At the end of a lost season, each game becomes less about the win or loss, and more about whether the team shows you something interesting that night, if they find a way to overachieve, or unveil a new wrinkle, or even just help one guy have a big night. Even in a miserably disappointing loss to the Sacramento Kings, there was an Elfrid Payton triple double to admire. Unfortunately, there was no such silver lining on Thursday night, as the Warriors blew out Orlando right from the tip, resulting in a 122-92 loss for the visiting Magic. Jeff Green and Payton each led the Magic with 13 points. Klay Thompson led the relentless Warrior offense with 29 points, 21 coming in the first quarter.
Orlando’s offense was about as bad as its been all season, shooting 37% from the field, 7-27 from behind the arc, while committing 19 turnovers. Golden State did just the opposite, hitting well over half their shots and committing only 12 turnovers.
The first quarter was notable in two ways: first, for the early exit by Stephen Curry following an ankle injury (he would return by the end of the quarter), and the unstoppable shooting from Klay Thompson. At one point, Thompson was outscoring the Magic 21-10 by himself, and the Magic would fail to reach his total even by the end of the quarter. He was 5-7 from behind the arc during those first 10 minutes, which the Magic utterly failed to capitalize on while the Warriors’ star point guard was absent.
The only highlight for the Magic came at the end of the first half, the only stretch of the game they outplayed the Warriors. Trailing 33-61 with just over 3 minutes left in the second quarter, the Magic finished on a 19-8 run to make the game, well, vaguely less awful. Thanks to an all-around burst of scoring from the starters, including an and-1 from Payton, a 3-pointer from Terrence Ross, and a few Aaron Gordon buckets, the Magic got the score within 20 before halftime.
That momentum would not last into the second half. While the Warriors had burned the Magic in the first half from beyond the arc (particularly Thompson), the third quarter was a procession of dunks from the home team, by the likes of Zaza Pachulia and Andre Iguodala. The biggest problem, however, was Curry, who showed no signs of that first quarter injury when he lit the Magic up for 16 in the third quarter. While he was unable to regain his shooting touch that’s evaded him for a few weeks now, he was able to easily make up for it with his crafty finishes in the paint. Thanks to their monstrous advantage after the third quarter, neither team would field their starters in the fourth.
The tank rolls on.