Last night saw Orlando ripped apart by a red hot Curry. The Leagues leading three point shooter fired Golden State to a win, hitting 40 points
Orlando left everything on the court in what was a monumental effort.
THE OPENING QUARTER
The Golden State Warriors played with no recognised centre, so had Draymond Green in the position. As a former Defensive Player of the Year he played well all night.
Inside 2 minutes of play we had seen the Warriors plan to deal with their lack of cover at the centre and the threat of Vucevic. As soon as Vooch got the ball he was double teamed by anyone available.
The Stephen Curry barrage began inside 3 minutes as he took a pass on the run and instantly went into a jump shot that found nothing but net.
On 5 minutes played Frank Mason lll limped off the court holding his groin.
Kelly Oubre Jr and Andrew Wiggins were also getting points. However Orlando were showing grit and fought. This was typified by James Ennis who was shooting steadily, making good passes and playing his roll on defence.
The 3 point shooting was the key as Orlando could not live with Golden State’s efforts from deep. At the horn Orlando trailed by 19-29. Steph Curry already had 12 points, all from beyond the arc.
INTO THE SECOND QUARTER
The quarter started with the news that Frank Mason had a right groin strain and would not return. That left 8 men standing.
On the 7:30 mark Terrence Ross went to the rim and came up looking uncomfortable. Ross was playing well, handling the ball and having very active hands on defence. He hit the free throws and followed it up with a long wing jump shot to move Orlando onto a 9-0 scoring run. That cut the deficit to 4 points at 31-35 with 6:36 remaining in the quarter.
At that point Mo Bamba checked into the game. His first action was to be fouled on a jump shot, making 1 out of 2 from the resulting free throws. Soon after Chuma Okeke tied the game, taking the scoring run to 13-0. Orlando then took a 38-37 lead on the back of another Okeke made 3.
The Orlando bench were racking up the points, seeing Coach Steve Kerr respond by bringing Curry back for an instant scoring impact.
Late in the quarter Orlando went on another scoring run, to take a 55-47 halftime lead on the back of a 36-18 scoring quarter!
THE THIRD QUARTER
Nikola Vucevic’s first 3 pointer of the night came at the start of the second half and gave Orlando an 11 point lead. Scores by Wiggins, Curry and Oubre saw that quickly disappear. The game was now a tight and hard fought affair.
Chuma Okeke was having a strong game as Orlando’s players found a way to play through the adversity.
Steph Curry’s 32nd point finally gave Golden State the lead back. At the close it was 80-84
INTO THE FOURTH
Dwayne Bacon started the quarter strongly with a driving 2 and a pair of 3 pointers. James Ennis nailed another 3 pointer for his 17th points of the night.
However and as expected a red hot Curry was balling. The Magic had some success playing him hard. They had prevented him driving to the paint most of the night. They also saw success forcing him to give up the ball and pass.
Vooch had missed a lot of shots in the game and was showing frustration with himself. Chuma Okeke was fighting for everything, everywhere on the court in his 10th NBA game.
Unfortunately, the effort of having only 8 fit players and no guard was beginning to show as the quarter moved on. It manifested itself into a scoring drought. Golden State took advantage of this to open up a double digit lead through the final 8 minutes of the game.
THE FINAL SCORE – 105-111
ON THE NIGHT
Orlando drop to a season record of 9-17, remaining 13th in the East.
Four Magic players made double figure scoring.
Nikola Vucevic hit his 18th double-double of the season, leading the team with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists.
James Ennis scored a double-double with 17 points, 10 assists and 2 steals.
Terrence Ross and Dwayne Bacon contributed strongly, each making 20 points.
Stephen Curry hit 40 points, including making 10 from three point distance.
MOVING ON AFTER A RED HOT CURRY
Up next tonight it is Buddy Hield and the Sacramento Kings….assuming we have 9 fit players!
One final point which I think is interesting and valid. There is concern amongst fans that the minutes Nikola Vucevic is being asked to play puts a risk of him suffering an injury. Many feel that cutting his time even marginally would give Mo Bamba a greater opportunity and protect Vooch. I do wonder if playing Bamba for a minute or two longer last night would have seen Vucevic clear his frustrations and be more effective down the stretch?