Golden State Warriors Marreese Speights (center) fights for the rebound with Orlando Magic’s Arron Afflalo during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Florida, Tuesday. (AP-Yonhap News)
ORLANDO, Florida (AP) ― The Golden State Warriors have always been able to score. Now they are becoming a good defensive team.
The Warriors used half-court defensive pressure to beat the Magic 94-81 on Tuesday night.
“Defense is not something we’re known for,” said forward David Lee, who led the Warriors with 22 points. “Everyone looks at our team and the ability to shoot the ball and score, but we’re a Top 10 defensive team too.”
The Warriors limited Orlando to 38 percent shooting and led by 12 early in the first quarter and 23 at halftime. They were so comfortable with their defense that when Orlando made it’s only run of the game late in the third quarter, the reserves stayed on the floor and finished out the game.
“That’s the 14th time we’ve held a team under 40 percent so we’ve got to get some recognition as far as the way we defend,” Golden State Coach Mark Jackson said. “We defended from the opening jump and were really locked in the whole night.”
The win was Golden State’s sixth straight, the first time the Warriors have won that many in a row in six years. Klay Thompson scored 15 points, Kent Bazemore had 12 and Marreese Speights 10 for Golden State, which survived a rash of turnovers (17) to shoot 48.8 percent for the game.
“It starts defensively when we get stops,” said Stephen Curry, who had nine points, eight assists and five rebounds, but sat out the fourth quarter along with the rest of the Warriors starters. “That leads to better offensive possessions and it’s fun. We’re enjoying ourselves out there.”
It was anything but fun for the Magic, who were trying for a season-best third straight victory, but fell well short. Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 15 points, Jameer Nelson had 11 and Glen Davis 10, but the Magic got down early and never made a serious run the entire game.
“There has to be accountability everywhere,” Davis said. “That’s what has to happen for us to be a team that people take seriously.
The Magic lost their leading rebounder, center Nikola Vucevic, in the middle of the first quarter with a sprained ankle. That was part of the reason Golden State dominated the glass, outrebounding Orlando 56-37.
“He’s one of the best centers in the NBA, but he wasn’t there so we can’t sit and make excuses,” said Tobias Harris, who led the team with nine rebounds. “That’s the NBA. Somebody gets hurt, just keep playing. We’re better than that and we know we’re better than that.”
The Warriors used a 16-2 run in the middle of the first quarter to take a 22-10 lead and never let the advantage get under 10 the rest of the game.
Sparked by Nelson’s two 3-pointers, the Magic pulled to 74-59 at the end of the third quarter. Harris’ layup to start the fourth quarter made it a 13-point game, but that was as close as Orlando could come.
Golden State shut the Magic down early, trapping Orlando ballhandlers and making the Magic take many attempts late in the shot clock. Orlando shot 38.2 percent for the game.Valanciunas leads Raptors over Bulls
CHICAGO (AP) ― With eight wins in their last 11 games, the Toronto Raptors head into 2014 pointed in the right direction.
They believe it can be the start of something big.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 15 points and the Toronto Raptors mounted a fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Chicago Bulls 85-79 on Tuesday night.
He made two big free throws to seal the game in the final minute after Toronto had missed three of four from the line down the stretch.
Greivis Vasquez hit a 3-pointer two minutes into the fourth to give Toronto (14-15) its first lead of the second half, and the Raptors didn’t look back. Vasquez scored seven of his nine points in the fourth quarter, and also had two assists and a blocked shot in the final quarter as Toronto overcame the tenacious Bulls defense.
“Greivis came in and changed the game,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “It was a game of toughness and physicality that you have to have when you play if you are going to be in the playoffs.
“That is how we will have to play to get there.”
Bucks 94, Lakers 79
Hawks 92, Celtics 91
Pacers 91, Cavaliers 76
Warriors 94, Magic 81
Kings 110, Rockets 106
Spurs 113, Nets 92
Raptors 85, Bulls 79
Trail Blazers 98, Thunder 94