Jeremy Lamb was not having a great shooting day for the Thunder. Confidence though is all about taking the next shot. And Lamb is not short on that. Even late in a game where his team was trailing for much of it -- in Summer League, no less -- and needed timely shooting to get there.
The Thunder found their offense and Lamb found his shot in the end.
Lamb blew by Victor Oladipo on a missed communication on the pick and roll to give the Thunder their first lead since the first quarter, finishing with an emphatic slam. Then Lamb got the last word of the game.
He hit Maurice Harkless with a viciously quick crossover that froze Harkless and caused him to slip. Lamb then buried a jumper from the free throw line to deliver a 79-78 win over the Magic at the Orlando Pro Summer League. Lamb and Dwight Buycks teamed up to steal the ensuing inbounds pass as Andrew Nicholson fumbled away Harkless' inbounds. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise solid game from the Magic.
"It's disappointing and that's the challenge for our young guys," coach James Borrego said. "You can't relax in the fourth quarter. You can't relax in the last two minutes with a lead. It's a great lesson for our guys. We played well. I was very happy with what we did, basically, the whole game. Other than the last two or three minutes, we were sharp, we were the aggressors."
The Magic were indeed the aggressors for most of the afternoon. They got to the line for 39 attempts, making 30 of them, grabbed nine offensive rebounds and recorded only eight assists. They turned Oklahoma City's turnovers into points scoring 19 points off 19 Thunder turnovers. Okalhoma City also took only 13 free throw attempts.
The Magic got a strong showing from Andrew Nicholson, who scored 19 points and 7-for-13 shooting after struggling in Sunday's game. Doron Lamb had 16 points and made two of his four 3-point attempts.
Maurice Harkless and Victor Oladipo were both aggressive throughout the game despite struggling to make shots. Harkless had 14 points on 3-for-8 shooting, but got to the line to make 8 fo 12. Oladipo had 12 points on 2-for-12 shooting and went to the line to make 8 of 10 attempts, all in the second half.
The poor shooting for the Magic proved to be the difference in a game they might have otherwise won. Orlando shot just 37.1 percent from the floor and 2 for 11 from beyond the arc. Compared to the Thunder's 46.2 percent and 10-for-29 shooting from beyond the arc. That is enough to make up the difference.
The Magic could not get a stop in the fourth quarter -- really dating into the end of the third quarter. The Magic took their biggest lead in the third quarter thanks to some stifling defense, but the Thunder made their run and started making shots to begin closing the deficit. After both teams failed to reach the 20-point mark in any quarter, the Thunder scored 31 in the fourth.
Orlando had a response, but could not score consistently enough to hold on.
It was not like the Magic were not trying though. Victor Oladipo and Maurice Harkless were looking to attack and they both seemed to be able to parade to the line. When the kick out came or the opportunity to score in the half-court set came, the shots were not falling.
That can be the fickle nature of basketball.
"I just missed," Oladipo said. "I'm a basketball player, you make shots, you miss shots. I'm going to shoot the same shots tomorrow if they're open. I shot the same shots yesterday and I made them."
Other players could certainly feel the same sentiment as Oladipo had after this second game. It is still a learning experience for a lot of these young players.
There is still a hurt from losing even in Summer League. There is still hurt in any game when the other team simply catches fire and seemingly leaves your defense helpless.
"To have the lead going into the fourth quarter and then be up seven with two minutes left, it's kind of tough to let it slip away," Kyle O'Quinn said. "I guess you've got to take something from it and let's you know you've got to finish games even to the end."