Magic Fall to Clippers in First Scrimmage Action at Disney

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

Back in action following a 133-day pause to the NBA season were the Orlando Magic as they scrimmaged against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. Minutes were limited for the regulars, as head coach Steve Clifford toyed around with lineups and players worked on getting their rhythm and wind back. Nikola Vucevic led four Orlando players in double figures with 18 points, however the Magic fell to the Clippers, 99-90, in this abbreviated 40-minute exhibition.

Lou Williams, the reigning back-to-back Sixth Man of the Year, led the Clippers with 22 points, while Paul George scored 18 and Kawhi Leonard had nine. L.A. made 16 of its 41 3-point attempts.

The Big Picture

The Magic have had 11 practices so far since arriving at Disney on July 7. They will have several more before they play their first seeding game on July 31 against the Brooklyn Nets – the team they are hoping to leapfrog for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Scrimmaging against the three top teams in the West should help Orlando sharpen up. The Magic, who had the NBA’s No. 1 offense from Feb. 10 until the start of the hiatus, will have one of the “easier” seeding game schedules, as they will play four games against teams with losing records. Not on their schedule, meanwhile, are any of the teams currently sitting in the top eight in the West.

The Best Stretch

Terrence Ross and Michael Carter-Williams, who were both playing their best basketball of the season in the few weeks prior to the league’s stoppage, helped the Magic trim a 13-point deficit to three early in the fourth quarter. Orlando wasn’t, however, able to get any closer as the Clippers’ reserves made enough big plays down the stretch. Ross, who averaged 22.2 points on 48.7 percent overall shooting and 50.6 percent 3-point shooting after the All-Star break, finished with 14 points, while MCW, one of the Magic’s top defenders, recorded 16 points.

The Top Performer

Vucevic didn’t look like he’s been absent from game action since March 10, which was when the Magic last played, as the nine-year NBA veteran posted 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes. An All-Star for the first time in his career last season, the 7-foot, 260-pounder made eight of his 13 shot attempts and knocked down two of his five 3-point tries. Although just a 32.9 percent 3-point shooter in the regular season, Vucevic becoming a more competent long distance shooter has helped the Magic open more spacing on the floor.

Quote of the Night

“Just shooting around in pregame was a little different, just looking around seeing what was going on. But for me it wasn’t too weird. Once you start playing, this is what practice feels like. In practice there’s no fans, but we still scrimmage and play each other. Still got to bring it. In a sense it felt like that, so it didn’t feel too weird for me.” – Ross on what the environment in the gym was like and what it felt like playing without fans

Up Next

The Magic will play their second of three scrimmage games on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers. L.A. enters the season restart with the top record in the West. The game will be aired on FOX Sports Florida, the FOX Sports Florida Go App and NBA TV.

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