Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Dwight Howard scored 22 points, Jameer Nelson had 17 with nine assists and the Orlando Magic snapped their four-game losing streak by building a large first-half lead and hanging on for a 94-85 victory over the Clippers. Brandon Bass had a double-double, posting 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Vince Carter also scored 13 as the Magic avoided losing five straight games for the first time in four seasons.
Eric Gordon led all scorers with 28 points and Blake Griffin netted 27 with 16 rebounds as Los Angeles lost for the seventh time in nine games. The Clippers tried to come back from a 26-point first-half deficit, holding the Magic to 10 points in the third quarter and pulling as close as six early in the fourth quarter. But Orlando bounced back behind its center, getting 13 points from Howard in the final 12 minutes to hang on.
The Magic scored just 35 points in the second half -- the same number they posted in the first quarter. Their 10-point third quarter came on 24 percent shooting, but they rebounded to shoot 48 percent in the fourth. Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy was understandably upset with how his team finished the game. "Great start, great first half, horrible second half," he said. "But we had enough to get the win."
Gordon and Griffin, while productive, were the only Clippers to score in double-digits. No one else had more than eight points, and the other three starters combined for just 10. LA head coach Vinny Del Negro said he was happy that his team was able to battle back, but was looking for more from players other than Gordon and Griffin. "We need other guys to step up," he said.
The Magic had a 35-14 lead after the first quarter behind nine points apiece from Howard and Carter. They extended the advantage to a game-high 26 points after Jason Williams and JJ Redick hit back-to-back threes to open the second. "They jumped on us early," said Del Negro, whose team shot just 30 percent in the first half. "We had good looks but we couldn't knock anything down."
Orlando carried a 59-40 lead into the half and was ahead 69-59 despite its poor third quarter. The Magic's four-game slide came on the heels of a stretch where they went 10-1...Orlando improved to 1-2 on the four-game road trip that will wrap up at Denver on Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Clippers look for another home win against an upper echelon NBA team, as they host the Orlando Magic tonight at Staples Center. The Clippers only have five wins this season, all at home, but three of them have come against prospective playoff teams. They have beaten Oklahoma City, New Orleans and San Antonio at home, and lost to the Lakers on a last-second shot.
The Clippers look to rebound from another close loss on Saturday, losing 84-83 to Memphis. The Clippers had a season-high 27 turnovers against the Grizzlies, the third-highest total in the NBA this season. They also had Baron Davis take the final shot of the game, a decision that was not preferred by Steve Perrin of Clips Nation:
I'd much rather have seen Eric Gordon going to the basket. He's had success in late game situations this season, in particular at Utah and against the Kings last week. I for one wanted the ball in his hands. Of course we'll never know if the outcome would have been any different, but if the team is building around Gordon and Griffin, then the more end of game chances Gordon gets, the better in the long run.
Blake Griffin is averaging 20.0 points and 11.7 rebounds this season, one of three NBA players averaging at least 20 points and 11 boards this year. One of the other two is Dwight Howard, who is putting up 21.5 points and 12.2 rebounds per contest. Howard has 16 double-doubles in 21 games this season, while Griffin has 17, in 24 games. Griffin has a double-double in each of his last 11 games, averaging 24.1 points and 13.1 rebounds during that span.
Orlando is 15-8 on the season, but has lost four straight games. It has beaten the Clippers in each of its last seven meetings. The Clippers are 11-10 all-time against Orlando at home. Ryan Anderson is out for the Magic with a sprained right foot. After tonight's game, the Clippers begin a three-game road trip that will take them this week to Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago.
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