Orlando Magic host Golden State Warriors on second night of back-to-back

Mar 27, 2024, 12:37 AM | Updated: 8:35 am

Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Golden State Warriors looks to drive to the basket while defended by Fran...

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 07: Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Golden State Warriors looks to drive to the basket while defended by Franz Wagner #22 of the Orlando Magic in the third quarter of the game at Chase Center on January 07, 2023 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

One of the league’s hottest road teams pays a visit to one of the winningest home clubs Wednesday night when the Golden State Warriors and Orlando Magic clash in Central Florida.

The Warriors won for the 11th time in their last 14 road outings Tuesday when Klay Thompson returned to the starting lineup and put up 28 points in a 113-92 romp over the Miami Heat.

In Orlando, Golden State will see a team that has had three days off to lick its wounds incurred in a rare home loss, a 109-107 defeat at the hands of the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

The Warriors and Magic met in San Francisco on Jan. 2, when Thompson started and contributed 15 points in a 121-115 victory.

A month later, Warriors coach Steve Kerr opted to shift his veteran to the bench, a move that ignited Thompson into a 35-point performance against the Utah Jazz in his first reserve appearance since he was a rookie in 2011-12. He subsequently had six other 20-plus-point uprisings with the second unit.

However, with his team struggling just to hold onto the final play-in position in the Western Conference and coming off a 114-110 loss at Minnesota on Sunday to open a key five-game trip, Kerr sent Thompson back out there with the first club in Miami. The decision paid immediate dividends.

Thompson buried six 3-pointers and hit 11 of his 20 shots overall, helping Golden State take a positive frame of mind onto the short flight to Orlando.

“Must-win,” Thompson said courtside shortly after the game. “I’m really impressed how we responded after a tough loss to Minnesota. Great win. When we’re having fun and we’re playing connected, it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.”

Stephen Curry chipped in with 17 points against the Heat. He had 36 in the January victory over the Magic.

That game was in San Francisco, though, and it merely added to the road woes of an Orlando team that was in the midst of losing 13 of 18 away from home in December and January.

Fortunately for the Magic, they have been as good at home recently as they were bad on the road earlier, winning 11 of 13 in Orlando before blowing a last-minute lead against Sacramento.

Paolo Banchero had 22 points in the loss. He’s been a handful for the Warriors in his two seasons, leading Orlando to a two-game sweep last year with 22 and 25 points, before pouring in 27 in this season’s earlier defeat.

While the Warriors (37-34) find themselves fighting to hold off the Houston Rockets (36-35) for 10th place in the West, the Magic (42-29) caught a break when the Milwaukee Bucks lost at home to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

All of a sudden, just 3 1/2 games separate the Bucks (46-26), Cleveland Cavaliers (44-28), New York Knicks (43-28) and Magic in the four-team battle for Nos. 2-3-4 Eastern playoff spots, all of which get home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason.

“For a lot of us, being our first time in the playoffs, I think it’s gonna be super-important that we have home-court advantage,” Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. said. “The fans have shown what they’re capable of. They’ve had that place rocking, so it just gives us even more drive to have some home-court advantage.”

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–Field Level Media


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