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OKC Thunder: How Isaiah Roby went off for 19 points vs. Orlando Magic after never scoring in two years in the NBA

Isaiah Roby caught Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s pass behind the 3-point line and watched as his teammates gave him room.

The Thunder forward, who was having an out-of-nowhere night in his Thunder regular-season debut, was given the chance to isolate against the former All-Star center, Nikola Vucevic.

He did not squander the opportunity.

Roby gave a pump fake and then a hard jab step that knocked his defender off balance. With the opening, Roby sprinted past the fallen defender, wound back and hammered down a ferocious one-handed slam that brought the Thunder bench to its feet.

Roby ran back down the court and gave Gilgeous-Alexander a low-five.

“I told him before the game just to be aggressive, not think too much with it being his first start,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “He did exactly that.”

In his first start in the NBA, Roby turned in the best game of his short two-year career as the Thunder fell to the Orlando Magic 118-107 at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Tuesday night. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 23 points with 7 rebounds and assists but it was Roby who was the spark of the night. He scored 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had one steal in 28 minutes.

Roby knocked down a 3-pointer in the first quarter, with a Gilgeous-Alexander assist, for his first career NBA basket. Nine of his 19 points came in the first quarter as the second-year Nebraska product got off to a hot start.

“I was really happy for him tonight, he played a phenomenal game,” Thunder center Mike Muscala said. “I thought he was very poised, made some great drives to the basket, that dunk in the second half. I thought he played great defense too and rebounded well. … After not playing in the first two games and then coming out and starting against Vucevic, I thought he did a really good job.”

With Al Horford (rest) and George Hill (neck spasms) out, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said before the game he was going to reach to the bench and “expand the team.” Daigneault made right on his promise and moved Roby and Justin Jackson into the starting lineup for their Thunder season debut.

Roby took full advantage of the spike in his playing time, even winning the opening tip of the ballgame.

“That was a great call to receive and I appreciate the challenge,” Roby said of being moved into the starting lineup. “Especially playing against a great big like Vucevic in my first start. So that was something I was really excited about, it was something that I’ve been working for all offseason so I was glad [Daigneault] gave me the opportunity.”

After missing the Thunder’s NBA bubble run with an injury, Roby has been on a long journey back to playing basketball competitively. It paid off Tuesday night as he consistently excelled in pick-and-roll and isolation opportunities.

“The thing that I’m most pleased with is the approach he’s taken and that’s something obviously that we’ve harped on with all these guys,” Daigneault said of Roby, who was acquired 11 months ago from the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Patton and cash.

“There’s going to be ups and downs, tonight was an up for him he obviously played really well. But it’s more so the consistency and that approach and continuing to grow through all these experiences. That’s what I’m most pleased with, with him is he was ready, he got himself ready to play.”

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma City's Isaiah Roby (22) goes up for a dunk in front of Orlando's Terrence Ross (31) in the second half of the Magic's 118-107 win Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Oklahoma City's Isaiah Roby (22) goes up for a dunk in front of Orlando's Terrence Ross (31) in the second half of the Magic's 118-107 win Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-693c720191825e09201531eca901b1e4.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Isaiah Roby (22) goes up for a dunk in front of Orlando's Terrence Ross (31) in the second half of the Magic's 118-107 win Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma City's Isaiah Roby (22) goes up for a dunk in front of Orlando's Terrence Ross (31) in the second half of the Magic's 118-107 win Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City's Isaiah Roby (22) goes up for a dunk in front of Orlando's Terrence Ross (31) in the second half of the Magic's 118-107 win Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
James Jackson

James D. Jackson joined The Oklahoman in January 2020 to cover high school sports. He a University of Central Oklahoma graduate. During his time at UCO, James served as a sports reporter and Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, The Vista.... Read more ›

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