A let down would have been understandable for the Magic as they traveled upstate from an emotional victory over the Lakers on Sunday night. Even Orlando fans might have excused it thanks to the gravity of what defeating Dwight Howard meant to a lot of fans.
Jacque Vaughn though called it a "typical win."
Again, it certainly was not that. But maybe it is becoming "typical." Particularly if Orlando continues to build off of what worked well to get that win. The Magic did that in a 102-94 win over the Warriors at Oracle Arena on Monday.
There was the ball movement that was the hallmark of the Magic's win over the Lakers. There was the hard work on defense to get the team out in transition. There was the big fourth quarter — 33 points this time to help break a 69-69 tie at the end of the third quarter. There were the free throws and the 3-pointers, two shots the Magic have struggled to get all year.
Orlando built on a big win with another big win against a quality opponent. To start this road trip off 2-0 with wins like this is just downright impressive.
The Magic have struggled throughout the year staying in the game when shots are not falling. That was not the case tonight.
Orlando was shooting worse than 40 percent for much of the game, yet Orlando seemed to be in control for much of the game — certainly after a five-point run at the end of the first quarter to take a 28-27 lead after the first quarter. The Magic had 10 of their 11 offensive rebounds in the first half and took advantage of those second chance opportunities to maintain a somewhat comfortable lead. Even with shots not falling.
Golden State did a good job offensively and looked to attack. But the Warriors did not have the offensive muster to pull away. And the Magic continued to fight and claw their way into the game.
The fourth quarter was once again a work of beauty.
J.J. Redick got into a good shooting groove and was making just about every shot he threw up at the rim. It was Glen Davis though too re-establishing himself in the post and making big shots when the Magic seemed about to lose grip of the lead. Orlando ended up shooting 43.5 percent from the floor and climbing above 40 percent came from that super efficient fourth quarter where the team seemed able to get a good shot on every possession.
The Magic ended up with 29 assists on 40 field goals made. Redick scored 22 points with 17 of those coming in the second half. Davis had 24 points. Nikola Vucevic was extremely active around the rim with 14 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Jameer Nelson had only seven points, but nine assists. And Arron Afflalo also had 24 points.
Everyone filled a role it seemed and did their jobs.
There was no hanging of heads when shots did not fall or defensive rotations were missed. Just a determination to keep fighting. That is what this Magic team wants to do. That is who this Magic team is becoming.
So back-to-back games of strong performances and focused efforts have the Magic feeling good and playing their best basketball right now.
Of course, Jacque Vaughn said the team has to live in the now. The next road challenge is Wednesday and the trick is to build again.