Denton: Magic vs. Thunder Analysis (12/15/13)
Davis chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds, while rookie Victor Oladipo added 15 points and four rebounds. Nelson scored 13 points and handed out eight assists. Davis even played the final 2 minutes with a left shoulder that he said ``popped out’’ when he ran into a basket stanchion. He missed time last season with a separated shoulder and later suffered a season-ending fractured foot.
Said Davis: ``I’ve been out of basketball too long to let that boo-boo hurt me. As long as I can use (the shoulder) – it’s going to be sore – you go and play the game 100 percent. As long as I can move it and it doesn’t stop my motion, I’ll go. I’m not going to hurt it anymore by playing, so I’ll be fine.’’
Durant, who averaged 25.5 points in two defeats of the Magic last season, had 28 more points on an efficient 11 of 18 shooting. Westbrook’s shot selection was again highly questionable, but he jump-started his offense (20 points) with two steals and 12 assists.
Not far removed from a six-game, 12-day road trip after playing one game at the Amway Center, Orlando plays in Chicago on Monday night. It will be team’s 14th day on the road in the past 16 days. The Magic will get some home-cooking throughout the Christmas holiday when they begin a six-game home stand Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz.
Magic small forward Maurice Harkless, who had success against OKC a year ago, was back in the rotation Sunday night after not playing on Friday against Cleveland. Harkless, still the Magic’s youngest player at 20 years old, guarded Durant well and had 10 steals in two games against the Thunder last season.
Orlando trailed 56-49 at intermission, but it was a major improvement over last March when the Magic surrendered 73 points in the first half in Oklahoma City. In that game nine months ago, the Magic went down by as much as 27 points before rallying to briefly take the lead, only to lose in the final two minutes.
This time around, the Magic led much of the first quarter and hung tough in the second quarter. And when Orlando came out of a time and ripped off nine straight points – keyed by a Harkless 3-pointer and a Tobias Harris put-back hook shot – to tie the game at 45-all.
Nelson and Vucevic carried the Magic offense in the early going. Vucevic had a double-double by halftime, pounding the Thunder inside for 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first two quarters. Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis helped free up some space for Vucevic by drawing three first-half fouls on Thunder shot-blocker Serge Ibaka.
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