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Clippers 106, Magic 95: Short-handed Magic struggle to slow down Williams, Clippers

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After a slow start, the Clippers awoke to earn their third straight victory over the depleted Magic

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When examining the box score, one glaring statistic from tonight’s contest stands out. Bench Points: Los Angeles 60, Orlando 25. 31 of those 60 points came from former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams (‘15).

The Magic did play down Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Terrence Ross, Jonathan Isaac, and Arron Afflalo in this game. But by choosing to start Wes Iwundu, Coach Frank Vogel primarily kept his regular bench unit in order.

Everyone has injuries in the NBA, the show must go on. This felt like a winnable game for the Magic, even with their currently limited roster (especially early on).

The Magic got a lift early from Mario Hezonja, who scored six of Orlando’s first nine points. With 5:34 left in the first quarter, Jonathon Simmons took the ball hard to the rim, and seemed to be clearly fouled on the play. Simmons did not get the call, and Head Coach Frank Vogel stormed onto the court in disbelief. Vogel has seemed to be frustrated for a few games now with the lack of respect officials are giving Simmons on drives to the basket.

Vogel picked up a technical foul, his first charged technical of the season. The Magic then went on an 11-3 run, and stretched their lead to 19-11.

The Clippers couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean in the first quarter. As a team, Los Angeles went 6-23 in the opening period. Led by Mario Hezonja’s 8 points and 5 rebounds, the Magic led the Clippers 24-13 after the first frame.

The Clippers awoke in the second quarter (must have been a West Coast time thing) in a big way. Los Angeles took the lead after a 14-0 run in which the Magic failed to score for nearly four minutes. Lou Williams led the charge in the second for the Clippers. As he’s done for most of his career, Williams got hot quick - connecting on 4 of his 6 second quarter attempts (including two three-point makes).

Mario Hezonja provided the crowd at Amway with a couple of highlight moments when he returned in the second. First, Hezonja recorded a chase-down block on an Austin Rivers breakaway lay-up attempt, and then slammed home an attempt on a pretty give-and-go dish from Nikola Vucevic.

Orlando native Austin Rivers was down on the floor for an extended period of time at the close of the second quarter. On Orlando’s last offensive possession of the half, Rivers was charged with a foul on a Jonathon Simmons drive, and then caught an inadvertent elbow from Simmons to boot. Rivers did not return in the second half.

The Clippers outscored the Magic 32-16 in the second quarter and took a 45-40 lead into the half.

The pace moderately picked up in the third quarter. Both teams traded buckets back and forth as the Clippers maintained their slim lead. However, a rather unfortunate matchup for the Magic that caught Marreese Speights having to check forward Sam Dekker led to two quick buckets for the Clippers.

It’s worth mentioning that Vogel was coaching the guys hard late in the third quarter. Vogel burned through three Orlando timeouts in three minutes, leaving the Magic with one remaining timeout for the entirety of the fourth quarter. His timeout with just over a minute left in the quarter came after a Clipper secondary-break conversion in which Vogel seemed not thrilled about Orlando’s effort getting back on defense.

DeAndre Jordan presented a problem for the Magic in the third period as well. Jordan had eight points in the period, all coming from tip-ins, lobs, and put-back dunks. Jordan is just a massive human being, I don’t know how else to describe him. Jordan finished the contest with 20 rebounds (to go a long with 16 points).

Lou Williams stretched Los Angeles’ lead to 11 on a jumper with just over 7 minutes remaining in the game, which led to Vogel using Orlando’s last remaining timeout. A Sam Dekker three-point make with 5:41 left in the game stretched the Clippers lead to 13, which was followed by a Jordan dunk on a lob from Williams.

Mario Hezonja finished the game with 17 points and 9 rebounds, but was relatively quiet in the second half. Simmons led the Magic with 20 points in a game-high 38 minutes. However, Simmons was only 6-17 from the field.

After the game, Coach Doc Rivers gave an update on his son, Austin Rivers. “Just (a) concussion. Definitely will miss the next game for sure. Then after that, we’ll see.”

The Magic will try to end their three game skid Friday night against the Portland Trailblazers. Game-time is 7:00 PM at the Amway Center.