Despite 33 points and 14 rebounds from Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic's three-game losing streak snapped Monday night as the Los Angeles Clippers held on for a 107-102 overtime victory. Clippers point guard Chris Paul scored 13 of his team-high 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lift his team to victory, while Chauncey Billups drilled five of the visitors' 13 three-pointers. The defeat spoiled Jameer Nelson's return to Orlando's lineup, as the veteran point guard tallied 15 points and a season-high 12 assists in his first game since suffering from concussion-like symptoms following collisions with Jarrett Jack over a week ago.
Orlando lost this game on the defensive side of the ball, yielding a season-worst 13 triples. When Orlando scores better than 1.1 points per possession, as it did Monday evening, it should win handily. But the Magic, like so many teams, simply could not contain Paul, and his dribble penetration set up several open looks for his Clippers teammates.
The Magic rallied from a deficit that reached nine points in the fourth period and nearly pulled off the victory behind a late flurry from Nelson. He scored six points with two free throws, his signature stepback jumper, and a driving layup to bring the Magic to within three, and J.J. Redick found Ryan Anderson for an open three-pointer on the team's next trip to even the score at 89 with 2:45 remaining. Moments later, he dished to Jason Richardson for a layup and-one which gave Orlando a one-point advantage.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
But Richardson blemished an otherwise strong individual performance by fumbling the ball away after Orlando forced an L.A. miss. All-Star forward Blake Griffin split the free throws, giving the Magic a chance to win, an opportunity on which they failed to capitalize.
Losing to a division-leading team, even at home, is nothing of which Orlando should be ashamed. Still, it led by nine points after the first period and had a legitimate chance to pull off the upset. A stronger showing from Hedo Turkoglu--who's faded fast as the season has progressed, shooting 0-of-6 from the floor for no points Monday--might have made the difference.
The Magic's schedule only gets tougher, with games against the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat forthcoming in the week. Fortunately, Orlando plays both those games at home, and both with one day of rest.