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Durant crushes Magic's dreams with last-second three

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The Magic hung tough with the Thunder, but Kevin Durant sank their hopes before the final buzzer.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

A last-second three-pointer by Kevin Durant ended the Orlando Magic’s hopes of a signature win on Wednesday, as the Thunder prevailed by a score of 117-114. Magic shooting guard Victor Oladipo came within one point of his career high, scoring 37 in the loss. Durant, along with guard Russell Westbrook combined for 61 points, 19 assists, and 24 rebounds thanks to a career-high 19 boards by Westbrook.

The Thunder were the second-ranked offense in the league coming into the game, but Orlando kept pace in the first quarter. This offensive showcase ended in a 32-32 tie thanks to a Mario Hezonja steal and buzzer-beating three. The Magic found success in a four-headed attack, with Nikola Vucevic, Hezonja, Oladipo, and Tobias Harris each registering six or more points in the opening quarter.

By the half, Russell Westbrook was already two rebounds shy of a triple double. His foil in blue, Oladipo, was heating up as well – leading the team with 17 points at the break. The fireworks continued in the second, with Anthony Morrow, Kyle Singler, Hejona, and Evan Fournier hitting threes in the first three minutes. Aaron Gordon cooled down in this one, failing to register an offensive rebound in the first half and finishing the game one-of-10 for two points.

The third quarter was a mass of confused looks and extended arms as both teams felt they were the victims of questionable calls. In this case, it shifted from nuisance to actual storyline when both Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo headed to the bench with four fouls. The quarter ended as strangely as it began when Enes Kanter hit a three on just his seventh attempt of the season, and Henzona beat the buzzer once again to make it a 96-94 Thunder lead.

In the fourth, Orlando took control early and rarely faltered. The younger team overcame crowd noise, an effectively corralled the typically explosive Thunder offense. This game came down to a sequence at the end where the Magic had the ball in a tie game with under 30 second left to play. After milking the clock, Oladipo drove to the basket – instead of finding a new career high in points, he found the swift hands of Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, who registered his sixth block of the game. It felt like a bad dream revisited as Kevin Durant confidently took the ball up the court, put a move on Tobias Harris, and drained a three with less than a second on the clock, locking the win up for the host Thunder.

For the Magic, this heartbreaking defeat was reminiscent of the teams’ first meeting on October 30th where both Durant and Westbrook hit clutch shots to secure the win. Despite the final possession, and the gaudy totals, Tobias Harris did an admirable job when tasked with guarding the offensive force that is Kevin Durant. Orlando’s 114 points stand as the second highest total of the season within regulation, and the highest in a loss.

The Magic will return home on Friday to take on the Los Angeles Clippers.