Warriors can't dwell on Heat loss against Magic
The Golden State Warriors have the unenviable task of playing the second night of a back-to-back after an eventful day both on and off the court when they visit the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.
A day that began with a memorable meeting with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ended with the Warriors watching the Miami Heat celebrate an improbable 126-125 victory.
Just when it appeared the Warriors had improved to 8-0 this season against Southeast Division teams, Dwyane Wade beat the buzzer when he banked in a desperation 3-pointer that denied the Warriors a second straight win to open their four-game trip.
Golden State had begun its six-day journey with a 121-110 win at Charlotte, another Southeast team, on Monday.
The day was a proud one for the Warriors nonetheless after the team hosted students from the Parkland, Fla., school that was the site of a multiple-casualty shooting last February.
"You try to put yourself in their shoes," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters before the game. "You can't imagine at any age, but to have to go through that at 14, 15, 16 years old ... You imagine someone walking in right now and spraying us with a semi-automatic weapon. That's horrifying. They had to go through that."
The event might have taken a toll on the Warriors hours after the afternoon meet-and-greet, when they fell behind by as many as 24 points before rallying to lead by four late in the game, only to fall victim to two late 3-pointers by Wade.
Golden State chose to rest DeMarcus Cousins in the first of the back-to-back set. He is slated to return against the Magic, which features high-scoring All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic.
Vucevic burned the Warriors for 30 points and 12 rebounds when the clubs met at Golden State in November, a game the Warriors won 116-110 while Cousins was still rehabbing his ruptured Achilles.
The win was Golden State's 11th straight against the Magic, including five in a row at Orlando by 13, 15, 16, 20 and 21 points.
The November head-to-head was much more competitive. It took a 49-point explosion by Kevin Durant in order for the Warriors to pull out the win on a night in which Cousins, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green sat out with injuries.
Orlando is the one with injury issues this time around. They've lost impressive rookie Mo Bamba perhaps for the season with a stress fracture in his left tibia.
They also have Markelle Fultz, acquired at the trade deadline from Philadelphia, rehabbing an injured shoulder.
The Magic had been on a nice roll, winning eight of 10, before stumbling big-time at New York on Sunday, blowing a 16-point lead and allowing the Knicks to walk off with a 108-103 win.
"It was terrible," Terrence Ross assured reporters afterward. "That's the way it goes. We kind of got away from what was working for us."
Without Bamba, the Orlando bench was held to a total of seven points on 2-for-16 shooting at New York. Ross was the worst of the bunch, missing nine of his 10 shots, including five of his six 3-point attempts.
The Magic had no such problem in their competitive effort at Golden State in November. Ross poured in 28 points as the Orlando backups outscored their Golden State counterparts 56-24.
Unfortunately for the Magic, Durant's 49 nearly single-handedly outscored the Orlando starting five, which combined for 54 points.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 28, 2019