Clippers rout Magic 101-81
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Share and share alike. That appears to be the Los Angeles Clippers’ mantra now that they’ll be facing extended time without All-Star point guard Chris Paul.
Darren Collison scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half and had seven assists in his second start at the point since Paul’s injury, leading the Clippers to a 101-81 rout of the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
“You can’t replace Chris Paul. He’s a great player in this league. I’m just going to play my game and do what I do best,” Collison said. “If I go out there and make a mistake, then I make a mistake. But the one thing you can always count on is that I’m always going to play hard and try to help my team. When you’re aggressive, then you start to see the openings for your teammates and get them the ball.”
Paul, who separated his right shoulder in Friday’s win at Dallas and is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks, sat behind the Clippers’ bench in a suit and tie while Collison unselfishly orchestrated things without a hitch against the last-place team in the Southeast Division.
“I think the biggest change D.C. made today was that there were three or four times where he could have shot the ball and instead gave it to one of his teammates,” coach Doc Rivers said. “When a point guard gives up shots that he could take, it’s almost like the other guys want to pay it back and get it back to him. Blake did it several times tonight, and Jamal did it a couple of times. So that was good to see.”
The Clippers enjoyed one of their best defensive efforts of the season, after surrendering 70 first-half points in each of their previous two games against Dallas and San Antonio — both on the road.
“You couldn’t really ask for a better game from a lot of guys tonight,” Blake Griffin said. “I mean, guys were hitting shots, guys were defending, guys were getting steals, we were running people off the 3-point line — we did all the things that we wanted to do. And that’s always encouraging. It’s good to have a game like that after having such a poor first half in San Antonio.”
Crawford chipped in with 13 points and eight of the team’s 30 assists. Griffin — bogged down by early foul trouble — had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. DeAndre Jordan had 17 rebounds and 14 points.
“I thought our ball movement was excellent,” Collison said. “Without a guy like Chris Paul, I think we tend to take the pressure off ourselves when everybody’s moving the ball like that. I thought we played phenomenal, as far as the offensive end and how we moved the ball. But I think the biggest reason we had so many good attempts at the opposite end was because of our defense. We really locked down.”
Reserves Maurice Harkless and Victor Oladipo each scored 22 points for the Magic, who have lost four straight and 11 of their last 15 games.
Center Nikola Vucevic, who had 30 points and 21 rebounds against the Clippers in Orlando’s 98-90 home loss on Nov. 6, had just two points and eight boards in 20 minutes after missing the previous two games because of sprained left ankle. He left the game after fouling Griffin near the Clippers’ basket and taking a hard spill with 8:18 left in the third quarter.
“He had a pretty bad fall,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “He’s already been diagnosed with a concussion, so he’ll enter the concussion protocol and I’ll leave it in the hands of the doctors now.”
Rivers had all of his starters on the bench at the beginning of the fourth quarter with an 85-55 lead, but he had to put them all back in after Jason Maxiell’s dunk capped a 16-2 run that narrowed the gap to 87-71 with 7:01 remaining.
Griffin had two fouls in the first 4:05 of the game and went to the bench after the Clippers opened the game with a 12-3 run. But Jordan extended the margin to 20-3 less than 2 1-2 minutes later with a demonstrative slam dunk, after Crawford set up an alley-oop dunk by Jordan and a 22-footer by Collison.
NOTES: Paul, a six-time All-Star, is averaging 18.5 points and 9.8 assists during his three seasons with the Clippers. Since he joined them, they are 11-10 when he doesn’t play and 109-55 when he does. … Vucevic missed five games last March because of a concussion after starting each of Orlando’s first 68 contests. … The Magic made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons when Rivers coached them, but they lost in the first round each time. … No Orlando player has scored more than 26 points in any of the last 16 games since Afflalo’s 43-point effort in double overtime in a one-point loss to Philadelphia on Nov. 27. … Orlando had won 11 of its previous 13 meetings with the Clippers.
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