Orlando Magic Grades: LA Clippers 106, Orlando Magic 95

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 13: Montrezl Harrell
ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 13: Montrezl Harrell /

The Orlando Magic had a fast start, but could not overcome their offensive struggles and fell hard to the undermanned LA Clippers at home.

The avalanche seemed to come quickly in the second quarter. Things were working well and then they were not. The LA Clippers closed the spigot, shutting off the paint and daring the Orlando Magic to shoot over them. That was not something the team could do with such a depleted roster.

Without the offense making shots, the Clippers were able to get out in transition, sometimes catching the Magic out of position and napping a bit in the confusion. This is a team playing out of position and scrambling to find their footing.

Eventually, they would. But their 11-point first-quarter lead was gone thanks to a 14-0 run. And the Clippers were going to keep their momentum going. The Magic were not going to find their rhythm.

Slowly LA pulled the lead out to double digits. The Clippers kept making shots, moving the ball and beating a frustrated Magic defense. They drove into the lane to draw Nikola Vucevic out to challenge, throwing lobs to DeAndre Jordan or hitting floaters over the defense. The Magic could not do very much.

Their options to replace tired players were limited. Their lineups were less than ideal. And their chances to win slowly dissipated. Coach Frank Vogel stuck to his rotation plan, but it never turned.

The Clippers defeated the Magic 106-95 at the Amway Center on Wednesday. Orlando was frustrated and unable to break through LA’s line of defense. The shots and the offense never came easy.

Orlando shot 42 percent from the floor and 9 for 27 from beyond the arc. The team struggled to get itself going. And then once the team fell behind, it could not make the points up.

The Clippers kept finding ways to kill the Magic’s momentum. They would beat the Magic in transition while the team was jogging back. Or they would they would simply get free for open jumpers. The Magic never found those easy points.

The message at halftime was simple: “Turnovers to touchdowns,” coach Frank Vogel said. LA converted 12 turnovers into 20 points. There was no coming back from that with such a small margin for error. Eventually, the Clippers just pulled away.

Orlando could not keep up or find their way.

NIKOLA VUCEVIC. B. The Orlando Magic will obviously need their best player to play at their best to make up the ground lost of their injured players. That means getting big games from players like <a href=. C. Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic. MARIO HEZONJA. A. <a href=. F

It is hard to blame coach Frank Vogel for leaning on players he knows and trusts as he tries to piece together a rotation. In a close game, especially, he is not going to throw caution to the wind and put in an unproven and unknown player into the lineup. Still, it is hard to piece together why Vogel stuck with <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. MARREESE SPEIGHTS. F

B-. <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. JONATHON SIMMONS

B. The LA Clippers needed some time to get their legs under them in the first game of their East Coast trip. The Orlando Magic really took it to them early in the game with some great defense from Nikola Vucevic and Mario Hezonja especially. Orlando was playing energetic and putting in the work to make LA look like an also-ran team.<p>The tables flipped quickly in the second quarter. The Magic could never get them back. DeAndre Jordan was a lot more active on the glass, finishing with 16 points and 20 rebounds. But he was not the driver. It was instead <a rel=. 11-15. 10th West. LA CLIPPERS

Next: 5 things the Orlando Magic need to correct

The Orlando Magic finish off their homestand against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.