For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Orlando Magic have lost a basketball game. The Magic walked into Staples Center against an aching Clippers team – one that was without Chris Paul and J.J. Redick – and walked out with a 103-101 loss against Doc Rivers' team.
Orlando was led by Elfrid Payton, as the second-year man feasted on the Paul-less Clippers backcourt. Payton got the job done all over the place, going for 21 points on 9-for-18 shooting with eight assists, four steals, and four rebounds. Victor Oladipo also had a big night: 24 points on 10-for-20 shooting, seven rebounds, and five assists. On the other side, 96 of the 103 points scored by the Clippers came from four players. The quartet was led by Jamal Crawford (32 points), with Blake Griffin (28), Wesley Johnson (21), and DeAndre Jordan (15) chiming in.
The first quarter was a remarkably back-and-forth affair. The Clippers had several six-point leads, but neither team was able to get much breathing room from the other. Behind the strength of a 10-2 run, Orlando was able to win the quarter, but at no point did it seem that either team had a strangle hold on the game. A trio of Magic players – Oladipo, Tobias Harris, and surprisingly Jason Smith – led the team with six points each. Orlando also failed to hit a three during the first quarter. Griffin's nine points and Johnson's seven were the notables for LA, but no other player scored more than two points.
The Magic began to fall behind in the second quarter, mostly due to Johnson catching fire. He went 4-for-8 from three in the first half, scoring 15 total points, well above his season average of 4.6 points per game. Griffin also threw together a big first half, showing off his all-around game with a 13 point, eight rebound, five assist performance. But Orlando was as resilient as ever. Despite falling behind by as many as eight in the quarter, a 10-2 run towards the end of the frame led to the Magic only trailing by three points at the half. Heading into the locker room, Los Angeles led, 53-50. Two Magic players were in double-figures, as Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic both had 10 points.
From the start of the third, the Magic managed to knock down some threes and keep the Clippers at arm's length. The team, behind three three pointers, scored 15 points over a 2:37 stretch to open up a five-point lead on Doc Rivers' side. While the roles were reversed – Orlando opened up the sizable lead and the Clippers battled back – Oladipo and Payton scored 17 of the team's 29 points in the quarter, and the Magic took a 79-74 lead into the final frame of the evening.
38-11-8-3-3 combined from Payton and Oladipo through three.— Zach Oliver (@ZachOliverNBA) December 6, 2015
Between Oladipo leaving the game for a spell after bumping knees with Crawford and a 23-10 run over the final 9:02 of the game by the Clippers, the fourth quarter wasn't great for the Magic. It was certainly a valiant effort, but the entire game changed when 'Dipo went to the locker room. Despite being up by 10 points with 5:26 remaining in the game, Orlando wasn't able to close it out, and its winning streak came to an end.
Besides the big nights by Payton and Oladipo, Orlando had three players in double figures. Vucevic, Harris, and Aaron Gordon all scored 10 points, while Evan Fournier scored in single digits for the third time in six games with a seven point performance. Harris and Vucevic both had double-doubles, and each player had 10 rebounds.
The loss drops Orlando to 11-9 on the season, moving the team to eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Scott Skiles' squad will look to get back on track on Tuesday in Denver against the Nuggets. The game is scheduled to tip off at 9 p.m. EST.