Clippers 86, Magic 76
The Los Angeles Clippers know what it’s like to take the floor
without key players.
A matchup with the equally hobbled Orlando Magic helped them
rediscover what winning feels like.
Eric Bledsoe had a career-high 27 points, including 19 in the
second half, and the Los Angeles Clippers used a big third quarter
to secure an 86-76 win over the Magic on Wednesday night.
The victory ended a three-game losing streak for Los Angeles,
which has three games remaining on its eight-game road trip.
”We were in a little slump,” Bledsoe said. ”We were in the
games, playing good, playing tough, but we just couldn’t finish the
game. … So it was a huge win for us.”
The Clippers won despite playing without their three top scorers
in All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and Jamal Crawford. Paul
remains sidelined with a bruised right kneecap and Griffin sat with
a strained hamstring. Crawford was out with a sore right
”The Magic came into our house and beat us and we pretty much
had everybody,” Clippers forward Grant Hill said. ”I think the
fact that we’ve lost some games, and lost some confidence, and
maybe lost the formula of how to win – you forget sometimes.
”We know the Magic were undermanned. We didn’t play great, but
we did what we had to do.”
Jameer Nelson scored 18 points to lead the Magic and Nikola
Vucevic added 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Orlando snapped its previous 10-game skid against the Clippers
on Jan. 12. The Magic head to Cleveland on Friday with their
longest losing streak of the season.
Nelson returned to the lineup after missing two games with a
bruised forearm and scored 18 points in the first half. But he was
held scoreless over the final 24 minutes (0 for 5 from the field)
as the Magic struggled to find another source of offense.
”For the most part we know that he’s the only person on their
team who can get them going,” Bledsoe said. ”I just tried to make
it hard for him to get the ball.”
The Magic, who also have also not been strangers themselves to
taking the floor with several missing pieces, lost their 11th
consecutive game and have now dropped 22 of their last 24.
Orlando played without starters Arron Afflalo (strained calf)
and J.J. Redick (sore right shoulder), who missed their sixth and
second straight games, respectively. Starting forward Glen Davis is
out at least eight weeks after having surgery on his broken left
Forced to play undersized, the Magic struggled mightily from the
field for the second consecutive game and continued rack up
turnovers. Despite giving up 13 points and 14 rebounds to DeAndre
Jordan, Orlando held a 44-36 edge on points in the paint for the
But that was negated by the 18 points the Magic gave up via
their 18 turnovers.
”I think the thing that really killed us tonight was when we
got stops and they got those offensive rebounds and loose balls,”
Nelson said. ”That kind of deflates you a little bit. It’s just
something that we always talk about, but tonight we just didn’t
come up with enough of them.”
Los Angeles trailed at the break, but outscored the Magic 24-13
in the third quarter and took a nine-point lead into the
Orlando cut the lead to as few as seven before a 3-pointer by
Lamar Odom pushed the Clippers’ advantage back to 81-71 with just
over two minutes left in the game to help secure the win.
”When you’re working with different combinations, asking guys
to do more than we’ve asked them in the past, it’s a tough
adjustment to do that on a game-to-game basis,” Magic coach Jacque
Vaughn said. ”So we’re going to have to deal with it and learn
from it, and get better.”
The Magic led 42-40 at the half, but nothing came seamlessly on
the offensive end for either team.
The play was sloppy in several stretches, with the Clippers and
Magic combining for 19 first-half turnovers.
Orlando shot just 36 percent (16 for 44) from the field, with
Los Angeles just slightly better at 42 percent (16 for 38).
The only hot hand belonged to Nelson, who was able to break into
the lane for several layups.
Meanwhile, the Clippers seemed lost at times defensively, giving
up 22 points in the paint.
”We’ve got to put ourselves in position. We feel like we’ve
given a couple of games away,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro
said. ”Hopefully we learned something a little bit tonight, but
every game is different.”
Notes: Matt Barnes received his 10th technical of the season
with 8:37 left in the second quarter. … The Clippers improved to
6-6 without Paul this season. … This was the second consecutive
game that the Magic shot under 35 percent.
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