Poor Shooting Night Costs Magic in Loss to Thunder

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

The Lead

Despite outstanding performances from Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, who combined to score 56 points, the shorthanded Orlando Magic were unable to overcome a poor shooting night in a 108-99 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday at Amway Center. The Magic, who have lost two straight after starting the season 4-0, shot just 37 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from 3-point range.

Injury Report

Evan Fournier sat out Saturday’s game due to back spasms. Considered day-to-day, he exited Thursday’s loss to Philadelphia early because of the discomfort. Also out were Chuma Okeke, who is expected to miss several weeks with a bone bruise in his left knee, James Ennis III (hamstring) and Al-Farouq Aminu (knee). Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford said prior to Saturday’s contest that Ennis, who re-signed with Orlando during the offseason, played in two-on-two scrimmages during the team’s morning shootaround, signaling he’s inching closer to a return.

Top Performers

Vucevic tallied a season-high 30 points, making 13 of his 21 shot attempts and four of his seven 3-point tries. It was the seventh time in his career that he knocked down at least four threes in a regular season game. Through six contests this year, the 10-year NBA veteran is shooting 48.5 percent from downtown. Back after missing last game with a sore right hamstring, Ross erupted for 26 points, sinking nine of his 21 shot attempts and four of his nine tries from beyond the arc. Already three times this season, the 6-foot-6 sharpshooter has scored over 20 points.

Key Stretch

After Vucevic sank a jumper to pull the Magic within one with just under nine minutes left in the game, the Thunder went on a 7-0 run. Theo Maledon, the 34th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of France, buried a 19-footer and Darius Bazley, OKC’s 23rd overall draft selection a year ago, hit a 3-pointer and slammed home a dunk in that span. The closest Orlando got from there was four before OKC ended the game on a 9-4 run.

Clutch Moment

Any hope of mounting a last-minute comeback ended when Al Horford, now in his 14th NBA season and first with the Thunder, drained a straightaway 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining to extend OKC’s lead to eight. Orlando missed seven of its last 10 shot attempts.

Key Stats

The Magic actually out-performed the Thunder in many categories. They committed six fewer turnovers than OKC, scored 15 more fast break points, hauled down nine more offensive rebounds and scored 12 more points in the paint. However, the Thunder made 10 more free throws than the Magic and sank three more 3-pointers.

Quote of the Night

“We need to make shots when we’re open. We missed a lot of open shots. Some nights they don’t go in. But that’s on us. That’s on us to make sure that we are ready to play and that our games are in rhythm and that we’re able to knock down shots when we are open.” – Aaron Gordon

Up Next

The Magic will look to rebound from Saturday’s defeat when they host the Cavs on Monday at 7 p.m. in the first of two straight contests against Cleveland at Amway Center. Collin Sexton, now in his third NBA season, has gotten off to a sensational start to the season. Through the Cavs’ first five games, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound guard is averaging 25.8 points per game on 55.6 percent overall shooting and 60 percent 3-point shooting.