Orlando Magic Grades: Los Angeles Clippers 105, Orlando Magic 96

Without Serge Ibaka, the Orlando Magic were unable to keep up with the Los Angeles Clippers in a 105-96 defeat.

VS.

1 2 3 4 T
Magic 33 18 24 21 96
Clippers 28 28 17 32 105

The Orlando Magic were unable to overcome the loss of Serge Ibaka in a close 105-96 loss to the LA Clippers at Staples Center on Wednesday.

The fourth quarter was back and forth game for the first eight minutes or so, but the Magic offense went cold down the stretch. Which led to former Magic guard J.J. Redick hitting some big shots to put the game away.

The Magic held on for three quarters, taking a 75-73 lead into the fourth. They just did not have enough left in the tank to hold off the Clippers. Redick and Marreese Speights hits key shots and the Magic came up empty on open jumpers to stay in the game.

Orlando’s best performer tonight was Aaron Gordon. He was able to take advantage of big mismatches all night by scoring 28 points, including 16 in the first quarter.

In an odd move, Gordon did not see the ball much at the end of the game and the Magic offense went cold. Getting the ball away from Gordon was a head scratching move.

In two games against he Clippers this season, Gordon has scored a combined 55 points. He was far and away the best player on the floor for Orlando and kept the team in this game with his scoring output.

Ibaka was a game-time decision heading into this game. But just prior to tip-off, the Magic decided to give him the night off after he worked out his sore shoulder. His presence on the glass and on the defensive end was missed against Los Angeles.

All game long, the Magic had a problem keeping DeAndre Jordan off the glass. In the first half alone Jordan snagged 13 boards (he had 20 on the night). Although the Magic have two quality starting centers on their roster, neither were able to handle Jordan’s physicality.

The loss of Ibaka allowed for Jordan to be dominant. The Magic do not have a replacement for his size. Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green can play the four, but do not have the height and Jordan took advantage of two smaller forwards, especially when Nikola Vucevic had to leave his man to cut off dribble penetration.

Frank Vogel also shook up the starting lineup tonight which may have been the reason for Gordon’s hot start. Vogel moved Vucevic back into the starting rotation while Jeff Green filled in for Ibaka. With a smaller lineup, the floor opened up more for Gordon and it allowed him to take advantage of the smaller defenders that the Clippers lined up on him.

One final note for the game was Mario Hezonja. He was given meaningful minutes for the first time in nearly a month. Hezonja threw a few beautiful lob passes to Bismack Biyombo and looked comfortable defensively.  Regardless of how Hezonja played tonight, it was still a pleasant sight to see him get some minutes.

Nikola Vucevic

C, Orlando Magic

B-

In his return to the starting lineup, Nikola Vucevic did not have a great game. Vucevic was tasked with bodying DeAndre Jordan and did not fare well. Jordan was all over the glass tonight and dominated the matchup.

Vucevic’s stat line was actually pretty solid. He grabbed 14 boards and scored 16 points on 50 percent shooting. If he could hit a few shots in the fourth quarter, his night would have looked even better.

The glass was really where Vucevic got exposed. His teammates did not do a good job helping him, but Vucevic was not able to keep him off the glass all night. Missing Serge Ibaka did not help. Vucevic got thrown into the fire tonight with an undersized squad, so he gets cut a little bit of slack.

Aaron Gordon

F, Orlando Magic

B+

Talk about hot starts. Aaron Gordon was en fuego to start this game. He scored 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting in the first quarter alone.

Following that hot start, Gordon looked exhausted for about a quarter and a half. Vogel decided to stick with Gordon for well into the second quarter and it looked like that extra work affected him for a while after that. Especially after he fell a bit hard on an and-one dunk over DeAndre Jordan.

In the fourth quarter, Gordon came alive again. He was able to keep the game close late with a big three-pointer with about five minutes left. Gordon did all he could tonight, but it just was not enough for the Magic to come out with a win. By the end of the night, Gordon had 28 points on 64-percent shooting.

Jeff Green

F, Orlando Magic

F

Frustrating. That is the word that could describe Jeff Green’s night. The effort just was not there for Green tonight.

Defensively he was out of position far too often and didn’t make up for it by scoring. Green shot 3-for-13 for 10 points. Add on a few mental mistakes, Green had a night to forget.

When DeAndre Jordan was throwing down dunks, Green was not in the right place and left his team hanging. Green was probably the worst player on the court tonight for the Magic. The lack of effort and passion was painful to see as the Clippers went on to win this game.

LA Clippers

27-14, 4th West

B-

Even without Blake Griffin, the LA Clippers are still a threat.

The trio of J.J. Redick, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan were a problem for Orlando all night. Although Redick scored 22 points. Jordan was the biggest problem of the night with 10 points and 20 rebounds. Defensively, Jordan stifled the Magic in the paint and was an absolute monster on the boards. Chris Paul had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

The Clippers did have some turnover issues in this game (21 to be exact) and could have put the Magic in a hole very early. Even so, the Clippers were able to put this game away late and steal a victory from the Magic.

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