Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Recap: Thunder 73, Magic Blue 65

The Orlando Magic got several highlight-worthy plays from forward Aaron Gordon and rookie Mario Hezonja, but they couldn't overcome some cold outside shooting, too many turnovers and a fast start from Oklahoma City's Mitch McGary.
Gordon continued to show off the dramatic improvement in his offensive game and resemble the best player in the Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League. And Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in the June 25th NBA Draft, had two thunderous right-handed dunks and two 3-pointers. However, it wasn't enough for Orlando to overcome 19 misses from 3-point range and 20 turnovers in a 73-65 loss to the Thunder.
McGary scored 19 points on nine of 12 shooting and the Thunder (2-0) blew the game open in a one-sided fourth quarter. Orlando (1-1) trailed 48-47 after three periods, but its offense came unglued in the final period. OKC scored 16 of the first 20 points of the fourth quarter.
Things got so ugly down the stretch that Hezonja, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer in Saturday's Day 1 victory, missed dunks on back-to-back possessions with five minutes to play.
Orlando made just five of 24 3-point shots, while OKC missed 11 of 12 tries from beyond the arc.
Gordon, who had 22 points and 18 rebounds on Saturday, was solid again with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists before being pulled midway through the fourth quarter. Hezonja, a Croatian native who spent the last three years playing in the Spanish League, made just six of 16 shots and only two of nine 3-point shots for 14 points in nearly 23 minutes.
McGary, who burst on the NBA scene last season when the Thunder lost Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka to injuries, played well early in the game. Mixing mid-range jump shots with strong low-post moves, McGary made four of his first six shots and scored nine first-half points.
Hezonja had the highlight of the first half when he drove hard to his right and past OKC's Levi Randolph and dunked the ball with authority with his right hand. And later in the half, Hezonja took a pass from Gordon and calmly buried a 3-point shot to tie the game at 28-all.
Hezonja's rare combination of perimeter shooting and athleticism are some of the traits that drew the Magic to him in the months and weeks leading up to the NBA Draft. Hezonja, a 6-foot-8, 218-pound small forward, was the fifth overall pick by Orlando in the June 25th NBA Draft.
Just as he did in Saturday's overtime defeat of the Los Angeles Clippers, Gordon started quickly and dominated the game in the early going. The forward showed off the growth he's made as a shooter by burying four shots early in the game -- one of them on a pull-up drive and three of them on mid-range jumpers. Gordon had 10 of Orlando's first 12 points and he finished the first half with 12 points, five rebounds and one assist.

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