NBA

Thunder Fall to Magic on Serge Ibaka Game-Winner

Thunder Fall to Magic on Serge Ibaka Game-Winner

The Thunder fell to the Orlando Magic–on a game-winner from the returning Serge Ibaka–119-117.

Serge Ibaka received the loudest and most extended ovation of the night before the opening tip, and he stole the show by the time the night was over. Not only did he hit the game-winner over Steven Adams, but Ibaka also tallied a career high in points by the end of the night, scoring 31 and adding nine rebounds and four blocks.

Ibaka’s ovation was extended but expected. Jeff Green, who hasn’t played in a Thunder uniform since 2011, also drew a spirited cheer from the home crowd. Even DJ Augustin received some love upon checking into the game.

Listen to Ibaka’s postgame comments below:

 

Russell Westbrook had another fantastic night, pouring in 41 points on just 21 shots. He achieved his 40th career triple-double, adding 12 rebounds and 16 assists. Each time the Thunder’s second unit were were caught on their back heels, Westbrook came into the game and instilled energy that was infectious. It’s disheartening that a rare hyper-efficient night from Westbrook can still result in a home loss to an average team. This could be the game that convinces Sam Presti to make a move to bring in some scoring help.

Steven Adams notched a double-double, scoring 13 and adding 10 rebounds. Andre Roberson finished the night with 14 points, three rebounds, four blocks, and one steal.

It was an exceedingly poor start for the Thunder in the first period, easily their worst quarter of the season. They scored just 13 points on 6-25 shooting, including shooting just 0-8 from long range. They looked lifeless, limp, and lost out on the floor. Meanwhile, Serge Ibaka was playing inspired basketball, ending the first with 13 points, six rebounds, and four blocked shots. Like his tenure in Oklahoma City, he looked like a top-flight rim protector. Unlike his time here, he lived in the paint, feasting on Domantas Sabonis and Steven Adams.

The Thunder used the third quarter to vault themselves back into the game, outscoring Orlando 37-25. Unfortunately, the Thunder couldn’t stop them defensively, giving up no fewer than 25 points in any quarter.

Overall, it was poor defense that sealed the Thunder’s fate against Orlando. Perhaps on a different night–one where Serge Ibaka didn’t have a career game–they could have pulled it out against Orlando. Unfortunately, Serge Ibaka ended the Thunder’s hopes at a victory.

The Thunder (who have lost three straight at home) fall to 6-4. The Magic improve to 4-6. Next up for the Thunder: Monday night in Detroit against the Pistons.

 

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