Here are the scoring leaders for the Clippers tonight:
- Eric Gordon - 28
- Blake Griffin - 27
- Rest of Team - 30
Nine guys, playing 157 minutes, managed to put up just 30 points total, on 12 for 38 shooting. There's no way the Clippers are going to beat a decent opponent when the third leading scorer on the team has just 8 points.
It was strange in fact that the Clippers managed to get back into this game at all. They were behind 35 to 14 at the end of the first quarter, and after giving up the first five points of the second, the lead stretched to 26. From there, the Clippers chipped away, getting it all the way down to six with nine minutes still to play. But they could get no closer. I'm not sure how they got that close without anyone other than Griffin or Gordon capable of making a shot.
Perhaps the most amazing stat of the game is that Gordon was +3 in his 41 minutes. In his first stint at the beginning of the game, he was 0 for 6 and the Clippers fell behind by 13. He left for a seven minute rest, and when he came back the team was behind by 25. Once he got a couple of shots to go, the Clippers outplayed the Magic the rest of the way. But the hole was just too deep.
Gordon was particularly impressive given the amount of defensive attention he was getting. He made a series of really tough shots - ridiculous shots really. But since no one else could throw a pea in the ocean, the Magic could load up their defense to stop Gordon and Griffin. The G-Men still managed to combine for 55, but really needed someone else to step up and contribute. Despite the attention, Griffin had his twelfth straight double double with 27 and 16, along with five assists.
Coach Vinny Del Negro went back to a couple of veterans in the lineup tonight, choosing Baron Davis and Ryan Gomes to start over rookies Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu. I've assumed this change was coming for a while now, but I didn't really think it would be this game. Davis responded with a lackluster performance - he had some nice assists, but his shot was off, and he couldn't stay in front of Jameer Nelson. (VDN eventually had to switch Gordon onto Nelson). Gomes responded with a performance that was far worse than lackluster, putting up just 2 points and 2 rebounds in 24 minutes of play.
We said that the Clippers needed to take care of the ball and defend the three point line to have a chance in this game. Well, they actually did those things extremely well. They turned the ball over a season-low 8 times, and held Orlando to 6 for 23 (26%) from deep. But it is kind of assumed that you also need to shoot better than 40%, and have SOMEONE other than Gordon and Griffin score some points. They managed to correct some of their issues - but played an otherwise terrible game, getting killed on the boards and simply missing way too many shots.
The Clippers now head out on the road for three straight after a 1-3 homestand. The realization that they should have been 3-1 on the homestand can't be a good feeling as they leave town.