Magic hope to turn page against struggling Warriors

Field Level Media

The Orlando Magic hope to continue to write a new chapter against the Golden State Warriors when the struggling clubs meet Sunday night.

The Warriors had won 11 straight against the Magic until suffering a 103-96 loss at Orlando last February.

That run had included consecutive blowout wins in Florida by 13, 15, 16, 20 and 21 points.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr chose to rest Kevin Durant in the February meeting and is demonstrating this season that player health -- winning season or losing season -- remains a priority.

Even though the Warriors had rallied themselves into position to possibly take Miami to the wire on Friday, Kerr sat his best healthy player, Draymond Green, for all but three of the final 18 1/2 minutes of a generally competitive game that the Warriors went on to lose 122-105.

"We've purposely kept him under 24 minutes per game," Kerr explained to reporters afterward. "I don't think we need to play him big, heavy minutes in a season like this where we're obviously playing for the future. But he needs to be on the floor to help guide these young players. We have to find a balance for him to make an impact on this team but not wear him down at the same time."

The Magic appear likely to catch another break in that Kerr indicated Friday that starting center Kevon Looney, who has been deemed ready to return to action, will be given the first night of a back-to-back off Sunday instead of possibly having him sit the second night in Atlanta.

Looney has missed the past 19 games -- he played only in the opener on Oct. 24 -- with a neuropathy issue that has created hamstring pain.

While the Warriors seek to avoid a fifth losing streak already this season, the Magic will attempt to salvage a split in a homestand featuring both of last year's NBA Finalists.

Orlando only can hope for better things from Aaron Gordon, who looked rusty in a 90-83 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday night after a three-game layoff caused by a sprained ankle.

Gordon missed nine of his 11 shots and finished with just eight points on a night when Orlando was limited to 34.6 percent shooting.

"Offense is hard right now," Magic coach Steve Clifford assured reporters afterward. "We're doing some better things, but again, the turnovers (hurt)."

Both teams have had offensive problems this season -- Orlando's (42.3 percent shooting, 31.1 percent on threes) slightly bigger than Golden State's (43.2 percent shooting, 32.9 percent on threes).

History indicates having Gordon available to face the Warriors should help the Magic. The former prep standout in the San Francisco Bay Area has torched his former hometown club for 22 and 29 points in their past two visits to Orlando, mixing in 22 rebounds.

The Magic have been nothing if not predictable in their 10 home games so far. They've won six of the 10, with five of the victories coming against losing teams (Cleveland, New York, Memphis, San Antonio and Washington).

Their four home losses have all been against big-time winners (Milwaukee, Denver, Indiana and Toronto).

The Warriors (4-16) bring the league's worst record to town.

--Field Level Media

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