The Warriors went 2-3 on their recently concluded five-gameroad trip and now are 15-20 for the season. They had a surprise win at Atlanta,but gave away that bonus victory with a dud of a loss at Toronto onSunday.Lets wrap up the road trip with some observations:Solid trip for Lee: Power forward DavidLee was the Warriors best player on the trip. He scored in double figures ineach of the teams five games and in four of those games also grabbeddouble-figures in rebounds.More importantly, Lee gave the Warriors a sliver of an insidepresence, taking advantage of some favorable matchups along the way.Why no Biedrins?: Warriors coach MarkJackson has taken center Andris Biedrins out of the starting lineup and isgoing with Ekpe Udoh. Thats fine, but something else is curious.With two minutes remaining in the Warriors blowout win overWashington, Lee was on the floor. Simple question: Why Lee and not Biedrins? IfBiedrins isnt going to start, why would Jackson not use him in the finalminutes of a game thats already been decided?Bottom line is that if youre not going to start Biedrinsand youre not going to use him to finish up lopsided games, there arent thatmany times you can actually use him.Slumping Nate: Its been a while sinceNate Robinson injected himself into a game in a positive way. He did some nicethings in the final game of the road trip against Washington, but that was agame that had been decided.With Stephen Curry missing significant playing time on thetrip, Robinson had a big-time opportunity to give the team a lift. But he strugglednoticeably and his shooting has dropped below 39 percent for the season.Sting of Toronto: The 83-75 loss to theRaptors on Sunday, unfortunately, was the signature game on the trip for theWarriors. It was that game -- more than any other that defined thetrip.In that game the Warriors scored just 28 points in thesecond half and lost a double-figure lead.If the Warriors had been able to beat Toronto, they wouldhave come home 3-2 on the trip, but more than that they would have been winnersof four of the past six road games.That loss to Toronto was the difference between a good tripand a disappointing one.
Having destroyed three highly regarded opponents in their toughest week of the season, the Warriors on Sunday face an altogether different kind of challenge.
This time, it’s simply waking up.
The Warriors will pursue their seventh consecutive win, facing the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 a.m Pacific., the earliest game of the season for the Warriors.
The last time the Warriors (37-6) played such an early game in the Eastern Time Zone was March 26, 1995, also in Orlando.
The Magic (18-27) will want to be on alert for Warriors star Stephen Curry, who torched Orlando for 51 points last Feb. 25, his last visit to Amway Center.
Warriors by 12.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Kevin Durant vs. Aaron Gordon: It’s the most efficient high-producer on offense (Durant) vs. one of the top five athletes in the league (Gordon). Durant is taking apart all defenders, and Gordon isn’t known for his D. No, the South Bay native is most known for his ability to fly. Durant’s task will be to minimize lob attempts while keeping him off the offensive glass for easy put backs.
Warriors: F/C David West (L thumb fracture) is listed as out.
Magic: G Evan Fournier (R foot soreness) is listed as questionable. G Jodie Meeks (R thumb sprain) and G C. J. Wilcox (L Achilles tendinitis) are listed as out.
Warriors: 9-1. Magic: 3-7.
The Warriors have swept the Magic in each of the past three seasons, compiling a six-game win streak during which they’ve won by an average of 10.8 points per game.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
EARLY FOCUS: After such astonishing success in a grueling week, with three emotional games, the Warriors may be susceptible to a letdown against inferior competition. Will they be able to summon the intensity from the start?
THE BIG MEN: Zaza Pachulia will have his hands full with Nikola Vucevic, the USC product who is one of the league’s more skilled scorers in the paint. Vucevic is not much of a defender, though, so Pachulia may find a few opportunities via the back cut or the pick-and-roll.
INSIDE D: If ever there were an offensive team begging to be defended by a zone, it is the Magic, who are 25th in field-goal percentage and, even worse, 28th in 3-point shooting percentage. The Warriors should be in good shape if they limit penetration.
Late in the first half of Wednesday night's game against the Thunder, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia made hard contact with Russell Westbrook, sending the Oklahoma City star sprawling to the ground.
The referees reviewed the play and gave Pachulia a flagrant foul.
Replays show Pachulia appearing to stand over Westbrook and none of his Thunder teammates coming to his defense.
Raja Bell, a 12-year NBA veteran who was briefly a Warrior during the 2009-10 season, was not happy with the reaction of the Thunder players.
"You are supposed to come flying across the court. You don't have to punch him, because that's a lot of money. But he should catch a forearm across his shoulder, a shove in the back, you ain't gonna knock down Russell Westbrook, the everything to the team I'm playing on, who feeds me, who makes me better, you ain't gonna do that and just stand over him and ice grill him. Not a chance," Bell said on Thursday during the NBA Crossover show on CBS Sports.
The incident started a war of words between Westbrook a Pachulia following the game.
"I don't know. He hit me kind of hard. But it's alright. I'm going to get his ass back. Straight up," Westbrook said when asked about what happened on the play.
He was then asked if he noticed Pachulia standing over him.
"I didn't see that until just now, but I don't play that game. I'm going to get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don't know, but I don't play that game," Westbrook said.
Pachulia responded to Westbrook's comments moments later.
"I can't worry about that kind of comment. I'm part of an amazing team and we have a great goal of winning a championship. I'm all in with my energy, 100 percent. So we're thinking about this team, staying healthy, moving forward, getting better, getting to the playoffs and playing for the championship. That's what I'm thinking about. I'm not thinking about those kind of comments.
"That team is not there, so they may be thinking about other stuff like getting me back. Okay, you can get me back. But again, it's my 14th year, we all know what my game is, to play hard, not dirty. If it was a hard foul, it was a hard foul. It wasn't dirty at all. I'm not worried about this," Pachulia told the media.