Orlando Magic Grades: LA Clippers 112, Orlando Magic 97

It was a tough day for the NBA family and Aaron Gordon and Kawhi Leonard tried their best to lead the Orlando Magic and LA Clippers. (Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images)
It was a tough day for the NBA family and Aaron Gordon and Kawhi Leonard tried their best to lead the Orlando Magic and LA Clippers. (Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic soldiered through a rough day as they fell to the LA Clippers at the Amway Center. Their minds, like everyone else, was on Kobe Bryant.

38. Final. 112. 77. 97

The atmosphere inside the Amway Center was muted for the Orlando Magic’s game against the LA Clippers. It felt like everyone — the players, the teams, the broadcast, the energy int he building — was somewhere else. They really were somewhere else.

The world had learned a few hours ago that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter and seven others. It was a tragedy beyond words that shook the sports world to its core.

So many players in the NBA grew up idolizing Bryant. Magic guard Evan Fournier tweeted before the game that this one was going to be hard. And it was not merely for the Western Conference elite opponent lining up against the Magic.

The game started with tears and a moment of silence. The Clippers took a 24-second shot-clock violation on the first play of the game. The Magic followed suit with Markelle Fultz dribbling the ball alone in the backcourt for an 8-second backcourt violation.

That was a fitting tribute. He would have wanted players to go on. But it was difficult.

The rest of the game was a search for the energy and attention to play a game on a day where everyone lost so much.

The Clippers defeated the Magic 112-97 at the Amway Center on Sunday. The result seemed secondary to everything else that happened in the day. Everyone seemed like they were caught in a stupor.

Orlando had decent enough energy early in the game. The Magic took an 11-point lead in the second quarter. But the Clippers’ talent eventually won out.

Kawhi Leonard started working to get to his spots. The Magic’s defense was late and a hair off. The Clippers paraded to the line and they had the lead by halftime.

Orlando’s lethargic play really kicked in during the second half. At one point in the third quarter, FOX Sports Florida reporter Dante Marchitelli reported coach Steve Clifford telling his team they have to make some open shots and be professional.

It can be that easy sometimes. Orlando shot just 35.8 percent from the floor and 7 for 32 from beyond the arc.

The Magic’s bench crew led by Michael Carter-Williams and Mohamed Bamba got the 19-point deficit down to seven in the fourth quarter. They played with great defensive energy and gave themselves a chance.

That is until Leonard re-entered the game and put it away for the Clippers. Somehow, that seemed not to matter as much. This one did not sting nearly as much as the other loss suffered during the day.

C-. The game for the Orlando Magic came down to the same thing so many other games for the Magic have come down to. They need their best players to show up and make shots. They need the players they rely on the most to play with efficiency and force. And that is just not happening.<p><a href=. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC

C+. <a href=. F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON

A-. <a href=. G. Orlando Magic. MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS

B+. <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA

3rd West. LA CLIPPERS. B. The LA Clippers are such a talented team that they can play poorly and still look very good. That is what talent and a margin for error will do. Kawhi Leonard is pretty much unguardable when he has his shot going. He had it going long enough in this one.<p>The Clippers were just as glassy-eyed as the Magic for much of this game. It was hard to focus with what was going on elsewhere in the NBA world. And the Clippers did not play that effectively either. LA hit its shots and got to the foul line and that was enough in this game.</p>. 33-14

The Orlando Magic are now 21-26, one game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets for seventh in the Eastern Conference and 3.5 games ahead of the Chicago Bulls for eighth.

Next. Kobe Bryant cast his shadow over the Magic, NBA. dark

The Orlando Magic return to action Monday against the Miami Heat in Miami.