If you hadn’t watched Monday’s game and later learned that Russell Westbrook was held to eight points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, you may have thought that meant the Magic actually defeated the Thunder.
After all, in 18 career games against Orlando, Westbrook had never finished in single-digits against a team he has tormented with 50-point games, triple-doubles and buzzer beaters (one performance included all three).
But on Monday, Westbrook’s rather pedestrian eight points were enough for the Thunder thanks to a strong performance by their second unit. Raymond Felton, the 33-year-old back-up point guard, made up for Westbrook’s lack of scoring output by recording 13 points and knocking down all three of his attempts from downtown. Felton was one of four Thunder reserves that finished in double figures as OKC registered 48 bench points.
The Magic shot the ball well early on, just as they had in their victory over the Thunder in November. Unlike in that win, their efficient shooting did not carry into the second half and their defense failed to compensate. as Orlando lost their sixth straight game. Plays like this were few and far between for the Magic....
All five Magic starters were in double figures, led by Evan Fournier and Jonathon Simmons, who each had 19 points. Aaron Gordon scored 13 of his 18 points in the first quarter and also finished with seven rebounds. D.J. Augustin had 10 points and nine assists.
Mario Hezonja, who played 15 minutes, scored just four points of 2-of-9 shooting to finish with four points, his lowest scoring output in over a month.
Paul George had 26 points to lead the Thunder. Steven Adams added 16 points and Carmelo Anthony had nine points. But on this night, it wasn’t OKC’s “Big Three” that proved to be the difference, it was the “Core Four” off the bench: Felton (13 points), Alex Abrines (12 points), Patrick Patterson (11 points), and Jerami Grant (10 points) combined to shoot 17-for-28 from the field.
Frank Vogel said the Thunder bench moved the ball well ad created open looks, which he believed to be the difference in the game.
The Magic will host Toronto on Wednesday in a game that will mark the return of Jonathan Isaac, who has ben out since late-December.