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Magic ends Warriors' hot streak

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The center who replaced Dwight Howard in the middle finally rebounded like Dwight Howard used to do, leading the Orlando Magic to a surprisingly easy victory Friday night.

The Magic got a career high 17 rebounds from second-year center Nikola Vucevic and great balance from an unheralded set of reserves, riding to a 99-85 win over the previously red-hot Golden State Warriors.

The Magic (9-13) remains the only Eastern Conference team to beat the Warriors (15-8) this season, doing it for the second time in 11 days.

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Warriors, who had beaten the Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats and Miami Heat on their current road trip. They finish the trip in Atlanta against the Hawks Saturday.

The Magic were led by reserves J.J. Redick with 16 points, Andrew Nicholson with 15 points and nine rebounds, and E'Twaun Moore with 15 points. Vucevic had 12 points and guard Arron Afflalo had 14.

The Warriors were led by veteran David Lee, who had 24 points and 15 rebounds, his sixth consecutive game of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Stephen Curry had 25 point.

"I don't think it's so much them, but every time we've played them we've had a heightened focus," said Afflalo. "It was the timing of when we faced them. When we're focused like this, we have a pretty good chance of winning."

The Magic, which has been hurt by poor starts this season, dominated from the beginning with good ball movement and a stifling defense. Afflalo hit a 3-point basket to break an 8-8 tie and the Magic never lost their lead. The Warriors never got closer than nine points in the second half.

"They were in control," said Warriors coach Mark Jackson. "Give them credit. One thing we didn't expect, we didn't expect to go undefeated the rest of the way in. We had a great run."

The Warriors, who are off to their best start in 20 years, lacked any balance to their attack beyond Curry and Lee. Reserve Jarrett Jack with 12 points was their only other double-digit scorer.

"Thankfully, we don't have to play them again," Curry said. "We had the opportunity to keep the train moving but kind of hit a bump in the road tonight. It was a frustrating night. We just didn't have it."

The Warriors are 9-2 against the Eastern Conference this season. Of the Magic's nine wins, it has twice beaten the Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Pistons.

The Magic had six players in double figures and held a 53-49 rebound edge. It also outshot the Warriors, 47.7 percent to 37 percent. The Magic blocked 11 shots, including four each from Nicholson and rookie Maurice Harkless.

"We made the simple plays tonight, just old school," said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. "Mr. Naismith would be proud. When you do that, good things happen."

The Magic led 51-35 at intermission and smothered the Warriors early. Nicholson, the rookie from St. Bonaventure, had 13 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots in the first half.

Lee had 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first two quarters, but the Warriors made only 15 of 52 shots (28.8 percent) before halftime. It was just the second time in the past 12 games that the Magic led after the first quarter.

Notes: Warriors coach Mark Jackson was in a somber mood before the game, reflecting on President Obama's televised remarks in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Connecticut. "It leaves you speechless. A tragedy. It's a sad day for all of us, seeing the president teary-eyed," Jackson said. "It affects all of us." ... The Warriors are off to their best start since 1991-92, having won 15 of their first 22 games for just the second time in 45 years. ... David Lee came into Friday's game as the first Warriors player to have at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in six consecutive road games since Nate Thurmond in 1972. ... Magic veteran Hedo Turkoglu is getting closer to a return after surgery on Nov. 3 to repair a broken left hand, sustained the day before in the Magic opener. He had his cast removed and he is doing ball-handling drills with both hands.
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