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Turnover-prone Magic to be tested by NBA-best Warriors

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 12/6/2021 Khobi Price, Orlando Sentinel

After their comeback attempt against the Houston Rockets fell short on Friday, the Orlando Magic spoke about the importance of taking care of the ball.

Their 18 turnovers, tying a season-high, led to 21 points for the Rockets in a 118-116 loss. Sixteen came in the first three quarters to help the Rockets stay close before eventually clinching their fifth consecutive victory.

“That’s what we’ll continue to talk about — making sure we take care of the basketball, especially in situations like this,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “We give ourselves a chance to get the game. Those turnovers that happen early on, they add up later on in the game because they limit our possessions.”

If the Magic (5-19) paid for their mistakes against the Rockets (6-16), who entered Sunday tied for the third-worst record in the league, their next opponent will make them pay even more for not taking care of the ball.

The Magic face the Golden State Warriors (19-4) , tied with the Phoenix Suns for the NBA’s best record, on Monday at Chase Center.

The Warriors, who have the league’s top-ranked defense, force opponents to turn the ball over on 16.2% of their possessions, which ranks third according to Cleaning The Glass.

They use those takeaways to get out in transition frequently, with the Warriors being a top-five team with 17% of their plays starting in transition.

What’s key for the Magic is being more careful with the ball during the opening two quarters, with Orlando having a first-half turnover rate of 16.1% — third-worst in the league — compared to a second-half turnover rate of 14.5%, which ranks 13th.

Despite their record, the Magic have shown they can hang with some of the better teams.

Four of their wins have come against playoff teams from last year (Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks twice and Utah Jazz), with their other win coming against the improved Minnesota Timberwolves who could be in the hunt for at least the play-in tournament.

The Magic have kept recent matchups with the Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets close but didn’t finish.

For the Magic to have a better chance, they’ll have to take a step forward by limiting their mistakes early.

“It’s a long game,” shooter Terrence Ross said. “There’s going to be some ups and downs. As long as you play your brand of basketball, you’re always going to give yourself a chance to win.”

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