As the Orlando Magic tipped off their five-game Western Conference road trip with a 115-101 win over the Golden State Warriors Saturday in San Francisco, they did so with a goal in mind: build more continuity.
They’re off to a good start.
The Magic (15-24) not only beat the Warriors (20-20) — albeit a shorthanded version — to pull off the season sweep over the defending NBA champions, but they did so decisively.
Golden State started off hot with its shooting from beyond the arc, making 8 of its first 17 3-pointers to take a 29-28 lead going into the second quarter.
The Magic took over from there.
They swarmed the Warriors defensively, recording a season-high 12 steals and holding Golden State to 37.9% shooting from the field (33 of 87) and 31.% (18 of 58).
Orlando dominated the paint (52 points in the paint compared to Golden State’s 26) and took care of the basketball (only 11 turnovers).
The Magic moved the ball crisply, recording 26 assists on 44 field goals (50.6% shooting, 40.6% on 3s).
The result was Orlando picking up its first win at Golden State since Dec. 3, 2012, snapping a nine-game road losing skid. It was also the Magic’s first season series sweep over the Warriors since the 2012-13 season.
Paolo Banchero led the Magic with 25 points on 4-of-9 shooting on 3s.
Markelle Fultz played arguably his best game of the season, finishing with 16 points, 7 assists, 6 steals and 5 rebounds.
Franz Wagner added 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting (3 of 7 on 3s) while Cole Anthony contributed 16 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists off the bench. Wendell Carter Jr. had a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double to go with 3 assists.
Two-way forward Anthony Lamb led the Warriors with 26 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals off the bench.
The Magic lacked lineup cohesion for most of the season until guards Anthony and Fultz returned to the fold on Nov. 30. Orlando’s lineup got another significant boost when Wendell Carter Jr. and Gary Harris returned on Dec. 23.
The return of Jalen Suggs (9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in 16 minutes), who was on a minutes restriction Saturday, in Thursday’s home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies was another step in the Magic having a more complete rotation.
“Just continue to grow,” coach Jamahl Mosley said about the team’s goals for the remainder of the season. “Create continuity with this group. Defensively, we talk about that being the place we want to hang our hat; offensively, being able to share and move the basketball. We just want to continue to grow, get better and develop these young guys to be the best players they can be.”
Moe Wagner (4 points, 5 rebounds) was available after being suspended by the league because of his role in the on-court altercation with the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 28.
He played a significant role before being suspended, averaging 13.9 points (51.5% shooting, 34.8% on 3s), 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 14 games (27 minutes) as a starter.
“He’s one of our most vocal guys,” Mosley said of Wagner, “so having him out there will be great.”
The Magic are 10-9 in the 19 games since Anthony and Fultz returned compared to 5-17 beforehand — showing the importance of lineup continuity.
Although they remained without a few players, the availability has improved, which will allow for better evaluations.
Banchero, Carter, Fultz, Gary Harris and Franz Wagner started for the second consecutive game.
The nine-man rotation was: Fultz, Harris, Banchero, Carter, Franz Wagner; Anthony, Suggs, Moe Wagner and Terrence Ross (5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists).
“What we have to really look at is being able to evaluate when we have a complete roster,” Mosley said. “We’ve had guys in, guys out. We’ve had different evaluations of what this team can be. When we have a full roster, it’ll be a little bit different to evaluate where we are.”
Bol Bol (health and safety protocols), R.J. Hampton (G League assignment), Kevon Harris (transferred to G League as part of his two-way contract), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) and Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery) weren’t available.
Stephen Curry (left shoulder subluxation), JaMychal Green (infected right lower leg), Jonathan Kuminga (sprained right foot) and James Wiseman (sprained left ankle) weren’t available.
Klay Thompson was slated to start but was ruled out right before tipoff because of left knee soreness.
Mosley said Bol will join the team on the road once he clears protocols. Hampton is expected to rejoin the Magic on Sunday ahead of Monday’s matchup against the Kings. Isaac and Okeke didn’t travel.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.