Orlando Magic Grades: L.A. Clippers 113, Orlando Magic 108

BY Fansided and Philip Rossman-Reich/FanSided via Orlando Magic Daily • December 14, 2016

The Orlando Magic offense kicked it into high gear again. But the L.A. Clippers had the plays down the stretch to secure the win.

The Orlando Magic offensive juggernaut continued for a fourth straight game. Aaron Gordon posted a career high in points, Evan Fournier scored with relative ease and Jeff Green had another big game.

The ball was moving and the 3-pointers were falling. The Magic were keeping pace with one of the most efficient offensive teams in the league. And, after trailing for much of the game, Orlando got back in contact with a chance to win.

Defense remains the ultimate decider for the Magic. And defense was just not there for Orlando again.

Not at the moments it truly mattered and not for much of the game. And offense always has a tendency to betray. Defense travels after all.

The Clippers put an emphatic finish on their game, tearing apart the Magic defense time and time again. Chris Paul put the final hammer in isolating Bismack Biyombo off a pick and roll and lobbing it to DeAndre Jordan for an emphatic finish and a seven-point lead.

The Magic would cut the lead to three points, but ran out of time in the end as the Clippers defeated the Magic 113-108 at Amway Center on Wednesday.

“We just were grinding and giving everything we could to try to get a W,” coach Frank Vogel said. “Our guys played their hearts out, we just fell short.”

Orlando’s offense again was stellar, scoring points and making 3s in bunches. The Magic shot 47.2 percent from the floor and 14 for 33 (42.4 percent) from beyond the arc. Their offense was humming along smoothly.

The fourth quarter was a different matter. The Magic shot just 34.7 percent in the fourth quarter. Orlando gave up a 7-0 run to start the quarter after working to tie it by the end of the third. And the offense struggled to pick itself back up in the final quarter.

The Clippers’ stars did their job, making baskets down the stretch. The Magic could not quite get all the way past the Clippers.

Orlando played uphill the entire game. And had to rely on their strong players to carry the heavy offensive load.

The team got the shots it wanted and made the right plays, but could not finish or make the key shots they needed to get the win.

Aaron Gordon

F, Orlando Magic

Still, it was surprising to see Gordon put everything together and put in a career performance. Gordon scored a career-high 33 points, making 13 of 21 shots and 4 of 8 3-pointers to lead the Magic’s offensive onslaught in the game.

Gordon was stellar in just about every facet of the game. He helped lock down J.J. Redick for much of the game and helped out on Blake Griffin at times too. The defense overall struggled and Gordon was not immune. But it is hard to think of a better overall performance in Gordon’s short NBA career.

Bismack Biyombo

C, Orlando Magic

Yet, it still felt like an incomplete performance. Particularly on the defensive end.

He struggled to help corral and redirect Chris Paul on the pick and roll throughout the fourth quarter, allowing Paul to get into the lane and do the things Chris Paul does. Paul finished with 10 assists, including a few killers in the fourth quarter as Orlando did not have the stops to stay in the game and pull out the win.

Evan Fournier

G/F, Orlando Magic

Fournier scored 24 points and shot 9-for-17 from the floor. He had eight assists too, including some dazzling passes. That is a big reason the Magic’s offense has re-awoken. The ball is moving significantly better. The team is moving the ball. Fournier’s improved passing has a lot to do with that.

Still, Fournier came up short in several areas. Fans will likely note some poor shots and floaters he took late in the game — he had nine of the team’s 21 points in the fourth quarter and made four of seven shots. He had the primary defensive responsibility on Austin Rivers and lost him on numerous occasions. It was not all on him, but Rivers made seven 3-pointers in the game.

Elfrid Payton

PG, Orlando Magic

Payton’s shot was not working as well as it did Tuesday night. He made just 4 of his 12 shots for nine points. He did record nine assists, which suggests his level of activity.

When Payton is aggressive and able to get down hill into the paint, he is as dangerous as almost any point guard. He did a good job staying aggressive and working around screens to attack the Clippers defense. It made the Magic offense significantly better and kept them in the game. Payton was a big reason Orlando was able to keep contact and eventually make this a game.

L.A. Clippers

19-7, 3rd West

Austin Rivers was beyond good hitting 7 of 10 3-pointers for 25 points. Blake Griffin added 23 points. DeAndre Jordan scored 22 points, fighting off the hack-a-Jordan strategy to make 12 of 18 free throws. Paul had 16 points and 10 assists.

There were big contributions up and down the line from the Clippers. And, most importantly, L.A. was the more dominant team and controlled the tempo throughout. The Clippers knew they could outpace the Magic, even if their defense was a bit sloppy throughout.

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