OAKLAND — Sparked by a paraphrased quote from an unnamed player, the talk of the basketball world on Wednesday was dominated by possible strife among the Golden State Warriors.
But on Thursday, the Dubs’ actual game was defined by its lack of drama.
The only thing that tipped the scales of public interest for even a fleeting moment was Stephen Curry suffering a “slight tweak of his right ankle” two minutes in. He returned less than three minutes later, and the Warriors rolled to a 122-92 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The path to a clean, decisive win was made easier by Klay Thompson who shot 8-for-11 (5-for-7 on 3-pointers) in the first quarter for 21 points. He finished with 29, Stephen Curry added 25.
Before the game, head coach Steve Kerr discussed what made the Warriors’ defense so solid on Tuesday, when they shut down the Philadelphia 76ers to get off a three-game slide.
“It’s about tendencies,” he explained. “Knowing your opponents’ tendencies, knowing your coverages and being solid right from the beginning. You can’t play with that intensity for 48 minutes, it’s physically impossible.”
Kerr’s pregame comments were notable on this day because they described exactly what the Magic didn’t do.
They blew coverages regularly, leading to 68 points in the paint for the Warriors — a new season high. Orlando was shaky from the start, allowing Golden State’s lead to swell to as much as 21 in the first quarter. And the Magic’s intensity was notably lacking, regularly allowing the Warriors to slash to the basket unimpeded for layups and Thompson to float to empty space for easy catch-and-shoot jumpers.
The visitors’ offense wasn’t any better. In addition to committing 21 turnovers that directly led to 36 points for the Warriors, the Magic shot 37.2 percent from the field.
But of all those numbers that defined the action on the court have few long-term ramifications. What does is the fact Green (25), Thompson (29) and Curry (28), each played fewer than 30 minutes after logging heavy workloads since Kevin Durant’s injury at the end of February.
“I think it was great, especially after the last game playing 38, 39 minutes and really grinding that one out to the end,” Green said. “To come out tonight and really get it done and only play 25 for me, you know that was a good night at the office.”
Kerr has repeatedly said during his team’s recent lull that he embraces losses and close games against subpar competition. “I think adversity can help,” he said.
So, after a game that was defined by its very lack of competition, did his team need a blowout tonight?
“This week, we thought we’d get back on track,” Kerr said. “We didn’t think it would be easy against Philadelphia because we know we had to dig our way out when you’re in a rut. I felt like that was a great start the other night, and I fully expected to see this tonight.”
And fulfilling more than one expectation, the PA announcer told a mostly depleted Oracle Arena crowd as the final seconds ticked off the clock that the Warriors had clinched their third-straight Pacific Division title.
Contact Jacob C. Palmer at email@example.com or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.