By John Denton
March 15, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Orlando Magic’s team hotel on Thursday night in Oklahoma City was the Skirvin Hilton, a refurbished 102-year-old facility infamously known in NBA circles for allegedly being haunted.
That thought didn’t sit too well with Magic rookie small forward Maurice Harkless, who went to bed thinking about guarding Kevin Durant and instead awoke in a sweat early Friday morning because of his paranoia over extraterrestrial beings.
But those fears paled in comparison to the horrors that the Magic were put through in Friday’s first half when the Oklahoma Thunder’s well-oiled offense went through the Magic’s defense like a chainsaw in one of those massacre movies. Then, after Orlando remarkably got close late in the game with a determined charge, troubles arose once again like some sort of bad horro sequel.
The Magic had played especially well in these types of marquee games of late, but they simply couldn’t overcome the slow start defensively against the surging Thunder despite a valiant try in the second half. Oklahoma City poured in an almost unfathomable 73 points in the first half, withstood a furious Orlando charge in the second half and rolled past the Magic for a 117-104 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Once down as much as 27 points, Orlando incredibly surged back within four points of the lead late in the fourth quarter. But the Magic could get no closer as Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo both missed 3-pointers and Kevin Durant converted a twisting layup off a Serge Ibaka blocked shot.
``We just had great concentration level in the second half. To be down 27 and cut the lead to four, but their two best players made two daggers,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``Overall, we just did a lot of good things in the second half. They had 22 points in the third and fourth quarters, we didn’t turn the ball over and we gave ourselves a chance.’’
For the Magic (18-48), it was a frustrating start to a closing stretch of the season where they will play 14 playoff teams over the final 17 games. The Thunder (49-17) shot better than 70 percent much of the first half and hit 55.3 percent of their shots in the game.
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