Postgame Report: Magic vs. Warriors (3/18/14)

Nikola Vucevic

By John Denton
March 18, 2014

OAKLAND – Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn did everything that he could to try and quell Golden State’s overwhelming third-quarter surge on Tuesday night, calling two timeouts and inserting two substitutes.

However, little to none of it worked as the scorching Warriors broke open a close game and knocked out the Magic with one of their famed, sweet-shooting runs.

Down just six points and playing well early in the third quarter, Orlando was nearly helpless as Golden State ripped off 18 straight points and four consecutive 3-pointers to incite its noisy home crowd. Little else in the game mattered after the lead went from six points to 24 points, and Golden State cruised to a 103-89 defeat of Orlando before 19,596 fans at Oracle Arena.

``We were always taking the ball out of the net,’’ said Magic center Nikola Vucevic, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half. ``It’s hard to score against set defenses. It’s a lot easier when we get some stops and get some fastbreak points and score when they aren’t set. But we took the ball out of the net almost 10 straight times and it was hard to keep a rhythm.’’

Orlando (19-49) has now lost five games in a row and still hasn’t beaten a Western Conference team on the road all season (0-12). The Magic are a NBA-worst 4-31 on the road this season and have dropped 20 of the past 21 games away from the Amway Center.

Prior to Tuesday night, it had been 22 years since the Warriors (43-26) swept the two games from the Magic in the same season. Golden State, which won 94-81 in Orlando on Dec. 31, last swept the Magic during the 1991-92 season. The Magic had won six of the last seven games in Oakland before Tuesday, but another victory was out of the question following the decisive third quarter.

``They can just shoot the basketball and they get in this building and start making those threes and it makes it tough on you,’’ Vaughn said. ``We did a lot of good things shooting over 50 percent in the first half and at that time with 16 assists. We were doing a lot of good things and we’ll continue trying to do that.’’

Steph Curry (23 points) and Klay Thompson (20 points) combined for five 3-pointers in the third period alone as the Warriors outscored the Magic 30-19 just after halftime.

Orlando continued to play hard late in the game, getting to within 92-81 on a driving layup by Victor Oladipo (10 points). Tobias Harris chipped in 14 points and Maurice Harkless had 12 points.

``Once they start hitting threes, they’re just really hard to stop,’’ Harkless said. ``All of their wings are really good from 3-point range. They had a lot of open shots and once they started making them it was difficult to stop them.’’

The Magic’s four-game, seven-day road trip continues Tuesday night in Phoenix when they face the surprising Suns. Orlando will then have two days off before facing the Utah Jazz (Saturday) and the Los Angeles Lskers (Sunday).

Orlando trailed by 10 at the half and got within six points on a jumper by Kyle O’Quinn and a hook shot by Vucevic. But the game turned around when Curry and Thompson scored the game’s next 13 points – the final three coming on a Curry trey that hit the side iron, front rim and back rim before falling in. And after two Draymond Green free throws, Curry buried another 3-pointer to put Golden State up 75-51 and send the Magic into a second timeout just four minutes into the second half.

Orlando nearly matched the high-powered Warriors early on, shooting 54.1 percent to Golden State’s 55 percent in the first half. However, Golden State had a 57-47 lead at intermission because of near flawless shooting from Lee (16 points) and Curry (13 points).

Vucevic took advantage of the Warriors being without Andrew Bogut (ankle sprain) and defensive ace Andre Iguodala (knee tendinitis) and carried the Magic early in the game. He was aggressive in the paint while scoring 12 first-half points.

Orlando didn’t get much out of Oladipo in the early going because of some bad luck. Oladipo picked up three fouls in just seven minutes on the court. Oladipo’s third foul came on a hard drive to the hoop and it sent him to the bench for the final seven minutes of the half.

``There are two halves in the game, and they used a five-minute stretch to go up 20 points,’’ Harkless said, somewhat dismissing Orlando’s solid start. ``We can’t let that happen. We have to find a way to lock in the whole game.’’