SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With wins so hard to come by for the injury-plagued Warriors, every one means a little more now to coach Steve Kerr. The Golden State of old just expected to pile up victories — and now things are completely the opposite with Kevin Durant having departed for Brooklyn and Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson sidelined.
D’Angelo Russell scored 26 points and dished out a season-high 12 assists, and the Warriors snapped their longest losing streak in nearly 18 years at 10 games by beating the Orlando Magic 109-95 on Saturday night.
“We’ve had a couple of long losing streaks that are really, really difficult to live with,” Kerr said. “You just feel bad for the players and the organisation, people who are working so hard every day. You want to see everybody happy and you want to see the fans happy. I thought today meant a lot to the group, to the players, but I could tell it meant a lot to the fans, too. They were really happy, so you just need to win and keep things moving forward, even if you’re 10-34 like we are. You’ve got to win one occasionally to keep the spirit up. I think that’s what made today such a good win.”
Jordan Poole scored 21 points off the bench and Eric Paschall had 20 points and nine rebounds as Golden State also ended a five-game skid at home.
Markelle Fultz scored 23 points to lead the Magic, who came in with two close victories in three games on their West Coast swing.
Forward Aaron Gordon summed up coach Steve Clifford’s message: The Magic didn’t compete.
“We played soft, not enough energy and we’ve just got to play better, especially the starting unit,” Gordon said.
The Warriors’ 10-game skid was their longest winless stretch since also dropping 10 in a row from March 9-24, 2002.
Russell and rookie Poole each hit four 3-pointers, and Poole scored in double figures for his career-best fourth straight game and 13th in all this season.
He recently returned from a stint in the G League and has been far more consistent with his shot.
The Warriors were down to nine players again with Draymond Green sitting out because of a sprained left index finger. It’s the sixth game he has missed this season with the injury. Golden State lost guard Jacob Evans III to a concussion last Tuesday night against Dallas.
The Warriors have won eight of 10 at home against the Magic and seven straight. “All we can do with the amount of guys we have and the amount of experience we have, we just have to keep on going into these games and learning from them and not reverting back to stuff that causes us to lose games,” centre Willie Cauley-Stein said.
“It’s building on the intensity, building on taking care of the ball, building on while they’re up in transition not giving up easy buckets. The last couple games we’ve doing that and we finally got that W.” Evan Fournier scored 12 points in 32 minutes for Orlando. He went through a warm-up to determine whether he had regained enough strength to play after he was sick and in bed all day last Friday.
Orlando hit five of its first eight shots with two 3s by Fournier and jumped out to a 13-0 lead as Golden State missed its initial seven shots — four from deep — and committed three turnovers before Poole’s 3 at the 7:10 mark of the first quarter. The Warriors warmed up and got back within 15-13, then led 28-25 at the end of the initial quarter. “He just immediately changed the momentum,” Kerr said of Poole.