Oklahoma City Thunder

Defense Fuels the Thunder to Win Over Magic in Orlando

Zachary Low

zacharylow88

The Oklahoma City Thunder (26-19) picked up their fourth consecutive road win and 8th of the last 9 away from home as they held on to defeat the Orlando Magic (21-24) in what was nearly a nail-biter.

After building double-digit leads on multiple occasions, the Thunder was finally able to put the game away thanks to a 20-foot pullup jumper from Dennis Schröder with just over 30 seconds left in the game to take a 117-111 lead. OKC held on to defeat Orlando 120-114.

6 different players scored in double-digits for OKC, and an all-around team effort on both ends of the floor helped the Thunder to victory.

Turning Turnovers Into Buckets

Coming into the game, the Orlando Magic was averaging just 12.8 turnovers per game, good for the lowest in the NBA, as well as allowing a league-low 14.1 points off turnovers. Tonight was a different, story, however, as the Thunder forced the magic into 14 turnovers, which does not sound like much, but what they did with them was important.

Of the 14 turnovers, 10 of those were steals by OKC, and the Thunder managed to take those turnovers and turn them into 24 points. OKC is not exactly special when it comes to forcing turnovers and turning them into points, but the ability to do so tonight was key to the win.

Clean Defense Leads to Efficient Offense

Points off turnovers is a great way to put yourself into position to win, but it’s easier said than done. Sometimes you don’t have to force turnovers in order to score easy points, though. The Thunder did a solid job playing patient, clean defense, which allowed them to take quality, efficient shots on offense.

OKC fouled Orlando just 17 times, which isn’t exactly surprising. The Thunder is 3rd lowest in the league in fouls, averaging just 18.8 per game. The Thunder shot 9-of-19 (47.4%) from three and an incredible 60.5% overall.

Dennis Schröder and Mike Muscala had the hot hands as they combined to go 7-of-8 (87.5%) from downtown. Schröder finished the night with a season-high 31 points to go along with 9 assists and 3 rebounds, and Muscala added 14 points.

4 other players finished in double-digit scoring as well. Chris Paul scored 19 points, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander poured in 18 points, Nerlens Noel added in 14 points, and Danilo Gallinari scored 12 points. This type of team production is what has made the Thunder so dangerous this season, and if OKC can continue to share the wealth, there is no telling how far they are capable of going in the postseason.

Trae Young in Town

The Thunder is headed home to get ready to host Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks (11-34) on Friday night. The Hawks are fresh off a 102-95 win over the short-handed LA Clippers, but they have the 2nd-worst record in the NBA, so OKC should be able to get a win.

Tip-off for that game is at 7 PM, and it will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.

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