In a thrilling game that went down to the wire, the Los Angeles Clippers were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 107-102 in overtime. Jason Richardson missed a game-tying three-pointer, when the score was 105-102 in favor of the Clippers, with seven seconds left that would have extended the game for the Magic. Instead Los Angeles was able to escape with a victory and Orlando’s three-game winning streak was snapped. The Clippers were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Chris Paul was Chris Paul, finishing with 29 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field (including 3-of-3 from three-point range and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line), eight assists, seven rebounds, and two steals. Blake Griffin finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists. Chauncey Billups chipped in with 18 points and three assists, while also suffering an injury late in the fourth quarter. Caron Butler had 14 points, three rebounds, and three steals but more importantly, he performed in crunch-time (five points) during overtime as Los Angeles finished on a 11-2 run to win the game. Dwight Howard led the way for the Magic, putting up a game-high 33 points on 15-of-21 shooting from the field, 14 points, two blocks, and two steals. Jason Richardson contributed with 20 points and three assists. Jameer Nelson returned to the starting lineup after missing five games due to a concussion and performed well, amassing 15 points, 12 assists, and three rebounds. Ryan Anderson had 10 points and nine rebounds, missing a pair of offensive putbacks following Richardson’s game-tying three that would have given Orlando a chance to keep the game going.
Let’s get right to it because this was an exciting game that saw a lot of drama occur in the fourth quarter and overtime.
After a pair of three-pointers by Billups gave the Clippers an eight-point lead midway through the final period at 82-74, Quentin Richardson was able to answer with his own three-point shot to cut the Magic’s deficit to five points. On the ensuing possession for Los Angeles, a great defensive possession by Orlando forced Billups into an off-balanced contested three-pointer that he missed. Shortly thereafter, Billups appeared to injure his left Achilles tendon, which forced Butler to check back into the game and replace him in the Clippers’ lineup.
With Billups out, Los Angeles put the basketball in the hands of Paul and watched him go to work. Paul made two contested shots (a three-pointer and a long two) to give the Clippers a seven-point lead at 87-80 with 4:50 left in regulation. Then something happened.
Nelson decided to step up to the challenge and go at Paul.
After having success running 1/5 pick-and-rolls (some of the staggered variety) to free up Howard for a dunk, Quentin Richardson for a three-pointer on the left wing, and Redick for another three-point shot in the right corner, Nelson decided to look for his own shot.
Mo Williams hit a tough floater off the dribble near the right baseline over Howard’s outstretched arms to push Los Angeles’ lead to 89-82.
Nelson, then, ran a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Howard, making a midrange jumper. On the next possession, Nelson made a layup off the dribble. On the possession after that, Nelson ran another 1/5 pick-and-roll with Howard, passing the ball to a cutting Redick along the left baseline. Redick proceeded to kick the basketball out to the corner to Anderson. Anderson made the three-pointer from the right corner to tie the game at 89 apiece with 2:45 left in the quarter.
After Paul and Nelson each made a pair of free-throws to put the score at 91 apiece with less than two minutes remaining in the period, the Clippers — once again — put the ball in their star point guard’s hands. Paul made a layup off the dribble to give Los Angeles a two-point lead at 93-91.
Following a timeout by the Magic, Nelson committed an error by stepping along the baseline as he dribble penetrated into the lane. Orlando dodged a bullet as Paul missed a midrange jumpshot on the following possession.
Nelson redeemed himself after Paul missed his jumper, dribble penetrating into the lane again but this time being able to stay inbounds, thus kicking the basketball out to Jason Richardson. From there, Richardson dribbled the ball into the paint and was able to make a layup, drawing a foul in the process. Richardson made the free-throw and the Magic were up by one point at 94-93 with a minute left in the period. It seemed like Orlando was in a position to win the game.
On the ensuing possession, the Magic played great defense to force a long two from Williams. This happened thanks in large part to Nelson and Glen Davis, in which both players did a great job of defending the 1/4 pick-and-roll with Paul and Griffin.
Unfortunately for Orlando, they were unable to capitalize having the basketball and a one-point lead. With the score still at 94-93 in favor of the Magic, Jason Richardson found himself with the ball in his hands and the shot clock winding down. However, Richardson fumbled the basketball, allowing Butler to steal it. Butler then passed it out to Paul in transition. At this point, it seemed like Orlando was in trouble as Paul and Griffin were running a fast break. Paul passed the ball to Griffin but Nelson was able to commit a foul in time.
Griffin went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line, which setup a game-winning shot scenario for the Magic.
Head coach Stan Van Gundy elected to go with a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Nelson and Howard, knowing that he was playing well in the fourth quarter and the Clippers were struggling to contain him in pick-and-rolls. So with the game clock winding down, Nelson ran the pick-and-roll. DeAndre Jordan switched onto Nelson. That forced Nelson to put up a tough fadeaway jumper along the right baseline, which he missed. The basketball had the right trajectory but it didn’t go in.
In the overtime period, Orlando and Los Angeles exchanged body blows. As such, the Clippers found themselves with a three-point lead at 105-102 after Williams made two free-throws. The Magic still had a chance to get a punch in, but it had to be a good one.
Van Gundy drew up a beautiful side out-of-bounds play, freeing up Jason Richardson for a clean look at a game-tying three-point shot on a screen-and-curl. It was the perfect play for Richardson but the basketball rimmed out. Anderson had two tries at an offensive putback but no dice.
You couldn’t have asked for a more well-played game between Orlando and Los Angeles. Howard and Paul played at their best, the supporting casts for both teams were generally productive, and it was a photo finish.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.