If the Warriors can’t close out the Orlando Magic without Steph Curry, you have to wonder how they’ll close out the rest of the regular season.
The Magic entered Tuesday night’s contest tied for the Eastern Conference’s worst record, in full rebuild mode with a starting five whose oldest player was 23. The Warriors might be without their injured superstar, but still have playoff aspirations and want to prove their one of the West’s best teams heading into the postseason.
Alas, Golden State watched an 15-point lead in the final quarter evaporate as the Magic escaped with a 94-90 victory, handing the Warriors their second straight stinging defeat.
“No disrespect to the Orlando Magic, but that’s one of the worst teams in the league,” Draymond Green said after the game. “If you can’t match up with them you’re definitely not going to do it against a great team. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a concern, but that’s what’s happening. I don’t doubt that we can fix it. But if we’re gonna win some games, it gotta be fixed.”
Sunday night’s loss against the San Antonio Spurs was punctuated with a bitter finish and Tuesday was no different. This time around, Klay Thompson played a starring role in the demise, as he fouled Franz Wagner on a 3-point attempt with 13.2 seconds left. Wagner hit all three free throws, before losing Thompson on an inbounds play for the game-sealing bucket. Thompson capped off the final sequence with a turnover on the game’s final inbounds play.
The Warriors provided a bunch of head-scratching moves and lacked any offensive identity en route to 40 percent shooting and 18 turnovers. They also got out hustled by the upstart Magic with backdoor cuts all night before a defensive lapse allowed Mo Bamba to knock down a huge transition three final minute. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team was “scattered” in the fourth quarter but Green took it a step further.
“We’re playing soft,” Green said. “We’re playing stupid. We’re just not playing good basketball and we’re getting punked. It’s hard to win a game getting punked.”
Green – who went 1-for-3 for two points, seven assists and three rebounds in 30 minutes – said Golden State’s problems go beyond Curry’s absence, pointing to a team-wide problem.
“That has zero to do with Steph,” Green said. “Steph’s not bringing the level of physicality to the game, nor should he be, that’s not his job. Obviously, Steph not being out there affects the mentality as a whole. But I don’t care who’s out. You go to the park you be outmatched, the other team has more size or whatever, you don’t get punked.”
The Warriors were held to just 38 points in the first half before making it rain 3-pointers in the third to take the lead. Jordan Poole extended his streak of 20-plus points to 10 straight games, but he needed 23 shots to get his 26 points. Thompson struggled with his shot, going 6-of-15 from the floor and 2-of-7 from 3-point land en route to 15 points.
Andrew Wiggins tried to assert himself but couldn’t finish at the rim, going 5-of-19 from the floor for 13 points. Over his past 11 games, he’s averaging just 13.7 points on 37.7 percent shooting.
“I have faith in Wiggs,” Kerr said. “I think he’s gonna turn it around and have a strong final 10 games.”
Golden State is now 2-7 in the nine games Curry has missed this season. The Warriors will turn right around for the second leg of a back-to-back Wednesday night at Miami.
"We have to learn how to win,” Kerr said. “Right now we don’t know how."