A 3-1 road trip, The first time there was a sweep of Florida since the 1989-1990 season and Nuggets losing to the Jazz by 27. All in a good nights work. What Orlando failed to realise if there's one team in the League that can come back from 8 down at the half it's the Warriors.
Winning 3 out of 4 on this East Coast road swing now means the Warriors are within half a game of Dallas in 7th with Dallas and one game behind the Suns in 6th. More importantly with Denvers loss there is better seperation between us. Tonight no matter how good a coach Stan Van Gundy is his limitations in finding any other offensive gameplan were exposed. From then on the Magic crumbled. Here's how.
Howard Although Howard is beast of the East tonight Biedrins did a fantastic job on him. Never letting Dwight find ground and using his speed to attempt fronting him meaning Howard lost focus at a crucial time often receiving the ball at the 3 point line where he can't do much.
Shooters Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Hedo or Keith Brogans all made big shots in Oakland becuase the amount of times Jackson, Ellis or Baron failed to close them down gave the Warriors a heartbreaking loss. This time to their credit they learned from their mistakes and rarely gave them an open look despite the Magic going 10-21 from three point range some late misses gave the game away.
Rebounds The Magic only had 4 offensive rebounds alarming when you have the NBA's best rebounder. Pietrus with 11, Jackson and Davis with 9 and Harrington and Azubuike with 4 and 2. This is the area where the game was won the second chance opportunties never came for Orlando becuase of the boxing out.
And now back to the game. The 1st half was dismal there wasn't any communication and the shooting was horrendous at 33%. Monta at the time was hot yet for much of the half he was never the focal point. He had 12 in the 1st quarter yet shot the ball not that much in the 2nd. Despite the problems we were only down by 8 at the half. Nellie would use his wealth of experience to get a fiery halftime talk going and thats exactly what happenned.
Nowhere to go
The 2nd half was all Baron. Putting up 33 points 9 rebounds he dominated Jameer Nelson and drove to the basket a lot more then I've seen him. Jackson was another key contributor although the 1st half was best forgotten about.His key defensive stops on the Magic, Rebounding and being there on the fast break helped spur the win. Pietrus had another solid game grbbing 11 rebounds to make up for bad shooting and doing a decent job on defense 3 steals. However defensively this was the best I've seen the Warriors all year 14 steals in the game versus 3 from the Magic and just 9 turnovers compared to Orlando's 20. Forcing teams to make mistakes is the key to mkaing the playoffs and even try and get a better seeding.
The question remains can Golden State keep up this good form. With the loss in Charlotte it looked like Nelson circled this game on his calender as a motivation technique. Rather then take early shots with 20 seconds left on the shot clock they were much more patient driving to the hoop taking high percentage shots. Winning these games is a sign of how much better Nelson has made us. The question is in the next two months will it be good enough?