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OKC Thunder: Five takeaways from loss to Orlando Magic

The Magic stayed undefeated (4-0) Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena with a 118-107 win against the Thunder (1-2). 

Here are five takeaways from the game: 

Surprise starters 

Thunder starters Al Horford (rest) and George Hill (neck spasms) were out Monday night, and coach Mark Daigneault looked deep on his bench to replace them. 

Justin Jackson and Isaiah Roby were awarded not only their first starts of the season, but also their first minutes of the season. Neither played in the Thunder’s first two games. 

"These guys are all in the NBA for a reason," Daigneault said. "They're all here for a reason, and we never want to underestimate one of our own players. Those guys have sat over there for a couple games." 

Jackson started on the wing in place of Hill, and Roby started at center. Tuesday was the first start of Roby’s NBA career. It was the 58th start for Jackson. 

Mike Muscala and Hamidou Diallo seemed like the most likely options to start in place of Horford and Hill, but they both stayed with the second unit. And both had big games. 

Muscala converted a four-point play early in the fourth quarter. He finished with 14 points and five rebounds. 

Diallo gave the Thunder a burst of energy off the bench. He scored 13 points with eight rebounds and two steals. 

“I like to come in and do all the dirty work and clean things up,” Diallo said. “I feel like when I do that I uplift the whole team, and I uplift the whole team’s energy and the whole team’s spirit.” 

Roby makes most of chance 

Roby was traded from the Mavericks to the Thunder last season, but his rookie year was cut short due to a foot injury. He only logged three games and missed the only shot he attempted.

Roby’s first NBA bucket came Tuesday night — a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. 

The former second-round pick out of Nebraska went on to score nine of the Thunder’s first 22 points. Midway through the first quarter he turned down an open 3-pointer and drove to the basket, finishing a floater over Magic forward Dwayne Bacon. 

He added a highlight dunk in the fourth quarter, blowing by Magic center Nikola Vucevic after breaking Vucevic’s ankles. 

Roby ended his night with 19 points and seven rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting. 

Rookie watch 

Aleksej Pokusevski drove to the rim and put back his own miss. The third-quarter basket was the first of Pokusevski’s career. It broke an 0-of-14 drought to start his rookie season.

Pokusevski was just 1-of-8 from the floor, but he recorded six rebounds and three assists. 

Theo Maledon continued to flash his excellent court vision. He had seven points with three assists and two turnovers. 

Rookie two-way player Josh Hall made his NBA debut. He missed his only shot attempt in 47 seconds of playing time. 

Post defense

There wasn’t much of it for the Thunder without Horford. 

Orlando outscored OKC 72-58 in the paint led by Vucevic, who missed just six shots while scoring 28 points with 10 rebounds and five assists. 

"We were a little light in the paint tonight defensively and that's something we've gotta learn from and address," Daigneault said. 

Vucevic broke Nick Anderson’s Orlando franchise record for most field goals made (4,076). 

SGA leads offense

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 23 points with seven rebounds, seven assists and five turnovers. 

It was another solid performance for the 22-year-old guard. He shot 8-of-10 overall and made all three of his 3-point attempts as the Magic tried to force the ball to anyone but Gilgeous-Alexander. 

“I expect a lot of that going forward, but I feel like I handled it OK,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Had a few too many turnovers.” 

Luguentz Dort also stayed hot, making 3-of-7 3-point attempts for a 15-point game. 

Dort has opened the season with three straight games of 15-plus points. He had three such games all of last season. 

Related Photos
Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) looks to pass the ball as Orlando's Nikola Vucevic (9) and Michael Carter-Williams (7) defend during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) looks to pass the ball as Orlando's Nikola Vucevic (9) and Michael Carter-Williams (7) defend during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. [Sarah...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9e741247d221fe26dae0440090b528bb.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) looks to pass the ball as Orlando's Nikola Vucevic (9) and Michael Carter-Williams (7) defend during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) looks to pass the ball as Orlando's Nikola Vucevic (9) and Michael Carter-Williams (7) defend during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) looks to pass the ball as Orlando's Nikola Vucevic (9) and Michael Carter-Williams (7) defend during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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