The Golden State Warriors look to avoid their first two-game losing streak of the season when they host the Orlando Magic on Monday night at San Francisco.
After winning 18 of their first 20 games, the Warriors have dropped two of three in a series of games that included a home-and-home set with the Phoenix Suns.
After reversing a 104-96 loss at Phoenix with an emotional 118-96 home win over the Suns on Friday, the Warriors came out flat 24 hours later and were surprised 112-107 at home by the San Antonio Spurs.
Golden State has followed its previous three losses with wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Brooklyn Nets and Suns by an average of 20.3 points.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr doesn't expect any issues getting his team mentally ready to face the Magic, after having warned his guys of a possible letdown following Friday's showdown with the Suns.
Sure enough, Golden State fell behind the Spurs by as many as 22 points before rallying into a late lead, only to fall short at the end.
Reserve Juan Toscano-Anderson, one of the leaders of the comeback, applauded the effort.
"It's a long season. Some games are gonna be like that," he said. "It's about how you respond. We could have easily just said: You know what, whatever, it's a back-to-back, rolled away and lost by 15 or whatever. But we fought until the end, and I'm proud of my team for that."
The Magic had a similar experience when they fell 118-116 at Houston on Friday after having celebrated a 108-103 home win over the Denver Nuggets two nights earlier. In a game in which it trailed by as many as 13, Orlando twice rallied to tie the Rockets in the final 47.0 seconds, only to fall victim to an Eric Gordon shot with 1.4 seconds left.
Cole Anthony had eight late points to help the Magic draw even, but then saw a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer miss the mark.
"I think it is a reflection of his work ethic," Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said of Anthony's take-charge attitude down the stretch. "It's a reflection of his confidence. And there's also the confidence that his teammates have in him to be willing to take those shots."
Anthony has scored 24 and 26 points in his last two games after missing six with a sprained right ankle. Eight of his 24 in the win over the Nuggets came in the fourth quarter.
The Magic have had two days off since the loss at Houston, giving backup guard Mychal Mulder an opportunity to enjoy a homecoming at Golden State.
Undrafted out of Kentucky, Mulder landed a job in-season with the Warriors in February of 2020, averaging 11.0 points in seven games.
He went for 25 or more points three times last season, including a career-best 28 in the second-to-last game of the regular season against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Mulder saw no action in either of Golden State's play-in games and was waived by Golden State in October. He quickly agreed to a two-way contract with the Magic 10 days later.
The Canada native has a pair of 13-point games for Orlando this season.
--Field Level Media