The Oklahoma City Thunder will be trying to avoid matching a season-high three-game losing streak when they visit the lowly Orlando Magic on Friday. Oklahoma City's bid to overtake San Antonio for the top seed in the Western Conference took a hit when it fell to Denver and Memphis on back-to-back nights. The losses dropped the Thunder 2 1/2 games behind the Spurs, but they have a chance to make up ground with a favorable four-game stretch in which they will also face Washington and Minnesota.
Orlando continues to limp toward the finish line, having absorbed five straight defeats during a grueling stretch that features seven straight games against teams that are currently in the playoff mix. That includes a pair of meetings against the Thunder as well as matchups against Indiana, New York and Miami. The Magic have dropped 27 of 31 to join Charlotte as the league's only teams to reach 50 losses.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports Florida (Orlando)
ABOUT THE THUNDER (50-19): Oklahoma City received 52 points from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the overtime loss at Memphis, but the rest of the starting lineup was invisible, combining for only nine points. Power forward Serge Ibaka had scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games before he was limited to a total of eight points and eight rebounds against Denver and Memphis. Worse yet, he did not get to the free-throw line in either game. Ibaka had a strong outing against Orlando last Friday, going for 20 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
ABOUT THE MAGIC (18-51): Starting center Nikola Vucevic missed his first game of the season Wednesday due to illness, opening the door for rookie Kyle O'Quinn to make a strong contribution off the bench. A second-round pick out of Norfolk State, the 6-10 O'Quinn had 12 points and 14 rebounds in 25-plus minutes - logging season highs in each department. "Coach allowed me to get out there and trusted me on the court," O'Quinn said. "That just shows improvement right there, so it gives you a comfort level."
1. Oklahoma City has won three straight and six of seven against Orlando.
2. Magic leading scorer Arron Afflalo is 2-for-22 from 3-point range in his last five games.
3. The Thunder have lost three straight only once this season, from Feb. 12-20.
PREDICTION: Thunder 106, Magic 99