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
  • Sooners advance to Super Six

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Oklahoma, Georgia and LSU advanced to the Super Six of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships....

    April 19, 2014

  • Can the Heat flip the switch?

    MIAMI — LeBron James was walking down the hallway that the Miami Heat call “Championship Alley” a few minutes after last season’s NBA Finals, when he decided the time was right to send a message. It wasn’t for his fans....

    April 19, 2014

  • No April, May or June Madness in NBA

    AP National Writer ATLANTA — If the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks were in any other sport, they might have a glimmer of hope for winning a championship. The NBA? No way....

    April 19, 2014

  • Warriors and Clippers take mutual dislike into playoff series

    LOS ANGELES — As much as the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors don’t like each other, they’re a lot alike in some ways....

    April 19, 2014

  • Fieger leads Senior PGA

    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Gene Fieger shot a 3-under 69 in windy conditions Thursday to take a four-stroke lead in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship....

    April 18, 2014

  • Kuchar builds on momentum

    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — There were no major letdowns for Masters contenders Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage on Thursday. Kuchar, who tied for fifth at Augusta National, shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 to share the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Angel Jimenez set for Champions Tour debut

    DULUTH, Ga. — Miguel Angel Jimenez’s starring role in the best Masters ever for players 50 and over was the perfect lead-in for his Champions Tour debut....

    April 18, 2014

  • Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

    SAN FRANCISCO — Yasiel Puig believes he has the support from his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates and the club to help him keep his focus on baseball despite challenges off the field....

    April 18, 2014

  • Wainwright two-hits Nats

    WASHINGTON — Adam Wainwright threw a two-hitter Thursday night for his seventh career shutout, chipped in at the plate with a double and single, and St. Louis benefited from four errors by Washington in the Cardinals’ 8-0 victory....

    April 18, 2014

  • Rangers edge M’s

    ARLINGTON, Texas — When Kevin Kouzmanoff was riding the buses in Double-A two seasons ago, he kept his focus on returning to the majors and providing the kind of production that he is now delivering for the Texas Rangers....

    April 18, 2014