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Magic die by the three in loss to Warriors

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Despite forcing a tie at the half, a barrage from beyond the arc doomed the Magic’s chances against the league’s top team

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic took part in a recent NBA tradition on Sunday, losing to the Golden State Warriors 118-98 at the Amway Center. The Warriors looked out of sorts early, but turned a 42-point third quarter into an easy win.

After an electrifying performance against Milwaukee on Friday, the Magic played well enough to lead most teams at halftime – just not the 38-6 Warriors. Their lack of an ability to defend the long ball in the second half turned an improbable Golden State loss into another very predictable one for the Magic.

During that pivotal third quarter the Dubs rained down 16 threes, converting eight. The Magic, meanwhile, stayed on their steady pace that lead to a tie at the half, but could not match the Warriors’ firepower.

It was just another 40-point quarter for the Warriors, who average a league-leading 30.8 points in the third period this year.

“There’s just no Margin for error,” said Magic coach Frank Vogel, “and the way you punch back is by making shots yourself and by moving the basketball yourself.”

With key shooters Evan Fournier and Jodie Meeks on the shelf due to injury, the already present three-point deficit swelled in Golden State’s favor. The Magic converted only seven of their 28 attempts from deep, while Warriors’ sharpshooters Steph Curry and Klay Thompson each sunk seven on their own.

The Warriors, the NBA’s fourth place team in three-pointers made, finished at 19-of-42 from distance.

Golden State started off sluggish out of the gate, committing eight turnovers in the first quarter. Orlando stayed with them, but only managed six points off of those early opportunities.

Though the noon tipoff translated to 9 A.M. in the Warriors’ home of San Francisco, an 11-0 run by the away team shook off the rust and showed just how dangerous they can be.

Orlando, to their credit, did get clicking in the second quarter. They capitalized on a 19-2 run to lead by as many as 11 points. With the typical rotation rendered impossible by the injury bug, Vogel turned to some more unorthodox lineups. With the same kind of effort and tenacity displayed on Friday, the Magic were able to dictate the game in the second quarter.

Again, the full 48 minutes were an issue for Orlando, who now sit at sixteenth in points per game allowed.

As for the Magic’s depth, it took another hit on Sunday when D.J. Augustin went down with an ankle sprain. The veteran point guard’s X-rays did come back negative, but that still leaves the back court in a bad spot if he misses time. Tonight, second year wing Mario Hezonja saw his minutes crack 20 for only the fifth time this season, and his second in the new year.

The Orlando Magic (18-28) will stay home on Tuesday for a much easier task: stopping the Chicago Bulls (22-23). The Bulls prevailed 112-80 in Chicago during the teams’ only meeting thus far this season.