After their overtime victory in Los Angeles, the Warriors traveled to Orlando to play the Magic on Friday night. The Warriors would be a little bit short-handed as Andre Iguodala sat out the game due to a sore knee. Even with Iguodala missing the game, the Warriors dominated the game, never trailing on their way to a 133-112 victory.
Curry and Durant’s hot shooting give the Warriors an early lead
The Warriors came out of the gate playing well, jumping out to a 10-2 lead and holding a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Kevin Durant started the game out well, putting together an impressive sequence here early in the first.
Here’s some of the impact Durant’s had on the first quarter. An and-1 on one end then a block on the other leading to a transition layup pic.twitter.com/bYwNYmX9Du— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) December 2, 2017
Durant scored 12 points in the quarter, while handing out one of his seven assists here on a Stephen Curry 3-pointer.
What finger? What ankle? pic.twitter.com/A7TFDneaJz— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 2, 2017
Curry scored 13 points in the quarter, nine of those points coming on shots from 3-point range. In the first, the Warriors shot 75%, with Curry going five for eight and Durant going five for seven. The Magic also shot the ball well from the field in the quarter and were able to keep things relatively close through Evan Fournier, who scored 14 of his 22 points in the first. With both teams scoring more than thirty points in the first quarter, the game looked to be a high-scoring affair, which did not bode well for the Magic. If there’s one thing you don’t want to do with one of the top offenses in the league, it’s get into a shootout.
Warriors increase their lead in the second thanks to Green and McCaw
The Warriors continued their strong play in the second quarter and went into halftime holding a fifteen-point lead. One major contributor to that was Draymond Green, who scored 8 of his 12 points in the second. Six of those points came on these two 3-pointers he made as the Magic looked like they were about to go on a run and get back in the game.
Green picked up two points here as well at the very end of the second. Assisting on Green’s layup was Patrick McCaw, who also scored eight points in the second quarter.
Patrick McCaw droppin dimes over here pic.twitter.com/cNBXkn8z1z— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 2, 2017
Playing in slightly extended minutes due to Iguodala’s absence, McCaw gave the Warriors a boost off of the bench in the second. Jordan Bell, supplanting JaVale McGee’s role as the first big man off of the bench, also helped the Warriors increase their lead. On this play, Bell not only kept the play alive by tipping the ball out but also showed a softer touch around the basket to get the two points.
Jordan Bell keeps it alive with the tip out, then he shows off his offensive skill with the pumpfake/driving layup pic.twitter.com/Mryzx1W4S4— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 2, 2017
By the end of the second quarter, the Warriors had scored 78 points, the most points the team had scored in one half this entire season, continuing the impressive offensive play they showed in the first.
Gordon heats up in the third
The Warriors came out of the locker room struggling a bit, not playing as well as they could to start the third quarter. Through a combination of missed Warriors shots and turnovers, the Magic cut into the Warriors lead. Cutting the deficit to as low as eight points, the third quarter ended with the Magic shaving four points off of the Warriors’ halftime lead as they trailed by just eleven.
A big part of the Magic’s good third quarter was Aaron Gordon. Gordon scored a game-high 29 points Friday night, and 15 of those points came in the third quarter. The Magic big man’s impressive play caught the eye of at least one notable basketball-watcher.
We're probably not talking enough about how well Aaron Gordon is playing.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) December 2, 2017
In addition to his 29 points, Gordon also pulled down seven rebounds and blocked two shots. It was a much stronger performance against the Warriors than the one he put up on November 13th, when Gordon scored only 10 points and was a non-factor in a Warriors victory.
That Gordon, Fournier, and Jonathon Simmons (who scored 18 points) were all able to be so productive offensively was perhaps the biggest concern for the Warriors. While the Warriors’ offense played great, its defense left much to be desired.
That said, the Warriors’ offense continued to run smoothly in the third. Here we see Durant getting good position in the paint before slamming it home on the spin move.
The Warriors scored 70 points in the paint against the Magic, driving and cutting to the basket to a degree that we haven’t really seen much of this season. While the defense could be shaky at times and not get stops, that the offense looked more direct and focused was a good development for this Warriors team.
Durant is ejected but Bell punctuates the blowout win
The Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter, putting the game out of reach and leading to both coaches emptying their benches as the clock wound down. With the Magic seeming to hang around, Klay Thompson knocked down one of his three 3-pointers to push the lead to 17 and, for all intents and purposes, put the game away.
Thompson finished the game with a team-high 27 points, also handing out five assists in 35 minutes of action.
The end of the game would not be without some drama. After arguing with the officials and directing a few choice words in their direction, Durant was ejected with just under five minutes left in the game.
Even with Durant missing the final stretch of the game, the Warriors remained comfortably in control and were able to give their rookie Bell a chance to show off his dunking abilities. On this play, Curry gets the ball off of a Green block and passes it ahead to Green, who lobs it up for the young Bell to slam home.
I thought that spectacular highlight would be the end of Bell’s high-flying act for the night but I was wrong. That Green-to-Bell combo worked so well on the first alley-oop, Bell decided to give it another try.
Jordan Bell did not inbound the ball to Casspi because he wanted Draymond to get it so he could catch this lob! pic.twitter.com/KhsjmIXo09— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 2, 2017
Bell finished the game with a career-high 16 points while also blocking three shots, grabbing four rebounds, and seemingly staking a claim to substantial minutes in the Warriors’ rotation.
While the Magic are not one of the elite teams in the league, the Warriors convincingly defeated a team in a game where they were always in control. It was a dominant performance like their head coach had been calling for (even though they still have to clean up those turnover issues, as they totaled 19 against the Magic). Now the Warriors head to Miami to play the third game of this road trip on Sunday against the Heat.