The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers by the score of 101-85 in a game that was unbearable to watch, at times, but got more enjoyable as things progressed. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, with six players scoring in double-figures. Dwight Howard finished with 22 points, 20 rebounds, and two steals — it’s his fourth 20-20 game of the season. Jameer Nelson had one of his more efficient performances of the year, putting up 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field (4-of-5 from three-point range). Ryan Anderson chipped in with 13 points, while J.J. Redick had 12 points and the unfortunate sequence of getting his ankles broken by Randy Foye in the second quarter. Jason Richardson and Earl Clark each had 10 points. Perhaps the most impressive thing Orlando can take away from the victory is that the team’s defense on Blake Griffin, and it was definitely a team effort, was excellent. Griffin was limited to 10 points and 12 rebounds, which speaks volumes to the sort of production that he is accustomed to attaining on any given night. Nevertheless, even though the Magic won, they beat a Clippers team that didn’t have Eric Gordon due to an injured wrist. That put a lot of pressure on Los Angeles to find scoring elsewhere and they were unable to do so.
It’s a shame that the outlook on Orlando’s victory is negative, but it’s not a good sign when Baron Davis has one of his best games of the year — 28 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and three steals. Granted, when Davis is engaged and in shape, as he was against the Magic, that’s the type of production that he’s capable of against any opponent in the NBA. This isn’t to shortchange Davis’ talent because when he wants to be, he’s one of the best point guards in the league. That being said, it’s no encouraging to head coach Stan Van Gundy when Orlando continues to get mangled against opposing point guards. Davis had his way with Nelson and it could have been potentially worse had Gordon been able to play. Instead, the only legit scoring threats the Magic had to worry about was Davis and Griffin.
Griffin was contained, sure, but Davis wasn’t.
And the reason that Griffin couldn’t score is because Orlando did an excellent job of always having a second man nearby. For example, whenever Griffin tried to post up on Anderson, Howard would come from the weak-side and flash over to provide help. This deterred Griffin from trying to attack the basket, which is one of his many strengths offensively, and forced him to kick it out to the perimeter. From there, the Magic usually did a good job of rotating on the Clippers’ shooters and forcing them to put up contested jumpers. To be honest, these are the types of things that Orlando does on defense that makes them a top-five unit. Thing is, the players that tried to make the Magic pay were the likes of Foye, Ryan Gomes, Eric Bledsoe, and Al-Farouq Aminu.
Not exactly a potent bunch.
Still, a win is a win.
Orlando got out in transition and scored on easy buckets, the three-point shooting finally woke up in the fourth quarter, and that was that. It should be noted that Gilbert Arenas looked great against Los Angeles, even if his stat-line doesn’t jump off the page. It appears that Arenas is telling the truth when he says that his arthritic knee does much better in warm-weather conditions. Arenas looked spry when he was on the floor and played with a lot of energy. A sharp contrast from Sunday, where Arenas looked like a walking corpse and was hobbling around.
Plus, Clark is showing some promise, especially on the defensive end where he battled with Griffin when he was matched up against him. For those that don’t know, Clark has added 10 pounds of muscle since he’s joined the Magic and he put it to good use against Griffin, standing his ground and being rewarded for his efforts by Van Gundy by staying on the court for extended minutes. Clark is still a player that needs a lot of polish around the edges, particularly on offense where he tries to do too much sometimes, but he’s a hard worker and is proving his worth when he gets minutes.