Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Fresh off Sunday’s season-defining victory over Dwight Howard and the Lakers, the Magic continued to impress on their West Coast road trip with another victory over a quality opponent in the Warriors. This one was much more of a back-and-forth affair than the Lakers game, which was pretty well in hand for L.A. until a stunning late comeback by Orlando.
On Monday, the Magic played the Warriors close, leading at the half and tying after the third quarter. It was a combination of balanced late-game execution on offense (particularly on the part of J.J. Redick) and defensive stops that allowed the Magic to come away with the victory and improve their record to 7-10.
Redick was instrumental in putting this game away. He scored 17 of his 22 points on the night during the second half and was hitting almost any shot he took. He set up teammates well too, picking up three of his seven assists in the fourth quarter. His second-half scoring outburst was essential in combating a similar hot streak from Stephen Curry. Curry was on fire in the second half as well, scoring 20 of his 25 points and helping the Warriors stay in the game until Redick and Arron Afflalo closed the door in the final 12 minutes.
Jacque Vaughn’s defensive mindset continued to impress against the Warriors, as the Magic were able to get key stops late to prevent the Warriors from climbing back into the game once Redick opened up a lead with his hot shooting. The Warriors are one of the most balanced teams in the Western Conference and the Magic defense did an excellent job of severely limiting their range of weapons. Three Warriors players (Curry, David Lee, and Jarrett Jack) handled the bulk of the scoring load and Orlando defenders were able to neutralize just about everyone else.
Nikola Vucevic was a monster on the glass at both ends (15 rebounds) and Jameer Nelson was able to play facilitator for everyone despite a cold shooting night (nine assists). Even Gustavo Ayon, who has struggled mightily in recent weeks, was able to make an impact on the defensive end.
This is exactly the kind of win that’s great to see from a growing team. For the most part, nobody made any dumb decisions and the Magic took care of the ball well — committing only eight turnovers for the game.
Even as Redick was handling the lion’s share of the scoring down the stretch, there was a definite sense that he trusted his teammates enough to look to create shots for them and that level of trust extended to every other Magic player.
The Magic were able to execute early and late and got defensive stops when they needed to. That they did it against a team like the Warriors, who are great at home, on the second game of a road back-to-back, makes this win even more satisfying.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
J.J. Redick absolutely carried the Magic in the second half, both scoring and making plays for his teammates. He finished with 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting, five rebounds, and seven assists off the bench.
Turnovers. The Magic did an outstanding job all game taking care of the ball, turning it over only eight times. Not only was their defense able to pressure the Warriors into 14 turnovers, they were also able to capitalize on those mistakes and convert them into 23 points.
That Was … Encouraging
Arron Afflalo had one of his more efficient games of the season, scoring 24 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He did a good job attacking the basket and hit enough of his midrange jumpers that you could live with the shot selection.