After failing to set a team record for consecutive wins, the Orlando Magic hope to start a new run in a matchup they have dominated in recent years.
The Magic look to post their 10th win in 11 games overall and their ninth in their last 10 tries against the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise when the teams meet Thursday night at Oklahoma City Arena.
Orlando, which had defeated its opponents by an average margin of 13.9 points during its season-best nine-game winning streak, fell 92-89 to New Orleans in overtime Wednesday night despite 29 points and 20 rebounds from Dwight Howard(notes).
Trailing by one, Howard had a chance to give the Magic (25-13) the lead with 11 seconds remaining in overtime, but missed a pair of free throws to effectively end Orlando’s bid for a club-record 10th straight victory.
“We didn’t play well enough or hard enough to win,” coach Stan Van Gundy told the Magic’s official website. “We’ve survived a few games here and gotten wins when we haven’t put together a complete game.
“We’re in some bad habits right now of not playing all 48 minutes. It bit us and hopefully we’ll learn from it and move on.”
Despite his failure in the clutch against the Hornets, Howard could be in line for another big game against an Oklahoma City team which allowed an opponent season-high 70 points in the paint Wednesday night.
The Thunder (26-13) managed to win despite giving up all those inside buckets, beating Houston for the first time in 12 visits, 118-112.
“We’ve just got to be more locked in and focused, and worry about that end more than the offensive end,” said Durant, who scored a team-high 30 points. “But we’ll be all right.”
Durant is averaging 17.6 points against the Magic over his career - his fewest versus any opponent. He did, however, score 28 in a 102-74 home victory Nov. 8, 2009. Orlando hasn’t suffered as lopsided a loss since then.
Durant is averaging 34.4 points over his last five home games, four of them wins for the Thunder.
Russell Westbrook(notes) added 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds Wednesday but shot a pedestrian 7 of 19 from the field, continuing his recent shooting woes. The Oklahoma City point guard is shooting 35.3 percent from the field in his last three games. He’s been even worse - 33.9 percent - in four career games against Orlando.
The Magic have taken eight of the last nine meetings between these clubs, with the Nov. 8, 2009 contest the lone exception. Five of the games in that stretch took place when the Thunder were still the Seattle SuperSonics.