Still aching from an embarrassing road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the ABC Sunday Showcase game, the Golden State Warriors welcomed the feisty Orlando Magic to Oracle Arena.
For the first half of the night, the Dubs were not hospitable.
The Splash Brothers got it going with 35 points in the first half (68 points and 18 rebounds for the game), and Draymond Green overcame illness to post 10 assists and nine rebounds in the victory. Most telling, the Warriors all-stars connected on 12-of-24 three point field goals: the slump is over.
The Warriors shook off the rust early in the first quarter, taking a 14-12 lead midway through the first. For the rest of the half, they hardly looked back (the Dubs lead by as many as 19). In the fourth, however, the Warriors bench hit an extended slump -- and the lead would shrink from 94-77 (garbage time) to 98-94 (panic time) in the span of several minutes. Despite Steve Kerr calling key starters back into the game to close it out with a small-ball lineup, Orlando stubbornly refused to go to bed.
The Magic got big second-half performances from Evan Fournier (20 points), Victor Oladipo (19 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) and bay area native Aaron Gordon (20 points, 16 rebounds) to trim the lead all the way down to two points, with 70 seconds remaining in the ballgame.
For the Warriors, it was a miserable night handling the ball, as the champs committed a whopping 24 turnovers. And they nearly committed a game-losing 25th turnover in crunch time, forcing Klay Thompson tracked down a loose ball into the corner with just four seconds on the shot clock. Well defended, Thompson scooped up the ball, spun around and hoisted a desperation three in one motion -- his shot found nothing but net.
From there, the Splash Brothers, Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston made just enough plays on both ends of the court to close this one out by the slimmest of margins.
Klay Thompson saved the Warriors. https://t.co/cILPScsw4u— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) March 8, 2016
By the way...
Andrew Bogut looked like one of the NBA's elite centers, once again. He kept finding cutters at the basket, rebounded effectively, and warded off more than a couple shots. His plus-minus score of plus-18 ranked just behind Curry and Green for the team lead.
The Warriors played without Andre Iguodala and a hobbled Draymond Green. Maybe it was just Green's incredible effort, but the team played very well considering the personnel. And disregarding the turnovers...
Welcome to Oracle Arena, Aaron Gordon. The San Jose native played his first ever game at Oracle -- despite being a two-time Mr. Basketball for the state of California.
The scourge of turnovers reared its ugly head, once again. The Warriors piled up three turnovers just about immediately following tip-off, and racked up 24 for the game.
The Warriors may have passed their poor shooting funk off on the Magic. Team pinstripes was a meager 5-of-21 from range -- they aren't a great three point shooting team, but that's just a terrible figure.
Draymond Green went to center court to acknowledge the fans, having witnessed the greatest home streak in the history of the sport. Well done, Dubs Nation!
Stephen Curry...Stephen Curry had a few Stephen Curry shots tonight. Ersan Ilyasova was absolutely posterized by a stupidly long Curry bomb, his 300th on the season. He finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and four steals.
The San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers both lost tonight. Guess the basketball gods believe in balance, after all. The Dubs are back at it Wednesday, as they host the Utah Jazz.
Oh, and Ilyasova hand-checked Curry right before he shot this, Oscar Robertson... https://t.co/FlPvQdzUqm— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) March 8, 2016
Curry had an open 3, Bogut started running back downcourt to celebrate and almost contested Curry's shot pic.twitter.com/l2QSM0dsKy— J.A. Adande (@jadande) March 8, 2016
There's #SPLASH number 300 for @StephenCurry30! #StephGonnaSteph pic.twitter.com/af9eRRaM66— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) March 8, 2016