The Norman Transcript

National Sports

March 23, 2013

Thunder hold off scrappy Magic

ORLANDO, Fla. — This was supposed to be the beginning of a relatively easy stretch for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Locked in pursuit of San Antonio for the Western Conference’s top playoff seed, the Thunder were looking forward to a few easy nights with four straight games against teams with losing records.

The Orlando Magic must have missed the memo.

The Thunder needed 25 points from Kevin Durant, including 11 in the fourth quarter, to hold off a short-handed, but inspired Magic team 97-89 on Friday night.

“That’s what we have to hang our hat on is making plays on the defensive end,” Durant said of Oklahoma City’s late-game effort, which included holding Orlando without a field goal in the final 2:26. “We made big plays when we needed them.”

Russell Westbrook added 19 points and Oklahoma City ended a two-game losing skid despite going just 5 for 21 from the 3-point line.

They entered the night trailing West-leading San Antonio by 21⁄2 games.

“We had two tough losses ... I give our guys a lot of credit,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “They picked themselves up and came into tonight with a good mindset. We got the win and we’re moving on to the next game.”

The Magic briefly took a one-point lead in the final period, but the Thunder hit eight of their final 10 free throws to help seal the victory.

Maurice Harkless led the Magic with a career-high 25 points, followed by Jameer Nelson with 16.

Orlando lost its sixth straight. They also lost starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo in the second quarter with a right hamstring injury.

“The first half, I think I was a completely different player in the first half than in the second half,” said Harkless. “The first half I wasn’t aggressive. ... When Arron went down I knew I had to step up and make plays, make things happen.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Bradford facing another year of scrutiny in newest season

    ST. LOUIS — It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford. Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Judge rules against owner Donald Sterling, but lengthy saga far from over

    LOS ANGELES — Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lost his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer....

    July 29, 2014

  • T-Wolves land guard Mo Williams

    MINNEAPOLIS — Mo Williams is on his way to Minnesota, which means J.J. Barea could be on his way out....

    July 29, 2014

  • LSU freshmen face misdemeanors

    BATON ROUGE, La. — Two LSU freshmen football players face charges, one for allegedly stealing a bicycle outside Middleton Library and the other for allegedly tossing firecrackers into a campus apartment....

    July 29, 2014

  • Fitzgerald says players’ push for union brought Northwestern together

    CHICAGO — No matter how this season unfolds, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald insisted there is no more unified team than his Wildcats. For that, he credits the push for them to unionize....

    July 29, 2014

  • Delany rides fence with PSU

    CHICAGO — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany took a non-committal stance on an effort by five Pennsylvania Congressmen to rescind sanctions against Penn State for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal....

    July 29, 2014

  • Murray St. aims to be OVC contenders

    Fifth-year Murray State coach Chris Hatcher has returned the program to OVC relevance thanks to his exciting “Hatch Attack” offense. The Racers will need more results if they hope to be serious contenders....

    July 29, 2014

  • Healthy Claiborne ready to show his worth to Cowboys

    OXNARD, Calif. — Morris Claiborne got on Terrance Williams’ nerves the minute the competition started at training camp for the Dallas Cowboys....

    July 29, 2014

  • Lions postpone Suh talks

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions are postponing contract talks with All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the season....

    July 29, 2014

  • Peppers adjusts to 3-4 defense

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — Standing a sturdy 6-foot-7, Packers pass rusher Julius Peppers poses an imposing sight to opposing linemen even without pads. Good thing Green Bay’s front five only has to go up against Peppers in practice now....

    July 29, 2014