The Thunder led Orlando 52-51 at halftime on Saturday night.
Forward Darius Bazley led the Thunder with nine points while four Oklahoma City players had seven. Guard Lu Dort had seven points with a steal and a block, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had seven points with an assist and a block, center Al Horford had four rebounds to go with his seven points and guard Theo Maledon led the bench with seven.
Center Nikola Vucevic had a game-high 16 points and wing Terrence Ross had 15 points off the bench for the Magic.
This may feel small in the grand scheme of the half, but a pair of offensive rebounds by guard Hamidou Diallo early in the second quarter were very important. Trailing 33-28, Diallo missed a shot at the rim but grabbed the offensive board and tipped it in. A minute later, he got another offensive rebound and then hit another layup to cut the Magic's lead back down to three. That was just four points, but if they hadn't gone the Thunder's way -- and worse, if Orlando had capitalized and made shots off those hypothetical defensive rebounds -- the deficit may have blossomed and spun out of control. Oklahoma City will need energy and hustle plays to win games. They got that in the first half. https://twitter.com/ThunderFilmRoom/status/1345530745335459841
With Orlando clogging the lane and playing aggressive help defense, the Thunder would often send the ball handler penetrating low and then dump it off to a 3-point shooter. Nineteen of the Thunder's 43 shots came from behind the arc. They weren't able to put them home consistently, though. They were just 5-for-19 from deep. The Magic was marginally better, shooting 6-for-18 from 3. Neither team made a high percentage of their shots from the field, either. Oklahoma City shot 39.5% overall, essentially equal to the Magic's 39.2%.
Luguentz Dort is getting very, very good at driving to the rim and hitting difficult shots. He's been passing up the 3 in favor of attacking the paint frequently this year, and it seems as though he has an impressive finish every game. On Saturday, he notched his tough finish early in the game. Midway through the first quarter, Dort attacked shooting guard Dwayne Bacon off the dribble. Guard Markelle Fultz stepped in his way, closing off access to the rim. Or so he thought. Dort mini-euro-stepped around him and then went under the rim to hit the layup off the backboard. https://twitter.com/okcthunder/status/1345526546019315719