By John Denton
December 14, 2012
ORLANDO – The Golden State Warriors have easily been one of the NBA’s surprise teams this season, already notching impressive wins against Miami, Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers.
But when it comes to facing the Orlando Magic, an equally impressive team that has already defied the expectations of many prognosticators, the Warriors simply have no answers.
For a second time in 11 days, Orlando defeated the Warriors – Golden State’s only defeats during the past three weeks and 10 games. This time around, Orlando snapped out of its funk of starting slowly, got another big performance from rookie Andrew Nicholson and rained in 3-pointers from all corners of Amway Center in a 99-85 defeat of Golden State.
``I don’t know if it’s so much (the Warriors); I just think the timing of when we’ve played them has been important,’’ Magic guard Arron Afflalo said. ``We’ve had to have a heightened focus, whether it was coming off a pretty inspired Lakers win (on Dec. 2) or coming off an uninspired Atlanta loss (on Wednesday). We were just focused and when we’re focused we have a pretty good chance of winning no matter who we play.’’
Orlando (9-13) shot 47.7 percent and hit nine 3-pointers. The Magic never trailed after the first three minutes of the game and blew their lead out to as much as 20 points in one of their most impressive performances of the season.
J.J. Redick, one of three 20-point scorers two weeks ago when Orlando defeated Golden State 102-94 in Oakland, scored 16 points and hit four 3-pointers. Redick’s buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter gave the Magic a commanding 81-64 lead and sent them on their way to their fourth win in the past seven games.
The Magic also got stellar contributions from Maurice Harkless and Nicholson, the team’s top two rookies. Both blocked four shots apiece in the first half, and that was just the start of things for them. Nicholson played well on the post with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Harkless had three dunks, seven points, a career-high seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals.
``I was just out there trying to play hard and be aggressive and whenever I saw my man turn his head I was trying to be aggressive and cut,’’ Harkless said. ``I was just playing defense and I’m always trying to block shots and I got them today.’’
Nikola Vucevic, who had 14 points and 15 rebounds in the defeat of the Warriors 11 days ago, chipped in 12 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for Orlando. Afflalo scored 14 points and notched seven rebounds, while guard E’Twaun Moore added 15 points and three more 3-pointers.
Golden State came into Friday’s game having won eight of its past nine games, losing only to Orlando back on Dec. 3. The Warriors had their three-game winning streak snapped by the Magic 11 days ago and then proceeded to win their first five games on their seven-game road trip.
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