Magic surprise Clippers to snap skid
LOS ANGELES — Two streaking teams going in opposite directions. The Clippers, co-owners of the NBA’s best record and on a roll at home. The Magic, playing opponents close only to fall short while piling up the franchise’s longest skid since the 2003-04 season.
Something had to give, and this time, it was the Clippers.
J.J. Redick gave Orlando its first lead of the game on a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left, Arron Afflalo tied his season high with 30 points, and the Magic won 104-101 on Saturday to snap a 10-game skid.
“It wasn’t a letdown by us. Don’t try to take anything away from them,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said. “They made tough shot after tough shot. J.J. Reddick had a hand in his face half the time.”
The loss ended the Clippers’ franchise-record, 13-game home-winning streak and provided them with a scare when All-Star Paul went down holding his right knee with 54 seconds to go.
“It was real scary,” Paul said. “I was looking up, trying to run down the ball, and J.J. Redick and I bumped knees.”
Paul returned after a timeout and hit a 15-footer to draw his team within one with 33 seconds left.
But the Clippers turned the ball over on Jamal Crawford’s offensive foul, with Redick drawing the charge.
“I got the ball in transition and I thought I saw Matt (Barnes) over there,” Crawford said. “I thought I made the right decision, but J.J. Redick guessed right. I thought he was going to rotate, so I faced it. When I put the ball down he stayed there, so lucky guess.”
Josh McRoberts found Nikola Vucevic open under the basket, and Vucevic dunked to extend Orlando’s lead to 104-101 with 8 seconds left.
After a timeout, Crawford missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
“We got muffled a little, so we tried to make the best out of the situation,” he said.
The Clippers were 6 of 6 from the free throw line, and Orlando was 15 of 19.
“That’s unheard of,” Paul said. “Blake (Griffin) takes 22 shots and no free throws. That’s not typical for us.”
Redick added 21 points, and Vucevic had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the injury-riddled Magic, who also stopped a four-game road losing streak. They completed a sweep of the LA teams, having beaten the Lakers 113-103 at Staples Center on Dec. 2, when Afflalo also scored 30 points.
“Too bad we can’t play here all year,” said Afflalo, who starred at UCLA before Vucevic played across town at Southern California. “I was the sour grape at the end letting guys know this only counts as one game.”
Griffin tied his season-high with 30 points, Crawford added 13 points, and Paul had 10 points and 16 assists for the Clippers.
“This was a bad loss,” Griffin said. “We have to get back to what made us successful and what got us here. That was our defensive intensity and everybody contributing and everybody having a fire out there.”
Crawford’s 3-pointer gave the Clippers a 95-87 lead in the fourth. But the Magic rallied to tie the game at 95-all with eight straight points. The run was capped by Vucevic’s jumper after Afflalo made a 3-pointer while being fouled by Barnes, who picked up his fifth.
“An embarrassing performance for us,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We got what we deserved.”
The Magic had earlier fourth-quarter leads against Miami, the Knicks, Portland and Denver this season, but were unable to finish. Not this time against a sluggish Clippers team that was coming off two days’ rest, as was the Magic.
“We weren’t just losing and not giving the effort,” Afflalo said. “We were losing very close games and we kept fighting.”
The Magic had been struggling since big man Glen Davis hurt his left shoulder on Dec. 19. They finally won their first game without him, improving to 6-11 on the road and 13-23 overall since he got injured.
“We were able to put it together, and some things went our way,” Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We earned it.”
Orlando opened the third with a 17-9 run, including 12 by Afflalo to make it 66-66.
“Seven of our last 10 games have all been one possession games at one point or another in the last minute and we just haven’t had the ball bounce our way,” Redick said. “The law of averages worked out.”
Powered by Griffin, the Clippers ended the period on an identical 17-9 spurt to lead 83-75. Griffin scored their final 10 points, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk and back-to-back hook shots, the latter banking in on a turnaround move.
Grant Hill made his season debut for the Clippers, entering the game to a standing ovation in the fourth. The seven-time All-Star had missed 36 games with a bone bruise in his right knee. He made two free throws and had two rebounds in six minutes.
“When Vinny called my number, I was really nervous,” he said. “But that’s part of it, the butterflies. It’s still kind of new, getting out there and playing with this team. The most important thing is that my knee felt good. My legs were a little heavy. But I passed the test.”
The Clippers led by 13 points twice in the first half. The Magic tied the game three times in the second quarter before the Clippers restored their lead to double digits on a 3-pointer by Paul that capped a 13-0 run.
WIZARDS 93, HAWKS 83
WASHINGTON — John Wall gave his teammates a lift with 14 points and four assists in his first game of the season, and the worst-in-NBA Wizards have their first winning streak.
Wall’s playing time will be limited as he returns from a knee injury, but he appeared to have his old speed and explosiveness back while playing seven minutes in the first half and 15 in the second half.
No. 3 overall pick Bradley Beal, getting to play with Wall for the first time, scored 16 points for the Wizards, who are 6-28 but have strung together two wins in a row following their upset of Oklahoma City on Monday.
Jeff Teague scored 19 points, Al Horford had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Josh Smith added 11 points for the Hawks, who have lost five of six.
MAVERICKS 104, GRIZZLIES 83
DALLAS — Shawn Marion scored a season-high 20 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 17 and the Mavericks won consecutive games for the first time in a month.
All five starters scored in double figures for Dallas, with Chris Kaman scoring eight straight points in the third quarter and finishing with 14. O.J. Mayo had 11 and Darren Collison 10.
The Grizzlies were ragged a night after a big overtime win against Southwest Division-leading San Antonio. Memphis shot 38 percent and Rudy Gay was the only starter in double figures. He led the Grizzlies with 12 points.
76ERS 107, ROCKETS 100
PHILADELPHIA — Jrue Holiday scored 30 points, Thaddeus Young had 18 points and 12 rebounds and the 76ers snapped a five-game losing streak.
Jason Richardson scored 16 points for the Sixers, who finally return home for a lengthy stint as they try to play their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Sixers opened a stretch of 12 home games in the next 13 and hope they can start to offset a miserable 2-6 road trip that stretched over the new year.
James Harden led the Rockets with 29 points and Chandler Parsons had 23. Jeremy Lin missed 11 of 13 shots for seven points.
Led by 24 points from Holiday, the Sixers built a 14-point lead in the third quarter, and found an offensive touch they’ve missed for most of the season.
SUNS 97, BULLS 81
CHICAGO — Luis Scola scored 22 points to help the Suns snap a five-game losing streak.
Michael Beasley added 20 points for Phoenix, which had lost 12 straight on the road and got its first win away from home since beating Cleveland on Nov. 27.
The Suns got the 2,000th win in franchise history, accomplishing the feat in their 3,599th game to become the fourth-fastest team to the reach the milestone.
Carlos Boozer had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Joakim Noah added 10 points and 13 boards for Chicago, which continued its inconsistent play at home with its fourth loss in the last six. The Bulls lost for just the second time in 13 games when both Boozer and Noah recorded double-doubles.
Chicago was whistled for four technical fouls, capped by coach Tom Thibodeau’s penalty with 3:57 left in the fourth.
JAZZ 90, PISTONS 87
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Al Jefferson scored 10 of his 20 points in the third quarter, and Utah rallied for the win.
Detroit’s Brandon Knight missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds that would have tied the game after the Pistons trailed by 13 points with 3:26 left.
Jefferson helped the Jazz outscore Detroit 25-11 in the third, powering them to their first lead after trailing by as many as 15 points.
Utah also put together a 17-3 run after Austin Daye’s 3-pointer with 8:38 left gave the Pistons the lead for the last time.
Knight had 16 points and Greg Monroe scored 12 for the Pistons, who got a late lift from reserve Will Bynum, who scored 13 points.
Utah’s Paul Millsap and Randy Foye each scored 17.
PACERS 96, BOBCATS 88
INDIANAPOLIS — George Hill scored 19 points, D.J. Augustin added a season-high 18 and Indiana earned its fourth straight win.
Lance Stephenson had 17 points and David West scored 14 to help the Central Division-leading Pacers, playing without leading scorer Paul George (illness), get their sixth win in seven games.
Ben Gordon scored 21 points for the Bobcats, and Kemba Walker had 16 on 5-for-9 shooting.
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