With Lob City grounded, Clippers still cruise through Magic
The Magic broke their previous ten game losing streak with an upset win over the Clippers but they had no such luck tonight as L.A. beat Orlando 86-76. The Magic once again had just nine players available as J.J. Redick, Arron Afflalo, Hedo Turkoglu (late scratch with flu-like symptoms) and DeQuan Jones were all sidelined with various injuries.
The Clippers were without a few somewhat important pieces of their own with Chris Paul missing his 9th straight game and Blake Griffin out for the second straight game. Paul’s replacement Eric Bledsoe led the Clippers in scoring with a career high 27 points, 7 rebounds and 6 steals. DeAndre Jordan and Ryan Hollins each had 13 for L.A.
The Magic were led in scoring on the night by the returning Jameer Nelson’s 18 points, unfortunately they all came in the first half. Jameer was held scoreless in the second half and attempted just five second half shots. Coach Vaughn credited the Clippers adjustments of blitzing the pick and roll to deny him shot opportunities.
The Magic led the game at the half 42-40 but managed just 13 3rd quarter points and trailed by nine heading into the 4th quarter. Each time the Magic seemed to make a run in the final period, the Clippers seemed to answer with a big three pointer to keep the game just out of reach. It was another one of those nights when an eight point lead felt like 18.
The Magic understandably struggled without Redick and Afflalo, but there was hope that the losing streak would end with the Clippers just as undermanned. The Magic are desperate for offense at this point and when the only three available Magic guards (Jameer/E’Twaun/Ish) combine to shoot 12-41, then losing streaks continue.
The good news for Magic fans is that the fun and gun team they enjoyed watching earlier in the season will be somewhat pieced back together in the next outing against Cleveland on Friday when Redick and Afflalo will return to the lineup.
I asked Grant Hill after the game if he had ever been involved in a game where both teams were missing their top-3 scorers. his response, “Naw, that’s a first. I’m surprised people came to see the game!”
Me too Grant, me too.