Orlando Magic Grades: Oklahoma City Thunder 108, Orlando Magic 99

Nikola Vucevic was the lone player to star offensively throughout the game as the Orlando Magic were sarmed by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Nikola Vucevic was the lone player to star offensively throughout the game as the Orlando Magic were sarmed by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic simply could not shoot enough to keep themselves in the game as the Oklahoma City Thunder stole one off the Amway Center floor.

108. 149. 99. 38. Final

Al Horford was unintentionally taunting the Orlando Magic in the final minute of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s game on Saturday.

The Magic scrambled well to track Horford at the top of the key. Aaron Gordon, the team’s best individual defender, had a strong stance ready to cut off and attempted drive to the hoop while staying in place to prevent an uncontested pull-up.

Horford jabbed and jabbed and jabbed again to try to find some room. Gordon did not move. The defense had it. And down by five, the Magic needed a stop desperately.

So Horford rose up for three and despite the strong contest from Gordon drained it to put the game officially out of reach for the Magic. Even with a bit more time, it was going to be hard to see the Magic generate enough points.

Not on this night. Not on a night when nothing seemed to fall and the Magic were struggling to create points. It was a minor miracle the game kept the game as close as it did — probably a product of the team they were playing, frankly.

Credit to the Thunder then for taking advantage in a 108-99 victory at the Amway Center, handing the Magic their second straight loss and a second straight game under 100 points.

Oklahoma City went out and took the game for sure. But it was not without struggle. The Magic can be pretty pleased with their defensive effort minus a spate of fouling in the first half — the Thunder shot 19 for 21 from the line for the game.

The Thunder made 13 of 41 3-pointers and shot just 44.2-percent for the game. They totaled only 34 points in the paint for the game. Orlando’s defense started to round into some form.

It gave the Magic a chance to win despite an icy shooting night that only seemed to get worse.

Orlando made only 37.0-percent of its shots and 10 of its 38 3-pointers. In the fourth quarter the Magic made only 8 of 28 shots, missing all 10 of their 3-pointers. Not even good games from Nikola Vucevic or Terrence Ross could keep the team afloat.

The Magic were just missing shots and could not find a way to get space or confidence to turn the momentum.

It was still a game, however. But the poor shooting put too much stress on a defense that is still seeking its footing this year. And the Magic were left still trying to figure out who they are and their best path to winning.

. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. A-

On a night where so much went wrong and nothing seemed to work, it is hard to find much fault in Nikola Vucevic’s game. He has shown throughout the course of this season so far that his game is at another level offensively. And Vucevic was simply the most reliable player and the only player consistently scoring on a night there was no offense whatsoever.

Vucevic again tortured the Oklahoma City Thunder’s interior defense with 30 points and 13 rebounds. He hit from everywhere and was an easy outlet whenever the Magic were able to find some offensive rhythm. He was also solid on the post and working on the glass. The Magic needed every ounce of Vucevic and it is hard to ask more of him.

Vucevic is still getting his footing as he tries to hedge and blitz more. Watching him learn this timing will be a big part of getting the Magic’s defense back on track. He is getting better at that and the Magic’s rotations behind him are getting better too.

A-. . G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

The Orlando Magic’s poor offense started from the beginning. The team was icy to start the game and it never really changed. It always felt like if Orlando could simply string a few minutes of hot shooting, they would zoom past the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Take the first spurt of the game when Terrence Ross entered the game and immediately caught fire to give the Magic offense a little bit of a spark. He scored 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting in the first quarter to help the Magic climb back into the game. And Orlando turned to him everywhere they could from that point forward.

Ross finished with 26 points. But he did cool off considerably, ending up shooting just 9 for 21. But the Magic had no other perimeter options to turn to. The Thunder’s physical defense on him finally caught up to him in the end.


If Evan Fournier is going to miss significant time, the Orlando Magic are going to have to find a better answer at shooting guard to replace him or fill in his minutes. Michael Carter-Williams has carved out the perfect role for himself as the edgy backup guard that mixes things up and causes chaos with second units. But painting him as a starter and relying on him to help space the floor for Markelle Fultz is going to be a problem.

He struggled with his shot when he had to step into the starting lineup during the preseason. It was easy to brush it off then as preseason shot selection and a veteran trying to get himself in rhythm. It is not so easy to brush it off now.

Michael Carter-Williams scored only four points on 2-for-11 shooting, including misses on all four of his 3-point attempts. He was willing to take open shots, and that is good. But he also missed around the rim and on putback attempts. His willingness to mix it up on the glass is his only saving grace. Carter-Williams has to be a bigger threat to score.

. G/F. Orlando Magic. DWAYNE BACON. C-

Dwayne Bacon has filled in as the starter for James Ennis as he works his way back through injury. He had his big game Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder as he worked his way into the lane and was able to finish around the basket. There was no repeat.

Dwayne Bacon made only 2 of 11 shots for five points, missing four 3-pointers. His shot selection was relatively poor too. He was too willing to settle for shooting from beyond the arc and his drives were poor and a bit wild.

This is, of course, what Bacon is known for. The way he gets his offense is through drives into the lane. He is not exactly a playamaker. This might not be what the Magic need from the position right now. They need someone who is not going to soak up shots and is going to defend better. This team probably could use Ennis.

B+. . 2-3. 13th West. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

The Orlando Magic will certainly think about all the misses they had and several of the open misses they got. Their ball movement was solid and they were able to make some forays into the paint — although not consistently. The Thunder deserve credit for making those shots in the paint difficult. The Magic were perhaps a bit too shot happy throughout the game.

They also deserve credit for attacking the Magic’s defense and putting pressure on it throughout the game, from drawing fouls to sucking the Magic into the paint to cover the ball and kicking out to the 3-point line. This is what the Thunder did well that the Magic did not.

Oklahoma City took advantage of a bad night for Orlando. The Thunder made the shots down the stretch when the Magic could not. Orlando easily could have pulled away if the team could have cracked the lid on the hoop. The team never did and the Thunder’s veterans carried the day in the end.

Markelle Fultz is becoming a leader for Orlando Magic. dark. Next

The Magic are now 4-2 on the season, second in the Eastern Conference. The Orlando Magic will wrap up their homestand with a pair of games against the Cleveland Cavaliers beginning Monday.