The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

March 16, 2013

After leading by nearly 30, Thunder have to fight off Magic rally for victory

Oklahoma City clinches spot in postseason

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City can’t seem to do anything easily these days. Even when playing against a team with one of the worst records in the NBA, the Thunder seem to make the job tougher than expected.

Facing Orlando, Oklahoma City won 117-104 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, but only after letting a 27-point lead dwindle down to single digits.

“The bright spot about this game is it’s over with,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “We were inconsistent throughout the game. We pride ourselves on being more focused on every possession. That was not the case tonight. It’s something we have to get better at.”

Oklahoma City has won each of its last seven home games by an average of 22.4 points per game. However, this one was not without its share of drama.

The Thunder (49-17) led by four points with six minutes left in the game. The Magic (18-48) had three straight possessions with a chance to cut the lead in half or better, but they came up empty each time.

Serge Ibaka gave the Thunder a five-point advantage when he hit one of two free throws. Ibaka then came up with a block on Jameer Nelson that got Oklahoma City running, and it ended with Kevin Durant getting a layup that put the home team up by seven with 4:26 remaining.

After Nelson hit a 3-pointer, Durant answered with an old-fashioned three-point play. Tobias Harris scored, but once again, Oklahoma City had an answer. As the shot clock ticked down, Russell Westbrook drained a 3-pointer and put the Thunder up 112-104 at the 2:06 mark.

Oklahoma City came up with consecutive defensive stops that closed the night on the Magic. Even though they got the win, Brooks hopes his team does not believe they can just turn it on and off whenever they want.

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