Williams was completely unstoppable. Sweet Lou finished with a game-high 31 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor, and he also contributed eight assists in 33 minutes. Jordan, meanwhile, bagged 16 points and 20 boards and routinely overwhelmed Nikola Vucevic on the offensive end.
Not for nothing, the Clippers also got a good effort out of Sam Dekker, who had struggled tremendously all season. Dekker scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench. He played with confidence, too, which is something we haven’t seen from him since he came over from Houston last summer. Hopefully this was a game to build on for the youngster.
Milos Teodosic was steady in his second game back from injury. The “rookie” finished with eight points, six assists and six rebounds, but also hit just two of his nine field goal attempts.
It was the Clips’ third win in a row, but it didn’t come without a cost. Austin Rivers was forced to leave the game on the stroke of halftime after being smacked in the face by an elbow from Jonathon Simmons. Rivers was down for a bit before going to the locker room under his own power. He was reportedly being treated for a concussion, and the Clippers announced at halftime that he would not return to the game. CJ Williams started the second half in Rivers’ spot.
This looked like a game that was going to come down to the wire before the Clips used a second quarter surge to take control. Fortunately, they never looked back. The Magic were playing without two starters (Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier) in this one, but obviously the Clippers aren’t shedding tears for opponents dealing with injuries at this point.
One bright spot for the Magic was the play of Mario Hezonja, who hasn’t come close to living up to his lottery pick potential to this point. The young Spaniard played well in this one, though, as he finished with 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal in 33 minutes. Orlando also got 20-6-8 from Simmons and 14 points and 12 boards from Nikola Vucevic.
The Clips will now get on a plane and head to D.C. late tonight before taking on John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Wizards on Friday.
The game got off to quite the ragged start as both teams struggled to put the ball in the bucket. The Magic started 3-12 from the floor, but the Clips weren’t much better. LAC went 3-11 in the same span as the Magic built an early 9-6 lead heading into the game’s first stoppage.
Milos Teodosic looked particularly flat, as he missed each of his first four shots from the field before being yanked in favor of Lou Williams. Austin Rivers additionally missed his first three attempts from three-point range as Orlando went on a 10-2 run to extend the early lead to 19-11.
Unfortunately, the Clippers’ basket seemed to have a lid on it. The visitors finished just 6-23 from the floor in the game’s first 12 minutes, which is a field goal percentage of just over 26 percent. That’s...not going to get it done. LAC also misfired on all five of their attempts from beyond the long line.
Orlando, meanwhile, heated up a bit following their own sluggish start. Nikola Vucevic and Mario Hezonja combined to score 14 of the Magic’s 24 points in the opening frame.
With Lou having found his footing, the Clips started to chip away at the lead halfway through the second. LAC went on a 14-0 run to surge into the lead at 35-33 with just under five to play in the half. After starting 1-8 from deep, the Clips hit four consecutive threes, two of which came from Lou.
Williams was really the only Clipper doing much offensively, but it was working. He shot just 4-12 in the first half, but piled up 14 points as he played the final 18 minutes of the half.
Jonathon Simmons struggled with his shot in the first half, but he hit a couple of threes early in the third to cut LAC’s advantage to 54-53. Orlando was getting an alarming number of wide open looks from deep at this stage, which, obviously, is concerning for the Clippers.
Things settled down after that, however. Williams continued to cook, while LAC finally started to get some defensive stops. L.A. built a five-point halftime lead, but Austin Rivers went down after being smacked in the face by a Jonathon Simmons elbow.
Lou returned to the game shortly thereafter, and he promptly collected two more buckets to extend LAC’s lead to three. With Rivers done for the night, even more of the offense was funneling through Williams and DeAndre Jordan. The aforementioned duo combined on a nifty alley-oop seconds later to extend the margin to 62-57.
Old friend Mo Speights came into the game and immediately started chucking, which worked nicely into the Clips’ favor. Dekker subsequently hit a three (!!!) before scoring off a nice feed from Lou on the ensuing possession. That ran the lead up to eight points and prompted a quick timeout from Frank Vogel.
LAC controlled the rest of the frame and went into the final 12 minutes maintaining a 74-68 edge.
Try as they might, the Magic continued to struggle to contain Sweet Lou. Williams forced his way to the bucket and drilled a smooth midrange J to pump the Clips’ lead back up to 11 at 86-75 with just under seven to go. The Clippers were keeping Orlando at a steady margin around 10 points, though they couldn’t string together enough stops to truly kill the Magic’s hopes.
Sam Dekker put in two consecutive buckets for the second time in the game, including another three (!!!). Confidence is huge for any young player, and it was evident that Dekker started to gain confidence with each shot. If the Clippers are going to try and stay alive in the playoff race, they’re going to need guys like that to step up. Tonight, Dekker was up to the challenge.
Finally, the Clips started to put the Magic away. Williams found Jordan for yet another easy flush before canning an off-the-dribble triple to give the Clippers their largest lead at 15 with four minutes left. Lou hit a rainbow floater over the outstretched arms of Vucevic, which put Lawler’s Law into effect. There’s no coming back from Lawler’s Law, you know.