Orlando Magic Grades: LA Clippers 122, Orlando Magic 95

Markelle Fultz follow his brilliant triple double by showing he is still a rookie in a lot of ways. (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Markelle Fultz follow his brilliant triple double by showing he is still a rookie in a lot of ways. (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic looked like they had spent all their energy in Wednesday night’s win as the LA Clippers raced past the Magic from the start.

38. 122. 77. Final. 95

From the very beginning of the game, it was clear something was different for the Orlando Magic.

The energy and spirit that enraptured the team through 48 minutes and delivered a win over the Los Angeles Lakers the night before on the same (or similar) Staples Center floor. There just was nothing left in the reserves to do that again.

And perhaps the LA Clippers heeded the warning their arena mates failed to the night before.

The Magic could keep pace offensively for about half of the first quarter, leaving the game tied at 18 apiece. But that was a warning sign in itself.

Kawhi Leonard was getting free for baskets too easily, coming around screens without much resistance. Nikola Vucevic was sitting too far back, creating passing lanes to the post for Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell.

The Magic never got it reeled in. Leonard was too much and the Clippers were in too much of a rhythm overall. Orlando could not disrupt it in a 122-95 loss at Staples Center on Thursday.

The Magic shot 39.1 percent from the floor and just 9 for 16 from the foul line. That suggests how the Magic struggled to keep the ball moving and find good shots.

The game for the Magic really turned when they broke their lineup and took Markelle Fultz out of the game. D.J. Augustin again missed the game and will be out indefinitely with bone irritation in his left knee. The Magic will re-evaluate him in 3-4 weeks. So they will be without a key player for some time.

That second-quarter group came with the team down by eight points and the lead already slipping. But the team’s minutes with Markelle Fultz out were hardly productive. Orlando could not get into its sets effectively. These minutes began to devolve into Terrence Ross setting himself up for 3-pointers.

That worked at least once as Orlando cut the deficit to 15 near the end of the third quarter. But it was hardly enough. The Clippers re-asserted the lead quickly and eventually expanded it out where the Magic could not catch up.

Orlando was always treading water once LA built up its lead. And that is just not something anyone can do against a quality opponent.

AARON GORDON. B. There were little pockets of intensity for the Orlando Magic throughout the game. But most of it came on the offensive end. that is something at least, but not enough and not how this team is going to have to play to succeed. <a href=. F. Orlando Magic

C+. Nikola Vucevic had a really similar game to Aaron Gordon. He got every shot to fall, coming a night after he could not hit even the simplest shots. But defensively, he just was not engaged enough in the game. He was not able to stop Kawhi Leonard from getting into his shot and he stayed too detached from the LA Clippers’ bigs to be effective.<p>Vucevic finished with 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting. He hit his shots from the outside and did a good job attacking his defenders. It was everything Vucevic struggled to do effectively against the Los Angeles Lakers.</p><p>But he gave so much of it back defensively. He was just in the wrong spot, losing contact with his man as he stepped up to try to half Leonard. The Clippers picked up 10 offensive rebounds for 19 second-chance points. And it felt like a lot more. Vucevic just was not strong enough on the glass for Orlando to be successful.</p>. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC

C. <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER

MARKELLE FULTZ. C+. Markelle Fultz is going to face a lot of pressure right now. More than he has already since the Orlando Magic will play at least a little while without a backup point guard. There is going to be a ton of pressure to play Fultz even more (he played a career-high 33 minutes on Wednesday and 29 minutes in Thursday’s game).<p>Fultz can deliver. And the Magic were still a far better team with Fultz on the floor in this one. He gets everyone organized and sets the pace well, along with using his unpredictability to get defenses off balance. Fultz scored 11 points and dished out five assists.</p><p>But Fultz just could not give Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic the assist they needed. He had four turnovers and struggled to keep the Magic consistently in their rhythm. Some of the turnovers were just bad turnovers too. This is a rookie still playing like a rookie. Good games followed by bad games.</p>. PG. Orlando Magic

A-. The LA Clippers are a very good team that is pretty comfortable with what they can do. They can hit cruise control and overpower teams. Kawhi Leonard was kind of just doing his thing and getting to his spots without much challenge. Everything else flowed from that.<p>Leonard finished with 32 points on 12-for-20 shooting. It was just easy for him to get where he wanted to go. And the Clippers got things moving from there, tallying 29 assists and hitting 14 of 32 3-pointers.</p><p>LA got whatever it wanted this game. It was just cruise control from there as the Magic could not do much to disrupt their rhythm.</p>. 29-13. 3rd West. LA CLIPPERS

The Orlando Magic are 20-22 and seventh in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets. The Orlando Magic’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 36 Magic wins or 36 Chicago Bulls/Detroit Pistons losses.

dark. Next. Aaron Gordon taking flight again

The Orlando Magic continue their road trip Saturday against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.