Denton: Magic vs. Clippers Analysis (1/6/14)

   

The Magic won 104-101 in Los Angeles against the Clippers last January, and toppled the Clippers in Orlando in November for one of their best victories of the season. Vucevic dominated that game with 30 points and 21 rebounds, but he was unable to replicate that kind of production on Monday night.

Monday’s game was the first of a five-game road trip that will cover all or part of 10 days. The Magic will be in Portland (Wednesday), Sacramento (Friday), Denver (Saturday) and Dallas (Monday). The Clippers were playing their second game and their first in Los Angeles without star point guard Chris Paul, who suffered a separated shoulder last week. Paul is expected to miss the next five weeks because of the injury.

``It’s one of those situations where it could have been worse,’’ Paul said before Monday’s game. ``I woke up (Sunday) and was done feeling sorry for myself. I’ve got to approach the rehab and get back as soon as I possibly can.’’

The Clippers didn’t seem to miss Paul’s playmaking abilities in the early going, handing out 16 assists on their first 17 baskets. By halftime, L.A. had already piled up a staggering 20 assists on their 22 field goals to build a 60-34 lead by intermission.

Three of those assists resulted in highlight-worthy fastbreak dunks for the Clippers. Jordan had a dunk over Davis in transition and later converted an alley-oop for another dunk. Griffin also caught a lob, but he showed off his incredible athleticism by windmill-dunking the ball to the delight of the big Staples Center crowd.

Harkless and Oladipo gave the Magic some spark off the bench in an otherwise forgettable first half. They combined for 16 first-half points – only two less points than the Magic’s starting five. Tobias Harris did not score in the first half, while Davis and Vucevic had just one basket apiece in the first 24 minutes.

The Magic sputtered out of the gates in the first quarter and nearly got overwhelmed by the hot-shooting Clippers. Orlando missed 11 of its first 12 shots and by then the Clippers already had a commanding 20-3 lead. And by the time the Clippers pushed their lead to a whopping 21 points, they had hit 13 of 20 shots, while the Magic had made just five of 17 tries.

``They got beat pretty bad the game before so they came out with an extreme sense of urgency and got up and down the floor and made shots early,’’ Vaughn said. ``They had great ball movement and we were playing from behind from the beginning.’’

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