Orlando snaps 9-game skid behind Gordon’s 40
ORLANDO, Fla. — Unheralded Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon played the role of a superstar Wednesday night, dominating a team that was built around three NBA superstars.
Desperation does that sometimes.
Gordon scored 40 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to carry the Orlando Magic to a 121-108 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder that snapped a nine-game losing streak.
“We were tired of the losing that kills your spirit,” Gordon said, “so we went out and played like we wanted this one.”
While the Thunder’s Big Three of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George played with an air of uncertainty, Gordon and the Magic dominated from start to finish.
Gordon hit 13 of 23 shots, including 6 of 12 from 3-point range. He produced his second career 40-point game, falling one point short of his career high, set Oct. 24 against the Brooklyn Nets. He added four assists and four steals as Orlando won for the first time since beating the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 10.
The Thunder (8-12) lost their third consecutive game and their fifth in the past six, despite getting 37 points and 11 rebounds from Westbrook.
Magic point guard Elfrid Payton had 19 points and made eight of his 10 shots. He also had six assists. He set the tone early by beating Westbrook with a pullup jumper, then quickly stole the ball from Thunder superstar on the next possession.
Orlando center Nikola Vucevic had 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and Evan Fournier had 16 points.
“To break the (losing) streak is a real positive. Our guys can breathe a sigh of relief for 30 seconds now with Golden State coming here Friday,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “Our season is going to feel a whole lot different if we’re able to get another win Friday.”
Westbrook scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, including five 3-pointers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Orlando, which shot a season-best 59.2 percent.
“It just starts with a sense of urgency. It starts with me. I take the blame for this one and the funk we’re in right now,” Westbrook said. “One thing I hate with a passion is the losing. I have to make sure we are ready to play on both sides of the ball to get us out of this.”
George scored 22 points and Anthony had 16 points for Thunder. Andre Roberson added 11 points.
The Thunder, though, never got closer than 10 points in the final period after Gordon opened it with a 3-pointer.
“I don’t think our defense was really great like it can be,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I know we keep talking about the same things, but you want to try and help your team see that vision and carry that vision for 48 minutes, but we weren’t able to do that.”
The Magic (9-13) scored the first 13 points of the fourth quarter to grab a 100-80 lead with 8:49 remaining. Gordon had the first five.
The Thunder looked lost as the game slipped away. Westbrook then cut loose with five 3-pointers, but it was too little, too late after the Magic had dominated much of the game.
The Thunder led 73-70 in the third after Anthony scored five consecutive points. The Magic, though, scored 13 consecutive points later in the third for an 87-77 lead, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from Gordon and Fournier and five consecutive points from Vucevic.
“Obviously, this doesn’t erase a nine-game losing streak, but it feels good,” Fournier said. “We just played super hard. It feels good to beat a team like that. We had a lot of intensity, and we played like a team that wanted it, period.”
The Magic led 59-57 at intermission. Gordon paced everyone in the first half with 20 points and five rebounds.
NOTES: Magic G Terrence Ross left the game midway in the second quarter after hyperextending his right knee while trying to block a shot by G Russell Westbrook. ... Orlando rookie F Jonathan Isaac missed his ninth consecutive game with a sprained right ankle. ... In his two previous games in Orlando, Westbrook scored 57 and 48 points, respectively. ... The Thunder have struggled to shoot straight this season. Westbrook came into the game shooting just 40.1 percent, his lowest field-goal percentage since his rookie season. F Carmelo Anthony was shooting a career low 42.4 percent and F Paul George was shooting 42.2 percent, nearly four percentage points below last season. ... The Magic allowed 117.4 points per game through their nine-game’ losing streak.