George scores 24, Clippers beat Blazers to extend win streak


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul George has been putting the Los Angeles Clippers on his shoulders the first month of the season. He needed some help Tuesday night after running into foul trouble midway through the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum were able to pick up the slack.

George led the Clippers with 24 points in their 117-109 victory over the Trail Blazers, but Jackson added 23 and Batum scored a season-high 22 points as Los Angeles extended its winning streak to five.

“We just keep being resilient and finding ways to win,” coach Tyron Lue said. “In the timeouts my message was I wanted us to keep our poise. We had to keep playing through it. They held it down until we got Paul back in the game.”

George went to the bench with 5:53 remaining in the third quarter and the Clippers up 70-65. When he came back into the game with 9:55 left in the fourth, LA had extended the lead to 88-82.

Batum and Isaiah Hartenstein keyed the Clippers’ offense during George’s absence with eight points apiece.

“The first two or three possessions we didn’t play well. We weren’t moving the ball,” said Batum, who was 6 of 8 from beyond the arc. “Then we just started to play simple, move around and got open shots. That was a big stretch before Paul came back.”

George, the reigning Western Conference player of the week, played only 33 minutes because of his foul trouble. Despite the decreased playing time, he was near a triple-double with nine rebounds and seven assists.

“So many guys are stepping up when we need them. You never know in a big night who it is going to be. You can’t put enough emphasis on that,” said George, who is fifth in the league in scoring at 26.7 points per game.

Damian Lillard led Portland with 27 points and Norman Powell scored 23. Jusuf Nurkic had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who are winless in their first five road games.

The Clippers had an 83-79 lead going into the fourth quarter before going on a 13-6 run to take control. They would extend the lead to 12 in the final minute.

Blazers coach Chauncey Billups thought his team played well for the first three quarters but became undisciplined in the fourth.

“There is a different level of focus you have to have here and we didn’t get that done,” he said. “We had some shots we couldn’t make late.”

The third meeting between the teams was close compared to the first two. The Clippers won 116-86 on Oct. 25 before the Trail Blazers countered with a 111-92 victory four nights later.

NOT AMUSED

Lillard looked perturbed postgame, mostly about the offseason rule emphasis that has taken away players relying on non-basketball moves to draw fouls.

“I feel like the way the game is being officiated is unacceptable. I don’t want to go too deep into it but the explanations and (stuff) that is getting missed …” he said. “I felt like, coming in, the rule change wouldn’t affect me because I don’t trick the referees. I don’t do the trick plays.”

ROLLERCOASTER FIRST

The Clippers jumped out to a 13-3 lead less than three minutes into the game on the strength of three 3-pointers. The Trail Blazers would rally though and go up by 26-20 on Cody Zeller’s dunk with 3:44 remaining in the period.

LA would score the last 13 points in the period to have a 33-26 advantage after 12 minutes.

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: The 33 points by LA in the first quarter is the most Portland has allowed in the first 12 minutes this season.

Clippers: Hartenstein came off the bench and scored a season-high 14 points in 17 minutes.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Travel to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. Portland won the first meeting 134-105 on Oct. 23.

Clippers: Host the Miami Heat on Thursday. LA has won the last five meetings.

___

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Trail Blazers vs. Clippers – Game Recap – November 9, 2021


LOS ANGELES — — Paul George scored 24 points, Reggie Jackson added 23 and the Los Angeles Clippers extended their winning streak to five Tuesday night, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 117-109.

Nicolas Batum added a season-high 22 points for the Clippers, who are 6-4 after losing four of their first five to start the season.

George, the reigning Western Conference player of the week, played only 33 minutes after getting into foul trouble midway through the third quarter. Despite the decreased playing time, he was near a triple-double with nine rebounds and seven assists.

Damian Lillard led Portland with 27 points and Norman Powell scored 23. Jusuf Nurkic had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who are winless in their first five road games.

The Clippers had an 83-79 lead going into the fourth quarter before going on a 13-6 run to take control. They would extend the lead to 12 in the final minute.

The third meeting between the teams was close compared to the first two. The Clippers won by 30 (116-86) on Oct. 25 before the Trail Blazers countered with a 111-92 victory four nights later.

ROLLERCOASTER FIRST

The Clippers jumped out to a 13-3 lead less than three minutes into the game on the strength of three 3-pointers. The Trail Blazers would rally though and go up by 26-20 on Cody Zeller‘s dunk with 3:44 remaining in the period.

LA would score the last 13 points in the period to have a 33-26 advantage after 12 minutes.

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: The 33 points by LA in the first quarter is the most Portland has allowed in the first 12 minutes this season.

Clippers: Isaiah Hartenstein came off the bench and scored a season-high 14 points in 17 minutes.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Travel to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. Portland won the first meeting 134-105 on Oct. 23.

Clippers: Host the Miami Heat on Thursday. LA has won the last five meetings.

——



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Clippers traveling a rutted playoff road, again


It’s not simply the Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. The Clippers are fighting their own fraught playoff history.

It’s a rutted road of blown leads, blowout losses, and early dismissals. The burden has lingered far longer than any of the current players have been on the roster.

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Merely by reaching the conference finals for the first time, the Clippers have altered their playoff history. That they did it by overcoming 0-2 deficits to win series against Dallas and Utah is even more compelling.

And because they play in Hollywood, why not up the drama? They’re back home trailing the Suns 0-2.

Game 3 is Thursday night at Staples Center. The Clippers are a 1-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Whether five-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard returns for the Clippers from a right knee injury remains to be seen. He was hurt in Game 4 against Utah. Leonard stayed back in LA to rehab while the team lost in Phoenix.

Chris Paul reportedly intends to play for the Suns after being sidelined for the first two games of the series while in the league’s health and safety protocols.

“It’s going to be that much tougher,” Paul George said about Paul’s impending return.

Paul would like nothing better than to win on his former team’s home court, where he, along with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, rehabilitated the Clippers’ reputation from woebegone franchise to exciting contender. Paul was MVP of the 2013 All-Star Game. His alley-oop passes to Griffin and Jordan for dunks established the team’s Lob City moniker.

The trio was part of an epic collapse in 2015. The Clippers led James Harden and the Houston Rockets 3-1 in the second round, but they dropped the final three games to lose 4-3.

After six seasons, in which the Clippers never got past the second round, Paul exited. Griffin and Jordan followed him out of LA.

The playoff shortcomings didn’t end there.

With George and Leonard in their first season together, the Clippers led Denver 3-1 in the bubble last year. They appeared headed toward their first appearance in the conference finals.

Instead, they blew a 15-point lead to lose Game 5, blew a 19-point lead in losing Game 6 and collapsed in the fourth quarter to lose Game 7. Coach Doc Rivers ended up getting fired.

In his first year guiding the Clippers, coach Tyronn Lue has made a series of tweaks in each round. His latest involved starting 7-foot Ivica Zubac and Patrick Beverley in Game 2, in place of the small-ball combo of Terence Mann and Nicolas Batum.

“We called T-Lue Bill Belichick, all the adjustments he makes,” guard Reggie Jackson said. “He’s definitely going to find a way, and we’re going to find a way, also, like we always do.”

BOOGIE’S T

Clippers center DeMarcus Cousins was issued a postgame technical by the league on Wednesday for his “actions at the conclusion of the game” in Phoenix.

Cousins exchanged words with Suns guard Cameron Payne before pushing him. Cousins then bumped into Devin Booker and shoved him. Both incidents occurred in the chaos after Deandre Ayton’s game-winning dunk — dubbed “The Valley Oop” in Phoenix — with 0.7 seconds to go, when the Suns were celebrating and the Clippers were asking officials to review the play.

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BOOKER’S NOSE

Booker might be wearing a mask for Game 3 after he and Beverley bumped heads hard enough to draw blood. Booker’s nose needed a few stitches and he had his right nostril plugged after the game. Beverley sported a Band-Aid on his forehead.

PLAYOFF P

George has been streaky in the playoffs during his career, first with the Indiana Pacers and then the Oklahoma City Thunder. With Leonard sidelined, the spotlight and burden is squarely on him.

He’s averaging 40.7 minutes this postseason, similar to his averages with the Pacers (40.8) in 2018-19 and the Thunder (43.0) in 2016-17.

“Whenever he’s taking a lot of jump shots and not really attacking, you can tell he’s tired,” Lue said after Game 2, when George led the team with 26 points. But he missed two huge free throws with 0.9 seconds after making big plays down the stretch to give LA the lead.

George insisted, “I got stronger as the game went on.”

The 31-year-old forward hasn’t been this deep in the playoffs since 2013-14, when the Pacers lost to LeBron James and the Miami in the Eastern Conference finals for the second year in a row.

After being the centerpiece in Indiana, George moved to Oklahoma City and partnered with Russell Westbrook for two seasons. The Thunder lost in the first round both times.

George had surgery to repair tears in both shoulders in two years ago. He missed training camp and the first 11 games of his initial season in LA. In the playoff bubble, he averaged 20.2 points. It was his lowest output since 2012-13, when he averaged 19.2 with the Pacers.

George has scored 20 or more points in all 15 playoff games so far.

“If I have to do more, I’ll do that,” he said.

FEELING THE PAYNE

The Clippers felt the Payne. Cameron Payne, that is.

He had a career night subbing for Paul, scoring 29 points in just his second career postseason start. Payne’s offense proved crucial, with Booker going 5 of 16 from the floor following his 40-point, triple-double in Game 1. Payne had nine assists, two steals and no turnovers in 37 minutes. He had just one turnover in Game 1.

“Cameron Payne has done an unbelievable job of filling in for CP,” George said.

Payne has traveled a start-and-stop path since leaving Murray State two years early for the draft.

He played his first few seasons with Oklahoma City and Chicago. He was with Cleveland on a pair of 10-day contracts and then got released by Toronto in October 2019. Payne briefly turned up playing in China before landing in the NBA’s G-League early in 2020.

Last June, he signed with the Suns and had his highest scoring and rebounding averages while coming off the bench in the bubble.



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Clippers vs. Suns score, takeaways: Devin Booker’s triple-double lifts Phoenix past Los Angeles in Game 1


While the story entering the game may have been focused on the players who were unavailable, Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard, the story coming out of Game 1 will be the back and forth battle between Devin Booker and Paul George as the two went at it all day long in the Suns’ 120-114 victory.

Booker finished the win with the Suns’ first playoff triple-double since Steve Nash accomplished the feat in 2005. The All-Star guard was masterful on the offensive end recording 40 points to go along with 13 rebounds and 11 assists as he seemingly made the right play whenever Phoenix needed it. On the other side, George led the charge for the Clippers finishing the game with 34 points, five assists and four rebounds but, in the end, it wasn’t enough to overcome Booker and the rest of the Suns.

With the win, the Suns grab the early momentum in this series as they look to defend their home floor and put themselves in a position to advance to the NBA Finals. These two teams will meet again on Tuesday night with the opening tip scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.

Here are three main takeaways from Game 1.

1. The Devin Booker show

With the Suns up two points with 22 seconds left, Booker got the ball on an after-timeout-play, noticed there wasn’t a single Clippers player within spitting distance of him and drove to the rim for a two-handed dunk. The crowd roared and Booker just polished off a 40-point triple-double to carry the Suns to a Game 1 win. It was an exclamation mark on what Booker did over the course of the game, where he went toe-to-toe with each L.A. defender put in front of him and continuously just kept knocking down shots. The magic in it though is the fact that he was getting to his spots with ease. 

Practically every Suns offensive possession looked like this:

They ran a high screen and roll, and Booker got to his spot at the elbow and knocked down mid-range jumpers left and right. It felt like he took 100 of those shots today, and every time you knew it was coming. Yet the Clippers couldn’t do anything to stop it. He’d get the switch through the screen, have one defender on his hip and the other one deciding whether to surrender his position in the paint or come up and guard Booker, either way, it would’ve been a bad decision. The first option allows for an alley-oop over the top to Ayton, who also had a dominant afternoon. The second choice results in a 40-point outburst from Booker, which certainly isn’t what you want if you’re the Clippers. 

It was the latest example of Booker shedding that “empty stats” label that’s been attached to him throughout the entirety of his career, as he was efficient from the floor (51.7 percent), dished out 11 assists and grabbed 13 boards for a complete performance. It almost made you forget that this team was missing Chris Paul.

2. Missing in action: Clippers role players

Terance Mann, Marcus Morris and Nicolas Batum combined to score 20 points, while George and Jackson carried a majority of the offensive workload for L.A. in Game 1. With Kawhi Leonard’s status still unknown going forward in this series, the Clippers need far more from those three players to have a fighting chance in this series. Another aspect of the game that stood out, was how much difficulty the Clippers had guarding Phoenix’s pick and roll. L.A. is supposed to be one of the best defensive teams in the league, and yet every trip down the floor there was a miscommunication, allowing for guys like Mikal Bridges to attack the rim with no resistance or Booker getting to any spot he wanted to on the floor. 

Some of that likely has to do with the crowd noise, as the Suns’ fans absolutely brought it throughout the entire game. But that’s not enough of an excuse for this to happen:

Adjustments will certainly need to be made on the defensive end for the Clippers. But as far as offense goes, it can’t be completely up to George to carry this team every game. Morris and Batum need to knock down shots. Rondo needs to be more of a factor rather than just playing spot minutes. Perhaps we see more of DeMarcus Cousins in this series after putting up 11 points in five minutes early in the game. Whatever it is, if L.A.’s role players don’t show up, this could be a very short series. 

3. Star power waiting in the wings

Both teams entered this game down important players, and while it’s still unclear about the status of both Paul and Leonard, the Suns are likelier to get their All-Star back sooner than the Clippers. Paul has been out due to health and safety protocols, and there’s no timetable for his return yet. But depending on the guidelines by the league, there’s a possibility that he could return for Game 2 on Tuesday night. For the Clippers, Leonard didn’t travel with the team to Phoenix to continue to receive treatment on his knee, and although L.A. hasn’t ruled him out for the series, the details around his return are still murky. Obviously, the Clippers would love to have Leonard back, but if he’s dealing with an ACL injury as previously reported, then it could be risky to rush him back before he’s ready. Although Booker and George more than stepped up in their counterparts’ absence, all eyes will be on the return of those two players as this series carries on. 





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Kawhi Leonard injury update: Clippers star won’t travel to Phoenix for start of Western Conference finals


The Los Angeles Clippers are on to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history after knocking off the Utah Jazz in the second round, 4-2. They secured the series with a thrilling 25-point comeback at home in Game 6 on Friday night, and will now take on the Phoenix Suns.

Unfortunately, they’ll do so without their best player, at least to start. Kawhi Leonard suffered a knee injury in Game 4 against the Jazz and has not played since. Details about the injury and his timeline are still a bit unclear, but we do know he won’t travel to Phoenix for Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference finals, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo

The team had previously announced that he suffered a right knee sprain that will keep him out indefinitely, but the injury may be more severe than that. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Clippers fear that Leonard is dealing with an ACL injury. That would be far more detrimental to the Clippers both this season and next if that’s the case.

Leonard injured his knee after landing awkwardly on a drive to the basket during the fourth quarter of Los Angeles’ Game 4 win, which forced him to come out of the game after trying to play on it.

The injury occurred with 5:25 minutes remaining in the game, when Leonard was coming down in a fast break opportunity. Jazz guard Joe Ingles intentionally fouled Leonard to stop the play, but when he bumped into him, Leonard was thrown off balance as he was trying to plant his foot. After the foul was called, Leonard immediately began hopping up and down on his left leg, and was bent over while standing and trying to stretch and massage out his right knee.

Here’s the play where the injury occurred:

The Clippers weren’t in the bonus yet, so after the foul on Ingles, they took the ball out and Jazz guard Bojan Bogdanovic fouled Leonard as he was going up for a mid-range jumper. Before taking his free throws — both of which he missed — Leonard was still stretching out his right knee, and after a few more possessions, he came out of the game with 4:35 left in the game.

After the game, when asked about his knee, Leonard was very short in his response, saying “It’s good, next question.” However, it’s clear the injury is far more serious than Leonard let on. 

Losing Leonard for any extended period of time is a massive blow to the Clippers and their chances of advancing to the Finals. The All-Star forward had been spectacular for Los Angeles in the playoffs and averaged 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 11 games. 





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Live coverage: Utah Jazz, LA Clippers square off in Game 1 of 2nd round


The Utah Jazz and LA Clippers will tip off the last NBA conference semifinal playoff series on Tuesday night at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.

The top seed in the Western Conference, the Jazz enter the series having not played since last Wednesday when they beat the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 5 of the first round. The Clippers, on the other hand, were the last team to advance to the second round when they beat the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of their series on Sunday.

Utah on Tuesday will be without starting point guard Mike Conley, who suffered a mild strain of his right hamstring during that Game 5 win. LA will be without big man Serge Ibaka, who did not travel with his team to Salt Lake City because of a nagging back injury.

Game 1 is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. MT and will air on TNT. Follow along here for in-game updates and insights.



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Three Takeaways from the LA Clippers’ Loss to the New York Knicks




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Knicks Look to Snap Streak, Face Leonard, Clippers


The Knicks look to hold on to the fourth seed and regain their form as they travel for a two-game swing in Los Angeles. It starts with Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers.

With just four games left in the regular season, the New York Knicks (37-30) are putting the finishing touches on one of the more refreshing seasons in franchise history. With muddled expectations in the preseason, the Knicks quickly broke through, thanks to the remarkable play of first-time All-Star Julius Randle, second-year swingman R.J. Barrett, and first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau.

But recently, the Knicks have fallen out of form. After starting their road trip with wins against the Rockets and Grizzlies, New York was slapped back down to earth by two Western Conference powerhouses, the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns, in back-to-back games. Injuries are a part of the blame, but New York visibly struggled to keep up with the top teams in the West.

New York should look to rebound with just two games remaining on their road trip before heading back home to the Garden.

Whether they start their playoff journey with a home game or not is up to them. With the race for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference razor-thin, the Knicks control their destiny: Win out and claim the fourth seed. No one predicted that the Knicks would make the playoffs in the preseason, let alone homecourt advantage in the first round. The Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat remain within striking distance, meaning New York can’t let up now. 

It doesn’t get easier as New York continues their trip against another top team in the Western Conference—the Los Angeles Clippers (45-22). 

For the Clippers, it starts with their top two players: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Leonard and George are the best two-way wing combination in the NBA. Their combination of shot creation, outside shooting, and defensive versatility could dismantle most defenses and made Los Angeles an instant contender. 

But it doesn’t stop there. First-year coach Tyronn Lue has stabilized the defense, with Los Angeles ranking 10th in the league in defensive efficiency. Marcus Morris and Serge Ibaka offer experience frontcourt depth. Reggie Jackson is shooting 43.8% from the outside this season. Guys like Rajon Rondo, Luke Kennard, Ivica Zubac, and a returning Patrick Beverley gives Los Angeles the depth to compete for a championship. 

Last Time Out 

The last time the Clippers and Knicks went at it was January 31st, where the Clippers took care of a business 129-115. Leonard finished with 28 points and four rebounds while Barrett totaled 23 points. After the game, Leonard had some positive words about Barrett’s performance. Julius Randle finished with a stellar 27 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists, while George backed Leonard up with 17 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. 

The game went back and forth with very few errors; both teams combined for just 14 turnovers. The difference was Los Angeles’ offense having a bit more firepower than New York. The Clippers finished with 54.3% shooting from the field for the night, including a staggering 44.7% from the outside. Even a shocking performance from Quickley (25 points off the bench) couldn’t boost New York enough to surpass Los Angeles’ offensive power.

Injury Report

The Knicks are in trouble without Quickley and Burks. Burks’ ability to score off the dribble and generate his own offense was greatly missed in the second unit, as New York’s offense has leaned on Derrick Rose in recent weeks. Between the scoring ability and Thibodeau’s reliance on Burks to handle the point guard position in spurts, the Knicks have played mostly the last two weeks without a key contributor off the bench.

As for Quickley, this setback comes just as soon as he was heating up. The game began to slow down for him. He continues to launch long-range threes and offers defense-bending spacing, but recently, he was becoming a bit more comfortable as a ball-handler and became more advantageous when attacking the rim. Burks’ absence hurts, but Quickley’s skill set is missed more, as the Knicks lack players on the roster who offer the gravity Quickley does when his shot is falling.

Keys To Victory 

Stifling the role players: Leonard and George will beat you; that’s a given. However, the Knicks have to stifle the likes of Morris, Ibaka, and the likes. In their last encounter, Jackson had 18 points, Ibaka had 15, and Morris had 11. Attempting to keep pressure on them and forcing Leonard and George to beat you is the way to go. 

Big Games from Randle and Barrett: Once Leonard and George heat up, the Knicks must answer back with big games from Randle and Barrett. Both have been fine as of late but will have to turn it up a bit to defeat the Clippers and get the Knicks back on track. 

Tightening up the defense: I’m sure Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau feels frustrated after allowing 128 points to Phoenix. This won’t be a game where the Knicks completely shut down the Clippers, but a good game to reinforce their defensive game plan. One thing is the stop allowing so many corner threes. Even as Leonard and George heat up, the Knicks must remain active to avoid the likes of Morris and Kennard getting wide-open looks from the outside. 

Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on Mother’s Day.

 

Related Content

»READ: Analyzing potential Eastern Conference playoff matchups for the Knicks

»READ: Immanuel Quickley’s long-range shooting has changed the Knicks’ offense

»READ: Derrick Rose has established himself as a key part of Knicks’ second-half success





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LA Clippers vs. Detroit Pistons: Preview, How to Watch and Betting Info




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Magic rally in fourth, snap Clippers’ six-game win streak


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chuma Okeke scored 18 points and the Orlando Magic rallied in the fourth quarter to snap Los Angeles’ six-game winning streak Tuesday night, defeating the Clippers 103-96.

The Magic didn’t have the lead until late in the fourth quarter and went on a 17-3 run to close the game and get their first road win since Feb. 12, ending a seven-game skid. Kawhi Leonard made a pair of free throws to give the Clippers a 93-86 lead with 2:36 remaining before the Magic scored 11 straight points to take the lead.

Terrence Ross tied it at 93 with 1:46 remaining on two free throws, and Wendell Carter Jr. put the Magic in front with 1:10 remaining with a tip-in after James Ennis III missed a layup, making it 95-94.

“This league is all about wins. We took a great step forward in the right direction,” Carter said. “It definitely is a confidence booster going up against one of the best teams in the Western Conference and getting a win on the road.”

While the Clippers are one of the league’s top teams, the Magic are a squad in transition. They traded five players — including their top three scorers — in three separate deals during last Thursday’s trade deadline.

Coach Steve Clifford hasn’t had much time to get some of the players acquired up to speed, but two had good games against the Clippers. Otto Porter Jr. scored 13 points, including eight in the final quarter, and Carter had 11 points.

“We have been a little bit limited in this stretch due to being on the road, but continue to add things, even if it is teaching them in a ballroom,” Clifford said. “This is the style we are going to have to play. We have to defend and be smart.”

Besides holding the Clippers to 32.7% shooting in the second half (16 of 49), the Magic outscored LA by 18 in the paint in the third and fourth quarters (36-18) as well as having a 15-2 advantage in fast-break points.

Orlando made 22 of its 25 free throws for the game, including 11 of 13 in the fourth quarter.

Leonard scored 28 points for the Clippers. Luke Kennard added 17 points and Ivica Zubac tallied his 10th double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

After a 24-point win over Milwaukee on Monday night, and with Denver up next on Thursday, coach Tyronn Lue thought that his team was winded in the final 12 minutes.

“I thought we struggled from the beginning, honestly. But when you’re down guys and you’re on a back-to-back, I think it’s just tough, trying to keep guys minutes down as much as we could.,” he said. “We missed a lot of shots and they got out in transition in the second half.”

The Clippers scored the game’s first 10 points — including a pair of 3-pointers by Kennard — and extended their lead to 16 points with under four minutes remaining in the second quarter.

LA led 51-37 at halftime on the strength of shooting 52.5% in the first half (21 of 40), but struggled in the third quarter, going 2 of 13 from beyond the arc as Orlando got within 73-70 at the end of the quarter.

The Clippers were 16 of 49 from the floor in the second half, including 6 of 22 on 3-pointers.

“I felt like we got some good shots, got some good looks in that second half that just didn’t fall,” Leonard said. “But obviously, just being more aggressive, attacking us when we’re missing shots, getting out in transition. They kept fighting. They didn’t quit.”

TIP INS

Magic: Ross played in his first game after missing the last seven due to a sore right knee and scored 15 points in 26 minutes. … The 66 points by Orlando in the second half is tied for second most it has had in the third and fourth quarters this season. It had 67 against Washington on Dec. 26.

Clippers: Nicolas Batum tied a season high with 10 rebounds. … Paul George missed his second straight game because of right foot soreness. He has been out for 13 games this season. … Marcus Morris Sr. (right calf contusion) did not play after scoring 25 points in Monday’s win over Milwaukee. … Rajon Rondo (right adductor soreness) has yet to play since being acquired from Atlanta last week, but Lue said Rondo and Patrick Beverley have been doing some on-court work.

UP NEXT

Magic: Travel to the New Orleans on Thursday. Orlando swept the season series last season.

Clippers: Host Denver on Thursday. LA won this season’s first meeting 121-108 on Christmas Day.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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