The Warriors were without Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala on Thursday, and their absences were felt in the first half – and again in the fourth quarter.
After roaring back from an 11-point deficit to take a lead in the third quarter, the Warriors faded badly in the fourth and came away with a 103-96 loss to the Magic at Amway Center in Orlando.
Stephen Curry scored 33 points, while DeMarcus Cousins and Klay Thompson each put in 21, as the Warriors (43-19) lost to Orlando for the first time since December 2012.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ second consecutive loss and the third in four games:
Third-quarter magic not enough
The Warriors found their rhythm in the third quarter, and they did it the old-fashioned way: with defense.
By outscoring the Magic 25-7 in a little more than nine minutes, the Warriors wiped out an eight-point halftime deficit to take a 76-66 lead, forcing Orlando to call a timeout with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors did plenty of fabulous shooting, but they turned up the defense to level that they at times appeared to have seven players.
The Magic were held to 5-of-23 shooting (21.7 percent) in the quarter, during which they were outscored 30-11. The Warriors also forced four turnovers, all in the first six minutes of the quarter.
The Warriors made a habit of third-quarter blitzes two seasons ago. They summoned it on this night to get back into a game that was slipping away.
They summoned so hard that, apparently, they had nothing left in the fourth, when they were outscored 33-15.
Not enough ‘O’
With Durant out, it was incumbent on the Warriors’ offensive stars to put up numbers. Curry, Cousins and Thompson tried but the load was too heavy especially for the deep shooters.
It also was too heavy for the Warriors, in general.
Curry scored 33 points but did it on 12-of-33 shooting, including 5-of-17 from beyond the arc. Thompson’s 21 points came on 9-of-23 shooting, including 3-of-12 from deep.
Cousins was plenty efficient with his scoring, going 8-of-16 from the field but missing all four of his 3-point attempts.
The Warriors shot 40.2 percent from the field and only 22.5 percent (9-of-40) from deep. Jordan Bell, shooting 3-of-3 from the field, was the only Warriors to shoot better than 50 percent.
It was enough to stay in the game, and even get a lead, but they faded late in their fifth game in eight days.
Same song, different city
It’s becoming a habit. The Warriors come out for the opening tip and within minutes find themselves scrambling to stay in the game.
They trailed throughout the first half, going down 11 (23-12) a little more than eight minutes in, cutting the deficit to five in less than a minute – only be trail by 10 (41-31) midway through the second quarter.
For the fifth time in six games, the Warriors trudged into the locker room at halftime trailing.
This is in stark contrast to their wonderful January, when they held halftime leads in 12 of 13 games and went 11-2 for the month.
The Warriors are tired of hearing about it, tired of reading about it, tired of the numbers. They have yet to reverse the trend.