Warriors get back to dominance, thrash Magic
Three minutes into the second quarter, after a timeout to regroup themselves, the Orlando Magic took the floor to execute a sideline play — and got hit with a technical foul for having six players on the court.
That’s about all you need to know about the Warriors’ 122-92 mercy killing Thursday night.
The Warriors (54-14) were in desperate need of a bounce-back game, and the Magic (24-45) were all too happy to give it to them. Unlike the last eight games, this contest wasn’t close from the jump, and the Warriors never trailed. It didn’t look great early, though, as Stephen Curry limped straight to the locker room just three plays into the game.
Without Curry, it turned into the Klay Thompson show, as Thompson went for 21 in the first quarter, making eight of his first nine shots. He came out with 2:21 left in the first for a breather and still outscored the Magic 21-20.
Steve Kerr said that the defense really got the team going early, which led to Thompson going off:
“Obviously Klay had it rolling early … [But] the defense really was kind of setting up some of those shots in transition. That’s the main thing. When you can make stops it can solve a lot of problems. We’ve kind of struggled to score the last few weeks but tonight we broke through. Great offensive night but it always starts with the defense.”
Thompson would end the game with 29 points despite the huge first, mostly because pretty much every Warrior that touched the ball shot it well.
The Warriors shot a staggering 57.5 percent from the field, many coming off Magic turnovers, 34 points off turnovers to be exact. Golden State would have won by a cool 40 had they managed to shoot better than 12-of-23 from the free throw line.
Draymond Green unsurprisingly led the defensive effort yet again, and said defense has been the focus the past week in practice — not scoring:
“We started off the game defending and when you start off the game defending, shots tend to fall. That’s what we’ve been talking about this entire time, is just we got to get into a groove defensively and everything else will take care of itself.”
Curry would return after a short trip to the locker room, but really the Warriors had no need for him. They couldn’t help but get easy looks against a Magic team that had absolutely zero interest in playing basketball.
Kerr would say after the game that Curry is fine and should be good to go Saturday.
While the Warriors had it embarrassingly easy against the Magic, Curry continued to grind through this struggling stretch, shooting just 2-of-7 behind the arc.
A strong second half of 16 points and 2-of-3 from deep saved what was another tough game shooting for Curry and made his final line of 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting look pretty decent. But it was noticeably trying at times, as twice in the first half he hesitated, took an extra couple seconds to set himself and fired —only for it brick off the rim.
With their MVP struggling to find any kind of shooting rhythm, the rest of the Warriors stepped up, led by a springy throwback Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala led a bench unit that had been much maligned since Kevin Durant went down with his knee injury. He finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and had five, count them, five dunks, which all Warriors fans hope put any memories of his layup in the Finals firmly in his rear view.
Iguodala has really come on as of late and ramped up his offensive aggressiveness the last month or so. He’s averaging more than 10 points in the month of March, which may not seem like that much until you look at his season average of 6.7 points per game.
An aggressive Iguodala makes this team way more dangerous, and Kerr heaped praise on him:
“When he plays at this level he’s been the last several weeks we get a different dimension. He’s been fantastic, he just looks bouncy. He’s probably been our best and most consistent player during the last few weeks. He’s just playing brilliant basketball.”
Though his point total will always be minimal, Iguodala is quietly having his best shooting year in a Warriors’ uniform. He’s shooting 50.3 percent from the field, which would be a career best, 36.3 percent from deep, his best mark since the 2011-12 season and 71.2 percent from the line, his highest percentage since 2009-10.
It was just the kind of game the Warriors and their fans had been craving — and expected to get against the Sixers. A game to show that they still are the dominant team they should be — with or without Durant.
And that’s what they showed Thursday, the Magic had no chance, even with six players on the court.
After their winning their last two games, the Warriors conclude their three-game home stand when the Bucks and the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo visit Oracle on Saturday. The Bucks are in a dogfight for the final two playoff spots in the East where No. 7-10 are all separated by 1.5 games. And the Bucks style of play always gives the Warriors problems, going 1-2 against Golden State the past three meetings.
With his three steals Thursday night, Curry now has amassed 1,002 career steals and, which makes him just the second player in Warriors franchise history to collect over 1,000 steals. Chris Mullin is the only other player to do it, and is the franchises career leader in steals with 1360. … Zaza Pachulia rebounded from a disastrous outing against the Sixers and posted his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. This was the first time in his Warriors career that he did so in front of the home crowd as the other three were away. He’s now scored in double figures twice in the past three game. He also had two dunks, which combined with his double-double won him a bet with performance coach Kurtis Rayfield. The payment? Pachulia getting to shave Rayfield’s beard off, which just happened to be the day before team picture day. … The Warriors finished with 36 total assists, which put them over the 30-assist mark for the 41st time this season. What’s more absurd than just that number is that no other team in the NBA has more than 14 such games. … The Warriors clinched their third-straight Pacific Davison Championship with their win tonight.