For 46 minutes, it went according to plan. For the final two, it almost turned into an unlikely nightmare.
“I don't know what would have happened if there was more time,” Reggie Jackson said after Oklahoma City's closer-than-expected 101-98 survival over Orlando at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “But fortunately for us, there wasn't.”
The Thunder entered as 13-point favorites, an 11-0 home team squared up with a rebuilt and reeling Magic squad that came in 2-10 on the road.
BOX SCORE: THUNDER 101, MAGIC 98
And both teams acted accordingly, with the Thunder building an early cushion, stretching its lead to 16 and putting it in cruise control late, up 100-88 with less than two minutes to go.
It was right about the time you'd expect both coaches to empty the bench. And it was right about the time this game was nearly flipped on its head.
After a trio of free throws, Orlando rookie Victor Oladipo had an easy dunk, Arron Afflalo made a contested three and Mo Harkless got a breakaway bucket off a sloppy Russell Westbrook turnover.
In between, the Thunder missed all four of its shots, allowing for a sudden 10-0 run in 96 seconds of game time.
“We missed shots,” Kendrick Perkins said. “We weren't trying to have the game like that. They just hit some big shots.”
Then, with the Thunder up by two with the ball, another unlikely twist hurt OKC. Kevin Durant, a career 88 percent shooter from the line, missed a huge free throw, opening the door for Orlando, down three with the ball.