This loss hurt.
Defensive adjustments were not made. Defensive rebounds were missed. And Chris Paul was, well, Chris Paul.
The Orlando Magic can point to all of those as reasons why they fell 107-102 in overtime to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night at Amway Center.
“It’s very tough,” Dwight Howard said. “But all we can do is come back and get the next game and learn from our mistakes.”
Howard scored 33 points and collected 14 rebounds, and Jameer Nelson returned from a concussion to score 15 points and pile up 12 assists in perhaps his best performance of the season.
But Paul scored 29 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds, and he seized control of the game in the extra period.
“I thought with all of our guys, their play was a positive,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said afterward.
“I just didn’t do a damn thing to help ’em. I could not come up with an answer on their pick-and-rolls. We went zone, which ended up being an extremely bad move. So, defensively I didn’t do anything. And, then, at the offensive end in the overtime, I didn’t do a good job in getting us good shots. That one’s on me.”
Maybe. The Magic still had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Nelson missed a 16-foot fadeaway baseline jumper with 0.9 seconds left.
In overtime, the Magic took a 100-96 lead after back-to-back 3-pointers by Nelson and J.J. Redick. But Caron Butler responded with a 19-foot jumper and a 3-pointer of his own to give the Clippers a lead they never gave up.
“It says how much grit and how much fight we have,” Paul said. “We just never give up. We realize that if we stick together, especially in a tough environment like this and the way they were shooting, we’re capable of winning these tough games.”
Trailing 103-102 with a minute left in regulation, the Magic stopped the Clippers twice on defense, but Los Angeles’ Ryan Gomes and Butler grabbed the offensive rebounds, two lapses on the boards that frustrated Van Gundy.
Then, with 12.6 seconds left, Mo Williams sank a pair of free throws to put L.A. up 105-102.
On Orlando’s ensuing possession, Jason Richardson’s potential game-tying 3 rattled in and out.
“I thought it was going in,” Richardson said.
“I had a good look. I’ve just gotta knock down the shot.”
The defeat snapped the Magic’s winning streak at three games. The victory was the Clippers’ sixth in their last seven.
But Orlando — and its starting point guard, Nelson — showed some fight.
Trailing 87-80 with 4:41 to go in regulation, Nelson scored eight of Orlando’s next 11 points as the Magic forced overtime.
Nelson returned to the starting lineup after he had missed the previous five games because of a concussion. Van Gundy played Nelson the first six minutes of the first and second quarters to gauge Nelson’s conditioning, and Nelson looked as energetic as he’s been all season.
“It was a very competitive game out there,” Nelson said. “It wasn’t a one-on-one game at all between myself and Chris. It was a team game. He had a good game. I had a pretty good game.”
But Paul had some help, too.
Blake Griffin scored 18 points. So did Chauncey Billups, who suffered an Achilles’ tendon injury midway through the fourth quarter.
The Magic used several players to guard Griffin, alternating between Ryan Anderson, Earl Clark and Davis.
The trio did a good job. Griffin entered the night with 63 dunks this season, but he had none Monday.
In the end, though, the Clippers had too much firepower.
“Everybody stepped up,” their coach, Vinny Del Negro said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
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