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Thunder roll past Magic

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Updated 10 months ago on
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ORLANDO — The Oklahoma City Thunder may have put an official end to their early-season road woes, signaling a new start toward returning to prominence in the Western Conference.

The Thunder opened their five-game Eastern Conference road trip by blistering the overwhelmed Orlando Magic 127-99 on Sunday night, determined to start changing their fortunes away from home.

Forward Kevin Durant had 21 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in just 27 minutes, leading the Thunder to an early lead that left the outcome of this game never in doubt.

“You can’t look too far ahead. You can’t worry about the future, but we can build on this,” Durant said. “We started this one with a lot of energy and effort. It was a good way to start this trip.”

The Thunder (20-20) are just 8-13 away from home this season, hurt consistently by poor starts and a lack of focus on the road. That wasn’t a problem Sunday night when they scored the first 13 points, led by 38 in the second quarter and never let the Magic back into the game.

“Everybody was really locked in, engaged early, and that was good,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I’m proud to start this trip off with a defensive effort, a game like this.”

Guard Russell Westbrook had 17 points and six assists in 24 minutes. Forward Serge Ibaka had 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and eight rebounds in 28 minutes. Guard Andre Roberson had 10 points. Reserve guard Dion Waiters, acquired by trade earlier this month, had 16 points.

The Thunder starters were replaced late in the third quarter and never returned to the game, giving reserves the fourth-quarter. The Magic never got closer than 25 points in the fourth quarter.

“It was big to start the road trip like this,” Westbrook said. “We’re in a good spot now.”

The Magic (15-29) were led by guard Victor Oladipo with 23 points. Point guard Elfrid Payton had 19 points and eight assists. Center Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and seven rebounds.

Despite the 30-point-plus lead, both Westbrook and Durant were called for technical fouls in the third quarter for arguing calls by officials. Vucevic received one, too, in the same period for shoving Thunder center Steven Adams.

The Magic did open the third quarter by scoring nine consecutive points — a trio of 3-pointers by Oladipo, Channing Frye and Devyn Marble — and cut the deficit to 79-54, but the Thunder resumed their domination.

The Thunder shot an incredible 72.7 percent (32 of 44) in the first half when they roared to a record-setting, 79-45 lead. It was the most first-half points for the Thunder since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. The 79 points also were the most ever scored by anyone against the Magic in the first half.

The Thunder missed only two shots in the second quarter when they led by as many as 38 points. The Thunder made 25 of their first 32 shots (78.1 percent) as the Magic offered little resistance, allowing their opponents to do as they pleased, which left coach Jacque Vaughn steaming.

“I want confrontation. I want hostility. I want aversion,” Vaughn said. “I want nastiness. I want all of the above for us to grow as a team. The chip on your shoulder has to be there from the start of the game. That is the old school in me. You do not have to like the guy you are competing against.”

The Thunder held a 54-33 rebound advantage. They led 21-13 in second change points. They beat the Magic to rebounds and loose balls, winning all the hustle points.

“They (Thunder) got a lot of the 50-50 balls. You can’t get pushed around as a team,” Payton said. “We’re still learning how to play like this.”

Durant had 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists before intermission. He made seven of his eight shots. Waiters made all five of his shots for 12 points in the first half.

Vucevic had a good start with 10 points and five rebounds in the first quarter, but he was passive after his impressive start. Magic trailed by 17 points after the first 12 minutes.

NOTES: The Magic activated rookie F Aaron Gordon for the first time since he fractured his left foot Nov. 15. Gordon, the No. 4 pick in the draft, averaged just 5.8 points and 3 rebounds in the 11 games he played previously this season. He went scoreless in 11:45 of game action Sunday. … Sunday was the start of a tough road stretch for the Thunder, who play seven of eight on the road. Oklahoma City has an 8-13 road record. “We’ve struggled a little on the road and we want to stop that,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We’ve had some bad starts. This is a great opportunity to turn that around.” … Thunder F Serge Ibaka remade his game this season by shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range (56 of 136) coming into Sunday. In his five previous NBA seasons, he made a combined total of just 25 3-point baskets.

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