The Orlando Magic are off to one of the best starts in team history. To keep it going, however, they’ll have to find a way to slow down Golden State.
Two of the hottest teams in the league meet Monday when the Magic visit the Warriors.
In their first season under coach Stan Van Gundy, the Magic are 15-4 - matching the best start in the team’s 19-year history. The Magic also opened 15-4 in 1994-95, and 95-96.
Orlando, which started 1-18 just four seasons ago, beat the Los Angeles Lakers 104-97 on Sunday night to improve to a league-best 10-2 away from home. The Magic are 3-1 entering the finale of their current five-game road trip.
The Warriors (9-7), meanwhile, got off to a dismal 0-6 start this season. Since then, they have won nine of 10. They won their season-high sixth in a row on Sunday, 109-96 st Seattle.
Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington had 20 points apiece for the Warriors, who lead the NBA with 108.6 points per game. Jackson missed the Warriors’ first seven games while serving a suspension but has helped key their rebound, averaging 21.4 points since his return.
Golden State has also stiffened up its defense, holding four of its last five opponents under 100 points.
“We came in with a focus to get on these guys early,” Jackson said. “We were just able to stay on them. It definitely shows signs of growth.”
Golden State overwhelmed Seattle, leading by as many as 26 in the first half, and 28 in the fourth quarter. All five starters finished in double figures and Kelenna Azubuike added 14 off the bench.
“You can’t complain when you have a lead like that,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “Those (games) are the hardest ones to coach, to keep a lead. Teams make comebacks, but I thought we kept the lead and did a good job of doing that.”
The Warriors did lose reserve guard Mickael Pietrus to a facial injury after he was elbowed in the face in the second quarter and taken to the hospital for further examination. Nelson said the team believed Pietrus may have a broken nose, but he had not received word from the hospital.
Dwight Howard has led Orlando’s early surge, averaging team highs of 23.5 points and 14.6 rebounds. However, he managed only 17 points and eight boards against the Lakers.
“I knew coming in today, it was going to be a tough game for us,” Howard said. “Some nights, we have to get contributions from everybody on our team. I think we did a great job of staying composed through all the adversity that happened throughout the game and got a good win.”
Backup point guard Carlos Arroyo missed the game to be with his ill 3-year-old daughter and will also not be at this contest.