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

shoulder.

”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

foot.

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

game.

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

fourth.

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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