Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Magic Don't Waver Against Warriors

It took a vast amount of energy yet again, but the Magic went into Golden State and efficiently ran their offense in crunch time to defeat the Warriors 102-94 as Orlando has a 7-10 record. Glen Davis and Arron Afflalo each racked up 24 points, JJ Redick poured in 22 points (ten in the fourth period) and 7 assists off the pine, and Nikola Vucevic posted another efficient double-double of 14 points and 15 rebounds. The Magic snatched victory in its hands with a superb 33-point 4th quarter. This was Orlando's third back-to-back out of a total 13 this season. After a physically and emotionally draining thriller of a victory in Los Angeles the previous day, Coach Jacque Vaughn had to prepare his men to take on a Warriors squad that is actually fourth in the Western Conference and would be keen on tiring out a worn down Orlando side. It'd be the players wearing blue and white jerseys who would win the hustle battle. The Magic are at the bottom of the league in steals-to-turnover ratio, but 8 steals and just 8 turnovers would alleviate that worry on this evening. 

Orlando completed their Sunday comeback in Los Angeles with a 40-point fourth quarter. Could that hot scoring continue Monday night? Not quite. Missing their initial 3 shots of the contest, the Magic eventually settled into their ball sharing formula of success and were able to weather Golden State's scoring punch. The Warriors are a very dangerous squad when they can start two rookies and still bring solid veterans like Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack off of their bench. A Vucevic 3-point play with 1.8 seconds remaining was followed by Afflalo poking the Warriors' inbound pass to Glen Davis for the buzzer beating jumper that placed the Magic ahead 28-27 after one period. 

Here's something you won't hear me say too often: Orlando had a frontcourt size advantage. 12 points & 5 rebounds from Big Baby as well as 11 points & 9 rebounds (6 offensive) from Vucevic, and it's no wonder Orlando was able to survive under 40% shooting from the field. Other than E'Twaun Moore going 0-for-5 in the first half, I can't complain with anyone else's performance. Even Gustavo Ayon is earning my trust. A Jameer 3-pointer with 7 seconds remaining gave Orlando a 51-47 halftime lead. For a Golden State franchise that relies on pace and a uptempo game style, the Magic didn't surrender a single transition point to the Warriors in those twenty-four minutes. 

Steph Curry chose the 3rd period as the time where he'd find his pulse and scoring rhythm. Orlando struggled for points as Jacque took a gamble in resting his starters to keep them fresh for the final period push. Ayon and Nicholson had their rough moments, but they scratched and clawed enough to where the Warriors never could open up a cushion. A 9-0 Orlando run, fueled from a Redick personal 7-0 burst, allowed the Magic to momentarily wake up from their offensive third quarter coma. Orlando found themselves tied 69-69 with their Oracle Arena hosts going into the last 12 minutes. 

Redick had just 5 points under his belt going into the second half. Well with about five and half minutes to go in the contest, Redick found himself sitting on twenty points and an 89-78 Magic lead. Big Baby and Afflalo would make some timely plays on both ends of the court to help eventually secure another road victory. Coach Vaughn and his staff are getting fantastic praise in properly guiding this Orlando squad. The Magic get a much needed day off before taking on the Jazz Wednesday night in Utah as that will mark the Magic's third game of this 5-game road trip. 

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