With 3 1/2 minutes remaining and his team clinging to a four-point lead, Thunder coach Scott Brooks leaned over to a courtside fan and whispered four words.
“Heck of a game,” Brooks marveled.
Make that magnificent.
In outlasting Orlando 125-124 on Thursday night at Oklahoma City Arena, the Thunder didn't simply supply some extremely exciting entertainment. Oklahoma City also achieved a major milestone — assembling its most complete game yet.
Gone were the pesky stretches of stagnant offense and periods of players appearing drowsy on defense. Those moments were replaced with widespread defensive focus for 48 minutes and a team effort offensively that left Orlando's defense, the fifth best in the league, looking overwhelmed.
By the final buzzer, you could argue the Thunder's performance was its most meaningful thus far.
The win was the Thunder's fourth straight, improving it to 27-13, and served as the latest triumph over a league heavyweight. Also on the list are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Utah.
With Game 41 — the halfway point in the season — Monday at the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, a performance like Thursday's could create a flood of positive momentum as the Thunder gears up for the season's second half.
Consistency has been the Thunder's Achilles heel all season. But the team on Thursday undoubtedly took a sizable step in the right direction.
“I think we're starting to get there,” said Russell Westbrook, who recorded his second triple-double of the year with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. “The last few games, we've been playing consistent defensively and holding teams to under their percentages.
Thursday's box score: Thunder vs. Magic