OAKLAND, Calif. — Rookie power forward Andrew Nicholson figured to play a significant role when the Orlando Magic faced the Golden State Warriors on Monday night at Oracle Arena.
Nicholson couldn't play less of a role than he did during Sunday night's 113-103 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
After Nicholson appeared in each of the Magic's first 15 games of the regular season, coach Jacque Vaughn did not play Nicholson against the Lakers. Big man Gustavo Ayón also didn't play in Los Angeles.
Vaughn wanted to save Nicholson and Ayón for the game versus the Warriors since it was the second game of a back-to-back.
"Andrew and Goose will be nice and fresh," Vaughn predicted.
Nicholson and Ayón figured to see some time guarding University of Florida alumnus David Lee, the Warriors' starting power forward. Lee entered Monday averaging 17.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. The Warriors bring rugged 6-foot-9 forward Carl Landry off the bench.
It took 16 games, but the Magic committed their first individual technical foul of the season Sunday night when Josh McRoberts shoved Dwight Howard in the upper back.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Howard pushed McRoberts as Howard positioned himself for a potential offensive rebound. The typically mild-mannered McRoberts retaliated by shoving Howard.
Howard was whistled for his fourth personal, while McRoberts received the tech.
Technical fouls usually aren't noteworthy. But until McRoberts' transgression, the Magic hadn't committed a technical foul that wasn't caused by an illegal defense violation.
Each of the NBA's 29 other teams already had committed techs. The Philadelphia 76ers were the 29th team this season to commit a tech, recording its first one Dec. 1.
"I think for us we just want to play," Vaughn said. "There are a lot of things that can control, and I think it's an opportunity for us as a team to just play basketball."
McRoberts was told Monday night that the Magic were the final team to receive a technical this season.
"That's pretty good for an NBA team to go 16 games without getting a tech," McRoberts said.
Does Vaughn's calm demeanor play a role?
"I think it probably does have a lot to do with his demeanor," McRoberts said. "I think we have guys on the team who are pretty good about being smart on the court."
'No hard feelings'
Magic players said they weren't upset that Howard didn't shake their hands or wish them well after Sunday night's win. Howard walked off the court once the final seconds of the fourth quarter ticked off Staples Center's clock.
"That's fine," Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said. "Certain guys don't shake hands after the game.
"I don't have any hard feelings to the guy. He made a decision to do what he did. He's on the team that he's on. I'm here in Orlando, where I want to be. I just wish him the best of luck. I'm not going to go up and hug him and kiss him or anything like that. I think my coach would be mad at me."
Magic power forward Glen Davis said he didn't take any offense.
"If he wants to walk off the court, it's cool," Davis said. "No hard feelings, you know? He lost. I would feel bad, too. I wouldn't want to shake anybody's hand. So it is what it is."
• After missing Friday's game because of tendinitis in his left Achilles, Nelson played 39 minutes against the Lakers on Sunday. Nelson was penciled into Orlando's starting lineup against the Warriors, starting alongside Arron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless, Davis and Nik Vucevic.
• The Magic dished out 34 assists in their win over the Lakers. "That's the first thing I mentioned to those guys after the game," Vaughn said. "We played for each other, and we played with each other, and that was great from beginning to end."
• On Jan. 12, the last time the Magic and Warriors faced each other, the Warriors vigorously employed a Hack-a-Howard strategy, sending Howard to the free-throw line 39 times, an NBA record. Entering Monday's game, the Magic averaged 17.1 foul shots per game, while the Warriors averaged 23.4. The total of the teams' averages, 40.5, just barely exceeded the number of free throws Howard took. The Magic won that game 117-109.
• Golden State had won five consecutive home games entering Monday. That's the team's longest home winning streak since it won five in a row Oct. 27-Nov. 15, 2010.
• Warriors point guard Stephen Curry had scored at least 20 points and dished out at least 10 assists in each of his previous two games.
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