Only fitting in a close game between the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers that it was two of the league’s most improved players with the ball in their hands in crunch time. Cole Anthony tied it for the Magic with a 3-pointer with 23.6 seconds left and Reggie Jackson, L.A’s second-leading scorer this season, buried a go-ahead jumper with 2.2 ticks remaining to lift the Clippers to a 106-104 victory on Saturday afternoon.
While the late-game shots by Anthony and Jackson were obviously the two biggest, they weren’t the only ones. The last of Luke Kennard’s career-high seven 3-pointers put L.A. up five with 59.3 seconds left. Terrence Ross made three of his career-high 13 free throws on the following possession. The 6-foot-6 Magic veteran, however, missed a potential game-winning pull-up 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Anthony scored nine of his 23 points in the final four minutes. He was one of three Magic players to reach the 20-point mark. Ross finished with 22 and Franz Wagner, on 8-of-10 overall shooting and 2-of-2 from beyond the arc, posted 20 points, his third 20-plus-point performance thus far. Wendell Carter Jr., meanwhile, dished out a career-best seven assists. He had six of them in Orlando’s last game against Sacramento.
Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain), and Jalen Suggs (fractured right thumb) were out for Orlando. Paul George (right elbow), Nicolas Batum (right ankle), Jason Preston (right foot), and Kawhi Leonard (right knee) were unavailable for L.A.
This Day in History
When you hear the names Mark Price and Derek Harper, you probably don’t think of the Magic. But both played for Orlando in the 1997-98 season. And on Dec. 11, 1997, they were the Magic’s two leading scorers in a victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Also interesting about that night is that it was the first time Dennis Scott, acquired by the Mavs in a deal that brought Harper to the Magic that prior offseason, played against Orlando. He had 13 points. Michael Finley led Dallas with 20 points.
Where does Tyronn Lue, now in his second season at the Clippers helm, rank among the league’s best coaches right now? Most would probably put Steve Kerr at No. 1. Gregg Popovich, Erik Spoelstra, and Monty Williams are certainly high on the list. But Lue, the Cavs’ coach when they won the title in 2016, is in that conversation also. Even with all of L.A.’s injuries, he has this team in the top five of the Western Conference standings. Especially defensively, where they rank seventh in both opponent points per game and opponent field goal percentage, Lue has the Clippers locked in.
Quote of the Night
“We are trying to focus in on the smaller things and not (be) worried about too much the big picture and try to take it day by day. This is a positive step in the right direction even though we lost. But we got to build on this. If we can end this road trip with a win, that’s another good step in the right direction.” – Ross
The Magic will wrap up their five-game, 11-day trip against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET. LeBron James has scored 30-plus points in five of his last seven games, including on Friday in a win over the OKC Thunder when he erupted for 33 points. The prior game, although it came in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, he became the fifth player in NBA history to reach 100 triple-doubles. Anthony Davis didn’t play in the game at OKC because of knee soreness.