than seven.
“It was just one of those games, probably 10 of them a year,
where nobody deserves to lose the game, but we were on the bad side
of that,” coach Scott Brooks said.
Brooks’ club hadn’t dropped two straight since suffering its
only three-game skid of the season Feb. 12-20. Following those
defeats, Oklahoma City went on to win 11 of 13 by an average of
Oklahoma City, which trails San Antonio by 2 1/2 games for the
West’s top seed, has an opportunity to begin another hot streak as
it opens a stretch of four straight against losing teams.
The sinking Magic (18-51) have lost 38 of 44 and suffered their
fifth straight defeat Wednesday night, 106-94 at New York.
Tobias Harris and reserve Andrew Nicholson finished with 14
points apiece and Kyle O’Quinn added 12 and 14 rebounds off the
bench as Orlando played without center Nikola Vucevic because of an
“Guys came in and tried to fill in their roles,” coach Jacque
Vaughn said. “Some good things came from that game.”
While his status is uncertain for Friday, Vucevic – averaging
12.4 points and 11.5 rebounds – could be a big loss considering he
scored 21 and had 14 boards in a 117-104 defeat at Oklahoma City
The Magic put a scare into the Thunder, rallying from a 27-point
first-half deficit to get within four midway through the fourth
Jameer Nelson had 26 points and shot 5 of 12 from 3-point range,
while Arron Afflalo scored 20 for the Magic.
Nelson and Afflalo, however, will try to bounce back after
shooting a combined 3 for 16 – 1 for 8 from beyond the arc – on
The Magic shot 7 for 27 from 3-point range and were outrebounded
52-33 in Oklahoma City. That could be an area of concern again,
especially if Orlando has to play without its top rebounder in
Durant led Oklahoma City with 26 points in the first meeting and
has averaged 30.6 on 54.3 percent shooting in his last five games
against the Magic.
After scoring 83 in regulation and finishing with a season-low
35.7 field goal percentage in Memphis, the Thunder should be in
line for a better performance Friday. They put up a season-high 73
points in the first half and shot 55.3 percent overall last week
against the Magic.
The Thunder stopped a seven-game losing streak in Orlando with a
105-102 win last March as Durant had 38 points and Westbrook scored