Magic Unable to Slow Down Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

There are several superstar duos currently flourishing in the NBA. LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown with the Celtics, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons with the Sixers, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell with the Jazz and any combination of the Nets’ Big Three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden are a few of them. But none have been quite as dominant to this point of the season than the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who both made their return to L.A.’s lineup on Friday after missing the last two games due to health and safety protocols. The Orlando Magic had no answers for either of them, as they combined for 50 points in the Clippers’ 116-90 victory at Amway Center.

Top Performer

Terrence Ross broke out of his shooting slump on Friday, making eight of his 12 shot attempts and all seven of his free throws during his 24-point effort. The 6-foot-6 veteran started the season red hot with four 20-plus-point performances in his first seven games. Before Friday, however, he had only scored 20 or more once in his previous 11 contests.

Key Stretch

The Clippers scored the final 10 points of the first half to extend their lead to 14 going into the locker room. During that stretch, Leonard made a pair of shots, including a step-back 3-pointer from the right wing at the halftime buzzer. The Magic pulled within three early in the third quarter before the Clippers went on a 15-2 run to reclaim a double-digit advantage.

Key Stats

Taking care of the ball is something the Magic usually do a good job of. That was not the case on Friday, as they committed 17 turnovers, which led to 24 Clippers points. Orlando also really struggled protecting the paint, where L.A. scored 52 points.

Player Spotlight

Mo Bamba played well in his limited minutes on Friday. Even though it came with the outcome no longer in doubt, the 7-foot, 231-pounder scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in just six minutes. Prior to playing two minutes on Wednesday against the Kings, he hadn’t played in any of the previous seven games.

The Sidebar

Jonathan Isaac served as a guest analyst on the broadcast during Friday’s game. He joined play-by-play announcer David Steele and color analyst Jeff Turner coming out of the first commercial break and remained on the call for the duration of the first half. In addition to offering some insight on the action on the court, the 6-foot-11, 230-pounder talked about his injury rehabilitation, which he says is going very well.

Quote of the Night

“A lot of those categories that we are usually good at, (we are) definitely not where we’ve been the past two years, which is a big reason why we are where we are at.” – Nikola Vucevic

Up Next

Next, the Magic will take a short bus ride down the I-4 corridor to Tampa, where they will play the Raptors in Toronto’s temporary home on Sunday at 7 p.m. The Raptors dropped to 7-12 this season following their loss to the Kings on Friday. Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 32 points, while Fred VanVleet tallied 26 points. The Magic and Raptors will meet again on Tuesday at Amway Center.

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