Wednesday night the Los Angeles Clippers learned first hand how much the Orlando Magic and Nikola Vucevic have improved since just last season.
Vucevic’s six free throws and three rebounds in the final 25 seconds gave him 30 points and 21 boards while leading the Magic to a 98-90 win over the Clippers.
“Im not big on numbers, I just do what I can to help my team win.” Vucevic said.
Orlando (3-2) have now won three straight games, all at home.
“Its tough to win games on the road in the NBA, we have to protect home court,” Arron Afflalo said post game.
The Magic came out hot, scoring 57 points in the first half. What was more impressive was Orlando holding the high flying Clippers to 42 first half points and just 37% shooting from the field on the night.
“They played harder then us, and brought more energy,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said.
“Can’t make adjustments when it comes to effort, you have to have it and we didn’t tonight they did,” Rivers continued.
The third quarter wasn’t too friendly to the Magic who were outscored 32-15, allowing Los Angles to take the lead.
“We played well but we dug such a big hole for ourselves it was tough to keep the run going,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said of the Magic’s 19-point lead in the third quarter.
Griffin lead the Clippers with 23 points and 10 rebounds followed by Chris Paul’s 18 and 10 assists.
Heading into the fourth, Los Angeles held a 75-72 lead but Orlando wasn’t ready to fold.
Magic’s E’Twan Moore hit a three in transition to give his team an 83-80 lead with 6:43 left in the game.
Following an Arron Afflalo jumper, Orlando took a 90-89 lead late in the fourth. The Clippers ran a play for Chris Paul out of time out getting him an open look from beyond the arc, but it rimmed out.
DeAndre Jordan was fouled and hit 1 out of 2 free throws bringing Los Angeles within 90-92 with 25 seconds left.
However, Vucevic closed the game out with his clutch free-throws.
“This was a great win for us, gives us a lot of confidence” Magic rookie Victor Oladpio said.
Oladipo finished with 11 points on four for six shooting.
The Magic will put their three game win streak on the line as they host the Celtics Friday night, tip off set for 7pm.