OAKLAND, Calif. — This Orlando Magic team already started to develop a reputation around the NBA before it started its current West Coast road trip.
It goes like this: The Magic lack star power and experience, but they usually attempt to make up those deficiencies with all-out effort.
On Monday, the Magic proved it firsthand to the Golden State Warriors.
One night after an emotional win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Magic concluded a back-to-back by outhustling and outplaying the Warriors 102-94 in front of 18,117 people at Oracle Arena.
“On a back-to-back we came back and did some big things,” power forward Glen Davis said. “It just shows a lot about our team and the strides we’ve made the last couple of days. It’s big.”
Some of those improvements, players said, stem from a team meeting last Thursday in which they sought to define everyone’s roles more clearly.
Arron Afflalo emerged from that gathering more aggressive on offense. J.J. Redick continues to serve as an all-around playmaker. Jameer Nelson remains the team’s emotional leader. Davis provides scoring and grit. And Nik Vucevic adds rebounding, finishing skills around the hoop and interior defense.
“We talked about roles, and we talked about focus,” Afflalo said. “I think for us having that talk . . . kind of strengthened us a little bit.”
Afflalo and Davis scored a team-high 24 points apiece Monday. Redick added 22 points and seven assists. And Nelson overcame a poor shooting night to score seven points and dish out nine assists.
Vucevic, the young 7-foot center, scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.
“I’ve just been more aggressive, that’s all,” Vucevic said.
“On the offensive end, I struggled a little bit the last few games before this road trip, but I’ve been able to pick it up. My teammates keep believing in me and keep passing me the ball, and I’ve just been able to finish because I’m a little more aggressive now.”
The Magic (7-10) played aggressively all night — and they did it in a controlled fashion.
As they compiled 29 assists, they turned the ball over just eight times.
Better still, their energy rose in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive night, enabling them to swamp the Warriors (10-7).
“They were the more aggressive team,” Golden State coach Mark Jackson said. “They outworked us. We haven’t been outworked in a long time.”
With the game tied 72-72 early in the fourth quarter, E’Twaun Moore hit a 3-pointer from the left side off a pass from Davis. On Orlando’s next trip down the court, Afflalo hit a floater in the lane.
The two scores put the Magic ahead 77-72.
They never relinquished the lead.
After Golden State’s Carl Landry made a reverse layup and Afflalo missed a long jumper, the Warriors had a chance to tie the score. But Redick drew a charge on Jarrett Jack, ending the Warriors’ possession.
On Orlando’s next two trips down the floor, Redick sank jumpers from 20 feet and 27 feet, and the Magic were ahead 82-74.
The loss snapped Golden State’s five-game home winning streak.
As the road trip began, Magic players joked with each other about the five games ahead.
“We’re out here, and we might as well win,” Nelson remembered players saying.
“And that’s the truth,” he added. “There’s no reason to come out here if you’re not trying to win, and we’re trying to do that.”
So far, they’re 2-for-2.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun