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.

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

OAKLAND -- Even though Draymond Green still would like to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, winning a championship with the Warriors has quenched much of thirst for the honor.

“I don’t really care that much anymore,” Green said after participating in the JaVale McGee Celebrity softball game Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum benefitting the Jug Life Foundation, promoting a healthy lifestyle around water consumption.

“I cared before,” Green added. “But we won the NBA championship now. I don’t care about what happened in the regular season any more at this point. I think I would have cared if I found out in Round 1 or Round 2 (of the playoffs).

“But at this point . . . I don’t even care any more.”

This is in marked contrast to what Green expressed early in the regular season, when he acknowledged the DPOY award is the only individual award he actively cared to win.

As recently as two months ago, in discussing his defensive performance in a season during which he made numerous memorable plays, including some game-saving defensive stands, Green let his words speak on his behalf.

“It is the best defensive season I’ve had, because I’ve continued to grow,” he said at the end of the regular season. “When I look at the last couple years, I think each year I got better defensively. And I think this year I’ve gotten better. So I do think it’s my best season, defensively -- but just not numbers-wise. The numbers are up a little bit more. But I actually feel better about what I’ve done on the defensive end than I have in any other year.”

Winning a championship apparently has an impact on the significance of individual awards.

A finalist for the award for which he finished second in each of the past two seasons, Green said Saturday that his plan is to leave for New York on Sunday and be in attendance when the awards are presented Monday night.

The other finalists for the award are Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who won it the last two seasons.

All three players will be among those at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York for the inaugural telecast of the NBA Awards on TNT.

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Kevin Durant didn't forget about the taunts.

In February, when Durant returned to Oklahoma City for the first time as a member of the Warriors, Thunder fans heckled him with t-shirts featuring cupcakes, a reference to Durant being soft for joining the 73-win Warriors.

On Saturday, the cupcake graphic made a return with one slight change.

Durant, playing in JaVale McGee's JugLife Celebrity Softball game at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, showed up to the stadium wearing a cupcake hat. But instead of a cheery on top, a championship ring was superimposed on top of the cupcake.

So Durant, an NBA champion, got the last laugh.