The Orlando Magic ended the Golden State Warriors' five-game winning streak on Friday, 99-85, and did so in impressive fashion. Orlando, which had been outscored in 10 of their last 11 first quarters, came out with great energy and aggressiveness, matching that of the plucky Warriors.
"We have to start games and come ready to play," Orlando guard Arron Afflalo said after Friday's shootaround, according to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com. Afflalo and crew certainly lived up to that task: their energy appeared to catch the Warriors unawares, and manifested itself in seven blocked shots in the first quarter. Indeed, Orlando blocked more shots in the period than the Warriors made (six), helping to set the tone for what would be a fairly easy Magic victory.
Afflalo scored 14 points, one of six Orlando players to score in double-digits. Orlando's three leading scorers--J.J. Redick (16 points), and E'Twaun Moore and Andrew Nicholson (15 each)--all came off the bench. That trio combined for 22 points in the second period, outscoring the Warriors' entire team by itself, as Orlando built a 15-point lead.
The Warriors' offense awoke in the third quarter as they shifted to a perimeter-oriented attack; the Magic limited Golden State to 18 points in the paint on 9-of-28 shooting, so it makes sense that the Warriors would try to shoot their way back into the game rather than trying to work the ball inside. A triple from Jarrett Jack brought the visitors to within nine points of Orlando, but the Magic responded with three straight three-pointers in less than two minutes to push the lead back to 18.
One can never really count out a team which boasts as many high-volume, high-accuracy three-point shooters as Golden State does, and the Warriors indeed awoke offensively in the fourth quarter. A smallish lineup with four wing players--including little-used veteran Richard Jefferson, whose presence may have indicated desperation on the part of Warriors coach Mark Jackson--surrounding David Lee gave Orlando problems with its combination of speed and range. Those challenges, coupled with Orlando's suddenly cold (34.8 percent) shooting, helped the Warriors hang around, and Jack's foul-line jumper at the 2:31 mark cut the Magic's lead to 10 points.
Jameer Nelson, who posted a game-high 11 assists, shot poorly on the night, but made two driving layups to put Orlando back up by 14 with 1:04 to play. Only after the ensuing timeout did Jackson relent by pulling Lee and Stephen Curry, his stars. Curry finished with a brilliant 25 points, but the Magic made him a mere spectator on offense, as he finished with just three assists.
Golden State won't lose many games when Curry pops off for an efficient 25 points and Lee adds a 24-point, 15-rebound double-double. But Orlando's interior defense and balanced offense was enough to give it the impressive victory. Special kudos go to Moore, who may have played his best game since joining the Magic: his 15 points were the most he's scored since posting 16 in a loss to the Toronto Raptors on November 18th, but it's the manner in which he scored his points which strikes me as more important than his point total. The Purdue product played patiently and worked off-the-ball as a spot-up shooter, particularly in transition. While he still needs to improve his ability to run a team's offense, Moore is finding a niche as a three-point marksman.
Orlando doesn't have long to celebrate its win: the Magic play the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.