Magic Throw Down Hustle Gauntlet, Dispatch of Golden State Again
Rebounding was the name of the game Friday night. Coach Mark Jackson’s side came into the City Beautiful a scorching 14-1 when his team out-rebounded their opponents and 1-5 when they were outmatched on the boards. Well you can make that 1-6 as Orlando’s 53-49 rebound triumph would stop Golden State’s 5-game win streak dead in its tracks. Orlando has beaten the Warriors twice in a week and a half. The Magic improved to a perplexing 6-4 record against Western Conference teams this season, bumping their overall record to 9-13 with a 99-85 victory at home.
Coach Vaughn on his team’s rebounding: “We stress that, especially against this team, one big difference why they were beating teams on this road trip is their defensive ration going into games…a lot of guys stepped up.”
A career-high 17 rebounds for Nik Vucevic who notched his 8th double-double on the year by also contributing 12 points. A career-tying 9 rebounds along with 15 points off the bench for rookie Andrew Nicholson. A career-tying 7 rebounds for 19-year-old Maurice Harkless. Let’s also add season-tying 7 boards for Arron Afflalo along with 14 points. Oh, and let me casually throw in 10 points and 11 assists for Jameer Nelson who would put the game out of Golden State’s reach with back-to-back lay-ups. 6 Magic men scored in double figures as team basketball was on full display for an audience that didn’t include the initially scheduled nationally-televised ESPN broadcast. Whoops.
Coach Vaughn on avoiding turnovers: “We made the simple play tonight, just old school. Mr. Naismith would be proud. Penetrate and kick to an open guy and let him make a play.
Nikola gobbling up 9 rebounds in the same amount of minutes is one way to set the tempo for locking down the painted area. So will blocking a lot of shots including 4 each on the evening for Harkless and Nicholson, both career-highs. It was quite enjoyable to view that 7-1 swat clinic over GSW after just twelve minutes of action. Afflalo was talking about a lack of energy after the Hawks loss, but I don’t think he anticipated such fantastic defensive intensity that gifted Orlando a 19-14 lead after one period in which the Warriors shot just 21.4 FG%.
Maurice Harkless on his assertiveness: “I just tried to play hard and be aggressive. Whenever I saw my man turn his head, I tried to make a cut.”
Orlando’s second quarter began with back-to-back 3-pointers from JJ Redick to put Orlando on top 25-14. Hats off to the Orlando bench as Redick, Moore, and Nicholson for providing the scoring punch this Magic squad needed to maintain their cushion. A 15-2 Magic run in 4 minutes and 28 seconds of play fueled the Magic to obtain a 51-35 halftime advantage. Mark Jackson’s crew was fortunate to only be trailing by sixteen due in part to their large 14-5 offensive rebound difference. I will dub Nicholson ‘Uncle ‘Drew’ after the unbelievable 13-point, 7-rebound, and 4-block performance showed off in his initial thirteen minutes on the parquet floor.
Warriors Coach Mark Jackson on Orlando: “Give them credit. They do a good job playing pick and roll basketball. They do a great job flying off screens, and their big guys both times have hurt us.”
GSW utilized a 5-for-5 from downtown spurt, after beginning the evening 0-of-7, to nip at Orlando’s heels and only trail by 9 in the middle of the 3rd period. Back-to-back-to-BACK Magic triples would once more push their lead to 72-54 with 2:37 remaining in the third period. E’Twaun, JJ, and Uncle ‘Drew would continue their scoring onslaughts as each was already in double figures by the time quarter concluded. The Magic were comfortably ahead 81-64 heading into the 4th period thanks to a Redick buzzer beater. JJ finished with 16 points, while E’Twaun hoisted in fifteen.
Coach Vaughn on Jameer: “I want my point guard, I want Jameer to take risk. Sometimes his penetration is going to cause defenses to collapse and for him to get open shots for other guys.”
Orlando dominated the hustle statistics all evening and wouldn’t stumble down the stretch despite only managing eighteen 4th quarter points. 42-34 points in the paint advantage. 11-2 total blocking annihilation. Finishing 9-of-21 from 3-point range doesn’t hurt either. When it comes to extraordinary ball movement, Orlando is now 9-3 when they dish out more dimes than their opponent and 0-10 when their opponent tallies more assists. A well-earned victory to say the least as Orlando has now twice beaten a Golden State franchise that still owns a superb 15-8 record. GSW hasn’t lost to an Eastern Conference team when you exclude Orlando. The Magic will seek their first Southeast division win of the season as they take on the Bobcats in Charlotte on Saturday.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.