By John Denton
December 4, 2012
Two games, two wins for the Orlando Road Warriors, errr, Magic. What looked like a daunting nine-day, five game trip late last week is resembling a walk in the park to a Magic team that is trusting one another, sharing the ball and showing incredible fortitude in fourth quarters so far.
As thrilling as Sunday’s emotionally charged win was in Los Angeles against the Lakers and Dwight Howard, Monday’s victory against the much-improved Warriors might have been even more impressive. Despite not shooting the ball too well and being on the backside of a back-to-back set of games, the Magic dominated the paint with Nik Vucevic and ``Big Baby’’ Davis and got plenty of big shots from Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick to win for the second time in as many nights.
My introduction to the NBA some 15 years ago was legendary coach Chuck Daly, who could be both gruff and charming – and sometimes both at the same time. He had a saying that I always found hilarious and it went something like this: ``Winning is the best deodorant because it covers up a lot of stink.’’
Why, just last week, the Magic dropped three games in a row and the emotions of several of the players were running hot with the struggles of the team. But those are distant memories now with wins against the Lakers and Warriors in the books.
The Golden State win was even more impressive when you consider that the Magic landed in Oakland just after midnight. And after the team bussed across the Bay Bridge and into San Francisco, it was roughly 1:30 AM before getting bedded down.
Much to my dismay, I have become a very light sleeper regardless of my fatigue level. So when construction workers started pounding the pavement early Monday morning, I was awake by 7 a.m. just five hours after heading to bed.
And because I despise just sitting around the hotel room, I switched into tourist mode for most of Monday. While the players and coaches predominantly remain at the hotel for rest and game planning, staffers like myself like to get out an roam across the cities on the NBA circuit.
I set out on a jog to AT&T Park, home to Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants. My trip there was twofold: I’m a stadium/arena geek and I wanted to check out a park many consider one of the most scenic in all of sports; secondly, because my favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals, squandered away the NLCS in San Fran, I felt the need to go to the scene of the crime. (Like a glutton, I even walked through the Giants team store just to see the 2012 World Champions T-shirts.)
From there, I cabbed it over to the world-famous Lombard Street, which zig-zags back and forth with hairpin turns and almost looks like an optical illusion from the bottom. Every time I see it, I’m always enamored with it.
From there, I did the usual touristy thing and headed over to Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 39. I took pictures and videos of the dozens of sea lions sunning themselves for my 8-year-old daughter, knocked out some Christmas shopping and even squeezed in lunch with TV ``talent’’ Dante Marchitelli. I don’t think Dante enjoyed my company quite as much as his last trip to San Francisco … when he was on his honeymoon.
The day went well, and the time in San Francisco/Oakland concluded late Monday night (Tuesday morning for the East Coasters back home) with a thrilling Magic victory. The postgame locker room was downright giddy with players sharing laughs and being excited about a rare day off on Tuesday. This roadtrip could not have gotten off to a better start, and next up will be a test to see if Orlando can match the physicality of the Utah Jazz.
That’s all for now. Check back tomorrow for an update from Salt Lake City where there could be some off-day skiing for yours truly. Pray for my ACLs, please.
Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
Follow John Denton on Twitter here