The LA Clippers won their second game in Florida in as many nights, as they defeated the Orlando Magic 116-90 Friday at the Amway Center.
After losing the first game of their ongoing six-game road swing, the Clippers built on Thursday’s streaky win over the Miami Heat and welcomed back their twin stars to help them post a fairly comfortable win over the Magic.
Paul George and Kawhi Leonard returned to Ty Lue’s starting lineup in the second of the back-to-back, their first games of the current Clippers road trip, and started alongside regulars Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum, and Reggie Jackson, who continued in the starting five in place of the injured Patrick Beverley.
The Clippers raced out to a double-digit lead to open the game, and were in firm control in for much of the 1st quarter, but allowed the Magic to get back in the game and the opening period ended with the teams tied 26-26. Terrence Ross fueled Orlando’s rally, including six free throws in a 25-second span.
The 2nd quarter continued in sort of reverse fashion, with the teams trading baskets through the first half before the Clippers pulled away again, with Leonard scoring 18 points and George right behind with 17 to pace the road team.
Leonard finished the first half with a buzzer-beater from behind the arc to give the Clippers a 62-48 lead at the break.
Yet again, the Magic weren’t giving up on the game, and started the 3rd quarter on a hot run of 11-0 before LA notched a basket in the 2nd half.
But the Clippers came back to extend their lead, and once again hit a buzzer-beater to wrap the quarter, with Jackson taking a quick feed from Leonard and taking a quick 180 jump while catching the ball to bury the shot in impressive fashion. LA finished the 3rd quarter leading 90-71.
On the bright side, they continued to pour it on to begin the 4th quarter, getting out to a 98-75 edge with less than eight minutes left in the game.
Lue cleared the bench in the final three minutes and gave rookie Daniel Oturu and fellow youngster Mfiondu Kabangele a bit of playing time late. George led the way with 26 points and nine rebounds on the night, with Leonard right behind with 24 points, so yes, it’s safe to say the stars were welcomed back by LA.
The Clippers get a travel day Saturday before they take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday morning. The Knicks are off to an 8-11 start to the season, which isn’t super but hey, they’re in playoff contention right now. We’ll see if the Clippers can get another winning streak going in New York.