Orlando Magic Grades: LA Clippers 116, Orlando Magic 90

Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic had no defense for Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic had no defense for Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

38. Final. 116. 77. 90

The Orlando Magic were struggling to move the ball and get anything going as usual. The LA Clippers were finding their place in the paint and kicking out. The only thing they could complain about in building a 14-point halftime lead was their poor 3-point shooting and turnovers the Magic finally forced in the second quarter.

Orlando was frustrated and struggling to stay afloat, watching LA pull off a 10-0 run to end the quarter and deflate their sails.

The Magic were determined to fight back. And to start the second half, they did.

An 11-0 run keyed with ball movement and defense turned it into a three-point deficit. Maybe Orlando would make the progress the team needed, using that defense to charge a sometimes lax offense.

The Clippers called timeout and seemed to refocus. And the frustration for this Magic team only grew from there.

The Orlando Magic could only manage pockets of inspired play as the LA Clippers stifled them and kept them from mounting a serious threat in another dispiriting home loss.

Paul George scored 26 points and Kawhi Leonard scored 24 to pick apart the Magic’s defense. Orlando provided little resistance from that point forward. The Clippers raced ahead for good and never looked back in a 116-90 victory at the Amway Center, sending the Magic to their 10th loss in the last 12 games.

Orlando never really found a rhythm in this one save for that third-quarter push and Terrence Ross‘ flashes of brilliance throughout the night. The Magic seemed willing to defend for long parts of the night, but that quickly dissipated as the frustration of their poor shooting took over.

Orlando made only 36.0-percent of its shots with Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier combining to shoot 11 for 39. It is hard to win any game with a team’s best players struggling to find any rhythm offensively.

The Magic never could get solid footing without those players playing well — a statement Steve Clifford reiterated as the key to the team taking its next steps, they just have to play better — and they had little hope to pull out a win.

F. . F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON

Aaron Gordon again struggled to run the offense and play within the flow of the game. Gordon was trying to out-star his opponent in Paul George and Kawi Leonard from the start. He was trying to attack off the dribble and stopping short to settle for mid-range jumpers and fadeaways. The ball stuck whenever it was in his hands and it set a terrible tone for the entire game.

Gordon finished with nine points on 4-for-13 shooting. He added seven rebounds and had some moments of defensive prowess. But he largely got overpowered by Leonard and George when he was matched up with them. He was not making strong second efforts and was letting players into the paint where the Magic struggled to rotate. The team’s leaders have to set the tone and play the best and they plainly did not.

C-. . G/F. Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER

Evan Fournier was one of the few players that showed a ton of activity throughout the game. He worked hard on closeouts and did well to contest shots. He picked up a few steals and was flying around the court. The Magic made their 11-0 run to start the third quarter largely on Fournier’s back. That effort deserves some credit.

But that is about where the credit ends. At the end of the day, Fournier is out there to shoot and score. And those were two things he struggled with, even if those shots largely came in the flow of the offense. Fournier made only 3 of his 13 shots and just one of his six 3-pointers. It was a frustrating night on that end for him and the Magic clearly needed a couple of those to go down.

Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. C-. . C

Nikola Vucevic was also struggling to score and no player seemed to succumb to the frustration this team faced more than him. He was clearly knocked off his game and looking for help from anyone — be it his teammates or the officials. None of it was coming and Vucevic eventually started forcing his offense through frustration.

Vucevic finished with 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting, by far the worst game of his season. He added only six rebounds. It was not for lack of trying. But the Magic’s poor ball movement left Vucevic largely uninvolved. Some of their better offensive moments came when they were able to get the ball inside out to him at the 3-point line. Those plays were too few and you could see the frustration going as the magic could not get him the ball.

B. . G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

Terrence Ross was about the only member of the Orlando Magic able to get anything going consistently. He single-handedly kept the game from becoming a blowout in the first half as the Magic closed the gap into the second quarter. Orlando’s bench played better than LA’s bench in this one.

Ross scored 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting. He drew fouls on 3-pointers on two consecutive possessions to end up a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line. That is what Ross is supposed to do. Orlando found some rhythm with him in the game. But that was also short-lived as the team simply did not move the ball enough to keep taking advantage of his play.

15-5. 2nd West. LA CLIPPERS. B+.

Individual star brilliance goes a long way and can bail a team out of a lot of jams. The LA Clippers got 26 points from Paul George and 24 points from Kawhi Leonard. Both players had moments and spots within the game when they simply beat good defense. And they frustrated the Magic defensively, locking up two of their better players. The stars won this game.

The Clippers will also be happy with the defense and contributions they got from Serge Ibaka. LA seemingly played with confidence in how they can work together and moved the ball effectively throughout the game. It was hardly a perfect game. Orlando got its share of open shots and defensive moments. And the Clippers’ bench got worked in the first half especially to make the game tight. But stars win in this league.

Next. Orlando Magic trying to get their defense back. dark

The Magic have now lost 10 of their last 12 games and sit at 8-12, 11th in the Eastern Conference. They return to action Sunday against the Toronto Raptors in Tampa.