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Magic 103, Warriors 96: Strong defensive fourth quarter helped propel Orlando by Golden State

The Magic erased a double-digit deficit, coming from behind to beat the Warriors Thursday night

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

Okay, sure.

The Orlando Magic, who lost Tuesday night to the New York Knicks after blowing a double-digit lead, snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Golden State Warriors Thursday night inside the Amway Center.

The Magic overcame a woeful third quarter in which they scored 11 total points to beat the defending NBA Champions, 103-96. Orlando outscored Golden State 33-15 in the game’s final period. The Magic last defeated the Warriors on December 14th, 2012.

The Warriors, who lost in heart-breaking fashion Wednesday night in Miami on a Dwyane Wade off-balance three-pointer at the buzzer, shot 9 for 40 (22.5%) from behind the three-point line against the Magic.

Aaron Gordon led the Magic Thursday with 22 points (9-15 FGA’s) and 15 rebounds. Gordon scored seven crucial points for the Magic in the game’s final two minutes.

“His defense was great. (And) to me, he made the two biggest plays,” Coach Steve Clifford said after the game. “He hit the three, which I think gave us our first lead (in the fourth quarter). I believe it put us up by one, and then at plus three - he got the tip-in to make it two possessions.”

Golden State started the game off as cool as could be, missing 8 of their first 11 shots. On the other hand, Orlando knocked-down 8 of their first 11 attempts from the field.

The Magic began the game playing with great pace, sharing the basketball and running the floor.

Plays like this one from Jonathan Isaac, who began the game 3-3, helped the Magic jump out to an early lead.

Stephen Curry started to take over midway through the first quarter. The former NBA MVP scored 15 consecutive points for the Warriors to close out the game’s opening period.

One of the facets of the game that plagued the Magic in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in New York was their lack of ball movement. You could tell Thursday night that sharing the basketball was a point of emphasis for the Magic, who recorded 12 assists on their first 15 made baskets.

The Magic were balanced offensively the entire first half with six players scoring five points or more before intermission.

Klay Thompson began cooking in the second quarter, scoring 12 points in the period (5-10 FGA’s, 2-6 3PTA’s). But the Warriors as a team only shot 39% in the first half (23% on 3PTA’s).
Gordon had a strong first half, scoring 10 points and pulling down 8 rebounds. A Gordon jump-shot from the elbow beat the buzzer to send the Magic into the break up 59-51 on the Warriors.

The third quarter was a disastrous one for the Magic. Golden State jumped all over Orlando, coming out of the half on a 25-7 run to claim a double-digit lead.

The Warriors, led by DeMarcus Cousins, scored 16 of their 30 points in the period in the paint. Cousins scored 10 of his 21 points in the third.

The Magic shot 5-23 in the third quarter, turning the ball over four times. Orlando, who led by eight points at intermission, limped into the fourth quarter down 11 points.

The Magic dragged themselves off the mat so to speak, charging out on a 14-6 run to begin the fourth quarter, which forced Steve Kerr to call a timeout with just under seven minutes remaining in the game.

A Terrence Ross three tied the game with 4:21 at 89-89, but the Magic were burned the following defensive possession on a Jordan Bell back-door lob. A Curry uncontested three from the wing on Golden State’s next offensive trip down the floor prompted Clifford to call timeout with his team trailing by five points with just over three minutes left.

Well, that timeout seemed to work.

A Gordon three-point make stemming from a pretty two-man game with Vucevic, followed by a lay-in from D.J. Augustin, gave the Magic a three-point lead with 1:16 remaining in the contest. It was a lead they would not relinquish.

Orlando’s bench, a unit that really struggled against the Knicks on Tuesday, outscored the Warriors bench 35-12. Ross scored 16 points in the game, 11 of them coming in the game’s final quarter. Isaiah Briscoe, who returned to the Magic after missing two games with a concussion, scored 8 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.

“(Down) eleven at home, that’s not where you want to be (against them), but certainly it’s not the end of the world,” Clifford told reporters. “We had to play a good three or four minutes, and that’s what we did. That group of Isaiah (Briscoe), Wes (Iwundu), T-Ross, AG, and Khem (Birch) played a good four/five minutes there. They set the tone defensively for the remainder of the fourth quarter.”

The Magic now travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers Saturday night. They will then make a quick trip to Cleveland to play the Cavs on a back-to-back.