The Golden State Warriors built a 23-point lead by halftime of Tuesday's New Year's Eve matinée against the Orlando Magic and never looked back, ending Orlando's two-game winning streak by a 94-81 final.
In just 28 minutes, Lee tallied 22 points and nine rebounds on 11-of-15 shooting as his Warriors routed Orlando. Andrew Bogut added eight points, 11 boards, and stout defense for the visitors, while Stephen Curry notched nine points, five rebounds, and eight assists.
Arron Afflalo scored 15 for Orlando, but did so on just 7-of-18 shooting from the floor, ending his notable string of high-efficiency performances. Nik Vučević left the game in the first quarter after spraining his left ankle, leaving Orlando vulnerable on the glass: the Warriors won the rebounding battle, 56-37.
The Magic came out of the gate making four of their first six shots to stake them to a narrow, 8-6, lead. The Warriors responded by putting on a clinic, at both ends of the floor. With Curry orchestrating the offense, Golden State went on a tear, going 9-of-10 from the floor for 20 points in the next 5:32, building a 26-13 lead before both teams went cold to end the period. Golden State's cold streak coincided with coach Mark Jackson's using his second unit.
Defensively, the Warriors appeared to encourage Afflalo, the NBA's 11th-leading scorer, to shoot. Instead of functioning within the flow of the offense, as he has of late and throughout his All-Star-caliber season, Afflalo dominated the ball and took several contested long two-pointers, one of which Klay Thompson blocked in impressive fashion. He finished the quarter shooting 2-of-6 from the floor and 1-of-3 from the foul line for five points.
The Magic couldn't reverse their fortunes in the second period, drawing no closer than 10 points as the visitors extended their lead to as much as 24, ultimately finishing with a 58-35 advantage. Orlando couldn't get a clean look from anywhere on the floor, and as a result, shot just 34.9 percent from the floor.
On some nights, the Magic can use their defense to create opportunities for them in transition or on secondary breaks. The first half Tuesday was not one of those nights: Orlando got just 11 defensive boards in 16 chances and managed only two fast-break points as Golden State shot 55.3 percent, with Lee doing much of the damage: the former Florida Gator scored 16 points in 18 first-half minutes, shooting 8-of-11 from the floor. His ability to slip free off the ball--and Golden State's willingness to find him--makes him an efficient player, and Orlando did not commit itself to keeping track of the former All-Star. As Ken Hornack of Fox Sports Florida noted, Lee outscored the Magic in the paint, 14-12, in first-half paint points.
Not that Lee was alone in torching Orlando: all five of Golden State's starters converted at least half of their first-half shot attempts. Meanwhile, no Magic starter topped the 40-percent threshold.
The Magic opened the second half with some encouraging baskets: Jameer Nelson created an easy dunk for Jason Maxiell, starting the second half for the injured Vučević, out of a pick-and-roll, and he later found a cutting Afflalo for a layup in traffic. Orlando made a more concerted effort to get to the cup--witness Glen Davis lowering his left shoulder into Lee's chest for a tough hoop at the 6:25 mark--but as welcome a development as that was, it still didn't offer much resistance defensively. More than halfway into the period, Orlando had shaved only three points off its deficit.
An Afflalo long two at the shot-clock buzzer brought Orlando to within 15 points with 16 seconds to play in the period, capping an 11-6 Magic run. Nelson hit two treys in that span, and three in the third quarter overall, to key Orlando's rally.
Golden State shot 8-of-16 in the third, but committed six turnovers, diminishing the impact of that hot shooting.
The fourth quarter began encouragingly enough for the host, with Tobias Harris recovering his own miss in traffic and putting it back in to cut the Warriors' lead to 13 points. The teams traded buckets for several minutes before Golden State reeled off scores on four straight possessions to take a 22-point lead with 6:04 to play.
The Magic called timeout and Jacque Vaughn emptied his bench, putting four subs on the floor to join Maurice Harkless, another reserve who had checked in previously. In that span, the second-year forward made some good plays for Orlando, with three rebounds and a smart deflection of an alley-oop pass.
Andrew Nicholson drained a corner three with 33.9 seconds to play for his first points in 10 days.