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Warriors begin road trip at cellar-dwelling Magic

Sportsnaut
Mar 14, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) claps as he reenters the game against the Washington Wizards during the fourth quarter at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic will conclude a six-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors, who are heading toward the playoffs without superstar guard Stephen Curry.

Curry, the 2022 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, was injured during the first half of last Wednesday’s 22-point home loss to the Boston Celtics. The Warriors confirmed the results of an MRI done that night, revealing Curry had suffered a sprained left foot ligament and would be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Golden State wrapped up a four-game homestand on Sunday with a 110-108 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs. Keldon Johnson’s basket with 0.3 seconds remaining, following a missed free throw by Spurs teammate Jakob Poeltl, proved to be the difference as the Warriors fell to 29-9 at home.

In addition to Curry, Golden State faced the Spurs without four other players: Andre Iguodala (back), Moses Moody (shoulder), Gary Payton II (knee) and James Wiseman (knee injury management).

Jordan Poole (28 points) and Klay Thompson (24 points) combined to make 10 of Golden State’s 11 3-pointers. Poole went 11-for-21 from the field with four triples, while Thompson finished 9-for-22 from the floor with six 3s.

Andrew Wiggins and former Magic player Otto Porter Jr. each contributed 16 points for Golden State, which trailed 36-22 after the first quarter.

Draymond Green, playing his third game after a back injury kept him sidelined since early January, had six rebounds and five assists to go with four points. He was ejected in the third quarter after picking up a second technical foul.

“We have to understand we’re undermanned,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “There’s 12 games left — now 11 games left — we’re looking at the playoffs. There’s gotta be a sense of urgency, there’s gotta be a sense of competitive fight that we take to the other team from the very beginning of the game. And I did not see that until it was really late in the game.”

The Magic will look for their 10th home win of the season. They had to grind out a 90-85 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday after shooting 38.6 percent from the floor and committing 21 turnovers.

Wendell Carter Jr. poured in a career-high 30 points on the strength of a 13-point first quarter and a 10-point fourth. The 6-foot-10 center made 12 of 15 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, and cleared 16 rebounds for his team-leading 32nd double-double.

Orlando acquired Carter (along with Porter) from the Chicago Bulls in March 2021 and he has emerged as one of the Magic’s top leaders. Carter made several key plays in the closing minutes against the Thunder as Orlando finished on a 21-9 run and won for the first time this season when scoring under 100 points (1-24).

“I give a lot of credit to my teammates and my coaches,” Carter said postgame. “They’ve kind of been trying to instill that in me since I got here. They all believed in me from the start and they knew that the next step for me was just being a leader. It’s bigger than just putting the ball in the basket, it’s more about rallying the team together like on nights like this. Being able to help my team get that energy and that juice that we needed.”

Tuesday marks the start of a five-game road trip for the Warriors, which includes a meeting with the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat on Wednesday. Golden State is 2-6 over its past eight road games.

Orlando, which plays at Oklahoma City on Wednesday, is 4-11 playing the first game of a back-to-back.

–Field Level Media