Photo credit: @warriors
By Jerry Feitelberg
SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors returned home to face the Orlando Magic on Thursday night at the Chase Center. The Warriors were still without the services of James Wiseman and Kevon Looney. The Magic, coached by Steve Clifford, had also been hit hard by the injury jinx. Star forward Aaron Gordon suffered a high-grade ankle sprain on February 1st against the Toronto Raptors. He will be out for four to six weeks. Evan Fournier, who averages 17 points a game, was not available. Markell Fultz, averaging 14 points a game, did not dress for Thursday’s game.
The Warriors knew that they could not take the Magic lightly. While the Warriors fans might not be familiar with the Magic roster, they came to play. It appeared the Warriors were going to breeze to an easy win. They won the first quarter 29-19. Steph Curry dazzled the Magic as he connected on four threes. The Warriors attempted 18 threes, the most attempts in one quarter in franchise history.
The Magic players had other thoughts. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr inserted his second unit to start the second quarter. The Magic went on an 18-6 run to take the lead 37-35. They held the Warriors scoreless for over four minutes. The Magic defense held the Warriors to two baskets in 12 tries. Curry returned with about six minutes left in the first half. Curry kept the Dubs close as he connected on two threes to make it a one-point deficit 48-47. The Magic responded by scoring the last seven points of the period to lead 55-47. They thoroughly outplayed the Dubs as the Magic outscored them 36-18 to erase the Warriors’ 10-point advantage and finish with an eight-point lead.
Steve Kerr knew that the Warriors had to get off to a good start in the third quarter. They could not continue to play the way they did in the second period. Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre knocked down a three. Steph added another three and a two-point bucket to take the Warriors on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 58. It was nip and tuck the rest of the way in the third quarter. The Magic, behind Nikola Vucevic, James Ennis, and Terrence Ross, kept Orlando either in the lead or just a couple of points behind the Warriors. Curry paced the Warriors with 15 points in the third period. Draymond Green made a couple of crucial buckets to keep the Warriors in the game. With the game tied at 80, Steph made a deep two, and Draymond came through with a bucket to put the Warriors ahead 84-80 at the end of the third quarter.
Things did not go well for the Warriors at the beginning of the fourth quarter. With the second unit on the floor, the Magic went on an 11-0 run to lead 91-86. Kerr inserted Curry and Green back into the game with slightly more than eight minutes left to play. The Warriors shut down the Magic offense for four minutes and 26 seconds. The Warriors went on a 16-0 run to lead 102-91. Curry made two threes, and Andrew Wiggins and Juan Toscano-Anderson helped out with buckets. The Warriors increased the lead to thirteen 107-94 with 1:56 left. The Magic would not go away. They continued to fight. The Magic got closer 109-105, but Curry put the game out of reach with two free throws. The Warriors won 111-105.
Game Notes and Stats: With the win, the Warriors are 14-12 for the season. The Magic’s record is 9-17.
Warrior highlights: Steph Curry tallied 40 points. He made 10 threes in 19 tries. He was 14-for-26 from the floor. He had eight rebounds and five assists. Draymond Green finished the night with eight points, six rebounds, and 11 assists. It was the fourth straight game that Green recorded 10 or more assists. Andrew Wiggins had another outstanding game. Wiggins had 21 points, seven boards, three assists, and he made two threes. Kelly Oubre, Jr. played well on both ends of the court. Oubre had a double-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. He connected on three threes. Mychal Mulder, coming off the bench, made three threes to finish with 11. The rest of the Warrior bench scored just five points.
As a team, the Warriors shot 46.6% from the floor and made 20 threes in 50 tries.
The Magic’s leading scorer was Nikola Vucevic with 25 points. The big man from Serbia pulled down 13 boards, had five assists, and made three threes. Dwayne Bacon had 20, James Ennis had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Terrence Ross, coming off the bench, kicked in with 20 for Orlando.
Up Next: The Warriors welcome the Brooklyn Nets to the Chase Center Saturday night. Former Warrior Kevin Durant will face his former mates for the first time at the Chase Center. Durant and the Nets beat the Warriors in the first game of the 2020-2021 season in Brooklyn. The Warriors will be looking to even the score. The game will start at 5:30 pm.