ORLANDO – Early in the season, the Orlando Magic are learning just how fine of a line the difference between winning and losing really is.
Despite holding double-digit leads in five of its eight games this season, Orlando has only earned a single victory as its young squad still learns how to avoid costly mistakes down the stretch and close out contests.
That task won’t get any easier on Thursday as the Magic (1-7) get set to host the defending NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors (3-5), at 7 p.m. ET.
“We have to learn to take care of the basketball in crunch time and understand that possession of the basketball is the most important thing,” said Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley, whose team squandered a 15-point lead in part due to 25 total turnovers against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. “We have to make sure we’re doing it by committee.”
The Warriors will certainly be hungry for a victory after dropping their last three games. Over that stretch, Golden State has the league’s worst defensive rating (119.0), has given up the second most second-chance points to their opponents (18.3), and committed the most total personal fouls (77).
“We just need to take our time, especially down the stretch,” said Wendell Carter Jr., who coming off an outing where he matched a career high with 30 points. “Just being more poised on the offensive end.”
Still, despite their uncharacteristic defensive struggles, Golden State’s offense is still a lethal unit. The Warriors are putting up 117.5 points per contest and are knocking down 14.5 triples per game – both of which are fourth best in the NBA.
Two-time league MVP Steph Curry remains the head of the snake, firing off 30.0 points per contest while making an NBA-high 4.8 3-pointers per game.
KEY STATS: While the Magic are not playing efficiently in terms of taking care of the basketball, they’re certainly not wasting opportunities at the charity stripe. Against Oklahoma City, Orlando went a perfect 20-of-20 from the free throw line. It marked just the third time in team history that the Magic made 20-plus free throws in a game without a miss.
IN AND OUT: Cole Anthony (right internal oblique tear), Markelle Fultz (fractured big left toe), Gary Harris (left knee injury recovery), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery), Terrence Ross (left knee contusion), and Moe Wagner (sprained right midfoot) are out for the Magic.
For Golden State, Donte DiVincenzo (left hamstring strain) and Andre Iguodala (left hip injury management) are out.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “One thing about this team that we all understand is on the offensive end it can be anybody’s night. We have so many offensively talented players in Franz (Wagner), Bol (Bol), (Paolo Banchero), our bench is really good. It can be any night for any of us. Our biggest thing is just getting shot attempts. When you have turnovers, you’re not giving yourself a chance to even score points, and that’s what ultimately wins games. So, that’s just something we’re going to have to become a lot better at. We’re a lot of guys down with injuries and things like that. A lot of our guards (are injured) which is kind of tough to slow things down. I feel like that’s a growing process for us as a group.” – Carter on the team’s offense
HOW TO WATCH: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in on radio via FM 96.9 The Game.