Durant, Westbrook manage Oklahoma City over Orlando 97-89

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Courtesy of Orlando Magic

ORLANDO – Maurice Harkless had a career-high 25 points and four blocks to go along with eight rebounds but it wasn’t enough as the Orlando Magic fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder 97-89 on Friday, March 22 in front of 17,429 fans at the Amway Center.

“Unbelievable overall effort from every guy,” said Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn after the game. “As a coach you want to be proud of your team and what they’re doing. Tonight’s game typifies who we want to be.”

“Just great effort, pulling for each other, covering for each other, enjoying competing, and doing it at a high level.” added Vaughn.

Kevin Durant finished the game with 25 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder, while teammate Russell Westbrook scored 19 points and had nine assists for the game. The duo combined for 21 of Oklahoma City’s 27 fourth quarter points.

“They’re All-Stars,” said Vaughn about Durant and Westbrook’s performance on Friday. “They’ve done it before at a high level. I felt overall that we did a good job of making those shots tough.”

The Thunder used a 13-6 run during the last five minute of the second quarter to go into the locker room at halftime leading the Magic 47-34, while shooting 9.6% better than Orlando during the first half.

The Magic started the second half on a 18-9 run, which cut the Thunder’s lead to 56-52 with seven minutes left to play in the third quarter.

Arron Afflalo went down with a right hamstring injury with 9:09 left to play in the second quarter and did not return to the game for Orlando.

“I think I was a completely different player in the first half than in the second half.” said Harkless. The first half I wasn’t as aggressive, especially when Arron went down I knew I had to step up and make plays, make things happen. “

Harkless hit his second three-pointer of the game with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, tying the game at 62-62 for Orlando. Harkless scored 12 of his career-high 25 points during the third quarter.

The Magic entered the final quarter trailing the Thunder 70-66 after a third quarter which saw Jameer Nelson score 14 of his 16 points, along with Harkless’ 12.

Orlando took a 78-76 lead when Beno Udrih hit a jumper with 7:20 left in the game. Oklahoma City quickly regained the lead when Westbrook made consecutive layups, giving the Thunder a two point lead.

The Magic trailed by two with a minute left to play, but the Thunder would finish the game on a 7-1 run on the way to their 51st win of the season.

“If we got a couple shots to go our way, then it’s our game.” said Kyle O’Quinn after the game. “But we didn’t, we have to fight through that. But that’s a good team out there, one of the best in the NBA. They’ve been in this type of situation before”

With the loss Orlando’s record falls to 18-52 for the season with 12 games left to play on the year. The Magic’s next game will be at home on Monday, March 25 against the Miami Heat.