The Orlando Magic (13-24) brought in the new year with the second home game of their three-game stand against the Oklahoma City Thunder (16-21). The Magic entered this game on a rough three-game losing streak, but this time around they had more of their core players back in the lineup after facing suspensions. Still, players missing from the Magic lineup included Mo Wagner (suspension), Franz Wagner (suspension), Admiral Schofield (suspension), Kevon Harris (suspension), Bol Bol (health and safety protocols), Jalen Suggs (ankle), Jonathan Isaac (knee), and Chuma Okeke (knee). As for the Thunder, they entered this matchup missing Chet Holmgren (foot), Aleksej Pokusevski (tibial fracture), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (ankle), and Ousmane Dieng (wrist).
The first quarter of the game began with about six minutes of back-and-forth between the two teams. At the 6:03 mark, the Thunder began a 7-0 run that would last for a minute and fourteen seconds. This run was met with an 11-0 run by the Magic that lasted for two minutes and twenty-eight seconds, giving them a lead of 24-17 with 2:14 to go in the quarter. After some more back-and-forth, the quarter ended with the Magic up 31-28. The Magic looked very strong as a unit, with eight of their players scoring in the first quarter.
The second quarter of the game allowed the Magic to demonstrate even more of their dominance as a team. After scoring seven points rather quickly into the second, the Magic really began to demonstrate their dominance at the 8:28 mark. Paolo Banchero scored the first two points of a 10-0 run that would go on to last for a minute and thirty-nine seconds, giving the Magic a 52-36 lead. This high-level performance continued throughout the quarter, putting the Magic ahead 70-53 going into halftime. While Paolo Banchero lead his team in the first half with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, what is most notable is the fact that the Magic had eight other players all within the 6-9 point range. The first half saw the Magic shoot 55% from the field, 38% from beyond the arc, and 92% from the free-throw line. On the other hand, the Thunder shot 35% from the field, 38% from beyond the arc, and 92% from the free-throw line.
Entering the second half, the Magic continued to pad their lead, at one point being up by eighteen points. The 2:09 mark is when things began to improve for the Thunder, as they went on a 9-0 run to end the quarter whittling down the Magic’s lead to 95-88. The fourth quarter, similar to earlier in the game, was a back-and-forth battle up until the 4:43 mark where the Thunder launched a 7-0 run over a minute and thirty-one seconds. This did not do much for them as the Magic responded with a 7-0 run of their own in the span of thirty-eight seconds that canceled out the progress the Thunder made. This run helped the Magic coast to victory against the Thunder, winning their first game of the new year on their home turf 126-115. The Magic ended the game shooting 51.85% from the field, 39.39% from beyond the arc, and 80.56% from the free-throw line. The Thunder ended the game shooting 40.45% from the field, 40.54% from beyond the arc, and 90.32% from the free-throw line.
Paolo Banchero led the Magic with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists, only five stats short of a triple-double. Banchero received an extremely impressive amount of support from his team, with the following seven players scoring in double digits: Gary Harris (18 points and 3 rebounds), Terrence Ross (18 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists), Markelle Fultz (13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists), Wendell Carter Jr. (13 points and 13 rebounds), R.J. Hampton (12 points and 4 rebounds), Caleb Houstan (11 points and 5 rebounds), and Mo Bamba (10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists).
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 33 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. He was supported by the following players: Josh Giddey (16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), Isaiah Joe (13 points), Luguentz Dort (13 points), Kenrich Williams (12 points and 9 rebounds), and Mike Muscala (11 points).
The Orlando Magic (14-24) will host the Memphis Grizzlies (24-13) in their final home game of the three-game stand. The Memphis Grizzlies are currently averaging 115.9 points per game while allowing their opponents 111.0 points per game. This matchup will allow the Magic to put their dominance to the test against a strong Western Conference team. After what was seen in their matchup against the Thunder, the Magic when whole is a force to be reckoned with.
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