ORLANDO - Entering Thursday’s action, the Golden State Warriors were shooting 49.0 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from 3-point range this season while averaging 29.4 assists and 19.6 fast break points.
Those statistics, which rank near or at the top of the league, were expected from a team that has won two straight NBA titles and three in the last four years.
Against the Orlando Magic, though, whose defense has been spectacular the last several weeks, the Warriors’ numbers looked nothing like their season averages. They finished with just 16 assists and seven fast break points, and they were held to 40.2 percent shooting from the floor and 22.5 percent from downtown.
Also noteworthy, Golden State took just 10 free throws, nearly 12 fewer than its normal amount, and the Splash Brothers, aka the greatest shooting backcourt in league history, went a combined 8-of-29 from long distance.
The Magic’s defense is for real, in case anyone previously doubted it before Thursday’s statement victory, and it’s getting even better.
The length this team has is hard to match, and their attention to detail is unique for such a young squad.
Kevin Durant, Golden State’s other perennial All-Star, did not play in this game, so yes, his absence was probably a factor. But, the fact of the matter is, the Magic’s defensive pressure prevented the Warriors from being as sharp and precise as they typically are.
The Magic have won nine of their last 12 games, and during this stretch they rank No. 2 in each of the following categories: blocks, opponent second chance points, opponent points off turnovers and opponent fast break points.
Orlando had 10 blocks against Golden State. Steph Curry, specifically, was blocked four times, including twice by his counterpart, D.J. Augustin, and once each by Evan Fournier and Khem Birch.