Thunder Vs. Magic: OKC Holds Off Charging Orlando Down The Stretch, 125-124

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Thunder Vs. Magic: Russell Westbrook Tallies A Triple Double In OKC Win, 125-124

The Orlando Magic fought hard down the stretch, never allowing the Oklahoma City Thunder to pull away, despite the best efforts of its two young stars. Kevin Durant hit his final two free throws with just under two seconds to put the Thunder up four. Jason Richardson hit a three at the buzzer as the Thunder hung on to win, 125-124. Russell Westbrook had a triple-double in the win, tallying 32 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.

Durant finished with a team-high 36 points to pace the Thunder, but it was Westbrook's all-around game that stole the show. Whether it was finding the open man or creating his own shots Westbrook was a perfect pairing with Durant on the night. Outside of those two, Nenad Krstic grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds while also adding 16 points. With Westbrook and Durant firing, the rest of the young Oklahoma City squad played a complimentary role.

Dwight Howard led the Magic, as expected, scoring 39 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in the loss. Jason Richardson added 19 points with J.J. Redick (18 points) and Ryan Anderson (15) in double figures off the bench. Jameer Nelson had a team-high six assists.

The Thunder improved to 27-13 with the win while the Magic fell to 25-14 with the loss. The Thunder head to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers on Monday. Orland travels to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves on Saturday.

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Thunder Vs. Magic: Orlando Can't Close Scoring Gap, Still Trail 96-86 After Three

The hot shooting that kept the Thunder on top cooled ever so slightly for the second half, but they managed to keep their lead despite going 2 of 9 from the field in the first 8 minutes. The Magic stayed true to their reputation as excellent three-point shooters, and they have outscored the Thunder 21 to 12 off of threes at the end of the third period. The reason, however, that OKC has kept their lead is because Orlando's defense allowed them to shoot 58% up to this point.

One of the barometers for the Thunder's success is the performance of Nenad Krstic. When he scores 10+ points, they win almost all of their games. It bodes well, then, that he has a double double already with 16 points and 11 rebounds. He joins Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as the Thunder's leading scorers with 25 and 26 respectively.

Dwight Howard notched his double double for the night as well, after a quiet start to the game he came alive in the second and third to lead his team in scoring with 25. He went 7-7 from the free throw line, and usually he shoots 57%. Joining him in double digits are Jason Richardson with 14 points and Ryan Anderson with 15.

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Thunder Vs. Magic: OKC Continues Strong Shooting, Leads Orlando 64-60 At Halftime

So I told you to keep an eye on Orlando's outside shooting, and with good reason. The three-ball came alive for the Magic in the second quarter. Between Gilbert Arenas and Ryan Anderson, the Magic tallied five of their eight three-pointers. Despite the accuracy from outside, Orlando hasn't been able to catch up to the scoring from Oklahoma City, simply because Kevin Durant is really good at basketball. 64 points amount to the most that Orlando has allowed in a first half all year.

The Thunder, aside from shooting at such a high percentage, are also getting themselves rebounds and essentially turning Dwight Howard into a non-issue on the boards. 12 points and six rebounds at the half is reasonanle for him, but thankfully Orlando is seeing offensive output from Ryan Anderson who leads the Magic with 14 at the half. Durant, meanwhile, is making everyone look silly with 21 points on 8-9 shooting, 4-5 from the line. The Thunder as a whole are shooting nearly 60%.

Fun little sidenote... both teams are taking very good care of the basketball. In the first half, the Thunder had three turnovers and the Magic had just two. 

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Thunder Vs. Magic: OKC Firing On All Cylinders, Leading Orlando 35-27 After One Quarter

Things to pay attention to for this game: Oklahoma City is fourth in the league in fastbreak points, and Orlando allows the fewest fastbreak points in the league. The Magic lead the NBA in made three-point field goals, whereas the Thunder are 29th in made threes.

Kevin Durant is a scary shooter, and he started this game proving that, shooting 7-8 for 16 points. His sidekick, Russell Westbrook, is slicing through Orlando's defense and dishing out assists like it's his job. Which it is. Nedan Krstic is rebounding like a beast, leading all players with nine. Howard, usually a rebounding machine, only has two in the first period. He's also spent a large chunk of time on the bench, already in foul trouble.

Both teams are finding their big men in the air for rim-rocking plays. On one end, Hedo Turkoglu found Dwight Howard for a thunderous dunk, and on the other end, Westbrook tossed up the alley-oop for Durant who magically thew it down. See what I did there?

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Thunder Vs. Magic: Orlando Looks To Rebound From Loss

The Orlando Magic visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday (8 PM Eastern, TNT) a night after losing for the first time in 10 games in a heartbreaker. The Magic fell in overtime to the New Orleans Hornets in a defensive struggle that saw stud center Dwight Howard earn a costly technical foul with just over two minutes left in regulation.

Howard had swiped at Emeka Okafor's arm, which happened to be draped across Dwight's stomach as the pair ran down the floor together. Howard's techical spotted New Orleans a point; the game eventually went to overtime, and Howard missed some crucial free throws there as the Hornets pulled out a victory.

Certainly, the loss will sting. Howard hardly needs motivation, as the clear-cut best big man in basketball. The Thunder don't have a pivot on the caliber of Howard -- no team does -- so Oklahoma City will likely be content to throw multiple bodies at the two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic and Serge Ibaka figure to get the largest doses of Dwight duty.

On the other end, Oklahoma City, one of the better attacking teams thanks to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, will need to stretch the floor to prevent Howard from having too big an imprint. That could be problematic, given that the Thunder are No. 29 in the NBA in three-point percentage at just 32.9 percent. Among the seven OKC players who take at least one three per game, only James Harden (3.2 per game, 40 percent) and Eric Maynor (1.2, 38 percent) hit at a clip above league average. Durant takes a third of all of OKC's three, but is hitting just 33 percent this season.

For Thunder analysis, check out Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Magic, visit Orlando Pinstriped Post.

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