Instant Replay: Warriors' streak ends in Orlando

ezeli_festus_warriors_magic.jpg

Instant Replay: Warriors' streak ends in Orlando

BOX SCORE

Mama said there would be nights like this.

The undefeated road trip of the Golden State Warriors came to a clanking halt on Friday night with a 99-85 loss to the Orlando Magic.

The Warriors, who began their seven-game road trip with five consecutive wins, started sluggish with 14 first-quarter points and finished the night shooting just 37 percent from the field.

“We didn’t expect to go undefeated the rest of the way,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We’ve had a great run. This team beat us tonight. … But the key is for us not to allow the loss to take us back to where we once were.”

The expectations aren’t lowered; they’re just set to realistic.

As the Warriors continue to mature, road losses and poor shooting nights are destined to occur. Golden State still has plenty areas of growth. Jackson said in his postgame interview that his team was a step slow but he still has plenty of confidence in his group.
 
“We’re not frontrunners,” Jackson said. “We are not going to start pointing fingers and making excuses. Hey we lost, it happens. The teams that are the top teams in this league, they bounce back.”

David Lee shined once again despite the loss, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Lee continued his streak of six consecutive games with at least 20 points or 10 rebounds.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors in scoring with 25 points but tallied just three assists. The tandem of Curry and Lee combined to score 49 of the team’s 83 points.

The Magic, who also delivered the Warriors’ last loss, on Dec. 3 in Oakland, was led by 8-for-11 three-point shooting and 46 points off their bench. J.J. Redick led all Orlando scorers with 16 points off the bench.

Orlando’s bench outscored the Warriors’ bench 49-22.

Road legs

The battery doesn’t always recharge, even after a win against the defending champs. Traveling legs ultimately become weary, especially in the Warriors’ sixth consecutive road game. The tired legs were exposed as the Warriors fell behind early on.

After dropping behind 29-16 early in the second quarter, the Warriors responded with a 15-5 run to close the gap to three points with 5:34 remaining in the half. But Orlando responded with a 17-4 run of its own to end the half up 51-35.

Call it early-game fatigue or just poor shooting, either way the Warriors lost the game when they shot just 28 percent from the field and 12.5 percent (1-for-8) from three-point range in the first half. The Warriors finished the night 7-for-20 from three-point range.

Trend proves true
The Warriors entered the night with a record of 14-1 when they outrebound their opponent. The loss to Orlando was no exception, and Golden State lost the rebounding battle 53-49. 

Social media demands answers
@hippiemd tweeted: “@CSNWarriors How can the Warriors look great for five games but pathetic tonight? #warriorstalk”

The reasonable answer: The Warriors are still a young team, and learning to win on the road is supposed to be the final part of the growth process. Despite sudden results, the team will likely show ups and downs throughout the season.

In other words, it doesn’t always come all at once. Not every game is a measuring stick.

Optimism goes empty tweet of the game
@phiLMLwrote: “big leads are nothing in the #NBA. Pick it up #DUBS. #warriorstalk”

Nonetheless, the #webelong movement continues.

That one hurt
The knees of Festus Ezeli and Orlando's Moe Harkless collided with some emphasis early in the third quarter. Ezeli had played 12 minutes to that point and never returned. He finished with zero points and two rebounds.

Leave us alone, we’re tired
At one point in the third quarter, Jameer Nelson dribbled between two defenders and sliced unguarded through the lane for an open layup. The Magic scored 42 points in the paint and shot 47.7 percent from the field.

Wait a second … oh, nevermind
The Warriors rallied back to single-digits to 63-54 late in the third quarter before Orlando hit three consecutive open three-pointers to push the lead to 72-54.


The Warriors had one last gasp with an 11-3 run in the final moments to pull within 93-83 before Orlando pushed back to the finish.

Follow @jimmypspencer on Twitter for Warriors news and analysis.

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

BOX SCORE

SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday night in a showdown that turned into a major letdown for the defending NBA champions.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who won their fifth straight.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavaliers star LeBron James was injured late in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the base of his neck. He remained on the bench for a while receiving medical attention, then headed toward the locker room and didn't return to the game.

His status was not immediately known.

Cleveland has been out of sync recently, losing three of five, and those struggles only got worse against San Antonio. The Spurs led by as many as 33 points to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home showdown with the Warriors on Wednesday.

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than sit them for rest, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of its second rout in the past two weeks.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt and remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench. He left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout.

James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes.

The Spurs held the Cavaliers scoreless for three minutes after San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul during a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the first half.

Leonard hit a right-handed runner as the second quarter closed to give the Spurs a 64-40 lead.

TIP-INS:
Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers. . Cleveland F Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with a sore left foot, and the team plans to sit him for several games to see if rest and treatment helps. Korver will sit out Thursday in Chicago and Friday at home against Philadelphia before being re-evaluated, a team spokesman said. The shooting specialist missed seven games earlier this month with an inflamed tendon in his foot. . G Iman Shumpert missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points. . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding its opponents to an average of less than 100 points for the 22nd straight season. . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

UP NEXT:
Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

OAKLAND -- It was with impeccable timing, for the Warriors and for Andre Iguodala, that he has spent recent weeks summoning all the best parts of his game.

He has been a disruptive force on defense, as usual, but at a time when the Warriors needed something extra at both ends of the court, he is providing an abundance of offensive electricity.

Iguodala came through once more on Sunday as the Warriors suffocated Memphis in the fourth quarter to take a 106-94 win at Oracle Arena. Though the team’s Sixth Man again scored at an efficient clip -- 20 points on eight shot attempts -- his ability to energize teammates from Stephen Curry to Draymond Green to Klay Thompson and beyond is no less significant.

“We feed off his energy when we see him get a rebound or get a steal, push up the court, make a crazy inside-out dribble and finish at the rim, knock down threes or play-make for other guys,” Curry said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Iguodala’s rise has coincided with the loss of Kevin Durant, the team’s leading scorer and someone who plays the same position. With Durant out, Iguodala has taken on additional playing time, which can be risky for someone in his 13th season.

“He’s been fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He looks incredibly athletic, bouncy and fresh. He’s a pro. The guy just knows how to take care of his body. He’s done a great job of stepping up in KD’s absence and recognizing what we need from him.”

The Warriors have played 13 games since Durant went down with a knee injury, and Iguodala has played in 11 of them, shooting 44 percent from deep and 61.8 percent overall. The man who shot 62.3 percent from the line in his first three seasons as a Warrior is at 70.1 percent this season. Leadership also is part of the package.

“I try to read (what’s needed) when I get into the game,” Iguodala said. “Try to bring that energy. And, more than anything, lead by example. Not say too much. Just show it.”

When Iguodala is sprinting up and down the court, rising and dunking on one end, stripping balls away on the other, the Warriors are appreciably better team. If the Curry-Durant-Green-Thompson foursome is the engine, Iguodala is the turbo boost.

“We’re a completely different team when he’s as aggressive as he’s been of late,” Green said. “When he’s moving the way he’s been moving -- he’s beating everybody down the floor -- it makes us a completely different team. “

Igoudala’s minutes have spiked, from 23 per game in November, to 26 in December, to 27 in January and February, to almost 29 in March.

“I don’t want to run his minutes up too much,” Kerr said. “But if he has to play a couple extra minutes while KD is out, then that’s fine.”

It’s fine with Iguodala and it’s paying off for the Warriors.

Iguodala hopes it pays off, literally, when he becomes a free agent in July.

Though free agents entering their 14th season don’t often command big money, he is making a very impressive audition for the Warriors or any team that might be interested in his services.

Iguodala has made it clear he’d prefer to stay in the Bay Area, and at this rate the Warriors may have to find the necessary coins to bring him back.