With Thunder assignee Aleksej Pokusevski back in the rotation, the Blue’s crew was back in action after seeing the 7-footer sidelined with a foot sprain on Wednesday. This game was supposed the mark a reunion between Lakeland guard Chasson Randle and the Blue, who he played his first two regular season games with before inking a two-way contract— but it was never meant to be as the 6-foot-2 guard is on Orlando’s active roster. Randle may have inevitably been Lakeland’s missing piece as the Blue managed to squeak by the Magic 115-113. This victory moved Oklahoma in a tie for 3rd in the league, currently sitting at 5-1, while Lakeland sunk down to 3-3 on the season, putting them in a brutal 4-way tie for the final two playoff seeds.
Oklahoma City brewed up a secret potion to start the game, posting a brutal 11-4 run to begin the contest— and jumping out to a 39-18 lead through one. The Blue outclassed the Magic out the gates, shooting a ludicrous 70% on 16-of-23 shooting, contrasted to Lakeland’s bijou 26% off of 7-of-23 from the field. The diversity of Oklahoma City’s scoring was breathtaking early, dropping in 22 points in the paint, 11 points off transition, and 15 points off of 5 made threes, two of which came from guard Rob Edwards. Edwards was a blowtorch in the second quarter’s offset, welding together two more threes in the first two minutes— helping the Blue to reach a 25 point lead in the period, ultimately leading 68-52 at half.
Lakeland saw there chance to open the second half — and ran with it. The Blue started 3-of-13 to start the second half after rigorous attempts inside proved to go nowhere. In direct correlation to the Blue’s poor offense, the Magic managed to string up a 16-8 run in the first five-and-a-half minutes to cut things to single-digits. Oklahoma City has tended to catch fire at the perfect moments this season, and things were no different in this game as they responded with a 15-9 run to hold a 14 point lead entering the 4th.
Oklahoma City’s starters watched from the sidelines for the majority of the final period, watching their double-digit lead dwindle down to 5 before being checking in with 4 to go. Sides clashed for every breath down the stretch, but all signs pointed to Oklahoma City taking the cake, being up two possession with under a minute. Two offensive fouls from the Blue gave the Magic their first glimpse at winning the game, since the first quarter— they didn’t let it go to waste. Devin Cannady gleefully navigated around a screen to drill a 26-foot triple to knot things 113-113 with 7 seconds remaining— that’s when the unthinkable happened. The Oklahoma City Blue appeared lifeless after Cannady’s three, but Thunder assignee Ty Jerome was having none of it. The 23-year-old dribbled the full-length of the court before drifting inside on two defenders flipping up— and getting to go a 5-foot floater to call game with 0.2 remaining.
Oklahoma City was not shy spreading the ball, pouring on 27 assists— but they ran through their stars. Ty Jerome was the man of the game. Jerome hit the biggest shot of the night with his double-teamed game-winning floater, but his grittiness to take his team to that point needs to be addressed. Jerome scored 9 points in the final quarter no question becoming the group’s number one option for a final shot. Jerome in all dropped 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, bagging 3 assists to his name. Jerome’s slowed-motion play as a one has been spited by numerous doubters of the guard, but his unorthodox style undoubtedly caught the antsy Magic off guard for buckets. Moses Brown met his first real match in 7-foot-1 center Jon Teske this game, but you’d hardly notice on the scorecard. Brown shot 12-of-14 on the night on rim-rattlers in layups while narrowly keeping his double-double streak alive with 10 boards. Rob Edwards made a strong case to NBA teams yet again on Friday, this time grilling up 17 points and 5 rebounds on just 22 minutes. Edwards remaining unconscious from three this game, shooting 5-of-7 on triples, largely produced on his own. Melvin Frazier Jr. and Zavier Simpson posted 12 and 11 points respectively, with Frazier Jr. forcing his way to the line and Simpson producing on his signature post-hook. Aleksej Pokusevski played a pygmy 17 minutes as the starting power-forward, being replaced by Melvin Frazier Jr. to close the game. Poku had a drab night, going just 2-of-8 from the floor, but his 8 rebounds and 4 assists were a nice touch to the 19-year-old’s play.
The Oklahoma City Blue (5-1) will have their next chance at moving up in the standings as they face the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (3-4) on Sunday.