Magic overwhelmed by undermanned Warriors on road
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — After wearing down in the playoffs last season, the Golden State Warriors are starting to learn how to win without being at full strength at times this year.
The hope is to be healthy enough so they don’t have to worry about playing short-handed in the postseason.
Stephen Curry had 23 points and five assists, Klay Thompson scored 20 points and the undermanned Warriors overwhelmed the Orlando Magic 103-89 on Tuesday night.
”Very pleased, and even more pleased that we can do it while getting guys the rest and proper treatment,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. ”Big win for us.”
Curry and Thompson sparked an 18-0 run early in the second half that put the Warriors ahead by 24 points. The backcourt duo became the first pair of teammates in NBA history to combine for at least 400 3-pointers in consecutive seasons.
David Lee added 20 points and 10 rebounds to help the Warriors offset the absences of Andre Iguodala (right knee tendinitis), Andrew Bogut (left ankle inflammation) and Jermaine O’Neal (rest).
”I was getting my Pop on,” Jackson joked, referring to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has famously — and often successfully — rested his regulars during the NBA’s marathon season.
Nikola Vucevic scored 15 points and Tobias Harris added 14 points and six rebounds for the overmatched Magic, who lost their sixth straight game.
The Warriors shot 10 for 27 from 3-point range, while the Magic were 4-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc.
”Once they start hitting 3s, it’s tough to guard those guys,” said Magic forward Maurice Harkless, who scored 12 points.
The Warriors weren’t taking any chances at the beginning of their five-game homestand. They opted to rest three key players — including two starters — even as they jockey for playoff position in the crowded Western Conference standings.
The Warriors (43-26) remain in sixth place in the West. They’re still 1 game behind Portland, which beat Milwaukee 120-115 in overtime Tuesday night, and improved to 1 games ahead of idle Dallas.
Jackson said Bogut could return Thursday night against Milwaukee, while O’Neal will likely rest again. Iguodala will sit out against the Bucks and Saturday’s game versus San Antonio.
While the Magic (19-49) are among the NBA’s worst teams, the Warriors have struggled at times this season against lesser competition at Oracle Arena.
Golden State had won five straight at home until losing to Cleveland on Friday. That loss brought back memories of a 4-6 stretch in January and February that included home losses to teams such as Denver, Minnesota, Washington and Charlotte.
The game against Orlando looked like it could follow those earlier upsets at the start.
The Magic led by three in the first quarter and stuck with Golden State for most of the second quarter. The Warriors, using a smaller and quicker lineup to spread the floor, ended the first half on a brief run to take a 57-47 into the break.
The talent gap between the two teams, which has changed dramatically since Dwight Howard left Orlando two seasons ago, turned out to be too much for Orlando to overcome.
The Warriors opened the second half on an 18-4 run, including 18 straight points after the Magic’s first two baskets, with the biggest highlights coming from long range.
Thompson and Curry connected on two 3-pointers apiece during the spurt, the last one in the corner from Curry that stretched the Warriors’ lead to 75-51 with 7:51 remaining in the third quarter.
”They can just shoot the basketball,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ”They get in this building and start making 3s, it just makes it tough on you.”
Curry finished 9-of-13 shooting, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Thompson shot 7 for 14 from the floor and was 4 for 5 from beyond the arc.
The Warriors led 87-66 entering the fourth. The Magic moved within 92-81 halfway through the quarter before the Warriors pulled away again.
”You always teach that no-excuse, next-man-up mentality,” Curry said. ”We’re a deep team. Big performance by everybody.”
NOTES: The Warriors swept the season series against the Magic for the first time since 1991-92. … Orlando plays at Phoenix on Wednesday night. … The Warriors return to action Thursday night at home against Milwaukee.