OAKLAND – The Warriors closed out their homestand Monday night with their third consecutive victory, beating the Orlando Magic 116-110.
This one took a lot of work, as the Warriors wiped out an 18-point deficit and outscored Orlando 69-46 in the second half.
Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined for 78 points to buoy the offense, while the Warriors rode solid second-half defense to close it out.
Here are three takeaways from a game that was close throughout the final quarter:
Durant and more Durant: With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out, the Warriors are trying to fill a huge void. Somebody has to find another level. Durant has accepted the challenge, and over the last three games has gotten comfortable with it.
Durant’s aggression at both ends was the driving force behind the comeback. He handled the bulk of the scoring, with a season-high 49 points, and the playmaking, with a team-high nine assists.
For good measure, Durant blocked a couple shots, including a spectacular chase-down rejection of Magic guard Evan Fournier's breakaway layup in the third quarter.
Durant was plus-13 over 40 minutes of action.
He has scored 125 points over past three games (41.7 per game) on 42-of-80 shooting (52.5 percent) from the field.
Hot Klay burns: Klay Thompson spent a full three quarters searching in vain for his shot. While Durant was pouring in 36 points, Thompson was the next highest Warriors scorer with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field, including 1-of-5 from deep.
That helps explain why the Warriors entered the fourth quarter trailing by four.
That’s when Thompson found everything he had been looking for. He scored 19 points in the fourth quarter on 7-of-10 shooting, including 5-of-7 from deep. He finished with 29 points on 11-of-23 shooting, 6-of-12 from beyond the arc.
The 19 points ties Thompson’s career-best for points in a fourth quarter.
Skilled big men are a problem: Even in the age of “positionless” basketball in the NBA, a highly-skilled traditional center can do a lot of damage, as Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic proved in this game.
In the late going, as the Warriors mounted their comeback, he was the centerpiece of the Magic's offense.
No matter which of the big men the Warriors threw at him – and they tried four different players – Vucevic seemed to have a massive advantage. The 7-foot USC product totaled 30 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
What was most striking was the relative ease with which Vecevic operated for much of the game. He had his way both inside and on the perimeter; he dropped in a 3-pointer just to prove he could.
Not until the fourth quarter did the Warriors solve him, with Kevon Looney playing forceful defense and getting help almost anytime the ball found Vucevic.