The Orlando begin the west coast swing of their current road trip with similar games. After taking out the Chicago Bulls 112-84 on January 2, the Magic dropped leads to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers for losses.
The Magic managed to put up a strong showing by practically shooting the lights out of the Target Center by putting up 40 points in the first quarter, shooting over 70%.
Yes, that’s great, but with the teams history, they have always had struggles when trying to hold on to leads and securing wins. That game was no different.
Minnesota, who averages 111 points a game (15th in the league), came back on Orlando and built a league of the same size later in the game.
“[Being up 19 points] is no big deal in the first half of an NBA game, especially [against] a team that scores like them,” said Magic head coach Steve Clifford. “Happens all the time,” Clifford said. “We did that against Philadelphia. That happens every night in this league.”
“We score 40 points in the first quarter and 68 at halftime … it was going so well. We just did a bad job defensively,” Fournier said. “I thought the readiness to play defensively wasn’t there. The starters, we played selfishly tonight and you can’t have that. When you score that much on the road, you should be winning.”
The Magic wound up losing the game 120-103 after putting up a good fight in the second half, but being stopped by the ‘Wolves defense and offensive bursts.
Last night, it happened again. The Magic had a lead against the LA Clippers. This time, the managed to fight back from a 15 point deficit in the first half and built an 18 point lead in the second half. The Clippers managed to rally back and take the win 106-96.
“We have the capability of handling games. We’ve shown that before, so we gotta do that again.” said Magic Forward Aaron Gordon. “We get up … maybe they don’t come out ready or whatever. … We gotta push that lead out. We gotta figure out a way to continue to play the way we were playing that got us the lead and just carry that on the rest of the game.
It was former Magic players that sparked the push against their former team. Tobias Harris dropped 28 points on the Magic, and former Magic Center Martin Gortat also put in a solid performance, pulling down 10 rebounds for Los Angeles. “The Polish Hammer’s” performance was timely as the Clippers were celebrating Polish Heritage night after the game.
“We missed a bunch of, to me, wide-open shots,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “Drives in the lane that you gotta make if you are gonna beat as good a team as they are on the road, but like our spot-up 3s, sometimes the ball doesn’t go in the basket … that made it hesitant, but I thought our quality of shot was good the whole game, frankly.
“I thought our effort was good enough. They’re good defensively. I thought our defense was, for the most part, fine. We got a little out of kilter there … you get down eight or 10 in the fourth and sometimes you get more aggressive trying to make a play.”
LA’s solid 6th man Lou Williams scored 12 of his 17 points against the Magic in the fourth quarter to help the Clippers go on an 11-0 run that cliched the game.
The Magic continue their west coast tour and face the Sacramento Kings tonight at 10pm EST.