On a tough Western Conference road trip, losses are expected. Even if you take Phoenix for granted, matchups against the Nuggets, Lakers, Warriors, and Blazers mean the Orlando Magic were probably going to come back home with more losses than wins on the 5-game stint.
Maybe that’s why it hurts more when they had a chance to steal another one but let it slip away. Despite building an 18-point lead in the third quarter, the Warriors whittled away at the lead behind their two (healthy) all-stars, ultimately defeating Orlando 116-110. Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross were red-hot all night, combining for 58 points to lead the Magic.
Injuries plagued both teams, most notably the Warriors playing without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, but also the Magic with Aaron Gordon exiting the game early due to back issues. His defense was sorely missed in the second half as KD and Klay made their run. Evan Fournier struggled throughout the night and clearly looked off, and coach Steve Clifford indicated after the game that he was playing hurt.
Things started out swimmingly for the Magic, though Golden State rallied to keep the game close after the first quarter. It wasn’t until the second quarter that Orlando really started ramping up behind Ross’s ridiculous shooting. He put up 14 in that quarter alone, including 2-2 from deep. Combining their outrageous offense with some strong defense, the Magic dominated the Warriors 39-21 in the period to build their 64-47 lead.
It wasn’t just Ross lighting it up from outside, as the Magic’s young bigs combined to light it up from beyond the arc, as well. Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba were a perfect 5-5 on 3-pointers, several of those coming during the critical third quarter as the Magic fought to maintain their lead. The game was an especially important one for Isaac, who broke his minutes limit to cover for Gordon’s injury. His shooting duel with Durant in the third was especially entertaining, though his defensive results were mixed on the night against one of the toughest matchups in the league.
In the end, Durant and Thompson proved to be too much to handle, combining for 38 points in the second half, nearly matching the Magic as a team (46 points). Orlando had a chance at the very end, taking a 107-104 lead with 2 minutes to go, but that would be the final time they held the lead, as Thompson’s 6th 3-pointer quickly tied the game again, and Durant sealed it with a trademark 3 from the top of the key over Isaac’s contest.
Orlando continues their road trip on Wednesday against the Portland Trailblazers.