After losing on Friday night to the Miami Heat, the Golden State Warriors made their way to central Florida to face off against the Orlando Magic as part of the five-game road trip they’ve currently on. The Magic were a team many thought could make something of a leap this season (building off their playoff 2019 NBA Playoffs appearance) but they’ve struggled and fallen behind in the Eastern Conference. In other words, this was a game that only true NBA die-hards were looking forward to watching. Even though the game itself was a bit ragged at times, sloppy and rough around the edges, the Warriors and Magic played an exciting, hard-fought contest on Sunday evening for the crowd assembled at the Amway Center.
Neither team was able to pull away and the game was close throughout, with 15 lead changes and 7 ties.But the Magic came up with big plays down the stretch and Alec Burks missed a good look at a three-pointer that could have sent the game to overtime as the Warriors lost 100-96 to the Magic. It was the Warriors’ 17th defeat as we just pass the quarter mark in this 2019-2020 NBA season.
Bowman provides a spark
Glenn Robinson III led the way for the Warriors, scoring 19 points against the Magic while going 3/6 from three-point range. Sunday night’s performance was easily one of Robinson III’s best since joining the Warriors and it was a shame it could not have come in a victory.
While he didn’t quite the same numbers as Robinson III, Ky Bowman played just as important a role in keeping the Warriors in this game as they tried to get out of Florida with at least one win.
Bowman scored 12 points in Sunday evening’s loss, the eighth time this season the rookie point guard has scored 10+ points. 8 of those points came in the third quarter, including this bucket while in transition to cut the Magic’s lead to three points.
Sky Bowman in full effect pic.twitter.com/xmdlh49JTf— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 2, 2019
Beyond the traditional statistical measures, Bowman’s hustle and intensity were vital to the Warriors against the Magic. Even though he’s undersized, Bowman is a tenacious defender and rebounder, making up for his lack of size with determination and drive. It’s something that has come up here and that other people have been saying, but that doesn’t make it any less true...
END OF Q3: Warriors trail the Magic, 72-71. Two-way-contract guard Ky Bowman continues to show that he deserves to be on this team through the season. Has 10 points and 4 rebounds off the bench.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) December 2, 2019
Bowman needs to be a part of this team and its plans going forward. This is a player who could be a key part of a very good team so he is someone you do not want to let slip way. Hopefully, once it’s possible, GM Bob Myers will make this a reality and Bowman can feel secure in his place with this franchise.
The future is here and its name is Paschall
At some point, the idea of Eric Paschall being a Rookie of the Year candidate is going to go from joke to (a quasi) serious thing. On Sunday evening, Paschall played well beyond his years on his way to scoring 17 points, pushing his total points this season up to 340, which leads all rookies thus far. You can see those things that make Paschall look not like a rookie on this play in the second quarter.
Paschall with the strong finish pic.twitter.com/s6bLHjJd9B— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 1, 2019
This is a basket that it takes most players some time to learn how to make, figuring out how to deal with the contact and all the traffic around the basket. But Paschall is able to drive, pick up the foul and make the basket to give himself a chance at a three-point play.
The Warriors have been such a veteran-heavy team these past three seasons (something of a necessity when you’re trotting out a starting lineup featuring two former MVPs) but there is a youth movement going on in the Bay Area. Some of it is by necessity—because of all the injuries and bad luck that has befallen the Warriors this season—and not totally by choice, but it is happening.
Any time during this season when Warriors fans get frustrated with another loss in a game they would have won easily in the past few seasons (like this one, for example), they should just remember this experience the younger players are getting will pay enormous dividends at some point in the very near future.
Fournier and Fultz fuel the Magic
The Warriors did a good job containing the Magic’s star forward Aaron Gordon. Gordon, who hails from the Bay Area, scored 8 points on 2/11 shooting and was rendered something of a non-factor in this game, most likely because of the continued defensive excellence of Draymond Green.
But while the Warriors didn’t allow Gordon to beat them, they weren’t able to say the same thing about Evan Fournier. Fournier scored a game-high 32 points in the victory, going 6/10 from three-point range. Those 32 points also tied a career-high for Fournier.
Between Fournier and Terrence Ross (who scored 19 points coming off the bench), the Magic took advantage of the Warriors’ lack of wing defenders and put up some big numbers. Robinson III and Burks can make good offensive contributions but they are defensive liabilities that opponents can exploit.
But late in the game it was Markelle Fultz who came up with the plays that secured the win for the Magic. Fultz, the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, had been labeled a bust as he was shipped to Orlando in just his second season in the league. But against the Warriors, Fultz looked like someone who deserved to be drafted that high.
Fultz finished the game with 14 points and 9 assists, while also posting a game-high plus/minus of +9. 8 of Fultz’s 14 points came in the fourth quarter, including a 4-point mini-run around the two-minute mark that gave the Magic the lead for good.
The Warriors continue their northward travels on Monday as they head to Georgia to face off against the Atlanta Hawks.