For the first 6:30 that he was on the court, Lance Stephenson touched the ball maybe one time total. When he checked into the game late in the third quarter, he touched the ball a whole lot more than that. And you could say that he won this game for the Los Angeles Clippers with a spurt that started with a buzzer-beater to end the third quarter. Once he got the ball, he couldn’t be stopped. It’s amazing what having the ball in your hands can do for a player that craves the rock. It wasn’t just Stephenson, though, down the stretch.
Chris Paul scored two straight buckets to push the lead back into double-digits with about seven minutes to go before Stephenson stole a pass and Jamal Crawford hit a tough mid-range jumper to give them a 13-point lead. The rest was gravy. The Clippers were sloppy with the ball, turning it over 22 times, but they held on for a 107-93 win. Stephenson finished with 13 points and 3 assists, Paul finished with 21-4-6, and Crawford had 20. J.J. Redick had 20 points, and DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 18 rebounds. Paul Pierce shot well, finishing with 12 points. Wesley Johnson had 4 blocks.
The Orlando Magic tried their best but were ultimately overrun by Stephenson’s flurry and Paul’s magisterial ways. Victor Oladipo had 18-3-3, Evan Fournier had 16-6-3, and Tobias Harris had 13 points and 8 rebounds before having to leave the game for good with a nasty gash on his forehead. Seriously, it was brutal. Wish him the best. Nikola Vucevic had 13-9-4. Rookie Mario Hezonja had 9 points and 5 rebounds, Aaron Gordon had 6-3-1, and point guard Elfrid Payton finished with just 6 points.
This was a pretty important win for the Clippers, and Stephenson was the main reason the end of the game was smooth sailing rather than choppy waters with a close finish. Now, Los Angeles, who improved their record to 33-17, will head off to do battle with the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon in a game that will be over just before the Super Bowl starts.